Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Do the (RED) Thing

I've gone (RED) and I hope you will too.

(RED) Products range from GAP clothes, an exclusive Red American Express credit card, to iPods, etc. Proceeds from the purchase of these items go toward eliminating AIDS in Africa.

There are SO many wonderful gifts to choose from.

People on my list are getting (RED) gifts for Christmas - I'm not saying who and I'm not saying what, but I like knowing that a gift I give will mean something to them, to me and to a country in need of our help.

And...just so you know...
(RED) Products from the GAP are on my list...for Christmas (12/25/06) and my Birthday (1/25/06).

  • the INSPI(RED) t-shirt (see picture below)
  • the INSPI(RED) hoodie (see picture below)
  • (RED) leather bracelet (i have the white one)
  • (RED) skull cap
  • (RED) cashmere cap
  • the INSPI(RED) cashmere scarf (there's a picture below)
  • Do the (RED) Thing label pin (there's a picture below of this one too)

There is also a (RED) Gift Card from the GAP.

I hope this Holiday season you'll give a gift that KEEPS giving.

www.joinred.com or www.gap.com

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas is Coming

Christmas in NYC. Here's my little 3' tree. It is loaded with some of my favorite ornaments...from a Snow Baby to Micky Mouse bulbs. I love my little tree.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

HOODS in the BIG APPLE (and Connie Chung)

Tim and Janet are here and today Janet got a crash course introduction to NYC. She’s never been here before and man, did we cover some ground.

They got in around 1:30 and settled in. They’re staying at private missionary residence on the Upper West Side. After we ate (Dallas BBQ on 72nd) we walked into Central Park. We entered the park, crossing the street by the Dakota. As we walked along the sidewalk, Tim and I spotted news anchor Connie Chung getting out of her car and walking into the Dakota.

In the park we walked around the IMAGINE mosaic and made our way to the Bethesda Fountain. We circled the fountain and then walk along the Mall and over to Sheep’s Meadow. Then we walked South and went along the ice skating rink and exited the park on the south east corner near F. A. O. Schwartz’s, the famous toy store.

We went and all three of us were overwhelmed by the variety and layout of the store. So much of so much. We went upstairs (passing the oversized piano keys imbedded in the floor - made famous by Tom Hanks in the movie BIG) and shopped around. Tim and Janet were looking for Christmas gifts for their godson and other kids. Tim and I checked out the corner of the store dedicated to all things Lego. They have larger than life Lego models of Santa Claus, Batman, Darth Vader and more.

From F.A.O. Schwartz we made our way down Fifth Avenue. We passed all the major designer stores, marveled at the elaborate window displays and then walked to Rockefeller Center to see the enormous Christmas tree.

It started getting colder and we started getting hungrier, so we crossed by Radio City Music Hall, then through the top of Times Square, over to 9th Avenue. We walked down several blocks and had a lite dinner at my favorite spot...Say Cheese.

From all the eating and all the walking, we were beat. We left Say Cheese and walked back over to Times Square. The temperature continued to drop (which makes sense since it is suppose to snow tomorrow) and we headed in the direction of the subway.

I dropped Tim and Janet off and then made my way home to write this very entry. Good times.

Tim and Janet at the Betheseda Fountain. Tim and a Santa made of Lego's inside F.A.O. Schwartz's toy store.

Tim, Janet and Me at Rockefeller Center.

Monday, December 04, 2006


It’s late, but I’m home...home in NYC.

It was a long drive back to Atlanta - though it didn’t feel as long as getting to Nashville. It was a beautiful day to be driving through the mountains of Tennessee. As I drove I snapped a couple of pictures. They don’t do the landscape justice but I tried to capture the expanse of it all. The trees were pretty bare but it was still nice.

I visited with my Grandmother for a couple of hours before her neighbor drove me to the airport.

A long drive, a long flight...

But I’m home.

