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Finding Resilience in Giving

The store was out of small turkeys. Lines were not ridiculously long and Black Friday started .. what…. day after Halloween? 2020 for lack of a better word has been a giant sh_tshow and as the holiday season begins, it is a reminder of that which is this year. The year that needs a global reboot.

This Thursday morning November 26th, I would be in New York with my friend, standing out in the freezing cold or like last year in a wild wind at 4am or 5am in order to be ballon handlers for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We are not in New York. We didn’t even go to BallonFest in New Jersey to see and practice with the new giant balloons. Wednesday night we would board a bus outside of Macy’s in DC at midnight and make the trek into the New York City. My first year back in California, I flew into DC to experience the parade as I have in the past – meeting my friend, boarding the bus, sleeping on the bus until we rolled into the moonlit street and buildings of NY. Young I am not, so last year I flew into NY the night before, slept in a hotel and then made my way to the Javitz center to suit up. Last year the winds were so wild, we didn’t even know if the balloons could fly! Fly they did albeit a bit low. Our Star Group 3 had to wrangle the large Macy’s star balloons that kick off the Parade right after Tom Turkey!

This Wednesday night I was struck by all of the emotions of not doing what I have done in past years. I was even thinking about the past few weeks – a weird fender bender (all ok except my car); the passing of my cousin who I would stay with on my Macy’s Parade treks; the stores that are reminders that I am not the only one impacted by what’s going on in the world, we all are.

First thing Thursday morning I text my friend saying how much I was missing our time together and not being at and part of the parade. Their response was about their unexpected sadness. We are adults of course we will miss this ritual event but there were no words for the emotional thump in our chest at the reality of it all. I don’t want to be sad. I especially didn’t want my friend to be sad. I don’t want any one of us to be sad. Quite frankly I am tired of being super sad. Something has to give.

Next thing I know I am on my way to the store (as soon as it opens at 6 am) to buy giant balloons. And my friend, on FaceTime helping with the selection. If we can’t go to the parade – then I will make the parade come to us – kinda sorta. My neighbor has this great framed 3-D picture of New York. I have a bunch of puppets (don’t ask why – I am guessing that is another story) and now I have huge in proprotion to the picture and the puppets…. character balloons. With my camera phone and “live” option on, the parade begins as does the resilience and the giving.

Shot after shot I send my friend a text with some snarky commentary about the balloon going by and the crowd reaction. We are having our parade. maybe not as good as the iconic Macy’s parade, but it is ours.

We will get through this. I hate we have to be resilient related to things that are external to us – I don’t want to resign myself to the fact that those things should even exist – period. Why must we build ourselves up to protect us from the slings and arrows of a pandemic, grief, racial injustice, trauma? While those of us who are being the change the we want to see in the word, resilience is the armor that helps us through until those things don’t exist in the world any more.

So look, I am not one who celebrates thanksgiving as the historical institution from which we were taught. This year however, I did find that to get through this especially tough time and day without my family, best friend on the east coast and participating in the Macy’s Day Parade, I had to be resilient, be thankful for the many many things I do have and give to others. Yesterday we had our parade, maybe not as good as the iconic Macy’s parade, but it is ours and now it is yours too.

Find resilience in giving – I did.

We can get through this together.

Squished Like Apple Pie

Of course, apple pie is not squished or even squishy, cows are not purple and one does not make three-bean salad apart from opening the ‘cans’, draining the liquid and dumping the contents into a serving bowl. According to my cousin however, this is not “making” a salad as I liked to proudly proclaim during holiday family feasts “I made the three-bean salad!’.  And each year, each meal, my cousin would remind me that opening a can is not making a salad. But I knew if I said I made it – he would eat it and tell me how good it was regardless of the semantics of it all.

None of that really matters. These are all random memories. Memories of my relationship with my twin cousin. Yes, I know there is no such thing as a twin cousin especially when born 2 days and 7 years apart. But we are both Geminis so by default we are twins.Nothing here will make much sense except to me and Desmond and to our family who knew our closeness. 

