Category Archives: Inspiration

About 2021

In years past I have ushered in the new year with gusto. With great big plans, ideas, intentions. Not so much this year.

That said, I do remain an optimist. I don’t foresee that ever changing. However, after 2020, I’m a little wiser. More cautious. More realistic. More measured in how I approach things.

So I’m not going to tell you all about the 4 things I intend am determined to do wish to have the time to master in 2021. I’m keeping that to myself for the moment.

I’m going into this year with my head on straight. As if I’m walking into a dark room I am unfamiliar with. Keeping my wits about me. Taking careful, slow, steps. Lowering my expectations to prevent disappointment. Using all of my senses to navigate this new year.

The one thing I am going to be intentionally focusing on now that the new year is upon us: doing my best each and every day (from the book “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, which I wrote about here but not about this particular agreement, but whatever).

I think it’s worthwhile, as one who is taking the agreement of “doing your best” seriously, to ponder what that looks like. What does it mean for me personally?

One of my most inexcusable faults is that I am rarely on time for anything. I consistently fall into this weird mind trap, when I’m getting ready to go somewhere, of believing that I have time to do just one more thing before I hit the road. And I’m wrong about that 99% of the time. So I’m ‘fessing up. I know it pisses some people off when I waltz in 5 (or more) minutes late. It calls negative attention to myself and I need to Cut.It.Out. I’ve started focusing on getting places on time for real in the last couple of weeks. I think thus far I’ve made it on time about 25% more frequently than before. Give or take.

There are other areas in my life, well really all areas in my life, where I must do my best each day. Like putting in my best effort at work. Not putting any tasks off until “tomorrow” that I have the time and energy to do today. Listening to others when they speak and not hesitating to ask for clarification to ensure I understood what they meant.

Thing is, doing my best each day is within my control. And if I can look back on my day and agree with myself that I did my best, regardless of my mood, if I felt rested, or if I was tested-well, then I won’t have any regrets. And peace will reign within me.

Hometown Gem

Her name is Stephanie Himango and this is, ironically, the second time I’ve written about her in my life.

Stephanie and I both grew up in the small town of Two Harbors, Minnesota. She was two years below me in school. For that reason and the fact that she was sporty and I was most certainly not, we did not have any real interaction with each other. As far as I can remember anyway (this was like 35 years ago, folks).

As a senior at our long ago demolished high school that sat atop a hill, I was co-editor of the school newspaper. That extra-curricular sparked a passion in me for creating something out of nothing. A passion for written communication. One of my pieces then was about Homecoming. And in that piece I reported that Stephanie, as a sophomore, was in the Homecoming Court. I came upon that long forgotten factoid about a month ago when I was searching through a box of memorabilia, hoping to find pictures of Christmases past.

The reason I mention any of this at all is because in the summer of 2020 she accepted my friend request on Facebook. I had been made aware through mutual friends that over the years that Stephanie had made quite a name for herself career-wise. That she had a long career in the news industry, even winning a couple of Emmys as a writer and producer. She is also a published author.

Shortly after we became Facebook friends, Stephanie announced on social media that she was beginning her first ever podcast, entitled “Another Door Opens with Stephanie Himango”.

Stephanie promoted her podcast as being one in which she would interview a wide array of people from varying backgrounds to share their stories of overcoming life’s struggles and what, and as she says in each episode, “if anything”, the phrase “Another Door Opens” means to them personally. As if anyone she would interview would actually say that phrase means nothing to them! But that little qualifier exemplifies to me the genuine respect she has for her interviewees. She does not make any assumptions about them. She asks interesting questions and her enjoyment of asking them comes across through her voice as real and true.

So, as you can clearly see, I subscribed to Stephanie’s podcast. Stephanie interviewed everyone from a man who works as a sketch artist at SCOTUS to a veterinarian who treats pets of those experiencing homelessness to a woman who owns and runs her family’s pumpkin farm and much more. After listening to all of the episodes via Spotify (as of last week), I can tell you I’ve learned so much. I’ve been inspired. I’ve laughed. My eyes have been opened up about all the good stuff that people are out there doing with their lives. Kind of like David Byrne from the Talking Heads, who I wrote about here. Listening to Stephanie’s podcast brightened my days in the bananas year that was 2020.

