The Decision is In

Well, the decision is in. It happened just like I was told it would. Being faced with the daunting decision of whether or not to remove not only one part of my anatomy, but an additional and equally important part as well. Honestly, I hadn’t been toiling over the decision as much as a person might that found themselves in this position. I mean, I thought about it on and off, but there are always so many other things happening in my life, that my focus ends up in many different places, almost simultaneously. I guess that could be a good thing, because it doesn’t allow me to dwell on any one thing. Instead, I flit around from one issue to the next, sharing little pieces of my attention respectively, much like a bee that buzzes around from flower to flower. After all, there are so many choices. I wonder how the bees decide where to begin.

On the morning of my follow up appointment with my surgeon, I woke up and I knew immediately what I was going to do. There wasn’t any fuss or muss and I saw things with a clarity that isn’t always a part of my decision-making process and for that, I am very thankful. As I lay there calmly, looking around my bedroom, the decision floated into view as vividly as the clouds in once blue skies, that signal the impending rain that is sure to follow.

Okay, so that part is done and I am content with my decision. Well, as content as anyone in this predicament could be. However, the hardest part is still to come. Yes, I have come to a decision concerning breast cancer surgery but along with this knowledge comes the fact that I will be minus two parts of my anatomy that I have lived with my entire life. My breasts have always been a special part of my body and I’ve always valued and revered their beauty, their purpose. I can’t help but wonder what a woman does when she has this mastectomy surgery that removes her entire breast(s)? How does she feel about herself when she looks in the mirror? Does she worry about how her husband/mate, family and friends will view her post-surgery? I am now that woman with all these questions.

I’ve had my share of surgeries in my life time but this one will be the most intricately personal one by far. A woman’s breasts can instill a whole lot of pride or they cause her to bear the brunt of much shame, when faced with their surgical removal. However, I will remain alive and well as a result of this decision. Beauty may be only skin-deep, but this experience will no doubt make me a more beautiful person from within. That is what matters most, right? I’d say, the decision is in!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

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Family First!!

Why is it so hard to share crucial news with family? These are the people we’ve grown up with our entire lives. Yet, it is often extremely difficult to disclose unfavorable news when these unexpected times arise. I know for me, the reasons vary widely.

I never want to feel like I’m burdening my family with any issues that pertain to me. I feel like they all have their own lives with respective issues to go along with everything else that they have to worry about. So why would I come along and make their load(s) even heavier? That being said, what’s worse, not sharing important life events or unloading all of our chaos on our families?

I chose to share my latest health crisis with each of my siblings, one by one. Each of them is so very different. It was so hard to say the words without choking up. These are the same people that I used to run, jump, skip, get into trouble at home with, defend from punishment until the end. Being the oldest of my siblings, sometimes holds me to a higher level to be emotionally and physically strong. So, when illness started visiting me more often a few years ago, I felt like I was somehow letting my them down. It was as though I was somehow damaged and that they could no longer look to me as their solid pillar of strength. Illness had chipped away at the ‘rock’ that they’ve always known me to be. So, here I was again, showing them that transparent and most revealing side of my vulnerability with this latest health interruption.

My family has been there for me through some very rough times. As I sit here writing this piece, I don’t recall them ever making me feel like I was weighing them down, in terms of giving them one more thing to worry about as a result of sharing. They’ve always been gracious and willing to jump in wherever and whenever I needed them and that is priceless. After all, that’s what family is for right? I guess I would feel pretty bad if there was something going on with any of them and they made the decision to not share with me, no matter what their reasons were.

It is sometimes very hard to look at things with the shoe on the other foot. My family has a right to feel like they don’t want to burden me further with their problems. I certainly have felt like that before, as I touched on earlier. At the end of the day, we are all blessed with the love of family for many reasons. They are the glue that helps to hold things together when the going gets rough. The load often gets to be a little too heavy to carry alone. So, God blesses us with siblings and parents that are down here with us on earth to provide the all-important emotional support and love that is so necessary for survival.

For me, the word family exudes togetherness, love, friendship, support and strength. It’s so easy to take it for granted when you have a supportive family. Unfortunately, not everyone does. Have you told your family lately how much they mean to you? When is the last time you told them how much you love them, or encouraged them in their life endeavors? If you haven’t done any of these things lately, maybe it’s time to do that. Let them know that you appreciate them always being there for you when you really need them the most, and even when you don’t. Now, obviously I can’t ask you to do that without doing the same myself. It’s an unwritten item on my daily list of things to do. Even on those days when I don’t speak to my family voice to voice, simply because of busy schedules and time demands, I send them love through my prayers, thoughts, and hopes for each of them. A quick text works well too, just to say, I love you and I’m thinking about you. Family first I say!! What say you?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Not Knowing Could Kill You!!

