The Things We Treasure


Writing 101: The Things We Treasure
For our final assignment, tell the tale of your most-prized possession. If you’re up for a twist, go long – experiment with long form and push yourself to write more than usual.


After thinking and thinking and thinking about what would be my most prized possession, I have finally narrowed it down. At first I thought about my wedding ring, but I realized that was just a symbol. If it broke or I lost it tragically, I would still be married. Then I thought about something intangible like my self-worth, but the assignment clearly stated it should be an object. So, I decided the thing I most cherish is ……… Drum roll please……. my collection of books.

As a budding writer I value the works of writers that have moved me and I treasure their books. I consider books a gateway to life and I have a vast array of works in my collection. Let’s see, I have a sports section to honor my beloved Lady Vols, the autobiography/biography section because I love learning more about people I admire, the fiction section that allows me to escape reality, the non- fiction that keeps my mind sharp and allows for critical thinking, the educational section so I can continue to learn and last but certainly not least, the poetry section to fuel my creativity.

Sports: As a former athlete, I am drawn to books about my former sport of women’s basketball; however, I have chosen to stick to my all time favorite team – The Tennessee Lady Vols!!! The legend Pat Head Summitt has three entries in this section: Raise the Roof, Reach For the Summitt and Sum it Up. All of these are great reads, but my fav is the latter because it is her memoir. It was written after she was diagnosed with early onset dementia that ended her fabulous career as the winningest head coach in college basketball. (Not just women’s basketball) Arguably the most famous Lady Vols, Chamique Holdsclaw has two entries as well: Chamique and Breaking Through. There are also a couple of notable entries in this section that are not directly related to the Lady Vols like the C. Vivian Stringer penned memoir, Standing Tall and Lisa Leslie’s book Don’t Let the Lipstick Fool You. Even though these ladies are not affiliated with Tennessee, they do have indirect stories that lead to Knoxville. C. Vivian Stringer is the head coach for Rutgers University and she is great friends with Pat Summitt. It was also her team that suffered from the stupid “Nappy Head Hoes” comment from Don Imus during the 2007 NCAA Championship Game. Lisa Leslie is a world champion, heavily decorated basketball player who once scored 101 points during the first half of a high school game. She was recruited by Pat Summitt to play at Tennessee and almost wore the orange, but chose USC after a racist incident during a college visit.

Autobiography/Biography: This section is home to books by and about Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Toni Braxton, Condoleezza Rice, Robin Roberts, Bette Davis, Nelson Mandela, Dick Gregory and James Weldon Johnson to name a few. I just recently added the Dick Gregory creation “Nigger” to my collection and I can’t wait to read it. The title alone is worth reading it, but I also find him quite fascinating. I enjoy reading the more personal accounts of people I admire or find interesting. This section is one that will definitely grow over time.

Fiction: Doing this assignment showed me my collection is not as diverse as I thought. I reviewed some of my books and realized that most of the authors were African American. This realization made me question why this was true. I guess I relate to the characters more in these books because I have read what are considered “The Classics” and even though I like the stories and I like the characters, I find more of a kinship to the characters of such writers as April Sinclair, Keith Lee Johnson, Sapphire, Zora Neale Hurston and Alice Walker. One of my all time favorite writers was Octavia E. Butler who wrote sci-fi/fantasy. I absolutely love the main characters in both Kindred and Fledgling. Sometimes the familiarity of a character makes the bond between reader and writer very strong.

Non-Fiction: This section is small but packs a punch. It includes Red Summer, The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow, and My Life in the Klan, to name a few. Most of the books in this section deal a lot with history and some are cool table books with replications of letters or posters from the past.
Educational: This section houses religious books as well as how to books. I have learned everything from taking pictures to screenwriting and how to fold napkins properly. There is a slew of information in these books because I have always been interested in how to do multiple things. Since I was young I could never pin point what it was I wanted to do with my life. I have wanted to be a vet, a teacher, a coach, a business woman, event planner, film maker, actor, singer, photographer the list goes on and on. I finally realized me being so curious about all professions was research for the writer in me. You have to know a subject in order to write about it.

