All posts by dixonl2014

Balms of Peace!

blue doveAs things seem to spiral out of control,
We go deep within to find our role.

In assuaging the waves of turbulence,
Talking down others to help them make sense.

Of what appears to be rifts without reason,
Against the grain of this holy season.

Help others to find their centers of calm,
Speak gentle, soothing tones to heal with balm.

Those powerful kernels of central peace,
Brought forth will make all upset simply cease!

Lynn M.                                                                      December 7, 2019

When We Collide

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Whenever you leave a movie cinema or play and you do not want to hear a sound, you know that you have just witnessed some great art form. You want to stay in the moment and continue thinking about what you just saw, heard and felt and you don’t want a song from the radio or a show on the television to interfere with your continual engagement.

I was hesitant to see Queen and Slim when I heard that they were a black couple on the lam after one of them shot a police officer. I felt that it would more than likely not end well but when I read that the Screenwriter (Lena Waithe) was educated at one of our local middle schools, graduated from the city’s only high school and graduated from Columbia College in Chicago’s Loop, I took a deep breath and dove in.

This movie still has me thinking because though it is a story that we all know too well, it is so much more. It is a journey into the hearts, minds and souls of two young people who were out on a first date in Cleveland when things went terribly wrong. They had just had a meal together and as he, Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) was driving, he swerved after trying to get his cell phone from her. It was a light moment until they were pulled over.

After following all the commands of the police officer, things further escalated when Queen, (Jodie Turner-Smith) an attorney, got out of the car to ask for a warrant while her date was being frisked. The police office shot her in the leg for questioning his authority and Slim reacted by taking his gun and shooting him.

Thus, the story begins. Queen decides that she wants to go to her Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine) who lives all the way down in New Orleans. Slim simply wants to call his family but she feels that the phone call would be fatal for them both.

A scenic road trip with all genres of music playing in the background ensues and they first run out of gas in Kentucky. A sheriff picks them up and they eventually lock him in the trunk of their car and take his pick-up truck. They spare his life because they were not intentional killers but accidental killers.

They travel the American south, witnessing everyday life like people picking cotton, children out playing on skateboards late at night, people dancing in a honky-tonk or juke joint and they finally make love on a side road in a car. They start talking and baring their souls to each other and their bond strengthens.

By this time, their pictures are on every front page of the newspapers and there is a big price on their heads. On the other hand, their ordeal sparks protest by those who are compassionate with their plight. They make it to New Orleans and the uncle can only help to a degree. From there, their plan is to go to Georgia, eventually Florida and then to Cuba. A Georgian couple and a young a police officer both assist them at one point. In the interim, Queen finds her mother’s grave and makes peace with her. Slim slips and calls his father to tell him that he loves him.

You hold your breath as they continue their journey and when they get to Florida, they meet their Judas. They go to meet the plane when law enforcement shows up in full force. They continue to hold hands and she is shot in the heart. He bends down and picks up his Queen and raises her to a high status. They all fire on him and when he falls, they end with one on top of the other. It is powerful. And then, we see the he black, gold-grill wearing, marijuana smoking, trailer park sycophant counting his cash from his simony actions.

Queen and Slim is being compared to Bonnie and Clyde, but they do not continually kill anyone. They were just two young people who got caught up in bad situation. The music is great. The plot is well-oiled with no rusty hinges and the acting is memorable. Though the ending is sad, the journey is divine!

Lynn M.                                                                       November 30, 2019

Are You Grateful?

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In all things, give thanks. We are approaching Thanksgiving and we are gently nudged into counting our blessings and giving thanks for all things great and small. Though we may choose to focus on our woes and what-if’s, we must become mindful enough to note what went right this past year.

If we are still breathing, that is a huge and automatic thanks. Some people did not make it to this date and time.

If we have food, shelter, clothing and fresh drinking water, we should give a humble thanks. Many others around the world do not have this daily luxury.

