Monday, December 27, 2010


So, the holidays have come and gone and we are none of us any worse for the wear. Some of us may be a little stressed about upcoming credit card bills, but for the most part I think we are all good. I know I am. I managed (less by choice than out of necessity) to completely avoid the malls altogether. I mean I did not go near a single one and I feel better for it.

This has been an unusual holiday for me. My car broke down and died two weeks before Christmas. A non-paying client left me without the funds I had budgeted for my vacation to go home and I rapidly watched life as I knew it go into a pre-holiday tailspin. I had a brief pity party then mustered up the courage to tell my friends and family that I was in serious straits. I humbly asked for help, which they generously and blessedly provided.

While I still don't know what is going to happen regarding my transportation back and forth to work - I am still without a car - I sit listening to the roosters crowing outside my birth mom's house in Key West where I spent my very first Christmas with her and my two sisters. Sometimes you just have to let go and let things be what they are. This Christmas, one which was 49 years in the making was what needed to happen more than the car, more than money, more than anything else because we are not promised tomorrow and I can't live with anymore regrets.

In seven months I will be 50 years old. 50. I have done some tremendous things in my life and I am very proud of my accomplishments. I have achieved things many people only dream of and while some are grand and others are quiet little milestones, they are mine and have made me the multi layered individual I am today. I am unique, different, an anomaly and I am finally content to be all of that.

So, when a friend asked today where I was going when I said we needed to see one another soon, I had to admit that I am moving on in my life in ways I could not have imagined a few years back. I had to admit that all of the accomplishments, the loves, the things, the "stuff" were no longer sufficient. I want something more for the second half of my journey.

I desire a life which no longer has me as its center, a life which is without regret, one which makes the most of my skills, talents, gifts, my calling - whatever you want to name it. I choose a life which allows me to be fully who I am with all of my quirks, my brilliance, my laughter, my joy and mostly with all of my great big loving heart. After a year and a half of looking inward and finding what has always been there, I want to spend time looking outward and seeing where I can help and be a difference in the world. I AM the change I want to see.

My life has never been linear and now it has even more dimension than it has ever had. Being at least objective enough to know something grand is unfolding, I have seen the unmistakeable signs which tell me I have no clue whatsoever about life. I have been keenly aware that I am (as we all are) being prepared for whatever it is which will come next. And I am astounded at every turn. I can only think, if this is just the preparation - wow.

I don't know what this journey will bring. Well, I suspect it will bring a lot of joy, but you know what I mean. This is a new year, a new time. And for me as always it will be a year of tremendous change. I hope you will continue to look to these pages for moments of inspiration, hope, love, joy and triumphs because I plan to write about them as I find them along my travels.

As always, I wish you well on your own journey towards self understanding. Take some time in your life to do your own omphaloskepsis. You'll be surprised at what you find. 

Navel gazing. The view is amazing.

Robin G. White is an award-winning author, poet, playwright, performer and publisher who likes the letter P. You can find out more about Robin at and about her family's  non-profit organization, We Can We Care, Inc. at

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Friday, December 10, 2010


Aaargh. So I woke up this morning with huge fat tears streaming down my face. I was thinking about Christmas and despite all of the revelry and all of the great things that are transpiring in my life, I went there. You know. There. That lonely place where you get all self-absorbed and whiny and act like you have nothing better to do than to complain about what isn't perfect in life. Yup. That place. I know. It is making my ears bleed just to think about it.

I don't have a perfect life. Far from it. My life is just different from what it used to be and I am like a lot of people who are making some adjustments to fit their ever-decreasing-in-size billfolds. I am still figuring it out. Some days - most in fact - are better than others, but it is a process. It is one I welcome and am learning from. You see, for nearly the past decade I have been complicit in an exercise in excess: purchasing the largest tree on the lot, the shiniest gigantic ornaments and buying ridiculously over-priced presents which would've stunned my parents and made my grandparents roll over in their graves. Honestly. What was I thinking? I wasn't. I was just numbly, unconsciously rolling along with the flow. And what an excessive flow it was.

One year our tree was so big we had to buy a dozen treetop angels just to sit on the branches so the tree would not look so empty. Imagine! The following year we had so many presents for the children that we had to hide them in a room in the basement - not a closet mind you, but in an entire room - our movie theater. And the food, my God. There were piles and piles of food enough to feed a small army, fresh baked breads, pineapple glazed hams, roasted turkeys, pans of sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, a field of greens and a pantry full of home-baked goodies. We were stuffed for days and then threw out the leftovers. Add warm festive lights, joyous music, high spirits all sprinkled with a little cinnamon and awww. The holidays.

Hmmm. What the mind tricks you into remembering. While Christmas was often lovely and the memories - some of them - were magical, I also recall quite a bit of stress involved. Finding just the right tree and getting it flocked, carting and unpacking dozens of boxes of ornaments and disagreements about what could go on the tree and what couldn't, waiting in countless supermarket lines and Honey Baked Ham lines, shopping, shopping, shopping for all the right gifts for just the right people right before the store closed on Christmas eve, more arguments, buying more toys than any one or two children could ever play with, still more stress-induced fights, dressing up for dinners which took hours to prepare and were gone in the bat of an eyelash. Exhaustion. Broken toys. Run down batteries. Too small sweaters. Mountains of once beautiful wrappings ripped to shreds and stuffed in trash bags. Every adult asleep in front of the movie we had all planned to enjoy together. And still, none of it ever felt like it was enough. Battle scars. Hurt feelings. Where was the joy?!

So, this morning, I mourned the loss of the fantasy. Sobbed big wet tears for all of the traditions I had created in my mind and then snapped out of being the drama queen my friend Mesu accuses me of being. And I counted my blessings for the late night gig which allows me to pay my bills, the paid extra project and its countless hours which will allow me to spend the first Christmas ever with my birth mom and siblings, the orphans in Uganda who have heightened my awareness about what it really means to give and receive and for whom my family began a new tradition of giving, my soon-to-be 47 nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews who help me understand love in ways I never knew I could feel, my 17 siblings who are some of the most amazing people you would ever want to know, my array of parents - all five of them who have poured everything into us to make us such wonderful people, and my friends, colleagues and acquaintances who I hope know how dearly I love and appreciate them in my life. The tears faded behind the beaming smile which lit up my heart.

This is the season of love, after all. It is not about how shiny the things you have are, but about how bright the light within you shines. Mine once was a glimmer; today it feels like a star. And I hope it is shining brightly wherever you are.

Love and Light to you this holiday season.

Robin G. White "Bobbie!" is an award-winning author and publisher. You can read more about her at You can read more about her family project, We Can We Care, Inc. at and find out how you too can help build sustainable charitable projects in your own community.

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Saturday, December 4, 2010


For nearly a month now I have been considering the topic of my next blog. Usually the topics come so easily, but this time I just couldn't seem to get out of my head and onto the page. So, today as I rummaged through my emails, Facebook pages and Yahoo! news, I was struck by a constant theme which is current in my life. Giving. In particular, I am increasingly aware of random or as I call them, intentional acts of kindness. The only thing random about them is the recipient. The act is pure intention.

At the beginning of this month of December we celebrated Pay It Forward Day. You may not have been aware of it because you may not be on Facebook or you may not have watched one of the few daily news stations which carried the story. But there it was, December 1. Pay It Forward Day. A day started by a guy who just wanted to do something good for others and decided as the Michael Jackson song goes, "Started with the man in the mirror." So, he chose Pay It Forward Day. Do something for someone else with no strings attached. Commit an act of kindness and keep going, hoping but never knowing whether your act started and ended with you. Personally, I did what I am prone to do on any given day; I paid the tab of a person in the line behind me at the drive through and sped off. I giggled all the way down the road at the thought of that individual trying to understand why someone would do such a thing and hoped maybe, just maybe I made a difference in someone's life.

And that is it, isn't it? That is the reason we are all here bound to this earth, living and breathing day in and day out, learning, teaching, engaging each other in dialogue. We are here to be a comfort to one another, to make someone else's day, to help not hurt, to create a ripple effect in our very movement as we course through time and space. Yahoo! Year in Review: - Inspiring Acts shows us how simple it is to make a difference whether you are a five-year-old girl collecting cans to feed the homeless, or a 60-something heart transplant recipient speed walking marathons in every state to call attention to organ donation, you can make a difference.

