Suki, Lattes, Chaos, and Gratitude

Randomness

I’ve learned that expectations can often lead to heartache. Assumptions can lead to misunderstandings. I try to adhere to the following rules.(not sure “rules” is the right word ) Live what you speak. Hope without reason. Love without conditions. Give without expectations. Dream without limitation, but never deluded yourself.  Be, and let be.  Of course, maybe, I am full of sh**. Kicking boxing, hiking, and darting throwing, can’t hurt either.

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I know. Why you gotta be so rude? My mom hates this picture.

OK. Thanksgiving is coming up. I thought I would blog about a few things I am grateful for. Of course, giving it my weird spin. It goes without saying, that I am thankful for my family and friends. Their love and support is everything. I am also grateful for the beauty of nature, the soulfulness of music and the escapism of books.

Now, for my unconventional list of gratitude

I’m thankful I grew up in a time where reading was valued, reality wasn’t scripted, and social networking happened on a playground, a time before sexing, the Kardashians, Kesha, skinny jeans,and so called “real” housewives

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I’m grateful that Pumpkins Spice Latte season is over. (UGH)

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In the same vein, I am stoked, it is the season of Peppermint Mocha Lattes (yummy)

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I’m thankful my celebrity crush, Timothy Olyphant was born. (hubba, freakin, hubba)

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I’m so grateful, I am petite.  I lie. In my next life, I plan on having legs that won’t quit instead of a mouth.

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I’m thankful my mom didn’t name me Suki. Yes, it was a contender. Seriously, WTH? We are of Irish and Scottish descent. Southern, etc. Suki. really?. Tosha is bad enough.  However….

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Finally, I’m thankful for my current jam. Banks get me. :)

Dancing with Words.

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Three of my favorite poems. Yes, I am a romantic.

“since feeling is first,” e.e. cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

“If You Forget Me,” Pablo Neruda

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.

When You Are Old

By William Butler Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Mark Kingwell, Silliness, the Podcast to Be and A Top Twenty List.

On Jan 12th La Literati welcomes Canadian philosopher Mark Kingwell to the show. My co-host and I have the utmost respect for Mark and are giddy about the booking. OK, giddy might be too strong of a word, but we are happy. Niles and I have a running gag going about being stood up for the podcast. We’re really wondering why he said yes. What can I tell you, underneath the guise of adulthood lurks two insecure sixteen year old girls begging to come out. Niles says “speak for yourself.” At any rate, I thought it would be funny to come up with a list of excuses Mark might give for being a no show. I’m also trying to promote the podcast in a semi clever way. (clever is in the eye of the reader, I suppose)

I give you 20 potential Kingwell excuses.

And Mark says…”so Niles and what’s your face, I really hate to bail on you guys but…”

1.  “My sister-in-law’s friend’s cousin’s father’s uncle tragically loss his pet turtle. The details are just too sordid to share.”
2. “My re-gifting recipient list demands to be written. Christmas will be here again before you know it.”
3. “I’ve fallen. I could get up, but I refuse”
4.  “I never go on a podcast on days that end with day.”
5. “I thought I was going to be on LA Literati. What the fu^* is La Literati? What language is this?”
6.  “I have to attend Charles Manson’s wedding.”
7. “I’ve been meaning to get a Rob Ford tattoo on my shoulder and it can’t wait.”
8. “I’m just way too busy chewing gum.”
9. “I have an important call from a telemarketer, and I HAVE to take it”
10. “I’ve been putting off making my Justin Bieber scrapbook.” (Bieber fever won’t wait)
11. “It just wouldn’t be fair to all the other brilliant people.”
12. “Summer will be here before you know it. I need to work out. Those Speedos won’t wear themselves”
13. “I’ve been putting off reading Fifty Shades of Grey. E.L. James is calling to me.”
14. “Signing up for an AOL account. It’s way overdue.”
15. “I’ve being dying to take a beets bath”
16. “My diet has been sorely lacking in kale lately. I must eat some NOW”
17. “I need to spend some serious time thinking up more excuses for why I can’t do the show.”
18. “I’m writing a new book on sardines and I have a deadline to meet”
19. “Kesha is in town for one day only. I can’t miss this concert”
20. “I need to get two restraining orders. How do you spell your names again?”

and bonus

21. “I just read your asinine list on WordPress.”

 http://www.blogtalkradio.com/laliteraticarpelibrum/2015/01/12/la-literati-welcomes-professor-and-author-mark-kingwell

Down and Dirty.

