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What Stepping Away From Royal Duties REALLY Means

Happy Monday, friends! I don’t know about you all, but the past few days have been wonderful. The weather is becoming milder here on the East Coast, and COVID-19 seems to be FINALLY decreasing. Let’s hope that these good things continue!

Recently, I read Buckingham Palace’s statement on Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan and their decision to step away from royal duties. As a result of this decision, they will be stripped of their royal patronages. This could not have been easy for the Sussexes, as they have made service a crucial theme in their personal and professional lives. In particular, I think of Prince Harry, who, as a result of this decision to step away, will have his honorary military titles removed. This must have been a very painful outcome for this proud veteran, who dutifully served the Crown for ten years.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry (Photo as shown on People Magazine [Karwai Tang/WireImage])

As painful as it must be, I am so happy for and proud of this couple. There is far more at stake with this decision that simply losing titles and patronages. The decision to step away from royal duties is the decision to forge a brand new path. No one so close to the Crown has opted to become a private citizen since Edward VIII, and we all know how much of a crisis that caused. This is truly untrodden ground, as the world that we know today is quite different from the one occupied by Edward VIII and his beloved, Wallis Simpson.

The decision to step away, closing the door leading to life as a royal, has opened a myriad other doors for the couple. Walking away made it possible for them to create Archewell, a revolutionary media company that will distribute the content that the Sussexes want to bring into the world. The Archewell umbrella will also allow them to support causes that are near and dear, and will allow them to influence people in ways that they feel are most impactful, without the limitations imposed upon royals. Stepping away from royal duties will allow the Sussexes to step into serving on their terms.

Ultimately, this is what the couple truly wants to be known for: service that matters to them, and done in the way that they feel will do the most good. The Sussexes demonstrated this almost immediately after the Buckingham Palace statement was released, by supporting a Dallas woman’s shelter that was badly damaged by the devastating winter storms that slammed Texas last week. The unexpected act of kindness is the first public contribution made by the Archewell Foundation, and is likely a small preview of the many charitable acts that we can expect from Harry and Meghan in the future.

This entire discussion brings to mind the famous poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken. The poem references how the speaker, considering two paths, “kept the first for another day”, but he also knew well, “how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back”. I doubt that the Sussexes will ever decide to rejoin the royal family in the capacity that was expected of them, but their decision to step away is undoubtedly a choice full of promise and potential. They can make a bigger impact in the way that they see fit, and they can author a spectacular story that starkly contrasts anything that royal life could offer, yet remains true to them. That, I believe, is why they chose to step away, and that, to paraphrase Frost, will make all the difference.

reading list · Uncategorized

Book Review – Elixir For Life

Happy Thursday, friends! Currently, there are a few regions of the United States experiencing severe winter weather, resulting in power failures and interruptions with water supply. I hope you all are staying safe and warm!

Today’s post is a book review that I’m excited to share with you all. The book is Elixir for Life by H. Benjamin Poke. Poke is native to my home state, so I consider him a local author. Also, I’m proud to share that this gifted poet is also my paternal uncle.

I will try my best to post an impartial review, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s difficult for me to be unbiased. I know the labor of love that went into creating this collection of poems. I am also influenced by the author’s (my uncle’s) consistently loving and generous nature. Further, I’m partial because I know for myself how kindly he treats others, complete strangers as well as his family. He is one of the most genuinely warm people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He’s a loving husband, devoted father, and a beloved grandfather and loyal friend.

That being said, let’s get into the review. The book is written from a Christian perspective, so if you are not a Christian, you may not be able to relate to some of the content. But, as with my review of Synergy, I’d like to point out the fact that a difference in religious perspective may not detract from your enjoyment of the book.

I enjoyed each of these poems, written from the perspective of strong, steady supporter cheering for the readers to overcome daily struggles and align with a higher purpose for their lives. There are hundreds of poems in the book, which is why I cannot recommend just one for you. Each poem offers encouragement and inspiration, and it’s easy to find a poem that suits your particular struggles and circumstances. This is the kind of book that you pick up when you’re feeling low and need a kind word, or that you read when you just want to feel more connected with your higher power/spiritual source.

This book is a wonderful addition to any collection, and I’d put it up there against the words of famed poets Maya Angelou and Lucille Clifton. Make sure to check it out on Amazon (the link is here). I hope that you order it and enjoy!

That’s it for today’s post. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.

words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Ntozake Shange

“Where there is woman, there is magic.” – Ntozake Shange

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The tragic recent passing of playwright and poet Ntozake Shange inspired me to write this post. Shange’s death in October 2018 both surprised and saddened me.  I had no idea that she had been ill for over a decade, after experiencing a series of strokes. I take comfort in knowing that her words are immortal and will continue to touch hearts and minds for time immemorial.

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I became familiar with Shange’s work nearly ten years ago, after seeing the live-action movie “ For Colored Girls”, directed by Tyler Perry. While I wasn’t particularly impressed with the movie (the original work was a stage play and I feel is best experienced through life theater), I fell in love with the words and stories being told by Shange.

