A Mother’s Choice

6 08 2012

Now and then I read a story so intense that it takes me a few weeks to shake the thought of it.  The Color of Love by Gene Cheek is such a story.

Gene is a mid fifties white male with an extremely rare story of being caught in the middle of his Caucasian mother and his African American Step father’s relationship in the Jim Crow south.  Yes, there were multiracial relationships during the 50’s and 60’s, but Gene’s story is unique.  After much horrific abuse  by her white husband, she left and started a secret affair with a black man. This secret was well kept until his mother got pregnant and gave birth to a baby that was obviously black. This affair changed Gene’s life forever.  His mother was taken to court and charged with neglect – based solely on the relationship.  Although the charges were brought by her ex-husband and his family, they did not want custody of Gene – they simply wanted him taken away from his mother.  They were successful in getting Gene  torn away and thrown (literally) into the foster care system.

Sometimes I think we tire of reading stories of racial abuse that took place during the 50’s and 60’s. There was so much hate and abuse. They are hard to read because I tend to suffer with the victims every time.  But when I met the author and listened to him tell his story – I actually wanted to read the book again.  His wisdom coupled with his philosophy on race is amazing. He has put  everything into a prospective that levels the playing field for all the players, both good and evil. Most important, he has come to terms with his past.  And that, in and of itself, is not easily achieved by many people.  Mr. Cheek states, “The past has a way of interfering with the future whether we want it to or not”.   That is a profound statement.  It is how we handle the fallout from our past that matters.

I am happy to add this book to my collection. For more information or to purchase this book, it is listed on several sites including Barnes and Nobel.Com and Amazon or contact the author at gene3251@yahoo.com.

Are You Brave Enough to Tell?

6 05 2012

As a writer and publisher, I often meet people with amazing stories to tell. I often end the conversation by saying “That is some story…you need to write a book”. Many times I walk away admiring their strength, their stupidity or both. In either case, I have always wanted to pass those stories on to others. People can and should learn from the experience of others. The problem is that many of the people with the most compelling stories do not write books and many choose to keep their crash landing to themselves.  They do not want to look like failures or be judged by others. But those are the stories that need to be read. We need to hear about the one thing that changed the direction of your life. If there is a young person contemplating quitting school, or a woman living in domestic violence; or someone who doesn’t trust their own judgment about a situation that can be life changing. Your story can  inspire others to reassess their circumstances, make decisions and move forward.

Since starting radio interviews I have been overwhelmed by the  stories of struggle and victory.  Some people are just happy to be here, to be alive, regardless of their current circumstance – life is better than it was when they were going through.  Others  want to help by telling their stories as they acknowledge missed opportunities  and errors in judgement that sent them in the wrong direction. Truly, they all are heroes.  I am always excited to hear the next story.

So what is holding you back?  What is your story and who will it help? You never know – you may be surprised! Start writing today…

2011 in review

23 02 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

A New Year

21 02 2012

Wow! I have been on hiatus for the last few months, but it is great to be inspired again.  Although I have not been writing on the blog, I have finished writing my new book,  You Need To Write A Book! Everybody has a Story – What’s Yours? I have read several very good books as well.  Check out my reading list for the latest updates.

During my absence I have been to the beach several times for R&R; continued to nurse my mother thru two additional hospital stays; threw her a successful birthday party; attended my 42-year-old next door neighbors’ funeral and somehow made it thru the holiday season as a graceful hostess.  It has been wild!

I have so much to share with you each week and it is really exciting to unload on you again…

Start Writing Your Story!

14 09 2011

As a writer and publisher, I often meet people with amazing stories to tell. I often end the conversation by saying “That is some story…you need to write a book”. Many times I walk away admiring their strength, their stupidity or both. In either case, I have always wanted to pass those stories on to others. People can and should learn from the experience of others. The problem is that many of the people with the most compelling stories do not write books and many choose to keep their crash landing to themselves.  They do not want to look like failures or be judged by others. But those are the stories that need to be read. We need to hear about the one thing that changed the direction of your life. If there is a young person contemplating quitting school, or a woman living in domestic violence; or someone who doesn’t trust their own judgment about a situation that can be life changing. Your story can  inspire others to reassess their circumstances, make decisions and move forward.

