Monday, January 16, 2012

WHERE CAN YOU SEE SNOW ON PALM TREES?

I have been thinking a lot about snow globes lately.  I'm not sure why.

My sweet Southern Mama began collecting fancy snow globes the last ten years (or so) of her life.  They were large, glass and contained very intricate pieces inside. Several of them were also music boxes that played music that went along with the figurine inside.

The ones that were most memorable to me was Scarlett and Rhett in a sensual embrace...and shiny snow fell upon them as the "Theme from Tara" played. (why was snow not included in Gone With the Wind?)

Another was the mask from Phantom of the Opera (Slightly creepy) as the snow and glitter gently floats down as Music of the Night played. 

These snow globes were beautiful and were lovely souvenirs of precious times, however you had to use great, GREAT caution to get the snow falling.  The children broke the globe of the Phantom globe when they tried to shake it up to see the snow.  Fortunately the figurine of the mask survived and with no globe, it was still a fine figurine mounted on a beautiful stand.

But those are not the snow globes I've been thinking about. I'm thinking more about the small, plastic ones that have palm trees, alligators, hula girls, the Eifel Tower, and cities inside a piece of plastic, drowning in water, mineral oil, glitter, and grits.  Well its not grits because they would swell in the water but look closely...The snow looks like grits.

Shake it. Not gently. Vigorously. Watch the snow fall slowly, no matter how vigorously or gently you shake it.  Shake it again before the snow completely lands. Or see if you can tilt it and make all the snow land in a pile.

Mesmerizing. Why? Why are these silly objects so popular as souvenirs? You went to Florida and did NOT see a real alligator. You did NOT see a hula girl. You may have seen palm trees but NOT with snow falling on them.

This is the only place Palm trees will ever experience snow. Same with hula girls and alligators. 

It does snow on the Statue of Liberty. When I saw her from the ferry, the first thing I remember thinking was the best way to capture this moment would be to shrink her very tiny, put her in a plastic globe of water and watch her with snow and glitter floating down upon her. 

That's what I'm thinking about today. How about you? Do you have an odd souvenir that reminds you of a wonderful moment?




Sunday, January 15, 2012

Get Out of the Way!

I've got several (more than one) websites that I am currently trying to manage. I have been bombarded by messages and suggestions (more like commands) that I must TWEET.  Ugh....I've been ignoring it but now that I'm actually doing commerce on one: VelvetHatbox, I broke down and decided it would just have to happen.

I set up a Twitter account in 2010, back when this blog was still just a Baby Blog (hasn't she grown up lately?) and found out, I know just as little about tweeting as a did back then.

SET UP ACCOUNT
It asked me my full name and I'm already intimidated.  The last site that asked my full name was a trick! When I got inside the activity portion of the website, everybody was going by all these pretend names like "BAware" (took me five days to realize it was 'be aware') and "QTme"  (I was thinking all this time it was "quit me" but not that I've typed it I see its actually "Cutie Me" ...imagine me sticking my tongue out making a gagging sound)

I went ahead and typed in my name anyway and then it asked me my 'username' so I put my name in again. "Sorry that name is already taken" "Of course its taken! That's my name!"  I gave in and added a - or a _ to my name, which would disappoint my parents because they did not name us with dashes and underscores.

This certainly was not the only disturbance I had with Twitter or that I have with other "social networking sites" (I even hate that phrase). Here's a breakdown of a couple of things I have problems with:

False Sense of Superiority 
When a machine tells me that I can't use the first name that I want to, that the name I've been given is "not available" I feel a sense of  "aw, rats!  I thought I was being so creative! How could someone else already thought of  myusername as their username?:"  

When  I finally came up with something ridiculously confusing, to keep others from stealing my password, that I will NEVER be able to remember, I thought, "HA! How do you like them apples? I'm the only one in the universe with THAT username" 

I'd share it but I'm afraid my computer will explode since it warned me like 18 times: DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, SHARE YOUR PASSWORD WITH ANYONE!   Ahem, Who would I tell, and who cares, and I can't remember it anyway because it was a jumbled mass of letters, numbers, with a couple of # _ = and - thrown in!"

So here I am with this new superiority complex, believing that I have finally arranged the above mentioned symbols, letters and numbers into a pattern that no one has ever come up with before! MuWahahaha! (evil scientist laugh) 

Greeeeat...... You're better than everyone else......riiiiight....


False Sense of Loyalty 1
I finally got signed in and got my very own original username. Then it asked me to choose five people to follow. I didn't recognize any names on the list at all except for three: Beyonce', Michelle Obama, and Snoop Dog.  

