Category Archives: Things

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.

Concern had to be etched on my face or laced in my words or questions, because I remember Mom reassuring me I could not “grow” or develop the disease. People with sickle cell are born with it and both parents must have the trait to pass it along to their children, and there’s a one -in-four chance that can happen. Mom told me she and Daddy didn’t have to worry about having a child with sickle cell disease, because he is trait-free.

This trait conversation was one of “the talks” I’d have to bring up when dating or considering marriage, Mom warned me. Wish I could recall how old I was when she told me all of this. I don’t, but it’s something I’ve kept with me all these years.

Couldn’t say if I discussed this with every single guy I’ve dated, but I do know with the more serious ones, it’s definitely come up in conversation. It wasn’t one of those big deal “we need to talk” convos. It just came up either naturally, or in a casual “oh, by the way,” kind of manner.

Making Connections

One thing Mom and other medical professionals have told me—there’s nothing to worry about with the sickle cell trait. Seems that’s pretty much been the case throughout the years. However, I’ve recently learned is that even though I can expect to have good health (bastard fibroids aside), folks with sickle cell trait are at risk for a health complication called exertional sickling that can happen during or after strenuous exercise or exercise that’s carried out in extreme environmental conditions. For example, exercise on very hot days could trigger exertional sickling. Dehydration can also play a role.

As a result of my interview with Cleverly Changing, I’m starting to learn about some of the effects the trait can carry with it, and she pointed me to some resources for more information.   In retrospect, I’m also realizing maybe I’ve had experiences that coincide with some other symptoms a trait carrier can have during workouts.

Maybe this explains why, when I was in high school, I felt loopy and dizzy when we had to run a mile—I’d never done that before, and hated how I felt afterwards. I’d run sprint races like the 50 and 100-yard-dash during elementary school field days, and never felt like I would pass out. But that first high school mile not only temporarily took my wind, which is natural, but the added dizziness let me know something might be awry. What it was, I didn’t know at the time.

I can still walk, I thought. Maybe it’s not that bad. I’m just out of shape.

I wasn’t “in shape,” nor did I workout every day. But I wasn’t inactive. I walked plenty in those days of catching the city bus. Sometimes I ran for the bus, sometimes I walked from my street of residence to another main highway to bypass one of the bus lines and slash my trip from two buses to one. Then there was the walk from the bus stop to the school. Even with that walking, being out of shape for a mile run was still a definite possibility.

Looking back, perhaps it was my paltry water intake that made me dizzy after that mile. Back in those days, I preferred drinking lots of milk, because it did a body good, and colored drinks and sodas because they were tasty and cool. Water, I drank a little bit before and right after exercise. When I was in elementary school, I loaded up after spending recess running around the school yard. At home, I used it to boil for hot teas and cocoa, and to dissolve Kool-Aid, Tang or Country Time Lemonade for a cool beverage on hot days.

Marathons

I’ve never run one. Once upon a time, it was on my list of things to conquer—but it’s slid from the back burner, off the stove into the trashcan. I’m not saying I won’t ever, ever run one… but resting in my mind’s closet has always been that high school experience—sort of warning me of what could be a latent reality.

When I worked in the Rosslyn neighborhood of Arlington, Va., I got the chance to observe folks who had just finished running the Marine Corps Marathon. Throngs of runners collected there to recover, rest and reunite their loved ones in that area, which also doubled as a celebration and festival area. Once I left work and saw some of the runners after the race. Most looked like they were about die or wanted to. My instinct told me maybe running marathons wasn’t for me after all.

It was my gut speaking.

Then, several years later, I learned about the possibility of exertion sickling for athletes with sickle cell trait.

The University of South Florida Health, in informational material on sickle cell trait for coaches, defines exertional sickling as “a potentially life-threatening condition resulting from the sickling of red blood cells during intense exercise.  Sickling results in muscular ischemia and collapse, whereby the athlete may experience intense muscular pain, rhabdomyolysis, and other serious metabolic problems. Signs and symptoms of an exertional sickling event include intense pain, fatigue, feeling like you cannot continue exercising, muscle cramping and inability to catch your breath.  Exertional sickling is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment.”

