Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Secret o' Life.

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
Any fool can do it, there ain't nothing to it.
Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill.
But since we're on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride.

~ James Taylor


"What's the key to making eighty-nine and still looking as good as you?" I asked.  The resident working with me smiled knowingly since this is one of the most predictable questions they hear me ask of the spryest of our Grady elders.

I never miss the chance to unlock whatever secrets my patients might have for longevity in life and marriage. So I always ask. And every time, I get an answer that makes me smile. Some short and sweet. Others long and elaborate. But somewhere nestled in every response is something for me to stick on a post-it note inside of my head for safekeeping.

And so. At the end of our visit, I asked that same question in that same way I generally do when addressing my Grady elders. I use their lingo, too. After hearing it enough times, I decided that I liked the idea of "making" some golden age. "Making" eighty-nine sounds like climbing the rough side of a ragged mountain--and now reaching those elevations that few have achieved. And interestingly, years don't seem to be referenced as being "made" until you get over a certain hump in the birthday game.


"You know I'm gon' make ninety in one month!" she announced with a proud slap of her knee.

I clapped my hands and nodded. "I saw that on your chart, Mrs. Calhoun! That's so great!"

"Sho' is." And from the look on her face, I could tell she meant it.

"So no secrets? You know I'm trying to find out how to make ninety and have it look like it looks on you, Mrs. Calhoun."

"Oh, baby it's simple. First, you gots to get on up in the mornings. Get on out the bed and move your body. I ain't saying you got to go crazy or nothin'. Jest get on out your door and walk some place. Work in your garden. Walk on over to see about a neighbor or to the store. But you can't jest stay holed up in the house watching the television."

"I like that advice."

"Mmmm hmmm. See, folk get up in age and stop moving they body. And now, I understand that ol' Arthur set in on some folk bones and they can't move. But even with my arthritis, I makes myself get on up and move. Every day."

"That's good stuff, Mrs. C. What else? You know we're taking notes." I winked at her and pretended to position my pen to write down her next words.

"Well, now another one is minding your own business, you know?"

I laughed when she said that. "My husband tells me I need work in this area, but yes, ma'am. I hear you."

"See, when you gets up in age, folk get to thinking they got the green light to weigh in on whatever they see fit. Like telling young folk what all they s'posed to be doing and how they s'posed to do it. Saying stuff about how folk run they house and who they decide to be with. And see, me, I figured out that staying worried 'bout stuff that ain't your business 'specially when it come to your kin as they start coming of age make you old. So, I jest mind my own business, you know? Even when folk used to try to get me to chime on in on something, if it ain't my business I jest shrug my shoulders and say, 'Ain't my business.'" Mrs. Calhoun shrugged for emphasis.

My resident nodded slowly and looked over at me. "That's great advice, actually."

"I never thought about the part about growing older and giving your opinion on something. That's a really good word."

"It's true, Miss Manning. Look like people excuse they elders for saying crazy stuff that ain't none of they business. So I think that make people judge folk and get to talking about a whole bunch of stuff that jest make everybody uncomfortable, you know? And I still got my thoughts on stuff but if it don't affect me and mine, I don't really fret about it. Saying a whole bunch on people's lives lead to arguments and hurt feelings and all that. Plus it make people not want to be around you. All that make you old."

"I really should have been writing this all down, ma'am." I squinted an eye and went on. "I can tell you mean what you're saying, too."

"I sho' do."

"Okay. So move my body and mind my business. Got it. Anything else we need to do?"

It's funny. Mrs. Calhoun was genuinely entertaining my questions about living to be an octogenarian. Though most of my patients answered me, few were so thoughtful in their replies. Her lip jutted out and she rolled her eyes skyward as if sifting carefully through her words. Finally, she lifted a long crooked index finger and looked straight into my eyes. "One more," she said in her gravelly voice.

I scooted my chair forward and leaned in. She didn't speak immediately. Instead, she held my gaze with narrowed eyes for a few beats, curled in that finger and brought it to her lips. I stayed silent, waiting for what I knew would be worth the time.

Her finger extended again to point at me and then the resident physician beside me. "This probably the most important thang. You got to see about yourself. I mean look out for your own happiness and don't let nobody treat you bad, you know? Like, when you a kid or a even a young person, it ain't always easy. But once you grown, you got to love yourself enough to not let nobody get away with being ugly to you. And that include you-yourself, too."

"Okay. . . " I lulled her to go on, leaning even closer.

"Put on some clothes every day. Brush your hair and care 'bout how you look. That's all a part of seeing about yourself."

"Got it."

She paused for a second and then patted her hand on the desk. "Oh! And I almost forgot. Make sure you got you a good stick a red lipstick in your  bathroom drawer. And that you wear it sometime."

"Red lipstick?" My resident glanced over at me raised her eyebrows. We both returned our attention to Mrs. Calhoun, intrigued with this unexpected statement.

"Yes, sugar. A good one, too. One that make you feel like a woman. Not no gloss or tint neither. I'm talking 'bout a R-E-D red that can't nobody mistake. You keep it there for when you need to feel strong and good. Or sometime jest for no reason at all. Paint it right on your mouth and look yourself in the face."

Damn. I was taking this all in in giant gulps. I wanted her to go on  and, lucky for us, she did.

"See, putting on some red lipstick--that's saying something to yourself. You telling yourself you worth noticing. But then you got to walk in that. Wit' your head all the way up like you know something they don't."

Whew. This woman was preaching, do you hear me?

My resident feigned a frown and groaned. "But Mrs. C, what if you look terrible in red lipstick? I can't even imagine myself with red lipstick." She laughed when she said that but Mrs. Calhoun didn't.

"Every woman can look good in red lipstick once she find the one that suit her. But the key is jest that she just got to make up her mind that she deserve the attention it brang, see. It ain't never the color. It's that part that hold women back from it."

And that? That I knew I wouldn't want to forget. Like, ever.

No, I would not.

A little later, I saw Mrs. Calhoun in the hallway, cane in one hand and discharge papers in the other. I stood there watching her and reflecting on her words as she took those short deliberate steps toward the exit. At the last minute, I decided to sprint up to her to hold the door--but mostly to tell her goodbye.

"It was so good talking to you, Mrs. Calhoun. Thanks, hear?"

'Oh, Miss Manning, you know I love talking to you young people." I beamed at her reference of forty-five year-old me as a "young person." She nodded in acknowledgement of me propping open the door for her and headed into the lobby.

Just as she was right in front of me, I spoke.  "Mrs. Calhoun? I'm just wondering. . . do you still have a red lipstick?"

She turned to look me in the eye and smiled wide. "Sho' do, baby."