The first question was how was this list compiled? Did they assume from my brilliant username that this must be the list of people I may want to follow somewhere?  My next question was HUH?

I don't pretend to be the brightest knife in the drawer or the sharpest tool in wood shop, but I do know a couple of things about following folks and that is "Are they worth following?"   So I'm thinking that I like Beyonce' all right, but I don't really know if she's leadership material. Snoop Dog? I don't think so.   Of course Michelle Obama is worthy of being followed but I really don't think I care so much about when or where she's shopping (using my money, no less) and apparently if I want to know what she's up to, I have only to turn on the tv to Sesame Street, iCarley, and others. (REALLY, MICHELLE? REALLY?! I can't imaging Jackie Kennedy on iCarley...I'm Just saying)

I've heard people say that they "follow" all these different celebrities and politicians and talk about them like they are BFF's (oh my lord!)

"Oh! Adele said she finished a cigarette!"  "Marc Antony and JLo are getting back together! "  "Newt Gingrich is giving up the race already!"

Duh, duh, and  duh.

You're not their "friends" just because you click "follow" on tweet. They don't know you now and won't ever.   Even if you know their personal tidbits 10 seconds before it goes on public TV! Who cares?!
  
  You're not smarter than me, you're not better than me, you're not more popular than me just because you follow 631 people on TWITTER.  It means you apparently have more time than i do, and/or you will just follow any old Joe where ever he leads you. Because where she/ he leads you'll go.

So I wondered if Jesus was on Twitter and I'm sure that He was (I'll bet it was someone impersonating Him though, what do ya think?) but I'm not going to "follow" Him on Twitter the same way I'm supposed to follow Beyonce', snoop Dog and even Michelle Obama!

I finally decided the only people that I thought would make trustworthy decisions, that were worth my being a follower, was my family members and a couple close friends. I know what they stand for and I'm not afraid they'll lead me astray.


False Sense of Loyalty 2
I'll keep this one brief. When you Follow a company or industry on Facebook or Twitter, its a little thing we used to refer to in Marketing as FREE ADVERTISING! and believe me, the companies know this.


False Sense of Leadership 
Look at me! I have 624 friends on Facebook!  I have 232 followers on Twitter! THEY LOVE ME! THEY'RE FOLLOWING ME!  

They became a follower the same way you became a follower....CLICK!

Remember when classes were taught on being a good leader? Remember all the books that were printed about what makes a good leader?  Now books are written on how to get more followers, which has to do with getting more people to recognize your name and has nothing to do with your leadership qualities.

Here in Middle Georgia we have a fellow that comes on the news twice a week in the early morning called Dr. C's Leadership. He is an ancient white-haired fellow in a tweed jacket sitting in front of a green chalkboard (look it up if you don't know what a chalkboard is) looking very OLD SCHOOL. And he gives leadership tips. He says things like "Leaders listen to their followers. A good leader cares about their followers. A good leader chooses carefully, knowing people are following.  A good leader is humble. (look it up, PLEASE) and he finishes every segment saying "You, too, can be a good leader if you want to."

He has never mentioned social media and the false sense of leadership.  People who pat themselves on the back because 427 or 19,000 people recognize their names are not leaders. They are self-promotional but not leaders.

To Lead or Not to Lead?
The marketing class I mentioned earlier? We learned the difficult and expensive task of making flyers, designing better business cards, producing commercials and print ads to get your name noticed as often as possible.


Now, marketing is basically free. Will I take advantage of that?  You bet your sweet, patootie!  I have goods to sell at my online store! The more people that recognize VELVET HATBOX means more product moved out and moved in. Its a great time to be in business. No expensive rental fees or utilities. Overhead is generally nothing. And advertising is a matter of Click and FOLLOW!

But I want to be a good leader. I want to do business honestly. I may never meet my shoppers personally but I want then to be repeat customers. I want them to know that they can trust that if there's a problem, I'll do my best to make it right. 

My name (particularly my user name) is irrelevant, but I do want them, you,  to remember "Velvet Hatbox". It was inspired when I looked three feet in front of me and saw the gold velvet hatbox, that belonged to my mother, and possibly my Grandmother, sitting beneath my coffeetable. I put it there because it is lovely, its unique, and its "old school". 

Women used to NEVER travel without their hatbox, that obviously carried a valuable possession: a special hat that made them uniquely stylish, uniquely feminine.
A woman with a hatbox was a woman you wanted to follow.

MOVE !
 I used to hear all the time "Lead, Follow, or GET OUT OF THE WAY!"

It meant don't just stand there.  It recognized not everyone is a leader and not everyone is a follower but you MUST DO SOMETHING!  

