30 Days of Gratitude: Day 13-15

Day 13: What abilities are you grateful for?

I am so happy for the ability to really connect with people. I LOVE listening to people share their stories and pride myself on the ability to help people become their best selves. I think one of the most beneficial attributes to my Psychology degree is how it has allowed me the opportunity to really listen to people.

 

Day 14: What sight are you grateful for?

Happy kids! With so much going on in the world, the ability to see kids happy and smiling ANYWHERE in the world is so precious.
Day 15: What season are you grateful for?

So this is a toss up between Spring and Fall because I don’t like to be too hot or too cold. The only drawback with Spring is rain 😦

 

 

Writing connection: I am blogging my 30 days of gratitude, as I do revisions to my novel, because I want to think of more human attributes to add to my MC. I think gratitude is a great human attribute that we overlook because so often when we are chasing the superficial we forget about the small stuff.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 12

What texture are you grateful for?

I have the worn cotton pullover from Millsaps College that has been a closet staple. I love this sweatshirt. I love how it smells. I love how it feels. When I worked overnight in the hospital, I used to love pulling the hood over my head to protect me from the cold air conditioning. I even took naps with the hood up! It’s a texture and feel that makes me happy.

Writing connection: I am blogging my 30 days of gratitude, as I do revisions to my novel, because I want to think of more human attributes to add to my MC. I think gratitude is a great human attribute that we overlook because so often when we are chasing the superficial we forget about the small stuff.

30 Days of Gratitude: Days 6-11

Day 6: What in nature are you grateful for?

With Halloween quickly approaching, the Fall decorating bug has bitten me! I immediately got a sweet idea for flowers and pumpkins on my porch. I envisioned yellowish/orange chrysanthemums (mums) but was immediately pulled in by white mums when seeing them at the local grocery store.  It was like fate! I am so grateful for the beauty they have brought to my porch. They are inspiring even as I type this.
Day 7: What memory are you grateful for?

I got pregnant with my oldest daughter when I was a sophomore in college. For many in my family (and even some old friends), graduating from college ended the day I had her. The memory I am most grateful for, was walking across the stage at Millsaps College in May 2007 with my daughter and family watching me. My daughter was a gift and motivation to achieve my goals.

Day 8: What book are you most grateful for?

This is a tough question because I love to read and I believe that every book has shaped some part of who I am (yes, even the romance novels!). I love a good Aunt Dimity mystery. Reading them inspired me to try writing my own mystery series. I actually like the Twilight books. They made me long for a better, more romantic, teen existence. Finally, A Call To Conscience: The Landmark Speeches By Martin Luther King, Jr. fires me up and makes me want to hope again.
Day 9: What place are you most grateful for?

Home, because there is no place like it. The best part of going on a trip is knowing that you will return home. Then you come home and lay in your bed (that fits you perfectly), you read your books, and drink your water AND ARE ALL THE MORE GRATEFUL for what you have.
Day 10: What taste are you grateful for today? 

I was craving something sweet (that I shouldn’t indulge in!) and remembering that I haphazardly packed a peach yogurt in my bag. IT HIT THE SPOT! So I am grateful for creamy peach yogurt goodness:)
Day 11: What holiday are you grateful for?

This is a tough one because I have grown into not being a holiday person. I feel the big holidays – Christmas and Thanksgiving – lead up to potential drama. So, I am grateful for any low key “holiday” where I can get away with just laying somewhere reading a book:)

Writing connection: I am blogging my 30 days of gratitude, as I do revisions to my novel, because I want to think of more human attributes to add to my MC. I think gratitude is a great human attribute that we overlook because so often when we are chasing the superficial we forget about the small stuff.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 5

What sound are you grateful for today?

Silence.

As a wife, mother, coworker, sister, friend, scientist – whew this list could get long – there is a lot of talking in my life. I am a story teller and story lover so usually I will listen to anybody or anything. But some days, when I am feeling tired and overwhelmed, silence is golden. These are the days that I hunker down in my cubicle. Load up my podcast and consider if I really have to go eat lunch ( I mean I think the grapes and yogurt in my bag can hold me!). Silence is golden. Silence makes way for stillness and for me this is peace.

