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Archive for the month “August, 2013”

Now That’s Cute?

In the wake of Miley Cyrus’ crash and burn performance at the  2013 VMAs I started looking at what we deem to be cute. Our society likes to look, we enjoy the” finer” things and are obsessed with celebrity and celebrities are obsessed with being in the limelight. However, our youngsters are getting the wrong message. Partially because “we” are sending them flawed information.

I remember as a child watching the Mickey Mouse Club (in black and white no less).  I wondered what one needed to do to be a kid on television. I don’t think I was alone but in Kansas, well that task would be a bit more difficult. The early 1980’s brought forth a new revamped and a bit more diverse Mickey Mouse Club. Mickey was now quietly competing with MTV. Nowadays my granddaughter enjoys the Disney Channel; 24 hours of Mickey Mouse, Princesses, Doc McStuffins, Little Einsteins and an array of talented “tweens” coming to the adult world faster than you can quite frankly”wish upon a star” for.

However, there seems to be a new epidemic surfacing, or should I say resurfacing. These kids are being thrown into growing up on screen before they actually have time to grow up. Now this is not new to the harsh world of reality for child stars, but we see some really bizarre reactions to no longer being cute. Why, because being cute just isn’t enough. They long for, crave, no they demand an enormous amount of gratification and attention.  When they do not get this attention they do what any child would do, they throw a tantrum and they are doing it in the most public way.

I cannot point my finger at them(the kids) exclusively, what of the adults who are cashing in and exploiting them. When Miley did her version of what many are describing as a “g-rated sex show”(oxymoron anyone), did we forget that Robin Thicke was on stage with her? If he was surprised, he sure did a great job of improvising his way through it. Surely the producers of the show saw where this was going and could have pulled the plug at any time, but what happened, nothing.

There is a little movie starring Lindsey Lohan, another casualty of the Disney Empire, called “Mean Girls”; it addresses a host of problems children in our society deal with growing up in the seemingly normal life. It is hilarious, but there is a particular scene that comes to mind where the spotlight is shone on the younger sister of one of the main characters. This little girl is depicted as PERHAPS a second grader watching a sexy music video and imitating the provocative moves.. sound/seem familiar?

These little girls are most definitely cute, but it is clear that no matter how the industry tries to disguise it, there is the underlying power of the corporate big-wigs to sell sex, and it doesn’t matter if they use kids who are ready, or mature, or legal. They are another drop in the bucket and   if they get out of hand they simply switch to the next “flavor of the month”.

Therefore when you are watching your little angel grow up and shine, carefully cultivate her talent and beauty. Then if you feel compelled to share her with the world on this level  and in this particular forum, be wary of exposing her to too much limelight all at once. Her delicate self may not be able to withstand it.



Frozen and unable to move. Have you ever felt like this? What do you think of when you think of fear. I  am not taking about shaking in your boots type, Dracula jumping at you from the big screen fear. This is the subtle one. The one you don’t know or admit to having. It is very dangerous because it will crop up at the most inopportune times.

I loved the water, loved the beach, but I never learned how to swim. Southern California girl who rode to the beach on her bike with her best friend weekly, could NOT swim a stroke.

We took swimming in high school gym class, it was mandatory. Along with the concerns a black girl has for her hair(although mine didn’t look that great back then anyway), I hated the class in general. I did not like changing in the open locker room and I did not like sports. Thus that was partially why I was not in shape. I was overweight and you had to wear these school issue suits; the thin fit girls had sleek-black-recently- purchase-almost cute- one pieced suits, while we fat girls(and at that time there were not many) had these turquoise-burlap-elastic stressed/stretched-out dinosaurs-with semi-skirted bottoms, also one-pieced. Imagining ugly, is only scratching the surface. So if you did not know you were “fat” the color coding was there. After a semester of training I did manage to pass the class with the help of this tiny little blonde named Meliss (not Melissa either). I was a freshman and had no idea who Meliss was and found myself shocked to discover she was a student aid. Good thing you are virtually weightless in water, otherwise I would have been ranked far outside of Meliss’ weight-class.  I was not comfortable in the water, so years later and after I had children, I enrolled in a class at the local college I attended.  It was a six week course, I got through two the first time in tried taking the class and three weeks on the second effort.

