Thursday, December 29, 2016

Reflections

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.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

What I think of Hoʻoponopono.

Hoʻoponopono (ho-o-pono-pono) is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness.

I’m Sorry
Everywhere you look people are being hurt or often easily offended. In all cases, this is a highly personal response to what is going on in their lives. 'Take nothing personally', says Don Miguel Ruiz in his book 'The Four Agreements.'

Someone else cannot hurt you unless you take their words to heart.  Most conversations are of folks merely bragging or complaining. They may have direct correlation to something you need to say or do, but it’s hardly ever about you.

Please Forgive Me
For those people who have taken your words personally, the 12-step program provides a recourse in Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all; and Step 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

For those of you who have physically abused others, amends might clear the air, especially if sufficient time has passed, but I offer you this: Throw a plate on the floor. It shatters. Apologize. The plate is still broken. Forgiveness is for the forgiver, the wounded must find their solace in forgiveness as well.

Tim McAfee Lewis, of the Agape International Spiritual Center Choir wrote, ‘I forgive me, I forgive me, everything that I’ve been holding onto, I let go. I surrender, I surrender. I’m ready for my change.’

Forgiveness is the most important thing, it opens a place in our heart that has been closed, shadowed. It brings lightness to bear.

Thank You
We live in a gracious and abundant Universe. Every day when you wake up and open your eyes it is a brand new day. A new day to continue on the path or to do something different, to start something or even be someone new. Today is the first day of the best of your life. For this, we are grateful.

I Love You
There is no reason why I would NOT love you. The world is about peace. The majority of individuals want only to wake up, provide food and shelter for their families, and enjoy the fruits of their labors. The majority of individuals are not out to ‘get’ anyone. In the words of two great Beatles songs, the first, I Am the Walrus he sings: ‘I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together’: and in the second, ‘All you need is love. Love is all you need.’

Namaste. "The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you" - a knowing that we are all made from the same One Divine Consciousness.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fly like an Eagle

One Saturday morning, when I was a teenager, it was still dark outside when I woke up. I slipped into the bathroom to get ready to go. I heard my Mom get up and go downstairs to fix a little breakfast.

I showered, brushed my teeth, combed my hair, dressed and was ready to go quick fast and in a hurry! I was so excited.

I thundered down the stairs and followed the smell of bacon into the kitchen.
All ready to go, she asked
Yup, I responded.
Promise me that you won’t jump out of any airplanes, she admonished.
I promise, I said.
And I want to talk to him when he gets here.
Okay, I said.

I was eating bacon and toast when I heard his car door slam. I ran and opened the door before he knocked.
My Mom wants to talk to you, I said.
Okay, he said.
She came out of the kitchen. Promise me that she will not jump out of any airplanes.
Okay, he laughed, that deep throaty laugh, I promise.
She kissed me on my forehead, I grabbed my knapsack and we were gone.

In the car I met his friend, Jim. I rode in the center and we were off.
We drove down long stretches of deserted highway with his foot to the floor, or as we say, pedal to the metal, to see if his car would actually go the top speed on the speedometer.
We sang along to the radio.
We stopped for gas along the way.
Finally, in the distance, he pointed out the site.
That’s where we’re going, he said.

I could see colorful parachutes floating from the sky, like hot air balloons on race day. I saw a plane way over the group disgorging individuals whose parachutes would open seconds later. My heart was thumping. I was so excited.
He had asked me a couple days before if I wanted to go with him this weekend because he was going to do his first untethered jump. For your first 10 jumps, you do the motions, but the ripcord is pulled as you exit the plane. The 11th jump, you get to pull the ripcord on your own. He was doing 10 and 11 this morning.

My friend and I had been running around the halls at school doing this simulation that he taught us. One-one thousand, leap out; two-one thousand, open your arms; three-one thousand, grab your ripcord; four-one thousand pull the ripcord; five-one thousand, look up for the chute; six-one thousand, if no chute appears; seven- one thousand grab the safety chute ripcord; eight-one thousand, pull the ripcord.

