Tag Archives: Memphis

Greetings From The Burbs of West Houston

Howdy!

Happy Cinco D Mayo from the Burbs of Houston.

Today is a wonderful day for me and cause for celebration. My eyes opened yesterday and after three decades of believing my time on this earth was to be short, I realized that perhaps all the doctors have been wrong.

This epiphany came out in a counseling session at Montrose Center yesterday as I bared it all. I have had three doctors tell me, at different times, that I had three for five years to live, get my affairs in order. I began to die in the eighties and forgot how to live.

The disease is HIV and I am a long term survivor,. I’m not alone in this and it’s an interesting road to travel. I am not ashamed nor am I afraid as I was in the eighties. I am not dirty, in fact I am quite healthy.

I made personal and financial decisions in the eighties, based on the limited knowledge of the medical community at the time, on what to do with present and future assets. As I look back and see where the residuals and royalties went, I can say that I have no regrets but it’s my turn now.

My last no hope diagnosis was when I had the heart attack and stroke in 2008 after my mother passed away. Guess what, I recovered from that also.
Now, I am accepting that I probably have a long life to live and it’s to live that life instead of feeling like I am facing the grim reaper every day.

It’s great to feel alive again and see the sun come up with all the beautiful colors and feeling the blessings of love, friendship and nature that engulf me right now.

Blessings to each of you today and to my partner in this journey called life,Jody Turner.

 

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Hourly Rates Verses Set Price

Why hourly rates don’t pay…at least not what you’re worth anyway! Reply to each point based on your experiences. I’ll post each new point in its own post. #1 Because you’re chronic overachievers and over-deliverers, you’re almost guaranteeing you’ll be underpaid for your work because you’ll work well beyond the agreed upon time to get it right. Am I right or am I right?!
#1 is spot on with me! I am a dyed in the wool perfectionist and the hours I put in preparing for that twenty minutes of fame on the stage amount to about 4 to 6 months of my valuable time. There is also the communication with the Maestro, first chairs in the orchestras and such where I put out my interpretation of the piece I am performing. All that for 175 dollars became a drudge to me and led to economic and personal frustrations. I began to feel that what I do was not valued.
To make a difference, I did a time management study based on my professional rate elsewhere and came up with this conclusion. To charge less than 50 thousand for that single performance was cash raping me and keeping my mind on other things such as where my next meal was coming from. .
I could not fathom this price structure as a young artist. It seemed outlandish to me at the time. Is what I do really worth that? Why am I always struggling with putting food on my table and in my belly? I really like good food and great wine pairings and yet I am existing on beer and pork skins.
I had to change my way of thinking about myself and the value I bring to the negotiating table. What I found out about myself amazed me to no end! I was worth something and the highly developed skills meant I no longer had to do the name dropping game, I could talk about myself and how I developed my skills by stepping outside the box and going for broke.
There is nothing wrong with challenging traditions and set ways of doing things and that is exactly how I have been living my life! I just had to see it to believe it.
When I took the lead and put out a set price, the inquiries and bookings started to happen again. I learned to be upfront and honest with myself and market what is special in my life. I changed some approaches also in that I was handpicked to study and work with some of the who’s who of American and International music. What a powerful attribute to bring to the table! That makes me a rare commodity in today’s world and I am marketing myself with that attitude and yet remaining humble is no longer a challenge. Being humble does not amount to humiliation and now I feel better about myself and the products I produce.

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Preparations

In my life I have been around some amazing people and heard their stories. This man, Olivier Messiaen and a personal friend of his, Jean Langlais befriended me on a performance trip to Europe in the eighties I made. The “Quartet for the End of Time” was a piece I had heard and thought it to be way outside my boundaries both on technical and artistic aspects. However, when I heard his and Jean’s story, they inspired me to move beyond my self-imposed boxes and explore different realities in interpretation and performance.
I was not aware of the life history of Olivier but I found out as he shared with me about the conditions around the composing of the Quartet and that sharing was so powerful to me that I made a decision to tackle that work. At the same time, there was another influence in my life, a young artist named Marshall Fine, who saw the potential in me and pushed me to look outside my personal boundaries and become the artist that was trapped inside me.

