All posts by dixonl2014

Still Learning!

It is interesting how a visitor can come to your hometown and bring such new information!  It may not be unusual because the tourist has hit the books and knows exactly what he or she is  looking for; whereas, the locals trudge right pass unknown treasures everyday.

To that point, a friend and I stopped to ask several locals for the MLK Memorial in Atlanta and we were shocked when several hunched their shoulders as if to say, “I dunno.”  After a while, it became both comical and mostly tragic and we found the humor in it rather than burst into tears.  That was in the late 70’s.

But, I digress.  This is about Brian Doyle’s book Chicago which I recently finished and relished. A lot of places were familiar but I had to admit that he gave me several lessons though this has been a home base for many moons.  Doyle came here for five seasons right after graduating from Notre Dame.  He wrote for a magazine and it was his task to find stories about everyday people.

Yes, I will ashamedly admit that Mr. Doyle had to tell me that Lincoln Park, which I have visited trillions of times was named for Abraham Lincoln. Maybe I knew it some point. I knew that the streets in the Loop are named for the US Presidents, but I guess the fact that the parks were named for them escaped me.

And that mighty Grant Park is named for Ulysses S. Grant and our beloved Jackson Park for Andrew Jackson.  I think I recently recall that Washington Park was named for George Washington because of the recent statue controversy.

In some aspects, I am just as guilty as those people were in Atlanta on that sunny day. In our busy, rapid lives, we rush right by these monuments as we hurry to catch a bus or wave down a taxi. We miss so much!

This book, Chicago, took me up and down so many traveled roads He added the love and cohesion of community, the importance of the generosity of spirit and the role of writers who help keep it real when people get lost in the shuffle. Doyle reminded us of the beauty of storytelling and how those stories keep us going as we remember past events.

And lastly, Brian Doyle talked about the name of Chicago which came from the Potawatomi  Native Americans.  Chicagouate or chicagoua was a form of garlic/onion which grew in abundance to where they say the river poured into the lake.  Further research revealed the Native Americans only traded with their kin.  Thus, Jean Point Baptist Dusable married a Potawatomi woman and was then able to participant in trading.  It has been written that she was ‘crucial to his success.’

Chicago recently renamed Lake Shore Drive to Jean Baptiste Point Dusable Lake Shore Drive. Yes, it is a mouth full, but it seeks to get the historical facts somewhat straight. What we do know is the trade industry gained traction from the point where the Chicago River empties into Lake Michigan. And the rest, as they say, is history.  Many thanks to Mr. Doyle who left us too soon, but whose words and good works shall remain.

Lynn M.
October 23, 2021

I Believe

When great spirits transition from this life,
I believe that their bodies may disintegrate,
Into a trillion little, tiny particles.

Then perhaps, God gathers those pieces
Into His Hand and gives a mighty blow,
As a child blows on a dandelion.

And then, those small pieces of the whole
Spread themselves into our living rooms,
Our homes and most assuredly, deep into our hearts.

And that is why, as we mourn,
In a flash, we see that person again.
We see their twinkling eyes, calm demeanor or quiet knowingness.

We recall our conversations as we unknowingly
Stood in the presence of greatness.
In our slow acceptance of this life change,
We understand that we have just gained a new
Guardian Angel who will nudge and point the way
From that new perch from on High!

To: Mr. Timuel Black

Lynn M.
October 16, 2021

Cousin’s Pebbles

Delta Wings

When I think about my cousin, Shelia Lynn, I admit that she wore my name a year before I arrived and was called just Lynn.  We lived together briefly as children in Memphis.  We were all sheltered at our grandmother’s house who played Mother Goose.

Yep, both of her daughters had returned to the nest and each had four children in tow.  Eight kids in a tiny house but boiled over with love.  Somehow, it worked and lifetime bonds were tightened among us.

Later, we were reconnected as young women. Her family remained in Memphis but our family had moved on to Chicago. However, our family always returned to Memphis, at least once a year. I remember going to see her act at Front Street Theater, there.  She allowed me to come backstage with her  to her changing room. I sat there and quietly watched her apply her stage makeup.  Amazing!

By the time she entered stage right, I was sitting in the audience. I do not remember the name of the play but I do know that I was filled with awe and wonder. This would be the beginning of my noticing Shelia’s choices and I took away the parts that I found admirable. She was silently dropping pebbles for me to follow in my own timing.

Shortly, thereafter, her bravery and spunk caught my eye again when she moved to Atlanta to become a flight attendant. She graduated in the first class of black women to get their wings for Delta Airlines.  She flew with them for over 30 years! Our paths continued to cross at different intersections. 

As fate would have it, we both returned to Memphis and lived there in the early 80’s. This time, we became closer than ever as we shared our hurts, our pains and acknowledged each other’s accomplishments.  I purchased a large wall map and whenever she called me from various locations, I would put a stick pin there on my map.  She was still silently dropping pebbles and charting out new family paths.

