Thursday, August 31, 2006


I’m on this mission to reclaim my body. Somewhere between having my baby (who’s almost 18!) and now, I lost my Brick House, 36-24-36, figure. I can’t tell you where I lost it to or how, just that it’s been long gone and I have a whole attic of clothing that misses it terribly. I mean, really, this baby fat thing has just gotten way out of control. All my mighty mighty has grown creases and crevices that I didn’t know it was humanly possible to have. I’m sure if I were to check I’d find that certain body parts aren't supposed to be stacked where mine seem to be piling up.

I’m recalling this Roseanne episode some years ago where Roseanne has a breast reduction. The closing scene shows her and the hubby about to explore her nether regions for the first time since her operation and she has to guide his hands farther up the launch pad ‘cause the twins were actually sitting much higher on their pedestal than they’d been sitting pre-surgery. The fact that my own girls are dragging so close to my knees at the moment that I am probably just weeks away from my nipples scrapping the floor does not excite me. I can only imagine what the thought is doing for the hubby. After 25 years he doesn’t dare say one word, but hey, what if I should ever have to go looking for hubby #2? You all know there is only so much support a support bra can give you. The thought of being naked in front of someone new gives me a panic attack. Can you just imagine the twins dragging over new carpet, or unfamiliar hardwood flooring? That is just not a pretty thought! Lord, I’d probably never take my clothes off again and that surely wouldn’t help ignite any new relationship fires. For that matter, I don’t see that it’s going to do much for any old relationship flames either.

Now, to complete this mission I know I can’t do it alone. I’m not going to lie to you. I need help because I’ve got a few issues. First, I love me some food. Preferably food with lots of butter and olive oil, pasta and sauces, much, much crusty bread, and decadent, desserts that eat up a week's worth of calories. I also hate to exercise. Exercise is just sheer torture, like pulling teeth without novocaine torture. And, unfortunately I have to exercise. I could eat low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie, no-taste food products and still gain another hundred pounds if I didn’t exercise. Now, I have no shortage of exercise videos. I can tell you things about Billy Blanks and Taebo I bet Billy doesn’t even know, but I’ve got to kick Billy to the curb for some really hard core incentive if I hope to get the twins up off the floor and back down to their fighting weight.

I recently enlisted to participate in a Duke Hospital medical study on exercise and it’s impact on cholesterol, heart disease, and other health related issues that impact folk that might be carrying a little excess body baggage. I figure if I'm going to do this I may as well do it right for the last time and get healthier in the process. I finished my first wave of examinations which included a body scan to look at my arteries, a muscle biopsy for pre and post study observations, and all kinds of body fat, body mass index, and strength tests. I get a short control phase where I don’t do anything, then I have to work with their team of nutritionists and trainers for the next nine months learning how to rethink how I eat and treat my body. And I have to exercise in their gym, five days per week, one hour per day. I’m hoping the trainer is some drop dead gorgeous, real buff, beefcake, eye-candy. That kind of incentive would surely help the twins come to attention at five o’clock in the morning when I have to show up at the gym!

So, wish me luck. Lord knows I’m going to need it. Reclaiming one’s body is surely no easy feat to accomplish, especially when you're on a treadmill and the girls are either skidding over the conveyor or slapping you in the eye!

Sunday, August 27, 2006


If we have any fear at all, let it be this one. Then let us quickly get over it and shine.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

The above quote is often credited to Nelson Mandela from his Inauguration Speech in 1994, but I'm told it was actually written by Marianne Williamson from her book, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3 (Pg. 190-191). Whether or not Mr. Mandela is known for having quoted it himself, I'm not sure, so don't anyone yell at me that I got it wrong. I just know that no matter who said it, or when, its message is one I needed to hear and to pass on. So, to whomever authored it, I thank you.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I am creating a new character. Most of my characters embody traits of people I know or want to know. I have a friend who is proving to be the catalyst for my next hero. My friend and I could easily spend hours talking. He is an engaging personality: intelligent, compassionate, spirited, spiritual, funny, and just absolutely adorable. He has presence and I just adore men who have great presence. In another time and another place I would seriously consider maneuvering the schoolgirl crush I have on this man toward something more. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with my significant other, but hey, it keeps the man on his toes!

Now, I readily admit to having a crush, or two, or three, and will tell anyone, that if I were looking for a second husband (and I’m not!), my friend would surely be somewhere at the top of the list. Right up there with Tyler Perry, Laurence Fishburne, Dijimon Housou, LL Cool J, Keith Hamilton Cobb, and my FedEx man. Bear in mind now that my list changes as often as the weather!

