Archive for the ‘Positive Thinking’ Category

I went to the grocery store the other day. Happened to notice all of the Uncle Ben’s rice boxes were gone. Most shelves were empty.

Mrben

Please don’t fret if you are a big fan of the rice. It will be back! Same taste. Just a bit of rebranding. The company made the announcement that it is removing the image of “Uncle Ben” who is the Black man on the box.

Here is the company’s statement.

“Racism has no place in society. We stand in solidarity with the Black community, our Associates and our partners in the fight for social justice,” Mars said. “We know to make the systemic change needed, it’s going to take a collective effort from all of us — individuals, communities and organizations of all sizes around the world.”

If this really bothers someone or if it matters to them personally-like interfering with a cherished memory of parboiled rice on the kitchen table-I’d ask them just one thing.

“Why?”

As I was strolling down the aisle that day I did happen to notice something else. The shelves weren’t totally empty. Up on the top there were still a few boxes. No, not Uncle Ben’s. Those are totally gone. These were called,”Seeds of Change.”

Mrben

We all have a choice.

Keep things the same. Or be the seeds of change.

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Happy Father’s Day.

My dad died five years ago and I think of him all the time. Many folks are experiencing the first Father’s Day without their Dad. It’s tough. And a lot of us know exactly how you are feeling today. Sending big hugs.

One of the many things I miss about Dad is our frequent conversations about family history and genealogy.

I became obsessed with genealogy more than a decade ago. Mine and anyone else’s family history! I was completely fascinated with so many narratives. Reading old newspapers and veering off into the stories of strangers. As a result I learned. So much. Still learning.

Came across this story during my research.

It’s about a woman named Charity Palmer Southgate who lived in Falmouth, Pendleton County, Kentucky. Not a story you hear every day in the African-American narrative.

Most of the Black population of Falmouth descends from Charity. I was fortunate to correspond with one of her descendants who is an African-American playwright and author.

I copied the following excerpt from a history site.

The story of Charity Southgate is based on information compiled by Pendleton County Circuit Clerk Marvin Sullivan.

The story starts about 1806 or 1807 in Louden County, Va., where a woman named Patsy gave birth to a daughter.

Patsy, whose last name was spelled various ways in legal documents as Parmer, Palmour and Palmer, had been living in the home of her brother-in-law Robert Foster.

The birth was treated as a family disgrace. Not only was the woman apparently not married, but the father of her child was apparently a black, a house servant of Foster.

The family moved the child, named Charity, to Bardstown when the girl was 2 or 3 years old. She lived there with the family of a man named Asher Pullen until about 1822 when Jonathan Reid appeared, armed with a power of attorney papers signed by Philip L. Palmour. The letter authorized Reid to take possession of the girl, which he did. He moved her to Falmouth where she was placed in the custody of Samuel Wilson.

The girl, who apparently had not been treated as slave up to that point, was treated as a slave by Wilson. With the aid of a friend, Joshua Powell, Charity filed suit in 1824 asking the court to declare her a free woman.

That began a 26-year court battle with several legal issues raised.

Among the legal issues was the question of exactly who her parents were. If the accounts of second-hand witnesses were true about the birth to a white woman than the issue was raised as to whether Charity was born a free woman because her mother was white.

It was fairly common at the time for children to be born with a white slave owner as the father and a black slave woman as the mother. In those cases the child was usually considered a slave because the mother was black. But the situation was reversed in Charity’s case.

If Charity was legally a slave, there was the question of testimony that her “owner or guardian” had declared Charity was to be held as a slave only until she reached the age of 28.

While the court battle waged, Charity apparently was sold twice – once to Andrew S. Hughes and then by him to Martin Willett. Records also mention a daughter, Lucy, who was sold as a slave.

Charity apparently had another daughter by a black man and a son by a white man. Then she apparently married a black man named Allen Southgate, with whom she had several children.

Those relationships explain the differences in the way some of her children are listed on a 1850 Pendleton County census.

In that census her oldest daughter living at home, Rebecca, 25, is listed as black; the oldest son, Elsey Hughes, 23, is listed as a mulatto like his mother; while the other children, all with the last name of Southgate, are listed as black like their father, Allen Southgate, who was identified as a 45 year old laborer. Charity at the time was 42 years old.

The Southgate children were listed as Charlotte, 20; Amy, 18; Lucinda, 16; Polley Ann, 14; John A., 12; Abraham, 10; Edmund, 6; and Minerva, 4.