P.S. Last night I played chauffeur after Antuan’s show and then we all went bowling (again with the Rockettes and the cast of the Christmas Spectacular show.) and I bowled a Strike. There’s a first time for everything

Bowling with Rockettes (Again!). Laura, an ensemble member or the show and a friend of Antuan's, was a cheerleader for me as I bowled. And got my first STRIKE.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Surprise, Surprise

The wedding last night was beautiful - from start to finish. Katy was a beautiful bride and I was honored to sing in her wedding.

The song I wrote, Testimony, wasn't completed in time for the wedding (Dennis, the one orchestrating the wedding for his daughter, had his hands more than full arranging the music for the wedding, rehearsing for a show that opens next weekend, and his church’s Christmas concert the week after that.) but the lyrics were reprinted on the back of program. Dennis sent me the song How Beautiful.

And it was...beautiful. A great choice for the ceremony.

I loved that Katy's only request for the music in the wedding was that if people had heard it, she didn't want it. I love that the wedding was a testament to her uniqueness. There was no Here Comes The Bride. No Canon in D.

I was so thrilled to be a part of the joining of these two lives.

The wedding drew a wide range of folks, including a lot of people I knew from both Avondale Estates and from the world of Atlanta theater. It was a nice reunion for me.

Today...I’m back in Nashville.

Yep. I did it.

Nashville is 4 hours from Atlanta and I couldn’t be this close without seeing Antuan. So, I did some driving and surprised him just as he was getting home from his third show of the day. With the help of some of his fellow castmates, the surprise went off without a hitch and he was truly surprised. He had just done 3 back to back shows, so it was easy to find him dazed and confused.

He was very glad to see me and speechless for a bit. It was so good to see him and being here helps make the time between now and Christmas seem not so far away.

Today he’s doing two more shows and then he’ll be off tomorrow. We had breakfast at Waffle House before he went to the theater and I did some Christmas shopping (and this journal entry).

Saturday, December 02, 2006


As I’ve mentioned before, I haven't written or talked a lot about my personal life in this Journal, but this is one of those times that I hope that something I write or share might help someone else. In Atlanta I did concerts and cabaret evenings that focused on my personal journey.

Though this isn't a song or show...the journey continues...and I am grateful for that.

For the last few months I’ve been on a personal spiritual journey to really understand Forgiveness. I thought, as I shared in some of my shows, that I knew what forgiveness was and is.

I didn’t.

One evening, about six months ago, I was shown - through my spiritual life - that I didn’t truly know what forgiveness was. If I did, I would be able to forgive people who have hurt me the most. The one's you love the most can hurt you the deepest. I told myself that I had forgiven anyone and everyone in my life who had caused me some kind of pain.

It was true. I had...I had let forgiveness take me as far as I wanted go.

I had farther to go, if I would walk it.

I started thinking and praying about forgiveness. God revealed to me that if I truly wanted a spirit of forgiveness...I would have to forgive someone who had never asked and who had no desire to be forgiven. It costs you everything if you choose to forgive the one who hurt you the deepest.

For me it meant that I would have to forgive someone who had lied and betrayed me. Abandoned me. Someone who left me with no answers and twice as many questions.

I made the decision that the next time I was in Atlanta...I would find this person and forgive them.

This was that trip.

A few weeks ago, I called my Ex and made arrangements to meet up for coffee while I was in town.

Our time together, my first serious relationship, had been scarred by dark chapters that overshadowed anything good I experienced. A relationship that had defined me as a man had left me hurt.

We met for coffee near my old apartment, just North of downtown Atlanta. For several minutes we spoke about the past couple of years of our separate lives - since there has been no communication on either of our parts. Then I told him the reason I had called him out of the blue a few weeks ago.

I told him about my Journey of Forgiveness and how every time I had talked about it, God had gently reminded me that I had someone I needed to forgive if I really wanted to understand what Forgiveness meant.

I was afraid that if I forgave that I was saying that the pain, betrayal, lies and wounds to my soul hadn’t happened. I learned just the opposite. I learned that it means it did happen. Not only did it happen but I survived it. Forgiveness is a softer landing for your heart than holding the pain in its place.

I had thought and believed that I had forgiven him years ago. I wasn’t wearing the end of the relationship like a badge of hurt, but I did keep the stories and pain close at hand if I needed to call on them. I no longer thought bad of him, but I didn’t think good of him either. I felt nothing. Apathy.

I felt nothing - which is worse.

I had mentioned to several close friends what I intended to say. One remarked, “Are you really going to use those words? Are you really going to say, ‘I forgive you.’”

I said, “Yes. Those exact words.”

I don’t think we use them enough. How different would our world be today if our first line of defense was forgiveness verses fighting. What if we used words and not war. What if we, America, led the world by example? What if after 9/11 we acknowledged and absorbed our loss and then went to those who attacked us and said, help us understand your hatred. Help us understand how you feel wronged. Would it have worked? I don't know. Was it worth a shot? Absolutely.

I did forgive and I used the words, “I forgive you.”

The response was gratitude and tears. A healing was planted.

My hurt, my relationship, my life...are so small on a global scale. Then again, how do we measure pain?

We’re moving into a season of Peace on Earth...and a New Year. Peace is my goal.

Join me?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Home in Atlanta...Wedding Bells are Ringing

I’m home.

Well...home, Home, that is.

I’m in Atlanta.

I haven’t been here in almost a year...but still so much has changed. The city continues to grow and spread.

My first stop in Atlanta was Peachtree Publishers. I made rounds and saw everyone; co-workers and friends that I’ve missed terribly. I also got to be reunited with Arthur, the company cat. On my last visit, back in January of this year, Arthur hit from me during my entire visit. This time he was sprawled out on a desk near the front of the office.

I got to visit with everyone and also took a few minutes to do some Peachtree shopping. I collected books from all of m favorite authors. The Spring and Fall books for 2006 are just wonderful and I had to add them to my collection.

From the office I drove around and then made my way to the wedding rehearsal, followed by the rehearsal dinner. The dinner was at Anthony’s, an old Southern home tucked away, just off Piedmont Road. It was wonderful. The food. The wine. The laughter. The tears. All of it.

It was good to get to visit with Johnny and Laura Griffin, Allan and Stephanie Harp, and, of course, the Father and Mother of the Bride: Dennis and Gail Lewallen.

As Jake and Katy spoke, and handed out the most beautiful gifts, we were all moved to tears as they both shared the journey of their relationship.

From the dinner I headed south of the city to the home of my friend’s, Tom & Greg, where I’m spending the night. It has been a long day...between the bus to the airport...the plane to Atlanta and the driving everywhere else.

Peachtree's OFFICIAL Mascot: Arthur. One of my favorite furry, feline friends. Mother-of-the-Bride Gail and Bride-in-the-Making, Katy.

Atlanta skyline. Yep, I snapped the photos as I was driving.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

It Happens in 3's

It happens in 3's...or so they say.

Yesterday and today, I helped Alice TV star and film actress, Celia Weston. I normally let entertainers come and go in the store without saying anything film/TV/music related. I feel that they’re technically ‘off’ and are just going about their day.


I just watched the amazing independent film, Junebug, a couple weeks ago and I had to tell Ms. Weston what a remarkable job she did in that project.

So I did.

She was pleasant and gracious and a little embarrassed with what she called her “dirty, day-after-Thanksgiving hair.” It just made her all the more charming and personable.

Interesting side story...

Tonight down at our store in Chelsea, my roommate Elizabeth was waiting on a lady that looked VERY familiar to her. Elizabeth spoke to her as she was helping her check-out her order but couldn’t place the face or the voice - though both seemed memorable. Elizabeth finally asked the lady if there was a reason she should look so familiar. The lady smiled and said, no. Elizabeth continued working on her order and then before she finished asked the woman one more time if she should recognize her from somewhere or for some reason. The woman again said no. The woman then collected her bags and left the store. Elizabeth’s co-worker said simply, “That was Jody Foster.”
Celia Weston THEN and NOW.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Celebrity Sighting #2

It’s feeling more and more like winter.


