Monday, December 13, 2010

#reverb10 - Action

Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen. What's your next step?

I would say that my current aspiration have to do with exercising my creative juices and if the cards align themselves to support myself, or supplement my income through these endeavors.
I strongly agree that these ideas and aspirations must be placed into action in order to achieve the goal or make the aspiration a reality. To that end these daily prompts have helped me move from talking about writing and placed me in front of the computer typing. While these prompts have nothing to do with current projects, they do get the juices flowing and have helped the mind to expand and open up with reference to works in progress.

Another aspiration is to advance my photographic skills which have languished for a number of years. While working on these prompts I am also working on daily photography prompts to exercise that skill.

So while I am moving in the right direction, the final piece of this puzzle is to develop a flow and a way in which to complete these tasks along with the day-to-day life tasks.

Organization is the key to that problem, and I am currently trying to purge my home of extraneous items that are no longer of use so as to create a better work environment at home.

#reverb10 - Body Integration

Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?
I think I had two instances of being cohesively me and the interesting thing about each of these days is that I also felt very in touch with nature.

This spring on one of the first warm days of the year I felt overcome by what I called "spring fever". I just couldn't concentrate any longer and decided to check out of work a little early and go to the lake. It had only been a few weeks since my Mom passed and I was missing her desperately and felt I could be closer to her at the lake.

Well I got to the lake and remembered that the temperature is much colder by the water than inland, but I was comfortable and spent a couple of hours just gazing out into the lake, taking photos and being with me! It was great!

The second time was last Wednesday as I danced in the snow during Cleveland's first snow storm! I was outside without a hat on and just taking in the beauty of the falling snow. I had images of my childhood when we used to rush out the back door to make snow angels in the perfect white flakes! All the worries and cares were wiped away and I felt alive and ready to tackle any and all challenges!

#reverb10 - Wisdom

What a weekend! I'm late in posting my reverb10 reflections so today I'm posting two. Maybe three because it is my plan to do all 31 even if I didn't start on time!

First let's look at the December 10th prompt - Wisdom, "What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?" When I first read this prompt I thought it would be difficult to write or to determine, because let's face it - most people don't think they are very wise especially in a day-to-day way. Or at least that's how I am. However after thinking back on the past year I was able to come up with a response fairly quickly.

Throughout the years I have been very good at advising others that you can 'only do what you can do' and that you are not in control of the emotions and actions of others. I thought that I did a pretty good job of this myself - that is not harping on the reactions and attitudes of others. My philosophy has always been "if you know in your heart that you have done the best that you can" in any situation then let it go.

This year has presented a number of situations when I have been engaged in heated exchanges with others because of their perception of an event, action or something similar. It was becoming a serious problem, one that left me angry, aggravated and just not in a good state. That is until I took my own advice and realized that there problems were not mine.

So, how has this worked? It has limited my level of anxiety and frustration, but it has resulted in strained relationships. I am not happy that some of my relationships with people that are very important to me are in dire straits, but at the same time I am not constantly stressing either. I can't always put others before me and my mental and physical health. Phew I said it, and I really mean it. Hoping for a stress free '11!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

#reverb10 - The Ultimate Party!

I don't do a lot of partying these days - much to my dismay. I guess it has to do with growing older and being more selective in the situations you put yourself in. That being said I would say that the year started off with a great party!
For the past three years we have gathered with a group of friends to bring in the New Year and each year the party gets better. It is a house party held at the home of some dear friends and it attracts a large gathering of friends, family and neighbors. The basement is small, but not tight and has a great layout complete with an area set aside for the bar. Because it's a house party the attire is usually casual with a little glitter added via tops or jazzy bottoms. Attire is so unimportant I can't actually recall what I wore.
My husband sometimes moonlights as a bartender and each year he adds this party to his portfolio, but this year I took over the bar. I don't quite remember how this happened, but it did and I had a good time and the attendees enjoyed my mixology.
The food was a mix of standard house party mix - chicken wings, ribs, pasta salad, spinach dip, and I believe there were greens too! So we had a good spread to fill the belly and a full bar to lift the spirits. Top that off with DJ Vince and the house was jumping.
We danced, ate, drank and talked well into the early hours of 2010 and a good time was had by all.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

#reverb10 - Beautifully Different

This is my fourth entry for the reverb10 challenge. The challenge is all about recounting the year and looking forward to the new year. It is also meant to help you write daily and become reflective - at least that is my take. So today's prompt is:
Beautifully different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful.
Wow, what a challenge and if you didn't believe me when I said this challenge motivates you to become reflective I think you're with me now.
I don't know if some of my better points are things that make me different, but I think that most of my friends and associates would say that I am considerate and giving. When thinking about gifts to give I really try to think about the recipient and come up with things that reflect them. I don't look at quantity or value but at the sentiment associated with it, or the personal value the recipient will place on the gift.
I'm sometimes blunt to a fault, but I believe that in recent years I have learned to curb the tongue a little understanding that what I feel is not always what someone else wants to hear. Lately a number of people have indicated that they admire my confidence and I think that's a good thing, although I've heard some call it arrogance - which is so far from the truth. I have a strong confidence in my abilities and if I believe I can do it - no matter what it is I won't back down.
Finally and probably most important is that I strive to find the good in most everyone. Each of us has some redeeming quality - it just may be buried and you have to dig to find it.

Playing in the Snow!

