Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.
It’s February, and as we celebrate Black History Month, I awoke thinking of the roots and fruits of my family lineage. The below photos are my ancestors which adorn the hallway of my home.
Last week when Tracie and Mama visited Chicago for Tracie to present her book, Incompatible with Nature, they traveled back to our mother’s childhood home on the South Side. I can’t imagine going home some 8 decades later. Tracie said it literally took her breath away paying witness to this. Now, the property is a vacant lot, however, looking at Mama standing where she was raised, I can visualize the sounds of childhood laughter belting from mama and her siblings.
Although I never met my great maternal grandfather, or his mother, my great great grandmother, I see the tremendous strength and pride in their faces. I study these photos nearly every day, and I marvel at the journey that Patrick and Willie who came from deep in the south to Atlanta to Chicago bearing seeds which became my mother and thus me. I pay respect to my Grandpa Boots, and his twin brother who owned and operated the Miller Cab Company. Black entrepreneurs in an era when such feats were not commonplace. I also marvel at all of their offspring, some who have passed along. Gone but never forgotten. I marvel at those who are here and we celebrate each birthday, each holiday,each milestone and each other. We are blessed. I think of my Grandpa, Papa Jones, who bravely brought his family from Chicago to the Shipyards in Bremerton, WA as a carpenter in search of a better way of life. My mother recalls that journey, as an eleven year old child leaving Chicago, saying goodbye to Willie and Patrick and all she had known. As the family headed to the Pacific Northwest by train, she might have well been headed to Mars.
It was their beginning which is the reason for our being. Precious family of mine, we often say, we are a strong tree with many limbs and branches, and the most succulent fruit. We are indeed blessed as we all have the same strong roots.
In celebration of Black History month and with gratitude!
This past month has just been a whirlwind of promotion for my book, Incompatible with Nature–A Mother’s Story. I am trying to come up with a new, more meaningful way to express my thanks to all who have helped and supported me along this journey.
And it is DIFFICULT to say the very least!
I have been hosted to present intimate readings in some of Seattle’s finest homes with the most gracious of women: Stacie Feinstein and Caroline Egan, I thank you from the bottom my heart and I’ll always remember your generosity. The delicate food, the fireside readings, all your guests and the opportunity to share a reading too, with the amazing author MG Hennessey will always have a special place in my heart.
And then of course, Diana Adachi. I’m still working on how to express my thanks to this lovely woman. Diane and I met several years ago, bonding over speaking about being mothers to our sons, our only children. She offered to host a reading for my book in no less a divine location as the Beverly Hills California Four Seasons Hotel–THE place to see and be seen. And it was beautiful….
She reserved the Windows Room from 3 to 5 P.M. Absolutely no detail was overlooked: gift bags were beautifully arranged around my books. Inside these gift bags were handwritten envelopes addressed with the words:With Appreciation and With Blessings snuggled beside Løv exotic fruit teas. The room had been closed off to any outside guests so that our guests could nibble freely on an exqusite array of hors d’oeuvres, and champagne, lemonade and water–and listen to me.
The guest list was for 22 and about 50 people attended, amongst them family and friends I don’t get see too often so it was just an incredible afternoon all the way around. And I must admit that I was thrilled down to my very bones at the response of everyone. It is an indescribable feeling to read text that you have composed and see everyone hanging on your every word and wanting to know, “Well, what happened after that? And why this? And how did that feel? I can’t imagine…”
What I have found on this journey and I hold it dearly to my heart, is the very real truth that there is nothing more amazing than the power of being able to move someone emotionally. And I am thankful of being in the position to do so.
Moving someone emotionally. This is truly how I felt the night before my event at the Four Seasons, having had dinner with my mom, my aunt Gloria and uncle Quincy at his home. Mid way through dinner he stole a glance at his watch.
“Uncle Q,” I said to him. “Just let mom and me know if you have another engagement this evening–I can imagine how busy you are with it being Grammy week and everything.”
“No baby,” he said. “We all are going to a party after dinner.”
Drop the fork.
We finished dinner and were driven to a movie producer’s home. Talk about a party in the house! A piano was set up on one side of the room, drums and guitars and various instruments alongside the other. Microphones near the piano. Watching these talented singers and musicians getting their groove all the way on inspired me to the hilt for my presentation the following day! Stephen Tyler tried to pull Mama to the dance floor, and Matt Damon was rocking right next to me alongside David Foster who also played a couple of his greatest hits, Russel Simmons, Derek, Shonda Rhimes and a slew of talented musicians who owned the night and delivered! It was just what I needed. And in my heart I thanked all of them.
Apropos thanks, Diane wonderful as she is, sent out thank you notes to all the guests who attended the reading at the Four Seasons. It said in part:
…We thank you all for your support and participation in Tracie’s book launch. Tracie’s book and our theme for the reading reflected all aspects of the heart from medical research to the emotion of a mother’s love and perseverance which was the driving force behind Tracie’s journey resulting in a convergence of new advances in corrective cardiac surgery and solutions that help to manage and increase the lifespan of patients diagnosed with Heterotaxy Syndrome, a rare and complex congenital birth defect…
I am blessed. I am humbled. And for now, I can only say, Thank you.
