All posts by Planet Noun

EPISODE 12: Getting all up in the family’s body business on Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is almost here! That means it’s almost time to throw down on all those bounties that’ll grace our holiday tables this week!

Thanksgiving is also Family Health History Day… A time to discuss and learn more…. Diseases or health events that tend to run in your family…

Yeah… I know that  is NOT a sexy discussion to have while passing the lamb, ham, turkey, chicken, greens, potatoes, tomatoes—you name it.

But if you’re family is gathering for this holiday or any other one—could be an opportune time to consider easing in those not so appetizing discussions about your family health portrait…. Just try to time it when Cousin so-and-so is NOT about to fork a piece of sweet-tater pie in their mouth.

My guest today is Doctor LaKeischa McMillan… she hosts the Housecall with Dr. Mac Podcast… In addition to doctoring, she also mothers and wifes (It’s my podcast, I can make up words). The cast is a joint venture with her husband, Wendell.

So Dr. Mac joins us with the skinny… or the fat—depending on how you throw down in the kitchen—on having unsexy conversations about family health during Thanksgiving or any season when family gathers.

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Netflixing and Chilling soltera—when partnerless storybook endings are happiest of all

Violet is bred for perfection from head to toe. Her mom saw to it. Perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect clothes, perfect stride, impeccable toes to slide into perfect shoes. Everything just perfect to the gaze and the ears. She is bred to only utter words that fall pleasingly on others’ ears. Violet colors with excellent strokes and only within socially acceptable lines. Early on, she learned to maneuver through the world by placing outside perceptions ahead of the person she wanted to be.

However, she didn’t even know who that person was and didn’t realize it until her perfect life plan began to hiccup.

Violet’s metamorphosis starts when her boyfriend of two years didn’t slide an engagement ring on her finger—as she expected. Clint surprised her with a cutie-patooty puppy-dog instead.

Vi is pissed, and her birthday surprise takes her on a roller coaster that led her to a place and idea in which all women—yea, all people—should solidly stand at some point in life: That they are enough.

Nappily Ever After whispered to me, and I felt fragments of my life coursing through the script. I’m certain I’m not the only sista-girl who thinks so. From dodging swimming pools because I didn’t want to reverse my straightened hair to its natural Afro state, to summer camp braid-ups to keep it manageable. Of course there was that ever-present sense of anxiety that my ‘nappy’ hair had to be fixed via the hell-heat torture of a pressing comb.

This film helped resurface memories of wash and press days with my mom and sister at home… the ubiquitous “hold your ear” command in countless black-folks’ kitchens and hair salons across the country, and likely around the world where pressing combs have had their reign.

This movie spoke to me because of the familiar concern I used to have about rain and fog—things that could make freshly pressed and curled tresses scramble back to their roots.

It also spoke to me because in addition to those “hold your ear” commands, countless post-salon care instructions included the words “sleep” and “cute” in tandem. And sleeping cute may have looked cute and kept my hair style as close to salon perfection as possible, but it never resulted in sound sleep and never felt cute for my neck, which usually ached the next morning.

Without giving away the entire storyline, it was gratifying to watch Violet transform from a superficial human who outgrows the hair hatred that was passed down from her mother under the guise of always appearing “acceptable” to the gaze of others—even significant others. It was also heart-warming to see this character start gaining true confidence in herself based on who she is as a person and not how she appears to the world—and definitely not based on whether she has a man. The process is jump-started, but is in no way completed by the end of the film—even after five hairstyles and a liberating pool scene.

I’m also gratified that it didn’t have a storybook “girl gets guy” ending, because we all know those shit-perfect endings ain’t always real. This film is up to the times and realizes that the perfect ending doesn’t always involve a significant other or marriage.

Sometimes the perfect ending means finally being happy with yourself. By yourself. And that’s so okay.

Now I have to get the book to see what actually happens.

There’s another Netflix movie that explores a similar theme–only without  pressing combs, perms and flat irons. It’s a Spanish language film that’s titled Soltera Codiciada. The English title—How to Get Over a Breakup. There are several subtitle and audio options. I enjoy films that can involve part-time reading.

