Tuesday, November 1, 2011



     I thought I had prepared well last Friday morning – raking the leaves and creating a neat pile of them at the end of my property line.  At least if the snow came, the existing leaves would not become mush on my lawn, I thought.  I was also delighted that I had acquired a radio with power alternatives consisting of a rechargeable battery, solar panel, and a crank option.  I had food in the house.

     On Saturday morning I saw that the October snow had begun to fall a half day earlier than expected.  Smart me decided to begin to cook two large pots of food just in case power went off and I did not have access to my electronic ignition gas stove and oven.  Things were going well, it seemed.  Every now and then lights would flicker.  I ran to the store for not more than 15 minutes and saw how deceiving things were from my home window.  There were downed limbs across stretches of road.  The streets seemed as if a giant Slurpee machine dumped gallons of the stuff on them.  Traffic light after traffic light were inoperable.  I returned home quickly only to find emergency vehicles at a location I had just traveled because of a downed tree limb. 

     Glad to be home just past mid-day, I decided to update family about how things were.  As I typed on the computer I lost power to the house.  That was that!  So I rounded up candles, the emergency lights, and the radio just in case. 

     “Just In Case” lasted 3 days!  My radio, books, candles, lanterns, and food kept me comfortable as I watched a chunk of my tree fall on the side of my house.  There was no heat in addition to no lights.  I was smart to take rapidly thawing food to a dear friend’s house after 24 hours.  She had her electricity restored.  I had saved the charge on my cell phone by having it shut off when not in use.  I had a landline telephone in one room that worked independent of the cordless phones in the electrically powered cradles in which they sat. 

     I was lucky.  I had hot water and I had stove top gas.  Monday morning was a revelation, however.  After listening to the radio of all the school and business closings, and still with no power, I decided to head for warmth at Starbucks where I could sit and use my computer.  I also decided to bring my adapters for the radio and lantern so I could charge them in the process.  By 11:00 A.M.  Starbucks was packed and people were sitting in the frigid cold with laptops plugged in the sockets on the gazebo walls. 

     I hightailed it to Barnes & Noble and it looked like the day after Christmas there!  People were on the floors with computers, people walked around the store with computers in hand, looking for an open socket.  Every pillar socket was taken with people charging phones, computers, and emergency gadgets.  There were long lines for food and coffee.  Suddenly, I realized that a chair was a prized possession.  A chair!  How simple Life became in a crisis.
A chair was as good as gold.  A socket was even more valuable.

     With all of our technology, best plans, and forethought, I see that the gizmos and gadgets are only as good as a charge.  In a serious crisis our cities are not equipped to handle the volume of need – this we see played out over and over.  I think I will really give serious thought and action to contingency plans given the numerous climatic events around the globe and earth rumblings.  After all, with all of this, winter did not even get here yet!

     I am grateful for caring friends and neighbors because that is what makes a difference for all of us in times of need and crisis.

© Dr. Drayton-Craig, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011



It is comforting for a parent to hear validation from one’s young adult offspring as he/she refers to something “you always use to say”, or some other precaution that was given when the child was growing up. As real Life experience would have it, that young adult can now see that some of the parent’s admonitions and imposed rules did serve a purpose for the child’s well-being.

Yet, this time for me, it is bittersweet. When my son was of high school age I cautioned against him going out in public with friends who dressed in a manner that could likely cause hassles from authority figures. When he was eleven or twelve years old, I began to engage in conversations with him that I knew parents of most of his friends never had to think about – namely, what to do in the event that he was stopped by a cop. He was always taught to respect laws and those who enforce them. Yet, I knew he needed another lesson as he was on the portal to adolescence and eventually manhood….that lesson, a black mother of a son knows well.

The lesson he was taught and that was reinforced many times during the following years was:  If you are stopped by a cop for whatever reason – whether you are in the wrong, or if you are innocent….the goal of that encounter is to stay alive! We practiced how to speak – the tone, the lack of smart answers, the lack of anger, and no arguing. Most of all, when asked for ID: not to reach for it…tell the officer where it is and wait to be told what to do and how to access it.

I remember that afternoon when my son was skateboarding on the steps of the library on the campus where I worked. The campus security officer told him to stop and he immediately called me to tell me what happened, saying several times that he did exactly what I taught him. He was polite; he stopped; he apologized; but more than anything, this young boy wanted me to know that he had handled himself in the manner which I prescribed.