Today I have been channeling my mother as Cleveland, that is the city proper, received the first snowstorm of the winter. My mother loved the first snow and being a part of the glorious beauty that God has given us in the form of snowflakes. Now I don't dislike snow, but not since my childhood
have I really reveled in just being a part of it. I like to watch it from the window and I love to see the fresh snow on the trees, but to just hang out in it - Not!

Today was different, I re
ally think she was egging me on so out I went to take photos and just enjoy the beauty of it. The weather reminded me of a snowstorm we had in I think in 1999 or so. The city
was basically shut down and when I looked out of my house there was a couple of feet of snow in the driveway and on the streets. At the time I lived down the street from my parents and at the height of the storm who comes traipsing down the street but my Mom. She's wearing her fur coat and trying to get me to come and walk with her. I was not game. Now, she really wasn't a dog person, but that day she asked me to give her my dog - CoCo so she could take her for a walk. That was one of the funniest things I had seen and today it was a wonderful memory! I now only wish I had gone out to play with her.

One advantage I had today was that I did not have to drive in it! So I'm writing this post at 6:15 p.m. and although I don't have to drive in the gridlock that is Cleveland right now, I am becoming impatient. I have been waiting for my husband for over an hour, but there is n
o need to be angry because he has been trying to get from E. 21st St. to E. 13th street for over an hour. What a mess! This storm really caught the City of Cleveland by surprise. Hopefully I will arrive home before 8 p.m. and upload the photos that support this post. So it's now 10:32 p.m. and I have only been home
about an hour!

I just received a message from my brother in Virginia telling me to come down for a visit. I think I will soon, but as I said I'm not one of those Clevelanders crying about the weather. The snow
will get old sooner than later, but I love living in an area with four distinct seasons and hey the cost of living is good!

Below are some of the photos I captured.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

This is a shot I captured at Wade Oval this past Sunday during Holiday Circlefest. I used this shot for my December 5, 2010 "Picture the Holidays" class.

#reverb10 - Community

So what exactly is community? My interpretation is a place of nurturing, a safe zone - somewhere I feel comfortable. Now Merriam Webster has a slightly different take, but it is a definition with many variances. I will recount a few of them here: "a unified body of individuals: as a :state or commonwealth; b : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself ; c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location."

My reflection of community is best associated with example 'c' - an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location. That I believe is a good definition of Facebook, and remarkably I have found a definite home on this social networking site.

This year as I dealt with the passing of my mother the many messages and heartfelt sentiments received from both near and far acted as a healing balm and made this most difficult time more bearable. During and after this time the many messages that were meant just to bring a smile achieved their goal. I also reconnected with many people I had not heard from in more than 20 years, so I would say that social networking sites have become a community of support for me.
Additionally, in the last several weeks I have participated in a number of classes online that have opened up many new communities. In particular the participants in two classes over at Big Picture Classes - "The Gift of Words" and "Picture the Holidays" have been inviting and represent a true interacting population of various kinds of individuals. Primarily women, but I have noticed a man or two in the forums, we all hail from various corners of the world and have been brought together in support of an art with all love.

With all of this online activity is there a face-to-face community I am hoping to join or re-engage? I would say that the passing of my Mom has left a huge void in my family and that sense of community is something that I am longing for particularly during this time of year. I will pray, meditate and contemplate the best ways to remedy this situation.
In the meantime I will continue to value my new online communities and nurture the face to face communities I belong to and call home.

Monday, December 06, 2010

#reverb10 - What is the Last Thing You Made?

So on my second day of participating in #reverb10 I am happy to say we have a happy topic, or one that does not dwell on any sadness. The topic today is what is the last thing you made and this works well with my previous post on feeling a little scatterbrained because I have been doing so many things. So technically, the last thing I made was one half of a pair of foot warmers. These are hand knit and made first and foremost with love, because I love the person who will wear them and I hope that each time they put them on the depth of our friendship will come through and warm them both physically and emotionally. The yarn used to knit these warmers is Artful Yarns Circus and it is 95% wool and 5% acrylic so they are nice and warm and you can toss them in the laundry - making them convenient.
I have knit these over the last several years for a number of friends and I receive rave reviews after the fact. It is such a joy to knit something and then have the recipient genuinely enjoy the gift. This is something that really brings a smile to my face!
The completed project are a couple of hand knit hats, again they are made with love, but t
he fiber used was Cascade Lana Grande a bulky yarn - also a mix of wool and acrylic.
I can't wait to pass on the love!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Reverb10 - "What (or whom) Did You Let Go of This Year? Why

Today is my first day participating in Reverb10. If you're not familiar, this is an annual challenge held during the month of December and you - the writer are given prompts each day to tell the story of the year and look forward to the new year. That's my interpretation and I think I'm on point.

So I'm five days behind and I would start on the day they pose the tough prompt. So herei it goes!

