Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday Blessings

In the month of December, we say good bye to cooler days and accept the not-so-welcoming cold days as the seasons change. Autumn ends and winter begins. We winterize our automobiles and homes, pull out the thick wool coats with scarves and gloves. We prepare our holiday menus and make plans to spend with family and friends. We may even attend our company Christmas party to "shake a tailfeather" or two. But what many fail to realize is that giving a fellow coworker a gift around the holidays leaves much to be desired when you have treated that person like the dirt on the bottom of a shoe throughout the entire year. And then some. The constant backbiting and utter lack of respect shown on a daily basis cannot be atoned for by a simple gift wrapped box. To say Merry Christmas and accept freely is not the same as saying "I am sorry." Cruel intentions and blatant untruths towards anyone, coworker or not, cannot be erased with a candy cane or Christmas card and gift.
The holidays are meant to be shared and it allows for us to reflect over the past 11 months and to remember that a boy child was born in a horse stable, who would bring men to their knees and save the lost. WWJD - what would Jesus do? Well, I will tell you what he wouldn't do. He would not falsely accuse a colleague of a senseless act. He would not lie to their face. And he would not kick a man, or woman, when they are down.
Michael Jackson made corrections to his band in his final rehearsal and what many people can relate to as the Last Call. He said "this is all in love.L-O-V-E." And a lot of what we do should all be in love. So as we wrapped those gifts and prepared to share with loved ones and friends, are we doing it all in L-O-V-E or is some of it in G-U-I-L-T? We are to be of good cheer and be sincere when we give gifts, not just at Christmas, but whenever we give. If people believe that wrapping a present and giving it to someone with whom you can't even get along with at work is a way to DO THE RIGHT THING or make good at Christmas, it is not. It is just a way for the giver to feel good and free them of the guilty conscience.

The real holiday blessings come in the face of remembering the reason for the season. And it isn't about giving a gift just for the sake of it. Sharing love. Jesus.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Baby Blues

You awaken to find your 18 month old baby boy hot to the touch. He remains playful, but refuses his ritual breakfast of hot oatmeal. WHAT! This child NEVER turns down food; something has got to be wrong! Temperature: 101.4. Tylenol immediately, followed by Motrin, plenty of popsicles, and shed those one piece PJs. As a nurse and a mother, the nurse flies out the window and mommy kicks in gear. Panic-stricken and feelings of helplessness as your sad-eyed toddler looks to you, whining and wanting you to hold him throughout the day. You fear of letting him sleep, because you know the fever will continue to climb. Taking a tepid washcloth, you place on his neck, only to get a howling scream in return. Throughout the day, Caleb consumed about eight Pedialyte popsicles, snacked on a few goldfish crackers, and continued to run around and be the mischievous and curious little boy he usually is. A call to the pediatrician yeilds being placed on hold, then a message taken and the famous "the nurse will call you back as soon as she gets in." Hours go by, and you continue to give as many popsicles as you can, praying the temperature will not climb. But it does. So, here we go. Every four hours Tylenol, every six hours Motrin. Anything to keep Caleb quiet is all that matters now.

Rushing to Walmart to get more probe covers for the ear thermometer and to purchase more popsicles and Tylenol, and oh, let's throw in the new thermoscan temporal thermometer so I don't have to wake him once he falls asleep. Finally, the temp appears to be under control. The nurse calls, and we play phone tag. When I call back, the office is closed. How about that?

The pediatrician finally calls after I leave another message. He could be teething again, just watch his temp throughout the night. Time for daddy duty. "Check his temp at midnight," I tell my husband, as I crawl into bed. I can finally get some sleep.

Five hours later, when I go check on Caleb, you can fry an egg on his forehead and my thermometer is reading "High". OMG! I pick him up immediately, grab a washcloth and begin to cool him down. The thermometer is now reading 102.5. He gets a dose of tylenol and motrin, I put on some pants and grab some socks. I shake my husband awake and tell him we must go now to the emergency room. In the meantime, Caleb is playing and smiling, not knowing why in the world did mommy and daddy wake me out of my sleep for this. I sit in the backseat of the car next to my little one, praying and holding his hand all the way to the hospital.

Fast forward. In the emergency room, we are seen very quickly. Rectal temp 101.6. Taken to the examination room, Caleb is whining but very alert, grabs the doctor's stethoscope, follows commands. His only ailment is the temp that will not break. Diagnosis: H1N1 flu. Treatment: Tamiflu. There is no test to determine the H1N1 anymore because of the false negatives it gives. Since treatment is the same for the flu, it is given. I run outside of the hospital, leaving my husband with Caleb, to call his pediatrician. I am a nurse; I need to understand that what I am being told is the truth and not just some bull shiggity. His doctor confirms what we are told, and I feel somewhat relieved. Discharge instructions given and we are on our way to the pharmacy at 7:05, after having signed in at 6:07! How amazing is that! God looks out for babies, and we were not about to let anything happen to our precious little boy. We shared the news with close friends and family, and the prayers began pouring up to heaven.

Please be mindful of the germs that are everywhere. Wash your hands when you sneeze into them or blow your nose; if you can't get to soap and water, keep hand sanitizer on hand. Do not touch babies on their faces or hands, unless you are their parent. Wipe down high chairs in restaurants and carry your own seat cover. My oldest son told me of a lady who touched Caleb's face at Famous Dave's where they dined out one evening while I was working. The H1N1 virus can live two to eight hours on an inanimate object. Wipe down grocery carts and keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible. I have always been very uneasy about shaking hands with people anyway; not so much as a paranoia as it is a germaphobia. I was once offered a hand to shake by a reputable woman while serving in the Army. She had just sneezed into her hand and offered me that hand to shake. Eww! I got out of that easily, and have had problems with touching other people's hands. Period.

