Category Archives: Reviews

Lessons Learned From A Toddler

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During the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend, I decided to take my toddler skating. I had never taken her skating and it had been ages since I stepped foot in a pair of roller skates.  It never crossed my mind that she was too little or young.

She was excited to go skating. To my knowledge, h26804505_10156014732154161_2485391661452761152_ner only experience with skating came from the movie Trolls where the character Bridget transforms into Lady Glitter Sparkles and dazzles Prince Gristle whilst on skates. So with nervous enthusiasm, we headed to the Chester County Sports Arena (the old Caln Roller Rink).

Our hopes were almost dashed when the girl at the counter told me they didn’t have skates to fit my daughter.  Before giving up and heading out the door, they gave us a pair of skates two sizes too big. They tightened the skates as much as they could and told us to give it a try.

As with anyone starting something new for the first time, be it a toddler or an adult, there is slight apprehension of the unknown.  The first time around the rink was a challenge.  I stooped low (hurting my back) and held her in various positions to help her keep her balance whilst attempting to ‘skate’ around the rink.  After the 2nd loop, I was exhausted and could not quite gauge her level of interest.  We sat down and had a talk.  “Do you like skating? Do you want to go home? Do you want to skate some more?”

To my surprise, she did not give up. Even with skates that did not fit, she got back up and headed toward the rink.  In true fashion of every toddler I have ever met, she became distracted by the candy machines and video games, but eventually we landed back onto the rink.  This time, however, something was different.  She grew confident.  She was unafraid.  In fact, she refused to hold my hand. She started mimicking what other people were doing (even myself when I skated backwards).  I stared at her in awe and thought “whose child is this?”

Of course I don’t recall what I was like at 2. However, I know who I am at 40 and I am not the most daring person and being afraid has kept me from doing a lot of things (even trying different foods).  As we continued to skate, other people noticed and commented how she was better than they were.  When asked about her age, the workers dropped their mouths. Surely they had seen other tots, but she showed an amazing amount of confidence, skill, and determination that was noticeable by many.

Of course she fell, but the swiftness to which she got up and dusted herself off left me with a huge smile on my face.  In those 3 hours or so we spent skating I learned what a bold and independent child I have. I was also reminded of a few things as I reflected about our time.

Don’t be afraid to try new things.

For a variety of reasons, we are afraid to venture into new territories.  It could be the way we were raised, phobias about certain things, lack of exposure, or perhaps lack of encouragement. A woman at work talked about wanting to join a traveling singing group. I asked her, “what do you have to lose?” Her kids were older and didn’t need her as much at home.  I encouraged her to try out for the group. Her audition was successful and she is now part of a group that she had admired for a long time.  Without the push, she said she would have never thought it was possible. As a parent, I will try my best to expose my child to as many things as possible so that she can continue to live courageously and not feel handcuffed by fears.

Sometimes you fall, but remember to graciously pick herself back up.

How many times have we messed up a report at work? Had a bad relationship? Missed a field goal during an important game? Ok. So I have not personally missed a field goal during an important game, but you get the point.  Sometimes we mess up. Sometimes we fall. The key is not to relish on those mistakes or falls. We must, as my daughter did, dust ourselves off and get back to business. However, we must take those mistakes as learning tools so as not to repeat them again. By the time we left the skating rink,  my daughter didn’t fall as much. She learned how to move her body in a different direction if she felt herself swaying one way. She self corrected and we must do the same at work, at home, and in any situation where we have simply messed up.

Help is fine, but after a while it’s ok to do it on your own.

As my daughter grows older, she will need me less and for different things. I no longer have to hold her bottle and feed her. She no longer needs me to carry her as she can walk on her own.  Those milestones in her life were great for her, but also sad for me.  She is no longer my little preemie, but a big girl now. And while I must relinquish my duties as a mom as she is discovering things on her own, she also needs to learn and be confident doing things on her own.  Fortunately, she has no problem telling everyone that she wants to do it on her own.   In life, we often rely on others so much that when the time comes to act on our own, we don’t know what to do.  How many grown adults can’t do laundry because their parents did it for them so long?  How many women don’t understand their finances because they let their husbands do all the finances?  We have to seek some independence, but also we need others to encourage it as well.