We all have routine things that we have to do and revisit from time to time. For the most part, we can often expect the same outcome. So we go about our business, not expecting any different results. For example: a routine medical appointment. You’ve had several follow-up appointments in the past and usually they have been uneventful, thank God. But then comes a time, maybe two, when you are caught completely off guard.

If you are anything like me, you may tend to do the majority of things in life on your own, flying ‘solo’ in most cases. Now, this may be for any number of reasons. It may be personal preference, or the fact that your usual support system is unavailable at the times when you could really benefit from their physical and emotional presence. For me, it’s a combination of both.

Yesterday, I went to my annual mammogram screening. Actually, I was overdue for my screening which is still a mystery to me. I could have sworn I had a screening in 2014, but records show that I had not had a screening since 2013. Wow! I really missed the mark on that one. I’m a real stickler when it comes to following up on all of my medical appointments, or so I thought. Yet somehow, this one escaped me. Forgive the old cliché in this instance, ‘but better late than never’.

As I sat in the lobby and watched people come and go, I noticed that quite a few women arrived in pairs. I’ve often heard of this ‘buddy’ system when attending mammogram screenings. The emotional support must be priceless. I’ve seen this many times before but for some reason, it really stood out to me yesterday. How I wished I had someone with me, if for nothing but to pass the time away.

I observed quietly while a pair of women would emerge from their testing, receive their favorable results and prepare to leave. They always seemed to be in such high spirits. After all, a clean bill of health in this instance is reason to be jubilant. I couldn’t help but wonder as I watched numerous women come and go, if they would go some place nice for lunch once they left the facility. Did they meet up with other friends to celebrate their favorable outcomes?

I continued to catch up on some reading while I waited for my results. I expected to be called from the left side of the room where those that have been screened are called into a specific room to receive their results. For some reason when my name was called, it came from the right side of the room; where people are called that still have to have their screenings done. My heart started pounding as I contemplated why I was being called from that side of the room. A technician greeted me with a wonderful demeanor and an infectious smile while advising me that a few more images were needed. If only she knew the bullets I was sweating and that she stood directly in the line of fire – an unsuspecting target, much like I felt as we made our way down the lengthy hallway.

This immediately took me back, a kind of de ja vu.  The year was 2001. At that time, I was again waiting patiently for my results when a technician informed me that the doctor needed a few more images. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with breast cancer during the Breast Cancer Awareness Month of that year. Imagine that! Thankfully, it was caught in time. As a result, I am a survivor – a title I only want to hold once as it pertains to this potentially deadly disease.

As I followed the technician down the seemingly never ending hallway, I heard my heart beating loud and clear. I was convinced that the technician could hear it too. Several more images were taken at which point I was directed back to the waiting room. I noticed a few women noticing me return back to the same seat I was in before. I could almost see the questions within their kind facial expressions. There was a silent camaraderie that we all shared and that was both understood and appreciated. We were all there for the same reason(s), whether in pairs or alone as I was. I realized then and there, the beauty in this kind of unspoken sisterhood where no words or conversation is necessary.

Again, I was called from the right side of the room and asked if I was able to stay for an ultrasound. Oh my God! This could not be happening. Of course, I agreed as I couldn’t imagine leaving there without any and all necessary testing being performed. The doctor that performed the ultrasound was a breath of fresh air. He was very kind and thoroughly explained the images to me and the importance of looking deeper into his findings to ensure my health and safety. He even gave me his personal cell phone number to contact him if we miss each other concerning the results which should be available some time today.

By the end of a visit that began at 11:00am on yesterday, I had completed a needle biopsy in addition to all the other testing. I was able to finally leave after 3:00pm with many thanks from staff for my patience. Evidently, some people get really upset when they find they need to stay far beyond what they had originally planned for. I wasn’t happy about spending my whole day there, but I am very pleased and thankful for the prompt and thorough attention that was extended to me. I would much rather allow all the required testing while I’m there, rather than come back and forth at a later time. For me, it’s a no-brainer. Sometimes, we have to be inconvenienced in order to get to the bottom of red flags that we are made aware of when it comes to our health. After all, it’s the not knowing that could kill you, right?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Racism 101 – An Unsolicited Introduction

Evidently, I am no different than most mothers out there. From the moment I first laid eyes on my son as a baby, I knew I would do anything in this world to protect him. I truly thought I could protect him from all the things that could threaten his tiny little world. Little did I know that my incredible desire to shield him from all negativity would not only last throughout his life, but increase by leaps and bounds over time.

