Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Doing Some Good

So yeah, I promote things. I write about things. I convince you that those specific things are the best things since things were invented.

I get paid to do that.

You might hear me on the radio, or see me on television, or read an article in the newspaper or a magazine (which, BTW, is nothing more than my press release, 9 times out of 10.) I go to events and shake hands and smile.

Again, I get paid to do that.

But every once in a while, I decide to use my "powers" for good. (Totally in the Good Witch or Bad Witch example.) For instance, I decided that since it was Thanksgiving, and this time of year is about the harvest and our bounty, perhaps we should give back to those in need.

For the first time in my life, it is so much more than "the right thing to do." I recognize, without my family to back me, I would have been one of those "in need" just six months ago. From July 2011- April 2012, I was not guaranteed a meal, a bed, or the means to get from place to place.

I think that's why this season, I want to do everything I can to help those who need help.

When my coworker and I were talking about our Second Saturday Storytelling, it sort of hit me - why not teach the kids about giving back? I know the whole concept may not resonate with some of them, but it is so important to at least expose them to the concept. I decided after a little discussion to offer to do a canned food drive. My manager told me to look into one specific nonprofit, Loaves & Fishes Ministry of Macon, and see what they may need.

Sure enough, I called them and the kindest woman by the name of Sarah answered the phone. She gave me a brief overview and told me what type of items they needed. For example, they only had 20 blankets left, and with the weather growing colder, the need was outweighing what they had on reserve. I immediately felt my heart sort of flutter. (Not in a good way, in more of a oh-my-God-what-if? sort of way.) I asked, "Do you mind if I come visit you? See the place for myself?"

Sarah replied, "I would just love that."

So I did. I left work and found my way to this small building not too far from the museum. I had driven past it numerous times, always noticing the people hanging around outside. Some looked a little rough around the edges, so I always assumed they may be homeless.

I pulled up and two men were standing outside. Clearly, these men were there for either food, a shower, or something. One of the gentlemen greeted me and held the door open for me. I looked up at him and he flashed the kindest smile I had seen in so long. I made it in and met with the Executive Director, who was nice enough to give me a tour of the place. He showed me the pantry, showed me the closet; He even explained to me about the showers and laundry service they provide. I could tell the E.D. was distracted (or perhaps he had seen so many people like me who came through.. sort of looking around like it was some freak show, and thought I would donate once and leave.) Once we rounded the end of the pantry, he sort of stood there looking at me. I smiled and asked, "So Sarah asked me to stop by and pick up a brochure." He looked a little stunned and replied, "Of course, just head around the corner." So I went and thanked Sarah for her kindness.

As I walked out, I saw a young woman. She kept darting her eyes away from me, like she did not want to make eye contact, as if she was ashamed. She held her tattered bag close to her, and even brushed some of her hair away from her face. I paused at the door and smiled at her, as she shyly looked away. My heart sort of went out to her, and I have thought of her many times in the past week. All I could think was, "My God.. that could have been me,"

I know you guys think I am exaggerating, but I am not. If I did not have my family, I would have lost EVERYTHING. I had no home. I was only able to keep my car because I was given unemployment, which was barely $600 a month. I had somewhere to sleep for free, so I could make that payment, buy my medicines and cover my insurance. That was all. I rarely had money for gas or food of my own. But you would never know that - because I had nice things from before. When I went out, you saw clothes that were taken care of, and a car that was paid for, but you did not know what was actually happening by looking at me.

By October of 2011, if it weren't for my parents, I could have easily ended up in a shelter. Easily. I would have to get rid of my stuff, because you can't take that with you in one. I had nothing. NOTHING. Somehow.. and by the Grace of God, I had somewhere to go.

This month, I decided to collect items for Loaves & Fishes. There is a huge box in the lobby of our museum. People are welcomed to donate canned food, clothing, blankets, diapers, anything you know someone would need. I am going to use my "powers" for good and offer discounts to the museum with a donation. Free entrance into our First Friday Forums and Second Saturday Storytelling with a donation. I want that box to be so full, that we have to make a delivery at least a few times this month.

When November comes to a close, and we know we did all we could, I want to volunteer for the area homeless sheltors. I want to help those who need help.

I'll never forget the words of that woman back at the Firehouse Sheltor in Birmingham, when she said to me, "Honey, we are all just one paycheck away from being homeless."

That.. I can attest to.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Disruption

My routine is a bit off course. I can't think straight, I can't commit to any engagements and I can't seem to write.

I have about 6 different "drafts" of a blog post sitting in my blogger account. I begin to write something, on some random subject, and I never finish it.

It's not like I am just sitting around- I am super, SUPER busy - but my brain does not seem to want to allow my hand to type a coherent thought.

I thought I should write about that, instead. Sometimes it's best not to try too hard. Just say what's on your mind. So, that's it - I officially have writer's block.

Not that I ever write about anything of importance or interest to most people. I am sure over 60% of my readers are just nosy. ;-) The rest of you who try to glean something from my dribble or truly do care about me, may actually read and wonder where I am.

I have been trying to figure out what in the hell is going on. I spoke to our Curator today and told him about my plight. I explained that I can't write and I want to sleep all of the time. He told me he thought my mind was simply trying to protect itself and deal with the stress. He reminded me of everything I have gone through in the past year. I sort of stared at him with a blank face and thought to myself, "But I've dealt with it all." Or have I?

If I look at the calendar, about one year ago (exactly, I left Birmingham.) A lot has happened, and lord knows, I've discussed it at great length with anyone who will listen. So what is this unresolved, restless issue that seems to be plaguing me? 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

├ęclat

Sparkle -
v. spar·kled, spar·kling, spar·kles

v.intr.
1. To give off sparks.