Anyway, my friend and I were talking today about the dynamics of relationships and the ensuing drama some couples just can’t seem to avoid. We were also debating the attributes individuals look for in a partner, or rather, the ones they should look for. One reason I enjoy talking to this man is that he allows me insight into the male psyche that most men would probably prefer a woman not know! He’s a man who isn’t afraid to show his own vulnerability and he readily admits to his own relationship phobias.

We were also reminiscing. Weeks ago I was reflecting back on my first boyfriend. We met my freshman year in high school. I can remember the exact moment I saw that boy. My best friend and I were having lunch in the school cafeteria when he walked in and I was smitten for the next two years. He left me with the most incredible memories: an amazing first kiss sitting in his father's car while it snowed outside around us. Being invited to his senior prom. (My father wouldn't let me go, but I was invited!) Watching him sleep while Barry White played on the stereo in his bedroom and being just seconds away from being caught by his parents. (I actually laugh out loud every time I think about that moment because although it had been our intent to DO something for the first time that night, something never happened because the boy fell asleep!) I do like when a man leaves you with great memories!

My second, long-term boyfriend left me with some interesting memories as well. Picnics in the park, double dates with our two cousins who were dating at the same time, and many a Jack and Jill dance party turned into a really good time! He left me with a few not so nice memories as well, especially when I found out he was juggling time with another girl and me! What I found most admirable about this man though was that he was incredibly honest, even if it was after the fact. I always appreciated that I knew exactly where I stood with him and why.

I met my husband the year this relationship had seriously unraveled. It was in complete chaos the last time I was on the phone with him and my hubby-to-be (who was taking me to dinner) grabbed the extension from my hand and told him to never call me again. The hubby-to-be wasn’t actually nice and polite about it either. In fact, I was so embarrassed and so pissed at his behavior that hubby-to-be almost wasn’t my hubby at all. The man had to learn the hard way that I don’t play like that. I didn’t like his controlling behavior and he surely hadn’t yet maneuvered a hold on my heart to have earned the right to have such an attitude. That took some doing, but when he did, he quickly learned he didn’t have to worry about my exes or my crushes.

My character has an engaging personality. He’s intelligent, compassionate, spirited, spiritual, funny, and just absolutely adorable. He has great presence and can easily hold his end of a conversation. He’s also a hopeless romantic with a penchant for old Barry White tunes. He does great picnics, complete with champagne and full body massages. He readily goes after what he wants no matter what the risk. And when he makes a mistake, he’s willing to admit he’s wrong. My new hero is growing on me. After I post this I plan to work on his “performance” skills. A walk down memory lane and a fantasy or two should easily fuel the talent and expertise this man will need.

Monday, August 21, 2006


My father named me. My mother wanted to name me Penny. Daddy wasn’t having it so my birth certificate declares my name to be Deborah Denice Fletcher. As a little girl no one was allowed to call me Debby. My father went absolutely ballistic if they did. I still cringe every time I remember him announcing quite loudly and in a tone that left people quaking in their shoes that “her name is Deborah, NOT Debby. Deb-or-ah!”. It was particularly embarrassing in grade school at those parent-teacher conferences when he would quickly correct a teacher or another parent, or even worse, one of my peers. Back then I absolutely detested it. I wanted to be called Debby. Debby was cute, and fun, and popular, and when you’re the only little black girl in a sea of white children, you desperately want to be popular. Deborah was stuffy, stuck-up, not liked, and different. She didn’t mesh with the Cindy’s and Kathy's or the Laurie’s and Vivian's. Debby was included in the cliques and clubs. Deborah wasn’t included in much of anything.

My father was not an easy man. He was demanding, and controlling, and I remember that to a little girl he could be quite mean and scary. But he was very much a hands-on father, dictating every aspect of my childhood. His presence was undeniable and unwavering. Today, I realize that although I am very much a “daddy’s girl”, my father and I are still like oil and water. We’ve been butting heads since the day I was born. Him saying don’t and me doing it anyway was more the norm for us than not. I didn’t have a desperate need to be daddy’s “good” little girl. I believe he actually LIKED me because I wasn’t. I wasn’t afraid to take risks and I believe my father found that to be an admirable trait. We last clashed shortly after my seventeenth birthday, and over the man who would later become my husband. My father had issued an ultimatum, pushing me into a corner. I pushed back and we went almost two years without seeing or speaking one word to each other. During that time I got married and my father was not there to walk me down the aisle. The marriage has endured. Thankfully, the silence between my father and I did not.