Being the African American mother of a male child, is no easy task, especially when doing so alone. The careful shaping and molding of a young boy into a man without any handbook or instructions to refer to. After all, I am not a man. My main hope as a young mother, was to instill the vital morals and values within my son that would later manifest and help to solidify his manhood. There always seemed to be so much to share and make him aware of and that is still true today. I often wish I could pour my knowledge and experience into him as a kind of ‘heads up’ to the many storms that life can unexpectedly rain down on a person. But we all know that it’s impossible to make our children aware of every little thing, try as we might. Trial and error has proven to be a constant teacher in my son’s world and to this day he is still an unsuspecting student.

In spite of some kicking and screaming, my son made it into manhood. It’s so interesting to watch him evolve a little bit each day. There are times when I am stunned by the level of growth and transformation taking place. Sometimes life allows him to ease into situations and adjust at a comfortable pace, while there are other times when life slams him hard, forcing him to face the oftentimes deafening music of real life.

A couple mornings ago, my son woke me up at 6:00am to tell me about an incident that happened while he was delivering newspapers on his route, one of two jobs he holds. I was stunned by what he was saying, so much so that I sat up in bed with a spring-board like reaction. He proceeded to tell me about his encounter with a man in the wee hours of the morning during his delivery. It didn’t take long for my son to figure out that this man was a full-fledged racist. This particular morning, my son was late delivering the newspapers and as a result, he crossed paths with an ugly evil that he was not expecting. My son said he asked the man three times if the paper he was about to deliver belonged to him, as the man would not move out of his path. The man just stood there like a statue, not moving left nor right, backward or forward and not responding in any way. My son finally gave up and carefully maneuvered around the man and threw the paper past him.

This action seemed to set this peculiar being off. He started yelling at my son while to calling him a monkey and threatening to report him for throwing the newspaper to close to him. Really? This man then proceeded to grab the paper up from where my son had tossed it and began to dismantle it. My son asked the man AGAIN if it was his newspaper. The man started spewing the word monkey and other racial slurs in an onslaught of negative rapid fire. Thankfully, the man’s words were not bullets, or my son may have met with a very different outcome.

No doubt the verbal attack penetrated my son as a human being far deeper than any bullets could have. I’m sure my son didn’t tell me every word that was exchanged between the two but I’m sure he had some choice words for the bigot that stood before him. My son did express that this is 2015 and that here this man was with these ignorant prejudices and distorted beliefs of years long since passed. Years that have transpired yes, but unfortunately have left their relative behaviors and backward thinkers behind.

I have to say that as his mother, I felt my heart breaking twice over as he told me this story; once for the pain and shock it must have been for him to encounter this hatred full on, and secondly for the pain of knowing that the one thing I wish I could spare him from the most, blatantly introduced itself without warning nor provocation. There was nothing I could do about it. If only there was a channel I could change and flip to another station. Unfortunately, it’s an ugly life truth that exists in full living color on a seemingly never ending wide screen. Everyone plays their role in life and then in walks an unwanted extra, onto the scene without solicitation.

How do we prepare our children for the outrageous and vicious behaviors of others that can break out at any time? I don’t think anything really prepares them until they’ve actually met this ignorance face to face. I’m just thankful that things ended with my son walking away. In spite of the nature of this incident, he handled the situation like an adult and didn’t allow it to provoke him into doing anything he might later regret. I couldn’t be more proud of him. As ugly as this incident was, I am confident that it has cemented a much needed awareness in my son that he will definitely need as he continues to walk out his life journey!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

2014 in review

Thanks so much to all visitors and fellow bloggers for taking the time to visit my blog. A special thanks goes to my most interactive and frequent comment makers: D’aller Naturel, Levi Thetford, connorphoto, Viktoryarch, and ubecute. Your constant support is invaluable to me! May I continue to bring you solid and entertaining content in 2015!! 🙂 🙂

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

My Blogging Family…

Hello all. I will just get right to the point. You may or may not have noticed that I’ve been pretty quiet or “off camera” lately, if you will. Life is happening to me so quickly lately, that I can barely keep up. Lots of fires burning; some big, some small. But I am can only put out one at a time, even though many are raging.

I basically want you all to know that I am still here, but very much under the weather. I am thankful for all of your readership and support and apologize for the lack of posts, but I simply haven’t been able to. One thing is for sure, out of all the rubble and ruin, some beauty and inspiration must emerge. I hope that it will be worth the wait. Again, thank you all for the tremendous love and support.

