About Me – Making Memories for Others

Becoming a Substitute Teacher in January, 2014 (highly recommended by my Son) was the first job I could secure after my return from South Africa in November, 2013 and graduating with my Master degree in Family Studies in December, 2013.  This meant that now my Son, my Daughter-In-Law and I were all working in the school system.  For the first time, this year, we were all going to have Spring Break at the same time.

For this reason and coupled with the fact my Daughter-In-Law was pregnant with my GrandSon (due in July), she got in the traveling spirit and came up with the brilliant idea for us to take a family trip to visit GrandDaughter Mink’s GODFather, Eric and his girl, Rachel; who had recently purchased a home in the Atlanta area and we were excited to visit!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We went to Georgia with tourist mentality.  We wanted engage in the Atlanta area as tourist; to make it educational for Mink; it was Spring Break.  We were especially interested in touring the King Center; an educational and social change institution.

When my Sister heard about us housewarming trip to Eric’s place, coupled with her traveling spirit and remember, her vow to be more physically present with her niece and nephew, she decided to join us in Atlanta!


Additionally and ironically, our Cousin/Sister Regina and her newly wed husband, Leon (married March 28, 2015) were in Atlanta during the same time.


We made plans to meet them at the King Center for a Family Day Adventure!  (Rachel had to work)

Our goal for the experience was to not only engage in the experience for ourselves, but especially to bring awareness and educate Mink.  But a wrench was threw in our game and she saw this before we could enter the center.


Though Dad and Mom insisted that she continue on our quest,


she became disengaged and disruptive to where she kept loudly repeating, “I want to go to the park!”  So Dad and GODFather Eric took her to the playground, while we continue to engage inside the center.

When Regina, Leon and Doreece decided to proceed to the Freedom Walk, I chose to go to the park to capture pictures of GrandDaughter Mink on the Playground; because she LOVES playgrounds!

While there we began talking to a nice guy, sitting at the playground, as well.  He gave us insight on how he felt it was to live in Atlanta, places to visit in Atlanta and things to do.  He told us he was at the King Center with his Son; who was playing on the playground as well.  He explained to us that his Son lived with his Mother in a different city and they had met at a midpoint from their homes in order for him to get the Son and spend the weekend with him.  “AAWW, that’s so nice,” I responded.  I was so impressed and touched to hear that they were two parents that had rose to the occasion of functioning in the best interest of the child and I told him such.  He responded by saying, “It wasn’t always like this.  We had to grow to get to this point.”  I was even more impressed and touched; their presence exemplified “parental growth.”

Of course, my response was, “Take lots of pictures; this time is PRICELESS!”  He responded, “Yeah, but my phone has died.”

OPPORTUNITY for Change; because I LOVE making memories for others!  I wanted to capture this moment for them.

I said, “Do you want me to take you guys picture?!”
He said, “Absolutely!  But how would I get it?!”
Me:  “Do you have Facebook (the quickest and easiest way to share pictures today)?!”
He:  “Yes”

He gave me his Facebook information, I sent him a friend request for him to accept, when he regained access to his phone.  We are still Facebook friends today.

Hats off to the Parents that are doing whatever it takes to parent in the best interest of the children!

Salute to Marcus Campbell and His Son’s Mother!!

About Me – My Hobby

Photography is my hobby (what I do regularly for pleasure) and has been all of my life.  Most people that know me from all walks of my life, know and remember me taking pictures. I’ve always had a passion for pictures and my camera is my American Express; “I don’t leave home without it.”  It was my greatest asset during my travel to study abroad. (Photos taken by Frances L. Murphy, PhD.)

Because I lost my parents at an early age, pictures of them were the next best thing to them existing to me.  When I would see pictures of them, I used to study them; thinking I could get to know them, if I really concentrated.  So I view pictures as opportunities to capture memories.

In most of the pictures I saw of my parents, they were standing so far back, I really could not see their faces.  It seemed to be some type of trend, (back in the black and white picture days) because it seemed as if a lot of pictures were taken that way.  Because of my challenges in seeing pictures of my parents, I prefer up close and personal; portrait photography.

