Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

I’m not dressing up this year, but I do have on black and orange. ๐Ÿ™‚

I just wanted to share one of all-time favorite Stevie Wonder songs. My dad used to pop this on the record player and sing it with me. I wonder if it was a ploy to make sure I wasn’t a liar, lol. That and getting dropkicked by my mom when I actually did tell a lie or two as a child because I was scared to tell her the truth (and her beatdown speeches consisted of “You wouldn’t have gotten this whipping if you had told me the truth–this one is for lying to me”) prevented me from picking up that nasty habit. Thank goodness for that! Because lying is so unnecessary to me. But that’s a whole other post for a different day.

I actually wanted to talk a little about how supportive my parents are. I’m definitely who I am because of the way they raised me. Much appreciated since I love who I am! ๐Ÿ™‚

So anyway, if you haven’t already figured out what the song is, here it goes!!

Unexpected Blessings

Unexpected Blessings

Yesterday, I had an appointment for an herbal body wrap at Hadiya Wellness. I’ve never been there, and although I was excited about trying the wrap for the first time, I woke up not feeling my best. I didn’t feel well physically or emotionally. But I’m a fighter, so I pushed on and made my way to East Atlanta with a large sprite in hand to try to settle my stomach.

He Ain't Heavy by Gilbert Young

You know how sometimes all it takes is for a friend to say “Are you ok?” for you to completely lose your cool? Well, I hadn’t talked to a friend that morning, so I felt like I had myself pretty together. I could fake the funk in the few minutes of chatting you do with a service provider before they get to doing whatever it is they’re about to do, right? Wrong. I signed in and stepped into my designated room. A lady, who turned out to be Asha, the director of Hadiya, greeted me then said “Are you ok?” and I said “Oh I’m ok besides that I don’t feel all that well.” So she asked what was going on and I told her, and she said well, we can do the appointment if you want, but you don’t have to–we can reschedule to when you feel better. Then she led me over to the seating area in the room and sat with me and said “what else is going on? you can talk to me. you seem like you’re overwhelmed and just need to let it out. go ahead.” And I immediately started crying. It’s amazing how God will put you exactly where you need to be. I didn’t know this woman from Eve, and she sat with me for however long when she didn’t have to, allowing me to express myself and find some relief. When I couldn’t talk because of my tears, she basically told me how I felt and all I had to do was nod. It was kinda crazy, but it felt good to hear that someone understood how I felt. She gave me some words of affirmation and assured me that I’d be ok. Then she pulled out the lavender oil, brought in a foot massager, dimmed the lights, and let me sit in the room alone and just meditate and think about how good God has been and will continue to be.

That just reinforced for me that God uses whoever allows Him to bless people. Asha could have said either you get this service or you pay me a cancellation fee. Or she could have just done the service not knowing if it’d make me sicker. She could have ignored whatever little voice was telling her that I wasn’t just sick physically and let me walk out the door still feeling like crap. I really appreciate her, and I hope that I don’t ignore the subtle nudges we sometimes get to do more than nod and smile at some stranger as they walk by or to ask deeper questions of people we’re talking to because they need a sounding board. I’m not one that regularly accepts help from others, but I’m glad that there’s a higher power that knows me better than I know myself. And I look forward to patronizing Hadiya in the future, when I’m in better health. ๐Ÿ™‚

Be blessed, lovelies!

Lessons Learned by Farmer Jo, Part 2

Lessons Learned by Farmer Jo, Part 2

Back to those doggone squash and cucumbers. Much of what I learned about trying to grow them applies to my life in general. It all started when I went to Chicago in June to celebrate the 30th birthdays of three compadres. I purchased an automatic sprinkler so that my plants wouldn’t be thirsty for a full weekend. Well… I called myself testing it the night before and setting the timer for every 6 hours. Didn’t work out like I thought it would.

