an inspirational newsletter by JC Gardner
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DISCUSSION TOPICS Blessed Hands: Miss Charlotte Millennial Hot News Don't miss the special feature celebrating women who have overcome the odds!
This month's honoree is Danielle Batiste
My Mom, "Miss Charlotte" This month is always bittersweet for me. My
on your friends and family while they are
mom's birthday was September 12th. That day
still here. I can honestly say I did that up
always brought fun birthday shenanigans of
until her unexpected passing from a
good food, birthday cake, a trip to the movies
massive heart attack in November 2014.
and gifts she really didn't need, but it sure felt
Sometimes it doesn't seem like six years;
good to be able to do that for her while she
instead, it seems like yesterday. It's
was still here. Boy, I miss those times, along
something awful when you don't get to say
with our daily chats, her steadfast prayers, her unwavering support, and her cooking! My goodness, my mom was an excellent cook. I absorbed all I could but alas, I'm still struggling to live up to her finesse in the kitchen. Several years ago, I wrote an award-winning tribute to my mom, and I was glad it happened while she was still here to appreciate it. Please readers, take note. Love
goodbye. Some days, I still have tearful moments that she's not with me physically, but because of my faith and my belief in God's promise of everlasting life, I have no doubt we will meet again. And on that note, I share with you the award-winning essay about my mom, "Blessed Hands."
Scripted - Page 2 September 2020
Whenever I think of my mother, I see her in the kitchen. Food that was fortunate enough to pass through her hands was instantly transformed into something delectable and delightful. I used to beg, even pleaded, “Ma, you gotta open up your own restaurant.” But she always declined, preferring to do occasional catering jobs from her home. I believe her biggest satisfaction came from her family declaring that what she had prepared was, beyond a shadow of a doubt, “The best we’ve ever tasted.” Neighbors and friends asked my mom to prepare food in lieu of birthday or Christmas gifts. Now that’s saying something! Cooking was not supposed to be her destiny. Back in the day when your steps in life were largely dictated
nursing would afford her Charlotte a
by your parents, my mother, locally known as Miss
better life, and it would not be considered
Charlotte, was supposed to be a nurse. My
progress if she had to see her daughter
grandmother took the liberty of enrolling my mother
slaving away in someone’s kitchen the way so
in New York University’s nursing program. Mother
many of our foremothers had to endure in
faithfully left the house on time every day, but after
order to survive.
one semester, dreading anatomy, biology, syringes note thesedetouring numbers change and the like, Please she began todaily. the movie
However, Miss Charlotte was bound and
theaters. She preferred pots and pans to bedpans!
determined to be a cook. She enrolled
The school eventually notified my grandmother about Miss Charlotte’s lack of attendance. Back then, my grandmother was a warden. So when it was discovered mom was not going to nursing school, there was only one-sided yelling. (My mother wouldn't dare argue with my grandmother.) After my grandmother calmed down, my mom simply expressed what she would prefer and my grandmother, unhappily, gave in to my mother’s desires. I imagine my African American grandmother was trying to keep her daughter out of the kitchen. Although an excellent seamstress by trade, she also had cleaned people’s houses, washed their laundry, and of course, cooking was part of the job. I can still see my late grandmother’s double-boiler melting the semi-sweet chocolate bars for her buttery chocolate layer cake. She probably thought nursing
herself in and graduated from the New York Institute of Dietetics. From there, she cooked for many organizations, including daycare centers, senior citizen’s centers, churches, schools, and more famously, in the executive kitchen of Atlantic Records. I, myself, did not get bitten by the “cooking bug” until my late teens. Well, sort of. I believe when God hands out talents and gifts, he infuses mothers with many attributes, including an honorary doctorate degree in psychology; the ever-knowing, all seeing invisible third eye; and expert marksmanship, so that when a shoe is thrown at you due to inappropriate behavior, it is able to turn corners and smack squarely into your behind.
Scripted - Page 3 September 2020
When I signed my first catering contract for 150 people, I envisioned mom and me, elbow to elbow, mixing it up in the kitchen. But due to an impending surgery, she was unavailable. I called her early that morning, a complete and utter mess. I felt like I couldn’t jump from the fire into the frying pan without her by my side. Even though my friends had declared me an above average cook, and my cooking skills helped to snag my husband of now over thirty years, my self-confidence and selfesteem had evaporated. Amidst a puddle of tears, my mother reminded me So when my mother remarked, out of the blue, “All
that she had taught me well. She coaxed me back
of the young men you bring home love to eat, so
from despair, assuring me that everything would be
you probably won’t ever get married ‘cause you
perfectly fine. Her steadfast faith in my ability
don’t know how to cook,” I was too naive to
helped me to overcome my doubt that I couldn't
recognize this as reverse psychology. Matter of fact,
possibly follow in her footsteps. And you know
we didn’t even have a dialogue about it or a
what? The event turned out to be a marvelous
debate. She just said it and moved on to a totally
different subject, leaving me stunned with the reality that my dream wedding would likely never Please note these numbers change daily.
come to pass.
