Shouldn't Dieting and Lifestyle Changes be Uplifting?

March 30, 2015

So, why do I feel like I want to take all of these boxes of protein bars and put them in the road and run over them like Tammy would have done George's stuff?  

Hello, my name is Holly and my drug of choice is Coca-Cola (Hello Holly, welcome).  There should be a recovery group for my people, the Co-cola people, the Mountain Dew people, the Dr. Pepper people- just like the 12 steps for alcoholics and overeaters to get off of this cracked out stuff!  The withdrawals- even after three weeks, almost four now- are still killing me and I would probably shake down a little kid just for a sip.

I have passed it up, passed it by, chosen gallons of water in its place.  I haven't cheated on my "diet" and after almost a month, I've only lost 6 pounds.  6 pounds might sound like a lot if you are a super model, but for me, well, it's a good beginning.  

To quote G.W. from Sordid Lives when talking to Noleta about her 40 pound weight loss he said "That's kind of like the Titanic losing a few deck chairs."  That's how I feel!  I was so excited in the beginning; I was thinking the pounds were melting off and I was going to be my best, perfect self by my birthday this year (December). 

See, I'm being reasonable, I'm not expecting this overnight.  And my fat ass has a long way to go. And let's don't even talk about the redneck haircut that I had in the middle of this that almost made me snap and go straight to 7-11 for a fix!

This crap is hard!  I'm an emotional eater from way back.  Right now, I could devour some birthday cake, a doughnut, and drink the hell out of a Co-cola.  Instead, I will drink another gigantic Tervis tumbler full of water- my seventh for the day- and go to bed.  I mean, I have to be in ketosis, because I have breath that smells like it belongs to a dead cat, and could stop a train. My husband thinks that I am meaner than a bag of rattlesnakes and is doing anything he can to avoid me right now.  He is working extra and playing a lot of golf.

I'm giving this program one more week.  Tonight,  I'm getting the books back out and will be following this thing to the letter.  If that doesn't work, you can find me at The Betty.  You should know, that before I check myself in to Co-cola rehab, I'm gonna suck down a six pack of Co-cola and possibly eat an entire Emily's pound cake.

Coming off of real drugs has to be some kind of nightmare, because if this is how you feel just coming off of sugar and Co-colas, I'd stab someone in the neck at rehab with the end of a shoe lace.  I can't decide whether to just start going through my closet and throwing fat- frumpy things away or put on my tennis shoes and start running like Forrest Gump.  Maybe I should just drink some bourbon?  No, can't do that, that's not on the plan.  The Forrest Gump project probably sounds like the best idea.

Singing Merle Haggard's old tune....

Love y'all,

Subterranean Homesick Blues- and Dylan Doesn't Make it Better.

March 26, 2015

I never imagined a grown person could be so homesick.

These beautiful Japanese Magnolias are a part of my regular drive in Birmingham.  A drive that is lush and green and lined with blossoms at all times of the year.  When I am there, I am home.  I searched a lot of years and a lot of miles to find home- a place where I felt loved, where I found my tribe.

I have walked a thousand miles down that magnolia-lined road and back, around the lakes, and on those sidewalks over the past 16 years.  I have driven my children to practices, to sleep-overs, to the grocery store, and to school.  Every time that I see these trees, it evokes the feeling that Italians must have in Tuscany when they rub the dirt in the hands and know it is theirs.  This isn't my dirt, they aren't my trees, but they are my sanctuary.

I miss Vulcan towering over the city and knowing that he is always there.  And for years, he called me to prayer- for those who had lost their lives in auto accidents when his light would turn red.  When the light was green-I always gave thanks for another safe day in our city.  It was weird that a statue could call so many to prayer, but I was very sad when his light was replaced with the spear.

I look out over the Birmingham skyline and I see the place where I had my first real job, where I kissed a grown man wearing a suit for the first time, where I broke up with that same idiot for being a cheater. I see the park where my best friend from college and I used to take a blanket and have picnic lunches.

I see the restaurant where my husband and I went on one of our first dates, it has long since changed names and owners.  That restaurant is next to the building where I helped my husband move into his Birmingham office.  I can look out over that skyline and see the next office where we moved him on a Sunday night- when all was quiet and still.  I remember how he kissed me on the corner of 20th, across the street from the church where we were married, and how full of hope we were regarding our future.

It was like a movie- we were the only ones downtown, it was sort of rainy, and the winds were blowing, and there on the corner of 20th and 6th Avenue North, he kissed me like we were in a 40's movie, I will never forget it as long as I live.  I believe my heel might have popped.