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There is another work that is performed a lot by Charles-Marie Widor, one of the mentors of Olivier, the Widor Toccatta. It’s a powerful, fantastic work and every time I hear it here in Houston, I go to a different place mentally and remember.
Today, as I am preparing these pieces again, I feel very blessed to be surrounded not only with memories but with amazing artists and composers. Paul Pellay, Don Freund, Marshall Fine, John Bell, William Shumann, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, John Rutter, William Matthias, John Williams and the list is endless it seems.
Well, back to work now and finish my first book and on to the concert stage again. I have too much to share still and without the music in my life as a way to express myself and speak from my soul, I feel empty.
Have a great day!
JereJere World

Musical Ramblings and Visions

Today I am listening to spotify, some of my recordings and those of friends I have worked with around the world.  Being an artist is a treasure I hold dearly in my life and apply artistic aspects to everything I do.  My canvas is sound at times and I love painting with sound.  Music is my primary language and an escape from a rather hectic world.

I am in my easy chair with Ms. Ethel on my lap and the Duker vying for attention at my feet.  These are our kids as we call them and all rescue animals that just showed up on our doorstep.

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The music today is taking me back to Memphis, Tennessee, home of the blues, culture, Memphis in May, The outstanding Memphis Symphony and Germantown. It is also the home of the Rendevous and Interstate BBQ of food network fame.  header

I have an interesting history with these establishments both musically and in the kitchen.  Heck, I grew up there and love the taste and feel of the city! We have cooked side by side at many events across the Memphis/Shelby County area to the joy of many!

Enough of that about me and on to my reasons for sharing today.

There is a lot going on around the world right now. Mr. Paul Pellay is having a composition of his premiered by a highly capable Violinist.  Paul and I go back decades and he is married to a great violist, Michelle Pellay-Walker that I consider my sister from another mother.  This performance is taking place in Jolly Old England.

From Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Violinist

“At the violin, a day of rigour and joy. Bach in the morning then this. I am proud to have studied, and premiered, literally, hours of solo violin music by the extraordinary Paul Pellay, and this latest is absolutely engrossing-here’s the score, at what I call ‘base 1’ technical work. The groundwork in place, the notes in the hands and the brain, and now the real work begins. Here’s a Spotify link to Paul’s extraordinary ‘Thesaurus of Violinistic Fiendishness’. Violinists, what are you waiting for?”

Paul Pelay score

 

On the other side of the world, the the Pacific Northwest, Dr. Justin Smith, Director of Choirs at Maryhurst University is preparing from the summer.

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Stay Tuned!  Things are heating up here in Houston also!  But for today, I am relaxing before the weekend when Jody and I celebrate our 16th anniversary of being together. We were officially MARRIED in November of 2014.  We are having a casual at home BBQ where Tennessee meets Texas!  16 years ago, on April 1, I arrived in Houston to begin a life with Jody Turner. It’s been an up and downhill roller coaster ride but we are still together these 16 years later! FB_IMG_1436131882732
We would like to cordially invite you to our home on Sunday, April 3, 2016 for a Tennessee meets Texas BBQ in honor of this decade plus of being together. A lot has happened in these years and it’s time to celebrate.
Stop by for good times, good friends, good food and some all out fun!
Please pardon the house as it is now a DYI project that will be ongoing for a bit. I am also taking the liberty of creating videos of the work as it progresses along with recipes, exploring Jere’s kitchen and teaching videos for clarinet excellence.
If perchance, anyone would be considering an anniversary present, we need help on the renovations to the house!
We look forward to seeing everyone!  Recipes and menus will be here later but today, I am having fun with our mischevious kids!  

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Ta Ta for now and have a great day!

Jere

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Dealing With Perfectionism

I am sharing this today from my memoirs coming from my excellent past into my glorious present with the empowerment that if you have a dream, you can achieve it through work, dedication and perseverance! Mr. Robert Marcellus was the premier clarinetist in the world for a long space of time and someone that we young clarinetists based our abilities on. I believed that studying and working with him was not attainable and only a pipe dream for most of my young life. However, I finally took the chance with the obligatory lesson with this great master and was immediately embraced into his very interesting world.
From a young man, full of self-doubt and not thinking highly of my abilities, I achieved this part of my dream and treasure the time I spent with him and his wife.
Mr. Robert Marcellus or Dr. Bob

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Scenes from a Kitchen…Mine!

