Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Crown Heights, Brooklyn
There is always a block of time each day that I do my best not to focus on any one thing in particular. Really, I tune out and sometimes even fake being ‘under the weather’ with my kids- just so that I may have a bit of random time. Yup, I even tune out loved ones (in the sweetest way possible, of course.) Simply to become a voyeur. I zone out – so that I can really zone in. And always during this time, I find the best, most awesome moments. Take a look at these pix from yesterday and today – random ‘Jodie moments’ found during my explorations thru Small-Town, PA. I literally closed my eyes, then opened, then click.
It’s Wednesday, hump day, so whatever gets you through it, do it. For tomorrow is back to biz-ness!
2 weeks ago, I scooped up a few eager teens, packed our bags and headed for the hills of Pensylvania. I was to be the Director and Counselor-Extraordinaire of Camp Rock Run, a summer program I run each year for city-girls. Our focus, nature + self.
Every summer, I produce a camp for an intimate group. It’s our girl-time alone to just ‘be’, without all the fuss & furry of our city lives. We wake up up early each morning and hike through the forrest and then down by the river. It’s a treacherous expedition with hills and sharp drops down to the water. We twist and turn with the land and try to open our selves to nature – taking in everything that’s around us. Dashing animals, rolling water, mysterious sounds. Everything catches our attention.
Our days are long and one activity blends into another. Often we find ourselves sleeping on the hammock and then eating by candlelight. Between those bench marks, we ride horses, dance to African music, discover new ways of self-expression and make friends with our local farmers.
In a sense we do a lot each day, but actually we don’t do much at all. We simply roll through the hours using each experience that would normally be taken for granted to learn something valuable. The food we’re eating…how was it grown? Well, lets check out the farm next door and see. The water we’re drinking, why is it so fresh? Lets’ hike to its source. We raise questions and then try and answer them on our own.
Self discovery always takes place during Camp Rock Run. We see ourselves more clearly and we take in others more deeply. When all of the city requirements no longer exist, other things emerge.
Strange things happen when you delete busy schedules, goal oriented agendas, important meetings, teacher-parent conferences, homework-homework-homework, and the do-it-all-mentality. Strange and liberating things happen.
The ‘Shy-Girl’ transforms into a boisterous beauty. The ‘Leader’ takes a step to the side and practices silence. The ‘Teen’ becomes the ultimate Team-Player. The ‘Mom’ learns to be less concerned with everything.
Camp Rock Run is 10 days dedicated to the persuit of happiness. We do all the basic camp rituals: swimming, hiking, horseback riding, river-tubing, and camping. These help us embrace physical activity and understand how powerful our healthy bodies actually are! Then we add in specialty classes like Organic Farming, Healthy Eating & Cooking, Technology, African Dance, Alternative Energy Sources, History, Vintage Shoppping. These help us think beyond consumpsion, pop-culture, and the static lifestyle we Americans have adopted.
I’m so proud of our Camp Rock Run. I wish I could accept hundreds of girls each summer. But for now, let’s call it the ultimate BoutiqueCamp experience for young women…and one more essential thing on my to-do list!
It has always proven good for me to connect with women, one or more, over wine, food, music and time. I went to Convent of the Sacred Heart, an all-girl’s high school in NYC, then Spelman College, an all women’s college in ATL. I am one of 4 daughters and a family of matriarchs. I founded a business built on the ‘private business’ of women. So it’s true to say I know and love women. When you hand-pick the right ones and keep them close to you, it’s like fortifying your world with the help of a modern-day illuminati.
Over the weekend, I set out to make sure my very own world-order was nicely aligned. I invited a small group of women from different professional backgrounds (beauty, publishing, social media, film production, literature, marketing) to spend two days together in the mountains with out significant others, cell phone reception, children, nor shopping. And what came to be was as special and illuminating as I had expected.
Our ages spanned from late 20’s to mid 40’s. Our lineage was as checkered as can be imagined with single parents, grandparents-as-parents, gay parents, straight parents, Americans, Caribeans, over achievers and some who never had the chance to shine. Our titles were different, mother, lover, wife. Our families each had their share of mishaps – addiction, abandonment, separations, and illnesses. We all felt blessed with our education and especially by the love of those who raised us.
Personally, we were a mash-up of the American stories we’ve all heard, loved and witnessed.
Professionally, we seemed to be a unified force – on a mission to actualize our dreams, ‘pull it all together’, and then live life as our very own master. As soon as we began talking about work we found a common ground so clear that the age differences and circumstantial nuances were of no matter. We saw life as a journey, full of experiences and beauty. We saw ways to collaborate and support each other’s entrepreneurial grind. We respected each other’s genius in our individual fields. And ultimately, strategized to help each other get one step closer to our end goal.
Our days were filled with talk, wine, cooking and movies. Someone pulled out her Moleskine and took notes. Most, simply absorbed. We threatened to hike. We looked at the pool and talked about the sauna. We did shoot hoops! But the sun drenched couches, mountain views and warm fireplace, were more than enough.
Georgia’s first Mountain-Woman Retreat was a success. It did what I attempt to do daily, find Clarity-Youth-Focus-Joy.
Introducing, the not-so-mysterious, Georgia Illuminati.
Just about any emotion can be conveyed in a tweet. Humor, anger, sarcasm, joy. We talk politics and business, social and personal all over this fantastic medium.
However, I never tweet about death. It doesn’t feel right to condense such strong emotions into limited wording. Death is something that needs more than 140. It needs collective conversation and for people to talk about it. Death also needs quiet and for people to be left alone with it. Death definitely is needy – for attention mostly. And the lovers that remain are needy – for understanding and a feeling of togetherness. So mostly, I talk about death with friends and give it the time it so craves.
Recently, it feels like death is being served to us on a platter – and every format of conversation resembles this. Over the past 12 months, there has been one right after the other, after the other. Too many for it to feel balanced. Lesson #1: Quickly understand that death and life and death are in constant connection. They are holding hands and sharing time – together. Lesson #2, become comfortable with death, it is clearly part of the cycle. I get it; overall, we’re to feel blessed to be alive, because between the two options, life is vivid and brilliant. And well, it’s all we truly know.
In life, we have the option to #MakeItCount. And that is a blessing. We can make decisions and then change our course, collaborate and then hibernate, accelerate, and then ultimately chill… all because we simply choose to. Life is in our hands, and although we may believe in destiny and a divine-order, the details of each day are our own.
What a blessing! How awesome!
I remind myself that life is to be shared. We are here to connect and rally. As far as I’m concerned, isolation should be merely momentary, maybe just a brief moment to go inward and call upon your voice. But, never something in which we should fully indulge. Our bodies need touch and our souls need contact.
My uncle Gill Scott Herron, my friend David Watkins, my friend Kevin Davis, my grandmother Dr. Gloria Blackwell, our icon Whitney Houston, Heavy D, Etta James…
Loss has shaped the last 12 months. And from that loss I have come to some conclusions. I am here for: Clarity, Youth, Focus, Joy!
CLARITY. Man, Child, Work, Self, Love – let there be light. In small ways or monumental, let us understand more than before. Let’s have some epiphanies!
YOUTH. Physical, mental, and spiritual flexibility / agility.
FOCUS. If we can think it, we can write it down, follow through on it and complete it. Let’s define ourselves by what we DO.
JOY. Take it in and spread it. In true Buddhist form, want for others the same love you feel. Edit life down to only what you love & need…happiness will follow.