So…who is your favorite author?

So…who is your favorite author?

So…I often come across the question (and even ask), “what is your favorite book?”.  Occasionally, I’m asked who my favorite author is.  While I often confuse the two questions, I do know the difference when I take a moment to breathe.  Now, I cannot tell you my favorite book for real but I can tell you my favorite author.  It is none other than the wonderful Vanessa Davis Griggs!  She is absolutely awesome!  I came across her book Promises Beyond Jordan at the library one day.   Seemed like an interesting read.  Sure enough, it was!  So, I looked up this author and found that she had written several other books that were related to that one.  So, you know what I did right?  Yup!  I reserved them all at the library.  If you’ve never read a book by Mrs. Griggs you are truly missing out.  My favorite of those books is one called Strongholds.  I learned a lot about myself.  Get ready for a journey when you pick them up!   On top of that, she shares a birthday with The Girl…so…yeah…we’re supposed to know each other!  lol…Check out my interview with her to see why I love her oh so much!

SSK:  Thank you Mrs. Vanessa for agreeing to be interviewed on So Says Kimyatta!  I am so excited to have you!

I’m such a fan.  I do believe I’ve read EVERYTHING you’ve written.  You are certainly one of the names I call when someone asks me, “What’s a good book to read?”  (yeah, I call author’s names…not titles at first).  Tell us about your writing journey. 

VDG:  Thanks, Kimyatta for having me and thanks for your kind words. My writing journey actually started when I was in elementary school. Having a love for words, I enjoyed penning plays. In the sixth grade, I wrote, produced, and directed my classmates in a Christmas play my teacher asked me to put on (somehow she knew I loved writing). It was so great! Following that (in high school no less), I put my hands toward writing novels because I loved reading. But keep in mind this was pre-Terry McMillian making a mark and changing the direction of what most publishers published from the African-American community. At the end of 1996, I walked away from my job of 18 years at BellSouth and decided I would actively pursue my passion of writing. I once told the critically-acclaimed author Ernest Gaines and his wife at a writers’ conference that I was going to either sink or swim. Mrs. Gaines told me, “Vanessa, I think you’re going to swim.” So here I am, 16 novels and a few nonfiction projects later still stroking (even if during these economic times it feels more like the backstroke).

SSK:  Well swim on!  Just keep swimming…swimming…swimming! – Dori, Finding Nemo

SSK:  One of the things I love about your writing is that there is ALWAYS a message and always something uplifting in each of your books.  You’re labeled as Christian Fiction.  Some authors take pause with that and say it puts them in a box.  How do you feel about it?

VDG:  I’m the kind who will say it doesn’t matter what you call me as long as you’re calling me. LOL. I am a Christian, I write fiction, my novels are designed to encourage, uplift, educate, inspire, give hope, point people toward better, and to lift up Jesus the Christ. Personally, I just want to do God’s will for my life. God is not boxed in and He made us in His image, so there’s no box that will be able to contain and hold what He wants to do when He wants to do it how He wants to do it.

SSK:  When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

VDG:  Wait a minute, there’s a such thing as ‘not writing’? Well, apparently, someone forgot to CC me on that e-mail. LOL. No, actually, I love doing things with my grandchildren. I love music and dancing around the house with them (I call it my exercise now). When they’re not around, I work. When they’re around, I like giving them my full attention—being present with the moment and them.

SSK:  HAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!  lol…I love it! 

SSK:  What kinds of things do you like to read? 

VDG:  I love reading nonfiction, motivational, and self-help type work. My favorite book was and is still the Bible (can’t get any more motivational and helping self than that book). I loved books by Og Mandino. I love fiction when it’s written well. I love how-to books when I want to hone a particular craft or fix something that needs my attention, which I often do and love it.

SSK:  Do you have a favorite book?  A favorite author?

VDG:  My favorite book is probably “The Greatest Miracle in the World” by Og Mandino. I tell folks I can read a book the way a thirsty man can drink a glass of water, so I’ve read lots of books (LOTS!) from all walks of the spectrum and genres. I do love a good book that’s well written both technically and with heightened rules of engagement.