My oldest son was taking swimming lessons at  age six, I did not want him to suffer my fate of being a non swimmer, he did great.   One day as we waited for class to conclude his brother(less than two at the time)  broke free from me, ran straight for and jumped fearlessly into the pool. He, of course, was fine he was actually dog paddling like a pro and laughing with complete joy. The fact that he was surrounded by so many staffers ready and able to “save ” him, well a non-swimmer mother could not ask for a better spot to be put “on the spot”. It was there, at that moment I realized I was afraid of the water.  Years of  proclaiming love for  the beach , the ocean, pools, water… ; I was petrified when my child jumped into that perfectly blue, perfectly ph-balanced, perfectly supervised pool, because I WAS AFRAID OF WATER… how could I save him. That was sobering, but it allowed me to face a fact. Even though I tried to accomplish the feat of swimming, unaware of my actual  state of mind, I could not because something inside of me was holding me back. I still cannot swim, but I now know it is fear that stops me.

That subtle-quiet-just-below-the-surface fear. The type that kept you from going away to college, because you didn’t want to leave the familiar surroundings of home. The type that won’t allow you on the dance floor, because you worry that people will pay such close attention to the fact you don’t have rhythm. The type that makes you hesitate when you are offered an opportunity to do something that you say you love and feel you are good at, but are terrified you will fail so you do nothing. What you do instead is give up the water, you miss your chance at the experience of being educated both formally and socially, you bypass a chance at just having some fun at the party, or you let go of a dream.

Don’t let it happen; the thing that you think you are afraid of, that which you imagine is far worse than it actually is, if you come face to face with it. Face your fear and move forward.

Say, Uncle…

“Say, Uncle” is a tribute to another all important male figure in a child’s life. First this is not going to cover each unique family situation, there are exceptions to ever rule. I am going to use examples  from personal experiences and observations, hopefully in a manner that will allow my readers to take and exchange for their own.

We all have a favorite relative outside the immediate family; here I am going to use the term favorite as simply an expression of blind admiration, be it grandparent, cousin, aunt, or uncle. One of these people simply connects with you in a way that make you feel special, and therefore they in turn are special to you.

Watching my son with his first and only niece over these past few years took me back to my childhood where I recalled my uncles. My family was large on both sides, I had 10 uncles. I had the serious one, the fun one, the mysterious one, the mean one and the one you barely knew. Each of my uncles fell into one of those categories or a slight variation. Without the benefit of the internet and cell phones, if you had a relative in a place not close enough to travel by car or walk to, you were very limited in contact. Holidays and special occasions were truly special. While there was a great presence of my family nearby, there were several that lived a good distances away.  The funny thing about a favorite though, they manage to make you recall, remember and cherish them as if no time or space existed between you.

“Uncle Bud”was that guy for me. Although as life allows you to see flaws in things(i.e. my belief he was so special and only I had the benefit of seeing this fact), I realize he was not exclusively “my” favorite uncle. As my cousins and I have talked, he actually held that title in a number of our eyes. He was a truly special guy to have kids of his own and to manage to make his brothers’ kids all think he was the greatest man other than their own dad, well that is quite a feat. He gave me a large amount of money for my graduation gift, BUT what meant more than anything else was he came to California to be there and on top of that and stayed for a week. Just for me. I remember every dinner, sitting on the front porch laughing and talking, and his cigars.  Now I think and thought cigars the most horrible. smelly, vile, nauseating things; BUT when it came to Uncle Bud, they were just a part of who he was, they didn’t even cause me to blink. He passed away many years ago, but I can always remember him with a smile on my face and warmth in my heart. He was loved dearly.

