Tag Archives: blogger

Phoebe King: Pushing Fifty With Grace & Aplomb…

Phoebe King: Pushing Fifty Gracefully…

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving and this is your own self.”-Aldous Huxley

Phoebe King: Parents Wedding Day, circa 1950's?

I have been writing a series of interviews on wonderful people I have met on different social network sites for over a year now. I find connections with people all over the world and while my interviewees answer a similar set of questions, their answers are always different. I find the process both refreshing and revelatory; each person paints a canvas rich with their views and personal journey. The destination might seem the same but each journey is uniquely different. I think you’d enjoy the process.

Today, I bring you another good friend I met through Twitter. Phoebe King is an accomplished writer/blogger from Chicago who has reinvented herself at different stages in her journey. She has a keen wit and a friendly demeanor and we connected on twitter because I found myself chuckling over some of her tweets. She writes a wonderful blog – Pushing Fifty and can been caught tweeting away on her twitter handle @PhoebeKing. I invited her to participate in the interview series and her fascinating, rich, personal story is below. Grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy the read … Do leave a comment for Phoebe, will ya? Thank you!

“The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with a strong and active faith.” -Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Phoebe King: Headshot...

Foundation Questions:
Tell us a bit on your background: Where did you grow up and where do you live now?

I grew up in a suburb just west of Chicago, IL, USA called Oak Park. The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright had a studio there and designed many houses and even a church that still stand today as a testament to his art. My mother was the first woman to be licensed as a surgeon in the state of Illinois. That was back in 1942. She went on to have an amazing career as a pioneer in emergency medicine. My father, a World War II veteran from Arkansas, was an entrepreneur through and through. He ran several businesses during his long life—some successful, others not so much. He was considered to be an exceptional salesman by colleagues and competitors alike.

When my parents bought their house in Oak Park in 1964, they had to use a “straw buyer” because my dad was black. There were no other black families, let alone interracial families, living in Oak Park at that time. Racial tensions were high. We had our share of difficulties. Although I was too young to remember, I’ve heard the stories about the “N” word being painted on our garage and a brick being thrown through a window that landed inches from my sleeping brother’s head. I’m happy to report Oak Park went on to become an integrated, diverse community that welcomes people from all backgrounds today.

My parents, who are both deceased, were incredible pioneers within the civil rights movement. They were loved by many and had a diverse, eclectic group of friends. My parents entertained often and opened their home to many people over the years. They lived the dream espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I am very proud of my heritage as a biracial woman.

What do you do for a living?
I’m a writer/blogger. (See Pushing Fifty) This year I’m working on a book that celebrates the lives of people who found success after age 40. We need stories of inspiration and hope during these difficult economic times. I consider it an honor to get to interview people from all walks of life whose paths have taken them to extraordinary places later in life. They inspire me to keep reaching higher!

Why did you choose the path you now follow?
I’m a tail-end baby boomer (those born from 1946 to 1964) and spent the first 30-plus years of my life in aimless pursuits. I moved around a lot and have had a ridiculous number of jobs, from cook to child guidance worker at a juvenile detention facility. I’ve worked as a house painter, van shuttle driver, cashier, security guard at a major retail store—the list goes on.

In the summer of 1990, through a series of unfortunate incidents, I wound up back in Chicago, broke, homeless and without much hope for the future. I stayed with friends and relatives for a while, trying to get my bearings. I got a $5/hour job at a scone factory (add that to the list of unglamorous jobs I’ve held) working the overnight shift, eventually found a place to live sharing a tiny studio apartment with another girl—and slowly began to rebuild my life.

I started taking classes at a local junior college and was surprised when I got my first “A.” Despite my parents’ emphasis on education and academic achievement, I am a high school dropout and wound up getting my GED when I was 18. A few years later I transferred my credits to a four-year liberal arts college located in downtown Chicago. It was there I was told by my academic adviser that I was an “unusually good” writer. I planned to major in business administration with a minor in communications. I wanted to start my own business. Professor Carol Williams convinced me to major in communications and minor in business instead. When she told me I wouldn’t have to take as many math classes (my least favorite subject) that clinched the deal for me.

