50 Days to 50 Years, Day 00: Bye, Bye Napa, Hello 5 Freeway, Goodbye 40s…

1 08 2016

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” — John Steinbeck

This could be said of the road trip to Santa Fe, this one, and the trip through these past 50 Days to 50 Years. While I did not manage to connect with 50 friends over the 50 days, it was a very fruitful, fun, and enlightening experience, which carved a new space in the year and in my life: a larger space of gratitude for the people and events who have shaped the woman I am today, and a new space of embracing the legacy of years. I am thankful that I approach the 50s with few regrets, and a beautiful bouquet of people, places, and memories, including my husband, our marriage, and our life together. So the journey up to now has been mostly sweet, and my prayer is that it will continue to grow sweeter.

I packed my things, gave my thanks to Gina for the use of her Air BnB, and said my goodbyes. Since we kept skipping a formal breakfast these past two days, I decided to meet Shawna for one last meal at Black Bear Diner before I hit the road.

Black Bear is another Shawna find, and they have some of the best comfort food west of the Mississippi. One of their specialties is sweet cream pancakes, french toast, muffins, you name it. The sweet cream adds an extra layer of richness to the already fluffy texture of the bread, that is only enhanced by syrup, more butter, and whatever else you want to top it with. Had I been smart, I would have bought some muffins or sweetbread to take with me—maybe next trip….

It was delicious fuel for the body for the 6-plus hour drive back South. The car needed fuel too, so I gassed up at the Fairfield Costco before hopping the 5 South for a mostly uneventful ride back to Los Angeles. This is Northern and Southern California after all, and the traffic is legendary; but for the most part, the drive was smooth.

I arrived home to ecstatic puppies and a happy husband, so perhaps a weekend getaway was a perfect solution to reset us. We would be celebrating 9 years married in two days, so a reset was a good thing.

I also came home to a couple of sweet presents: a personalized gift basket from Lynn’s sister Carrie, and a lovely photo book from my sister Joan.

The last day of 49 ended as desired: at home with the people I love, on a mellow note, with anticipation of things to come as I crossed the threshold into 50.

 





50 Days to 50 Years, Day 04: Breakfast at Bea Bea’s with Larry Oya

28 07 2016

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Bea Bea’s appears to be the favorite in-between spot for this Los Angeles city-dweller and my West San Fernando Valley friends. And why not? I can always go for some Thai Tea pancakes!

Larry Oya, his wife Shirley, and kids Jennifer and Allison are also longtime friends from the Congregational Church of Northridge. Larry was a pivotal part of Tuesdays with Transitioners, the career group I ran at CCN until 2014. He had weathered that particular career transition, and now he was going through another. Larry recently went through major spinal stenosis surgery, and was in the midst of rehab/recovery. He had attempted to go back to work, but corporate workplaces are all types of interesting when you’ve suffered a setback; so he stepped away again in order to continue his recovery. He had some time to come out to Burbank and hang for the morning, and it was delightful spending  Day 4 of my 50 Days to 50 Years over coffee, pancakes, and conversation.

We talked about his surgery and recovery, being on disability, and his career plans once he is able to get back at it. Larry is very wise, creative, and sagacious, and gave me some good insight into the male psyche and how to approach it.

We brainstormed about some entrepreneurial ideas that he had brewing, and I put on my Tuesdays with Transitioners/Reinvention hat to encourage him to pursue these avenues, especially since he had some space to explore.

Bea Bea’s was starting to develop it’s usual lunch crowd, and we had occupied the seats for some time. I had to prepare for one more class to teach, as well as pack for my fun weekend, so we said our goodbyes and headed to the different poles of the city.

Thanks, Larry, for being a pivotal part of my life, and helping me celebrate 50 Days to 50 Years!





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 12, SweetSalt with Susan Baker and Mihret

20 07 2016

“Treat every connection, communication and collaboration as part of a continuous relationship.” ― Kim Chandler McDonald, Flat World Navigation: Collaboration and Networking in the Global Digital Economy

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It was so great on Day 12 to reconnect with The Escape Hatcher Susan M. Baker, and her little girl Mihret at SweetSalt in Toluca Lake.

I met Susan through Douglas Welch, a friend and new media professional. Both Susan and Doug were pivotal parts of the career group I used to run called Tuesdays with Transitioners, and it was through New Media Mastermind, a group that Doug formed which included myself, Susan, Jennifer “Jungle Jenny” Michaels, Danielle Gruen, and Tracy Pattin, that the first CareerCamp in 2010 was born!