"I love it. Think you'll wear it next month when you make ninety?"

"Maybe. But it ain't got to be no special occasion, do it?" Mrs. Calhoun reached out and patted my shoulder when she said that. Without saying a word,  I dragged in a deep breath and nodded hard to let her know I received her good word.

Because I did.

Move your body.
Mind your business.
See about yourself.
Oh, and have a good red lipstick. 

Words to live by. Like, literally.


Happy Saturday. Best. Job. Ever.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Acutely wonderful.

with Jen and Lucas Grady chief residents 2015-16

It was wonderful and ordinary. Me, sitting on that little couch in their office and them talking to me from their desks. I had a paper in my hand filled with my thoughts on something and I needed their input. And nothing about that was unusual.

Especially this year.

"What do you think about this?" I asked. "Or wait a minute--what about that?"

And, like always, first we looked at each other speaking without talking. Then we all started talking at once yet somehow understanding and hearing what each person has to say. Ideas flying all over the place, crashing into walls, mixing with perspectives and considerations until they meshed into one thing. That's been the nature of this think tank we've developed over the last couple of years. And all of it has been wonderful.

Magical even.

In general, I have a great amount of affection for our Grady chief residents. On most years I befriend them and begin to hammer out ideas with them on things related to our residents and education. They ask for my help on an idea and I ask for theirs. Then, at the end of the year, I feel this slight bit of melancholy at the end of the year, knowing that it's the end of the era. And usually, it's sort of bittersweet but in a way that's mostly okay since that's the way of the medical education world.


But this year is different. The two chief residents at Grady, Jen and Lucas, attended Emory for medical school. I knew them both slightly as students; well enough to be happy when they matched into our program. Then Jen was placed into my Thursday morning resident clinic. I started working with her every single week and got to know her much better. She was also mutual friends with a few of my former small group advisees so the "getting to know you" process was swift and natural. I was immediately impressed by her and wasn't even remotely shocked when she was selected to be a chief resident.


And then there was Lucas. I had these smatterings of encounters with him in the clinic and always found his energy positive and infectious. But that all reached a fever pitch when he was assigned to work with me for his first ever senior resident Grady ward month. It was, in a word, awesome. We were drunk with teaching, high on ideas, and manic from the magnetism that we immediately felt as medical nerds. It was indescribably great.

But just when it seemed like it couldn't all get better, I learn that not only will Jen and Lucas be chief residents--they'd be chief residents at the Grady site together. And this meant that all of this energy would be in the office almost directly across from my own for an entire year.


We hit the ground running. Since we knew we'd be working together during their chief year, we started our collaboration process during their third year of residency. We hammered out ideas and created curricula. Ran our lecture ideas by one another and offered meaningful feedback. And essentially, pushed ourselves into this amazing zone of development that has lasted for over a year.

Great stuff has come from it, too. Seismic shifts, in my opinion, with the learning climate and the level of expectation our learners have from themselves and their teachers. Out of the box interactive sessions that feel more like a really fun gathering than a mandatory lecture. All a manifestation of what can happen when minds intermingle and ignite one another into being able to do their best work.

So yesterday, I was sitting on that little couch running ideas by Jen and Lucas. We skipped from idea to idea like rocks on a pond, influencing each other and laughing and doing the thing that we've been doing for the last two years. And as I looked at Jen, I noticed all of the words written behind her on the dry erase--board, deadlines, ideas, goals--many of which I sat with them to create. Then in the midst of it all, it dawned on me that it is almost February and that June would be here before we know it. And that, like all of the time I've spent with the chiefs, this time is finite.


A wave of sadness washed over me and I quickly coached it away. But right now, I'm feeling it. Feeling it in this weirdly complicated way since the biggest emotion I feel is deep gratitude for this era. But I think that's the hard part, you know? Sometimes you're doing something and you know it's an era. That once it ends it will never be this way again. At least not like this, it won't. And usually that's fine because our lives are enhanced by moving from era to era and the very best ones leave us forever changed for the better--they do. This is no different.

I remember feeling this way around this time during my chief residency. I had this profoundly special mentor named Rick Blinkhorn who was acting as chairman at the time of my chief year. He was smart and innovative and provocative. I loved him in the way you love a cherished mentor because I knew--and I mean it, I was very aware--of how great that era was. I could feel it each day when I met with him and knew I was growing toward something greater because of that time. It was acutely wonderful, that time. It was, and I felt it and knew it.

Yes. That.

Acutely wonderful. I guess that's it. My time working with Jennifer and Lucas in this capacity has been just that. Acutely wonderful. The immediacy of what comes out of our collective thoughts feels magical, not just pleasant. And since I know that it is finite, I feel a little sad about it.

But not so sad I can't enjoy it for what it is and what remains. Plus, I've lived long enough to know how much comes from these times and how much better I am as a result. I'm excited to see that part for us all.


I love that I am a thinker and a feeler. I love that these acutely wonderful eras in my life have been punctuated with chest-grabbing emotion to let me know that this is happening and that I am fortunate.  And let me be clear--much of what I do on my job and in my life are perennially pretty awesome. But somehow, some way these moments, that is, the pieces of my life that are acutely wonderful find a way to stand out. They grab me by the waist and pull me close with an outstretched hand to waltz me all around the room in big sweeping circles. And I feel it. And know it. And savor it. I do.

I'm nearing the end of something acutely wonderful and I know it. But you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. No, I would not.


Happy Friday.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

All day and all night.

"as always, details changed to protect anonymity

"Where are you from? You aren't from Georgia," I said. His musical accent was a dead give-away.

"Guess," he replied.

"Louisiana. Totally." We both sat there smiling right after I said that. He then gave me a slow thumbs up and nodded.

"All day and all night, baby."

"Couldn't miss it," I added with a chuckle.

"This accent saved me."

"Yeah?" I raised my eyebrows, intrigued by what I'm sure was a piece of his story. I leaned into my palm and rested my elbow on the desk.

"I came here after Katrina. Didn't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of. And I ain't exaggerating neither, baby. I'm talking the clothes on my back and nothing else."

"Family? Did you have any here?"

"Nope. That's where I ain't like most folk from Looziana. My family small, a lot of 'em out in the country and don't have nothing to help. Plus, I was a city cat, you know? I needed a city. So one of them church groups had a bus coming here and I got on it. Ain't had plan the first of what I'd do once I got here."

"Wow. So how did the accent save you?"

"I was in a shelter. For just one night and it was so, so terrible. Bugs, rats, people yelling and screaming and fighting. Had to get up out of there, baby. I had about forty dollars and blew it all on a cheap hotel room that night. Said I'd get me some rest and then go try to make something happen. Didn't have one dime when I checked out of that room. Not even a bottle of water on me."

