Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Peace from Broken Pieces" by Iyanla Vanzant

Iyanla Vanzant is an inspirational speaker, author and television personality.  In 2000, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans because of her contributions toward healthy relationships.  During the 1990s she appeared on The Oprah Show as a relationship expert.  In 2001, she launched her own show, Iyanla.   Iyanla recently appeared on The Oprah Show for the first time in 11 years.  They discussed the controversy over her departure from the show.  I watched their discussion and I found it quite interesting.  I hadn't heard of Iyanla Vanzant before that show.  During the show, she also introduced her new book - Peace from Broken Pieces.  Her book is about the last decade of her life and the lessons she has learned.  She recounts her rise as a celebrity, the downfall of her marriage, and the illness and death of her daughter. 

In chapter 9 of Peace from Broken Pieces, she relates an experience that she referred to during her latest interview with Oprah.  Here is an excerpt:

"One of the best shows during my time with Oprah was the men's show. On one side, the producers gathered a group of men of all ages, my husband among them, to talk about their challenges with women. On the other side was a group of women who were ready and willing to talk about their disappointments with men. My job was to help both sides get on the same side of the table. It was meant to be insightful, inspiring, and instructional, and it seemed pretty innocent—until one of the men made a comment about women only wanting men for their money and what they could provide. I offered several counterarguments, but he and a few of the others were intent on arguing me down. So, to make the point, I put another nail in the coffin of my marriage. With all of the sincerity I could muster, I stood there on national television and said:

"That may be true for some, but it is not true for all. I love my husband and he doesn't have any money. What he has is a huge heart and a lot of love for me. That is what really matters." As I spoke, I pointed at my husband. The camera zoomed in on him. He looked fine to me, or perhaps I needed to believe that my announcement about him would not have any effect on his masculine ego. Meanwhile, the man I was talking to told me that I was special and that most women were not like me. Oprah saved me by bringing in another point of view. It was innocent. It was a disaster. We never talked about it, but I learned from friends that my husband was devastated. What I had said was true, but he was still devastated. Although I apologized several times, he never really recovered from my unintended humiliation.

It really is true that being on
Oprah can make or break you. While in one sense that appearance was the straw that broke the back of my marriage, it also injected a hot shot of adrenaline into my career. Everywhere I went, I became "the lady on Oprah." People were mobbing me for photographs and autographs in the airport and Target! My books were flying off of the shelves. The publisher was printing more to keep up with the demand."
Iyanla Vanzant's, Peace from Broken Pieces is an inspirational memoir.  She hopes that her story will help others to get through what they are going through.  Peace from Broken Pieces can be purchased at www.thequalitycorner.com

Race for the Cure 2011

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is the largest series of 5K runs/fitness walks in the world.  It raises significant funds for breast cancer research, celebrates breast cancer survivors, and honors those that have lost their battle with breast cancer.  Since it began in 1983, it has grown from 1 local race with 800 participants to more than 120 races with over 1 million participants.

The Race for the Cure is an emotionally charged event that attracts many first-timers and recreational runners.  I began running in the Race for the Cure in 2005 and I haven't missed a year yet.  I look forward to this event every year.  I initially joined the race so that I could accomplish my personal fitness goals.  I enjoyed it so much, I decided to invite family and friends to join me in the race.  We have created some wonderful memories over the years.

This year the race will be held on Saturday, May 14 at 8 a.m. in downtown Columbus, Ohio.  I have created a team under my company name - Team Quality Corner.  I look forward to having as many as possible join my team this year.  The race registration fee is $30.  The fee includes a race t-shirt.  Team registration ends on April 21.  Click here to register to be a part of Team Quality Corner or to make a donation.  For more information on the race and the Susan G. Komen foundation, visit www.komencolumbus.org

Is Reading on an eReader Bad for My Eyes?

That question was posed in the March issue of Real Simple magazine.  Considering the growing popularity of ebooks, it's a good question to ask.  The answer is quite interesting.  Note the explanation in Real Simple:

"Not in moderation," says Harvey Moscot, a New York City-based optometrist.  The article goes on to report: "If you spend a long period (more than two hours) staring at a screen - on an ereader, a smart phone, or a laptop - you could suffer from what is sometimes called computer vision syndrome (CVS), a repetitive-stress condition characterized by some uncomfortable side effects, including headaches, blurred vision, and eyestrain."