Poetry: As a poet myself, I love to read the prose of other writers. I especially enjoy Edgar Allan Poe, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni and Ntozake Shange. Even though he is not necessarily known as a poet, MLK made his words dance like a poem. I enjoy pulling out one of their books and reading the creations aloud. There is just something special about the spoken word.

My book collection may not be monetarily valuable, but to me it is one thing that I value the most because it helped to shape who I was, am and will become.

Unwatered Flower?


Writing 101: Day 18 – Don’t Stop the Rockin’
On this free writing day, remember the words of author Anne Lamott: “I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good at it.”

Today is a free writing day. Write at least four hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.


I read somewhere that “the black woman is the most unprotected, unloved woman on
earth…She is the only flower on earth that grows unwatered.”

Well I say we are not unwatered because we make our own water. We may grow
crooked and sometimes we have stunted growth, but we are the only flower that
waters herself!

We are strong and stable because we have to be, not because we want to be. We
have dreams to fly, but will set them aside so our children can live theirs.

We raise those same children often times alone…. no man of our own. Playing
the role of mother and father puts a strain on the resources of our community
and causes a shift in the quality of care. Forced to work or starve, we are
hardly there…to raise the ones we love the most.

In our attempt to be the head of the house we lose our true selves, but still
manage to survive. We know we can’t raise a man so our sons suffer in the
process. What choice do we have?

We water ourselves with tainted water, but we are watered just the same. It’s
called doing what we have to. Say what you want about us, but one thing stays
true, us sisters always keep up with our dos.

Sharp as a tack you see us walking, riding the bus or rolling in our whips. And
don’t forget that swing in our hips. We’re known for having some junk in our
trunks. Fashionistas at heart that keep it crunk. Our haters are always looking
to us for inspiration.

Black women are one of the most BeaUtiful creatures on the planet
We just don’t know it.
Too busy worrying about the next one
Instead of lending her a hand
We talk about her because she has
Something that’s missing in us.

We need to complement each other and validate
Our worth before anyone else will.
We are missing out on a huge opportunity
To build the self esteem in our sisters

Brainwashed by the world
Never seeing our own value.
Leaders, innovators and admirable souls
Regal in our natural state
There’s no need for disguises.

I believe if we use our powers for good
That is; stop hating on each other
We can become super heroes we were always meant to be
And save the world!

Save the Black Woman, Save the World!

The Stranger Across the Street


Writing 101: Day 17 – Hone Your Point of View

Craft a story from the perspective of a twelve-year-old observing it all. For your twist, focus on specific character qualities, drawing from elements we’ve worked on in this course, like voice and dialogue.

The neighborhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.


Hi everyone, my name is Pat and I am 12 years old. I live in a very vibrant neighborhood where everyone knows each other. I was sitting outside on the stoop in front of my house with Loni when it happened. Out of nowhere, 5-0 pulled up across the street and went into the mean old hag’s house. You should have seen her kicking and screaming and fighting the cop. I thought for sure he was going to tase her old butt. That old lady had terrorized me and Loni for years and we thought it was funny.

“Here comes the Po Po!” I yelled at Loni. We both got scared and almost started to run. ‘Girl, where are you going? You live here!” Loni cackled. Even though we were good kids, the sight of a cop scared us. They were notorious for harassing people in our neighborhood and kids were no exception. This time they picked a mean old lady whose husband just died. At first we thought, “Maybe she killed Mr. Pauley. I always thought he was too nice to be married to her” I said. “I bet she poisoned him” replied Loni. We watched as the man with the briefcase got out of his big Lincoln Town car and stood by as the police man drug Mrs. Pauley down her front stairs. He had a smug look on his face and acted as if he was enjoying the scene.