What am I going to do without my Desmond? What are we all going to do without our family member, friend, colleague? We are going to remember. We are going to live our lives better because we all carry him in us, with us and through us. The memories do matter and are not so random but meaningful, powerful and beautiful. 

As a global nomad (ok, most use the term ‘army brat’), every three years meant a move for our family. My first years of life were spent in Germany where I was born. Our US home base was my grandparent’s house in Englewood NJ. 170 Liberty Road, Englewood NJ 07631. I can easily recite this address in its entirety after all of these years of moving and travel because of the rich fond memories of the home and of our entire family. My great grandmother, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle and their two children, my cousins, are 170 Liberty Road in my mind.

In that house is where my coloring books were staked amongst the great books in the hallway – that is where my cousin found my ‘purple cow’. With his classic side eye, he would tell me how pretty my coloring was and remind me that cows are not purple while congratulating me on my creativity to make the most unique cow in the world “The Purple Cow”.  

In that house is where I lived the year my father was in Vietnam. Add to the large ménage my mother, brother and me. My uncles and grandfather would ensure my brother and I had a “father figure” to attend various events. Desmond was away at college but would come home as well during this time. He would accompany me to the school or scouts “father-daughter” events. What 18 or 19-year-old would leave school, drive hours to come home and hang out with their little cousin? I have asked myself that often over the years and even ask it still today. It takes an extraordinary person, young man, African-American young man to care so much for us to leave weekend parties, studying and the freedom of being away from home – to return to be with his little cousins and his aunt. That is the essence of Desmond. The selflessness, the caring, the family-man that I will remember always.

Everyone calls Desmond ‘Desi” except me. I love the name Desmond and honestly, I do not have a nickname. Desmond tried to give me one – spell your name backwards: sirek kcirym. Uhhhmmm….no. ‘Ok then I will just call you ‘k’’. uhhhhmmmm …no. He called my “k” on many occasions none the less and I liked it, but he was and will always be Desmond to me and the only one who can call me “k”. 

Desmond, when visiting LA upon my families return from Germany, dared me to stay up all night as we were all squished together in our little room – Desmond, his sister Ellen, my brother Kyl and I – squished like apple pie. During the night, I repeatedly had to tell everyone by blurting it out into the darkness – “we are squished like apple pie!”. There was no end to the teasing by Desmond the next day – “apple pie is not squished or squishy but gotta admit it is good and we were definitely squished’. It’s such an odd memory to hold – I think I hold it because to be squished like apple pie is to be close to the people we love whether in proximity and or from afar .

There are so many memories – the visits to Philadelphia so we could be together with my dad for thanksgiving or Christmas. Meeting me at Macy’s Parade Balloon Fest in Jersey just to give me a hug and see his west coast cousin.

Our love for Monty Python and the ease in which we could drop a quote from our favorite movies like a secret language. Our sarcasm which could cut to the quick or humorously defuse any sticky situation. Our love of cars and adventures in them – learning to drive a stick shift; the tale of the Saab Sonnet3 breakdown in what we feared was KKK country and our tow home (and explanation to my mother why we were out all night. My mom though said she knew I was ok because I was with Desmond), my first driving adventure in NY city before I even knew how to drive. And how many amusement parks and roller coasters have we ridden? How many episodes of Star Trek original series have we watched over and over and over again? Don’t even get me started on disco dancing—on roller skates!! And how he recognized the geek in me? Desmond hearing me talk about the DARPA challenge at a dinner with my parents leaned over and said to them – “look at her beaming, she is a total geek!” and he said it with pride. That one moment gave me permission to let my inner geek out and let my geek flag fly!  And as the youngest in the extended family, teaching me how to stop the clock at 5 minutes before 6 am so that our new four-year-old cousin Jason would have to wait until the little hand on the clock hit the 12 before he could wake either of us up to play. (‘wait did you do that to me when I was little’, I asked and of course Desmond answered “yes”! now you know how to be an older cousin”. If I haven’t mentioned, yes, we both could be a bit mischievous and now you know where I got that from!