I believe my granddaughter will have the feelings I had for my Uncle Bud for her Uncle Tio. The moniker was given to him by his brother, of whom he is very close to. I cannot tell you how many times people with command of the Spanish language and those who possess a very limited knowledge of it, tell us” you know you are saying Uncle Uncle.” We laugh as we have over they years when we talk of how people constantly ask what the “J” stands for(his name is JAY). At three his niece knows Uncle Tio IS Jay. He cradled her clumsily, as his brother did, on day one of her life on Earth. He colors with her, reads stories, dances to her Disney Movies, tosses her into the air to her delight, and shares his pizza. As she demonstrated the will of a three year old, he stood firm and made her sit quietly until she relinquished that she must do what Uncle Tio tells her to do and listen. A midst quite dramatic tears, she gave in and moments later all was forgiven and forgotten. Being a single 20 something man, who wants to make sure his niece knows of his involvement and love for her, makes him stand out. I cannot explain this completely; yet I know I am seeing it more and more, that’s a good thing. Pay attention in the mall, at doctor’s offices, and in photos on facebook; you may see that all important doting uncle standing by, on guard, with a toddler in tow or in arms.

In childhood games “Say Uncle” is used as a command to demonstrate who was in control; my “Say, Uncle” is an outcry to the fellows with nieces and nephews who need to know that there are other men in this world, outside their immediate family and besides their fathers, who will be present in their lives in a positive fashion.

Coming To Terms And Finding Balance

Early mornings when it is dark and quiet, thoughts are free to float about in your mind. Many people will not have this experience for numerous reasons the most obvious being, they simply aren’t morning folk.  After 36 years of pre-dawn starts, it is my norm.

I was reading a nice story about reconnecting and it made me smile. The story was of a siblings finding one another after 30 years! Exciting right; but if you have lost touch with someone it will bring a bit of melancholy to you whether or not this separation was intentional.

Everything in our lives works or doesn’t because we are in a state that puts us at unrest. We search for a mate, we search for a job, we search for dinner; none of these are impossible to obtain, it is just we are confused about the combinations of what factors will give us satisfaction and ultimately end our search. We want to reach the “finish line”.

Anticipation or exhaustion, you have gotten to your limit. Now that you have made this determination you must live with it, and that may be easier said than done. Here is where finding balance comes in. I tag myself notorious for “thinking things through, and generally I am convinced of just that. However, I also have to note those well thought through, deliberate notions do not always have staying power.

They (deliberate notions) are well thought out for the short-term and disguised as long-term decisions. They say,” Absolutely, my decision, I can live with this”. Five, Thirteen, Twenty-Five years down the line when the only thing that has seemingly changed is you, are you still gonna say,” you can live with it” and remember why it was you made that statement in the first place.

What do you say? It sounds good, feels good, looks good to be representative of something that is beyond a top-surface. Yet in reality, we all know it takes a little bit more of your entire being to really demonstrate ones actual heart. Doing things with conviction versus having an ulterior motive may be the best gauge you have available to you, so govern yourself accordingly. Don’t do things for reaction or results in this/these instance(s), sometimes it may not be what you expect or want. The balance will come if you are truly putting something of real value into what you hope to convey.  Remember, “You get what you give.”

Lovin You..Tests Me Every Day

I think of Minnie Ripperton’s song “Lovin You” so this post has a theme song and if you read on the melody will be the same but the words will totally change.

Let me address the critics who will comb through my title and take me verbatim;  words like all every, never, always.. Well we know that the absolute is not intended they are for uses that addresses the extreme, to amplify seriousness, or to imply how very widespread the thought is. That said, love and loving is a wonderful thing. We love our parents, our spouses, our children, our friends, our siblings and the subsections of each. That is a lotta love. When I talk about tests, one might look at this as a challenge, a difficulty, or simply something to get through.

Most people don’t like test and the interpretation might be a lotta love = a lotta work. Well what of it? I mean haven’t you ever taken a test and done well on it. Think about how you felt then and apply it to love.

