Blast from the Past

Blast from the Past

Two nights ago I got a message on Google+ from a familiar but distant name:

Ranada. . .would your middle name happen to be Dejoi?

I replied “Yes my middle name is Dejoi. Is this <enter his name> from Vicksburg that went to summer camp with me in middle school???”

And he replied, “Yes. It’s me. WOW…”

Wow is right! It’s been 17 years since our last correspondence. He was the cutest boy in the academic camp we attended at Hinds Community College Utica Campus, and it turned out that we both had mutual crushes on each other. We spent most of the camp shyly flirting, and finally, after a maybe a week of “going together” lol, he gave me a smooch (at that time, I still thought french kissing was mucho yucky, and it would be another couple of years before I tried that out, lol!) by the swings (but not after dark) as a sweet gesture because of my love for the Subway song. After camp, we wrote letters for a brief time.

A couple of years ago, I found an envelope of stuff from him that I had saved. I did a FB search and didn’t find anything. Of course I wondered where he was, how he was doing, and if he even remembered me, but after the fruitless FB search I gave up. So imagine my surprise when I saw his name in my email inbox!

He is doing well now–he has a wife and a baby girl due any moment. But guess how small the world is–he lives in Atlanta too and moved here the year after I did since we both moved for graduate school. It warms my heart to know that I had good taste in junior high, lol. He seems to be doing well for himself as an adult, and he is still handsome! I just thought I’d share that blast from the past. It’s awesome to see how people are doing now. I keep up with a few of my summer camp friends (I went to an academic camp every year from 6th grade (really, before!! I just remember my first overnight camp was at Pineywoods Country Life School the summer after 6th grade and I was technically too young but I was in the right grade!) to 10th grade (I spent the summer after my 11th grade year taking a senior English literature class that was the exact same as an AP English class I had already taken just so I could have my diploma since I was skipping my senior year to attend Tougaloo)). I’m so happy my mom thought it was necessary to make sure that I spent my summers with other smart black kids on college campuses so that I’d know I wasn’t an exception to any rule about black folks (I came home from a trip with the gifted program asking were the other two black students and I different since we were all there were in the entire program). Now I am blessed to know and be surrounded by so many sharp, amazing people.

Here’s an ode to my junior high school summer camp boo.

Happy Love Day

Happy Love Day

If you know me or have been reading my blog over the years, you know that I love Love Day. Regardless of your boo status, it’s a day to focus on all kinds of love in your life. This year, it’s a little difficult for me, but hey, that’s what my own words are for, right? So, I went back and read a couple of my own posts, and here are a couple that made me go ok ok ok, I shouldn’t be feeling bad on a day I’ve always enjoyed.

Happy Love Day!

MLM: The Time of My Life

Happily Ever After

 Love Quote of the Day

Showers of Blessings in 2008

And then yesterday, while listening to my fave Whitney songs (I really thought I would wake up today and just post my fave Whitney love songs, but you know I operate on the whim as it relates to this here blog), I heard a song that I hadn’t heard in a while but hadn’t HEARD in even longer. Sometimes lyrics come alive when it’s something you need to hear. This all-time favorite talent show hit seemed to explode on me, and I started crying in the middle of it. Like not a tear here or there, but seriously crying. A song can never be too throwback to send a message.

The greatest love of all is easy to achieve <–[note from Nada Jo: not always]
Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all

And if, by chance, that special place that you’ve been dreaming of leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love

 So any of you that may be having rough time in your life, listen to Whitney. Find your strength in love. And if love is part of your issue–maybe a romance gone wrong or a fallout with a friend or family member or something that has made you a little distant in your relationship with the Most High–you have to focus on those people who do give you love and remember who you are and what you’ve already made it through. It’s not always easy. Whatsoever. By any means. But you can’t wallow in the negative or it just keeps getting worse and worse. And the worse it gets, the harder it is to pull yourself back into the pleasant parts of life.

Now, I guess I’ll do something for myself today to show myself some love, which I haven’t been doing much lately. Not sure what. Maybe a manicure or something since my polish is chipping, lol. And maybe some lunch that I hopefully will keep down. And of course I have two special Valentines. One I carry around with me, and one who patiently waits for me to get home every day. Here’s my Valentine for my little sweetheart who’s been a brand new anchor at times.

And here’s my Valentine for my super brave and resilient pooch.

Happy Love Day, all! Focus on the positive and love yourself and appreciate those who love you today. Tootles.