We ran through the hallways, miming the routine as if we were wearing parachutes. We would look up as if checking for our chutes, and run into people. Then we’d tumble over them, laugh hysterically, and race to our next class.

This was for real. He was taking me to the place where he and his friend Jim were learning to skydive. He was taking me to watch him make his first solo jump. I am sure I was as excited as he was.

I loved all the things he did that I thought were pretty cool for a teen-aged boy. He was learning to be a pilot. He was learning to skydive. He was learning to deep-sea dive. And, the least of which, he had learned to drive.

When he first bought the car and picked up our friend Mike, he came and picked me up so I would be the first girl to ride in it. We only went around the block, he promised my Mom, but it was sweet.

Soon, he was coming to pick me up to take me different places and my mother eventually allowed us to spend more than 10 minutes in the car together. She even let him drive HER car once. That’s when I knew she trusted him. I like to think that she liked him, too. And he respected her and her rules. He even took direction from her that he rejected from his own Mother!

I had loved him madly since elementary school and he knew it. This was our summer. I didn’t know that then, but hindsight…

When we got to the Skydiving place, there were cars parked all over a field next to a low roofed building housing rows and rows of long picnic style table tops and benches. I immediately learned that this is where they wrapped their parachutes after a jump.

On the other side was a building several stories tall with folks on the top jumping off onto stacks of mattresses. This is where they practiced the ripcord routine.

They give plenty of lessons on how to wrap your parachute. For the novice, there are tables with rake like tines sticking up at intervals to show you how to separate and untangle the ropes in your parachute as you repack it. And there are plenty of tables long enough to wrap your chute without these guides for when you get to be an expert.

I was fascinated by the variety of people and parachutes. Some of the chutes were standard issue canopy, solid color all the way through. Others were just as colorful and festive, as I mentioned, as hot air balloons. Lots of folks had jumpsuits to match and made a fetching view from the ground as they fell out of the sky.

There was a husband and wife team who were elegant and delightful to watch as they twisted and turned and danced their way down out of the sky. Then they would separate and open their chutes, and descend lightly to the ground. 

At one point, JL asked me if I wanted to ride in the plane.

Oh yes, oh yes, I said, doing a little dance like a puppy that needed to pee. I had never been in an airplane before.

The pilot came over and said, Put this on. So I got to wear my own jumpsuit over my clothes. They strapped me into a safety parachute, the ones worn in the front, and then they asked me to jump off the roof of the building, just like the skydiving students, to practice the three second count to pull the ripcord if necessary. Jump, arms outstretched, reach in, and then pull. They were impressed at my efficiency at this task. But they had no idea how many times I had practiced this routine running through the halls of my high school.

The pilot told me that if he said to jump, he was not kidding.

I got it, I said. My heart was racing and my feet were pumping. Whoopee! I said, Whoopee! Hands clapping.

Since there are no seats in a jump plane, they physically strapped me to a side rail with a quick release button behind my back, in case I really did have to get out in a hurry.

The rest of the students were on the plane as well. This was the jump that JL was going to get to do solo. His first jump without the ripcord being pulled for him in his practice simulation. His first jump where he got to decide how far to fall before pulling the ripcord. And I was on the plane with him. Strapped to the side rail.

After all the divers had jumped out, at 10, 15 and 18,000 feet, the pilot then took me on a quick tour of the area. It was just like I had seen in pictures. It was out in farm country in New Jersey. The land was divided into quilted squares of brown and green and tan. People and tractors were tiny from my vantage point in the sky. The grass and trees in the woods looked imposing even from that distance.

Sailing across the sky, over hills and farms and houses and people and cars, I felt exhilarated. This was amazing. This view was amazing.

The plane started to stutter and I looked to the pilot, but he never looked back at me. I looked down and saw JL and his friends jumping up and down and waving at me. I waved back!

The pilot then circled around and landed on the tarmac. JL ran over to me and asked me why I didn’t jump. I said because the pilot didn’t say so. He said, one of the engines stalled while I was in the air! And I didn’t even know it!

