Dear Reader, Thank you!

Thank you for being here today. Let’s face it. Without readers, this blogging gig might just fizzle out. I’m humbled by those of you who return time and time again, and especially by those who award me with some extra recognition and pass my site along to others. Rhonda, Bryan, Greg, and Brother John Mark, thanks for the support from the bottom of my heart.

Rhonda asked, and I linked a few (okay, a lot) of my answers to previous posts…

  1. You have an opportunity to have a sit down with another writer. Who would it be and why?                                                                                                                              Maya Angelou—click for post.
  2. Who is the most talented Black artist (musician, writer, painter, potter, any type of artist) that you think deserves to be more widely known or appreciated?                See #1.
  3. Who is the funniest person you have ever personally known?                            Denise.
  4. What or who is your spirit animal?                                                                         Butterfly for metamorphosis. A cat for an independent mind.  
  5. What is the biggest mistake you think you’ve made as a blogger?                      Ignoring family and friends.
  6. What one aspect of your life during the pandemic is “for keeps” post Covid-19? Eating at home.
  7. If you were granted the ability to be highly proficient at playing a musical instrument, what would it be and why?                                                                     Maybe viola to play duets with my son, the cellist—or acoustic guitar—or banjo, but only if I could be gifted with a voice to sing.

Bryan wanted to know…

  1. What your favorite book and why?                                                                                         I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
  2. What song do you currently have on repeat?                                                              “Wolf Like Me,” Lera Lynn.
  3. Which season of the year best describes you?                                                                      I love the season changes, and Summer now.
  4. What is you most prize possession?                                                                                    My grandmother’s pearls.
  5. Which historical figure would you like to meet and why?                                        Maya Angelou.
  6. What makes a good blog?                                                                                              Humor and making the specific relatable.
  7. Back to the past or forward to the future?                                                                          In the moment.
  8. Your dream vacation?                                                                                                      Thailand
  9. The greatest movie of all time?                                                                                                 I love Moulin Rouge. Greatest movie? IDK.
  10. Wealth or health?                                                                                                               What is wealth? As a former teacher and current student, I prefer to focus on what’s within my control. My health.
  11. Your proudest moment.                                                                                                    Going back to school.

Greg was curious about…

  1. What is the last book you read?                                                                                       Kafka on the Shore. (This is actually not true, but I did finish this book in July and loved it so much that I blogged about it. The last book I read was Elizabeth McCracken’s An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, a memoir that I also LOVED and would call a must-read. However, I’m realizing this is also a false statement because in the next couple of days I also finished How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry and Staying Alive, Real Poems for Unreal Times, and I forget in which order. All for summer school).
  2. What is the next book you are going to read?                                                              Black Zodiac by Charles Wright
  3. What are your favorite genres to read?                                                                    Memoir and historical fiction
  4. What is the last song you played on your preferred listening device?               Tainted Love by Imelda May
  5. Who when and where is the last live music concert you attended and where?    Matt and Kim, on my anniversary 11/11/19, in Dallas
  6. You can only take 5 albums with you into quarantine, which ones do you choose?      I just need YouTube.
  7. Once travel restrictions due to COVID-19 allow travel, where is the first place you want to visit?                                                                                                                            My mother in her nursing home back in Oklahoma, but I do have a trip planned to Telluride, CO.
  8. Who is your favorite author?                                                                                           Maya Angelou.
  9. What is your favorite writing instrument to use when not on a digital platform? Mechanical pencil.
  10. Do you believe that cursive handwriting should still be taught in our schools?            No.
  11. What is one life goal you still want/need/hope to accomplish?                                      To finish my master’s degree and my first memoir.   

Brother John Mark asked about my faith…

  1. Who is your favorite character in the Bible aside from Jesus? And why?           David. See post.
  2. How do you develop your relationship with God?                                                           All relationships take time and consistency.
  3. Who is Jesus for you?                                                                                                         Love.
  4. Have you visited historical Churches? If yes, where?                                                    Yes. Venice and Ravenna, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Nazareth, Galilee, and Jerusalem, Israel; Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt; Kuşadası, Turkey; and Patmos and Athens, Greece.
  5. Do you read the Bible? (Y/N) Yes.
  6. What parable/stories of Jesus in the Gospels touched you most?                             What he says to Peter about forgiveness.
  7. Do you love religious music? Yes.
  8. Can you name one favorite religious song?                                                                      For KING & COUNTRY “Joy”.
  9. What is your favorite verse in the New Testament?                                                      “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Or “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).
  10. What is your favorite verse in the Old Testament?                                                         “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
  11. What day of the week you spend hours in meeting the Lord?                                  More on Sundays, but I try to say a daily thank you.

