Still…I Write

Writing is truly a gift that I have been blessed with. I say that because sometimes I am amazed at the onslaught of words that come to me. Sometimes, in such abundance, that it’s overwhelming. I can only conclude that these colorful expressions must come from God above.

From as far back as I can remember, I have loved everything about writing. As a young girl, I would take a book and copy the pages, word for word, just because I loved to ‘write’ and the whole writing process. A pen and paper – two best friends; like peanut butter and jelly. They just go together and one without the other simply doesn’t work. I enjoyed the way a pen and pencil felt between my fingers and the magic I could create with these instruments.

I learned early on the value of words and all the different meanings one can express through their creative and intellectual usage. Little did I know at the time, that I had a whole lot of things to express from within, some from pure imagination, while other thoughts were to be born out of sheer life experience. 

I will admit that there are some days where as much as I like to write, I simply don’t always feel up to it and  often feel guilty as a result. It seems I can’t squeeze out one consonant, vowel, syllable, fragment, phrase, sentence,etc. It seems impossible to make even one participial phrase dangle or one subject and verb come to an agreement. I often wonder why if I enjoy ‘writing’ so much, are there times when I don’t have any interest in putting my pen to paper or my fingers to my laptop keyboard? Sometimes, it feels like not a single creative thought is anywhere in sight. So, I often look back at things that I’ve written previously and try to take my mind back to where it was when I wrote those pieces. It’s almost like an out-of-body experience because on the days when creativity seems to escape me, I wonder how and if I can find it again!

So what do I do in these instances? I muddle through and write anyway; even in the midst of a seemingly blank canvass. I release that first drop of ink, that first keystroke onto the fresh white space that is just waiting for me to fill it with substance.  Even when my heart doesn’t seem to be in it….still, I write. When the ‘word well’ seems to have run dry…still, I write. When creativity and imagination seem to have taken an unexpected vacation…still, I write. Pen and paper come together again to form the bond that can only be created by their melodious union…kind of like that peanut butter and jelly that forms a perfect partnership! What’s your take?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Image: Free google images

 

Summer Storm

More beautiful camera work from Kevin at WildCamera Words! Enjoy!

Harbour Lights

This is such an awesome view that I just had to share it on my blog; compliments of Kevin at WildCamera Words. Not only does he have a great eye for capturing spectacular photos, but he also has a wonderful way with words. Enjoy!

Did You Know?…(5)

Did you know….

    • It is estimated that 10% of all humans are left-handed. Interesting tidbit: 50% of Cats are left- handed. Who knew?
    • Lefthandedness tends to run in families. The British royal family has several lefties which include: the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Prince William.
    • You are 50% more likely to be a ‘southpaw’ if one of your parents is left-handed.
    • Men are more likely to be lefties.
    • Left-handed people are more likely to have an IQ score above 131 and are more apt to be the genius in the family. Lefties are often known to be math wizzes. The Neuropyschology journal published in 2006, indicates that left-handed people process stimuli faster than right-handed people. The Australian National University(ANU), conducted research that supports earlier studies that demonstrate left-handed people use both hemispheres of the brain to process language, whereas, right-handed people tend to primarily use the left hemisphere. Further research supports the hypothesis that people who write using their left hand, most likely have brains that are better suited to bi-hemisphere, simultaneous processing of information.
    • Lefties are said to be better at competitive sports. The Puzzle of Left-Handedness created by Rik Smits, implies that this is because left-handed athletes receive more chances to practice with right-handed opponents.
    • The last 3 out of 4 commander in chiefs are all left-handed: George Bush, Sr., Bill Clinton, and current President Barack Obama.
    • August 13th is Left-handers Day and was launched in 1996.

I am not left-handed, but all of these points are very interesting to me. Especially, considering my son is a leftie. I’m sure he will find this information encouraging to say the least. How about you?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

In-toxi-cation…

 

Everyone knows or should know that there are more ways than one to become intoxicated. Fresh air can be stress-relieving and wonderfully intoxicating. Then you have the obvious toxins that come from air pollution, chemicals emitted into the air from companies, vehicle emissions, alcohol consumption, some medications, etc. We breath in toxins every day and there’s not much we can do about it. Surely, no one wants to stay in the house day after day, in order to avoid breathing them in. For most of us, this isn’t even an option. But aside from the obvious toxins that we know of and take in daily, where else would you think we are exposed to toxins?