Her colorful descriptions of places like hot Atlanta or snow-bound Boston or the tropical islands stayed with me.  She spoke of one place where she could pick fruit from the tree from outside her hotel window.  Though I was doing my own thing, I did take copious mental notes as she shared her adventures.  She was still pinning those pebbles in my mind.

As the gods would have it, I did make it to Atlanta. I lived there for two years and met life-long friends as I struggled through the terrain.  And, yes, quite like Johnny-Come Lately, I made it to the islands more that once. Her pebbles helped me to slowly make it to snowy New England. Once there, I enjoyed walking around Boston’s Back Bay as I took in the sights and sounds of the city for four years. So, all I can say is, “Thanks, cuz, for dropping those pebbles behind you!”

Lynn M.
October 9, 2021

Ode to a Grifter

If  you just leave, I can again breathe,
Your actions have dismantled my sheath.

I am quite depleted and worn down,
My substance has wavered. Please no sound.

I need to be quiet; alone now,
So then, I can unfurrow my brow.

As my cisterns and cups fill back up,
After you continually did sup.

So, just go away and do go far,
No more to give. You lowered the bar.

As my lungs expand with that fresh air,
I can push ahead with little care.

Lynn M.
October 2, 2021

The Light of Understanding!

When the light of understanding appears,
Weights fall away.

Shadows of darkness turn to day,
Tears are wiped and soon fade.

New lamps are lit as we
Clearly see our way.

New paths become visible,
And become easily passable.

As we stride forward,
Both steadily and unabashedly!

Lynn M.
September 25. 2021

LOL!

We all agree that laughter is the best medicine which is why we cherish our social gatherings even during Covid. Zoom meetings and now more in-person get-togethers are helping us cope with this ongoing pandemic. 

The camaraderie gained while in the presence of others helps us embrace our humanity. As the saying goes, “No man is an island,” so we look forward to those times when we can enjoy the company of others.  

Here are a few things that have made me laugh lately. On the morning news, some school children had stolen a sink from the school and then posted it on social media. Normally, we hear of Chicago expressway closings due to shootings but when I heard that some loose cattle had shut down a busy expressway, I had to laugh out loud.  

The other day, I listened to YouTube interview with a former beloved music professor who shared a funny story. He said that he discovered that his students were caught bringing the music lab piano back to its rightful place. He responded, “Bringing it back?”  He said that he had no idea that they had been rolling the piano down to their dorm for extra practice time. Hilarious!! 

Also, the things that people write in the ‘Comments’ section on the Internet can truly tickle the funny bone. Read the news feed and see what We the People think about either the person or subject. The crude trolling, disdain or back and forth can evoke a laugh as they comment on some celebrity who strives to stay relevant. Every now and then, there is some new insight into a situation that offers added information. 

On many mornings, as I wait for my next project, I enjoy listening to Wendy. I laugh! Her sharp wit may be biting to some, but I hear myself letting out a loud laugh on quite a few occasions. She calls it like she sees it, and some may say that she shoots from the hip. She is rarely pretentious nor too serious. Her show is light and entertaining, and I can listen while I engage in other things.  

During these often grave and disconcerting times, laughter still works. It adds a bit of pep to the step, and it helps us temporarily escape from all the things that concern us. Zora Neale Hurston said it best when she said, I love myself when I am laughing.”  I totally agree with her! 

Lynn M. 
September 18, 2021 

Illusive Butterflies!

In light of the loud demonstrations of last summer, which protested unfair treatment, many answers to my years of questions unfolded right before my eyes. It became exponentially clear that many invisible roadblocks had been strategically placed years ago to deter, stall and eventually stop people of color in their tracks. 

When I embarked upon this brave, new world with my newly minted college degree in hand, I enthusiastically walked out into the new frontier. I felt as if I was equipped to handle whatever presented itself and immediately fell into teaching to fulfill a teacher’s scholarship obligation. It was a rich and gratifying experience but a after six or so years, I wanted more. 

I completed another degree in hopes of entering some aspect of media. I visited printing companies, knocked on several television studio doors. I even tried advertising places and publishing companies to display my wares. Though the doors were cracked wide enough to look inside, they were not open. I heard, “Nope.” “Not today.”  Or simply, nothing at all. As one acquaintance said, “What about no response?” 

Yet through the tears, confusion, and disappointment, I was led to a variety of sages who held my hand and offered me hope. One former professor continually answered my letters and once reminded me that the butterfly is often illusive. I did not understand his meaning then and I still work to interpret it, but I think he meant that life does not always offer pat answers nor work in a straight line. 

Then, my sages begin to appear through authors of the printed word. Wayne Dyer’s Your Erroneous Zones crossed my path and I studied it in-depth. I read several of his books as I clung to his positive outlook. I was even blessed to see him peeking in a door at a conference in Rosemont, Illinois, many years later. It was as if he too was holding my hand along the way. He reminded me to always bless my shelters and every traveler needs to hear that! 

