Thursday, March 31, 2011

If You Haven't Read or Seen "The Color Purple," Well...

There are so many versions of "The Color Purple" floating around that there is absolutely no reason for anyone who appreciates art not to experience this powerful story. You will be moved by the tale of an African American woman overcoming unbelievable adversity in 1930s Georgia to recognize and thrive in her own strength.

Whether you've read Alice Walker's Pulitizer Prize-winning novel or seen the film or musical theater versions, you'll learn something you didn't know about the movie in the piece I wrote on Heart & Soul.

With the recent launch of the second national tour of the musical, the new release of the Blu-Ray edition, and the availability of the literary version, there are various ways you can get caught up in the story that expanded careers over numerous genres.

Alice. Whoopi. Oprah. Gotta love art and the talents who create because it's in their soul.

Hope you're Enjoycenglife....

Thursday, March 24, 2011

VIDEO: My Preschooler Literally Punches Me Over a Homonym

If you love learning, this video is for you:

My preschooler, Amber, made a discovery at dinner tonight about a homonym that she just had to share! Enjoy and keep Enjoyceinglife!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Little Girl Loved: Father Writes Letter to Young Rape Victim About Real Black Men

Nick Chiles, an unbelievably talented writer and one of most committed fathers I know, was moved to write an open letter to the 11-year-old girl who was recently gang-raped in Texas. Excerpted below (and on the Today Show Moms blog), his words are so important for all to read and embrace. Parents, young women, young men, and anyone who is guiding the decisions or who's actions are visible to impressionable young people, this letter is not just for the victim, it is for you, too.

So please press through the I-don't-or-I-cant-read-about-this-tragedy mindset because this letter is not graphic. It's the level of inspiring and ferocious support that all of us should exhibit every day - in our actions.

I love Nick for writing this letter. I love Denene Millner (his wife) for creating her website My Brown Baby that meets these missions head on and with special care and purpose.

After the excerpt, I've also included the comment I left on Nick's post, as requested by Denene, who suggests we share our love with the young girl via the Little Girl Loved Facebook Group, and by following @littlegirlloved on Twitter and with the hashtag #littlegirlloved.

Excerpt of Nick Chiles' post:

What I must do is tell you about real black men. I want you to know these things because I have a son who is 7 years older than you, a nephew who is about your age, a nephew just a little younger, and they all have friends, many friends. In other words, I am surrounded by black boys. And if, in 15 or 20 years, one of them should come your way, I want you to know what a fine young man looks like, what he sounds like. I want you to have some familiarity with the proud young princes in our community, so that you might be able to wash off the unthinkable things that were done to you and one day find a measure of peace and happiness. Perhaps even with a young black man. That is my prayer for you......

Baby girl, let me describe to you what a real black man should look like, how he will feel.

He will not ever raise his hand to you—for he has been taught that an assault upon you is an assault upon his mother, his grandmother, his sisters, his aunts and all the nurturing souls who have unconditionally showered him with care.

He will not raise his voice to you—for he respects your mind as well as your body and he knows that bluster and intimidation are really just a camouflage for weakness.

He will listen to you and really hear you—for he will understand that your need to share your days and your thoughts are your way of connecting with him, bringing him into your mind space.

He will bring joy into your life—for he knows that your joy is the true key to his happiness, perhaps the most important thing he can achieve in his life.

He will tell you what you mean to him. To be able to peer into his own soul and reveal the contents is an unfailing sign of manly strength—and it also happens to be magic to a woman’s ears.

He will protect you but not disarm you. True protection is not smothering; it is providing you with the security to try and sometimes fail.

He will love you. And his love will feel like the most significant ingredient your spirit will ever encounter."

Read the full letter at My Brown Baby.

My comments on Nick Chiles' post:

Little Girl Loved, I send you all the healing prayers and well wishes I have. I know one day you will emerge from this haze of hateful blame to live powerfully in your life. Press on, young love, and persevere. Life may seem unbelievably ugly right now, but there are such beautiful things to experience on the other side. As Nick Chiles said, I cannot wait to sing along with your heart. Love, love, love to you.

I will save this letter and share with my daughter (now 4) when she is of age. The wonderful and important sentiments you wrote Nick are the type of support all young people need to hear, understand and embrace. Keep writing your lessons of love. You inspire me.

Background: For a searing report and perspective, please check out Akiba Solomon's Colorlines piece, "The Gang-Rape of a Latina 6th Grader, and a Horrific Community Response."

All images in this post are of my father, James M. Davis, with my daughter or myself. He taught me - by his actions more than anything else - the definition of a real black man. I am forever grateful.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Preschooler Can Add!

My baby is doing math! Addition at age 4 - I LOVE IT!!! I'm like 99 percent sure I wasn't doing math in preschool. It's just amazing to watch their little brains work. I was overjoyed and so was she! I love that she enjoys learning. I'm working my plan - she's on her way to being a life-long learner. Now what can be more fun than loving to learn?!?! Educate yourself about something today. And do it in a fun way. Keep Enjoyceinglife!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Waiting to Exhale

Yes, this is me. And yes, I am praying - thanking God for allowing me to sit back in the "child's pose" after working my glutes into a frenzy with enough back leg extensions to give me race horse thighs. Believe it or not, this photo was snapped as I took part in a beautiful surprise gift. Let me explain.

"Something good is going to happen to me today." I try to say this affirmation out loud to myself every morning. And I have to thank Morris Baxter, the morning show personality on Clark Atlanta University's WCLK Jazz 91.9 for sharing what he calls his "Morris Code" daily. The mantra really works for me, whether it's appreciating having a traffic-free ride home from work or getting a "thinking about you" text from my new honey.