I was hesitant to believe it until I found out firsthand for myself. Some of the most debilitating in-toxi-cation can come from other people. Yes…our fellow acquaintances, friends, strangers, passersby, etc. The thing that drove this point home so hard for me was when these unforseen toxins began to affect my health in very negative ways. You see, when you continue to expose yourself to others who are very ‘toxic’, it begins to have adverse affects on you as a person. You become in-toxic-ated without even realizing it. The problem is that we don’t usually become aware of it until the toxins have really gotten under our skin and into our essence.

It’s bad enough to have one in-toxi-cated person in your life, wreaking mental and emotional havoc. But when you have a handful of these individuals in your circle, the results can be life-changing. These people bring all of their baggage and emotional luggage to your life and promptly set it down, to take up residence. Surely, had you seen the heavy load he/she was carrying, you would have ran for your life! I can recall having several toxic people and situations in my life over a period of time. But again, if you aren’t aware of toxicity and the issues that come with it, then you continue on with these people, never realizing the negative affects their ‘toxicity’ sets into motion until something bad happens. You’re basically a sitting duck, unknowingly waiting for the bottom to fall out. And what a ‘fallout’ that can be!

I realize it probably wouldn’t be fair to blame adverse health issues on any one of these individuals, but I do believe that each and every one of them helped to plant the seeds that set this toxic roller-coaster in motion. It seemed as though where one person planted a seed and moved on, another picked up where that one left off and so on and so on. These toxic seeds were cultivated over and over again until eventually, their poisonous crop came to fruition.

I’m not just talking about intimate relationships. So-called friendships, workplace relationships, family, etc. The toxicity came in all sizes and forms. I had to learn the hard way. My body presented signs, plenty of them, but there was always a self-diagnosis to explain them away.  As a result of my own personal experience, I can strongly urge that we listen to our inner voice and our bodies when things aren’t as they should be. Perhaps a harder look can be taken as to who we allow in our personal space and what affects, if any, we notice after we’ve been exposed to them. You might be surprised to find that you can become in-toxi-cated without ever taking a drink!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

It’s Not all Black & White

  

 

This post is inspired by my fellow blogger Levi Thetford (Levi’s Daily Thoughts). He recently posted a beautiful piece on the fascinating ‘hummingbird’ ~ truly an amazing animal.  I found myself so intrigued by the thorough details that Levi provided in his piece, that I thought I’d post a kind of ‘response’ piece, if you will. My amazing animal of choice is the ‘penguin’. Thanks for the inspiration Levi!

 

For as long as I can remember, I have found penguins to be among the hardest working animals there are. Sure, when seen in photos, they can be found hanging out in huge groups together, almost appearing to be attending some kind of ongoing and informal meeting, while taking in the scene(s) around them. However, there’s so much more to this remarkable bird than meets the eye.

Aside from their perfect tuxedo-tailored black & white coloring and the cute waddle they have when making their way across the land, penguins have unbelievable survival skills. Along with those skills comes an incredible sense of responsibility.

Did you know that there are over 18 species of penguins in the world? Unfortunately, thirteen of these species have decreasing populations, while five species are considered endangered and/or facing the possibility of extinction. Sadly, penguins can be found in captivity all over the world. However, captive breeding programs are well received by penguins. The success of these programs have helped to preserve the penguin population. Further  preservation and conservation tactics need to be implemented and practiced consistently, in order to help prevent extinction and endangerment from becoming  harsh realities.

Did you know that penguins lost their ability to fly millions of years ago? No worries though because they have very strong flippers; this and their streamline build, enable them to be excellent swimmers. Did you know that the penguin is the fastest swimming and the deepest diving species of any bird?

The primary place where penguins can be found is in the Southern Hemisphere. Although penguins are famously associated with Antartica, they have a significant widespread presence in South America, with penguin populations also found in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. These resourceful birds can also be found on tiny islands in the Southern Pacific Ocean.