Thanks for that, Stephanie. You are a Gem and I look forward to listening and learning from your podcast in the New Year. Maybe someday if we happen to be in our sweet little hometown (which in my opinion is home to lots of other interesting and inspiring people-maybe it’s something about that perfectly ice cold tap wonder we drank, courtesy of Lake Superior) at the same time, we will bump into each other. That’d be cool.

I encourage all of you reading this to check out “Another Door Opens with Stephanie Himango” and listen, learn and gain inspiration along with me.

I’ve no idea who this pretty young girl is, but I love the beautiful pictures of my home state and remember this song from my youth. Dontcha love the sound of the loons? The Minnesota state bird!

Sometimes Gems Are Gents

I knew back in February of this godforsaken year when I watched David Byrne and his crew perform on SNL that I wanted more of it.

It wasn’t until I saw another blogger posting about it then read the Esquire interview with Byrne and Spike Lee and realized they collaborated to bring Byrne’s Broadway show “American Utopia” show to the masses via HBO, that I was able to actually get more of it.

I watched it at home with Rabbie and I was enthralled. I hope you all have the good sense to watch it yourselves. I’m not going to even attempt to explain what it was all about, mainly because I know I’d miss something important.

But I will say this: David Byrne’s “American Utopia” is weird. In the very best of ways. There’s of course the music, which is so jubilant. There is the oddly intriguing interpretive dance. There are the wonderfully talented, multi-cultural musicians and dancers backing it all up. There is much food for thought. It’s cerebral. But it’s not so cerebral that it’d be over anyone’s heads if that makes sense. Ultimately, it’s a celebration of humanity and community.

This phenomenally cool show along with the uplifting and worthy-of-your-time website David heads up, is part of what makes him a “Gem” to me. A national fucking treasure.

Within the website, https://reasonstobecheerful.world/, you will find well-written, thoughtful, fascinating, and inspiring articles. It’s essentially the good news we all need these days. I’ve known of this website for probably a year now, but hadn’t kept up with it. I allowed myself to instead pay attention to Facebook, Twitter, MSNBC, and NPR to keep current on things. That is going to change, as I’m re-committing myself to reading an article or two daily on this website.

Because of David Byrne, I’m also doubling down on focusing on the positive. The good stuff that will expand my understanding of things and leave me feeling more hopeful. While by nature I am an optimist, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a bit of work to maintain that optimistic outlook, especially with the plethora of bad news and bad attitudes lurking in every corner of the internet and in the news.

I think we need more people in the world like David Byrne. The people who think outside the box. The intelligently quirky ones. The question askers. The forward thinking folks who have a sense of genuine curiousity about the world and the people who inhabit it. The creative problem solvers who generously share their talents and insights to make the world a better place for all of us.

Let me leave you with what is probably my favorite Talking Heads tune.

***Header image art by none other than Mr. Byrne himself courtesy of http://www.davidbyrneart.com/?portfolio=love

You Ought To Know About This Gem

Okay, so here’s the deal: I am anxious as hell right now about what the outcome will be of the Presidential election happening in approximately 48 hours from now.

It’s good that I’ve been busier at work lately, having increased my hours. It was good for my soul to participate in a “Trunk or Treat” event (where everyone wore masks and gloves) yesterday afternoon. Seeing all the kiddos in their costumes really lifted my spirits. Distractions for me right now are a blessing.

Today I am determined to remain positive and share something positive with you all. Maybe it’ll give you some hope for our collective future as it did for me.

I caught this story on the news earlier this week about a 14 year old Indian American girl from Frisco, Texas who just won 3M’s “America’s Top Young Scientist” prize for discovering a key for a possible treatment for Covid-19.

Now, I don’t know what you were doing at 14, but I know I was not winning any contests based on my intelligence. The only “contest” I was trying to win at that time was “girl all the boys want to date”.

This brilliant young woman’s name is Anika Chebrolu and I think she is amazing. She gives me hope for the future. Her parents must be so very proud.