Also listed as living with the Southgate family in 1850 was a white man, John Morgan, who was 70.

The records are confusing but the courts apparently eventually declared Charity a free woman. She died in the spring of 1868.

Next two paragraphs were written by her descendant.

Charity was born a free woman of color (she was sold into slavery (illegally) at the age of 16 by someone representing her white maternal family. (Charity was the daughter of a white woman and a man of color).

Charity (with the help of a white attorney friend) pleaded her “legal free status” for years until she won. She won the case because it was proven she was the daughter of a white woman in Virginia. (Not that she was simply half white). Charity knew that children of color born to white women, by law, were considered free because white women were free. Charity got her freedom back because she was specifically the daughter of a white woman.

Very interesting case.

History matters and while much of it can be painful every one needs to learn it.

Right?

There is, in my state, a curriculum on African-American history that was created by a commission five years ago. Just sitting there waiting.
The curriculum is not just about slavery although that is how the story begins for African-Americans. I have written, as others have, to my Representative in the House, asking for support. It is just a matter of providing legislation to authorize RIDE (Department of Education) to include this. The Representative has already responded and said she has taken the issue up with another House colleague. A woman of color and a Providence teacher. Will keep me posted.

History matters.

It is really difficult to hear so many ugly things being said in this current environment. I am here to tell you (no surprise) that racism is definitely out there. Make no bones about it. Everywhere. North. South. East. West. So there needs to be a change.

But can racist adults change their way of thinking? One person told me there is absolutely no way racists can change. 100% guaranteed me. I don’t know if that’s true but….

If not-then how do we combat this? So people do feel safe. So their children feel safe. So they feel like valued members of their communities.

Maybe, just maybe, teaching every child in our Public School System the history, trials, tribulations and contributions of African-Americans will allow those little people to grow and embrace (not just tolerate) our differences. And be adults who appreciate inclusion and not divisiveness.

Here’s hoping!

It’s definitely worth a shot.

Note: My support of the curriculum was as a result of listening to the voice of someone who was on the commission that created the curriculum.

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I know you are thinking, “That Mary sure is busy writing.”

You are not wrong. And I’m sticking to one topic.

Writing helps me release my thoughts in a healthy way. Instead of duking it out on social media like the president. Which I have also done.

So many people want to help their fellow citizens and just don’t know where to begin.

Listen to their voices when they tell you the ways to support them.

Then just do it.

Or do like this lady.

blmlady

First weekend of protests in Providence. Most marchers were in the city center. This lady, all alone, stood in front of the Providence Police Station, holding that sign.

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When the death of George Floyd occurred I was outraged. Just like many American people. We watched him die. This was no video game. This was a living/dying nightmare.

So what can I do? As a white person?

I can march and show solidarity. That’s important.

But then what?

The way I view marches/protests is this. I liken it to a death.

Everyone gathers immediately to support the bereaved. Show up at the wake. Attend the funeral. Leave the casserole. Order flowers. Make a donation. Be the emotional support that the mourner needs at that very difficult time.

But then what?

Everyone goes back to their own lives. They’ve fulfilled their obligation. It’s just the way of things.

The mourner, however, is all alone-after a week of frenetic emotional activity. And their life is now very different.

Let’s all be mindful of the time ahead. That is when we will be needed and there will be plenty to do.

We cannot allow our flames of passion to be extinguished once the protests have stopped. Because if we do nothing then we are just waiting for the next death. That’s a guarantee.

The casserole is appreciated and necessary. But what happens after the casserole is also appreciated and necessary.

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One thing that I am sure you all noticed once this pandemic hit. The amazing amount of emails sitting in your in-box. Basically businesses sending a “How we are responding to COVID-19” message.

Started off slowly. I received an email from the following:

The Optometry Center in Texas where my daughter (now twenty-eight years old and hasn’t lived in Dallas since she was in ninth grade)once had an eye exam.

A mom group selling spirit wear. Also from the grand old state of Texas when my daughter was in Middle School.

Tempo Air. Again from our Dallas days. Those fellas were in high demand at our house and regularly scheduled.

Realtors from our Southern California years. Left there in 2012.

And then came the onslaught.

Megabus. Airlines. Parishes. Restaurants. Delivery services. Theaters. Groceries. Charities. Department of State. Blogs. Blood Banks. Social media sites. Tourist spots. Hotels. Inns. Travel sites. Local shops. Schools. Universities. Sports teams. Cultural groups. Gyms. Genealogy sites. Museums. Petition groups. Social justice causes. Voting information. Banks. Craft sites. Auction houses. Utilities. Book stores. Clubs.

Etcetera!

Not just me, right?

I’ve received correspondence from anyone (and everyone) I might have nodded at or greeted in the last fifteen years!

Honestly, why does the government even need an app to track our whereabouts? Here’s my email address. This is a contact tracing of my life. Just gonna leave it right there.

There is a positive side to this. Besides taking me on a trip down memory lane! It provided me with an opportunity to get organized. I unsubscribed from many of these lists and then deleted the mail. Took the time (a little bit each day) to bang these bad boys out, resulting in a much tidier in-box. Saving me time in the future.

Feeling better already!

Have a lovely weekend and stay safe.

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Hope everyone is enjoying their Friday and looking forward to the weekend.

Of course, you might be at home like me and the weekend looks alarmingly like Tuesday or Wednesday. I am sure, one day soon, the days will once again define our weeks in a real way.

In the meantime, release your inner artist! I know there are some who are reading this and thinking, “I don’t have an artistic bone in my body.”

I’m not talking about whipping out supplies and painting a beautiful landscape.

It could be as simple as crayons and a coloring book. Painting a flower pot. Making stakes for an herb garden.

You will find moments of peace.

We chose rocks. I know my girls probably thought it was goofy at first. But they later said it was therapeutic.

First we painted some for a friend of ours who recently lost her husband. We made plant markers for the garden that he once tended with his little grandsons.

rocks1

Then I painted a bunch for my garden so I will actually remember what’s what!

rocks

I know that there won’t be any prizes for “Artist of the Year” awarded but it was a nice, calming way to pass a little time.

So, release your inner artist. Have a lovely Tuesday! Oops! Have a fabulous weekend!

Stay safe.

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Hope everyone is doing well and hanging in there during this odd, bizarre and unprecedented time. I, for one, am still processing it all!

By now though, hopefully everyone has completed a puzzle, learned a new language, hopped on some type of ZOOM call or rearranged the pantry. And has established a new routine. Or is that just pie in the sky thinking?

We have no real routine. Our pantry has been rearranged about four times. At least. One day it looks like a neat 7/11 mini-grocery with its shiny offerings neatly aligned on the shelves. Another day it looks like a home invasion gone wrong. Very wrong.

Enough of that.

My #6 suggestion is to actually try something that has momentarily sparked your interest. You know the one. When you were thinking, “How cool! Best thing ever!” Only to forget about it two seconds later as you scroll down the screen.

Doesn’t have to be a big deal. Something simple.

Like when I shared (a while ago) my attempt at ripening an avocado in the oven. I have always had a love-hate relationship with them and was determined to beat the little non-native suckers into submission. Because I felt like Goldilocks every time I had one in my hand. Too hard. Too soft. Oops, I waited a minute and now it’s brown and rotten. When an article about bucking Mother Nature and hastening the aging process caught my eye I was so ready. Totally willing to manipulate the little green orb.

Didn’t work. Wrapped the avocado up, snug as a bug, with aluminum foil, baked it and eagerly waited for the results. Well, the fruit definitely softened but there was also a funky, metallic taste that came along with it. FAIL. Let’s chalk up that little experiment as a big no-go.

But here is a small success. I viewed this kitchen life hack in a video on more than one occasion. Always thought it looked great. And always forgot about it two seconds later. LOL. My friend, Stacy, recently posted it again so I thought, “Why not give it a try?”

This one is a winner. Great for spinach, parsley and mint with their long stems. Don’t forget-mojito season is just around the corner! This would work for anything with long, thin stems. Except for wine glasses.

Just push the stem through the small hole in the colander and grab the end. The stem pulls out easily, beheading in the process, with only the perfect leaves remaining in the colander.

Would using a knife be quicker? Sure. But this is a calming, easy chore. Even little kids can help in the kitchen without the possibility of an emergency room visit.

So the next time something new/interesting to try catches your eye jot yourself a little note. This will ensure you don’t forget! Then make it happen. Could be a dismal failure or a resounding success.

Either way, at least, you tried!

Stay safe and keep practicing safety measures!

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When the youngest, Hannah, was home during the month-long winter break she had the forethought to bring her plants home. Didn’t want to leave them to die a slow painful death in the cold dormitory.

One was a philodendron. A very green and healthy plant. Was growing like crazy as philos are wont to do. I told her it needed a haircut. To spruce it up a bit. So I did.

