March 3, 2017 – Friendship In The Guise of Masks

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Artwork by Amber Bethke

Artwork by Amber Bethke

This is a rough topic for me.

I have a very defined idea of what friendship is. I suppose it doesn’t work well for me, because it is filled with expectations, which we know leads to disappointment.

In retrospect, I’d have to say with the exception of just a few people, my high school friends were the best. The tribe I hung with was loving, caring, supportive, and above all else, respectful. We took care of each other in all of life’s trials and tribulations and they are by far some of the sweetest memories I have.

I have only met a few people since then that I can put into that same category. That saddens me. For some reason as we get older, I think the ability to maintain all of the above mentioned qualities in a friendship dissipate. I’m not sure why that is.

What I find now is that friendship is a matter of convenience or something steeped in agenda. I am constantly disappointed by those people that call me friend and tell me how much they love me until it actually comes to fulfilling the role of friend with integrity, honesty, respect, and caring. I don’t need to be friends with someone that feels they can call me when they need me, only to be absent me when I am in need. I don’t need friends that think they can be disrespectful of controlling. I don’t need friends that say one thing and do another. I don’t need friends that play head games. I don’t need friends that are passive/aggressive. I don’t need friends that are manipulative. And, I certainly don’t need friends that try to make me feel bad by saying hurtful things.

I am actually quite content having just a friend or two that give a real damn about me and vice versa. I am tired of pretending I care about people that call me friend and exhibit selfish behavior.

Moving on and letting go is imperative to my transformation at this point in life. It has become easier and easier as I move forward and lay aside my abandonment issues. I’m much more in tune to liberation and the freedom to not carry the weight of narcissistic, self-absorbed people that play head games.

People wear so many masks. I’ve worn so many masks. Do we wear them to protect ourselves from harm, or do we wear them to justify our behaviors? I’m craving an honest, respectful, loving, caring, nurturing, and healthy relationship. Perhaps this process of removing my own masks will draw that to me.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

March 2, 2017 – Don’t Call Me Halfbreed

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3-2I posted this on my Facebook wall today:

Someone struck up a conversation while in line at a store. “Wow, you are very unique looking. What are you? It’s hard to tell, but I’m gonna guess you are mixed, a halfbreed, right? That’s gotta be rough right now.”

Today I sat in silence. Reflected on that conversation. Cried about a sad story that is indicative of our times. Appealed to my HP for guidance on the subject matter for my CD. Opened myself up to the knowledge that not everyone will accept my words with grace and dignity. Realized it doesn’t really matter as long as I can reach even one person. Embraced the subject not as one of condemnation or combativeness, rather an understanding of how being a ghost in this society has enabled me to live on two sides of the racial fence and see the beautiful and the ugly on both sides. I’m ready. Are you?

I have not let racist comments toward me cause me much emotional harm. For the most part, I have ignored the ignorance of such people. I have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to those that have such thought processes.

Unfortunately, I have had more blatant racist experiences over the past three months than I have had over the past couple of decades. I’ve certainly had the occasional nasty look or nasty comment, but lately it has been over the top. I can’t definitely attribute it to our current POTUS, but I can attribute it to the climate he has created in this country. It seems the closet and under the rock racists are slithering out into the daylight, emboldened in their words and actions. The level of bravery these people exhibit without fear of retaliation, boggles my mind.

There are two sides of this for me:

  1. I have been called a Nigger, told “my kind” is not wanted, more diligently followed in stores, and it goes on and on.
  2. I have been scorned by the other part of my heritage in that I’ve been told I’m too light skinned to understand the black American’s struggle.

Hence, I call myself a ghost. Drifting between two races not wholly accepted by either and struggling still, 52 years later, trying to understand where I belong and what I have to do to be embraced as part of a culture.

I’ll be writing about this.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

March 1, 2017 – The Project Mill

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img-php-copyThe churning never stops.

I can honestly admit that I will not live long enough to complete every project I’ve started or start every project that pops into my head.

I would say on an average I have 3-5 major project ideas pop into my head on any given day. Whether it be writing a book, working toward getting published, painting, photography, performance, and the list goes on. Until recently, I’ve been unable to actually focus on one idea and run with it.

This constant churning in my brain is absolutely exhausting. i mean, it’s not just hey, there’s an idea, no, it’s full blown plan it out, outline it, cue it up for a start date and completion date.

Bad part is when I don’t follow through I feel awful. I beat myself up, call myself lazy and unmotivated. Truth be told, I just don’t have enough energy to actually follow through with something because my brain is fried by the time I actually get to it.

The time has finally come that I have focused on two projects and all else will get jotted down in a notebook for possible future endeavors. I’m ready to be faithful to my creative self and the projects that have risen above the rest.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

February 28, 2017 -Month Two/I’ll Take a Walk

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natureI miss nature.

I realized today how busy my life is with the have-to-dos, need-to-dos, exhausted from all of the life requirements like working, paying bills, running errands, etc. In the midst of all of the nonstop movement that is life, I don’t take the time I need to decompress.

When I lived in downtown St. Pete, I used to make a habit of daily laps around the lake I lived next to. As a matter of fact, I did quite a bit of walking then. I actually enjoy walking.

I can feel my body trying to tell me it needs to be more active. Where I live now provides me with an incredible opportunity to walk along a tree lined path and eventually past the bay. This is all within five minutes of my home. Why I haven’t taken advantage of that, I don’t know. I’ve convinced myself life is just too busy for that. Reality is, life is never too busy to take care of oneself.

I’ve now made the commitment to take a daily walk for two reasons. First, I know is will improve my health and keep me motivated. Second, my mind is very calm and free of extraneous thoughts when I’m walking, which enables me to think about poems I’d like to write and projects I’d like to complete, a much needed boost for my creative life right now.

I’m offering this great article to further articulate the benefits of walking. Enjoy!
http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/walking-helps-us-think

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

February 27, 2017 – Taking a Creative Leap!

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onthemicI absolutely love when I make creative decisions. I also feel a sense of anxiety in realizing how much time, energy, love, and commitment will go into a project.

There is that nagging voice in the back of my mind saying, “What if you’re not good enough, or your work actually sucks, or why would you think anyone would care what you have to say.” I’m sure I’m not alone when it comes to these kinds of thoughts. We artists live in the midst of this kind of angst.

So, I’ve decided to work on a Spoken Word CD. I’ve wanted to do it for several years now and put all kinds of obstacles in my way so I wouldn’t go down that path of what ifs. I’m ready for the leap and thanks to the feedback of a good friend know I can do it without great cost.

I’ve outlined my project and have already reached out to some creative people I would like to have involved. So far so good. The concept is set. The knowledge of how to produce it is set. I even have a deadline in place. I work very well under the pressure of a deadline. I’ll be announcing the release date as soon as the final element falls into place. Once that’s out there, there is no going back and that kind of pressure drives me.

The only thing not in place right now is the subject. My mind continues to race between subjects I’d like to write about, but nothing is anchoring itself. I suppose something will occurs that will snap that final piece into place. As soon as that happens the writing will flow without any hindrance. I’m so ready.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

February 26, 2017 – Filling In My Ancestral Blanks

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momo-copyWho am I? Where do my people originate from? Can my ancestry be determined?

I’ve been tempted lately to try and track my familial histories. Because I come from such a diverse background and from two different races, I suppose there would be some major surprises.

All I know at this point is that one side of my family can be tracked for centuries with clear defined bloodlines and origins. That would be my mom’s side of the family. Germanic, Aryan, ties to royalty. The other side of my family’s history is steeped in questions. My ancestors were brought over on slave ships. sold to a plantation owner from Maryland who left his estate to his freed slaves when he died, and a bit of a hitch in all of this because my grandfather was a Boston born Mulatto Blue Blood. That would be my dad’s side of the family.

I don’t suppose I’d have too much luck tracing the heritage and lineage of my dad’s side of the family since all of the records were destroyed when the “big house” burned down. The little bit of research I’ve been able to do indicates the Master bought them in Savannah. I’ve wanted to go there for years and dig around.

I will say I feel quite proud of my people, wherever they came from because they carried a blood line to this new world even though they were shackled to slave ships and put through an unimaginable hell once they got here. There is strength, perseverance, beauty, identity, and determination in my father’s blood line. As for my mom’s side of the family, it’s obvious at some point she really loved my dad. She married a black man and introduced mixed children into a family that took great pride in their “pure” bloodline and lineage. Go, Mom!

I embrace both races that make me who I am, and I have set aside the confusion I’ve carried like a weight upon my shoulders in trying to define myself in some way that made sense. Bottom line, I am of two people, I am of two races, I am the personification of a step two people made to break out of the racist, hater mentality against race mixing. We are all comprised of many bloodlines. The sooner people embrace that reality, the sooner we can work toward eradicating the division we have been forced to hold onto.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

 

February 25, 2017 – Snippets/An Accordion? Really?

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MommaAt a very young age, I fell in love with the piano.