We all want to do it. We all want to be the person who creates fundamental change in the lives of people we know, in our communities or around the globe. We all want to be the Oprah or the Bill Gates of our own little group of friends. And why not? Why shouldn't we be? What do they have that we don't besides money, time and resources? Nothing except the desire to see something through and the understanding that we can be instruments of change where we stand if we truly want to be. It really doesn't take much. Just one act, one intentional act can make the difference in someone else's life.

Here is a great way to start. Smile. That's right. Smile. Today when you go out try this experiment. When you walk into your office, into Starbucks, into the mall, simply smile. Smile at everyone you encounter. Intentionally. Put a lot of feeling into it. Smile with your eyes as well as your face. Smile with a breath inhaled and exhale it into the person you encounter. Do that and watch the reactions you receive. Look at the faces change as they smile back at you. As you go through the morning and smile, pay attention to how you feel when someone smiles back. Are you moving a little easier? Do you feel happier? Can your face stop grinning? Probably not. Now, when you encounter that usual sourpuss behind the counter at Burger Barn or the overworked clerk at your favorite retail outlet, or the curmudgeon in the cubicle next to yours you can think, smile and feel the disturbances melt away.

It really is that simple? Smile and all the world smiles with you? I believe so. I believe that when we do something good, smile at someone, pick up something they dropped, by them a cup of coffee - just because, it effects them. I know that when I have been the recipient of an act of kindness, I am moved to do something kind for someone else, just because I know how much it changed my disposition in the moment and I want someone else to feel that good. A recent ad campaign showed a person who witnessed an act of kindness being moved to commit one themselves, which was witnessed by someone who was then moved to commit an act of kindness and so on and so on. Kindness infinite.

So, what can you do besides smile at your neighbor? What can you do that will not take up your valuable extra money, spare time or resources if you have any of those? It could be as easy as helping a neighbor, a colleague, a friend during this rough time of financial transition. Maybe it is donating your old clothes, junk in your attic to your local freecycle community rather than your local charity. It could be as simple as you and nine of your friends each committing ten dollars a month to your local food bank or soup kitchen, which incidentally will provide about 200 meals to those in need.

Recently, my cousin, Juanda who works in Iraq encountered a colleague, Agnes from Uganda. They became friends and my cousin visited this woman's village when she returned home. What began as a small friendship has blossomed into one of the most remarkable acts of kindness I have ever encountered and galvanized an entire village - my family - into action on behalf of another. You can read about our efforts to create change in the world at We Can We Care, Inc. will build orphanages and schools in remote places around the world. As a family we have realized that what we have an abundance of could be shared and that even if the smallest of us could only give a little, our combined resources could make a significant difference in the lives of others. Exponential result from incremental giving.

My family's example is not unique. There are families, organizations and individuals around the world who are utilizing their seemingly small resources, finances and spare time to create change in the world, in their communities and in their own back yards. You can do it too.
  • Call your local homeless shelter and find out what you can do to help them during the winter months. Donations of warm clothes and blankets are always welcome.
  • Do you stay in hotels a lot? How about donating those little bottles of toiletries and soaps to your local woman's, youth or homeless shelter.
  • When was the last time you cleaned out your closet? Many communities have veterans groups or local charities which will pick up your donations if you call and schedule them. Just leave the donated items outside your door.
  • Do you belong to a book club? What do you do when you've read the monthly selection? Why not pass it along to a group home? Better yet, encourage the group home to read the book after your book club donates the books and you and a few club members meet with teens to discuss the books each month. Great way to mentor and give.
  • Do you like to cook? Have a new favorite muffin recipe? Your local Ronald McDonald House encourages individuals and community groups to prepare home-cooked meals and treats for families who are visiting while taking care of their sick children. Having a home-cooked meal or freshly baked muffins in the morning can make a big difference.
  • Do you get the biggest latte, soda or french fries you can order? Downsizing to the next size will not only save you as much as 50 cents per day, but if you commit to doing it five times a week with nine of your friends, you will save $100 a month to give to the charity of your choice. Get an art teacher for that after-school program down the street or a dance instructor for the community senior center. Use it to establish a scholarship fund for a student living in a homeless shelter.
There are so many things we can do with so little. We can make incremental changes and create exponential results if we just try just a little. One small change. Huge results. It is as simple as caring about the well being of a friend and telling your family about it. Come on. You can do it. Create a little change in your life. You'll be smiling at the results.

Robin G. White is the Executive Director of We Can We Care, Inc. which is dedicated to decreasing poverty and enriching the lives of the world's poorest children by building homes and schools and by providing renewable and sustainable resources for their health and well being. You can create change by contributing your tax deductible donations to our organization at On behalf of the children, we thank you.

Robin G. White is the award-winning author of Resurrection: A Collection of Work, Reflections of a Life Well Spent, First Breath, Intersections, The Omphaloskepsis Twelve Powers Journal and a host of children's books. You can read more about her at

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Monday, November 8, 2010


Letting go of someone or something isn't always easy. In fact for me it is the antithesis of who I am at my very core. I am a Cancer woman and by nature, I hold onto things and emotionally move into places that I make home. And while that loyalty, commitment and emotional comfort can be a good thing, it also means sometimes it is very difficult to move on even when I know it is time to. I can be like a hermit crab carrying a house full of old hurts on my back. 

Ten years ago I fell in love. For the first time in my life I actually pursued someone and wouldn't take no for an answer. We had a few remarkable years and as things started to change and our life together began to unravel we just couldn't let it go. We couldn't let go of the dream and the hopes we had shared in the past. It took us nine years to finally sever the bond and when we did it was with a guillotine swish. It left my brain whirling across my emotional floor and unnerved me to my core. I felt lost, hopeless and in a great deal of pain and grief.

Forgiveness some say takes a lot of strength. For me, it is natural. I have always said I can forgive others' transgressions because I know some day I will need for them to forgive mine. And for the most part that is the case. That is how I have lived my life. I learned early on that we must forgive others to prevent the anger and bitterness that comes with holding on from eating us from the inside out. I learned how it can color every thing we do, every decision and definitely every relationship. But for me, letting go of the feelings that come from being hurt by someone ... that is a lesson I am still learning. I marvel at those who can so easily do it.

My dear Aunt Stella used to say I care too much about everyone else's feelings. I know what she meant. I am empathetic. I understand. I get it. I recognize the why we got where we ended up. I understand the deeper issues behind the how we got here and I have insight enough to realize my part in the relationship's failure. I forgave us both and moved on toward my healing. I took the time to delve into my codependency issues, took a look at the mistakes I made and came up with solutions to be a better stronger me. I did my work. And still, I hurt. While I understand that breaking up was not only necessary, but ultimately good for us both, the how just never sat right with me. The sense of betrayal, the letdown, the callousness of it all just plain old hurt. That sense of being wronged or tossed aside just plain old hurt. And it is confusing as to why emotionally I couldn't just let it and sometimes her go.

Sometimes I think it is because I watch too much TV that I am this way. It could be. It might be that as a writer my job sometimes is to create the happy endings, lure my readers into a sense of falsehood that nice guys don't always finish last, that they often get the girl and that the nasty n'er-do-well neanderthal will disappear into the shadows never to be heard from again. The lines between reality and fiction aren't always crystal clear. I'm a romantic who believes in the fairy tale ... to some extent. And well, I am not the neanderthal type so, I have to believe that in the end the nice guy will always get the girl. Otherwise, like Peggy Lee I have to ask, "Is that all there is?" And break out the booze and become an alcoholic. Seriously.

So herein lies the dilemma. How do I let go of all of the pain suffered from the guillotine's blade and move on past the hurt toward trust and love? How do I learn to intertwine my easy sense of forgiveness, the actual letting go of the anger with the letting go of the pain? How do I move on? I've prayed. I've meditated. I've read more books than I can count and sat in more silent rooms than anyone ever should. I've sought counseling and talked less, listened more. I've recognized that someone else's words or actions don't define me. And then I remembered that you can't grab hold of something new with claws tightly pinched shut. I exhaled, opened up my Cancerian crab claws, released and said enough is enough.

Crawling out of an emotional shell isn't easy. There is no quick remedy to heal old wounds. There is no quick fix. It just takes time. We triage our hurts, assess how bad they are and tend to them. We cry, yell, scream when we are wounded and apply the balm. We find the medicine that works, take it and watch the healing begin. It isn't easy, it may take some surgery to extricate the pain, rehabilitation to recover from the hurts and a good plastics man to remove the scarring, but we do get through the process. And it is a process.