Girl with Doll -MIrrorImage Artworks

And his daughters – Kristin and Lauren – how he told me he was going to be a father for the first time – and when Lauren was “on the way” we watched Kristin with her lifelike-newborn baby doll proclaim “I am going to be the best big sister”. That moment captured in my artwork as she carried this baby doll by its feet! Now Desmond and I had to give the side-eye to each other as we encouraged Kristin to be exactly what she is today “the best big sister”.

We always spoke by phone – if he had not heard from me I would get a call or text. Given we cannot travel at this time I was feeling very sad and missing my trips to NY and looking forward to another trip from Desmond to California. Looking through my photos I reached out and the response was just what I needed – to know that I am missed and that I am loved.

And we always communicated on holidays (dropping hints at our next adventure). Halloween, Saturday October 31, 2020 7:33 pm PT-

On Monday November 2nd I got into a gnarly fender bender and I started a new job. On Tuesday, I received a phone call that Desmond had passed away on Monday November 2nd.

“But I just spoke to him” I screamed to my father. Through our tears, our pain our anguish at losing to me what is like a brother and to my father what is like a son – we had to, from afar and through the airwaves of a phone call, hold tight to each other, our family our memories. And our love.

Desmond – from Uncle Howard

We are going to remember. We are going to live our lives better because we all carry him in us, with us and through us. The memories do matter and are not so random but meaningful, powerful and beautiful. Thank you Desmond for teaching me to be a good friend, a loving family member, a leader, a thinker, a doer, and compassionate caring human being. Desmond, I love you so much and I will miss you. We are forever twin cousins squished like apple pie.

My twin cousin and me

Desmond A. Jordan

Rest in Power. Rest in Peace.

Say hello to my mom

Finding the Silver Lining in Toilet Paper

I am trying to find the silver lining every day. I am grateful I have a job I can do from home that contributes to the public health efforts especially during this time that I will refer to here as the “situation”.  I am also grateful that I have a home – a roof over my head and a place I can call my own! Hello-right?!? So many don’t have stable housing, employment , health care coverage (oh to be in the US  now…) and access to food. And what’s up with the run in the stores on toilet paper (Elaine from Seinfeld  – “can you spare a square?”- Uhhmm, No.)?!?. Perhaps the bidet really is a good idea!?
This week my water pipe sprung a leak under my bathroom sink unbeknownst to me for a few days. As I went to replace a toilet paper roll, I lifted the open package and couldn’t understand its weightiness. Alas the TP bag was wet, very wet. Arrghhh – of all things I had to figure out, now it was how to dry a product that’s meant to absorb moisture. Worse yet, this product now is practically irreplaceable!
As many people who follow me or know about me,  you may know that I live with a mental health diagnosis. I could have gone all sorts of ways with this situation that would have or could have impacted my mental health stability due to my momentary shock, panic and despair Yes, despair, as at first I broke down in tears realizing how this ‘situation’ turned a mundane thing into a THING… it almost crushed me but it didn’t.  

