African proverb

Leadership is like an egg held in fingers: ‘The Paradox of Power’

The strong hand with fingers firmly, yet gently holding an egg, is at the root of an African proverb that speaks to how chiefs or those in authority are reminded on how to treat human life.

This fine gift was given to me via a relative from a Haitian visitor to the United States. He provided our family with the wood carving and offered his native interpretation:

  • Notice the perch of the egg — it is angled upward to receive the universe’s blessings.
  • It is held firmly in the fingers to symbolize the steadiness and yet its hold being just right. That is to ensure that the egg will not shatter at the hand of its holder.
  • The egg, therefore, requires attention. It cannot be ignored.

In 2006, U.S. President Barack Obama visited his ancestral home in Kenya and acquired the symbol of the man’s hand holding the egg, or the “Paradox of Power” wooden desk statue. It is believed that this monkey wood carved feature symbolized President’s Obama’s presidency.

What does my Haitian sculpture symbolize in your life?

A future blog will highlight the importance of the “OneEgg” program that feeds schoolchildren in Musanze, Rwanda. 




Comedy life

What comedy classes taught me (a seasoned college educator)

Winters in Chicago can be grueling. Taking on new adventures is exciting.

Combine the two and walla — I enrolled in comedy classes at the world renowned Chicago-based The Second City.  The humor and great camaraderie warmed my soul.  Learning from the best comedic teachers reshaped my life, underlined my strongest beliefs and enhanced my multi-genre professional writing skills.

Here’s how:

  1. First-day group orientation leaders stressed the fun and serious sides of Second City comedic learning.  It is best expressed in the mission statement that is easy to remember and great to execute:
  2. The mission of Second City is to a) Show up. b) Take care of each other. c) Do stuff.  This mission is transferrable to every walk of life.
  3. My first class with Comedic Teacher yielded the obvious and not always remembered by students. “It’s more guts than talent,” she said of Stand Up Comedians who grace many stages across the world. Erin also urged us to write, write and write our stories. Yet, “don’t try to write to be funny. Tell the truth. The comedy will come.”
  4. Learning the background of comedy was thrilling. We learned the different styles of comedy (will share more in a future blog) and we had to perform. After all, the “final exam” was to perform on stage as a group of students before an audience of family, friends and other supporters. I loved it all.
  5. I enrolled in Stand Up 2. Enter Sydney Davis Jr. Jr. (yes two Jrs. for the Arkansas lady).  She is a rising star on Amazon’s Prime Video and is an in-demand hosts for comedy shows. She also holds down a full-time, non-comedic job.
  6. Sydney brought even more understanding of the fun world of comedy writing and staging. We performed in class in front of our classmates. Critiques dominated our growth. We learned where to practice our comedy and how to be civil comedians.
  7. Our final exam for Stand Up 2 was even more thrilling. I never forgot Second City’s mission as I toiled through what amount to 16 weeks of instruction, critiques, lots and lots of laughs.
  8. The best lessons for me as a college educator?  Strive to teach every course and conduct every meeting with the spirit of  inclusiveness, purpose,  bonding enhancers and learning without looking at the clock for the class to or meeting to end.  Also, it is important to guide folk to their next experiences such as Open Mic performances or Internet comedic stardom.
  9. What sticks with me in this comedic world as presented by Second City instructors and staff” Take care of one another and especially yourself.
  10. Amen to that!

I will present a lot more on this topic of comedy and its intersection in our lives. Check out future blogs.