That night, driving home, with Jim in tow, I realized that between JL's free-fall and my first plane ride, it had been a really, really, really good day.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Takes too long

I am so tired of those LONG video pitches when I just want to know what the product is and where can I get it. I sometimes get the feeling that the longer the pitch, the less likely that it is any good! 

I went on line the other day to find out about a writing program. I got so tired of the pitch that I left in the middle of the video. I didn’t need endless testimonials on how well someone else did with the program. I didn’t need a bunch of stories of how ‘so-and-so’ got to travel to ‘wherever’ for free. They could have had my money if they had just made their point and taken me to checkout!

Recently, I was watching a video about improving my eyesight. I was pretty interested in the product and I would have purchased it just to try it, especially right after they mentioned the money-back guarantee. Well, alrighty then, I’m sold – take me to the product! Didn’t happen. I’m gone. An unsatisfied customer.

Who told these people that long pitches worked? I’m not a Millennial, but my attention span is pretty short for commercial advertising pitches. You want to sell me something? Tell me what it is, tell me what it does, tell me how much it costs and show me to the checkout button! I don’t need to be ‘convinced.’ 

And what’s up with these videos that don’t have the tracking control bar so I can fast-forward the story? There’s no way to get to the end. If I’m sold, I don’t need the rest of the hype, let me zoom through. Take my money, I'm out!

If I think you’re a snake oil salesman, I’m not even going to check it out. If I’ve clicked on it, I’m interested. If I stay through the “what it Is, what it does, and what it costs” – I’m pretty much in. I can accept a few minutes of details and testimonials – 10 minutes? No thank you! Who watches 10 minutes of the same commercial? Anybody notice that even the best commercials are not more than 2 minutes long? Sheesh! After two minutes, I don’t have that kind of time to spend watching a commercial! Two minutes of my life that I’ll never get back. Minutes can be precious.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with this famous quotation:

“If you want to know the value of one year, just ask a student who failed a course.

If you want to know the value of one month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.

If you want to know the value of one hour, ask the lovers waiting to meet.

If you want to know the value of one minute, ask the person who just missed the bus.

If you want to know the value of one second, ask the person who just escaped death in a car accident.

And if you want to know the value of one-hundredth of a second, ask the athlete who won a silver medal in the Olympics.”

― Marc Levy

Every moment counts. 

I realize that this is basically a rant about annoying promotional videos, but it applies to your life as well. 

There is no reason to spend another minute on a failed project. Let it go, pick up the pieces and move on. 

There is no reason to spend another hour waiting in line for technology that is new but not different. 

There is no reason to procrastinate going to that monthly event next month, go today! 

Finish what you started. Do what comes next. Now.

If you want me to buy it, where’s the checkout button?

Friday, May 27, 2016

I write and I dance

When my son was a child, he would draw on any available piece of paper. Not a simple doodle or design, he would draw fully articulated characters, monsters, fully-formed faces, bodies, armor and all. If there was an envelope on the kitchen counter, it would have a drawing on it. Bills that came in the mail got small sketches in the corners. Return envelopes would have monsters drawn all around the address. No blank space was safe. It wasn’t that much later that he asked for a ‘cartooning desk’ that ultimately I was to discover was really a ‘drafting table.’ He got that table for Christmas at the age of seven, and now he is an Art Director.
***
When I was a child, I used to write short stories. My spelling teacher would give us lists from which we had to create stories. Although my Dad gets all the credit for some of the best stories I turned in to school in those days (one was even printed in a school publication!) I wrote other stories. 

He liked to write stories of Charlie and Sam. He was 'Charlie', and I had always been 'Sam.' I loved those stories. He had a lot of  black and white composition books of his stories. They were ultimately destroyed between a flood in his basement and a fire in his home. I wrote, though. I wrote poems and short stories and plays and even two novels. I was a writer...

***
I had taken ballet class because my Mother didn’t want me to walk the way Black girls with as much ‘back’ as I had, often walked. I liked ballet, but as I got older, I discovered Modern Dance. I loved Modern and studied with a few outstanding choreographers in Philadelphia. When I went to college, I discovered Jazz dance and I was hooked. However, continuous tears and depression (as my Mother had passed away suddenly) kept me from going to class. I fled the city.