It was colder in Nashville, TN than it has been here. But a change (and some cooler weather) is in the air.

There’s a chilly bite to the air and it has arrived just in time for the holidays. I love this time of year and I LOVE it here in New York. Lights are up. Christmas music is playing. Christmas just feels different here.

Celebrity Sighting (again).

Don’t know how/why it happens to me...but a co-worker of mine asked me to help a customer today with our gorgeous gift wrap (if you haven’t seen it, check it out. It is beautiful and 95% exclusive to The Container Store). I agreed and I was introduced to the View’s co-host, Joy Behr.

I helped her find some papers, gift totes, gift tags, etc. that would not only look nice but match the color of her home’s decor.

She loved the store and our stellar service (of which I was delighted I could be a part).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Celebrity Sighting #1

Back to work.

And while at work, a celebrity sighting...

Clue: I helped a customer who’s voice has the power to kill you softly with her song.

Answer: Roberta Flack.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Last Day in Nashville...Quiet Time and Waffle House

My last day in Nashville.

Very low-key. Just Antuan. Just me.

We slept in. Hit Waffle House one more time. Watched TV. Talked about Christmas Lists.


Before we knew it, it was time to head to the airport. When I checked in I discovered my flight was slightly delayed. That bought us another hour.

I rode with him to fill the rental car up (so it would be returned FULL) and then we dropped the car off.

We shopped around the airport gift shop and then sat down across from a photography exhibit entitled, Obscured View. Very clever. It was a mini-gallery of photos taken at National Parks, out of car windows, etc. where the main focal point of the photo - let’s say Mount Rushmore - is obscured by someone’s elbow, a random family passing by or the car’s outside mirror.

Basically, all of the photos you usually throw out or delete, have their own showcase.



Anyone who knows me, knows I never do goodbyes well. If I cry at commercials for coffee, you can bet I’ll tear up when saying goodbye to someone I care about.

I settled into my seat on American Airlines a man very aware of my blessings. Not just aware, but grateful.

Day Four in Nashville: Thankful

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bowling with the Rockettes...Yep, You Read that Right

A lazy Sunday morning...afternoon...evening.

Before Antuan’s show, he and I met up with one of my dearest friend’s, April. She’s no stranger to this Journal - having visited NYC back in the Spring. She had sessions to attend during the morning, so we met up with her for a late lunch/early dinner.

When April and I use to have mini-reunions in Lakeland, FL, we would usually wind up at The Olive Garden. Trying to keep in tradition, we asked where the closest one was, were given directions and then loaded up in the rental car.

Over lunch we were able to catch up, talk books, share life lessons, and April and Antuan were able to get to know one another. Last night, when trying to make plans for today, Antuan said, “I want me some April time.”

And they both had it.

It was great being able to introduce them and let them discover their common bonds (outside of knowing me) and begin building a friendship of their own.

After dinner, we said our goodbyes and Antuan and I rode back to his suite. We did some napping and then he was off to the theater. I stayed at the hotel and caught up on reading and card writing.

When he came home, still high on the adrenaline of the show, phone calls were made and we were off to a local bowling alley.

A relationship is a journey and a discovery.

Tonight I discovered that my boyfriend is quite the bowler.

Toward the end of his first frame he bowled a “turkey.” Do you know what that is?

Neither did I.

It is when you bowl 3 Strikes in a row.

Wow. Who knew?

He bowled with the cast and I cheered him on (I also played the role of evening photographer). It was a fun, fun night and a great way for the cast to wind down from the evening’s show. It also was a low key way for me to get to know some of his cast mates better (half of the show’s cast was back at the hotel watching a taped copy of the night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy.).