In this Flix, Maria Fe’s boyfriend called to dump her. That’s how she spiraled through the seven stages of grief. And drinking. And drunk calling and What’s Apping him as she meandered through each stage.

So what led to this?

Well, what had happened was…

Her novio left Peru to attend graduate school in Madrid, Spain. Then he dumps her, breaks all contact, but she sees him posted with some other chick on Instagram.

Maria Fe drinks, a friend helps her find a roommate and over the months, her life slides back to normal.

Mari-Fe even completes some home-improvement projects in her inherited home, and starts a blog.

Thing is, she always wanted to be a writer, but was occupied by spending her time pleasing her boyfriend for six years to the point where she wasn’t chasing her own dreams.

Homegirl makes strides at work even though her boss is the most horrible person on earth—racist, sexist, homophobic and oblivious to it all.

Fe finds her blog, Soltera Codiciada, getting good traffic traction. She even finds herself on the cusp of a work promotion.

What happens in the nooks and crannies around these key events—well you’ll have to watch the film to find out. But I will say this: Old boy, ex novio, makes a comeback. Whether he stays or goes you’ll find out when you Netflix and chill. But Soltera Codiciada’s ending is spot on in my opinion—just like Nappily Ever After.

Why? Because it also shows a woman can be a fairy godmother, genie, or her own Prince Charming/Principe Azul who respects and rescues her own damn self.

And I love it.

Both Nappily Ever After and Soltera Codiciada/How to Get Over a Breakup earn…

 

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Childhood illness—an idea that pricks emotions, makes eyeballs sweat

Some ideas cause perspiration to spring out of my eyeballs with nowhere to go—but down my cheeks.


(WASHINGTON)—Imagine getting to a scene to report the goings-on at an annual festival dedicated to advancing the cause of pediatric cancer advocacy, and the need for more research funding and updated treatments.

Pretty straightforward, right?

Get sound with folks who say why they’re there, take and Tweet some photos, cut up sound, file audio and web stories, then leave.

You pull out your recording equipment and earbuds while scoping the layout at Freedom Plaza. Who will you talk to? When will you talk to them? You pull up your question list and take note of an announcement that a program is about to start on the main stage.

Cool.

And you position yourself to capture audio. You take a few photos.

Cool.

And someone takes the stage and starts sharing the latest progress from the weekend.  It’s good news.

But your cheeks quiver.

Hummm… That’s odd…

Then your eyes start feeling misty.

Huh? No one’s said anything particularly sad. The lady on the stage just announced more federal funding toward pediatric cancer research.

But the mist  turns to plump tears. But that’s fine. Maybe they’ll evaporate.

Or maybe not.  But  as long as they teeter on the edge of your eyes, you can blink them back.

But nope! They won’t blink back because other drops are waiting to take their place.

Damn.

On scene for five minutes and already crying.

Lordy be, this happened to me last month when covering CureFest 2018.

I usually don’t get in my feelings while covering a story because compartmentalization is my friend.

Didn’t work that afternoon.

Another tear came, and another, and a sister and a brother, but unlike the previous ones, this newer collection didn’t slide down my outer cheek…. they slid right down toward my nose.

I figured no one would want to talk to me if I looked as if I were about to snot.

Where were my tissues?  In the work SUV.  Something told me to bring them, but I left  them behind with the thought “Nah, won’t need those today.”  I was wishing I had listened to my first mind.

At the plaza, there was someone with a camera standing next to me. I assumed she was a fellow reporter. She looked like she was wiping away a tear or two with her hand.  Wasn’t sure if  she saw my disintegrating poker face or not but either way, I needed paper products.

So I went up to a stranger under one of the tents and asked for tissue.

“I’m here for work, and I usually hold it together at work,” I told the kind-faced lady while waving my hands at my cheeks, a failing attempt to fan the tears away. “But for some reason, I can’t hold it together today.”

“It’s okay,” she said, opening her arms over the table and bringing me in for a hug.

I walked in.