Writing connection: I am blogging my 30 days of gratitude, as I do revisions to my novel, because I want to think of more human attributes to add to my MC. I think gratitude is a great human attribute that we overlook because so often when we are chasing the superficial we forget about the small stuff.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 3 and 4

What color are you grateful for? 

This is such an easy question for me to answer – black. Black is such a versatile color. It is forgiving when we need it to be. It pairs well with everything. And when I need to dress for an evening out or a big meeting, its the first color that says “classy” in my mind

What food are you most grateful for?

I actually have a few foods that I’m grateful for.  When I’m having a bad day, ANY type of comfort food hits the spot. Fried chicken, meatloaf, turkey and cornbread dressing, and a heap of mashed potatoes, hits the spot and melts away my blues. This food makes me think of time spent in Mississippi with my grandmother and just feeling safe.

Currently, yogurt is a morning must have for me. It is a breakfast I can easily throw in my bag on my way out of the door.  I can easily add fruit, nuts, or granola to it. I can even leave it as is. With my busy schedule and recent health conditions, I am always looking for something quick and easy that will get me over the morning hump!

Writing connection:  I am blogging my 30 days of gratitude, as I do revisions to my novel, because I want to think of more human attributes to add to my MC. I think gratitude is a great human attribute that we overlook because so often when we are chasing the superficial we forget about the small stuff.

 

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 2

What technology are you grateful for?

I am grateful for laptops (and just computers in general)!

I am an eighties baby, so I clearly remember using microfilm for school research, going to the resource desk to ask for an “M” from the Encyclopedia Britannica, and how expensive computers seemed to my family when they burst on the scenes in the 1990s.

As someone who thought they were going to be an old school author, I purchased a typewriter once so I could hand type each and every page. After page 10, I realized that I was NOT that author! I generously gifted that typewriter to someone else.

With computers, we can quickly research things (and order takeout) with a few keystrokes. Also, with my laptop, my novel and writing needs go with me as I travel endlessly for work or have a write date with friends!

Writing connection:  I am blogging my 30 days of gratitude, as I do revisions to my novel, because I want to think of more human attributes to add to my MC. I think gratitude is a great human attribute that we overlook because so often when we are chasing the superficial we forget about the small stuff.

What technology are you grateful for?

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 1

What smell are you grateful for today?

Expensive perfume. So it sounds really weird but I grew up incredibly poor and one of the most awesome things I remember my mother and aunts spending money on was Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds (which back in the day, cost a pretty penny). Even when I would go to friends’ houses, their mothers would have like a special area for their perfume and kids knew NOT to touch the good stuff unless you were going to a special occasion (prom, family wedding, etc.)

Writing connection:  I am blogging my 30 days of gratitude as I do revision to my novel because I want to think of more human attributes to add to my MC. I think gratitude is a great human attribute that we overlook because so often when we are chasing the superficial when forget about the small stuff.

What smell are you grateful for?

The Myth of a Post-Racial America

Post-racial America is a theoretical environment in which the United States is free from racial preference, discrimination, and prejudice.”

A little over two years ago, I sat on a conference call with human resources. The IT company I was working with, at the time, had been previously acquired by a bigger corporation. The bigger corporation was in another state, which you have probably deducted was not MY state. Thus, to deal with my pressing HR issue, I had to go to the conference room at the front of our office, and place a call to the HR rep at an assigned time.

If the situation had been different, say I was calling HR to discuss new hire paperwork, benefits, or tuition reimbursement, maybe this situation would have weighed on me better. However, this was unfortunately not the case. Instead of discussing the randomness of mundane HR procedures, I was searching for clarity on actual human resources – white staff members in my office who did not think I deserved to be in the room with them.

This phone call, was the ending to a horrible span of days, that pressed into weeks where I was made to feel inadequate, uneducated, and unequal. I did not scream at anyone. I did not belittle anyone. I was not the villain in a melodrama that simply had it coming. I was simply being punished because I was trying to do a GOOD job. This was a quick about-face for me. I was in the middle of my second year on this job, after leaving a VERY RACIALLY CHARGED hospital environment. As a Masters of Public Health student, I had started to gain some of my confidence back and was happy that I had a year to reflect on my previous job, and build something great at this company.  I was ready to contribute and provide input for improvement to make this company soar.

