Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Earth is NOT your Trashcan

Sorry, I got angry and I had to write this down or I was going to explode. 

I was riding down the road when the person riding shotgun in the car in front of me threw a BAG OF TRASH - from a fast-food visit (I could tell) - out of their car window!! Who does that?

Who told you that you could just drop your trash wherever you stand? Do you drop trash on the floor in your own home? Do you drop trash on the floor at your place of worship? Do you drop trash on the floor at school? Do you drop trash on the floor in a casino? So why do you insist on tossing trash out of your car window? 

What is the reason that you drop your trash along a path in the woods? What makes you think that dropping trash on the sidewalk is acceptable? The earth is your home. Where you stand is holy ground. Mother Earth is your teacher. Your abundance is all around you. When you disrespect your home, it will not be long before it begins to treat you like trash as well.

Thank you for letting me vent.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Remembering Al Jarreau

My friend, Uri, had discovered an album that he couldn’t wait to share with our mutual friend, Chet. So Chet brings the album to my house. It was all green. It had a picture of a rather attractive guy on the cover. Chet put the album on the record player and said, ‘Just listen to this.’ And I was hooked.

It helped that Chet sang a lot like him, which was encouraging to him. I was in love with Chet, and now in love with this guy who had an album, who sounded like Chet.

Fast forward, San Francisco, 1978. I am now over 3000 miles from home. I’ve left town because my mother died suddenly. I am supported by family and brand new friends. I am teaching and dancing full-time. I have a mad crush on my dance teacher.

He loves the Pat Metheny Group. His brother likes Pat Metheny as well. We discover that Pat Metheny is playing at UC Santa Cruz. We buy tickets and make plans to go - me, Alan, and his brother Paul. We are excited.

The night of the concert, we are tooling down Hwy 17, we are listening to Pat Metheny on the cassette player in the car. We are pumped. We are ready for some Pat Metheny Live!

We arrive and the event begins.  We hear a bass playing. Frantically looking out onto the stage, there is no one there, or they are all in shadow, and there is certainly no one playing a bass.

Soon, a man emerges from the wing and it is with his voice that he is creating the illusion - that sound. Remarkable. Astonishing. Incredible. Outstanding. 

Before his set is over, we are convinced we don’t even need to stay for Pat Metheny, the concert has already been fabulous. We have gotten more than our money’s worth. This amazing musician’s name? Al Jarreau.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Of Friends and History

This trip to California took a totally different turn for me. I usually come for an event then visit my friend, JT. We talk and visit, drive down to the beach, hang out, generally comment on the state of the world, watch Netflix movies, and then I make my way back home.

This trip I did attend an event but I went to visit friends that lived much further away whom I hadn’t seen for many, many years (at least 10 in both cases.)

My friend who lives South of San Francisco and I were roommates in an apartment for a while back when we were both in college. I had met her brother a couple years earlier and our relationship just naturally followed when she came to go to San Francisco State University.

We’ve always kept in touch. I was at her wedding. She entertained my children in her pool in her backyard. I flew down to celebrate her 50th birthday.  On every occasion, it was as if no time and no distance had passed.

I took the Caltrain. That was a new experience for me. I lived in San Francisco for almost a decade, but I never had the occasion to take the train. Caltrain provides commuter rail service along the San Francisco Peninsula, through the South Bay to San Jose and Gilroy. She lives just north of San Jose so I took a 90 minute train ride through parts of California that I had never seen. She picked me up at the station, and after a long, hard hug, we started chatting as if we had just got off the telephone earlier that week!

It was wonderful to be there. I had to chance to see one of her sons who is now all grown up! We ate Thai food, swam in the heated pool, drank wine, and discoursed on the state of the nation. We went to the beach, watched the sea lions floating like driftwood, ate clam chowder and calamari, and played in the waves more than ankle deep in the ocean.

There was never any doubt, discomfort or distress. Every word, every pause, every silence was filled with our history, our connection, our yesterday and our now.

I then traveled by BART, with which I am highly familiar, to a station with which I am highly familiar – El Cerrito Del Norte! That’s where I take the train to visit my cousins! I texted my cousin from the station to let her know that I was ‘passing through’ but probably wouldn’t get to see them this trip. What a delight it was for me to see my friend Michalle after all these years!

I first crossed paths with Michalle when I was active in the Broadcast industry and she was the Marketing person for a local radio broadcasting group. We didn’t chat much, but I became much closer friends with her when she opened a store across from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It was called ‘The Angel Store.’ Her store had crystals and talismans, candles and cards, and a machine that read auras. I wandered in there one day with a friend from school who is also into Metaphysics and Spirituality, and there she was!