She just hugged me while I apologized, closed my eyes and let more tears fall. I apologized again and asked for a tissue. I wanted to cry some more, but I’d soon be facing a deadline.  Pull it together, sis.

The kind-faced lady didn’t have tissue, but she pointed me to the Kid’s Zone. That’s where I met another kind-faced lady named Kat, who didn’t have tissue, but paper towels.

“That’ll work,” I replied, so grateful that I’d have bountiful brawn to sop up my sadness.

“It’s okay,” Kat said. “No one makes it through this weekend without crying at least once.”

So at work we cover lots of stories about grownups behaving badly. Sometimes kids, too. But my hopeful cynicism melts when talking about darling little kids who suffer… kids who should be playing with toys and learning to ride bikes and (if any of them are like I was as a kid) eating dirt clods and pinching butterfly wings and licking their dust to see how it tasted. Don’t judge. I was a semi-curious child.

But it saddens me to my depths that children who are dealing with potentially life-threatening illnesses such as childhood cancers or sickle cell anemia—are learning to pronounce the multisyllabic names of their treatments, going to chemo, getting transfusions… along with learning their favorite hobbies, cartoon and video game characters.

In my deepest heart, I just wish they could be Toys R Us kids, or Game Stop Kids, or skateboard in the park kids, or jungle gym kids, or doll-baby kids or basketball, soccer, football, baseball, hockey kids. Hide-and-go-seek kids, and teens more concerned about passing a driving test than entertaining the idea they could very well pass away.

It took awhile for the emotions I feel when covering stories like this one, and this one to come to a head.

They did that day. And I cried.

According to the song Cry by singer-songwriter Lyfe Jennings, “See, crying is like taking your soul to the laundromat.”

My little soul was twice-washed that day at Cure Fest. But the second time, I was prepared with my stash of paper towel sheets.

And I met my deadlines.


FYI, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month and Sickle Cell Awareness month, but those children and families who are grappling with these illnesses have to do so year round.

There are many organizations out there that advocate for more funding, research, and awareness. Take a peek at the following websites to learn more and find out what you can do to advocate for kids with cancer and sickle cell anemia. This list is just a start, there are so many more organizations that do great work at raising awareness.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand

St. Jude’s Research Hospital

Sickle Cell Disease Association of America

Cleverly Changing

 

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Planet Noun — Podcast Pullquotes Season 1 Roundup

So I totally enjoy producing this podcast. It find it informative and inspiring and downright educational to step into the perspectives and experiences of others.

Season One is in the books! We’re 11 episodes in, and I’m grateful and thankful for every iota of support and encouragement that I’ve received so far.

Season two gets started one month from now, and I invite you along for that journey!

But for now, let’s relive some  favorite snippets from most of the first eleven episodes of Planet Noun Podcast.

There’s another episode, but I didn’t include quote snippets from that one. I’m so looking forward to sharing more from that episode during the holidays!

Take a listen to these, enjoy, and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud!

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The Trait and I–filling in the blanks

There’s lots to learn about Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait. Click the image to listen to Planet Noun’s interview on SoundCloud featuring Elle Cole, writer and founder of CleverlyChanging.com

Mom is the one who first told me about sickle cell disease and the sickle cell trait. I can’t tell you what prompted the discussion. Maybe it was hearing about a childhood acquaintance who had the disease, was in crisis and in the hospital. Maybe something else prompted her to open up that discussion.

I have the trait, and so do you, is the essence of what she said.

Continue reading The Trait and I–filling in the blanks

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Episode 11: Sickle cell awareness and responding Cleverly to life’s Changes—featuring Cleverly Changing’s Elle Cole

Elle Cole, founder of CleverlyChanging.com

(The DMV)–September is Sickle Cell Awareness Month, and our guest for Episode 11 has a compelling story about how she learned of this disease. 

Elle Cole is a writer and founder of Cleverly Changing, a lifestyle blog that focuses on “Empowering the Total Person.” 

Elle and her husband have two daughters—twins. One of them has sickle cell disease, so the ups and downs of this genetic disorder are well known to Elle and her family.  

