Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Preparing for a New Year

Over the course of the last several weeks I have been working on my plans for a more productive 2010 as it relates to writing, and my other creative outlets of knitting and papercrafting. My knitting has suffered the most over recent months because I have spent so much time doing other things and I just haven't picked up the needles, but that will soon change.
It amazes me at times to see folks seriously multi-task and keep their sanity. That's my goal for the new year. With these goals in mind I have also been reassessing the role of this blog in my future plans. I would really like for it to be a central part of my growth and to serve as an avenue for me to practice the craft of writing. So for the followers of this little corner of my world - change is coming.
One area of change I'm sure will be the addition of a section of posts on natural hair and my journey. I have already written a couple of posts on this matter and anticipate I will complete many more in the months ahead.
You might ask why, especially since I have found several blogs and websites specifically geared to natural hair. Well the why is that while most all of these sites were started as a response to someone's journey - they are all similar yet different because each person's journey is unique. I hope to add a little humor on this subject because I'm tickled everytime I find myself reading and seeking out more information on hair of all things. While I've never wanted my hair not to look well coifed and styled, I have never been a "hair" person. Going to a salon once a week, or even every other week was a stretch for me.
I'll delve more into that soon, but as an example of how "hair obsessed" I have become - I spent the better part of today checking out sites in an effort to learn more about how to manage, maintain and style my hair.
Some of the sites I have found that have become instant favs are listed here. Click on the name and check out the sites - you will be amazed at all of the interesting information you can find. Newly Natural, Curly Nikki, and Black Girl With Long Hair are three that I will highlight soon.
That catches you up on where I plan to take this space in the future and I hope you will hang out with me from time to time. Working hard behind the scenes to get it together so if there are no posts in the next couple of days - enjoy the festivities over the next couple of days and be safe as you welcome in 2010!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Resurgence of the Call & Post - thanks to Ohio State Senator Nina Turner

For the first time in a very long time, Cleveland's oldest Black newspaper, The Call & Post has stirred up some controversy and has some level of significance thanks to its portrayal of Ohio State Senator Nina Turner as Aunt Jemima in an editorial cartoon. The cartoon and editorial chastise Turner for having the gall to stand against the masses and back last November's ballot Issue 6, which will reform Cuyahoga County government.

The cartoon struck a nerve with a number of Clevelanders including United Pastors in Mission, a group representing a large number of Cleveland's Black ministers. The ministers who were opponents of Issue 6 have called for an apology from The Call & Post.

Before I continue with my views on this subject I must state that I spent the formative years of my career at The Call and Post. I have a fondness for the newspaper, but I have felt since long before I left the paper that the leaders of the publication were not intune with the community they serve. This disconnect with the community has caused the newspaper to suffer with subscriptions, advertising and most importantly readership. The Call & Post, is struggling to survive, as are many print publications and this could be the opportunity they were looking for to reignite interest in what they have to say.

Unfortunately, this resurgence comes in the middle of an issue that pits one group of the Black community against another, a sad commentary on this community.

As a journalist I was not appalled as many in the community have stated they are because first and foremost you have to put the caricature into context - it is an editorial cartoon. It is not meant to be supportive, it is meant to be an exaggeration and to do just what it has done - ignite dialouge and discussion. I also believe that we in the Black community at times become overly sensitive about these issues. I read a comment connecting this depiction to the Don Imus controversy with the women's basketball team from Rutgers and in my opinion that is like apples and oranges - two different families.

Political commentator Bill Patmon put the controversy into context during an appearance on WKYC-TV 3's evening news Tuesday as he cited editorial cartoons that had appeared in the daily Plain Dealer that offered negative portrayals of former Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and former Councilwoman Fannie Lewis. Both of these women are now deceased, but I'm sure both would be proud of Turner's ability to take a stand against the establishment - although they too would probably have been on the opposite side of this issue.

At the crux of this issue however is the generational divide that exists in Cleveland politics and leadership. This cartoon has brought to the forefront the fact that there is a wide gulf between the young and the old guard in Cleveland, and someone needs to work to bridge that gap.

While The Call & Post has indicated it will not offer an apology, it should join forces with The United Pastors In Mission and attempt to begin building the bridge that will heal wounds and prepare the Black community for the future.

This could be a win-win situation for both the newspaper and the community. If young people feel they have a seat at the table and their opinions matter they will be more engaged in the community and that is something this community desperately needs.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Review: What Doesn't Kill You

What Doesn't Kill You: A Novel What Doesn't Kill You: A Novel by Virginia DeBerry

In their latest novel /What Doesn't Kill You Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant have offered a new style and new voice - first person.
This timely novel is told from the experience of the novel's main character Tee Hodges who has found that she must reinvent herself just as she reaches her prime.

In the Night of Heat, A Review

In the Night of the Heat: A Tennyson Hardwick Story In the Night of the Heat: A Tennyson Hardwick Story by Blair Underwood

Sexy underemployed actor and former gigolo turned part time super sleuth Tennyson Hardwick finds himself in the middle of another murder mystery as he tries to get his acting career and personal life on the right track. That's the backdrop for the second installment of the Tennyson Hardwick series In the Night of Heat.
The Hardwick series are the brainchild of actor Blair Underwood and noted authors Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes. They present a picture of Hollywood's upper middle class African American community and the privileges and dangers that sometimes come with thier lifestyle.
In this installment, former football superstar TD Jackson, the number one suspect in the murder of his ex-wife and her fiancee, has been cleared of the criminal charges but his worries are far from over. There is the civil charges for wrongful death and the death threats that lead him to Tennyson for help. Ten, as the handsome super sleuth is better known, declines to take on the case and the action begins.
As with any good mystery/suspense there are other stories taking place in Ten's life. He's trying to work through his new family dynamic complete with his father, a retired LAPD police captain; his new "daughter" Chela; and his relationship with new love April.
The action moves pretty quickly after the first couple of chapters as new characters and events change the course of Ten's life.
Much like a "Law & Order" episode the storyline, though altered by creative license, seemed ripped straight from the headlines and not to cheesy.
One downfall I encountered was the lack of copyediting. There were a number of typos - basically repeated phrases that caused the reader to reread sections, particularly the further you got into the book.
The series is being written for the screen, but I just don't see Blair Underwood as Ten; yet all in all I would rate this a good read when you're looking to be taken away from your life and want to live vicariously through Tennyson Hardwick.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stand the Storm, A Review

River, Cross My Heart (Oprah's Book Club) River, Cross My Heart by Breena Clarke

Breena Clarke has presented a very good re-enactment of a time in history that has mostly been presented only in a negative and less than favorable light. She does not over simplify, or negate the hardships of slavery, but presents that time in history in a framework of hope. In Stand the Storm, Clarke takes invites the reader to take the journey to freedom with the Coats family. I was especially pleased to see that the Coats' were skilled in the field of textiles. Take a journey of hope with Clarke and the Coats' by reading Stand the Storm.

View all my reviews >>

A Natural Woman - A Review

A Natural Woman A Natural Woman by Lori Johnson

A Natural Woman is the story of Aleisha Eaton a successful college professor who could be your next door neighbor, best friend or sister. Lori Johnson's sophomore effort is a must read if you're looking for a good solid story, complete with conflict, suspense and of course a solid love story. It is much more than a love story, it's really a life story and confronts some of the many issues that African American professionals face regularly, from classism to abuse.Johnson does a wonderful job with POV, and the dialouge moves you through the story with great ease. It's familiar and as is a trait of Johnson's it is lyrical and familiar.I highly recommend A Natural Woman.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Pursuit of Hair Happiness

Today I have spent a number of hours on the internet lurking on sites, playing Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook and reading about natural hair. The latter leaves me a little befuddled and confused, because you see I'm not really a hair person. What does that mean, well I like for my hair to look nice, but I am not into primping and constantly checking out how my hair looks.
A good hair day to me is one where I wake up, style my hair and that's the end of it until the end of the day. I don't want to have to keep combing, fixing or worrying about how my hair looks. I have found that this is really next to impossible.
Last August I found myself fed up with my hair. It was just limp, I had worn the same basic style forever and I just didn't know what to do with it. Ultimately, I longed to pull my hair into a ponytail and just go about my day. That however was not possible because it was only about ear length, and short styles weren't my cup of tea because it called for too much maintenance.
I had dabbled for a couple of summers with wearing it natural, but this year the ends just seemed so straight and would not curl, which I really didn't understand because I had not relaxed my hair in about two years.
My mom was attempting to loc her hair again, and I went to the salon with her and talked to one of the stylist who suggested I make an appointment for a haircut and go from there. So, a few days later I came back and cut my hair and started my journey. After that initial cut I could see a difference in the way my hair looked, the ends were no longer straight, but I'm not sure I was totally satisfied with the look. I kept my hair in its natural state for about one month and then had it styled for a wedding. Boy was my husband happy to see the transformation, and so devastated to see me go back to the curly natural state the day after.
Today, fourteen months after the fact I'm still getting used to my hair, but I'm also finding that there is no such thing as "no maintenance" hair. That is a bummer for me, because as I have stated I don't like fussing over hair.
So today I came across the blog Newly Natural, and all of a sudden a light came on. Here, KCurly writes about her journey to natural and she offers tips on products, styles and maintenance. I have read a number of blogs, but I think this is the first time I really had an "Aha" moment. Although I don't like to really play with my hair, in order for me to find satisfaction and achieve my goals I must. I also have to really get to know my hair, which I believe I have done in the last year, but I still have to spend more quality time with my hair and really understand all of the different changes that take place - primarily with the use of different products.
As much as I don't want to be a slave to my hair, I can see that I have a lot of learn and it's still a work in progress.
I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Standing Up for Education - Where is the Problem?

  • so·cial·ism
  • Pronunciation: \ˈsō-shə-ˌli-zəm\
  • Function: noun
  • Date: 1837

1 : any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2 a : a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

The definition above is courtesy of the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, and I post it so that we can see first hand what this term that has been bandied about over the last several days really means. Now from what you read, where does education come into play? Where does advising children that the best path in life is one that includes studying hard, and preparing yourself for the future fit into that definition?