Through the tears, I had to plan what to do. My plan seemed so funny the tears turned to laughter.
My TP plan:
As I sat out my TP in the sun to dry – it was however oddly laughable.
First – keep it safe, it’s like gold. Sit it out where no one could steal it. I live on the top floor – balcony on top floor, CHECK.
Second – realizing I live in sunny CA- I’m lucky I can sit it out in the sun and warmth to dry. CHECK.
Third- my neighbors can see TP rolls sitting out on my balcony – what must they think of me? I’m I recycling used TP (gross); I making my own TP to sell on some sort of Etsy shop – washi paper TP for sale! (Phhfft – “washi paper- yes TP does wash -y),. Don’t worry about what the neighbors think – CHECK.
Fourth- pictures of Elaine from Seinfeld  is like an visual ear-worm (is that an eye-worm?!) – very funny , laughter is good – CHECK.
And then I realized that I would need to call the plumbers. They would have to come into my protective bubble – my home. Two strangers had to enter my home during a time  when it isn’t most advisable. There were no stereotypical handyman/plumber butt cracks from pants weighted down by tools. Or if so, I missed it, as I couldn’t really find the calm place or funny. It was a bit scary – my safety protective bubble had been burst. Or so I thought.
I do have Lysol spray, Clorox wipes , Microban spray,  antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, disposable gloves …… and bleach. Not only do I have it – I had a lot of it for some time as I keep things in stock prepared for the inevitable (whatever the inevitable may be). I have cleaning products, TP and Paper towels stored up  way before the “situation” and run on these items in the stores
Sometimes my mental heath conditions  work  to my advantage. The world is now learning what it might be like for people who are “clean freaks” or have been given diagnosis of  obsessive compulsive disorder. We are damned prepared for this situation .. and the unexpected plumbers that burst our protective bubbles to fix our sinks in order to save our precious toilet paper!
And that’s my story of a day of my life during “the situation” and truth to find, hold on tight to  and share the silver lining.
What is your silver lining that you can share to help someone else during this “situation” ?
“I really do think that any deep crisis is an opportunity to make your life extraordinary in some way”  Martha Beck


Freedom, Humanity and Relationships

One of the first things I do when returning home from a trip away is to stop by my local coffee shop and get my favorite iced tea. Do I go for the tea… well no, not really. No matter where I live, I have been doing this for years because it is not really about the beverage, it is about the people. The folks that work at my local coffee shop whether it was when I lived in Pasadena California, Rockville Maryland or now in Hollywood California make the day just a bit brighter.

london and keris

Black Girl Magic – London and Keris

This story isn’t about the iconic and ubiquitous coffee shop, coffee or tea. It is about “Connection”. Away for a week in Trieste, Italy, I return to my local coffee shop to be greeted by London – there we are Black Girl Magic! She knows my name, I know hers.
When I first moved to Hollywood, I was looking for someone to do my hair – ok black folks know about our tresses and finding that perfect someone who can work with our pride and joy, our pain and our kitchens (translation – the back of our head where hair gets super messy, frizzy and tangled) … who do I ask? London at my neighborhood coffee hangout. She welcomes people, makes the coffee, and the tea, provides service with a smile and makes sure I get my hair done did (as I say) by someone she trusts.

I was so happy to see her when I got back from Italy because she embodies the motto, creed of the shop– Moments of Connection. Every time you interact with a person – it is an incredible moment to make a positive welcoming connection. We need more of that in the world.

In Trieste Italy, I did not find my favorite coffee shop (though there were lots of other iconic American fast food and brand name stores), but what I did discover reminded me of when I visit my neighborhood coffee spot and run into someone like London. I found powerful moments of connection. A community mental health program that lives, breathes, walks, and talks moments of connection and welcoming. Mental health services are grounded in strong values, in a philosophy that starts with freedom first, and is relentless about relationships and trust. Each moment with a person is a moment to make a positive connection. No matter how complex the needs of the person – each person is met first as a human being, not as an illness or a problem to be fixed. The focus on freedom first, helping people to remain in the community of their choice, connected to others with meaning and purpose in their lives. There is no restraint, no coercion, no police – just people. People to people – connected in the most humane of ways.

I wish this is a story I can tell in one quick blog, it isn’t. I went to visit an incredible community mental health program in Trieste. It is world renowned and is a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health.  Would you like to know more? If so, join me on a visceral journey of sights, sounds and words to experience the city, the history, the people that help contextualize the work done in Trieste Italy. There will be many moments of connections as we journey forth. I have my supersize iced green tea….so grab your favorite beverage, snacks and buckle up (oh right this is about no restraints – no need to buckle up) – just get cozy as we take this amazing voyage.

We won’t find any unicorns pooping fairy dust, puffy cotton candy streets or rainbows greeting people into the city – which is what I started to believe as I heard others tell their tale of visiting this “great magical” place. So, what is it?