Eventually we heal. We wake up one day and realize we have indeed moved on away from the hurt and the pain toward a better part of the healing. It may be a moment in time, but we will see or hear something and  know. Sometimes it is as simple as watching and old friend move on with her new love when we realize that healing is possible. Sometimes it is discovering with other friends how hard it is to navigate our way in a decade-old dating world that had moved on without us in it, but we do it anyway. Sometimes it is as simple as listening to God in the trees or in our children's laughter or in ourselves and we recognize again the joy of living.

And sometimes it is in imagining ourselves at the bottom of the ocean scurrying along away from our old hollow shells in search of the new loving and beautiful home in which we will surround us. Personally, that is the journey I am on. If you look behind me, you can see the cloud of hurts I've kicked and scattered in my wake. When all of the dust finally settles, I will be long gone. You see, I am racing across new terrain right now and reaching my Cancer claws out for that new experience and embracing it. Fully.

Robin G. White "Bobbie!" is an award-winning author, playwright and publisher. She lives in Georgia. You can learn more about her at

Monday, November 1, 2010


I had my first dating experience in probably 14 years this past week. Let me explain. I have been out of a long-term relationship for about 15 months. I spent nearly a year sorting it out, reading, writing, praying - lots of that, talking, counseling (yes, I did some therapy), and generally reflecting on the merits of the experience with my past loved one. I took the time to do my work, look inward and take stock of my part in the madness that our relationship had become, find forgiveness, sanity and me in the process. That said, I feel ready to move on, date, meet interesting people and enjoy the company and companionship of others. So, when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped in feet first. And I am so glad I did.

Dating has never really been in my experience. Generally, I meet my special someones organically. For example, I met my former love while working on a project together. It evolved from a strictly business relationship, into mutual respect, friendship and then ultimately a relationship. For me, this is the norm. It is not that I date my friends, sometimes the timing, the connections, the feelings become mutual. It is like a perfect storm. Everything is in alignment. So, when the young woman in question and I began to talk and it became clear that we wanted to know more about one another, we agreed to go out.

14 years is a long time to be "off the market" so to speak and the thought of dating can be daunting. I was nervous. I called and texted about a half dozen family members and friends in a panic trying to figure out where to go and what to do. Who knew dating could be so difficult? What do people do on a date? I have never dated in this city and although it is full of all types of sights and sounds, I have been in a relationship for nine years. I finally figured out that it was OK to be in my comfort zone and suggest a few places that I knew. I selected a restaurant where we could talk and which had live music if we needed a distraction. The night was perfect. I brought a rose, we talked for hours on end and didn't want to leave at the end of the evening. We made plans to see each other again.

My second date was less eventful. I had to be at work that evening, she was busy piddling through her day and in the end although we enjoyed our conversation, the connection just wasn't quite what it had been a few days before. She felt it clearly and let me know the next morning, which I appreciated. Although somewhat disappointed that I will not be in this woman's company for future dates, I am very happy I had the experience. I now know I can go out, be myself and that it will be wonderful. As my little sister Janet says, I have the gift of gab; conversation is not an issue. Now that I have a couple under my belt, I feel like I can handle it when the opportunities come my way again. This experience has boosted my courage.

Dating, I realize is another way of figuring out who you are in the world. I know who I am and what I like, but after being a "somebody" to someone else for so long, my role or what I want sometimes feels unclear. This experience has certainly helped me understand what I am open to. I love a good conversationalist and this friend certainly is one. She is as intelligent as she is provocative. I really enjoy a woman who knows her own sexual power. That to me is bliss. And I really appreciate a woman who has done her work to get to the place where she is ready to move on and explore possibilities with another. My friend felt like she needed more time. When she is ready, I am certain someone else will find her as engaging, sexy and beautiful as I did. And at the end of the day, spending time healing, getting reacquainted with yourself - your needs, desires, your joys is what matters. I did it and I encourage others to do the same. I am not one bit mad at her for doing what it is that ultimately most of us don't take the time to do. I applaud her sensibility.

I expect I will be dating a bit this fall and winter. I joined a few meetups at over the past few weeks and maybe will make some connections there. Who knows. I am attending a few planned indoor events while the mercury drops. There is nothing like a little cold weather to make you really want to enjoy the cozy company of others. I am looking forward to it and am open to suggestions of places to go in my city and in others for that matter as I travel quite a bit. So, if you see me in a lodge snuggled by the fire with a cup of cocoa in one hand and some lovely lady's hand in the other, you will know. I'm on a date so do not disturb!

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Monday, October 25, 2010


I come from this remarkable family of givers. They are truly lovely people who would offer the shirts off their backs. They are helpful, resourceful and generous. Imagine my surprise when I finally found them and at 48 realized that my altruistic nature was hardwired into my DNA. It's not a bad thing. It's just when you add my nurturing Cancerian nature to the genetic mainframe I become generous to a fault. Like Ado Annie, 'I'm just a girl who caint say no,' and it always puts me in a terrible fix! One I am so ready to be out of.

Unlike Annie, my inability to utter that two-letter word has little to do with romantic attention and everything to do with my willingness to focus my attention, time and energy on everyone, but me. Like a lot of women I don't do enough to help me. Instead, I channel my energies into anyone else's problems, needs, projects and concerns forfeiting time and efforts which could be utilized to resolve my own problems, needs, projects and concerns. Like too many of us, I have learned to do for everyone else before I do for me. I take the leftovers and squeeze a day's worth of tasks into the last few minutes of my day when I am tired and lacking energy. I don't know who taught me that I wasn't worth my own time and efforts, but I've learned the lesson all too well.

For some women, it is our desire to be a supportive caring spouse, partner, lover which drives us to distraction in the caregiver department. Instead of offering support, we take on the entire task as our own and push our needs to the bottom of the checklist. It is a perversity that we go out of our way to help others while not lifting a finger to do something which will enhance our own lives. For others, we self sacrifice saying it is for the good of our children. But is it really good? What kinds of messages are we sending our young girls - everyone else is more important than you are? And our young boys - you and your needs are more important than your mate? Those attitudes demolish self esteem and mine is quickly tanking!

My inability to say no (or to use it appropriately) has set up some very dangerous patterns of behavior among people I know and love. I get taken for granted not only because I allow it, but because my own behavior demands it. "No," I say. "You go on ahead. I'll just wait." And wait I do. For my turn, my time, my whatever which never comes because I have not made room for it. Sometimes I simply have not asked for or demanded it. My turn as low man on the totem pole is my own durn fault. Me and Annie, 'I always say "come on, let's go!" Jist when I orta say nix... It's time to change this situation.

My friend Yolanda reminded me recently that it is OK to be selfish sometimes. "Right now," she said very pointedly, "is one of those times." You see, I am in transition, moving from one part of my life journey into the next. I don't know what it will look like when all is said and done, but I do know what parts of the last 50 years cannot be repeated. So, while I am figuring out what to do with the next 50 years of my life, I am going to work on rewiring some of that inherited altruism and harness some of this philanthropic energy for me. It is time that I learn how to give to me that beautiful love I so readily give away to everyone else. 

It is time for me to refocus my energy and time on me and stop giving away my last when I need it the most. It is simply time for me to stop being such an overgiver. Just stop. And while I understand my predisposition makes this task nearly impossible, I am going to give it a try, not forever, but let's say for one week. Starting today. And if you suffer from the same untamed spirit of giving at the sacrifice of yourself, please feel free to copy this list I created which I hope will help me regain some control over my people pleasing persona. And always one to give due, thanks to my sister Cecelia for being the inspiration for this post. You rock, Sis. Now get to checking off the list! 
  1. Giving too much of yourself? Just STOP! Maybe not for a week, but for a day, or an hour, or an hour a day.
  2. Say it. I will not do anything for anyone else but me. It's kind of hard to say, right?!
  3. I am going to be selfish and focus all of my energy on me.
  4. I am going to give to myself unabashedly, and unapologetically.
  5. I am going to practice the "N" word by saying "NO" repeatedly until it feels like it is a permanant part of my vocabulary.
  6. I am going to take the time I would offer to someone else to do something for them and instead do something just for me, just because it makes ME feel good.
  7. I am going to shut down the negative self talk and replace it with loving words of grandeur until I laugh, giggle, smile and know that within me is the beautiful, loving, worthy person who is valued and irreplaceable.
  8. I am going to allow myself all of the mistakes I need to make, all of the errors I have to make to continue on my journey toward wholeness and wellness.
  9. I am going to let the phone ring when I know it is someone who usually wants something from me because this week I am not going to give to them.
  10. I am going to let the texts from those same people go unread.
  11. I am going to not answer my emails until I am good and ready.
  12. I am going to create a fabulous meal just for me and take the time needed to purchase the right ingredients, utilize the right utensils and bust out the good china including that lovely crystal champagne flute I bought for a special occassion which I will fill with my favorite champagne, sparkling wine, apple juice or fancy bubbly water - my choice.
  13. I am going to take an extra long soak in the tub filled with those rose petal soaps till I smell frilly and sweet and would want me for an aromatic dinner companion.
  14. I am going wear the new dress shirt, slacks and tie I bought with the money I was going to loan to someone just because they asked.
  15. I am going to do for me all that I do for everyone else, every day of the week, every week of the month, every month of the year, until I truly know what it feels like to be loved by me.
I don't know. This might take a little more than a week.