Quite by happenstance, I was introduced to Florence Scovel Shinn while browsing at Oxford Bookstore on Peachtree in Atlanta’s Buckhead section. Her book, The Game of Life and How to Play It helped me immensely. Her advice assisted me in drying my tears when things appeared bleak while the hunger pains and fear were overtaking my better judgment. 

And just in the nick of time, Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World landed in my hands from an Atlanta friend. Every copy that I have owned of this jewel of a book has ended up being tattered, torn, and coming apart at the seams from constant use. Most pointedly, he taught me to persist until I succeed from his ancient scrolls. 

The list of encouraging sages who have invisibly and silently held my hand is exceptionally long and I could never list them all. However, I absolutely must add Maya Angelou whose small and powerful book of poems found me at a bookstore in Delaware, Ohio. She taught me that I was indeed a phenomenal woman that needed to keep on rising. 

Hindsight is 20-20. I am glad that I was unaware of the dark intentions that were set up to thwart my dreams and discourage my visions for my life. As the saying goes, “God makes a way out of no way.” Michael Jackson reminds us to hold hands in Whatever Happens. Enjoy!

Lynn M. 
September 14, 2021 

Gently Closing the Door!

Watching the different types of boats,
Get in those last sails,
Paddles or high speed rides,
As summer inches towards autumn.

The trees silently change from rich greens,
To the shades and tones of the colorful rainbow.

The birds get in their final twerps,
Before heading to that Southern warmth.

The cicadas sing loudly and early at noon,
Before they are forced to go back underground.

And the people move slowly,
Leisurely and peacefully as they take in
The last shards of summer before it,
Gently closes its door!

Lynn M.
September 11, 2021

God’s Pearl: A Movie Review

After seeing the movie, Respect a second time, I am finally ready to weigh in on this artistic piece. This biopic lies close to my heart for multiple reasons.

Aretha Franklin

First, I was living in Detroit in the 50’s, when the movie actually opens. Two, I remember where I was when I heard the song Respect for the first time. I spent my teen and young adult years listening to Aretha Franklin’s music. And three, Jennifer Hudson and I share our Chicago roots. I recall the day that Mayor Daley proclaimed a day in her honor after her Dreamgirls movie debut.

Having said all of that, I am somewhat peeved about some of the critics’ comments about this movie. Many of them do not understand black life and they do not get it.  They have not lived it and they misunderstand black life in all of its myriad forms. Yet, I sigh and take a step back as they have their rightful say. 

First, it would take a week to tell all of Aretha’s 76 years of living on this earth. Respect is quite like a short story.  It is not the whole enchilada. It offers its viewers a slice of life. Respect covers a twenty-year span of Aretha’s life and it does it quite well.

 It takes risks because it touches upon topics that most people would rather not deal with and certainly not view. Sexual and physical child abuse and exploitation are never comfortable subjects. She endured all of these and most often by those people she trusted the most, as a motherless child.

I compare Aretha’s life to that pearl that evolves after much wringing, aggravation and irritation that goes on inside of the oyster shell.  She was initially powerless to fight back against the powerful men who sought to control her. But, she took the reigns of the horses’ carriage and galloped on into greatness leaving them all gasping behind in the dust.

This pearl of God lives in the hearts of all. For those who are faint of heart, don’t see Respect and miss seeing what shaped this iconic gem. Those people should just go to YouTube and search for an Aretha concert and be entertained.  But for the true thinkers and reflectors of life, go see Respect and see a grand piece of art on the big screen!

Lynn M.
September 11, 2021

As They Are!

It is our charge to accept people as they are even when we do not fully understand them. Perhaps they do not fit into our spheres of operation, but it is our duty to remember that it is what it is.

Maybe we perceive them as slippery fish, busybodies, gossips, smooth criminals or tag them with other labels, but they are all still God’s children. Folks come in all shapes, sizes, and colors while dressed in a wide range of personalities. It is, not our job to change them; however we may positively impact a few along the way that are receptive to the tools we share from what we have learned along the way.

So, it is simply best to observe others. If we find their antics overwhelming at times, them look at the pathos and theatrics and seek the comical and humorous. Remember that laughter is still the best medicine.

Here is a poem from my novella, A Golden Leaf in Time Revised that Phoenix, the lead character, wrote after an emotional encounter.

“She calmed herself and reasserted her power to move forward at
the guided and given time. She took solace with her pen and paper and
wrote the following verse:

Who’s Foolin’ Who?
Traveling on the expressway of life,
I had another unexpected blowout.
But in this world of sorrow and strife,
I won’t sit around and pout.
People have crises that run deep
’Cause they don’t know God at all.
So they try to make others leap
Or keep them blind ’til they fall.
Then they can feel that all is well
And not take responsibility for a solution,
So they try to shut out those who may tell
Of their sadness and sick pollution.
But if eyes are of deep perception
And hearts are of love for God,
Then those with the crises are in deception
’Cause no one can harm a child of God!

This is still relevant today!

Lynn M.
September 4, 2021