Books and reading have always been a big part of my life. From the first picture book I checked out at the school library in first grade, Billy and Blaze books by C.W. Anderson – I was horse crazy from the time I was 5 and still am today, I have always had a voracious appetite for literature. My parents had a fairly extensive library and I kept “discovering” books that took me on journeys and to times I never would have considered myself. By the time I was 15 years old, I had read books by Steinbeck, Hemingway, Saul Bellow, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, W. Somerset Maugham, Howard Fast, Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, Carlos Castaneda, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis; The Chronicles of Narnia were my all-time favorite series when I was about 12, and more. I couldn’t get enough and would often hide under the covers with a flashlight late into the night so I could finish reading just one more chapter.

And then there was the Scholastic Book Club. When it came time to order from the catalog that was passed around every couple of months, most of my classmates would order two or three books, if at all. I rarely took home fewer than a dozen and couldn’t wait to get home so I could begin gobbling up stories about horse-crazy girls or heroic dogs that saved people from danger.

I remember my grade-school librarian, Mrs. Winters, encouraging me to write, but I was too distracted and insecure to take writing seriously back then. I believe that the amount of reading I did in my early life had a strong influence on my capacity as a writer today. I have no doubt incorporated many different writing styles, based on what I’ve read, into finding my own voice. I am grateful to my family for turning me on to so many different kinds of great literature when I was young.

Phoebe's Cats: Contemplating the Windowsill...

When did you decide to make key changes in your life?
Coming back to Chicago and returning to school in 1990 was a pivotal time in my life. But I guess the biggest changes began to occur in 2000, after I was diagnosed with a pituitary adenoma (a small, benign brain tumor). I had a job as a copy editor; a decent apartment in a decent neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago, friends, and family…life was going OK. But I was experiencing painful symptoms that had me calling in sick to work a lot—that and the fact that I drank too much.

My boss at the time practically forced me to go to the doctor and find out what was wrong. I was fortunate to have been assigned, through my HMO, an amazing woman doctor – Dr. Hemphill- who also happened to be African American. She listened quietly as I described my symptoms; she asked intelligent questions and ordered a series of tests, including an MRI of my head. She was very kind and matter-of-fact throughout the process. I don’t remember feeling alarmed during her evaluation period. Although she explained that the MRI was part of the diagnosis process, I don’t recall her telling me she was concerned I might have a tumor in my head.

When all the test results were in, Dr. Hemphill had me come into her office. Not ever having had any major health problems up to that point in my life, I had no idea that doctors bring you into the office when they have something serious to talk to you about. She sat me down and told me I had a brain tumor. I joke today that when I was complaining about having painful cramps and irregular menstrual cycles it turned out to be all in my head—literally.

After the initial shock of the diagnosis sank in, Dr. Hemphill assured me that if I had to have a brain tumor, this was the “best” kind to have. It was a small, slow-growing tumor in my pituitary gland (called the “master gland” because it regulates so many different hormones and systems in the body) and would probably NEVER turn into cancer. In fact, she told me, most people with my type of tumor can be treated successfully with medications and never have to have surgery to remove the tumor.

She turned out to be right. I was on a medication for several years that actually shrunk the tumor! And I have been functioning just fine ever since.

I bring up this medical mini-drama only because the tumor diagnosis in February 2000 became the catalyst for an even bigger change in my life: I quit drinking that spring and have been living a sober life, fraught with its own challenges and rewards, ever since. Ten years later, here I am writing my first book, starting a blog about my neighborhood with a major media group and getting interviewed by an inspiring woman who is spreading a powerful message of peace, love and hope to the world. My life today is beyond my wildest dreams—even from when I was a child reading under the covers by flashlight.