To me, the recent Social Media Phenomenon is a TON of people who are calling themselves Leaders and Followers but are actually doing Jack S#*@.      NOTHING!

SO MOVE ALREADY! Get out of the stinking way and let those of us who are actually, true leaders LEAD! Those of us who choose to follow will choose wisely whom we should follow and will follow with gusto and our WHOLE HEARTS.  

A true follower of something or someone, doesn't just believe in the person they follow, they believe in the cause that the person represents.  


And with that being said...

Yes, please! Follow me on Twitter at DoubleWideMom and Velvet Hatbox (click on icons, of course!)




Next time I'll whine about Facebook and ask you to sign up for that. 
I know, How Self-promoting can you get?
                                                   

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

GOWISHALUTIONS for 2012

Did you hear anyone say "I sure am glad to see 2011 go?"

Can't say that I do, except to press forward!

Yep, I'm back and have a new fortitude! New outlook! New material and new news!

I won't catch you up on all that has gone on in my life in just one blog. I've got enough to cover a couple of months, believe me!  I'll just hit a couple of things today.

I've lost a few pounds so I wouldn't quite consider myself so much "doublewide" anymore, more like double-trouble!! (ha..yeah, I'm keeping that!)  AND I no longer live in a DOUBLEWIDE!  I know, right? What the heck? I'll save the details for several blogs down the road but I'm now living in a Double-story Townhouse.

Will I change the blog name? No way! It is me. It fits.                                                                              (And I probably wouldn't have many readers without it...)

With that said, I want to introduce you to a word that describes what I'm working on right now:

                     Gowishalution!     (This word was inspired by my newfound fellow blogger, Havi Brooks) Goals, wishes, and resolutions all rolled into one.  There are so many wonderful aspects and differences to each one, I decided I'd mash it all up. These are tasks I'd like to accomplish and above all I WILL NOT berate myself (or anyone else) if I only get 1/2 done or if I don't even think about it after today. (I'm pretty sure that should be my first gowishalution!)

My Gowishalutions for 2012  
1. Please see above. Read that stuff about not berating myself, blah, blah, blah.

2.  .A year ago I wanted to start my job by letting my clients be themselves and appreciate their idiosyncracies instead of trying to “heal” them. Yet here I am, doing exactly the thing I didn’t want to do because it’s “the program” and I feel like I’m beating my head against a wall, and I can see the frustration in their own faces.….so tomorrow I will return to my original plan, my original calling, my original purpose which was to help them appreciate themselves and help them find their own unique purpose.    
I wrote this yesterday and did, indeed get back to basics with them and had a GREAT day!

3.   This week I will feel. Friday marks the end of a 24 year long very memorable journey, as well as the beginning of a brand new peregrination (now there’s a word for 2012!). I will give myself permission to be hurt, angry, devastated, confused and elated whenever the mood hits, even if they hit ALL at the same time.

4.   I will dust off all those unfinished, NO! I will relish in the gestational moments of the numerous projects that have been maturing and nestling as a mother experiencing the internal nudges of her unborn child striving to escape its nurturing cocoon. Just as a baby is delivered and a butterfly emerges at a perfect moment, so my projects will also emerge when ready.  (More on this later...)

5.  I will accept that I am a great person, worthy to be cherished by the Right People who appreciate just how special I am.

Please come back tomorrow when I will try to be funny.

Some things I plan to talk about are the overuse of !!!!!!, the overuse of the word "amazing", snowglobes,
champagne, Simon & Garfunkel (yessss!) pirates and time machines.

Have you made any gowishalutions this year? (No, because you just learned there was such a thing.)
Just for fun, leave me a few so we can cheer each other on.

Thanks for being here. Thanks for staying this long. And we'll get together soon!

P.S. I missed you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Here's An Update

Wow! Why have I let so much time go by without blogging? How can it be?

 Did I fall asleep like Rip Van Winkle?  Did I get bored with the whole blogging thing?
 Not exactly.  I finished directing Once Upon a Mattress over the summer and it was a huge success, meaning we finished in the black financially, and a ton of fun seemed to be had by all. Pictures can be seen at a website I'm sort of in charge of at www.MilledgevillePlayers.org.


Once that show finished we started working on Sanders' Family Christmas, where I played Vera, the matriarch of the fictional singing family bunch and low and behold, had a Christmas tree fall right on top of me during my wonderful speech about Santa's Elves gone bad.  One of the most memorable lines Vera has, as she is giving the "childrens' devotional" is "What does Santa do if you're bad? He doesn't bring you any toys. What does God do if you're bad? He sends you straight to everlasting hell."  Of course, out of context it sounds horrible, but in the middle of the Sanders' Family chaos, its quite amusing!