SSK:  What was the last book you read?

VDG:  Well, I generally can read a book in one day, so I’ve read quite a few since my most recent book, “The Other Side of Divine” released on July 30, 2013 and I’ve been able to take a small breathier. One of those books was “Ciao, Bella” a novel by Ryan Phillips.

SSK:  I’ve read a few of hers!  I’ll have to go look that one up!  Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

VDG:  Aspiring authors have probably heard the usual drill about learning your craft, writing something every day, read to see what to do and sometimes what not to do. But I’d like to say that if your feelings are easily hurt and you don’t deal well with rejection, you might not want to move forward toward this goal or you may find that you’ll need to adjust those feelings. You’ll face the possibility of rejection in every turn in this business. Whether you’re trying to get an agent or publisher who may not “want you,” or if you do get a contract, having to deal with reviewers or critics who may find things wrong with what you did or how you chose to did it, to the people you desire to purchase your book who are “not interested” in you or maybe just not in what you’ve written, to those who do get your book and just didn’t like it for whatever reason. You definitely need a thick skin, but more than anything you need to believe in yourself and what you’re doing—committed to walk it through to the very end and back. I say the end and back because a true writer cannot NOT write, so you’ll find yourself desiring to do it again after the last one is done.

SSK;  Your latest book is The Other Side of Divine, tell us about it.

Can a dream come true be a mixed blessing?

Paris Simmons-Holyfield is finally pregnant with the baby she’s dreamed of for so long. There’s just one complication: she’s not sure who the father is. Apparently, after a night of drinking with her ex-coworker and ally Darius Connors, it could be him. Considering her husband’s track record, chances are it is. Still, Paris prays it’s not Darius, and decides to keep quiet about her worries. Especially because Darius isn’t ready to give up on his crumbling marriage. . .

Meanwhile, after a battle to keep her adopted daughter and an ugly confrontation with Paris’s family, Gabrielle Mercedes has finally found love and happiness. But when her father shows up, paroled from prison, she fears she’s in for another round of trouble. As all three navigate the path from sin to redemption, can they forgive their way to the other side?

THE OTHER SIDE OF DIVINE received 4.5 Stars, Top Pick! from RT (Romantic Times) Book Reviews which is their highest rating given. It was also a USA Today recommend. I’m thrilled with the feedback this novel is receiving and pray even more who read it are blessed by it.

SSK:  What can we expect next from you?

VDG:  Oh, that’s a good question! I’ll just say to stay tuned and keep checking my Web site or Facebook page to see what’s next.

SSK:  How can fans get in touch with you?

VDG:  My Web site is: http://www.VanessaDavisGriggs.com and my Facebook page is http://www.Facebook.com/vanessadavisgriggs. I have a Twitter page, but me and Twitter aren’t so cozy. I’m sure it’s me and not them. I post but it’s not as intimate feeling to me, so I don’t go there as much.

Thanks so much, Kimyatta! I enjoyed this.

SSK:  I loved having you!  Yup!  You’re my favorite! 

So…there you have it.  Connect with Mrs. Griggs and make sure to like her there.  You’re SURE to be inspired.  Also, don’t forget to pick up your copy of The Other Side of Divine today!

Until next time,

Hakuna MatataTheOtherSideofDivineWEB

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So…Tyora Moody is in Deep Fried Trouble!

EP Book Tour
Okay..not really…she’s not in it…but she wrote it! Welcome to Day 3 of the Deep Fried Trouble Blog Tour!
Please welcome Tyora Moody!

SSK: Hi Tyora! Thank you SO MUCH for allowing me to be a part of your blog tour!

TM: Thanks for having me on your blog, Kimyatta!

SSK: First, I’d like you to tell us a little bit about Deep Fried Trouble.