The most enjoyable part of my hobby is that I do it for pleasure; so I can have my own preferences.  One of my preferences is taking family portraits, because family pathology is my passion.  Of course, my own family is my Number One target.  To let you know how they feel about it, they call me “Paparazzi!”  Anytime I walk in the door to a family event, they will say, “Oh, Paparazzi is here!”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My ultimate focus of this Encore journey is to create and build my legacy (the value that I hand down).  I understand that it will take time and it will grow and change as I grow and change.  In my opinion, family portraits captures legacies.  The family portrait I am most honored to capture are generational pictures; 3rd Generation, 4th Generation and 5th Generation; with 3rd Generation being the most common and 5th Generation being the most challenging.

I was most THANKFUL to be able to capture a 4 Generation for My GrandDaughter Mink on her Maternal side!  Her Great GrandMother Edna King (second from the left) is currently 93 years old; she was 92 years old when this picture was taken.  I pray I am able to capture another one, now that she has grown.


King – 4 Generation

Continuing to use my camera to capture my Encore journey, memories and building a legacy…

So when you see me, be ready to capture a memory and be a part of my legacy!!

Until next time…

Need for Change – My Sister (Aunt Doreece)

My Sister, Doreece Devone Lawrence, has a personal goal to visit all 50 states in her lifetime.  Because of this goal, we have lived In in different city and states most of our adult years.  We did have the opportunity to live together in Oakland, California (1987 – 1989), until her continuous desire to move surfaced.

Our tenure together in Oakland, California gave Aunt Doreece the opportunity to build a relationship with Magic (my Son).  Our continuous residential distance has caused her to be far from her dear ones and miss most of our family milestones.  This challenge didn’t seem to bother her until my GrandDaughter Mink was born.  Mink was 3 months old, when they were able to meet personally in St. Louis, Missouri.  Because Mink was just a little baby, Aunt Doreece didn’t really expect her to know her.079

Though we have been distant in location, she has always been close at heart.  She would consistently send Mink gifts in the mail.  She was sure this practice would ensure to build on the relationship bridge with her.


Yet, when they met again in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico for my Son and Daughter-In-Laws wedding, Mink treated her like a complete stranger.  Mink was only 16 months; she was dealing with stranger anxiety and viewed most people as a threat.  Aunt Doreece’s feelings were really hurt and making Mink like her was her goal.

She was so determined to turn Mink around that she volunteered to babysit her on my Son and Daughter-In-Law’s wedding day.  She bathed her, dressed her and made her sleep with her.  This is a picture of how Mink felt about it.


Unfortunately, Aunt Doreece left Mexico without being able to break through Mink’s stranger anxiety.

They met again a month later, when Aunt Doreece came to Chicago for my Surprise Going Away to South Africa party.  And the gap still existed.  Mink was comfortable playing with other children, but still was not feeling Aunt Doreece.  Our little cousin, Kaliyah (7 years old) had to be a buffer in order for Mink to even take a picture with Aunt Doreece.

I tried to convince Aunt Doreece that she needed to be patient and allow Mink to grow up more to get to know her better.  Just as I advised her, when she came back to visit in December for Christmas (after my return from South Africa), Mink (22 months) was more comfortable with her and they were able to engage with each other.

Though Aunt Doreece was very happy for their new found relationship, she vowed that if/when my Son and Daughter-In-Law had another baby, she would not have this problem again; she would come around more in order to be able to spend more time with the baby.

Opportunity for Change

When my Son and Daughter-in-Law informed us (November, 2014) that they were expecting again, Aunt Doreece cancelled all of scheduled travels and immediately started making plans to be in the Chicago area for the birth and every milestone after.  She confirmed this vow, when we went to visit Mink’s Godfather Eric and his Girl, Rachel in Atlanta for 2015 Spring Break, she came from Virginia to join us.


Just as she said she would, when we called Aunt Doreece to let her know that my Daughter-In-Law was going into the hospital for delivery, she jumped in her car and drove to the Chicago area from Virginia.  She was able to meet Magic Deuce, when he was 1 day old and was one of his first visitors, when he arrived home from the hospital!