Robin G. White is an award-winning author, playwright and publisher. Find out more about Robin at

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I don't know how they do it. Seriously, I don't. I think I might have in some point in my life, but that time is so far gone that I couldn't even get there in Mr. Peabody's WABAC (pronounced wayback) machine - now you know, that's a long time ago. How do people just pick up and start over? End one relationship and begin a new one all over again in a few months. I seriously really don't get it. Somebody has to help me out with this one.

I have a good friend who threw a huge party last spring to celebrate her upcoming nuptials. She and the girl broke up within a couple of months before the wedding. Almost immediately she was back on the prowl because she wanted to be married. She felt like she had been single long enough. A few months later she met someone and married her. All of this was in less than a year. It's not what she thought it would be. She's surprised. Really?!

I don't get it. I mean, are we really that desperate? Another friend and I were talking the other day about older women. She said she understands what I mean about women my age. She is in her mid 30s. She likes cougars, but she sees that many of us are willing to put up with so much crap just to say we are with someone. Is that what we have reduced ourselves to being? Desperate, lonely and afraid to be single? Willing to be with just anyone just to be with someone?

Well, I don't want just anyone. I want my special someone. I am not too old to still believe in love at first sight. I still believe in loving with reckless abandon - OK, I believe in it, but I may not be TOO reckless. I believe in the romance, the desire of the whole thing. I want to want her. I want her to want me, can't wait to see me, can't wait to see her. I want the excitement, the passion, the desire. It makes the daily humdrum worth it.

Don't get me wrong; as a realist (and having been around the block more than a few times) I know a relationship takes a lot of work, commitment and compromise, etc., but that's not what I am talking about. I am talking about the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you know you are going to see her again. That joy at the end of the day when work is over and you finally get to go home and see that smiling face. That warmth that overtakes your body when you wrap her up in your arms and stare down into those chocolate pools and move in for that kiss that says, "Hi Honey, I'm home," because that's where you are when you're with her.

And with her is where I want to be. I want her to share her day and to tell her about mine and then spend OURS together. I want to see the smile on her face when I share the first poem I have written about her, and the fifth and the tenth and the 112th! I want her to know that I feel her when she is down, to know that the bubble bath I've drawn for her with Epsom salts and soothing oils, smelly goods and those rose petal soap thingys is my way of saying, "I heard you had a bad day and I am here to make it better...," or for her to accept my apology in one of those cheesily written Blue Mountain Arts cards because there is really nothing I can say about me being a buckethead or to take the hurt away, but buying that card lets her know just how stupid I feel, that I am willing to make an effort and hope she is willing to at least see that.

I want her to accept me at my best and see me at my worst and to know that all of it is me and I am working on what I know needs improvement. I want her to know when I give her the toy hot little red Mercedes (if that is what she wants) that I am saying, "I will work hard with you, beside you, for me and for you to have what we desire in our futures both together and apart." And most of all, I want her to know that the best I can give her is me, my time, my energy, my love, and the comfort and safety of my very big loving heart. Everything else as they say, is gravy.

And then I want all of that back for me. I want the joy, the hugs, the kisses, the snuggles, the furtive glances when PDAs aren't appropriate, because sometimes they are not, and the "I can't wait to get you home" glances, because those are so full of promise and I am looking forward to enjoying the fulfillment.

I want the support, love, affection, the desire, the comforts, the coddling - OK, maybe only once in a while because I'm a baby when I'm sick. I want someone who isn't afraid of tears - hers or mine, who isn't afraid of joy - hers or mine, who isn't afraid of success - hers or mine, who wakes up with God and me on her mind - and in that order is OK with me. I want her to know my divinity and its radiance and my humanness with its shortcomings and to love them both.

I want someone who comes with baggage which is neatly sorted and has already been gone through a few times. Maybe it's condensed, maybe it's compartmentalized, I don't care, as long as it's been dealt with. I know that is the woman who won't run at the first sign of trouble, that is the woman who will carefully check my baggage to see how well I have handled mine, and most importantly, that is the woman who has gained some wisdom to go along with her loving. And Lord knows I want a wise woman.

And yes, make no mistake about it, I want the sex, the sexual exchange, the "she's gotta have it" moments when nothing else matters - not the new hairdo, the mani, the pedi, the trip to the Max counter or Victoria's Secret - nothing is sacred; I want the heat, the fire; I want the scorching hot searing screaming headboard-banging sex. And I want the quiet passion as well, the kind that is on you before the sun comes up or your eyes are even open, the kind that burns right through you when you are sleeping, the kind that says, "I want to hold you all night long because your fine round behind pressed against my thighs is enough to make me hunger at night, but I'm gonna sleep through it because I love that feeling too."

I want to feel inside of her, crawl up inside and know each cell intimately, taste each morsel of her, wrap her around my head and have to clean out my ears, unstick my eyelashes and wash my hair when we're done. I want to know her weight from balancing it steadily and often on my tongue, know her strength by the clamp of her thighs against my jawbone. I want to know which explosion is because I rocked her with my digits or because I rocked her with my ... I just want to know. All of it.

And I want her to know me intimately. I want her to go beyond what the world says is OK for her as a girl to enjoy me as a boy and be more than alright with it. I want her to never forget that I am a woman first and foremost and I too have my moments of needing, moments when I need her to be stronger than I am, more aggressive than I am and some of those moments may be in between the sheets. Sometimes, I will need her to remind me that I am a woman. And yes. I said that out loud. Because at the end of the day I AM a woman loving a woman.

Maybe I want too much, but I don't think so. I know there is more out there for me and I am not going to settle. So, I am willing to just wait. Life has taught me one thing if nothing else: I am never the only one. I know there is someone out there who believes the things I do and knows (like me) how to put them into action. In the meantime, I will just keep thinking about her. They say what you focus on is what you energize and manifest. (Closing my eyes)...Wow! She is beautiful!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I can recall that phrase being uttered on the TV sets of my youth. "Kids these days," some curmudgeon would utter as he shook his head in wonder about one errant teen or another. And then his wife would make a remark which would set off the laugh track and we would all laugh right along with it. It seems like those teens were always up to something they had no business doing or more than likely were just living their lives to a standard the old fogey couldn't understand.

Well here I am in 2010 a bit of a curmudgeon shaking my head in wonder at "kids these days," only this old fogey and a bunch of young ones are all shaking our heads at the state of affairs which has brought our lgbt youth to the brink of disaster. Within the past couple of weeks the news has been littered with stories about one gay teen and then another committing suicide and I personally am flabbergasted. The stories read like a who's who of finger pointers over whose responsibility it is to keep our youth safe.

Really? C'mon. No one wants to take the blame for not narcing out the school bully, but really? That is what we are worried about. Seriously. One teen is too many. Five is an epidemic. And those are just the ones we have heard about. ABC's Good Morning America reported this morning that Tyler Clementi, the student from Rutgers was the second suicide at the school this year. The first one which occurred this past spring was also centered around the student's sexual orientation.

According to Prof. Rob O'Brien, "Students have talked about their fears, talked about their need to have a safe space and thusfar the University hasn't done anything of any substance to address their concerns." And then we wonder why our kids don't feel safe, listened to or protected. Umm, maybe it's because they're not. It sort of makes sense that gay teens are four times more likely to commit suicide. It's time we stand up not just with them, but daggone it, for them. Had Rutgers acted more responsibly, Clementi may have had resource and recourse.