Next stop – Trieste, Italy where ‘Da vicino, nessuno e’ normale’   – up close nobody is normal.



(Thank you to the Open Society Foundations  and  Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care for their support)

The Family Royal….

Royal Typewritter

Click, tap, clack, tap…tap……schwzing……………

“Dad, it’s 3 in the morning, what the heck are you doing?”

It really was 3 in the morning – a late December evening that had turned into morning, the day of my parents famous Holiday Party. Preparations were underway which included, on this morning, the percussive rhythmic noise of the old family Royal typewriter.

My father replied – “its moydasheva!” The grin on his face was reminiscent of a mischievous young boy caught with his hands in the cookie jar. The look on my face was one of utter confusion – what was moydasheva? As the military nomadic Myrick clan, we knew several languages from our travels abroad, our diverse circle of friends and our various educational experiences but this did not seem familiar at all.

I looked over at my Mom and she too looked just as perplexed. “Moydasheva? Huh?”

My father continued to repeat the word and each time the pronunciation was punctuated with both frustration and glee – “Moy-da-she-va”, you know “Moydasheva”. At this point I think my dad was laughing and we were giggling along.

At 3:00 o’clock on a Sunday morning 12 hours into cleaning and preparing a house for a grand holiday party, let’s just say he could have said “dust” and we would all be in tears with laughter. But there we were giggling about some weird word. Secretly, I thought my father was holding out on all of the languages he knew and was sharing some joke in Yiddish!

Who knew? Well he didn’t and he wasn’t speaking Yiddish or anything else for that matter.

I finally stopped giggling long enough to ask him “what exactly is – Moy-da-she-va?”

His reply: “You know that show, the one on TV with the female writer that opens with words on a piece of paper inserted in a typewriter”. Clearly he gets it that we have no clue as to what he is talking about because his response is met with blank stares from my mother and me.

He points to the paper coming out of the typewriter and says again now articulating every letter and syllable s-l-o-w-l-y: “MOY- DA- SHE-VA”. My mom and I followed his pointing finger, looked at the paper in the typewriter that read “Murder”. Simultaneously we both shrieked “Oh, ….. ‘Murder She Wrote’!”

My father swore that he was saying that all along; but alas no. My dad heard himself saying “Murder She Wrote” but what came out of his mouth had succumbed to the effects of no sleep better known as “the 3 am communications effect”…..Moydasheva.

But not to worry, now we have a new holiday greeting to include on our cards to our friends: “Moydasheva!” (Sometimes we add Y’all at the end of the greeting as in “Moydasheva Y’all!”).

And only we know what it means and our friends, well they think we speak Yiddish.


The Royal typewriter was used by my aunt, then my mom, then my cousin, then my brother to write papers in college or high school. For my aunt and mother- college was something many women of color did not have access to due to racism, yet both used that typewriter in college graduating with several degrees. They paved the way for all of us that followed, using that typewriter in one way or another, to complete our college degrees as well. When I miss them, or when life is hard and I am struggling to push through the pain, sorrow, frustrations, anger or sheer sadness, I can access their spirit and strength through these memories.

The Royal typewriter sits atop a small writing desk in my father’s library just as it has these many years after the preparation for the family annual holiday party. Though long faded, the paper with the one word “murder”, still remains steadfastly waiting for the next word to be typed; the next story to be told; the next memory to be stored.

Click, tap, clack, tap…tap……schwzing……….!

Moydasheva Y’all,


Watermelon Candy Jam


Playing with words and sounds is like
candy rolling around in my mouth;
Tongue rolling
Lips pursing

Swallowing  happiness
coating my throat,
down to my heart and touching my soul —

To play with words and sounds
inside and out is like happiness
Vocal visible
Feelings funkable
Being believable

Playing with words and sounds taste like candy;
watermelon candy jam!
You’ll know what I mean because when you join in
Sharing words and sounds adds a beat of souls in sync

What’s it like to jointly play
with words and sounds that become
watermelon candy jam?
Yummy-yam Sweetness !