"Then what happened?"

"Saw this man with a delivery truck outside of McDonald's. Walked right up on him and said, 'Brother, I need some help. I need to work. Give me a chance and I'll load everything off this truck faster than you can say shrimp etouffe."

And, okay. He didn't actually say "shrimp etouffe" but, admit it,  it sounds better for the story.


He goes on to tell me about how the dude at the McDonald's truck said that he wasn't the boss but, like me, heard that sing-song accent and asked him where he was from. And that man said New Orleans and then shared his story. The truck man then took out his cell phone and called up a friend. "My man got this moving company. He could use some good folks to help him." That's what my patient told me the guy at McDonald's told him.

"So the guy hired you?" I asked.

"He had me meet him a few blocks over and said, 'Look, bruh. I'm gon' have you work today and see how it go. If that go okay, we'll go with tomorrow.' And I shook his hand and said, 'Hell yeah, man.' Then I worked my ass off. Moved that shit off that truck in two seconds flat."

"That's awesome."

"It is. Been working with that man ever since. Got me a house and a car and even drive the delivery truck out of state for the company. We doing good, too. Real, real good."

"I love that. Did you ever see the guy from McDonald's again?"

"You know what? Like once or twice. But I told that man that he saved my life. Just 'cause he was interested in the way I talked. Which is crazy because every time I left New Orleans, I used to wish I didn't talk so funny. But now I love my accent. Love it 'cause I know it start up conversations, you know? And conversations lead to relationships. And relationships lead to chances."

I shook my head, then stopped and nodded it hard. "Damn. That's a good word, sir."

"Yeah, it is. It don't take much. What make us feel like outsiders is what open doors to being insiders. Crazy how it all work, ain't it?"

"So crazy. Yet so cool."

So, so very cool. All day and all night, baby.


Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Girl Code.

with Jada, one of my med school best friends, 2014

Every now and then I get a little crazy
That's not the way it's supposed to be
Sometimes my vision is a little hazy
I can't tell who I should trust 
or just who I let trust me, yeah

~ from TLC "What About Your Friends?"

I was talking to my student advisees today about this recent incident that has been circulating on social media and in the news. A resident physician at a hospital in Florida was caught on film after a few too many drinks verbally and physically assaulting an Uber driver. Let me tell you--it was no bueno.

Unh uh. 

Apparently, the dude who'd called (and paid for) the Uber car took out his smart phone and videorecorded her after she jumped into the car demanding it was for her. When the driver didn't oblige, she launched into a drunken tirade and even leaped into the passenger seat when the driver was trying to get away. She threw his phone in the street and called him, as the patients at Grady say, "everything but a child of God." Ha. The video went viral and the resident has since been placed on some kind of probation until the school decides how bad it all is.


My students wanted to know my thoughts and feelings about all of this. They wondered if I thought this young woman should be expelled from her program or simply given a firm tongue lashing. Just how appalled was I? They wanted to know.

And so. I thought about it. And then I told them.

So here's the thing. Inebriated people do some really stupid things. And unfortunately, she did her stupid thing in 2016 when it's as easy as 1-2-3 to spread it to every continent in less than an hour. Honestly, I'm not so sure that this, though worrisome, is what concerned me the most. I suppose one might gather that a person who acts this ugly once given the EtOH truth serum might be ugly deep down inside. But then, who am I to make that call? Lastly, she was physically abusive. This is probably the thing that will be the most damaging in terms of her future as a resident in that Neurology program. Assaulting someone in the street and having it captured on film is not, to again quote my patients, "a good look."


But surprisingly, none of the aforementioned things are what niggles at me the most when it comes to this. Instead, I'm most bothered by the fact that this drunken young female physician was allowed to make a fool of herself (and her family and her medical school and her hospital) for nearly five full minutes. And nobody did anything to stop her.

Let me clarify what I'm saying.

I cannot imagine that this young woman went somewhere and got this drunk alone. There's no way. Surely she was out with friends or, at least, acquaintances and had a few too many. And whomever those people were, had to see her leave. They waved goodbye and bid her a drunk-ass adieu. As drunk as she was, she certainly didn't stroll right out. Without question, this woman staggered and bumped into probably four or five people and tables before making her way to the door. And even if all of her people had left her earlier, surely there was somebody, anybody in that bar or club or whatever that noticed how drunk she was. Even a stranger should have been bothered by the sight if you ask me.


But then, as she stood out there yelling and embarrassing herself, I wondered who else was there? Where were her girls? Or better yet, where were any women? All women know that there is a girl code that states that we aren't supposed to let slips hang from dresses, panties show in low slung pants, menstrual accidents go unnoticed, and hair to get splashed with vomit. And, sure, most of the girl code gets called into action when one is on the younger end but even still. The girl code is the girl code.

Several years ago, I was in New Orleans with friends walking down Bourbon Street. I was big and pregnant with Isaiah and had just enjoyed a delicious meal. We all heard this commotion and saw a crowd of about 15 people standing around something. We assumed someone was playing an instrument or dancing, considering this was New Orleans. But it wasn't that.


What it was instead was a very, very drunk young woman on her knees doing the unthinkable to a slightly less drunk college-aged kid right then, right there in on that sidewalk. While a crowd hooped, hollered and snapped photos. It was horrible.

There were other girls there. They appeared to even know her and were acting incredulous with their hands to their mouths saying things like "OMG" and "Holy shit!" But they weren't doing anything. Like, at all.

Without batting a lash, my thirty-something year-old girlfriends all began screaming at her to stop it. We grabbed her under the arm and broke the whole thing up. And just like that, the cameras went away. I remember yelling out repeatedly, "What would your mother say? What would your father say? Get up!"

Well, actually I don't remember saying that. I just know my friends always tease me about that being my choice of words. But my point is that the girl code kicked in for all of us even though we didn't know her. We knew that no girl should let another girl be in that predicament and just stand by. So we didn't.

So, I guess my thought on the girl with the Uber goes to this. What the hell happened to the girl code? How on earth did this woman manage to do all of this out on South Beach or even leave any place alone and that drunk in the first place?

And sure. She should be responsible for her actions, yes. I mean, the child was thirty years old and a physician. But I just hate the thought of there being no girl code--or even guy code--anymore. I know for sure that, at some point in my life, I've been redirected or saved by it.

Maybe not to this degree, but surely at some point.

I ended that discussion by telling my students what I always tell them:

"Look. Don't embarrass me."

But this time I added something else:

"And also don't let anybody else here embarrass me or themselves on your watch. You got that?"

