Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Music of My Life - Part 1

The value of the spoken word to me in no way diminishes the meaning of music in my life. My three sisters and brother were teenagers by the time I was born, so I find myself singing and loving music that others have said I was far too young to know. Norma, Loretta, Brenda, and Norman (who I called Brother), and all of their friends, played every popular song of the fifties for me, taught me to do the Slide, the Twist, and the Mashed Potatoes. (I only learned about slow dancing watching their Friday or Saturday night parties.) The coolest thing? I got to teach my daughters those same songs and dances.

Of course, the girls were all “courting” as I went through childhood. Silhouettes on the Shade reminds me of Brenda; anything by Harry Belafonte and Johnny Mathis reminds me of Loretta; and all doo wop brings memories of Brother on our front porch with his buddies harmonizing away. I remember my sisters’ crush on Frankie Lymon (picture is from Wikipedia) and their devastation when he died.

My mother and father loved blues, R&B, jazz, and the classic torch songs. From them, and my uncle Peter who was an acoustic bass player, I have not only audio but some physical memories of Pearl Bailey (her chest was the most comfortable place for a young child’s head), Eartha Kitt, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McCrae (her voice still gives me chills), and Lena Horne (her chest was way too, uh, bony. My mother’s family gave me spiritual hymns and my father’s family gave me the cha-cha and the meringue.

Once the older kids were basically out of the picture, my father gave me the big bands, the fox-trot, lindy, waltz, the two-step, and what is now called “the quick step”. Thanks Daddy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Good is a Podcast Now?

So, what’s on your iPod (if you are the kind of person who carries one)? I was given a classic iPod as a gift and, being what Everett termed a “late adopter”, it only took me a year or two to really realize what a great gadget it is.

Of course, any iPod’er realizes immediately the benefit of having all of their music at their beck and call – as well as the ability to forego music stores in search of CDs (and putting up with the really loud music that now seems to be the accepted ambiance of such environments). A major benefit of the classic iPod is not just its 30 gig storage lies its ability to be adaptable to the other iPod changes, such as accommodating video media. But for me the beauty of the iPod lies in its downloading Podcasts and audio books.

I have always loved radio. To me, there is nothing like listening to the spoken word, and even more specifically the reading of the written word. I am old enough to remember evenings with my family, especially my grandmother, listening to the radio. I remember how excited I was, when visiting my sister in France, in 1966, that the radio carried the old time radio shows like Superman and The Green Hornet. And then there were all those nights my sisters read me to sleep.

In this age of technology, the human voice has a special place. I find it in the amazing Podcasts put on the Internet, as well as the electronic books I can download for a price or from my local library. Of course, nothing can take the place of talking to my sister, brothers, my daughters, my partners, and my friends. They are always better than radio.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Going Towards Movement

Miami is a place of sunshine, heat and pools. Just the entire atmosphere encourages not moving around. But the fact is, to keep any healthy body, one has to move. So I have been trying to “entice” myself away from the computer and poolside, and more towards movement.

My daughters, Liana Rose and Löki Gale, have realized that regardless of what Mom said, it was not about what I did, but what I said; and so they are true movers. Liana has just run a marathon and Löki has found ways to run even in a country that is primarily Muslim and does not condone women in exercise clothes.

The best part is given my current doctors’ advice (yes, we are talking multiple doctors), these two girls have been helpful in getting their mother excited about moving. The lucky part, Liana’s undergraduate degree was in preparation for her continued work as a physical therapist; plus she is a certified masseuse; and is working towards becoming a personal trainer. The best advice she gave me is to have a goal and find a workout buddy. It is a joy to have someone to provide and give support while we work through accommodating our particular life situations to insuring we take time to be healthy.

My goal is to complete the three-mile Walk to Empower to be held in Miami on Mother’s Day, May 9, 2010. My workout buddy is my cousin, Ghana Imani, who lives in New Jersey, writes to me regularly and is working for her own personal goal. The process of working towards our individual goals involve regular walking and exercise, while we maintain contact and support each other every day to make sure we complete our daily exercise and emotional needs.

My monetary goal for the walk is $100.00. If you are interested in supporting Team BPP go to where you can become a virtual walker or donate online directly to my team. If you do so, be sure that you have my everlasting thanks.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Being Truthful With One's Self

Have you ever tested how truthful you can be with yourself? While the question may immediately strike you as silly, in only a moment you will realize what is being asked. If you have ever decided to change a habit, face an unpleasant reality, or been caught red-handed but decided a bluff was at least worth a try, then you know that “to thine own self be true” is often a tough test to pass. As we approach the new year (regardless of culturally determined date issues), the idea of “resolutions” will rear its (ugly/beautiful) head: just overhearing words like “resolution”, “goal”, “objective” or any variations or related terms demand attention. The problem is the attention demanded is directed at us.

December 15th was my cigarette quit date, and so far, so, well, so, so. I had already started to develop an exercise regiment with Pedro Cruz Rios, my personal trainer here in Miami. My logic was based on my [youthful] vision of my past when exercise meant I would not smoke. Here is where we get to the truthful part. Today is only five days since my quit date, and I’m finding the being true a bit tough.

Why did I pick a date before the holidays, when I know I’m inclined to feel down? Was I deliberately setting myself up for failure? One cigarette isn’t really cheating, is it? If I walk an extra fifteen minutes, will that make up for it? Oh, and I also decided to keep a food diary. If you think you are truly honest with yourself, try keeping a food diary.

At this time of year we need to remember no one is perfect. Okay, I need to remember no one is perfect; in fact, I need to remember that none of us can reach perfection; and striving for perfection can have dire consequences. In fact, the drive for perfection can, well, to be honest, drive you crazy.

Well, then, in the interest of being truthful with myself, maybe I can delay my quit date just a couple more weeks. Honest. Cross my heart and hope . . . well, you know.
[Image from: ]