February 27, 2010
Have you ever woke up and gone through the day without a clue as to the devastation and pain that was quickly approaching? Well that is the only way I can describe the day I had to say goodbye to my mother, Chris Shockley. I've never felt so much pain.
The day started at my parent's house where I had spent the night with my Mom. She was having a difficult time at night, but I never thought the end was this close. Mommy was restless Friday night constantly going from bed to chair, from bed to chair. It was almost as if she didn't want to sleep, and now as I reflect I wonder did she know the end was close and she wasn't quite ready? I think maybe. I now know that she was telling me the time was near, but I continued to hold on to hope that she would continue to fight.
At one point during the night she would wake and ask me to hold her as she went back to sleep and then a few hours later she woke with a start and yelled "I'm leaving" and I quieted her and said I was there and everything was okay. Today I know that she was letting me know that her journey was coming to an end.
I left my parent's house the next morning with my Mom seated on the side of her bed. She said "I love you," and I told her the same and that I would talk with her later. When I got home I went to bed and slept for most of the day. That evening I was to attend an American Legion dance with my husband so I got up and got dressed to spend a night on the town.
Less than an hour after arriving at the Party Center I received a call from my sister saying Mommy's pulse was thready and weak and I needed to get to the house. I grabbed the keys from my husband and began the fifteen minute drive to my parent's house. We were in the midst of a snow storm and I traveled as fast as I could - praying all the way "Lord, let her hold on until I get there. Lord, please don't take her." The snow was coming down thick and heavy and the roads were becoming slick, but I made it.
I drove into the driveway and ran to the back door where I was greeted by my aunt, and I knew before she said anything that I was too late. The pain grabbed me deep within my stomach and a scream of "Noooooo!" could be heard throughout the house. I slumped to the floor and cried before going upstairs and laying with my mother and saying goodbye.
Cancer had once again knocked on the door of my family and taken a cherished member away. My world is emptier and I am regularly reaching to call her on the phone and recount something special, interesting or funny going on in my life.
A piece of my heart has gone, but I now have my own personal angel watching over me. Below is the tribute I wrote in honor of my Mom.

The Birdie on My Shoulder

From the beginning you fought for me

That fight would continue for many years in many forms.

Your strength was always present even when we were apart.

You assured me that whenever I had trouble all I had to do was look on my shoulder

On my shoulder a little bird sat watching – that Red Robin was you.

You watched over me as I spoke my first words, took my first steps and ventured out into the world.

As I ventured into the world you assured me that you would be there, “I’m the little bird on your shoulder” you said.

With every step I’ve taken since I’ve paused to think “What would my little birdie think?”

My birdie said “Reach for the sky, there are no limits if you work hard at it.”

When the ceiling seemed short and I couldn’t see my birdie. You said take your arms, wrap them around you and squeeze.

That ever present hug is what I’m holding on to, because my birdie still watches over me, but she has taken flight and is perched on the right side of God.

From that perch on high she will guide and protect me.

Picture the Holidays

The first assignment/challenge was Gratitude. Here is my shot on gratitude.

So you might wonder why am I grateful for myself? Well I am grateful for each day the Lord has given me, but I was also grateful for the opportunity Big Picture Online Classes and specifically Picture the Holidays has given me to reignite by love of photography and to capture this shot!

What A Busy Time of Year

Wow, it's been a very hectic couple of weeks around here lately! I'm feeling a little scatterbrained lately. I have so many things I'm trying to focus on, and it appears as though something is going to be missed or come up short.

So why so busy? Well I came across this great website Big Picture Classes Online and it has really rekindled my interest in photography, which of course led to many more sites and reading as well as admiring the work of many photographers from all over the world.

Then there is Jessica Sprague, who you can find here. She had a wonderful free class, Inspiration Everywhere and of course I had to sign up because I'm always looking for inspiration! Add to all of this the routine Christmas knitting and Holiday cards to make, and you have a woman with a whole lot going on.

So am I accomplishing anything? I think I am to some degree. In a recent conversation with one of my sisters she asked what was going on and my response was "oh just doing too much," and her response was "as usual". Sometimes I do have a tendency not to say "no" to others when they are in need of my assistance but this time around I'm doing things for me. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself, but I really believe this hyperactivity is a coping mechanism. I've also added the reverb10story challenge to my plate.

You see this is the first holiday season without my Mom, and I am trying to cope in the best way possible - stay busy. Now this doesn't mean that she doesn't creep into my mind and my activities, but boy are the days more bearable.

I'll be posting details of all of my new adventures. I hope you will join me on this journey!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

FREE BOOKS - Part Three!

Ok you "bookies" out there, I'm sure you could use a book or two! I on the other hand, need to get rid of a book or two, or three or four - you get it.
I've had two takers so far, (Thanks Nate & Angie) which means I am making some progress, but I really want to make more progress! So please help a girl purge, and I promise I will wait at least 30 days before I purchase another book. I'm going to become a very frequent user in the Cleveland Public Library and Cuyahoga County Library systems. Now as an aspiring novelist I understand the importance of sales, so I can not say that I will not purchase any more titles, but I will attempt to be more selective.
One day I have a vision of a home that offers me space similar to that of Whoopi Goldberg. Did you guys happen to see Oprah yesterday? If you are a "Bookie" you would be in heaven inside of Whoopi's house!
She has a library spanning a couple of rooms! I mean you could really get lost in a book in her house! On top of the library from Dewey's dreams, she has a master SUITE that would leave the designers on HGTV in design heaven! Her bathroom is as large as some of the bedrooms featured on HGTV shows. To put it into my perspective it as large as the two large bedrooms in my home - a girl could get used to a powder room like that! But would you expect less from Whoopi - I sure wouldn't!
Now on to the next selection of Freebies! I think I failed to mention in my previous posts, but a perusal of the lists will tell you that these are not all fiction freebies, many of these are non-fiction and might help someone out there fix finances or come to terms with the best way to educate children. Without further delay - the 3rd Installment of Free Books!
  1. Myth of the Welfare Queen - A Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist's Portrait of Women on the Line by David Zucchino
  2. Beating the Odds - Raising Academically Successful Afican American Males by Freeman A. Hrabowski III, Kenneth I. Maton & Geoffrey L. Greif
  3. Stepping Out With Attitude by Anita Bunkley
  4. Pimps, Whores and Welfare Brats - From Welfare Cheat to Conservative Messenger, The Autobiography of Star Parker by Star Parker with Lorenzo Benet
  5. Childhood by Andre' Alexis
  6. The Twelve Universal Laws of Success by Herbert Harris
  7. Boys to Men - Maps For The Journey by Greg Alan Williams
  8. I Was On Time - My Journey From The Negro Leagues To The Majors by Buck O'Neil
  9. America's Best Kept Secret by James L. Gagan with Robert L. Shook
  10. How To Raise a Child with a High EQ - A Parent's Guide to Emotional Intelligence by Lawrence E. Shapiro, Ph.D.
The following books are no longer available - Sister Souljah's "No Disrespect" and Richard North Patterson's "Eyes of A Child"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Getting Back My Creative Mojo