Self-promotion feels so dirty to me (and not dirty in a sexy way)! It just feels so narcissistic and wrong. It is a necessary evil though, if one wants to sell their work. However, I suppose writing a book and thinking people might actually want to read it, smacks a bit of narcissism as well.. My apologies to authors everywhere. People write for many reasons, to give voice to their emotions, to leave something of themselves behind, to try and change the world for the better. I truly do believe art is a life force and has a purpose. I’d like to think that is why I write. Hoping that my musings strike a chord, provide comfort, and have worth. (which is a kind of narcissist I suppose) Why should my words count any more than anyone else’s?

Confused yet? I am. At any rate, narcissistic or not (drink, every time I write narcissistic) I’d like to share a few reviews of my little book of poetry with you. I am humbled and so grateful for the kindness. Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go look at my reflection and bask in all its awkwardness.

Confessions of a Reformed Southern Belle: A Poet’s Collection of Love, Loss, and Renewal.

A Few Reviews

Tosha Michelle is a woman of many gifts: she hosts a podcast called “La Literati” and does more to promote great, undiscovered works of fiction and nonfiction in one week than most of us will do in a lifetime. Now, however, she has added a new feather to her cap (wide-brimmed and sun-shading, no doubt; she is, after all, as Southern as Belles come) and inextricably elevated herself to the ranks of the authors whom she interviews. CONFESSIONS OF A REFORMED SOUTHERN BELLE manages to be beautiful, haunting, spiritual and wise — a game plan for fragile romantics to navigate life’s more thorn-adorned paths without conceding one iota of their rosy natures along the way. Read it, then listen to this woman. She knows of what she reads and writes!

-David Kukoff, author of Children of the Canyon

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What a lovely ride through finding and losing, true kindness and brutal slavery, and a call for an embrace of the diversity of humanity. At times, Tosha Michelle takes us right into the “unarmored calamity of life,” and at other times she invites us to “hibernate” and find safety from the ills of the world. Her voice is as she hopes it to be, “Strong and Proud.” Confessions is a sweet treat. Enjoy.

-David Bedrick, author of Talking Back to Dr. Phil

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Are you ready to take a journey…an emotional journey through life? You will when you read Tosha Michelle’s eloquent verse. She speaks from her beautiful heart and soul. You will feel her passion, love, joy and pain that we can relate to in our own journey through life as we search for its meaning. Tosha Michelle has been blessed with many talents. She has the voice of an angel, an accomplished musician and master with her inspirational words

-Elena Totten, author of A Scent of Gardenias

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Sultry, haunting, and sublime—Tosha has weaved incantations that pull you from scene to scene like a dandelion seed on a humid summer breeze.

-Peter. Hammarberg, Poet

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Tosha Michelle’s new book of poetry is like a breath of fresh air during a tumultuous storm. She navigates the reader on a journey that touches on every emotion. It is written from deep within the heart on some poems and whimsical on others. A completely enjoyable read. Looking forward to future writings from this author.

-Terri Garber, actress North and South

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Confessions of a Reformed Southern Belle: A Poet’s Collection of Love, Loss, and Renewal is the first book of poems published by Tosha Michelle. In its pages, readers will find an unique voice; a voice that cries out for universal good in the form of justice, understanding, and love. Her love of books, writing, and creativity in general, come through in vivid display as well.

Join her as she explores the trio of themes from the subtitle: love, loss, and renewal. Fall under the trance of her melodic wordplay, just as I did years ago. Yes, hers is a familiar voice to me as I am fortunate to call her my friend. And I am excited for others who will be introduced to her talent by this book. A word of caution though- be careful of that narcissistic, rock star cat of hers.

-James Dennard, host of La Literati
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To purchase Confessions of a Reformed Southern Belle: A Poet’s Collection of Love, Loss, and Renewal.

Last Kiss

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Music is a force of nature.

It can inspire, provide hope, turn us inside out, and shake us to our core.

Music is food for the soul, a balm for the heart, and stimulation for the mind.

It teaches us, it molds us, it redefines us.

Music is a memory, a touch, a time, a place.

It is the life within, the love we give, a palpable energy.

Music is everything we were, we are, and what we long to become.

 

-Tosha Michelle

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My latest musical attempts.

