The Great One!!

Have you noticed how quickly celebrities are checking out of this place we call, “earth?” Do you want to cry but you can’t squeeze out not one more tear? Are you all cried out and all dried up? I can relate. These instances are happening so often it seems. But being at a loss for tears certainly doesn’t mean that I’m any less moved or saddened. It’s just difficult to digest, especially on the heels of other recent celebrity deaths.

Honestly, I’m not sure what emotion ran through me the quickest as I sat in front of my t.v. set for the first time today, and was clobbered yet again with the news of the death of another world-reknowned personality, Muhammed Ali. I could only sit and stare at the screen in somewhat disbelief, and I say that because I was aware that he had been in a medical battle for years and greatly ill as of late. But this still didn’t soften the blow any, when this news blared across my t.v. screen. Death is death and there is nothing more final.

I really don’t enjoy writing pieces concerning people that have passed on, but sometimes, it’s just simply necessary. It’s my way of paying my respects to these people. Once again, I pay homage to a beloved celebrity superstar, who has been a part of so many lives for so many years. I say goodbye with sadness for the suffering he may have endured for quite some time, due to his lengthy medical journey. I also say a bittersweet goodbye, because I believe that he is in a much better place.

Like many people, I grew up hearing and watching Muhammed Ali in my household. At that time he went by his birth name, Cassius Clay. My father was a big fan and often watched his fights on t.v. I recall being fascinated and intrigued by this larger than life man with the huge personality and even bigger boxing talent. All the trash talking and back and forth banter with the late Howard Cosell, was one of the things I enjoyed the most about this great fighter, along with the obvious, his fighting skills of course. Another important point I’d like to mention that impressed me to such a great degree, is that he was a compelling activist and spoke out and fought for the rights of his culture. He was unafraid to be controversial and unapologetic, while exuding a prideful and bodacious self-love that was contagious and often shocking. You couldn’t help but want to adapt a similar mindset after witnessing him speak in front of a crowd.

His influence has impacted the world and his mark will remain forever engraved in our hearts and memories. Thank goodness there is plenty of footage that captured the athletic and intellectual quick-witted prowess, and outspoken persona of this sports legend. All fighters that came after him, as far as I’m concerned, emulate him and aspire to be great as a result of the highly successful and accomplished career of this champion among men. What a great example Muhammad Ali was and will forever remain. Rest in peace “great one”.

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

 

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Race Is Not a Card…

Image result for free google images of deck of cardsImage result for free google images of deck of cards

Does anyone know what a race card is? Surely you’ve heard this term thrown around quite often, especially in the media. It implies that an individual of ethnicity, is somehow using his/her own race to attain some type of advantage as a result. But, here’s the million dollar question: How can a person’s race, be considered a card, that a person can flash or present at will, whenever the occasion seems suitable? Yet amazingly, people are accused of this all the time. In fact, every time I hear the term, I am astounded that it has gained so much momentum and attention over the years and is often viewed as a valid concern.

Now it would be unfair of me to speak for other ethnicities or make generalizations concerning my own, but I do think it’s safe to say that being that one cannot change their race at will, (and why would they want to) any more than they can stop the sun from shining or the rain from falling. But for me, ‘race’ consists of a full deck if you will, that people of various ethnic backgrounds reflect 2-4-7. They represent the entire ‘deck’, all day, every day, whereas a card can be pulled, changed, and altered as often as need be.

Furthermore, would you agree that by accusing a person(s) of playing the race card, also implies that there is some disadvantage that would inspire the use of this so-called card in the first place, in order to level the playing field? If everyone had the same opportunities, the proverbial ‘race’ card instance would be non-existent. Interesting that the very people who often tilt the field in their own favor, then audaciously turn around and accuse the unwilling recipients of these accusations, who in spite of so much adversity, still manage to embrace the life-long hands they’ve been dealt, with both resilience and acceptance. Kind of reminds me of the thinking behind affirmative action. Lets start the conversation. What say you?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Farewell to a Royal Prince…

It’s growing very tiresome and troublesome, mourning yet another mega-superstar musical icon. Yet, somehow, I still have some tears left. Prince Rogers Nelson is gone. It still doesn’t resonate with me, whether I write it or say it. In fact, it’s downright unbelievable! He was one of the last true baby-boomer sensations, that my generation could relate to on such a deep level.