I am once again attempting to get my creative mojo back. I started the week off with a bang, but each passing day has found me lacking. I have however found some really interesting sites that may help to re-ignite the muse. I think that part of my problem is the fact that I have so many interests, and only a few hours in a day to enjoy them. I consistently say that work gets in the way of life, and that is so very true when it comes to moving the creative juices.

I think the juices started to flow thanks to my all day Saturday session at Creative Creations Papercrafts, where i spent nearly eight hours creating a slew of Christmas cards. There were a number of really interesting techniques and stamps and the icing on the cake was the fact that I picked up my Big Shot Express that is supposed to help me do all of the embossing that I am dying to do. Well instead of coming home and playing around with my new toy I went out with the hubby and spent the evening and early morning dancing and having a good time. What's so bad about that you ask, well in actuality nothing except for the fact that the next day I was wiped out! I'm not as young as I used to be and I have been trying to recuperate all week.

On the writing front I did at least post a new list of freebies in my efforts to purge a large portion of my personal library, but that didn't take a lot of energy or creative juices to get it started. So what creative projects should I be working on? Well there are two book reviews and I'm not sure why I am procrastinating with these because I truly enjoyed both books. At the root of this problem I think is a feeling that the reviews won't be good, but I've got to start somewhere - right? The second project was NaNoWriMo which I started, but I think that I gave up that idea almost as soon as I wrote the first 700 or so words.

The problem there was starting with a totally new project that I had not really thought through clearly. I still think I want to write the story, but I'm not sure if it is a novel and I won't know that until I do some more research. So I'm at a standstill in the writing area although I do have a couple of projects that I could and should pull out and begin to work on.

Next there is knitting and boy do I have a number of projects that I could and should be working on! I started some foot warmers that I hope will be a Christmas present, but if I don't begin knitting soon I won't get those done. This is usually a pretty productive knitting time for me and could be this year as well because I do have a few people that have requested hats etc.. and I would like to get the sticks going, but here again is that procrastination.

This procrastination doesn't surprise me. I think it may have something to do with the loss of my Mom this past February. She introduced me to knitting and we regularly attending a number of knitting workshops at this time of year in preparation for the holiday season. So to say that it is hard to get into some of our shared activities is definitely an understatement.

Then there is the whole holiday thing. From Thanksgiving until after the first of the new year I am usually in such an upbeat and happy mood and I just don't know how I'm going to muster it this year. Part of me is saying that it would be almost sacriligious to enjoy this time of year, but the other says Enjoyment, Family and Festivities are all the things that my mother would want me to engage in this year - even more so than in the past.

With that positive thought I am thinking about participating in an online photography workshop - Picture the Holidays, which is designed in part to help the participants find and keep the joy of the season. It's reasonably priced and may be just what the doctor ordered to get me into the spirit.

I found out about Picture the Holidays through some random surfing yesterday, and I really enjoyed the site Shutter Sisters! I think I'll become a frequent visitor and hopefully participant. They have some great projects and ideas over there, so if you have any interest in photography I'd stop on over there.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Free Books - Part Two!

Here we go, the second installment of the Free Book Give-Away! When I say free that's exactly what I mean. The recipient pays nothing - not even shipping! I am in the process of doing some home renovations, and I need to make room for other things, so won't you help me out by taking a book or two off of my hands?
  1. Eyes of A Child by Richard North Patterson
  2. Achieving Your Financial Potential by Scott Kays
  3. French Silk by Sandra Brown
  4. Heaven's Price by Sandra Brown
  5. Disclosure by Michael Crichton
  6. No Disrespect by Sister Souljah
  7. Dreamer - A Novel by Charles Johnson
  8. The Client by John Grisham
  9. Inside the Magic Kingdom by Tom Connellan
So that's it, click on the title to learn more about the book, and leave a message in the comment section to receive your FREE Book! For a look at the first installment, look here.
Note - I don't want to delay this posting so I apologize if you have problems with the links. For some reason when I tested them I received error messages. I am hoping this is just a late night glitch and you won't have that problem.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I Support My President

I was once a political "junkie" listening to every speech, flipping through the various channels to get a taste for all of the pundits, but in recent time I have tried to divest myself of these habits because they were in a word - DEPRESSING!

Last night was one of those nights when I could not listen because I knew that so much of the rhetoric would be laced in hate and venom. Why so much hate? Well in my opinion it has to do with the "browning" of this country and a fear of loosing control.

The "browning" is not just in the White House, it is the fact that there are more and more minorities in this country, and a lot of people can't handle that! Some minorities included.