2. To give off or reflect flashes of light; glitter.

3. To be brilliant in performance.

4.
a. To shine with animation: He has eyes that sparkle.

b. To flash with wit: Her conversation sparkled all evening.
 
Are you ready to sparkle?
 
This week we are going to embrace our inner glow stick and light up our communities. It's time, don't you think?
 
What amazes me more than anything is how absolutely unique each and every one of us are. We are each born with innate gifts and qualities that no one else can lay claim too. Are you embracing your fireworks or are you like some sparkler on the Fourth of July that fizzles out almost as soon as it was lit?
 
I suppose the most important thing is to make sure you have fuse and a match. I would equate that to passion and drive. Your purpose will follow suit if those two elements are in order.
 
This week let's identify what it is that brings us happiness and what drives you to get up in the morning and try a little harder. I believe that if we identify those key ingredients, we will be set to sparkle and shine for years to come.
 
 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Morphing

socialbliss.com
I fell into the deepest of deep slumps this week. The kind of slump where not only did my writing suffer, but my zest and passion was gone with the wind. I skipped a volunteer opportunity, two parties, and my writing group's meeting.

WTH?

Simple, really. I'm sort of entering another metamorphosis. It happens from time to time. Now that I am finally settling into my role (for this chapter,) I find myself second guessing, readjusting, and finding new and fascinating dramas to attend. I have sort of sized up the competition, allowed alpha dog competition to sniff around, and now it's finally time to pull out the big guns.

Oh yeah baby...

I'm Back!!!!!
I'm not sure what happened, but "Nicole" is awake and aware. I sort of shook off that terrible insecure robe I was carrying around with me, and I finally feel like I am back in my groove.

I allowed someone (or a few someones) ruffle my feathers. Then I had yet another epiphany, and it dealt with those inner wars of others... and then I was right as rain. That's right! The negative self talk evaporated and I began to remember who I was, where I came from, and what I have accomplished. I took stock in my experience, my friends, my talents and more importantly, my joie de vivre.

I organized my closet. I organized my jewelry. I organized my social calender.

I'm pulling out the big guns.

I plan to sparkle. I plan to be competitive (with both myself and those who try to push me around a little.) I can do this - and I can do it with both passion as well as class.

As I sit here tonight with my little Auttie Blossom at my side, my dear friend Matt on the couch, and my egyptian (who finally is in a good place with me,) I take stock in all of the good. I look around the fishbowl and decide I will leave my mark before I swim off to distant shores, and I promise to soak in as much of life as possible.

My question to you, my dear readers:
What do you need to do to sparkle?

Would love to hear from you!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Witchy Ways

It's almost Halloween!!! Can you believe it?

 
I was trying to figure out a way to express myself this week. It's been one hell of a week - and so many interesting twists and turns have taken place.

I realize that this will probably be one of my more cryptic posts yet - but I have summoned my more creative side of the brain to tell the story. But to be completely honest, maybe it's not the more "creative side," but the side of the brain that stores all of my random quotes from movies and books and what~not.

If we have talked this week (in person,) you are going to laugh your head off - because it will make sense. If we have not - then.. just roll with it. ;-)

1. For those of you who know me, did you know that I DON'T have a Halloween costume yet? Shocking, I know.

2.



3.

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5.


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7.

8.


9.
Ha!
10.

Tried to sell it to some dear friends... they still don't get it.


*sigh*


How was your week?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weekend in Review ~ Sans photo

Sometimes... and only sometimes... descriptive words are the only choice.

My weekend was VERY busy and slightly intense. Imagine having a friend from Birmingham and my old exchange student arriving at the exact same time. I am serious, at the same exact time. One was just passing through and looking for lodging before a conference and the other is staying indefinitely (well.. less than that, but with no set schedule.) Oh, I think I forgot to mention - a fasting egyptian. Oh yes. Can you even imagine?

Unfortunately, our home is not set up for multiple guests, but I did my best to accommodate everyone, and not interrupt my super busy plans (that were set weeks before I knew anyone else was coming to visit!) *sigh* Needless to say, I slept until 11am on Sunday. I can't believe it. I NEVER sleep that late, which means I was beat.

This weekend I realized so many things. Soooooo many things. Perhaps it's a curse to actually pick up on most people's nonverbal cues, but it happens. I can tell when a guest is expecting the red carpet versus one who is just happy to be here. I can tell when someone is genuinely open to new experiences, versus one who would rather be anywhere than where you have taken them. I can tell when people feel like their territory has been invaded versus one who simply wants to share their life with others.

At the end of the day - It is not my responsibility for any one's happiness.

For years, I used to go out of my way to make people comfortable. I never wanted anyone to feel left out, and I would just about kill myself trying to entertain everyone else, yet I would not enjoy myself.

Luckily, as I grow older, the more I realize - it's not my job to entertain you. You are responsible for that. I am only here for you if you need me.

It's kind of like that with this blog. I sometimes get caught up in trying to meet the reader's entertainment needs. Then I have to remind myself, if there is something the reader needs, they will find it. It's not my job. Just be myself and enjoy the ride.

Such is life and such was my weekend. Just a gentle reminder, I can only do so much. I can smile. I can provide conversation and coffee. I can show you my world. You decide whether you are open to the experience or not.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ghosts, Bottlecaps, and Australians

I feel like a kid in a candy store! October is totally making up for the pounding September put on me. I have been super busy at work and super content at home, so much so that it leaves very little time to catch you guys up on what is actually going on in my little world.

For one, we have a phenomenal exhibit opening tonight - "The World of Mr. Imagination." Tonight, the Tubman Museum will celebrate the opening of a very special exhibition. Entitled The World of Mr. Imagination, 1948 – 2012, the exhibit features thirty works by the renowned visionary artist known to the world as Mr. Imagination.

