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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Happy Discoveries, Vol. 1

I love that my kids & their friends have so
much fun dancing on the streets of Rome, GA.
While many readers may already know James Altucher as the stock market guru or the podcasting author/ influencer of entrepreneurs, I met him via Shaunta Grimes. A top writer for, Shaunta makes a solid income from publishing insightful essays about being human and building your own writing career. She may not have Altucher-level fame, but James once engaged in a series of emails with Shaunta and gave her some solid professional advice. She initially rejected it, later successfully implemented it and finally wrote an essay about the whole experience. Since I'm a subscriber to Shaunta's newsletter, I received a copy of that essay and then headed over to, where I quickly scanned the whole site in an attempt to absorb its essence.

My take away = a free copy of How to Make $2,000 In A Weekend (which contains interesting advice for my instrument company but not really anything uniquely useful to me as a writer), a free copy of Choose Yourself, Guide to Wealth (which contains an interesting anecdote about Eminem's marketing strategy & will become a genuinely invaluable element of my weekly collage-making projects), the desire to invest in the marijuana industry AND a quick guide to living a rich and fulfilling life. Key to this guide are the following four principles:
  1. Do something daily which connects you to your physical body and promotes wellness. (James suggests basketball.)
  2. Do something daily to meet your emotional needs. (James suggests editing your engagements to only be those which deeply fulfill you, as well as cutting draining people from your life.)
  3. Do something daily to stimulate yourself intellectually. (James suggests making a list of 10-20 good or bad ideas.) 
  4. Do something daily which connects you with a greater sense of divinity, whatever you perceive that to be. (James suggests simply listing and reflecting on what you are grateful for.)
    Here I am soon after a women's sweat lodge.
    I'm grateful to participate in this tradition.
    While implementing the idea list recommended in point 3, I decided to incorporate point 4 with this blog, to a degree. Specifically, I am going to scan my daily gratitude lists for happy discoveries--either of creators or their creations.  Then, once a week, I will share those discoveries here with brief summaries and links. You are currently reading Volume 1 of this Happy Discoveries series. Enjoy!

    1. Shaunta Grimes & James Altucher.


    2. Living with Yourself

    You will quickly see that I mine Netflix for happy discoveries. I deeply aspire to see my own work there one day. Meanwhile, I love shows and movies but hate commercials. So, there you are. This week on Netflix, I finished the first season of Living with Yourself, starring Paul Rudd in dual roles as Miles and Miles' clone. I'm attaching an interview here which provides a glimpse of how Timothy Greenberg developed the show--which explores identity and relationships with thought-provoking humor and grace.

    That's my daughter with her hands in the air.
    I'm always grateful for the county fair.
    3. American Horror Story: Apocalypse

    While the new season, 1984, is on network TV now--Netflix recently released last year's Apocalypse. Like many people, I have favorite seasons but love the whole AHS franchise.  The story lines are intriguing, and the way the same actors play different characters both within and across seasons speaks to me. I love it when the seasons (like Apocalypse, Murder House, Hotel & Coven) directly connect. Even when they don't, I draw connections between the many characters which the same actors play, and there always seems to be something to learn about humanity.Within Apocalypse itself, I particularly enjoy the way Kathy Bates proclaims herself to be a "Devil Mama" and the way the people who sold their souls hold worship ceremonies and potlucks stunningly similar to those I experienced in my Baptist church as a child--apart, of course, from the human sacrifice. I'm linking to an interview with Apocalypse's Cody Fern who discusses his role as the antichrist and the influence of working alongside powerful women.

    4. Counting Descent by Clint Smith

    I love poems which show me something I objectively understand from a perspective which I could never hold. I also love it when core truths spill beautifully on a page with a lyrical and subjective sense of realism. This is exactly what Clint Smith achieves in his poetic portrait of what it's like to be black in the USA circa 2017.

    My son won over 1000 points on one arcade game
    & finally cashed in on a "good prize," this
    awesome pixel sword. He felt like a boss.
    5.  Hello Privilege, It's Me Chelsea.

    This Netflix documentary received a ton of criticism from viewers who saw it less as an educational tool than as a publicity stunt for comedian Chelsea Handler to make herself seem much more "woke" than her professional and personal track record suggest that she is. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it and felt that I learned something from it. In my opinion, it plays like a primer in privilege for beginners. I understand that such a thing should not need to exist, but I also understand the reality that it does. So, it's better that we have this than nothing. I think the main problem is not with the documentary itself but rather with it claiming to be anything other than a flawed ally's first step at using her platform to generate meaningful change. Attached is a review which reflects this feeling.

    6. Dave Chapelle's Sticks and Stones

    Personally, I've never been deeply impressed by Dave Chapelle's humor. The primary part of his controversial special was no exception. However, the epilogue moved me. Dave's stories about Daphne, a younger Kamala Harris and his parallel encounters with Prince Charles and Barack Obama will stay with me. For me, the Sticks and Stones routine itself simply provided the context within which the epilogue could be more deeply appreciated. The juxtaposition of the two speaks to something at the core of American society which I'll be contemplating for some time. Oddly, I haven't read anything which speaks to that. Instead, there are some interesting pieces which discuss the glaring disparity between critic ratings and viewer ratings of the special. That is interesting too, so an article about that is linked.

    7. Nikki Glaser's Bangin'

    Apparently, the past week has re-awakened my appreciation for comedians. If you need a reprieve from Chelsea and Dave, Nikki is here. Bawdy, bold (& only a touch political), Nikki creates a hilarious and relatable portrait of modern womanhood.

    P.S. The happy discoveries posts will also be illustrated by photos of some recent personal moments for which I'm most grateful.  