As an advocate, Elle hones in on sharing educational information the disease, the trait, how it’s inherited, and about symptoms and treatments. Her blog contains a trove of information about sickle cell that can be accessed 24/7, 365.  

In addition to spreading information about the disease, this awareness month can also be a way for folks to “see” each other. 

There could be someone familiar to you who has been suffering in plain sight, in silence. Maybe someone you know has a relative, friend, neighbor or someone else in their orbit who battles this disease.

Maybe more people with the disease will meet at conferences, social or fundraising events and end up extending a current support network. 

And if you don’t have the disease, maybe you can help be a support, listening ear, or advocate by connecting with already-established organizations to find how you can help their cause.

Maybe you know someone with the trait. The trait is NOT sickle cell disease, but if two people with the trait reproduce, there’s a 25 percent chance their child will be born with sickle cell disease. And if one parent has the trait, it’s possible to inherit that from said parent.  For example, I inherited the trait from my mom. 

There may not be any serious health ramifications for trait-carrying folks. However, it would behoove them to learn all they can about it and how there’s a higher chance of adverse effects during or after strenuous workouts.  That doesn’t mean throw physical exercise out the window.  Not even. It just means recognizing  some possible symptoms can crop up—that could be a result  of carrying the trait.  

I can only speak for myself but, the past few weeks have been the start of increased awareness about this disorder which, I am certain, is one goal of Sickle Cell Awareness Month.

See the following links for more information.

Cleverly Changing

The Air Force produced a video specifically for recruits who have sickle cell trait.  According to this video, folks with the trait are allowed to serve, but the awareness video gives them tips on staying safe during and after workouts. I also learned they have to wear a special arm band during their training so their superiors are aware and can be on heightened lookout for symptoms of exertion. 

Elle also passed along or told me about most of the following individuals and organizations. This information here is about a podcaster who focuses on awareness for those with sickle cell trait. His name—Farron Dozier of  “What’s the Count” (WDC):

On the Cleverly Changing blog, this video has more awareness information about the trait.

For those in the Baltimore, Md. area, The Ruby Ball is an annual sickle cell awareness and fundraising gala. It’s scheduled for Oct. 13.

The Ruby Ball on Instagram

During Episode 11, Elle mentioned a fitness challenge for moms, the Cleverly Fit Moms challenge.  She released the daily fitness goal on her website and social media.  If you need some workout encouragement, you can start the challenge at your convenience.  

Because about 1 in 13 African Americans carries the sickle cell trait, there is an initiative to bolster awareness about the trait and disease at HBCUs or Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  Learn more about the Sickle Cell HBCU College Tour, including how to request a visit to your school.

St. Judes Hospital’s sickle cell program includes information on clinical trials, educational materials, information about navigating school challenges, and videos that help teenagers with sickle cell ease into their adult medical care. 

Howard University Center for Sickle Cell Disease 

Howard University sickle cell symposium-World Sickle Cell Awareness Day 2018

The National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute sickle cell information page

Sickle Cell Disease Association of America

 

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#Saturday Spark 9/8/2018–Gratefulness

Truth: I’m talking to myself half the time I post something inspirational on social media or repost a quote from another profile. There are LOTS of things I want to change about my life, but I see no use in complaining and allowing those things to cloud the beautiful experiences in life.

Stuff I cried and groused about last year now seem like timely and merciful blessings.

There is much value in shifting my perspective into one of gratefulness. That spirit helps me look at the posibilities, whatever they may be, in a positive and affirming way… in a manner that really makes many more things seem possible.

 

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Attitude depicts your altitude….therefore I choose Gratefulness. #Breelism #quotestoliveby #grateful

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Cancer’s wiggety-wackness, gratefulness…and prayer (yes, this post will make sense)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, PGFD firefighter Jesse McCullough, his wife and one of his daughters at a Sunday afternoon fundraiser to help defray costs of McCullough’s cancer treatment. Gov. Hogan heard about the event and stopped by to offer emotional support. Hogan also fought cancer for about a year and a half. His diagnosis came just several months after his inauguration in 2015.

(At the Water’s Edge, Maryland) — Grateful. I’m deeply grateful that folks allow me into their time and spaces to ask questions and be nosey in both good and extremely difficult times.