When I arrived on the West Coast, I was welcomed with open arms. Soon after, I re-discovered the dancer in me! I took dance classes at one of San Francisco's most famous studios. I became a teacher. I participated in several studio performances. And I danced and danced and danced. 

As the adult division of the studio, we went on to become an 'item' as a company of dancers over 40 years old. We moved to the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason. My best friend became the Company Manager and Artistic Director, I became the Producer. We held sold out shows. Standing room only! 

***

I started writing again in more than my journal. I wrote short stories and poems. I even wrote a full length play!  It was an amazing time.

So here I am, some 20 years later. I look around and realize it has been quite a while since I’ve been in a dance studio. I miss the marley floor, the mirrored walls, the ballet barres opposite the mirrors.

I did produce, direct and perform in a dance concert. We rehearsed in a ballroom dance studio (wood floors, no marley, no barres). It was wonderful though. It was fun to be directing and dancing!

I haven’t stopped writing, but I realize I need BOTH. Dance is my physical outlet, writing is my emotional outlet. And herein lies the Blog.

Guess what I did this week? I went to my first jazz class since I stopped producing shows in San Francisco, 10 or 15 years ago. I did it just to prove to myself that I could. And I did. And I’ll go back.


And when I came home, I wrote about it in my journal.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Where are you from?

I initially moved to San Francisco from Philadelphia. Philadelphia was a great town to be ‘from.’ Philadelphia was famous for Benjamin Franklin, Bill Cosby, Joe Frazier, and Noam Chomsky to name a few celebrities. There was also the Philadelphia sound including Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the Stylistics, and Patti LaBelle and the Bluebells. We were also famous for American Bandstand, Cheesesteaks and Hoagies, South Philly DJs, City Hall, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Betsy Ross house among others.

We moved to Las Vegas in 1982, right after the big fire at the then, MGM Grand Hotel. During the hiatus of the Jubilee show, many of the dancers came to San Francisco to hang out until their show reopened. Several of them suggested that my husband was ‘perfect’ and looked ‘just like Iowa corn.’ (Still not sure whether that was meant to be a compliment.) And he does. Good German stock, slightly chiseled features, blue eyes, blonde hair. That’s how we came to be in Las Vegas. He auditioned for the show at what the show kids called the ‘Cattle Call’ and lined up with all the other wannabe Vegas dancers and, voila, we were moving to Las Vegas.

Rather traumatic for me. He had just moved to San Francisco, I had lived there for almost a decade. He moved there with a friend from the Midwest. I moved to stay with a cousin (whom I didn’t know very well) after my Mother died and I was fleeing the East Coast. He was looking to get into another form of dance (He was a ‘disco king’ in Minnesota.) I was teaching and taking modern and jazz dance classes.

He wanted to dance for a living. I was now pregnant with twins. I didn’t want to leave. I had friends and roots. I had family across the Bay. I resisted.
He came to Las Vegas without me. I tried to stay in San Francisco, and I struggled. He moved to Las Vegas in June, in time for rehearsals as a new member of the cast. I brought the kids and moved in November.

I wasn’t built to be a Vegas dancer. I have a big booty and little boobs, instead of the other way around! I didn’t know what to do with myself here. He had created his own community of friends in the Las Vegas Strip Dance community. I didn’t know anybody. Besides, I had twin boys to take care of.

Initially, I went to all the parties at night. We would take the twins, let everybody ‘ooh’ and ‘aahh’ over them, and then put them to bed at whoever’s house we were in. They were great about it. They became very easy going and adaptable little boys. I went on to have a third son, (thought it might be twins again, but he was just BIG.) I stopped going to the parties. I started taking the twins on local adventures instead. After the birth of my third son, we took him, too.

My Dad always said that you should investigate all the tourist attractions wherever you live. It will give you a feeling of the city’s history and it will give you something to do or recommend when company comes to town. 