If we have friends, family and beloved colleagues who share our daily lives with us, we should pause and give thanks. Every smile and hug offer us the silent encouragement to continue on our journeys.

If we have income or some means of sustaining our daily needs, we should stop and give thanks.

If we did not have to ask for a loan or a hand-out from loved ones, then we should almost shout out a thanks out loud. And if we did, we have to thank them for being there for us.

If we were able to complete any memorable projects that had been lurking around on our to-do lists, we should breathe out a big thank you.

If we are still able to get up and function everyday without assistance, then we should really let out a big sigh and give thanks. And if we do need assistance, we thank those who support us.

If we can walk, talk, laugh or cry, we should give thanks because that means we are still able to get in touch with our emotions and for that we should be thankful.

If we can cuddle a child or note the innocence in their eyes, we should feel a lot of gratitude for they are grand readers of the spirit.

The list is endless of those small, yet precious comforts that offer us those warm cushions when life seems to be too much.

We are thankful for that morning cup of coffee with that special cream that gets our motors running to start our day to that bar of chocolate candy that puts us to bed at night. We take absolutely nothing and no one for granted as we admit that we are indeed grateful!

Lynn M.                                                                     November 23, 2019

Mirrors!

It is EnoughIdeas often run parallel like the events in our lives. They travel along side each other like streams. I recently penned a novella called It is Enough where the older characters conclude that life has given them what they need to live a productive life.

While writing it, I took a hiatus from reading other authors as I delved into my own project.  But, the first book I picked up afterwards was Gloria Steinem’s Doing Sixty & Seventy.  I wanted to see what she had to say and where see was in her outlooks and perspectives these days.

I saw her speak during my college years and she influenced my life in myriad ways.  I don’t remember anything that she said specifically but her aura, her presence, her spunk and her resolve all stayed with me.  She seemed so brave as she stood alone on that solitary stage and spoke to those of us who were about to make some important life decisions.

She advocated for women and aligned herself with women’s rights.  Her own mother had given up her career as a reporter after a breakdown and Gloria and her sister Ruth cared for her. In her book biography it states “but those formative years gave Gloria a deep empathy with women whose spirits were broken and whose talents were lost to the world.” (Doing Sixty & Seventy)

Gloria spent a couple of years in India on a fellowship and this gave her a grand opportunity to become an astute observer of people, customs and societies. When she returned home, she had deeper insights and saw things from other vantage points.  Thus, her life work began as a freelance writer and later as editor of  Ms. Magazine.

In Doing Sixty & Seventy, Gloria mentioned that most notable women did their gravest work when they were in their sixties and seventies.  She talked about the suffrage movement and other forms of activism where women championed people’s causes.  She felt that  they were finished raising the children and being the elusive good wife so they had the time and will to do so.

But, after nurturing and giving to others, the wiser ones learn how to slow down and breathe.  She wrote, “What we keep is everything we need to support ourselves.” She currently likes to lose track of time as she lives in the present moment.  She too realizes that life has offered her enough!

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Lynn M.                                                       November 16, 2019

 

 

Thank You!

Thank youIt’s that time of year when we begin to make our slow descent into the holidays. Before things become totally hectic, we can push the pause button and take a look back over the past year. We ask ourselves, “What did I accomplish?” “How did I do?” “Where am I now compared to where I was this time last year?” “And more importantly, am I in a better place emotionally?”

To which of yesteryear’s woes can we honestly echo the famous Rhett Butler and say, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” If the things that caused us grief earlier truly don’t matter anymore, then that is growth. As the adage goes, “If it does not matter to you, then it does not matter.”

After looking over our shoulders, we turn and look at our current surroundings and situations and bow our knees and give a humble thanks. We count our blessings both big and small. We give thanks for our food, shelter and clothing. We take nothing and no one in our lives for granted as we cherish the rich company of those who supported us. We are even grateful for the agitators because they strengthened our resolve in some way as we kept on trucking forward. We now understand that the challenges helped us get to where we are today.