TM: Sure, here is a synopsis:

Widowed and officially retired, EUGEENA PATTERSON throws herself into organizing the neighborhood association. This presents a great opportunity to re-connect with old friends and get to know new neighbors like recently widowed Amos Jones, that is until Eugeena stumbles upon her estranged neighbor’s dead body. Eugeena’s daughter is fingered as a prime suspect, but where is she?
Determined to find her missing daughter, Eugeena and Amos sort through a list of neighbors with shady or unknown backgrounds. The more she searches, the more Eugeena becomes unsure about this neighborhood association idea. Someone closer than Eugeena thinks, wants to keep it that way.

SSK: This book was completely AWESOME! I absolutely loved Eugeena. I’m glad there’s more to find out here. Did you start out planning this to be a series or did it just happen?

TM: I’m so glad you loved this character. By the time I finished writing Deep Fried Trouble, there were so many stories that were left open-ended, I figured there were a lot more stories to tell.

SSK: How did you get the idea for this kind of book? Do you read a lot of them?

TM: Eugeena popped up during my journal writing back in 2008. I picture her having an a very animated conversation with a friend in a nursing home. I didn’t know at the time, but the scene would be the start of a book. In fact this scene will show up in the second Eugeena Patterson book. Deep Fried Trouble is considered a cozy mystery and there are quite a few authors I like in this genre. Agatha Christie is probably the queen of this genre.

SSK: Tell us about some of your other books.

TM: I have written romantic suspense books that are apart of a series called the Victory Gospel Series. Those books are When Rain Falls and When Memories Fade.

SSK: How can readers connect with you?

TM: The best way is to start with my website, tyoramoody.com. You can find links to all my social media profiles/pages.

SSK: What kind of books do you like to read? What’s the last book you read?

TM: For fiction, I tend to read mostly mystery, suspense and thrillers. I’m currently reading R is for Ricochet, which is a part of the Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton.

SSK: You also have a web business. Tell us a little more about that.

TM: Yes, thanks for the opportunity! I consider myself a literary-focused entrepreneur. Since 1999, I have assisted countless authors with developing an online presence via my company, TywebbinCreations.com. Some of my popular services include virtual book tours, book trailers and book covers.

SSK: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

TM: Stay tuned to for the third and final book of the Victory Gospel Series. When Perfection Fails will be released in March 2014. I hope to release another Eugeena book in 2014 too.

SSK: And there you have it! You can check out my review of Deep Fried Trouble here. Pick up your copy wherever books are sold!

Until next time,

Hakuna Matata

So…Jamesina Greene!

So…Jamesina Greene!

So…being a part of The Motherhood Diaries collaboration has let me meet some REALLY great people.  Another one of the wonderful ladies in the project is Ms. Jamesina Greene!

Hi Jamee!  Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed on So Says Kimyatta!

SSK:  Tell us a little bit about your chapter in The Motherhood Diaries.

JG:  My chapter in The Motherhood Diaries is called The Diary of a Depressed Mother.  It gives a brief insight into my life long battle with Depression and how it affected my relationships, especially with my sons.  Because I was always in a place of unhappiness and feeling unfulfilled, I often did not know how to show the love for my sons that I felt on the inside.  While they gave my life purpose, I was not in a good place and most likely did not show them how much I loved them on a regular basis.

SSK:  You were an other before MD too.  Tell us about some of your titles.
JG:  In addition to my contribution to The Motherhood Diaries, I have self-published five books.  Each of these books share my personal journey to healing and wholeness at various levels.  My first book, “Help, I Don’t Like Myself!” details my hospitalization for Depressions and Anxiety Disorders and how that experience pushed me to be honest and to face the demons that I was previously ignoring.  I learned that suffering in silence was not necessary and I share this story to help others come to the same understanding.

SSK:  Wow.  I know that is some story.  In the short time I’ve known you, you’ve encouraged me so much, so I know that your book is one that must be powerful.  You use your voice to inspire others.  I love that you talk about voices often on your blog and your radio show Jamee.  I’m always inspired.  Tell us a little about your business endeavors.