When my first book was published my editor asked what name I wanted to be published under. Over the years I’ve frequently drifted between Deborah and Debby. I remember the moment clearly, when the name, Deborah Fletcher Mello, came rolling off my tongue. I knew, in that instant, that my name would honor not only who I was, but also the person whose influence had helped me get there. And I really wanted to honor my father and his love.

A few years ago my father suffered a massive stroke. It has left him partially incapacitated but it has surely not stopped him. He insists on doing some things he probably shouldn’t. That insistence can be overly frustrating but I understand and respect it. Although he struggles to be the same man he was before the stroke, he isn’t. But where his body fails him, his determination more than makes up for it. He is still mean, still demanding, still controlling, and even a little scary. But he is still my father, being my father, his love undeniable and unwavering. And, he is still one of the few persons who calls me Deborah, absolutely refusing to call me anything else.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I love art! Artwork decorates most walls in my home. I have been blessed to be able to amass a very nice collection of original pieces over the years. A few are particularly endearing. I cannot imagine living in any home where they would not hang.

Angel, Angel by visual artist, Olivia Gatewood, is one such piece. It is a painting that literally saved my soul. Many years ago I was ending a relationship. I was severing ties with a business partner and friend who’d occupied a significant part of my daily life and subsequently my heart. We’d come on bad terms through no fault of our own. Life just dealt us a bad hand and we realized that letting go was not only in our own best interest, but in the best interest of our two families as well. Those first few days, with no job to turn to and absolutely nothing to occupy my time, I went searching for some place to assuage the incredible hurt and pain that was crippling my spirit. Olivia had just opened her first gallery and one day I found myself inside, just overcome by the sheer beauty that adorned her walls. Angel, Angel captured my attention and I stayed for over an hour, just sitting and staring at this piece while I contemplated all my issues. I went back the next day and the next and the next. Weeks later Angel, Angel came home with me and I had found myself a new job and a new calling: managing Olivia’s gallery and guiding artists through their career choices. Angel, Angel lifted me above and beyond my depression. The sheer brilliance of Olivia’s work and the work of all the other artists I eventually managed was inspiring. That experience and the environment, where walls talked, was freeing and allowed me to reconnect with my own artistic voice, and write.

I recently had the pleasure of hanging this Olivia Gatewood piece in the foyer of a family member's new home. Every time I visit I am in awe of the mood it creates, the energy it brings into their space. Since I’ve run out of wall space in my own home, I’ve been quick to interject my creative influences on my family. I’m sure at some point one of them will send me and my choices packing. When that happens I’ll have to convince the hubby we need more space, and definitely, more walls.

There are still a good number of artists whose work I absolutely adore and want one day to own an original of, including: Joseph Holston, John Holyfield, Kadir Nelson, Maurice Evans, Hollis Chatelain, Synthia St. James, and LaShun Beal. I could go on and on, the list is so long and distinguished. That’s how much I love my art!

Sunday, August 13, 2006


I wonder at what point in a woman’s life does she begin to feel that she has full knowledge of herself. Where she is self-assured and confident, knowing her likes and dislikes and she cannot be easily dissuaded from her convictions. I know that such comes with age and maturity, wisdom and life experiences, but I wonder if there is actually a magical moment when it just comes to her, so full and momentous that she has no doubts that she knows herself. When there is a full blessing of contentment. When it just is what it is.

I still muddle through much self-doubt. It comes in waves and has on occasion been so debilitating that it has left me wondering whether or not I would ever survive it. I question my purpose in life. Why am I here? What am I meant to be doing? Am I truly fulfilling my destiny? Then I question whether or not I’m being selfish. If my many accomplishments should be enough and if so, why am I so discontented?

I follow in the footsteps of my mother, and her mother, and all the women in our family who’ve led the way. We have an outward face that meets and greets the public. It smiles. It is more times happy than not happy, and rarely will it show any discontent. Our trials and tribulations have never been on public display. We don’t carry our “stuff” out into the world with us. It’s left at home, behind closed doors, where no one will ever know it exists. Lord knows we could be a complete and total mess once we get home, but no way in hell will anyone know such about us once we ease past that front door. It has at times been a deception that we ourselves haven’t even owned the full truth of.

I am a mother, a wife, a lover, an author, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and yet I still do not know who I am. I am still searching for myself, still curious to learn about me, to see the woman I have yet to be, to fulfill all that I am challenged to accomplish. And although I would readily admit to liking most things about myself, I know that I don’t love me nearly as much as I should.