Today, I'm listening to a little Dylan and trying to get over my three week visit that I just had back home to my beloved Birmingham. It is Magic, the Magic City.  There is something that gets in your blood and you are always a part of it and it is a part of you.  And although I am enjoying my Florida respite, I sure will be glad when I can sing that ole Telluride song and mean it when I say "And I"ll be in Birrrrmingham tonight." Enjoy the song below.

I'll be in Birmingham Tonight

Love y'all,

86 Years of Wisdom from Lenis

March 25, 2015

  Things I've learned from Lenis... You Only Live Once.

Last week was my Grandmother's 86th birthday!  It is so difficult for me to believe, because in my mind she is 44 and rocking a bikini in a way that I could never do right now at 43.  She is one of the smartest people that I have ever known, and she continues to get even wiser as she gets older- as you would naturally expect.  

In honour of her this month, I thought that I would share some things that I have learned from her over the course of my life, and maybe they will help you as well.

1.  Read to your children and surround them with books.  My Grandmother took me to far away places when new books came in the mail for me to devour every month.  I read the books on her shelves and taught myself about the solar system, typing, creative writing; there was a whole world at my fingertips on the shelves of her library.  Every summer we would learn something new together.

Reading to me and bringing the story alive!
She still enjoys reading and finished this one by Kellie Coates Gilbert in a day.

2.  "Never marry a man that you wouldn't consider marrying.  If you want to hang out with rednecks, then marry a redneck, but if you want to get invited to good parties and wear fine clothes, marry a professional. 

If you date a redneck, you could surely fall in love with him, and then where are you going to be?  If a man can't afford to buy you at least a one carat diamond, then keep moving on down the line, because he can't afford you- no matter how much you might think you love him.

Make sure you marry someone with whom you have things in common- things to talk about together, shared interests.  And if you don't want to get married, that's okay too, because you can be anything you want to be in this world.  And just because a man sends you flowers, that doesn't mean that you have to go out with him, understand?"  

She got a flower from the Knight at Medieval Times.

3.  How to love and burp a baby...I'm not sure where it starts, but she puts a magical spell on little children and they all fall in love with her.  Maybe because she will let you eat ice cream for breakfast and lunch if that's what you want while you are at her house?

Holding me when i was a newborn baby.

Holding my grandson (her great, great, grandson) when he was a newborn baby.

4.  "Be kind and loving to animals and they will always love you back.  Animals aren't like people, they don't hold grudges."

Grandmother and Willie at Christmas

Grandmother and Major on the farm around 1975

5.  "My brother and sister were my best friends.  I wouldn't trade anything in the world for the love and friendship we shared.  You stay tight with your sisters and brothers that are close to you, because you are all going to need each other one day."

Immediate family of Julian and Betty Henley- Christmas 1980.  I'm in the kid in the burgundy Chinos and the pink Izod sweater.  I was pretty stoked about that outfit.

6.  Sometimes your family will act like this and be loving and kind to one another, having fun and actually enjoying being together...  and other times you might have one child that acts like Gollum.  Sometimes you just have to ignore Gollum, because Gollum has momentarily forgotten that he or she  is really Smeagol.

"Y'all are soooo funny."

"I want the precious!!!"

7.  You learn that you just have to roll with the flow, like Aunt Joyce would have done. "Be grateful for what you have, and don't complain about what you don't have.  Just learn to improvise and be thankful for your blessings."

First selfie and we had a photo bomber in the background!

"I cannot believe that I am having to wear this Minnie Mouse shirt."

How to make a fireplace in Florida and improvise.

8.  Don't live your life full of regrets.  You can't change the past, just keep moving forward until something better comes along.  If we all stayed mired down in the past, the whole world would be crazy!

9.  You have to take some chances in this life if you are going to get ahead. Sometimes you might fail, but if you don't take the chance, you will never know what you could have done.  Don't miss any opportunity to better yourself or get ahead.

10.  Treat people like you would want to be treated, and try not to harbor resentment.  It just eats you up,  and the other person doesn't usually care.  Don't let someone who doesn't love you destroy you.  

11.  MOISTURIZE.  MOISTURIZE.  MOISTURIZE.  Good skin care is very important.   Neck creme is probably the most important.  And never let your hair go gray, you will regret it, I'll clue you.  

12.  Never be afraid of plastic surgery.  It is the best thing a woman can do for herself if she needs it.  And always wear good foundation garments to support your body.

13.  Always have an account with your own money in it and don't let anyone know about it.  That way, if you ever have an emergency, you can take care of yourself.

14.  I will never forget this one as long as I live.  I think she told me this when I was about 18 and about to get married for the first time. "Don't kid yourself, when the money goes out the front door and there is none left, love will go running out the back door faster than you can say boo!"

