A Mother’s Intuition

Ella's Big Hair
Ella’s Big Hair

In growing more brave, because it is a journey of growth, I am discovering that some of the authorities we’ve always respected without question need to be and deserve to be questioned.

I like our doctors and specifically my daughter’s doctor, but at the end of the day you MUST listen to your own intuition!

We have this other sense for a reason.  There are times when YOU know what YOU need and if the doctor disagrees, please know that you are your own best authority!

My daughter had dry, scabby patches that would flake up.  I tried head and shoulders and all the other shampoos my doctor recommended.  I confessed that I probably washed Ella’s hair once every other week,  it’s so much work (Check it out here)…this just became the time frame that worked for us.

She said I should wash at least twice a week.  Over the span of a year, I watched the condition of her scalp worsen and spread.  And with every visit I politely asked, shouldn’t we go to a dermatologist?  She always said no and that it was just a bad case of dandruff.

Ella with ringworm!
Ella with ringworm!

Well, last week, when my daughter could no longer bear me touching her head, I finally made an appointment with a dermatologist.   He diagnosed her with ringworm!  After all this time and with thinning hair in some areas,  l finally have a solution.

Now, less than two weeks later, her hair is 75% better.

After; Improvement in less than 2 weeks.
After; Improvement in less than 2 weeks.

I wish I had listened to myself, and not the doctor, sooner.

Happy Ella
Happy Ella

Get that 2nd opinion, get that specialist involved.  Ask friends who might know!! Get an answer that leaves you with some peace…

Have an opinion, or question?  Leave me a message.

Ciao

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

90′s Heartbreak!

There’s a finger snap, then I feel the beginning of heartbreak with the first few bars.  The chords remind me of high school, when everything was confusing, desperate and heartbreaking.

And when Luther Vandross begins to “oo-oo-ooh, yeah…”, At the beginning of ‘For You To Love,’ you know it’s about to be sad.

Then, even though I wasn’t trying to find a Luther Vandross song, as I sit in bed, in the darkness, with my headphones on listening to the music I didn’t know I had on my iphone,   I’m a prisoner to him now!  I can’t change once I hear his voice.  He was special that way.   And this song is just one of those songs that was sad years ago, but as I reminisce on it now, I’m happy.  I can’t help but smile as it evokes memories that helped me grow and become the me that I am today.

Bonnie Raitt sang I Can’t Make You Love Me (if you don’t), which I first heard on my prom night, in the limo, on my way home from the party.  I was there with the guy who invited me to the prom and with the girlfriend whom I invited-whether he wanted me to or not!!  A pitiful, great time.

I also had the  ShaniaTwain Album around that time, and The Woman in Me, lives right up there, on this alley of sadness, as well.  She beautifully lays her cards on the table, telling him she needs him.  Does he deliver?  I don’t know, but Shania delivers her song well.

 

Then there’s this beautiful woman.  Whitney Houston sang Living For the Love of You in that same era.  Now, you might rebut that this is not a sad song, but isn’t it?  To be living for the love of that one person.   There’s got to be more to a person than just waiting for and pining for some other person, no?  A goal, a need to help somebody else, moments alone for you own improvement, perhaps.  I’m just saying..

.

With the persistence of Luther’s pleas….I find myself asking that person he has come to see….won’t you open the door?!  just open the door.  There’s a hurricane, for heaven’s sake!  Let him in, with his satiny smooth voice. 

He might give you your favorite, unexpected, carried-away moment of the week.  I think he was mine!

Did you love Luther too?  Leave me a comment…

Ciao

A Road to All Things Beautiful

The path to the Beach.  In the Hamptons
The path to the Beach. In the Hamptons.

The road.  We all have access to it.  Because here’s the thing….its not an actual road.  Its a state of mind. To write fiction is to gladly get lost in another world.  You could be next door or in another universe, it all depends on your mood.  It is true freedom and this is why I love it. But to create those worlds you need  knowledge and experience.  So this past week I hadn’t written much and felt a bit guilty until I had this epiphany. You have to get out!  Between living and creating, there has to be balance. So this week, I have taken time to do some beautiful things that have made my heart smile!!! It started with my beautiful gig in the Hamptons.  It’s a nice feeling to sing with your toes in the sand!

My mic stand, looking out at the beach.
My mic stand, looking out at the beach.

Then, I was able to see our friend Arjuna Routte-Prieur’s Art Exhibit at a gallery at Snug Harbor. When I met this young man he was just a creative 10 year old with pictures on his mother’s fridge and now we selfishly share in some of the pride felt by his awesome accomplishments! Check out his beautifully thought provoking work!

