Friday, May 30, 2014

Forget-Me-Not Friday

Sharing your memories is important so you are not forgotten. You have thoughts, feelings, opinions, experiences, and lessons that are valuable to others. I like to refer to these as your forget-me-nots. It reminds me of the German legend of the forget-me-not flowers (McGrath, n.d.).


This is my version:
Once upon antiquity, in a faraway land, a knight sat at the edge of the Danube River. Dressed in armor from head to toe, he was unbreakable, but his heart was soft for the love of his life. His thoughts were focused on her gentle beauty and sweet kindness. Then the soft blue wildflowers that grew along the Danube caught his attention. He decided to pick a fistful for this maiden for whom he was smitten. The flowers were blue skies, each crowned with an amber star. He eyed a long, limp reed in the shallow of the water, so he stepped in the water to fetch his find. 
 
Suddenly, the heavens drew its shade. That made the wind angry, so it tiptoed behind the knight, grumbling and whispering its intent. As the knight bound the stems of the blue flowers with the reed, the wind grew wild and loud—so wild that it thrust the knight into the deep of the Danube. The knight fought the wind and the water to stay afloat. His metal fists held the bouquet ever so tightly.

The knight continued to fight the wind and the water, but his strength could not save him.
The knight continued to fight the wind and the water, but his courage could not save him.
The knight continued to fight the wind and the water, but his love for his maiden could not save him.

Just as he took his last breath, he saw his lovely maiden in the midst of the storm. He mustered enough strength to toss the bouquet to her and gasp, “Forget me not.”
From that day forward, these blue flowers--little blue skies, each crowned with an amber star-- have been known as forget-me-nots. People all over the world cherish these little flowers in remembrance of their loved ones whether they are away temporarily or have transitioned from life to death.
A flower is “the blossom of a plant” (Dictionary.com, para. 1), and we have all had blossoms in our lives. These are our forget-me-nots—little blue skies, each crowned with an amber star. Because you are unique, extraordinary, and one of a kind, it is worth sharing your forget-me-nots.

How would you like to be remembered? Be inspired by a word below. This is the story in you. Share it.
Domonique


References

Dictionary.com. (2014). Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/flowers?s=t
McGrath, S. (n.d.). Forget-me-not cakes. Retrieved from http://www.forgetmenotcakes.com/name.html

Remembering Dr. Maya Angelou



For as long as I can remember, Maya Angelou has been a literary giant in my life. Her books and poems have inspired me. It was when I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings that I learned of Maya’s hardships and disappointments during her early years. But she never used them as excuses. She was like Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego (Daniel 3) who were thrown in the fiery furnace and sustained by the presence of the Son of God--without even a trace of smoke. She was an overcomer.

Too many people are quick to blame their failures on their mothers, their fathers, poverty, and even the “system.” Maya said,During bad circumstances, which is the human inheritance, you must decide not to be reduced. You have your humanity, and you must not allow anything to reduce that.”

I loved to hear Maya talk. She played music with her words as she dragged and dropped her lyrics in your ears. The last time I saw Maya on television was in a video clip of her speaking to Detroit Public School teachers and staff at the 2013 Back To School Teaching and Learning Symposium. I suspected her health was failing her because she wore dark glasses and sat in a wheel chair. I remembered admiring her tenacity and compassion because she didn’t allow her age to limit her desire and expression. Again, Maya inspired me with her words of encouragement to educators: “I know and you know that many of the children who come through you have been abused and are being abused one way or another or sometimes in several ways. But they come to you for release for liberation, so you can help them to liberate themselves from their ignorance. My Lord, what a blessing” (as cited in WDIV, 2013) 

In an attempt to get my students to write beyond the classroom walls, I would read to them passages from Maya’s recipe book Hallelujah! The Welcome Table. Maya included the stories behind the recipes in this book. It made the recipes come alive as she invited you to learn who cooked them, why they cooked them, and who ate them. What an awesome way to preserve family recipes!

Today I skimmed through Maya’s Facebook page. Her compassion for others radiated like a pebble tossed into a stream. She began with goodwill toward one, and it overflowed to many others. On May 11th, her Mother’s Day wish went beyond mothers: “Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, the family and everyone you love and everyone who loves you.

On March 20th, Maya reminded us to look beyond ourselves: “When we decide to be happy we accept the responsibility to bring happiness to someone else. Some decide that happiness and glee are the same thing, they are not. When we choose happiness we accept the responsibility to lighten the load of someone else and to be a light on the path to another who may be walking in darkness. #happyacts”


When I think of Maya, I think of the story of the bumble bee I heard many times as a child. Because of the weight of the bumble bee’s body compared to its delicate, sheer wings, it should not be able to fly--but no one ever told the bumble bee he cannot fly. So he flies. The weight of Maya’s humble beginnings did not keep her from flying. She became a renowned writer, educator, actress, dancer, civil rights activist, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and so much more. Maya’s life, words, and actions are worth pondering. May we learn to appreciate them. 