Having a toddler with eczema and food allergies, and now flu, was not making me a happy camper. I wished I could place him in a bubble to keep him away from germs, but such is not life. We must do our best to protect each other and our little ones.

Now go wash your hands!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Another Day in the Life of a DIVA

A Diva has many meanings. Beyonce says a diva is a female version of a hustler. Many of us may equate it to being a prima donna, a goddess, or just that fierce woman. As for me, I am that DIVA: Determined Individual with a Voice to become an Author. This was once a dream deferred, but now I embrace the negativity and channel it into something positive. Every day, we may face challenges on our jobs, in our relationships, at the store, or pretty much anywhere we go. We must choose how we react to these challenges and accept that once we roll down that hill, we have got to get up and keep it moving. For it is because of these challenges that we become stronger. I would have never coined myself as a Diva, but as I sat and thought about it, I realized I CAN be whoever I want to be.

I accepted the challenge by author Ananda Leeke, who suggested I start a blog. I was very skeptical, thinking "what is a blog", "how would I blog" and "who on earth would want to read it". Ananda said that you must have a team to help you along the way, and one of her key people is a life coach. I wanted to jump from my chair and cry out "I have a life coach and his name is Nathan!", but I just smiled to myself and called Nathan as soon as I could. He is my dear friend and life coach and he got me on the phone and actually walked me through the steps on starting my blog, and here I am. Every day I set aside time to write a chapter of my manuscript, and I took the advice of author/publisher Jessica Tilles and leave myself a "writing assignment" or plan for the next night. This has helped me quite a bit, but at times I find myself stuck or even too exhausted after working a 13 hour shift at the hospital, then coming home to play with the children and watch the late news with my husband. Time is valuable, and it waits for no one. I have dreamt of writing a book for some years now, and for 2 years I have given birth to various characters who will, I hope, keep
my dear friends, family, and fans wanting more.

In addition to much coaching and encouragement, to include "get your butt off the couch, turn off that TV, and go write", Nathan suggested I pick up a copy of Stephen King's On Writing, which I have been reading and it is giving me more insight on my writing style and how I can improve and enhance my manuscript. I also continue to read, read, read everything I can get my hands on, and spend at least a day every week at the library gathering more resources for myself and my teen aged son, who is also writing a book.

Many of the papers and grueling work done in Ms. Gutman's English class at LaReine High School helped me keep a constant 'A' in college. (If you had Ms. Gutman, you would understand how hard it was to grasp her style! Thank you for being so hard on us!) As I recall my days in Acklyn Lynch's Introduction to the Black Experience class as a freshman at UMBC, my creative juices began to flow, and my first poem was born And the World Comes Tumbling Down. He made me read it in front of the class, and later, as I and other students talked in his office, encouraged me to pursue writing instead of my dream which was to go to nursing school. My response was "but I just write for fun; it's my outlet, my hobby." He told me that writing could be my hobby, and I could get paid, too. I continued to write poetry, and even assisted my roommate Sandi with her English papers, who loved to read my poetry. When Acklyn introduced us to the art of Black Erotica, another side of erotic poetry, I was excited and accepted my own personal challenge to write about struggles within myself of failed relationships and unworthy "bed mates". I wrote Haikus of naive sexcapades and cheaters, and my own spin of erotique noir. I even participated in a poetry reading across the microphone from Nathan, as our friends and colleagues supported us in the audience. I was nervous; but I received much congratulations, even from women who were old enough to be my mother! My writing continued to be my outlet, and I used it as a way to journal and make note of lost love, disappointments, and even abortion. My inner DIVA was coming alive, and my duty was to let her "do her thang". But the broken girl who was told "I can't help you" by a self-proclaimed poet and author got lost in the rejection, and hid from the DIVA within.

Like Ananda said to me, "Karen, it wasn't your time. Your time is now." She hugged me and gave me a sense of inspiration that has kept my writing engine fueled and ready to GO! Nathan sent me a text: "I believe in you Karen. I want to see you finish that manuscript so if you get stuck, call."

And so, my friends, the DIVA has landed.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My Very First Blog

This is my very first blog, and I am nervous and excited all at the same time. I am travelling on this journey of creative writing and am FINALLY putting myself out there to get my voice heard. About 15 years ago, my very good friend went with me to the Black EXPO in Washington, DC and she encouraged me to approach a young woman to ask her about getting my work out there. I was told, "Well, I had to do it all by myself, so that's all I can say." I walked away with so much discouragement, and I stopped writing soon after that. I couldn't believe how mean a person could be, but I remembered the "crab" theory of life. All the crabs are trying to get to the top of the pot to get out and will pull and drag down the others so they can keep it moving, so to speak.

In 2007, I visited my fiance and his family in Bermuda, and while he went to work, I sat outside with the view of the Atlantic Ocean, and gave birth to my present manuscript. It is 2 years in the making, and it is really taking off now. I am so excited, even after being shot down after all this time. My experience yesterday at the Capital Book Fest just confirmed it all for me. And when I got in my car to drive home afterwards, I was so emotionally overwhelmed that I cried tears of joy. It just sat right in my spirit. I met authors Donna Hill, Tinesha Davis, Ananda Leeke, publicist Ella Curry, author/publisher Jessica Tilles. These women are awesome, and they embraced me and shared with me so much to help me put my time in and get my voice out there. Thanks Ananda for telling me to blog! And thank you, Nathan, for believing in me and keeping me motivated and encouraged.

And now, I must write.