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Why I love Richmond.


Why I Love Richmond.

Seems apropos to re-start my blogging (which I left for 6 months or so when I discovered that people from work were…well…reading my blog) with a focused account of Why I Love Richmond !

I’ve spent a little more than a year readjusting to life in The South after living in the Northeast for 27th years. I’m back home in Richmond, Virginia with roughly 69 square miles, the population averages 205,000 with 50% Black, 44% White, 6% Latino (that’s a huge change)

  • 1/3 of the population has a bachelor’s degree of higher (which is probably why people call me Doctor at every given opportunity)
  • 13,000 Veterans (although students do not get a day off from school for Veteran’s Day)
  • mean travel time to work is 21 minutes (my commute is 10)
  • home ownership rate is less than 1/2 (yup)
  • 3rd best city for industry however, the median household income $38K with 1/4 of the population living below the poverty line (lots to talk about here)
  • 20% of the population smokes tobacco (yup…Phillip Morris is a big industry)
  • 11% of the populations has with diabetes, 1/4 -high blood pressure and 1/3 – high cholesterol levels)
  • right on the fall line of the James River, there are lots of river-based activities here, hiking trails, museums, theaters and restaurants
  • Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and all their contemporaries used Richmond for important historical events and there is a lot of amazing architecture here
  • the humid, subtropical cliimate is framed rolling hills, beaches and mountains
  • AND the people are super friendly     

The first question that people usually ask me after “why did you move back here?” is “Do you like it down here?” When I respond, “yes” they go on, “Better than New York and Boston”. I respond, “yes”.  I always…ALWAYS get a quizzical look after my affirmative responses, which makes me think …‘wait, am I missing something’.  As I thought about why I like living here, it became apparent to me that I had to put it on paper–maybe to prove it to myself. This topic strand will serve as notes to myself on why I love living in Richmond. Sometimes, I will use love to describe things that I really love about living here. Sometimes, it will mean love with a question mark (imagine your voice going up at the end) and sometimes love will purely be used as an oxymoron-as in, I really don’t love it. For starters, here’s a list of stuff that I really do love:

  1. Larry is here. My dad is here. My grandma is here.
  2. There is a line dance for every song, literally.
  3. You can have a pig roast-just because–and throw in a fried turkey for Thanksgiving too.
  4. You have be in the midst of a very foul mood and the nice lady in the grocery store will call you ladybug and instantly you feel better
  5. Walton’s Mountain and papa’s Secret Family Recipe –‘nuf said

There’s more but I’ll stop here…Happy Thanksgiving       

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/51/51760.html

http://www.vdh.state.va.us/ofhs/prevention/tucp/documents/2012/pdf/Data/TobaccoIndicators/Tobacco%20Indicators_Richmond%20City.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond,_Virginia

 

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Posted by on November 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Today will be better


I have had a hard year and that ain’t no lie.

I stepped out on faith and then didn’t trust. I led with confidence and then let 25-year-old insecurities erupt like a volcano over and over and over again. I lost my sense of purposefulness and struggled to get it back.

Up was down and down was up. Even though I was making progress, I was still drifting on self-doubt, confusion and longing-feelings I haven’t had in many, many years.

I got on my knees, turned the pages, looked at my life and I decided to dig deep.

I got into the water, floated on my back, looked at the sky and I decided to tap back in.

I decided to get stronger and snatch my power back. To reclaim me for myself.

An 11 year old said to me, “you have a smiling face” and that ain’t no lie.

I know that next year will be better. Tomorrow will be better. Today will be better. I will be better because I am fighting for it the whole way.

Namaste

 

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in life freestyle

 

Ant Lion


I walk too fast. talk too fast. drive to fast. I typically have multiple tasks going on at the same time (right now I’m writing and cooking simultaneously :/ ). I finish my boyfriend, Larry’s sentences as if I really know what he’s about to say (I don’t). When we are out together he often asks, “Hollee, did you see that?”, “Did you notice…?” (I don’t).

I’m typically in a rush – good ole’ New York City rush. Sure, I get a lot done and I’ve done a lot over the years but maybe, just maybe (no,definitely) it is time to slow waaaay down and just listen, observe, sit and wait.The ant lion sits and waits.

The ant lion digs its funnel underground and then waits patiently for the vibrations of an unsuspecting insect.  It achieves by waiting. The only reason I know about the ant lion at all is because my father noticed the almost imperceivable funnels around the foundation of his house.  He showed them to me along with the print out of his research about this creature. I was amazed at both. (I never would have noticed the funnels in the soil and I instantly realized that I am missing a lot of stuff.)   