JG:  It is my belief that not only do we HAVE a Voice, but we ARE a Voice.  I believe that everything we say and DO, speaks.  Your very presence speaks and represents your Voice.  Currently, I have three businesses:  Jami Greene Ministries, Inc., Destne Enterprises and A Mother’s Cry.  All of these endeavors provide a forum where individuals are shown that they are unique and loved just as they are.  In addition, they are shown how to move forward with their life purpose and to meet their ultimate destiny.  JGM, Inc. is where I use my gifts for ministry purpose through speaking engagements, seminars, workshops, conferences, etc.  Destne Enterprises is where I publish my books, write plays and I am in the process of recording my first demo of songs that I have written.  AMC was birthed from my heart to give mothers a place to learn just how important they are as individuals and thereby encourage them to be the best mothers that they can be.

SSK:  Tell us about your voice.  How did you come to love yours and other people’s voices?

JG:  Many people find this hard to believe, but I really did not “find” my Voice until after the deaths of my parents a little over 2 years ago.  The majority of my life, I have been the “echo” of someone else’s voice.  I was identified as someone’s daughter, sister, mother and grandmother.  Recently, I had a Divine revelation and accepted the fact that I have a Voice and I am going to use it.  I use my Voice through my businesses, through my Facebook Groups and Pages, my “I AM a Voice” Blog and my Blog Talk Radio Show, “The Voice of Triumph”.  Honestly, I have many more ideas in my head, prayerfully they will be manifested this year (smile).

SSK:  AWESOME!  Now…taking a note from you, do you think your voice is for a specific audience?  Why or why not?

JG:  Of course AMC is designed to address the needs of mothers, but other than that I do not necessarily believe that I only reach a specific group of people.  I received messages and prayer request all the time from males and females, youth and adults of various ethnic backgrounds that are suffering from the trauma of many types of abuse, etc.  and they are just ecstatic that I am honest and open about my journey. I believe that my story is my gift to the world and I share it boldly.

SSK:  What can we expect in the coming months from you?

JG:  In the coming months, it is my desire to open AMC Chapters nationwide and to take my message of healing and wholeness globally.  I want to travel and share my story with as many people as I can.  I believe that it is my Divine assignment to take my “goods to the marketplace” and so here I go (smile).

SSK:  And from that, I hear, “Go ye therefore into all nations…” Lol…How can readers, fans, and listeners get in touch with you?

JG:  I can be reached through Facebook:  Jamesina Greene; Twitter: msdestne61 and email:  destne61@gmail.com

SSK:  Is there anything else you want to share with us?

JG:  I want to let each of your readers know that they are loved and they are special.  We are all of Purpose and we owe it to ourselves and the world to pursue it!

SSK:  And there you have it!  Thanks again Jamee!

Until next time,
Hakuna Matata!
So…what are you reading?

So…what are you reading?

So…anyone who KNOWS me knows me…KNOWS that 9 times out of ten, my preferred activity involves my nose in a book. I love, love, LOVE reading! For those that don’t know or didn’t know that about me, you can read here how it all started. I prefer fiction because it allows me an escape. I have been to all kinds of places in my reading. The authors I read are experts at taking me wherever it is I go.

My favorite genres to read are probably Christian fiction and contemporary fiction. These are usually modern day tales and are easy to find. This is the majority of my book collection. Authors include Reshonda Tate Billingsley, Daphine Glenn Robinson, Vanessa Davis Griggs, Marilynn Griffith, Victoria Christopher Murray, and Lutishia Lovely. For these six ladies, I’ve either read all or own all of their books (sometimes both). There are lots of other authors I love to read, but I’d go crazy trying to name them all.

I also love historical fiction with a special place in my heart for the 1800s! I have no clue why…but I do. I once read two four books-series by Michael Phillips The Shenandoah Sisters and Carolina Cousins. They began amidst the Civil War. Two young girls, one the daughter of a plantation owner and the other a slave from a neighboring plantation are both orphaned when their plantations are raided by rebels. They find each other and have to learn how to live a “normal” life. Very interesting stories. I also just read my first historical romance. It’s Vivid by Beverly Jenkins. Oh my…I absolutely loved it! I have a few more of hers to read. I’m very excited.