Here are a few of the penguin species:

 

    • Galapados Penguin – lives all year-round near the equator on Galapados Islands. This is one of the only penguin species that is capable of traveling into the Northern Hemisphere; a rare occurrence that can happen during feeding.
    • Yellow-Eyed Penguin – is one of the rarest penguins in the world and is found in the Southeastern coast of the South Island and Stewart, Auckland and Campbell Islands south of South Island.
    • Fairy Penguin – is often referred to as “little penguins”, can be found on Victoria’s Phillip Island. They emerge from the sea at dusk and seemingly march in large numbers to their burrows on the beach.
    • Emperor Penguin – is the most recognizable of the penguin species and is the largest, weighing as much as 90 pounds; essential since they cannot feed for up to two months during the incubation of their single egg. In turn, they feed off the fat reserve of that additional weight.

The documentary “March of the Penguins” by Laura Klappenbach, chronicles the grueling journey of the Emperor Penguin as they travel across the frigid Antarctic. This film provides a very realistic account and up-close view of the harsh and brutal conditions that these remarkable birds have to undergo throughout the course of a year. If these penguins are successful in their trek, they will pair off, mate and raise their babies, while withstanding some of the coldest and darkest places known on earth.

The male penguins stay behind in one huge huddle to stay warm and protect the egg(s), while the female penguins goes out to sea to hunt for food. The males can remain in this upright ‘stance’ for weeks and months, while withstanding the brutal Arctic winds. This goes back to my opening comment about the penguins amazing sense of responsibility, not to mention adaptability. Levi Thetford entitled his post: What Does the Hummingbird Teach Us? The same question can be asked concerning penguins. I’d say they can definitely teach us a bit about accountability and perseverance. So, the next time you see a piece on these amazing tuxedo-wearing birds, just know that there’s so much more to these resilient animals and that everything is not all black and white. After reading this post, wouldn’t you agree?

 

 

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Images: Free Google Images

Going Harder to Go Longer

 

  

I’ve been noticing something lately; something that’s very disappointing to realize. You may agree. It really hit home for me today. As I attended my physical therapy session, I noticed so many more ‘mature’ people in the facility, who were trying to work on whatever body part was ailing them. This isn’t the first time I witnessed this, but for some reason today, it stood out to me like a sore thumb.

I observed one man who was walking laps around the track, but was carrying an oxygen tank with him which was attached to clear tubing that ran up to his nose. I saw another person, a woman, who walked so slowly, I didn’t see how she would ever get to her destination. The therapist assigned to her had to dramatically slow his pace just so that this poor woman would not be left in his ‘youthful’ dust. I couldn’t imagine what exercise he would possibly recommend for her. Another man had so much pain, that the exercise he was performing on a machine, had to be interrupted several times as he grimaced in discomfort. He walked with a distinct limp and even that looked painful. My heart went out to these people. I don’t know what their individual circumstances were for being there, but they all seemed to be there for a common cause; to try and get better and to be better.

Some could have been there because they just wanted to have more mobility and get around better. Others could have been there because they need to keep working, even though they have reached their respective ‘retirement’ age(s), but sadly, that means little to nothing in many instances. It was beyond sobering to really pay attention to what I was seeing around me. It’s so easy to get caught up in the run-of-the mill day to day activities while seeing things, but proceeding on, never really stopping to pay attention to what is really going on. Some realities are truly shameful; which leads me to the reason for this post.

I guess I’m disheartened, disappointed, and downright disgusted at the way the elderly seem to  have been demoted to the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to the way they are treated. They’ve worked most of their lives or a great deal of their lives, helping to build this country and this is what things have come to; working well beyond the retirement age. As a matter of fact, what is the retirement age now? The age requirement seems to keep getting bumped further and further out, forcing many to ‘go harder to go longer’. Is ‘retirement’ even something to revere and look forward to in today’s world?

The nation’s economy has become so dismal that working at one place for several years and retiring from that place, has almost become a non-existent occurrence. A person can have several jobs throughout his/her working life. The high degree of job loss compounded with the difficulty in finding new employment, has made anticipation of retirement almost seem like a thing of the past. If you can’t keep a job due to high turnover and company layoffs, and you can’t find another job, how are you ever supposed to rebuild in order to have something to put aside in lieu of any kind of decent retirement? Can retirement ever again be a coveted event, as it once was, that can be revered and looked forward to with anticipation in the midst of these chaotic economic times?

