May Just Sailed By…

In a whirlwind, the month of May is almost over. Last week I did a few things out of the ordinary.

I attended The Spring Reception at the Adult Learning Center where I tutor. It’s a celebration of the achievements of the students for the year which began last July. I was asked to give the welcome address to the attendees. I happily accepted. I gave a summary of the program, discussed how tutoring has inspired me and how encouraged I am by the students determination to enrich their lives.

Several of my students have had improved test scores, perfect attendance and two of them received an award from a sponsor, that will help them build their own home library. I am so proud of their accomplishments. One of my students pieces was published in a book made of student writings from all the Adult Learning Centers in the program.

Selected students read some of their writings to us. Knowing where some of them started, made that so very special. It was an amazing evening. The tutors we’re thanked, applauded and given tokens of appreciation. We then had a lovely catered dinner and mingled with one another. It was a fun and fulfilling evening.

The next day, I took some time for myself and attended an exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum, David Bowie Is. David Bowie Is runs through July 15th. These archives have traveled for the last 5 years, beginning in London, with Brooklyn Museum being the final stop. It contains lyric sheets, personal items, contracts, costumes, records, interviews and much more. No photography is allowed of the exhibits. At the end, there is some fan art of Bowie which we were allowed to photograph.

What made this different from any exhibit I’ve seen before, was that you are given headphones upon entering. Wherever you are standing, Bowie’s music plays in the headphones and it continually changes, depending on where you are in the exhibit. There is music and videos covering 50 year’s of his career. It takes about an hour and a half to see and hear it all. There were videos and costumes present from every stage of his illustrious career. He drew, he wrote songs, he acted in films and on Broadway. He was filled with ideas that didn’t all come to fruition but all these efforts were on display. I really enjoyed it. Catch it if you can.

One other exciting thing is on the way for me. I am being interviewed by fellow creative, Stephanie Johnson who is better known on Facebook as MELANINQUEENPENFAN. She is starting a new interview series called InnerView 3-5. I am honored to be her first guest. Her guests are people that wow and inspire her. The interview will be posted to her FB page on June 3rd. Please give her some love, likes and support. You can find all of her other writing on her page – MELANINQUEENPENFAN

I don’t know what June holds in store for me yet. I’m hoping for more fun places to go and even more fulfilling things to do.


Winter Woes…. Spring I Need You!!

It’s February and this weather is killing me. i have been in physical pain, no energy, filled with headaches and little sleep. I try to distract myself with Facebook, YouTube videos of favorite music and Vloggers ( GabeBabeTV, DearNaptural85, Daily Davidsons and Toni and the Boy are some favorites.) I’m addicted to The Golden Girls marathons. (Sophia Petrillo is one of the greatest characters EVER!!)

I can no  longer work because of  chronic pain and fibromyalgia. I remember a time not that long ago when I was using my Librarian degree, working at a public library.  February was like tax season for librarians. Black History Month, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day all in the same month. Children and their parents came in droves for information and books. I learned a lot every February during Black History Month. Teachers never seemed to do their homework, before they gave out an assignment. Sometimes there was only a line or two about a person the child had to research.They asked for pictures of people who lived and died before cameras were invented or whose faces would not have been drawn in a portrait.

Black History Month was started by Carter G. Woodson, a scholar, who knew that Black people were more than just slaves. We have contributed to every part of American History.

An improved refrigerator design was patented by inventor John Standard of Newark, New Jersey on June 14 1891. Benjamin Banneker invented the first wooden pocket watch and so much more. Judy W. Reed patented a hand-operated machine for kneading and rolling dough. Lewis Latimer invented the carbon filament for the light bulb. Gerald A. Lawson invented the modern home video gaming console. Charles Drew invented improved techniques for blood storage creating, the blood bank.

My elementary school was named after Granville T. Woods. Woods invented more than a dozen devices to improve electric railway cars. His most noted invention was a system for letting the engineer of a train know how close his train was to others. We studied Black History when I was in elementary school. I first heard a Nina Simone song within the walls of Granville T. Woods Elementary School.

Black musicians and entertainers have invented Blues, Jazz and Hip-Hop music. Click on the Hip- Hop link for an interview with DJ  Kool Herc considered by many the Godfather of Hip Hop.

During February all the book shelves with black inventors, entertainers, sports figures and politicians would dwindle fast. The obvious and easiest  would go first, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman. I would have to encourage people to go beyond what they already knew.

They didn’t know about Lena Horne signing her Hollywood contract with a clause  that her father insisted upon, she would never play a maid in films. While looking at the cover of books about Ms. Horne, I was asked, She’s Black?!??  She was always glamorous, but her parts were easily cut when the films played in the south. Some people didn’t know who Jackie Robinson, Langston Hughes or Nelson Mandela were. I was teaching history lessons while doing Readers Advisory .

I was busy all day long changing book displays, adding books. Every February, I became a teacher, a scholar and used my own knowledge ( I love reading biographies, so I know a few things…) to help others. I was exhausted but I liked doing it.

February is different for me now. I post Black History facts on my Facebook page so I can keep learning and teach others. We need to be aware of the past and open our eyes to the state of our present. There are some that say there is no need for Black History Month. I beg to differ. Many in the generation behind me do not know much history; much less Black contributions to America and to the rest of the world. It’s unfortunate, but true.

Schools spend so many hours preparing students for testing but are not teaching about some of the aforementioned black figures. Many black families are very unaware of the greatness of our people. Today, not positive reality TV stars, singers, rappers and ball players are most popular and worshiped. There are scientists, doctors, researchers, engineers and others that need to be known. Every family of all denominations, owes it to their children to know the history of other groups. If you live in an area where there are no people who look like you, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and even, Women’s History Month are there to teach you. We have traditionally been taught European and early American history, so let’s step outside the box. Let’s break down barriers. Let’s embrace one another. Let’s embrace culture. Please keep the libraries full and those shelves empty of books and gain knowledge. Knowledge truly is power. Ask a Librarian. Librarians are the best source in the world!

This winter can’t end soon enough for me. The polar vortex has become too much. As I type my fingers hurt. I’m walking a bit hunched over from back pain. My bed has become a place where I can not find sleep but I spend a lot of time in it as chronic fatigue  syndrome plagues me.

There’s a passage in the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin that says: Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in winter, but winter always turn to spring. Never, from ancient times on, has anyone heard or seen of winter turning back to autumn. ”(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1, p997). I know this is a fact, but sometimes it feels like this is never-ending, as the weather and my body engage in a fist fight. I am really feeling the body blows.

I’m angry at all groundhogs and their predictions of more weeks of this frigid hell. I am waiting for Spring. I want to throw Spring a party. I think Spring should be a national holiday. I want to celebrate the sun and warmth. I know Winter always turns to Spring. I wish it would hurry up, we are running out of places to put the snow. Sigh…….spring