While rehearsing that show I got a job at a Behavioral Health Center as a Peer Counselor, which means I don't have a psychology degree but I do have experience to share that will hopefully help someone else. I lead two groups for two hours each, everyday. These are folks who have a variety of mental health issues and I'm excited to be working with them. It makes for a long, tiring, yet rewarding day. I started that job in November and am going next week for two week training to become a CERTIFIED Peer Counselor. Will that mean a raise? Nope. I work partially for the state. Mr. State is not giving raises at this time. Ah, well.

I took part in our Community Theatre's Mystery Dinner Theatre and got to be the killer! That was fun!

Of course there's all sorts of church activities going on and you can see some of that, if you're interested, here.
I've got one graduating college and one finishing high school, both in May. My high schooler is Star Student in the county and Valedictorian. My college grad if finishing art school with honors. This is one proud Mama.

I plan to be back before the next six months but if you don't hear from me before then, stay safe, stay happy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

They were trying to drown me. It had to be a test. I couldn't help but think about the Salem Witch Trials. I had heard they would hold an accused witch under water for a certain length of time. If she drowned she was not a witch. If she lived, she was considered a witch and hung. (And we think our judicial system is bad!)




The city girl from Atlanta (me) was engaged to the country boy from South Georgia (him) and they wanted to know if I liked to fish.



"I've never been....fishing." You would have thought I said "I like to vacation on the moon."



In that big, booming voice of his, my father-in-law-to-be said,"Well tomorrow we'll take care of that. Can't let my son marry a girl that's never been fishing, now, can we?"



I wasn't sure why we couldn't but I was willing to learn....didn't look as if I had a choice.



I had watched my fiance' and his parents with their rod and reels, fishing in the acre-large pond in front of their house, so I had no reason not to believe that's what would we would be doing. But apparently that was not the "testing ground." The four of us crammed into the cab of the old Ford pick-up after loading very long sticks they called 'cane poles' and went to a place they called Sue Rose. I soon discovered that Sue Rose was not the name of the place, but the name of the woman who owned the official testing ground.



I was given a long stick with a string and cork on it and something nasty on the hook, and told "Stand over there and chunk it in the water."



Of course it would be hilarious to say I threw the whole pole into the water but I'm not that ignorant and that would be a lie. I got as close as I could to the water without sliding off the bank, dropped the cork in and then it happened. It started raining. I tried to hide my smile as I said, "Too bad. Maybe another time."



The four of us threw our poles in the back of the truck, piled in and sat. And sat. I wasn't quite sure what we were waiting for.



"There we go," boomed the man, "Looks like its slacking off! Let's try again."



We piled out, retrieved our poles and continued the test. FOUR times we piled into the truck waiting for the rain to "slack off"! FOUR times I thought "this is it, we're heading back." FOUR times I wondered if this is what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.



I caught nothing. Not even a cold. I was very okay with that. I had no idea what I would do with a fish if I had caught it. The men caught about four between them and my future mother-in-law, I discovered has a gift. She caught twenty-seven and three of those were while we were waiting out the storm.



It was decided that any girl that could withstand those conditions with a great attitude was worthy of their son. That's funny cause I don't remember having a great attitude, but I guess its worked out pretty good. Just don't ask me to fish...

Monday, November 22, 2010

I Sing because I'm Happy

As a pastor in a medium-sized, middle Georgia community, my husband often tries to bridge what we refer to as the "racial gap". On any particular Sunday you can look at our congregation of about 200 and see a sea of Anglo-Saxon, Caucasion, lily-white faces. But not because he hasn't tried.

We've had guest speakers, guest choirs, guest musicians, etc. who are from different races. They'll bring guests with them and they stay long enough for us to pat ourselves on one another's backs and whisper in each other's ears, "Look at us, breaking down these barriers, mmm...mmm. The Lord is proud of us today!"

And the next meeting is vanilla.
As a result of one of these invitations my husband extended, he was invited to speak at a neighboring church. Our choir (which is only ten people strong, but throw in our incredibly-gifted praise band, we can rock the HOUSE!) was also invited to sing. There were more white faces in this CME church than there were non-white faces. And the looks on their faces was astonishment when these white folks started SANGING! Now, before you go off getting all huffy and PC, I need to tell you what the Lord was doing in me.

Here I am getting all indignant, thinking, "WHY in 20TEN for goodness' sakes, do we have to still separate ourselves as Black brother and sisters and White brothers and sisters? Why can't we just be one big family? And would you look at the congregation. Whites on one side, blacks on the other? People! Please! What's it going to take?" I was ready to run out and join a civil rights group (I mean no disrespect).