Once upon a time, I loved horror/thrillers. I used to read lots of Mary Higgins Clark (though I’m not sure she’s in that category) Dean Koontz and John Saul. On my high school senior trip, I took Monster by John Saul. I honestly can’t remember what it was about, but it was such a good read, I got hooked on John Saul and eventually owned everything he’d written from the year I was born until whatever the current year was. The last book I read by him until 1999’s Right Hand of Evil. I read that when I was pregnant with The Girl…and um…yeah, it scared the begeezus out of me and I haven’t read him since! I once read a Stephen King book…and well…it scared the whosiswhatsis (which is different and MUCH worse than the begeezus) out of me and I haven’t read ANYTHING else by him. I like going places in my reading, but if it’s going to cause me to have nightmares…yeah…I’m good.

I had always avoided romance novels. You know…the traditional ones found at the checkout in the grocery stores. I remember sneaking to read my aunt’s Harelequin stash when I was a preteen. I think back to those books and laugh at the language I remember. It was so mild compared to what’s in some of the newer romances. I am being more open to romance novels…but it has to be a gooooooooooood story. It’s going slow…but I’m working on it.

Now, I don’t read erotica much. I mean, some books I read aren’t “classified” as erotica but are so daggum steamy and filled with umm…well…stuff..that they might as well be. Some of the scenes are so explicit, I might as well be watching one of those videos that used to be in the room behind the curtain at Blockbuster. Yes, I’m a grown up. Yes, I know what’s going on. However, I’m a single girl…trying to stay saved…and while I don’t have a problem with other folks doing what they do, I know that the less I tempt myself, the less problems I’ll have…know what I mean? I was once blessed with a gift of a certain famous trilogy that was supposed to be oh so wonderful. I was sad to say that it was not a great read. I always wonder if I’ve ever met a book I didn’t like. Then I realize, I have…especially when I think about that trilogy. I read the first one. I realized about the 3rd chapter that it just got a lot of hype some kind of way which made it so friggin’ popular. I kept reading trying to make sure I understood what the hype was about. I FOUGHT to get to the end of the book. I couldn’t stomach reading the second one. It just insulted my intelligence.

That is one of the reasons I don’t usually do the big name stuff. If it’s something that everyone is talking about, I’m not interested usually. So many people hype it up then when I get involved, I’m in for a big let down it seems. I’ve yet to read the Harry Potter series. I’m sure they are great books but I’m cool. Maybe when I’m old and gray. I haven’t seen the movies either. Now I DID read the Twilight series…and it was only after a friend begged me to read it four years after it was popular! After I read the books, I wanted to see the movies because I was unfortunately obsessed with Edward and Bella. I enjoyed them and have read them more than once. I also read The Hunger Games series. My daughter begged me to read that one with her because they were talking about it at school and she wanted to see the movie when it came out. They started talking about the movie a FULL YEAR before the release, so we read it. I finished the series and she is still reading the second one. (I told y’all she don’t like to read!)

Anyway, I’m doing a reading challenge. I’ve set a goal for the year and am doing pretty good considering I didn’t set my goal until May…like I said…I’m doing pretty good…I mean, I’ve been reading all year, but I set my goal and it’s kinda low…but I set it there…with writing in mind. Though I’m a reader…I must right. Benjamin and Fontana’s story HAS to be told! With that being said, I bid you adieu.

So…the next time you’re in a restaurant and you see a lady in a booth with her face in a book and her fork suspended mid air…it could be her new diet plan…”Read don’t eat!”

Until next time,

Hakuna Matata

So…let’s talk about sex

So…let’s talk about sex

So…once I fell in love with reading when I was eight years old, I’ve always been curious. Words were like candy to me and I relished in learning new ones. Now, because I have an equal love of music and get excited when I understand or even better am GIVEN the lyrics to a song, I’m super excited. I like to sing along to the songs I like because it makes me feel good. Alright…GREAT!

Well, just before the beginning of my new love for words, Prince released his infamous Purple Rain album. To my delight, the album sheath contained the lyrics to every song on the album! I would listen to it every time I was able to when I was at my granny’s house. One day, as I listened, I came across a word I didn’t know. I mean, I could say it, and I read it and I heard it in the song, though I couldn’t figure out what it meant.