Maya Angelou, we salute you as you make your transition.
               Leaving behind nights of terror and fear 
               I rise
               Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
               I rise
               Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
               I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
               I rise
               I rise
               I rise (excerpt from "And Still I Rise," 1978)

Who has been an inspiration to you? This is the story in you. Share it.

Domonique

Reference
Angelou, M. (1978). And still I rise. New York, NY: Random House
Cassimy, E. (August 22, 2013). ClickonDetroit. Retrieved from
http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/dr-maya-angelou-speaks-to-detroit-teachers/21578344

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Don't Forget It's Memorial Day



People have been celebrating Memorial Day (Decoration Day) since around1866. In different parts of the United States, people honored those who died in war by decorating their graves. Because May is a prime time for flowers to bloom, it was probably chosen as the month to decorate soldiers’ graves. Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday in 1971, and it was designated as a time to honor all soldiers who had fallen in battle in American wars (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 2014).

Today, I prepped my yard for flowers I will be planting this weekend, and I hosed off the outdoor furniture. I even discovered a bird nesting in a tree, but throughout the day, I thought of those who gave their lives in battle. I especially think about the young men who sacrificed their lives and died without fulfilling the many dreams they had.

As far back as 1863, my relatives on my father’s side of the family have fought in American wars. Bland Brown was a Union soldier in the 110 Tennessee infantry from 1863-1866. He was injured when he was run over by a wagon. Joseph Westmoreland also fought in the Union Army and served from 1864-1866. He was a prisoner of war for 9 months. Many years later, my father and his brothers served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. I have often thought of how they had to leave their family, endure training, and go to another country to participate in a battle they knew little of. They had to be brave whether they wanted to or not. All three survived the war and returned home, but so many others did not. It is for those who were unable to come back home alive that I encourage you to give a moment of silence sometime during the weekend. And if you know of a fallen soldier, spend a little extra time to decorate his or her grave.

How has war affected you? This is the story in you. Share it.

The Memory Keepers' Daughter,
Domonique

Friday, May 23, 2014

Forget-Me-Not Friday



Sharing your memories is important so you are not forgotten. You have thoughts, feelings, opinions, experiences, and lessons that are valuable to others. I like to refer to these as your forget-me-nots. It reminds me of the German legend of the forget-me-not flowers (McGrath, n.d.).

This is my version:
Once upon antiquity, in a faraway land, a knight sat at the edge of the Danube River. Dressed in armor from head to toe, he was unbreakable, but his heart was soft for the love of his life. His thoughts were focused on her gentle beauty and sweet kindness. Then the soft blue wildflowers that grew along the Danube caught his attention. He decided to pick a fistful for this maiden for whom he was smitten. The flowers were blue skies, each crowned with an amber star. He eyed a long, limp reed in the shallow of the water, so he stepped in the water to fetch his find. 
 
Suddenly, the heavens drew its shade. That made the wind angry, so it tiptoed behind the knight, grumbling and whispering its intent. As the knight bound the stems of the blue flowers with the reed, the wind grew wild and loud—so wild that it thrust the knight into the deep of the Danube. The knight fought the wind and the water to stay afloat. His metal fists held the bouquet ever so tightly. 

The knight continued to fight the wind and the water, but his strength could not save him.
The knight continued to fight the wind and the water, but his courage could not save him.
The knight continued to fight the wind and the water, but his love for his maiden could not save him. 

Just as he took his last breath, he saw his lovely maiden in the midst of the storm. He mustered enough strength to toss the bouquet to her and gasp, “Forget me not.”

From that day forward, these blue flowers--little blue skies, each crowned with an amber star-- have been known as forget-me-nots. People all over the world cherish these little flowers in remembrance of their loved ones whether they are away temporarily or have transitioned from life to death.

A flower is “the blossom of a plant” (Dictionary.com, para. 1), and we have all had blossoms in our lives. These are our forget-me-nots—little blue skies, each crowned with an amber star. Because you are unique, extraordinary, and one of a kind, it is worth sharing your forget-me-nots.

How would you like to be remembered? Be inspired by a word below. This is the story in you. Share it.



Domonique



References

Dictionary.com. (2014). Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/flowers?s=t

McGrath, S. (n.d.). Forget-me-not cakes. Retrieved from http://www.forgetmenotcakes.com/name.html