Mr. Imagination was born Gregory Warmack in Chicago, Illinois. As a child Warmack
 rendered religious paintings and signs on pieces of cardboard and rocks.  While in his teens and early twenties he carved wood and stone, and made jewelry from cast off objects, which he sold on the streets.  In 1978 he was mugged, shot and left to die.  During his recovery he had an out of body experience.  In it he saw himself as an inheritor of a lineage of kings and artisans that stretched back to ancient Egypt.  This vision inspired him to dedicate himself to a new regenerative art for the people.  In the late 1970’s he began working on sandstone relief sculptures of the African and Egyptian imagery he had seen during his astral travels.  Around 1980 he took on the name Mr. Imagination.  A self-taught artist, Mr. Imagination was known for his prolific output.  He transformed discarded materials into arresting works of art that could at some times be childlike and playful, and at others serious and ritualistic.  He was perhaps best known for incorporating hammered bottle caps into his works.

Beginning in the 1980’s Mr. Imagination showed his work extensively in the Chicago area, but also participated in group and one-person exhibitions across the U.S., in Europe and West Africa. In 2002, after the death of his brother, Mr. Imagination moved from Chicago to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He turned his dwelling there into a studio and community arts center. A house fire in 2008 destroyed the majority of his art, and took the lives of his beloved pets. After this tragedy, Mr. Imagination moved once again, this time to Atlanta, Georgia seeking a fresh start.




In 2009 Mr. Imagination settled in Atlanta, in the Riverside neighborhood near Vinings. Once again he turned his home into his studio, and set about making new work, incorporating the salvaged remains of his burned works into new sculptures. In 2011 he had his first solo show in Atlanta at the Barbara Archer Gallery. The following year, shortly after committing to show works at the Tubman, Mr. Imagination suddenly fell ill and died. With the support of his surviving family, the works for this exhibition were chosen posthumously from the artist’s Riverside home.



The opening reception for this exhibition will be at the Tubman Museum, from 6:00 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. The World of Mr. Imagination will remain on exhibit at the Tubman through January 5, 2013. Admission to this event is Free for Museum Members, $8.00 for the General Public. Contact the Museum (478-743-8544, www.tubmanmuseum.com) for more information about this and other programs.

Last night I hung out in a cemetery. Seriously! Check that off my Fall/Halloweenish to-do list. The good news is, it was all for a good cause. I am volunteering for "Spirits in October," it is a wonderful fundraiser for Historic Riverside Cemetery. The cemetery is celebrating 125 years and by doing so recognizing Macon's "Incredible Firsts” such as the first person interred in Riverside Cemetery, Tallulah Belle Woodall, raised at the Methodist Orphanage, who died of consumption at the age of 28 and Clemiel Barto "Pop" Walden, father of R&B barrier breakers and Southern music entrepreneurs Alan and Phil Walden.

Back this year, the tour's final stop will be a visit inside the beautiful and spacious Macon Public Mausoleum, where light refreshments are served among exhibits about featured spirits and local history. I'm working the gift shop - check out my "haunt," if you will:

Finally, I am so EXCITED that my foreign exchange student from Melbourne, Australia (Matt Cook,) is coming to visit. Matt lived with me in 2005 as a high school senior. He lived 1/2 of his year in Macon and spent the other 1/2 in Birmingham. So yes, he experienced the big MOVE. I have not seen him since 2005. He has been hiking the A.T. for the past couple of months and needed a reprieve. He will literally arrive any hour now (by bus!)

I don't want to forget to mention, a dear friend of mine from Birmingham is coming to visit. Christie found out about a church pianist/organist conference being held in Macon (which she is one!) and thought, "Let me kill two birds with one stone!" I can't wait to see her!

Hope you guys plan to have a great weekend. I have a long night ahead of me, then a 7:30am commitment to meet with my fellow Rotarians to clean up the highway. Good times, for certain!







Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Things I'm obsessing over

You thought I forgot, right?

After that rant... I decided to pull myself together and provide a post for your viewing pleasure.

Soooo..

I'm obsessed (always have been) with belly dancing. Heck, I married my egyptian just to complete my middle eastern collection. ;-) As a matter of fact, I just finished a belly dancing DVD as a bit of exercise to relax me and "shake" off the stressors of the day.

Not only do I enjoy watching belly dancing (Did you see the pics at my wedding reception?) but I love listening to the music.

What I am going to share with you is a little of my obsession - one I've had since I was a very small girl (maybe 3 or 4) and my mom would practice her Lebanese belly dancing moves. (She took belly dancing back in the early - mid 70s.)

Wanna see how an Egyptian and an American celebrate with a little belly dancing? Here is our wedding reception video! You'll even see a few Egyptians dancing the night away! One of my favorite groups to listen to (of all time!) is Beats Antique. I want to share with you a few of their songs.

First up - My ABFAB song by Beats Antique - Egyptic. :-) My Second Favorite by Beats Antique - Beauty Beats Okay - ready to see a REAL Egyptian belly dance? Everyone knows DINA - over THERE Now for one more classic Egyptian belly dance (the official dance of my husband's culture) So yes - tonight, I am obsessing over belly dancing - and how it just melted my stress away! Try it - you might like it!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Drawing The Line In The Sand - Race 2012

I've read just about everything I can on Romney and Obama. I have watched interviews, sat through debates, and even cringed each morning when I would turn on my laptop and read the Huffington Post's headlines. Everything is just so far right or far left in this presidential election, and it's a tough pill to swallow.

When I agreed to write a few posts for my blog friend, Monica at Monica's Tangled Web (who happens to work for PBS and just so happens to be friends with the documentarian of RACE 2012 to air on PBS (nationally) tomorrow night,) I never knew how much it would ruffle my feathers. Not the idea of writing, on the contrary, I was thrilled to be involved. It was more so how the country is behaving.

