No Worries…Tanzania-style

By Stacy Thompson

“Hakuna Mata…what a wonderful phrase…Hakuna Mata…ain’t no passing phase…”

Believe it or not, this was a phrase I heard many times during my trip to Tanzania and Kilimanjaro – very well-used, and very appropriate for a people who live life with “No Worries” – the beauty of the people, landscape and animals in the wild is reason enough not to worry, but to simply enjoy!

If you haven’t read my last post, take the time to go back  to it (https://everywomanblog.com/category/stacy-thompson/) and realize why the excursion the week after my big climb up Kilimanjaro was well-deserved – what better way to celebrate such a milestone than to soak in Tanzanian wildlife and all the best the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Crater has to offer!

Prior to our arrival we were warned that although we would see a multitude of wildlife, we may or may not see some particularly shy creatures, such as leopards – and so, as our first stop in the safari jeep brought us to the following, we were more than excited about the days ahead…

Pic 1

Yep, I’m a leopard in a tree – maybe a little like a magic-eye-picture, but squint and you’ll see me.

A brief glimpse at a leopard in a tree was quickly followed by nearly an hour of watching a young lion cub trying to venture up a tree – poor thing couldn’t decide whether to move up or down from the pride below, but was cute nonetheless…

Pic 2

Heck yeah, I’m finally in this tree…looking down on you but not really sure I want to go higher

Pic 3

OK, so I really don’t want to go higher…how do I get lower???

Soon after we would be treated to herds of zebras, a muddy lone (and very pregnant) hyena, curious wildebeests and a yawning hippo…

Pic 4

Yeah I’m a horse with stripes…pretty cool, ain’t I?!?

Pic 5

I’m looking at you with my best Whoopi Goldberg voice

Pic 6

We’re so ugly, we’re cute

Pic 7

OMG, I need a nap

As our safari continued on, the view got more amazing — little did I know that giraffes could be so graceful or impalas so serene – but both were a treat to view in their natural habitat…

Pic 8

Please don’t ask me if I play basketball…

Pic 9

…and yes, I DO eat this thorny mess you call the Acacia tree

Pic 10

I like big horns and I cannot lie…

But the beauty and grace were no match for the King of the Jungle – without a doubt, the mighty lions, sleeping or not, were the most regal of creatures…

Pic 11

Just hear me roar…or just watch me sit here…either way, I’m bad, and I know it

Pic 12

I’ll just doze while you bask in my majesty…

Pic 13

A-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh, a-weema-weh

Meanwhile, the cheetas, the fastest creature on earth, also proved to be utterly captivating…

Pic 14

Which of those Jeeps should we attack?? Probably none of them, as all they have is granola bars and oolang tea

 

 

Our next venture into Ngorogoro Crater brought us to the Hippo pond – fun fact:  did you know that the hippo spends 90% of its day in water (which is why a group of hippos are called a “pod” – much like whales) but is considered the most aggressive animal in the wild – who knew?? But not surprising considering the jaws on those beasts!!

Pic 19

I bless the rains down in Africa…gonna take some time to do the things we never had…

After the Serengeti, we headed on to Ngorogoro crater which also brought us within very close contact to the water buffalo (no, I did not pull a Crocodile Dundee and attempt to put the massive animal in a slumber), more gorgeous zebra and a family of warthog (OK, you can go ahead and sing “when I was a young warthog…”)

Pic 20

ohm…ohm…I don’t even care that there is a bird on my head…ohm…ohm…

pic 21

I am so much cooler than a regular horse…yep, I am

Pic 22

Pumba…”I get downhearted…every time I….

After so many animals, amazing vistas, the highlight of the day was coming across a rather large family of rather large elephants…and one really cute baby elephant (who could have taken flight with those ears, but thankfully, only crossed in front of our Jeep to enter a new area to graze) – awesome, gentle, plodding creatures were a sight to behold…

Pic 23

You’ve seen me in a zoo, but watching me cross about 15 feet in front of you is like 1,000,000 times cooler, isn’t it?!?!?

Pic 24

I don’t need a feather…I’m capable of ANYTHING!!

And then we finished the safari week touring Manyara Lake – managed to see more elephant and our fair share of baboons – maybe only a face a mother could love, but the mothers and babies were the cutest of all!!

So this adventure after our ultimate adventure did not disappoint – as an animal lover, I could not get enough of these amazing creatures interacting in their own habitat – I could have spent five weeks instead of five days and would never have been bored – No Worries…What a Wonderful Day!!!

