Monday, November 28, 2011

Part 2: What are you passionate about?

Me at The Corcoran Gallery of Art with the photographer
Hank WillisThomas. His exhibit, Strange Fruit is on display,
right now, at The Corcoran, and it is phenomenal!

I am passionate about ARTISTS and their ART!

I was not going to start writing about my passions until later in the week. I was going to give my readers, you, a chance to marinate on Part One, but something happen tonight, and I HAD to write about it right now; my heart is on fire.

Quiet as it is kept, I love the arts! I spend a fair amount of time in museums, reading books, seeing plays, and chasing authors, photographers, painters etc all over the city.

I am extremely grateful that I live ten minutes outside of DC, and I get to do the things that I love to do all of the time. The added bonus is that most of the museums are free and there are always great FREE exhibits. There are also lots and lots of theatres and many opportunities to see many different types of plays at all different prices. I love where I live!!!!!

So, I was watching the news a few weeks back, and they were talking about an exhibit titled 30 Americans at The Corcoran gallery. You know that I got real excited, and went to The Corcoran's website and realized that they had two other exhibits that I wanted to see as well as 30 Americans: Strange Fruit  and some photos from the Gordon Parks collection. I instantly started plotting the ideal time to visit this museum, and there is no better time than a holiday weekend.

Saturday, I went to The Corcoran gallery, and I normally don't publicly admit these type of things, but my heart was beating fast from the time that I got to the museum until right now. (My heart is still glad.) I left the gallery feeling happier and smarter.

At the museum, I read that the artist who is responsible for Strange Fruit, Hank Willis Thomas, was going to give a FREE lecture tonight at The Corcoran. I called the museum and was told that there were no more spaces left to see him, but I could come early and get on the waiting list. So, I left work, had an extremely challenging workout, had a real quick dinner on the run, and went to get on that waiting list, and I got to see and hear Hank Willis Thomas (God favors me!).

Hank with one of his first pictures ever published. The guy in the picture who was
was slain, was his cousin and the inspiration for many of his photographs!

Hank Willis Thomas is a thirty-five year old photographer (Young, Gifted and Talented). Hearing him talk about his photographs and his thoughts about them was completely captivating. Hank took the audience from crying to laughing with his many fascinating stories surrounding photos.

Tonight, I could have easily gone to workout and spent the rest of the night at home, but instead, I decided to follow my passion, and I went to see and hear an artist talk about his art. (My happiness level went up ten notches because of this experience.)

So, whatever it is that you like to do, DO IT. Make no excuses and see how your life will go from ordinary to extraordinary.

Hank talked about how he met the man who took this picture, Ernest Withers.
Guess who else met Ernest and got an autographed copy of this same picture on the walls in
her house? ME, I'm just saying.....
The Ernest Withers' picture inspired Hank to create this exhibit!

Guess who I ran into at The Corcoran tonight?

The author A'Leila Bundles who is the the great-great-granddaughter of the
famed Madam C.J. Walker! What a joy to run into an author!

and my homegirl, Bridgett and her son, from Mobile, Alabama (Small World)!

Really now, go out and do the things that you are passionate about, and you don't have to wait until the weekend! Do it today.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Part 1: What are you passionate about?

"You are responsible for the energy that you bring into a room (the world)." Oprah Winfrey

I am getting closer to my optimum physical and mental health, and I have really started to think about what I want to project into the universe and get back in return.

I am a person who is full of energy. I wake up energetic, and I maintain that energy throughout most days. I do get tired, and I honor that feeling by resting. So, to the world, I really want to project that energy through my attitude and appearance. At forty-one, I do not want to project that I am a tired thirty year old, and I definitely do not want to project that I am a tired sixty year old; I want to project the vibrant, happy, forty-one year old that I am.

One of my friends, who is in her mid-forties and looks absolutely fabulous, told me about this books that she consults in order to keep her look up-to-date. The book is titled Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange with Sophie Gachet.

I love this style guide, and I must admit that I flip through it often, and I do follow quite a few of the tips, and I am thrilled with the results.

So, stay with me, I'm getting to passion, I promise.

I was flipping through this style guide, and a list for Lifelong Beauty struck me and really made me stop and read, read and reread. Here is the list:
  1. Be well-groomed.
  2. Smell nice.
  3. Look after you teeth. Have them professional cleaned every six months.
  4. Smile.
  5. Be indulgent.
  6. Be nonchalant and forget your age.
  7. Be cooler and more easy-going.
  8. Be less selfish
  10. Do only what suits you. The perfect ZEN attitude.
  11. Accept that there will be bad days. And make the most of the good days!
I absolutely love this list, but #9 struck me and made me stop and think about all of the things that I am passionate about: breakfast, running, biking, teaching literature, the great outdoors/Jesus, fellowshipping, learning, being healthy, and the arts.