So what is holding you back?  What is your story and who will it help? You never know – you may be surprised! Start writing today…

Before the Stroke…

28 08 2011

I prepared a mammoth like breakfast to take my mother last Saturday.  She absolutely loves it when I come through the door with a plate of hot grits, bacon eggs and biscuits.  She eats every bit and I feel really good about my efforts.  Afterwards, we sometimes head for the park and walk for a little while.  She can barely walk more than twenty steps before returning to the bench to smoke another cigarette.  For her it is the best part of a Saturday morning out.  Sitting under the picnic shed, in the fresh air, smoking and talking to one of her three adult children.  One of us is always there running in and out of her house.

Physically, she was pretty much the same before the stroke.  An attractive woman about six feet tall, well read and in touch with every thing going on in the world. Before the stroke she had strong opinions about politics, sports and what she did and did not like about her life and ours.  She taught us to respect her wishes; follow her instructions and live in a way that let everyone know she was the mother of three extraordinary children.  She did her job and we did ours, as well.  Before the stroke, we would laugh at her contentious conversation and demand for perfection then go home to our separate lives.

But one day- we walked in on a stranger.  She looked at my sister and I without recognizing either of us.  She was standing at the end of the hall staring at the door, haphazardly dressed and confused. A stroke does not always land a person on the floor or in the hospital. She is a diabetic so we thought maybe she had taken too much insulin.  We immediately started a game plan to get someone there to help everyday. After years of finding her with low blood sugars and calling 911 we were conditioned to think every episode was related to her diabetes.

As time progressed she could not finish sentences, shunned reading as well as sports and slept all day. During a visit to the Ophthalmologist, the doctor noticed eye ground changes and the fact that she could not understand how to put her chin on the examining bar.  He looked at me,regretfully, and said “this is  not a problem with insulin –I think she has had a stroke”. I was stunned.  We immediately went to get an MRI.  He was right – she had experienced three to  four mini strokes over a period of time. We hoped it was a reaction to her insulin, because that could have been reversible – a stroke is a stroke. It cannot be  reversed.

That was more than a year ago. Although she knows and loves us, her contention has taken on a different meaning.  We now understand that it is frustration over the loss of control and the sometimes unfair changes that life has forced upon her.  At age seventy six, she has been a Type 1 Diabetic since age 17.  She gave herself two shots a day before disposable needles were available. She boiled and reused her needles until they became dull.  It was a tough life for a woman who served as a domestic or “the help” for one family for many years.  She never complained about the job, but she was always frustrated over the shots.

One thing I know for sure is the attitude, belief systems, faith and temperament inside a person before a life changing illness is what remains in them afterwards. Therefore, we must feed our minds with positive energy, peace and joy while we are in full control of our faculties.  Learn to pray and build a spiritual  foundation while in good health, for if those seeds are planted inside you – they will remain there for your calling in times of crisis.  As with many illnesses, it is extremely difficult to absorb new things after a stroke. So live life with purpose, a pure heart and healthy habits as much as possible – before the stroke.

How do we handle disrespect?

8 08 2011

Most of last week was spent listening to comments about the increasing trend of disrespect displayed towards President Obama lately.  It is disturbing, to say the least.  I was raised on military bases so I watched my enlisted stepdad salute his superiors every time we moved around the base.  I loved the decorum and organization.  It never bothered me that he was not an Officer – I was just happy that he was in the service.  It definitely added value to my life.

One thing I learned for sure was respect for authority.  Although I was the class cutup before my mother remarried; once I started school on base- it ceased.  I was not an angel in school, but my mother never went to school to deal with discipline issues again.  I learned from what I saw practiced every day; respect for leadership and respect for authority.  The only dark side appeared when I started dating.  My stepdad refused to allow me to date an Officer.  He said there was “no way” he was saluting anybody in his own home – don’t even think about it.  Needless to say, I married an enlisted  man.  The one Officer I dated was mysteriously escorted off the base when he tried to visit me. Told ya – I was not an angel…

But back to the issue of respect – I do not see it displayed at that level today.  Let’s look back over President Obama s term – so far. Military leaders speak out against the President of the United States.  Representative Joe Wilson from South Carolina yelled out to the President during his speech on health care reform “you lie”.  It was disrespectful, unbelievable and completely out of order.  But he apologized.  Donald Trump went on the attack about the President’s birth certificate, his education and his grades. He was rude, sarcastic and just plain ugly.  He pushed me off the fence.  I was always border line about him anyway.  I loved the Apprentice, but I was never sure about him.  Now I am sure – there is nothing he could put on TV that I would want to watch! He is much too arrogant to apologize.  Representative Doug Lamborn distanced himself, verbally, from the President by comparing it to touching a tar-baby.  But he too apologized.  Then of course, there is Pat Buchanan (again), who referred to the President as “your boy” and yes – he apologized also.  Collectively, they didn’t learn respect for leadership but they have definitely learned the art of an apology. Hmmm…

What should our young people think?  How should they interact with leaders and teachers they encounter each day?