I know this is not the first time a candidate has drawn a line in the sand before an election. I would be bored to tears if things did not get a little heated. But this election is different - this election involves a white man and a black man (bi-racial.) Which means, when people start waving their political flags pronouncing who they plan to vote for, and if they really don't understand the policies - they turn to racial slurs to get their point across.

That's what ruffles my feathers.

I've seen it happen on both side of the spectrum.

By agreeing to do this blog series, I have opened myself up to actually paying attention and reading the crap on the internet. I have to purposely open up the comments below some ridiculous cartoons on FB and read what each person has written. I did this, but only to see if there really was warrant to the whole idea that race plays a role in the way people vote.

From what I can see, I am afraid it does.

I remember the first time around Obama was running for president, my friend, Tiffany and her boyfriend, Sean, told me to take a look at Obama's ideas. I was skeptical, having voted Republican in every election. But this go around, I really wanted to see if there was someone different, someone who lined up with my beliefs. Someone who could possibly bring change to Washington, and thank goodness, I found my candidate.  I was tired of the war in Iraq. I had a Kurdish Exchange Student, and she and I were just watching each week as more people were losing their lives. She was scheduled to go back to Northern Iraq, and it concerned me. Just a few months later, I would find myself going through the immigration process with my future husband (who happened to be Egyptian.) I needed things to change there also. I was worried about my pre-existing health conditions.. I was worried about the economy - I was worried/worried/worried - and like magic, Obama had the answers I was looking for.

It had nothing to do with his race. But his policies.

Then I was invited to meet Obama and campaign for him in Birmingham with my two friends. I had no idea I would get to stand and actually have conversation and a picture with him. It sort of sealed the deal for me at that point - this was the man I wanted representing the United States of America.

One thing I noticed at this event, probably 97% of the audience was African American. I can understand the allure, and yes, I was voting for him, so anyone in that room thrilled me, but why were the majority black?

I am ashamed to say this, but before I even ask someone who they are voting for, I sort of play this little game where I bet I can guess who it is. I am usually right, not all of the time, but for the most part. It never fails, but the people who I know have used racial slurs, or have joked about things that are completely inappropriate, and are (in my opinion,) a bit on the redneck side, are voting against Obama. It never fails.

That does not mean the people who support Romney fall into that category. No, I'm not talking about the people who like Romney's plan - I'm talking about the people that are in desperate need of some of the social programs that Obama wants to keep and Romney wants to cut. If they took the time (and maybe they did,) to read the fine print, they would more than likely line up with a different candidate.

But it's not about that. I think it goes deeper.

I think it goes back to race.

I hope I am wrong.

With all of that being said - tomorrow night PBS will air RACE 2012. Check your local listings for the time. Race 2012 is a conversation about how race will affect our next election and how politics are changing the face of America. For more information on the documentary - please click on the RACE 2012 logo on the upper left side of my blog.

What are your thoughts? Do YOU think race will affect the way you will vote? How about your friends or family? Which of my readers are brave enough to share their reasons for the way they are voting? Who would be willing to discuss race? Feel free to leave your honest opinions below. I will not be responding, but will read... and I will continue to listen.

Thanks for following me this month!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Things I have learned this week

1. There are multiple ways to be allergic to Yellow Jackets. Swelling and rash for some, ER for others.

2. Reconciliation is freaking awesome.

3. Sometimes the kindest compliments come from the least likely people.

4. Making a pumpkin pie is almost as satisfying as shopping. Well.. maybe not, but that's what I keep telling myself.

5. One can live off of Gossip Girl and no other forms of entertainment.

6. In my opinion, Joe Biden wiped the floor with Paul Ryan.

7. I accept my curmudgeon-esque behavior.

8. I am seriously considering cutting my hair into a medium length bob. Maybe..

9. I would like to take a pottery class. Seriously. I know I've mentioned it before, but I would REALLY like to give it a try.

10. My Saturdays with Autumn are phenomenal.. though admittedly, she drives me bonkers half of the time. However, moments like right now.. when she is sitting next to me, calming down from an exciting day.. I remember why I invited her in the first place. :-)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Questions I ponder

Tonight.. a few questions have entered my brain:

1. Is chocolate cake: A. chocolate cake with chocolate icing? or B. yellow cake with chocolate icing?

2. Is it called icing or frosting?

3. Why would someone sell a yoga skirt?

4. Why wasn't the actual paternity of the father proven in Mama Mia?

5. Why do the characters on Gossip Girl always scheme, when it would be so much easier to tell their parents the truth and/or call the cops?

6. Why don't we put marshmallows in our coffee?

7. Why are plus sized clothes completely covered in big ass ugly flowers and bizarre prints?

8. What is the deal with the mustache craze?

9. What is the difference with Wildflower Honey and Clover Honey?

10. Why hasn't the whole Biscoff overthrown Nutella as the best thing in the whole wide world?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Do WHAT?

*this post is inspired by a conversation I overhead between a few 20-something year olds. I learned so much waiting in line at the drug store. ;-)

The word on the street is - you have to say you are fabulous to actually be fabulous.

Hell, I thought it just came naturally.

Nope.

You have to tell people you are fabulous.

Just a little nudge nudge.

Then you have to make sure that your circle believes that they are also fabulous.

Next thing you know, you are all surrounded around one another and telling each other just how fabulous the other person is.

Oh.. and then you tweet it out, and have them tweet it out. Then meet up for cocktails and make sure to take lots of pics and post them on Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to tag everyone. Write some witty, cynical description.. just to bait the poor suckers who aren't as cool as you to comment accordingly.

Yes, yes.. that's how it works.