I may have been on my mother’s heels, however, there are two of her many signature dishes I cannot master, nor have I met anyone else
I distinctly remember marinating on her words
who can either. And that is Miss Charlotte’s fried
for a few days. She was right. I couldn’t tell the
chicken and her coconut cake with fruit filling.
difference between a head of lettuce and a head of cabbage.
When I was young, during one of my mother’s Pokeno parties, (famous in our Queens, New York
Although I was conscripted to work with her on
neighborhood because of the smorgasbord of food,
every catering job, I hadn’t remembered one recipe.
especially her fried chicken), I overheard an
After secretly agreeing with her – because God
interesting conversation between mom and her
forbid a teenager admitted to their parents they’re
cousin, Louise, about the chicken that was frying.
right – I decided I really needed to take advantage
Louise wanted to help mom and kept asking,
of the priceless asset that I had at my disposal:
“When will the chicken be ready?”
a walking, talking, cooking encyclopedia. And that’s how I became my mother’s apprentice. (Of
My mother said, “If you listen, it will tell you.”
course, the fear of always a bridesmaid, never a
I was like, “What??? What did she just say? The
bride, played a big part in my decision.) I became a
chicken talks?” I was glad Louise asked her to
human sponge and absorbed all she had to offer.
explain. She was clearly just as perplexed as I was.
And then, years later, I’ve ventured into the catering
My mother said, “When you first dip the chicken in
the hot grease, it has a lot to say. It is loud… like
Scripted - Page 4 September 2020
knew it too!) So, while you may have believed that Aunt Lulu left out a key element of a recipe to preserve a family secret, the absent ingredient may actually be missing from your DNA. After my Mom turned 75, she endured hip and knee replacement while managing rheumatoid arthritis. Most days, she hobbled down the stairs, greeted her walker a fine good morning, and strolled over to her rolling chair in the kitchen. She glided back and forth from refrigerator to
firecrackers. When it’s done, it gets quiet, like a
cabinet to stove, whipping up goodies and treats
whisper. That’s when you know it’s ready.”
to her family’s delight. Her health ailments never stopped her love of being in the kitchen.
Truthfully, I should not have been surprised. I’ve always known my mother had a special relationship with food. For her, it was not just a slab of meat on a cutting board or a dirt speckled collard green leaf just plucked from the garden. She saw food as something she could shape, mold, and transform -- but not for herself. She did it for the pleasure of others. That is what was beautiful about it. Please noteso these numbers change daily. My mother also had an incredible palette. Her
Four years later, she unexpectedly died of a heart attack. While her sudden passing left us empty and devastated, we are blessed to have experienced the fullness of her love and joy of cooking, along with a few heirloom recipes. Unmatched, unparalleled and the envy of all aspiring southern home cooks who came through our doors, if you were blessed to have a meal at Miss Charlotte’s, you knew you were home.
tongue was blessed with the Seasoning Spirit of Discernment. She was able to pluck out a dish’s ingredients deftly, or just as swiftly, what was missing. I had been on the latter end more times than I care to admit, but that was okay. I may had been salty at first, but always appreciative of her expertise. And no matter how many times you did Miss Charlotte’s recipes verbatim, even if you stood there and watched her, it was just not always going to taste like hers, because that special something was missing that she and other culinary artists possess. There is a saying in the culinary world: “Don’t cook while you’re angry or upset because it will affect the dish you’re preparing.” If that’s indeed the case, our own innate energy affects the foods we prepare. When my mother prepared food, it was always with unadulterated love. (And I believe the food
Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:8.
Scripted - Page 5 September 2020
Your Comments From the August Feature: I Forgive You BUT I'LL NEVER FORGET! Thanks to Sandra Stockton of Maryland who submitted her thoughts on forgiveness: "If we hold the anger, we end up being most unhappy. Not the person who has hurt us!" So true, Sandra. Well said!
Hey, did you know some life insurance policies have pandemics listed as an exclusion? That's right, in that tiny fine print, your life insurance may not payout if you are fatally stricken with COVID-19. Please be aware and check your policies, especially those provided by your employer.
Need some home repairs, new car, extra cash? Some retirement plans are allowing you to withdraw cash where your penalty can be stretched out over a few years vs. you being hit with the penalty all at once. Check with your benefits department and/or tax advisor.
News by Alexis Gardner
There's evening news, fake news and now we have hot news from the millennial perspective. Check it out!
Music: Verzuz Watching high-powered celebrity singers face-off online may be one of the best things to come
created by producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz. Recently we've seen Brandy and Monica battle it out, which, by the way, did we ever figure out who the boy belonged to? Verzuz also hosted vocal powerhouses Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight. Who do you think we'll see next?
