Unapologetically Woman

Hey guys,

I had the pleasure of spending Christmas vacation in Florida visiting with my son and his family. While there, my daughter-in-law wanted to go to a concert.  I agreed, recognizing some old schoolers would also be performing.

It was a cold night in Jacksonville; the temperature was in the low to mid-40s. Fortunately, the walk to the venue was just a couple of blocks away.  My daughter-in-law and I were astounded by the women walking alongside us with difficulty in noticeably uncomfortable stilettos.  We found their awkwardness to be somewhat entertaining, an amusing distraction from the cold weather.

When we arrived, a long line for entry greeted us. While there, women scantily clad were shivering from the unescapable, lingering chilliness.  I also noticed that the men, who were mostly dressed in jeans and sneakers or some form of comfortable shoes, appeared to be dressed appropriately for the frigid climate.

Once inside, it was challenging to not notice the countless women dressed in unflattering clothing for their particular body types and some in clothing that just should not have been worn by anyone, PERIOD.

All of a sudden, I was surrounded by loud, uncontrollable laughter. I glanced around and noticed people pointing in the direction of this “extremely curvy” woman a distance away.  She was dressed in a pair of red, see-through spandex pants displaying a large tattoo on her visible ass.  While there were many displays of unique fashion choices, some actually very appealing, that spectacle provoked disbelief and united strangers in laughter.

I wondered what type of individual would leave their home dressed like that – clearly begging to be noticed and desperate for attention. I also wondered if the end game for that type of person was satisfying or if it left them empty and more desperate to feel something, anything.

The contrast between the dress codes of the two sexes was extreme. No contest, the women were dressed more provocatively and the men were dressed for cool comfort.  As a woman, I too love to feel pretty and look nice.  However, I mulled over the extent that some women were willing to go to feel pretty or even noticed. I’ve heard phrases about how women suffer for beauty, but why should we?  Why should we have to sacrifice comfort to feel pretty?

Throughout the years, women have continuously been judge on their appearance   while our intelligence is sometimes thrust aside. Think about the negative comments some media outlets made regarding our former first lady’s looks, particularly when President Obama first took office.  An extremely educated and intelligent woman was critique solely on her looks.  On the flip side, take notice as certain opportunities and advantages seem to befall attractive women.

Unfortunately, competition amongst women is severe.  We disrespect each other unknowingly, stepping on each other to grab limited opportunities for ourselves.  In order for women to really be empowered, we have to recognize the weaknesses of society and really learn to respect and lift up each other, not in words but in actions.

My hope for 2018 is that women appreciate, support, and respect ourselves and each other. Because when we respect each other, we respect boundaries and relationships.  I hope that we dress for ourselves.  If we want to wear stilettos, wear them, but at least learn how to walk in them first.  I hope that more of our young AND older women are able to find their voices. Most importantly, I hope that we as women never give up our power, OR take back our power, and appreciate the beauty, the phenomenon of being a woman.

Peace and Blessings,

Lee

Below is a glimpse of some of my family time.

 

Blacks in Wax Museum

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I went to The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum. It is a nonprofit organization located on the corner at 1601 E. North Avenue in Baltimore, Maryland.  A large parking lot is located next to the museum.

Once inside, the ambiance was constricted and dimly lit. The crowds were lined up to examine the various artifacts. This exhibition recreated essential realities from African American history.  It presented occurrences from the involuntary transporting of slaves and their inhumane treatments up to the first African American President of the United States.

I thought some of the presentations were graphic especially the Lynching Exhibit, which provided an advisory warning to parents, teachers, etc. However, many of those images were difficult for adults to handle particularly since photographs of real people and real events were also on display.  There was one exhibit in particular that featured a husband and wife in which the pregnant wife was badly beaten and then hung while her stomach was cut to remove her baby. Her castrated husband was watching and hanging nearby.

Some presentations appeared to stir up a range of emotions.  I observed onlookers expressing sadness, anger and disgust.  I listened as parents tried to explain the raping and beating of the slaves’ exhibits to their children.  I wondered how the minds of those children interpreted that information and the graphic illustrations.

Slavery is one of the worst things that happened to black people. It stripped them of common human rights and ripped apart families and societies.  I can remember discussions about slavery when I was in school.  There were cartoonish pictures to depict those events and to perhaps minimize the brutality.  There were no museums exhibiting life-size graphic illustrations to etch the details in your mind.

Although there were many other presentations featuring prominent people, the slavery exhibits overtook my thoughts. As I exited the museum, I felt somewhat melancholy, visualizing the reactions of the spectators during the exhibition – the sighing and asking “where’s my reciprocity.”  I then looked around at the dismantled crowd as they walked to their cars – talking, laughing, taking pictures, and some subdued.

 

Turf Valley Resort & Golf Club – B-Day Staycation

Hey Guys,

Since it is my belief that the anniversary of your existence should not be regarded as just another day, I commemorated my birthday on December 1st.  I acknowledge my birthdays by doing something meaningful for myself, and this year was no exception.