Doug, Susan, Danielle and I were the first co-chairs, and the Congregational Church of Northridge, which sponsored Tuesdays with Transitioners, was the location. That was an exciting time, where we spearheaded three other Careercamps (L.A., South L.A. and Santa Clarita). We had a great time in the Mastermind group learning how to use new media to better promote ourselves and our endeavors, bouncing ideas off each other, and seeing how we could be instrumental in helping each other’s visions come to fruition. Susan also ran a group called Nohopreneurs, which brought local entrepreneurs together for lunch and networking.

Both our lives have changed tremendously over the last six years. In 2010, Susan was in the process of adopting beautiful Mihret from an Ethiopian adoption agency, and had her in arms that next year. So for Susan, careers and reinvention took a back seat to new motherhood (of course). For me, the Yoga reinvention happened, and life has been a series of rollercoaster rides, a few of which I am still on.

Susan was beautiful and glowing, so motherhood definitely suits her. Mihret was energetic and curious, as any six year old is, and exceptionally gorgeous—modeling should definitely be in her future.

SweetSalt was a new find for me, and I will be back! Not only was the Duck Confit sandwich quite tasty, but they have natural sodas that rival any you would find in the grocery store.

We caught up on our lives, discussing Yoga, travel, what was happening with the reinvention industry, writing, relocation, and education. Susan was involved as a volunteer at Mihret’s school, and I discussed my role on the CAAN National Board. She wanted to be an example to Mihret and emphasize through action the importance of education and being involved in its potential to change lives and allow students to flourish.

I enjoyed the meeting of minds, particularly in the area of careers and reinvention. Susan is exceptionally smart and resourceful, and it hearkened back to our time in the Mastermind group—with the addition of interruptions from a bright and bouncy six year old.

Thank you, Susan, for being a part of my 50 years: enriching my life with connection, vision, and also being a shining example of reinvention and new beginnings in the second half of your life. I hope we get the opportunity to collaborate again one day soon.

 

 





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 50, Life’s Embrace

12 06 2016

This is 50-Day 50 collage

“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really: Get busy living or get busy dying.” — Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

“I call on heaven and earth as witnesses today that I have offered you life or death, blessings or curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live.”
— Deuteronomy 30:19

I find it fascinating that I last posted on this blog exactly a year ago today. It seems fitting that I have chosen my odyssey of “50 Days to 50 Years!” as the series to revitalize it.

As I approach my 50th revolution around the sun, I have chosen life, and will always choose life. Many times along the road I have had opportunity to choose otherwise, and it is because of the encounters, life circumstances, and deaths in the midst of my journey that I have chosen to embrace the time leading to my actual birthday with celebration, rather than somberness.

You see, I really never expected to see 50. I was a suicidal teenager, and had crafted an elaborate plan to end it all when I finished high school. Thanks to a lot of prayer and a real encounter with death when I was 16, I was fortunate enough to revise that plan.

Then in my early 20s, I was caught up with eschatology (the study of the “end of days” or “end times”), so I just knew that Jesus would return and the world would end before I was 30. Thankfully I distanced myself from those energy draining pursuits well before my 30th year, and amazingly, life went on, and so did I. I still believe Jesus is coming back, I just focus more on what he wants me to do in the here and now, rather than obsess about times and seasons that are not in my control.

Then there are those who were not as blessed as me; mainly my two sisters, Barbara and June.

Barbara died from a massive seizure in 1992; she was only 36. In 2008, June lost a long battle with cancer at 49, months before her 50th birthday.

So I have reason to live, and reason to celebrate. In the 50 days leading up to August 2 (my actual birth day), I plan to document my celebrations, with various bucket list items, things I have always wanted to do, and most notably, 50 friends and family that I will spend time with over these 50 days to acknowledge their contribution to making my life worth living.

So here’s to 50! All it entails, the highs, the lows, the challenges, and the triumphs, I fully embrace with open arms, and rejoice to see the day. Anything else is not an option.

I hope you enjoy traveling with me, as I embrace the change of season, the change of life, and the turn of a new decade.

This is 50…

 





Happy Father’s Day!

15 06 2014

Happy Father’s Day to all those who have taken on the role, whether you are biologically connected to your children, or merely through the heart. Here is an excerpt from my memoir, FRIED CHICKEN AND SYMPATHY, about my biological father, Theodore Roosevelt Oliver, Sr., followed by a link to an Examiner article that I wrote a few years back about my spiritual father, Glenn “Kirk” Kirkpatrick.