In a Sentimental Monday Mood

In a Sentimental Monday Mood

Time for Memory Lane Monday. Ever since my Pretty Girls Rock post, my mom has been finding pics for me, and it’s sent me through lots of reflection and sentiment. My mom surprised me this weekend by sending me a Polaroid of my grandma and Vernita together, a pic I had never seen before, and it is something super special to me. So bear with me as I reminisce. I promise I’m not always so somber. 🙂

When I think of funerals, I always think of the older people in the movies who have to go to everyone and get a program as a souvenir, lol. I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those people. I really don’t like funerals, and it’s probably because I’ve been to quite a few. I go because I totally get and subscribe to the school of thought that you have to celebrate a life and send your loved one off.  And I go because the family gets together in numbers greater than usual, and we spent the whole repast laughing and telling stories. And I’ve gone to a couple where I didn’t really know the deceased but I did know a living relative who really needed the support. If you didn’t know, I am really really sensitive so I get really upset when I see other people really really upset. An empath of sorts? I don’t know, but I’ll never forget my grandma Neva’s funeral, simply because it was the first time I had ever seen my mom cry and I really felt that pain on top of my own.

But this post is not about that. It’s about the celebration of life. I spoke a lil about my grandma before, so this time I want to talk a little more about my aunt Vernita, whom I mentioned in the Broke-ology post. In my brain, Vernita was the epitome of lively and adventurous. Every time I saw her she was full of sass and style. She seemed fearless on her quest to take life by its horns. I’m sharing a couple of pictures of her, my mom’s baby sister.

foxy and looking just like my ma!

Remember to take advantage of life while you have it and keep in mind that you’re creating memories for those who will be here after you’re gone. Make them positive ones. I think of Vernita often. Sometimes I think I channel her busybody spirit. Imagine my mom’s reaction when I got my nose pierced like Vernita’s had been. Haha! She commenced to fussing and I probably laughed it off the same way her little sister would. “Oh it’s fine. No it’s not a hindrance. It’s just a little sparkle!” Now if I can just find my cousin David, her son, I’d feel great. We were very close as kids, but we haven’t talked in years and I don’t really know how to find him (and his name is really common so Facebook has been a bust). If anyone out there does pro bono P.I. work, holla atcha girl. 🙂

Anyway, give someone special a hug today. And fill your spaces with pleasant memories. I think my next art piece will have something to do with the beauty of the women in my family. You know, do something with all these pics my mom is finding for me. 🙂

And because it’s also Music Monday, here’s a flashback that will make you fuzzy inside. Happy Monday! Have a productive week!

Memory Lane Monday – Firsts

Memory Lane Monday – Firsts

I’ve been thinking of doing this post for quite some time but haven’t had the chance. So here we go.  A fun little post about some firsts in my life and the music that goes with it!

My first tape ever was Oaktown 3-5-7’s Wild and Loose in 1989.  Even though “Yeah Yeah Yeah” was the first video (one of the first that got me in trouble for wanting (and asking) to wear sports bras and biking shorts), below is my fave song on that album, Juicy Gotcha Crazy (despite the fact that I didn’t have a clue what “juicy” was! lol).  B Angie B was my girl!!  And my cousins used to love getting me to do all the dances in this video (and I mean every step haha) and many many more after school. I so wanted to be a teenager in this era.

My first CD was 112’s self-titled album in 1996. My first high school boyfriend gave that to me.  I can still sing every song, complete with adlibs, on this album from start to finish.  Here are a few lyrics from one of my fave songs on there. I may have to record myself singing so I can post a youtube link, lol.

All the love you’ve given me
So special, seems to be no limit
I’ll do anything
There’s no boundaries to how we can grow
How can I let you know
Girl, let me sit and think, ohhhh

Why does the wind blow
Why does the sun shine
Why does the rain fall down on my face
Why does the earth spin
Why do the waters reach the shore
And tell me, tell me why
Why do I love you like I do

The first time I went to a dance at someone’s school was the 1998 prom at Murrah High School.  And boy, was that drama filled.  No, like, really drama filled.  I only got to dance to one song, and here it is.

In college, I was really reserved, probably primarily because I was the youngest one there.  I only went to maybe 2 parties freshman year. Really, it totally could have been 1.  Then I pledged.  And although I was still a little shy, especially compared to my line sisters and prophytes, I loosened up a lil and became a regular party-goer and a major party-walker.  In GA, all the AKAs start strolling when Set It Off comes on. But at home, the AKAs take over when Pump The Party comes on (well, really any song, but especially this one). This is the first song I learned a strut–THE Gamma O strut–to. 🙂

Speaking of college, again when I was a freshman, I was a bookworm and pretty much either in class, at work, tutoring someone, or goofing around on my hall in the dorm.  So alot of people outside of those things didn’t even necessarily know my name.  Just that I was the smart 16-yr old girl.  So to step out just a smidge, I decided to participate in the Freshman Showcase.  Ever the tomboy, I put on a fitting dress and sang a duet with a very outgoing freshman that EVERYONE knew could sing, Tyrone, who also played piano.  Now, the people on my hall knew I could sing, but that’s it. So when I stepped out and got the mic, I heard a few whispers of “oh Lawd, this girl better know how to sing.” I’m sure I surprised some folks. 🙂  Here’s the song we sang–the first song I ever sang in front of an audience at Tougaloo.