My cucumbers were overwatered, while my squash was underwatered. Isn’t that what happens sometimes in our relationships? You put in way more effort than is necessary for some people and neglect others. Yeah… So after that it was making up time. I had to figure out what could be salvaged. Which isn’t always that easy. Last night, I realized that I really need to sit down and do what I do on a somewhat regular basis–a friendship evaluation. But later on that–let me finish talking about my poor plants. ๐Ÿ™‚

So my squash was growing, but they were almost orange, instead the great yellow my first crop was. In addition, the actual vines/roots were turning a dark green and looking pretty ashy and almost dead (and some were dead) and starting to look mangled. I probably ย should have abandoned ship then, but Determined Dejoi couldn’t just admit defeat. I started back to my original regime after cutting off all the dead parts. It was looking pretty sparse after I cut all the dead weight off. After that only one more squash grew.

Lesson: When there’s more death than life or more negativity than positivity, it’s time to let go. Some things aren’t worth saving.

On the other hand, my cucumbers were growing, but they were discolored in a different way and disfigured. (Have you noticed here that colors tell the story if you only pay attention?) These babies were yellowish (not green) and round, instead of long. So I added soil to the pot to try to soak up some of that excess water, and I moved the pot so that the plants would get more sun. But more than that, when I looked at the vines, there were some serious issues. There were black vines all over the place. So I cut all of those off, but the cucumbers never grew normally, and I was scared to eat the warped cucumbers (although they smelled like cucumbers and Smokie enjoyed the one that fell off the vine, lol).

Lesson: You can flood anything or anyone or any situation, which warps the fruit of whatever seed you planted. If you’re putting more into something or someone than you’re getting back, ย you need to evaluate the situation.ย 

My first summer of gardening was great. I had some wins and some losses, but I learned from it all. My carrots and broccoli are still looking great so far. I’m even considering growing onions later in the winter. Here are some questions that I’m asking myself during my friendship evaluation:

  • Whose lives are you enhancing and who is enhancing yours?
  • In whom are you investing and who is investing in you?
  • Who do you prioritize and who prioritizes you?
  • Whose opinions do you value? Whose do you dismiss?
  • Who actively listens to you? Who do you think you waste your breath on?
  • Who keeps indirect tabs on you but doesn’t directly deal with you? Do they use that information to help or hurt you?
  • Who do you feel comfortable confiding in?

In all of this, it’s important to honor your instincts. Some friendships are for a season, some for a reason, and some for a lifetime. No, I don’t talk to all my friends every day–I have people I truly consider friends who I have confidence in even though they’re not on my normal rotation. So you have to consider all that. And you need to ask yourself if you spend more time and energy on the people who don’t add to you than who do. If so, you have some adjusting to do. I know I do.

Almost 30! Many lessons down, many more to go!

Black Power Mixtape is a Must See

Black Power Mixtape is a Must See

On Saturday, a group of us went to see Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, and I’m telling you, if you’re in Atlanta, you need to make your way over to Midtown Art Cinema during its limited run. I may go see it again. This is a film I’d love to have in my DVD collection.

This film is the culmination of footage shot by Swedish journalists who came to the U.S. to get a first hand look at the civil unrest that was going on during that time. It was amazing to see that there was an article in a Swedish newspaper that questions the U.S.’s stances on several issues, particularly racism and war. In response, the editor of TV Guide wrote an article calling Sweden anti-American. This was of the highlights of the film for me (of MANY) because it just shows how the media was then and still is connected in various ways and can sway the reader if the reader doesn’t care to try to get a full perspective. This same guy who wrote this article for TV Guide was President Nixon’s right-hand man. There was another journalist, an American, who was interviewed who said that television is just a way of distracting people and it’s a useful tool. Isn’t it amazing that the some of the same things we say today were being said in the 60s and 70s?