You know what? I think they did.

with Jada at our Med school banquet, 1996

I don't know what's going to happen with that young woman. I don't. But what I do know is that somebody, somewhere probably should have intervened--even if it wasn't any of their business. Because enacting the girl code rarely is about minding our own business. In fact, most times, it calls for the exact opposite.


Happy Hump Day

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .a song about the Girl Code.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Image of the Day, January 24: The Bail.

This photo was taken just moments after my running partners and I decided to bail on the 15K that we were scheduled to run this morning.  The forecast was schedule to be below freezing with a windchill that would make it feel like it was 15 degrees.


With this first text exchange, you could tell that I was still ready to do it for the story. Bailing hadn't occurred to me yet. But Jen's notion of us doing these races for fun was a good point. Having my fingers turn purple from my Raynaud's and wanting to cry for 9 miles wasn't exactly my idea of a fun morning. 

But, again. I ain't no punk so was willing. 

Then I went outside to walk the dog and thought I was going to die. I came in and that's when I received this text from Frieda, my other running mate. 

The part where we decided to bail got cut off.  I think my "never o'clock" got her thinking.


Just know that the red wine I could then enjoy while staying up late watching the first three episodes of Downton Abbey back to back to back was delicious. But not more delicious than the sleep I got in my warm cozy bed this morning.

I thought I'd look on social media later and feel super guilty. . . . .


Happy Sunday. #neveroclock #nonethirty #halfpastnaaaaw

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Image of the Day, January 23: Say cheese.

That moment when you ask your sons to take a photo of you and your friends who've come over to visit . . . . and then go back to look at the images and find this instead.

Yes, he took two blurry images of us. Yet somehow all 732 selfies of them came out perfectly clear.



Image of the day, January 22: The Genetics of the Dog Gene and Relationships.

When Isaiah kept begging us to get him a dog, I'd shake my head and say, "Dude. Dogs are major work."

"I know! I'll work!" he'd cry.

To which I'd reply, "Someday. But just remember: Being a dog owner ain't for no punks."

And so, as you already know, someday finally arrived. And in true Manning mama form, I promptly reminded him of that mantra the very first time Willow had an accident or needed to go out at a less than opportune time.

"Being a dog owner ain't for no punks."

I snapped this photo of him as I watched him from the door on an early wintry morning. He was groggy while pulling on his hat and boots but never tried to shirk the responsibility. Even with that dusting of snow on the ground and the bite of the wind, he toodled through that icy lawn smiling and giggling with his pup.

I guess he ain't no punk.

Seriously, though, Isaiah's been amazing. And all of this got me thinking about him and his dog gene. The medical education nerd in me finally figured it out. And so. Just in case you've never figured out your position on dogs, know that it isn't you and your lack of or overabundance of empathy. Instead it just might be your dog gene genotype.

Mmmm hmmmm.

Okay, so check it. In medical school and college genetics (and probably high school genetics, too) they teach you all about how people inherit things. When two animals or organisms or whatever mate, their genes get mixed all up in a mixing bowl. Turns out there's a method to the madness of how it all swirls out depending upon the genotypes of the parents.

You with me? Cool.

So. . .okay. Each gene is represented by two copies of an alphabet character. The letters represent how the gene gets expressed, or rather, how it looks in the offspring. A capital letter trumps the lower case letters in all cases. For example: Let's say the dog gene is represented by D. That means that a person could either be DD, Dd, or dd. Two of the same case of letter is called "homozygous." One big and one little letter is called "heterozygous."

Got that?

Okay, cool. So if you have two big D's or one big D and one little d, the outward expression of it is pretty much the same. That or you have a much more watered down version of whatever said feature may be. They call the capital letter "dominant" which means it dominates what happens in the end. The lower case characters are referred to as "recessive" and always get trumped by the big letters. Therefore, to demonstrate certain features in the offspring coded on a recessive gene, one must have TWO copies of the lower case letter.

See? You're halfway through the first semester of medical school already. So, yeah. That's basically it. Every feature of who we are is coded onto a gene that's in our chromosomes. And I firmly maintain that the dog gene is one of them.

Mmmmm hmmmm.

Since about 37% of American households have dogs, I'd go on the record as saying that the dog-loving gene is probably a recessive gene. And since you're damn near geneticists after my convoluted explanation, you should be full on ready for some genetic fun.

Okay so let's break these dog three genotypes down, shall we? Don't mind if I do.

Minority of folks: DD, that is, the "No, ma'am, no sir! Don't bring no canines 'round me!" gene. Please note that it can also be the "Scream bloody murder and have a panic attack if I see a dog within a 1 mile radius" gene.

Most folks: Dd, that is, the "Meh. I don't mind a dog. Or your dog. And would be fine to live my life without one. But could probably manage if I married a dd person who agrees to get their ass up on a regular basis" gene. This can also have variable expression and could lean toward the dog-loving gene side depending upon the type of dog and proximity to a dd person.

Minority of folks: dd, that is, the "if I don't have a dog in my home at some point, my life will NOT be complete nor will my home" gene. When there is what the geneticists call "complete penetration" these people become veterinarians, multiple dog owners, trainers, vet techs, rescue volunteers and breeders. The rest of them just go berserk when they see a dog or look at you like you're crazy if you wrinkle your nose up at the thought of a dog inside of a house.

You still with me? Cool. 

Okay, so I'm thinking Harry and I are both Dd heterozygous people. Do we mind dogs? No. But could we have taken it on in to the golden years without one? Probably.


We chose to mate. And that's where the genetic exercise comes in. Okay, so this thing is called a punnet square. (And yeah, sorry it has M's on it but that was all I could find on Google images and was already too far into my D explanation to go back and change it.)


So check this out. Top of the box? The BHE. Left side? Yours truly. The punnet square shows what happened when Harry mated Kimberly. As you can see, this combo gives you a 50% chance of being Dd which is what we think Zachary probably is. But it also gives you a 1 in 4 chance of being in the anti-dog camp or a full-on dog-loving genotyped individual.

And this? This, my friends, is the medical nerd's highly complicated and totally unnecessary interpretation of how two "meh" dog people ended up with a full on dog loving child.


This really is never an issue for a lot of folks. Especially if they are Dd and they have a bunch of Dd kids. It's only an issue when a Dd is required to live in the same house as a dd person.

Especially with a couple, man. (As for the DD/dd household? An urgent genetics consult is probably warranted.)

Okay, so back to the Dd/dd household. This is what it looks like when they mate. Praise the heavens this completely eliminates the chances of having a DD offspring.

Mmm hmmm.

But what if it isn't a mating issue and is simply a "live in harmony" issue? Well, my friends, this is what you have this random post for.