Of course, I realize there’s no guarantee this will happen to me during intense workouts. I’m not athletic like that. But, then again,  I can’t guarantee it won’t. So I just take it easy, and set my own pace—which I’ve always done and is recommended for anyone during exercise— and have settled with the idea that an onslaught of extreme athletic anything may not be part of my life.

And that’s O.damn.K.

At the same time, I’m not ruling out reaching in the trashcan to recycle my discarded marathon dreams—maybe in abbreviated 5K form.

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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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Hair: Puff Cuff and snazzy updos sans headaches

Once upon a time, I used to create hair buns using elastic bands, but I have decided to ditch them for most of my styling needs. They’ll still be used to section my hair or hold the ends of my hair in place for certain styles…but for these updos? Nah, son. I’m done.

Much love for The Puff Cuff! It’s becoming my go-to styling tool for updos!

At first, I was doubtful. But since I learned about this product from someone I deem trustworthy, even though we’re not well acquainted, I was more inclined to take a chance on this styling tool.

So I opted for the family pack. It includes four versions of the Puff Cuff. The four sizes are the Original, Junior, Mini and Micro.

This style was created using one Junior and one Mini. I also use Eco Styler gel with coconut oil and a detangling brush. Once styled, I spritzed a lightweight shea sunflower finishing sheen onto my hair.

Learn how to achieve this updo right here:

This styling tool has won my heart because I can wear a cute updo without using elastic bands, and the Cuff doesn’t generate headaches!

@ThePuffCuff has won my heart because I can wear a cute updo without using elastic bands, and the Cuff doesn’t generate headaches! Click To Tweet
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Netflix release explores a modern-day heretic’s journey to spiritual liberation in “Come Sunday”

NOT HEAVEN—OR HELL–So. What happens when the faith you’ve had for years slams into the realization that “it ain’t necessarily so?”

What happens when the faith you’ve cultivated or the spoon-feedings you’ve accepted since youth crashes head-on with a musing-turned hard-core question: “what if we’re getting it all kinds of wrong?”

And what happens if you share your changing views with folks who aren’t ready or willing to give another perspective mental due process?

Come Sunday, a recent Netflix release produced by This American Life  (yes, the WBEZ originated show and podcast) is about all of that. Bishop Carlton Pearson was an evangelical rock star…until he shared questions with his mega-church congregation about what he saw as a biblical contradiction…. Namely the subject of God’s love vs. what his church taught about the existence of an eternally burning hell… and the idea that all who don’t believe and accept Jesus as savior are doomed to roast in the afterlife. He couldn’t reconcile a loving God with teachings about an eternal rotisserie. Pearson says he heard God’s voice say Jesus is enough for all the world’s salvation, even those who don’t ever hear his name… which led him to figuratively say, dammit to hell. Pearson tossed the hellfire doctrine from his trove of beliefs and embraced a new theological worldview—the Gospel of Inclusion. This American Life told his story in a 2005 episode that was entirely dedicated to sharing his story.

And his chu’ch* folks weren’t having it. I don’t want to tell all the ups and downs of the story, but let’s just say he was an outcast’s outcast. Pearson is convincingly played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and his minister of music at that time, Reggie, is played by Lakeith Stanfield (Selma).

It’s a convincing story, to me, because I can relate to the journey and realization that yes—you may still believe…but you know you can no longer abide by all of the ways in which you were taught to believe…when your views of right and wrong are being encased in a chrysalis, surrounding you with mid-life metamorphosis… but you aren’t quite ready to tell all…Definitely not to anyone who might dissuade your self-inquisition.

Pearson didn’t have that luxury. He, convinced it was God’s voice, was compelled to tell his congregation. After all, as a purveyor of “Good News,” how could he stay silent and smother what was so liberating to his spirit? He lost his church and more before it was all over. His journey is depicted as rough and tear-stained, but the consequence seems to be a peaceful conscience.


*bet you didn’t know chu’ch was a contraction for church. Not really–but it exists now. Say it.  Chu’ch.

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On My Block: A peek into the neighborhood with humor and gravitas

(LA -LA STATE OF MIND)—Hometown is a big place for me. Heck, I’m from Los Angeles. Ain’t nothin’ small about it. I live in the DC area now, but whenever I get homesick and am stuck between plane tickets, count on me looking for movies with those damn trees in the air.