Share your world view: How do you live your life and manage your household?
I have always been a champion of the underdog, choose cooperation over conflict, think listening is an underrated skill—especially in this day and age when we are constantly being bombarded with “noise”—and believe that everyone has something of value to give to the world. I believe people should come before profits and that we need to work harder at protecting the environment. My “household” consists of a big black dog and two cats that I love as if they are my own children and have promised never to forsake.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” -Marcel Proust

Phoebe's Dog: Mickey at play...

Reflective Questions:
What do you consider the most important thing about yourself?
My capacity for love and forgiveness. I had to learn about the first one through my own life experiences; Oprah taught me the second one.

What motivates you to get out of bed?
Gratitude and hope: Although I am figuratively miles and miles away from where I want to be, I am grateful every day for what I have. My vision board depicts goals I have set for myself that sometimes feel unattainable, yet when I approach each day with hope and a sense of gratitude, the end result becomes less important than the journey itself. I keep putting one foot in front of the other, taking another little action each day, and trying to let go of the outcome.

What makes you happy/laugh?
Silly things my dog does; he makes me laugh every day, several times a day. Really, I experience joy in everyday living and through my interactions with others. I especially try to adhere to rule No. 62: Don’t take yourself so damn seriously. ;-)

What makes you sad/mad?

Injustice and lack of tolerance – especially when it comes from people who claim to value peace and social justice. Although sometimes they simply don’t see their behavior for what it is, I have worked with people who put up a front of being peaceful and loving and then stab you in the back.

What would you do differently with your life if you had the power? With the world if you had the choice?
If I could meet my younger self, I would give her a big hug and remind her how much she is loved and that it’s OK to stand up to bullies. The world will have to take care of itself; the only control I have is in how I react to it.

What guiding principle(s) do you follow to make your life meaningful?
For more than 10 years, I have been making a daily practice of love, kindness, tolerance and acceptance; being true to myself; and growing along spiritual lines. I am at my best when I am in service of others.

What word(s) of advice would you give to others today?
Yikes! I am not in the advice business, although I am happy to make suggestions—sometimes even when they are not asked for. ;-)

How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who stood up for the underdog and tried to make a difference by how she lived her life.

Happiness is…..?
an inside job.

“Forty is the old age of youth; fifty the youth of old age.” -Victor Hugo

Phoebe writes a blog – Pushing Fifty on the WordPress platform where she blogs about “pushing 50 and its attendant “unfoldings.” I hope to be able to use some of my knowledge and experience to find and share useful information for people “my age” and older.” She is fun, funny, witty and poised. You may connect with her on her blog, via her twitter handle – @PhoebeKing, and in a few weeks or so, her upcoming new Website: phoebeking.com (this is not live yet, however).

What questions or comments do you have for Phoebe? Are you an expert in a field that our readers can benefit from hearing about? Do you have a story to share? Please share your feedback with us. Thank You!

My positive motivational tip is: Age is only a number, follow your dreams with passion and aplomb… :-)

All Photos of Phoebe King and family ~ courtesy of Phoebe King

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank

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Back to Blogging: Revisiting the Past & Embracing the Future

Back to Blogging: What’s Not to Love?

“The heart of blogging is linking…linking and commenting. Connecting and communicating – the purpose of the Internet.” ~ George Siemens
“Your blog is your unedited version of yourself.” ~ Lorelle

Back to Blogging: Finding our way via Twitter Images...

This week, my sistahs at The SITS Girls site have suggested some great ways to get our blogging shoes back on. For the entire week, we are to follow the prompts below, dig deep into our blogmunition and share the results by linking our post with others in our SITS Girls community.

I’ve adapted the assignment to make it into an ongoing updated post so my responses to Monday through Wednesday will be below. Thursday and perhaps Friday will be individualized each day. What do you think about the offerings? What are your memories of your blogging moments as per the prompts? Do Tell.