My 3 year old granddaughter is becoming increasingly active; at first I was up for the challenge of keeping up, now I must admit it is more difficult than I allowed myself to believe. At times I feel bad because I just don’t want to do anything but rest, and I worry that she will begin to equate me with the notion of people and places you’d just NOT rather be around. All this because I cannot always keep up with someone who is, in short a dynamo! I tell myself it is okay if we skip Monkey Joe’s this weekend and we opt for the Merry-Go-Round at the mall.

What about you parents of teens. The budding adults, who want to be treated with respect and given freedoms. All the while, leaving wet towels in their bedrooms and dirty dishes in the sink. Did they miss the part about responsibility going hand and hand with being treated more like an adult. Here you are a virtual germ-a-phobe living under the same roof as “Pig-Pen”.  You prep for “warfare” verbal or physical, meaning you clean up or yell at them to do what they knew they should do in the first place.  Aren’t you tested, it doesn’t mean you love this child of yours any less, just that a particular part of them tests your very being.

Just for fun let’s toss in some sibling rivalry, spouse relations, and aging parents; I will leave those out there for you to decipher. Tell me if you don’t think love tests you and I leave you with the reminder that the song of Minnie Ripperton, which I referenced in the beginning, ends with a tribute to her daughter Miya(you hear her name over and over) whose crying was testing her very talented parent.

Howlin At The Moon

My Libra sisters and I are on so many of the same wave lengths it is utterly amazing at times. There are people who discount astrology and I understand. However at our age it kinda gives you that “back to childhood fairy-story type of feel with a steroid shot of real world infused”. Artistic, musically inclined, masters of the written and spoken word; needless to say the hopeless but NOT hapless romantic spirit prevails in each of us.

Last night as I left my favorite grocery store in Georgia, I could not help but admire the large wonderful moon. I used my camera in my phone, but my hands were not as steady as they should be with this article, as I carted a couple of bags hurriedly to my car. Parking lot lights ablaze, I did not get close to the splendor of this beautiful showing.  I started to try again but I had an impediment, so I could not attempt  more photos. There will be other times, other moon showings like this one. Some night the midst of autumn when the cool crispness is in the air again, the heavenly bodies seemingly close enough to touch, but being earthbound all you can do is admire them from afar. I comforted myself with that thought. However, this morning I awoke to find on my facebook page front and center two shots of the moon eight hours earlier and on the opposite coast. IRONY, I thought as I smiled at the two lovely clear shots. I said,” I wonder what she was thinking as she gazed at the moon and felt so compelled to photograph it.” I have to say in reality and did not wonder; I could read her mind loud and clear, obviously she was reading mine. Thanks Tammy!

So, You’re Trying NOT To Be Excellent

Seasons are drawing to a close, seasons are rapidly approaching;I am talking sports seasons here folks but this piece encompasses life.

I am both a golf enthusiast and a football FAN(atic)! I have written about my favorite “hate to love him” golfer several times while only giving a group nod to the sport I truly love,FOOTBALL. Today in the midst of mediocrity (my opinion) this post came to me. I struggled through Pre-season football  and I watched Tiger Woods.

One week ago Tiger played a tournament as though he was the only participant; there was Tiger and then there was the rest of the field, and this week I saw a display of what felt like a woman during her monthly cycle, not all there and no visible sign of concern. His scores at the respective tournaments reflect as much too.  I saw him gain a substantial lead last week and basically coast into his victory, while this week he looked tired, disinterested, and ready to get off the course to have lunch/dinner/sex/whatever.  Forgive the sarcasm but I HATE THAT!

It made me think back to a couple of years ago when the Indianapolis Colts(not my favorite team either) came painfully close to matching the perfect season  of the Miami Dolphins and instead decide to sit Payton Manning down one game after the first quarter. Why, because they knew they were going to win, but if they didn’t their playoff spot was secured. They were wrong.  The decision resulted in a loss for the Colts.Afterwards the  front office issued a statement that let you know the record wasn’t important to THEM!  What did they mean “not important to THEM”, what about US, the fans? Don’t we count? Apparently not and I hated that too. I have been pulling AGAINST the Colts ever since.

As a fan I wonder do these professional athletes, teams, and owners decided we have to divvy out wins and losses so the fan base will remain and be interested. There is no reason to display the prowess and superb talent. THE MONEY FACTOR has become so vast and important that everyone who has control of these respective sports and their respective selves have forgotten; without US the FANS, no matter how many sponsors you have, you will ultimately have NOTHING!  Tell me why you would squander God Given talent anyway? That which sets you apart, that which makes people take notice, filling grandstands and stadiums alike; you would randomly toss  aside. Really?

Anyone can have a bad day; but it is insulting to be treated as though we cannot tell the difference between a bad day, and a day when  you just don’t give a damn. I suppose that is why I feel the way I do about Tiger Woods, he is the best but he doesn’t always bring the best with him; he doesn’t care, he doesn’t have to care, AND it shows. Each tournament I pull for him in I am asking that I be put out of my misery, for there is nothing WORSE than having so much available to you and  to treat it as though it is nothing. I need him to break a couple more records and then I shall be free!  Football I will once again site football because of my love for it, but this applies to all team sports though; shouldn’t there be a group effort that move you toward the unifying feeling of conquest and accomplishment?

Now we parlay all of this into life in general; what is it that you do, and do you put forth your best effort every time you do it? Don’t you owe it to the ones who love, adore, and count on you, to deliver to them your very best no matter what that may be. When and why does it become okay NOT to be excellent, when you have demonstrated excellence and know there is still more to give. I mean left-overs are what remains after the planned/thought out meal concludes. They are the extra to be used or eventually tossed out, but by the time you get to them, the memory of what they once were has faded. What do you want to be; the well thought through plan, or the extra remains thereof.

The Last Word

I am going to take you back to the school yard here, the argument that leads to the fight, the calling out. Depending on your selection of words this is where the true blows are thrown.

Sometimes we get into discussions and they turn into debates. Last one standing wins, right?  Well not in Musical Chairs. The need to be the loudest or having the last word is reminiscent of our childhood. The person we were to become crying out, ” I am here notice me, I have something to say.” In adult world it is just down right annoying.  For as bad as being “shushed” or silenced it is equally irritating to have someone constantly placing an addendum to what you have to say. “You do it first, No you do it first, no you…” in an endless cycle until one tires and their silence concedes a victory to the other, is what comes to mind.

Fast Forward today; there is someone in your life that lives, embodies, exemplifies having the last word. To them it doesn’t matter if what they are saying is truthful or relevant, all it has to be is enough to validate they spoke last. They aren’t particularly agreeable and they also need to be right, whether or not what they are saying is CORRECT does not matter. Yet when you encounter them, know you have a very simple way of disarming them. It does require a bit of ego cleansing on your part though. All you have to do is say,” You are right___”. That does not say you agree, it simply says you aren’t going to argue and/or debate with someone who clearly has the answer(s) already, all the answers. This may take a time or two for this individual to catch on but the reward will be great, and you also spare yourself the fate of becoming exactly like the one you are trying to teach the lesson,” It isn’t the point you have the last word, it is that you say something significant whenever you speak.”

Tiger’s …Oh My

I am reminded of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; the scene is Dorothy, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow are walking through a dark part of the forest and they are reciting, “Lions and tigers and bears oh my, lions and tigers and bears, oh my…” Suddenly the lion jumps out at them!!!

Well this time it was a Tiger who jumped out, and he was on the golf course in Akron, Ohio. When will we NOT be shocked and amazed at the things he does. We have come to expect no less than perfection from him. He is supposed to win and when he does not… we are taken aback in such a fashion that we forget that he is but a mere mortal. How can he miss a put inside 8 feet when he makes them on a regular basis outside of 20? Sand-traps,water, trees and any other hazard seems like common everyday play for one who possesses all that he has.