Day Three in Nashville: FUN

Bowling with the Rockettes and the Cast of Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular (that's a mouth full). Ryanne taking a picture of me taking a picture of her. Antuan and _____ , his leap frog, Rockette/Santa. The TV monitor showcasing Antuan's "Turkey." And Rockette ____, celebrating her Strike with a Strike Dance.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Day 2, Show 2

I worked for Peachtree again today. The day flew by and once again it was good to see customers and clients that I hadn’t seen or worked with in over a year.

When I left the trade show, it was back to the suite where Antuan had made another delicious dinner (pork chops. YUM!).

Then it was back to the theater. I dropped Antuan off and went over to the Radison to pick up Peachtree’s Alyssa, my date for the show that night. We rode over to the Grand Ole Opry. There were complimentary tickets waiting for us at the door. We went inside and found our seats half way back in the orchestra section.

The show was just a beautiful the second time around. It was nice seeing another perspective and being close to the stage.

After the show, Antuan took Alyssa and I backstage. The moment we turned the corner I was greeted by warm hugs, handshakes and introductions all around. Everyone was excited to be meeting me, having heard a great deal about me from Antuan.

Antuan took us to his dressing room, where Alyssa went right to the costumes. She had been very taken with the craftsmanship of the costumes worn during the Nativity and this was her chance to see the work up-close.

He took us through the Green Room and then on to the stage, where the curtain was lifted and the whole house revealed.
After we left, we said our goodbyes and dropped Alyssa off. We rode back to the suite and turned in for the night.

Day Two in Nashville: WONDERFUL.

Antuan and I with Peachtree author and friend, Myron Uhlberg. Alyssa Jackson backstage at the Grand Ole Opry. She inspecting the needle work of Antuan's Nativity costume.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Jason in Nashville

Well...3:30am came VERY early.

I was up and out of the apartment before 4am. I walked up to 125th Street and looked for the first M60 bus of the morning, the 4:16.

Around 4:20 the bus rolled up. Packed front to back. There wasn’t room for me or my suitcase. The second bus, the 4:36, was next. It showed up on time and had some room.

I piled on and headed to the airport.

My flight left on time and I arrived in Nashville on few minutes early. I claimed my bags and waited by the rental cars for Antuan. I heard a familiar voice behind me asking if I was waiting for someone.

I was.

I was waiting for the one standing in front of me.

Our reunion and the beautiful flowers he’d brought me, garnered attention from the ladies working at the Budget Rental car desk. There was some pointing and giggling.

I didn’t care.

I was standing beside the guy I love AND I had an arm full of flowers. When was the last time they could say that?

It was great to see Antuan. I had missed him terribly. We settled in at his place, a Residence Inn several miles from Opry Land, and then we made our way to the Waffle House next door. We’d both been craving Waffle House for months. New York may have a lot of things...but we don’t have a Waffle House.

Then we made our way to Opry Land where Antuan dropped me off to work with Peachtree Publishers at the NCTE conference. My trip to Nashville happened to coincide with a book show that I’ve worked for years with Peachtree. This is the show where I always see my good friend and childhood friend, April.

I hadn’t been in the trade show booth for over a year and half but it was great to step back in and start selling books again. I saw former co-workers, Alyssa and Barbara, and many of the educators I’ve worked with before. April stopped by and Peachtree author, Lester Laminack arrived for his scheduled book signing.

All of the above were so excited to meet Antuan, who’d parked the rental car and come inside. He met and charmed everyone in a matter of seconds.

After a little bit, Antuan left and I stayed to work for a few hours. He picked me up at the end of the day and we went back to his suite.

He made dinner and then it was time to head to the Grand Ole Opry. I dropped him off for his call time at the theater and then I met up with Lester and his best friend, Reba, to see the Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular. Lester and Reba got us amazing seats in the Mezzanine looking down at the stage. The view from above was perfect. Looking down at the stage provided the a great angle to witness the famous precision of the Rockettes.