Okay, so check it. My dd friend is married to someone who is mostly likely a Dd person. She is stalking him on a daily basis to get him to break down and get a pooch. I am willing to even bet 100 dog treats that she will make said significant other read this.


And since I know she isn't alone in this plight, I offer you ten suggestions to those who are Dd and married or living with the dd people.
  1. Accept your fate. You are getting a dog. 
  2. Unless you resign yourself to the advice in #1, this won't be an issue because the dd person will worry you to death and you'll be dead.
  3. Consider getting them to get on your terms. For me, it was the breed and the timing. I asked for  six months mental preparation and a non-shedding breed. It helped me. 
  4. During the above "gestational period" read books, talk to people and fret. Then when you get the dog, it isn't as bad as you though.
  5. Get all sorts of cleaning things so your house remains non-dog smelling. 
  6. Or until you get desensitized and just think your house is non-dog smelling. 
  7. Stop thinking that a dog will cramp your style. You find out quickly that you are far lamer than you realize and you actually don't go anywhere as often as you think.
  8. Put up your chocolate. Not get rid of it. Just put it up.
  9. Get that dog something to chew on so he/she doesn't gnaw on your favorite Prada loafer, peep toe pump or worn-in Birkenstocks. Such occurrences, I'm told, are poor prognostic indicators for dogs in the homes of non-dd people.
  10. Come up with all sorts of snappy comebacks for the shit people will talk when they discover that you not only tolerate but have actually grown to LOVE the dog. These will come in handy.

You can thank me in Petco gift cards which, I forgot to mention, you will need. That is, a dog line item in your budget. 

Oh. And for those DD people out there who have just realized that they've fallen in love with a dd person? Well. I guess I'd say that this will be equally as difficult as the polar opposite religion thing. The stronger the feeling in either direction, the harder it will be for you. 

Damn! I'm breaking this down, y'all. Woooooo weeeee! 

Yeah man. So the dog gene is probably something that should be discussed before entering the covenant of marriage. Or when preparing to have babies. 


Oh! And before I forget--please know that there are a few other random genotype situations that should also be explored prior to marriage. Consider this knowledge bonus material cracked from the vault of hidden genetic mysteries. 

  • The motorcycle gene
  • The live-near-yo-mama gene
  • The firearms-in-my-house gene
  • The big city gene
  • The out in the country gene
  • The travel gene 
  • The won't-fly-on-the-same-plane gene
  • The scared-of-cruises gene
  • The football gene
  • The great outdoors gene
  • The go-to-concerts gene
  • The go-to-church gene
  • The people-stay-with-us gene
  • The go-to-bed-with-dishes-in-the-sink gene
  • The name-brand-groceries gene
  • The talk-on-the-phone gene
  • The only-likes-long-hair gene
  • The only-likes-short-hair gene
  • The never-let-the-seat-down gene
  • The too-cheap-to-dine-out gene
  • The hates-leftovers gene
  • The won't-watch-TV-with-you gene
  • The anti-social media gene

I know the married (and divorced) folks are nodding their heads and wishing they'd read this sooner. To which I say, my bad. But just think--imagine the happy homes you'll help now that I've shared the this with you! Ha. 

Man. I do believe if geneticists got involved in more relationships, so many homes would be happier. I'm just saying, man.

Damn. I meant for this to be all beautiful and deep since that picture of Isaiah above is so hauntingly peaceful. But, oh well. At minimum, I hope it gets my friend one step closer to getting a dog into her home. 

Can't you tell it's quasi snowing here and too cold to do anything? 


Happy Quasi-snow day. I wrote this on Saturday but let's count it as the one for Friday, okay?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Image of the Day, January 21: Is that all you got?

I told my team that you have to roll up on disease like the mean girl who can fight in the middle school. Full on mean mug, gangsta stance and balled up fists.

This was the result.

#keepitfun #bestjobever

Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Image of the Day, January 20: Q&A

We have an amazing culture of teaching at Emory. The best part, though, is that not only do the faculty get really into it, we also pour an incredible amount of time and energy into building the most junior of our learners into teachers, too.

This photo was snapped during our resident conference yesterday. This particular session is a unique monthly lecture series where resident physicians are coached by faculty members to deliver  high level, evidence-based lectures--but here's the kicker: They can only be 8 minutes long. We started doing this last year and it was an immediate hit. I think part of it has to do with young people just enjoying the inspiration of being taught by their peers. But also there's something to be said about somebody only talking for 8 minutes and that's it.

Of course, I had to come up with a witty title for the conference. We call it "BST Mode" (pronounced BEAST MODE)--short for "Bite-sized Teaching." My diabolical plot--of which BST Mode is a part--is to get us to a point where nobody ever lectures to anyone for more than 20 minutes. Okay, thirty minutes tops.

*insert wicked laughter*

The four residents were answering questions from the audience when I took this snap. It got me thinking about how critical of a skill the question and answer period is after a lecture. I've found that it can really make or break someone's merit at the end of a great talk. This fab four did great with theirs. That said, the nerdy teacher in me sees this as a great opportunity for some future focused teaching-learning-growing exercises. I like to think of it as "The Art of I Don't Know--But Here's What I Do Know."


I love my job. And this is one of the main reasons that, even if I had won the Powerball, I'd be right here at Grady. (That is, after being dropped off by my personal Uber driver.)


Happy Humpday.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Images of the Day, January 19: Home from the hospital.

I've discovered that having a puppy is eerily similar to having a newborn in your home. Only it's a little bit harder since you don't have the whole diaper option.

This photo was taken exactly four minutes after I walked into my office at Grady. I had spent that morning at the vet with Willow and rushed home to get him some exercise and a walk before going to work. I wondered why my tootsies felt so toasty as I strolled in from the parking garage. Turns out the Ugg boots that I'd walked the pup in were still on my feet which, if you know my feelings on professional attire in the hospital, was an epic fail.

Errrr yeah.

Praise the heavens, Jesus and the Grady gods that I wasn't seeing patients. I was, however, meeting with both a medical student and a resident which still made it no bueno. Fortunately, I was able to slide out of the office building quickly and stop by my house on the way to the med school for my afternoon teaching.

The point of all of this is, again, that having a puppy is really akin to having a baby. Not just the time commitment but the whole baby brain and jacked up attire thing, too.


Oh. Here's Willow at his first veterinarian appointment. My sister-in-law Fran is his doctor which makes me happy in the deepest parts of my soul. Even my brother (who is also a vet and her vet school classmate) says his wife is the best vet in town. So yeah, it was a no brainer when she said she'd agree to see about her little furry nephew.