Film: Bring It On Sequel The Bring It On movies bring us drama, comedy, and of course cheerleading. While there are six Bring It On movies, many would argue that the most iconic one was the original starring Kirsten Dunst and, of course, the ageless Gabrielle Union. I think we all remember:
'Brrrrr it’s cold in here, I said there must be some Clovers in the atmosphere' Gabrielle Union has confirmed that she is working on a new sequel to Bring It On and many hope to see Ryan Destiny, Normani, and Coco Jones starring in it.
l Women's Survivor Series a i c e Sp t s e Danielle Batiste u G e r u t Sugar Overload Fea I met Danielle Batiste at a conference several years ago, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. She is not only a good friend, but she is a client. I’m so glad she allowed me to share her survival story: Sugar Overload.
“Five years ago, when I found out I had diabetes, I went into straight denial. I should have just started reading and learning about it and tackled it head on, but I didn’t. I was like, ‘She [the doctor] don’t know what she is talking about! I don’t have no diabetes.’ I believed I didn’t have the disease because I wasn’t experiencing any symptoms.” That couldn’t have been further from the truth.
into sugar inside the body. It wasn’t too long before she started to experience pronounced symptoms of having very dry or cotton mouth, along with frequent urination and extreme fatigue. Clearly her body was raising several red flags that demanded attention. Upon getting additional blood work, the results were clear: She was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, which did not require insulin but required constant monitoring and medication.
At the time of her diagnosis, she questioned, “Why me?” She was not aware of diabetes running in her family tree; however, it was later that she found out her paternal grandmother was Type 1. But her grandmother managed the disease so well, she was blessed to live to the age of ninetynine.
The hardest thing for Danielle to change was her food habits. Driving past KFC was heartbreaking (smile). Also, she found that her stamina was reduced. “When I was younger, I was able to drive for hours and needed just a few minutes to recoup. But with this disease, I find after long drives, it takes me two weeks to really feel like myself again.” That feeling of exhaustion and fatigue was no joke.
Danielle noted she was overweight but she did not consider herself obese or out of shape, so after the blood work showed she was pre-diabetic, she ignored it and continued living her “best life” of enjoying her fast food addiction to fried foods and other carbs, which actually breaks down
Another big lifestyle change, which had positive effects, was an increase in exercise towards a decrease in weight gain. After seeing a nutritionist and educating herself on the disease, she lost thirty pounds. She learned about limiting her carb intake and reading the
Scripted - Page 7 September 2020
labels on the back of food packages to ensure she was staying within healthy carb limits. With COVID, her gym days have temporarily been on hold, but walking almost every day with a partner has kept her weight down and increased her energy. Five years ago, her A1c numbers were 8.6; today it’s down to 4.8. She also talked about how you think because your numbers are low you can stop paying attention to your diet and skip your medication, but she found out firsthand that having that chicken box with a biscuit can create a setback on your road to managing the disease. “I hear a lot of people saying you can reverse this disease. I asked my doctor about that and she informed me it’s not so much about reversing it as it is controlling it. Just because your numbers are low doesn’t mean the disease left your body. If I thought I could get rid of it, I would.” If you are newly diagnosed with diabetes, she wants to encourage you to learn all you can about it and make sure you talk with your health professionals about what is right for you, along with starting some sort of exercise that keeps the body moving. “You got to have some type of movement going when you're a diabetic because it helps you with your glucose levels, and it helps to keep that sugar out of your red blood cells.” Danielle wants to help others who are managing the disease. She wrote a book, “Let Go My Glucose,” documenting her diabetic journey. She also started a Facebook group, Diabetes Made Better, LLC, where she drops knowledge, resources, encouragement and frank conversations about managing diabetes. Danielle is definitely a survivor as she so expressively stated: “What makes me a survivor is even though I’m living with this disease, I never stopped living. I kept going. I conquered it, and I'm going to keep conquering it.” Danielle Batiste currently resides in Virginia and is an author, filmmaker, speaker, and entrepreneur. Visit her website at: https://www.daniellebatiste.com
Definitions: A1c stands for glycated hemoglobin. The A1c percentage measures how much sugar is attached to the blood's hemoglobin protein. (Google) A normal A1c level is below 5.7%, a level of 5.7% to 6.4% indicates pre-diabetes and a level of 6.5% or more indicates diabetes. (Google) Type 1 diabetes occurs when your body doesn't produce sufficient insulin, a hormone secreted by beta cells in the pancreas. https://bit.ly/3ksosrr Type 2 diabetes occurs when people are able to produce some of their own insulin, but their bodies are unable to use this insulin to completely control blood sugar levels, also known as insulin resistance. https://bit.ly/3ksosrr
Know of a phenomenal woman who has survived the odds and would like to be featured in an upcoming newsletter? Email email@example.com Let's show her some love!
Scripted - Page 8 September 2020
Chadwick Boseman November 29, 1976 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; August 28, 2020 Chadwick Boseman's passing was a shock. What was even more shocking was while being treated for colon cancer (per news reports), he was still working as an actor, starring in multiple action movies, never once letting on that he had what turned out to be a terminal illness. Even as he started to lose weight, with rumors swirling, he still maintained his cool, showing strength, courage and grace. Next time we want to complain about, well, anything...may we pause and remember all this man accomplished during his short time here on earth while fiercely battling for his life. Rest in Power, Chadwick Boseman. Job well done!
Scripted - Page 9 September 2020
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