The show was AMAZING. From the moment the curtain rises, Antuan is right there - front and center. He did a great job. I was impressed by the entire cast. I had never seen the Rockettes perform live, so the whole show was new to me.

Afterwards, Reba, Lester, Antuan and I went to Applebee’s to catch up. It was great sitting there with Antuan as Reba and Lester got to know him better.

Day one in Nashville: GREAT.

My alarm clock when I woke up to head to the airport and the interior of the Opry Land hotel.

Waffle House in Nashville, TN! Our first and the most highly anticipated dining venue of my trip.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

An Unexpected Reunion

A bittersweet reunion today with two of my oldest friends, Ben and Shane.

Shane lives here in New York and earlier this week she lost a quick, harsh battle with Cancer. Ben, who lives in Phoenix, flew in for the funeral.

Before I went to work, we met up for breakfast at a small diner on 56th Street not far from my store. We ate, looked at pictures, shared stories, etc. and then walked over several blocks and went into Central Park.

Finally Fall has arrived in New York. The leaves were changing and people were skating. We walked through the park, down the mall and to my favorite spot: The Bethesda Fountain. We were running out of time and still had to walk back to my store.

It was a short but long over due reunion. It was great to see both of them and just being together for a couple hours reminded me of why we became friends and the bond we each share.

Central Park in Fall Colors. Ben Lentz and Shane Driscoll.

Friday, November 10, 2006

When We Last Left Jason (Part 3)

When we last left Jason...the 3rd and Final installment.

The same week I was saying goodbye to Antuan, I was flying to Richmond, Virginia to see my Mom & Dad who were in the States on a month long furlough.

My trip to Richmond also marked my maiden voyage on JetBLUE airlines. I was very impressed with their service, planes, staff, etc. I wouldn’t normally write about an airline or company but I had such a good experience that I thought I mention it in the hopes of sending some business their way. JetBLUE was recently connected to The Container Store in a TIME magazine article. Both are known for their unique customer focus/service. I experienced the connection firsthand, I was extremely pleased. From buying the ticket over the phone to watching DirectTV during the flight - it was a new and positive trip.

Visit: www.jetblue.com

I arrived in Richmond and it was a sweet reunion with my Parents. I hadn’t seen them in over a year and half. As I was claiming my bags, I turned around to see my Mom snapping pictures from the moment she walked through the sliding glass doors.

I had 4 days in Richmond. We had no real plans. Every day we just did whatever we wanted.

We drove around Richmond. Finding unexplored roads, looking at trees still holding onto their colored leaves. We took a road trip to D.C. - making a side trip through Alexandria, Virginia and stopping over at a Container Store. I had a good time showing them around the store and giving them a feel for the style and spirit of working for such a unique company.

We arrived at the store in Alexandria as they were unveiling Gift Wrap Wonderland. A huge campaign for our stores across the country. As the holiday season approaches the store presents the most amazing, exclusive gift wrap as well as different types of stocking stuffers and boxes. People wait all year to see what kinds of paper will be displayed and sold.

It was beautiful.

As I walked around the store I spotted and employee, Josephine, who was key trainer for me when my store in Manhattan opened. I spent many hours learning the ropes first hand from her. I didn’t know I was standing in her store when she came walking down the stairs. It was unexpected reunion.

Visit: www.containerstore.com

From the store when drove into D.C. and had a great time taking in the sites from the comfort of our rental car. We took our time and just enjoyed being together in my brother’s favorite city.

The rest of the weekend was spent eating out, driving around town, and shopping. Before we knew it, I was needing to fly back to New York and Mom & Dad were preparing to fly back to Africa. Our last night was spent opening beautiful gifts Mom & Dad had brought from Uganda.

A hand-carved Nativity, a wooden carving of a family, woven baskets, and a small leather box containing a check enabling us to fly to Africa in 2007 to see them. Tim, Janet and I were all speechless and excited. Looking through their pictures and hearing their stories creates a burn to experience it for yourself.

I look forward to sharing entries in this Journal from Africa.