Just as Mrs. Pauley hit the bottom stair my mom burst out of our house and called out “What are you doing to that old lady? This is wrong. You’re hurting her!” Seeing my mom so concerned made me rethink the way I felt about Mrs. Pauley. I have always hated her because she was so mean to all the kids in the neighborhood, but maybe there was something more. I mean my mom would never befriend someone who is mean and nasty. The policeman dumped her on the street and padlocked the house. He then posted a big EVICTION notice on her front door and would not allow her to retrieve her belongings.

As I watched my mom standing there holding Mrs. Pauley and crying with her I somehow developed sympathy for her. No matter how mean she was to me, she did not deserve to be drug out of her home in front of her neighbors and humiliated like this. At that moment I decided I needed to do something. “Mom can Mrs. Pauley come stay with us until we can figure out a way to help her get back into her home?” I asked. My mom’s face light up with pride and she said, “Of course. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it first. Mrs. Pauley come on let’s get you off the street. You can call one of your sons and maybe they can help.” Seeing that she had no choice, Mrs. Pauley reluctantly agreed.

“Mrs. Pauley, what happened?” mom asked. “Well I have had some money troubles every since Mr. Pauley died. He didn’t have insurance so I used the money we had in savings to pay for his funeral. Once my boys found out there was no inheritance, they left and won’t take my calls. I can’t believe all six of my babies have deserted me like this. I’m too old to work and my Social Security check hasn’t been enough to pay the bills. I got behind in rent and now after 40 years of paying rent on time every month, I miss a couple of months and that man comes to put me out. I have never been so embarrassed in all my life. I didn’t even have a chance to get a picture of Mr. Pauley. What am I going to do?” she said with a shaky voice.

I wasn’t sure how to solve her problems, but I knew I could do something. I rounded up a bunch of the kids from the neighborhood and said, “I know Mrs. Pauley is a pain, but she’s one of our own. We need to do something to help her. Anyone have any ideas?” The kids agreed that we should help, but just didn’t know how. Then a light bulb went on, “Hey let’s get everyone on the block to help by throwing a block party” I called out. “Yea, we can charge admission and then the money from the door can pay her rent” Lina chimed in. “I can get my brother to DJ since he thinks he’s an MC,” Elyssa said. Everyone started coming up with ways to contribute. We made signs and then we presented the idea to my mom and Mrs. Pauley.

Mrs. Pauley was to prideful at first to accept our help. “No I couldn’t allow you all to help me. I will figure this out on my own.” “Well, Mrs. P I say if the kids want to help you should let them. Everyone already knows you’ve fallen on hard times. We are your family. You have been the matriarch of this block for over 40 years. How many cakes, pies and cookies have you baked for the ladies around here when they gave birth or had a birthday or got promoted at work? You have looked out for us when we needed you and now it’s time to return the kindness. We won’t take no for an answer.” My mom could be very persuasive and she always got her way.

Long story short, we had that block party and raised the money Mrs. Pauley needed to get back into her home. Then we came up with a plan for her to do what she loved and earn some money to supplement her income. She began selling those cakes, pies and cookies and instead of being mean to the kids she was now happy and loving. All of the kids bought her baked goods and she was able to pay her rent with the extra money. The kids and Mrs. Pauley learned that family is not always blood. Sometimes you can find family in the stranger across the street.

Please Don’t Go…


Writing 101: Day 16 – Your Personality on the Page
What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. If you’re up for a twist, write this post in a style that’s different from your own.


In conjunction with Monday’s topic of lost and found, ironically today’s post is about the same topic; abandonment.

This is my confession:
Hi, my name is Lisa and I am afraid of being abandoned! I’ve probably touched on this in previous posts, but since this is one of my worst fears and I continue to suffer from it, I must bring it to light once again. DON’T LEAVE ME! That expression is on my mind a lot. Why can’t I just get over it and be happy? You know, that is my ultimate goal and I know it can happen. I ask myself, what will happen if I am no longer afraid of being left behind? Will I be that girl who gets comfortable with her relationship and then POW out of nowhere I get blindsided by my husband who leaves me?

OK, confession is over, back to the real world!