I thought it would be great to begin sharing how I set my kitchen up and have on hand the things I need.
To begin, these are pictures of creations from my kitchen that I serve at home and professionally as a Chef, Caterer and Party planner.
I wear many hats and take pride in what I do. The adverse diversity in my life leads to some creative ideas and this represents the ideas becoming reality!

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My travels around the world have opened me to some great experiences. This is a starting point today.

Carpe Diem!

The Man in the Penguin Suit

Act 1, Scene 2
College Beginnings
In 1975 I graduated high school and began my college career at the University of Tennessee at Martin with a full tuition scholarship for marching band. It was nice, it was fun and it seemed all the Milan kids went there so it was a comfort zone for me. Tony D’Andrea was the band director and I had already studied with him some. Great guy, Italian, reed player, good person and liked to party. I thought what could possibly go wrong?
Well, I became a party animal and since it was my first year in college, I thought what the heck. The Hourglass was a local hangout and I think I had some large bar tabs there but I was on fake ID. I was having a blast.
The classes were boring to me except for English and History, accounting I whizzed through, and the rest was music. So my days were quite full with rehearsals lessons and the arts and of course my two hour practice sessions, then the Hourglass till midnight. It was fun times but when Christmas came around, something happened. Daddy and I got into it and it was not pretty. So, we parted company and not in a good way.

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The Man In The Penguin Suit

A small introduction to this series. This is my life story about growing up with divorced parents in the fifties and dealing with being a prodigy. I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoy telling it.

The Man in the Penguin Suit is about my life as a back up and pit musician for various on and off Broadway shows and as a freelance recording and performing artist.

This story is also being published here.

Jere

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OH, this is where the fingers go!

Act One, Scene One

I was born in a small town in Tennessee. My mother said that when I was born there was a football game and the band was playing. She also said that the football team had just scored a touchdown and the band was playing the fight song. What an interesting way to be born! Word filtered out over the City that Margaret DeShong had a new grandbaby and life changed.

Mama and daddy took off in another couple during their junior year in high school to Corinth Mississippi to get married. Imagine that! Well things heated up and they happen to not tell anybody they were married until mother started showing with me. I think she might’ve had morning sickness or something when they finally had let the cat out of the bag and boy did life change then.

Well I began life as a product of two people much too young to be married and least of all children. My parents had just graduated from high school and were separated when I was born. I began my life in the court systems of Gibson County, Tennessee. People have asked me how later in life I knew so much about the legal system in the United States. The answer lies in my being in an out-of-court fortitude for two decades and dealing with attorneys along with men in black robes. By the time I was a teenager I knew the ins and outs of every courtroom in Gibson County and West Tennessee. Here’s an interesting way to grow up and back then,in the 50’s, it was unusual to have a single mother.

When I was five years old my mother had another child, a brother whom I’ve never met but perchance might someday. It’s ironic that my mother was also adopted and raised by two loving parents who also embraced me. Seeing that my brother was not particularly welcome at the time and living in a small town, we had to move. That move took us to Memphis Tennessee where we lived in East Memphis not far from Second Presbyterian Church where I grew up. Growing up Presbyterian was kind of interesting as that is where I also went to school at Presbyterian Day school. There isn’t much I don’t know about the Presbyterian Church or the system of government in the church and that’s something I’m quite proud of. I was also fascinated by Mrs. Robertson playing the organ every Sunday. To me it was humongous and I started taking piano lessons at the Berl Olswanger studio in Memphis. I was also exposed to a wonderful choir and talented musicians of the Memphis Symphony, some of which attended church there and my love of music was ingrained for life.

I really enjoyed my first year of piano learning the notes learning the sounds and playing by ear. I used to dream even at that young age of playing at Carnegie Hall one day. My grandparents bought me an upright piano and it was placed in the living room far far away. Our house on Goodlett was gigantic to me and it even had a maid’s quarters in the back. This was in that timeframe of the 50s and 60s, the time of the civil rights movements across the United States. Yes I was raised by Willie Mae and her sister. Have a lot of fond memories of them. My grandmother was involved in the bridge club and my mother was a working single mom. My grandfather was a traveling shoe salesman and was gone a lot during the week. So my practice time was in the afternoon playtime lasted about 45 minutes when dinner began and time for studies. Life seemed grand to me for a while.