 

Requiem for Mother Emanuel

By Chaunte McClure

As I stood in the gallery Monday night staring at the vivid images, my mood shifted from eager anticipation to mourning and my mind quickly reverted to the night of June 17, 2015, and the morning after.

I was viewing the iconic works of renowned South Carolina artist Dr. Leo Twiggs, who created nine paintings featured in Requiem for Mother Emanuel at the South Carolina State Museum. The nine works honor the nine church members who were murdered during Bible study at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Each of their deaths come to life in Twiggs’ compelling paintings.Requiem for Mother Emanuel9

The Power of Art

Drenched in symbolism – from a blood-soaked Confederate flag to the Christian cross – his works carry a message of tragedy to forgiveness and redemption.

The paintings are a testament to the power of art because this series will grip your heart, stir your emotions and generate conversations.

Remembering and Coping

Every South Carolinian probably remembers where they were and what they were doing when they heard the heartbreaking news of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church shooting. It’s a memory that won’t soon fade away; one that many are still coping with after more than two-and-a-half years.

To help cope with the tragedy, Dr. Twiggs created nine vivid paintings which you can see at the South Carolina museum through April 29.

What You Will See

In addition to Twiggs’ nine batik works are items on display from Mother Emanuel including a hand-made prayer quilt which was created with patches from supporters from around the country and donated to the church after the tragedy.

If you go, you will watch a seven-minute video that features Dr. Twiggs who shares his inspiration for Requiem for Mother Emanuel.

Circles of Dialogue

You can also join the Circles of Dialogue, discussion groups offered on Feb. 20, March 20 or April 17 to explore reactions to this intriguing exhibit. Even if you’ve paid to see the exhibit on a different date, you can return to participate in the discussion groups on one of the reserved dates. Just RSVP for the Circles of Dialogue online or email group_visits@scmuseum.org.

Art Day: Honoring the Works of Dr. TwiggsRequiem for Mother Emanuel8

As a part of Art Day on March 10 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., the museum will highlight Dr. Twiggs’ work. Activities will include a gallery talk by Twiggs, music performances related to the exhibition, behind-the-scenes tours, hands-on family activities and more.

The Requiem for Mother Emanuel exhibit is free with museum general admission.

 

God’s Way of Remaining Anonymous

By Mary Pat Baldauf

Every so often, I am reminded that there are no coincidences, just intriguing and earthly manifestations of God’s love. I got one such reminder this today, and I thought it would make for a timely blog post.

After an anxious Monday morning, while stopped at what has got to be Columbia’s longest traffic light, I did a quick search on my smart phone for books about faith and anxiety. One book in particular caught my eye, Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World by Max Lucado. I decided at lunch that I’d check Amazon to take a closer look at it and the other options listed.

The morning got away from me, and as it turns out, at lunch, I was asked to drop something off at church. As long as I was there, I decided to look at our church library. I walked in to find the volunteer librarian, who asked if she could help me. When I told her I was looking or a faith-based book on anxiety, she said that she’d just checked one in and scurried away to find it.coincidencealbert-e1504531764133-680x330

Imagine my surprise when she handed me Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World. (And, wait, it gets better.) As I checked it out, she mentioned that there was a new small group starting to study the book. She gave me the details and promised to connect me with the group leader. Long story short, I’m now signed up for the small group. I have to miss the first class for an evening work event, but I’m going to read the first four chapters this week to be ready for next week’s class. (God is so awesome!)
Have you ever had a coincidence that you knew was really just God’s way of remaining anonymous? If so, and you’re the sharing type, please tell your story in the comments.

The Anxiety Monster

By Shannon Boatwright

Mental health disorders have been at the forefront of the social scene lately, creating a social awareness of the fact that they are very real and something that should not be ignored.  I personally have witnessed and experienced the harsh reality that is anxiety.

Over my lifetime, I’ve witnessed those I love, my precious students, and heard of others that suffer with this crippling thing that is anxiety.

Now let me point out – anxiety is a very normal emotion for any individual. And any health professional will tell you that. But, it’s when the anxiety literally disables you, making you irrational and consumed with fear, that it moves into the territory of being a disorder. Anxiety can take hold of some, making them so fearful of something that they become obsessed and can think of nothing but the impending doom they think a certain place, situation or action may hold for them.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “the term “anxiety disorder” refers to specific psychiatric disorders that involve extreme fear or worry, and includes generalized anxiety disorder (GAD),  panic disorder and panic attacks, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, selective mutism, separation anxiety, and specific phobias.

It’s a normal part of life to experience occasional anxiety.

But you may experience anxiety that is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming. If it’s an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it can be disabling. When anxiety interferes with daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are real, serious medical conditions – just as real and serious as physical disorders such as heart disease or diabetes. Anxiety disorders are the most common and pervasive mental disorders in the United States.”

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety#

Anxiety can be like a monster that grabs hold of you and sets in a fear that overwhelms you, making you feel helpless, with no sense of control. And you have no idea how to battle that monster.

I have known people in which the anxiety makes them immobile and just racked with fear – as if the place they dread, the place that has stirred this monster of anxiety, is like a haunted house waiting to eat them alive. Or cases when one’s own negative thoughts become so uncontrollable and real to them that they literally throw up. I have seen some of my smartest, most talented students become so ravaged with anxiety, not wanting to go to a certain class that they dread, that they literally cry at the thought of having to face going. To think that a feeling can literally make some people shake, become sick and throw up, even go into full on panic attacks, because whatever it is they’re so anxious about has plagued them so severely –  the monster physically takes hold and can wreak havoc on not just a person’s mind but their body as well. It’s almost unbelievable at times. The anxiety monster can take hold of someone’s sanity and make them a victim of its brutality.

So how in this world can we help someone battling the monster of anxiety? First off, NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, say, “Oh you’re fine! Suck it up. Get over it.” Even if you cannot fathom why an individual would be so anxious and upset over something that seems so simple to you, that is the worst way you could ever react. Want to send someone deeper into the pit of despair? Tell them they’re overacting, being silly, being ridiculous and that they need to get over it. You first have to understand that what they’re experiencing is real, serious and crippling. They need to know that they can indeed take control of how they’re feeling and in their moment of despair they need to be assured that it will pass and they will overcome it.  When braving the monster, one must face it, recognize it and then conquer it by replacing the negative thoughts with positive thoughts. It’s almost like a process of training oneself to face the fear and then knock it out with positivity, all the while gaining self-confidence.

I want to scoop up those that suffer with such severe anxiety and beat down that monster that plagues them with my bare hands, diminishing its power forever. But, it’s just not that easy. Defeating that monster is something they have to face and learn how to battle. The best I can do is let them know that I’m here for them, always ready to provide positivity & support, and I believe in their power to overcome and gain relief.

A former student of mine, Jessi, battles the anxiety monster. She’s currently in the 9th grade and is an incredibly talented young lady. You’d never think such a beautiful, talented, seemingly confident student would ever be of the individuals that battle this disorder. She is one of my students who lived for the security, freedom and joy of drama class. One of my stars that actually wanted to come to school, only because she knew she’d get to come to my class. Acting and singing became her comfort zone. It was her savior and what helped her make it through middle school.  Another testament to how amazing, beneficial and powerful the fine arts can be! Well, my dear Jessi moved on to high school – a school that sadly does not provide a drama program. The absence of her outlet of security hit hard. She now attends online school and is pursuing acting classes and performance venues to hone her talents. She is a most precious young lady that I have big hopes for, that not only she achieve her dreams, but also gain the confidence to keep the anxiety monster at bay and eventually take complete control of it, not letting that monster ever bring her down or hinder her pursuits of happiness.

Jessi happens to be a songwriter and wrote a lovely, deep, confessional song about this very topic.  Her precious lyrics expose a reality of anxiety…to say I’m proud of her for baring her soul through her talents is an understatement. And the fact that she is sharing her message, her heart, and her voice through her music, is a priceless gift.  I’ll let her song speak for itself and hope that it helps others, allowing them to recognize the fact that they are not alone and they can indeed conquer their fears, taking control of the anxiety monster.

Jessi’s Song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezd6gvoa1t4

They say stop acting crazy
But I don’t think they understand the pain
They say stop acting like a baby
If only they could take a look inside my brain
I will try my best to fight this heavy feeling in my chest
But sometimes it’s too strong for me
And sometimes I can barely breathe
And I know, yeah I know that you’re here
Everyday I watch the time go by and I wonder (yeah I wonder)
If one of these days the world under me will just crumble (will just crumble like)
When they call me crazy
When they say I’m acting like a little baby
One day I hope they see that they’re not helping me
When they say stop acting crazy
But now I know they don’t understand the pain
They say stop acting like a baby
If only they could take a look inside my brain

Written and sung by Jessi Powers