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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Richmond, VA

Merry meet Friends,
Michelle here, bringing lots of love and light!

"To be alive: not just the carcass
But the spark.
That's crudely put, but...

If we're not supposed to dance,
Why all this music?"  ~~ Gregory Orr

This has been a whirlwind week of events.  In order to dispense medication on the job and to become state certified, I need to take a 68 hours Med Tech course (I had a 32 hour course from a previous job with no state certification), and I need to take a Direct Care (CNA) course for 6 weeks.  The CNA course is on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:30 - 8:30pm.  The Med Tech course will be Mondays and Wednesdays from 8;00 - 4:30 am.  I just finished the first week of the CNA course.  

On Tuesday a friend of mine, Ramona, called and asked if I wanted to have breakfast.  I had just finished a green smoothie so I wasn't hungry.  We continued to talk.  She said she needed to go to Sam's Club and Regency Mall and invited me to ride.  We had an enjoyable time and by this time we were both hungry.  She suggested River City Diner on Brook Road because I wanted waffles.  I get on these taste kicks and want what I want.  My son Jason is mystified by this.  He doesn't understand me eating by what I 'feel" to eat or having a taste for something.   Anyway, Ramona recommended the red pepper she crab soup and the chicken and waffle sandwich.  I must say the soup was delicious with chunks of crab.  If I cook chicken, it's organic but if I eat out, then not so much.  Having said that, the chicken and waffle with the special "syrup sauce" was delicious as well.

The reason Ramona wanted to go to Regency was to get a whipped curl creme by Tree Naturals which is sold on line or at Epic Curls in Regency Mall.  I have Tree's leave in conditioner which I learned was too oily for my hair; given in a short tutorial by the owner of Epic Curls.  She knew her stuff!  I knew that I didn't like the definition of my curls after using the conditioner, so I was happy to hear this explanation.  More so because I wanted to give the products a chance since this young sister is a Richmond native. The hair milk was suggested for my hair.  Let me tell you, when I say I love this product, please believe me.  The definition of my curls is on point. The shampoo, which I don't have but will try smells heavenly! Tree knows what her "curlies", as she likes to call us, needs. My friend Beryl's daughter, Davia is a hair model for Tree. I was glad for the unexpected turn of events on Tuesday.

On Wednesday evening I had class again.  On Thursday six high school friends and I went to Charlottesville for the day. We started hanging out as a group on my 59th birthday and it has continued for each person's birthday and other events.  My friend Alma has donned us "The Golden Crew".  We met in a church parking lot, then piled into the van and headed to Golden Corral for breakfast. After eating our fill, we were on our way to Charlottesville.  The scenery was pretty and the banter was typical of this particular group.  The group included Venetia, Betty, Linda, Wanda, James, Earl and myself.  We stopped to take pictures and to look at the mountains.  We thought a Ross' department store was there but alas, it was Roses.  That didn't stop Venetia, Earl and myself from looking around while the others had a very interesting facts of life class by James.  LOL   

Because no one was hungry I suggested going somewhere for a drink.  We found an Applebee's and headed to the bar.  I guess we looked like a fun group because a gentleman asked if he could join us.  After being the person to suggest having drinks, I didn't know what I wanted.  I changed my order four (4) times!  Luckily, the bartender hadn't started any yet.  I ended up with a perfect petrone margarita.  Did I say "a"?  It was more like two.  We had a great time laughing and joking with each other and the guy who came over to sit with us.  The bartender said she would take our picture and we let her.  We then headed over to the, chosen by James, place for lunch.  It's called The Wood Grill, another buffet.  James picked a winner though because the food was good.  It had everything one could possibly want and tasted better than most buffets.

On the way there and back, Venetia had questions she wanted us to answer pertaining to high school.  It was insightful to hear our older selves speak about our younger selves.  James serenaded us with song.  I asked him to sing something for me that I didn't know.  He asked anyone to call out a word and he would find a song containing the word.  Earl shouted out "trouble" which stumped James.  I immediately thought of "Trouble in Mind" by Nina Simone.  James did eventually sing something I had never heard before.  Linda sang us one we didn't know either.  We arrived back safely with plans to do it again soon.  Soon is next month and we, The Golden Crew, are headed to DC where hopefully, we will be met by Clyde and maybe others will come along.

