Smile of the Day

True acts of surprise and friendship have truly been moving me this week. First, via a surprise party for my hubby for his birthday where a handful of close friends gathered to give him quite a shock when we walked in our house and secondly, this video from Improv Everywhere known for “causing scenes of chaos and joy in public places.” True to form, this video did nothing but make me smile a big ole cheesy grin when I saw it. It’s the little (and, sometimes, grand) acts of celebrating the people who mean most to us that carry us through and make life worth living. Creating moments really is magical.

Love,

El

On The Grayest of Days…

My alarm just went off reminding me to blog today, since I am just recommitting, but the timing is almost comical. Not even an hour ago, I found out that a dear friend and colleague, THE Mr. Tony Boler passed away in his sleep and right now I can hardly see through the tears.

Tony Boler was one of several amazing men of character, discipline, humor, and talent that became my family at WDKX in Rochester, NY. Just graduating and starting my first TV Reporting job at what was R News, I was asked to start filling in on the morning radio show at WDKX. Little did I know that even after a move away from Rochester, it would be WDKX that brought me back to the city. My damn colleagues had found a way to become my family without me even knowing it and Tony was the slyest of them all with that. I would walk into the station on weekend mornings (when I didn’t work, mind you) like an expectant toddler who knows her favorite uncle is right behind those doors with a triple-scoop ice cream cone just for her! Tony just oozed comfort, and fun, and support, and JOY! And THAT voice! Y’all! If you haven’t had the honor of hearing his voice on the airwaves, you have missed out and better catch some reairs, because his voice – his deep, buttery voice – would make Morgan Freeman, Isaac Hayes, and Mr. Darth Vader himself just say, “F it! I had a nice career, but Tony Boler just sunned me so I’m out.”

When my parents came to visit me in Rochester, WDKX was the first place I took them to so they could meet my new Rochester family and Tony and owner Dre in particular. I wanted to show off my ‘new uncles’ and show that I was in great hands, which, from their smiles you can see they knew it to be true.

When Kuti and I had our daughter, we hopped in the car for a what-was-supposed-to-be 6-hour road trip (it wound up being nine thanks to weather) with a 4-month old for the station’s 40th anniversary. My family grew so, of course, my Rochester peeps needed to meet her as well. Tony was right there – proud and congratulatory with a huge, proud smile.

Tony had a loving wife and amazing children he loved and thought the world of. I’m ancillary to this whole thing. His family is devastated, as are his close friends. I surely am not trying to make this about me and my grief at all, especially when, like kids in families do, I moved away and we really only relied on Facebook for updates for a long time. Still, this hurts in a very acute way, especially since that time in Rochester and WDKX in particular holds such a huge, pivotal place in my life. I would NOT be here – professionally or personally – without the people who occupied those DKX walls. Period. That’s the truth.

To make this news worse, not only does this come on my husband’s birthday (what was supposed to be the subject of today’s blog), but it comes the Monday after spending my Friday in Alabama for a quick flight in and out of Birmingham on the same day to bury my aunt Renée, my closest cousin Eboné’s mother, who died far too young as well.

You want to talk about voices? Renée’s voice was that of a quintessential Southern woman… Like the thickest of honey. Growing up, when she would say my name (“Liz” back then and while I was reporting as well, actually), it was more like, “Leeeehhzzz” and I loved it. Anyone who could make a one syllable name sound important enough to drag it out for three instead, was more than ok in my book. She doted on my cousin Eboné in the sweetest of ways and took so much pride in seeing her become the amazing mother she did. Her love of my uncle was palpable and their commitment to each other over decades was unmatched. Our family won’t be the same without her and it’s a new normal I don’t think any of us are ready for.

So… There you have it. One of the grayest of days. Death… And then more death. So how the freak do we make this a “great day?”

By living!

By speaking LIFE into people!

By crying it out and feeling the pain, but swimming through it, not drowning in it.

By taking the emotions as they come, but welcoming momentary distractions that bring in humor or unrelated observations of awe.