Things that I am passionate about are what help to keep me happy from day to day. Without these things, I try and image what my life would be like: slowly waking up, going to work, eating, and doing the same thing the next day. I think, with that kind of life, I would go crazy. I love being passionate.

This is my first of many blogs where I will write about the things that I am passionate about. I am hoping that this series will inspire someone to think about and do the things that he/she are passionate about.

If you already have things that you are passionate about, please share, share, share them so that we can inspire others to discover and do things that they are passionate about often.


Momma and me at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta to see The Nutcracker!

The view while biking in Vermont!

The view while hiking in the Grand Canyon!

The Arts!
Read Part 2
Read Part 3
Read Part 4
Read Part 5
Read Part 6 
Read Part 7
Read Part 8

Friday, November 25, 2011

"In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote

There are two things that I absolutely savor about the holidays: the time to do morning workouts and the time to read.

So, today is the day after Thanksgiving, and I have enjoyed every moment of this day. I woke up early and talked to my momma on the phone, went to Barnes and Nobel, ran six miles, and spent the rest of the day reading In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. What Joy!

I must admit that this book left me feeling really crazy and in deep thought about life, death, the act of killing, the death penalty etc.

Truman Capote is quite dear to my heart, because we were both raised in Alabama. Capote and Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, were both raised in Monroeville, Alabama. (Great things DO come from Alabama.)

In Cold Blood is the TRUE story of two ex-convicts, Dick and Perry, who went to Kansas to kill a family whom they didn't know. The family was the well-respected Clutter family: Herbert, the father; Bonnie, the mother; Nancy, the daughter; and Kenyon, the son.

While in prison, another convict told Dick about the Clutter family. He told him that Mr. Clutter was rich and kept a safe with money in his house. Dick decided that once he was released, he and his friend Perry, would drive across the state of Kansas, to the Clutter's home, and rob them.

However, once they got to the house, Perry and Dick realized that there was no safe, and they were only able to retrieve between $40 and $50 from the family. Things took a BAD turn, and all four members of the Clutter family, who were in the house, were killed; Mr. Clutter 's throat was slashed, and the rest of the family was shot in the head. (The Clutter's had two older daughters who did not live with them.)

Capote spent years, alone with Nelle Harper Lee, interviewing the killers and the people in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas in order to give the reader snapshots into the Clutters' lives and the minds of the killers.

This novel really disturbed me. I live a carefree life, and I am cautious but fearless. I go out at anytime by myself and feel pretty safe. I refuse to live in fear, but I needed to be reminded of the fact that people like Dick and Perry do exist in this world.

Also, Dick and Perry both were sentenced to death, and this made me think a lot about the death penalty. I spent a summer at Amherst College studying Crime and Punishment. We discussed  the death penalty at great length, and I am not sure if it the death penalty should or should not be considered a cruel and unusual punishment if you believe that death starts at the moment that a person finds out that he has been sentenced to death. Can you imagine the agony that a person must go through when he knows the exact day and time that he is going to die?

Things that make you say hmmmmmmmm......

This book is captivating, easy to read, very revealing about the minds of two killers, and it will make a person think.

 "It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature."  Henry James

Truman Capote

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Pride and Prejudice" and Jane Austen

I am little embarrassed to admit that being a high school English teacher for quite a long while, I had not read Pride and Prejudice. There are teachers of English, and other readers, who absolutely swear by this book, but I must admit, I had never read it. Not quite sure why not, but I hadn't.

A few of my students read Pride and Prejudice and strongly suggested that I read it, and I did.

Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice in 1797. That was not a typo; it was written in 1797. It was unacceptable for women to be writers during this time period, so Pride and Prejudice was published anonymously and was not associated with Jane until after her death. Oh my!!!

This novel shows the life of the privileged class during the 18th and 19th-century England.

There are many definitions for the word Pride, but the definition that I think is befitting for this novel is a "haughty attitude shown by somebody who believes, often unjustifiably, that he or she is better that others." This can be applied to one of the main characters, Mr. Darcy. He was a single, rich man whose parents "thought that they were good themselves, allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing - to care for none beyond my own family circle, to think meanly of the world...." In spite of  his upbringing, he, quiet as it is kept, was actually a good fellow.

A befitting definition of Prejudice would be a "preformed opinion, usually an unfavorable one, based on insufficient knowledge, irrational feelings, or inaccurate stereotypes." This could be applied to Elizabeth Bennett, one of the main characters who was from a lower-class family.

So, reading this book with my 21st century women's liberation lenses, I could not understand why Mrs. Bennet was so pressed to get her four daughters married, and not just married, but married to men who were well-off. (Now, we all know that money does not hurt.)

However, after talking about the novel with my students, I realized that the Bennet's had no sons, and women could not own property, not even inherited property, during this time period. Once Mr. Bennet dies, their house will go to a male cousin. So, the girls needed to be married in order to secure their future and the future of their mother just in case she died after their father. Imagine that!!!!

