Go Red For Women

Personal Narrative, Women's Health
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and it's all pink all the time. Everything from your favorite football player to your favorite Yoplait can be spotted with a splash of pink. Despite the importance of cancer awareness initiatives, it's worth noting that heart disease is the number one killer of women. My mother is in that number. Over 10 years ago, she went to the emergency room complaining of chest pains and never made it home. The official cause of death was a brain hemorrhage, which was an unfortunate complication of her heart attack. Although she'd been slowly working to reclaim her fitness, lower her cholesterol and free herself of nicotine, time wasn't on her side. She died a few months before her 60th birthday. February is best known for…
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Top posts for September

30 Day Blog Challenge
Here are the top posts from last month's 30in30 challenge: September is my mom's birth month. She was on my mind, and subsequently, on my blog. Early in the month, I wrote about the Barnes and Noble she never had the chance to enjoy. Later, on her birthday, I shared a co-worker's wisdom about mothers and grief. In short, losing a mother can leave you broken-hearted, even a decade later. I talked about vulnerability and learning to be "intentionally transparent" with the one you love. Easy to want, but often hard to do. It boils down to being honest with yourself first. That level of honesty and clarity about myself and my needs is at the root of an emotional wellness strategy I learned in September. Emotional wellness is important, but wellness extends…
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She was right.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative
"I'm so sorry." The chocolate brown woman shook her head as she embraced me, the two of us in the nearly empty corridor.  It was August, the beginning of the school year. It was my first time seeing Mrs. Jackson, a long-term substitute at the elementary school where I worked. My had mother died unexpectedly just before the last days of school the previous year, so coworkers who saw me still offered condolences. "It's been ten years since my mom died. You never get over it," she said to my cheek. I nodded as we pulled away, not sure how to take her news. Today is my mom's birthday. It was ten years this May. She was right. =============================================== Mama’s voicemail sounded an alarm. “I’m not feeling well. Call me…
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Thankful Thursday

30 Day Blog Challenge
#ThankfulThursday y'all! Health& healing, the brand new lil person who sings below me, music & the way it moves, the gift of song @ndcollier — Anika Noni Rose (@AnikaNoniRose) September 26, 2013 The past several Thursdays, I've seen Anika tweet simple gratitudes. As I was sitting here admiring today's gorgeous weather, I thought it might be nice to do a couple. After days of clouds and rain, I'm overjoyed about the sunshine, and thankful I can enjoy it. I was able to run this morning and witness the dawning of a new day. I'm thankful for my good health. She's on my mind a lot because her birthday is tomorrow...I'm thankful for my mom, RIP. I'm happy for  the chance to reflect upon and learn from past choices. I'm thankful for evolution.…
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Bibliophiles, bookstores and endings

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative
My mom was a school librarian for 30 years. She retired before 60 as she began working in her early 20s and never stopped. When she told me she was calling it quits, I teased her all the time. "You're not ready to retire," I always said. I couldn't see this smart, vibrant woman no longer getting up and going to work every day.  My picture of retirement was limited to occasional volunteering and philanthropic work. Traveling. All great things she'd done in the past, but things I couldn't picture her doing in lieu of being in a school library. By her late 50s she insisted kids had changed so much and librarian duties had evolved into things outside her sphere of interest - she loved books -  it simply…
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On ironing and grief. #NaBloPoMo #amwriting.

30 Day Blog Challenge, Personal Narrative
I remember when I stopped ironing. As a young girl, I ironed all the time. And to some degree, ironing suited me. I'd iron shirt after shirt, and soon enough I'd be in a mindless rhythm. My thoughts were free to imagine new scenes for my current short story, or remember favorite scenes from a Judy Blume in progress. Usually I'd iron in the den on weekends. Daddy stretched out in his easy chair watching sports of some sort, momma half-watching, half-devouring a novel. It was easy, ironing was. As I grew older, I continued ironing as needed. Didn't think much of it. Maybe I no longer ironed clothes on weekends. Maybe I simply ironed the night before, as I laid out clothes for school. In college, ironing happened decidedly…
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Unasked. Unanswered. | #30in30 #WriteLikeCrazy

30 Day Blog Challenge
I met my aunt for dinner this evening and she surprised me with a gift: vintage photographs of my maternal grandparents and parents. I don't have access to a scanner, or I'd show them to you. One photo, black and white, features my grandparents, my tiny mom, and her tinier brother. We figured it was from 1944, as there was no newborn sister yet, and the siblings were born almost exactly a year apart. They sat on the grass in front of the house my grandparents built, looking as people often do in older photos - kinda smiling, kinda uncomfortable. It's one of the few pictures I've ever seen of my grandfather. He passed away when I was very young.  Another photo, color, was taken two decades or so later. Aunt, uncle, grandma, and grandpa are standing…
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Writing Publicly

Personal Narrative, Writer's Craft
One of my goals/determinations for 2012 is to write and publish meaningful, well-received pieces. My first one (yay!) is linked below. I had the pleasure of working with a brilliant editor, Kelly Virella, and I'm deeply appreciative of her guidance and wisdom. I hope to write many more personal essays, advocacy pieces, and other works throughout 2012. Here's to the first one! Mama’s voicemail sounded an alarm. “I’m not feeling well. Call me back.” I returned her call right away. No answer. Heart pounding, eyebrows raised, I left a message in return, chiding her for scaring me by leaving mysterious messages and then refusing to answer the phone. In my nearly 30 years of life, I’d never heard her say anything so ominous. Minutes later, I headed to our rendezvous point…
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