Blessings!

My father when he worked at the Naval Base in North Chicago, IL.

My father when he worked at the Naval Base in North Chicago, IL.

Oliver’s Twist: The Father I Barely Knew…

“People can never predict when hard times might come.
Like fish in a net or birds in a snare, people are often caught by sudden tragedy.”
Ecclesiastes 9:12

I only have two memories of my father: The first one was in life, the second in death. The first was of a family trip to Brookfield Zoo in 1969. I consider June the unofficial family historian, and even she is surprised that I remember it so well. After the nine of us had spent our day at the zoo, we ambled single-file through the parking lot, to get into our lovely green four-door Oldsmobile with the chrome bumpers and the white-green interior, and head back to Cabrini-Green.

I was a vision of two-year-old cuteness, in a sky-blue pinafore with little embroidered flowers, blue socks with frilly borders, and braids that were contacting Mars; to this day my hair still has a life of its own. I distinctly remember Oliver (as most people, including us kids, called him) swooped me up with one large hand, and tucked me in his arm, holding me in the crook, while he used his other hand to retrieve the car keys from his pocket and open the door for the rest of the family. Oliver was stylish, in his button-down shirt, suspenders and tweed slacks. He had on one of his classic wide-brimmed hats, and I attempted to grab it off his head—an attempt which amazingly he dodged—seeing that his arms and hands were full.

He whispered something in my ear, but at that age I didn’t understand or care about words. All I cared about was his arm around me, holding me close, and the feeling of contentment it gave me.

My second memory of him is not really about him, but about his funeral. We were at Burr Oak Cemetery in Worth, Illinois on July 12, 1970. By today’s standards it’s a ghetto cemetery, but back then, it was one of the few options for people of color. Grandpa Joe and Grandma Annie had been laid to rest there, so it was in keeping with tradition.

So there we were, all seven of us kids standing around the gravesite in the rain, like strong little soldiers in black. I was holding onto Bay’s black-gloved hand, and something struck me so suddenly that I began to urgently tug on her arm. She looked down at me, her head wrapped in a black scarf, eyes shielded by the dark glasses she wore.

“Is Oliver coming back?” I asked. I didn’t get an answer. Just silence, with all eyes plastered on the hole in the ground. My first lesson in family dynamics. When faced with a hard question, pretend it was never asked.

I still have a knack for asking hard questions that have no answers.

I felt about as confused, and cheated as I sometimes feel now. At the age of three, I was not mature enough to wrap my heart around death’s finality. The little girl now buried within the adult still doesn’t.

It puzzles me how you can ache and long for someone you didn’t really know. I’m still that little girl in the blue dress at the zoo—except now, I long for my daddy’s arms instead of enjoying being in them. It’s a gaping hole—no matter how hard you try to fill it, it remains a bottomless pit. I pinpoint a lot of my emotional problems to the fact that my father was stolen from me. The depression I struggle with, my choosing emotionally-, and physically-unavailable men, and the subsequent lack of trust which has resulted from all those dead-end relationships.

As part of my own therapy to get a handle on the past, I’ve attempted to piece together Oliver’s life, like shards of a shattered plate. A delicate and painful exercise, with the end result being bloodied hands, and a piece that lacks the beauty, function and worth of the original. To some, it might serve little use except as a reminder of what used to be; but, painstakingly, I continue with the task. With each piece that comes together, and every little bit of new knowledge I acquire about him, I get a sense that I’m doing something significant and important—even if it’s for no one else but me.


My spiritual father, Glenn "Kirk" Kirkpatrick. A reflection of the Father Heart of God

My spiritual father, Glenn “Kirk” Kirkpatrick. A reflection of the Father Heart of God

 The Father Heart of God

Father’s Day has often been a foreign holiday to me. My father was murdered when I was three, and it wasn’t until thirty years later that someone came into my life who helped me understand the Father heart of God. Because of that consistent witness, I asked Glenn “Kirk” Kirkpatrick to step into the role of “Father of the Bride”, and walk me down the aisle.

This father role was not a place he sought, nor I pursued. But Kirk’s heart’s desire was to be the man God wanted Him to be, and as he sought the Father’s heart, he could not help but emulate it. And God’s divine purpose for us is to know his heart; it does not matter if it is demonstrated through human or spiritual genetics. He used Kirk to grant me this gift, and I make it a point to honor him as a father. I wish him a Happy Father’s Day, whether with a card or a message–now, Father’s Day is more familiar, and less foreign. Read more at Examiner.com: The Father Heart of God.





Election 2012 Post-mortem: Still looking for the Silver Linings

7 11 2012

This is the last post I expected to write on November 7, 2012. But life, often gives unexpected results.

As opposed to 2008, when I went to bed early already knowing the outcome of that election (and wrote about those “silver linings” the next day), this time around, I was much more optimistic that Americans wanted to oust this fraudulent leader. A friend even invited me to an election night party with other like-minded Conservatives, and I was excited to go and have a room full of people to potentially share in victory. So I prepared to stay up late, but be happy in doing so.

The stay up late part came to pass, the happiness and victory, not so much. President Obama was re-elected for a second term, and this grieves me beyond measure. After watching the demise of the America I thought I knew last night, I did what I do in good times and bad: look for God’s perspective on this. For my life, this is best found in God’s word.

So my comments will be interspersed with scriptures that come to mind or that fit the focus of my thoughts. Take it for what it’s worth. I will start off my rant with railing at the storm clouds first, because that’s always the first thing you. But take heart, after gazing at the dark clouds, if you look deeply enough, you can still find silver linings.

In honor of PBS funding and Big Bird being saved by an Obama re-election, this rant is brought to you by the Letter “D”.

It is Disastrous and Disgraceful that a Leftist media protected and propped up this President in order to ensure he be re-elected. Former-Hurricane-now-reduced-to-SuperStorm-Sandy is the most recent example, but they are legion. The most egregious is Benghazi, which I have written about, and will continue to write about until justice is done for Ambassador Stevens and the other Americans who lost their lives because of the incompetence of this President.

Concerning this corrupt and gangrenous entity called the mainstream media, Isaiah 5:20-21 came to mind, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.”

Describes the MSM to a “T”. But what they do not know is that any shred of credibility they may have had left is now completely gone. I portend that their Demise will continue to be swift and Decisive–more than we know. I plan to dance on the graves when this happens. The collective lot of them are a Disgrace to Democracy.

It is Disheartening that American people refused to watch both the Republican and Democrat conventions, the debates, or read anything the candidates were saying and critically compare their messages. More important, the refusal to look at the false and inaccurate claims on both sides and weigh the information accordingly. Some of these people are culled from my Facebook and Twitter interactions, but if this is even a microcosmic representation of a cross-section of our population, then we are in a world of hurt as a country. Laziness and Ignorance really do great harm.

It is Disturbing that a sector of Blacks are perfectly fine with having a Black President for the sake of having a Black President. No care about his lack of character, his ability to lie, blame, and obfuscate, along with his inability to keep his promises. Again I go back to the aftermath of Former-Hurricane-now-reduced-to-SuperStorm-Sandy as a shining example of who this President is and how he operates. President Obama showed up, made promises, took lots of photos, pretended to “feel their pain” , and then left to continue campaigning. Yet the people of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut continue to hurt, continue to be without food and power, and most frightening, as the weather turns colder, remain homeless. FEMA is failing in its execution of emergency aid to a degree that exceeds Katrina. But this crop of voters is still blaming Bush for the bad economy? Well, you can’t blame Bush for Sandy, or for the next four years. It’s all on our “first Black President” Obama.

Even with all this evidence, some Blacks still laud Obama as a hero and hold him up as a shining example for the Black race. How Delusional is that?

It is beyond me that some Blacks are content with 14.3% black unemployment, preferences of another race group’s voting power over their increasingly dwindling one, and black genocide in the form of highly-funded and unfettered abortions among minorities. I doubt that I will feel any sympathy toward them when they come to see that they have been bamboozled. What I do have is Hosea 8:7: “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up.” Matter of fact, they should read the whole chapter, as it is a frightening reality on what America has become and what may be in store.

So glad I got that off my chest. Now on to that flash of light in the darkness.

God is in Control. Daniel 2:21 “He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” I navigate in lots of worlds, and in my Christian world, lots of people were fasting and praying for the outcome of this election; I believe God’s will was done. What that means for me as a Christian is that I continue to pray for President Obama and our nation, according to 1 Timothy 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

What it also means is that I do what I can to fight and stand for what is right. And much about this administration is not right. I am also praying Luke 8:17: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” I will work for this revealing to unfold, and for believers to know their role and place when it does happen.

I gave 2 Corinithians 4:8 to another Christian Conservative who was very disheartened at last night’s results: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not defeated, crushed, but not in despair.” For those who believe like me, if we pray and we seek, we are going to see God’s intended plan for this time, and hopefully make a difference for righteousness–no matter what the circumstances.

Black Conservatives have become more visible and vocal. I’m not just talking about Herman Cain, Congressman Allen West (who continues to fight for his seat), and the “acceptable” ones they trot out on Fox and CNN. I’m talking about all the grassroots brothers and sisters I have found (and who have found me) on Twitter, Facebook, and some organizations of which I have recently become a part. These fired up folks represent and fight with reasoned thought, penetrating words, facts, and their presence. We will no longer be ignored.

I know I have increased in my conservative thought and activism over the years. It started in 2000, crystallized in 2004, and became more strong in 2008. Now on the other side of 2012, I am no less fired up, and no less motivated to see Leftist memes about Black monolithic thinking destroyed. Not every Black supports everything this President does just because he is Black. His policies and practices are the problem, not his race. I and other Black Conservatives will continue to trumpet this, and hopefully join together to make our stance known. A fellow Black Conservative, Demetrius Minor said it best on Twitter: “The racial division will only continue to widen under Obama. Conservatives: We need one another. Let’s unify.” Amen to that. Let’s demonstrate Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Finally, Grassroots activism is still alive and well. Now that this national election is over, I can turn my attention to local affairs of city and state, which is where leaders are built and real change can occur that affects the national level. While I still plan to point out the falsehood and hypocrisies of this Obama administration, I’m shifting some of my to focus the Los Angeles mayor’s race. Antonio Villaraigosa has overseen the decline of Los Angeles business and it’s economy, while feathering his nest for whatever place he will be rewarded with in the Obama administration. Many of the candidates running to replace him willingly aided and abetted Mayor Eleven Percent, and I plan to point this out, while promoting candidates who truly want to reverse the damage Villaraigosa has incurred on this city through his negligence, neglect, and power mongering. Proverbs 29:2: “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

Please don’t misunderstand me that I want a theocracy or only “religious” people in elected office. I take the textbook definition of “righteous” which says, “morally upright people.” I know moral atheists and immoral believers, and I’ll take the moral atheist any time. If you hold to a worldview that embraces, uplifts and seeks to further the good of a people and a community, then you are righteous in my book. On the converse, are leaders like Obama and Villaraigosa who use people and communities as a tool for the furtherance of their own agenda–and damn the consequences.

We need “righteous” leaders locally and regionally, so we can have better choices nationally.

I’ve said my peace.





In My Orbit: Happy 2012!

2 01 2012

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Happy New Year! The Girl found December sweeping her off her feet, with some wonderful Holiday parties, a lot of singing, and a lot of Yoga. Before I knew it, it was January 2, 2012, and time for the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade.

This is something to which I pay little attention. The floats are lovely and all, and I can appreciate the work and dedication each one takes. But parades and pageantry have never been my thing. I’m also very thankful I don’t live in Pasadena’s immediate vicinity–those poor residents have to deal with blocked streets and the hoopla that surrounds such an undertaking for weeks (sometimes months) before the event actually happens. If I did live there, I’d probably go on vacation for the entire month of December; but, I digress….

The 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade caught my attention this year because our old friends of #OWS will be presenting a float at the end of the festivities. From Friday’s Los Angeles Times:

“Occupy protesters are busy finishing their float that will run at the end of the Rose Parade: a 70-by-40-foot octopus made of recycled plastic bags.”

Can you say, “Media whores”? Seriously, a parade that spends and takes in millions, if not billions of dollars, is more a reflection of corporate greed than a hedge fund–no matter how noble, altruistic,  and community-oriented its veneer. Yet, the flailing Occupy “activists” are jumping on the train, even choosing to play nice for the cameras:

“The group says the protest will be ‘G-rated’ and will stick to nonviolence in expressing Occupy’s messages against income inequality and corporate power.”

Whatever. I’m sure it will go over like a lead balloon, right in sync with the whole movement. The Pasadena-Star News decided to do a profile on the Occupy Rose Parade leader’s questionable past.  This past includes petty theft, having his law license suspended, andconnections to the 9/11 Truther movement.

So much for gaining more credibility with the general public. I sincerely hope that the year 2012 will see Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots fade to black.