These daily blessings are lovely. But about a week ago, something REALLY wonderful happened. I found out that I'd won the opportunity to check out the serene Exhale Spa in the swanky Loews Hotel in Atlanta from Atlanta Moms Like Me, a cool social networking group for mommies in and around the A.

I joined about 25 other moms for some much-needed pampering, which was right on time after the challenging Core Fusion Basic class I took as part of our visit. From dedicated parking spaces and comfy robes to roomy showers and soothing scents, I felt the stress melt away as soon as I arrived. Plus I ran into my girl Christie Crowder (aka TheChatterBox) of the fabulous BlogRollers, who was just as excited as I was to engage in a few hours of therapeutic bliss.

They have a hammam!

After a quick tour of the steam room, sauna, fully-equipped workout facility, and even a hammam (yes, a detoxifying and relaxing Turkish bath experience), I suited up for Core Fusion Basic, a class that took me completely by surprise. I'd read a bit about the principles behind the toning class (Pilates meets strength-training and dance), but I wasn't ready for how challenging it was going to be and how great I was going to feel afterward.

Instructor Brandy guided about 10 attendees through the moves, occasionally providing personal attention and gentle physical pressure or alignment encouraging me to push myself a little further to get the most out of the workout. We used balls, straps, mats, light weights and even a ballet bar to push, pull, stretch, resist, and lift our bodies to improve athleticism, flexibility, posture and overall well-being.

After letting the hot water massage my tender muscles for a good 10 minutes, I sprayed on the complimentary Calyx perfume in the dressing room, threw on my work duds, and grabbed a refreshing blueberry-raspberry yogurt parfait waiting for the mommies. There was a bit of a wait for the chair massages and I really wanted one, looking at the ladies exhaling through pleasant expressions as the masseurs worked their magic.

But I opted for the hand paraffin wax treatment where I enjoyed in-person connections with moms I'd only known by their online names, PinkRibbon, Niamaya1 and JamJ. I slid my hands out of the wax at the end of a short and interesting presentation about the spa's facial services, and reluctantly said my goodbyes to the moms.

So thanks Exhale, Loews and Atlanta Moms Like Me for starting my weekend off right. I floated into work mid-morning and was able to maintain that vibe through Friday and into the weekend. Of course it didn't hurt that when I opened up my Exhale goodie bag later that evening, I found a gift certificate for a complimentary class and $25 discount for a spa service. You've gotta love a gift that keeps on giving.

And unlike Terry McMillan's nineties heroines, I won't be "Waiting to Exhale" like the title of this post. I'll be giving myself this spa experience again sooner than later. So ladies, when things get hectic in your world, do something special just for you. You can only take care of others when you take care of yourself. And remember, "Something good is going to happen to me today." Keep saying it and I promise it will come true.

I'm off to continue Enjoyceinglife. Hope you are, too.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Our Soul Runs Deep & Tastes Mighty Good

I wish I could burn in the kitchen. But I just can't. My child and I aren't going to starve. I can do a little something - bake some fish and chicken, steam some veggies, scramble some eggs and such.

But if it's any more complicated than that, well, I'm really a recipe girl. And that's alright, especially with cool releases like the America I Am Pass It Down Cookbook. It feeds me in every way. The delicious recipes in this treasure are augmented with essays and historical content about the soul of African American cuisine.
I wish I could pass on some of the recipes from my grandmother, who spent the majority of her life in Tuskegee, Ala., near Tuskegee Institute, where the above photo was taken. In her heyday, she used to make some succulent salmon patties and a serious peach cobbler. Unfortunately, my brother got the peach cobbler genes I guess because he puts it down - and blesses me with a birthday batch annually (thanks bro!). I can make a mean shrimp quiche, some black bean stew, and tasty chicken salad - all from recipes I've hooked up. So, if you've got some superfantastic recipes you wanna share, I'm certainly up for trying them.

In the meantime, here's an excerpt of the piece I wrote for Heart & Soul about the cookbook, which includes Collard Green Soup with Smoked Turkey, a recipe by the author, Chef Jeff Henderson, the first African American to be named Chef de Cuisine at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and executive chef at Café Bellagio.

Passing Down Recipes and the Stories They Tell

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once dined on sweet-and-sour pigs’ feet that were prepared by a member of the White House’s all-black culinary staff. Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré, who commanded coordinating military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina-affected areas across the Gulf Coast in 2005, is an avid griller and is producing his special seasoning mix, Honoré’s Spice blends, including a low-sodium version.

These notable facts and other amazing essays and personal reflections bring to life the 130 recipes gathered in America I Am Pass It Down Cookbook, edited by Chef Jeff Henderson with Ramin Ganeshram. Celebrating how soul-filled African-American cuisine is inextricably linked to the way America eats, the book includes traditional Southern cooking, new millennium twists and irresistible desserts.

Check out the rest of the piece on Heart& and keep Enjoyceinglife!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Single Mom Meltdown at Disney Dreamers Academy

My fabulous friend, journalist Kimberly Allers of the inspiring Mocha Manual: A Black Moms Guide to Life, recently had a single mom meltdown at the Disney Dreamers Academy. It's a situation that I know a lot of single parents have experienced. In a nutshell, what do you do when your childcare situation falls through and you're out of town?

Check out her heart wrenching post.
I left a comment about my situation and some suggestions for solutions. But those work for me, everybody's situation is different, and I've certainly had my own single parent challenges. We'd both love to hear your thoughts.

Parenting is hard. Support is valued. Keep living, loving and Enjoyceinglife.

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