We went on back to our lily-white service down the road but we were joined by two guests of the CME church who apparently were moved by the music and the message and we all had such a good time together we didn't want it to end.

One of the ladies was Reverend at a church thirty miles down the road and invited us to attend a revival meeting. Because I had played a little ditty during the offering time she clasped my hands and asked if I would come share some music with them. "I would love to."

I invited a friend to go with me but she had another commitment. I found a piece of music, a praise chorus, that I had been working on and just knew it would be a blessing to others (ha!). I pulled up in the grass at exactly 7pm to find one other car parked outside the quaint building. A door opened beneath the large "Pastor's Study" sign and the Reverend bounded out the door to greet me with a welcoming hug.

"Am I in the right place?" Obviously I was but I felt the need to ask.
"Right place. Right time. Some of our people don't get here til late but we'll get started anyway."
She grabbed me by the hand and led me inside where her assistant (The Armour-Bearer) was seated.
The Reverend pushed me (Not necessarily gently) down on the piano bench and starting humming a tune.
"Play this one. Mmmm...hmmm."
"um," I mumbled,"Which page?"
"Oh, its not in the book. Don't you play by ear?"
"No...no..ma'am, Reverend. That would be our other pianist. I need music. I'm s...sorry."
"That's all right. Come on up here on the podium and we'll have us a praise team tonight!"
I joined the Reverend and the Armour-Bearer in singing "We Have Come Into This House."
We lifted our hands and our voices! There was no one in the congregation. Just the three of us, singing in the microphone as if the place were filled with hundreds. As we sang "Forget about yourself" the fourth time, a little lady shuffled in, passed all the pews as if they were filled, and sat in one of the prayer pews to the far left of the stage, apparently in "her spot".
The Reverend gave a hearty welcome to...the lady...and then announced we would be singing hymn 310. She pointed to me to start playing. I didn't know the song and more importantly, I didn't know how they, she, was used to singing it. Probably not all-white-Gaither style.

First of all we were not anywhere near the same key. She didn't have a bad voice but the piano (i.e.Me) made it sound like she did. I didn't want to keep playing but she kept signaling that I was supposed to go on. She was pounding her thigh and then the pulpit with an odd rhythm that I was supposed to follow but I could NOT get in the groove.

"Lord, Please, please give me some soul right now!" Yes, I prayed and asked the Lord for soul.
"God, my husband is always talking about his inner black-man. If I have an inner black-woman, please Lord let her rise up now." God answered immediately. He said "no."  In the meantime an older couple found their way in, looked around to make sure they were in the right place and sat down.

We made it through the hymn and the Reverend said we would now sing "His Eye Is On the Sparrow." This one I knew but I knew she would not be in the same key as the book and I had always heard this song accapella. It doesn't want music to carry it. It requires soul and emotion.
"Is it okay if we just sing this one? Without the music?"

"Okay. You come in on the chorus."
WHAT? We hadn't practiced this! This is not what I expected at all. We're singing unrehearsed music for three other people. Calm down, girl. Get a grip. 
"Why do I feel discouraged?" she hit every note in a two-octave range. "When Jesus is my portion..."
There's no WAY I could have kept up with her as she was changing keys with every line, but it was somehow appropriate and hautingly beautiful.
"I sing because I'm happy!" Points at me.
I look for a quick escape.  I follow the other lady's lead and sing "HAPPY." (I see. Its an echo-thing...get in the groove, girl. You can do this. Get in the groove...!)
"I sing because I'm free!"  Points. "Free!"
"His eye is on the sparrow." Point. "...on..the sp..sparrow."
I join with harmony "I know He watches me."
Bythe eighth time singing the chorus of His Eye is On the Sparrow, we had a good thing going. I was finally "in the groove." God had humbled me enough and did allow me to find my inner black girl (I knew she was there somewhere!) and the Armor-Bearer even backed off and let us do our thing as we worshipped and praised.
I left there feeling good, not because we had found a common ground but because of our differences. Not between me and them, but between me and her (she and I?) and between me and you. Thank God we're different. I learned some important lessons about myself, about people and about God last night.

I hope you take this post for what it means. Some of you may not understand it. Some of you may be offended, although I can't imagine why. I've tried so hard in the past to make everyone feel like we were the same, when in reality I can't make anyone FEEL anything, and its not our duty to be the same, but just to be.

Wow, I didn't know this was going to get all serious but there it is. Take it for what its worth and have a great day!

http://myhomeandmyhipsarebothdoublewide.blogspot.com/2010/04/i-sing-because-im-happy-i-sing-because.html