15.  Always treat your employees like family and they will always be there when you need them.  If you are expecting someone to clean your toilet or do your taxes, the least you can do is honor their birthday and holidays and never forget that they have families too.

Love y'all,

My Bad Hair Experiences

March 21, 2015

I love the girl who cuts my hair in Birmingham, I really do.  I've known her a long time and she is precious.  I didn't correctly communicate that I wanted longer layers and vogue this

And so, I got my hair "thinned" with thinning shears and short layers all over my head.  I look like an idiot.  I cried.  If Rod Stewart from 1978 and Monica from Friends had a baby, it would have looked like I do right now.  I can't post a picture, because I am seriously too ugly to communicate face to face with the outside world right now.  Below, I had the best hair I've had in maybe ten years and was feeling pretty happy about it.  I was really enjoying my new "do".  Like most happiness, it was short-lived.

When I was about 12, I wanted a perm- an Ogilvy perm because their commercials said that they were supposed to be the best.  My mom had the perm rods at home because my step-dad was constantly getting perms.  That's right, he had the 80's man perm.  She rolled his hair on those small red rollers until he had the white man's afro. Lucky for me, she also had the white and grey fat perm rods from doing her Grandmother's hair. We had everything necessary except for the Ogilvy perm kit.

Every day, when we would pass the  J. Randall store on our way home, I would beg her to get a perm and put one in for me.  Finally, we went into the store and just like she said they wouldn't have, they didn't have the Ogilvy home perm.  They did, however, carry Toni perms.  Remember those commercials? All of those girls had beautiful curls! 

With a Toni home perm in hand, we headed for Damascus.  I was so excited!  I was finally going to look like the cool girls at school with the curls and I couldn't wait!

I wanted mother to use the fat white perm rods, so that I would have fat curls, but she said that there was no point in doing a damned perm if I wasn't going to have curls, and that she was using the grey and red rods. I begged her to use the white ones because I didn't want springy, clown hair. But, she refused and used the grey and red ones.  It smelled like plastic on fire while we waited the 30-45 minutes for the perm to kick in- ick just the worst smell ever.

My step-dad, Jim, had been working graveyard at the paper mill and was trying to get his nights and days straight, and had gone to bed early.  He bid us good night while mother was rolling my hair and said to me  "I'll see you in the morning Shirley Temple."  

The timer on the oven went off, and it was time to take the curls down and rinse my hair.  When I dried it, I looked like a really sad Ronald McDonald double.  I have never been so ugly and awkward in my life.  My hair  looked like this girl's hair...

I cried.  I immediately went to the tub to wash out the perm. My mother snatched be up by my arm and said 

"Hell no, you wanted a perm, baby, you got a perm.  You aren't about to wash this out after you MADE me put it in your hair and spend all night on this."

I begged her to let me wash it out and hope that maybe the curls would relax a little bit.  I was 12, already insecure about everything, and the last thing that I needed was to go to school with Ronald McDonald hair.  Every time I would go toward the shower to wash it out, she would threaten to whip me.

I feel quite confident to this day, that had she used the big fat rods, I wouldn't have looked like a frazzle head.  But, lucky for me, she always has known everything.- one of life's many blessings that I was granted in the parental department.  

I can't quite remember how the chase ensued, but she chased me to the kitchen. I had gigantic tears rolling down my face as I  begged her to let me wash the perm out of my hair.  She told me that if I touched my hair she was going to get a belt and beat my ass.  I told her that I was not going to school until Dean (our cousin and hair stylist) could do something with this gigantic puff of hair on my head. She let me know that I WOULD be going to school the next day and AFTER and ONLY AFTER school, she would take me to get a haircut.

I smarted off and told her that I was going to go wake Daddy, because I knew that he would let me wash my hair that she had RUINED.  I do remember screaming YOU HAVE RUINED ME!  YOU RUINED MY HAIR!  She went to the laundry room to get Daddy's belt and said that she would give me until the count of three to turn around because she was going to whip my ungrateful, selfish ass.  I told her that she was NOT going to whip me because she gave me a bad perm that I didn't like.  It was the first time that I had ever stood up to her, and it felt good.  

As I stood there crying, I remember her counting for me to turn around while she stood there with the belt in her hand, 1......2.......2 and a half....and on 2 and a half, I ran like a cat on fire straight to their bedroom.  I woke Daddy up out of a deep sleep.  He was mad that he'd been awakened, and said "What in the hell is going on here?"