As I grew older, about seven or eight years old, I began to wonder why I didn’t have a father around all the time and started questioning my mother about why daddy does live with us. I could not understand why he was in Memphis in college and I went to see him at the Sigma Chi house all the time. Every other kid I was in school with, their mother and father lived together so why don’t y’all? That’s when I first begin to realize that things were a bit different and I had to adjust. I did have some of the kids picking on me at school asking where my father was as it was unusual to them for me not to have a father. I took it to heart and began to delve into the music more along with the books. Music became my escape, my safety zone, my safety net. Practicing took me away from the realities I did not want to face.

It’s very interesting to me that later in life when I became a professional musician at the age of 11 there was something inside me that wanted to come out and I spoke to the music but it was vocal, organ, piano and later on clarinet. Thanks to the work of Ms. Turner, I became the youngest member of the chancel choir at Second Presbyterian Church when I was in the seventh grade. And thus began another aspect of my life.
I was quite happy singing in the choir as it was a dream come true for me. There I was in the chancel area, on stage, and I could watch Mrs. Robertson play the organ.

About a year later, I could finally reach the pedals on that wonderful instrument and I began to play the organ. I had already been playing Bach on the piano and after the Stainer book on organ technique, I graduated the Bach chorales, figured bass, and that unique collection of organ works by Bach. I thought this is fantastic! About that time, during the ninth grade, there are some problems at home and I decided I wanted to see what it was like living my father and he had just become married again. It was an easy making the change in fact it was a fight between me, my father, my mother, attorneys and the judge. Interesting memories and feelings from that time.

One good thing that happened with move and back and forth was I picked up the clarinet, sax and flute. My first teacher was a gentleman named Mr. Robert Hodge. He was the band director for the junior high he came across during the time of integration. He is a wonderful man and an interesting person very dedicated to his craft and come to find out was a jazz artist! More about that later…

I was back and forth during that ninth grade year in school, between Memphis and Milan as it was different to me actually living with my father. I knew my parents loved me in some way and I expected the same thing I saw with my friends and their parents. However it wasn’t that way and I did not understand why. Was I not good enough? Was I a bad kid? What am I doing wrong? All questions of a young teenager.

I sometimes feel I grew up before my time as I was always hanging out with adults and felt uncomfortable with the kids. I spent a lot of time practicing the organ and the clarinet also reading. I began to collect books, kinds of them. I liked biographies, world history, Civil War history, American revolutionary war history and the occasional lower book. I dated a lot, became engaged, dated long-distance, and still the music. My grandmother Douglas, better-known as Mimi, purchased a Thomas organ for me, the Lawrence Welk Deluxe like Bob Ralston played on the show. I was adamant practicing the organ and piano along with playing with Mrs. Foster at the nursing home. She could not read a note of music but boy can she play at the age of 80. We put a lot of duets together and even got a picture in the paper! Seem like fun times of going to school, working, going to the lake and living life so to speak. There were good days and bad days at the times and sad times and even though daddy and I had our differences there was a bond of some type.

Mother was my party animal in my Auntie Mame. She was a single mother of the 60s and 70s and she were that as a badge of honor. She had a good job, supported herself and me, and like to eat well and party. When I would go see her in Memphis it was always a fun time yet there was an undertone always. It took me a few decades to figure it out as mother events of my life but I did that’s a story for another chapter but suffice it to say I graduated high school with the help of Don Farmer and many nights my nose in the book trying to stay sober.