She eventually left town and moved up north. We still kept in touch now and again by phone. In 2002, she called and asked me to be in her wedding! It was both a privilege and an honor to be a member of her bridal party. We had a wonderful time and promised to keep in touch. This time was a little easier because now there was Facebook.

On Facebook, I had the opportunity to follow her work and her travels. She had adopted a bunch of special needs babies, she was working and moving around trying to fill their needs. I followed her trials and tribulations and would even call and personally check-in on occasion. She came to Vegas once, and we had lunch. But Saturday, at the station, it was that instantaneous moment of recognition, a long, hard hug, and then right into conversation that we could have started days or even minutes before.

These are the days of our lives. Live them well. Love your neighbors. Travel often. Hug one another. Celebrate your friends.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Dream is Free

It turns out that in the past several weeks I have been challenged beyond my comfort zone and I have responded DIFFERENTLY this time. Historically, things come to me so easily that as soon as something gets hard, I quit. I don’t want to work TOO hard for it. My first instinct is to opt-out every time. I mean, there are consequences, but my first response is always to just QUIT.

I’m a substitute teacher in our local school district. My contract expires in February. I was willing to let it go. I didn’t get much work this year anyway, so I was ready to split. However, I got this really sweet gig which is kind of a permanent part-time position, however, in order to get (keep) this job, I had to renew my license. And to renew my license, I had to study, take and PASS (with more than 70%) THREE (3) EXAMS! 

I LIKE my new job. I’m actually making a difference in my new job. It’s even enough cash to keep me in the black on my bank balance. And if I want to stay with it, I would have to push through to learn and memorize several key facts in order to pass three exams.

The old me would have quit. Sure, the gig is sweet, but I would have to STUDY. And there was a bunch of stuff I didn’t know! Did I want to work for it? Did the NEW me think it was worth it? So the NEW me tried to recall what tactics I’ve used to study in the past. It finally came to me, having rediscovered those tactics, I set out to ‘Get ‘er done.’ Whew. Two weeks and four days later, I sat for the exams and passed them all at least 10-15% higher than the required result.

That made me feel good.

Spanish. I’ve been learning Spanish for about a year now, on and off. I decided to commit to getting at least 90 days in a row. The app I’m using keeps track. I’ve been doing this for a while, so although I didn’t have a 90-day streak, I thought I was doing pretty well. I realized, however, that I have come to the end of all the Spanish I have ever heard or learned, or could glean from my previous study of Latin. That was at about day 65, and it was getting somewhat challenging. My option, of course, was to quit. 

I figured I could pick it up again later, if I felt like it, until I remembered why I was learning Spanish. First, the most important reason, is that my eldest nan-child speaks it and I wanted to be able to converse with her beyond ‘Hello, how are you?’ Second, because I am looking forward to travelling in several Latin American countries, I’d like to be able to speak the language.  And, finally, I believe learning another language is a great idea! So, as I got more and more frustrated and was ready to quit…I almost let 24 hours go by – but, nope, I committed, let’s do this.

I am happy to say that I am currently on Day 90. And I’m still at it.

The last, which is the opposite of what I have done so far, is to ACTUALLY QUIT something that no longer serves me - The Casino. This is by far the hardest decision to make, considering that up until now, quitting is something I do well.

I wasn’t hanging out all the time, but it was just too many times for my budget. I have exciting plans this year. I have things I want to do. I have places I want to go. Yes, I win big sometimes, but I’d be having so much fun I rarely took much of it home. I need healthier options when I’m celebrating. I need healthier alternatives when I’m sad. I need new friends. 

I am only two weeks into this one. I figure I would have been there at least four times by now. However, based on the success of the other two…

Is this what it means to be a grown up? I thought I was doing a good job. I was taking responsibility for my actions. But what actions? 

I thought about some things I have done in the past and realized these issues have come up for me for YEARS. I see things that I didn’t follow through on because as soon as they got tough I quit. Or, I would convince myself that I didn’t want to do that anyway, so let’s try this (next thing) instead.

This all came because I was trying to figure out the reason that I am not making any notable progress in my entrepreneur venture and wondering what to do about it. Did it get too hard? Yup. Is there stuff I need to learn? Yup. And did I quit? Almost...

So many times I’ve heard ‘The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.’ And now I understand what that really means to me. Back at it. 

It's right what they say, the dream IS free, but the hustle is sold separately. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016


As 2016 draws to a close, I take time to reflect on what I have done and where I have been.

