Archive for August, 2009
I was walking down the hall of my high school with a friend who happened to be African-American.
“How was your weekend?” I asked.
“Fine. I got my hair permed. Did some homework. Hung out.”
I looked at her hair. It wasn’t curly.
“Your hair’s not curly.”
Tiffany could tell I was totally confused. “Perms on black people don’t make their hair curly, Rosie. Perms make our hair straight.”
Years later, I would watch my African American girlfriends in college go through it with their hair. And, now, with an African son, we are even more privy to black hair culture.
“Oh, your baby has that good hair,” the women on my street will tell me.
Hair. We talk about good hair and bad hair.We talk about good hair days and bad hair days. It can affect our body image. It can affect our sense of self. We could be beautiful if only… our hair were straight, curly, longer, shorter, thicker, thinner, blonder, darker. You get the picture. Hair. It’s a whole thing. And, now, there’s a whole documentary dedicated to the chase of the perfect ‘do.
When Chris Rock’s daughter, Lola, came up to him crying and asked, “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?” the comic committed himself to search the depths of black culture to find out who had put that question into his little girl’s head. Director Jeff Stilson’s camera followed the funnyman, and the result is Good Hair, a wonderfully insightful and entertaining, yet remarkably serious, documentary about African American hair culture. Good Hair visits hair salons and styling battles, scientific laboratories, and Indian temples to explore the way black hairstyles impact the activities, pocketbooks, sexual relationships, and self-esteem of black people. Celebrities such as Ice-T, Kerry Washington, Nia Long, Paul Mooney, Raven Symoné, Maya Angelou, and Reverend Al Sharpton all candidly offer their stories and observations to Rock while he struggles with the task of figuring out how to respond to his daughter’s question. What he discovers is that black hair is a big business that doesn’t always benefit the black community and little Lola’s question might well be bigger than his ability to convince her that the stuff on top of her head is nowhere near as important as what is inside.
A few weeks ago, the cover to SELF magazine’s September issue made headlines because it featured a picture of Kelly Clarkson that had been doctored. Ironically, the tag lines around the picture said “Kelly Clarkson: Stay True to You and Everyone Else Will Love You, Too.” Well, they might love you, but they’ll still airbrush your picture is the message I guess SELF (whose magazine tag line is You at Your Best) was saying. You can read Lucy Danzinger’s (the Editor of SELF) blog entry about their decision here.
Meanwhile, over at Glamour, this photo got readers clamoring. Found on page 194 of the September issue, this shot catches model Lizzie Miller flaunting her body as part of a spread called What Everyone But You Sees About Your Body– a piece on mustering up the body confidence every woman should have.
This photo elicited so much reaction that the editor, Cinci Leive, posted her own blog entry about it.
What I love? That the magazines are getting feedback on their choices– feedback that will hopefully inform their future decisions about whether or not to airbrush, how to broaden the messages they give to women and the messages they relay about women, etc. If we choose to be consumers of media, we should be active consumers, giving feedback as to what works and what doesn’t work and voting with our dollars to applaud one’s efforts or withdrawing our support by not purchasing a product that sends a negative message. It is only when WE express ourselves and exercise our power as consumers that those who release images and ideas about women can truly learn whether or not their messages are on target or need to be modified. I am not nearly as plugged into social media as one can be, but I know that all these magazines are set up on Twitter, Facebook, and have comment features on their web-sites for us to have easier access to expressing our opinion. Now, we just need to assert ourselves and send our own messages about what we’be buying- literally and figuratively- from the messages they are sending.
Here is my September - November 2009 workshop schedule. All of these workshops will be offered at the Warehouse PAC in Cornelius, North Carolina. You are welcome to sign up for the workshop by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Writing Your Life
September 8, 2009
7:30 pm – 9 pm
Self-reflection gives us a much needed pause. It allows us a moment of inquiry, a moment to identify desire and potential. Generating awareness and then moving to personal solutions takes time and thought, brainstorming and checking in, enough repetition to want to change our choices and build a new habit, and the knowledge of why this habit will be good for us when we want to revert. Journaling predisposes us to a more successful embrace of our self and our choices. In this workshop, participants will discuss the importance of journaling and will actively engage in a range of journaling tools and practices.
The Art of the Personal Essay;
Thursdays, September 3 – September 24
10:30 am -12 pm
The Art of the Personal Essay is a four week workshop that allows the participant to discuss the art of personal essay writing, explore memoir and essay writing elements, complete several essays, receive feedback on their writing, and begin revising their pieces.
The Art of the Personal Essay II
Thursdays, October 8-29
10:30 am – 12 pm
The Art of the Personal Essay II class is a four week follow-up workshop to The Art of the Personal Essay. Participants will continue to hone their essay writing craft while receiving feedback and instruction.
Discovering Your Belief
October 27, 2009
7:30 pm – 9 pm
“This I Believe” is a popular NPR series that invites everyday people to share a brief essay on something they absolutely believe to be true. From the simple to the profound, essayists selected by NPR share their beliefs in radio spots aired locally and nationally. In this workshop, participants will begin brainstorming and drafting a This I Believe statement that they may wish to complete and submit to NPR on their own for consideration.