The most inspirational part of Shange’s legacy is the insistence upon creating her own identity. From changing her legal name to aiming to craft what she described as a “special aesthetic” for black women, she continued to form her own identity in a world that’s operates upon putting minorities into fixed boxes. Even for her most famous work,  for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, Shange had to craft new language to describe what she created. She titled her work a choreopoem, which merged music, poetry, prose, dance, and song in an innovating and inspiring way.

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I don’t want to belabor this post with overanalyzing Shange’s incredible literary career and legacy. I’d much prefer that you all learn more about her for yourselves. I’m going to add a couple of links from YouTube for your enjoyment. And, in her memory, take some time today to create something new. Your soul will thank you for it.

 

I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

(photos courtesy of QuoteParrot, AZQuotes and TheQuotesIn)

words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom: Gwendolyn Brooks

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“We are each other’s magnitude and bond” – Gwendolyn Brooks

On this 18th anniversary of her passing, I wanted to share some quotes from Gwendolyn Brooks, a poet and author that I learned about as a child but had somewhat forgotten as an adult.

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It’s not that I don’t recall the words to “We Real Cool” by heart (because I do). But as with many things, we get exposed to new art, new poetry, new thoughts . . . And that which we knew as children tends to fade a bit. While thinking about some of the people I wanted to feature in the “Words of Wisdom” series, Brooks popped into my mind. I remember being a young girl and seeing the announcement of her passing in a magazine that I was reading. She lived a long and full life, and we are fortunate that she decided to share her talents with us.

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She was the first African American to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize. She captured life in Chicago during the post-Depression era, and her writing straddled the fine line of writing honestly while preserving the dignity of her subjects. She was also Illinois’s Poet Laureate in 1968 and a Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for the Library of Congress.

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Brooks led a particularly quiet life: she was a wife and mother. She lived in Chicago all of her life, and found her inspiration among the neighborhoods where she grew up and raised her own children.

In memory of Gwendolyn Brooks: thank you for your work.

 

(Photos courtesy of majeherself, AZQuotes, wordsonimages, and Rhapsody in Books)

 

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Words of Wisdom: Nikki Giovanni

Happy Friday, friends! Whew, we made it through the week, and it’s almost the end of the fiscal year, so I’m officially DONE with all of my year-end closing tasks. Life is grand!

I figured it was time for another Words of Wisdom post because I’ve been leaning heavily on the wisdom of others as I’ve tried to stay balanced and calm during this stressful period at work. I’ve found myself reading a little poetry to unwind a bit in the evenings.

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[…]I am so hip even my errors are correct[…]

This singular line was one of the things that made me stop and really pay attention when I first read “Ego Tripping (There May Be A Reason Why)” by Nikki Giovanni years ago. And when I came across it again, I remembered just how much I loved her words.

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Giovanni is a poet, activist and educator, and I love her for wearing so many hats with ease. She’s currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech, and she is still vibrant and witty at 75 years of age. She’s published numerous books of her poetry and I personally enjoyed “Quilting the Black Eyed Pea: Poems and Not Quite Poems”, one of her books in my personal collection.

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There’s a lot to say about Giovanni, and too many poems and quotes to count. However, I think the best way to get a sense of her is to read the words she wrote about herself. I loved the bio on her website. Here’s an excerpt that I found amusing, sobering, and inspiring, just like Giovanni herself:

I was asked to  do a biography so this is it.  I am 71 years old.  I highly recommend old age;  it’s fun.  I have been awarded an unprecedented  7 NAACP Image Awards which makes me very very proud.  I have been nominated for a Grammy; been a finalist for  the  National Book Award.  I am very proud to have authored 3 New York Times and Los Angeles Times Best Sellers, highly unusual for a poet.  I am a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.  I don’t have a lot of friends but I have good ones.  I have a son and a granddaughter.  My father, mother, sister and middle aunt are all deceased literarily making me go from being the baby in the family to being an elder.  I like to cook, travel and dream.  I’m a writer.  I’m happy.

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I hope you all enjoyed this post! Savor this fantastic Friday, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

(photos courtesy of AZQuotes, ETB Screenwriting and InstaQuote)

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Review: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Part 2

Happy Friday, friends! There’s not a whole lot to say, especially if you’ve seen Part 1 of this review (you can view Part 1 here). I’ll stick to sharing photos that you all haven’t already seen and providing a little commentary.

I saw a few Pablo Picasso works that I’d never seen before. I’m so accustomed to seeing his Cubist works that I forget that he didn’t always work with abstract figures. Earlier in his career, he worked with Impressionist techniques, as you can see in the paintings below.

Head of a Woman, Pablo Picassso (1901)

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Old Woman (Woman with Gloves), Pablo Picasso (1901)

This is the style we know and love from Picasso:

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Three Musicians, Pablo Picasso (1921)

I always have loved Pierre-Auguste Renoir, another Impressionist. His photos are both timeless and beautiful. This is a tender portrait of his beloved wife and favorite model, Aline Charigot Renoir.

Portrait of Madame Renoir, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1885)

This sweet-faced little girl was the daughter of an art dealer friend of Renoir’s.

