The Art of…Letting Go

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Over the past few years, I have been actively working on advancing my career. It has been an exciting, and at times, frightening process. Moving forward forces one to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly. However it is always good to take a hard look at yourself and learn more about what makes you tick.

Another effect of self-discovery is letting go – letting go of ideas, emotions, perceptions and sometimes even people. Letting go should never be viewed as a negative exercise. Pruning trees is a great example of letting go – cutting branches back controls growth and removes dead and diseased areas that would normally hinder growth. As much as we might want longer hair, my fellow hair caretakers understand that an occasional clipping of the ends will actually stimulate hair growth. Similarly, exfoliating the skin sloughs off dull and dead skin cells, exposing the growing layer of healthy skin underneath.

All these examples lead to a similar conclusion – letting go is good. Getting rid of anything that is toxic and unhealthy not only takes away the bad, but more importantly, makes way for the healthy, growing and good things to rise to the surface and flourish.

What do YOU need to let go of?

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Remembering Malcolm

I work at the hospital where Malcolm X was taken after he was shot. The old Audubon Ballroom is now the The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center and we often hold events there. The first time I stepped inside, I was overwhelmed by the fact that this is where he spoke and where his life ended. There is a life-sized bronze statue of him at the base of the staircase leading upstairs to the old ballroom. As I climbed the stairs I felt my steps slowing, thinking of the crowds tumbling down the stairs that day. Some were chasing the alleged gunmen. Some were escaping the scene. Some were stumbling in disbelief that their beloved leader had been shot down.

The open space on the second floor has a wall of large windows overlooking Broadway. Another wall holds a beautiful mural depicting scenes of Malcolm’s life. All through the building are photographs and kiosks playing videos of his speeches. You are surrounded by history. In the ballroom there is a very large poster photograph of Dr. Betty Shabazz. Rumor has it that the poster sits on the spot where he was killed. Others say the statue on the first floor marks the spot. (I would figure the second floor location is more accurate). Regardless of the precise location, one can feel the presence of greatness. I was so overwhelmed I had a hard time concentrating on the first thirty minutes of the event!

Even when I pass by the Center, I take a moment to soak in the history. I take a moment to remember El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

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This and That With Calandra Turns 4!

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I can’t believe that four years ago today, I started my first blog, This and That With Calandra. Technically, I started it a few weeks earlier on another site, but for simplicity, let’s just use January 30 as the official birthday of TTWC!

What started out as the written version of my YouTube channel has turned into so much more. In the past four years, TTWC has highlighted the following:

  • Makeup reviews and tutorials, based on my YouTube videos.
  • Food and Family articles from my cousin and TTWC contributor Jasmine Hall Ratliff.
  • Facebook Fan Page with over 230 followers.
  • Parenting articles published for the online magazine MortarNBrique.
  • A month of daily audio posts (AudioMo challenge), immediately followed by a month of daily blog posts (31WriteNow Challenge). TTWC followers increased dramatically as a result of the daily postings!
  • A section dedicated to music that spun off to create my second website, Liner Notes Lounge, which also became the home of my monthly music podcast,  The Listening Suite.

And who knows what the future will hold for This and That With Calandra! Thanks to all who have supported TTWC and its offshoots over the years, and who have personally encouraged my writing. TTWC would not have come this far without YOU! Here’s to many more years of This and That With Calandra.

Made By Hand

(In response to WordPress’ Daily Post from MANY weeks ago, By Hand)

What was the best gift you ever received that was handmade? Those of us who are parents probably have a ton of handmade pictures, bookmarks, keychains and jewelry that our children have made for us. But there are three special handmade gifts I will always treasure.

Over 20 years ago, my good friend in South Carolina made a simple storage mug for me. It is a plain black mug, with my name written on it with a gold paint marker. Let me interject that having an uncommon name, I am ALWAYS excited to see my name monogrammed on anything! But she also wrote around the mug adjectives she felt described me. That’s what made it personal.

When my son was 4, he made my first pre-school Mother’s Day gift, which was a handmade beaded keychain. He was so proud of it and I still have it on my keychain, faded letters and all. When my daughter was 4, she made the same keychain as her brother, and I promised I would keep both of them. However, her knot must not have been tight and I didn’t realize that over a period of a few days, I had slowly been losing beads from the keychain. But I still keep the green rope tied to my keys, as a reminder of my handmade gift. And my daughter appreciates the fact that I never threw away the green rope!

Something handmade should be cherished and appreciated – because someone took the time to CRAFT it just for you. Did you receive a handmade card or gift this Christmas? Leave a comment and share your gift with us!

Staying in the Moment

time-machine-retro-style-illustration-34241376In trying to reinvigorate my blogging for This and That With Calandra, I have been following WordPress’ “Daily Post,” which provides starter prompts for new posts. Today’s prompt was this:

“Congrats! You’re the owner of a new time machine. The catch? It comes in two models, each traveling one way only: the past OR the future. Which do you choose, and why?”

My answer is NEITHER! Time took a different turn for me when I first became a mother in 2006. Many people said, “Enjoy them while they’re young!” Others said, “It’ll get easier as they get older.” Well I decided that I wanted to stay in the moment. Why dwell on the past, and why rush the future? Every stage of my children’s development has been a joy to watch – trying and frustrating at times – but enjoyable nonetheless. Every brain cell I spend thinking about the past or future is energy wasted, energy I could have used in the present moment.

Staying in the moment doesn’t just apply to my children. As you can tell from many of my posts on TTWC, I love to reminisce. There’s nothing wrong with remembering, but wishing to revisit days gone by is non-productive for me. Planning for the future is fine, but I’ll see it when it gets here. So I have no use for time machines. I prefer to stay in the moment!

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The Mood of Autumn

Calandra Y. Branch:

A great post about Autumn from a musical perspective. Originally posted in “Good Music Speaks.”

Originally posted on Good Music Speaks:

leavesThe colors of the leaves are changing quickly now.  A few are starting to fall into my lawn.  All of those stupid trees seemed like a good idea in the spring and summer when they gave me some shade from the heat of the sun.  Now I’m beginning to regret the arrangement, as I work to fill bag after bag of fallen leaves. It’s coming.  You can feel it in the crisp night air.  Some days are still warm, but the warmth is fading, and the cold winter is ahead of us.  Days are shorter and nights are stretching longer.  It can even seem a bit melancholy at times.

richard_strauss Richard Strauss

This mood is captured over and over again in music from a great variety of sources.  The German composer Richard Strauss included an Autumnal mood in his Vier letzte Lieder, the four last songs he composed, at age…

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