If you made it to this point, thanks again for reading! If you clicked on any of my links to past posts, I hope you found something that spoke to your heart. If you have extra time, please check out Rhonda, Bryan, Greg, and Brother John Mark.

The Sun Never Says by Hafiz

All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth,

“You owe me.”

What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.

Come Sit with Maya Angelou

Sometimes I sit with Maya Angelou. Dr. Maya Angelou. I mean, I sit on my couch with my laptop in my lap, my left knee bent, my left heel tucked under my right butt cheek, and Maya Angelou on YouTube (three and a half minutes below). She is probably the wisest, most accessible, most inspirational person I know. God rest her soul.

I discovered Angelou’s 1969 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings maybe just five or six years ago, and this book catapulted into the status of my all-time favorite. Since then, I’ve reread it a few times, as much for Angelou’s style as the strength of her story. The title alludes to Paul Laurence Dunbar’s 1895 poem “Sympathy.” In Dunbar’s version, “the caged birds sings” as “a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core.” Angelou opens her memoir with herself at age three accompanied by her four-year-old brother Bailey and otherwise unattended on a train from California to live with their Grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. I believe that was 1932. It’s a coming-of-age story of a little black girl growing up in the Jim Crow South. As a child, Angelou faces racism and trauma and the setback of becoming a sixteen-year-old, single black mother in the year 1944. I guarantee you, someone prayed for that little girl from the heart’s deep core. She would go on to thrive against all odds. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings begins Angelou’s seven-volume autobiographical series. I still have four to go.

The Heart of a Woman (1981), fourth in the series, follows Angelou from 1957-1962, from California to New York City, Cairo to Ghana. She arrives in New York as a singer/dancer, joins the Harlem Writers Guild, becomes a civil rights activist, and raises her teenaged son. Angelou is the epitome of determination, only one of the reasons I find myself sitting with her.

Even the Stars Look Lonesome (1997) is a series of essays, a quick little read, published between her fifth and sixth memoirs. She opens up about her marriages, sensuality, sexuality—what it means to be human, American, and a black American. I sit with her in part due to her honesty.

A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002) is the sixth of the series, and once more the title refers back to Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Sympathy.” This volume begins as Maya Angelou returns from Africa to the US to work with Malcolm X. As she arrives, she learns that Malcom X has been assassinated, and violence in Watts explodes. She meets Martin Luther King, Jr., who asks her to become his coordinator in the north, and then he is assassinated. A Song Flung Up to Heaven ends as Maya Angelou begins to write the first sentences of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. “What you looking at me for. I didn’t come to stay.”

Still on my to-read list:

  • Gather Together in My Name (1974, volume two) follows Maya as a single, teenaged mother sliding down the social ladder into poverty and crime.
  • Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (1976, volume three) spans the years of 1949-1955, Angelou’s early twenties and her struggles to support her son, form meaningful relationships, and establish herself in the entertainment world.
  • All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986, volume five) recounts Angelou’s years in Accra, Ghana between 1962-1965 and her return to the United States. Racism and the journey continue to be themes.
  • Mom & Me & Mom (2013, volume seven) was published shortly before Angelou’s 85th birthday and focuses on her relationship with her mother Vivian Baxter. In earlier volumes (the ones I’ve read anyway), Baxter remains an enigma of sorts, and this final volume fills some gaps. Even though it’s still on my to-read list, I’m inspired that Angelou continued to write until the end of her life. Maya Angelou died in 2014 at the age of 86.

Are you interested in diversifying your reading experiences? Here’s a list of 10 Black Authors Everyone Should Read. Let’s agree to add Paul Laurence Dunbar and make it eleven. I would love to hear from you in the comments.



I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
    When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;   
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,   
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
    When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,   
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—
I know what the caged bird feels!
I know why the caged bird beats his wing
    Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;   
For he must fly back to his perch and cling   
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
    And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars   
And they pulse again with a keener sting—
I know why he beats his wing!
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
    When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
    But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,   
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings!

(This post inspired by my friends Rhonda at Pollyanna’s Path and Greg at A Thousand Miles from Kansas for their kindness in award nominations and their understanding of my Q & A rule breaking. When you have a chance, go check out their awesome blogs.)