Arjuna's work.
Arjuna’s work.
Arjuna Routte-Prieur
Arjuna Routte-Prieur

We took the girls out for a boat ride, along with some of Ella’s friends.

Ella and her friends on the boat.
Ella and her friends on the boat.

 

I finished my library mystery, set in 1885 in Denver.  Not my favorite time period for Black folks,  but still a beautifully written and  interesting story…

Sandra Dallas- Fallen Women.
Sandra Dallas- Fallen Women.

Last but not least, I decided to braid my hair for a portion of the Summer.  Braids and Summer go hand in hand to me, but I wanted to try it on my own.  I hate sitting for hours and hours in the salon and I cannot take the pain. So for the first time, I did these Senegalese twists…  Here I am make-up free and tired, but finished.  Cheap, painless and easy!

My Braids.
My Braids.

Life.  There’s beauty in it all!

Got something to say?  Leave me a comment.

Ciao.

Is Summer Frightening to Anyone Else?

Getting ready for school in the days of yore, last week.
Getting ready for school in the days of yore, last week.

My daughter, Ella just graduated from Pre-K yesterday and now she’s headed for Kindergarten.  She’s super excited and we’re very proud, but before that first day of school we all have to survive the summer.

Ella, with one of her dolls.
Ella, with one of her dolls.

Here’s what’s scary about this whole Summer ordeal for a parent; your child’s been learning so much, penmanship, geography, studying numbers and letters to create a base for reading and more sophisticated math skills to be learned in the future.  We have to make sure that none of those skills are forgotten, we also have to try to bridge the gap before Kindergarten begins by focusing on any areas that were challenging and needed more in-depth study time during the school year.

Now is that time!

The problem is that we’ve become comfortable with our routine, doing homework, incrementally focusing on those needed areas with what little time we had and then a story before bedtime!  I squeezed in my projects (writing, exercising, singing, etc.) when I could, but time was always a luxury!

Now with constant requests to go to the beach, the zoo, the Children’s museum, Chuck E. Cheese, I’m afraid there won’t be any time left.  If I say “No” to those requests, it means I’ll have to think up some other kind of fun activities (some of those photos are featured)- This is parenthood, I know!

 

Painting on the porch
Painting on the porch

 

Those things will be squeezed in with the very important, daily things I have to do, like working, cooking, cleaning, washing the girls’ hair (a tedious task), reading together and cuddling.

Sprinkler Time Fun!
Sprinkler Time Fun!

Enter the all-American summer camp!

We are, like many parents, contemplating sending our daughter to Summer camp, we have the option of one, two or three consecutive 2-week sessions offered by her school from 9- 4pm, M-F.  Tempting, right?

I can keep focusing on my projects for a portion of that time (when my 20 month old cooperates, that is.)  And I will theoretically have energy to help her focus on those necessary areas of study, in the afternoons when she gets home.

So the question is, why should I feel the least bit guilty?  It takes a village to raise children, right?  And we could all use some help from time to time, but I do still feel slightly guilty.

Am I the only one?

Flowers we picked from our yard
Flowers we picked from our yard.

Leave me a comment below…

Life Lessons Dad accidentally Taught Us!

Mom and Dad
Mom and Dad

In honor of Father’s Day, which recently passed, I am taking this opportunity to dedicate this blog to my Dad.  My preaching Dad was a pastor to many, a father to ten and the love of my Mom’s life!

In my novel, I write about a character who is a HORRIBLE dad!  So, it feels great to step away from that, momentarily and reflect on awesome Dads, like my own.

In thinking aboout him, these unintentional lessons come to mind:

1. Gender Roles, Shpender Boles!  They didn’t matter in my house. Dad did the cooking, while Mom ran her daycare business.  When it came to church/their ministry, they did it together.  They were a team.

Family in Virginia
Visiting my new nephew in Virginia.

2.  Never Give Up!  My Dad didn’t graduate from high school.  He dropped out as a kid.  As a result, he had to teach himself many things.  It always bothered him, so he went back to get his GED, which took a few tries to finally finish.  But he never gave up!  He learned the hard way how important education was and he wanted us to know it from the start.   When I graduated from NYU the smile on his face was priceless!!

3. Good Credit! Pay your bills.  There was nothing worse than needing something and not being able to get it, because you didn’t pay for what you received in the past.

Daddy, playing guitar
Daddy, playing guitar.

4. Trust Your Instincts!  My Dad was a great cook, but terrible at sharing recipes.  He just didn’t have any.  Everything had a flavor that you could only perfect by being fully invested in that dish.  Laboring over his pot, tasting and adjusting along the way, over the years had taught him how to season and how to perfect his dishes!  That stuff wasn’t easy to teach, you had to feel it!