We give thanks for the village that offered both silent and audible cheers as we ran our race. We give thanks for all of our guardian angels both seen and unseen. And most preciously, we give thanks for having the wherewithal to continue to place one foot in front of the other and continue our journeys.

At times, we may have felt as if we were walking in a heavy fog with blinders on, but we give thanks that we stretched out our arms and felt our way forward towards a brighter light. So, we give a big hearty thank you as we hum a tune such as “Through it All.”

Lynn M.                                                                          November 9, 2019

Harriet: A Movie Review

HarrietI saw Harriet on its opening day! Of course, I was somewhat hesitant because I was hoping that is wouldn’t be another slave movie that left my blood boiling. Thank goodness, it gave this awful part of American history the gentle touch. I did not have to watch adults being whipped but we were shown the scars on their backs. That was enough to reveal the effects of that dark chapter.

When the movies opens Minty Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) is a young married woman who is about to be sold further south of Virginia where she lived. She had a terrible childhood injury which left her skull fractured and as a result, she has fainting spells. During these periods of loss of consciousness, she has visions. She is shown things that will occur in the future. She later said that the hole in her head was an opening for God to speak to her.

She keeps dreaming about running away and one day, she decides that it is time. She only tells her father and he advises her to go to the church to talk to the preacher before heading out. Her father also gives her a special keepsake of a whittled head as a good luck charm.

The preacher receives her and tells her to look out for certain landmarks and to follow the Delaware River. He also tells her to follow that Northern Star and  gives her the name of someone who can help her along the way.

She makes it 100 miles away to Philadelphia, which was a free city at the time. With the help of a freedman named William Still (Leslie Odom, Jr.), she starts working and making a living for herself. A year later, she makes her first return to Virginia to get her brothers and a few others. Thus, her mission in life begins.

She follows her visions and returns several times to get others. Then, The Fugitive Slave Law is enacted, and they are forced to move further north to Canada. Over time, she goes back and finally gets her elderly parents and by this time, The Underground Railroad had become much more more sophisticated with more people helping  the runaways. It is said that she helped over 750 slaves escape to freedom and at one point, she commanded a black unit of soldiers during the Civil War.  She lived to be 91 years old.

In the movie Harriet, the acting is so realistic. It was like getting a chance to really know Harriet as a  person. The actors are superb.  A few mentions are the British actor Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom, Jr., Janelle Monae, Vanessa Bell Calloway,  Joe Alwyn and Vondie Curtis-Hall.  The list is endless.

Kasi Lemmons did a phenomenal job as the director of this film. She shared this biopic without awakening emotions of anger or horror. Again, it was great. The plot was great.  The music was great. The scenery was great. And to that point, when it was over, the theatre audience applauded. So there. That says it all!

Lynn M.           November 1, 2019

Changing like the Seasons

treeThe leaves are changing colors during this autumn season as we each change in some individual way. Their myriad array of hues easily matches the altering stages of our personal journeys.

Though we advance at different paces, we are still in motion and moving forward. At times, we may feel as if we are stuck while going about the same rituals and routines. But if we take a closer look, it simply is not true.

We may not see our own inner chameleons, but others do. The other day, a co-worker told me that I looked less stressed. I did not quite know how to take it but no matter how I weighed the statement, it was definitely a compliment.

I pondered it for a moment and thought about what I was doing this time last year. I silently agreed with her. I not only looked less stressed, I felt less stressed. I was not carrying the same loads and burdens and I was glad that it was visible to others.

We should take a private inventory and answer some honest questions. What was I doing this time last year? What type of work was I doing? How was I feeling emotionally? Are the same people or situations causing me distress or have I taken the time to clear the cache?  Am I aware of my own growth?

Nine times out of ten, there will be a few aha moments. We can inaudibly admit that we feel more energized by our growth. Our progression is apparent so we can draw our tick marks on the wall.  Or, we can simply compare ourselves to the grand, rich colors of the autumn foliage!