Sunday, he called to tell me about an incident on Saturday afternoon outside an event in Brooklyn, in which he, his father and Godfather found themselves. They were just standing on the street in front of the building and white cops jumped out of an unmarked vehicle approaching his Godfather over an opened beer in a brown bag. My son described a situation in which the cop’s approach to them was marked by hatred with cursing, denigration and disrespectful tone. I held my breath bracing for the worst. He said that the three of them tried to be polite to the cops; yet, they were belittled, yelled at, and cursed. This was being done to two men with gray hair in their mid 60s. The infraction could warrant a fine (written summons) but the cops decided to take his Godfather to the station to write the summons. In dread, I listened further, while images of Abner Louima in a Brooklyn police station flashed in my head.

They went down to the station to wait for his Godfather only to continue to be treated poorly. When the computer indicated that his Godfather had an outstanding unpaid fine, the officer cursed at him when he saw it on the screen. They kept his Godfather and responded sarcastically to questions by my son. They would not allow them to have the Godfather’s car keys so that they could move the vehicle from the event location.

My son, remembering what I taught him, was beside himself, because he saw first-hand how black civilians can be treated despite all efforts to be polite. He said they answered all questions politely, never argued with the cops, and never showed disrespect. Yet, he witnessed his Godfather, father and himself being cursed at and disrespected for what, he says, was a matter of writing a summons on the spot if the officers wanted to do that.

My son saw white men of authority abusing their power and on the phone he heard me remind him of Amadou Diallo, unarmed, reaching for his wallet for ID, pumped with 41 shots. I told him about the 76 year old Eleanor Bumpurs shot dead in her apartment in the Bronx. I reminded him that when he was a baby we had the Rodney King incident. It is bittersweet to hear my son say that he realized why I kept trying to teach him that the goal is to STAY ALIVE when confronted. It is bittersweet because my newly graduated ivy leaguer saw, first hand, the common denominator.

He told me on Sunday that he had already emailed his professor about the incident. This is the professor of his prison studies class. My son said, “Mom, I read about all of this, but I could not believe what I experienced.” His Godfather was released on Monday, three days later.

My son’s ultimate goal has been law school to assist him with a position in Public Policy. Now, this. God works in mysterious ways and time will tell the out-picturing of his career. However, I know beyond a doubt that what he experienced were defining moments with an indelible imprint.

© Dr. Drayton-Craig, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011



It was a rainy Saturday morning and I had planned to complete my writing for a Sunday morning speaking engagement. Slow rainy Saturday mornings make well for writing to a backdrop of classical and operatic solos on the radio. In the early afternoon, I paused for lunch and while washing the dishes, I heard the radio voice talking about an exhibition of the work of William T. Trego at the Michener Museum in Doylestown, PA. He painted Civil War scenes. While that sounded dull to me, I continued to listen to what the biographer had to say about his Life and work. Trego was virtually a master at depicting military scenes on canvas and his short Life was wrought with struggles that would be insurmountable to many.

While the Civil War began when he was 2 ½ years old, shortly after that, he suffered an illness, now believed to be polio. It deformed his fingers, hand, torso, and feet. I found myself listening intently while the water ran from the faucet. I put the silverware down and while imagining what the biographer was describing, I contorted my wet hand and wrist, squeezing the fingers shut, and folding the wrist out and backwards. The biographer said that as a young boy, Trego began to paint (his father, Jonathan Trego, was a renowned artist) and in order to do it, he would work at grasping the brush between two fingers of his left hand, then labor at forcing the brush between his contorted right hand. He held the right hand somehow with his left and guided it, laboriously, to the canvas.

I picked up the wet spoon trying to simulate what I heard and slowly moved it over to my right hand. Then I tried to force it between two closed fingers. As water swirled around the basin, I guided the spoon in mid air to my imaginary canvas. I became exhausted from the workout I gave my arm muscles. The biographer continued to describe Trego’s training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, and L’Académie Julian in Paris. On his way home from Paris, he was jilted by his fiancée en route over the sea, and a suicide watch was imposed on him by the ship’s captain. After the return home, he never quite recovered the artistic success he once had.

My Sunday talk went well and in the afternoon I decided to take a drive to Doylestown to walk around and perhaps to visit the museum if its hours accommodated my visit. I did see the exhibit and it was extraordinary. The sketch of his deformed hand at the start of the exhibit revealed a hand bent in the other direction from what I had imagined. It was more deformed, as well. His masterpieces followed and each had incredible intricate detail, vibrant deep tones, and mesmerizing facial expressions. Conversations I overheard were of patrons exclaiming their amazement at the skilled ability he had to depict terror in the eyes of the cavalry horses. His best known ability was to capture cavalry movement: the sense of horses with galloping legs and hooves in mid air. I marveled that the quality of the vivid detail and sharp coloration was like a 21st century digital photo, done in oil and canvas. Amazing!