It astounds me that at 14, she has such a massive intellect and she is so well-spoken. So composed and mature beyond her years. She is an example of the kind of “Gem” that we ought to pay attention to and support.

I read a few articles about her and this is the one I found most informative. I’m certain this “Gem” is going places in the scientific world!

***Amazingly perfect header photo courtesy of https://seattleawis.org/awis-events/gems/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: B is for Because

I’m choosing the word “because” for this post in part because I’m not jazzed about finishing and publishing any of the posts in progress in my draft folders.

Also because I’m feeling relaxed and a bit lazy. Because Sunday is the Sabbath, after all, the one day of the week we are to refrain from work and focus on family/home/emotional well-being. Or for those of us who are not Christians (no judgement here), it’s the one day of the week where you best rest up and chill out so you’re ready for the work week ahead.

Because I am finding great enjoyment in watching “feel-good” movies these days, I’ve got a few to recommend. Ones I’ve seen very recently and ones I haven’t seen in a while but aim to see again soon.

I’m sharing these movie recommendations with you today because I care that you are exhausted from our new “normal” of existing amidst a pandemic. Because you deserve moments of time right now of pure enjoyment, because you work hard and have a lot on your plate. Because happy distractions like a good old fashioned “feel good” flick are good for you. They make you laugh, lift your spirits, and improve your outlook (if only for the short term, but these days maybe we ought to take what we can get).

I invite you to grab your favorite beverage and take a couple of minutes to let me tell you about these films.

That Would Be Great (Office Space Bill Lumbergh) meme
Office Space is not on the list–but is high on my list of great comedies

It would so tickle me if you choose to share your comments on these or recommend other “feel good” films that we all should watch ASAP.

In the spirit of keeping things simple this Sunday, I’m going to share this via the numbered list method, with condensed explanations of what the movie is about or why I loved it.

  1. “Kiki’s Delivery Service”: we watched this in honor of Kid #2’s 27th birthday. It includes awesome animation, but more importantly uplifting messages about conquering self-doubt, being courageous, and friendship. It’s a real treat; a film that can be enjoyed by any generation.
  2. “Satisfaction Not Guaranteed”: a heartfelt comedy about taking chances, following your curiosity, and addressing life’s regrets. Stars Aubrey Plaza, who I loved as sarcastic under-achiever “April” in “Parks and Recreation”.
  3. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”: this is very possibly the original “feel good” movie. Audrey Hepburn is ever so charming as “Holly Go-lightly”, making her way and finding love in the big city. If you haven’t ever seen it, I urge you to now. It is delightful and if you are a fan of late 50’s-early 60’s fashion and set design, you will adore it like I did.
  4. “Hector and the Search for Happiness”: this one actually came to me by recommendation of our former pastor. It’s an offbeat, adventurous tale of an uninspired psychiatrists’ search around the world for the meaning of happiness.
  5. “Little Miss Sunshine”: full of quirk, charm, and humor. It’s a fabulously cast (Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear) film that celebrates the weird wonderfulness of family. This is a movie I will happily watch any time.
  6. “Blinded by the Light”: the first movie I watched on a plane. It’s a coming-of-age story set in the 1980’s of a teen of Indian descent living in England who becomes obsessed with the music (really the message) of Bruce Springsteen. There are marvelous musical and dance segments. It was a joy to watch.
  7. “Bathtubs Over Broadway”: a documentary I love with my whole heart which I mentioned here. If you choose to do yourself a favor and watch this, I think, like me, you’ll find it very entertaining, joyful, and inspiring.

I hope you all get a chance soon (if not this very day) to give yourself some love by sitting down with no distractions and watch one of the above films or another one that you hold dear to your heart.

Because it’s Sunday, friends 🙂 In the U.S. anyway-my bad! Those of you living elsewhere, please take some time to refresh and be uplifted with a “feel good” flick on Monday or Saturday or whatever day it happens to be where you are.

Alphabet Soup Challenge:”J” is for Jerilyn

August 17th would have been my friend Jerilyn’s 60th birthday. She passed, suddenly and unexpectedly, in Wisconsin, shortly after Hubs and I moved to Colorado, 4 years ago.