I physically jumped behind him in the bed and hid behind him so that she couldn't hit me.  He turned on the light in the bedroom and said "Ohhhh, I see why you're upset." and then said "There will be no whippings in this house tonight over this hairdo- do you understand me, Deborah?" She started to speak and he cut her off.  I will never forget how he shut her down that night.

He sent me to bed and tucked me in and told me that it would be okay, that he would handle this.  She went to bed mad because Daddy had intervened.  The next morning, he told mother that he would drive me the 22 miles to school.

Unbeknownst to her, we skipped school that morning.  We grabbed a biscuit at Hardee's and then Daddy took me to get my hair trimmed and straightened out as well as it could be straightened.

After I felt confident that  I wasn't so scary looking and wasn't terrified of being mocked and teased, he took me to school.  He was the best Daddy a girl could ever hope for in the world. And even though I wasn't really his, and I only had him for a little over five years, his love and kindness impacted my life in a way that I will never be able to put into words.  He was my champion.

I went to school looking more like this after his intervention

He died five months later of a massive heart attack at the age of 42 and my world forever changed. I never asked my mother to touch my hair again in any way and that was the end of our hair-braiding, hair snatching, hair brush pops on the head, and mother-daughter hair bonding. I sure was glad that he put an end to all of that.

The bad haircut that I got today will grow out, and I won't look like Rod Stewart circa 1978 and Monica from friends had a baby in a few months.  But, I sure do wish that  ole Jim was here tonight to hug me and take me to the beauty shop tomorrow to fix this hideous mess. I miss him.  I know that he is in Heaven having a big belly laugh at me buying a ponytail extension to fix this nightmare of a haircut.  He would have gone with me to pick it out and then maybe we could have had a margarita.  

Love y'all,
Never say "I want layers" until the very end and then say "just at the bottom".

More Voices of Selma

March 8, 2015

Next on my journey, I met Mrs. Rachel Jones who will be turning 83 this Tuesday.  She made the trip all the way from Cincinnati, Ohio, with her family of Eight.

Mrs. Jones traveled from Cincinnati, Ohio on a bus with 38 other people- eight of whom were her family members.  I saw her smiling from the other end of the street.  I was immediately drawn to her. Mrs. Jones was born in Selma, but raised in Ohio.  

"I haven't been here in close to 30 years.  I wanted to see how different Alabama looks now."

Her daughter, Marsha Prophett, lovingly held her mother's hand.  You could just feel the love in the air as Mrs. Jones was surrounded by her family.  Her son, Gary Mapp,  was joking around with his mom and Mrs. Jones' grandchildren Jordan Prophett and Deja Mapp, teenagers full of enthusiasm, were excited to be on this pilgrimage with their grandmother.

I asked Marsha what the experience meant to her, coming to Selma with her mother and family on this fiftieth celebration 

"This is family history coming full circle."

Gary wanted to be part of 50 years of history.  He was just a kid up North when Bloody Sunday happened in Selma, Alabama, and said

"When Dr. King was murdered, I was about 10 years old.  I came home from school and my parents were crying.  Everyone was crying and I was old enough to understand what had happened.  I will never forget that day as long as I live."

I asked if Mrs Jones, at age 83, was going to be able to make the trek across the bridge. Before she could speak up, her son Gary answered for her quickly

"We will carry our Mama across the bridge if we have to."

Mrs. Jones' hope for the next 50 years:

"I hope as Dr. King said, that blacks and whites will march together and that there will be more love among each race, every race.  I want my grandchildren to know that people are free now, more together. And just love,  I want them to love."


Tom Joyner was excited to get his ticket in hand and head through security and get to the bridge.  I'm not usually star struck, but I love his morning show.

Tom Joyner with his ticket to see the President.

My final visit of the day was with Ms. Dorothy Coleman of Birmingham.  She was a fountain of love and information.

Dorothy Coleman, was born at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Selma in 1945 and lived in Selma until she was 15 years old.  

When she was a child, she remembers heading into town on Saturdays to shop and go to the bank. When I asked her if the environment was hostile she said

"Oh yeah! Your parents told you when to talk and what to say and what not to say.  We could only go to the movie theater on Saturdays and then we had to sit in the balcony. 

There was a park on this side of 22 that was integrated.  Sometimes they would bring in a fair or a circus, but only on certain Saturdays could the black kids go.  And mostly we didn't go into restaurants or cafes unless they were black owned. 

Back then we had Trailways and Greyhound buses in Selma. When we would ride the bus, blacks sat on one side and whites on the other.  I remember having to drink out of black only water fountains."