On Friday, my friend Millie and I went to Williamsburg for lunch at a restaurant called Food For Thought.  We had gone there before. I wanted to go back on a Friday because they have oysters.  To my dismay, the oysters are served only at dinner.  Millie and I enjoyed the food anyway and we always enjoy each other's company.  This time we didn't walk around the outlet mall.  On Saturday I worked from 12pm-8:30pm.  I like that shift because I'm not relieving anyone and no one relieves me. The shift ran smoothly and went by quickly.  I baked a Lemon Chess and a Coconut Pie to take to some of my coworkers. I am now being asked to sell them.  It works for me.  It was a busy week and I went to bed early.  I like impromptu and planned activities and look forward to more.

As the quote above says: "If we're not supposed to dance, why all this music?"  I'm hearing the music, I'm listening and I'm dancing.

Until next Sunday,
Merry part and merry meet again,
Blessed be,
Gypsi Mama Michelle

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Asheville, NC

Merry meet Friends,
Michelle here, bringing lots of love and light!

"Let your feet beat a healing rhythm into the earth.  Let your feet beat a strengthening rhythm for those who struggle the hardest. Let your feet beat a life-giving rhythm for all peoples, regardless of race or national boundary, regardless of whether we're human or whether we're the trees, the air, the fish, the birds, the buffalo, the bear, the crow.  We come out of hiding, we come back from the dead, and we dance, and our dance is a prayer, and our songs and our rhythms and our breath give life. ...Dance to heal the earth. ~ Dee Smith

I went to Asheville last week for a workshop called  Racial Equity 101. This workshop was for women of color and white women, who are associated with the Southeast Wise Women Conference in capacities as leaders, healers, teachers, tenders and work exchangers.  There were some issues at the conference in October which I wrote about in an earlier blog post.  The white women on staff with SEWW took a workshop in January called White Privilege.  The workshop in January was led by Kristen.  The workshop this past week was co facilitated by Kristen and Kifu. We had an equal mix of women of color and white women. Women of color means, Latino, Native American, African American and Indigenous Women.  

The conference started with an opening song that is usually sung at women gatherings hosted by Alisa Starweather.  We then introduced ourselves, although most of us knew each other, and stated why we were there.  Then we played a game called Crossover.  Words were called out and if one identified with the word, one crossed to the other side of the room.  I believe the purpose is to show that we all have things in common regardless of race, color or gender identification.  Next we were given a list of terms and definitions  We then read a timeline of events of racial inequality.  Afterwards, we broke up into a caucus of white women and women of color.  The purpose of the caucus was for us to discuss comfortably what we felt about the timeline.  Anger, sadness, indifference, shame and guilt were some of the emotions felt by participants.  We then had a working lunch.  Lunch was pot luck with everyone sharing what they brought.  Lucrecia made a raw chocolate pie with an almond crust and Corinna made a salmon salad; both were delicious!

The next segment was to break into groups of those who wanted to work with the microcosm and those who wanted to work with the macrocosm of the SEWW conference.  I worked with those who wanted to implement some changes for the upcoming conference and not the actual running of it.  We were split into two groups and told to draw our vision for the conference set up.  We came back together and shared.  We were asked to give a statement about how we felt. There were tears shed by some of the women. A beautiful song/hum was given by one woman from Europe with an apology following.  It was very heartfelt.  We ended as we had begun, with the song that binds us together as women.  

After the conference in October, those who worked in some capacity were asked to give feedback.  One of the issues that came up, was that there was not a woman of color on staff at SEWW. Kifu was offered the position either late last year or earlier this year.  She and Kristen worked together well to bring this workshop together and for truth to be spoken.  Hopefully this is just the start of many others.  I look forward to attending the conference again this year and at some point, this year or next, facilitating a class myself, as Kifu suggested.  