I have doubts and I imagine that safeguarding that secret from those who know me does me a greater disservice than if I were to just allow myself that moment of exposure and vulnerability. I’m anxious to get to that moment when I know myself. Fully and completely. When the woman who exposes herself to the outside world is the same woman when that world is no longer watching. When I have a full blessing of contentment. When it is just what it is.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


My very best friend became engaged yesterday. Her husband-to-be is an incredibly romantic man who stole her away to Sea Island, Georgia and the infamous Cloister Hotel where he dropped down onto one knee and proposed. This is a man who insured that everything was perfect for the moment, even commanding just the right amount of breeze to cool the summer heat. Okay, so maybe he didn’t actually command the weather, but he did insure he had an incredibly beautiful day for them to remember. The experience which included champagne, a magnificent diamond ring, and the most poetic words of adoration one can imagine, was capped by an overnight stay in a very exclusive, very expensive ($2,000/night), four-room suite at the Cloisters. And, if anyone ever deserved such a beautiful, momentous moment, my best friend did.

I get to be a matron-of-honor! I am so happy for the two of them that I can hardly contain myself. Their journey to this moment is what inspires romance novels. It is a love story for the history books and if it is possible for any two people to love a lifetime in just a short time, these two people have. They are inspiring, overcoming monumental odds, and I’ve frequently pulled from their joy to give my characters their own joyous moments.

As I sit reflecting on them and their journey I can’t help but think about the road my friend and I have traveled together over the years. We met in elementary school, fourth grade. We’ve been best friends ever since. There is little that we have not shared. I am closer to her than I am to some of my blood relatives. She is the sister of my soul and I absolutely adore her. She knows my darkest secrets and I know hers. I have been a shoulder for her to cry on more times than either of us can count, and whenever I needed someone to help me get through a rough time she was there.

When my oldest son was diagnosed with cancer last year this time she called me every day to make sure we were all well. The front I had to keep up for my husband and family could come down with her. She allowed me my moments of weakness and I didn’t have to pretend to be strong. She was the first person I called when my son died this past November. I remember saying, “He’s gone” and she replied, “I’m on my way”. I swear she must have hijacked that airplane to get here when she did and she was right here by my side, holding my hand, through the worst of that experience. Family you would have expected to support me didn't even bother to come to the funeral.

I don't think there is anything she wouldn't do for me or me for her. I imagine that if I needed help with burying a body, she'd just bring the shovel and ask questions after the newly planted rose bushes had bloomed for the second time. I wish every woman in the world could be as blessed to have a best friend like I have. I am thankful everyday that she is mine.

I wish her and him a world of happiness and a lifetime of bliss. And, if she asks, I’ll even wear pink ruffles at her wedding. And only because she’s my best friend in the whole world and there's absolutely nothing that I wouldn't do for her.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I’ve got this love/hate thing going on with my hair. Right now I’m not liking it very much. Four years ago I cut it all off. Over-processed, shoulder-length locks were shaved down to the scalp. I was paper-thin at the time as well so I could actually wear the look well. Then along came some excess weight and with my already full face I had this chipmunk look going on. It was not a pretty sight so I let it grow back in.

Then came my natural phase. I actually loved my natural texture and after some product testing found just the right combination of conditioners and moisturizers to capture some incredible curls. Then it got longer, and longer, and someone (my mother) commented that I looked like I had a small, matted animal on top of my head. Until that point I hadn’t seen it. Afterward of course, I nicknamed my new pet Wiglet and prayed that it didn’t actually start to grow a tail.

By this point my natural was completely out of control and I was ready for a change. Which was probably my problem from the get go. I like change and it was time to shake things up a bit. So, what do I do, I dyed it blonde. Between you and me, it was a color that did not work. I didn’t need my mother to tell me that so blond hair lasted all of one week before it was gone. I tested the color spectrum after that. I wasn’t a bad redhead but even that still didn’t move me any! When I wasn’t feeling all warm and fuzzy over the color I went back to my natural shade of mahogany brown and convinced my hairdresser to bring me back to the world of relaxers. So, once again, it’s bone straight, brushing against my shoulders, and the best I can do with it is pull it back into a ponytail and go. The ponytail is fine, I guess, but I have a big head and am still battling the last of my excess poundage. The ponytail just seems to further accentuate the gargantuan head - enormous body look.

So now I’m hating my hair, again, and contemplating taking my scissors to it, again. But if nothing else, love it or hate it, I’m glad that all it is, is hair.