Lynn M.                                                                         October 26, 2019

 

Somewhere Over the Rainbow!

73e5e18a-3050-4fb4-90c6-a275ef2531ffRenee Zellweger’s performance as Judy Garland in the new movie Judy is certainly Oscar buzzworthy. She captures the look, the mannerisms and the total aura of Judy Garland in this new biopic.

I was hesitant about seeing the movie because I knew that it focused on the latter days of her life.  She found herself basically broke and homeless. She was unable to provide shelter for her two younger children so she was forced to leave them with their father.

Most of this film takes place in London where she was doing a long-running show. It provided her with a place to live but it was a step down from what she had once been exposed to in earlier years. Some nights on the stage were successful and some were filled with her meltdowns and subsequent taunts from the audience.

Through flashbacks, we see some of the things that contributed to her downward spiral into the use of pills and alcohol. Her life as a child star started at the age of two and later, she was forced to take pills to control her weight.  She was constantly reminded that she was not beautiful and there were also subtle suggestions that she was being abused by the powerful men who ran the entertainment business.

When the viewers meet her, she was simply tired of it all and our hearts cried out for her. Her bravery, her tenacity and her constant resilience sustained her to the end for she died at the tender age of 47. Yet, she left so much material as she reached legendary status from The Wizard of Oz to one of her signature songs, Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

The last time I saw Renee Zellweger display this type of great artistry was in the movie Chicago as Roxie Hart.  After spending years in her private cocoon, she has once again emerged and just like Tinkerbell she has rewritten the name Judy on the theatre marquee!

Lynn M.                                                                            October 19, 2019

Downton Abbey Movie: An Overview

Downton Abbey

Seeing the cast of the movie Downton Abbey was like entering a room of old friends that I had not seen in a while.  It all came back as I recalled which roles the main characters played and remembered why they left such memorable impressions.

Of course, Maggie Smith, the Countess of Grantham, stole the show with her one-liners and sharp wit as she responded to those around her.  She had people in the audience  laughing out loud and it brought us together as though we were attending a private viewing party.

The movie opened with the staff in a frenzy because King George V and Queen Mary were coming to the area and would spend one night at Downton Abbey.  The staff cleaned, polished and aired out the rooms as they got things ready for their royal visitors.

Mr. Carson had retired but was rehired by Lady Mary because she did not think that the butler Thomas Barrow could pull it off. There were several subplots and too many to share but the mood remained light, festive and even humorous most of the time. 

The King and Queen brought their own butler, woman of the house, chef and footmen and the regular Downton staff was appalled by that move. They had nothing to do until they came up with a plan to get the visiting staff out of the way.  I will not do too many spoilers, but I left the theater feeling happy that I had made the choice to see this movie.

It was a great way to escape into another world for over two hours. New people met and fell in love; spouses considered breaking up and  men secretly met at a gay bar almost putting reputations on the line. The lovable Betsy finally decided to plan her wedding much to Mrs. Patmore’s delight.

 Outside of the swift-moving plot, I enjoyed looking at the high fashion statements.   The dresses, the gowns with the long attached scarves and the rich jewelry gave me  ideas and I will try to replicate certain looks in the future..  One woman asked me if I liked the movie and all I could say was, “Those hats!  Oh, the hats.  Even the wait staff wore fancy hats.” This was a great vicarious journey back to the 1920’s as I  spent time inside of Downton Abbey!

Lynn M.                                                                 October 12, 2019

October Colorfest: A Poem

 

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Autumn leaves flutter to the ground,
Racked piles are gathered in the round.

Those yards are full of autumn flairs,
Rich colors soothing us in pairs.

Cooler temps slow our thinking,
Calm, buoyant ideas, not sinking.

Pumpkins cut in all types of shapes,
Remind us to put on warm capes!

Lynn M.                                                                  October 2, 2019