So speaking of singing in public, in high school I was in a singing group called G99.  We used to sing all the time, at school, at church programs, even competed once to go to Showtime at the Apollo but we were duped into entering the wrong contest (kids instead of adults) so we got beat out by some 5 yr old playing drums that got the crowd to say awwwww. I used to love love love singing with those girls, Faith and my bestie Kenya.  Our most requested song was Kirk Franklin’s My Life is in Your Hands, but here’s a song I really liked singing with them, and I’m pretty sure it’s the first song we sang together, even if just testing out the waters with our voices.

I could do this all day, but this one will be my last first.  When I was at church while I was at home helping my mom, a member came over after service to tell me that no matter how old I get she will always remember me singing this song when I was growing up, that she’s never heard another version that moves her like when I sang it.  It’s the song I sang in my first pageant.  And I bring that up because both of my mentees have participated in pageants and did really well.  I really enjoy pageants and what they contribute to the self-esteem of girls.  I know it did for me. I was in 10th grade when I did my first pageant, and I was soooooooooooooo nervous and so wondering if I even should since I wasn’t all that girly back then.  Here’s the song I sang.

Hope you enjoyed this post!  And I hope you’ll be checking back in to read the posts about the first Reads and Reels discussions in 2011.  Atlanta and Jackson had a great time, and Chicago is sure to have a blast this Sunday!!

Not Too Busy to Love

Not Too Busy to Love

Today’s Memory Lane Monday comes from an email I sent on 1/31/07.  I spent last week in Jackson, juggling relaxing with visiting as many family members as I could with meeting up with friends and classmates.  Yesterday, when it was time to leave, I wasn’t ready because I felt like I hadn’t really done everything or seen everybody I had intended to.  But alas, I had to get back on the road.  I say all that to say, at the end of the day, it’s all about love.  Showing people, friends, family, and even strangers, love.  We’re here on earth to make a difference in someone’s life, and who knows who it will be?  Maybe just the fact that I spent a little time with my grandma, my granddaddy, my aunts, and my great-aunts was enough.  Or maybe the fact that I spent a lil time catching up with old friends was enough.  Or just maybe the short convo I had in the mall with a stranger at random was enough.  Anywho, enjoy.

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”—when you now have it with you.  Proverbs 3:27-28

A major part of being Christians is our responsibility to love.  And part of loving is giving–our time, our effort, our resources–to people in need.  It’s not always something big that the Spirit urges us to give, but we often ignore those urges.  You never know how a smile might have changed someone’s day.  Or stopping to give someone directions.  Or giving someone a dollar.  Or helping someone with a homework assignment.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, especially for myself since I’m always on the go–every time Jesus stopped to helped someone in the Bible, he wasn’t just sitting there waiting to help someone–he was on his way somewhere, and he stopped what he was doing to assist that person in need.  We should follow suit, and try to make sure we have a loving attitude throughout our day.

MLM: The Time of My Life

MLM: The Time of My Life

Happy Monday to you and Happy Birthday Eve to me!  The post I’m about to share was written on 9/22/04, and in it, I talk enjoying my 20s, which I’m about to be saying goodbye to over the next year.  Also, I thought it was nifty that my birthday, my golden birthday at that, was on a Tuesday that year just like it is this year.

I still don’t have a bunch o’ regrets.  As I move into my 30th year, I know that I’ve accomplished a lot, I know tons of great people, and I have so much I want to do and know I will do.  Life will always have its ups and downs, and I’ve had some hella ups that are way more vivid memories than the downs.  So no complaints over this way.  Especially after a great weekend.  Friday, I chilled and talked and chilled and talked.  Saturday, I had a day full of tons of stuff, including a workshop,a business launch, a dinner with the girls where they surprised me with cupcakes :), and dancing at Old School Saturday with a slew of friends.  Yesterday, I got to see my mentee strut her stuff in her first pageant, and she won Most Photogenic in her division and overall and 1st runner up to Miss Jr Teen Atlanta, and I was treated to a nice dinner and a delectable dessert.  And later this week, I’ll get to spend my Thanksgiving with my awesome family.  See, how could I complain?  Yep, I’m still having the time of my life.  Anywho, here ya go.