But this post is about me supporting my President and why. I support him because I believe that he has the best interests of all Americans when he attempts to shape the policies of this country and because he is a man of character.

It takes a man of strong character to admit that he hasn't satisfied the masses and an even stronger one to once again extend the "olive branch" to his dissenters in an effort to move this country forward. I have not read his statement in its entirety, but this reporting suggests President Obama is once again open to dialogue.

I will begin to watch in a few days when the volume of rhetoric has been reduced to a reasonable level, because it is now time for the Republicans and the Tea Party to play their hand. It's a hand I believe we are all familiar with, but now it is up to the American people to choose between substance and rhetoric. Allegedly the people have spoken and they want to "Change the Course" according to Rep. Boehner, but what is the course and at what cost?

So as not to ramble I will end by restating - I Support President Barack Obama, and it has nothing to do with the color of his skin, but everything to do with the content of his character!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

No School On Election Day?!

While I don't have any children I do try to keep up on news worthy items and it appears to me that I slept through one - No School On Election Day for safety reasons! Come on, I really couldn't believe it at first, but then again with all of the rhetoric and hate that has surrounded the last several election cycles I guess I should not be surprised.

In a meeting this morning a co-worker and I discussed the number of schools closed today, but I had no idea it was associated with safety until this afternoon when I asked my sister why she was home. She said no school because of the election and my response was "since when," to which she replied "they started it year before last for safety reasons or something."

This is getting to be a little silly. I listened to a commentary this morning by Jeff Johnson on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and he recounted covering elections in other parts of the world and how in places like Iraq, Africa and Asia election day was a National Holiday. It has never been a National Holiday in the U.S. and to think that it has become a holiday because of fear for the safety of our children is despicable.

Monday, November 01, 2010

The First Installment of Free Books

As indicated in the previous post, I have books to share with the masses! In an effort to make room for other things, and of course some of these will be new books I am parting with some of the hundreds of novels that I own. If you are interested in obtaining any of these titles, please leave a note in the comment section. I will cover the cost of postage so all you have to do is have a love of reading or an interest in the titles and they could be yours!

Help me purge!

Here is the list:
  1. Good Peoples by Marcus Major
  2. The Silent Cradle by Margaret Cuthbert
  3. Gingersnaps by Delorys Welch-Tyson
  4. Any Rich Man Will Do by Francis Ray
  5. Like the First Time by Francis Ray
  6. Like Breathing, A Novel by Ricc Rollins
  7. Sins of the Mother, An Alison Young Thriller by Cheryl Saban
  8. The View From Here by Brian Keith Jackson
  9. Pride by Lorene Cary
  10. Singing in the Comeback Choir by Bebe Moore Campbell
Just click on the title to learn more about each title.

Free Books, as I purge!

So today is purge day and man it is not easy. I am trying to organize and I can't seem to do it. What is the biggest culprit you ask? Booooks, can I say Booooks again! Recently I attempted to count all of the books that I own and there were well over 700! That's a lot of books, but as my sister has said, "you're a bookie" which I must admit I am. I should not have grown up in the era of "A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste" and "Knowledge is Power" etc. Man did I ever take those messages to heart. Actually one of my favorite pictures is of me as a child asleep lying on my stomach on the hardwood floor, face in a book and knees bent - that is a telling photo. I'll have to find it and post it one day.

Now back to my dilemma - books. I have a three bedroom house, no children and just about every corner and crevice has a book of some sort taking occupancy. I am posting photos of some of the bookcases and piles to illustrate my point.

So how did this start? Well the easy answer is my love for reading. As long as I can remember I have loved reading, language and being taken away through the pages of a book. I can recall as a child being punished and told to go to my room, that is until the day my mother realized that was no punishment! You see I spent those hours reading and engrossing myself in the worlds of everyone from Nancy Drew to Margaret in Judy Blume's classic "God, Are You There, It's Me Margaret."

As the years progressed and my interests were continually piqued I picked up the works of black female authors Toni Cade Bambara, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and the trailblazer Zora Neale Hurston. Not wanting the men of the Harlem Renaissance to feel left out I began to read James Baldwin, Richard Wright and Langston Hughes. Spreading my wings into collections of poetry, I became a fan of anything and everything Nikki Giovanni wrote as well as making a point to be in the audience whenever she came to Cleveland. There was even an Eldrige Cleaver novel or two in there. So, the point is that my reading passion continued, took on a slant towards the works of blacks, but the majority was still prominent. There was Dostoevsky and Pasternak along with Shakespeare, Albee and Moliere'. Now I don't mention all of these authors to seem anything more than a lover of language.

The problem with just these few authors is that instead of trekking to the neighborhood library and retrieving these works I headed straight to the local bookstore and purchased book after book. For the life of me I can't recall the names of two of my favorite haunts as a teen - they were small independent bookstores where you could find all sorts of used books. One was on Coventry and the other was on Shaker Square, and how I loved going in and spending hours just browsing the titles. That was heaven on earth! They were small, quaint and smelled old because of the books but I found such warmth in these stores. I would say that Mac's Back on Coventry lends itself to that memory.

Now this obsession with books did not end back in the late 70s and 80s, no it manifested and has reached gargantuan proportions as stated in the opening paragraph - more than 700 titles! No matter how I try to purge myself of books I just can't. I've given away a few titles because I am trying to make myself understand that I most likely will not re-read half of these wonderful books. The problem with that assessment is how can I be certain? What if read a review, or become engaged in a conversation about a work that I know I have/had and go to seek it out for clarity and it's not there! What's a girl to do?