President Obama prepared a speech to give to Arlington, Virginia high school students, and the mission of this address is to motivate students to commit themselves to preparing for their futures. He wants them to take an active role in their own destiny - where then is there a problem? In reading the speech I was pleased to see this passage, which I think speaks volumes about the problems that we as a country face in schools, "I've talked a lot about your government's responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren't working where students aren't getting the opportunities they deserve. But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world - and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed."

Helping students understand that they have a key role in their own success is a good thing. It is something that needs to be reiterated by parents, teachers and community members. Thinking back to my school days, I don't know if it was presented to me in this manner, but I was always aware that my "job" was to go to school and to do the best that I could. I wonder if this message is being communicated in enough households today, and if not - then I wonder how will this message be communicated?

One of my strong views is that we must first educate many of our parents. Unfortunately, we live in a society where a number of our parents were not prepared for the role that they took on at the birth of that infant, and they continue a cycle of that includes under-achievement, self-doubt and satisfaction with mediocrity.

To have a President concerned enough to speak to students about their role in their futures should be an event applauded by all, because if we work in a trickle down theory - the top is saying education is important and that should be spread throughout the ranks.

Criticism is a part of the job, but aren't we all interested in a better prepared and educated America? How is this a bad thing?

As always, I would love to hear your feedback, so if you have an opinion please post it in the Comments section.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Baked Brussels Sprouts

There's a virtual party taking place this evening in honor of C. Beth's birthday and I've decided to bring baked brussels sprouts to the party. You take about one pound of brussels sprouts, clean them and then place them evenly on a baking sheet coated in bacon fat. Stick these wonderful green delights in the oven on 400 degrees and bake until they are nice and tender and the leaves begin to scorch just a little.

What a wonderful veggie dish to bring to the party. I hope you all enjoy, a new twist on one of the blandest vegetables out there.

To join the fun of jump-starting your muse, check out the One-Minute Writer here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Today's One-Minute Writer Post:

Oh to have the youthful exuberance of a child again. Children have such vivid imaginations and even today they will hold conversations with "imaginary" friends. They see people as people and don't see color lines. Why if you put a group of children in a room and give them a few toys they will play and interact and make their new "best friend" in an inkling. If only we were all so open and free spirited in our beliefs, this world would be a much better place.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Trying Something A Little Different

About a year ago, I decided to free myself and most importantly, my hair, from my dangerous addiction to heat. Actually, I had been attempting for a couple of years to go free during the summer months, but the look really wasn't happening. I regularly had ends that would not revert to their natural state and this really boggled my mind, because I had not relaxed my hair; the only chemicals were coloring.
Then last summer it just seemed that nothing was working and I talked with a co-worker who had begun wearing her hair naturally and decided to take the plunge. I cut my hair and began wearing it natural and it really began to curl on its own. The only problem was humidity has never been my friend, and anyone who knows Cleveland summers understands my pain. Instead of the curly ringlets left after a shower or shampoo, the minute the air hit my hair I had what I called a curly 'fro. Not the look I was hoping for, but I stuck it out, only blow drying and flat ironing my hair once - for my friend's wedding.
The results have been wonderful. I believe my hair has become a little thicker and I know it is healthier, but I'm still not a fan of the shrinkage.
Fast forward to June and I receive an email from my friend and former writing group member, author Lori Johnson informing me and others that she is preparing a series on Natural Women as a prelude to the release of her next novel, A Natural Woman, and asking if we would like to submit a story. While reading her blog I came across a number of links on natural hair, maintenance and the journey to natural.
So, last week I decided to twist my hair as a change. The picture above is after three days. Not sure if it's the look I'm after, but the feedback has been great. What do you think?
Check out Lori's blog to hear more stories on the road to becoming a truly Natural Woman.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

President Obama Comes to Cleveland

The news junkie in me was in full force yesterday as I trudged through monsoon like rain (exaggeration intended) to hear President Barack Obama discuss his plans for health care reform at Shaker Heights High School. Shout out to Kelly for hooking me up with a ticket!

Knowing that parking would be a high commodity I drove a couple of blocks and found a decent spot, and as luck would have it the rain begins to come down in torrents, but I would not be deterred and began my trek to the school.

Carrying my straw bag with my 35mm SLR, palm sized digital, Flip video, note pad and othe goodies I arrived soaked from my thighs down. The upper body was insulated by my hooded raincoat. Everything was held in my straw bag because the letter with my ticket said no bags, so I figured my camera bag might not get in - a fact I would later find was probably incorrect.

Again, as luck would have it as soon as I arrived at the line to enter the gymnasium the rain stopped! Luckily I had timed my arrival pretty good, and didn't have to stand in line more than about fifteen minutes before reaching the security checkpoint. The officers manning security were very nice and conversational, one actually telling me I could ony bring in five items as he checked out all of my electronic equipment. They were also very helpful in assisting me in retrieving my cellphones and bluetooth - inadvertently left at the check in table. I guess I had too many items after all!

Inside I chatted with a few local politicians and media types and awaited the President's arrival. I was surprised at how punctual he was, starting only about five minutes later than scheduled.

Introducing the President was a retired autoworker who spoke of having to work part-time in order to pay the rising costs for health care.

The president stuck to his message ensuring those present that his proposal is an effort to help more Americans receive adequate health care. He knows the plan is not without some flaws, but that it is desire for the various Congressional Committees to hammer out the details.