I began my high school music career playing the organ professionally and clarinet in the band. Mr. Robert Hodge was the jazz band director and boy was he tough! I don’t think any of us realized that he had been around the world seemingly and played with some of the greats that we only dreamed about meeting. I believe it was our junior year when he took a group of us up to meet Count Basie and his orchestra. I remember shaking his hand and him asking Robert if he brought his horn. The Count was a very unique man and I did not realize that our paths would cross again. I have to say that Robert, even though he was tough, was very thorough and made sure we knew all her parts and how to read jazz rhythms and jazz licks. He turned out a kick ass band!
I didn’t find out until years later when I was playing with Ray Charles and it came to Georgia my mind. You probably know that song, is one of his most famous. Well, I was in Memphis playing lead clarinet for a pickup orchestra job during Memphis in May with Ray. The rehearsal was that morning and when they came in he sat down piano and started playing. After he got his fingers warmed up and started rehearsal, it got to the song Georgia and well I started playing the clarinet. I wasn’t nervous and I played the best I could. He stopped the orchestra, looked my direction and said “That’s got to be a black clarinet player!” I responded, “No Sir, Mr. Charles. I am white but my first teacher was Robert Hodge!” His response, and I quote “Count Basie’s lead tenor!” Yes Sir! That was an eye-opening experience for me as I could not believe this connection it may just from my sound after Mr. Hodge being so difficult so hard on us. Looking back I learned a lesson there, never take anyone for granted as you never know their history unless you ask and they want to share.
I have to say that growing up between a major metropolitan area and a small town was quite an adventure. I actually had two sets of friends, one set I was around a lot and another set I knew on the fourth weekend of the month and six weeks in the summer. One of the aspects of growing up this way has given me itchy feet and letting the grass grow under my feet for too long makes me anxious to be someplace else a lot of the time. The results of this will be explored throughout this tome of my life’s adventures. Some say I have never met a stranger. Well, that holds true because I am usually the first to say Hello to anyone and carry on some type of conversation.
Grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat for a bit!

Healthy Boundaries

According to the book Boundaries and Relationships by Charles Whitfield, M.D., healthy boundaries are NOT:
Set for us by others
Hurtful or harmful
Controlling or manipulative
Invasive or dominating
Rigid and immovable

Healthy boundaries ARE:
present
appropriate
clear
firm
protective
flexible
receptive.
determined by US
How to Develop Boundaries

An important first step in developing healthy boundaries is to get acquainted with, and take ownership, of your true self. This is essential before healthy boundaries can be set and maintained. As adults, we are responsible for the decisions we make in life. We have freedom to respond, to make choices, and to limit the way others’ behavior affects us. As a “free agent”, we can take responsibility for our freedom by setting boundaries, or borders, between ourselves and those around us. Some people refuse to set boundaries because they see them as selfish. Others actually use them to be selfish. Both are wrong. Boundaries are about self-control.

According to the authors, John Townsend and Henry Cloud, there are ten laws of boundaries:

The Law of Sowing and Reaping – Actions have consequences. If someone in your life is sowing anger, selfishness, and abuse at you, are you setting boundaries against it? Or are they getting away with not reaping (or paying the consequences for) what he/she sowed?

The Law of Responsibility – We are responsible TO each other, not FOR each other. This law means that each person refuses to rescue or enable another’s immature behavior.

The Law of Power – We have power over some things, we don’t have power over others (including changing people). It is human nature to try to change and fix others so that we can be more comfortable. We can’t change or fix anyone – but we do have the power to change our own life.

The Law of Respect – If we wish for others to respect our boundaries, we need to respect theirs. If someone in your life is a rager, you should not dictate to him/her all the reasons that they can’t be angry. A person should have the freedom to protest the things they don’t like. But at the same time, we can honor our own boundary by telling them, “Your raging at me is not acceptable to me. If you continue to rage, I will have to remove myself from you.”

The Law of Motivation – We must be free to say “no” before we can wholeheartedly say “yes”. One cannot actually love another if he feels he doesn’t have a choice not to. Pay attention to your motives.

The Law of Evaluation – We need to evaluate the pain our boundaries cause others. Do our boundaries cause pain that leads to injury? Or do they cause pain that leads to growth?

The Law of Proactivity – We take action to solve problems based on our values, wants, and needs. Proactive people keep their freedom and they disagree and confront issues but are able to do so without getting caught up in an emotional storm. This law has to do with taking action based on deliberate, thought-out values versus emotional reactions.

The Law of Envy – We will never get what we want if we focus our boundaries onto what others have. Envy is miserable because we’re dissatisfied with our state yet powerless to change it. The envious person doesn’t set limits because he is not looking at himself long enough to figure out what choices he has.

The Law of Activity – We need to take the initiative to solve our problems rather than being passive. In a dysfunctional relationship, sometimes one person is active and the other is passive. When this occurs, the active person will dominate the passive one. The passive person may be too intimidated by the active one to say no. This law has to do with taking initiative rather than being passive and waiting for someone else to make the first move.