Former New Jersey Governor, Jim McGeevey who resigned office with the now famous statement, "I am a gay American," spoke with George Stephanopoulous regarding holding adults accountable for the bullying that occurs in our schools. "On one hand we want to change people's hearts, George, because I think fundamentaly when people know a gay person or recognize that love is love that changes their reaction. But I also believe we need to have strong clear legislation that holds adults accountable when children err in their ways."  Wait. Hold the adults who are watching the kids accountable for their actions?!! What a concept. George asked him what that would look like.

"What we did in the state New Jersey was hold school principles accountable, teachers accountable in the same way we don't tolerate racism, we don't tolerate sexism, we don't tolerate anti semitism because we know that is fundamentally wrong. Unfortunately we give off messages in our society that says gay discrimination is in some sense socially acceptable. And so, authority has to sort of instruct children that it is not only morally wrong but it won't be tolerated and there are consequences for that happening."

I get it. Sort of like when we all had to take sexual harrassment in the workplace courses back in the eighties and nineties. So we would know what constituted harrassment and would get you fired and sued. Eureka! Now that would be great legislation.

Children, teenagers, college students should be permitted to attend school and not fear being harrassed and castigated for their sexual orientation or perception of such. 13-year-old Seth Walsh was laid to rest this week after hanging himself. He had been teased so much and school officials had done so little to protect him that his parents chose to homeschool him. He was teased at a local park on the day he hung himself. 13. At a park. Oh and did I mention the authorities decided the bullies actions did not warrant charges.

In Springfield, Massachusetts, Carl Walker-Hoover's mother described her son as a happy-go-lucky kid until he joined a new school this year. "The kids were teasing him and picking on him. He said that 'they were saying I'm gay.'" She buried her son last week. Carl was 11.

Raymond Chase an openly gay sophomore at Johnson and Wales hanged himself in his dorm room last week. The reason is still unknown although his brother has come forward to say that it was not due to bullying. His death is of note however as anti-gay sentiments continue to rise in this country's schools, classrooms and campuses. This past spring, The National Student Day of Silence, a movement in schools across the nation to call attention to anti-gay bullying and harrasment was met by student walkouts, boycotts and protests from Christian groups. Gotta love us Christians.

"I think that we shouldn't be exploiting public education for this," said Laurie Higgins, director of school advocacy for the Illinois Family Institute. "There are better ways to use taxpayer money. We send our kids there to learn the subject matter, not ... to be unwillingly exposed to political protest during instructional time." While Higgins agrees that bullying is a problem, she believes that the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLESN) organizers are using public funds to "transform the moral beliefs of other people's children." Sure they are. They are getting them to stop their immoral bullying!

OK. It's clear this issue hits home to a lot of people, no more so than to the parents left behind. Bullying has to stop. Someone needs to be held accountable. And we need to teach our children to be better people. We need to teach them not only not to bully, but to stand up for those who are being bullied. And we need to let our young people know they have rights and they are not alone.

I came out in 1974 at 13. My first suicide attempts came shortly thereafter. I jumped off a second-story porch and landed in some mud. I popped some pills I found in my sister's bedroom. I found out that taking an overdose of four or five birth control pills won't kill you; they may get you grounded, but they won't kill you. I didn't tell anyone what I was trying to do. Catholic guilt and all. I wasn't very good at the suicide thing. No matter. I met a nice Mormon girl that summer and fell in lust. Far more interesting.

In high school I was consistently harrassed by the mean girls. Senior year I was suspended when a classmate slipped a note under the office door saying I was bringing my girlfriend to the senior prom. Not so. I was taking my openly gay, flaming best friend, George Smith. Hi George! Despite my parents fight to reinstate me; I missed a week of school and my prom. But I was one of the lucky ones. I had supportive parents and someplace to go and I worked with my friends to ensure others had a safe place, too. Even with all of my resources, I still ended up living on the streets and in homeless shelters for several months during my senior year in high school. Like I said, I was one of the lucky ones. Some of our friends either committed suicide or were murdered.

In light of all of this, it is heartbreaking to hear this news each week of another teen committing suicide. I thought we had gotten past all of that. We had fewer resources in the seventies then are available now, yet we are coming up with the same results. Some want to blame technology which broadcasts normally isolated events over a wider spectrum. Clementi's roommate Ravi may face additional charges because of his use of technology in commiting this crime. Some say it is the underdeveloped mind of young people. Technology, psychology whatever, the issues remain the same. Intolerance, bullying and gays as easy and acceptable targets equals a lot of dead teens. Suicide is the third leading killer among people ages 15-24. Wow.

At the end of the day, kids want to know that someone cares, that there are other people out there who can relate to what they are feeling, experiencing and who can answer their questions. They want to know that they are not doomed to live a horrible lonely life or that they will live eternity in hell for being who they are. Something as simple as having a conversation with a teen will help. So will mentoring and spending time with them. It can be pretty rewarding, I know. A few of the ones I've mentored in high school are in graduate schools and doctoral programs, have bought homes and are starting families of their own.

If you know a teen who may have questions or who sets off your gaydar everytime you are around them, try approaching a conversation from an "I" perspective as in, "Did you know that I am gay?" or even something a little more subtle like, "[Significant other's name here] and I are thinking about hitting Dave and Busters on Saturday. Would you like to go?" Make sure you check in with the kid's parents first, of course. You just never know. You could be saving someone's life.

And while we're at it, let's get with the program and utilize technology for some good. Recently Dan Savage started the It Gets Better Project The idea behind the project is for adults to tell their story about how life may have been awful in high school or even college, but eventually as they toughed it out, it got better. Other celebrities have done television and radio spots about the bullying issue. I was moved by Ellen Degeneres's openly tearful plea, and by Jason Derulo's short but pointed "Being different makes you special...There's a light at the end of the tunnel...It gets better" speech

But the one I loved best was Sara Silverman's Dear America. Short and sweet, it drove the point home. "Dear America, when you tell gay Americans that they can't serve their country openly or marry the person that they love, you are telling that to kids too. So don't be f**king shocked and wonder where all these bullies are coming from that are torturing young kids and driving themselves to kill themselves because they're different. They learned it from watching you."
Our kids need our protection so that more teens like 13-year-old, Asher Brown don't feel so badly harrassed and unprotected against bullies who simulate gay sex in gym at school that they put a gun to their heads like he did. Or that they won't feel the need to hang themselves like 15-year-old Billy Lucas did after being called a "fag" one too many times.
"Kids these days." SMDH!

Robin G. White is the award-winning author of Resurrection: A Collection of Work (Kings Crossing Publishing) and the forthcoming Reflections Of A Life Well Spent (Sunset Pointe Press), Intersections (Sunset Pointe) and The Omphaloskepsis Twelve Powers Journal (also Sunset Pointe). Read more about Robin and her work at

You can join the It Gets Better campaign by making a video of yourself and posting it on YouTube like openly gay musician and activist Anthony Antoine did earlier this week.
You can volunteer at your local gay youth organization as a mentor or board member. You can donate time, money and non-monetary resources to your local gay youth shelter, or school if your city has one.
You can encourage others by periodically posting information about youth-safe events where other gay teens may be gathering. Organizations such as BAGLY in Boston, Youth Pride in Atlanta, Youth Pride Alliance in DC, SF LGBT Community Center, and the LGBT Community Center in New York host events, workshops and groups for lgbtq teens. Check your local listings for groups near you.
Some major cities such as New York and San Francisco have homeless shelters for teens and high schools where it is safe to be openly gay Again, volunteer or give donations. Money is great, but often teens leave home without clothes or toiletries. Those hotel samples you've been saving make great donations to shelters of any kind.
You can join organizations such as the Trevor Project, a 24-hour, confidential suicide hotline specifically for lgbtq youth. You can contribute in a major way to their Circle of Hope (donors who give $500 or more).
You can join Facebook campaigns. You never know what information on your wall might mean to someone who is reading it.
Last but not least remember these things from the Trevor Project regarding teen suicide.
You are never alone. You are not responsible for anyone who chooses to take their own life. As family and friends and loved ones all you can do is listen and support and assist the person in getting the help they need.
Connect the person to resources and to a supportive trusted adult.
Accept and listen to the person's feelings and take them seriously.
Respond if a person has a plan to attempt suicide and tell someone you trust.
Empower the person to get help and call the Trevor Suicide Hotline at 866-488-7386.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The View Through the Windshield

On July 31, 2010 in Atlanta at the National Book Club Conference, famed poet, Ntozake Shange spoke with conference participants about her ongoing battle with mental health, specifically manic depression. She spoke candidly and openly about her early realization between the ages of 10 and 13 that something was wrong and about her ongoing treatment for mood disorders and depression over the past 45 years. You can watch the videotaped discussion here:

To hear this brilliant woman, whose work defined the power and strength of black women with her 1975 Tony nominated, and Obie Award-winning play, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf" speak about psychiatrists and mood stabilizers and antidepressants sort of threw me for a loop for a minute. Just for a minute. And then I thought of just how powerful it was. How powerful it is to have this woman whom so many admire, whose award-winning, genre-changing play is about to be released into movie theaters across the nation, speak so openly, plainly and matter-of-factly about her own struggles with depression, suicide and mental illness was extraordinary. And it was necessary.