I have certainly had a wonderful and eventful 2016, for which I am grateful and thankful! I am filled with love, joy and admiration for my friends near and far whom I have visited and traveled with, those with whom I have coordinated projects, and those with whom I have spent considerable time and money learning how to be an entrepreneur. In 2017 I plan to be MUCH further along.

So, for 2017, I have come to the following plans for the New Year:

I want to say YES to continue to INVEST in myself.

I want my website to be current and accessible to my friends and clients by the end of January. If that requires hiring a website manager, then so it is!

I want to say YES to ACTION over Fear. 

I would like to experience actually generating significant income without a JOB. I have production skills, coaching skills, and public speaking skills. Producing shows, coaching clients, and making a few speeches this year would create income. There is definitely money to be made.

For this reason, I want to produce at least 3 webinars this year. January, July, December. I want to produce a successful, motivational and inspirational event showcasing multicultural individuals over 55 who are making a significant impact in their Encore careers. Diversity in Da House!

I want to say YES to LOVE in ACTION

I appreciate that my husband pays my bills and supports me unconditionally, I also want love and affection. I appreciate my husband as the friend that he has been all these years, but I would like a deeper relationship. I deserve healthy love!

I want to say YES to PROGRESS not PERFECTION

I want to reach out to other multicultural communities who may be hosting their own blogs, websites and podcasts and offer them inclusion in any activities that I promote. I would also like to be included as the Encore Ageing expert in events they promote.

I want to say YES to TRAVEL 

I want to travel to Hawai'i, Alaska, the Mexican Riviera and somewhere in South America. When I visit South America, I will be able to cross another continent off my bucket list.

I want to say YES to EXPERIENCES

I want to attend at least two Spiritual and Personal development retreats this year. It would be a bonus if they were in places I want to visit!

I want to say YES to PERSONAL GROWTH

When I do this, at the end of 2017 I can look back and see how far I've come.

It's my hair

I recently had my hair in dreadlocks. I had committed to wearing them for a year starting October, 2015. I usually had them put up into a design pattern. After a few weeks, I would take them loose and wear the locs just hanging, which was annoying as they weren’t really long enough to hang freely so they would stand away from my head. I would also be frustrated by the knots along the hair and I would want to take them out. I would end up trying to untangle the locs and realized that they were part of the inherent nature of ‘locs,’ so I would go back to the loctician and have them put back into a design on my head out of reach.

Today, December 29, 2016, I decided that I was done. It has been over a year. The bottom line is that it’s just hair, so while I still have some on my head, I like to indulge myself in a variety of looks and styles. Locs are beautiful. I enjoyed wearing some of the patterns and I even enjoyed having them hanging loose when they were finally long enough to hang freely. (However, the knots still annoyed me!)

But I’m a hairdo person. I like to change my look all the time. Keep ‘em guessing. So once I decided to take my locs out, my friend came over to help.

At first, I was trying to save my hair by actually taking the locs apart and unknotting them. This process was so tedious that in the length of TWO MOVIES we only managed to take down a small handful.

The next option was to cut them out. I had decided to unlock them a couple weeks ago, so they had been loose for about two weeks. There seemed to be sufficient new growth that we could actually cut them at the first ‘knot’ and then take them out from there.

This left an incredibly asymmetrical pattern all over my head. My hair was long where we had actually unlocked the dreadlock; my hair was shorter in places where we cut the locs out, and longer in places with more new growth. Needless to say this left me with a need to have it corrected.

Ultimately, it seemed like the best option I was going to have was to get my hair chopped off at the barbershop, but I called my hairdresser first. She said she would cut it for about $15. Gave me a 10:30 a.m. Thursday appointment. That seemed like a plan. My friend had gone to a barbershop locally to have hers cut, so I texted her. Her barber charged $10. She gave me the barber’s name and her number. I called twice, left a message once. No response. I took that as a sign.

I called my hairdresser back and said I had decided to have it done instead of just cut and was 10:30 still a good time. She said, ‘Sure.’

As I was sitting in her chair today, I was reminiscing about my first experience with a hairdresser. I was probably in about 4th grade. When we lived in New Jersey, I had relatives who braided my hair and it would be up for a week at a time. When we moved to Philadelphia, we had no such access. My mother worked so she didn’t have time or talent to braid my hair, so after about a year of struggling with it, my mother decided to take me to the hairdresser.

The woman she found could not have been more accommodating. It was like I had a personal hairdresser. My Mother and I would wash our hair at home and then go sit in this woman’s living room and wait our turn to have our hair done. My hair is very soft and doesn’t hold styles well. It would be cute for a minute, but I would have to put pink sponge rollers in it at night.