I've decided to give the whole fabulosity bit a try. (Imagine me standing in front of the mirror, taking a deep breath and repeating these words:)

"Nicole, you are freaking fabulous. Did you hear me? Fan-f*cking-tastic. My goodness, I've never met anyone like you before. You just bring sooo much to the table. OMG. You are AMAZING."

Okay. There.

I'm fabulous, and apparently everyone loves me.

Pass the Koolaid.. and let's all join hands and sing kumbayah... no wait.. not kumbayah.. maybe something a little more Fergalicious...


Now shine on, biotches. Shine on.

It Looms... The Big 40

W.B. Pitkin once said that life begins at 40. I'm having a hard time buying that one.

Though my birthday may not be this month, it is creeping closer and closer. Four flipping months away. Just four. Hell, I remember when I WAS just four. When did this age thing happen?

Just to clear up any confusion, it has absolutely nothing to do with the whole aging process. Outside of not getting enough exercise and needing to drops some pounds, I'm actually very healthy these days. I take really good care of my skin, I don't drink anymore, I never smoked- basically, I am well preserved. I look much younger than some of my friends, and hey - I'm cool with that. ;-)

No, my problem goes a bit deeper. It's the whole fallacy of accomplishment.

What in the hell does that mean, anyway?

I guess at forty, I'm stuck with knowing whether or not I am ever going to be super successful. For the past twenty years, I have been working hard to prove myself in my career. I went to college like I promised myself I would. I decided whether or not I wanted to be married and whether or not I wanted children. I decided how and when I would move out of my hometown, and whether or not I wanted to climb some imaginary corporate ladder. I did all of those things myself. I was in control of that. (With God's blessing.)

But if I died tomorrow, what would people remember?

I never made the 30 under 30 list, nor did I even scrape by and get a 40 under 40. Well.. I do have four more months. ;-) Instead I can claim about 6 awards to my name in my entire 39ish years: Bible Bowl participation trophy in the 7th grade (seriously.. just a thank-you-for-participating;) a Best Witness for Mock Trial competition in High School; an honorable mention for the Special Politics Committee for representing Israel in the regional Model United Nations in High School; an Associated Press award for Best Public Affairs Reporting for producing a documentary called, "Faces of Freedom;" and a Georgia Association of Broadcaster's Award for Excellence in Broadcasting. Pretty small potatoes, wouldn't you think?

Maybe that's why I used to hang my little "Certificate of Completion" awards on my office wall after workshops. I just wanted some form of validation that I did accomplish something. Heck, I used to hang my Bachelor's degree proudly at my jobs, until I found myself in the world of academia and historical experts. My little Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast Journalism  pales in comparison to a doctorate degree. Yet, it was a massive accomplishment for me.

You know... things could have been soooo different.

When I go through my legal papers, I always cringe when I pick up my divorce papers from my previous marriage. I was only with him for 6 years, but it seems like a lifetime ago, and hangs over my head like one of my little failures. When my past was suffocating my current relationship, I was ready to hang my head in shame and be that 40-year-old that I did not want to be. Alone, 40... and probably with only my laptop to keep me warm at night. Thank God divine intervention took place and reconciliation is the name of the day.

I don't have kids with crowning achievements. Hell, I don't even own a house, nor have I ever. I did get to see a little bit of the world (the birthplace of civilization at that!) but is it ever enough? I've been places, I've seen things, I've met famous people. I've spent money like there is no tomorrow and I have pinched pennies like there will be too many tomorrows.

40 is shaping up to concern me.

I have four months to contemplate not just another decade, but my youth. It's the official end of youth. 30s may seem old if you are in your 20s, but soon you'll see it is not. I'm heading in the other direction and I am just not sure what I think about it.

I have to leave a legacy of some kind - what will my story be?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Race 2012 - Take a Look In the Mirror

Last week, I watched as Mitt Romney put on the performance of a lifetime. I'll give him credit when credit is due, his ability to convince those so ready to be convinced went flawlessly. On the other hand, I watched Obama deliver a different performance, a calmer approach with a lot less "misrepresentation" of the facts.

Regardless of who said what and how it was said, or whether or not there was any truth in any of it- the one thing that is glaringly obvious: we all saw what we wanted to see.

If you support Romney, then you heard exactly what would appeal to a Republican. Buzz words and terms like "return the decision to the states" or "clean coal." (Which, by the way, is the biggest oxymoron- Clean Coal?!) On the other hand, if you are an Obama supporter, you heard the buzz words you might respond to like "Tax cuts for the middle classes" or "Investment in Green Energy."

At the end of the day - people heard and saw what they wanted to, maybe even what they have been conditioned to hear and understand. I feel the same way about how people react to race. I realize when I hear someone make a derogatory term about someone else, this may very well have come from that person's parents. They heard it and learned it from someone they admired. Hate or disregard for an entire race has to come from somewhere.. we aren't born ready to hate, we are conditioned.

When I ask some of the people I grew up with who they plan to vote for, especially if they are white, 9 times out of 10- it's Romney. When I ask "why?" the answer is always the same. Heck, I'll even quote one for you. This was the response from a guy I went to high school with, that is a decent, hard working guy... but his comment startled me. It was about the whole Big Bird scandal,

"It's sad that this is what liberals defend. I guess this is what their priorities are, never mind the important stuff like the economy or terrorists killing our people. PBS will survive without the taxpayers money, if it doesn't , oh well there are better things to watch anyway." 

That doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the more race related comments. However, for me, there was a sensitive remark in that statement- the whole terrorist bit. Who was he talking about? Middle Easterners? That's when hits home for me. (Married to one.. middle easterner that is!)

Basically the issues Romney supporters list are: the culture of big government, health care, tax cuts, more spending, immigration.. oh.. and when they have consumed a few beers and get comfortable, the racial slurs sort of creep in. They do... they really do.

