Saturday, March 15, 2014

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

It's been a minute ya'll cause the trail has been so bumpy here of late, that it caused me to fall off my horse . Did a bit of soul searching while lying there on the ground though, and I decided to get up, dust myself off, get back on that horse and ride once more…not into the sunset mind you, but into the sunshine of the spirit.

Been experiencing a serious health challenge…yea the life and death kind, and I've found that perspectives change when one finds oneself in this type of situation. It's times like these when all we can think about is why me? I been good. What have I done to deserve this? I'm not ready to go yet…I certainly don't want to live like this but I definitely don't want to die. A change has come over me though and I'm so grateful that I remembered the WE. So grateful that I was able to remind myself that it ain't about you Calvin, it's about US…the ONES who LOVE YOU.  It's about your wife, your mother, your children, your grandchildren, your sisters, your brothers in law, your cousins, your aunts and uncles, your friends, the people you ain't heard from in twenty years, the people who are praying for you that you don't even know, and the CREATOR who is the author and sustainer of the WE of which you are well aware. Challenges will come and this one you must choose to view as an opportunity for growth rather than as a threat to your well being.

Hasn't been easy. One of the hardest hurdles for me has been my interaction with others. People have the best intent in mind but their words and actions don't always reflect that. However, it's been a blessing because every time somebody says or does something I find discomforting, all I have to do is remind myself that they are a reflection of me and are letting me know that I need to check my own interaction with others and make sure that what I do and say is from the heart and not the mind. Ain't easy but a must for me if I am to contribute to the WELLNESS of others. Got to keep trying to keep it simple, and remain aware that most of the time people do the best they can with what they have. It ain't personal and even if it is that's where they are right now, and right now...it's all they have. What I need to do, verbally and/or in silence, is to reciprocate with LOVE not vengence, judgement, and condemnation. Not easy, but simply put... LOVE IS…that's it that's all!!!

Just wanted to share that with you for now, but be assured that this is only the beginning of a brand new life. Yea it's now been quite a few lives in one lifetime for me, and I'm real excited about what's yet to come and extremely eager for the opportunities to share my experiences, hopes and dreams with you.

BE BLESSED...BE WELL and as always…I'll holla.






To comment or respond click on the word comments at the bottom of the page or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Reason Season Lifetime

Might not mean much to some, but for the first time in my life I got a chance to fly first-class. The purpose of this particular flight, was to commemorate the life of my surrogate Dad, Adolph White, and it was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the times he and I had spent together. My father transitioned in 1978, and my being 29 at the time I had not even considered the fact that I might need someone to fill the gap that I didn't even know would exist. Adolph was that person, the mentor who reignited my love for family, who instilled in me the importance of loyalty to friends, and who demonstrated how to support what one believed in through voluntary actions on the behalf of others. As I flew in complete comfort from Los Angeles to Chicago, I experienced an awakening that pointed out that the lifelong interaction, between Adolph and myself, was in and of itself a first class experience.

Adolph and I first met in October of 1986, at Hyde Park Hospital, where I was undergoing treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. Adolph would visit this hospital every Saturday morning to offer support and encouragement to the patients there. I took these visits personally. Having done drugs for 19 years and in a semi stupor at the time, I was quite apprehensive as to why this large, Italian man was coming to visit me. What was his angle. As time elapsed I found that Adolph had been helped through a similar life threatening situation, and that he was dedicated to giving back what had so freely been given to him. I also came to realize that Adolph was African American like myself, and as time went by I came to realize that racial make-up should not be a hindrance to accepting the genuine love that others are willing to share. A couple of weeks after our meeting for the first time, Adolph introduced me to a guy named Les and his wife Priscilla,  thus initiating a relationship that continues to this day, with two people who would later become my closest friends.

