Monthly Archives: February 2020

Louisville, Chicago and Omaha….yes, Nebraska.

Louisville, Chicago and Omaha….yes, Nebraska.

Leaving Montgomery, Alabama, I knew there was going to be some weather, but I had no idea there were torrential thunderstorms and tornadoes.  I had this feeling I needed to get out, so I grabbed all my stuff and started throwing in the car.  By then, it was pouring.  I was drenched and the car was drenched with wet luggage.  For about 4 or 5 hours it was extremely difficult driving. Sometimes I had to put on my flashers with the other cars so we could see each other.

What was supposed to be a 6 and a half hour drive became a 9 and a half hour drive with lots of accidents and it WAS NOT FUN.  I was so happy to get to Kaitlin’s apartment. She and Samir put on a lovely dinner.  They are passionate about their work to say the least.  I got an inside look at their organizing to help workers in Louisville and at Walmart.  I learned some things from Kaitlin as I always do.

Louisville is beautiful and a very cute city.  I stayed downtown in an adorable Beds and Bikes airbnb.  We went to a rare Picasso art show in town and the Muhammad Ali Museum The Ali Center was incredible.  It was an extension of what I had just seen in Montgomery.  Of course, Muhammad was the pretty, heavy weight boxing champion that came home from Italy and was given a heroes welcome in Louisville.  He was still not allowed to eat lunch in a restaurant.

I loved the story of how he refused to go to Vietnam.  He gave up his title and his passport and was possibly going to jail.  4 years later the Supreme Court set him free.

 “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?”

A stop in at Angel’s Envy for some bourbon and a walk on the 4 Bridges under a full moon…it was a fabulous visit.

Next stop was Chicago.  I rolled into town just in time to get to Kelly Anchor’s play “Deep Fried Refried” at the 31st year old Rhinoceros Theatre Festival, longest running fringe theater in Chicago.  Kelly juxtaposed Tennessee Williams with her southern family trauma around addiction and physical abuse.  Unplanned pregnancies, love, passion, dreams, indiscrepancies, were portrayed with humour and sadness.  Kelly’s family were the actors in this astonishingly brave play.  Her southern mother, Lynn, Mike, her husband from Chicago and her son, Max.  The talent in that family is stunning.

I think something Kelly and I have in common; when we are going through something, we want to share and bring everyone along.

Kelly’s day job is an elementary school counselor for a very diverse school with all types of ethnicities.  I had the privilege of attending her grief group where we built things out of play dough and talked to the kids.  One young boy had just lost his mother, another little girl was a Syrian refuge and her father had been assassinated.

Kelly is the most humblest badass I’ve ever seen.  Not to mention she knows every delicious restaurant to eat at in Chicago.

I’ve just realized that I’m 54 and driving across the country is actually really hard on your body.  I stayed an extra couple of days to recoup and had the chance to go tour the Frank Lloyd Wright House in Oak Park, IL.  Fascinating architect, not my style but he was brilliant.  All his furniture he designed looked terribly uncomfortable.  He was known for building a room within a room and making small spaces go into larger spaces (compression to expansion) among other things.  He actually sounded like an arrogant asshole.  Quite the eccentric influencer.

From there, the Art Institute of Chicago was a must see.  When Zafer and Arlo were little we used to play the board game “Masterpiece” and they learned the classic art pieces.  I took them to the Art Institute when they were quite young and they ran from room to room like they were finding Easter eggs with all the Matisse, Renoir, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Seurat paintings.

A quick dinner at La Sardine’s with my cousin’s niece, Stella.  A sophomore at the University of Chicago.  What a joy to visit with this adorable young woman focusing on environmental science.

To solve the sore back issue I went to the Relax my Back store. A tutorial with Tim, the back man, and many dollars later, my car is SET for a road trip.  He had me upside down, laying on mattresses with multiple pillows. I swear…they worked wonders.  He explained posture, muscles, lactic acid, astronauts and gravity like no other.