I uncovered a variety of activities to do that were not on the strip. We actually learned a lot of Las Vegas history in the process. Since the city has a tendency to subscribe to the notion 'out with the old, in with the new' at the expense of local landmarks, much of that history is gone now.

I have a friend who is a native. She lives 45 miles outside the middle-of-nowhere Northern Nevada. We visited her often and I learned a LOT about all the little cities and towns in the rural areas. I also had the opportunity to work for the local Broadcasters Association. I would take tours with the Executive Director to visit the radio stations in towns that often had as many horses as they had population!

My sons are all grown up now. The twins have each married and have children of their own. My youngest son moved out to Henderson. It is a joy to have three sons that never brought the police to my door, never called for bail money, and never had an angry father appear at my door with a shotgun!


I visit them in various cities where they live. As they each find their own way in the world, what I believe they have each discovered, is that today, Las Vegas is a good town to be ‘from.’

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Playlist

I listened to a music playlist I made quite a while ago and every song took me to a specific time and place in my life. I didn’t realize how powerful music and memory can be. I mean, I understand how songs can remind you of people, places and things; but this took me to not only the circumstances of the songs, but to the reason I chose those songs when I made the playlist!

These songs took me to places that I had forgotten, and then the choice of these songs took me to the time and place in my life that made me want to remember them.

I am not in love by 10CC. It was the year my Mother died. I was wandering around in a daze. I met a guy that Fall, and although I was smitten, he wouldn’t tell me that he loved me. It was our song.

I watched a movie about a choir that were residents of Senior Citizens homes in the Northeast. The movie is called ‘Young@Heart.’ They were singing all kinds of fun, current pop songs. I wasn’t familiar with all the songs, but the movie was great. One day I was listening to the radio and the REAL version of one of their songs came on the radio - Fix You, by Coldplay. I had to pull off the road, the song brought me to tears.  It was a powerful and emotional movie, but until that moment I didn’t realize how it had impacted me. I have both versions.

I used to LOVE the Ally McBeal show. I watched it faithfully for several seasons. After the Robert Downey episode where he leaves her, I stopped watching. Barry White had always been one of my favorite crooners, and when Biscuit and Richard referred to him over and over again as their icon and mentor,  I was thrilled. You’re the First, the Last, My Everything became my theme song for a long time. I sang it to myself all the time.

My very first serious boyfriend that I lived with was a jazz enthusiast. I liked jazz music a lot as well. We were perfection as a couple. A well-oiled machine that worked together in amazing tandem. We bought our first album together, Deodato, and months later acquired a kitten that we named the same. His Pavane for a Dead Princess was one of our favorite songs. I really loved Jeannot. We were too young.

For years I danced in a company in San Francisco. One of my favorite people loved the Grateful Dead. Years later, when the song, The Boys of Summer by Don Henley was released, I thought of her and San Francisco every time I heard the chorus…I saw a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac, a little voice inside my head said don’t look back, you can never look back…and it made me sad, but it made me smile.

I can’t make you love me by Bonnie Raitt is the story of my life. I had been in love before, I had been loved before. I thought I knew what it was supposed to feel like and look like. I thought being married would be more and better. I didn’t realize it would be this lonely.

Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn was my introduction to Pandora. I had picked a popular rock icon, and this song came on. I LOVED it. I loved the song, the story, the imagery – all of it. I can completely relate to the scene and the scenario. For this, I am ever grateful to Pandora.


You Gotta Be by Des’ree. This is the song that picks me up out of the doldrums – every time I hit the doldrums! Herald what your Mother said, Read the books your Father read…My Mother and her Mother were incredibly wise women. I learned a lot. My Father was an avid reader. He read everything from torn cover trashy paperbacks to the Bible to Shakespeare to Maya Angelou.

‘Nuff said.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Good Friends Girl Friends


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 (see www.yournextoption.info blog) 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. Our relationship just naturally followed when she came to San Francisco to go to school.

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.

To visit her, 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 to 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. Again, a long, hard hug, and then right into conversation that we could have started only days or even minutes before.