When I ask my African American or Latino friends who they are voting for, 9 times out of 10 it's Obama. Basically the opposite reasons- wanting health care reform, needing better immigration laws (maybe even amnesty,) spending for necessary programs.. etc. Then.. on the other hand.. every so often, I meet someone.. well.. same thing... it becomes about race.

What really gets me excited and hopeful is when I run into someone like me. Someone of the opposite race voting STRICTLY by the policies. There is that on both sides. Both have good reason to vote the way they are choosing. I admire that. It's clear- they have issues that need to be addressed, and their candidate stands on their side.

Sure, there are people that are white voting for Romney that genuinely agree with his policies and yes, there are African Americans voting for Obama, that genuinely agree with his - but the lines get a little blurred in friendly conversation. My question to you tonight - How can it NOT matter? Since there is a racial divide in our country (come on.. admit it..) how can we NOT seek those who side with our stance and views on these socioeconomic issues? I want to unite the country.. not divide. Who seems to be seeking to unite? Who seems to be dividing? Who is spewing more hateful rhetoric cleverly disguised as issues? Finally, are the racial issues more so socioeconomic versus actual blind hatred?

Lots to think about tonight...

Don't forget:
October 16th on PBS.

PS -  More on this later!!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Let the music play

Part two of my formative music years! I wrote a blog post last night about the type of music that shaped me and changed me. I was born in 1973 - which means from about the mid 80s to the early 90s, I was totally shaped by the colors, the sounds, and the culture of the 80s. Now time to continue the story... This song was one of my absolute favorite songs in middle school! I remember dancing and singing with my friends! We would grab our hair brushes (of course, using these as microphones,) and just creating our own little dance party in our bedrooms! This song in particular reminds me of one summer in particular. I was at theater camp, and I became friends with a girl from Rhode Island named Heidi. She and I would go to her parent's home and she would blare this song from the lake house and we would dance on the docks. Silliness sure.. but good times! Specifically this summer - because Heidi was my first friend to live a completely different life! She came from a very affluent family - she spent her summers on yachts and traveling all over the world. She was the "cool" kid and she picked me to be her friend. LOL.. Yes.. she was definitely trouble. So this song reminds me of that crazy summer! Hands down - I LOVED this song. LOVED LOVED LOVED this song. I could not WAIT for it to come on the radio... oh good times... This song is a bit older than the rest, but to this day - it reminds me of my childhood! I just remember it got a lot of airtime on the radio and I enjoyed the song. :-) Another song from the formative years. Let's just say... I used to sing this song all-the-time in my room. LOL.. sooo cheesy. Talk about a women's empowerment song. Perhaps that's where it started. LOL Pat Benatar had such a STRONG influence on most of us girls back then. When I saw the movie 13 going on 30 I thought i would just die laughing! That scene where she is singing this song with the little girls.. lol. Joan was a complete badass.. and I loved her then.. and I love her now! And finally.. for tonight... Summer of my 9th grade year (heading into the 10th grade) THIS song was THE song. I remember playing volleyball all summer out by the lake (we lived on a small lake) and all of the teens listening to this song on the boom box. Over and over this song came on. LOVED Def Leppard. Yep.. this is when I was totally into guys that played guitar and had long hair, and I had the biggest hair in the world! ahahahaa... Ahhh..good times. Who else remembers this stuff?

Fool For Love

I've kept (sort of) quiet about my personal life these days.

It's safe to say - things have been less than perfect. Actually, that's an understatement, things have been horrible. Worse than horrible - terrible/devastating/cruel/ridiculous...

Whatever the proper word is... my relationship with the absolute love of my life has suffered.

But damn.. we had so many things stacked against us in the first place.

For the past couple of months, I have tried everything, finally just deciding, "Fine.. I suppose it's the end."

I even took steps to just walk away.. end it all.. and just move on., but each time I tried, a door would slam in my face. I simply could not understand it: my relationship was falling apart at the seams, yet when I tried to remove myself from the situation, nothing was working out.

Then I happened to open one of my journals, out fell a book of prayers called "Healing Prayers." I bought this little book back at the Monastery I stayvisited in Cullman, Alabama. I decided to just pray. Except this time - I prayed for him. I prayed one of those heart wrenching, with-all-my-might prayers. The kind that ask for healing: healing of our relationship, healing of our hearts, healing of our families.. just for us to be able to move on and find happiness.

I sent one final letter to him. (Yes, we had gotten to that point.) This time I did not nag, or place the blame, or threaten.. I just said that I loved him. I loved us. I apologized for things not working out the way we had once hoped. I told him that I chose him, but in the end, I had to choose me. We gave it a good try. I thanked him for allowing me to be vulnerable and showing me the most amazing experience in Egypt. Then I honestly let it go.

I woke up Sunday morning and something changed. We talked. We held each other. We talked some more. There were apologies and there was love. Honest love. The love I remembered... not so long ago. The love that had changed me to the core.

The ice had melted. The sun was shining. The peace, the passion and the pleasantries had returned.

I had my egyptian back.

There is no reason to go into great detail, because the truth is - from this point forward, what happens in my home is between my husband and I. I made some pretty stupid mistakes, sharing too much and honestly.. it caused a lot of problems. Those days are over. I wanted to close that chapter right here. For good.

The best news of all - Love does conquer all. Prayers can be answered. Miracles do exist.

For those of you who have followed my love story from the beginning (back in the immigration days,) just know that all is well in the kingdom. Thank you for your prayers, your support, and your kind emails.

Until next time..

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Formative Years

This past weekend, some friends and I were laughing and reminiscing about our younger days- the formative years. When I see the colors draping the racks in department stores and the neon stars and lightening bolts in the jewelry stores - it hits me- 20 plus years ago I was wearing this stuff. I remember my mom telling me that every 20 years or so, the styles would come back.... and they did.