That’s one reason I really enjoyed Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975. Seriously, so many of the same issues that are going on now were issues then too. They were talking about the working class and the need for living wages, about equal opportunities, about the need for health care for all, about the need for quality education, about resources being wasted in war, the conditions of prisons, and the list goes on. The difference is that over that 30 year period since, somehow the powers that be have made some of this stuff seem like an afterthought–or like Erykah Badu said while narrating, that we should just be happy to have what we have and not focused on what injustices exist–or like Malcolm X said in the film, like people who respond to mistreatment are the extremists. The film also reinforced in this brain o’ mine how important community and organizing is. One of the things that has always made me sad about the portrayal of the Black Panthers is that so many people don’t know about the programs they created to help the poor communities they represented. They were the ones that started the free breakfast program for kids. They had community schools for students whose parents were fed up with subpar conditions. They had free clinics for people who couldn’t afford basic medical care. But they rarely ever get credit for that because people focus on the gun toting, on the most wanted lists parts. And most of the time you hear rumors that they were anti-anyone who wasn’t black, yet in almost every interview, they said they were for the disenfranchised, no matter what color they were, and were willing to work with anyone who had similar goals–but it’s so easy to put people in a box in order to downplay who they are and the influence they might have. YOUNG people got this done. And had such an impact that America’s favorite gangster J. Edgar Hoover ruled the free breakfast program a top threat to the country and launched COINTELPRO, which we know derailed the organization. Now, let’s think about this. How can a free breakfast program be a threat, let alone a TOP threat?? Because they were feeding and educating these poor kids. Starve a kid of food and knowledge, and you don’t have to worry about them ever questioning their position in life. During our discussion after the film, someone raised a really good question–what ever happened to those kids?? I’d love to know.

Other parts of the film that really stayed with me were seeing people I’ve heard about in different settings than usual. Stokely Carmichael speaking out of the country. Even more moving, Stokely Carmichael with his mom or just chilling. Eldridge Cleaver in Algiers–I’ve so often heard about Panther leaders being exiled or moving overseas, but I’ve never really known what it was like for them or what they did after they moved, so hearing him interviewed while exiled was like whoa! Also, y’all know I love me some Angela Davis, just because she is so unafraid to say what’s on her mind and because even when she was on the America’s Most Wanted list, she stuck to her guns. She was interviewed in jail, and she connected her childhood in Birmingham, which included knowing the four little girls who were killed in the famous church bombing, and her interviewer asking about violence. If I were to cry during the movie, this would have been one of the moments–she told him how crazy it was to ask her about violence when she grew up in violence that was almost unquestioned.

It made me really sad to see the last couple of chapters focused on the War with Drugs that later turned into the War on Drugs. It’s so crazy how our neighborhoods were flooded with heroine and later crack. And it’s amazing to know that there are people overseas who have seen what this nation has put black people through. It’s amazing to me to see all this footage and know that we’ve come a long way, but there’s no way anyone in this country should ever think that we’ve overcome our past. Black people collectively are where we are–little to no wealth esp when compared to our counterparts, still disenfranchised, still suffering–by design. But we have people like Herman Cain who really believe that if you are not wealthy it’s completely your own fault, and there’s no institutional component on the other side of the personal responsibility coin. And at the same time, we’ve lost some of our gumption to act collectively for a solution to our own issues. It’s sad, but I still wonder what we can do now together that can impact this world the way our predecessors did.

So, GO SEE THE FILM!! It’s playing here in Atlanta, as I mentioned before, and it’s also playing in Boston, Philly, San Fran, Seattle, and DC. And it will be in Detroit, Minneapolis, San Diego, and St. Louis soon.ย  Please go see it and tell me what you think!

Lessons Learned by Farmer Jo

Lessons Learned by Farmer Jo

So I was (am) Farmer Jo this summer, and I loved it. Back in May, I was inspired by my green thumb friends and family and planted my own deck garden. Recap: I bought railing planters, soil, seedlings, a few seeds, and went for it despite my failure at keeping a couple of houseplants alive. Here’s how I did.