On a side note, I believe in marriage and all of that, but I am so thrilled that I do not HAVE to be married to own property or to secure my future or the security of my family. We've come a long way or have we?

So, this novel is basically about rich Mr. Darcy and poor Elizabeth who really like each other but pride and prejudice gets in the way. Once they worked through this and saw each other for who they really were, they were able to marry and hopefully, live happily ever after.

There are many ways that an author can develop a character: showing the character's appearance, displaying the character's actions, revealing the character's thoughts, letting the character speak, and getting the reactions of others.

Jane Austen's does a great job of developing her characters through their actions. The only sort of problem with this method is that these stories typically seem to move slowly and may not hold the reader's attention.

So, the beginning of Pride and Prejudice may seem to move slowly with lots of details, but she ties everything together very nicely which actually makes for a satisfying ending if you love the idea of love like I do :)

This is a classic novel that deserves the title of classic!!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"The Piano Lesson" by August Wilson

The Great Playwright, August Wilson

My AP English students and I read the novel Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, the play The Piano Lesson by August Wilson, and we read the short story "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker to accompany these two longer pieces.

We explored the themes of mysticism, the past is present, name and identity, symbolism etc in order to get to the deeper meanings of these text.

Wednesday, all of the things that must be done before we started the discussion on The Piano Lesson were due. So, around Tuesday, I asked the students:

"What did you think about this play?"

Most of the students stated: "nothing really happens in the play."

Now, if you have ever read or seen one of August Wilson's ten plays: Fences, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Radio Golf etc, it does seem as if there is nothing to them. However, once the layers are pulled back, it's evident that these plays are packed with the stories of everyday Black people in American.

August Wilson, prided himself on being a griot, West African word for storyteller, who, like Langston Hughes through his poems and short stories and Romare Bearden through his paintings, told the everyday Black person's story.

A Romare Bearden Painting

Upon close examination of The Piano Lesson, one can see that this play explores many issues that Black people faced, in America, in the 1900's.

The one issue that really struck me during this reading of the play is the connection to the past.

I thought a lot about my ancestors, the ones that were slaves and the ones that were not, and I wondered why do I not pursue that history more. Everybody who knows me, know that I love "The People," but I am perplexed as to why I have not researched my own history more.

I know all about Zora Neale Hurston, Dr. King, Rosa Parks etc, but what about my ancestors.......

I got a lot of work to do!!!!!

August Wilson died in 2005 at the age of 60. He is not physically here, but his presence is definitely still here.

If you had not seen or read one of his play, I think that you will be pleasantly surprised, and if you have experienced the works of August Wilson, let me know your thoughts.

Me with the cast of August Wilson's Radio Golf when it was playing
at The Studio Theatre in DC!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Greatest Homecoming on Earth (GHOE)

Tuskegee Football Team 2011
If you ask any person who attended a Historical Black College or University (HBCU) about their Homecoming, they will say that theirs is the Greatest Homecoming on Earth (GHOE).

And, you know what? Everyone that you ask, is exactly right. I really believe that a person's own Homecoming is the GHOE.

Here is a look at Tuskegee's Homecoming 2011 (GHOE):

Friday,The Yard:

Me and my nephew hanging on the yard!

My freshmen nephew, Breland,  at band practice.
Got to get ready for the halftime show!

My nephew, Cameron, and one of his friends.
Their first Tuskegee Homecoming as students.

Young and Older Alphas Hanging!

Saturday Morning, The Parade:

The Piperretes Doing What They Do!

The Game: Which is Not About the Game!

The Crowd!

The Best Band in the Land!

Band Members at the game!
My nephew, Cameron, doing his ROTC thing!

The Homecoming Crew: One or all three of us always
attend Homecoming!

My neice, Kayla! She is a senior at TU.
There's lots of love at Homecoming!

Homecoming is full of silliness!

Alphas' line reunion in the Old School Sweaters.
The DC Crew at Homecoming.

Kappa line in their reunion jackets!
Another line's reunion!

Friends, Friends, Friends, FOREVER!

The Stepshow:

The students doing what they do!

The Crowd!

Around 12 o'clock in the morning, we felt like maybe it was time for Homecoming to end. So, we went to the car and decided Hell Naw, it's tooooooo early. So, we went back to a Young Alumni party that was intended for people who were recent graduates. Definitely not us, but Oh well!

The End of The Night:

Still looking and feeling good around 3 in the morning!


We did 10 miles around Stone Mountain; Got to get ready
for next year's Homecoming!

If you've never,ever, been to a HBCU's Homecoming, you got to do it. It really doesn't matter which one, because they all are the GHOE!!!!!!!

I MUST leave you with the students doing what they do!!!!

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