Beginning in 1986, Adolph, Les, and myself began meeting for breakfast every Saturday morning. The three of us met at least 49 Saturdays a year for 25 years, until I moved to California in 2011, with he and Les continuing that tradition for another year. At these meetings we discussed every issue from the smallest cause for concern to situations of monumental proportion. During these discourses, Les and I saw eye to eye probably 90% of the time. Adolph however, disputed the majority of our analytical dissertations because he of course forgot more than we'd ever know. We were nonetheless able to resolve the majority of the world's problems in a single sitting and, in addendum, by bantering with whom I consider two of the most intelligent men on the planet, I'm prepared to comfortably converse with anyone from the financially strapped man standing on the corner to the well to do matriarch residing in Buckingham Palace.

I'm going to miss Adolph's opinions, even though he deemed them to be facts. You see if you disagreed with what he thought, you were wrong and that was that. I'm going to miss the directives,  that he stressed were only suggestions, because for a long time his telling me what to do was the only way things were going to get done. Most of all I'm going to miss his love. Although he insisted that our relationship was not one of friendship, but of survivorship because we shared similar life-saving experiences, I know that only love could produce and maintain the lifelong camraderie that ensued. Had it not been for the love of one man for others he didn't even know, what we have now would  probably never have materialized.

I want to employ this time to thank Adolph's wife Beverly, his children Rennie, Rory, Julie, Jill, and Chris, and his grandson Scooter for allowing either Les or myself to come to your home every Saturday and spend time away with Adolph, usually at the restaurant that was ironically located around the corner from his sister Clarice's home. I want you to know that I sincerely appreciate your allowing Les and myself the numerous opportunities to spend quality time with someone who genuinely had only our best interest at heart. I honor each of you wholeheartedly, for giving us the unconditional love and respect that is not easy to come by in this sometimes harrowing experience we call life. Most of all I am forever grateful that collectively, we were all able to roll with the 'Big Guy' on what we can all appreciate as being a truly FIRST CLASS ride.

LOVE YOU ADOLPH….

I'll Holla…








To comment or respond click on the word comments, at the bottom of this page, or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com.




Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Would You Bring Some Of That Joy With You

I asked members of my family what event made them happy this year, and the answers ranged from a free ticket to a Bulls game to the birth of a child. Quite a stretch in terms of similarity but, relatively speaking, only the ones experiencing these events can gauge the degree of happiness they attained. What makes you happy might just make me cry, but I'd still like to know what rocks your boat cause maybe, just maybe, it could rock mine and somebody else's as well.

A great degree of my joy this year stemmed from hosting, for the past three months, the 'Do You Know' radio show broadcast on KUCI 88.9 FM in Irvine, CA. The intent of my show is to bring, to the listeners, bits of knowledge and information, that they might not have heard, from people they might not know. You see there are millions of people who would love to share their experience, strength, and hope with others and have no means, outside of social media such as Facebook, for doing so. The biggest joy that I experience from interviewing the ones who have appeared on my show, is the joy and gratitude that they exude from having had the opportunity to be on the show and to share their thoughts and feelings with others.

We are all the light of the world, and each of us can illuminate another's life just by sharing a small portion of our own. I have no idea how many hearts have been moved by the things that my guests have shared, but I do know that the universe has benefitted from the joyful vibrations that were emitted from their simple act of doing so.

I implore all of us to bring joy to others by sharing and caring. Don't ever feel that you have nothing to say because, in reference to what made my family happy, there are people everywhere who already have babies, who would love to get away to see a Bulls game for free, and who are happy just knowing that somebody else did. On the other hand there are people that look forward to having a child and are inspired and made hopeful by hearing that somebody else has experienced it. We can always bring joy by listening and learning. We should make conscious attempts to listen to what another has to say because we never know how much joy that person might derive from talking to somebody who really seems to care. On top of that we have no idea how much both of us can learn as a result of actually caring, even if it's just a smidgen, about what's being said.