Between now and Labor Day, school will start for kids around the country.   I have always felt that intellect is secondary to behavior.  It doesn’t matter  how smart a child or adult is, if they cannot function in society and/or they have no respect for authority, life for them and around them can be  miserable.  Simply put, whatever their gift or talent, interacting with them is just not worth the trouble.

If you are dealing with adults, sometimes it is as easy as changing your environment.   If it is someone you work with change could be more difficult, if possible at all.  But what about teachers that must spend the day with a difficult child or teen that has no respect for authority? Students certainly will not learn by watching political leaders today or some “religious” leaders as well.  What is a teacher to do?

How do we correct the problem?  There are many opinions in cyberspace on the subject.  According to   ascd.or, “With such an atmosphere of mutual disrespect festering in our classrooms, learning is becoming increasingly difficult.  Before you can teach or learn from someone, you need to genuinely respect them.”  Also good advice from How to Teach Kids to Respect Others:  When your children speak, listen carefully.  Do not yell.  Do not roll your eyes. Do not insult, and never, ever hit.  If you engage in any of this type of behavior with your children, they will ultimately learn that this behavior is acceptable, no matter how many times you tell them with words that it’s not ok.

If this is true – we need to send a few leaders back to school for retraining.

We always hear that it takes a village to raise a child.  But with the expansion of the World Wide Web and so many links to other social groups, we must all assume a certain amount of responsibility for the foot prints we leave at the end of every day.  What we say and do matters – now more than ever.

How to Teach Kids to Respect Others | eHow.com;





4 08 2011

Now that Washington has averted the debt ceiling catastrophe we can turn our attention to finances on a more personal level.
This is August and it is time to prepare for school and/or college. This can be a difficult time for parents, adult students and teachers as well.
Books, supplies, clothes uniforms and school fees are swarming over head and you will have to do something soon. What about the phones and computers?  They are practically necessities today.  Even that does not include expenses for extracurricular activities. Back to school events are in full swing in many
areas of the country.  For several weeks now our church has hosted a “Stuff the Bus” drive for school supplies.  They will be given away before school starts.

The very popular tax free weekend kicks off in most areas the first weekend in August. Check your area news for local dates. Tax breaks are not supported in every state.  This list shows tax weekends published on the internet.

Alabama 8/5  – 8/7
Arkansas 8/6  – 8/7
Connecticut 8/21-  8/27
Florida 8/12-  8/14
Iowa 8/5-   8/6
Louisiana 8/5-   8/6
Mississippi 7/29-  7/30
New  Mexico 8/5-  8/7
South  Carolina 8/5-   8/7
Texas 8/19-8/21

Every small savings helps – especially in families with more than one child in school.  Any opportunity to avoid adding to your debt via credit cards and over spending is good for everyone involved. Remember also, there is still time to search the internet for coupons and promotion codes.

http://singleparents.about.com/od/cuttingcosts/qt/TaxFreeHoliday.htm ;www.couponmountain.com;

The National Debt

25 07 2011

OK! Lately I have learned more about the $14.3 Trillion National Debt than I need to know. We elected leaders to handle this so I  don’t understand why they can’t seem to work it out. They do not agree on anything! The bickering has gone on for weeks and it is obvious that key players have  little interest in reaching a resolution.  President Obama is caught in a power struggle with men that did not want him elected in the first place.  Men who, seemingly,  would let this country go to hell in a barrel just to win this test of wills against the President.  In short, they are having a power surge; a moment when they are poised and pleased to upset this sick economy even more to prove they are worthy of being in office.

Republicans want to hang the National Debt around the neck of President Obama.  So, let’s look at the National debt by president:

*The numbers below do NOT reflect the actual National Debt.
Instead, they reflect the amount of the INCREASE in the National Debt during
each presidential term.