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Portrait of Mademoiselle Legrand, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1875)

Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers are a great example of post-Impressionist work: it features thick paint, more vivid color selection and slightly distorted forms. The work is paradoxical: it’s a still life but the technique used by Van Gogh gives it a feeling of movement and dynamism. This work inspired Faith Ringgold’s The Sunflower Quilting Bee at Arles, which is also at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (I missed it on this trip, but I’ll be sure to catch it next time!) Ringgold even inserts Van Gogh into her work! You can view Ringgold’s work here.

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Sunflowers, Vincent Van Gogh (1888 or 1889)

Lastly, I was drawn in by the beautifully serene expression on the subject’s face. She looks like she was briefly interrupted while concentrating on her embroidery. She’s still thinking about her design and this is just moments before her attention is completed diverted away from her handicraft. I love how Mary Cassatt has caught this fleeting moment.

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Mary Ellison Embroidering, Mary Cassatt (1877)

I can’t wait to return to the museum to see some more artwork and to take lots of photos for you all! Talk to you all tomorrow.

 

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Words of Wisdom: Maya Angelou

Happy Sunday, my friends! This Words of Wisdom post is long overdue. Mother Maya Angelou, who I’ve mentioned in this post and in this one, has been a personal inspiration for a very long time. Her life – full of adventures, love and depth – is a story of living to the fullest. I can’t possibly put all of her accomplishments here, but a short list includes a career as a singer, poet, street car driver, activist, and journalist. You can read about her many “lives” here.

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There are literally hundreds of Maya Angelou quotes worth incorporating into your life (remember, she’s a writer: she had a lot to say!) But my favorites are any of the quotes that encourage you to live a good life.

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Maya didn’t have a perfect life: her mother had a difficult time with caring for small children, so she left Maya and her brother with their grandmother. Then, during a visit, Maya’s mother’s boyfriend ended up raping Maya (he later experienced some “street justice” for attacking her).

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Maya was so traumatized by the rape and the subsequent murder of her rapist that she was silent for several years, opting instead to retreat to a world of books. When she finally did decide to speak again, she “had a lot to say”, as she had read every book available in the colored library that she visited.

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She lived through segregation, the Civil Rights movement, rapid global changes, and she absolutely THRIVED through it all. She’s proof that difficulties need not keep us from living our best lives. When we continue to prioritize joy and make sure that we live boldly, we too can thrive even when the outside world is turbulent.

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And can we talk, for just a moment, about how much law of attraction (LOA) factors into her quotes? So many of the concepts that we hear in LOA circles show up in Maya’s words. Reading her quotes is like getting a hold of some kind of LOA textbook!

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I’ve plucked a few of my favorite quotes, but I can’t do justice to Maya within this post. If you find her interesting (and pretty much anyone would find her interesting if they knew just a little about her), I encourage you to read some of her poetry, watch videos of her on YouTube and check out her autobiographies. You won’t be disappointed!

Maya Angelou Quote about Life

 

(photos courtesy of Goalcast, CreativeTalanoa, Fearless Motivation, Quotlr, Imfunny.net, and Quotesten)

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Words of Wisdom: June Jordan

In keeping with the spirit of some of my Words of Wisdom posts (I enjoy profiling women writers), I’m sharing a few quotes from June Jordan.

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(from Goodreads)

Jordan touched on many of the same issues as discussed by Audre Lorde.  I love that Jordan focused on telling her truth through poetry. When you think about it, truth-telling is difficult – or at very least uncomfortable – when you have weighty matters or opinions to discuss. But to be able to tell the truth artistically sound extraordinarily challenging: Jordan, however, did it with ease.

In the process of telling the truth about what you feel

(photo from Affinity Magazine)

Jordan’s poetry often intersected art with politics, race, gender and other issues of representation. She understood that her chosen method of truth telling was distinctly political and self-reflective.

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(from AZQuotes)

Jordan’s writings are a testimony to the power of poetry to embolden and empower readers. After all, she famously stated, “We are the ones we have been waiting for”. And what is more powerful than knowing that you – yes, YOU – have the ability to rescue yourself? I find that thought extremely comforting.

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(from Pinterest)

Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your Friday! I’ll chat with you all tomorrow!

words of wisdom

Words of Wisdom from Michelle L.

I think it’s time for a word of wisdom. This time, however, I’m not sharing a celebrity or historical figure.

This time, the words of wisdom comes from my dear sisterfriend, Michelle. She mentioned this poem during a particularly painful time in my life, and I found the words encouraging. She told me that this poem was her favorite of all time. Once you read it, I’m sure you’ll understand why.

According to Patrick Wanis, the title of the poem is “Comes the Dawn”, and it was discovered in a craft store by advice columnist Ann Landers who went on to quote it. It has been credited to Veronica Shoftstall, but this is likely erroneous, as it was originally a part of a poem attributed by Jorge Luis Borges. But even that may be inaccurate: it has also been credited to Colombian poet Yamira Hernandez.

I loved the words and felt like sharing it with you all (many thanks to Nermeena for posting this lovely poem for all of us to enjoy).

Comes the Dawn by an Unknown Author

After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn…

 

Happy Friday, my friends. I’ll talk to you all soon.