For me- hair, makeup, movies and music make up my memories.

If you will indulge me, over the next few days, I hope to take you down a musical memory lane - the sounds and sounds that truly shaped me. These are listed as my all-time favorite songs from probably (10 - 17 years of age.) Here is my first installment and my memories associated!



Oh Basia - I used to sing this song at the top of my lungs while getting ready for school. This song came out when I was in the 9th grade (freshman) in high school. True actually came out when I was in the 5th grade, which I find signifigant because 5th grade was the year I got really serious into my music and my dance classes. I started buying record albums, and of course, preparing for middle school. What kid in the 80s can't sing this song by heart? Every time I hear it - I start singing immediately. Typically if with a group of people, you naturally fall into back up or lead vocals without even an ounce of discussion. ;-) This song remains my FAVORITE Culture Club song of all time. I bought the cassette in the 5th or 6th grade and would dance and sing in my room everyday! Man.. good stuff. Another song from that definitive 5th grade year - PYT. MY FAVORITE Michael Jackson song. I used to love to roller skate to this at Olympia Skating Center in Macon or Durr's Skating Rink (oh yeah locals.. blast from the past... right?) Oh how I wanted to be Sheila E!! I always loved the drums and I was in love with the lyrics. LOL.. Too bad I did not understand the lyrics back then.. but to me.. it was about become famous one day. hahahahaa... Another freshman year song! Oh my word.. nothing like falling in love when you are 14/15 and this song comes on... ha ha ha.. My dear bestie and neighbor (Dee) & I used to take her big silver boom box and walk around our neighborhood's lake blasting this song. Oh.. we were too cool.. you better believe it. Don't laugh - but I once wanted to be a Solid Gold Dancer. Well.. this song came out, I grabbed some of my old ballet costumes and choreographed a dance to this song. Then I would pretend I was on Solid Gold and dance.. oh yeah. ;-) Duran Duran was my all time favorite band throughout elementary and high school. (Even saw them in concert!) A group of friends and I were die hard Duran2 fans.. and we all came up with nick names based on something with the group. My bestie, Dee, was Arena (off the album of the same name,) and my nickname was Rio. Oh yeah. I can't make this stuff up. I had Olivia Newton John's album and would sing the entire thing as if I was having a concert. Just know.. this song brought my invisible audience to their feet! ;-) My favorite crush of all time.. (no names needed)..... this.. to this day... reminds me of him! I always liked Tears for Fears, but did not realize until I was much older how genius their lyrics were! Another one for the memory book! Simple Minds were classic 80s!! For me, The Pet Shops Boys revolutionized the type of music I listened to... when I first heard this song.. I was in love. I have always loved this song.... Still hope and plan to visit Bangkok! My dance class (from Modern Dance Academy) actually did a choreographed dance to this. If I remember right.. we performed this for some community thing! Finally - Laura was AWESOME.

Of course, I have tons more to share.. but I wanted to start off with a small sampling for you to enjoy. If you were a child/teen/young adult in the 80s - I hope this music brought back great memories for you also. I realized most of this is earlier in my formative pre-pubescent years.. up thru my freshman year in high school. I hope to share with you guys the later 80s (my official high school years..)

What did you listen to in the mid 80s? If you weren't around, you really should take a moment and listen to the music.. check out the fashion.. and just enjoy the culture! :-)

Until next time...

Strap Yourselves In...

Autumn and I on a Hay ride - Check Check... off the Fall List!

Children of the corn meets American Gothic

I'm a little disturbed by the S&M guy with the noose..


Seriously lost at this point.


Yep - Check Check.. Corn Maze!

Yeah.. add a hay bale maze to that list of Fall Activities..


Our fearless leaders!

Peach Farm..
Knocked out that HayRide...


Pumpkin Patch - Check Check..


Pecans rock...

What did you do Fall Like this weekend??

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Things I Have Learned This Week

1. When watching the presidential debate, it is important to realize people only hear and approve what they want to hear and approve. It blows my mind that apparently there were two completely different takes on the debate. At the end of the day - I do think Romney did a good job, however he did not stick to the facts. I think Obama held back. Come on Mr. Prez, pull out the punching gloves next time.

2. It is fun to promote Breast Cancer Awareness. We had an event at the Museum last night, and wearing the pink, sparkly ribbons and listening to some scary stories was both inspiring and sobering. Did you know that genetics really does not play as much of a role as it was once thought. If you are a girl - 1 in 8 chance of getting breast cancer. I don't care who the biggest killer is (heart disease,) if there is a 1 in 8 chance of me getting some form of cancer, that's not a good thing.


3. Why do I feel the need to share this (again) but I am totally focused if I have breakfast and coffee in the morning. It's amazing.

4. I need to step away from sweet things. My new meds, Metformin, are making me feel sooooo sick whenever I eat something sweet. The truth is, I don't eat sweets a lot.. but lord have mercy, when I do....

5. The ice is breaking. Sometimes apologies, not nagging, and just staying the "eff" away can make a HUGE difference. I. Just. Want. Peace.

6. I'm sorta over the whole hash browns thing.

7. I actually look forward to time with my niece each weekend. That may seem weird to read that - however, I am not a fan of children. I am a huge fan of her.

8. Sitting in a coffee shop with tons of friends really makes me happy. I had so much fun last night.


9. The Greek Corner Deli on Cherry and 2nd St in Macon, hands down, makes the best Greek Salad in the WORLD!

10. That when a man says he knows women's shoes, and you tell him your favorite shoe is your Nine West Black Leather Stiletto Slingbacks, and he says, "Yep, those are $69.99" - You really should believe him. (Every girl knows all Nine West shoes are $69.99)



11.  That the polar ice caps are melting decades faster than earlier predicted. (Yes, I learned that last night.) That can't be good.