When questioned about the timeline, the President said he believes that in order to have anything done in Washington you have to set deadlines, and his true goal is to have reform in place before the end of the year.

Speaking to a largely Democratic audience, President Obama's message was well received and he closed by urging the attendees to keep the heat on their Congressional representatives.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Continuing Question of Race in America

Timing is everything, has become cliche' and I'm not sure who said it first, but it is so apropos to the events of the last week. The topic of race in America has been a very prevalent topic in the various Social Networking sites from Twitter to Facebook, and has extended into the mainstream conversation because of a couple of events.

Last week a question was posted on Facebook by Rhonda Crowder, a reporter for the Call & Post Newspaper, "Do you think we live in a post-racial America? Does racism still exist? Have WE really overcome?'' The question prompted a great deal of conversation, with most saying that racism is still strong and present in the United States.

My take on the question was that yes, we have the first black president and life has definitely changed for him, but on "Main Street" things are very similar to what they were prior to January 20, 2009.

My full response was: Racism is a condition that will continue to exist for a long time. The fact that we have a black president does not negate racism, it simply says that more whites and other minorities were willing to vote for President Obama. For main street the issues of racism have not been eradicated and in some ways have been exacerbated by the economic times ... that we now find ourselves in. As time continues there may be an end to racism as we know it today, but as human beings I agree with a previous respondent - we will always find a way to see ourselves as better than someone else. Finally, at the heart of racism is power, or a sense of power, so it really depends on who has the ultimate power many years from now as to what shape racism will take on.

The exchange was interesting and thought provoking, but it became very timely on Monday when I learned that Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates had been arrested at his own home. The headlines, blog posts, and tweets spoke of racial profiling and racism. I immediately thought of Rhonda's question, and thought here is a living example of how things have not changed in America.

Dr. Gates is world-renowned for his documentaries on genealogical research and tracing African American history. He definitely does not look like a thief, but then again what does a thief look like? During an interview on CNN he explained that he would not leave his house because the moment he was out of his house he could be arrested for suspicion of burglary. To think that the officers responding to the call had never heard of him or seen him is astonishing! But it is further proof that there is a long way to go before racism is non-existent.

I don't think that we will see that day because racism is about more than differences in skin color, it has a great deal to do with perceptions of power and superiority, and while the level of racism felt by people of color may shift as those of color become more powerful the shift will be to another undeserved group.

What do you think? Next...Racism within the race.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Are You A Natural Woman?

When asked to describe yourself, would a natural woman be a likely response? If so, check out author Lori Johnson's Old School Mix and participate in her poll, or just read the accounts of women who for a number of reasons choose to be "Natural Women".

This is all in honor of the release, this November, of Lori's new work of fiction A Natural Woman. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading Lori's first novel, After The Dance then you have missed a treat. For those of us just this side of 30, After The Dance is an adult love story filled with humor and good musical references. The words have a rhythm of their own and the story will keep you reading.

In the meantime, stop by the Old School Mix for a mix of humor and down home wisdom.


Signs from Above

Today I've been battling with how to deal with some very delicate issues to no avail, and although I haven't found the answer to my questions I was relieved to read a couple of articles in the August Essence that reinforced my beliefs.

In the "'get lifted" monthly column written by Bishop T. D. Jakes the focus is on self love and being comfortable in ones self. I have been debating the issue of happiness with a loved one for months now, and Bishop Jakes summed up my argument with the use of scripture. Well not scripture per se, but the wisdom of a man who has studied the scripture extensively.

At the core of the dilemma is understanding that God has placed each of us here on this planet with a purpose, and it is our job to find, embrace and live that purpose. Further he stresses that the companionship and love of a partner is not the cure to our own internal happiness. That happens within, we must embrace ourselves, get to know ourselves and develop a self-love that will transcend to others.

The second article, also focusing on the challenges and consequences of a lack of self-love dealt specifically with the competition and cattiness so prevalent with black women. While many of us have established and nurtured lifelong relationships with one another, we can also be very vicious and mean to other women. From snide comments and remarks to just downright hostile treament.

At the core to this behavior, according to a number of experts including Phyllis Chesler, professor emeritus of pschology and women's studies at Cit University of New York and Angela D. Coleman, president and founder of the Sisterhood Agenda is again, a lack of self-love. Many women who have issues with themselves including a lack of self-esteem find the solace and self-worth we need in deflating the image other women have of themselves.

My point in recounting these articles is a need for us all to embrace the You in You! We have only one life to live and it is imperative that we live it to the best of our ability, knowing that We are the Best part of ourselves, and when we see something lacking within ourselves - focus on adjusting You for the better. Do not look for others to fulfill who you are.

At the core, You Are the Best You there is!


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Remembering Michael Jackson

For more than a week we have all been captivated by the videos, the pundits and everyone speculating about the death of our beloved Michael Jackson, but not until today did it really hit home.

I watched from the sidelines, not trying to pay close attention because somewhere along the way I had fallen out of love with that gorgeous chocolate brown teenager I grew up with. I still liked his music, but it wasn't like the thrill I had to go to Cleveland's Public Auditorium and see Michael and his brothers perform for the massive crowd of giggling and screaming teenage girls.