Willow made a lot of friends on this day. And apparently that's a good thing since, according to all of the random dog books I've been downloading on my Kindle, you want to have them meet some insane number of people per week. This day really made up for some of the others, man.

Oh, I think other dogs are included in that somewhere.

Anywho. Not only was it his first time meeting Frannie, he also got to meet Fran's sweet french bulldog, Frankie. Isaiah reminded me that they are technically cousins. So, yeah. Willow met his cousin.

That evening, my small group advisees from small group Delta came over to help socialize our pup. Turns out that the majority of them have the dog gene with the exception of one extreme anti-dog gene who agreed to check me out later.

The kids loved introducing Willow to the group. I was reminded of just how much I love each and every one of these really special people. It was so sweet of them to come over together like that.

Despite my Ugg boot catastrophe, sleep deprivation, and scrambling to do a million things at once, this was a good day. It was a day filled with smiling faces, meaningful connections, and love which, if you ask me, are the very best kind.


Happy Tuesday. From the lady with the autosomal recessive dog gene that's trying it's best to be expressed.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Images of the day, January 18: Happy Birthday to You.

You know it doesn't make much sense
There ought to be a law against
Anyone who takes offense
At a day in your celebration

Cause we all know in our minds
That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you

And I'm sure you would agree
It couldn't fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

I just never understood
How a man who died for good
Could not have a day that would
Be set aside for his recognition

Because it should never be
Just because some cannot see
The dream as clear as he
that they should make it become an illusion

And we all know everything
That he stood for time will bring
For in peace our hearts will sing
Thanks to Martin Luther King

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday

Why has there never been a holiday?
Where peace is celebrated
all throughout the world?

The time is overdue
For people like me and you
Who know the way to truth
Is love and unity to all God's children

It should be a great event
And the whole day should be spent
In full remembrance
Of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people
So let us all begin
We know that love can win
Let it out don't hold it in
Sing it loud as you can

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
Ooh yeah
Happy birthday...

We know the key to unify all people
Is in the dream that you had so long ago
That lives in all of the hearts of people
That believe in unity
We'll make the dream become a reality
I know we will
Because our hearts tell us so

~ Stevie Wonder


Such profound words sung to my generation. The photo above is of the boys watching a YouTube video of Dr. King's famous speech at the march on Washington. I snapped it from my kitchen a couple of years ago.  Last year, I had them watch "The Drum Major Instinct"--my favorite MLK sermon of all time, thanks to my dad forcing me to listen to it for punishment back in 1986.


This year? We will listen to excerpts of the above, probably. Especially The Drum Major Instinct, since it underscores King's bravery and eloquence simultaneously. But this year, my main plan is to really, truly introduce them to this beautiful, enlightening and courageous song. We will talk about it and break it down. Together we'll go over the lyrics and I'll answer their questions. Then, we'll just shake our bum-bums to it and even get the puppy into the groove. Besides--those kids need to recognize that this was a bold and politically charged song and not just the universal song that black folks sing together on birthdays.

Mmmm hmmm.

Plus, no good parent of African-American (or any) descent neglects to properly introduce her children to the genius of Mr. Steveland Morris a.k.a. Stevie Wonder. That's just wrong, man.

And so. Today we'll celebrate with music and realize another dream of sorts. The one Mr. Wonder penned back when this national holiday was still just a heavily controversial idea.


Happy MLK Day. And Happy Birthday to Ya, Dr. King.

Now playing on my mental iPod . . . . and my real one. We are about to turn up in here!

And, of course, "The Drum Major Instinct."

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Image of the Day, January 17: The Masters.

A first year medical student.
And a man with a life that could not have been further away from her own.
He spoke.
She listened.
Both connected.

It was a gift for them both.

The master teachers in medical education are never the academically decorated professors in their long white coats. Master facilitators, perhaps. But the true master educators are in the hospital beds and clinics. And when we quiet our own minds and agendas long enough, we see it as clear as day and learn the critical things that never appear on exams but matter the most.

I think that's what happened here.

A first year medical student.
And a man with a life that could not have been further away from her own.
He spoke.
She listened.
Both connected.

It was a gift for them both. And me, too.


Happy Sunday.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Image of the Day, January 16: The Dog Gene.

I've always said that some people are born with the "dog gene" and others either acquire it or learn to live in the worlds of those who do. My son Isaiah? He firmly inherited the dog gene.


Now. That DNA must have been hidden autosomal recessively coded and unexpressed in his mama--but surely I know of its origin. Isaiah has my brother--that is, his Uncle Will, to thank for that. When we were kids, Will always loved dogs and from as early as I can remember, he expressed his aspiration of becoming a veterinarian. Which is exactly what he did.

I think at some point we had some kind of labrador retriever mix growing up. Mostly I just recall him being not allowed to come into our house. This pretty much shot his chances of really getting integrated into the family or helping the rest of us to acquire Will's dog gene. Or rather expression of it if you want to be all academic about it.


On May 6, 2007 we had this big party in our backyard. We'd just moved into this house and had orchestrated this Sunday gathering with all of our friends and family to celebrate 1. Isaiah's second birthday, 2. Zachary's baby dedication, and 3. a quasi-housewarming. And my point of even mentioning this is because that time has always stood out in my head as it relates to Isaiah. He acquired language remarkably early. As we planned that party, I was able to ask him what special things he wanted and that little precocious toddler very clearly expressed exactly what that was:

"I want a Go Diego Go cake. And I want a doggie."


He got that Diego cake. The dog? Well. Let's just say we were in denial about his dog gene.

Isaiah would consistently ask for a dog every birthday and Christmas from 2007 forward. And we would try to distract or dissuade him until finally it wasn't working. That's when we evolved to this far away and fantastical age--10--when suddenly the heavens would open up and a canine would fall out of it. Well. That gameplan was fraught with peril since the way time works is that eventually that tenth birthday comes and the chickens come home to roost.

When Isaiah turned 10 last May, I flat out told him that I wasn't ready for a dog. That dogs changed everything and that the responsibility would mostly fall on me. And, of course, he promised and promised that he would walk the dog from here to Six Flags over Georgia if need be but I still stood firm in my position. "I am not sure when I will be ready for this, son. Maybe when you're a teenager? I'm not sure."

His eyes welled up and that was about it. No real, true tears which sort of bothered me. I wasn't sure if it was some sort of Jedi kid trick or if, deep down, he knew that we'd never actually come through after all these years. He also seemed to understand the level of work a dog takes. He shifted his focus to other things and it didn't really come up much after that.