By the first painting I was in quiet awe. The woman standing next to me could not contain herself. She came closer to me and said that she had come down from Wilkes Barre (2+ hours away). She burst out, “I have no excuse!” to which I said, “That’s exactly what I was thinking.” She went on to say how she put off so many things in her Life, especially creating art and that there was no longer any reason for her to do so, because she clearly had full use of her body and all of her faculties.

The show motivated me to go full steam at manifesting my dreams and to reclaim my creative abilities. It also inspired me to fully enjoy every experience I have. I stood in the middle of the museum floor, and before I left, I gazed full circle around all of the walls and asked myself, “What are you waiting for?”

© Dr. Drayton-Craig, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011



Prior to my vacation I had little time to prepare and build expectations about a new culture and land. After all, so many forces were competing for my time and attention 2 days prior to my departure. It was supposed to be a vacation. Yet, it was a chore to get myself ready. Thus, I really was not excited about going, nor did I have high expectations. I was not looking forward to a 14 hour plane ride, either. I also thought my accommodations would be simple, at best.

I arrived on a warm Beijing night along with 4 neighbors and I was struck by the architectural beauty of this international arrival building. “Gee, I haven’t seen anything this beautiful and state of the art at JFK,” I thought. HUGE.

We all got jittery as we queued up to go through Immigration. Quasi military/Mao dressed agents scrutinized the Visa and passport name, letter for letter. The photo had to match the face that was before them, as well as that on the countertop videotape of me on display during the process. Are they going to let me in? It was a VERY LONG few minutes for me and I knew not to say a word. The agent folded my passport and handed it to me with a smile. Whew! That wasn’t so bad. Do they smile at JFK?

Once I took a few steps passed the agent I felt like I was now in China….then I prayed, “Lord, let them allow me to leave here.” You see, I was a child when it was always said on any given night that I did not finish my dinner, “Eat your dinner, there are children starving in China.” “Who were these children?” I would wonder. But I knew it was not good because any time anyone spoke about China, they did so in a whisper because McCarthyism was real and we had frequent drills in school in which we lifted our desk chairs, covered our heads and crawled under the desk to air raid sirens….in case of an attack by The Soviet Union or China.

I remember, as a young adult, President Nixon’s trip to China to establish relations between the two countries. I attended the posh gala opening of the Chinese Mission in the Lincoln Center area of NYC in the early ‘70s with UN dignitaries. What a night! Forty years later, I am visiting China in the evening.

As it turned out, the trip was more than I ever could have envisioned. Our tour group from the east and west coasts met the next morning and we had kid gloves, top drawer care and treatment with hotels of world class and old charm; daily breakfast feasts in the hotels and evening dinner feasts in restaurants; lunch in the Hutong Village home of a family where we learned how to make dumplings and each of us got to practice – replete with a rickshaw ride through the narrow winding passageways of the village labyrinth. Yes, I walked the Great Wall followed by an amazing night train ride from Beijing to Xi’an in a 4-person berth the size of some of our walk-in closets: No kidding.

But, we had the best time. Our group had its own rail car and it was an adult dorm pajama party in the rooms and hallway. We had to deal with the “Happy Room” at the end of the hall – we each brought our bathroom tissue for the porcelain hole in the floor. Somehow, it took more to negotiate the “Happy Room” on the train than in the city because the moving train meant that the entire floor was wet! Eeeww! To go there I took off the bedroom slippers and armed myself with my thick, clod hopper, rubber soled sneakers!

Some people stayed up all night talking and laughing in the hall. By sunrise, it was ethereal to watch the misty rice farmlands, sporadic villages and gravesites as the train passed along the countryside.

I spent almost a day at the museum housing the Terra Cotta Warriors: Over 7,000 life sized soldiers, horses, chariots, and weapons buried with the First Qin Emperor, and discovered in the 1970s - considered the eighth wonder of the world. How can I forget pearls and jade - visiting factories for both with lectures, demonstrations and jewelry cases galore? Then there was the silk factory with an amazing tour and hands-on demonstration of stretching the raw silk from the pupae of the silk worms soaking in tubs of water. OK, my silk duvet, duvet cover, and pillowcases were needed to go along with the silk robe, right? They will keep me cool in the summer and warm in the winter, yes?