The song was Darling Nikki. When I came to the word, I figured, I better ask someone what it meant. So, I walked happily into the kitchen where my grandmother was cooking something. Eight year old Kimyatta started the following conversation:

Me: Granny, what is masturbating?

Granny: WHAT? <choking as she was tasting something from the pot>

Me: What is masturbating?

Granny: WHERE YOU HEAR THAT NASTY WORD?

Me: It’s nasty?

Granny: Where did you hear that?

Me: It’s right here on the words for Darling Nikki by Prince. <I pointed to it on the lyric sheet I held.>

She snatched it from me and I pointed to where it was on the sheet.

Granny: TURN THAT OFF!

I was confused. Why couldn’t she tell me what it meant? I had no clue what the word ACTUALLY meant until I hit sex ed three years later in fifth grade. Oh…(though I did wonder how Nikki was doing it with a magazine.)

Fast forward…twenty five years. My dear darling daughter and I walking out the door one morning for school. The girl, eight years old starts the following conversation:

The Girl: Mom, what’s a vibrator?

So, here, I was trying not to fall out the door as I had just stepped over the threshold.

Me: Um…it’s a something that vibrates. (Hey..I’m progressive, I can’t keep everything from her forever, right?)

She got silent and mulled over my answer in her head.

The Girl: Why would people put it in their pants?

Whaaaaaaa???

Me: Um…where did you hear that?

She wasn’t very forthcoming with her answer. It took the whole ride to school to get it out of her. She had overheard a conversation of two older girls two nights earlier who still were not old enough to be having a conversation about “those things”. I had a conversation with the parents of the other girls who were twelve and we got to the bottom of it. Apparently the cousin of one of Girl A found a vibrator in the house and was running around with it in his pants scaring the girls. So, Girl A was sharing the story with Girl B and my daughter was listening. When she asked them what it was, they said, “go ask your mama”. Well, they didn’t know the girl very well to know that she was going to ask.

Okay, so a year passed by. Age 9 rolls in and I knew eventually I’d have to start having “the talk” with her. After the conversation the previous year, I got a few books on girl’s health and the like and she had read them. So, I figured questions would arrive eventually. One morning, on the way to school, while I was driving she started this conversation:

The Girl: Mom, I understand how G-mama is your mom. She gave birth to you. But how is PaPa your dad?

Me: He helped.

I had managed to keep from swerving the car off the road. That answer seemed to satisfy her. I kept hearing this small voice in my ear saying it was time to really have the talk. I couldn’t bear to do it though and I ignored it.

Two days later, we had the same conversation, though with different characters:

The Girl: Mom, I understand how you’re my mom. You gave birth to me. But how is my dad my dad?

So, here, I figured the same answer would work. So, I answered it the same way.

Me: He helped.

The Girl: Yeah, but how? I mean, how did he help.

Me: He gave me half your DNA.

The Girl: Yes mom, but how?

She was NOT giving up. So, I told her. The ugly gory truth. A look of confusion washed over her face.

The Girl: But you and my dad didn’t do THAT.

I looked at her hard and long and nodded.

The Girl: Oh God…I think I just threw up in my mouth.

Only my kid…so dramatic.

All of this came to mind the other day when I was eating a sandwich and I made a face that I’d seen her make while eating and I began to wonder what other ways we were alike. Now, she’s much more outgoing than I ever was or ever will be. I absolutely love that about her. I think about me at her age and I never would have had the nerve to ask much of the stuff she asks me. She is not embarrassed by anything. I can only wish on her that she will have a WONDERFUL conversation with her 8 year old…in 30 years or so…lol.

Motherhood is the best job ever…

Until next time,

Hakuna Matata

So…did you call your Mother?

So…did you call your Mother?

So, just in case you didn’t know…it’s the second Sunday in May…more commonly known as Mother’s day!  Regardless of the relationship, everyone has or had a mother.  I am pleased, honored and grateful that I am among those whose mother still resides on this side of heaven.  So, as the first person I’ll feature EVER on this blog, I’d like to say Happy Mother’s Day to my mom Elaine!

Ms. Elaine, as she prefers to be called, is an absolutely awesome, phenomenal woman!  I love that lady to pieces!  She has been such an inspiration to me.  It has taken me until the age of THIRTY SIX to really, REALLY appreciate her.  My mom had the distinct pleasure of being a single mom to three of us.  I am the oldest with a sister two years younger and a brother three years younger than her.

Most of the years I remember from my childhood she worked a full time job and a part time job with darn near full time hours!  Somehow, she managed to take care of all of our needs and some of our wants.  Lots of the things we wanted were not needed or somehow fell into our laps.  There was the time that I won a video game console (the first Nintendo) that eased the potential burden of her having to buy one for us.  Of course, I honestly can’t remember saying that I wanted one, but hey…when you win something, who fusses?!

Anyway, even with working her two jobs, my mom found a way to finish an undergraduate and a graduate degree.  She worked her butt off!  She was determined not to let anyone or ANYTHING deter her!  One time, our car was not working.  I don’t exactly remember the problem, but she WALKED to school because she was determined to complete that degree.  She graduated and I was very happy because she seemed to be happy.  What I didn’t realize was that the feeling I felt was pride.  My mom had persevered and set the example for us.  It was very clear in our home that education was important.

I remember at her retirement dinner or some time before it, she was talking about the interview for her first job in education as a paraprofessional.  The principal asked her, “Why do you want this job?”  Her response was priceless.  She said, “Because I get AFDC (welfare check) and I don’t want that!”  Can you get more honest?  He hired her and that began her 30 year career in education.  Once her undergraduate degree was completed, she got her teacher certification and we moved out of the projects.  I was excited because I got to make new friends.  My mom though was excited because her dream had been realized.

Fast forward a few years.  She was working on her Master’s degree and her two adult daughters (one with a year old toddler) both had to have surgery.  So, here’s my mom, working on her Master’s, working a full time job and a part time job, and NOW she had to become caretaker to two post surgery patients and a small child.  Talk about superwoman!  Later, I heard her in Sunday school talking about how that had been a trying time in her life.  She said she’d been praying to God for strength.  The more she prayed for strength, the more trials came.  She finally realized that her prayers were being answered because as she had to endure more, she became stronger.  From her, I’ve learned how to trust God watching her example.  I’ve learned how to keep my eyes focused on the One who sustains me.

Now, my mom is a retired educator.  Well…let me fix that.  She is retired from the public school system.  She is STILL educating folks!  She teaches a few courses at our local HBCU.  She also runs an after school tutorial for our church.  It encompasses an after school tutorial that runs through the school year, a computer class for seniors, story time for preschool students and a summer academy for boys.  Essentially, she still works jobs!  She absolutely loves it though.  She wouldn’t be the same if she couldn’t do it.

My mom has been my inspiration for longer than I’ve known.  She was my first teacher.  She was the first published author I knew.  She’s always been a writer and because she and my sister were so good on it that I figured it was just their thing.  I never thought it was something I’d do.  Talking to her about writing is so cool!    She is definitely leading by example.  Her dreams have been realized and she just keeps making new ones.  She was recently featured on the news in my home town.  Check it out here.  It was a proud daughter moment.

The latest example my mom is making is how to live a healthy lifestyle.  In 2007, frustrated with her weight, she decided to make a change.  She started working with a personal trainer.  She worked out and learned how to be excited about working out.  Eventually, she got her eating together and has been losing weight for almost six years.  What I’ve learned is that you just keep at it.  Every day is a new chance to get it right.  I told you, I know EVERYTHING there is to know about losing weight.  If nothing else, I’ve learned it by watching my mom.  What I didn’t know at first though was that her enthusiasm about working out stemmed from her worry about me and my health.  She figured if she started, she would be in a better place to encourage me.  That she has.  I’m a work in progress but her example is what I’m going from.  Keep moving.