Tuesdays, November 3-24
11 am – 12 pm
This four week workshop immerses the participant in building his or her reflection and journaling practice through in class exercises.
Could that video be any cuter? It makes me want to do a year of baby in action photos for his second trip around the sun although I doubt I am disciplined enough to do every single day. I’m going to try though. It may end up being 52 weeks of baby (I’m just saying). Here are two of my favorites from Day 1 of Trip 2 around the sun.
Joy is a gift that should not be wasted…
When it came time to discuss baby’s first birthday, BF and I were of a single mind. No big bash. Instead, we wanted to keep it simple (which is, to be honest, always our goal). A meal, we thought. Family, we thought. And just our general joy as the offering, as the gift.
Baby’s birthday is today, but we started the birthday celebration this past Sunday with BF’s family and a meal on our back deck (my family will come this Saturday. We can’t fit both families on our back deck and baby can’t take quite that many people at once). We had cake. We did lots of looking at baby and playing to his smiles– some clapping here, some table slapping there. We just enjoyed baby and each other. It was perfect– down to the low humidity and temperature day and the root beers in the ice bucket.
Today, we will stop our work days to enjoy baby all day. To marvel at his one year of life and, as of today, our seven months as a family. We will do baby’s favorite things- pet animals, play in the water, swing. We will, the three of us, just savor being a family. We will soak up our day, not wasting one ounce of our joy.
If you are a close watcher of the blog (and, really, who is?), then you might notice some dicey calendar work in the upcoming days. You see on August 22, 2009, we celebrated our learning about our baby boy and beginning the journey to become a family. And on August 26, 2009, we will be celebrating baby’s first birthday. Yep, we were matched with baby before his legal birthday. Crazy, eh?
Here’s the deal. We were matched with baby pretty soon after his birth. How soon is a little bit of a question, but we do know that baby was alive and thriving at least 10 days before we were matched with him. He came to our agency’s care house just five days before we were matched with him. When baby was formally referred to us, we were given a “suspected” birthdate for baby that aligned with how old baby was thought to be. When we arrived in Ethiopia to pick up baby, his birth certificate– which was in English– had a different date than what we were originally given. So what happened?
Well, anyone’s guess is a good one but what possibly happened is that a few things got lost in the process of three translations– language translation(s) and a calendar translation. Baby’s birth mother was involved his adoption (sometimes you hear of babies that were carefully (meaning they were placed somewhere that they might be found) abandoned so that they might be put up for adoption and sometimes you hear of someone who gives up a baby for adoption through the regular formal process for that because they are unable- for any number of reasons– to care for the infant) and it could be that his birthdate was changed in translation from her language– if she spoke one of the many native dialects in Ethiopia- to Amharic, the legal language in Ethiopia. Or perhaps the date was changed in translation from Amharic to English. The other possibility is that things were confused when baby’s birthdate had to be changed from the Ethiopic calendar to the Gregorian calendar that we use. Today, August 24, 2009, is 18 Nahas 2001 in Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s calendar has 12 months of 30 days and then a 13th month that has the remaining 5 or 6 days of a year. In addition, they celebrated the millennium last year and their New Year’s happens on our September 11th. All that explanation to say that maybe baby’s birthdate changed because of language or date translation. Whatever the case, we have an Ethiopian birth certificate that calls for us to celebrate his birth on August 26th and that is exactly what we will do. More on that Wednesday when baby officially turns 1.
ART EXHIBITION – exhibicion de arte
AUGUST/ AGOSTO 29-2009
SATURDAY – 29 AUGUST – 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
19725 Oak Street, Unit 1
CORNELIUS NC 28031
Jhony Meneses is a Colombian artist who does both abstract and modern work. His one night show
at the Creative Art Exchange is his first in the area.
Writing a personal mission statement is something that I always had my college and summer students (who were in high school) do. Mission statements allow you to voice what it is you want for yourself, how you want to be the world, what matters to you, your dreams. I still believe that mission statements are a powerful part of self-empowerment. The other day, I found the mission statement that I wrote at 25 (see below), when I was still searching but definitely focused.
I also came across this professional mission statement that I wrote in January (at 35): Rosie Molinary specializes in encouraging individuals to explore, integrate, and solidify their voices in order to empower them with their own truth, confidence, hope, passion and action.
In the mission statement workshop I led, I would have my students list their values, the roles they played in life and the tribute they most wanted someone to associate with them in that role, and then the dreams they had for themselves and their lives if they had limitless resources. From there, they would create maps, using symbols to link similar themes throughout so they knew which notions were recurring and really needed mention in their mission statements. When it came time to write, I encouraged them to do it in a form that resonated with them. At 25, for me, that was a laundry list of declarative sentences. At 35, for me, it was one complex sentence. The one sentence is nice because it is something that you can memorize and have as a soundbite reminder for yourself whenever you need it, but, sometimes, you need a laundy list. At 25, I did. Ultimately, I think it is important for the mission statement to be positive and to serve as a guide in your daily life, a compass point to make sure you are always moving towards your own true north. Think about writing a mission statement today as a way to embrace the life you are living, the life you most want to live.