Whether we shine our light by consciously sharing our lives with somebody else or by allowing another to share their life with us, darkness cannot prevail. Remember, we can't find joy cause it ain't lost. But when our light shines it's like morning ya'll, and from what I've been told…JOY does cometh in the morning.

I'll Holla…




To comment or respond click on the word comments at the bottom of the page or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com.




Tuesday, December 24, 2013

WE ALL CARE…RIGHT?

My friend KD posed a question on facebook, in regard to the energy accident at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, which was the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Having posted  this and other disturbing articles on facebook daily, and having received no response, she wanted to know if she is the only one who gives a damn. Some responses came after she mentioned that of course, but the entire interaction serves as a reminder that we all need to STOP sometimes and ask ourselves "If I care, how am I showing it?'

Without realizing it, our major objective in life has become to do as much as possible in the time we feel is allotted to us. Then, when something that we could and probably should make time for arises, we graciously exonerate ourselves by claiming "I don't have time." Now there's no blame intended mind you, just an indication that we may be unwarily conforming to the belief that 'time is money' and if we ain't using our time to 'get paid' then we ain't using it in the way we should.

I know, we'd like to think that it ain't about the money, but all the things we're concerning ourselves with seem to point to how much money we don't have. There's a lot going on in our lives and we're doing all we can just to keep up. There's the bills, the kids, the job, the house, the car, and all the reminders of how poverty and economic distress is going on all over the world. Then there's our personal stuff like stressing over our weight, our wardrobes, and our general well-being. We claim that money ain't everything, but we do feel that if we had a little bit more then we could have some peace of mind and a little more time to show our concern for others. A little more money uh? Well I don't think that's the answer cause John D. Rockefeller was at one point the world’s richest man.  When a reporter asked him, “How much money is enough?”  You know what he said? “Just a little bit more.”  

What we do for others should not be prioritized in terms of how much money or how much time we think we need to be a part of their lives. It should be about taking a little time, every now and then, to show them we care.  A phone call..."I ain't got time to talk just called to let you know I'm thinking about you." A text... "Have a good day." Giving a random hug to somebody in our household, an unexpected "How do you do" to a stranger, or if you're not going to comment on the post of a facebook friend, at least click on the like icon. It's the small stuff ya'll, that we need to focus on just a little more. It's the taking just a little bit of time to possibly make a big difference in the life of somebody else. 

There's an infinite amount of money in the world so don't worry about how much you don't have  because there's more that's available to you. There's a infinite amount of time as well, and using it wisely can make you richer than you've ever imagined. Of course we gotta use our time meeting our material needs, but let's STOP and give a little bit of our time to someone else. The joy and happiness that follow will definitely convince us that right now…at this very moment...we all have more than enough.

Thanks KD for reminding us to share, how much we care, with one another. Happy Holiday to all of ya'll. This is Calvin, and I'll Holla….





To comment or respond click on the word comments at the bottom of the page or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com.




Saturday, November 30, 2013

It's What's Inside That Matters Most


Isn’t it funny how at times we feel that we have transcended the consciousness of the status quo…that consciousness being one of hierarchy and compartmentalization. We erroneously feel that we have stopped looking at people in terms of their socio-economic status and the corresponding box they fit into, and actually believe that we are void of judgment, criticism and condemnation. Well go head and laugh at me, if you like, because I thought that I had arrived and was really convinced that I was accepting of others with no regard for their corporate or academic affiliation. Professor Jonathan Feng unknowingly made me aware of my inaccurate self-identity, and thankfully caused me to take a look inside.

I first learned of Professor Feng through a lecture series at the University Of California Irvine (UCI) campus entitled ‘What Matters To Me And Why’. Professor Feng is a member of the UCI Advisory Council on Campus, Climate & Inclusion and serves on the Diversity, Inclusion and Programming Work Group. He, along with a colleague, initiated the series and I was intrigued by their concept of bringing members of the campus community together through an experience sharing modality…which in turn would lead to the creating and sustaining of a sense of ‘Oneness’. I learned later that my new associate was a professor of Physics and Astronomy and that he specialized in research. That’s when I became aware of the need for a self-assessment because my initial reaction was how in the world is a scientist involved in matters of the heart.