By sitting still and enjoying nature, the breath in our lungs.

By being a friend… Always.

Forget tomorrow: TODAY IS NOT PROMISED. This ish could all be over in a matter of moments. What have you done to change your circle and your world for the better, your ‘family’ for the stronger? If you can’t think of anything, it’s time to get to work… And it’s time to get to work now.

I’ve had a commitment in my heart for a year and a half now, one that I finally spoke into existence this weekend. The minute I did, I was filled with elation, purpose, excitement, and a weight lifted off my shoulders – and this at the BEGINNING when I should be scared and frightened and nervous about the road ahead because it’s so big. Nope. And the news today? Tony’s passing? It’s just confirmation that there is NO time to waste. He didn’t. I won’t either.

If you have something on your heart to act on, I encourage you to get over any fear, any doubt, any worry, and just act. The hardest part is starting and/or outwardly expressing your intention. You know when you have waited long enough and you know when even legitimate excuses are not strong enough to give you pause anymore.

You can be great… IF you allow yourself. I’m ready to be great and I am so thankful for the examples that the people who have passed before me have left.

R.I.P. Tony Boler

R.I.P. Aunt Renee

Love,

El

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Forgive Me, Followers, For I Have Sinned…

It seems I fell victim to the blogger curse. You know the one. The one where you start a blog with the best of intentions, start writing and curating at a fevered pace, only to – after months of dedication – fall off… hard.

It been roughly six months since my last post, which is just shameful. So what I have I been doing? Honestly – stressing a lot, it seems. The election sucked the soul out of me for awhile, as did story after story of police brutality and unarmed victims, not to mention wars, bombings, new-age concentration camps, and countless other evils. I’ve been weary, ya’ll! Winter was long and cold and seemed to drag out longer than I wanted it and, in my personal life, I found myself often consumed with everyone else’s problems, taking on the weight of their decisions as if they were my own when they most certainly were not. I found myself in ‘Super Savior’ mode, trying my best, but falling short only to finally accept that people have to want to change on their own and that my ‘helping’ wasn’t helping at all.

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The thought of writing something positive here some days was just too much to take on. I felt like a phony. I knew you would be able to see right through me too, so… I just stopped. That was my mistake. By not trying, I allowed the overwhelming tidal of the world’s worries to permeate my spirit more than it would have if I had just kept seeking out the positive and sharing it here. I forgot that each blog post was my – and your – armor against that in which we cannot control.

The time away from this blog wasn’t all spent in doom and gloom, I swear! I celebrated a birthday. My daughter celebrated a birthday. My husband is about to celebrate one too and his mom, my dear mother-in-law just celebrated her 70th! All blessings! My husband and I marked six years of marriage with the most perfect trip to Savannah and acted like the disgusting newlyweds we still think we are. It was fabulous! My frenchie, Lombardi, made it through a health scare and is back to his loving self and I am in pre-production on some new hosting/video ventures with a great team that is equally as passionate about the project. I started a plant-based diet that is doing wonders for my nutritional needs and fitness goals and my husband – personal trainer extraordinaire Kuti Mack of BYBD Fitness & Nutrition – has put me on a workout plan I am actually sticking to for once (even though I hate weights!).

LIFE IS GOOD!i-amp-039-m-back-sorry-i-kind-of-stopped_o_2294831

We all get tired.

We all feel drained.

It’s not realistic to think that every day is going to be filled with pure happiness from sun up to sundown, even if that is the hope. Still, like the tag line of this blog says, “Every Day Can Be Great,” and that’s the truth. Every day has the ABILITY to be great, but it takes us to ACTUALIZE that potential.

I’m still learning; I’m still growing; I’m still figuring it all out.

I thank you all who are reading this and welcoming me back (and those of you who nagged me in the interim to return), and sincerely apologize to any of you whom I just ‘left hanging.’ I can’t say that I will never go through a spell where I need a break from writing every day again, but I promise to at least give you the heads up next time should it ever occur again. Deal? Deal!