We had all written our wedding vows, and they undoubtedly joined us in holy matrimony with Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jackie. What joy they all brought us, but the greatest joy came from Michael. He had the infectious smile and those beautiful eyes that assured you that he was looking at you and only you.

Today, see the photos of that young Michael I am forced to stay focused and admit, this is truly the end of the mortal being, but I know that his spirit and his music will live on.

God Bless you Michael, thank you for the memories and may you finally rest in peace!

Photo originally appeared on

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Today I want to thank my father for being that rock in my life. When I think of my Dad I smile, because humor - dry and corny as it might be is always present with him. I've always said he was quiet, reserved and laid back, but as I have grown older I have found that he really isn't that quiet. Boy, can he talk if you let him! There have been days that he's called to talk about something he heard or read in the newspaper and he will go on and on, and on about it. Some times I'm caught off guard and I'm thinking to myself "where did that come from" because it is something that I can't believe my Dad would be interested in. Later, I'll think about it and realize it's something he knows I'm interested in, and this is his way of loving his children.

You see my Dad has never been an affectionate person, that is until he became a grandfather the second time around. You see I have three older siblings, and two of them have children that are now adults, but when these grandchidlren were little they lived in other states so that bond was not formed. Now the last four grandchildren live here in town and are regularly at my parents house, and when you watch my Dad with them we often marvel at the affection he gives them. Because we can all probably count on our hands how many times he has hugged and/or kissed us, but even without the tactile reminders I have always known he loved me.

The phone calls to discuss the news was just as good as a hug or kiss, because at that moment I knew my Daddy was thinking about me.

Over the last several weeks I have been thinking about he and my mother a great deal because they are older now, and this is hard for me to accept. Today my Dad is really not feeling himself and you can hear it in his voice, and that pulls at my heart because my Rock is losing some of his strength. He's not as spry as he was a few years back, so I'm working on ways in which I can be a rock of sorts and stand strong for him.

So this Father's Day I'm going to hang out with my Dad for a while and hopefully he'll tell me one of his corny jokes and we'll both share a good laugh!

Happy Father's Day to all, and to all the children be sure to take some time today to let your Dad know how special he is.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In New York this Summer, take in Tin Pan Alley Rag

If you're going to be in the New York City area this summer and you're planning your itinerary, I would like to suggest that stop by the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre and enjoy a production of Tin Pan Alley Rag. The cast includes my good friend Michael Boatman as Scott Joplin, so yes, this is a biased post.
Michael's credits include television, film and stage work and he is a wonderful actor. Many of you may remember him as Carter from the ABC sit com "Spin City", or as Stanley Babson in the HBO show ARLI$$.
So, if you're in the NYC area and want to hear some good Ragtime music and enjoy a good play - Tin Pan Alley Rag is a good place to start and it runs from June 12-September 6. For more information on the production click here.
Photo taken from Tin Pan Alley site.

Really now, it was a fly!!!

I'm back and although there have been a number of things to talk about over the last several weeks, time has not been on my side. Today, I have a little time and what is everyone talking about - President Obama killing a fly! Give me a break, they are disease carrying insects that annoy everyone at this time of the year. The fact that PETA has been contacted by "multiple media outlets" seeking a statement shows just how nonsensical the media has become.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Support of Water Safety

Last August, my family and I said goodbye to a wonderful young man, Kaelin Hampton. At the tender age of 11, Kaelin lost his life at a local family resort. While Kaelin was fully aware of the mechanics of swimming he was not what you would call and avid or experienced swimmer. Particularly not in lake.

My niece, Kaelin's mom, has taken on the mission of keeping his memory alive by helping to insure that children in Cleveland learn the necessary skills to keep them safe in the water.

Kaelin was an active member of the YMCA, participating in football and basketball leagues, so it is only fitting that the Hamptom Family and the YMCA combine their efforts to keep the children of this community safe.

If you are so inclined, please make a donation to the Kaelin Hampton Fund at any local Chase Bank branch, and do your part to keep our children safe!
You can also contact any of the Cleveland YMCA branches to learn more about the program.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater - What a Treat!

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's 50th Anniversary tour swayed into Cleveland last night with such fluid motion and intense joy and drama that I am still elated this morning.

Anyone who had the pleasure to witness the brilliance of this performance should feel honored. The show opened with a film, "A Golden Anniversary Celebration," recounting the life of Alvin Ailey and his rise in the world of American dance. Not a regular follower of all things dance, I was struck by the continued growth of Ailey's dream and legacy.

Judith Jamison, Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, has taken Mr. Ailey vision of making dance something everyone can enjoy and taken it to another stratosphere. From the professional company to summer camp and even dance lessons and exercise for those who only long to be as smooth and svelte as the principals in the Company.

The performance began with Blues Suite, a tribute to the down home feeling that only the blues can present. As I said, I'm not a dance aficionado so I won't attempt to describe the plies and the Allonge'.

Reviewing the program book, my sister and I found that opening night was definitely a treat with at least fourteen scenes spanning 1958-1984. The combination of dance and music lifted the audience from the State Theater in 2009 back in history. Stories were told of love, loss and faith all through the deft movement of limbs.

I would recommend that anyone interested in the arts take the time out of your busy schedules to enjoy the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. It is well worth the time and the money.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Hello Again!