Well this girl has determined she is going to be successful in this endeavor and one way to achieve my goal is to share with others, and to do this on a larger scale. So beginning today I am parting with some of my prized possessions, and you could be a recipient. All you have to do is express an interest in the comments section and I'll send you one of my babies! Remember knowledge is power and we must share the power!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Have you tried

Last week I received a message from a good friend saying check out as a good site to help get the juices flowing and keep you on track with your writing goals.

I'm always looking for something to help me stay on task with my writing, so of course I took a look and signed up. As per my usual I didn't do anything for the first few days, then I wrote a couple of hundred words one day. Then nothing.

I am pleased to announce that for the last three days I have stayed on task and I have written 750 words or more! Yay for me!!!

The first two days were just random thoughts, but today I rewrote a post I had left in the draft column since July. It's the book review below.

I hope this is a positive trend - better yet, I'm going to make it a positive I won't just hope. I have to control my destiny and this is one way to do it.

If you're having trouble with your writing and looking for an inspirational tool - check it out here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Order your 75th Anniversary Anisfeld-Wolf Book Awards Tickets today!

I arrived home today to find my invitation or announcement for the 75th Anisfeld-Wolf Book Awards in the mail! Yippee!!! I immediately ordered my tickets!

The Awards will be presented on
Tuesday, September 14th at Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland.

Recipients include Elizabeth Alexander, the poet, essayist, playwright and teacher who
received national notoriety last year with the penning of Praise Song for the Day the poem read during the Inaugural ceremonies for President Barack Obama. Alexander will receive the Lifetime Achievement in Poetry.

Novelist Kamila Shamsie will be honored for her latest work Burnt Shadows,
published in 2009 by Bloomsbury Publishing. On its author Website, Bloomsbury describes the novel as "an epic narrative of disasters evaded and confronted, loyalities offered and repaid, and loves rewarded and betrayed." A native of Pakistan, Shamsie is also the aut
hor of In the City by the Sea, Kartography, Salt and Saffron and Broken Verses.

Receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award in Non-Fiction is William Julius Wilson. In describing Wilson, the press information states, "Wilson is the author of a number of c
ritically acclaimed and culturally challenging works, including the 1978 publication The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions. In this work, Wilson argued that the significance
of race was declining and an African-American’s class was comparatively more important in determining his or her chances in life. His most recent book, More Than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City, was published in 2009. A sociologist, Wilson holds a Ph.D. from Washington State University. In 1996 he joined the faculty at Harvard University, where he is among an exclusive group to hold the highest professional distinction of University Professor. Among his many honors, he is a recipient of the Burton Gordon Feldman Awards for “outstanding contributions in the field of public policy.”

Rounding out the honorees is Oprah Winfrey receiving the Lifetime Achievement A
ward. In announcing Winfrey's selection the Wolf jury notes, "Winfrey, often called the “most influential woman in the world,” is a television host, businesswoman, and philanthropist. Her difficult childhood – born out of wedlock, raised in poverty, sexually abused – is well documented and she is widely respected for overcoming hardship. Through her television talk show, Winfrey launched Oprah’s Book Club and single-handedly brought the joys of reading to millions of people around the world and re-engaged those whose interest may have waned over time. Her commitment to issues of diversity and human cultures runs through the topics she addresses on her show, the books she recommends, and the cultural arts she financially supports, including the 2009 movie Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire and the Broadway production of The Color Purple."

Previous winners of the prize which "remains the only juried American literary competition devoted to recognizing books that have made an important contribution to society's understanding of racism and the diversity of human cultures" include Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danticat, Junot Diaz, Gwendolyn Brooks and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The Prize was established in 1963 by Elizabeth Anisfeld Wolf.

For more information on the Awards visit here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: "Sugar - A Novel"

In October of last year author Bernice L. McFadden set in motion a plan to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the publication of her debut novel Sugar. The publication anniversary was January 9, 2010. I'm not sure if she reached her mark, but I do know that she sparked a renewed interest in her work.

As I write this review almost a year later, I am apologetic because I'm not sure when I first noticed the posting and I unfortunately did not read it well because I thought it was a year long campaign. That being said, if you have not read Sugar, please do so. Why you ask? Well continue to read and I'll give you what I believe are a few good reasons.

Set in rural Arkansas in the 1950s, Sugar is a story of friendship, acceptance and the love that must exist for the aforementioned to thrive.

When Sugar Lacey arrives in the sleepy town of Bigelow, Arkansas heads turn and tongues begin to wag. You see Sugar is not like the women of this small town. She is worldly, wears vibrant colors from head to toe and the "good" women who reside in this town see her as nothing but trouble. Based purely on what they see, the women have labeled her and while the label may not be far from the truth a "welcoming committee" is not on the horizon.

The lone dissenter in town is Pearl Taylor, Sugar's neighbor on Grove Street. While Pearl is curious about the comings and goings of her new neighbor in #10, she has not turned a cold shoulder. Pearl feels a connection to this woman, but can't quite put her finger on why.

McFadden does a wonderful job of delving into the various characters and weaving a tale that is so real that you can imagine your grandmother telling this story. By shifting between characters and telling the story from their point of view, McFadden invites the reader into Bigelow and the friendship that develops between Sugar and Pearl.