Even though the internet and smartphones are the next best thing to being there.  Hopefully, Aunt Doreece will continue to choose the Best and has learned the value of being there!


Will she change her quest to visit all 50 State to ensuring that she makes it to all family milestones?!

Transition – GrandSon (Birthday Twin)

My Maternal Family is able to track our family tree back to 1831 to my Great Great Great Grandfather Jacob M. Ransom, who was born on my birthday July 22.  I have been mostly impressed that our family has been able to maintain our family information as far back to slavery, because Jacob M. Ransom had to be born a slave.  I have to give credit to our Cousin, The Late Florine Ransom-Rosser for not only keeping the information, but passing it on to her children and other relatives.

I was shocked and mostly felt honored, when I found out Jacob M. Ransom and I shared the same birthday (131 years apart)!  History has a way of repeating itself, but this time it only took 53 years; this year, my GrandSon (Daniel DeLorez Lawrence, Jr.) was born on our birthday!  My nickname for him is “Magic Deuce.”

Just a note:  I named my son after my parents, because I lost them so early in life.  My Dad’s name was Daniel Gibson, Jr.  My Mother’s name was Delores Lawrence.  So I named my Son Daniel DeLorez Lawrence and I gave him the nickname of “Magic.”  So I nicknamed my GrandSon “Magic Deuce,” because he is my second Magic.   


I feel like he is a Birthday Gift from GOD!

Now that I have two Grandchildren, I realized this would present a change for our “Mink and Magogo Day,” because I would not want to continue to pick up My GrandDaughter without seeing My GrandSon.  When I presented my concern to My Son and My Daughter-In-Law, my Son came up with the solution, “Well, now you need to come every Sunday instead of every other Sunday!”  Immediately, I responded, “Are you crazy?!  I have to have time for myself!”

Though I had been successful with picking up my GrandDaughter every other Sunday, it was a challenge with all the other things I had to accomplish in my life.  The Sunday that I didn’t pick her up was “My Sunday” and now you trying to tell me to give that up as well?!  I was not trying to hear that!

Then I stopped to remembered “anything worth having takes sacrifice.”  I knew I wanted to build a relationship with my GrandSon as well.  So I reconsidered the situation and compromised.  I decided and agreed to come spend time with the entire family every Sunday until My Daughter-In-Law was well and back to work; to help out with washing dishes, washing clothes, cleaning up; anything I can do to help out.  But most importantly to spend time with my Grandchildren.

My GrandDaughter LOVES to have visitors come to the Home!  Now that I have been coming every Sunday, she wants me to spend all of the time with her.  She has created a game called “Sleepover,” which means for me to come to her room and play with her.  When I come in her room, she closes the door so no one else can come in.


Playing Sleepover

I had to explain to her that I can’t spend all of the time playing “Sleepover” with her.  I have to spread the love.  I have to spend time with My GrandDog Misti Bleu, My GrandSon Magic Deuce and with Mom and Dad.  We all had to readjust our lives to include a new addition, which brought about a change.  Currently, our “Mink and Magogo Day” has changed to “Family Day” and we all had to adjust accordingly.  She responded and said, “Okay” and she seems to understand.  We are both experiencing change; she has to share her “Mink and Magogo Day” and I had to give up “My Sunday.”  I thought it would be difficult for her, but she is like her Magogo; a Soldier!!

We are experiencing a New Transition and we THANK GOD for it!

Accomplishment – Obtaining a Daughter-In-Law

Some people say and truly feel that a Parent can not be a Parent and a Friend with their children.  I try not to engage in that discussion, because I oppose that belief.  Because of my lack of immediate family, I was forced to play multiple roles in my son’s life.  I was not only his mother; I was his father, his siblings, his maternal/paternal grandparents and his uncles.  He was BLESSED to have an AWESOME Maternal Aunt; so I didn’t have to play that role.  Having to play these multiples roles, enhanced our relationship in multiple ways, which made us become Friends as well.

