Heather L. Barmore
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Heather L. Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices

    Wednesday
    Jul172013

    Tell Your Story

    This post is sponsored by Wells Fargo. As always, thank you for reading our blog and supporting our sponsors.

    "The story I am writing exists, written in absolutely perfect fashion, some place, in the air. All I must do is find it, and copy it." ~Jules Renard

    When I was little my grandparents kept a giant photo album in their Queens home. I’d take it out at every visit and thumb through the hundreds, if not thousands, of photos. Each one deserved a pause and a question to my grandfather of who was in the photo. The cousins and siblings, aunts and uncles. Some long gone others still alive to tell the tale at a later date. Though I’d been through that album dozens of times I’d always stop at a photo of my mother at the age of eight in wheelchair:

    It was summer that my now deceased aunt was born. On that particular summer day my mother was supposed to attend Sunday school. When she found out that her brothers and male cousins would be heading to the beach she opted out of a Christ-filled morning and headed for a swim. As the story goes, she swam out too far and got caught in a series of waves. She was saved by a presumably hot (tan, six-pack abs maybe?) lifeguard. When she got home that afternoon she decided to go out for a ride on her bike. During that bike ride she was hit by a car. A hit and run. She remembers nothing except for waking up with a broken right shoulder and left ankle. She spent that summer in a wheelchair. I’ve heard that story thousands of times. I’d beg for her to retell it just one more time, PLEASE.

    I love a good story especially family stories. They’re the threads in the great tapestry of anyone’s history. The stories I’ve heard from my parents would be faded if put into writing. But they retell them anyway and with each retelling I learn more about who they were before children and who they became thanks to their progeny. Whether it’s my mother’s stories of living in rural West Virginia (a tractor ran over her house! She had an outhouse!) or my father living in Birmingham, Alabama (bombings and hoses and jail time! Oh my!) I absorb these stories and keep them in the back of my mind to one day tell my children. And so on and so forth.

    It’s why I love to tell stories. The immense joy I get out of sharing my personal narrative. I cannot wait - well, perhaps I’ll think better of this in a decade or two - to share the stories of my youth and The Terrible 20’s that I have painstakingly documented on this blog, with my own children. So they’ll know that their mother wasn’t always strict and hovering over them and telling them the mall playground will give them scabies and the flu while I douse them in Purell. They’ll at least know that once upon a time I made mistakes, did fun things, met Oprah while at Rosa Parks’ funeral and called the President of the United States ‘dude’.



    When Wells Fargo asked me to participate in their campaign Untold Stories: Our Inspired History I jumped at the chance. Storytelling. Stories about my family! Stories that I have yet to share or read for one reason or another. The story behind that is even more fascinating and you’ll get to read how I found my untold story at a later date. The project is part of The Kinsey Collection:

    2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. With this in mind Wells Fargo worked closely with the Kinsey family to create a unique celebratory experience that honors the progress of African Americans, not just for a single month, but for the entire year. The Kinsey Collection includes treasured pieces of history and art that commemorate the artistic, historic and cultural contributions and progress of African Americans prior to and following the Emancipation Proclamation.


    The project is collaborative. It’s a storyteller’s dream. It’s the reason I wake up in the morning and spend so much time in my own head wondering how to weave my own experiences into the narrative of my life. Working on this project was a gift that I am proud to be a part of.

    Before we get to my story, I’m going to share a video by actress and American Idol winner, Jordin Sparks, who tells the story of Phillis Wheatley. Wheatley was born in Africa and sold to a family who discovered her aptitude for learning and gift for the written word, especially in verse form in her poetry. Wheatley would eventually become the first African American woman to be published. She’d become the subject of thousands of stories all because she was encouraged by the family who bought her to tell her own.



    It’s interesting the timing of this post and the sharing of African American history which was an integral part of the foundation of this country. The timing being at a moment in 2013 where all we can do is discuss race, racism, and privilege (who has it and who doesn’t). In a time where so many black Americans find themselves under the microscope and with their defenses up, this project reminds us of where we’ve been and living in this moment reminds so many of us how far we have to go. Telling our stories is the only way to move forward for if we don’t share our history either from the 1700’s or the 2000’s no one will ever know what we went through and we are doomed to repeat it. So, I’m excited for you to see my story and to read more about the other stories shared. Most importantly I hope this inspires you to share your own story. Because sometimes it’s all we have. Tracking Pixel
    Monday
    Jun242013

    How to Celebrate

    "A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun.  Enjoy the trip."  ~Author Unknown

     

    Friday evening was my mother’s retirement party. Fortunately this post is not about the party because then I’d have to tell you about my sobbing in the middle of a speech while standing in front of a group of colleagues. (I cried and then everyone cried. The end.) No, this is about a story someone told about my mother:

     

    The year my mother turned 50 she would show up to work each day with a new bauble or talking about a trip. And when asked about the new whatever she would say, “It was for my 50th”. She spent the entire year celebrating her birthday and in her celebration of life she taught others to do the same.

     

    I’m a wallower. I’ve been dreading turning 30 since I turned 28. I wasn’t doing what I ‘should’ be doing - whatever that is - I am not married, I don’t have children, I don’t own a house, etc. etc. Recently I became OK with where I was in my life and explained so in  a post where I used the word ‘OK’ no less than 37 times mostly so I could convince myself that I was, in fact, OK. And I am OK. REALLY. TOTALLY AM FINE WITH 30. And these gray hairs. But I still have been discussing and changing and rearranging what I wanted to do for my birthday. A birthday that isn’t for another four months and two days.

     

    So, a few minutes ago I asked Facebook, because they know everything, what I should do to celebrate 30. Vegas? Another trip to Paris? What? Then my friend Kristen suggested a play in Manhattan and I so rarely make it to the city. It’s actually pretty sad. It’s literally 2.5 hours from my house to midtown and I’m all, “ehhhhh...too far.” But then it hit me: I’m going to celebrate 30. I am going to go to Manhattan for a show (Kicky Boots, most likely). I’m also going to go to Vegas with Heather because we could both use a weekend away. I’ll also go back to Paris because it’s faster to get there than to the west coast. For 30 I’m going to go out of my comfort zone and celebrate me.


    I’m terrible at doing things for myself and involving others in the process as I often feel like a burden. I'm going to be 30 and I need to embrace it and STFU about it. There are more reasons than not for me to do it up and rock it out so that is what I will do: Embrace 30. Enjoy it. Celebrate it. Go for it.

    Monday
    Jun102013

    Just Another Post About My Hair

    "Hair brings one's self-image into focus; it is vanity's proving ground.  Hair is terribly personal, a tangle of mysterious prejudices."  ~Shana Alexander


    After eight years of the same hair I finally decided to do something new:

     


     

    See also; I am incredibly lazy and if I can just wake up and have my hair done then it’s totally worth it.

     

    Naturally, people have questions so I am here to answer them.

     

    1) Is that your hair?

     

    It is my hair in that I bought and paid for it.

     

    2) How long did it take?

     

    Six hours.

     

    3) SIX HOURS?

     

    Yes. English, do you speak it?

     

    4) How long will it last?

     

    6-8 weeks but I’ll probably stretch it out to a solid ten. See aforementioned statement on laziness.

     

    5) Can I see it down?

     

    Sure.

     

    6) Can I touch it?

     

    Sure if you don’t mind losing one or both hands.

     

    7) (A statement rather than a question) It looks really good/I really like it.

     

    THANK YOU.



    *This is purely satire because people always have questions about black women and their hair.

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