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What Love Looks Like

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2-place-settings-lenox-brookdale-china-10-pcs-excellent-f802427e2b02030ac6b7f4134b33c284I really don’t spend a lot of time thinking about love and what it looks like.  This summer I had the occasion to do so.

My sister-in-law, Allene died unexpectedly this summer.  She was the wife of my youngest brother and she was like a friend to me. My brother was mostly devasted and lost.  They had been planning to move to another state.  My sister in law, in her usual neat and organized manner had been packing for weeks and had packed most of their home.

As I stated before my brother was almost immobilized with grief.  I went to his home in Miami to help him finish packing the house so that he could concentrate on his next steps.  As soon as I got there, I thought that I needed to cook him a meal. He hadn’t had a decent one since his wife died. Food is a great comforter and when I don’t know what to say or do, I cook.

I went to the kitchen in the small comfy home.  Everything in the kitchen was spotless.  Of course, Allene had packed everything already. The cabinets were completely empty.

Then, I saw on the corner of the countertop, some neatly stacked dishes.  Two plates, two coffee cups, two glasses and two sets of silverware.  It took several seconds before I could stop staring at them. Tears ran down my cheeks.  It hit me at that moment that my sisterfriend was gone.  More importantly though, was that this simple portrayal spoke so much about the love that she and my brother had.  Those dishes seemed sad but a very beautiful symbol of caring.

While I was there, I could not eat out of those dishes. I knew that they were not meant for me.  I also know that I when I think of love, I will always think of two plates, two coffee cups, two glasses and two sets of silverware.


Purple Mecca

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I came to Minneapolis for a conference almost forgetting that this was the home of Prince, musical genius (you could argue that with me–if you are a fool) and one of my all time favorite musicians and performers (you can Not argue that with me).

Paisley Park is actually a good distance from where I am staying but I really wanted to make the trek. I don’t know when I will get to Minneapolis again and I am still in shock about Prince’s sudden death. So in the manner of most modern  urban dwellers, I called über.

I did all my safety checks when the uber arrived. I checked the car make, model and tag number. Double checked the pic to make sure that I was getting into the right car. My driver was Abdullahi, a handsome and polite young man.

After a couple of random pleasantries, I told Abdullahi that, when we got to Paisley Park, I needed him to wait while I took pics. I wanted him to bring me back. He agreed, said it was fine. We started on our way. There was not much in the way of scenery once we got on the highway so again, in the manner of those in modern culture, I began checking my social media. All was fine once I had Abdullahi close the window that was pouring cold air into my Afro and asked him to turn down the loud old school R&B he had pounding through the speakers. I settled into the back seat with my seatbelt on. I was on my way to Prince’s house!

A few miles into the trip, Abdullahi took an exit and almost ran a red light. He jammed on brakes and threw me forward slightly. He looked at me guiltily in the rear view mirror but I was too deep into my anticipation of seeing Prince’s home to be annoyed.

Finally, there it was! Paisley Park. I was not prepared for the emotion of it all. We pulled up to the main entrance. I got out and walked along the fence taking pictures of all the moving tributes there.

I could feel the sorrow and sadness of the people who left momentos: purple candles, pictures, paintings, ribbons, a purple sequined sweater. At one spot, someone had made a makeshift alter. On the fence was an oil portrait of Prince with his famous third eye shades. Beneath was a small oriental rug. Flowers and wreaths swung sadly against the fence.   My über driver got out to smoke a cigarette. A security guard paced nervously near his car, parked to block the driveway.

I took pictures, as many as I could. I don’t think any of them really captured the feel of Paisley Park on that day. I just kept thinking about the time I had seen Prince perform. How he had effortlessly moved from impossible dance moves to playing incredible guitar riffs to singing his hit songs. The stage went from brightly lit to streams of purple light. Prince was full of life and humor. For much of the show, he seemed amused by some inside joke that we would never be able to understand. Most of all, he was full of energy. Now, that energy is gone from Paisley Park, from Minneapolis, from his fans around the world.

I finally got back into my uber, much to the relief of the security guard, and headed back to my hotel. Abdullahi got me back in one piece although he did stomp the brakes a couple of times. That trip to Paisley Park was phenomenal.   I’ll never forget it. And I will always remember that night I saw Prince dancing on that stage in the purple light.

Yoga in the Middle

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I went to a yoga class today. Haven’t done yoga in at least 15 years. Just as I thought, everyone was a lot thinner… but not necessarily a lot younger. I struggled but I hung in there. At the end of the class, I asked the instructor if this was actually a beginners class. She sort of smiled and said yes it was. She also said that I did a great job!

That made me feel good. I think I’ll go back again.

Pray, Play, Slay and Be Relentless

Blessing in the Flood

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floodI’m just taking a few moments right now to think about how blessed we are.
We have just experienced a 1000 year flood in Columbia, South  Carolina on October 5. It was amazing to see how quickly the situation went from bad to worse to devastating. People lost their lives. People lost everything they’ve worked for for many years. Some people’s lives will never be the same. Some families will never be the same.  My family and I are just so thankful to be alive. We are thankful that we did not suffer great loss.

All I can say is continue to pray for us. Although the storm is over, the devastation is not. Many people are still homeless after two months.  Although FEMA and other organizations came in to help, there are so many that will go under before that help that they need arrives.  Food and a place to stay are the immediate needs of individuals and families. But many of my counseling clients are still traumatized.  Some are still trying to figure out why they are depressed and anxious.  One women stated that when she went to open her front door, flood waters came rushing in.  All she could do was grab her children and run.   She is still dealing with the floos while others are just interested in moving on as quickly as possible.

We have a rallying cry:  South Carolina Strong!  It sounds good and give us hope while we try to find our new normal.  Mean while some of us are still experiencing the Great Flood of 2015.  The blessing is that we are still here to talk about it.

The 3 Ds of Dynamic Presentations

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The 3 Ds of Dynamic Presentations

Visiting Vegas

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  I had to be in Las Vegas for business (who does that?) this past week. I stayed in one of the casino hotels and of course hit the slots to try my luck. I couldn’t stay in the casino very long because they still allow smoking in casinos in Vegas. The smoke was a bit much for my lungs but I did get to work the penny and quarter machines. Ok, I know I’m cheap but I came away $57 richer. 

It was kind of sad though, watching people pump their money into those machines. Some people looked like they needed to hold on to their money. Seniors sat at gaming tables with their oxygen machines, backpacks stuffed with water bottles and snacks or moving slowly on walkers. Grannies delivered drinks in cocktail waitress uniforms or, wearing vests, shuffled cards for Blackjack.  It was all very disorienting. 

They say Vegas is the. It’s where the party never ends. I think some folks stayed at the party too long. 

#If I die in police custody

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If I die in police custody, I did not kill myself. Ask questions and ask loudly.  Tell them you must see the video tape. Protest and do more than hashtag my name.

If I die in police custody, I did not kill myself. Know that I was murdered and that I deserved better. And that I thought it could happen but I prayed that it wouldn’t.

If I die while in police custody, I did not kill myself. I cooperated. I gave them my license and registration. I stepped out of the vehicle and placed my hands on top of the car. I did not kick the policeman.

If I die while in police custody, I did not kill myself. I have plans for the future. I am too blessed to let their anger and disrespect drive me to despair.

If I die in police custody, I did not kill myself. Give them anger, resistance and passion for justice. Let them find peace and forgiveness elsewhere.

If I die in police custody, I did not kill myself. Remember that I loved you but I loved me more. Believe that.

I did not kill myself.

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