The Monday Barrage – 7 Observations from the Past Week

This week’s Monday Barrage features the passing of a musical legend, herbicide in our cereal, and the beginning of a new family chapter.  I welcome you to take a look, and I hope you find something useful from the list!


  1.  Middle School for Marley

The end of summer is upon us and the quickened footsteps of autumn are fast approaching, bringing with it the promise of a more hurried and stringent routine. The thought of this upcoming fall routine inevitably awakens in us the fond memories of the more lazy, passive days of this withdrawing ardent season.

As our girls grow bigger, it seems as if the summers are growing shorter. This is especially true now that our oldest daughter is making the great leap from the sheltered, mollycoddled world of elementary school, to the more mature world of middle school.

“Time is a river of passing events, and strong is its currents.  No sooner is a thing brought to sight, that it is swept away and another takes its place, and this too shall be swept away.” – Marcus Aurelius

Beginnings and Endings – The last day of kindergarten and the last day of 5th grade.

Not so many September’s ago, Rachael and I where feeling anxious over sending our first sweet little 5 year old bambino off to the cold and cunning clutches of a callous institution known as…school.  We’ve relaxed a lot since those early days, however transitions can be tough.  I’ve been doing my research to do my best to prepare for the changes ahead, including the 10 Things Parents of Middle Schoolers Should Know.  

We are all a little nervous about Marley starting a new school, but we are hopeful that she will have a wonderful experience.

If you have any thoughts or words of encouragement, I welcome your helpful comments!

2.  Long Live the Queen

On August 16, a musical legend passed on to glory.  She transitioned to those Elysian Fields, onward to that promised land, asended to the upper room.

Apparently, some in mainstream news still refuse to give Aretha a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T! However, unlike Fox News, I know who Aretha Franklin is, and so do her real peeps!

Folks in the mainstream confused Patti with Aretha

Not surprisingly, Trump couldn’t even get it right when he reacted to the news of the icon’s death by saying, “she worked for me on numerous occasions.”  In an article in the Washington Post, they state that, “Trump’s comments proved, as ever, controversial, because her appearances at his properties hardly amounted to a sustained employment relationship. More pointedly, even if she had worked for him, some asked, what was the relevance of that fact on the day of her death?”

However, my President, Barack Obama, got it right in the following spoof.  The creators of the video say that it was made as “a statement, in solidarity with women, minorities, and everyone under attack in the Trump era.”


In your hands, O Lord,
we humbly entrust our sister Aretha.
In this life you embraced her with your tender love;
deliver her now from every evil
and bid her eternal rest.

3.  The Guardian of International Peace – Kofi Annan

To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there. – Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan was the Secretary General of the United Nations from 1997-2006.  He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

In this segment from a New York Times article, it says that “While his admirers praised his courtly, charismatic and measured approach, Mr. Annan was hamstrung by the inherent flaw of his position as what many people called a “secular pope” — a figure of moral authority bereft of the means other than persuasion to enforce the high standards he articulated.”

Although Mr. Annan may have fallen short during the Rwandan tragedy, he was still a strong voice for peace in a environment where harmony is in short supply.
4.  What’s for Breakfast?
What the heck? Pesticides in the our breakfast cereal, what a shock! Not really, because it seems like there are few things we can eat these days that won’t lead us to physically develop some sort of alien mutation.  It almost leads me to wonder if it’s safe to ever eat anything packaged again!
When I first heard the reports about these now dangerous cereals, I grew immediately concerned because the truth is, cereal, is one of the few things I can get our youngest daughter to consistently eat.
So what’s a poor papa like me to do? Let me know your thoughts.
5.  Stretch to Success
“My dog instructor asked if I could reach down and touch my toes.  I told her it was a bit of a stretch.”
“I’m booked in for yoga class everyday this week.  I’ve got a flexible schedule.”
“I’m trying my best, I told my yoga instructor.  “Yoga-T to try better,” she replied.

Okay, so those are pretty bad, but stretching is awfully important and tremendously beneficial in many ways including:

  • pain relief
  • aids in circulation
  • relaxation and stress relief.
My lovely therapist

For quite some time I suffered from lower back and neck pain, plus it’s true that I never stretched.  The lower back pain I experienced was a constant dull source of discomfort, but the neck pain had gotten so bad that I could hardly turn my head.

On the advise of my physical therapist, I began stretching every morning and voila, the pain is gone.  Like everything, it takes consistency.  Stretching is something I do each and everyday to keep the pain away.  It works for me and I’m convinced it will work for you also!


6.  To Be at Peace, You Must Release

I visited Oak Union Baptist church last Sunday and gave a talk about the importance of letting go.  The major theme of my first published picture book, The Girl Who Carries Too Much Stuff, touches on how it’s important not to place too much value on material things to make us happy, but it’s also important to release the worries we have a habit of clinging to.

Letting go can be incredibly difficult to do, often because we have so very little practice at doing it.  Letting go isn’t something that is promoted as valuable in a society that feels it’s more important that someone must pay for the wrongs they’ve committed against us.

I challenge you to consider the fact that the justice we so vigorously seek may never come (at least not in a form to our liking).  So what then are we supposed to do? If we continue to replay the hurts, worries, slights, painful moments and episodes over and over again in our minds, who does this ultimately hurt? You guessed it…the one that stares back at us in the mirror each day. Letting go helps to let out dark energy allowing happiness and joy to blow in.

Here is a link to 5 Ways to Let Go of Past Hurts.

“If you want to fly in the sky, you need to leave the earth. If you want to move forward, you need to let go the past that drags you down.”
Amit Ray


7.  Chasing Trane – My pick on Netflix

This beautiful documentary about one of the giants in music should appeal to longtime fans as well as neophytes.  My brother Khalid, hipped me to this documentary so I watched, and it had me truly captivated.  I thought I knew all about John Coltrane, but what I learned is that there was so much more to this musical genius.

Narrated by Denzel Washington, and featuring many prominent figures in and out of the music industry like, Wynton Marsalis, Dr. Cornel West, Common, and Carlos Santana – you won’t watch Chasing Trane, in vain!

It’s currently streaming on Netflix!


Weekend Pics


A Trip to the Dentist

Get Your Copy

Head over to to get your copy of The Girl Who Carried Too Much Stuff or What About Me?

With my friend, musician Tevin White, speaking at Greer Elementary in Charlottesville.



















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Comments (1)

Don’t give up just yet on breakfast cereal. All brands were not included in that dreadful list. Also I agree that releasing is super hard. I remember years ago I enlisted the help of an organizer to assist me in getting my house organized. I had a stack of statements from bills I had paid from several years back that she said I should toss. I felt anxiety as I tried to hold onto them, but she reminded me that I had not looked at them or needed them I’m all those years! Needless to say, she convinced me to throw them out and now I easily get rid of them and more. I feel much lighter. And finally, best of luck on your new school experience Marley!!

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