Sylvia Porter-Hall

My First Posting: About Me

Please join me in welcoming my friend Justin Connor to the blogging world. He is a great photographer and I’ve just discovered that he’s a darn good writer also! Enjoy!

justinconnorphotography

IMG_5321 - Version 2

My name is Justin Connor.  I have been taking pictures since I was 12 years old.  My father was an amateur photographer and I took after him, grabbing a camera whenever I could and taking shots.  I took some Photography classes in High School and even entertained trying to go to College for Photography.  In the end, I decided it was not a great career choice, and went to College for Physical Therapy.

My father gave me a Canon AE-1 for my high school graduation and I continued to do Photography as a hobby.  I continued to try to get out and take photos through College and after, even trying to take some portraits of my wife, but I quickly realized portrait photography was not my forte.  I have always been much better at Landscape Photography.  I have always been drawn to Waterfalls, for some reason, and until recently, nearly half of my…

View original post 338 more words

Many Thanks…100 Followers!

Hello fellow bloggers! Just want to take a moment and shout out a great big thank you to all of you for your support. I’ve just reached the magical number of 100 followers of this blog, and it was no easy task. I certainly could not have done it without all of you. I hope that you continue to be entertained and find enjoyment and quality content here! You are greatly appreciated!

Sylvia Porter-Hall

Out of Con-text!

In this modern day of technological advances that seem to be emerging at break-neck speed, is it any wonder that it’s very difficult to keep up? All of these options to become more ‘with it’ on the social scene. But many of these options don’t really promote a social atmosphere at all. (see earlier post: https://sporterhall.wordpress.com/2014/05/10/where-is-the-social-in-media/) Press a button for this and another for that. All of these varying options for modes of communication, leave little to the imagination and even less to good old fashioned face-to-face and voice-to-voice contact.

I recall when emailing first became a big deal. I pretty much went with the flow and joined in because this is what everyone was doing. If I wanted to be in contact with others, I had to get on the bandwagon and use this form of communication also. Eventually, emailing became as easy and effortless for me as speaking directly with someone, as it was once a big part of my work. But I couldn’t help but notice that there was a very crucial piece missing to this new fad of interaction. I couldn’t see the face(s) of those I was corresponding with via email. I couldn’t hear the tone in their voice(s), or lack thereof. During some of the written interactions, I wondered if the person had intended to come across as strongly as their words projected or if I was simply misinterpreting their words?

Then along came cell phones and text messaging. Now, I will admit, I was not a fan of text messaging in the beginning. I could not bring myself to a rational conclusion as to why someone would prefer to spend time typing a message into a tiny phone -vs- speaking with the person directly. It just didn’t seem practical to me. I quickly noticed that people could practice avoidance very easily with this somewhat incognito method of communication. A person could decline an invite with a quick impersonal text. They could project a different persona than the true person behind the text. But once again, I found myself getting on board this train, because this is how most people rolled…at least those that I communicated with. Over time, I became very comfortable with text messaging, but I still didn’t necessarily like it.

I can’t tell you how many times something has been misconstrued or taken out of con-text as a result of texting. Just like with emailing, you can’t hear the person’s tone, so you look for it in the words they use in their written correspondence. The tone can be mistaken and things can become very messy simply because people no longer interact on a more personal level. Everyone is texting it seems. You walk down a busy street and you literally see people walking, as if in a trance, staring at their cell phones as if their lives depended on it. And sometimes, I think it does. What did people do before the emergence of cell phones and emails? We picked up the phone and called people and arranged face-to-face meetings and social gatherings. Nowadays, you can go to a social gathering, and find a great number of people on their cell phones! Every time I go out to dinner, I see a handful of people on their cell phones. But wait a minute. The whole purpose of getting together is to be social, right? But people are on their cell phones, being unsociable.

Overall, I try and use text messaging only when direct communication is impossible at the time. I will often interrupt the back and forth messaging and just call the person out of frustration. And nothing is more maddening, in my opinion, than when a person stops responding…they just drop out of sight leaving you wondering why they haven’t responded to your text. If you had been on a phone conversation instead, you would know when the conversation ended because you would both have hung up the receivers. Remember that? When I’m out to dinner, I turn my cell phone down so that I can’t hear it. After all, I go out to dinner to interact with a person, not my phone. All that back and forth just seems a bit ridiculous. Or maybe I’m just taking things out of…con-text. What do you think?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

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