What about the elderly people who find themselves laid off after having been employed with a company for years and years, only to then experience a lengthy period of time before they are able to secure employment? Then there’s the whole issue of ‘age’ discrimination that this sector of the population has to deal with.  Unfortunately, as a result of these circumstances, people sometimes have to tap into their retirement savings, take out 401k loans, etc. to help them get through those dark periods of unemployment. Then, once they find employment, the pay is often insulting; much less than what they were making prior to their unemployed status. So, now you have a person that is used to making x amount of money, but now finds themselves in a situation where the pay is considerably less. How would that person ever be able to pay their bills, not to mention having enough money to sock away and/or rebuild?

It’s interesting how the price of everything has been going up, seemingly 10-fold. But where are the cost of living increases to help people keep up with those rising costs? On the flip side, when a person secures new employment at a considerably lower rate, why is there nothing in place to ensure that people are not forced to accept meager wages to support their former lifestyles and high cost of living expenses? The expenses don’t disappear and they certainly don’t get reduced in light of a person experiencing an unexpected hardship. As a result, more and more people are working 2 and 3 jobs to try and make ends meet. Sometimes, that’s still not enough! It seems the nation has created a situation that has forced its people into a rat race that can never be won, unless something is done to stop this vicious cycle.

It’s horrible to think that some of the elderly population is faced with working well beyond a reasonable retirement age. Working multiple jobs is not a viable option for many of these valuable contributors to community and society and frankly, it shouldn’t be. Why should this population of seasoned individuals have to even consider working more than one job? If they could retire at their designated age, further employment would not even be an issue, unless he/she just wanted to work to keep busy and occupied. And what will happen if health becomes an issue and a person finds themselves in a predicament where he/she can’t work at all? I can honestly say, on one hand, I wasn’t ecstatic to see all of these ‘mature’ individuals trying to get on top of their body’s functionality because I sensed that a lot of these instances were out of necessity; for sheer survival. But I was happy that they were at least there, trying to make the effort. At the end of the day, do they really have a choice?

 

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

Did you know?…(4)

 

 

Did you know that actor Tae Diggs grew up in Upstate Rochester New York a-k-a “Roc City”? That’s right! It’s true. He attended Allendale Columbia School and later, School of the Arts in Rochester.

  •  After high school, he attended college at Syracuse University where he studied ‘theater’. After receiving his Bachelors in Fine Arts degree in musical theater, he moved to New York City where he debuted in his first leading role in the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning sensation “Rent” in 1996.
  • He went on from the broadway stage to television where he landed a role in a soap opera called, The Guiding Light in 1998.
  • He starred in a popular medical television series called Private Practice and also the movies The Best Man (1999) and the follow-up movie The Best Man Holiday(2013)

These are just a few of the accomplishments this very talented actor has made. Just goes to show; good things and great people can and do come from this ‘neck of the woods’. Can you “digg” it?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

Image: Free google images: redbookmag.com

How Do I Do It?

 

I posted a piece during the wee hours of the morning on June 17th 2014 called, “When Silence Isn’t Golden”. Believe it or not, I contemplated for quite a while on whether or not I should share this article. I wondered if it was a bit too much and I certainly didn’t want to offend anyone. After much thought and consideration, I decided to share it, and I’m glad I did.

A ‘Twitter’ friend of mine read my post and posed a few very interesting questions to me. Firstly, he asked why I didn’t mention anything about the struggles of the African American Woman as a single mother? My friend spoke of his disgust and anger at the prejudice that is so rampant and that seems to always boldly point in the direction of the African American woman; which led him to his next question. He wanted to know how I, an African American woman deals with all the negative push-back and resistance on a daily basis? In his words, “How do you do it, Sylvia?”He pointed out the double whammy situation that I’m in; not just being a woman, but an African American woman. Thirdly, he wanted to know why the many defining characteristics African American women share collectively, are not highlighted in a more positive light?

As I read all the great points he brought up, I could only shake my head. I wish I had all the answers but I don’t. I would be happy to have even 1 answer. Thanks to my friend’s prompting questions, I am now going to attempt to respond to all of them as best I can, though I can and will only speak for myself. So, please bear with me as I try to paint a picture that will hopefully shed some light on the struggle I experience regularly as many African American women do; single motherhood. Here it is…

Why didn’t I include in my post, the issue of single motherhood as it pertains to the African American woman? In all honesty, it never occurred to me to include this aspect in this piece. Not because it wasn’t or isn’t important. It most definitely was and is. However, I wanted to focus on the main issue that I was dealing with as an African American woman at that time. Unfortunately for me, it was a time of hopelessness and despair, as I tried to fit in to a world where I was not wanted; the corporate world. My fitting in or not, determined whether or not my livelihood would exist or cease to. It became the primary focus of my attention. Being a single mother, I was the sole bread-winner. I put up with a lot of nonsense in order to keep food on the table.