To prevent CVS, some ereaders use electronic ink, which has sharply defined type and is easy on the eyes.  Reading on electronic ink devices most closely resemble reading on paper.  Our eyes tolerate reading on paper the best.  Other ereaders have a backlit LCD screen, similar to a computer monitor.  Even though these devices emit their own light, it is suggested that you use a lamp.  A stark contrast between the screen and your surroundings is hard on the eyes.  Moscot also suggests taking short breaks.  He recommends the 20-20-20 rule - after 20 minutes of reading, focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Book by Janet Jackson - "True You"

Janet Jackson recently released a candid book, True You.  In it she reveals her struggles with self-image and self-esteem.  In sharing her truths, she hopes to help others find peace.  Last week, True You hit the number one spot on The New York Times Best Sellers list.  Here is an excerpt:

I want this book to make a difference.  It’s important that I present myself just as I am. So I must tell you right away that I’m no expert. I have no psychic powers and I sure don’t possess any secret wisdom. I’m just Janet. I have strengths, weaknesses, fears, happiness, sadness. I experience joy and I experience pain. I’m highly emotional. I’m very vulnerable. And, as anyone who knows me well will testify, I’m extremely sensitive. I have lifelong patterns of behavior that have caused me difficulty — patterns tough to break. Like everyone, I have talents, but with those talents have come challenges. This book is about meeting the challenges that face all of us. 

For more than three decades, I’ve struggled with yo-yo dieting. Some of my battles with weight have been very public. But most of them have been internal. Even at my thinnest, when my body was being praised, I wasn’t happy with what I saw in the mirror or how I felt about myself. 

I’ve never talked about the origins of my up-and-down struggles until now, but they started at a very young age. I’ve also never discussed the crazy rumors that have swirled around me — that, for example, I’ve had ribs removed and other extreme plastic surgery. It makes me angry to read those lies, but I’ve never bothered to reply. 

I’ve never gone into the hard work involved in getting myself — mind and spirit, heart and soul — into shape. I’ve waited for the right time, and have decided that that time is now. It has taken me most of my adult life to come to terms with who I am. To do that, I had to break free of attitudes that brought me down. I had to set and meet realistic goals. I had to eat better, exercise better, look better, feel better, be better.  But how?

Jackson goes on to explain how she has become a better person.  True You can be purchased with FREE shipping at www.thequalitycorner.com.

"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

There has been a lot of buzz about Kathryn Stockett’s debut novel, The Help.  At the time of this writing, the book has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for ninety-nine weeks.  It is soon to be a major motion picture.  I read so many rave reviews about this book, I decided to pick it up and read it.  Since then, I haven’t been able to stop talking about it.

This novel is about black maids in Mississippi during the 1960’s.  At that time in the southern United States, race relations were extremely strained.  Color lines were very clearly defined.  It was gravely dangerous to cross those color lines.  However, three very extraordinary women make the decision to do just that – cross the line.  These women muster up the courage to make a change.  Their bravery is inspiring. 

Stockett has created three main characters – Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny.  Skeeter was raised by a black maid.  Aibileen and Minny are black maids.  Their lives are very different, but they can relate to each other.  They come together on a secret project that will put all of them at great risk.  In the end, they find out that not much separates them.  At least, not as much as they thought.  The story is told from the viewpoint of each of these women.

The Help took me on an emotional roller coaster.  I felt anger, despair, hope and appreciation.  As a black woman, I could relate to the struggles to a certain degree.  I did not grow up in the South.  Therefore, I did not have the same experiences as the characters in this story.  Reading this book made me very curious.  I asked several relatives about their past experiences with race relations.  It really helped me to appreciate how far blacks have come in a short period of time.

Stockett was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi.  She knows what she writes about.  Honestly, I was surprised when I found out that the author of this book is white.  It made me wonder why she would write a book like this.  At the end of the book, Stockett explains: “I don't presume to think that I know what it really felt like to be a black woman in Mississippi, especially the 1960's.  I don't think it is something any white woman, on the other end of a black woman's paycheck, could ever truly understand.  But trying to understand is vital to our humanity.  I'm pretty sure I can say that no one in my family ever asked Demetrie (her family maid) what it felt like to be black in Mississippi working for our white family.  It never occurred to us to ask.  It was everyday life.  It wasn't something people felt compelled to examine.  I have wished, for many years, that I'd been old enough and thoughtful enough to ask Demetrie that question.  She died when I was sixteen.  I've spent years imagining what her answer would be.  And that is why I wrote this book.”

We all belong to one race – the human race.  If everyone would simply recognize that fact, racism would cease to exist.  The Help makes it clear that we are all just people.  I enjoyed reading Stockett’s novel and I’m sure you will, too.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The National Black Book Festival

The National Black Book Festival (NBBF) will be held this year on June 10-12 in Houston, Texas.  The NBBF is an annual event that is sponsored by Cushcity.com, the world's largest African-American online retailer.  The festival attracts authors, publishers, book clubs and readers from across the US. 

New and notable authors will be featured.  The authors will be grouped by genre and 18 different genres will be represented.  Book signings, discussions, workshops and seminars are just a few of the activities planned for the festival.  In conjunction with the NBFF, a Literary Breakthrough Conference will be held on Friday, June 10.  The conference is designed to help authors get signed, published and gain publicity.

All activities will be held at the Doubletree hotel in downtown Houston.  Tickets are only $5 for the public.  Special events require advanced ticket purchase.  More information can be found at www.nationalblackbookfestival.com.  The website contains a list of featured authors and a schedule of events.  This festival promises to be beneficial for participants and attendees.  I am really looking forward to it.