One of the highlights of the workshop for me, was the timeline. Even if we learned some of what was stated in school, to have it shared one after the other was eye opening.  Some of it made me feel "some type of way" as the younger people say.  It didn't  make me hate anyone or want to fight, but it did make me wonder why certain people thought that they could dominate and control other cultures.  It's not as if I haven't wondered before but hearing it at the same time was unnerving to say the least.  We, as beings on this planet, have a long way to go still.  We do need to let our "feet beat a healing rhythm into the earth"; "regardless of race or national boundary".  Thanks to OSIS for posting this last week, it was right on time.

My drive to Asheville was without incident.  It rained for a part of the journey.  I drove four hours before stopping and then another two. I was very sleepy and listened to anything to keep me awake. While I like some country western music, I'm not a fan of all.  I landed on a station with a woman singing a song about "Jimmy". She sung, "Jimmy came 'long and we sat up." , with a real twang. As I posted on Facebook earlier, I cut the radio off but then began to wonder about Jimmy.  Why was he coming 'long?, Why did they sit up?, Is this something that happens often? and on and on.  I was sleepy, remember.  I had to amuse myself.  LOL  Asheville was beautiful on Tuesday.  Kifu and I had dinner at a restaurant on the corner from the hostel.  We had a salad with red onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, pecans, cheese and spiced shrimp.  It was yummy!  

It rained on Wednesday, the day of the workshop.  We sat on the porch of the hostel later talking with one of the other guests.  Then Kifu made dinner; beans, rice, mushrooms, garlic and kale together; another yummy dish.  The hostel has a private cottage in back.  Two private rooms are on the top floor and two dorm rooms with five beds.  On the top floor we share the bath.  A full bath and a half bath were on the ground floor.  The owners are in the basement.  The place was very clean and inexpensive.  SEWW reimbursed me for my stay because I came so far.  I didn't expect that.  What a treat!  The hostel offers, coffee, tea, boiled eggs, fruit and toast for breakfast if desired.  The hostel is in West Asheville and is called Bon Paul and Sharky's Hostel.  I recommend it.  On Thursday I had breakfast at my favorite restaurant in downtown Asheville.  From there I headed to Charlotte to pick up my youngest, Jason.  He came into Charlotte on Tuesday for his job. Luckily he was in NC until Thursday as I was.  I drove for awhile and then he drove the remainder of the way to Richmond.  It was pleasant and we had a chance to talk.  Later that night we went out to dinner.  I always enjoy time with my children.  

May we all think about our role in the universe and what we can do to help race relations.

Until next Sunday,
Merry part and merry meet again,
Blessed be,
Gypsi Mama Michelle



Sunday, April 12, 2015

Richmond, VA

Merry meet Friends,
Michelle here, bringing lots of love and light!

"Everything in life prepares you for answering the call - yet it seems that nothing you know fits the new challenge - for its very purpose is to bring you to a new realm.  Like the caterpillar wrapped in a chrysalis, you cannot know who you are becoming when the process begins.  It is only in hindsight, looking back from the other side of the transformation, that you finally understand." ~Andrea Judith, Waking the Global Heart

"Somewhere, something, incredible is waiting to be known." ~ Carl Sagan

"On a spiritual level we know we are called to be something for all of existence, however humble it might be.  This calling is like a vital seed.  It waits inside sometimes for decades, and it needs our engagement in order to be lived.
Hints about this calling come to us throughout life though we often ignore them.  We do not realize that these tiny signals point to something larger - a possibility that is unique to us and ours to develop. ... We must not think of these nudges as irrelevant nonsense...They ask us to feel, to engage and to commit to action on behalf of our essence. ...
It is from these depths that we can create beauty and meaning where there was none before.  When our seed longings are nudged and given encouragement...we can feel how everything inside wants to say yes."  ~ Gunilla Norris, Sheltered in the Heart

This morning in the moments before awakening, I had an incredible (at least to me) dream.  I seemed to be at a reunion of some sort with the female alumni from the Seminaries and some women from the Southeast Wise Women Conference.  We were gathered in some sort of arena and in lines, one behind the other.  We bent over from the waist as if we were honoring the woman in front of us.  In the dream this was a ritual we had done in seminary but not in reality.  Then the leaders held hands and skipped over to the arena area.  Each line did the same thing.  We were laughing and crying and free.  I felt so exhilarated and alive.  The energy was high, but it was more than that. There was something primitive and ancient among us women.  I woke up crying.  I miss that sense of unity.