It was necessary because it is time for us to talk about it. It is time for us to stop hiding with shame and dismay about our own bouts with depression, suicidal ideation, manic depression, obsessive compulsive disorders and the myriad mental illnesses and disorders which women and particularly black women face on a daily basis in secret.

According to, 60% of African American women suffer from depression. The article quotes Latonya Slack, executive director of  the California Black Women's Health Project, an Inglewood, Calif., community-health organization as saying, "There's a fear of putting our business in the street...of somehow revealing too much." Lorraine Cole, president of the Black Women's Health Imperative, the Washington, D.C.-based parent organization of the California Black Women's Health Project, agrees. "There's a deep-seated feeling that going to seek professional help is a sign of weakness."

It is that "what-goes-on-in-this-house-stays-in-this-house" mentality which breeds fear, immobilizes us and keeps the secrets which harm and kill us emotionally, spiritually and sometimes physically. It is time that we bravely do what women like Ntozake have done and break our silence. Our silence will not save us. Talking about it will. We need not suffer any longer.

My own bouts with depression began at a young age. I can point to any number of potential causes - abandonment issues, loss, lack of self efficacy, emotional stress, verbal abuse - you get it; the list goes on. I did not know then what I know now, that there are some genetics involved which may have predisposed me to a greater potential for psychiatric issues during my lifetime. My life and my genes were a ticking bomb. It was only a matter of time before the whole thing went off. And it did.

I was 28 the first time I was hospitalized. I had been in and out of therapy since I was 15 when my parents sent me because of my open declaration of being a lesbian. My escapades two years earlier with a Mormon Girl Scout (I was a Catholic Camp Fire Girl) at a Counselor-In-Training retreat had sent my mother into a tail spin. While my Brazilian-born and somewhat worldly dad handled it better by advising me that as a black lesbian I had three strikes against me, my very African-American, first generation born out of slavery mother was perplexed as to what to do. So, off to therapy I went until I graduated from high school.

I would return a year later when I felt I needed to resolve issues with my older sister who I felt hated me. Although she and I never talked about it, I worked out my feelings through therapy. Therapy became a useful and successful tool in helping me work through a number of family and childhood issues. And so it was that I ended up in therapy during my first marriage (to a woman) in the late eighties. Something in my life felt out of sort and I couldn't put my finger on it. I was in a stable relationship of four or five years, we were raising her young daughter from a previous marriage, I had a job which I loved, a terrific circle of friends, I was a writer/actress/poet with a number of television and stage credits to my name and we were preparing to buy a house when BOOM! The bomb went off and when it did, everything fell apart.

During a therapy session I had recounted some peculiar events from the day before when my loving partner offered to wash my hair, something I never allowed anyone to do. At her insistence, I allowed it and that is when the you-know-what hit the fan. I came unglued. I don't remember what happened exactly except at the time I thought I was a little girl and my mother was burning my head and the shampoo was burning my eyes and I was crying uncontrollably and was scared, very scared.

I had had a flashback. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There was a name for it. There was a reason for why I felt jumpy and out of control sometimes. There was a reason why I yelled at my kid when I really didn't want to. There was a reason I could hear my mother's voice uncontrollably coming out of my mouth and saying mean things to her. There was a reason. And the reason meant I needed help, a lot of it. And it might take a while to undo all which had been done to me.

I listened to Ntozake Shange talking about going to the psychiatrist and them telling you you're crazy. It is the most bizarre feeling in the world. You are going because you know something is very wrong, but you don't ever expect anyone to tell you that there is something very wrong. That you are indeed, crazy. Life as I knew it ended that day. It was one of the worst I ever endured and the things which transpired afterwards were even worse. You don't know what to do. You don't know how to act. I reacted. I threw things and broke a plate glass window. We went to the emergency room. They locked me up in the psych ward.

For me my diagnosis felt like it was like a death sentence. I had things happen to me as a child which were so bad and so painful that I had carried them into adulthood and placed them on my young, beautiful child. I was now a statistic and was making her one as well. I couldn't do it. She was already in therapy at the tender age of five. How much of that was my fault? My significant other reasoned with me that we could go through this together; she would stand by me and see me through. I couldn't bear the thought of what this might do to them. She saw me as her loving but broken partner, but all I saw was the monster this mess made me into. All I saw were demons hiding in corners waiting to break into the light of day and I wondered who would they hurt next. I needed to get away. So, after a mandatory ten-day stay in the psychiatric ward, I left. I packed up from my beautiful life and left everything I knew in shambles.

For a solid month I slept and cried, and slept and wept some more. My stepmother finally came home one day and got me out of bed. She bathed me, dressed me and told me we would figure it out. She found me a job as a caregiver to an elderly reclusive woman. Taking care of someone else helped heal me. It strengthened me to have small successes like getting this woman out of her house. The more I focused on her, the smaller my own demons seemed to be.

My father and I began talking again after three years apart. I forgave him for not showing up at my wedding to walk me down the aisle. We talked about my childhood. He admitted that he had not kept a promise to my grandmother to watch out for me. When I finally told him all that had transpired between my mother and I, he wept. I forgave him. He forgave me. We grew closer together over long, weekly long-distance conversations; and we healed. I moved back home to be with him when he became ill. Then the worst possible thing that could have happened, did. My father died and all of the work I had done to heal, seemed to die with him.

I was lost, numb, unrelenting in my surrender to darkness. I didn't care about anything or anyone. I just wanted to die. I did drugs, got into an abusive relationship with a woman who beat me. I didn't care. I hurt. I was tired and I was sick of trying. I felt like my life was over. I felt like I had either been abandoned by everyone who loved or should have loved me or I had hurt those whom I loved. I felt mean, unworthy, ugly and sad. Nothing anyone could say or do made a difference. I spiraled downward. Months earlier, my ex had taken our child away and asked me to leave them alone. Then my dad had died. My mother and I weren't speaking at all. At my father's funeral the priest wouldn't even mention my name. My godfather finally corrected him at the eulogy. After that, I slid into the abyss. My stepmother and siblings had no idea what was going on. My new abusive partner was keeping my friends and family members at bay. She and the drugs were my closest companions.

When you are depressed, nothing ever seems like it will get better. Getting out of bed becomes a chore. Taking a shower is an all-day affair. Food doesn't taste good. Nothing feels good. There is little satisfaction in anything. Everything anyone says that is even remotely critical becomes blown out of proportion. And without relief of some sort the situation inevitably becomes worse. You become your own worst enemy. After a while even the best of friends leave you alone. There is nothing else they can do, but wait it out and hope you come to your senses. That is where I was when I found myself crawling on the black linoleum with the little white specks looking for the rock I'd dropped while filling my crack pipe. I knew I needed help. In my mind, I heard my friend Liz's voice telling me that she knew what I was doing and that I needed to stop before I went too far and hurt myself or worse. "I've been where you are," she said. I promise you, God is still blessing her to this day for the conversation she had when she invited me out for lunch one afternoon.

My journey with depression didn't end kindly. It kicked my butt until I kicked it. I started heavily using drugs when my dad died, but I had good friends who didn't give up on me. They stuck with me and tried to get me to kick my habit and leave the abuse behind. My relationship with my abusive girlfriend nearly killed me, however. And my drug use, depression, nearly successful suicide attempt and subsequent month-long stay in a psychiatric hospital would be well chronicled years later in a one-woman show I would develop for Good Company Repertory Theater in Atlanta. The play opened with the patient screaming at her psychiatrist, "They took my got-damn shoelaces!" after she is sent away to a locked ward for refusing to meet for family counseling and intervention. The "family" included her abuser. Frightening, yes, but true.