It has been a number of weeks since my last posting, and to anyone who regularly checks in, I apologize. I have been in the midst of what I call "the semester from hell"!
Now you might wonder why I would call an opportunity to expand my horizons, and keep the mental thought process flowing - hell, but that is what it turned out to be for a number of reasons.
First, I signed up for two classes because over the last six years, the winter and early spring months are fairly slow for me at work so I felt I would not be taxed on both ends -WRONG!!!! Add to this equation family illness and the stress and guilt that comes with trying to make sure you are giving your loved one all of the attention and support they need and you have HELL!!!!
I picked today to write about this because I just returned home from a class that I basically really enjoyed, feeling pretty bummed because I did not receive a very favorable grade on my project. Now, I could blame the professor and all of the stress in my life, but really the only blame should be placed with me. One of the problems I had with this project was that I continued to over think it, up until the very last hour. Have you ever done that? I know I'm not alone with that, so I'm sure someone out there is cyberspace can relate.
Problem number two, and oh this is the biggie, I attempted to do something I had never really done before as my project. Now, many will say that's good, because you pushed yourself, you went outside the proverbial box, yada yada! Normally I would agree, but not when your grade rests on it.
In short, the semester will end in a few days, and despite my less than stellar performance on this project if all goes well with my remaining scores I should come away with a 'B' in the class. That will be the prayer of hope for this evening.
So, you might ask what was good about the semester? Well let me tell you! I really found that I have a much great appreciation for learning. I have always loved the academic arena, because I really believe that your mind is a sponge and the more you put in there, the more you can absorb. In the past however, I was not the type of student who really freaked out about grades, or stopped midway through to see where I stood and then attempted to do extra, or more work in order to achieve a higher grade. I basically did the work and hoped and prayed for the best. If I gave it my all I was satisfied with the grade, because I had completed the task.
As a more mature student I am really looking to ace my classes, which is why I was so depressed when I got home. I feel better already having said all of this, so to those of you reading - thanks for being that shoulder I needed to cry on.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

My first 2009 Tulips!

Spring has arrived in Cleveland! Yay! The photo to the right is one of my first blooms this year. Isn't it pretty? Too bad the rest of the yard doesn't look like this. Boy, do I have my work cut out for me, but I can't get to it for another couple of weeks. Once the semester ends I'll be able to clean out the beds and hopefully salvage some of the flowers I planted last year!
Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!
Go CAVS!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Good Couple of Weeks

Over the last two weeks I have ventured out of my routine. No longer work, go to school and come home. It's been a long time since I did this, and it felt good. Oh, I'm a little behind in a couple of things, but you have to have a little fun in life don't you?!

Last Friday I met up with some friends for lunch. Just the girls hanging out sharing a meal and lots of laughter. Laughter is good for the soul and good company is even better. The interesting thing about this gathering was the fact that it gave a lot of credence to the whole six degrees of separation theory. I was invited to lunch by one of my dearest friends - we've known each other over twenty years, and years ago we found out that she went to elementary and junior high school with some of my first cousins. Later still we learned that she and one of the ladies joining us for lunch were friends from church, and this friend and I graduated from high school together.

The more mature I get (who gets older) I find instances like this with a higher frequency. All-in-all Friday afternoon lunch was great!


Not to be outdone with lunch, Friday evening I helped a friend celebrate her 40th Birthday with a Pole Dancing party! Talk about walking on the wild side! I did not, but it was a lot of fun and something that I would attend again!

Once again just a group of ladies having a good time and learning a few things at the same time. I look forward to learning more about the healthy aspects of Pole Dancing. They actually have workouts, and after listening to the instructor - if you follow directions, it could really help with strengthening the abs and other parts.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's March Madness Baby!

The countdown is on! The first tip-off for the 2009 Road to the Final Four is about 63 minutes away!

As a northeast Ohioan I am proud to root on Cleveland State University - Go Vikes, and the University of Akron - Go Zips! Each of these teams has earned a berth to the dance for the first time in 23 years! The irony here is that I had allegedly just completed my studies at CSU the last time they made it into the NCAA tournament and here again, I am a student definitely on the brink of completing my studies.

We Ohioans have even more to cheer about with the entry of the Ohio State Buckeyes, University of Dayton Flyers, and the Xavier University Musketeers each winning a bid to the tournament.

So to the entire state - Let's go Ohio! Make us proud!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's Missing in your life

The daily joys of life are missing in my life and I am desperately trying to find them. Those are the days when you awaken to sun streaming into the windows and the cares in your life are minimal. It also that point at which you say farewell to cares and just go with the flow.
Tomorrow I will have a carefree day!
My contribution to the One Minute Writer.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Spring! I need it now!

Today was a rough day! How I wish for bright sun filled days and the opportunity to smell the flowers. These tulips are from my garden last year, let's hope I'm as lucky this year! I hope your days are filled with more sunshine!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

So Much to talk about!

I have been away for a few weeks trying to wrap my arms around Spring Semester. So much has gone on that I've wanted to talk about but I just couldn't squeeze the time out to do it, so here it is in an abbreviated version.