Lost and Found


Writing 101: Day 15 – Third Time’s the Charm (Part 3 of 3)
Today, imagine you work in a place where you manage lost or forgotten items. What might you find in the pile? For those participating in out serial challenge reflect on the theme of “lost and found,” too.

pink giraffe lost and found

Imagine you are a child and you are lost in a big department store. It is one of the most terrifying feelings you have ever felt. Now imagine you’re taken there and left on purpose by your parents. When you realize that you are all alone you hide in the clothing department under a rack of clothes and wonder what will happen to you? No one is looking for you and no one wants to find you. You think your mom does not care that you are gone because you are one of seven children she is struggling to feed and clothe. You annoy you older sisters and brother so they are happy you are gone.

You fall asleep crying when your fear gets to be too much. In your dreams you are floating on clouds and eating marshmallows. There are puppies and kittens to play with and you are the happiest you have ever been. Angels come down from heaven to play games with you and everyone is laughing and having fun.

Suddenly you are jolted awake by a loud scream, I found her! You open your eyes to see a tall strange lady standing over you looking relieved. Then your mom rushes over and hugs you until you can’t breathe. She is crying and very upset. You realize your imagination was running rampant and your mom actually loves you and was looking all over the store for you. She is relieved and happy to hold you in her arms again.

This was a real life scenario of something that happened to me as a child. I thought because my father left me, there was a good chance that my mom would too. I was never reassured that this could not happen and was too afraid to ask.

A child’s imagination is large and very active. If parents do not find time to communicate with their children, they will dream up their own reality to fill in the blanks. When a child asks you a question, please give them an honest answer so as not to breed fear and lies. When a child goes through a trauma like being abandoned, talk with the child and let her know she is loved and the other parent will never leave her.

The Evil Empire Comes to Town!


Writing 101: Day 15 – Your Voice Will Find You
You’re told that an event that’s dear to your heart- an annual fair, festival or conference – will be cancelled forever (or taken over by an evil organization). Write about it. For your twist, read your piece aloud, multiple times. Hone that voice of yours!


Anyone who knows me knows that I am a die hard Tennessee Lady Vols Basketball Fan. I have loved this team and the coaches since the early nineties. Pat Summitt is one of the people I admire most in the world and I have attended several South Eastern Conference (SEC) Women’s Basketball Tournaments in my day. The expression “I Bleed Orange” is an understatement when you’re talking women’s basketball. I am such a fan that I have been known to drag my poor husband, who is from Wisconsin and has not figured out that basketball is a religion in the South, to countless games and tournaments. It’s all about the Lady Vols in our house. I even have our office decorated with LV memorabilia and posters.

For some time now, The Lady Vols have been at odds against the University of Connecticut (UCONN) Huskies. UT fans absolutely despise anything or anyone associated with Storrs, CT and we especially can’t stomach the face of Geno Auriemma, head coach of the women’s basketball team. The fans in CT feel the same about us.

So you can understand my disgust when I read about the recent changes in the upcoming season. I have just found out the UCONN Huskies have left the Big East conference and will now be competing in the SEC! This all came about when the Big East conference decided to split and UCONN wanted no parts of this division. The powers that be decided instead of taking the helm in the new AAC, they were better suited for the SEC. Of course the SEC welcomed them with open arms as they are the reigning NCAA champs and will bring in a boat load of cash. It’s the takeover move that we as fans have feared for years! How in the world can you justify moving a team that helms from the land of ice and snow and say they will play in the SOUTHeastern Conference? The UT fans are going CRAZY!

I can’t believe these greedy so and sos are putting the “Evil Empire” in our conference! It is an outrage and an insult to Pat Summitt’s legacy. Not only will Geno play against Tennessee on a regular basis, “his evilness” will taint the sacred grounds of TBA, that’s Thompson- Boling Arena to non sports fans. His team will actually spew their darkness on “The Summitt”. Whoever thought this was a good idea must have been drinking!