Last Kiss

Beautiful Disaster

Murphy’s Law (the good kind)

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My Granny was Southern and Irish (a fierce combination) She was full of wisdom, spunk, and character. Lois Murphy didn’t suffer fools, and she wouldn’t put up with any “backtalk” She was also one of those Grandmothers, who always reminded us grandkids of the hardships she had to endure growing up. You know the type to talk about walking ten miles to school and back in three feet of snow. Although, we lived in the South, and snow was often hard to come by. Still, reflecting back, there were life lessons in all of these talks. It was from my Granny, I learned that pretty is as pretty does, that those chores won’t up and “git” done themselves, and that judging a book by its cover is rarely a good idea. When she spoke of a simpler time, a time without TV, where families conversed, and children entertained themselves by playing in the fields. I recall as a child thinking, how tragic for them. Looking back now as an adult, I think how wonderful. I ponder what I would say to my children if I had a” back in my day” talk. It would probably go something like this.

You know kids, when I was your age, real housewives, were just that real. The situation, was something you did not want to get into, although to be fair, I think that still holds true; in order to even be a quasi-celebrity, one had to have at least a modicum of talent for things like singing, dancing, and acting. It wasn’t enough to just be rich, good looking and have a flare for drama, and sleaze.. In order to achieve hero status, one had to do something heroic and noble Substance, style, and class, meant just that. Social networking involved hanging out on the playground or pajamas parties.

I would tell them of a time before 9-11 and the war on terror. I would mourn with them the loss of innocence, but at the same time, show them that flowers grow through the unforgiving cracks of even the best and worst laid sidewalks.. I would say, children, human beings are remarkably resilient ,and can survive and flourish just like those flowers. I would tell them that as long as there is love in this world, there is hope.. I would then share some timeless truths that a dear lady imparted to me  like, pretty is as pretty does, that those chores won’t up and” git “done by themselves and to never judge a book by its cover.

This song goes out to my Grandmother, my angel. I love you. I miss you everyday.

Confessions of a Reformed Southern Belle- a review

taraleigh2020:

A lovely review of my book Confessions of a Reformed Southern Belle: A Poet’s Collection of Love, Loss, and Renewal.

Originally posted on The Niles Files:

Confessions of a Reformed Southern Belle: A Poet’s Collection of Love, Loss, and Renewal is the first book of poems published by Tosha Michelle. In its pages, readers will find an unique voice; a voice that cries out for universal good in the form of justice, understanding, and love. Her love of books, writing, and creativity in general, come through in vivid display as well.

Join her as she explores the trio of themes from the subtitle: love, loss, and renewal. Fall under the trance of her melodic wordplay, just as I did years ago. Yes, hers is a familiar voice to me as I am fortunate to call her my friend. And I am excited for others who will be introduced to her talent by this book. A word of caution though- be careful of that narcissistic, rock star cat of hers.

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Read more of Tosha Michelle’s writing here

View original 9 more words

Political Discourse. (Come on, baby. We can work it out)

Recently, I’ve been reading up on political discourse for an upcoming show with Canadian philosopher Mark Kingwell. If you haven’t read his work, you’re missing out on greatness. Brillant guy. Note, I’m on his payroll. Kidding. I’m just an admirer. Don’t make it weird. I have an innocent fixation with his mind. My friend and co-host of La Literati, Niles, is all about his body. (Just kidding.) Given the recent mid-term elections, I thought I would post my thoughts on civility in politics, or lack thereof. This was actaully something I posted back in 2012, but it still rings true, despite the promises by the Republicans and Demorcrats to turn over a new leaf and learn the art of compromise. I’m sorry, but cut the bull sh#$. Now, who’s being uncivil? There’s already a fight brewing over immigration laws. Could another government shutdown be in the works?

In 2012 I wrote:
I have a general observation to make about the vilification that goes on in the political arena, not to mention the hate-filled, public discourse between Americans. It is sickening. It’s demoralizing and demeaning. What happened to showing decency to others? Just because someone has a different point of view than you doesn’t mean they are morally bankrupt, a terrorist, or ignorant. It simply means they have an opposing view.

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Isn’t America all about diversity? Must that diversity lead to dissension and discord, to the embattled and embittered democracy? Forget sexy, we have to bring back civility and decency, respect and consideration, for each other, for the candidates, for ourselves, for our country. If we want ethics back in politics, then we must put them back into our lives as well.