Each time an announcement is made about the death of another larger-than-life person, of course the initial reaction is a big fat dose of denial. At least this is the case for me. But this time, denial didn’t stay around very long, as the media began to quickly flood the airwaves on Thursday afternoon, April 21, 2016, with the shocking news of Prince’s death.

Maybe you hoped as I did that this was another hoax. Sometimes people with a dark, sick sense of humor, ignite rumors of a celebrity’s passing. Incidentally, Bill Crystal has been reported to have passed away several times, but thankfully, he lives to laugh about it. But there’s nothing funny about it. Especially, God forbid, when the day actually comes and the ‘true’ announcement is made, no one will believe the news. Unfortunately, our ‘Prince’ has left the building, for real.

I must say that I am both moved and impressed by the outpouring and showings of support from all over, to pay homage to this genius of a man, known by only one name, Prince. A man that has contributed so much to the music industry and the world in general. Interestingly, I don’t see very many people shedding tears. Mostly, there is contagious dancing and laughter amidst the purple rain, that has spread like wildfire, as people gather to reminisce about their beloved ‘Prince’. The tear-free crowds are a bit of an unusual sight, but also refreshing to see because it helps to dry up some of my own. He has given us pure joy through song and selfless humanity, both of which were shared so generously with with so many; two gifts that keep on giving as his music and kindness  live on forever.

I may not have all of his music, or any of his music. I can truly love an artist and what they do, but won’t have one piece of their music. This is amazing to me even as I share this odd fact about myself. But does that make me any less a fan than the person that has their favorite artist plastered all over their bedroom wall, or owns every t-shirt ever made in that’s artist’s image? I think not. I am just as much a fan of Prince as anyone else. As always, when an artist that I adore passes away, I pay homage to them by watching every documentary, news segment, reading every article I can get my hands on concerning the person. I then get to the business of purchasing all of their music. You may think this is backwards, but I guess it’s how I roll. Regardless, I will soon be able to play his music in heavy rotation within the comfort of my home.

I’ve often heard others who don’t understand the die-hard fan nature of some people. They don’t understand how people can get so caught up and distraught when a high caliber celebrity passes away. After all, they don’t know the celebrity personally. Well, that’s easy to answer. When you truly enjoy the artistry and talent of a artist and they move you in ways that can barely be described in words, as a true fan, you develop a connection with these people. You almost feel as if you do know them. It’s called the power of music and it is magical.

Prince provided the soundtrack, backdrop, and narrative for a major part of my life, as I’m sure he did for so many others. How could I not feel connected in a strong way when tragedy strikes? His music has gotten me through some exciting, tough and very challenging times. And there’s so much music that he gifted us with. It’s so fitting that he loved the color purple. He seemed to quietly and humbly rest comfortably in knowing that he was indeed royalty. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that he’s gone and that I will never get the opportunity to see him in concert. At least there’s film and plenty of music to remember him by and for that, I am eternally grateful. I will miss him greatly. Rest in peace, royal Prince.

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

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

Beneath My Granddad’s Hat…

Image result for free google images of drawings of men wearing hats or caps

My granddad on my mom’s side always wore a hat, one with a brim on it that very effectively hid his eyes from the world. As a little girl, I remember stooping over while trying to peer underneath the hat. I just wanted to see his eyes. Granddad was a tall man, about 6ft 2 I imagine. His ever-present hat made him appear to be even taller, such a majestic and powerful figure as seen through my youthful eyes. When I would call out to him, he would often tilt his head just right, revealing two shiny brown balls of joy that made my heart dance with excitement. His eyes always seemed to be filled with laughter, even when he wasn’t smiling, but the smile was never far away.

It was a rare occasion to find my granddad without his hat. Sometimes, I would stand and watch grandpa sleeping under its safety and security. I used to think it was so funny when he would fall asleep in his favorite chair, his faithful ‘companion’ completely covering his face. At those times while granddad slept, the hat seemed to take on a life of its own, as it loyally watched over its owner. while providing a kind of protective shield from onlookers. As granddad quietly snored, the hat would rise and fall with each intake and exhale of his quiet rhythmical breathing.

It has been a very long time now since my granddad went home to Glory to be with his Father. Even though the window panes of my memory have aged, I still remember him exactly the same way I did all those years ago. While the hat he wore accented his signature style, the man underneath was, is and will forever be…..priceless!!

