National Child Abuse Prevention Month

logo-guideApril is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.  This month and throughout the year, the US government encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making all communities a better place for children and families.  By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills and resources they need to care for their children the National Child Abuse Prevention Month helps promote children’s social and emotional well-being and prevent child maltreatment within families and communities.

Research shows that when parents possess six protective factors, the risk for neglect and abuse diminish and optimal outcomes for children, youth, and families are promoted.  The six protective facts are:

Nurturing and attachment

Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development

Parental resilience

Social connections

Concrete supports for parents

Social and emotional development well-being

April is a time to celebrate the important role that communties play in protecting children.  Everyone’s participation is critical.  Focusing on ways to build and promote the protective factors, in every interaction with children and families, is the best thing our community can do to prevent child maltreatment and promote optimal child development.

National Poetry Month

    April is National Poetry Month in the US.  Originally started in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, its purpose is to bolster interest and active participation in poetry, poets, and the arts.

Personally, I’ve always dabbled in poetry.  It is simply a marvelous way to express what troubles your soul, makes you happy, or fires you up.  But this month has inspired me to make it a goal – each year in April – to learn more about another poet of whom I haven’t had the time to previously.  This year I will read Sonia Sanchez.  I’ve heard her name a lot, but this will be my first opportunity to read her work.

In the meantime, I posted some of my poetry below… now you know I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass without some shameless self-promotion!  LOL and good reading!

WOMANLINESS

The soreness of my chest – a reminder of the birth of womanliness.  Momma says they’re growing.  It’s like your wisdom teeth busting through – painful and itchy.

Got a classmate that’s bigger than Momma even.  All the boys tease her.  She wears big shirts and sits with her hands folded.  Those nasty boys all want to feel on her.  They stand by the gym entrance and catch the girls when they walk by.  Some girls go the other route, but others walk into this trap everyday and somehow shriek with surprise every time they’re caught.  The fast girls all wear bras like badges.  They poke their chest out front and their butts out back.

Momma says, Ain’t what makes you a woman, but sure makes you feel feminine.  I saw a picture of a woman once who had hers cut off.

Disease took them.

She was bare from the waist up.  Her head was bald too.  She had a profile like a native princess.  The loop earrings she wore touched down to her shoulder.  The sunken places in her chest were smoothed out.  Then I thought of my classmate covering her fleshly naturalness; how she slinks away like a hunchback with darty eyes and bowed head.  Her shoulders collapsed into her frame.

Ignorance took them.

Anyway, I’ll get my bra soon.  Momma said I won’t be any different, just growing up that’s all.  All I feel is the soreness in my chest.

 

Rare Disease – One Small Way to Fight for Big Cures

provided by RDD Campaign

provided by RDD Campaign

I thought this was the greatest idea!  There are approximately 30 million Americans that are affected by rare disease according to the Rare Disease Day USA website.  But Lundbeck – a pharmaceutical company committed to the development of innovative therapies for patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders – has pledged that for every click on the Make a Difference button on the Rare Disease Day USA website, they will donate a dollar.

Why?  Because February 28, 2015 is Rare Disease Day.  You still have a few days to join in the fight by clicking here and then clicking the Make a Difference button.  So what are you waiting for?

Alone we are Rare. Together we are Strong.

Heroes of Black History Month

For all the history geeks out there, Black History Month provides another opportunity to look into the lives of people that lived, made a change, and gave us all hope.  While researching who I wanted to write about this February I was amazed at how many ordinary people took drastic measures to reach their goals.

Mr. and Mrs. Craft

craftsThe first persons who struck my attention were Mr. and Mrs. Craft – William and Ellen, respectfully.  These two were slaves living in Macon, Georgia in the 1800’s.  Ellen was mixed-race (her father was her first master and her mother was bi-racial) and William was a cabinet maker at the time.  Both lived on different plantations and could only see each other if the masters gave them passes or permission slips.  Long story short, William concocted a plan for his wife to disguise herself as a white man traveling with his slave, of whom he would play the part.  They had many close calls, but made it all the way to Philadelphia safely.  Even after reaching freedom, the two were not completely out of harm’s way.  They had to run away to England after only two years due to slave hunters trying to trek them down.  However, they were able to return to the US after 20 years and subsequently opened a school in the 1870’s in Georgia for newly freed African Americans.

Now that’s motivation and determination.

Bessie Coleman

BessieColemanThis story makes my heart sing.  Bessie Coleman was one of 13 children living in Atlanta, Texas in the late 1800’s with her mother and father.  In this family, as soon as you got of age, you made it your business to help or at least take care of yourself.  So, after several job attempts and an abrupt withdrawal from college due to lack of funds, Bessie moved to Chi-town.  She soon started hearing about the adventures of World War I pilots.  Of course, because she was an African American woman, entrance was closed to her, but this didn’t stop her.  She simply taught herself French and entered France’s well-known Caudron Brother’s School of Aviation.  This provided her the opportunity to make a living doing stunts and aerial shows.  Even though – due to a rehearsal stunt gone wrong – she had a brief life (1892-1926), she set the bar and remains a pioneer in the field of aviation today.