I was listening to the radio this morning, and for one time, Ryan Cameron made me think. (I usually don’t listen to him because he aggravates me.) Anywho, I came in on the end of the convo so I dunno what prompted the topic, but he was discussing with the rest of his crew the importance of living life and not putting things off until you can “afford” it because alot of us will never enjoy ourselves that way. He talked about how some parents miss out on the special moments of their kids’ lives working all the time and saying, “Well, next time, but this time I need to do overtime so I can…” And then he said something about a girl who gave her entire 20s to a guy and now she’s alone and talking about how she’ll never go back to all that drama after she’s missed out on probably the funnest part of the average person’s life. Which got me to thinking about me and this part of my life. I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying my 20s (even though I kinda just began them but that’s ok–I’m looking forward to the rest of em). I know I gripe alot about different things, and I do get sad and unsatisfied sometimes, but overall, I don’t think when I look back on my life I will have many regrets or woulda/coulda/shoulda’s so far. I’m having a ball while working on the future. I’m meeting people, not as many as I’d like sometimes, but the people I have met and gotten to know are great people and you can’t beat that. And my networking circle is widening by the week. And again, I am having fun. I get stressed sometimes, but that’s a part of life, right? Last year was kinda boring, but this year and my senior year were great. Now as I’m finishing up my 23rd year (for you folx who hate my math logic–when you’re 22, that’s cuz you’ve lived 22 complete years and are going into the 23rd), I’m pleased with where I am at the moment. Not to say I’m about to become stagnant–never that–but I’m pleased with the overall state of things.

So enough with all that, let’s talk about this weekend. Methinks I’m going to the Classic. I’m trying to see how many people are coming with, so far 2. So fun. I plan to go to the parade that morning. It’s been so long since I’ve been to a parade, and the one I used to always go to is kinda hood rich (but I love it) so I’m excited that this may be a little more “big time” than I’m used to. I heard a rep of the 100 Black Men say that they flew in the Ghanaian Royal family, so that should be really cool. Of course there are free parties all weekend, so I gotta see if any of my friends are down. I’m also planning a trip to DC with two very special people for my birthday, so I’m extra excited about that. Extra extra. I hope everything falls in line. And I need to be figuring out what I will give my brother for his 18th birthday, which is 2 days after my birthday (and Thanksgiving). Any ideas? When I can afford it, I think I may start taking him different places for his birthday. I didn’t get my big brother anything for his birthday. It was Monday. But I did call and talk to him awhile. We had gotten close for awhile, but that kinda fell off. Maybe I’ll start calling for often. I was enjoying him being more like a friend brother than the big-bad-I’ll-beat-everybody-up-if-they-mess-with-you brother. But sometimes that is cool too. 🙂

Well, it’s off to the regular grind. But today seems a tad bit brighter than yesterday, and that’s always a good thing!

[lyrics for the day]
So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind, hang it on a shelf in good health and good time. Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial. For what it’s worth, it was worth all the while.
good riddance>>green day

This is a really classic song.  I guess I’ve always had good taste in music. 🙂  I’m going to live the rest of you up, 20s!


MLM: Stagecoach Prayer

MLM: Stagecoach Prayer

Happy Monday, lovelies!  I had a spectacular weekend, and I’m ready to rumble this week.  Yesterday, I felt the urge to watch a friend’s church online, and just like the old days, the Word was just for me.  The sermon was based on Exodus 13:17-18, and it was about how God wouldn’t lead the Israelites through the shortest path because they wouldn’t have been ready for war with the Palestinians and how God may take us a longer route, but long isn’t wrong.  The sermon conjured up all types of thoughts not only about my life and the path I’m on but also about the black community (but I need to organize those).  Anywho, this Our Daily Bread that I shared on 4/4/07 kinda extends my thought process about the sermon.  About how my path is mine–I need to stay in my lane and work on what I’m meant to work on and what’s meant for me will be mine.  If I swerve into other folks’ lanes, I may shortchange myself. Hope you have a productive week!

Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. —John 14:13

Five-year-old Randy wanted a toy stagecoach for Christmas. While shopping with Mom, he found just the one he wanted. It was about 6″ long and had cool wheels and dark brown plastic horses pulling it. “Mommy, I want this one. Pleeeease!” he begged. As young children sometimes do, he threw a tantrum, insisting that he get that stagecoach for Christmas. Mom said, “We’ll see,” and took him home.

Randy was sure he’d get what he asked for. Christmas morning came, and he opened the package confidently. Sure enough, it was the stagecoach he had begged for. He was so pleased. But then his older brother said, “You really did a dumb thing to insist on gettingthat coach. Mom bought you a much bigger one, but when you begged for that little one, she exchanged it!” Suddenly the small stagecoach didn’t seem so appealing.

Sometimes we’re like that with God. We pray about a specific need and tell Him how He ought to answer. We beg and plead—and God may even give us exactly what we ask for. But He may have had something better in mind.

Phillips Brooks once said, “Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger.” — Anne Cetas

Do not presume to know what’s best
When you begin to pray;
But say to God, “Your will be done,”
Then trust His perfect way. —Sper

Large asking results in large receiving.