5. Laugh it out!  Many people only knew the serious side of my Dad.  They didn’t get to see the silly face he would make over and over at my sister and I’s command, while standing in the kitchen.

There are many more, but my tired fingers are too slow to keep up with my smiling and teary-eyed laughter as it pours out!

I’ll stop here and say thanks for being my Dad and accepting the challenge to be great! Your joyfulness will be with me forever!

My Dad, walking me down the aisle.My Dad, walking me down the aisle.

Introvertology Interview

 

Can Introverts do this? Yes we can.
Can Introverts do this? Yes we can.

After posting about being an introvert in the music business, I made a few new friends.  Thea at introvertology is one of them and I am honored to be one of the first people invited to an interview for her Introvertology site.

I had no idea that writing my (introverts in Music) article would strike such a chord, leading me to new connections to people who not only understand us quieter types, but who are also coming into their own pride in ownership of their introversion.

And in contrast to being quiet, I love how speaking up and voicing our opinions never fails to lead us right where we belong, with people who understand us, think the way we do and like us.

As the world gets louder, it can become very daunting.  So, it’s nice to have an experience like the one provided by this interview. It’s a reminder that we can still be heard in the middle of the noise.  We can still effectively share information that helps us continue to define what being an introvert means for each of us.

The girl in that picture above is an Introvert (among many other things)!

As G.I. Joe would say, “Knowing is half the battle.”

Again, thanks to Thea@Introvertology.

Check out their site.  It is awesome and it has some great information for introverts and others.  I especially enjoyed the article on ways that introverts can relax.

 

Don’t forget to leave me a comment.  I love hearing from you.

NY Children’s Museum

Olivia in the City Splash section of CMOM
Olivia in the City Splash section of CMOM

After going to an orientation for Ella’s new kindergarten school this week, which she will be starting in the fall, we planned a whole day of fun.  Ella was super excited about seeing her new school.  She had been talking about it everyday for a whole week.  And as it turned out, we had to go into the city anyway after her orientation, so we decided to indulge her a little.

Ella, Olivia and my niece Kaulyn in the City splash section of CMOM
Ella, Olivia and my niece Kaulyn in the City splash section of CMOM

She asked us to take her to her favorite place, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan.  But because we had just visited within the past month I was hesitant.  I will always be the mom who looks for fun AND inexpensive things to do,  CMOM is not that place!

Admission is $11 for adults and children over the age 0f 1 year old.  Every time I go there I end up asking the same question, why in the world do I need to pay that much?  We parents aren’t using these exhibits like the children, we’re just there to look after our little ones!

Communicating with the body
Communicating with the body

Luckily, like other moms, I mentally log coupon sites and other discount tips that I hear about in my comings and goings.  One of those valuable resources to always remember is the LIBRARY!!!!

 

Teaneck Public Library
Teaneck Public Library

Yes, your public library is a great place, loaded with great information and books that cost nothing to take for a test run.  Ours happens to also be super cute and they are always looking for great ways to serve the community.

I recently found out about one of those services.  They allow members in good standing to visit many NYC museums with their families for free!

I am thankful to the mom I met while reading in the children’s section to Ella and Olivia one day, for telling me about this.   I love how we moms often randomly share information that ends up having such an impact on our lives!  Things like this happen all the time.

Hooray, for all the moms I know who make up this super mom community I am so proud to be a part of!

 

Our Day at the Zoo

We love the Bronx Zoo!

w/ Kaulyn Whitmore
The Ciros Going to the Zoo!

We have been to zoos in Madrid, Buenos Aires, Santiago,Chile, Bogota, Colombia, Mexico City and San Diego.  Of course, I’ve been to Little Rock  Zoo and  we’ve been to our local zoo in Bergen County as well as the Central Park Zoo.  There are probably  even more zoos that I just can’t remember now, but the one zoo that always tops our list is the Bronx Zoo.  I would say it is our favorite in the world.

“The Bronx Zoo is located in the Bronx borough of New York City, within Bronx Park. It is the world’s largest metropolitan zoo, with some 6,000 animals representing about 650 species from around the world.” -Wikipedia.

A Bronx Zoo Zebra
A Bronx Zoo Zebra

Wednesday’s are free admission days, so because we have a membership there, we try to avoid those days.  They are always too crowded with tremendous lines for the 4-d theater, the monorail, the carousel, the seasonal camel rides, the butterfly zone and especially the current featured exhibit, at the moment this is the Dinosaur Safari.  I once waited on that line for a least an hour without the use of my stroller!  Not fun!

So the best times to go are weekdays, when everyone else is at work and school.  Today was one of those days for us.  Ella, our 5 yr. old, woke up this morning with a little stomach bug so we kept her home from school.  As she began to feel better and able to step away from the bathroom for a while, we began to wonder what we might do with the rets of our day.  It only took a minute for the Bronx Zoo to pop into our heads and because my niece happens to be visiting it was an even better idea.