Of course my desire to interview Professor Feng on the radio show was intensified because I realized that here was an opportunity for others to be made aware that the seeming paradox inherent in the merger of the spiritual and the scientific is unfounded. No matter what our vocation or endeavors may be, we should all strive for collaboration rather than separation because each of our personal contributions increases exponentially when our focus is on the big picture rather than our own wallet-sized photos.

This brings us back to my limited understanding and acceptance of my own shortcomings in regard to who and where I am in relation to others. I am grateful to have been reminded that I must, from time to time, reassess where I stand in regard to others and whether I am more concerned with putting people where I think they should be or with meeting them where they are. Thanks Professor Feng for reminding me to never think too highly of self, to stay green and growing, and to always be in touch with what matters most… right now.

I’ll holla…





To comment or respond click on the word comments at the bottom of the page or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Watts Can't Stop But The Riots Can

I met playwright Donald Jolly at the world premiere of his play Riot/Rebellion, a depiction of the Watts Riot of 1965. What struck me most was that I knew this guy was too young to have been there, yet his familiarity with the incident and decision to premiere it at the Watts Village Theater gave a knowledgeable and nostalgic temperament to this heart rendering presentation. Being a part of that era, and having participated in the 1968 riots in Chicago, it did my heart good to know that the underlying and not often discussed reasons for those uprisings were not forgotten. I will have interviewed Donald on the radio by the time this blog is posted, but you can contact me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com if interested in hearing his story as told by him.

To our youth I say learn who you are by way of those who have gone before you. To those of us in our prime I say allow those not yet where we are, an opportunity to learn not just what happened with us, but also the reason why.  Donald talked to about 10 people who were there when the Watts Rebellion took place, and spent 2 years developing a personal relationship and garnering pertinent information that was grounded in credibility rather than speculation. His actors were a mixture of those who lived during that time and of those who had not yet been conceived, with both groups presenting to the audience a collaboration of personal depictions of a time that should not be forgotten. The truth is that the rebellious consciousness that existed then is still exists today because the conditions that caused it have not gone away. We all have a role in the decision of where do we go from here, and only the recognition of and commitment to our 'oneness' will develop and maintain a positive direction.

From the 'Hard Scrabble' riot in Providence, Rhode Island in1824 till the Oakland riot in Oakland, California in 2009, there have been a total of 245 documented racial or ethnic riots in the world. America is first with a total of 125 and the United Kingdom second with 30. Two of the so called leaders of the so called free world, whose history is steeped in racial and ethnic animosity. People don't rebel just cause it's hot, or throw rocks because they're "…like monkeys in a zoo", as Watts police chief William H. Parker is alleged to have said. People rebel against what they feel is not right. Something is wrong ya'll. Something that was going on in Rhode Island in 1824 is still going on today. I, for one, am grateful that Donald Jolly and others are reminding us that we have work to do, but we all need to realize that doing the same thing expecting different results is regarded as insanity. We need to stop supporting an individualistic, hierarchical mindset, both inside and outside of our respective ethnicities, and start looking at how to establish a 'we're all in this together consciousness. Only then can we be proactive in regard to stopping the cause of rebellion, rather than reactive to the riots that ensue.

I thank Donald Jolly, Director Barbara Roberts, all the cast and crew, and give a special thanks to the Watts Village Theater Company for giving others an opportunity to explore and be exposed to what's really going on and fostering an initiative to be a positive part of it. We learn by listening to each other ya'll, so access http://wattsvillagetheatercompany.ning.com/ and go to one of the 4 remaining performances of this wonderful presentation. I implore all of you who can, to take advantage of an opportunity to be educated...to be inspired...to be entertained…all at the same time.