Some folks I cover for work really resonate my heart strings. From Brandi Garrett at The Maddy Wagon whose daughter, Madison, is a childhood cancer survivor…to Roya Giordano and family who lost their teen son/brother Mathias to bone cancer. 

Earlier today for work, I got to cover a fundraiser for a firefighter who is battling colon cancer. It has spread…He says the chemo seems to be holding it at bay right now, but he told me it isn’t curable so he’s essentially buying more time to be able to spend with his wife and watch his daughters grow some more…He’s looking into clinical trials in the D.C. area and in Boston, but isn’t eligible for any of those until all other treatment options are exhausted.

So….Since my blog is a personal project, and because it’s no secret I want everyone to be happy and healed, I have requests:

  • If you are a praying person, pray.
  • If you only put positive thoughts & speech into the universe, do that.
  • If you do none of the above, just hope for the best so Prince George’s County firefighter Jesse McCullough gets better. 
  • If you know a phalanx of prayer warrior grannies or aunties who always smell of peppermints and/or wear white gloves to their houses of worship even in the summer heat…ask.them.to.pray.  Not just any grannies or aunties. The ones who call everyone either “sweetie,” “dear heart,” or “baby”…(pronounced BEHHH-buh) or some other variation.  That encompasses a wide variety of grannies/aunties of different backgrounds with only the sweetest levels of sweetness.

Big G upstairs be listening to them, for real. 

 #McCulloughStrong

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Aretha

Yes, it was imminent.

Yes, it was coming down the pike, as it is for us all.

But there’s still a hefty morsel of numbness that nestles itself in my soul for a little bit once I hear someone’s life exit is final.

Been kind of blah all day.

Been trying to put words to my feelings.  Trying. Still not there yet.

Why will I miss Queen Aretha?

She was the only artist who could make me raise a hand, and say a heartfelt Hallelujah for ALL the life reasons Click To Tweet

Because she was who she was.  She earned first name only status with an exclamation point (ARETHA!) AND ascended to royalty  (Queen of Soul).

Because she played a role in the Civil Rights Movement and helped others. Much-much respect!

Last but not least, I’ll miss her for accompanying us through the human experience.  She was the only artist who could make me raise a hand,  and say a heartfelt “Hallelujah” for ALL the life reasons: From “Precious Lord” and “Mary Don’t You Weep,” to “Bridge over Troubled Water”…

And from “Daydreaming” to “Son of a Preacher Man,” and “Dr. Feelgood,” which could be the reason some of y’all exist today.

There was only one Aretha.

Missed, she will be.

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Episode 10: She ain’t no one trick pony: Behold, Stacia who doeth many things Wright

Our guest for Episode 10 is one of those people who does many things well! Her name’s Stacia D. Wright, an event and media strategist and owner of B. Reel Media Management, LLC. As I’ve said in previous episodes, small business owners fascinate me because of the risks they take and lessons they’re open enough to learn in order to keep progressing along the entrepreneurial pathway.

@StaciaDWright has a thing or three to say about knowing your worth, the value of your time and what you bring to any table. If you want to start your own business, her reminder: Working for others has invaluable lessons as well. Click To Tweet

Through her business experiences, Stacia has a thing or three to say about knowing your worth, the value of your time and what you bring to any table. If you want to start your own business, her reminder: Working for others has invaluable lessons as well.

In addition to running B. Reel Media Management, Stacia is a wife and mommy. She’s even made a video to help teach her daughter Ginneh how to potty, and was surprised when the tune traveled around the globe to other parents having a doozy of a time teaching their young-uns how to independently use the toilet. Stacia also appeared on a local television station, and the video was featured on the websites of other media outlets as well.

Fox5DC
Today
Daily Mail

Connect with Stacia on social media:

Facebook: @StaciaDWrightofficial / @TheDriveSDW

Twitter: @TheDriveSDW

Instagram: @StaciaDWright

Episode Receipts/Mentions:

The Stacia D. Wright Show on Brite Radio Son Screen Film Festival

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