“The ease and appeal of blogging is inspiring a new group of writers and creators to share their voices with the world.”~ Unknown

Back to Blogging: Making Connections anyway... via beespace

Here are the Topics & my Responses:

Monday, September 13: Re-upload the first post you ever wrote on your blog. If interested, re-write that post, showing us a before and after look at the piece.
Day One

My first post was a tame attempt to get a grasp of a new medium of communication… I took the ubiquitous WordPress “Hello World!” sticky page and wrote something, added no visuals and sent it into the stratosphere… Yeah, many moons later, it is still there as my welcome page. I might add a picture now… I don’t know. :-)

How has your blog evolved since the beginning?
My first post was: Hello World!
I started blogging in November 2008 and it was a fairly long piece without images. I wrote one post a month until I took Problogger’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog – 31DBBB course in April of 2009 and then made the commitment to write a weekly post. A lot has transpired since then including my revamping an old Blogger blog; watching the ebb and flow of my blog traffic, and having to remind myself why I do it anyway. I don’t regret doing it though there are things I would change and continue to change…

If you could go back to the beginning of your blog and change something about it would you? What would you change?
If I could go back and change anything on my blog, it would be to give it a full fledged name with the domain bought and solid. WordPress has been phenomenal to me and I have grown with them and love every minute of it. I just know that to explore all the arenas a blog can grow in, I would need to do more with probably a self-hosted WordPress blog. I’m still looking for an expert who has integrated both to help me make the move. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Tuesday, September 14: Re-upload a post you wish more people had read and explain why it was important to you.
Day Two

Every time we write a post, we believe that others will enjoy the content as much as we did gathering and reflecting on our ideas. There are posts we write that surprisingly draw loads of interest and then there are others that don’t. If I had to choose a post/two posts that I wished more people had read, it would be my Sweet Sensations African Divas I and II posts. I put together some of Africa’s finest female talent and added music from their most successful albums and did a lot of research for each lady. I would love for you to sample the musical talent and get a taste of a special musical genre. You wont be disappointed. Here they are: Posts I wish more had read will have to be my Sweet Sensations I: African Divas Sing and Sweet Sensations II: African Divas Sing

What posts have you debated writing because the topic made you feel vulnerable? Anything health related or deeply family related is a no-go zone for me. I just don’t see the point in letting everything about our lives be fodder for consumption. If others choose to go there then that’s their prerogative. There are topics that benefit us all and we can share them. I can talk about myself but I respect my family’s privacy.

How do you feel when you publish a post that is important to you? Each post is like birthing a child and I agonize over each one; checking and re-checking to make sure I catch all the typos and any other mistakes with content and links. I can chuckle about it now as it’s really my neurosis. I care about my posts but need to ease up on my approach. I can stand to let some of my concerns go.

How long does it take to write a post like that? Almost all my posts take time – several hours because I do some research, look for pictures and review the content. I am obviously aware that a free flowing post would be perfectly fine and that is one of my goals for this year. I have already started posting more than once a week and I am now working on having quick posts. Not there quite yet.

What is stopping you from publishing a post that makes you vulnerable? I do take on some subjects that are close to the sleeve and touch our hearts but I am careful to monitor the way I react to situations. As I said somewhere, Bloggers have an important role to play in the blogosphere and we must remember to wield our words with compassion. We all have the power of the human spirit to heal and to hurt one another. The latter is a dangerous option. With cyber bullying and the level of meanness I’ve seen on the internet, who needs to go there, really … ? Not me.

Wednesday, September 15: Re-upload a post with a title that you are particularly proud of and explain why.
Day Three

Which comes first? The title or the content of the post? I’ve read many opinions on the subject and I know that there isn’t one true answer to that question. For some, the title is first and then the content. For others, it’s the reverse or a blend of both. For me, I need to have a sense of where I am going with a post before I give it a title and then, I rework it a few times. There are posts that have what I consider perfect titles and then others that just don’t quite connect.

One of my favorite title posts,Heartbreak Hotel: Scattering Stars Like Dust, is the one I wrote for a very sad occasion; Michael Jackson’s death. I wrote the post the day after Michael and Farrah Fawcett died. I was sad and shocked and picked a song that I loved for years and that brought me good memories. I named part of the post for the favorite MJ song and the other half of the post came from a quote by the mystic poet Rumi. I still hold both dear.