    Friday, October 18, 2019

    Life Lessons at ATL PRIDE

    My daughter & her friend at PRIDE '18, photo by CRK
    PRIDE 2019 centered on the fleeting moments. Our search for a parking lot showed me the way to Atlanta's Redlight Cafe, a place I've long aspired to read poetry and enjoy burlesque. Rainbow capes pulled up over our heads, my children and I sloshed through a parking lot onto a trail and under a bridge. I turned around to see my son smiling as he took in the subtle beauty of the grey sky, fallen leaves, cool air and unexpected street art stretching across the back wall of the underpass. Our plans to march with Georgia Alliance for Social Justice thwarted by a combination of road construction, weather and limited funds for the Uber we'd need to reach the starting point--we watched from the sidelines and then followed the marchers into Piedmont Park. There, we wandered miles through rainbow colored stands and crowds of people un-apologetically being themselves, or at least celebrating other people's right to do so.

    My son at PRIDE '18, photo by CRK
    My daughter gleamed when a broad-chested, masked man in a lacy red jumpsuit pointed to her and shouted, "Yaaas! I love your wings!" She jumped to make her cape (the wings) billow in the cool wind and led us deeper into a maze where we enjoyed the cheerful spectacle of adults line dancing to rap music and where my son paused to watch ducks swimming across a pond. When a passing stranger reached toward my son as he was duck-watching, my daughter waved away the woman's hand and pulled her brother close. In her mind, it was a kidnapping narrowly averted. I thanked her. She made her cape billow again and said in the most matter-of-fact way possible: That's what heroes do. 

    Meanwhile, we had time to discuss the colors of the various flags and to name the words represented by LGBTQ. My daughter was disappointed by the lack of an A. Like many 11-year-olds, she is presently a-sexual. Unlike many 11-year-olds, she actively identities as such. 

    At least, I imagine this is the case for most 11-year-olds. When I was younger, we weren't supposed to speak about our sexuality. Living in the "Bible Belt" of the USA, this remains true for many of our homeschooling peers. However, for us, taking a secular approach means embracing what is culturally relevant and applying it to our own lives. Identifying one's place along the spectrum of gender and sexual identity is having a moment, and I've embraced my daughter's interest in it. My goal with this is mostly that she understand there are many ways to identify and that she know it is okay both for her choices to change with time and for them to remain as they are. 

    My children at PRIDE '19
    I've taught her to wait until adulthood to make any permanent changes but to keep her mind open to whatever thoughts and feelings come. All the great life stories seem to center on self-discovery, and PRIDE serves as a doorway to observing, questioning, discovering, understanding and celebrating some key aspects of oneself--whether one identities as LGBTQ or not. I love that Atlanta's PRIDE parade syncs with National Coming Out Day, making it feel applicable to all who have closeted aspects of themselves and are navigating the many feelings which come with liberation. 

    In 2018, my children, their father, a family of friends and I marched alongside ACLU in the PRIDE parade. My son danced and twirled his way through Midtown handing out pamphlets urging citizens to go vote as he went. The sun shimmered wildly through an already clear October sky. My daughter remembers it as a foundation forming moment of her childhood.  This year, a group of teenagers passed us in the park. They were chanting and then giggling under their breath. My daughter pointed to them and said: See. That's me and my friends when we're just a little older, Mom. 

    I know she's right. At 37, I can also see how important it is to have memories like the ones she's made and is preparing to make. Laughter, freedom and connection are hallmarks of a happy childhood. And, when events like PRIDE are central to those experiences, I consider that a major win. 

    This story also appears within Secular & Sensational on Medium, where I encourage you to give it some "claps" and explore more adventures in secular homeschooling. Also, GAFSJ marchers made a powerful impact sharing their message of love. For their march story and info. about upcoming events, please check out the website

    Tuesday, October 8, 2019

    SOVEREIGN Reaches $2K Milestone!

    Slowly, I'm moving toward reaching my $9K crowdfunding goal for Sovereign--a full length collection of Recovery Poems. In addition to helping me finance publication, funds raised through the campaign also cover the additional expenses I've acquired while treating and recovering from invasive ductal carcinoma, diagnosed in the wake of my divorce.

    People who donate at least $20 USD receive a signed copy of Sovereign and an invitation to a fun launch party! Meanwhile, for every $1K earned, I post a video of myself reading a poem from the forthcoming collection.

    I composed my $2K poem over the weekend while contemplating masks and my high school reunion. Please take some time to listen and then contribute as you're able.

    CashApp ID = $poetmom445

    Thank you all for your support!

    Sunday, October 6, 2019

    Introducing AMP Rome

    This August my friend Jessie Reed called together a round table of sorts. She and many of the attendees had just orchestrated a local vigil to acknowledge and mourn the lives lost within immigrant detention centers at the United States' Southern Border. Within our Georgia town, this sparked controversy. However, the event proceeded peacefully under the protection of local law enforcement officials. That has been the trend for many years now--beginning first with the counter protest of a pre-Charlottesville white nationalist rally and encompassing a variety of vigils, marches, drives and creative expressions of and for our community during times of transition--both simple as the changing seasons and complex as the border crisis.

    The purpose of the round table was to bring unity and organization to the group behind these events. In the past, members of the group had functioned using the name Turn Your Back on Hate, as well as the name PERC (Peacefully Engaging the Rome Community). There had been groundwork done toward opening a physical center but challenges finding an investor whose vision merged organically with the group's. There had also been the issue of the group understanding its own mission--as most of its actions had manifested rapidly in response to a shared feeling rather than been planned to serve a distinct purpose.

    By September, the round table has evolved into an official Board of Directors, to which I've been appointed Secretary, and the group has been officially named AMP. We are co-hosting Rome, Georgia's, Winter Wonderland Festival this November, and I invite anyone with ties to Northwest Georgia to get involved. Our website is here: