The Beauty of my Day of Birth

Every year is so much sweeter than the last. My day of birth is more than just getting older. With each new day, I become richer with every breath that I take. I celebrated with my sister earlier today over a beautiful lunch. So precious is our time with family!!

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Oh Please!!

Never has it been truer than the old adage: you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time. I’m starting to feel like ‘some of the people‘ is quickly moving into the ‘none of the people‘ category. It has become increasingly difficult to gain the approval and/or acceptance from others, for simple acts of kindness both big and small. The more you try and satisfy everyone, the further away you seem to drift from that goal altogether. To please or not to please? A most appropriate question in this instance.

So, you might conclude, why even bother? And who could blame you if you feel this way? Especially when you’re more likely than not, to be shot out of the sky. Why would you not opt to fly closer to the ground, where the crash landing is bound to be less painful? But what fun would that be and what about your satisfaction? When you’re a ‘people-appeaser’, it’s very hard to retrain yourself to be of the opposite mindset. And why should you feel like you have to change who you are? How unpleasant of an experience would that be for you, to behave in a way that goes against every grain of your character, just for the sake of what others may or may not think?

You might find, that as soon as you change your modus operandi, those very same people, who couldn’t acknowledge your good efforts in the past, will come for you, with guns a blazing, to show their…wait for it, wait for it…. displeasure in your ‘new attitude’. Which would be more disheartening for you, the seemingly never-ending hard to please people around you, or the facade you decided to wear, in a sad attempt to please those who cannot be pleased? After all, isn’t misrepresentation of yourself, the worst representation of all, since it does not reflect the real you?

What are you to do when going left wreaks havoc, and going right compounds things further to your disadvantage? Should you continue doing what makes you feel good, even at the risk of having your good intentions and gestures promptly returned to you, like a letter that unexpectedly comes back to you in the mail marked, ‘return to sender?’ In the end, you have to be pleased with yourself before you can please anyone else, right? Or are you simply reading this post while concluding, “Oh please!!”

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

The Light is Green – Lets Go!!

Okay, so everyone, or at least everyone should know that today is Veteran’s Day. It’s not just a chance to have a day off from work or school, but it’s a day that should be taken seriously and revered with all the importance that it so rightly deserves.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been intrigued by an ad for “Greenlight A Vet”. When I learned more about it, I discovered that this is one of the coolest ideas and gestures ever when it comes to our veterans, both past and present. It’s such a small thing to ask, for as many of us as possible, to change one visible light on our respective properties, to ‘green‘ to show our support of our veterans in a lovely and glowing way. I am certainly on board with this idea and can’t wait until my porch light is switched over to ‘green‘ later this evening.

How awesome it will feel to the many veterans that are out there driving and walking around, to look around them and see, all the green lights shining outside the different homes and businesses across the nation, that will pay homage to their courage and bravery, along with that of their fellow service men and women. I can’t imagine the sense of pride and accomplishment,that the simple color ‘green’ will ignite in these uniquely selfless individuals. I am so happy to be able to show my support without saying a word. Never has it been truer that ‘action speaks louder than words”.

So often, in our everyday travels, we rub elbows with so many of these awesome folks, without even knowing it because they blend in with society and cannot always be easily identified when not in uniform. In the same vein, they have no idea who is in support of them as they travel throughout their days and rub elbows with us, civilians. But this simple ‘green’ light will act as a kind of citizens or civilian uniform that will speak volumes. So, I encourage you all to put on your uniforms, by shining your green lights along with me, to show your pride, love and support for these fearless defenders of our nation, who have placed and continue to place themselves in harms way to ensure and secure the continued freedom of this great nation. Won’t you join me?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

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.

An Unforeseen Race

 

Pure craziness now surrounds the world of healthcare. This has probably been the case for quite some time now, but it has recently become painfully evident to me. The chaos that is now a part of securing proper medical coverage, simply can’t be made up. I wish that it could but it’s a very real scene for many people; a reoccurring nightmare. It has become a dirty rat race where the people winning certainly are not the recipients of the much sought after ‘care’. The chase is on and many are finding themselves in a vicious cycle that is marred by nasty customer service people and incorrect information. People have become little hamsters running on their tread wheels, forever chasing the ‘illusive affordable healthcare’ programs and getting nowhere fast.

I recall a time, when I wasn’t in the least bit concerned about healthcare. I had a decent job and had worked at the same company for many years. So, healthcare was never an issue for me. But, like in so many instances, life happened and changed my plans. One bad bout with illness can land you in the ‘disability’ pot where you are introduced to all kinds of unsavory ingredients that don’t blend well together. I know all too well because it happened to me.

I don’t know anyone that desires to be in the ‘disability’ pot. Especially, when you’re use to working. Suddenly, you find yourself in a health crisis and can no longer do many of the things you once were capable of doing. Your income is now limited, so you find yourself having to settle for healthcare that has been more or less decided on for you. Honestly, I’ve learned more about healthcare in the past 18 months than I care to know and I must say, I was not prepared.

Just when you think you have the right plan in place, one that satisfies all your medical, dental and prescription needs, the ‘state’ decides to make new change(s) and everything hits the fan all over again. Obviously the people that come together to make these rules and decisions on how healthcare plans will be administered, have not had to run on the tread wheel themselves. Or maybe they’ve forgotten what it feels like. It’s painfully disheartening and disappointing to be kicked while you’re down. It seems the more you need particular components in your healthcare plan, the more options become unavailable to you. It’s like someone is turning a knife slowly in an existing wound, while watching you bleed out slowly. We might as well sign our names in blood. After all, that seems to be the cost to stay healthy nowadays.

I can’t end without mentioning the skimpy dental plans that seem to be becoming more and more streamline by the minute. And heaven help you if you are heading towards your senior years. Do these people not deserve to have comparable and appropriate coverage, just as they would if they were 20 years younger? Do teeth become a non-issue or less important when people become older? I beg to differ. Don’t the ‘powers that be’ realize that if proper dental care isn’t made attainable for everyone, regardless of age, that more people than ever will be in need of affordable health insurance because dental issues can surely result in other health issues. Once again, back on the vicious cycle and around an around we go.

What should ‘we’ the people do? Should we gather names and sign petitions to express our extreme dissatisfaction? Do we write to our politicians? And if we do so, will they hear us? Better yet, will they even respond to us? Who knows what the answers are but there has to be a better way. We live in a great country with so many liberties and freedoms, but many of us are at risk of not fully enjoying these privileges because we are slowly losing our rights, ability and support to stay healthy. If our neighbor Canada can offer free healthcare to its citizens, than why can’t New York State do the same?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Life in a Bubble

For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard people complain about living in Upstate New York – Rochester to be exact. The negative comments range anywhere from the shrinking economy to gripes about the winter weather. I’ve always defended my neck of the woods and I’m always more than happy to give the ‘up’ side of living here in the midst of all the hemming and hawing.

There are many cities that are faring far worse than Rochester New York. Especially, in terms of weather. The recent news coverage of our Western New York neighbor Buffalo, has kept everyone abreast of the winter pummeling that that region has undergone. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning, and it’s nothing new. It seems that every year, weather reports outline the havoc that the winter season wreaks on our ‘sister’ city. How Rochester manages to miss the bulk of much of the snow is quite amazing. It’s almost as if there’s an invisible bubble that shields us from the worst of the winter weather, while it makes its presence known to our nearby neighbors, Buffalo and Syracuse.

I guess you could say that we experience a little bit of every kind of weather here and to me, that’s great. The four seasonal changes are second to none. I love the ‘renewal’ affect that the ‘spring’ season brings. Everything is revived and comes back fresh and new. I enjoy summer for many reasons. One being that the days are longer. Secondly, some of the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets can be experienced during this season. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be the ‘fall’ season. Nothing reflects nature’s beauty more than all the brilliant colors that the foliage takes on at this time of year; also know as ‘autumn’. Last but not least is ‘old man winter’. Yes, this season has its drawbacks, but the snow is pretty to look at.

While having a problem tire on my car addressed earlier today, I picked up the newspaper that was sprawled out on a little table where it’s last reader had left it. The front page caught my attention: Why Rochester? I swelled with pride as I continued to read. The article listed five reasons why Rochester is a great place to live, work and raise a family.

      1. It was named the third best place to raise a family in Forbes Magazine in 2010, which I was unaware of. I love it when I learn something new.

      2. Rochester’s ‘sister’ cities Buffalo and Syracuse get hit much harder by snow fall than Rochester. Just a couple of weeks ago, snow removal crews left Rochester to go and assist with some of the snow removal in Buffalo. Oftentimes, a storm will be pointed right at us. Yet somehow, Rochester seems to be positioned in a way that often allows us to escape the brunt of many storms, and thankfully so.