Then I took the cuttings and plunked them into a glass vase filled with water.

The kid returned to her university with her newly shorn plants at the end of the holiday.

Meanwhile, the cuttings were thriving at their new homevase (just made that word up and keeping it) and shooting out little roots everywhere. All I ever had to do was top it off with a little water as needed.

This is what it looks like now.

philo

There are now probably five or six individual plants. From one plant.

My daughter is currently home with us. She left university the first week of March and arrived in Rhode Island to spend the short Spring break. Never imagining that she wouldn’t be right back at school in ten days. So her only accompaniment was a big basket filled with dirty clothes. Everything else, including her green little plants, remains locked up in her inaccessible dorm room.

Poor little plants. Also casualties in the pandemic war.

The good news is that when she does return to her university she will have five new plants. All from the original Mama.

This is something simple we can all do. Whether we live on a ranch or in a city apartment. Take a cutting from one of your plants. Then drop it in a glass jar or vase. When it roots share with a friend, neighbor or family member. Rinse and repeat.

It’s healthy for the indoor environment. Where many of us happen to be spending every minute at the moment. It’s super easy. Cheerful to look at while also spreading cheer.

Things will get better. Hang in there. Be safe.

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I’m not going to lie. Staying in the house is tough. Again, I know I’m fortunate and totally aware of this. And if you are reading this then you probably also share that same good fortune.

But still can’t discount people’s feelings. We don’t have the normal things/events breaking up our days or weeks. Days are blurring into one another. Or every day seems like a Sunday. Except church-going folks don’t even have services to attend outside the home.

Our doorbell rang today and I was like a deer caught in the headlights. What was that noise? I recalled the familiar trilling from another lifetime but wasn’t quite sure what it meant. It had been that long.

It was the Fedex guy. Was just a “heads up” ring of the bell to let us know he left an envelope by the front door.

I missed trash day for the first time ever! Maybe in my life! And let’s just say the Recycling man saw me at my absolute very best. Not! Braless, pajamaed, makeup-free, harried, huffing and puffing up my long driveway with the huge blue bin in tow. With my index finger (universal signal for one minute needed)thrust in the air. At that moment I wanted the recycling picked up and vanity was not about to come into play. At all. Sort of like when you give birth and you are just so exposed. You just let go of any remaining dignity.

I stood there in all my glory and honestly said,”I don’t even know what day it is anymore!”

He laughed heartily. Then I did.

So here’s #3 on my “Getting Through the Stay-At-Home Directives.”

Laugh.

Find something funny. Maybe a television series. A book. A movie. A comedy special. Call an entertaining friend. We need to find some laughter during this bizarre time.

This Irish proverb doesn’t really apply to the current state of the world because laughter and a good night’s sleep won’t cure the virus. But both will definitely lessen our anxiety and lift the dark cloud surrounding it for a bit. And we desperately need that.

irishproverb

So keep on practicing safety measures in place. We will get through this!

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Good Morning!

Another rainy day here in Rhode Island. The silver lining on these dark clouds might be that everyone actually stays in the house. I like to go out each day to feel the rays and appreciate nature as much as the next guy. But there are many fools out there, in groups, acting like nothing extraordinary is happening. Being quite reckless.

Yes, everyone is getting a bit antsy. I totally get that. Our routines are upside down. There’s isolation. Maybe more people (kids) in your house than normal. Or fewer folks. But let’s remember one thing. One very important thing.

Health is wealth.

That is the only reason we are upending our worlds. For us and our loved ones.

What we can do is use this time wisely by trying different things. In my last posting I wrote that I would share ideas to pass the time while we are isolating indoors. Here is the first.

A friend of mine, KB, recently posted a photo of her avocado plant named Avi. She rooted it in December. Said it took weeks suspended in water before it split and produced roots.

90655098_1069507983413731_2215643129720078336_o

This is a very long process. If you grow your tree from an avocado pit it might not bear fruit for ten years or so. Nothing shouts out hope like a stay-at-home avocado plant!

So next time you are whipping up some guacamole (because there is nothing else to do but eat) or preparing avocado toast don’t throw away the pit.

Here is mine. I know it looks like a little brown alien. And if the good Lord is willing, it will soon look like a hairy, little brown alien.

avoc

So, yes, you can try this at home. Great for kids and adults. Doesn’t take up room or require much care. Give it a name.

Have a good weekend. And remember.

Be like the avocado pit. Stay at home. Be hopeful. Keep growing.

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