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Images: Free Google Images

A Morning of Mourning…

I’ve learned more in the past couple of months than I had ever hoped to. There are so many things about myself that I’ve never noticed before. Crucial situations can do that to a person. You don’t know what to expect until you’re in a situation. And even when you are in the situation, you still don’t know what to do or what to expect. You find yourself going through life in a kind of “trial by fire” frame of mind, getting burned here, singed there.

I spoke about loss in a previous post: Goodbye to My Girls – https://sporterhall.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/goodbye-to-my-girls/ I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was in mourning when I wrote that piece. As a matter of fact, I think I still am. But it’s not the first time. My original surgery date had been scheduled for May 20, 2015. The morning of my surgery was a very emotional one for me. I was not prepared for the wave of emotions that washed over me, literally, as I showered for the last time with all in tact. I found myself feeling overwhelmingly apologetic for my decision to radically address my medical issue. I never imagined I would feel so guilty about it.

I arrived at the hospital, pretty calm as I recall. After all, I had had a very cleansing cry that morning. I had mourned that morning. So I felt pretty clear and a lot lighter. I remember talking to the staff in the operating room. The next thing I remember was the nurse whispering to me gently that the doctor would come and talk to me. I was too out of it to think that there might be something wrong. I felt a soreness on my left side, so I assumed it was from the radical surgery that had been performed. As I emerged from the anesthesia, reality greeted me with the cruelest twist. The surgery had not been performed due to a medical complication. What?!! This had to be the worst kind of joke. Either that, or I must have heard wrong. There was no way that I was put completely under anesthesia for a major surgical procedure, only to awake to find that it had not taken place. The more coherent I became, the clearer the picture came into view. My surgeon made the best call. He didn’t take any chances with risking proceeding forward and I get it. But I wasn’t prepared for the mental fall out of this interruption.

Fate had allowed me to mourn the loss of 2 vital parts of my anatomy and prepare for it mentally. I was thrilled that I had a little while longer to be in tact. But all that really did was mess my head up. I mean, here I sit, writing this piece, and I still don’t feel mentally ready, not the way I did on May 20th. The postponement opened the door for my mind to play tricks on me. I started to toy with the idea that maybe, just maybe, this surgery isn’t necessary at all. Life certainly wouldn’t be so cruel as to play this kind of joke on me, or would it? To say goodbye once is bad enough, but to have to say goodbye again, is more than anyone deserves.

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

Goodbye To My Girls….

Don’t you just hate goodbyes? Just as you get to know someone or get use to the way things are done, the person leaves or the situation changes. I think this has been the story of my life. It seems like I’m always saying goodbye to someone or something. Sometimes the goodbyes are bittersweet, in that people are moving on to bigger and better things, while leaving me behind. At other times, the goodbyes are just bitter, leaving me feeling like I’ve lost a part of me.

Well, I’m about to embark on the biggest goodbye of my life. The time has come for me to say the dreaded two words, that come together to mark the ending of an era. But this is no ordinary farewell. Honestly, even as I’m writing this, I still find it hard to wrap my head around it. How hard would it be for you to say so long to friends that you’ve known your entire life? These girls have rode with me through thick and thin; true ‘ride or die’ chicks. My girls have been there for me even when I didn’t seem to notice or unintentionally took them for granted. When the chips were down, they stood with me in solidarity, while lending there silent yet powerful support. They made me proud and instilled in me a confidence that made me honored to be represented so well by them. I can only hope that I’ve done them the same justice. Yet, the time has come in my life where I’ve come to realize that things can change, even my girls. My ‘ride or die’ crew is no longer what they once were. They’ve become a danger to me to me that cannot be ignored.

Even as I sit here, writing and sharing about how good my girls have been to me, it makes me so sad to think about what my life will be like without them. Of course, there will be newbies that will rise to the occasion I’m sure, but there will never be another pair to replace the originals, in my heart. I know that they would remain if they could, after all, they’ve been with me from the beginning. But I’ve got to let them go and it hurts in a way like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

So, fellow bloggers, please keep me in your prayers and turn up the volume on Wednesday May 20th, as I undergo radical surgery and once and for all, say goodbye to my girls.

Sylvia Porter-Hall

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

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

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