Pearl works to tame Sugar while the younger woman attempts to add some spice to the sadness that she sees permeating the soul of her neighbor. With a supporting cast of characters including Pearl's husband Joe and her overly critical friends, McFadden's prose takes you into the depths of Bigelow. You become the new neighbor watching in on the lives of these characters. McFadden adds just a hint of suspense and wonder that keeps you turning the pages. The drama unfolds so crisply that when it all comes together you're left shaking your head saying "You've got to be kidding me, or better yet 'Girl shut yo' mouth'"

So if you're not familiar with Bernice McFadden, make today the day that you change that and go pick up a copy of Sugar. While you're at it, pick up This Bitter Earth, a sequel to Sugar and Glorious, McFadden's latest novel released this year.

The not so flattering photo above is of me holding a copy of Sugar, which was one of the requests of McFadden to help spread the word about the 10th Anniversary. As stated above I blew the whole concept, but I hope that you will stop here to learn more about this very inspirational and down to earth author.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer Reading - reviews to come

I've been busy this summer trying to catch up on reading that was pushed to the backburner this winter and spring.

Keep an eye out for reviews of the following titles:
This should keep me busy and actively posting over the next few weeks. I hope you'll drop in and check out the reviews and offer your feedback.

Why Clevelanders are angry with LeBron James

So it's been a week almost to the minute since LeBron James took the hearts of Cleveland Cavs fans and dumped them a steamy and hot Lake Erie. There their hearts were left to steam, bake and boil - sending our feelings about "The King" into the likes of a Massachusetts clam bake!

You see for months there has been speculation and innuendo, however those of us who chose to believe the words that were uttered from "The King" were confident that he would stay at home and really become the ROYALTY he proclaimed himself to be.

Why you ask did we feel this way? Well he was passionate about his love for his hometown of Akron, Ohio in particular and Northeast Ohio. He was quoted as saying he recalled "the fumble, the drive, and the shot" so he understood the angst of Cleveland fans and he wanted to bring joy to the area. HE WAS ONE OF US!

But in one fell swoop he shattered that dream and became in the minds of many, just another shallow albeit well paid athlete.

The problem is the money he left on all of the tables, so it wasn't about the money it was about the ring. I have problems believing that, because although I won't go as far as Dan Gilbert and say that he quit during the Boston series - something went terribly wrong! As the self proclaimed leader of that team I will say that his drive and desire for a ring was not present! So we the fans were let down by that performance or lack thereof.

The Cavs organization however does not get a pass. Something went terribly wrong within that group of men, and it really started when this team sport was relegated to the backseat. It has been clear for the last seven years that many of the problems with the team stemmed from the lack of team coaching.

What do I mean by this? Well it appears as though the plays and the focus of these Cavalier teams have been to elevate James, not the entire squad. The team members surrounding James were far from scrubs, but how focused and determined are they when their worth and ability is relegated to the background!

The strength of a true team is shown when the least of them can grow, and become an asset. That has not been the case in the recent past for the Cavaliers, but we hope it will be the mandate for the Cavs of the future.

"The King" has left the building and the Cavs will be a much better franchise because of it - Let's go CAVS!!!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

PodCamp Cleveland - A Look Back

Saturday I had the opportunity to attend PodCamp Cleveland at the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center. For those of you unfamiliar with PodCamp the local organizers Website describes, it as an "UnConference dedicated to podcasting, blogging, video blogging and all things New Media."

Why "UnConference" you may ask? Well while I did not ask anyone, I will say that it is because you are not obligated to attend all or any of the concurring sessions, nor do they expect you to sit through a session that is not particularly appealing to you. This may or may not be true.

Well on to my experience - it was a great day filled with some interesting sessions and great for the wallet -
FREE! This was my second PodCamp, and while I believe my first experience held a larger selection of sessions I can say that I interacting with more people this time around. Meeting new people is always a plus.

I was drawn to PodCamp Cleveland primarily because of a session entitled "Death by Bullet Points Words, and Clip Art - Creating Memorable Presentations." To say that presenter
Lauri Burkons was good would be an understatement! One of my pet peeves with PowerPoint presentations is the lack of actual presenting. I'm sure you have experienced it, you're in a conference room anxiously awaiting the start of the presentation when you receive a packet of information. As you glance over the packet, the speaker comes forward and proceeds to read verbatim the information you have in your hand. Argh! I walk away asking why didn't they just hand it out and let me read it!

Burkons' presentation centered on effective communication and focusing on the presenter rather than reading a screen. I will not repeat her entire presentation but some keys I walked away with included - treat the preparation of a presentation just as you would any other writing project. Begin the process by brainstorming or freewriting on the topic. Prepare an outline to assist with flow and ultimately with the design of the final product. When presenting be aware of time constraints and don't go over your time limit.

Social Media Strategy

The other session I was pumped to attend was Deborah Brown's discussion of "Creating a Customer-Focused Social Media Strategy". Brown of AllWriteInk gave a lively break down of the ins and outs of developing a Social Media Strategy, and most importantly tips on how to fit social media into your schedule

Some of her key points were knowing the brands you are working to market and organizing a timeline to utilize social technology i.e., Twitter, Facebook, Blogging etc. to promote the brands.