Something is on the horizon.  I sense it in the atmosphere.  For those who are sensitive to the stirrings of Spirit, I know you feel it too.  For most of my life I've known that I wanted to work with women.  I wasn't always sure of the "how".  I used to think that I wanted to minister to survivors of sexual and domestic violence because I'm a survivor.  I joined Safe Harbor, an organization to aid survivors, as a volunteer.  I attended a six (6) week class and worked on many of the teams.  I have spoken at functions about my history.  I loved working with Safe Harbor and I enjoy speaking, as anyone who knows me knows.  Somehow though, it didn't seem to be exactly what I felt was my calling.  I have worked with the homeless population as well and I get the same feeling.  I have earned something valuable from all of my Human Service employment; something that will aid in my passion, I'm sure.  

What is my passion?  I feel called to the empowerment of women. All of the Human Services jobs I have held, empower women, but there are many avenues to that end.  Last week, I extended an invitation to women to join an Affirmation Circle.  It's called Michelle's W.E.B. (Women's Empowerment Brunch).  At the beginning of each month, I will send an affirmation to the women who wish to participate.  We will work on it in any way we choose. On the last Sunday of the month we will meet for a brunch and a discussion of the affirmation. No one has to live in Richmond to join; any one can join the discussion by sending in the findings via email.  The email is michelleswebcircle@gmail.com.  I feel more called , at this time, to empower myself and others in this way.  We do help one another to find our way.  I am finally not allowing fear to control me.  I'm silencing the little voice which tells me: You're not good enough, Who wants to listen to you?  What do you know?

Each time that I've done something the voice become more quiet. My oldest daughter, Zakiya, encouraged me to write this blog and to start my Facebook page.  My youngest daughter, Tiffany, and my friends Rev. Whitney and Rev. Sonya encouraged me to go forward with the W.E.B.  It's a leap of faith to do anything and I feel that some anxiety is normal.  However, in the past I have let fear paralyze me into doing nothing except have an idea.  I am trusting Spirit for the women even if it's only a few. We will empower each other!  I also have been inspired to make an item for purchase which has nothing to do with the circle.  For years, I would make a prototype of something to sell and never move forward.  Fear again.  Fear telling me it wasn't good enough. I'M DOING IT ANYWAY! , for the sheer pleasure of creating and silencing fear (false evidence appearing real) for good!  

I am excited because I feel that I am becoming the person that I was created to be in this lifetime.  My mom used to say that I wouldn't succeed until later in life because I was a Capricorn, the mountain goat trying to climb the mountain.  I held onto that until I had my chart done in the 90's and realized that I am a Sagittarius! It took me years to get over the mentality that I had to be much older before I could succeed.  I sabotaged myself with most ventures. The mind and words are very powerful, extremely.  "Thoughts are prayers, take care in what you're saying", as the song sung in Unity goes.  That's one of the reasons for the affirmation circle. Affirmations are stated in the present tense because it's the truth of the reality of you, even if it doesn't feel like it.  The circle starts May 1st and I am meditating on which affirmation we need and I am anticipating a high energy level.  

Now that I'm employed again, I can pay debts joyfully and be free of that weight.  It is good to earn and have money to do the things that can make you and others happy.  In the words of James Brown, I feel good, I knew that I would now!  So good, so good, Iv'e got you.   

Until next Sunday,
Merry part and merry meet again,
Blessed be,
Gypsi Mama Michelle

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Richmond, VA

Merry meet Friends,
Michele here, bringing lots of love and light!