Unlike my last racially charged job, this group of coworkers was very chatty and seemingly good natured. We all talked about our kids, television shows, and random day to day things – a HUGE SHIFT from my previous job where African American workers had to sneak off to lunch because our supervisor got nervous when she saw us chatting in groups.

Looking back (and even in the moment), there were inklings when my new coworkers got a little too comfortable around me and let certain racial phrases slip out like a conversation about healthcare:  “I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about other black folks who drain the system.” I would do my PBS public education moment and gently correct their misconceptions about race, religion, etc. and then conduct what I thought was REAL dialogue. The conversations usually ended on a good note after a period of time, everyone smiled, and we all went to lunch together. I was happy in my environment and thinking about what retiring from this company would look like.

Fast forward to about a year into my time at this company, and the takeover by the remote group escalates and with that our boss needs people to step up and take on my responsibility. I was ready! Some of the confidence that was sucked from me during my last job, had returned.  I had ideas that I thought would be impactful and I ran them by my boss and my team and initially it seemed like everyone was on board.

As I started to get praise and just tried to seriously manage my projects, everyone changed. I would walk in and people would abruptly stop talking. Or, there were incidents where I was sitting in my desk in our shared workspace while my white counterparts opening talked about me – like high school on crack! This was a breaking point. I was confused and trying to rise above and finally went to my supervisor for an intervention.

My supervisor had what I would refer to as an OPRAH meeting (exploring our feelings and other kumbaya moves). It began with people not talking but after I blatantly asked “what changed” I met cold eyes that I no longer recognized with being friends. They questioned my background to walk-in and do anything with their department (even after my supervisor explained that this was work that needed to be done and everyone knew it). I was told I was a brown-noser and someone stepping on toes. These words within themselves did not shake me much but the looks and tones said plenty. This was not about the new kid making folks feel threatened; this seemed to be race based.

Later, my race theory was confirmed. My company used an inner office communications messenger (i.e. outlook messenger, yahoo messenger) to chat with our peers. One of my antagonizers sent a message to me by accident:  I don’t understand why we hire her kind.

Hmm. Did they mean: Smart girls. Health scientists. Skinny girls. Brown people – I think this was the winner.

Back in the conference room, on the day I sat in a conference room to speak to HR, I recounted all of this via phone, as I tried to hold back tears. I had cried a lot during that month. I was in disbelief that people could treat me this way for trying to do my job. I was in disbelief that they could be so open and bold about it. See I was talking to HR about this after I explained to my boss that I thought it was racism and she tried to explain to me that she didn’t think it was but wanted me to talk to HR. HR listened to everything with a “woo woo woo” and a kind ear. Then HR told me it wasn’t racism it was jealously.

For HR and for you now, I will define racism:

* The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. •prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

And then I gave a definition of jealously:

* An unhappy or angry feeling of wanting to have what someone else has. Or an unhappy or angry feeling caused by the belief that someone you love (such as your husband or wife) likes or is liked by someone else.

So I asked, “Couldn’t racism be a type of jealousy?” HR responded, ‘Well, yes BUT in your situation, even with the paperwork I had picked up from the picture where someone had printed out the messenger conversation, this was probably not racism.’ She then gave me some tips on communicating with my coworkers and told me to ring her back anytime I just wanted to chat.

This turn of events took placed in 2014. Not 1955. Not 1961. Not 1970. This took place during what many people will claim, was a post-racial America. Keep in mind that during this time of workplace harassment, my daughter also had an up close and personal experience with racism. While walking to the library, with a group of her charter school friends, they were called a NIGGER by a group of white high school boys driving past them.

It was in this moment where I cried for the final time. I cried for my daughter. I cried for myself. I cried because it was 2014 and we were still dealing with racist bull crap in this country.

I talked to my daughter about the realities of the world. I told her the myth of the post racial America was just a myth. It was something you tell your kids or yourself so that you can sleep better. It’s like a fairytale. It’s like Cinderella. It’s like the fairy godmother coming in and making all things better and the happily ever after.