Amazing.

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler

crumplerAnother one of my newly-founded sheroes…Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler.  She was the first African American women to earn her M. D. degree.  Okay, how about it was in 1864, ya’ll?!??  This was in part due to the example of her loving aunt who raised Dr. Crumpler as well as helped neighbors when they fell sick.  After the Civil War, Dr. Crumpler assisted other black doctors for the time; the purpose of this endeavor was to help as many freed slaves since they would not have gotten the necessary medical attention otherwise.  In 1883, she published a book based on her journal notes.

Can somebody say girl power?

Okay.

Work Your Happiness Like a Full-time Job

smiley face writingI’m employed at an agency that thankfully believes in the continuing education of its professionals.  Albeit I’ll admit that this sometimes can be drudgery.  Who wants to sit three hours through a social services training when you work in the accounting department?

But every now and then there is a training that comes along that is so informative and insightful that everybody walks away – dare I use the word – inspired.  For instance, the last training I attended was called, HAPPY.  It was executive produced by Tom Shadyac (director of Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar, and The Nutty Professor).  Mr. Shadyac had a traumatic bike accident in 2007 that made him reassess the way he prioritized his life.  It made him really think about what he needed to be happy.  Having given much of his fortune away, he decided that he needed to simplify his life.  Afterwards, he felt his happiness increased, so much so, he executive produced the documentary mentioned above.

In it, several people from different countries, lifestyles, and backgrounds described what brought them happiness.  An Indian family was happy because even though they were very poor, they had what they needed to survive and each other.  A single mom living in Europe expressed happiness because she lived in a loving community with her children.  And an American lady – now facially disfigured – explained why she was so happy, even after many painful surgeries and her husband left her.

These people, despite their circumstances, were happy.  Part of the reason may be because biologically, some people are prone to be happier than others; just like some people are prone to be sadder than others.  Based on scientific studies, 50% of your happiness is because you are biologically wired one way or the other.  It was also interesting that only 10% depended on things like your environment (money or other material things).  But the most important point that I took from this seminar is that a whopping 40% of your happiness comes from deliberate choices you make.

Wow.

I had to let that sink in.  So even if you are a person that has a tendency to be sad or if you struggle with depressions, 40% of your happiness is controlled by you!  Even if your husband left you because your face is disfigured, as in the case of the American lady mentioned above, 40% of your happiness depends on you.  Even if you live two steps above abject poverty, as in the case of the Indian family mentioned above, 40% of your happiness depends on you.  It boils down to attitude – toward problems, life, people, family, and the like.  It boils down to what you will allow to take your happiness away and what steps you will take to maintain it.

I read this phrase from Gabrielle Bernstein that sums it up this way:  “I’m working my happiness like a full-time job.”

Indeed.

 

 

Good Food

A Middle Eastern woman with her daughter-in-lawMomma cooked today

we sat down and ate

we talked and laughed – just us two

now, don’t get me wrong, Momma is a good cook

but what keeps me going home is not tasty dishes

I could find that elsewhere

shoot, I can burn myself

but the love in Momma’s home is like no other

here is where I was raised – my brothers and I

we grew up, laughed, played, and learned

here my father lived and here he died

here is where I can smell a dish and in comes a memory

I can see a picture and tears burn my eyes

courage is here

love is here

good food is here

Me and My Frog Legs

1101141432aAbout once a year, I visit one of my favorite restaurants, Lambert’s Cafe – Home of the Throwed Rolls – and chow down on one of my guilty pleasures, frog legs!

Before I talk about my frog-legs leanings, let me say a little about my background. My parents are simple, country folk.  My dad actually grew up on a farm.  He and his siblings had to do their chores – milk the cow, slop the hogs, feed the hunting dogs, and get the hen eggs kind of chores – all before school.  I would laugh at my country relatives, since I am so citified and refined, you see.

But as I get older, I am more and more like my people than I could ever imagine. This brings me to the point – frog legs.  Oh, frog legs, how I luv thee…dem, and I do me all of dem!  For those of you who have not had the great opportunity of eating these tasty morsels, yep, they taste like chicken – mostly.  In regards to the texture, it falls apart much like cod fish.  Mine were fried golden brown and topped with hot sauce.  Frog legs are one of those country dishes that have to be included when talking about chitterlings, possum, rabbit, pig’s feet, and such.  And lastly, but not least, even though I could have done badly that day, I ate only a portion and took the rest home to eat another day.

So yeah, I just wanted to share my experience as well as a pic with everyone.

You’re welcome…