It’s no secret that the past year was an emotionally taxing year for me.  Therefore, I wanted to do something calming but enjoyable.  I organized a staycation at the Turf Valley Resort and Golf Club in Ellicott City, Maryland. 

Rather than write a post about how I spent my birthday de-stressing and relaxing. I thought showing you in pictures would be more effective.  In addition to Turf Valley Resort and Golf Club being a great place for a solo indulgence, it is also excellent for girlfriends’ getaways and couples.

Peace and Blessings,

Lee

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Retrospective

This week, we celebrated Thanksgiving Day, a day in which people acknowledge blessings, give thanks, and spend time with family.

In retrospect of the last year, I probably should have devoted more time to acknowledging my blessings.  Unfortunately, I allowed the residual effects from unpleasant experiences to mute my happiness for prolonged periods.  Shimmers of happiness would come and then slowly scatter into the air of obscurity.

In retrospect, I know that we all encounter experiences that test our faith and strength. The challenge is to disallow them from dominating your thoughts and behaviors.  It becomes somewhat difficult when devastating events occur within short time spans – meaning before you can get through one situation, something happens that shakes your foundation of stability.  Unabashedly throwing your emotions into a river of trepidation.  Unanticipated interactions cram you with dread of looming doom.

I observed people that I had known over the years also displaying events that reshaped their lives. Their angsts would manifest via social media through heartfelt messages of love and confusion.  I empathized.

In retrospect, over the last year, I was just being. At gatherings, I would take note of who’s not there and notice dwindling family participants instead of living in the moment.  Losing loved ones is very painful and makes your heart ache in a way that only someone who has had similar experiences can understand.  Your thinking is irrational because it’s clouded with emotions and confusion.

I understand that my siblings would not want me to be sad. In retrospect, I have always known it.  They would demand that I reminisce about all the good times that we shared – replacing sadness with heartfelt memories.

During this Thanksgiving holiday, I am very thankful for all of my family and friends.  I hope that you take some time and reminisce and get lost in happy memories.  More importantly, I hope you live in the moments.

I would like to leave you with a couple of quotes as we go through this journey called life.

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”  Norman Cousins

“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul, there is no such thing as separation.” Rumi

Peace and Blessings,

Lee

Tennessee

Tennessee was not a state on my list of places to vacation. However, when my brother-in-law invited family members to go to the cabins in Pigeon Forge, TN, in the middle of the Smoky Mountains, I nonchalantly said yes.  I thought, why not?  I had never been to Tennessee, and I wanted to go somewhere with my son before he went off to college.  My brother-in-law and my sister, who recently passed loved Tennessee and frequently boasted about the many attractions for kids and adults.

Our travelling group consisted of 11 people – three kids under 12, two teenagers and six adults. I had forgotten what it was like to vacation with family – the camaraderie of bonding with people who genuinely love and look out for each other.  It was soothing.

The drive was approximately eight hours. After only a couple of stops, we had finally arrived.  Driving down Parkway, one of the main roads to get to our cabin was invigorating.  Exhilaration was slithering throughout my body as I ogled at the bright lights and billboards highlighting places pledging gratification.  I couldn’t wait to get to the cabin to get settled!

The log cabin looked like a picture from a postcard. It was beautiful!  It slept 13 and had everything that you needed – washer/dryer, dishwasher, dishes, pool table, hot tub, and all the amenities in a home.

Tennessee did not disappoint. There were plenty of activities for entertainment.  Our objective was to coordinate activities to appease everyone in our group, which ranged in age from 8 to 63.  We did, and some of our undertakings included the following:

  • Wonderworks, an upside-down house with plenty of rides and adventures.
  • Watching a 4D movie which, of course, compelled me to close my eyes due to fear, but it was fun.
  • Going to the magic show of the amazing Terry Evanswood.
  • Going on the Jurassic Boat ride where dinosaurs jump out and spray you
  • Going to the Hollywood Wax Museum
  • Visiting the Zombie house, which scared the crap out of two of the kids because there were a couple of people dressed as zombies to make the experience more frightening.
  • Going into a mirror maze.
  • Going to the Extreme go kart tracks – crazy fun!
  • Visiting the Ripley’s Aquarium where a beautiful young lady was dressed as a mermaid and swam with fish; and
  • Going to nice restaurants for dinner.

The only con for me was the mountain driving. The cabins were located deep into the mountains and in some areas, if you drove just a little too far to the left or right, the drop was over 50 to 100 feet.   The grass that lined roads were misleading because shortly behind them were steep plunges without warning.  Those harrowing images eliminated Tennessee nightlife for me.  However, the cabin offered many amenities for you to enjoy staying in along with significant privacy.  The mountains are beautiful, and I’m so glad I had a chance to visit Tennessee!  Check out my pictures from our adventure.

A view of the drive to the cabin:

At the Aquarium in the Gatlinburg area:

Beautiful mermaid swimming with the fish:

 

Tennessee