Ms. Coleman's mother migrated to Birmingham when the schools had to be integrated.  There were only 6 white children who came across the Cahaba River to Orville High School where Dorothy was enrolled. The powers that be closed Orville High School, forcing Dorothy and the other black students to go to a school back in the woods. 

To get to this new school in the woods, Dorothy would have to get up at 4 a.m. to catch the school bus.  Her strong willed mother had the strength and vision to move her family to Birmingham and Dorothy Coleman ended up graduating from Wenonah High School in 1963.  

"We used to come back and visit my Aunt who lived here.  Her son, my first cousin, he's deceased now, but he was a Freedom Worker.  He was supposed to ride with Viola Liuzzo the day she was killed.  By the time he got back to Selma, she was dead.  

In Birmingham, we lived around the corner from Chris McNair.  My daughter, Susan Payton, played with his daughter, Denise, when the girls were little.  Our whole community was devastated when the church was bombed and Denise McNair was killed. 

Listen, during that time, my first cousin, who was really light skinned and could pass for white (because my Aunt was half Dutch), was traveling with her boyfriend on a bus and they were arrested in Kentucky.  Can you believe that they had to stay in the jail in Kentucky until her birth certificate was certified from Montgomery that she was indeed black?  They had to go to jail because they appeared to be an interracial couple.

What do I want my Granddaughter  to learn here today?  EVERYTHING.  I want her to learn everything and remember how far we have come.  In the next 50 years, I think there is so much intermarriage, that there ain't gone be no color.  Just like people who live in Britain- they don't say they are black or white- they just say they are British.  We need to all say that we are Americans. 

I don't know why anyone teaches their children to hate?  God made us all and I don't think that he sees any of us differently; we are all His children."

More to come about my Selma journey.
Love y'all,

The Voices of Selma

March 8, 2015

Selma 31 miles...almost there!

 I got up before the chickens this morning to make my pilgrimage to Selma and pay homage to all of the brave souls who stood their ground and marched across the Edmund Pettus bridge fifty years ago this month.  Edmund Pettus, a confederate general, was also the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. I am sure this had to have made the crossing of the bridge even more significant to literally trample tyranny and oppression by marching across the bridge in 1965.  On March 7, 1965- Bloody Sunday, unarmed men and women were beaten with billy clubs. Following the events of that day, several others were killed.

The crowds were so massive today, that you could barely get near the bridge if you hadn't already purchased a ticket to see President Obama.  Although I didn't get anywhere near where the President was speaking, I met the most incredible people who had traveled from all over the country just to be a part of the experience and the celebration this weekend.  

When I arrived in Selma this morning at 8:30 a.m., the first family that I met who reached out to me were from Minneapolis Minnesota, the Masons.

Moises and Emman Mason playing on the Selma Railroad Tracks

At first glance,  you would assume that these boys are near their home, in familiar territory, playing in a place where they have played hundreds of times.  Looking at this photo, you would assume that they had grown up right there on Broad Street in Selma.

One of the only white families lined up on the side of the street to see the parade early this morning, their mother, Annie Mason, a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Riverfalls, Wisconsin, teaches classes on race and racism. She and her husband, Jeff, thought that it was necessary to expose their children, at such a young age,to experience the 50th Anniversary of the Selma Bridge Crossing. Annie said that she wanted them to understand the history of Selma, so that they could take in the gravity of the way things were versus how far things have come in Alabama and across the nation.

Annie Mason with her son Moises.

"Living in Wisconsin, many of my students had never met a black person before they came to college." - Annie Mason

When Emman, age 8 (and a half), was asked why he was in Selma today, he replied "TO MARCH.  And, to dance with the President.  And, because there were these guys who charged the marchers a long time ago, and they used chemicals to stop the guys on the bridge."

The Mason Family-Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The next cool guy that I met came all the way from Dallas, Texas with a  LOUD MOTORCYCLE with an incredibly thumping sound system.
Kenny Holmes of Dallas, Texas with his bike.

"My mother, Pearl Holmes was born and raised in Selma.  She was one of the marchers on the bridge and was about 16 or 17 years old.  This year is the 50th Anniversary of the bridge crossing and it is my 50th birthday, so I thought it was the right thing to do to come back home and celebrate.  I picked up my brother in Baton Rouge on the way. Yeah, I think she'd be proud."

Kenny Holmes wasn't the only biker in the parade...

There is nothing like well planned parades- and they  are even better when they are celebrating victory over oppression, have great bands, and beauty queens.

2015 Miss Jubilee
Miss Black U.S. Ambassador and Miss Black Teen Ambassador
You can read more about these beautiful ladies at Miss Black U.S. Ambassador

Parade participants that grabbed my heart strings.


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