As one goes down the list of analyst, former pro greats or simply sports reporters who have never played the game on his level, but wait, who else has actually played the game on HIS level? one realizes they must pay homage take notice to others  on the PGA Tour. Oftentimes the reports and comparisons of other pros on the tour seem unrealistic and unfair, to Tiger. It seems like they forget he has 79 PGA Tour Victories,14 majors, is one of five players to achieve a career Grand Slam(winning all four majors) IS the only play to win all four majors in one season(Tiger Slam) set the record for the most consecutive starts.. I could go on.  Well of course they don’t forget. Simply one must realize there are others on the tour and furthermore golf is a difficult game; it is precision and deliberate actions, even when your naked eye tells you that tiny ball got into the hole by luck or chance.

I, not unlike the typical fan, wait for the golf superstar to chock up his next win, to break yet another record, and go down in the annuls of history. As I sat glued to the television for the past four days, I laughingly realize how quickly I abandoned  my vigil once Tiger won. I didn’t care what he had to say, I was not impressed by his picking young Charlie up on his way to sign the winning score card, I was done and ready to move to the next venue, Oak Hill. I want all of Tiger’s victories to come and to come frequently, but once they are over I do not want to be bothered with the personal details of his existence.

In conclusion, I love the game of golf and he brings something to it that no other has managed to do, at least at this magnitude.  Realizing there was golf before Tiger and golf will continue after he is gone, but you cannot help taking notice of one who has made so many marks on a game, in the fashion he has all along the way. With Oak Hill in the very near future you have to wonder, will Tiger give us fans and the golf world yet another reason to say “Oh my!”

“L’eh Me Splain Sumthin Lucy”

For anyone who has never seen an episode of “I Love Lucy” no matter how unlikely that may be; this title is taken from a line a very familiar character, her husband on and off screen at the time, delivered with his slightly exaggerated accent. Therefore this is my lead into a discussion on race.

I watched the news and saw reactions from the Sports World in regards to yet another young player who got caught on video being” human”. Arguably,  he said something stupid, mean, hurtful, insensitive, I could go on. Riley Cooper spurned a debate in my life between the” old die-hard radical” and the “flower child,”read into that comparison what you will.  Nearing the Diamond Jubilee Anniversary of life on this planet affords one some very strong, documented, validated reasoning and opinions. It does not however counteract or even dilute the hopes of one junior in chronology, armed with merely a half century + of exposure and experiences. One says, “It will never change, all the years I have been here shows it”. The other says,” It can change, it is changing, and I believe I will see the reality of that change in my lifetime.

He said,”Well it just figures”.  I did not tell him young Riley was born and bred in Oklahoma, which would have immediately brought forth the reminder of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots. I said,” I do believe he is sorry”. Ground-work laid for the healthy, vigorous debate. Before we could get started, after my statement, the smirk and eyes rolling up into his head demonstrated what he thought of MY opinion already. I continued in spite of this though. I do not always think with my heart and emotions as certain individuals would have you believe, for I know this young NFL wide-receiver, apology noted and accepted by HIS teammates, is going to have a LONG season ahead of him to say the least! He will undoubtedly be subject to dirty hits, funny looks, and biased judgement for what he said in a fit of anger with the aid of alcohol. We as a society have a long way to go with race relations, but we do tend to overt displays of this unsavory behavior; John Rocker, Kerry Collins, Mel Gibson, Michael Richards can all attest to this.

However to be fair history has made many folks, senior to our group, draw the conclusions this particular counter part of mine has drawn.  He said,” How many times have I told you how they act when they have a little liquor in them. The truth comes out.” As I listened and reflected on how what came out of HIS mouth sounded very familiar; it sounded as though it was coming from a racist, just like ones of whom he detests.

While one element in our society grows tired of hearing about race, the other side of the coin says it is ALL about race, and even though both are extreme I welcome the fact race is coming up at all, for it is at the very least birthing dialogue.  This dialogue is not going to be all niceties and proper, for the subject is ugly and violent reaction would be expected (NOTE: I said violent reaction NOT violence). However, when the smoke clears perhaps some real work and solutions can come forth. We cannot continue to ignore that status of race relations in this country. It is clear that leaving the subject alone doesn’t make it  get better or even go away and die; it hides, festers and pops out mutated and stronger than before.

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