She left behind her husband of 25+ years, 2 young adult sons.

Jerilyn, ready to start volunteering at a food bank during a mission trip, circa 2007 ish

I was reminded of her birthday when I checked Facebook that day. Some may feel it’s morbid to keep someone’s Facebook page alive after they have passed, but I don’t. It warmed my heart to see all the comments from the many folks who loved her.

I think we should all strive to touch people’s lives in a way that they can’t help but honor them in some way on the anniversary of their births after they are gone. Like I saw with the feed on Jerilyn’s Facebook page the other night.

Jerilyn was a creative, intelligent, witty, kind, spiritual, playful, ambitious, loving, charasmatic, and strong woman. She was a force of nature who lit up a room. I will never forget her. I was so appreciative of her supportive words when Hubs and I were struggling with the challenges our teenagers presented us with. She was a great sounding board for us, especially because she had taken the time to know us and to know and love our kids.

Jerilyn was one of those people with the rare ability to question one’s thinking in a loving and respectful manner. I think that was due to her great sense of curiosity.

She and her husband Brad were the most dynamic of duos. They were the people at the party who you sought out to converse with. The couple who knew how to laugh together, work together, and play together.

One of my fondest memories of the two of them was at an outdoor concert. That weekend we were celebrating our wedding anniversary and I seem to recall theirs was coming up soon as well. When the 80’s cover band played George Michael’s “Freedom” the four of us laughed and danced like we were the only ones at the party. I think if Heaven is real, she’d be dancing on the clouds with George Michael to this song. Along with David Bowie, of course.

The woman had fabulous taste in music. She loved many of the artists that I did (and still do), like Elle King, Alicia Keys, and the aforementioned British gents.

Jerilyn was the Director of Christian Education at our church during our kids middle school and high school years. She loved each of those kids and they loved her. She listened to them without judgement. She mentored them and guided them. She was a talented planner of things such as youth mission trips. She had terrific communication skills with both the adult chaperones and the kids, so everyone understood what was expected of them.

Jerilyn was a very talented artist, on top of her many gifts. As a person who essentially has two thumbs when it comes to creating tangible pieces of art, I admired/envied this about her. She did a lot of tapestry art. Beautiful works made with colorful pieces of different textured cloth and other materials that could be hung prominently on a wall.

I had this vision in my head that I would commission her to create a work of art using the well-worn but still beautiful hand-made quilt made by Hubs’ then-boss’ wife as a wedding gift. I know she would have done a spectacular job with it. I kick myself for not jumping on that idea while I had the chance.

I took this picture at a gift shop in Minnesota a couple of years ago because it reminded me of her. I thought it was amazing that there was another “Jerilyn” who created beautiful pieces of art using cloth. I think our Jerilyn would have gotten a kick out of this too.

There’s so much more I could say about this truly awesome human being. She was a treasure and my life is better because she was in it. For that I am so thankful.

Alphabet Soup Challenge: R is for Reading

My reading choices are varied. I devour anything from articles in Esquire magazine (there are some great articles in there on the regular) to self help books (How to Be a Bad Ass by Jen Sincero is an all time favorite) to comedic memoirs/essays by authors like Chelsea Handler, David Sedaris, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and more, to fiction (family sagas like “The Nest” and psychological thrillers are my “go tos”).

I read to reduce stress. I read to learn something new. I read to escape. I read to laugh. I read to find connection. I read to obtain wisdom so I can improve myself.

Why do you read?

Currently, I’m working through “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle. While waiting for a response to my online request to borrow “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou from my local library, I thought I’d read something “self-helpy”.

Now, I haven’t finished “Untamed” yet, but there are numerous pearls of wisdom within these pages. This is a book that gets more interesting and thought provoking with each new chapter. Glennon shares stories about failure, pain, and triumph. Stories about love, bravery, and “Knowing”. I’m very intrigued by it. It’s speaking to me in a multitude of ways.

I must finish this book soon so I can get on with it and finally read Ms. Angelou’s masterpiece (from what I know of her and what others have said, I think calling it a “masterpiece” is a fair assumption).