I’ll be sharing the events at the Go Red For Women Luncheon and at the UIC Medical School in Illinois in the upcoming days.
I was truly touched this past Valentine’s Day by the calls, texts, emojis, bitmojis, messages, and emails from friends and family expressing love.
We should carry this compassion, devotion and expression every day, not just on the 14th of February. A smile generally boomerangs with a return smile and the words I love you garner the same response. Today, take a moment and see where you might generate these emotions in someone.
Last night, I read an article about the founder of Little Caesars and owner of the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings who died Friday. One story about his good deeds may have been overlooked.
Mike Ilitch reportedly once paid the rent of civil rights activist Rosa Parks when she moved into a Detroit apartment complex in 1994. On Aug. 31, 1994, Parks, then 81, was robbed and assaulted in her home in central Detroit. (Judge Damon) Keith called real estate developer Alfred Taubman, the owner of Riverfront Apartments, about finding a safer home for Parks. Taubman pledged to find the best home available.
When Ilitch read about Keith’s plan and Taubman’s promise in the newspaper, he called the judge and said he would pay for Parks’ housing for as long as necessary.
There are so many opportunities to pay it forward in life and many are available at no or little cost.
Take food to a local food bank. I’ve got a bag packed after cleaning out my cupboards and refrigerator this morning. There is truly too much waste in America.
Donate clothes to a shelter. How many of you have dust on hangers and lines from pants being hung so long that you will never wear them again?? I’m guilty too, time to purge!
Post a social media message to support a friend. Plug- vote for Nicole Knowles Plymouth Housing!
Share a great read! Plug- best of the best – my sister’s Incompatible with Nature – A Mother’s Story Join us at Town Hall Monday February 27 at 6 pm.
Plug – Spring is coming for all your aesthetic needs see the best out there- Trina Gill Beatty.
Volunteer- there are too many organizations to count that could use your spare time.
Laugh! Yesterday a friend called and her life is seriously spiraling out of control. I listened as her voice was trembling and finally I broke in and I told her, there’s only one thing to do – shoot yourself. We laughed until we both cried.
Pay the change the person in front of you at the grocery line is struggling to come up with.
Call an old friend, just to say I’ve been thinking about you.
Listen- remember, God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason and that is to do twice as much listening as speaking. Sometimes, that is all a person needs is to be heard.
Forgive – in life, we’ve all been hurt, but there is no better gift than forgiveness. In the end, you are hurting yourself the most and just like love, hatred can boomerang.
Almost everything has a price, but it costs nothing to be nice. May the love you give return to you ten fold.
As I write this, my sister, Tracie Frank Mayer is presenting Incompatible with Nature- A Mother’s Story in Rockford, Illinois at the Go Red for Women Luncheon. Tracie is the keynote speaker and the attendees will hear my sister’s refrain and testimony “Here’s to Life!” The story is abundantly full of life’s most important lessons from never giving in and never giving out, even when the odds are so stacked against you. There is humor as my sister relays some of her most challenging days navigating Germany, not knowing the culture or the unforgiving language. There is something for everyone in this read. Including some early lessons from our parents on how to survive the most dire circumstances. The dialogue that Tracie shares truly is as the Kirkus Review called it, “linguistic richness.” She brought Daddy back alive and he’s been gone over twenty years.
Tracie appeared on King 5 New Day and received raving reviews. Her U.S. tour included L.A. and now Chicago where she will also address the University of Illinois Medical Students.
Incompatible with Nature continues to receive praise and was selected by Indie Editors to be featured in Kirkus Reviews 2/15 Issue. Her review will appear as one of the 35 reviews in the Indie section of the 2/15 Kirkus Reviews magazine which is sent out to over 5,000 industry professionals (librarians, publishers, agents, etc.) Less than 10% of our Indie reviews are chosen for this, so it’s a great honor.
Today, the Menopausebarbees are inviting and asking all of our Seattle friends and family to join us for Tracie’s last local reading as we pack Town Hall 1119 8th Avenue on Monday February 27. 2017 at 6 p.m.
Please share on your pages and let’s circle this event- because after all – Here’s to Life!
I liken finding love to finding a great pair of shoes.
When you try them on they should just fit and feel comfortable. They should be able to carry you the distance. They shouldn’t hurt. They might cost a small fortune, but they are well worth it. They should look good and compliment you. When their soles get tired, you can repair them. When they get scuffed, you can polish them. And when you click your heels 3 times – they should always take you home.
Behind the Glitz and the Glamour, this past weekend, I attended the annual Grammy parties with two significant events to support the arts.
Friday night, Musicares which supports artist in times of need, recovering from substance abuse, financial duress, or who may have fallen on hard times paid tribute to Tom Petty. The highlight of the evening was when Stevie Nicks (one of my all time favorite Menopausebarbees) took the stage and belted Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.