How does one hone observation skills so acutely that even the smallest thing is noticed (the proverbial princess and the pea). Better yet, how does one become more patient and just feel comfortable waiting.

I rarely wait. Sensing my hamster-on-the-wheel, got to have it all now mentality Larry asked me to stop, sit down, think and pray and I did –and I need to do it more often. I want to slow myself down so much so that I can  just wait and perceive changes in the atmosphere, changes in direction, moves of the spirit. It’s by slowing down (being still even) that I will be elevated beyond anything that I’ve experienced before. It’s by slowing down, listening, observing, waiting and praying that I will understand and achieve the purpose that God has for me.

I’m done cooking and I’m done writing for tonight.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in life freestyle

 

Ant Lion


I walk too fast. talk too fast. drive to fast. I typically have multiple tasks going on at the same time (right now I’m writing and cooking simultaneously :/ ). I finish my boyfriend, Larry’s sentences as if I really know what he’s about to say (I don’t). When we are out together he often asks, “Hollee, did you see that?”, “Did you notice…?” (I don’t).

I’m typically in a rush – good ole’ New York City rush. Sure, I get a lot done and I’ve done a lot over the years but maybe, just maybe (no,definitely) it is time to slow waaaay down and just listen, observe, sit and wait.

  The ant lion sits and waits. The ant lion digs its funnel      underground and then waits patiently for the vibrations of an unsuspecting insect.  It achieves by waiting. The only reason I know about the ant lion at all is because my father noticed the almost imperceivable funnels around the foundation of his house.  He showed them to me along with the print out of his research about this creature. I was amazed at both. (I never would have noticed the funnels in the soil and I instantly realized that I am missing a lot of stuff.)

How does one hone observation skills so acutely that even the smallest thing is noticed (the proverbial princess and the pea). Better yet, how does one become more patient and just feel comfortable waiting.

I rarely wait. Sensing my hamster-on-the-wheel, got to have it all now mentality Larry asked me to stop, sit down, think and pray and I did –and I need to do it more often. I want to slow myself down so much so that I can  just wait and perceive changes in the atmosphere, changes in direction, moves of the spirit. It’s by slowing down (being still even) that I will be elevated beyond anything that I’ve experienced before. It’s by slowing down, listening, observing, waiting and praying that I will understand and achieve the purpose that God has for me.

I’m done cooking and I’m done writing for tonight.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in life freestyle

 

The Best Lawn (I mean, Life)


AND THE WINNER OF THE BEST LAWN IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD GOES TO… Wait. I sold my house today. The house where my twelve year old daughter spent twelve years of her life. The house that I loved. The old house with the sump pump held together by a coat hanger and duct tape. The house that housed annual, ‘Back to School’ parties, ‘Say Hello to Spring’ parties, memorial day/birthday parties, halloween/birthday parties, Cafe Hollee, book clubs, and focus groups for years and years. It was the family gathering place before church with a built in china cabinet that was used to store not chinaware but – art supplies. It was the old house with a garden and a trampoline.

It is not my house anymore but it will always be my house. I’m thankful that a loving family now lives there-one of my closest friends, in fact. She is rebuilding her life and the old house with the Irish Green shutters is a huge part of that.

As for me, I live in a house in a different time and place with the man I love and who loves me right back. I love this house also. This small house with a trick drawer and a backyard gate that you have to leverage just  to be able to latch it properly. This house holds family dinners (where we pull toothpicks to see who gets to wash dishes), group hugs, veggies from the garden, Cinco de Mayo parties, Fun Fridays complete with loud R & B music from an actual record player, exuberant games of Spades and Corn Hole and lots of family and friends coming in and out.

Yes, this house shakes a little when the one certain guy drives down the street with his music blasting.  The captain of the neighborhood association recently remarked on our lawn (which seems to have done a 180) – “you know, there is a prize for the winner of the best lawn in the neighborhood”.

Well, I’m not trying to get a prize for the best lawn. I’m trying to get a prize for the best life. As I admire at my vegetable garden and water the lawn, I think to myself- I am rebuilding my life and this small house is a huge part of it.

Looking at the beautiful hibiscus that showed up in my kitchen last night — a loving gift from a loving man, I am affirmed of this very fact.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2012 in life freestyle

 

Resiliency part 2


The process of relocating back to the South was a bold move in faith and hope. A way to push myself out of my comfort zone-a way to free float off the cliff instead of being constantly afraid of falling off the cliff. A paradigm shift, if you will, a model for risk-taking, an effort to learn how to nurture. An effort to find true happiness personally and professionally. It was an Oprah moment.