      3. Wegmans grocery store is one of our proudest home-grown businesses and now operates 85 stores in 6 states: New York = 46 stores, New Jersey = 7 stores, Virginia = 6 stores, Maryland = 7 stores, Massachusetts =3 stores

      4. Many Rochesterians are huge fans of the Buffalo Bills and consider the team as much a Rochester team as it is a Buffalo team. For the last several years, Pittsford New York’s St. John Fisher College has been the designated location for the Bills training camp. The Bills may not have had consecutive wins in a long time, but during the 1990s, they held a dominant streak. They were the first team to make it to the Superbowl in 4 consecutive seasons. Bills fans set a single-season NFL record of 635,889 in attendance during the 1991 season.

      5. Rochester is small in comparison to some of the bigger cities, but where it is smaller in size, it definitely makes up for in culturally diverse events. This city is big on the arts and pays homage by way of numerous festivals, concerts, etc. throughout the year. In doing so, Rochester provides a little something for all the different people that come out in droves seeking that perfect mix of cultural diversity to satisfy their varying individual tastes.

There truly is a lot to discover and experience here in Rochester and I am amazed at the things I’m still becoming aware of, even after having lived here all my life. All in all, I’m happy in my little corner of the world. Life in a bubble certainly has its advantages.

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

A Good Connection

Everything in life has a connection, or so it seems. There is a link of some kind that binds and bonds all things and people together. But is that connection only as good as the link that brought those people and things together in the first place? Interesting question you might say.

For instance, nothing is more infuriating than a bad connection when you’re on an important phone call, right? The person on the other end is speaking but they can’t hear you or vice versa. Who or what is to blame? Is it the other person’s phone or service that is at fault or is the issue on your end? Who’s to say in this day of modern technological advances? You would think in this day and age that achieving a good connection would be effortless. Yet, these problems still exist in spite of all of the upgrades and savvy options that are available to us.

How about those times when you’re out and about and you run into an old friend? The two of you used to be very close and once stayed in touch.. However, over time, you have drifted apart like two water-logged barges that have lost their way, while wandering aimlessly through murky waters. You go through all the niceties, embracing and mutually expressing how good it is to see each other. You exchange contact information and vow to stay in touch…for sure this time. But as is often the case, neither of you make a move to reach out to the other. So, where does the ‘weak’ link lie? Was this a bad connection or one that simply did not exist in the first place? Or are you both simply ‘weak’ links?

Then, there are those rare instances where you connect with someone whom you’ve never met before. You’re at an event, and just seem to naturally gravitate to each other. You exchange contact information and have good intentions of staying in touch. To your amazement, you answer each others emails consistently, plans are made and kept. This new person appears to be just as excited as you are about the new connection. The most remarkable thing of all is that this person doesn’t even live in the same city or state that you do. She lives thousands of miles away and visits here only on occasion to see about her mom. How good it feels that someone thought enough of you to put aside time to get together with you, in spite of a busy schedule that allows little time for anything outside of its parameters. It makes me think about all the people that I’ve known most of my life, that live in the same city as I do, but have chosen to disconnect and remain disconnected. No reason in particular…at least none that I am aware of. I don’t know why this happens, but it does. Evidently, some things are not meant to be and should be left as is.

With that being said, I was in the right place at the right time, thankfully. As a result, I have come across a new friend and it seems that we share an awesome connection. Interestingly, she used to live here many years ago, but now lives in Nevada. We had the opportunity to have dinner last night. She was hoping to go some place that had a bit of history that she could hold on to and take back home and reminisce about. I suggested an artsy, open cafe’/restaurant with a warm and friendly atmosphere. This place had no shortage of comfy sofas & cozy chairs, fancy wooden tables, and diner style seating that ran along side of the widest open windows, which provided a great view of all the adult Halloween participants carousing about in the damp night air. The high ceilings were mesmerizing along with the art-deco style walls. I was happy to inform my friend that this cafe’ had once been a car dealership back in the day. Incidentally, it was where I bought my very first car.

Needless to say, we were both very satisfied with the choice. Our similar interests helped draw us together which made the brief time that we spent effortless. We found ourselves sitting and chatting for hours, as if we’ve known each other for years. We even shared some great laughs as we took in some people proudly sporting full Halloween costumes. Unfortunately, my friend will be flying back to Nevada later this afternoon. But the fact that we live so far apart, only fuels our anticipation for our next visit which won’t be until next summer. But no worries. We have both agreed to keep this ‘friendship’ train on the track and moving. Priceless in my opinion and a good connection indeed.

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

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