But the Netflix series called On My Block dropped into my lap instead. And I let it stay awhile. The opening track by Daye Jack had me at hello.

On My Block immediately gave me the Friday feels—with a lado de la vida en South Central Los Angeles. And the first two minutes hooked me.

However, and this doesn’t happen often, nine minutes in, my thoughts degraded quick-fast. “This show is corny AF. What’s up with this dialogue. Ain’t no way these characters come up out the hood,” I scrunched my face.

Continue reading On My Block: A peek into the neighborhood with humor and gravitas

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EPISODE 6 – This Virgin ain’t plain, homely or boring | Interview with Skarlet Beverage Company founders

Life is filled with so much beauty and artistry.
From word play…
To picture play, painter’s creations—whether they be a portrait, landscape, still life.. or walls.
To tapestries hung on a rod or fine linens clothing the insides of a room.
Food—also art.
So is drink.
That’s where my next guests come in–founders of the Skarlet Beverage Company.
They’re bringing some spice to the world of upscale virgin drinks.
I learned about their business on my Facebook page. Full disclosure—I went to school with them… lost track after graduation—and reconnected via Facebook.
If you haven’t heard of Skarlet Beverages… Now you have.

Coming soon. Are you on the list?

A post shared by Skarlet Beverage Company (@skarletbeverageco) on

So how did they get started along this path? Well let’s join a conversation with the couple who’s making it happen–Skarlet Beverage Company founders Dean and Alecia Dennis:

Subscribe:

Or listen here:

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Erotic poetry to keep your Valentine steamy all year long–a chat with Rare Epiphany

There’s nothing like good talks with longtime friends.

Those conversations between decades-old pals can sometimes get pretty personal and… adult.

Especially if your friend has written a book of erotic poetry.

If you don’t know, you’re about to find out…about Atlanta-based poet Rare Epiphany.

Order her already-published books here.

Rare/Pam keeps a constant stream of writing activities on her docket.

“I have a cookbook coming, too, as soon as I learn how to measure,” she tells Planet Noun.  “I’m a classic Southern cook. I don’t measure anything. I just sprinkle ’till the spirit of my ancestors say ‘Enough my child.’”

She’s also working on a poetic autobiography and a second book of erotic poetry. Her projects include a collection titled “Think.”

“It’s funny, because the main script for think was done before Soul Kisses was done. I just never released [it]. And I figured there’s a reason for that, so I gotta go back through and try to look through it and figure out what’s going on [with] “Think.”

That project, Rare says, is built on a series of writing challenges.

“I specifically ask people, when I don’t feel like I’m writing enough, I’ll ask for challenges. So it can be a word challenge. Give me 10 words, and I’ll take those 10 words and…build a piece around these 10 words. Or I’ll say give me a song. And I’ll write a poem based on how the song makes me feel, or the story of the song, where it takes me. It can [also] be a quote–something to kind of push a poem out, and that is how a lot of Soul Kisses was written,” Rare adds.

I”m always working on some project or another.  And then I’ll get pulled into another project, and then I’ll get pulled into another project. And sometimes I just need a breather from something like the autobiography,” Rare says, which is psychologically taxing project because it delves into her entire history, which includes being sexually abused as a young girl.

When her pen needs break, she opts for happier writing projects.

“Let me write about rainbows and unicorns and stuff.  Feel good about life,” she muses.

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One man-play about late Supreme Court Justice is Thorough(ly)good

A one person play. Haven’t been to very many of these, and was a tad skeptical after accepting an opening night invitation to a production about the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

How in the world would a one-man play keep my attention for 90 minutes? I doubted it was possible. But I was open to the idea, else I wouldn’t have left home for Olney Theatre Center as the rain fell that evening.

Curiosity is what drove me through that rainfall.  I wanted to see if I’d learn a little something-something new about the first black United States Supreme Court Justice. I had never seen a play about Thurgood Marshall. Never read a book about him either. Never have really done much study about him aside from Brown v. Board of education section in history books, and an occasional browsing of the Internet. Outside of that, my knowledge about this legal icon of the civil rights movement was paltry.