There were many times in my childhood when my dad wasn’t around because he was on maneuvers, working weird shifts, or in Vietnam fighting a war. Those were the times when I saw my mom smile. We used to listen to records. My mother nurtured my love for music in so many ways. A lot of what she like revolved around the piano, the guitar, and the saxophone.

I have a very vivid memory of my dad “playing” the saxophone. It was actually pretty awful, but at least he tried. My dad always seemed to be in competition with something or someone. My mother loved jazz and my dad, as usual, was jealous of anything that came from somewhere outside of himself. Hence, he was going to play the sax so my mom would love him more.

I asked my dad just before my 8th birthday if I could have a piano, or at least piano lessons. He promised to give me what I wanted even though he was not much into the arts or in support of hobbies and such. On my 8th birthday, I woke up to a huge box in the  middle of the living room. I couldn’t imagine a piano would fit in that box. I remember feeling the disappointment well up in me.

My dad, super excited, egged me on to open the box. I tore into only to discover a bright red, adult sized, accordion. I’m sure he saw the confusion on my face as he pointed out that one side of the accordion was like a piano. I could barely lift that awful instrument.

I believe I played it two or three times and one day when I came home from school, it was gone. I asked where it was and my dad stated that he had sold it because he was sure I didn’t like it. This kind of thing, the selling of my belongings, would become a common occurrence in my home with everything from gifts to pets.

I never did learn how to play the piano, sadly, but I still revel in the beautiful music that instrument creates and it puts a smile on my face as I think of those moments when my mom and I were happy and smiling.

Stay Tuned…#365daysofstranformation

February 24, 2017 – From Where Do You Draw Inspiration?

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MOIInspiration is never in short supply when I think of the people I admire. I am very much drawn to creatives that just take the leap of faith and follow their dreams with such passion and commitment that it’s plain to see why they succeed.

There are a couple of ladies in the forefront for me right now that push the inspiration meter off the grid.

 

 

Betty FoxLet me start with a young lady I’ve been friends with for about six years now. Betty Fox. I have watched her grow and flourish as a singer/songwriter in ways I sometimes can’t even process. She is so incredibly talented and passionate about music. Every time I go to watch her perform, I am infused with my own desire to excel and flourish as an artist. She just released an acoustic CD that she pushed out into the world because she gave herself a deadline and made it happen in a short period of time. It’s no surprise that every song on that CD is phenomenal. In the midst of huge hug, I told her I had a project dream I’m pursuing and as is the case for this very gracious and giving young woman, she offered anything I needed to help me. That is what Betty Fox stands for in all of her endeavors. She is one of the most giving and caring people I know.

FanshenThe second person in my realm of creative infusion is Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni. I met her a while ago at Eckerd College. She was performing her show “One Drop of Love” and I was absolutely floored by her presentation. I was also taken aback by how similar our lives are in ways that excited me enough to push myself into yet another project that has been very near and dear to me for many years. I have been watching her grow and flourish by taking her message across the country and creating an awareness that is very much needed in these times. She has such a deep and profound caring for human beings and her determination and drive are beyond inspiring. There are those times when we cross paths with people that makes us reflect on our own lives. I’m excited that our paths crossed and not only did that happenstance make me reflect on my life it made me reflect on my gift of words and what I can do with them.

I am grateful to have two such strong, creative, and empowered women in my life. The two projects I am focusing on now are already changing so many things about my thought processes, goals, objectives, and dreams. Thank you Ladies!

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation

February 23, 2017 – Words + The Mic = My Passion

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spokenwordI have many happy moments in my life. I love the time I have with my Granddaughter, the time I spend with my children, teaching, and the list goes on.

I have one aspect in my life that elicits such an unbelievable level of passion and that is when I am performing Spoken Word. It’s hard to explain how it feels unless you have been in that realm. The idea that my words, my emotions, my messages, are affecting people, is awe inspiring for me. When I write my poems, it’s not with the mindset that I will be performing them, rather, it is a cathartic experience that takes me out of the everyday struggles life brings to the table. I have the opportunity to delve into the deepest recesses of my mind and retrieve thoughts that I can translate into poems.

I had the opportunity to share my words this evening and it elicited an entirely new mindset. There was a sense of liberation because I stepped outside of the box and did something different. That’s always a rush. It also helped me to understand the depth and breadth of what I’m capable of.

I’m so excited to shift my projects around and try some new things. I look forward to stepping on the stage with a new perspective, some new work, and above all else, a sense of great accomplishment!

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftransformation