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Showing posts from 2009

Stepping out of your comfort zone

I remember when I was a little kid, and like most kids I loved to explore, to venture into unknown areas, to discover new things and try to learn how they worked; that is until Mama or Daddy slapped my hands to keep me from harming myself. That adventurous spirit continued into my teenage years sometimes leading me to take chances, some reckless, some not so, depending upon the influence of my friends. I would venture into places where I didn't know what to expect. Fortunately, no harm resulted. As a young adult, the first big chance I took was when I moved away from family and friends and across the country to a state where I didn't know anyone and did not have a job waiting. I had saved a little money to tide me over for a few weeks until I could find a place to stay and employment. (Jobs in those days were plentiful.) Somehow I managed to survive, but as time went by, responsibilities and obligations set in. And with those obligations and responsibilities came fear leaving …

Exercise - A Little Goes A Long Way

I've been active most of my life either taking long walks to get away from my overcrowded home. Our door was always open to family members and friends; hence, our small Harlem apartment was many times filled with relatives and friends. Taking long walks from 145th Street to 125th Street, through Central Park and down to 59th Street was part of my young years.

When I moved out to L.A. I continued to walk, swim at the local pool, and practice yoga with Lilias who had a show on TV. At that time, exercise wasn't a big thing as it is today. I never thought of my activity as an exercise regimen. These were just some things I enjoyed doing. I didn't get into a formal exercise program until I joined the gym some years later. I began going to an aerobics class and worked out on the weight machines. This was followed by a step aerobics class until my knees gave out. No matter how hard I worked out, I could never keep up with others in those classes. Refusing to punish my body any f…

Getting Technology Savy

The other day, I visited my friend Mattie who had recently moved into senior housing. I hadn't seen her in a few months and I wanted to see how she was settling in and to show off my new gadget. I showed her my new iphone. "It does just about everything except cook a meal and run your bath water," I said. She laughed and shook her head. "Things have really changed from when I was a little girl. All these new inventions, I can't keep up," she said. "It seems that just when I become comfortable with one thing, it's obsolete." Although it is a struggle, Mattie tries. she's still learning how to use her new laptop computer. She uses it mostly to send emails to her children and other relatives, to pay her bills online, and to surf the web for anything she happens to be interested in.



She told me about her next door neighbor who refuses to even consider all the new technological advances. "Vera is the most stubborn person I've ever met. …

Getting Rid of Clutter

My house is cluttered. I've read all those articles about ways to get rid of clutter, still I hate to throw things away. "If you haven't worn it or used it in a year, toss it," the articles recommend. Easier said than done. Unless it is no longer usable or I can't fit into it, I keep it. You never know, I tell myself, one day...; Consequently, my wardrobe is stuffed with clothes I've worn a few times; my mantle is filled with objects for which I've managed to find a place. My life too, has been cluttered with people who should have been let go; grudges held onto because of some incident I can no longer remember; and mistakes I've made in the past that replay in my mind.



It is easier to get rid of objects and clothes than it is to get rid of people. Why would I want to get rid of people? I ask myself. I had an acquaintance who always had something negative to say about people and everything. To her, sunny days will inevitably lead to rain. If she's …

Benefits of Travel

I love to travel. It's in my blood. For most of my life I have traveled up and down the east and west coast of the U.S. and other parts of the world. As a child I traveled usually with my aunts to visit relatives down south, as we called it, driving from New York to Virginia several times during the year. As an adult living in California, my husband and I drove up and down the west coast exploring cities and towns from Los Angeles to Baja and up to Washington state. Once we drove from Los Angeles to New York and back, camping most of the way. It took us almost a month. We circled the U.S. stopping at campsites in the South, East, North, and West. We even ventured across Canada until it became too cold to camp in our little tent. On the whole, it was an invaluable trip. Not only did I get a geography lesson, but also it gave me a better understanding of and regard for the people and places that make up this country.

My first venture overseas was to Nigeria. Since then I've trave…

Journaling: an important tool for writers

I began writing a journal after reading Anais Nin's Diaries years ago. I'd checked it out of the library and became fascinated with her account of her friendships with Henry and June Miller and other artists of the early part of the twentieth century. Before long I was hooked by that form of writing. Previously, I'd started keeping a diary, and on rare occasions when I could remember, I'd record my daily activities. Then I'd lock it, anyone who really wanted to see what I'd written could have easily opened the lock with a paper clip. However, after reading Nin's diaries (aka Anais Nin's Journals), I soon found that the small white book I'd purchased was too confining. I needed to expand from just listing my daily mundane activities. So I purchased a large notebook and thus began my years of journaling.

I now have volumes including a travel journal, one when my son was a baby and just learning to talk, a gardening journal in which I keep track of how …

Living Fully

Frances E. Williams was eighty-nine when she died. She had been an actress, activist, organizer, and community worker among other things. Working with her on her biography, I got to know this wonderful lady who led such a rich life. From her I learned the value of living fully. By that I mean not being afraid to stretch yourself beyond the confines of what you know; letting go and experiencing the unknown; freeing yourself from fear, prejudice, age, or what other people will say. One of the prerequisites to living life fully is to know yourself. What makes you happy? What do you fear? What do you like to do? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Answers to these questions can give you insight into your attitude towards life.

Being open to change is another important factor. If you are not open to change, you limit yourself. Go back to school should you desire. learning is a lifetime endeavor. Whether it is to learn to play a musical instrument, sing, paint, dance, speak an…

The Joy of Aging

I celebrate the joy of aging. Yes, there have been times when aches and pains made me not want to get out of bed some mornings, but there have been many more times when I look forward to my day and relish the chance to experience something new. A woman once said to me, "I don't tell folks my age because I don't want them saying "you're that old," or "You look so young for your age." Another woman said, "I've made it this far and I'm proud." It all depends on your perspective. I don't want to be defined by my age. After all, it's just a number. Not that I'm trying to hide anything. One look at me and one can tell I'm no longer a spring chicken, as the saying goes - the slowing steps, the spreading waistline, the sagging breast, the constant battle to cover that gray. Yes, I do color my hair. This reminds me of my aunt's adage, "...as long as there's Miss Clairol..." You get the picture. What's …