Mission Statement (at age 25)
embrace my spirituality.
Pull out the bones and marrow of life.
Allow relationships to grow.
Serve inwardly and outwardly…
MAKE IT HOW I LIVE AND NEVER WHAT I “DO.”
FOSTER NATURAL APPRECIATION.
Appreciate all those things that merit appreciation.
Be concerned with how I leave things
while reflecting on how I am left.
LOVE PEOPLE NOT THINGS.
Generate voice, facilitate expression.
Take Big Bites.
USE MY PASSION.
Just over a year ago, BF and I were at the beach, walking miles each day, laughing at memories, dreaming of what was to come. And what we knew was to come was a baby girl or boy brought to us through adoption sometime in the coming years. I had written about adoption, had paid close attention to adoption stories from our friends or friends of friends, and when BF asked how long it might take for the adoption to be in place, I told him what I thought from what I had learned in my not so close research of the process.
“Probably about 18 months from start to finish.”
But where to start? We decide to start simply by asking our friends who have adopted out to lunch. We will learn about their experiences with domestic and international, foster care or being selected by a birth mother, Ecuador or Ethiopia, etc. We think that if we spend five or six months taking a few couples out to lunch each month, we’ll have a sense of what agency, what type of adoption, and, if international, what country is right for us by the new year. Then we will begin the process in vain in the hopes of bringing home a baby sometime in 2010. Meanwhile, we talk about what else we need or want to be doing: saving money, taking the trips we always dreamed of taking, renovating the house. Days later, we book a trip to hike the Grand Canyon from rim to rim in June 2009. I begin putting together- on paper- my dreams for renovating the little cottage. I call a contractor and ask to meet with him. On August 20, 2008, he and I reconfigure the house every way possible theoretically and come up with a final vision and timeline for drafting the plan and getting the house renovated. Things are moving right along.
Two days later, on August 22, 2008, we take our friends who have recently adopted from Ethiopia to lunch and learn about their experience. Their agency mostly specializes in older child adoption, they tell us, and we are months away from being ready to even start paperwork, so no one is thinking about this conversation with a sense of immediacy. As we pay the check, the wife says to us, “you know, sometime in the coming months, I’ll let my agency know that you might be in touch. They”ll totally remember your names if you end up calling them.” We are so far away from adopting that we just nod and move on to our next thing: the tree guy waiting in our yard when we return home to talk about strategically removing some of the limbs perched precariously above our house in the four 125+ year old oaks that stand guard over the little cottage.
Just as we finish making notes of which limbs have to go because they are weak enough to fall but strong enough to take out our roof, I hear the phone ring inside. BF hops in his car to leave; I race inside to catch the message. It is our friend calling. She doesn’t know how to tell me this, but her agency has a baby boy and no waiting family for him. Are we interested?
This is a scene I now see removed from myself. I am spinning in my office, standing, turning, turning, turning. My eyes dart everywhere, they do not focus on any one thing. What I am realizing as I spin is the same thing that women who hold positive pregnancy tests in their hand realize. We are about to be parents. This is our baby.
“There are moments in life, no more than two or three, when everything changes and you find yourself swept along in a series of events that are beyond your measure,” Neely Tucker writes in Love in the Driest Season. And I know exactly what he means with this statement he uses to detail his and his wife’s adoption of their little girl.
I call my friend, gather the few details she has, and, before I call the agency, I call BF and tell him what has transpired. I wonder if he will know this is our baby, too, or if he will feel differently and what that will mean if he does.
Miraculously, BF picks up his phone on the first ring. “The agency has a baby boy that doesn’t have a family. ” Before I can finish what I am saying, BF says what I would have said if I were on the other side of the phone line, “why are you calling me? Call the agency!”
On the phone with Alisa from International Adoption Guides, I receive a quick lesson in the adoption process since we really know nothing. She lets us know that the baby is young but, because we aren’t officially clients, she can’t tell us many specifics or share photos– it will be weeks later before we know just how young he is. I tell her that this is our boy, we’ll do whatever we need to do as quickly as possible to put everything in motion. And that’s what we do. For the next two weeks, we pause our lives and consume ourselves in putting together our dossier and expediting our home study. We cancel the Grand Canyon trip and the contractor’s plans for our house. All this is done covertly as we aren’t sure if it will all work out and don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up (besides our own). Two weeks later, our application to adopt is approved and on September 4, 2008, our little boy’s information lands in our inbox. Our baby boy suddenly has a face and name. And we are, for all intents and purposes, a family.
On the anniversary of baby coming into our lives, here is the #1 thing we want baby to know:
You are infinitely, powerfully, beautifully loved.