The Law of Exposure – We need to communicate our boundaries. A boundary that is not communicated is a boundary that is not working. We need to make clear what we do or do not want, and what we will or will not tolerate. We need to also make clear that every boundary violation has a consequence. A boundary without a consequence is nagging.
Putting It All Together

Untreated individuals with personality disorders are dependent on the compliance of others. They resist boundaries in an effort to control, manipulate, and dominate. Non’s sometimes use boundaries in an effort to control, manipulate, and dominate too. For example, we might be tempted to tell someone “You can NOT rage at me”, or “You can NOT say cruel things to me.” These aren’t examples of boundaries, these are examples of a Non’s effort to control someone else’s behavior. A healthy boundary is, “When you rage at me, I feel threatened. I am going to leave (the room, the house, etc.) until such time we can communicate calmly.” The other person is free to rage to his/her heart’s content, but you don’t have to sit there and absorb all their anger and rage. If you are saying to yourself, “Why should I have to leave the room? They should have to stop raging!”, you are looking at boundaries backwards. You are taking the same approach as one would take who says, “Oh no, my house is on fire and is engulfed in flames. I’m standing at the front door but I’m not going to leave the house because my new sprinkling system will turn on an put out the flames.” Are you waiting for someone or something else to make a move so you don’t have to? Are you willing to take a chance of getting burned? Don’t do it.

Boundaries are all around us. We come across them every day. Cars have theft-deterrent devices to prevent someone from stealing your car. Homes have deadbolts or locks to prevent someone else from invading your home and removing your possessions. Your office desk has a lock to prevent theft. Your locker at the club has a lock to keep your valuables safe. If your personal property is protected against theft, but you find yourself feeling like your emotional well-being is being stolen from you, then it’s time to take steps to learn how to set boundaries so that your emotional well-being can be kept under lock and key.

Think about it. We go to a lot of effort and spend a lot of money to protect our material possessions – yet we often do little to protect ourselves. Aren’t you worth more than all of your possessions?

In order for boundaries to be effective, you need to approach it with the right mindset. Recognize that you must take personal responsibility for your own well-being.

Whether you end up staying in close relationship or not, learning how to set healthy boundaries is one of the very best things you can do to ensure that you don’t end up in a dysfunctional dance again with someone else.

Lose attachment to expectations and outcomes. Don’t sound or be needy. Be happy on my own and with or without sex. Be happy with myself. Become detached from the outcome. Who am I? Do I need this? I am responsible for my feelings and emotions and no one else’s.
Be happy on your own.

Abusive relationships produce a great amount on unhealthy investment in both parties. In many cases we tend to remain and support the abusive relationship due to our investment in the relationship. Try telling a new Marine that since he or she has survived boot camp, they should now enroll in the National Guard! Several types of investments keep us in the bad relationship:

Emotional Investment – We’ve invested so many emotions, cried so much, and worried so much that we feel we must see the relationship through to the finish.
Social Investment – We’ve got our pride! To avoid social embarrassment and uncomfortable social situations, we remain in the relationship.
Family Investments – If children are present in the relationship, decisions regarding the relationship are clouded by the status and needs of the children.
Financial Investment – In many cases, the controlling and abusive partner has created a complex financial situation. Many victims remain in a bad relationship, waiting for a better financial situation to develop that would make their departure and detachment easier.
Lifestyle Investment – Many controlling/abusive partners use money or a lifestyle as an investment. Victims in this situation may not want to lose their current lifestyle.
Intimacy Investment – We often invest emotional and sexual intimacy. Some victims have experienced a destruction of their emotional and/or sexual self-esteem in the unhealthy relationship. The abusing partner may threaten to spread rumors or tell intimate details or secrets. A type of blackmail using intimacy is often found in these situations.

Shrimp Ettouffee ala JK

Ah, the joys of New Orleans! I have to admit that I have an affinity for this cuisine as I was raised on the Mississippi River which connects North to South and runs through Memphis. Growing up, I had the best of the city and the country, a bit like in the movie “A River Runs Through It”. Couple that with a good John Grisham novel and there you have it. Court Square in Memphis was a nice relaxing place in the middle of downtown, close to Symphony Hall and right across from Goldsmiths which Is now Macy’s.
Times change, people grow and I have the memories. When I begin to prepare this dish, I think of Willie Mae, our maid, that raised me in Memphis, Beale Street and a nice laid back afternoon.

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