I appreciate you all more than you could ever, ever know. You are something SPECIAL!

Love,

El

Then and Now and In Between…

My husband’s cousin shared this feature yesterday about a photographer who took pictures of strangers 40 years ago, only to hunt them down again and recreate the images.

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According to designyoutrust.com:

Paramedic Chris Porsz spent hours walking around the city of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire (Great Britain) in the late 1970s and 80s, taking candid shots of punks and policemen, siblings and sweethearts, traders and teenagers. More than three decades later, Chris has reconstructed a handful of his favourite photos from his collection. He spent the last seven years tracking down the people in his pictures and persuading them to pose once again. His hard work paid off and he has now published his photos in a new book, “Reunions”.

The pictures show the passage of time is fun ways (i.e. questionable fashion trends) and heart-aching ways (the homeless man still on the street 40 years later). Yet, whether pleasant or melancholy, humorous or stoic, they are all captivatingly beautiful thanks to the stories they tell… and the ones they beg the audience to ask about. What of the four friends pictured 40 years ago and now there are only three? Are the twins still close – and, for that matter – are all the friends in town? If not, why not? If so, how did they maintain it?

Life, in its simplest form and measure of time, minute by minute and moment by moment, is compiled of feelings of joy and connection that can either persist or dissipate. My husband always talks about ‘making the good things great.’ This photo compilation is a sweet reminder that even the little moments – a smile or laugh with friends, an ice cream cone from the ice cream man, a trip to the beauty supply store – can all contribute to a great day and thus, a great life.

Love,

El

A Time For Anger…

ec3-11Real Talk? This past week has been beyond trying. I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine who, while acknowledging that my exhaustion and disappointment were real, challenged me not to get so caught up in the anger or loss of this time and push ahead to both look at the positive and resolve myself to purpose.

I heard her…. but not really. Not fully.

A couple hours later, I was prepping to find a positive topic to cover on this blog and instead found myself googling “A time for anger” in an effort to almost justify me taking this time to be upset or wallow before moving myself to being more positive and forward thinking. Yes, I committed to this blog to find and continue to share positive stories, but I never said it wasn’t a challenge for me at times.

But if you are paying attention – and I am trying to – God speaks. Today, when I did that google search, I instead came up with the following:

Ecclesiastes 3New Living Translation (NLT)

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season,

    a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.

    A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.

    A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.

    A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching.

    A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.

    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate.

    A time for war and a time for peace.

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.seasons

14 And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. 15 What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

The Injustices of Life

16 I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt! 17 I said to myself, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.”

18 I also thought about the human condition—how God proves to people that they are like animals. 19 For people and animals share the same fate—both breathe[a] and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless! 20 Both go to the same place—they came from dust and they return to dust. 21 For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.

I read it and then I thought of my friend’s words this morning, my husband’s words all week, my coworker’s words yesterday, and my other girlfriend’s counsel the day before. God has been giving me the same message over and over and over from different sources all week along and, instead of listening, I have been vacillating between anger and acceptance and hopelessness and selfishness all week.

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Today, I am making the decision to LISTEN – to challenge myself to really LISTEN and ACCEPT healing perspectives beyond my own, to not trust my own devices and have so much faith in my own knowledge and perspective alone. I don’t know everything. That’s a  simple sentiment, but humbling and hard to swallow at times.

I am going to continue to make a concerted effort to inundate myself again with positive news and step away from social media a bit like I did before (outside of blogs like these, of course). I have so many questions, so many concerns, so many fears. I feel weary. I feel annoyed. I feel faithless in people. I owe it to myself and to my friends and family to take root in God’s promise and push ahead… so I can appreciate the beauty that is THIS life. We only get one and these feelings, while human, are not divine… and there’s a little bit of God in all of us to tap into. Wish me well and I wish you well too! God never said it would be easy, but with Him, I have faith it will all be worth it.

Love,

El