Next stop is Omaha Nebraska.  I’ve never been to Nebraska and why not?  Who wouldn’t want to go to Omaha in February? Well, I get in late and it’s cold.  I wake up and it’s negative 6 degrees.  I seriously had to google to see if it was safe to go outside.  This southern girl has never been in this kind of cold.  The wind chill they said was more like -45.  I put on all my clothes in my suitcase.  I was a little freaked out that the car wouldn’t start, but good German engineering, and all was fine.  I made it to a critically important massage at the most beautiful healing center in Old Market, a cobblestone part of downtown Omaha.  The cutest place ever.

Tomorrow, I leave for Boulder, Colorado.   A bittersweet place.  A beautiful town that killed my son.  I’m lucky to have all my sweet cousins there, Zafer’s roommate, Niki to process with, Kristi, and Arlo flying in.  I think it will be really really hard and also very healing.

On the way I’ll stop and visit the 600,000 Sandhill Cranes migrating in Kearney, Nebraska.  I’m pretty sure Zafer will be riding with me.     

Sacred Ground

Sacred Ground

Today I’m in Montgomery, Alabama to see the The National Memorial for Peace and Justice Museum.  I also went to the Rosa Parks museum which had this cool as hell time machine in which you sat on a bus and it took you back to the 1800’s.  It described the history and where the character of Jim Crow came from and exactly why we are where we are.

Going to the Peace and Justice Museum was heavy.  I knew it would be and yet I was not prepared for the deep punch as I walked into the memorial.  I didn’t quite get the large rectangle cubes with victim’s names and where they were from as I walked in.  I spoke to a staff person who said they researched 4000 lynched victims and they had to have 2 forms of documentation to put their name on the monuments.  Of course that is a small amount of names as most had no documentation or record.  As you continued through the memorial the rectangles became more and more elevated and then I got the symbolism and it was horrific and well done whomever came up with that design.  It made the point about the terror that has been going on since the 1800’s.   They have no way of figuring out the real numbers of lynchings, but it is just a fraction of what are recorded.

The Equal Justice Initiative is about facing the hard facts and history in order to move on.  They are taking on racial and economic injustice.  They just put out the movie Just Mercy written by the founder, Bryan Stevenson. They have taken on the biggest issue in America.   It is truly horrific to think of what these humans had to deal with, and still have to deal with.  I’m humbled and grateful to learn even more.  I’m also grateful to our ongoing Chatham Social Justice Exchange that prepared me for this.


I had to go to the Hank Williams museum to blow off some steam next door.  He died at age 30.  He made quite an impact in just that time.

Montgomery has a lot to offer.  As I sat in a beautiful farm to fork restaurant tonight where the staff were mainly of color and the customers were mainly very southern white people.  I couldn’t help but think that we have still not come that far.  I overheard conversations of men discussing political strategies and at the same time, the staff seemed happy and empowered and my bone marrow and Caesar salad was amazing.

I started my 6 week journey by going to Charlotte, NC to see my Aunt Julia and cousins Greg and Eddie.   I had not seen them in about 2 decades.  These cousins were adorable as children, albeit they got in a lot of trouble…2 boys and I very much looked up to them.  Fast forward to 2020 and they have two beautiful wives.  Teri is doing amazing work with textiles and also works closely with the homeless population of Charlotte.   (They call her the everyday hero) It was really fun seeing them and I brought them a bottle of Fair Game brandy.  I hope I get to see them again sooner than 2040.

Onward to Atlanta, GA.  I drove in at sunset to that dramatic skyline and came into Vanessa and Doc’s place.  They threw me a party and it was an incredible evening of connecting with Maurice Small and his family and women that I had never met but, will all be coming up to NC soon I’m sure.  They put on a spread of food and drink and we exchanged stories.  One woman was losing her beloved husband to ALS and I could relate because of my neighbor Chris.  We had a raucous evening. When I told them that I was driving across the country they all paused.  Vanessa’s dog, Caesar slept by my side that night.