But our reality was that even after the civil rights movement and the glimpses of racial reconciliation that my daughter saw attending her suburban schools and suburban camps, some people would still judge us because of our skin. Because we were brown people we could never be smart, we could never have valuable ideas, and we could never be equal.

I also told my daughter that even when she grew up she would still be bullied and probably face sexism (but that’s a whole ‘nother post). But overall on that day, I told her that there was no post-racial America. A post-racial society is just a myth. It is not true and sadly if you open your eyes and your ears this is immediately affirmed for you (even now).

I moved on from that company but not from that experience.

I take that experience with me every day and as a result of it, I feel as if it has impacted my future workplace interactions. I am always on guard and waiting for the next racial shoe to drop. And I am not alone. I have a group of black girls that I mentor and we share similar traumatic tales.

It shouldn’t have to be this way. However, when I read the comment sections of blogs and articles at times when we should be coming together to figure out why black lives still don’t matter and why senseless acts of violence are happening to People Of Color (POC), my stomach always turns by those who spew their hate or those who feel POC should be silent because race is no longer an issue in America and we are just stirring a pot of nonsense.

Racism is still here and we need non-POCs to listen and truly engage in the conversation to make this country great again.

No politician can do that for us.

 

Now, what are WE going do about it?

 

 

Father’s Day Diversity

For Father’s Day, we treated my husband to Hibachi in one of the Atlanta suburbs. As we sat waiting on drinks and for other parties to join our table, my 8-year-old daughter turns and asks, “Mommy, is it possible for African-American parents to have white children?”

I sat confused by the question and responded with my usual (for this kid anyone) response of  “why are you asking that.” She said, “never mind, no reason”. Well this got MY mind whirling because with my uber inquisitive youngster there is ALWAYS a reason.

I responded that to my knowledge, biologically, I did not know of any case but we could research it (she complains that I tell her to research things a lot). But, I also pointed out that any ethnicity could adopt kids so African-American parents could adopt a Caucasian child that way. Conversation ceased soon after because appetizers arrived but it did not stop by brain from whirling and my eyes from roving.

Fast forward about 25 minutes later, after our Hibachi production (because really, isn’t that what it is), I heard loud childlike laughter from another table near us and saw it: two little Caucasian children sitting with an African-American family. I turned to my daughter and stated, “families look many ways. Those children could be friends of the family or because I believe I know that family – they could be their foster children. Let’s look it up.” My daughter’s response was short and sweet “oh.” No other questions, no arguments, just pure acceptance. And she continued eating.

Wow, so that was a lot to get to a point! If the world is filled with so much diversity, why can’t our books be. The writer in me immediately thought of how I could make this family’s story into a great picture book about different types of families. Also, why not have a MG story about an African-American family with an African American daughter and the family decides to adopt or foster a Caucasian child BECAUSE THIS HAPPENS – I’VE SEEN IT.

It is time to have stories that truly reflect the world around us. Hash tags are nice because #weneeddiversebooks and we need to recognize #ownvoices. But we have to add some physical actions beyond the hash tags. Write, edit, and submit. Your stories are needed.

2016: So far, so good

With the exception of being sick for what feels like a month, 2016 is off to a good start.

In January, I traded manuscripts with the best writing friend I could hope for. Reading her words has given me all the feels (envy, shock, and a little fear). Reading good writing and being allowed to accompany someone on their writing journey is a reward within itself. My advice for writers finding their way this year – find a GOOD writer friend. You will not regret it.

In my home life, I began the year by doing “double up” Sunday. Basically instead of cooking one dinner, I make two. Therefore we have dinner on Sunday and something to look forward on Tuesday. So far this has been working out well with my busy/travelling schedule. Last month, I also reconnected with another love of mine: baking. I had so much fun baking coconut muffins with my daughters. And bolstered by the deliciousness we stepped out I made some yeast bread.

Kitchen time is always revealing for me because it actually allows me to clear my head. There is something magical in putting a bunch of pinches and little things together and yielding something great. Cooking allows me to breath and reflect. This past month, I began to think about ways to improve my current manuscript and provide guidance on my current reading project.

What do you do when you are seeking clarity in your life? Feel free to share in the comments below. Also, if you happen to try the coconut muffins, let me know how you like them:)