12. That Mitt Romney likes Clean Coal. Oxymoron?

13. Mitt Romney wants to cut Big Bird and NPR. (Enough reason for me NOT to vote.) BTW.. did you know.. (according to my friend Tanya.. who happens to be a News Director for Alabama Public Broadcasting) "The federal investment in public broadcasting equals about one one-hundredth of one percent of the federal budget. Elimination of funding would have virtually no impact on the nation’s debt."



14. I am about to be a co-writer for a HUGE project for ESPN. It's a documentary. That's all I can SAY. I am sooooooooooooooooooooo excited.

15. Scheduling time to do a wine tasting is more difficult than I thought. (Ooh La La Wines asked me to blog about my experience.) You know you are busy when you don't even have time to taste wine.

16. I took a little break from my diet this week, decided to just live normally, but in a smart way, and I actually lost 1 pound. Hmmm.. my new skills are habits now. Me likey!

17. That if I don't clean out my car, I might very well end up with some dreaded disease. I'm sure of it.

18. That my husband, with all of his faults, has the most beautiful feet. 1. I hate feet. 2. I hate man feet.  So.. to get this compliment from me is a truly big thing. The man is meticulous about grooming, so they are just well taken care of. (And yes.. he is straight.)

19. Detangler. Amazing.

20. Finally.. I honestly look forward to this list each week. Thanks for indulging me in my narcissistic hobby of writing a blog.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Autumn - Full Force

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." ~George Eliot

I am still on my Autumn journey (and no, this is not a post about niece.) Remember my list of 52 items to accomplish before the end of fall? Don't worry - I'm still planning on accomplishing them all.

Unfortunately, it's still warm down here. Granted, a cool breeze does pass me by from time to time, but the general temps start off in the upper 60s in the am, by noon we are somewhere in the mid 70s and by the time I get off work we are back up into the mid 80s. Granted this is a huge reprieve from summer.. still.. an official Fall it is not.

Life has been a little hectic for me this past week. Massive fundraising ask, tons of important meetings and looming deadlines have all kept me from accomplishing some good writing.

I was trying to decide whether or not I have celebrated the season this week.. and come to think of it I have, just not consciously.

For one, I did write a post about the upcoming presidential election; you can read that article on Monday's post. I shared my view of racism and politics. As for other days, I did watch the presidential debates last night. I suppose election season counts as a fall activity every four years.

This week, I did paint my nails a candy-apple red. That will work for the harvest.. right? I do have my ingredients for another pumpkin pie, that I hope to make with my niece this weekend. That will be Fall-ish. I thought she and I could go to the corn maze this weekend and hayride in a neighboring city.

Hopefully... I will start to officially see Fall more and more, and actually feel Fall. I am noticing the birds flying overhead and I am noticing the change in the sky at sunset... now it's time for Earth to show me what's she got in store for us.. this beautiful season.

I am going to leave you with a little video my sister posts on her FB page every year. It's a group called, Omnia, and they are performing Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven."

Enjoy!



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Are you better off now, than you were 4 years ago?

That's the question she asked me.

"Are you better off now, than you were 4 years ago?"

My answer was simple. Yes.

Her question was not as simple.

Of course this person was referring to the President's reign as Commander in Chief. I was referring to the actual question.

Yes, I am much better off.

Four years ago, I was living with a room mate. I was working a job that stressed me out and basically kept me in a little box with very little creative room to wiggle. My egyptian was in Egypt, and the Department of Homeland Security was taking their sweet time with our immigration papers. Heck, almost four years ago this week, Mr. egyptian had his embassy interview.

So yes, I think I am much better off than I was 4 years ago.

Certainly, a LOT has happened. I spent months petitioning the government to get him here. (Hey, friends.. remember those days?) I ended up with Meningitis, AGAIN, and spent almost two weeks in the hospital. My cat goes into renal failure, I had to put him to sleep. My room mate suddenly decides to move out of town, and I ended up having to spend an arm & a leg for a one bedroom. THEN he arrives, finally. Planning a reception in less than 90 days. MORE immigration paper work and shots for him and money.. and.. and.. and..
Then he gets homesick and goes home for 6 weeks. Then comes back for a month. Moves to New York City for 3 months. Then comes back. Then we fight. Oh we fight. Then I end up with meningitis -AGAIN. Then I lose my job. Then we fight. Then I lose my apartment. Then I move home. Then he moves to Los Angeles. Then I remain unemployed for 9 months.

FINALLY - I get a fabulous job, a super cute apartment, all of my old friends from my entire life back, as well as some fantastic new ones. I am close to my family, close to my niece.. and slowly but surely, I am beginning to feel like my old self (the good one..) again.
Are things perfect? Not even close. Do I have lots and lots of hope? Sure thing.

So am I better off than I was 4 years ago?

You bet I am. ;-)

Things I'm Obsessing Over..

Another week, another list of OBSESSIONS.

1. Wings. I am BACK on a wings kick, yet trying to maintain the whole diet thing. Interesting balance.

2. PRESIDENTIAL debates. I am sitting in front of the tv just waiting... patiently.... ooooh.. soooo.... exciting!

3. I am almost certain I will block anonymous commenters. I had another internet troll leave an interesting comment. Their response had nothing to do with the post, which tells me it was a personal attack by someone who knows me.

PS - Coward anonys.

4. I do have one song that is stuck in my head, and I blame my intern for it. ;-)



5. The Real Housewives of New Jersey reunion - OMG. Seriously? Teresa has lost her mind!!!

6. The Real Housewives of New York - OMG. Aviva has lost HER mind!!!

Honestly - that's it.

I am crazy busy at work. I am spending my evenings just trying to unwind. For me, not enough time to be obsessed about anything. ;-)

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