We headed to Vanessa’s country cabin in the town that Alice Walker is from (Eatonton, GA)  and took a hike by the creek.  Visiting with Vanessa is always incredibly healing.  She is a soul doula and it was perfect to start the sabbatical with this intuitive woman that calls it as it is.  Vanessa has a way of distilling things down and then she makes a potion to make it all work.  I left with 3 potions and a mini cauldron for the trip to burn some sage and bay.  Not to mention her words of wisdom that literally will change my trajectory.  Vanessa only made me cry a couple of times. She has an infectious laugh and energy.  Her mate Doc is super supportive too.   I brought a few of the fresh off the press Hempsmith beanies for them.

A very special urban farm tour was with Maurice Small.  Maurice has been a speaker at Abundance’s climate change conference and has a special place in my heart.  He relocated with his family to Atlanta and is leading the Atlanta Urban Food Forest.  Maurice is serious magic with plants and kids.  He understands the importance of teaching the next generation and they actually listen to him, because he is cool as hell!  I believe he can take discouraged kids and teach the beauty of dirt and plants and solve climate change along with food insecurity.

Bonus was getting to see Jaime at her place of work.  A renovation of a Sears and Roebuck factory into a multi use project of retail, food and beverage and living and co-working space.  So cool to see this as we are embarking on The Plant and Chatham Beverage District in PBO.  Jaime was an early employee of Abundance NC and one of the smartest and most energetic women I know.  Next was my bff from 2nd grade Melissa who just so happened to be working in Atlanta.  We are basically sisters and it was so fun to connect for dinner.

I’m off to visit Kaitlin, my step-daughter in Louisville, KY next.  Can’t wait.

This sabbatical is exactly what is needed.  Magical in fact.  Every person I meet seems to offer
insights to the next step.

Sabbatical REDUX

Sabbatical REDUX

“oh, baby, never ever forget how magical life can be, or is about to be.  Open your eyes, open your heart.  Things are coming.” Tennessee Williams

I really related with this pic of Mona and obviously need a break!

I am setting out tomorrow morning for another epic sabbatical.   6 years ago I embarked on a journey.  I started this blog then as an archive for myself, and it became a way to connect with friends and family and even strangers.  I was completely naive and a different person then.  Many changes have occurred in these 6 years and I feel the need to go find myself again.  I am so grateful for the support and love from everyone and even the understanding.  And the jealousy!  Ha!  So many have said they were envious.  Which is so cute.

I’m driving in my little convertible VW beetle this time.  Last time was an old VW bus; Baby Blue.  She broke down on the reg.  It cost a fortune and I had callouses on my hands from the steering wheel.  The plan is to go to California and back.  I’ll visit friends and family and also have a ton of time alone to think and process this crazy beautiful life that I have created.  I think we all go too fast and don’t really get a minute to think about what is happening and all of a sudden we are old and our kids are grown and I just want things to slow down.

Driving through America is quite a different experience than just touching down in big cities.  You see the poverty, the beautiful countryside, the glory and the struggle.  I’ll do a photo journal of what I see.  And the amazing folks I’m visiting all have astounding stories.

I have a harmonica and a ukulele to learn, about 15 books and all the yoga gear you could imagine.  Radical self care.

My duties have been delegated and I’m clear to go!  I’m grateful to Arlo and Lyle for having my back.  For Ally, Paul, Amanda, Marcela and Alisa for holding down the fort of Abundance.  I’m excited to see the board of Abundance steer the ship into a new sustainable direction.  Hope is taking care of the airbnb’s.  I’m truly blessed to have this privilege.  I expect to have a new clear vision when I get back mid March.

Giovanna bought me a tool that can cut the seatbelt or break windshield glass or act as a flare.  (In case the car goes over a bridge into a body of water) and Carol bought me airbuds for the phone so I can call Ally and mentor her!

Wish me luck and I’ll write of my adventures every week here.  See you in the spring!