Shanghai is my favorite city of the trip. It is spectacular. The skyline is more impressive than that of NYC or San Francisco. The Bund area – river stroll is more posh than Park Avenue or Madison Avenue in NY. Across from the third tallest building in the world on whose top floor we viewed the city, will be the world’s tallest building within 3 years. Construction is in process. Times Square pales in comparison to the display of night lights there. There is the World Financial Center, couture stores, and European restaurants with sidewalk cafes and nightclubs. I could return there again.

Any young person, now, would be foolish to go to college and not become familiar with the Chinese language. While my son did visit China during college he did not listen to me about the language part.

All in all, it was a fun vacation. The best of all were the people. They were friendly, humble, wishing to serve, and hard working. The best day of all was my day in Xi’an at the Temple of Heaven Park engaged with the senior citizens (men and women) doing Tai Chi, dancing, playing hacky-sack, writing sidewalk calligraphy, playing instruments, playing mahjong, knitting, and playing board games. They loved our involvement and interaction and they were most gracious.

~Zai Jian
(Good Bye)


© Drayton-Craig, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011



So, what really counts in Life? Life is fleeting. In the twinkling of an eye it is over. The most advanced technology cannot prevail over nature. When the earth coughs, sneezes, or aches, all the brains in the world; all the gadgets; all the power of the principality; the state of the art technology; contingency plans; money; huts; or mansions; cannot stem the tide of destruction.

Tears come to all.

Is there something more that sustains? Is there another way to live? Does it really matter or add to our lives “one cubit” to hear a celebrity pontificate endlessly about his “winning”?

Who wins? Who loses? Ultimately in the end, our choices may have all of us losing.

~ With sympathy to all who have perished from the family of man on earth.

© Drayton-Craig, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011



     Twice this week I was faced with finding out that service for which I thought I was going to have rendered by my practitioner of choice was being substituted by another person, in both cases, without a “heads-up” until I arrived on the scene.

     Surely, I know that things come up and there are emergencies.  But, it seems that when people receive reminders for appointments, they can be told of the substitution in advance so that they can reschedule, if need be, or re-configure the service to be rendered.  I appreciate that a substitute is put in place for continuity of service when there is an emergency.  However, barring that, when there is pre-planning, patients and clients should be advised so that they can make informed decisions as to whether they choose to keep the appointment. 

     It seems that we choose people to work on our bodies with care – great care.  Therefore, it is unnerving to show up to an appointment and find that the unknown practitioner (or lesser known) is the person to which you have been assigned in the absence of your personal practitioner.  This is especially surprising and irksome when the day before a reminder phone call omitted to say that your practitioner would not be available and that “so and so” would be working on you. 

     It is not a little thing.

     Besides knowledge and expertise to which one has become accustomed, there are temperament, manner, and touch that have meaning and comfort.  It should not be handled as simply as if all I have to do is stand in line at the deli counter and wait for the next available representative to take care of me.

     We make investments in our practitioners and they make a difference in our Lives when they provide our bodies with care.  That is why, in some cases, we travel great distances for their services. 

     Sometimes, a Substitute will not do.

© Drayton-Craig, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011



          I notice that whenever I am at turning points in my Life, I go through a process to get from one end to another.  It could be something that I seek to accomplish for myself, or how I deal with something that has come upon me – into my Life.

     The word process, in and of itself, suggests that it is something that occurs over time.  As such, movement or progress is in increments and not likely to be visible.  Yet, I am being carried along the way from some point to another. 

     Besides prayer, contemplation, and meditation, when faced with difficult times of transition, I also have used physical activity, walks in nature, art, music, dance, and self-expression in some form to assist me in getting through the period. I can remember enrolling in an art class some 20 years ago when I needed to gain clarity for a major decision affecting my Life.  Imagine that…using a small group class in an artist’s studio on Saturday mornings, in the winter, to help me grow through the challenge of making a life altering decision! This was my first art class, so I was not an artist and the course did not bill itself as something in the realm of therapy or problem-solving, either.  It was just an art class, a form of self-expression.

      I am reminded of the days when I was nearing the end of doctoral studies and seeking clarity for creating a research project.  Out of the blue, I began to make bread, week after week.  Every aspect of the process brought me joy – from shopping for the whole grains, to trying recipes in The Tassajara Bread Book, (a gift from a former doctoral student).  I especially liked kneading the bread with my hands.  That was the therapy.  I loved watching the dough rise in the cloth covered bowls on my window sill.  That would put a smile on my face and bring me joy tinged with surprise as my eyes beheld the huge mound that rose under the cloth.  It was like magic and it reminded me of my childhood delight in watching my grandmother uncover the dough for her dinner rolls and bread.  It would be hours of a process for her and we couldn’t bother the dough during that process, but what magic to see it after the yeast made it rise.  The smell of the dough rising and its baking was the best part.