That is, until Harry looked at me one day and said, "We have to get that boy a dog." We were somewhere at someone's home where there was a dog running about. And, in true Isaiah form, he was right there with that dog, playing, petting it, and in hog heaven. He never seems to bore of them and lights up when one is in the room.  When a person has that dog gene with complete penetrance? Man. It's a really hard thing to ignore.

And so. Somewhere around June, we made up our minds to get him a dog. And Harry agreed that he'd give me time to research breeds and to do the nerdy things I do like read books on introducing puppies into homes and how to get your dog not to tear everything up in your house. Which is exactly what I did.

My sister-in-law Fran found him for us. She did the leg work and the research, I think, appreciating how high the stakes were for Isaiah and this dog. A good family dog that sheds minimally and is pretty smart. Not too big or small. Not too yappy or aggressive. And, of course, the veterinarian in her let me know that there was no fool proof breed for such a request but that some come closer to this than others. We settled on either a goldendoodle or a labradoodle.

Which reminds me of something funny. I may or may not have misheard Fran when she told me she'd found our pup and that he was a labradoodle. Somewhere in there I thought the dog was a goldendoodle and even downloaded two books about them on my Kindle. I read both and had Isaiah read one, too. Imagine my surprise when I received a photo text from the lovely woman from whom Willow came--with the puppy's mother: a beautiful chocolate labrador retriever.


Well. The good news is that Isaiah is such a sentimental soul that, instead of glaring at the photo and feeling duped, he immediately saw it as a sign. "This is Willow's mom? She looks a lot like Chancey! That's so awesome, mom!" And that immediately made my eyes sting and think of the sweet, gentle chocolate brown lab who'd belonged to our next door neighbors. Besides my mother's dogs (she, too, has the dog gene) Chance is perhaps the dog our family has known the best. He passed away a few months back after a long, full life of being a fantastic companion to Dave and Beth, our neighbors.

"You have to send Mr. Dave and Mrs. Beth this picture," Isaiah said. Which I promptly did. It didn't surprise me one bit when the dog arrived and his full name included not just the names the kids agreed upon ("Willow" and "Pepper") but also a third name: "Chancey." And as if that weren't enough mush from Isaiah, he even acknowledged that it was "Chancey" not "Chance" because his grandma's most beloved former dog was named "Chauncey" and he wanted to honor him, too.

Sigh. That boy.

I'm still not sure where the name "Willow" came from. But Isaiah saw a photo of that litter, picked the smallest, scrappiest one of the lot, and quickly let us know that this would be his name. When told that some people think of "Willow" as a feminine name, he didn't even flinch. "He will be a boy named Willow," Isaiah replied firmly. Zachary acquiesced and allowed his preferred name "Pepper" to become a middle name. Both boys touched and agreed upon adding the "Chancey" part, though.


I feel like the time spent preparing for him was a bit like a gestational period. Those months allowed me to imagine how my life would work with a dog in it and also seek counsel from my fellow mom-friends who'd already experienced this. Especially the ones without dog genes.

It surprised me how much my heart expanded when I first saw Willow. That dog seemed to know that Isaiah had waited ten full years for him and that he was going to be loved in ways that humans would kill to experience. And Zachary, the younger brother, has fallen right in line as well. But somehow, someway that pup knows. He knows who lulled him into our home with his pulsating dog gene.

I am so happy for my boy. It's only been less than a week, but the gestational period served me well. It has been actually a pretty cool experience so far and has really pushed our entire family to work together. The boys have been hands on deck and Harry's firm voice has given them their marching orders to participate in Willow's care.

And they do. And not in that pretend way either. They actually do.

And so. We are now officially a party of five. And, just maybe, I might find out that my dog gene has been lying dormant and waiting these forty five years to come alive through the eyes of a ten year old boy.


Happy Saturday. Remember Isaiah and the "Puppy Mafia?" from when Isaiah and Zachary were smaller? And "Baby Chancey?" OMG. I'd forgotten about that until recently. Gave me a good laugh to reread those posts.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . the song I sing to Isaiah that I overheard him singing to Willow yesterday. . . . along with Isaiah's tenth birthday video that reminds me that the very best reason to be inconvenienced is the love for your beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy.

Isaiah - Our Beautiful Boy from Kimberly Manning on Vimeo.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Image of the Day: January 15.

One of my favorite jokes about my husband relates to his meticulous grooming. The man irons everything and, as if that wasn't enough, insists on having his shoes always be as clean as possible. This can mean everything from scrubbing them with a toothbrush and bleach solution to replacing them at a point where nearly all others wouldn't.


Harry blames it all on being from the midwest. The Cleveland native in him believes in keeping shoes "fresh" and everything else the same.


Instead of this translating into reckless indulgence, it is actually quite the contrary. Harry and allegedly all of his midwestern comrades believe in high standards, yes. But they also believe in preservation of what you have. While their trash might look like your treasure, never assume that whatever that thing is was purchased in the last five years. Not when you're dealing with a Cleveland or Detroit native.


That brings me to this photo. This is a pair of shoes that belonged to the BHE. They are, quite literally, over ten years old. Harry wore them a great deal back then and, in true Harry form, kept them very, very clean. Eventually they exceeded the limits of midwestern cleanliness and got retired. The best of Harry's sneakers that get put on the bench end up getting saved. A while back I realized that the combination of my husband's well kept old shoe collection and the size of his foot (twelve) was a mighty good thing for a Grady doctor to have in her life. For whatever reason, most of the homeless patients I see who need shoes are a size twelve or less. And are men.


And so. On Thursday, my sweet patient sadly told me of his frustrating situation of having only one shoe. And the one he had was on a prosthetic leg which, as Murphy's Law would dictate, was not the same side of the one shoe he did have. Because he didn't want to ruin his expensive prosthetic, he made the choice to go shoeless on his remaining foot to protect the one that he had worked so very hard to get in the first place.


"What size shoe do you wear?" I asked.

"Twelve," he replied.

I simply nodded in response knowing what I'd do. And him? He didn't even notice it because this had been his lot in life for some time and never did it even occur to him that the doctor caring for his serious medical problems would also care about him leaving with two shoes.

But I did. A lot.

And so. I brought him some shoes the following day. But not just any shoes. Some shoes that were mostly like new. Shoes so nice that two different people asked me in the elevator what they were for and tried to get me to reconsider "just giving them away" and selling them instead. (Turns out a clean pair of Air Force One Nike shoes is a pretty hot commodity.)

Without question, this was the best part of my day. But not just because of the look on my patient's face when he realized that he'd now have shoes for both feet. . . . it was something more.

"You're giving these away?" he asked.

"No," I replied. "I'm giving them to you."

"But they're so nice."

"You are, too."

And we both smiled at one another for a beat, speaking volumes without saying a word.