Gorilla mother and baby, Bronx Zoo.
Gorilla mother and baby, Bronx Zoo.

We just love to share our zoo with our visiting family and friends.  It’s a great way to get exercise and enjoy the people you love, while learning about, seeing, and helping to protect some beautiful animals at the same time.  If you’re visiting the area, check it out!  If you’re lucky enough to live here, but hadn’t been in a while, maybe it’s time to go visit again!

Enjoying our Zoo Day!
Enjoying our Zoo Day!

Til Next time…

Important Things All Writers Should Know

 

Burning the Midnight Oil!
Burning the Midnight Oil!

My 11 week writing class is nearly over.  Last week I had the assignment of being first to read a chapter from my novel.  Leading up to class, of course I revised it and I thought I had incorporated everything I’d learned in class so far.

Did I hit the mark?  Not quite!  But I learned a few important things from that nerve wracking experience;

1.  Don’t pull this Sara Devine move.  It’s the one where I raise my finger and shake it like I’m Bo Jangles, dancing a jig.  Ooh, ooh! Teacher lady! Pick me.  I’m done with my whole novel, I’ll be the first volunteer!  Instead I was the first over zealous guinea pig in the class who should’ve already known that the 2nd and 3rd students are the smart ones who benefit from watching me mess up!

But if being first is unavoidable, try not to worry…

2. Don’t try to escape the critique process.  Lying, saying you really have to use the bathroom at that particular moment is not classy.  Neither is hiding under the table.  Face the critique.  Everyone will go through it.  Choose to be one who learns from it.

A lengthy, in-depth critique doesn’t mean my work is crap, it just means the teacher is good and I have work to do.

Which leads to the next point I’ve learned…

3.  No good writer is an Island.  You NEED that critique.  You NEED fresh eyes to look over your work.  You NEED someone outside of your head, who is willing to dive in and tell you how ridiculous or fabulous it might be.

Lastly…

4. Good writing takes time.   It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write.  Let them think you were born that way.  That quote is from Ernest Hemingway, folks.  If he knew this and worked hard to achieve greatness, then none of us are exempt!  

So having said all that, here I am, or rather here is a picture of my computer, as I burn the midnight oil comparing the old and new versions of my novel.

When you’re a mom writing happens at odd hours.

Happy writing!

What do you think about these tips?  Have you learned something else?  Leave me a comment.

 

Introverts in Music

With the amazing Raphael Saadiq and Kim Burrell, fighting my shyness for the  sake of the music.
With the amazing Raphael Saadiq and Kim Burrell, fighting my shyness for the sake of the music,  c. 2007.

 

When you grow up in a big family, you get a humbling sense early on of your worth in life.  You matter, but no more or less than anyone else.  Individual thoughts and feelings don’t always get validation, because there usually isn’t enough adult time and energy to devote to everyone.

I grew up the ninth of ten children.  I have noticed that outstanding behavior usually gets attention, whether it’s praise or scorn.  The quiet, normal, uneventful wallflower children usually get the least attention.  This has carried over into every aspect of life I can think of, from my education to my work as a musician.

I have started reading ‘Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking‘, by Susan Cain, which recognizes the growing popularization of the glorified extrovert.  Our culture can easily make quiet, shy and normal people feel painfully boring and even worse, like failures.

I always felt like that as a child, experiencing only a brief season in my life of pride in this fact, thanks to the mysterious, aloof, artist known as Prince.

I had a neighbor, who unbeknownst to her, made a not so friendly comment that stuck to my sensitive self and hasn’t left me yet.  Upon finding out that I sing, often in huge rooms full of strangers, for a living she remarked that she “didn’t see me as the type of person who could do that, because I don’t walk into the room demanding all the attention.”  Well!  I thought, as I fought back the onset of my rolling eyes and tried to close my gaping mouth, you don’t know very much about artists.  There are many of us, with many different personalities, some extroverted and introverted! We are, after all people too.

Yes, we get up on stage and rock out, or act out!  Yes, we bravely pour our hearts out onto a colorful canvas or a written page! Yes, we often take to social media to promote our work!  But we are still be introverts, who just happen to be passionate and driven about sharing what we’re proud of!

The art comes naturally, everything else is the work we all must do, (unless you are Prince who admittedly does not do any of it)!

Thanks Susan Cain, for a book that gives so much perspective and pride to the introvert.

I’ll be back to share my thoughts as I continue reading the book.  In the meantime, if you have read it or have a thought on the subject-even if you’re an introvert, leave me a comment!