Didn’t know his first name was Thoroughgood before he shortened it to Thurgood.

Didn’t know he was married two times. Didn’t know his first wife died of cancer at age 44. Didn’t know they dealt with a few miscarriages.

I did know he went to Howard University because the University of Maryland law school didn’t admit tax-paying black folks because of their blackness. In place, ostensibly, was a separate but (not) equal facility for training black lawyers. Some tried to pass it off as good enough.

But it wasn’t. And Thurgood Marshall became a force of intention to change that by using the law as a weapon to achieve actual equal justice under the law instead of some oppressive, inequitable, pseudo-facsimile. After all, those words “Equal Justice Under Law” were (and still are) engraved into the front of the Supreme Court building.

The theater was cozy and intimate, and the actor who portrayed Marshall, Brian Anthony Wilson, managed to pull in this one-man-play doubter and convince her that even her (my) attention could be held for 90 minutes with one man talking the whole time.

And Justice Marshall’s theatrical mouthpiece reeled me in from start to finish. First he’s as an older gentleman, slightly lumbering and leaning on a cane, then memories spring forth along with a more animated, agile gait in tandem with lively words, Wilson-as-Marshall leads a trip back in time to his younger years.

Childhood in Baltimore.
College days.
Rejection by the University of Maryland School of Law.
Howard University Law days.
The footwork required to build what would become Brown v. Board of Education case.
Marriage and sacrifices.
His first wife’s death.
His second marriage and children.
Supreme Court appointment.

That’s a sketch of what the play covers in 90 minutes. However, there are so many events, solemn and defining moments, and slathers of good humor in between those lines. And a reminder, in my mind, that while the law can intentionally be used as a weapon to bring about justice for all, it can also be wielded, depending on the benched interpreter, as a weapon to roll back the march toward justice for all.

I hate to end on that depressing note, so I’ll end with a surprise:

As I left a post-play reception, I opened the doors on my way out of the main theater building.  Two people were also opening the doors in the opposite direction.
Well, whaddya know? One of them was “Thurgood!” Or Brian Anthony Wilson. And he consented to a selfie! 🙂

Lookie who I ran into on my way out of the building? Theatrical Thurgood!

Check it out Thurgood at Only Theatre Center!
By: George Stevens, Jr.
Directed by:  Walter Dallas
July 19-August 20
Tickets: $55-$70. (Prices depend on selected day/time.)

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Persistent papers pepper patience as Life Changing Tidying Up works its Magic

(FROM WHERE I SIT)—Good Lord, the papers have sprouted feet and are taking over because they want to be recycled. This latest rebellion is underway because I’ve been holding things up for way too long.  But I persist, because the end results will be worth it.

Gratefully ditching clothes that didn’t bring me joy wasn’t nearly as hard as getting rid of these clingy papers. It’s been a trudge. Kinda-sorta. Deciding what to keep and what to toss wasn’t that difficult. Now, there’s so much stuff to shred. If only the pile could rip itself to pieces. Yesterday. But as it’s taken me years to accumulate all this shite, it’ll take at least a smidgen of time to get this foolishness back under control.

Such a slow roll. But shredder wheels keep on turning, proud Lizzy keep on burning. I’m encouraged to don’t stop, get-it get-it because there’ll be time enough for resting when the shredding’s done.

Part of my KonMarie possessions laxative includes purging through all papers and only keeping the ones that bring joy. Of course, as The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up says there are always very necessary papers that must stay, no matter how much they dull the senses. Necessary is necessary.

Some paper goods I’ve considered for the rubbish pile: Treats from students during my teaching days. Every now and then, parents and students blessed me with holiday gifts: Things like a journal, a tile decorated with a little boy’s artwork, a Christmas card made from construction paper, a sporty skirt and top that I wore for a long while before I gave them away. Of all those kind treasures, I still have the journal and use it to jot down recipes. I also have the decorated tile, homemade card, and a different skirt that I still wear during the fall and winter months.