The older I get, the more I realize how much life is a continuum. The pieces of our lives in one world intertwined with the other and God somehow offering up these sweet little moments in time where He shows you that all things work can work for good if you let them.


Happy Friday. And happy actual birthday, Dr. King.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Image of the Day: January 14.

Meet Mr. Willow Pepper Chancey Manning. A labrodoodle pup this handsome needs four names, don't you think?


My boys are over the moon. And I am over the moon at seeing them over the moon. They are pumped and ready to step up to the plate.

That said, I'm not in denial so am about to take my butt to bed since I'll be needing to wake up soon. It just is what it is.


Happy Thursday. And please pray for me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Image of the Day: January 13.

3 leaders at Grady

This was the day that my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, was founded. 103 years ago to the day. For this reason, January 13 has always been a special day. It means evening gatherings with many of my oldest, dearest friends and also, it was this special thing that Deanna and I shared. She was my favorite Delta of them all.

She still is.

There are other sororities. And they do amazing things in our communities and this world--there's no denying that. But. There's just something about Delta women. For as long as I could remember, wherever there was important work to be done that involved a fearless leadership, there has always been a Delta there, too. I recall being in high school and saying, "She's a Delta, too?" Eventually, I learned to not be surprised.


Grady Hospital is no different. Surely our students and residents interface with many people. And it is true that a remarkable number of them are African-American women in leadership positions. So, true to our form, the lion's share of those women are members of Delta Sigma Theta.


I was proud as I walked through the halls on rounds today. Periodically I'd see one of my sorors and we'd greet one another with a hug and a "Happy Founders Day!" exchange. Finally, someone said to me what I always said as a young person: "Her, too?" And proudly, I'd nod in the affirmative.

Someone said something really interesting toward the end of my rounds. They said, "Isn't it astonishing to you that the majority of the black women in major leadership positions at Grady Hospital just so happen to be Deltas?"

To which I quickly replied: "No. It'd be more astonishing to me if they weren't."


Happy Wednesday. And Happy Founders Day to my trailblazing sorors all over the globe.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Image of the Day: January 12.

It was a small gesture. I'd rounded that morning and raced from Grady Hospital to the football field as quickly as I could. I felt bad when his helmeted head turned in my direction; I knew he noted my second quarter arrival.

"Your mom works full time," I prepared myself to say. "People get sick and mommy takes care of them. Otherwise, you know I would have been there from the beginning."

Which is true because I would.

But the minute that helmet came off, all I saw was his eyes dancing and his face lighting up. No scathing glance or disappointed queries about why I wasn't there at kick off or lamentations of how some other kid's mom is always, always, always there from the start.


Instead, he just pointed at my face and smiled big, wide and genuine. He called over his teammates and wanted them to see, too. "My mom is awesome," he said. And the best part is that I could tell that he meant it. Those nine year old boys ooh-ed and aah-ed and agreed with him, too.


Funny. I didn't feel so "awesome" before that. Just an hour before I was wriggling into my jeans in the back of my minivan and swearing under my breath for forgetting my team shirt with his number on the back. I did have on the team colors, but still. I know how much it means to the kids when the moms come all geared up.

And so. At the last minute, I grabbed that sticker. A black under eye sun-blocker that had fallen from his football bag that I pasted under my right eye without much additional thought. But not before grabbing the white pencil sitting in my minivan console to scribble the number of my favorite player.


You know? Most games I saw from the first play. And even showed up with personalized shirts just for him. But there was something about that sticker. Something extra special about is mom showing up looking like she was just as in the game as he was that felt even more special for him.

When he brought all of his friends over and puffed out his chest? I sort of wanted to cry. Kind of like I was Kevin Durant's mom and like this was one of those moments that would make him someday say that I was the real MVP.

Yeah. That.

Sometimes? Man. Sometimes we get it right.


Happy Tuesday.

Now on my mental iPod. This made me cry tonight. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Image of the Day: January 11.

On Sunday, we took a group of kids to do a service project at the Central Night Shelter for Men here in downtown Atlanta. After learning about the shelter, we came upstairs to join the yoga practice offered by a volunteer each week.

Everyone laid out their mats in rows. Kids sitting right beside their brothers affected by homelessness. No noses wrinkling or turning up. Just this deference for these men and a respect that, probably, they'd never even considered offering someone in that position.

And so. Together we did yoga. Quietly finding inner peace in mountain poses, downward facing dog poses and sun salutations. The men marveled at how easily those lithe little ones folded their bodies into those Child's poses and those kids giggled when the grown ups needed foam blocks because they couldn't touch their toes.

It was beautiful, I tell you. All of it.

This morning it was below freezing. Both of my children made mention of the guests of the shelter, required to leave early each morning. They spoke of the frigid air this morning and wondered where they would go. "It's so cold today," Zachary said at the bus stop. "I hope they find somewhere warm and dry," Isaiah mumbled while staring out to the window in carpool.


The volunteers must return to their regular livelihoods each morning and prepare the space for other uses during the day. Sadly, for the shelter guests, they have no choice but to return to their regular livelihoods, too.

"Namaste," the volunteer yogi spoke softly. "This is a greeting that says my soul acknowledges your soul. The light in me honors the light in you."

I loved this because, really, it is everything we'd hoped those 3rd, 4th and 5th grade kids would get out of the session. Seeing the humanity in those experiencing homelessness. Imagining them not as these caricatures penniless, haggard and on the fringes of life. But instead somebody's uncle or daddy or son or friend. . . . a real person as entitled to a piece of this pie called life as any.

Yes. That.

Hands pulled close to bosoms. And every man, woman and child under that voice responded in unison:


Yes. That.

Happy Monday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. .. . .

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Image of the Day: January 10.

The culture of African American barber shops and hair salons is so rich. During our most recent visit, for some reason I focused less on the banter and more on the barbers. They are artisans of hair, meticulous in their every snip and buzz. I love how much pride they take in their work. How a man looks when he steps out into this world matters. And I think these men and women take this into consideration when someone gets into their chairs.

Sure, there are jokes and fun and shenanigans. But there is also expertise, skill and professionalism, too. Not very much different at all from what I do on my own job.

So on this day I noticed that. I did.

Mr. Hashir and Mr. Tuck have cut my boys' hair for as long as I can remember. These men are their barbers, the ones they trust and know and to whom they are already loyal. Each boy pays and tips his own barber. Looks him straight in the eye, shakes his hand, and thanks him.  Harry tells them that this will teach them barber etiquette when they grow up. And some life etiquette, too.

Know what you want. 
Express it clearly. 
Sit still. 
Be patient. 
Show appreciation. 

You know? I think Harry is right.