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.

 

Weather Rant

By Chaunte McClure

I was hoping this post would celebrate the one to two inches of snow forecasted for today. Instead, I’m whining because the flurries I had the privilege of seeing vanished as soon as they touched a surface.

The winter scene was beautiful while I sat in my car with the engine running, enjoying my chicken salad sandwich. Sadly, the snow lasted about 10 minutes before turning into a wintry mix, and back again to snow for another short span. All this while my sister, an elementary school teacher, is calling me from home sharing weather updates for the Midlands and bragging about her day off. Yes, I’m a little jealous, but I’ll get over it by Friday and I won’t be mad at her or the meteorologists who kept me on my times; however, I do have a heartfelt message for the weathermen.

Dear meteorologist,

My heart just can’t handle the disappointment anymore. When I see the snowflake in your weather graphic, I get uber excited and look forward to the ground being blanketed with snow. I mean, I dream up a day at home on the bed with my laptop and a throw, having snow conversations with my Facebook friends and peeping out the window watching it gracefully fall from the sky. Do you know the last time I took a picture of snow-covered Columbia? I think it was in 2010; two governors ago! Something has to change. I mean, you get me all worked up, then nothing happens. I know, it’s not your fault, right. The track changed and areas north of us got most of the white stuff. I guess that’s what happens when we live in a city that’s known to be Famously Hot.

Snow 2010 in Columbia

The glorious snow of 2010

With one more winter month ahead, I remain hopeful and I’ll still rely on you for an accurate forecast. Please, just don’t disappoint me again.

Sincerely,

A Southern girl who wants at least an inch of snow.

Wear Your Pearls, Girls, on National Wear Your Pearls Day

By Chaunte McClure

Just over two years ago I shared my story of dealing with and overcoming depression in a post titled I Survived, Part 2. That’s definitely not a period of my life that I’m proud of; however, I am glad that I came out of it.

About halfway through 2015, I was in that dark place again after a traumatic experience in February of that same year. This was my second encounter with depression, but this time, I sought professional help.

During my first visit, the counselor read off a list of symptoms and after each one, I acknowledged whether or not I suffered from any of them. There were enough yeses to determine I was in the right place at the right time to get the service I needed.

For many reasons, people often don’t seek support, but it’s necessary. Untreated, my mild case could’ve turned severe.

Because of the stigma of depression and mental health disorders, patients hide in shame and secrecy.

The first time, I was unfamiliar with depression and it was not until I overcame it that I realized I was depressed. Little did I know I was flirting with danger and literally putting my life at risk. Knowing the signs of depression and understanding that it’s a serious illness helps.

Thanks to local author and motivational speaker Deanna Bookert, December 15 is National Wear Your Pearls Day, a day designated to bring awareness to depression and anxiety. National Wear Your Pearls Day Dec 15

Besides her love for pearls, Deanna chose this bead because it represents a process and struggle. She wants sufferers to understand that “although we have hard times in our life, something valuable will come out of it.”

Millions of Americans suffer from depression, including children. Though it’s not a disease to be proud of, it’s definitely not one to be ashamed of either.

Join other women across American on December 15 and wear your pearls, girls, in support of National Wear Your Pearls Day. National Wear Your Pearls Day Proclamation

 

Hooked on Giving

By Chaunte McClure

The nightly news stories on deaths, threats, thefts, kidnappings and assaults lead some to wonder: are any good people left in the world?

Of course, there are and I learned of a group of them in Columbia who are hooked on giving and they are taking their craft to Main Street.

They are the Yarnbombers of Columbia and other generous knitters and crocheters in the area who are hanging handmade hats, and scarves for the homeless and less fortunate on the “giving tree.”

Earlier this month winter accessories adorned the giving tree, but last night when I drove by, the tree was bare.

You can change that because anyone can give and anyone in need can take a free, colorful, knitted find to keep warm.

Yarnbombers 1

The “giving tree” is in front of Mast General Store on Main Street. Hang a hat, wrap a scarf, warm a heart during this season of giving.

While you’re downtown, visit the State House Christmas tree. It’s a perfect spot to pose for a Christmas card photo. The official tree lighting ceremony is November 27.

Why Are You in the Picture?

By: Chaunte McClure

 

With the convenience of having cameras built into cell phones, the world has become obsessed with taking photos. We take pictures of our food, plants, bare feet, shoes and my, oh my do we take photos of ourselves. Yes, the selfie has taken over social media timelines and feeds, but the ‘usie’ isn’t far behind. Of course, we have to snap a photo of our family and friends when we’re just hanging out; it’s all in fun and in the name of capturing memories.

I was warming up my pose and smile for a group photo recently when I was asked, “Chaunte, why are you in the picture?” For a couple of seconds, I second-guessed my position in front of the camera, knowing that I was invited to say cheese along with my friend and her friends.

Fast forward a few days, I thought about the question again during my commute to work. Why are you in the picture?

It’s a relevant question that we can ask ourselves regarding (the proverbial picture of) our conversations, settings, relationships, careers and other facets of life.

I’m sure you’ve asked yourself the question before but perhaps formed it differently. Instead, you’ve asked:

What is my purpose? Why did God call me to do this? Why do I have this job when my career goals are totally different? Why did I meet him or her? Why am I going through this? Why was I born? What am I to learn from this situation?

Each of these questions, I believe, is another way of asking: Why am I in the picture?

Truth is, we should exclude ourselves from some “pictures”, but we tend to try to fit in someone else’s shot, even if it means photobombing.

When you find yourself in toxic relationships, the honest, well-thought-out answer to the above question, should urge you to walk away from that which is not good for you.