When he reached the dating period of his life (in my opinion) things were not looking good.  I was just not feeling the girls he was bringing around.  Whenever there was someone new, the people that knew us well would rush to ask me, “Well, what do you think about her?!”  It got to the point, all I would hear is “As far as you are concerned, there will NEVER be anyone good enough for Magic!”  They really believed that I felt if my son gained a relationship, I would lose our relationship.  I couldn’t convince anyone that I truly wanted my son to find someone; just the right one!

As his dating life proceeded, it seemed (in my opinion) as things were getting worse!  As usual, whenever I’m feeling desperate times, I pray!  I got on my knees, prayed and asked GOD to PLEASE help my son find the person that HE had for my Son.  To this date, I haven’t even prayed and asked GOD to send me anyone, but I felt the NEED to pray for my son!

GOD answers prayers and despite what all others thought and believed, my son found her and I THANK GOD for her!  Her name is LaToya Denise King!  He met her while he was working as a Graduate Intern at Thornridge High School in Dolton, IL; she was a Graduate Intern as well.  Currently she is a School Counselor; just like my Son!


She is the Dearest Daughter ever!  I am honored to let people know that there was someone good enough for my Son and he had found her!

My parents never married.  Me and my Son’s father never married.  When my Son and Daughter-In-Law had my Granddaughter Mink, they were engaged, but not married.  So our families were experiencing a cycle of having children out-of-wedlock.

Yet, they did get married on June 22, 2013 in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico!


And just like with my Son, I didn’t just gain a Daughter-In-Law, I gained a friend!  She has blessed me with some experiences that I know came from having a Daughter-In-Law.  One example is before I left for South Africa, they hosted a Surprise Going Away Party for me!  I was TRULY surprised!  I was most impressed by the people that were in attendance, because they all were my GOD-Given Family members!  I was intrigued that they were able to contact the party guest without any assistance from or knowledge of me; the stamp of a Daughter-In-Law, because my Son just does not think like that!


Obtaining the Daughter-In-Law that was MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH for my Son in an Encore Accomplishment!



Change – Being a GrandMother

My Father died at the age of 35 years old.  I was five (5) years old and my Sister was three (3) years old.  My Mother died at the age of age of 30 years old.  I was seven (7) years old and my Sister was five (5) years old; so neither of my parents got the opportunity to become a GrandParent.

My Paternal GrandFather died before we were born.  My Paternal GrandMother died, when I was ten (10) years old and my Sister was seven (7) years old; so we didn’t get a lot of time to make memorable memories with our Paternal Grandparents.

My Maternal GrandMother died, when I was 25 years old and my Sister was 23 years old.  My Maternal GrandFather died when I was 31 years old and my Sister was 29 years old.  Though, we got to know them greatly, I don’t recall any fun-filled memories with them.

My son’s father and his family were never really in his life and with my parents passing away before he was born, my son was raised with no grandparents at all in his life.

Opportunity for Change

While I was in graduate school, I was BLESSED to become a GrandMother, with a GrandDaughter on Valentines Day of 2012.  She is the Sweetest Valentine’s Day gift, for the rest of my life!  Her name is DeYani Danielle Lawrence.  I gave her the nickname “Mink,” because I knew she would acquire a great deal of my money.


Initially, I chose my GrandMother’s name to be “Mother Dear.”  When I would come home to visit from graduate school, I would give her my typical “Hello,” which was “Hey Nah!”  While I was away in South Africa, my Son and Daughter-In-Law would show her pictures of me and she would say, “Hey Nah!”

After my experience in South Africa and learning in the Xhosa culture, GrandMother was called “Magogo;” I chose to change my GrandMother’s name to “Magogo” to commemorate my experience in South Africa.  Now upon my return, Mink still calls me “Hey Nah;” which has become by GrandMother nickname.  So I gave myself a GrandMother name and my GrandDaughter has given me a GrandMother nickname and she uses both!

Given my lack of experience of having or watching my son have a fun-filled GrandMother, I made a personal vow to be the Fun-Filled GrandMother I wish I had or the Fun-Filled GrandMother I wish my Son had; this was a change I wanted to see.