It was a rough time in my life. I have since learned that depression runs in a part of my family. The circumstances of my childhood - a lot of details of which I gratefully can no longer recall were sort of the perfect storm for brewing up my particular disorder and depression. Years of therapy, prayer, education, counseling, and some useful therapeutic tools have helped me overcome most of my obstacles - although I am still working on changing the poker face I developed as a child to keep from getting into trouble for crying, laughing or expressing anything too much. Nonetheless, therapy over the years helped me change and grow in a lot of ways. I  now understand when I am headed for trouble and can circumvent it. But most of all I have learned when and how to ask for help.

I have learned to forgive - everyone, including me. I learned to pray when things become tough. I learned to ask for help when I need it. And I learned not to be ashamed of all I have been through. It has made me stronger and if nothing else, speaking about it out loud might help someone else much the way listening to Ntozake Shange discuss her journey made a difference to me.

In the end, in 1993 after two hospitalizations, 16 years of therapy and 80 mg of Prozac per day for three years, it was something I heard or read - I honestly can't remember which, that helped me understand I had come to the end of that particular piece of my journey. "You won't have time to live your life today if you are still reliving all of your yesterdays." How could I continue to spend time in therapy talking about what had happened decades past and possibly enjoy my life? Reliving all of that pain, talking, rehashing, reframing and focusing all of my energy on what had already transpired and wasn't going to change was taking away from all that I could change and all of the living I had yet to do. If I hadn't gotten it in 16 years, chances were, I wasn't going to get it. I marched into my therapist's office and quit. Therapy had served its purpose. It was time to move on. I'd been healed.

I got tired of squinting at my life through a rear-view mirror. The view I decided, was much prettier, clearer and better when looking ahead through the very large windshield in front of me. And what a beautiful view it is. I still look back every now and again though, mostly to make sure I haven't left chaos in my wake. So far, so good.

August 13, 2014 Addendum
Since writing this post I tumbled back into depression following the unexpected transition of my birth mom and my birth dad a day apart over Mother's Day in 2011. The depression and grief was unsettling. I turned to my faith and my faith community to manage if not alleviate the grief and ensuing depression, sorrow and guilt. It took a very long time for the fog to lift and for me to understand how truly deep seated this sorrow was. What I have learned through this experience is that the depression in itself is manageable if not curable, that talking helps, for me writing helps and that focusing on the lessons learned through the experience help in understanding the complexities of the disease and the part it plays in my life. I am a firm believer in everything happening for our Highest Good and Greatest Self. I accept this and accept that these experiences move me to a greater understanding of my purpose in this lifetime. That is how I deal with it. Depression for me is no longer a constant companion, but more like the specter of potential unwelcome house guest. I tolerate it and know that eventually it will leave and I will be somehow better for the experience of its visit.

For more information about the affects of Major Depression on adults go to:
For Adolescents and children check out:
If you need help, contact your health care provider. 

If you need to talk with someone, anonymous help is available by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline '1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also reach them via the net at and on Facebook at

Award-winning writer and publisher, Robin G. White "Bobbie!" is the author of two collections of poetry, the award-winning, Resurrection: A Collection of Work (Kings Crossing Publishing) and  Reflection of A Life Well Spent (Sunset Pointe Press) as well as a collection of erotica, First Breath. Her third, fourth and fifth collections of poetry, Metanoia, Sophrosyne and Makarios: Change, Balance, Blessings will release in trade paperback on August 30, 2014 in conjunction with her long-awaited collection of affirmations, Omphaloskepsis Affirmations of Self Love. All of her collections will be available in ebook format in time for the 2014 holidays. Her first collection of short fiction, described as Guy de Maupassant meets J. California Cooper meets Toni Morrison, Intersections (Sunset Pointe Press) is the place where our life decisions collide with the lives of strangers. Intersections will debut in Fall 2015. She continues to write her memoir, Nine Lives and is working on her first novel, the prophetic, sci-fi thriller, The Ladder. Robin is the pseudonymous author of seven children's books. She has won the Lambda Literary Award for Independent Publishing for Kings Crossing Publishing, which she cofounded in 2001 and has been honored as an Astraea Foundation Poetry Prize Judge. She has won the Chicago Literary Award, the Urban Media Makers Award and a Georgia Literary Award Finalist. She is a CUNY Writers of Color Alum. She is the founder and publisher of Sunset Pointe Press, a non-profit publishing firm dedicated to the economic empowerment and educational development of writers.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010



September 5, 2010


I am reminded today by my friend’s daughter, Sarah as she tweets about her hanging with her mom at the local IHOP after church, that I love pancakes. In fact, I have been to that very same IHOP outside of Boston after church with Sarah, her sister Chante and their mom, Cynthia on occasions too numerous to count. And when you add in the late night after partying breakfasts I have eaten there, I dare say IHOP owes me some dividends! The times I spent there with the Prescotts are some of my fondest memories of Boston. Hours lollygagging in a booth drinking quarts of coffee, pints of orange juice, tons of pancakes and International omelets while we giggled, snickered and uproariously laughed together in the days before cell phones.

These experiences with my family-friends always struck a chord with me. They were reminiscent of earlier days when Mom and Dad would pile us all into the station wagon and take us out for breakfast at Bickford’s. This was always a big deal. One, feeding a family of five in the sixties was expensive enough, but taking a family of five out to eat breakfast, well, it was a real treat. Secondly, we are black and even in the north, the prejudices were palpable. The excitement of the event inevitably was better than the actual experience. Nonetheless, off we went with promises of pancakes, eggs and ham, my Nana back at home shaking her head wondering why we would waste good money when anything she could cook would be much better. However, she too knew the value of young people having experiences in the world. So, off we went, prim and proper to Bickford's, the old New England bastion of all day pancakes.

I remember the sights and sounds of those days. Waitresses flying by with heavy plates filled with corned beef hash, huge ham steaks and of course pancakes, golden brown, evenly round, slathered with butter and awaiting another New England tradition – pure maple syrup. The strong coffee brewing, little boys’ and girls’ eyes bulging just as mine did with anticipation of soft buttery deliciousness mine often filled with ripe Maine blueberries – oh, the delight the thoughts bring to my mind. Our breakfast conversations would always be peppered with Mom’s admonitions to sit up straight and take our elbows off the table, and to put the milk down. I always injected impatience. Why was that family eating already when they had just sat down? Mommy would cut her eyes; I would hush and Daddy would get the attention of the waiter. At six foot three and a burly 300 pounds or more, they only kept him waiting a short time. Inevitably, a manager would come around and ask if, “You folks enjoying your meal?” We would all nod. After breakfast, we would pile silently stuffed back into the car, endure the ride home until we could get out of our dresses and into our play clothes. We would tell Nana of our experiences, laugh at the little things which happened; frown at the unpleasant moments and Nana would always end with, “As long as you had fun.” It was a different day and time. Even time spent with the Prescotts in comparison to now has changed.

Now I cook the family meals. I am the chef of the house. In relationships or out of them, it is clearly MY kitchen. For years my house was the one where friends came to share a good meal and with few exceptions, I cooked them. (I do recall one house in Cambridge where cooking duties were shared experiences). There were holiday feasts, trim-a-tree festivities with a smorgasbord of treats, new cookbook dinner parties where the guests were unwitting guinea pigs to my trials and errors in cooking (sorry folks). There were grill parties, and beach parties and more seafood than anyone should ever eat. There were after Pride morning parties involving supermarket runs at three in the morning to get lobster and clams for an early morning clambake. But nothing, nothing at all beat the breakfasts.

Here again, piles of food spread out along a twelve foot dining table. Fresh fruits cut to top homemade Belgian waffles, shrimp and grits, fried catfish, pork chops, bowls of grits steaming with butter, omelets stuffed with spinach, lobster, mushrooms, cheese oozing out of its sides, yogurt and granola parfaits, pitchers of mimosas and carafes of coffee and yes, stacks and stacks of gorgeous golden brown pancakes each layered with sweet creamy butter and real maple syrup. On these days we sat and ate and stuffed ourselves to oblivion. Guest would remark how they hated coming to our home for this very reason. How were they ever going to live through the next 364 days until they came again? My nephews and nieces would wander up from their playground terrace level of one particular home late in the afternoon and pile their plates high with the homemade goodness that now defined their youth. And even now, I sit here menu in hand preparing yet another gastronomic exercise for yet another generation of would-be foodies for next weekend. In the end, I know we will all have fun.

