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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Dad! - 94 & Still Going Strong! Samuel C. Dove, Sr.

I am fortunate
To have Loving Friends and a
Loving Family

My Dad was born on October 29, 1919. He turned 94 years old today. What an awesome blessing! Doesn't he look handsome wearing the new hat my Mom gave him? To mark this special occasion, I share a tribute I wrote in his honor. It appears in my book of poetry, “Color in Motion,” which features a foreword by drumming legend Max Roach.

My Hero

When I say I’m proud of
Who I am, the people
I come from

I truly mean it

When I say I’m thankful
You’re always there,
Teaching all those lessons,

I truly mean it

When I say I’m proud of your genius, your intellect,
Your craftsmanship,

I truly mean it

When I say your jovial sense of humor
Makes this world a better place,

Friday, October 18, 2013

Necessary Losses

Like the Emancipation Oak, where Hampton University was founded, our friendships have withstood the test of time. But not without  life's "Necessary Losses."

We are all on this
road, traveling life’s journeys
through good times and bad

The Hampton University Chapel, where Bill and Gina were married in 1977
To look up and realize I still have the same friends 40 years later is truly a blessing, a miracle to behold. Many of my classmates from Hampton are still on a natural high, having recently returned to our beloved alma mater for Homecoming Weekend. While I wasn’t able to attend, Homecoming was definitely on my mind, as well as graduation and all the reunions we’ve celebrated since. Here I share “Necessary Losses,” a photo essay I created  in commemoration of our 35th reunion in May 2012. All of the photos were taken with my trusty digital pocket camera.

Here I pay my respects and share some experiences. I pay reverence and respect to the passage of time , to the way we have been able to survive our often complicated and conflicted lives while maintaining our priceless friendships. I pay reverence and respect to the power of memory.
Hampton's pristine waterfront campus remains the same after all these years
Yes, I remember:  The shimmering water sparkled

Friday, October 11, 2013

How Do Writers Support Themselves?

2009 Photo of Pheralyn Dove, teaching her Practical Writing Class at Temple University's PASCEP Program.
Theresa Rivers Photo

Writers resort to all sorts of tactics to get their writing in and pay the bills. Even though there are lots of writers who find enough contract, publishing and freelance work to stay solvent, quite often, a day job is in the mix. Some writers teach. Others drive taxis, work in labs, wait tables and clean other people’s houses, while still managing to devote time to their craft. 

Not that I’m ashamed of it or anything, but I rarely tell people what I do for a living, how I actually manage to support myself. When asked, I say:  “I’m a writer.” When they begin to probe and ask what kind, I say: “Creative and technical.” And if they continue to probe and ask if I’ve been published, I reply, “Yes. I have a book of poetry.” I rarely volunteer that I spent 20 years of my life in news rooms as an arts reporter, or that over the last ten years I have ramped up my income from creative projects by working a day job as a grant writer for the School District of Philadelphia.

But I’m over myself now. I have reconciled all the various parts of me. So yes. I have a day job. And yes, it requires that I do a lot of writing. And no, I don’t find it boring or “less than.”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Today’s Offering: Magical Thinking

Magical thinking
makes miracles happen in
our everyday lives

I live my life in a state of perpetual gratitude. I believe in magic. I believe in miracles. Not just the ethereal, other-worldly stuff. But the everyday stuff too. The stuff we all too often take for granted. Like our breath. What a miracle -  the way our bodies breathe for us each and every moment of our lives. And what about other functions our bodies perform, like sight, mobility, hearing, touch, taste, smell and so many other wonders.

Sometimes I am aware of divine intervention during the course of my daily routines. I find my car keys just in the nick of time, pay a bill and revel in the realization that I have the money to pay it, or consider the fact that I am one of five siblings and we are all friends. Indeed. My family, my friends, my comfortable lifestyle  - all miracles. And this precious gift of writing – another miracle that I am humbled to perceive. I’ve shared my artist’s statement many times before and I’ll repeat it again:
“Each and every poem I write, I consider a gift from God. A turn of a phrase. Emotions that surface. An experience distilled into verse. Each offering is a present from the Creator. All praises, I say. Thank you for choosing me as the vessel.”

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Today’s Offering: Resist Resistance

Resistance often
takes the form of fear to
block us from our goals

Here’s a picture I took of gorgeous fall foliage in Fairmount Park. I totally love this time of year, especially because it is my birthday season. Last week I took some time to celebrate. Which to me means time for peace and quiet. Every year I take time to read, write, pray, give thanks, practice my music, reflect, take long walks, go out for a nice jog here and there, take photos, work outside in my yard, meditate and more or less catch up to myself.  Then, once I’m restored, I’m happy to get together with family and friends.

My first day off I gave Denys a call during my walk to the track. I reminded her the next day was my birthday. We laughed. We have this long standing joke. Even though we have been friends for decades, and were born in the same month of the same year, I’m always reminding her when my birthday comes. And more often than not, I’m reminding her when her birthday comes too.  She was about to go into a meeting, so our conversation was cut short.

Then I opened up YouTube on my smart phone, where I had cued up MarieForleo’s vlog post about six so-called health foods that should be avoided. Then I went down the rabbit hole of and stumbled onto her interview with Steven Pressfield. Marie had a dog-eared, much-loved, marked up copy of his book, “The War of Art.” 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Today’s Offering: Try to Love Yourself

Even though I love
myself just as I am, I
still seek improvement

Ever hear that critical voice inside insisting that you are not enough? Is that voice hammering away insisting that if only this, if only that, if only the other, I’d be okay? Have you ever frowned upon seeing a photo of yourself? Or do you ever look in the mirror and cringe? Do you dismiss loving yourself today and think you’ll be okay once you lose the extra pounds, do something with your hair, land a new job or work your way out of debt? I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. I’m also here to tell you that you’re fine just the way you are. You deserve to be loved exactly as you are. You deserve most of all, to be loved by you. Approve of yourself. It’s your birthright to love who you are, right here, right now. The process of self-discovery and self-improvement lasts a lifetime.

Commit to making improvements where you can. But also, please make a conscious effort to silence the critical voice.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Today’s Offering: Talents, Gifts and Abilities

When Source created
us, we were all instantly
endowed with talents

Today’s Haiku gives all of us permission to be ourselves. Each and every one of us is unique. We’re all gifted with special talents completely our own. This is a photo I shot of a winter sunrise in my Overbrook neighborhood. Sometimes, on those perfect days when I'm at my desk writing by 4:30 in the morning and out the door to start my run at dawn, I pause and capture the magic. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Today's Haiku, Photo and Musings

Desire nothing
Believe you already have
Everything you need

Haiku is an ancient form of Japanese poetry that I love. Its simple format calls for three lines, containing five syllables in the first, seven syllables in the second and five syllables in the third line, for a total of 17 syllables. I make it a daily practice to write Haiku. 

Today I leave you to think about your thoughts, your wants and your desires. If you go to a place inside your heart where you feel an abundance of gratitude, you will find that all of your desires are coming to you, so you relinquish the need to actually desire anything. 

I also love to take a lot of photographs. Here is a pic of Hampton University's waterfront campus, in Hampton, Virginia. I spent my pivotal developmental days here, as an undergraduate student. I often went to the waterfront alone. That's where I reflected on the meaning of life, wrote stories and poetry, and fearlessly obeyed my muse. The last time