When my GrandDaughter reached the potty training period (2 1/2 years old), I made arrangements with my Son and Daughter-In-Law to pick her up every other Sunday.  My goal was to spend time with just her in order for her to get to know me better and to create fun-filled memories for the both of us.  I wanted her to be able to remember special times that just the two of us shared.  I would researched things for us to do together and looked forward to doing them!  I called our time together “Mink and Magogo Day!”

Some of the things that we’ve experienced on our “Mink and Magogo Day” are:

  • UniverSoul Circus
  • Bengtson Pumpkin Patch
  • Build-A-Bear Workshop
  • 1st Movie Theatre experience – “Home”
  • Mall Playground – Her Favorite
  • School Field Trips
    • Navy Pier
    • Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Live Musical Plays
    • Fancy Nancy
    • Elephant and Piggy

When I began to run out of things to do, I sought help from my Son and Daughter-In-Law.  My Son said, “Mom, you don’t have to do something every time you pick her up.  You can just sit at home with her.”  I was like, “No, I’ve got to do something, while I am able.  You never know when it’s my last day on this earth.”


During graduate school, I decided to go natural with my hair.  Right before I went to South Africa, I got the “Big Chop.”


After my return from Africa and my hair had begun to grow back, I sought the service of my Cousin LaToya Jackson, who specializes in braiding little girls’ hair.  I went to get my hair twisted every 2 weeks.  Then Mink’s hair began to grow and she needed her hair braided as well.  So our Fun-Filled “Mink and Magogo Day” turned into “Mink and Magogo’s Hair Day.”

Continuing to explore being a Fun-Filled GrandMother…

Continuing My Encore Journey

Encore Journey

I had endured a very challenging childhood that presented situations that were unimaginable, unjust and unhealthy.  I would look back on my life and wish a great number of things had been different.  I couldn’t do anything about my past childhood, but I could make change efforts in my adulthood.  I made a personal commitment to be the change I wanted to see, which I made as my driving motivation in my adult life.

My professional career was driven by making enough money to raise my only son as a single mother.  My 23 1/2 federal government career provided me with the financial means to do so.  Yet, in the last 15 of my 23 1/2 years tenure,  I had been working in a toxic environment driven by work place bullying for 15 years.  I was making very good money, but was professionally drained and unhappy.

In 2010, my son graduated with his Master degree and had obtained a position as a High School Counselor; my job as a single mother had been successfully accomplished.  I begin to realize that I no longer needed to endure this toxic environment and I needed to reprogram my mind, body and spirit to focus on a me, my own accomplishments and a healthy life.

In 2011, I decided to step out on faith and leave my federal government career in search of employment that would allow me to be the change I wanted to see; which I call my “Encore Journey.”  This decision lead me to the decision to pursue a graduate degree.  I felt that it would be the best way to explore new opportunities.  Pursing my graduate degree lead me to Study Abroad in South Africa for my last semester (Fall, 2013) in graduate school.

I initially started this blog under the suggestion and encouragement of Kelly Holland, who was working as the Study Abroad Coordinator at Eastern Illinois University, to document my experiences of Study Abroad in South Africa.  I didn’t know too much about blogging, but I was willing to give it a try and as an end result, I LOVED IT!  I wanted to continue to blog, but was unsure about what I could blog about.  Just recently, I decided to restart and continue my blog to document my Encore Journey.

So if you initially joined by blog ONLY to explore my experiences in South Africa, this is a notice to inform you that I am restarting and continuing this blog with with my experiences of my Encore Journey.  Yet, I invite you to stay engaged, share your comments and encouragement as I continue to document my Encore Journey.


The Sweetest Valentines Gift Ever!

Today is My Only Grandchild’s

DeYani Danielle

aka “Mink”

2nd Birthday!


To her I say,

” Your birthday is a perfect time for offering a prayer that GOD will always keep you in His never-failing care.  That his love will give you faith and hope, His wisdom be your guide and you’ll have the joy of knowing He is always at your side.”

I Love You More Than You Would Ever Know…

Happy Valentine Birthday!

With Love  -Magogo

Valentines Day2