First of all, the summer made me scared of seeds. I planted seeds in two pots: a lily and a sunflower. The lily never sprouted from the soil at all. Not sure what happened there. The sunflower came up and it was beautiful until I found out that sunflowers like sun but not too much. It was purty while it lasted but I allowed it to bake to death. So if I ever plant more sunflowers, I’ll put it in a place that gets a little shade during the day.

But you know, I don’t back down to any challenge. Seeds can’t punk me! Besides, it is something about checking every day and one day stepping outside to see a new wisp of green peaking out of the dirt. A sense of accomplishment peaks out of the soil with it. For the fall, I’ve planted broccoli and carrots and both have started sprouting. #winning! They look great, and I can’t wait to see how well they do.

All of my veggies this summer started as seedlings. I just didn’t want to take any chances with them. My peppers are banging. Nothing I’ve done have deterred their beautiful growth. Which makes me grin, especially since my fajita bell peppers looked to be on their last leg the day I planted her. They looked awesome the entire season and gave me plenty of peppers to cook. You can taste the heat in the cajun bell peppers. And you can smell the yumminess of the fajita bell peppers. As the cold weather enters, it has made me frown a bit to see them die, but that’s a part of the cycle of life. I’m very proud of my peppers. I’ll definitely make this my staple every year.

My okra was comme ci comme ca. Partially due to space, I only got one okra plant, so there was never any harvest that was big enough for me to fry up more than a couple of slices of okra. It was usually two at a time. It has gotten so tall though. It’s unbelievable. I’m not sure if I’ll plant another of these next year. I just don’t have the space to grow them in bulk that I can see. But my one lil solo plant has hung in there.

The serious lessons were with my squash and cucumbers, my pseudo disappointments. But that’s for my next post. ๐Ÿ™‚

Can’t Get Enough of Swapnista

Can’t Get Enough of Swapnista

Last Saturday I went to the Fall Swapnista Day Party. I was prepared this time, though. In the spring, I had no idea what to expect, so I lost my mind when I got there. This time I was ready. Decked in holey jeans, a gray light sweater with a sheer stripe across the back, leopard print loafers, and fire red lips (for which I gave tips), I was ready to get my shop on. (Sorry no pics of me, I forgot!!)

I love when events evolve. Just from the first to the second, it grew. More vendors, more people, more fashion. ๐Ÿ™‚ย This go round, the fashion show featured fashion bloggers (maybe I should start writing about my fashion finds and opinions so I can participate next time), and there were some #wins and a couple of #fails. Of the wins, my fave items (not on one person but throughout the show so don’t be alarmed, lol) were a denim striped blazer with very defined shoulders, a polka dot sheer shirt, a very cute orange printed long sleeveless wrap dress, and some fabulous red platform pumps.

I know you’re waiting on the deets on what I bought, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ I didn’t spend as much as I did last time, but I supported an already favorite vendor and found two new vendors.

My first purchase was this great set from Wendy Derilus of Traci Lynn Fashion Jewelry. Metallic combo at its best. I can’t wait to get jiggy in this.

Then I got a lovely little accordion style dress that I plan to layer for the fall and let loose in the summer. Wasn’t very photogenic, but I got this great wooden bracelet with gold accents from the same vendor. I’ll have to log on later tonight to give you the link to this vendor. Sorry!!

Finally, nearing the end of my budget for the day (I did a wee bit of shopping before I got to Swapnista, oops), I had to show some love to Nappy Rutz and picked up these great earrings.

This time I brought a friend with me, and I’m sure she enjoyed it as well. She bought more jewelry than I did!

I totally planned on participating in the swap this time, but I left the house to go to a community service project that morning and never went back to collect my giveaways. Which is kinda sad since I’m doing some fall cleaning as we speak so it would have been nice to share. Next time, I will have to just ride around with my goodies for the week before to make sure I have them to swap out. I love the concept, and I know there have been times my friends have said let me know when you’re cleaning out your closet–just goes to show that we all have a little consignment shop in our closets. ๐Ÿ™‚

Kudos to another great event! Can’t wait till the next!