On Sunday morning, we joined,
Bryan-Michael Cox’s annual Breakfast Club brunch has become a staple of Grammy Awards weekend.
The Breakfast Club event has also been a platform for recognizing the work of Music & Memory, a program that brings personalized music through digital technology into the lives of people suffering from degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. In the past, the event has honored musical greats such as Sean “Diddy” Combs, Swizz Beatz, T.I., Jon Platt, Chris Hicks, and DJ Khaled.
This year’s event, sponsored by Toyota, Dusse, and rolling out magazine, paid homage to my friend, Siedah Garrett and Maxwell. Held at the Beverly Wilshire, Cox used the event to speak on the power of music while introducing the important contributions made by Garrett and Maxwell to music. Siedah Garrett, who I personally believe is one of the most talented artist in the industry is a singer/songwriter who penned top hits for Michael Jackson such as “Man in the Mirror,” and “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.”
With the one and only Verdine White of Earth, Wind and Fire!
When my friend, Diana Dotter, Executive Director of The Film School invited me once again to the Oscar Gala at the Triple Door, February 26, I eagerly accepted. Simply put, I love the movies. I love the escape, the passion, and the creativity that our amazing screen stars often bring to life.
I admit, as an African American business woman, often times it is frustrating seeing films where blacks are not portrayed in this millennial of my experience. I truly see that reflected through my daughter’s eyes and her generation. As we have crammed to see all nominated films, a close look at some of the Black films this year, include,Fences, where Denzel Washington and Viola Davis have award winning, stellar performances as a struggling family facing hard times as a sanitation worker in Pittsburgh in the 1950s; or Loving where an interracial couple find themselves breaking the law by getting married in 1958; Moonlight, set in Miami, during the “War on Drugs”, shares the story of a crack addicted mother with her child known as “Black”, who was coming of age discovering his homosexuality. My personal favorite is Hidden Figures, the brilliant account of the African American women behind the scenes of NASA in 1961, who fought segregation while launching an American in space.
As we celebrate Black History month, it is imperative that we understand where we have come from and where we are going. Growing up, my heroes were the likes of Maya Angelou, and Alex Haley. With great admiration for all the trailblazers of my generation – Oprah Winfrey, Colin Powell, Condeleeza Rice,President and Michelle Obama and even in my own family, my uncle, a Federal Judge.
In celebration of this history, I invite you all to delve even further and check out Blackpast.org This year, my cousin, Chris Jay, Jr. is chairing their 10 year anniversary. Just as I and I’m sure many of you were not aware of the contributions African American Women made in Hidden Figures, check out Blackpast.org to discover more.
It’s National Heart Month in America and with that and the recent publishing of my book, Incompatible with Nature–A Mother’s Story, all things heart are on my mind.
And so with that, I’d like to share with you a quote from my book:
“Nobody has ever measured, not even poets,
how much the heart can hold.”
This is Something for Your Toolbox.
I want you to know that in life, in love and with all of it’s triumphs and teardrops, you can jump over your hurdle and find your hallelujah. You are indeed, stronger than you think.
Tune in to Seattle’s KING5 TV Show New Day Northwest, Thursday Feb. 9, 2017, 11 A.M. PST– I’ll be speaking about my book.
Sugar Shoes! Sweet Feet! Swing Time! Having Heart!
Makes me wanna put on my dancin’ shoes just anticipating Saturday, March 11, 2017 at Fremont Studios as one of my girls takes the stage for one of my favorite Fundraisers. I’m beyond proud of the cause, courage, and intense dedication that Nicole Knowles will bring as she hits the stage and dances in front of 500 plus people all to benefit Plymouth low income housing. As a life-long landlord I know all too well the need to support and provide shelter for the former homeless. We cannot drive under the viaducts, bridges, downtown, and past the I-5 “Jungle” and not acknowledge that the homeless population is a crisis in our city. As I write this, I and looking out my window as our first major snow storm of the season blankets Seattle, and I can’t comprehend those forced to survive in the elements in these frigid conditions. Seattle Dances is such a brilliant event to shed light and raise funds for this plight. And I’m beyond proud of Nicole for stepping up to the challenge. Trust me, when my sister, Patti Savoy brought home the Mirror Ball Trophy, I saw the work and it was no easy feat! Join us as my other sisters, Stacy Jones and Stacy Lill co-chair this over the top fun event!
Please go online: https://www.seattledances.org/tickets/ and purchase your tickets.
*If you’re buying a ticket, please reference you’re part of the ‘Nicole Knowles Team’!
If you can’t make the live event and watch Nicole dance in front of 500+ people, we’d still very much love and appreciate your support to help raise money for homeless adults who deserve an opportunity. You can vote for Nicole at: https://www.seattledances.org/online-voting/. Please also spread the word and get other friends, etc. to vote for Nicole and a great cause! Y