I'll Holla…





To comment or respond click on the word comments at the bottom of the page or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com.





Sunday, November 17, 2013

Do You Know Nicole?


The theme of my radio show is ‘Things you might not have heard from people you might not know’. The underlying reason for this theme is that although we might not hear from folks we have never heard of, it does not negate the significance of what they may have said or done. The purpose of the show is to allow some of their voices to be heard and some of their endeavors shared. Nicole Mitchell, someone you might not know, is our upcoming guest.  What I’d like to do is share a few things I’ve heard, that because of her modesty, you might not otherwise hear.

Nicole was born in Syracuse, New York and moved with her family to a neighborhood in Anaheim, California at the age of 8. Being one of the very few children of African American descent in that area, her elementary and high school experience was riddled with both overt and subtle racial animosity that she still recalls from time to time. Not only did she devise a means of dealing with the years of being referred to as ‘Spider Web’, because of the texture of her hair, or being constantly called the N word.“  Her beige exterior did not adequately reflect her  I’m proud of being black…. don’t get it twisted attitude”, and she grew stronger in what would become a precursor to and preparation for the trials and tribulations that lay ahead. Probably most disheartening was Nicole’s being only 16 when her mother transitioned. No longer a child, not yet a woman, she consciously resolved to continue her mother’s artistic path, through music.  “There’s something I’m supposed to do she vowed. I’m going to have to do it on my own, but Anaheim is not the place I’m going to do it in.

She continued her education at UC San Diego and augmented her flute playing skills by playing music on the streets of La Jolla. Adorned in eveningwear, this young performer astounded the passers by with the virtuosity displayed through both her classical and jazz renditions. She subsequently moved to Oberlin College in Ohio and later to the city of her mother’s birth, and the place where that something she felt she had to do took on a more recognizable form. Chicago was now the hometown of Nicole Mitchell.

While living in Chicago Nicole accomplished her educational goals, taught for years at several Universities, while playing the piccolo with the Chicago Sinfonietta. She still performs with the several jazz bands she started while living there, served as the first and only female president of the almost 50 year old Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, has been and is still recognized for the past 4 years as the world’s best jazz flutist by the Jazz Journalists Association and Downbeat magazine.  Not to mention that on one of her many trips to Europe she was approached by a college student in Italy who wanted her to sign an Italian magazine that had her picture on the cover.

You may have heard some or none of these things, but what you might not have heard is the fact that she’s more respected and renown in Europe than she is in her hometown. You might not have heard how some folks in Chicago tried to sabotage her classical concert career because a black woodwind player was rare and not readily accepted. You might not know that the jazz arena is still male dominated and female performers, with the exception of vocalists, are at times looked upon with disdain and oftentimes scrutinized in terms of their ability and success. Did you know that her avant-garde musical approaches ruffled the feathers of a more conservative Chicago college administration? Were you aware that her first encounter with Chicago’s finest was being arrested in downtown Chicago and charged with a noise violation. Accolades on the one hand, rejection on the other, and in spite of it all, her resolve is still reflective of the Maya Angelou mantra “… Still I’ll rise”.  

Well, that’s enough for now and I hope you guys have realized that my intent for both this blog and the radio show is to unveil the unknown. Like Nicole, we all have a place on this planet and we all have something to give. We need a platform for doing so and Nicole Mitchell is one who has made that platform for herself because, rather than opting to have her dream deferred, she chose to develop and maintain a consciousness committed to doing what she has been put here to do. When you hear her play her piccolo or flute, when you listen to an orchestra perform one of her composition, be aware that you’re witnessing a ‘heart form’, not an art form; and that Nicole’s intent is to inspire you to continue doing whatever it is that you do to contribute positive energy to this universe in which we all reside. All I have left to say right now is, “Play on Nicole…Play on.”

I’ll holla 




To comment or respond click on the word comments at the bottom of the page or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com.