However, if it was a special event, perhaps picture day at school, this woman would do my hair THAT MORNING! For the school dances, I would wash my hair, get completely dressed for the dance, and then go to her house to have my hair done. On several occasions she assisted me in getting my dress on over my recently done ‘do.’ I remember she attached ‘ringlets’ to my hair for a school dance when ringlets were ‘all the rage.’ I remember her styling my hair on the morning of picture day at school. I even remember her helping me into my dress for the Sophomore Hop!

That summer, however, was the rise of the Civil Rights and Black Panther movement and having one’s hair done went quickly out of fashion. We travelled to California that June and when I returned to school in the fall, I had a short, curly afro that I had fashioned by merely washing my hair and rolling it in my ever popular pink rollers. (Those pink sponge rollers have stood the test of time!)

Today I wear my hair in a variety of styles. Sometimes hot-curled, other times in braids, or my short afro. Never chemicals, so I consider all my hairdos 'natural.' Many folks make a political statement of their natural hair. Other people make an actual issue (there is SO much animosity against Black women wearing natural hair!)

To me, it’s just hair - not really political, not even that serious. Other women might disagree, but that is not where my vanity lies. My vanity lies elsewhere. However, I love my hair. I love my hairdressers. I love my braiders. And I’ve loved my locticians. Thank you all for being kind to my hair. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

One of my first stories

I've decided that I'm going to start posting things I've been writing for years. Some of it is fiction, some of it is fact, some - a little bit of both! However, I was pretty popular in high school, and this is only one incident of a series that proves it. My high school has a LONG tradition of a gymnastic competition between the junior and senior classes. (There are other stories that elaborate, I'll post them here, too.) Every year, the junior class votes on their mascot, and that 'character' becomes the mascot for two consecutive years. There's a general assembly for that class to hold auditions for a person to BE that mascot for the two years. This is my story.

At Girls High, they had a policy that if you were taking a freshman class you had to be in a freshman homeroom, even if you were a sophomore. I spent my sophomore year in a freshman homeroom for this reason. Well, even though I was in this freshman homeroom, I was well aware of all the things going on with the sophomore class.

The school had an event every year called ‘Contest.’ It was a gymnastic competition between the juniors and the seniors. Every year they elected a mascot (you got to be mascot for 2 years if elected.) Every year they held an audition. It was the biggest sophomore assembly of the year.

Each year the classes get to pick a cartoon character to be their team’s mascot. It’s great because there are pictures in both the junior and senior class yearbooks. So it’s your choice if you decide to get two yearbooks because you do it as a junior and again as a senior.

The audition for the Contest Mascot was at the next assembly. I had been hanging around with a couple girls that were in the band. One of my best friends who was in the band said she thought it might be fun for me to audition. The class had chosen the Pink Panther. There’s a very popular song called Alley Cat that the band had just learned to play. Ann suggested that I use that song and act like a ‘cat’ and just generally do a ‘cat’ imitation as the audition while the band was playing that song.

We worked it out with the band director and it was a go. We didn’t rehearse or anything because we all knew it would just be spontaneous and I was rather extroverted during my high school years, so it was going to be great fun.

It was the middle of winter in Philadelphia. We used to bundle up and slip and slide our way down the street on a daily basis. It had snowed the night before so it was cold and frozen over that morning.

When I got dressed for school that day I considered whether I should wear my tights, or put them on at school. I had already decided that I would put the leotard on backstage and just draw a couple whiskers on my face with a black grease pencil. So I figured I would just wear the tights. I was bundled into a sweater, a skirt, my pink tights, my woolen scarf, my matching hat and gloves, and my long soft wool gray coat.

That morning, I negotiated my way carefully down the frozen cement stairs in front of my house. I was proud of myself for making my way without slipping and falling and ruining my brand new pink tights.

I took two public buses to get to school each day. One bus ran about a block away from my house. I rode that one to a connecting bus that went the rest of the way to school. I got on the bus, as usual and got off at the stop in front of Ann’s house so we could ride the next bus the rest of the way to school together.

I was walking toward her apartment and slipped and fell face first and smashed my hands and knees on the sidewalk. It only took me a split second to decide that I didn’t have time to feel bad or hurt, I was sure my tights were shredded. I had to find some more tights fast, get inside, change and get going. Ann had seen me slip as she was coming out of her front door and ran to me. There were tears running down my face, but I wasn’t quite sure if it was the cold or if I was crying.

“Wow, are you ok? Look, you ruined your tights!” I didn’t have to look down to know that they were ruined. I could feel the icy cold wetness on my knees.

“Do you have ANY tights?” I asked, pleadingly, as I attempted to get up and shake off the damp snow.

“I don’t know, let’s go look.”

We ran back into the house, as Ann’s mother was getting ready for work. She was standing in the bathroom door which faced the front door as she twisted her long, black hair into a knot at the nape of her neck. She saw us come in and asked, “What happened?” as she looked at my now soggy tights.

“I fell,” I said meekly.

“Ann,” she called over my shoulder, “I think you have some red tights in the hall closet.”

Ann had finished digging in the closet and was waving a pair of slightly dusty, but perfect red tights. “I know you’re supposed to be pink, but nobody will care.”

“I know,” I said, “because I don’t care, I’m going to perform, who cares what I’m wearing!” And we gave each other a high five as I plopped down on the floor and proceeded to remove my shredded tights to change into Ann’s red ones.

“Do I have to drive you all to school now?” her mother asked as she stepped over me sitting in the middle of the hallway.

“If you could just take us to the bus stop,” Ann replied.

“Okay, tell me when you’re ready and we can go.” She turned the corner and went into the living room to get her coat out of the front closet.

I quickly pulled up my tights, adjusted, pulled on my boots, and we were ready.

We cautiously walked to the assigned space where their car was parked. She had a 1966 ½ Mustang convertible. It was white with a black ragtop. It was slick. I loved riding in it. Although climbing into the backseat was difficult, it was always worth the ride!

She dropped us off just as the bus was pulling up. We shouted goodbye as we ran and hopped the bus and rode off to school.

We got to school on time, and the assembly was right at the first bell. I really didn’t ask if I could go to the assembly, I just walked up to the teacher and said, ‘I have to go to the sophomore assembly now.’ And I left the room.

Backstage I stripped down to my tights and put my leotard on in the wings. Francesca DiCosmo and Alameda Smith were in the wings to audition as well. Francesca was also wearing a leotard and tights. She was all in black and she had a top hat and a cane – a la Gene Kelly. Alameda (Ali for short) was pacing around reciting something. Ann had found a headband with ears on it, but she was holding onto it. We didn’t really want to give anything away. And although the entire band was in the wings as well, it wasn’t really a big deal and nobody thought anything of it.

The first person to audition for the part of the Pink Panther was Francesca. She was an Italian who had a twin sister named Andrea. They weren’t identical, but they looked enough like sisters, and they were both in my homeroom my freshman year (and I knew they’d be in my homeroom again next year.) She did a modern dance to ‘The Look of Love’ – it was interesting. I think that she believed that the entire Italian contingent would vote for her in solidarity. The problem was, the Pink Panther is not elegant, and I don’t believe in their heart they could have voted for her. But they did applaud because it was quite a nice dance.

They closed the curtain and Alameda Smith went out to the podium.  Ali was a ‘sister’ who read a poem about how ‘perfect’ she was to be the Pink Panther because she was so ‘cool.’ Now we both know that being cool and saying you’re cool are two different things. Her entire poem practically concentrated on the fact that she should be the Pink Panther just because she ‘said’ so. I don’t know who she thought would vote for her. I think she believed that the ‘sisters’ would vote for her because she had come from hard times, and worked hard in school despite – well, despite whatever she had to overcome – and was counting on a sympathy vote. While she was reading her poem, the band was setting up on the stage behind the curtain. When she was done, she got very weak applause.

Now, there weren’t that many people who knew that I was going to be auditioning with the band. Actually, it was just my friends in the band and the band director. But, without introduction, they started playing ‘Alley Cat’ and I came strutting out of the wings. I was crouched and holding my arms folded and my hands limp. Only part of the audience could see me. People were beginning to laugh while others were craning their necks to see. I stopped and preened and looked around. I hissed and I spat. Then I walked downstage and across in front of the band so everyone could see me. The audience howled.  Next, I leapt up onto the box that the Band Director was standing on. I began to purr and mew and scratch and lick. I’d rub up against the Directors leg and then I’d turn up my nose and look disagreeable. The class went CRAZY. People were holding their sides from laughing. People would applaud and cheer when I would sit up on my knees and lick my ‘paws.’  As the song was ending, I climbed on all fours off the box and crawled off stage lifting one hand at a time to the beat of the music so I was all the way in the wings as the song ended. The curtain closed and I peeked out. I got a standing ovation. I never reappeared from the curtain to take a bow, but lots of people were bum-rushing me backstage. I put my skirt and my sweater on over the leotard and the red tights. Girls were trying to catch up with me as I was coming out from backstage of the auditorium.

That was great. You were wonderful. That was so funny. You did that so well. You made me laugh. Ali and Francesca were both nearby. Andrea came backstage to talk to her sister. Ali ended up all by herself. I thanked them both and wished them well. Then I went to my next class. I had done my job.