While on our two week “Great American Road Trip” last month, I read a couple of great books.

The first was “Woman in the Window” by AJ Finn. It’s a psychological thriller told through the lens of a female child psychotherapist who’s agoraphobia was caused by deep psychological trauma. She witnesses violence through her window at the house across from her one night and struggles to make sense of it through her alcoholic haze. Seemingly, no one believes what she saw was real. The story was heartbreaking and unpredictable. I appreciated the surprising but creepy twist at the end. It was shocking to learn “Whodunit”.

The movie version of this book has been finished and was recently acquired by Netflix, so hopefully we can all see it before too long. Some of my favorite actresses-Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, and Jennifer Jason-Leigh star in it.

During the first leg of our vacation, spending time with Hubs’ folks and sister, MIL gave me a copy of “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides, which she raved about. Since I had but a mere 50 or so pages left of “The Woman in the Window”, I decided it’d be a good idea to start reading it since we had “only” 2,000 miles left of road to cover and 10 days before we got back home.

I could hardly put it down. It was in a similar vein as “The Woman in the Window”, in that it was a murder mystery/psychological thriller. Total escapism. And the surprises were mind-blowing, like “I didn’t see it coming till the very end” kind of mind-blowing. It took me some time to process that ending.

The story is told through the lens of both Theo and Anna. Theo is the psychoanalyst who works with Anna, who is a completely silent patient in a mental institution. Anna, a prolific artist, was placed there after being charged and convicted (all the while not speaking a word) for her husband’s violent murder. Both Theo and Anna are psychologically complicated people who come from troubled childhoods. Theo’s goal, at the outset, is to get through to Anna. Unlock the key to why she did what she did. And that he does. The twist and turns to how he gets there are nothing less than shocking. It was even more of a page turner than “The Woman in the Window”, if I’m being honest.

I of course had to google whether or not this book was going to be made into a movie and found out it indeed is. Brad Pitt’s production company has acquired the rights. I have ideas in my head about who plays what characters already. Hopefully it’ll show up on one of our video streaming services before long, since re-opening movie theaters appears unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Please share your comments on these books if you have read them and/or share your “must read now” book titles.

Read With Me: 5 Tips to Foster a Love for Reading | Edutopia

Alphabet Soup Challenge: G is for Gems

In the summer of 2009, Hubs and I took our two kids on a trip to Washington, DC.

In my mind, it was the best family trip we ever took. I think it had to do with the timing. Our eldest was about to begin her senior year of high school. Her sibling was a year behind her. It was a “seize this moment” kind of attitude we all bought into it which led it to be a memorable and amazing experience.

Part of the planning of this trip was discussing what “one thing” each of us wanted to be sure to see while in our Nation’s capital. Eldest chose the Ford Theater where President Lincoln was shot. The other kid chose the Shakespeare museum. If I recall correctly, Hubs chose Arlington Cemetery. I’m pretty sure I went generic, choosing the Smithsonian (not necessarily one specific museum there, because they are all fantastic).

Something that unexpectedly struck me while touring the Smithsonian Museum of National History was how in absolute awe the kids and I were of the Gems Gallery. Unlike Bonnie (my mom), I’ve never really been the kind of woman who felt a great need to have dazzling rocks adorning my fingers, neck, or ears. Sure, I love jewelry, but honestly I’m good with the costume variety.

I can just think of so many more wonderful things the money spent on fancy jewels could buy. And the experiences the money spent on fancy jewels could fund. The number of mouths it could feed. The amount of school supplies it could fund for under-privileged students. The number of shoes it could buy for the homeless.

We found ourselves gazing at these precious gemstones, “oohing and awing” all the while, deciding which ones we’d most like to wear if we could.

The Hope Diamond was my favorite. Stunning, shimmery deep blue and simply gorgeous.

As magnificent as these gems are, all of them together pale in comparison to all the other “Gems” in my life.

According to Merriam Webster, the “non jewel” definition of “gems” is: a highly prized or well beloved person.

For the purpose of this post, I’m going to expand on this definition : a “Gem” is a highly prized and well beloved female human who has, in no particular order, inspired me, loved me, liked me, taught me, cried with me, laughed with me, challenged me, accepted me, shared with me, and cared with me.