The process of starting over (which is now what I realize this move to be) was debilitating. The emotional/psychological/intellectual insecurity that came with the job search and rebuilding relationships was more overwhelming than anything I have experienced thus far in my 44 1/2 years of life and I am a STRONG BLACK woman with an amazing resume and deep, lasting friendships.

The process of moving was much, much, much more difficult than I can even articulate. With these experiences, I fell into the role of victim and lost a bit of my internal fire each day. It is really difficult to remain hopeful and to even project hopefulness when nothing is seemingly going your way.

My old dispositions of strength, vitality and warmth turned into seemingly new dispositions of despair, fear and insecurity. Back up against the wall, body sprawled out on the floor, weeping, I decided to pay attention to the church ladies and cry out in my car; give thanks, ask for help to move myself out-of-the-way. “Let it go”,  I kept screaming. “Get rid of it! You are better than this!”

I networked, drove all over multiple cities chasing leads, Skyped with my professional coach (she needed to do some pro-bono work:), exercised with a running club, planted a garden and decided to keep pushing forward. I garnered two part-time jobs which I love (one school-based, one university-based), started a consulting company, ran a 10K and deepened my most important relationships. Whew.

There are still days when I cry and wonder what’s next (but I haven’t cried right before an interview in a while ;). However, there are so many more days where I say, “it is what it is and that is/is not for me ” and I move on feeling strong, confident and hopeful. I just pray that I never forget the lessons learned from having this incredible and difficult experience. I feel as though I’m going to be even better than before. Amen and thank you to my wonderful support system and to me – for continuing to get back up with God’s help).

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in life freestyle

 

Is there freedom in death?


Is there freedom in death ? Not for the person who dies but for the person who lives.

I vividly remember a student in my 4th grade class more about 15 years ago. This student was a sad, sad girl. It always seemed as though she carried her sadness way down on the inside and only used her half of a smile to camouflage something untouchable. Even in her laughter on the playground, or when constructing some fabulous building in the block area with cantilevers and everything, this student was weighed down by something. Perhaps not by anything tangible– just a weight light as air and heavy as water which seemed to be everywhere and nowhere in her soul.

She wore dark colors, long hair always out and straight down her back, usually not combed (she would tuck it behind her ear throughout the day). She was friendly and worked hard and was (can I still say this word?- smart). really smart. I remember riding  bikes in the neighborhood park one sunny day and her mom rode up to me on her bike and asked me to please take care of her daughter. I remember thinking that this was the first time that I had seen both the mother and daughter happy in a way that you just cannot fake.

A few days later, the mother committed suicide (hanged herself in her bathroom). I don’t remember if the daughter was the one to find her but I do remember the preparations to sit Shiva. Yes, there was crying and disbelief and numbness which lasted as it should.

However, I clearly remember the day when I noticed that the student started to wear bright colors and laugh a hearty, lively laugh from deep down in her gut and I couldn’t help but think if she found freedom in death. It is a horrible thing to say, to write, to even think but I tell you, the little girl no more than 7 or 8 began to transform right in front of me. Was something released with the passing of her mother? Is that even possible? Did she begin to experience a sense of normalcy without  her mother? (My hand are trembling and my heart is beating fast as I even dare write this).

I’ve thought a lot lately about a dear friend of mine who recently lost her father. He had medical challenges, as well as Alzheimer’s. This friend, my sister is an amazingly mature soul with a strong sense of self and selflessness. She is the nucleus of a family with a husband and two children (plus a nephew that she is raising) who were all adept at locking the cabinets and the refrigerator and even parts of the house. I watched her juggle her work schedule since someone had to be with her father at all times. She came to work, did her job expertly, smiled with a slight reserve that you’d only know about if she decided to let you know that she spent the better part of her life caring for and worrying about her father. In fact, she came to meetings as her activist self; strong, determined, focused and calm but with a great worry that she carried under her professionalism and her harried, complicated schedule of caring for her father.

Now he is dead. Will she experience some type of freedom in his death? Am I just being naive and saying things that should not be said or thought about. Of course, he is her father and she loves him deeply but I wonder what life will be like for her now. The African priestess who wore white for a whole year as the embodiment of her beliefs and connection to a higher power. Will she experience some sort of freedom in death? Is this even possible?