How did I and how do I deal with all the negative push-back and resistance that I face daily as an African American woman? At the time I was dealing with the workplace situation, I continued to go to work, even though I knew I had to fight and that I was in it alone. I was not at liberty to quit, so it was a no-brainer. No work – no food, no home, etc. I was responsible for my son and myself, so I had to go on. Looking back in retrospect, I now know that I stayed in that situation much too long. Now, when faced with the in-your-face boldness of prejudice and racism, I stand firm in knowing that I have just as much right to work, to play, and to simply ‘be’, just like anyone else. I guess you could say, I’ve found my voice, and I’ve learned to use it. Maturity has provided me with a very thick skin that helps me to deflect the many bullets I often have to dodge. I never know where they’re going to come from. But instinctively, I know that they will.

Lastly, why are the attributes and defining characteristics we share collectively as African American women, not highlighted in a more positive light when they should be? I revert back to that old adage: “You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”. We as black women can only continue to be the strong, resilient, intelligent beings that we are. Others recognize our strengths and talents, but until there’s a general consensus if you will, or willingness to support and include African American women in every way, the question(s) will always remain, “why?”

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

When Silence Isn’t Golden…

 

How many people can go to work daily and face the kind of adversity that the African American woman often times experiences on a regular basis? Not many I predict.  As if it isn’t enough, to have to be two and three times better than her white counterparts – but to also have to prove herself, over and over again, is beyond comprehension. Then comes the ultimate slap in the face. All of her hard work was done in vain, because there really was no plan to promote her, the African American woman. There wasn’t even a vague promise of being elevated to the next level for fear that she, might take it seriously and hold ‘the powers that be’ accountable to an expectation they never had any intention of fulfilling.

What is the ‘woman of color’ to do when she finds herself bound by the tight reign of a corporate arena that neither accepts nor acknowledges her intelligence? It seems apparent that the corporate world would rather give up a third of its wealth than to share it even remotely with a woman of ethnic heritage. All this while knowing full well, that she has everything it takes to be an asset to the company, while enhancing its overall image and bottom line.

Where does this kind of disdain and resistance come from? It might be easier to solve the problems of the nation’s economy, rather than tackle the long-standing issue of differential treatment; a problem that is so prevalent in today’s workplace setting(s). The reasons for this behavior could stem anywhere from unfounded insecurities and preconceived notions to outright racism and indifference. But, no matter what the reasons are, the problem is alive and well and needs to be addressed.

How long is the ‘woman of color’ supposed to suffer in silence for fear of retaliation from those who have contributed to her present state of mind? Should she wait for change that may never come? Should she give in and grovel in hopes that a few pebbles might be thrown her way? If she stands strong as only she knows how to do, what will be the fallout of that stance? These are just a few of the things that the African American woman faces daily, in addition to all the other curve balls that life throws her way.

Thank heavens she’s a good catcher, this remarkable woman that seems to have eyes in the back of her head! How is it that she can instinctively duck without ever seeing the curve ball come her way? How is it that she can sense danger long before it reaches her front door? Why is it that she, more often than not, seems to know when something just isn’t right? It could be because, the African American woman has a built-in radar that is crucial and very necessary for her daily survival. Thankfully, these skills of ducking and dodging bullets are naturally ingrained within her, because there is always something she has to watch out for.

That is why exhaling is something the African American woman often finds so hard to do. Can she ever truly relax, when dropping her guard would only leave her wide open to being pelted relentlessly with life’s many unpleasantries? For her, this is risky business; a chance she would rather not take. So, she has to walk through life with shoulders that are strong and square; able to sustain the weight of the world while wearing a smile, dodging a bullet, and ducking a curve ball, simultaneously. What an extraordinary woman that can master all of these things while maintaining an air of class, dignity and grace.

Is it just easier to disregard the African American woman and dismiss her as expendable? Or would it be a display of humanity to just give her the respect that should come naturally and effortlessly? It is amazing what some will expend energy on, especially when it comes to negativity. You might be wondering how I know all these things? Well…I am that African American woman!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

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