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And while I am on my soap box. What happened to integrity in journalism? You know conscientious journalists who vowed to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty? I just don’t see it much anymore — at least not on news shows that are more about ratings than accuracy in reporting. The talking heads are the worst. All they are, are corporate marketing interests, delivering entertainment substance, governed by polls, projected ratings and sponsor demands. What we see is well-crafted hype for dramatic value by an eccentric cast of cartoonish characters¬, sound journalism be darned. (Editor’s note: The public would do well to rely more on newspapers and their associated websites, and public broadcast media – organizations where the journalistic values of fairness, thoroughness and accuracy are still held in high esteem.)

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As an aside, I’m thinking Iceland is the place to be — clean living, stellar education system, virtually no crime, wonderful food, quality healthcare, political indifference, literacy rate of 99 percent, not too small, not too big. They gave us Of Monsters and Men.  I love America. God bless us, but we could learn a few things from this small peace-loving country.

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Falling Slowly into Fall.

“To Autumn” by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

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Nature is my serenity and sanity. Mother Earth is particularly enthralling during the Autumn season, Pumpkin Spice Lattes notwithstanding. (shutter)

Some shots I captured while out and about.

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If nature is my salvation, music is my hope. My latest song effort. Note, the key was a bit low. I hope you enjoy the guitar and recorder.

Confessions of a Reformed Southern Belle: A Poet’s Collection of Love, Loss, and Renewal.

My book of poetry, Confessions of a Reformed Southern Belle: A Poet’s Collection of Love, Loss, and Renewal. is now available on Amazon. I would be honored if you read my words. I’m certainly no Whitman. I don’t claim to be. My poetry is simple and a reflection of me. You’ll find a melancholy, introspective, and somewhat snarky woman between the covers of the book. A woman who is no stranger to loss and heartache, but a woman who also has experienced love in its purest form, along with moments of great bliss. This book is an expression of my heart. Is it a work of art? I’ll let you be the judge. I can tell you, it was a labor of love. Be gentle.

I’d like to share the Foreword with you. Note, it was written by USA Today reporter, Ron Barnett.

Foreword
How do you write a foreword for a book of poetry that has you on the verge of tears, then laughter, then soaring through the high places only a true poet can take you? Hang on, and check your preconceptions, because Tosha Michelle is about to take you on a journey through depths of the heart, and you won’t return unchanged.
I have a particular bias in support of this beautiful woman-child, because I am the guy she calls “Dad.” I’m actually not her biological father, but I have loved her deeply since before I married her mother when Tosha was eight years old, and I’m pretty sure she feels the same way about me.
She was always a witty little girl, with an incredible imagination and a talent for storytelling. And growing up, she read – a lot. She had some vision difficulties and would hold a book right up to her nose to read, but it seemed like she could read from cover to cover in a few minutes. I’d like to take some credit for her writing, being a writer myself, but I think she soaked it in on her own mostly, through all that reading she did as a child. She developed a love of words and stories and the worlds they transported her to, and her talent blossomed as an adult.
She also spent a lot of time with her grandmother, and around the good folks of the small town of Walhalla, South Carolina, where she absorbed the Southern culture that marked her personality and writing style. She has broken that mold, as the title of this collection hints, but is forever marked by the richness of the Carolina ambiance. The pathos of love lost early in life, recollection of the pains of adolescence and self-doubt still haunt her sometimes, but she has found her salvation through creativity – through expressing those dark feelings in verse, and in her singing. (If you haven’t heard that, you’re in for another treat.)
I’ve been a writer and journalist for a long time, and part of that time as an editor. When I read material written by others, I invariably find myself mentally editing, changing things around to the way I would have written them. In this collection, however, I found very little that I would touch as an editor. Tosha has an incomparable sense of rhythm and diction and style that are uniquely hers.
I’m no poetry critic, and I am biased in this case, but I think you’ll agree with me that her poetry is for the ages. She’ll take you through the depths of melancholy and loneliness with “Yearning,” and sing a “Love Song to the South” that will take you back to a simpler, more beautiful time. She’ll have you cracking up with a poem about her cat, dancing with her “Goddess of the Night,” and ready to take on the world, with “One Voice.” One of my favorites is her expression of soaring of the universal soul in the Whitmanesque “Edges.”
And everything she writes cries out with the words of the poor little forgotten book on the shelf – Read Me! Go ahead and turn the page.