  •    Ronald Reagan’s First Term – $656 billion increase
  •    Ronald Reagan’s Second Term – $1.036 trillion increase
  •    George H.W. Bush’s Term – $1.587 trillion increase
  •    Bill Clinton’s First Term – $1.122 trillion increase
  •    Bill Clinton’s Second Term – $418 billion increase
  •    George W. Bush’s First Term – $1.885 trillion increase
  •    George W. Bush’s Second Term – $3.014 trillion increase
  •    Barack Obama’s First “Year” – $1.573 trillion increase


Obviously this financial disaster started long before our current president.  One has to question the commitment of elected officials that refuse to compromise at this time. It is critical that we reach an agreement on the ceiling.  The fallout will impact almost everyone in this country. According to **The Detroit News:

“If the economy grinds to a halt, that will have implications worldwide, threatening to dry up export markets.

Mortgage and other loan markets would gyrate wildly, dragging down the real estate and stock markets…

Interest rates on loans and credit cards would likely rise since the federal government would be paying  more on its own debt, throwing credit markets into turmoil.

The stock market would likely tumble, severely affecting the value of businesses such as Boeing,  ExxonMobil, Chase Bank, Ford Motor Co., Steelcase, Dow Chemical Co. and General Motors, which just re-entered the market in November after its government-led bankruptcy.

Nearly 2 million federal  workers — and more than 50,000 in Michigan — would likely not be paid since  Washington wouldn’t have access to money.

Pension funds and other retirement accounts could see another deep dip in value; potentially one worse than the market’s 2007 and 2008 lows. For workers nearing retirement age, that means even recent market gains could be wiped out, ruining nest eggs for soon-to-be retirees and for those already retired.

Funding for federal programs could be in jeopardy. White House officials, in briefing reporters, however, saved the scariest possibility for the end.”

“There is no  back-up plan,” one senior administration official said. “None.”


I do not need to rewrite the press release by explaining how important it is for Republicans and Democrats to resolve this issue. I think it can be achieved without the personal beat down they are trying so hard to give President Obama.  Failure to reach an agreement would be an unprecedented event for America.  Why?  Why is compromise more difficult now than it was with past Presidents?  Could it be the unspoken elephant in the room – RACE?  Many people believe his race is the real issue and it very well may be. But they should get over it – really! Do what you were elected to do and make the country better – not worse.

Atlanta is burning….

13 07 2011

As someone who obsesses on books, reading and children,  I am completely engrossed in the unfortunate chain of events in the Atlanta Public School system aka APS.  The issue is cheating on achievement test and the finger-pointing has run amuck. Teachers have been put in the position to turn on their Principals in some cases to protect themselves, but in others to get even with leadership.  After all, how many people would turn on their boss if they knew for certain they would be protected?

Cheating is wrong, seriously wrong; which makes it critical that authorities take every step necessary to identify violators correctly.  Mistakes in judgment, accusations
and charges can be costly to the credibility and careers of the innocent. Not to mention the impact on the children.

The most astounding part of this entire incident is not that some people broke the rules.  People fail to follow policy and break rules every day in every segment of society.          There  should have been something solid in place to prevent it – at every level. But the outpouring of judgment, hostility and the overall breakdown among peers and coworkers, inflamed by the Governor and his investigators, is unacceptable. They are the leaders – inciting people to turn on each other and tear down a system where trust and team work are essential.  It is sad.

I am curious to know if Dr. Beverly Hall changed any of the testing procedures when she arrived at APS.  Were erasures a problem prior to her arrival or did the State decide to
check because they were suspicious of the new trend?  How many class rooms were flagged before Dr. Hall arrived?  What was the trend? Why now and why did it take so long?

Finally, teaching children not to cheat is important and so is leading by example.  However, it is critical that we teach them how to resolve the issues of life and how to
conduct themselves in the midst of a crisis. They must learn to weigh all the facts and make good decisions. We must teach them to fight with dignity and respect when addressing the many problems they will encounter in life. I have read and watched so much sanctimonious verbiage and accusations in the last few days. Even to the extent of interviewing children (not protecting them) to voice a negative opinion on TV.  Media should return to unbiased reporting – not head hunting.

Hopefully, when the dust settles,  the guilty will be punished, the innocent will be named, and ATL will rise from the ashes again.


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