Madea Goes To Jail

As I mentioned in a previous post I was unable to support Tyler Perry during opening weekend. The sell-out crowds were more than I could handle. I have finally seen the movie, and unfortunately I have to agree with many of my friends who suggested I wait for the DVD version.

I have to say this was probably TP's worst film. From dialogue to forced acting I was left wondering why I had taken two hours out of my day to watch. As an example, the story lines were very predictable from the out of touch black socialite to the wounded college student turned prostitute. Early in the movie Candy, played by Keisha Knight Pulliam, is released on bail and on the steps of the courtroom she is met by college friend, now Assistant Prosecutor Josh (Derek Luke) and Ellen, (Viola Davis) the Minister fighting to get prostitutes off the streets. The dialogue between Candy and Ellen is just so unbelievable and almost juvenile.
Candy - "I ain't got time for no Jesus jokers!"
Ellen - "Fine, I ain't got time for you either - Sucker"
It was just so laughable to me, really "Sucker" - I'm sure Tyler could of come up with something a little better.

The cliches were evident and the story lines were just so overdone in a lot of ways. As with all of Perry's movies there was a message, and a good one that was timely for a lot of people as we grapple with unemployment, foreclosure etc. We must all hold ourselves accountable for our circumstances in life, and stop holding on to the past. If a redo is needed, let it begin with you, don't point at someone else.

As I continue to ponder the problems I had with this film I think it might boil down to - rushed product. Perry is putting out beau coup work and this film may have suffered because of it.

So in my humble opinion, Perry raked in the cash the first two opening weekends and if you haven't made it to the movies support him on the back end -rent the DVD!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Do We Really Live in a Multicultural Society?

The United States of America, the land of the free and home of the brave, now has an African American President; does that mean that all is well and we are all clicking our heels three times shouting "It's great to be an American, It's great to be an American"?

Not just yet. Although I believe that on the whole we are glad, grateful and proud to be Americans, it is very clear to those of us with a little more melanin that President Obama, even with all of his assets, is not the Wizard and we still have a lot of work to do in this country we all so love.

All we have to do is take a look at the events of this past week and the New York Post cartoon to see that change is coming, but has not reached everyone. While I haven't actually viewed the cartoon I have listened to the commentaries on both sides and they clearly indicate that issues of race continue to polarize this nation.

Just this morning I read a commentary in the Denver Post by author Carleen Brice on the struggle black writers have when it comes to broadening their reader base. The problems she explains lie not only with the publishing industry, but also with the mindset of readers.

As black woman I have been reading the works of non-blacks my entire life. As I think back over the years, it was not until I reached Junior High I believe, but more probably High School that I became acutely aware of Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Toni Morrison, Toni Cade Bambara, Nikki Giovanni and others. As an avid reader I don't limit myself to race or culture when I read, because one of the joys I have always found with reading is that I can transport myself to faraway lands without ever leaving home.

If we are truly ever going to be a multicultural society we must embrace the works of all cultures. Reading is a perfect mechanism for this because once you have read about another culture you have a central base from which to begin dialogue with someone from that culture. You may find that what you have read is not totally accurate, but at least the conversation will have begun and I'm sure you will learn something.

So if you're game and you're not a minority, hop on over to White Readers Meet Black Authors and find a new book to read. For minority readers you can visit the site too! If you find that you limit yourself to books only by African Americans, Hispanics, Asians etc. then take this opportunity to widen your horizon as well.

One of the best books I've read lately is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and another good read was Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult.

Take the plunge, I'm sure you will like it!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Trouble supporting Tyler

I am usually very bad about getting to the movies opening weekend, despite my knowledge of the importance of opening weekend sales, especially for black films. I decided to try something new this weekend - Wrong!

This afternoon I decided I would venture out to the theater and support Tyler Perry's new movie Madea Goes To Jail - Wrong. It was a total bust! We (the hubby and I) were attempting to see the 6:20 p.m. show after running some household errands. We got to the theater at about 6:10 only to find the 6:20 had been sold out, so we purchased tickets to the 7:40 and went over to Hoggy's to grab a bite and wait for the show to start. Wrong - 1 hour wait to be seated. Next we head to the Quaker Steak and Lube, 30 - 35 minute wait. We head to the bar and have a drink as we wait for the table. It's 7:05 p.m. and we're seated, but haven't ordered. We order and our wings and burger arrive at about 7:27 p.m.

Now we know we're cutting it close, but that's not a problem because we have tickets in hand, and the theater is just across the driveway. We wolf down a few bites of food, and our server, Chris, I believe was his name comes back with the check and let's us know the show will be starting in about five minutes. Again, we're not overly anxious because we have tickets in hand, but we ask for boxes to take our leftovers and head across the packed parking lot in the icy rain.

Once inside we are directed to a long line where we stand for about half a minute before I inquire of the security guard - what's the problem. Good call. We were standing in the line for the 8:40 show. We get out of line and head over to theater 10 - only to find that there are no seats together. The courteous usher suggests we go back to the box office and exchange for the later show or a refund. We opt for a refund, we'll try again tomorrow.

As we were leaving the theater the Hubby graciously says "This is why we don't come to the opening show." While taking in his comment I'm thinking back to A Family that Preys and Why Did I Get Married. I really believe that we came out opening weekend for these as well, and this leads me to believe that a great deal of the hype is "Madea". She did not star in either of the last two movies, and I believe this is the reason the sales are off the chain. We went to the Valley View Cinemark and Madea is showing in four theaters, and although I did not check with management I would guess that each of these holds about 350-400 people. The Hubby disputes my memory saying we wen to see the other movies a week after opening.

Needless to say, the moral to this story is - get to the theater early if you want to see "Madea Goes to Jail" this weekend!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Obama Express

The Obama Express is slowly snaking its way to the nation's capitol with throngs of onlookers braving frosty temperatures just to get a glimpse of the President-elect and his family. Observing this walk in history has been awe inspiring and emotional.
As I watch I think back to March of last year when the photo to the right was taken and crowds gathered at Community Colleges and various venues to see the man who dared to believe that he could make a difference. At that time I believed he had the right ideas, persona and the ability, but I didn't believe that America was ready. Well President-elect Barack Obama has proven me and millions of others wrong! America, at least the majority, is ready for change and change is here.
After the November election I vowed I would be in D.C. to witness history, because I really felt that there was no better place to be, but life has interrupted that dream and I like millions of others will gather on Tuesday and witness history in front of the television. What will be extra special about not being in Washington is that I will have the opportunity to observe history with my mother who has been one of the President-elect's biggest supporters from the beginning; my grandmother who will soon celebrate her 85th birthday and a couple of aunts, cousins and other family members. Chronicling this historic event from a family perspective will be just as rewarding as being in a crowd of millions.
A change has come to America, do your part to be an agent of change in your life, community and in your country.
~Until next time!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

One Minute Writer

Irony abounds in life and today is not different. The one-minute writer prompt for today is "What is the last thing that made you cry?" Below is my response, which carries over to my first post of the day.

Today I shed tears for the first time in 2009. These tears were for the tragic and senseless death of 6-month-old Ania Duncan. I never had the pleasure of meeting Ania, but from the bright, brown eyes that stared out at me I’m sure I would have loved to have known her. Today the world is a little darker and my heart aches for a better tomorrow and help for her troubled parents.

~Hug a child today!

WHY!!! The Only Question is why?

Just two days ago I wrote a very brief post on the need for patience in our world, and today I am so angry I could just scream!!!!!!!
I have just learned of the death of beautiful 6-month-old Ania Duncan, presumably at the hands of her own parents. I didn't know this precious child or her family, but just the senseless, callous way in which she died has my blood boiling.
Children, as cliche' as it may sound, are truly a blessing from God and to hear that this young life has ended in such tragedy is appalling. We live in a world where life is no longer precious. Where brutality and violence have become the norm for so many, and many others have become numb to the unspeakable crimes we read and hear about on a daily basis.
Ania is in a much better place, but oh what joy I'm sure she could have brought to a family that loved her. All you have to do is look at her beautiful, bright eyes and see that she was a joy the short time she spent on this earth.
If you have a child take an extra moment and tell them you love them, better yet give them a big hug!
If you're in the northeast spread some joy and stay warm, everyone else just spread a little joy today!
For more on this story check out, source of photo and details.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What information or skill would you like to teach to others?

The one skill that has taken me a number of years to understand and practice regularly is the art of Patience! Patience is something that I believe all of us need to strive for in life. Why, you ask? Well you will be healthier - raging and feelings of anger only help to raise your blood pressure, not that of the person or thing that has caused your flare up.

This is my One-Minute Writer post for today! Think you're suffering from Writer's Block, drop by One-Minute Writer for a prompt to get the juices flowing!

So Idiotic

I could not believe my eyes! This woman was riding down the street with the front and rear windows totally covered in snow. There was only a small portion of the front windshield cleaned - at eye level.
I was so astonished I had to take a photo with my cell. Unfortunately, I was driving and did not have time to circle around and get a good picture of the entire car.
The irony of the whole incident is that she was heading to Mass - I hope that during her prayers she thanked God and all his saints for watching over her!
I'm sure she would have been forgiven for being a few minutes late - it really wouldn't have taken more than 10-15 minutes to clear off the snow!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

First Snowstorm of the Season

Today's prompt on the One-Minute Writer site was just the tool to get me started. What event would you like to have immortalized in a photo? Well with the first snowstorm of the season I decided it was necessary to venture outside to partake in a card making class. I cleaned off my car early that morning in preparation of my departure and then went back inside to get dressed. My trip was going along oh, so smoothly until I reached Green Road and Anderson Avenue. As I approached this intersection I could feel the rear of my SUV becoming sort of light and floating in the wrong direction. Before I realized what was happening I had done a 180 degree spin. As I am spinning I see a car travelling north - that means in my direction and I'm wondering do I remember what to do, oh God please don't let me crash! As these thoughts race through my mind I also see that the oncoming car is going into it's own spin. The story has a happy ending because I am sitting at my computer today recounting my second spin out this winter.
Thank you Jesus for watching over me! This is a photo I would like to have - a picture inside the truck cabin witnessing the sheer panic that I felt at that moment.
As for the card class - it was fun, relaxing and I learned some tips and tricks as it relates to inks. The photo on the right represents the first real snowstorm in Cleveland this winter!
Stay warm and that's my more than one-minute post!