So from skating, I learned so much and I look forward to continuing to learn from her as she continues to grow.

 

D’ANGELO

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In 2011 I wrote about seeing R. Kelly in London after a lengthy absence from the UK.  Last night, I had the chance to see D’Angelo who also had a very lengthy absence from the public eye (to a certain extent).

He brought us Brown Sugar and Voodoo with a few collaborations in between with the likes of Lauryn Hill and Raphael Siddiq. And then there was the arrest with the horrible mugshot that had all of us ladies asking where did our modern day David go? His perfectly chiseled body had morphed into something unrecognizable to his fans.

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What did you do with my D’Angelo and most importantly what happened to the music? He was not a 2 hit wonder. He had more talent to give and we were left thirsty and devoid of some great music for almost 15 years.

Around 2011/2012 he started touring again. Finally he was back, but D’Angelo sightings were few and far between. It was like he was a ghost of neo soul’s past that occasionally haunted us from time to time. Then…it was announced…he would be the headline at the Afro Punk Festival in Brooklyn (August of 2014). It was free and relatively close to home. Finally my chance to see this enigma that is D’Angelo.

I stood amongst the eclectic crowd patiently waiting for his debut on stage. We waited and waited. When he did appear, he stepped out on stage like a rockstar and not some smalltime, sleepy R&B crooner. He sat behind the keyboard on a few songs but he also stepped to the front of the stage while playing the guitar.

While the crowd cheered and swayed to the music, the playlist was devoid of songs from his first two albums (albeit a few interludes in between songs). For some it was a disappointment. There was too much gap to introduce something new. Give us the old stuff and then maybe we can embrace the new stuff. I will admit, I was a tad disappointed but I got to see D’Angelo backed by the Roots Band. I didn’t care if he was singing Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Then D’Angelo fans received an early Christmas present as the Black Messiah was released mid December. I couldn’t wait to download it on Spotify, my streaming service of choice. “Would it sound more like Brown Sugar? Or perhaps Voodoo?”

As I listened I sensed that he had moved on from Brown Sugar. It was however in the spirit of Voodoo to the 3rd power filled with ballads including “Really Love”; the funk of “Chicken Grease” was embodied in “Sugah Daddy”; and the consciousness of “Devil’s Pie” received a 2014 twist with “1000 Deaths”.

My stepfather (sorry to put you on blast) said he didn’t enjoy the new album because he didn’t understand what D’Angelo was saying. Did anyone know what Michael Jackson was saying without the liner notes? Some said oh he is on some “other shit”. The reality is many failed to see the bridge or connection between the two albums and were looking for another Brown Sugar.

With many artists, their first album is a bit of a compromise between their artistic integrity and making the record company happy. Brown Sugar really fit the mold and the feel of neo soul music at the time. While Vodoo had some remnants of that it was a little more daring and esoteric than most neo soul albums when it czme out. With Black Messiah, it’s not surprising that he took what many would consider a giant left turn with his music.

In just a few short weeks, the album was rated by some as one of the top albums of 2014. When I heard he was coming to Philadelphia, there was no way I was going to miss the show. From the moment he stepped on stage it was a party and I felt like I was back at the R Kelly concert I attended years ago in London. He danced, had a few “outfit changes”, high fived audience members, and switched between the guitar and keyboard all while keeping the crowd on their feet for almost 2 hours. He mixed the old songs with the new and for the most part he sang them exactly like the album. I know it must get boring singing the same song again and again, but that is what the fans want and that is what he gave us (take a page out of his book Lauryn Hill).

When I posted a picture of the 2015 D’Angelo, my friends were a bit surprised. Although he looked 10 times better than that God awful mugshot, he was still a fry cry from the man who graced his album cover in the buff 14 years ago.

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It didn’t matter. Women (including myself) were screaming from start to finish!

He, like R Kelly are living proof that famous people are not immune to problems like the rest of us. We all have our demons, but how we overcome our obstacles in the long run really demonstrates our character and determines the path for our future. I, like the rest of his fans, hope that his absence was one blip in a long musical career.

I’ll leave you with the a clip from the 2nd encore where he ended with his song “Untitled”. If there was any doubt if he still “has” it or not, this clip certainly proves he still has it.

https://youtu.be/vJ2Er_ukjXE

**please ignore my screaming**