If you ever see Deborah Brown on a conference schedule no that she is a burst of energy and brings good information.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cleveland's historic Euclid Avenue Congregational Church destroyed by fire

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It was a devastating site to ride down Euclid Avenue this morning and see this historic structure gutted due to fire.Euclid Avenue Congregational Church, has a long history in the City of Cleveland. The church Website states, "Euclid Avenue Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ, an urban church since its beginning in 1843, is a diverse, multiracial and multicultural, Open and Affirming congregation."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

African Diaspora Reading Challenge Update

In my last post I indicated I would participate in the Brown Girl Speaks African Diaspora Reading Challenge so today I am listing a partial list of the books I plan to read for this challenge.
However before listing my planned readings I thought it would be helpful to list the rules of the challenge, so here they are:

The guidelines:
  • This challenge will run from January 1, 2010 - December 31, 2010
  • Crossovers are allowed
  • Fiction and nonfiction hard copies or e-books from any genre (no audiobooks)
  • Participants should visit different geographical regions in their reading (i.e. not all African American or Afro-Brit or Haitian or any one group representing the diaspora)
  • Levels of Participation:
  • Novice: commitment to read four (4) books
  • Versed: commitment to read eight (8) books
  • Scholar: commitment to read twelve (12) books
Initially, my plan was to join at the level of versed, but I have upped the anty to scholar. Why you ask? Well as part of my annual book club reading list at least one of the recommended readings is listed so that leaves me with eleven other works to choose from. While our group reads six books a year that would also leave at least one or two of them open for addition to my challenge list.

Most importantly, I usually find myself reading at least two books at a time, so a challenge of 12 should be a no-brainer. Finally, as I stated earlier, part of my motivation aside from increasing the scope of my reading is to use this challenge as a means to keep me writing on a regular basis.

So without further rambling my list of African Diaspora Reading Challenge books are:

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamande Ngozi Adichie is set in Enugu, Nigeria and is the story of 15-year-old Kambili and her life in an abusive household.

Let the Lion Eat the Straw by Ellease Southerland is the story of Abeba Williams. Seeking a way out of poverty, Abeba's mother leaves her in the care of Mamma Hamblesham as she looks for success in NY. Mamma and Abeba bond and develop a routine that is shattered when Abeba's mother returns to take her to the big city.

A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid offers the reader a view of Kincaid's homeland Antigua from poverty and corruption to the breath taking beauty of this small Caribbean island.

The Great Negro Plot by Mat Johnson is an historic fiction account of the Negro uprising in New York City in 1741.

These works are listed in no certain order, but I can say that Let the Lion Eat Straw will be the final book, because it is the last book scheduled for my book club and that meeting is in December 2010. The Great Negro Plot is also a book club read and I believe it is scheduled for early summer.

I'm really excited about the challenge and the opportunity to widen my reading horizon. Won't you join us? If you are interested click here for details.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Beginning a New Year - New Decade

So we have now ventured into a new year and new decade to boot, what do you plan to do differently in 2010? Have you made a list of resolutions? A list that, for most people anyway, will go by the wayside long before the spring thaw. Or are you like many of us who have made no resolutions other than to try to make this year better than the last, which of course means we have set goals that we will strive to achieve. Is there truly a difference between a resolution and a goal? I wonder.

One of my goals is to make this space an active, living breathing place that people you and others will be interested in visiting on a regular basis. So, let's hope you find this interesting and will come back for more in the days and weeks ahead.

Another goal is to participate in some very interesting challenges I have come across while perusing the internet. Just today I stopped by Inkygirl:Daily Diversions For Writers where I learned about the 1000 Words A Day Challenge which is similar to NanNoWriMo, but according to Inkygirl is for those of us who start out with a bang and may loose our way. With this challenge if you miss a day, but try again the next day you are still eligible as long as you are actively trying. Even better there is also a 500 Words A Day or 250 Words A Day Challenge. I will work on the 500 Words A Day, what do you think? Want to join me - if so learn more here.

The next challenge on my agenda has to do with my other love - reading. I'm not sure which of my writer idols tweeted about this site, and this challenge but I was very interested to find Brown Girl Speaks and the African Diaspora Reading Challenge. With this challenge I will be able to fulfill two goals at once - read more and write more, because as part of this challenge you have to write a review. Cha-Ching, double the pleasure. To learn more click here.

So with these two goals as well as a plan to redesign this site and post more frequently I should be a very busy woman over the next 361 days!

I hope you will join me on my journey to offer your views, support or just to hang out!

~Til Next Time!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year!

WhooHoo! 2010 is here! What a blessing to bid farewell to another year, and thank God for the gift of seeing the beginning of a new year.
My new year's celebration was a blast! For the third year in a row, the Hubby & I joined friends at a house party! The atmosphere was festive and filled with joy as we ate, drank, danced, laughed and just enjoyed the company of one another!
New this year - I played bartender and what a blast that was. While I'm always pretty observant at gatherings, just sort of people watching, the view from the bar definitely gives you a whole new vantage point.
From the barkeeps stool you can watch and gauge who's drinking just to get a little buzz and who is actually trying to tie one on, and thankfully most of the folks were being sociable last night.
As is true with life, with all good times there will be sadness. I found out this morning that a beloved cousin passed away this morning and is now our own personal ANGEL. I also learned first hand that with death comes life as we welcomed a new member of the family as well this morning. Life in all of it's totality is truly an awesome experience.
As the effects of the first day of the new year settle I am convinced it will be a good one. I'll post tomorrow about some good things to look forward to here on the blog. One of them will be more on books and writing as well as the addition of some other sections. I believe that I will finally utilize this space to delve into reigniting my love of reporting which will include interviews and features on not only books and literature, but also craft related issues and community news.
Join me for the ride, I know it's going to be a good one! Happy New Year!