That said, why then is it that on my day off, when I have time to prepare a delightful meal for myself, I instead reach for the box of Complete Pancake mix and the faucet to make my breakfast? Why do any of us do that? Why is it that when we have our loved ones near we will go to any lengths to please them, but when it comes to our own needs, we shortchange ourselves? I don’t have the answer on this one, but I do know in my own life it has to stop. I don't have to stop being the chef for them, but I do have to start being a better caregiver to me.

I am learning. Self care is one of the things women especially forget about. And if it is any indication of just how bad things are, a British study in 2009 said that women are better at taking care of themselves then men are. Granted they were looking at cancer risks, but it says a lot about who we are as a whole. Can you imagine? If we women are doing a lousy job taking care of ourselves and men are even worse off, what does that say about the next generation? If I am not taking good care of me, what am I teaching my daughters and sons about taking care of themselves?

On airplanes the flight attendants always stress the importance of putting the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping those next to you. How do I instill in my children, my nieces and nephews the importance of putting on their masks first and then helping the person next to them? How do I teach them that we are better to one another when we are good to ourselves. I can teach them by learning to do it for me first. Actions inevitably speak volumes louder than words.

So today, as I sit and write this blog, I made pancakes. I didn’t do it from scratch because I just didn’t feel like dealing with the mess afterwards, but I did add some fresh ingredients to make the pancakes a richer experience. And after burning the first two, I realized that multitasking is a lie. You can do two things at once, but you can only do one thing at once well. I stopped writing long enough to pay attention to the pancakes I was making for me. The attention paid off. They were delicious along with the red grapes I washed, stemmed and put in a nice bowl. Presentation is everything. I am about to put on a pot of coffee to drink while I edit. All just for me. A little self care goes a long way.


There are a lot of little things we each can do to improve our lives through self care. Think about each part of your life and break it down into compartments.

Mine is my writing life, my job life, my family life, my social life, my spiritual life, my health. I try to think of things I can do big and small which will improve my lives. For instance, I spend time writing everyday even if only for fifteen minutes. It can be a poem, a blog or just my Facebook post, but it has to be meaningful, carefully thought out and planned. That means I can’t do anything else during that time and since my job schedule changes from day to day, I have to be flexible about when I write. But I write.

For my job life, I give myself an hour and a half every work day to get ready. I stop whatever I am doing and prepare. It doesn’t take long to shower and dress, but some days it takes a long time in traffic to get there. Doing this means I am on time or early and happy to be there when I arrive.

Spiritually, I pray daily. I read and write affirmations. I am conscious of my thoughts and actions. I am careful about what I speak into the universe. Family and socially, I make phone calls or send Facebook messages to at least one family member and one good friend each day. This keeps me connected with the vast array of friends and family members who I love. It keeps me informed and that connection keeps me grounded and feeling the love. Health is still a challenge, but I am getting better. I make better and more conscious choices about what I eat and how I move in the world, everything from parking further away from the store to pushing back from the table before my plate is empty. It all works.

There are some great resources on the Internet and in your own communities. This one I found from Virginia Polytechnic Institute was helpful and informative: It focuses on Self Care as a means of Stress Management. Check your local hospital or wellness center for workshops and clinics offered sometimes for free or for a nominal fee. Emory Hospital in Atlanta  and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston are two terrific resources for health and wellness classes, resources and services for women.

So, what can you do for you to take care of you? Today, I made pancakes.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

One Small Step


By Bobbie!

August 27, 2010

"The journey of one thousand miles begins with one small step" ~ Lao Tzu
I got a little excited this morning at the prospect of making my way down the street in my new neighborhood to go to the Marshall’s in the local plaza. I know there I will find an array of exercise equipment overstocked from some department store and it will more than meet my needs at a really great price. OK. So let me back up a bit.

I turned 49 last month. Happy Birthday to me and all that. Thank you. And in the process, well, not just this year, last year too, (but that’s another story) I realized that all of the weight I had put on and taken off and put on again through years of tough diets and working out, had taken a toll on my body. My body feels like it has been taken hostage by an 95 year old woman (my mom is 92 and moves better than I do). My body hurts when I get out of bed, it hurts when I climb the stairs and it even hurts when I sit down. I hate to think of some of the other things it might hurt to do, so it is definitely time to do something about all of this pain.

I have never been a small woman. On the contrary, I am nearly 5’10” and weigh, well suffice to say much more than is allowed and is comfortable. On top of it all I am gifted with a dowry of hips from both sides of the parental spectrum. Yup, I am one of those people you dislike sitting next to on airplanes. Don’t get me wrong, from the waist up, I am deceivingly small. From the waist down – look out.

Many of the women in my family are built this way. We are lovely people with beautiful faces, who are highly intelligent, charming, fun and even sexy. We just have hourglass figures. Somehow the hours always end up in the bottom of the glass. Hips. They have been a fact of my life since the middle of high school when mine kept growing even though no other part of me did. I mean, I didn’t grow boobs until I was in my twenties – my late twenties at that. You just get used to things after a while.

My hips never kept me from doing anything. I played volleyball when I was in my late twenties, softball in my early thirties, then tennis and some basketball. Each time I ended a sport however, I always noticed how I was just a little less flexible than I had been as a high-school athlete doing round-off back handsprings on the balance beam. But you know, I just put it off as getting older, putting on a little more weight and understood that eventually, I would take care of it. I still got around OK, traveled, went out with friends…the seatbelts in some cars were too small and I was always grateful for the discrete stewardess who handed me the extender. Chairs with arm rests bother me, but you know it friends, family and loved ones would always run interference by offering to get the one chair without armrests or by paying more money for tickets up front where seats were wider and there was more leg room.

I didn’t notice that I stopped running; I did notice one day that I really couldn’t go very far when I did. I didn’t notice that I was winded, until my mom who was 85 at the time out-paced me up a hill. I didn’t notice that I climbed the stairs only once a day and then only if I had to and I certainly didn’t notice that I had stopped getting down on the floor to play with all of my favorite little people until I realized that I really couldn’t for fear that I wouldn’t be able to get back up without help or embarrassment. I tried to recall when I stopped getting on the floor to stretch and workout. I used to love doing that in the mornings…

According to the Office of Women’s Health at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S. About four out of five African American women are overweight or obese. African American women are 70% more likely to be obese than Non Hispanic white women.

Let’s face it. I’m a statistic -sort of. In my lifetime I have lost at least twice my body weight through diet and exercise. I have watched my shoe size evolve from a slender normal shoe to extra wide. Oddly enough, I am basically the same hip size, it just has spread out into a funny shape and I don’t like it one bit! My doctor and I talked about options. For me there are few.

I have two non-blood related sisters who have had bariatric surgery. They had obesity-related health issues. I don’t. Let me see if I can explain this more clearly. I am fat. Just fat. Not fat and diabetic, not fat and hypertensive, not fat and arthritic, just plain old fat and that works against me within the medical profession and with the insurance companies. I can’t get any help unless something goes wrong. It’s the dumbest thing I ever heard – not that I am ready to have surgery; but it is dumb nonetheless.

Despite the fact that 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes are fat, and that people who are overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, and LDL cholesterol – all risk factors for heart disease and stroke, it was determined in 2007, African Americans were 50% less likely to engage in active physical activity as Non-Hispanic Whites. Like I said, I am only partially a statistic - right now.

So for now, I do Jenny Craig when I need a quick boost and can afford it, weight watchers when I can fit it into my already over -crowded schedule, but most of the time – it’s walking with a large bottle of water. I lost 50 lbs that way last summer and kept half of it off. I lost another 25 this summer and I am still counting. And I think that working at a yogurt shop and sticking MOSTLY to fruit helps. I’ve lost ten pounds so far.

This afternoon I will head out to Marshalls and grab the mat, a set of dumbbells and my yoga ball. I have workout class tomorrow morning with a trainer. She runs a modified boot camp class for women on Saturday mornings. I am hoping I can gather the courage and strength to join her at 5:30 AM one of those five times a week classes. You never know. Anything’s possible. In the meantime, though, I will just be trying to make it down onto the floor! And back up again.

One small step.

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