These things still bring me joy. Even the oversized construction-paper card with first-grader penmanship wishing me a Merry Christmas.  I’ll keep them until I can’t keep ’em anymore. Some bring back such wonderful memories. And I’ll treasure them… …. …… …….. .. . always.

there are always very necessary papers that must stay, no matter how much they dull the senses. Click To Tweet

Now, back to the other papers. Part of me wants to find a beach bonfire and introduce them to the flames. Another part of me wants to bake them to a crisp inside the stove, crumble them and use them to fertilize some plant. All of me wants them gone.

Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. That’s what keeps me from tossing everything out the window. That, and not wanting to catch a littering charge.

 

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The Life Changing Magic of paper wrangling

Papers are an itch-bay. They’re all up in everything like sand after a sandstorm.  Not like I’ve been in a sandstorm… But I’ve been stormed by paper for many evers.  That has to change.

Even though I’ve tidied through other possession categories, which you’ll read about as I stumble through this process, I’m still struggling to ditch the papers because my shredder is broke-down and sorry. No, not broken down… broke down. I rode that thing too hard, and it’s trying to quit on me. Another one I have is too dang loud. I swear if I ran that one too long, it would wake the dead.  I’ve been looking for local shredding events, but it seems I missed them earlier this spring. Oh well.

The shred-struggle is real… and slow. Real slow. But consistent. #konmarimethod Click To Tweet

So, according to Marie Kondo, papers should be the first thing to go. I see why. But in my tidying, they’re going to be the first AND last things to go.  That has me scared, because according to the KonMarie method, if you don’t follow her ways perfectly, you’re doomed to failure. [NOTE: Kinda felt like being at some churches.]  I hope that’s not the case.  I know that’s not the case, because this one here (points to self) ain’t going back down that road of clenching and holding on to stuff that doesn’t make her happy or isn’t totally necessary).  No, sir.  No-sireee-Bob (who’s Bob?) Nawsuh. Nunnnt-uhhh.

A high school teacher gave me a Tuit button years ago. Why? Because I told him my procrastination was based on my not having one of these. A round tuit. Now that I have one, there’s nothing I can’t do! 🙂

According to KonMarie, paper includes books. At first, I thought it only meant the bags and boxes of foolishness I’d been keeping for YEARS with plans to file, but just never got around to it.

Now I have one.

Corny, I know. But no more excuses.

So here’s something else that’s helping me get my paper -ish together.  I refused to purchase any more stuff to organize my life. What purpose would it serve to buy more organizers?  This one here (points to self) already had all she needed and hadn’t yet put to use.

Trays to organize papers before filing? Yup.

A personal, physical “in” box that took everything in but never put out? Got it.

Adorable Ikea organizers? Got-em!  These Skubb organizers are inexpensive, well-loved (by me) and well-used.  Not the most fancy-schmancy, but they get the job done.  If ever get more organizers it would be these exact ones or something like them. So versatile. And foldable. If I don’t need them, there’s a zipper on the bottom which makes them easy to break down and store without taking up goo-gobs of space.

Since I’m ditching stuff, it doesn’t make one iota of sense to go collecting more organizers before I’m through getting rid what I don’t need. Instead, I’m choosing to release stuff that doesn’t bring joy and will to use organizers I already have to tidy what I still want to keep.  And if I have leftover organizers, those may have to say hello to Salvation Army or any good friend who could use them.

Book ‘em Liz-o

Can I tell you how many books I hauled outta here?

Nope, because I didn’t count them.  But it was several boxes and plastic containers full.  Some were hauled to a local used bookstore where I could exchange for cash or credit.  I’m sure some bibliophile somewhere already knows this, but opting for store credit gets you more value than cash.  Since I was looking to get rid of stuff, it didn’t make sense to take store credit and welcome more books into my life while choosing to keep ones that I still wanted to read, but hadn’t since I didn’t have a precious Tuit.

THIS! This is why I haven’t read those books! Because I didn’t have my hands on one of these! Tuits are the stuff, yo!

For me, it was wiser to take the value cut and keep the cash.

Now, I have a tall bookcase full and one plastic container of books that I haven’t yet put back on my other smaller bookcases.  I’m thinking about giving these things another go-through.  Some may not make the next cut. My gut tells me the volumes I really need and will use can fit on the one tall case.  All others can visit via electronic means, and if I crave the more intimate feel of pages on fingers…there’s always the local library.

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