Been waiting for a chance to include this pic from my last trip to Washington, DC in a blog post-here it is!

I’m going to be honest here. I have too much to say about the “Gems” in my life to properly capture it in this one little post. That is how blessed I feel for the “Gems” in my life.

So, for now, I’m just going to highlight my blogger Gems. There is more to come as this blog proceeds.

I’ve mentioned them before, primarily when I was accepting a nomination for a blogging award (I know, they are cheesy and silly and to my knowledge there are no official prizes or awards ceremonies-but they are such fun) and having to nominate other bloggers as part of the deal.

But this is not that.

These are the blogging broads that never fail to encourage me. To introduce me to new ideas, new music, new recipes, new perspectives. The broads that also put themselves out there with their thoughts and feelings, opinions and grievances in such a way that make me feel less alone in the blogosphere.

I hope to connect with more blogging broads as I continue down this path I’ve put myself on, but for now, I just gotta say…I adore these 4 women and their creative writing abilities so much.

They are:

Christi, who lives in the wonderful state (my home state) of Minnesota and happens to be a very thoughtful, clever, intelligent and lovely human being with a knack for creative writing.

Nicole, who is quite a dynamo. Works full time with a husband and two small kids at home but still manages to pull off regular heartfelt posts about life.

Mona, who has been such a cheerleader for me. She’s brave, funny, sarcastic and surprising with her writing on her blog. And Geez Louise, she’s got some fantastic taste in music.

And then there’s Crystal. I’ve always loved that name. Crystal was the name of a girl I grew up with. She was one of those sort of rare birds in that she was pretty and popular (she was Homecoming Queen for Pete’s Sake), but she was also nice. Not a snot. Liked by everyone. My blogging friend Crystal is like that as well. She has a deep soul and a sharp intellect. I really admire her.

Now onto the question of the day: who are the “Gems” in your life, blogging or otherwise? I would be tickled to hear all about them.

Real Neat

I’m going to veer off-topic here. Not like I’ve ever committed to one topic anyway on this blog of mine.

But I did warn you when I began my “Alphabet Soup Challenge” that I may choose to write a post that is aside from that endeavor.

The humorous blogger Mona, over at Wayward Sparkles nominated me for the “Real Neat” blog award.

award

Thank you, Mona!

Isn’t that nice of her? She’s a very cool chick who has a lot to say, about well..a lot. She does so in a quirky, heartfelt sorta way. And she’s super into music, like me. So of course we’ve become blogging pals.

As a nominee, I have been directed to answer the following questions:

  1. Which five places would you like to visit and why?
  2. What food will you not eat and why?
  3. What super power would you like to have and why? (Anything goes!)
  4. What was your childhood dream job/career?
  5. What current actor do you think would make a great Elvis Presley in a movie about his life? Rhonda would like to know this, I think!
  6. What one thing would you like to see happen in 2021?
  7. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and would like to pass on to others?

My responses:

5 Places: All 50 states in our camper with Hubs. We would take a whole year and work odd jobs here and there to keep gas in the truck and our bellies adequately filled. Of course I’d be blogging all about it and who knows…maybe it’d result in a book!

Then of course, there’s Napa Valley, California because wine. And beautiful scenery. NYC to visit all the touristy sites and of course be in the audience at SNL. Europe (England, Germany, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands and other places I’m sure). Cleveland, Ohio to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Food I won’t touch with a 10 foot pole: Sweet potatoes. I think it’s weird to have potatoes that taste sweet. Yuck!! Potatoes are best with salt, pepper, and cheese and all that other salty and fatty stuff.

Superpower: To fly. At will. Whenever I need a break from the hum drum of life. To learn about the world through my own eyes and feel free at the same time.

Childhood dream/career: I remember making countless lists of careers I wanted to pursue (I seem to recall it being pretty eclectic: stewardess, lawyer, psychiatrist) but the one I think that was most consistent was being an actress/writer. Think Rachel Bloom from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”. I think had I been 12 when that show came out, I’d have been the president of her fan club and very possibly her stalker.