     In all cases, the hobby, creative activity, and physical activity allowed for reflection, contemplation, self-expression and appreciation as a process.  In all cases, I came out on the other side and came out well.

© Drayton-Craig, 2011

Wednesday, February 9, 2011



     Every now and then, we get into a period that feels static.  It is not that we are spinning our wheels, but we just don’t feel like we are accomplishing much.   We may not be doing new fun things, but merely existing through a day to day predictable schedule. 

     The seasons may not help the situation because as individuals we may function differently in different seasons.  For example, we may find ourselves functioning best in the icy cold months.  Some people relish rainy, snowy, or bleak days because they offer time to be still, contemplate, and get work done.  Others may prefer the warmth of long sunny days in spring and summer.  Each of us should be aware of the personal ingredients needed for our optimal functioning.  Yet, there may be things that one can do to re-charge one’s battery regardless of the external variables like weather, so that you can get moving and become inspired.  A vacation somewhere might do the trick.  However, there are inexpensive or free ways that can also work:

Read a biography or autobiography from the library of someone, not necessarily of grand stature, but of someone who beat the odds, or started to triumph late in Life; someone who started a second or third career; someone who did not come from wealth, yet, who excelled with prolific creativity.

Read a book from the library about anything other than what you would normally read about.

Pick up your camera and take pictures from your window.  Take pictures of objects in your home.  Print them.  Make a collage of the photos, or glue them into a journal and write about your feelings.

Spend a weekend playing wonderful music throughout the house or apartment and commit to relaxing activities like daydreaming, cloud gazing, and writing cheerful note cards to others.  Put on a slow pot of soup while you are doing this, or bake cookies to eat or give to someone else.  Sit down to a cup of fine coffee or a beautiful place setting for a cup of tea.

Go someplace where you can dance.

Go to a movie in the middle of the day.

Take a bus ride or train ride to another city for the day, by yourself, and walk around; visit shops, have a meal, go to a museum or art gallery; and come back home.  Watch the scenery as you travel.

Do something you have never done.

     We don’t have to have a lot of resources to bring joy, a new perspective, a sense of being “on vacation”, or a sense of being nurtured, in order to put one’s self on a path of renewal.

© Drayton-Craig, 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011



     We are all likely to know someone whose modus operandi is to cut corners.  Undoubtedly, as children, we sought ways to cut corners for tasks required of us – only to “do over” the task correctly until it met the approval of a parent or teacher.  Over time, as we grew into adulthood, we developed wisdom to know it is better to do things right the first time; to take the necessary time, put out the necessary effort and excellence to make a project correct the first time. 

     Invariably, when you cut corners it costs you somewhere along the line.  How many times have I regretted trying to carry too many packages from my car, only to have breakage, ruining something, or tripping?  Many times, I have caught myself mumbling that I should have known better, while it takes me twice as long to clean up the mess.  If I had only made two or three trips into the house!  Lessons in Life have taught us and we sometimes try to sneak by, knowing all the while that saving time tends to cost time, money, and pain in the long run.

     The day after the big snowstorm I watched a neighbor who never shovels the common passageway in the back of our homes, regardless of how it impedes passage for everyone.  Each neighbor is responsible for clearing the way so that cars can get through to park and move.  Every neighbor on my strip and along the right side strip had their through-way cleared as they usually do, early in the morning.  He, however, started to move his box truck out from his snow covered parking pad and through-way.  He immediately got stuck and spent about 15 minutes spinning wheels and rocking before his children came out and his neighbor.  They pushed and pushed.  His wheels spun and spun.  Then he shoveled under the wheels and the truck inched ahead only to be stopped again.  He never figured out that it was easier to just shovel the entire space neatly and fully so that he could complete his turn and go straight.  I watched fearfully as the little boy wedged himself between the truck and the corner of the fence, and I prayed that the father would see him and not try to rock the vehicle.  I watched as the man later banged the truck into the corner of his fence and he still persisted.  This went on for over one and one-half hours!  He finally got free.  The kids climbed in the truck and off they went.  Immediately, a car coming in got stuck in front of his butchered through-way.  The woman got out, walked around her vehicle and began to telephone for help. 

     My next worry – that man never cleared any of the deep snow from the roof of the truck – which is law for a reason.

     Cutting corners…is it worth it?  What does it cost?  Who pays?

© Dr. Drayton-Craig, 2011