(Thanks to a friend for joining in on a stimmy-stammy-jam-slam resulting in the creation of “Watermelon Candy Jam” – who knew!!! )

Getting Wild about Wellness: My Mickey Mouse Encounter

A few months before my birthday this year, my mailbox was inundated with postcards, letters and invitations from AARP. All I know about AARP is what the acronym stands for, American Association of Retired Persons. From its name that it is a group for…well, old people. It’s fair to say that this year marked a milestone birthday – the 50th. Thanks to AARP for the reminder of sorts, as on some level, I was trying to ignore, avoid, and seriously pretend that I would not be an “old” person!
But age is relative right?
With that thought I embraced my birthday (all-be-it 2 days prior to the actual date) and made plans to celebrate. Age and birthdays are extremely relevant in my case. For many years I fought hard to keep demons at bay and not hurt (or even kill) myself. Daily living was at times an insurmountable task and celebrating birthdays was not a priority.
Back in 2000, a friend who shared the same birthday encouraged me to join her for a “Girl’s Day” celebration at Disneyland. She promised lots of birthday fun and surprises. I was feeling horrible, hopeless, and isolated, definitely not in the mood for the frivolities of Disneyland. Her insistence and my concern that I would ruin her birthday led me to join my friend for a trip to Disneyland. Although I was able to be “present” and seem engaged with my friend, inside I was a mess. The picture taken with Mickey Mouse at the end of the day was all the evidence I needed that indeed I was the saddest person at the happiest place on earth. When I got home at the end of our Disneyland adventure, I did 2 things – ripped up the picture of a forlorn, far-away gazing Keris with Mickey Mouse and called my therapist for help getting admitted to the hospital.
That was a long time ago, but that memory is etched into my “birthday celebrations” memory bank and ultimately resulted in my never visiting Disneyland again …until… I got Wild About Wellness!
The latest disturbing statistic for those living with/diagnosed with a mental illness is that our lives our cut short. In fact, the research states that our life expectancy is nearly 8-25 years shorter compared to the general population! That means that while the general population can on average, have a life expectancy of 78 years, we (as people diagnosed with mental illnesses) are predicted to have a life expectancy of 53 years! And all due to preventable and treatable diseases (diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary disease etc), smoking and substance use as well as such confounding factors as poverty and poor nutrition. Please see the SAMHSA Wellness Campaign web site for more information.
Celebrating my 50th birthday this year has taken on a new and emergent meaning. I have lost too many years already to the effects of mental illness and I am darned if I am going to lose any more. I am determined that my friends, family, coworkers and peers are educated about this mortality gap and that together we do something about it; getting Wild About Wellness!
This year I also had another goal – to “Conquer the Mickey” …Go to Disneyland on my 50th birthday, get my all too well deserved birthday call from Goofy, ride “It’s a Small World” and sing along – during the ENTIRE ride and of course get some great pictures with Mickey that I will treasure for the rest of my life as proof that I can be the happiest person at the happiest place on earth!

I hope we can all find times to celebrate important milestones and live long lives through engagement in our wellness. Want to know how? Here is a start, share your wellness activities on social media. Use the hashtag #ShareWellness to help inspire others.  It’s simple and it’s fun – share  your stories, pictures and poems about your for activities that help you live your life well.

Live well by Getting Wild About Wellness! – Keris Jän Myrick

(Repost from a few years ago – not saying how many but I’m older and wiser and well!)

Inside Out

Sometimes we cry because we are left behind

Sometimes we laugh from a memory that fleets by

I can touch her clothes made by her hands that are

So her

And so me

Vibrant colors, tie-dye Pucci and polka dots with flowers

And see the whimsy we shared in items left behind

The funny cute faces on a random item, boot protectors of all things

So her

And so me

Inside her breath, her air, blown by her is most precious – never to be deflated

Missing mom

My heart is broken

A void left I can not fill

Inside, I carry you in my soul and spirit

Outside, in action I exude you

Love, keris



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