Several fans have expressed their discord and are threatening to sell their season tickets. Students and fans alike are organizing a boycott of the home game against UCONN and are refusing to allow their bus on campus. The governor may have to deem this a state of emergency and declare Knoxville a disaster area! There will be civil unrest in the streets and expect to have non-violent protests in Summitt Plaza. We MUST protect our house!

****NOTE**** This is clearly a satirical post and to be very clear, this trageshammockery will never take place in the real world.

Living in a Fantasy World (Part 2 of 3) (Continued from Day 4 Post)


Writing 101: Day 13 Serially Found
(Earlier in the course, you wrote about losing something. Today, write about finding something. For your twist, view day four’s post and today’s post as installments in a series.)


Sometimes living in a fantasy world is the only way for a young girl to cope with pain. In my instance I used this escape as a coping mechanism to keep my pain of loss at bay. The day my dad left was a very shocking and degrading experience. Some things went down on that day that I never imagined existed, yet alone were happening in my own home. I won’t go into details because, as my husband says, it will not help anyone, but the things I saw were frightening. This day was a point of no return for my mom; He had to go and I was in agreement.

Just because I agreed with my mom’s decision doesn’t mean I stopped loving him and since he was very close to me, I had to find a way to deal with my emotions. My trust in people was shaken because if the one person who I admired was totally different than who I thought he was, how could I trust myself to be a good judge of character. As a child I did not understand that some people are good at wearing disguises and that it does not reflect on my ability to have good judgment. All I knew was my dad lived an alternative life and my family had no idea. By this time my oldest of my sisters were adults and no longer lived at home. It was just my sister Karen, my brother James and me. Because they had their own things going on and because I was afraid to express myself I chose to retreat into a world of reading and fantasy.

When I read it gave me solace from the real world and I could imagine people and places the way I wanted them to be. My imagination began to grow and I daydreamed a lot. I never thought about it before, but I now realize being abandoned by my father caused my distrust in people. It takes me a very long time to trust people with my thoughts and feelings and as a result I come off as disinterested and cold. In truth I am not standoffish, I am analyzing people and trying to figure out if they are being genuine or fake. Reading has helped me in this aspect because it introduced me to several different types of personalities and the way different people’s minds work. Yes, I realize they are not real people, but they could be and that is the coolest thing about reading. That spy in the book could be my next door neighbor, or the boy sitting next to me at school could be a real super hero. OK maybe I took it too far, but you catch my drift.

My love for reading has endured over the years and one of my favorite ways to find new people, places and things. As an adult I realize that I am somewhat of an introvert and as I get older I see it more and more. In my early 20’s I was introduced to the writing of Octavia E. Butler and I lost my mind! I was fascinated because not only was she a black writer in the genre of fantasy/science fiction, she was in fact a female! Her mind was amazing and she remains at the top of my list of favorite writers. Her novel Kindred really spoke to me and I was thrilled to attend a lecture she did for the Charlotte, NC library system. Her words and experience touched me and when I met her at the meet and greet she was kind, but she seemed introverted as well. It made me realize it was possible to do things outside of the box. I could be something other than what was expected of me.

As wrong as it may sound, I now realize the absence of my dad allowed me to find a love for reading, writing and fantasy worlds. The universe noticed that a major love was taken from me so it provided a new type of love as a filler. I am grateful…

To Whom It May Concern


Writing 101: Day 14 – To Whom It May Concern
(Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration, and try a twist: write in the form of a letter.)


Dear Human Race,
Why are you always misinterpreting the things I say? STOP IT! It’s been this way since I was a child and I have had enough. If you don’t understand, please ask me; I will always be happy to answer your questions. Communication is key. If you can’t comply maybe we should break up!

Yours Truly,

An Aunt’s Love


Writing 101: Day 12 – Dark Clouds on the (Virtual) Horizon
Today, write a post with roots in a real-world conversation. For a twist, include foreshadowing.


If I had known it would cause such chaos, I never would have mentioned that my niece came to see me. My niece is a good friend of mine and we have a lot in common. We have been close since she was born and I was 9 years old. Our relationship started out rocky because she followed me everywhere, but once I got used to it I was happy to have her around.

Now that we are both adults, we still have a special relationship. I am closer in age to her and relate more with her than I do with my older sister, her mom. At times it seemed like I was a part of their family and at times it seemed I was intruding. One particular instance shocked me and let me see my sister in a different light.

My niece came to see me and my husband and we had a nice time for the few days she was there. I spoke with my sister some time after the visit and was recalling how happy I was to spend time with her daughter. My sister’s tone changed immediately and she seemed very agitated. I had no idea that she was not aware of the visit. Apparently she had resented my relationship with her daughter for quite some time, but failed to tell me. All hell broke loose and I was on the receiving end of some hurtful comments. I was accused of trying to steal her daughter and was promptly reminded that she was her mother not me!

I was taken aback and as usual when attacked I responded with the cold hard truth in a harsh tone. I informed my sister that I was well aware that I was the aunt and she was the mother. I never had any intention of taking her place because I never wanted kids of my own and she had no reason to worry because her daughter loves her. I also informed her that her jealousy would not come between my relationship with her daughter and from now on I just wouldn’t tell her anything. I also informed her that she should be happy that I like to spend time with my niece and that we have such a great relationship.

There was a riff in the family for quite some time behind this and I still feel strange spending time with my niece without her mom. Sometimes I wonder if she was trying to tell me that she wants a closer relationship with me and may envy the one I have with her child. If this is the case she went about it all wrong!

Big Thel’s Kitchen


Writing 101: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!
Today, be inspired by a childhood meal. For the twist, focus on infusing the post with your unique voice – even if that makes you a little nervous.


Imagine living in a home where the lady of the house is a glorious cook and everything she cooked was super duper yummy. She could cook the best soul food on the planet and insisted that her children would never go hungry so we were encouraged to eat as much as we wanted. Growing up in this environment, as I did was joyous; however it makes this assignment very difficult. There is no way on earth to determine my favorite meal when everything that came from my mama’s kitchen was the best food on earth.

Just thinking about the wonderful smells that permeated from Big Thel’s kitchen makes my mouth water. I don’t know how she did it, but every day after working a back breaking job as a maid in someone else’s house, mama always had a home cooked meal on the table. Keep in mind this was back in the day when there were no short cuts to cooking. We always ate dinner as a unit and in our family that meant 8 people nightly. How in the world did she decide what we were having each and every day? Hell, I have trouble deciding our menu now and it’s just my husband and me. Sundays were extra special because we usually had 2 or 3 meats in addition to collard greens, fresh green beans, cabbage, baked squash, potato salad, mashed potatoes, yams, a cucumber tomato and onion salad, and corn bread. That sounds like a feast in itself, but we always had dessert which usually consisted of some sort of homemade goodness. The menu varied, but some of my favorites were sweet potato pie, coconut layer cake, rice pudding, corn pudding, strawberry shortcake, pecan pie and the list goes on and on.

Sitting at the dinner table on Sundays was a treat. First and foremost mama cared about appearances. The white linen table cloth had to be pressed to perfection, as well as the linen napkins and place mats. From the time I was an itty bitty girl, it was my job to iron the linen for Sunday and it had to be perfect or I had to start over. The table was decorated in different color schemes depending on the season of the year. I am the baby of the family so I usually got whatever I wanted much to the annoyance of my siblings. They still harbor ill will toward me when we reminisce. I really don’t care, it wasn’t my fault I was born last and as they claim am mama’s favorite. The truth is I am not the favorite; I just spent the most time with mama. Whenever she was in need of a steward, I was her man. I have peeled countless pounds of potatoes and chopped numerous onions at my mom’s side while learning her trade secrets in the kitchen.

Now when I cook for my husband or a larger crowd, I have that feeling of home in my kitchen. I have a much easier time because of technology. I have learned from other TV chefs along the way, but be it ever so humble, there’s no place like Big Thel’s home.