Who plays Elvis? Let me back up here for a sec. This needs context. I posted about the fabulous musical talent Yola recently. While researching her online, I learned that she is to play Sister Rosetta Tharpe in a new bio-pic about Elvis Presley. I did a bit of pondering with other bloggers in my comments section as to who might play Elvis. Didn’t realize till now that the role has been cast. I do think he looks the part, don’t you all?

What one thing would I like to see happen in 2021? Sorry, Mona, in these turbulent times I simply can’t limit it to just one. First one is a cure and vaccine for Covid-19. Second is much prosperity and equality for humans, specifically those who have been so underprivileged for far too long. Health care for all, more financial equity, a much improved and accessible educational system.

Best advice: Life is Fragile, Be Gentle. It wasn’t exactly advice that another person verbally expressed to me. It was this sign that my Dad had hanging on the wall inside his favorite place, our garage. I think one of the best things we can do to be the best versions of ourselves is to heed this advice. Be kind to others, but also to yourselves. Because life is too fragile and precious to do otherwise.

Now this is the part of the post where I nominate other bloggers that I think are quite neat; well actually spectacular. And they are….

Crystal at Crystalbyers.com

Nicole at An Entertaining Mess

Christi at Feeding on Folly

Alice at Lutheran Liar Looks at Life

Now for my 7 questions, which I sincerely hope get answered:

  1. You have an opportunity to have a sit down with another writer. Who would it be and why?
  2. Who is the most talented Black artist (musician, writer, painter, potter, any type of artist) that you think deserves to be more widely known or appreciated?
  3. Who is the funniest person you have ever personally known?
  4. What or who is your spirit animal?
  5. What is the biggest mistake you think you’ve made as a blogger?
  6. What one aspect of your life during the pandemic is “for keeps” post Covid-19?
  7. If you were granted the ability to be highly proficient at playing a musical instrument, what would it be and why?

Alphabet Soup Challenge: Y is for Yola

It’s not a big secret that I am a huge fan of music. Lots of different genres, old and new, blues and pop, alternative and (some) country, rock and roll. I’ve written perhaps ad nauseam on this blog about my adoration of the music I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying throughout my life.

So for this entry of my Alphabet Soup Challenge, I’m choosing to introduce you to someone new (to me anyway) in the music world: Yola.

If You Knew Yola: Meet the UK Sleeper Agent - LA Weekly

Yola’s music is hard to categorize. I think that is what makes her so special. She mashes up country, folk, blues, pop, gospel, and rock and roll in a way I’ve never heard before. And man, she has some serious pipes.

The first time I heard her voice, she was covering her fellow Brit Sir Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. Wow, I thought to myself, who is this person? I needed to know. I needed to hear more of her.

So of course I googled her. And listened to the entirety of her album “Walk through Fire”. A-freaking-mazing. This song is a stand out. Then I listened to several tracks from her debut album, “Orphan Offering” from 2016. I love how she commands the lower notes with such bluesy, soulful swagger. But turns out she can hit those high notes as well. Hear what I mean below:

Yola was nominated for several Grammys last year as well and should have one them all IMHO.

She’s played with many of my favorites, too. She jammed with the Highwomen and Dawes at the Newport Musical festival last year. She contributed vocals to the Highwomen’s debut album alongside Sheryl Crowe as well. I look forward to seeing her live someday, assuming we get back to being able to attend live concerts again.

I think she is just getting started too. I believe her immense talent is going to be enjoyed for generations to come. She’s only 36, after all. She’s to play Sister Rosetta Tharpe in an upcoming movie about the life of Elvis Presley. Tharpe, I’ve learned, is thought of by many as the “Godmother of Rock and Roll”. Another black musical artist we all ought to learn more about.

Hopefully, Yola will get an opportunity to cover this one in the film:

The snippet of the lyrics to this song that you see below is apropos to these times of racial unrest, don’t you think?

There are strange things happening everyday
If you want to view the climb
You must learn to quit your lyin’
There are strange things happening everyday
If you heal right through the lies
You can live right all the ties
There are strange things happening everyday