We stopped to do a little wine tasting in a few of the vineyards around her home. Next, we made our way back to her house only for me to discover that one of her hidden talents is as a chef! She made amazing dinner and dessert, and then fabulous brunch the next morning before I left for home.

It was such a wonderful time. It was such a wonderful visit. These are the days of our lives. Live them well. Love your neighbors. Travel often. Hug one another. Celebrate your friends.

My girlfriends are the sisters I picked out for myself.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ooh, Shiny!

This morning, Patricia Patton said, For the entrepreneurially inclined, this paragraph caught my eye this morning: "As entrepreneurs and creatives making new things happen in the world, we feel that we constantly need to know more in order to do more and prove our credibility...... Reading more blog posts, clicking on every article that catches your eye on social media, investing in countless courses, watching Periscopes until the cows come home, and downloading every free opt-on e-book every made doesn't actually get you any closer to your goals and it doesn't provide you with new skills."

Up until now, I could certainly agree with Patricia as she recounts that in being an entrepreneur and creative feels like we constantly need to know more than we do to prove our credibility. It ends up feeling like procrastination. However, in 2016, I am going to stop ‘chasing every shiny new thing’ and put much of what I’ve learned so far into practice.

By taking a moment to step back and reflect on all that I have learned so far, I see that much of the ‘new’ information is starting to sound ‘redundant.’ That makes me think that my next objective involves ‘action’ rather than ‘accumulation.’ 

If you recall, my word for 2016 is ‘consistency.’ I plan to put what I’ve learned to use on a daily basis, and when I can honestly say that I have committed to a purpose, project, or program ‘consistently’ for 30, 60 or even 90 days, only then will I evaluate it before taking a step in another direction.

Even the farmer knows it takes time for the corn to grow. Plant it, seed it, water it, weed it. The process is not overnight. If our lives are based on the steps we take toward actions, activities and opportunities, these things take time to come to fruition. Give it a minute.



Saturday, January 2, 2016

What did I do this year?

I drove to San Antonio, Texas and back.

I taught school a lot.

I joined a Goddess Group.

I went back to church.

But what I am most proud of is that I quit smoking and I quit gambling. Gambling was not like a Gambler’s Anonymous kind of problem, more like I was just doing it every day out of pure boredom. I haven’t found a worthwhile activity to replace it yet, so I just spend the hours on my computer. I decided it’s not any worse than watching TV, and I don’t watch TV. 

My next step is to find more productive activities, which is one of the reasons I am writing this blog post. I want to write more because I hear and see lots of great things to respond to, and I do. But more often than not, it is in my journal, not on my blog. Starting now, I’m going to change that.

I didn’t really make any resolutions last New Year’s Eve. First of all, I would rather make them on my birthday because that seems to be more relevant to my experience. What can I personally achieve this year? Learn Spanish? Blog? Generate passive income? Travel more?

New Year’s does seems like a good time to check-in though. It’s about three-quarters of the way to my birthday, motivating me to ‘get ‘er done’ before my year is over.

But if I was going to make a resolution for the New Year, it would be just one word, ‘consistency.’ I start things all the time. 

I started building a website 3 or 4 times. They’re out there, but I let them lapse.

I started an organization for folks over 55, but I haven’t had a meeting since November. I need to get back on that.

My son has motivated me to do a podcast, I do need to get on top of that.

I need an email list because I’m pretty sure my blog is not going to go to the ‘front page of Google.’ I really do need to work on that.

There are so many posts on the social media sites that basically say the same thing about goals and dreams in the New Year. How many times do you have to say them? Until everybody hears it, I guess. It’s like the gym, EVERYBODY shows up in the beginning, but if you wait a couple weeks, it all thins out and you get to see who stays in the game. Consistency.

So, for my birthday resolutions, I’m doing pretty well, at least with the learning Spanish and travelling part. For New Year’s, ‘consistency’ is going to help with the blogging and passive income part.

Come back often. Follow me, at least so we can check-in to see if that consistency thing is working.