I’m a better person now because I’ve finally learned that mother knows best.  I’ve not always appreciated my mom…you know…teens and young adults rarely do.  I’m glad that I am FINALLY in a place where I understand just how important her role is in my life.  I’m certainly grateful that I am still allowed to have her be a part of my life.  There were so many times when that could have changed.  I’m so grateful that it hasn’t and I’m doing my best to make the most of my time with her.  My mom totally rocks!

Until next time,

Hakuna Matata

mothersday

So…a little bit about me — Part 4

So…by now, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a little off.  That’s not QUITE true.  I’m perfectly sane.  Well, as sane as a self-proclaimed sane person can be.  I deal with a lot.  I have gone through a lot, so I need an escape.  We all do right?  Well, as my budget is one that will not allow me to go on extravagant…shoot…REGULAR trips, I have to escape in print.  Soooooooooo….I absolutely, posatutely LOVE to read.  I love books like a teenaged boy loves video games!  I know when they are coming out months in advance like a movie buff keeps up with movies coming out!  I pay attention.

It all started when I was in second grade.  My librarian, Theresa Hall, took a special interest in me for some reason.  I don’t know what my teacher, Mrs. Bullard told her, but something made her take GREAT STRIDES to help me find something I would like in the library.  I was 8 years old at the time and I just remember hearing my teacher say that someone needed to “light a fire” under my behind.  I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to hear that, but I think she was calling me slow!  Anyway, Mrs. Hall, the librarian, helped me find Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary in the library.  I absolutely LOVED THAT BOOK!  I fell in love with series books then because I wanted to know everything there was to know about Ramona and her family.  I read everything I could find by Beverly Cleary!  I was disappointed when there were no more Ramona books, but I moved on to The Babysitter’s Club Series by Ann Martin and Sweet Valley Twins by Francine Paschal.  These kept me busy for awhile because there were just so many books!  We lived within walking distance of the library and my sister, two neighborhood friends and me would walk to the library frequently to check out and return books!  I was hooked.

I have an ugly habit of finding an author I like and reading all of that author’s books.  I’ve been that way since the beginning!  As an adult, it hasn’t changed.  I certainly have an appreciation for the written word.  I say it’s an ugly habit because I should be open to variety.  I remember one particular author that I was reading during high school.  Her books were not series books, but they were suspense/mystery/thriller types.  Anyway, I was halfway through one (maybe about the 7th or 8th one of hers), and I realized that I knew EXACTLY what was going to happen!  I had to keep reading, but I knew all of what was going to happen.  I was disappointed because it was so predictable.  Reluctantly, I got the next one, and sure enough, I knew what would happen VERY early in the book.  I did something I never do.  I skipped ahead.  When it was obvious that I’d written the book (well surely I had because I knew what was going to happen right?), I put it down never to read that author again. I’ve learned that it’s okay to fall in love with an author, but be open to others.  Otherwise, you’ll get bored and forget all the good that there was!

One day, I’d like a library in my home and the means to fill it with any book that I want.  Some people don’t see the point in actually owning the books.  They feel that once they read the book, there’s no reason to still have it.  What’s the reason?  WELL DUH!  To read again when you get ready!  YES, I read and R E R E A D books!  I can’t help it.  Sometimes, I miss something.  I like to go back so I can see if I can find clues that what happened was going to happen!  It’s fun to do and sometimes, I have nothing left to read because a) I can’t afford to buy a new book, b) the book is too new to be in the library or c) I can’t get to the library!

I have a never ending To Be Read (TBR) list.  I am always seeing an ad for a book that intrigues me!  I read the synopsis and think I’m going to love it!  I read lots of blogs about books so that doesn’t help.  It only adds to the madness!  So, some of the things I post here may be book reviews, or some other madness about what I’m reading or want to read.  It’s part of who I am.  DEAL WITH IT!  The girl hates this about me.  She does NOT like to read.  I look at her and often wonder if they gave me the wrong kid at the hospital.  How could a child of mine HATE to read?  Is this God’s way of torturing me!?

So…the next time you see a book that looks like it’s interesting, pick it up and think of me.  Buy me one and you one too!  It’ll come back to you 1o fold!  The Lord loves a cheerful giver!

Until next time,

Hakuna Matata