"The day comes when remaining the same becomes more painful than the risk to grow.  And when that happens there are many goodbyes.  We leave old patterns, old friends, old lovers, old ideas, and some cherished beliefs.  Loss and growth are so often one and the same."  ~ Phoebe Eng

Growth is painful.  It is also exciting even if it is frightening.  We are accustomed to and comfortable with the persons we are, the places we live, the jobs we have and our surroundings, even when in reality we are not.  Sometimes things have to happen to get us out of our comfort zone.  For instance, one may know it's time to leave a situation but will stay out of the fear of uncertainty.  When we stay beyond the expiration date, the "thing", whatever it is becomes stale and sour, and our growth is stunted.  

Situations can be our way of being and thinking.  It is not always a tangible thing.  The way that I believe I was led to travel initially has undergone several changes.  If I held on to the original plan, I would actually be doing nothing as I waited, because it wasn't "that way".  I didn't want to take this job for valid reasons to be sure, but I am glad that I listened to Jason, my youngest son, and gave it a try.  I like my co-workers, the job is not what I imagined, I can work or not work, I am earning money and I can still travel.  

I've been in training for the past two weeks working almost all shifts.  The overnight shift is the easiest but the hardest on my sleep pattern. Day time and evening shifts are busy but the time goes fast. My favorite shift is the 12 pm-8:30 pm although I haven't worked 6 pm-11 pm or 10 am -4 pm yet.  I'll probably like the 10-4 shift. Even though it's a substance abuse program, the job itself is fun, in a weird sort of way.  I like that I don't work the same hours every day and because of it, I get to work with the other staff.  Last night I worked from 4 pm-12:30 am.  Another staff worked from 6 pm- 11 pm and I had never worked with her.  I would have been alone from 11 until the overnight shift came but she decided to stay with me.  I thought that was very considerate of her.

I'm only working 2 days this week because April's schedule had been done.  I'm glad for the break because I have some online classes that I've been neglecting.  I hadn't worked in 3 years and getting back in the swing has been a little rocky.  It takes me almost 2 days to recover from an overnight!  Next week I'm only working 2 days as well because I'm going out of town for 3 days. More information about that when I return.  Last Sunday, my oldest son, his girlfriend, Zorro and myself went to Maryland Live.  It was a birthday celebration for Donnie.  Tiffany and her friend met us there.  It was fun.  I won $3 on the penny slot machine and cashed it in.  Then Tiffany played a slot machine that we still don't understand.

The machine gave Tiffany all of these free games.  Then it began to shoot these coins in the air and playing a song.  We didn't know what was happening and the noise was annoying Tiffany so she stopped it.  At that point, it showed that she had won $38!  I'm yelling, "cash it in, cash it in!"  I didn't want her to lose it back. Had she not stopped the machine when it was making that noise though, who knows how much more than $38 she would have won!  While we ate Tiffany went back to play that particular machine again. She won an additional $16.  I tried my hand and won $10.  Donnie's girlfriend won over $300 on the quarter machine.  It really was fun.

I have an idea that I'm formulating.  It's inspired by something one of my Haitian friends on FB is doing.  It has to do with female empowerment of course.  I am excited because that is my passion. I'm in the process of putting a web site together. When everything is done, I will explain more.  I always have a lot ideas and that's where they stay; in the idea realm.  This time I am implementing what is inspiring me.  I started a FB page, Wild Women Gypsies, in early December, 2014 encouraged by Zakiya.  That page has over 1000 likes!  One thing can lead to many more if we just "Feel the fear and do it anyway" as the title of the book by Susan Jeffers indicates.  I am releasing old patterns in order to move forward. The release of old ideas and old patterns encourages the growth of new patterns and new ideas.  "Loss and growth are so often one and the same."  How true!

Allow the Christ consciousness that abides in us all to rise in you today and everyday. 

Until next Sunday,
Merry part and merry meet again,
Blessed be,
Gypsi Mama Michelle