On the other hand, a reflection of your journey as you recall a time when you’ve asked yourself some form of that question, your response may help you appreciate where you are in life right now and have a better understanding of how God has ordered your steps. That’s my story because now I can see how my past two jobs prepared me for my current job.

At times, we are in the picture for a divine purpose – to provide encouragement, bring peace, make connections, share love, take a stand, be a witness, and the list can go on and on.

Other times, we are in the picture for our selfish reasons. We force ourselves to stay in the picture although God is ready to crop us out and place us in a different setting with our past in the background. Are you ready to change places?

Take some time to think about why you’re in the picture. You might discover that you should be where you are, but you’re not fulfilling your purpose. You might realize that it’s time to do more or it’s time to move on. It’s helpful to understand why you’re in the picture.

Playing the Numbers

By: Chaunte McClure

While some of you were trying to figure out the winning numbers for the $758.7 million Powerball jackpot last month, I dreamed of what I’d do with the money if I won. Oh, I’d pay off every bill we owe, invest in a new home and other real estate and, of course, save, save, save. I never dreamed of which numbers I’d choose because of greater importance to me the numbers are displaying on my brand-spanking new wrist blood pressure monitor.

I don’t even play the lottery and I decided not to gamble with my health after being diagnosed with hypertension in July.

I went to the doctor for unrelated symptoms and as soon as the doctor walked in he asked, “What’s going on with your blood pressure?”

I had no idea. I would normally blame my high numbers on the stress of seminary, but that was two months behind me and at the time, I didn’t have much work stress.

My doctor asked me to monitor my blood pressure for 10 days, then come back and he’d decide if I need a prescription.

I hate taking medicine. I mean, really hate it.

It was easy to start my on-again, off-again relationship with morning or evening walks. I was determined to do whatever it took to get my number down, but nothing worked – at least not immediately.

I borrowed a blood pressure monitor and every time I checked, my numbers were still too high.

I recorded these numbers: 162/ 99, 141/105, 135/95, 157/107. (The optimal numbers are 120/80 or less.)

Sure, anxiety contributed to some of that because I kept thinking about a first cousin who died of a stroke less than two years ago and he was only about 35 years old. Just a few months later, one of my aunts suffered a stroke. Then I remembered Granddaddy had at least three strokes. That’s enough to send anyone into a tizzy.

I decided not to wait the ten days and go to my family doctor before the worst happens. I got an appointment within a week of my previous doctor’s visit. I was expecting exactly what I was told. After sharing my family history, the doctor said, “I’m going to put you on a blood pressure medication.”

I had to ask, “How long do you think I’ll be on the medication?”

He said, “For the rest of your life.” (Insert eyes emoji here!)

That’s not what I wanted to hear and honestly, I thought, “That’s what you think, doc.” I was about to put my faith into overdrive when the truth of the matter is I need to listen to my doctor.

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure or if your doctor has asked you to monitor your numbers, please, listen to your doctor.

High blood pressure affects your health, leading to stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease.

Get into the habit of checking your BP at home or at a local pharmacy. Your life is worth it.

Remembering Hugo, Awaiting Irma

By: Chaunte McClure

Today reminds me of that warm, late summer afternoon in September 1989 when the threat of Hurricane Hugo had South Carolina residents on alert. I was in the eighth grade and vaguely recall standing in the courtyard in front of our high school as the light breeze brushed our faces and mangled our hair as my friends and I talked about little of nothing.

Fast forward 24, or maybe 48, hours and my family awoke to a quiet house with no electricity or running water. That was the state of our community for a few days. Bottled water was not a household grocery item in those days when scrunchies and leg warmers were accessories.

With Irma on the horizon, grocery stores are trying to keep up with the demand for bottled water. I’ve heard story after story and I’ve seen photo after photo of empty shelves where 24-packs of water are usually stocked. I’m sure my grandparents filled empty milk jugs with water in preparation for Hugo. When that stock nearly ran out, we journeyed to Mr. Howard’s house to refill our containers. Mr. Howard still had an old hand water pump. Though weathered from years of outdoor exposure, that rusty pump poured some of the coolest, best tasting water. I doubt anyone in my hometown still has one except for use as antique décor in their flower garden. Before Irma makes landfall in Florida and maybe Georgia and South Carolina, I’m sure many people will probably reminisce about that throwback water source.

I was in my garage Saturday and discovered three bottles of the water left from the 1,000-year flood experience of 2015 when we were without water for about three days. I’ll use those first (not for drinking), should circumstances warrant it. Unlike in 2015, this time, I’ll remember to fill the bathtubs with water in case we lose power.

I’ve seen a couple other good tips on preparing for a storm on Facebook the past couple of nights, neither of which I’ve heard of before. One of my friends shared a post from delish.com with a tip on determining if the food in your freezer completely thawed during a power outage while you were away. Here’s the tip: “You put a cup of water in your freezer. Freeze it solid and then put a quarter on top of it and leave it in your freezer. That way when you come back after you’ve been evacuated you can tell if your food went completely bad and just refroze or if it stayed Frozen while you were gone. If the quarter has fallen to the bottom of the cup that means all the food defrosted and you should throw it out. But if the quarter is either on the top or in the middle of the cup then your food may still be ok.”  – Sheila Pulanco Russell

Another Facebook tip that has gone viral from a Facebook user is on substitutes for sandbags. Edward Sweat says, “Plastic bags [garbage bags] 1/3 filled with water make good substitutes for sandbags at doorways.” And in the event water enters your house, he advises using paint cans or five-gallon buckets to support and elevate your furniture.

At this hour, the path of the storm is still unclear, but the best advice I have for you is to be safe and be prepared when and if Irma arrives.