Here it is: Heartbreak Hotel: Scattering Stars Like Dust Three other post titles I loved were Ten Tips For the ardent job-seeker, All aTwitter and The Lady Gaga one below is fun. From Lady Gaga to Storm King- It’s All Art…

What type of blog post titles do you find most engaging?
Witty titles or even funny and whimsical post titles make me smile… They always look easy to write but they are not at all.
Do you have a post title you’d like to go back and change? Why?
I am still thinking about this one because I labor over my titles and once I decide, I stick with it.

Do you optimize for SEO when crafting your title?
When I write my blog posts, I am focused on finding a name that fits the content of the post. I am learning certain things to do/not do if I want my blog optimized but honestly, it is a work in progress for me. I am re-reading the tips given on how to improve our blog seo; I believe it is an important tool for blogging and one that still leaves many of us in eyes-glazed-over mood.

One of the benefits of the week of back2blogging is that there are generous prices given by three sponsors; Standards of Excellence, Westar and Florida Builders, and bloggers can be selected to win them. Check out the SITS Girls site if you wish to join in the fun.

To Follow:
Thursday, September 16: Write a new post about a woman who inspires you. (As an example, you can see Mama Kat’s recent Women Who Inspire post here.)
Day Four

Who is someone you find inspiring? What is it about them?
There are so many who have led the way in my life including my mom, grandmas, aunts and sisters; blood relatives and otherwise. I cherish and honor them daily in my prayers and my heart. There is no time that I ever imagine not having their divine wisdom in my life. Through it all, we also find ways to honor others who have touched our lives.
Today, I chose to honor a friend who took the pain of suicide and channeled it into saving others lives. My post is called : From Anguish to Activism: A Mother’s Journey to Get Your Wellness On!

Friday, September 17: As your last assignment to jump start your return to blogging, write about what blogging means to you. Why do you blog? What purpose does it serve you and how have you benefited from sharing a piece of yourself online this way?
Day Five

Do you feel that blogging changed your life?
Blogging has added another dimension to my life and given me a chance to express myself in a public space, warts and all, and to make new friends… I would say the same for all social media platforms that I have been exposed to. I am still learning a lot about this medium; so much to learn, so little time!
How did your life change or in what ways? Honestly, I would not say my life changed, it’s been enhanced. The rhythm of my life remains the same and I continue to re-frame my blogging purpose and learn new ways of communicating.
Would you advocate that your children blog? Absolutely. My children have varied interests and one of them started blogging for a journalism assignment. The other is a published author and is not interested in blogging… an interesting topic for further discussion. Yes, they are free to explore this medium. The only rule is respect family privacy.
If your children begin to blog, how do you think their lives will be changed? One does and It won’t change her life substantially.
Why? Because our children are growing up in a world that is supremely exposed to multimedia channels, a surfeit of digital media, enough www information overload to make our brains explode, and tremendous access to tools that keep their minds and hands busy as they channel surf and multitask while texting, skyping, gaming, chatting, blogging, Googling, and eating lunch.
The next generation of kids will need microchips in their heads if we don’t find a way to get back to walks in the park…
It’s a generational difference and the breadth and depth of information is a lot for me already! I cherish blogging and their generation says – what’s the next big multi media innovation?

Having said that, I have shared two posts below that give some insights into why blogging matters to me… I am enjoying the process and learning a lot from it; it’s been quite humbling too.
From My WordPress blog: Ten Reasons To Blog
From my Blogger blog: The Genius of Blogging

What has been your experience as a blogger? Are you an expert in a field that our readers can benefit hearing about? Do you have links to share? Please share your feedback with us. Thank You!

Photograph of Back to Blogging Beach Bridge (background) via Twitter Images.com
Photograph of Blogging Poster via Beespace.net

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank