Transformation by the Numbers

Seven. The number of times Sheaveal Beasley turned in her street clothes for a prison uniform. It wasn’t the path she would have chosen. But when she looks back now, she knows that her life’s journey has only just begun.

Thirteen. Sheaveal’s age when she began taking responsibility for her five younger siblings. Growing up in Punta Gorda, Florida, “we cherished each other because we didn’t have much,” she says. Her parents worked hard when Sheaveal was younger, but they eventually started doing marijuana and the family was largely left in Sheaveal’s hands. Resourceful and hopeful, Sheaveal remained in school, graduating with a softball scholarship to attend Miami Dade College.

Three. The number of months Sheaveal completed at college before dropping out. It all happened because of a guy… a guy who did drugs. “I wanted to fit in,” Sheaveal admits. “I fell in love with him.” She began smoking marijuana and doing cocaine. Then she lost her scholarship and had to quit school.

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A Super Legacy?

Something is happening to Indianapolis. With just six days left until the dreaded Patriots face off Peyton’s little brother, the city is awash in the thrills of the spotlight.

Yesterday, Michael and I and a cadre of friends took the bus from our quiet nook in historic Irvington to the center of Super Bowl mania (better known as the Epicenter of Awesome . . . seriously). “Super-ness” began at the Circle and radiated outward with 13,000 “super scarves” (handmade by a group of local women) to be sported by 8,000 super volunteers. Super Indy cars lined up in honor of each NFL teams. A super zipline transported determined fans from one end of Capitol Avenue to the other. Who-in-the-world “Cory Cox” played on a side stage, gearing up for an all-star line-up: Dierks Bentley, Sixpence None the Richer, Village People. You could even stare at some super ice sculptures from super butt-warmer benches.

Despite the fact that it comes at the tail of one of a dismal Colts’ season, Indianapolis has much to be proud of, considering that just 50 years ago the now Super City was better known as Naptown (or India-no-place). But once all of the super flurry has left town, I submit that the greatest trophy left by all the hub bub has been a carefully planned mini transformation of Indianapolis’ Near Eastside, a neighborhood that has just started to recover from an onslaught of housing foreclosures, poverty, and forgotten-ness.

In years past, Indianapolis city officials were criticized for neglecting the grayer areas of town for the economic boost sports centers would give to the city’s center. Not so this time around. The Super Bowl host committee has been anything but absent from the development that is happening on the Near Eastside in the form of the Super Bowl Legacy Project.

Time will tell if that will be an effort worthy of more than a week’s worth of superlatives.

Sixty-three Years

Photo courtesy of Tyler and Amy Jones

Two months ago, my grandfather turned 90. A day later, his health began to decline. Since that time, my family has been preparing to say goodbye. Although my grandfather is still alive and doing fairly well, the reality of the shortness of life and the significance of living that life well has sprung into focus for all of us. In an unsuspecting moment between my grandfather and grandmother, one of my cousins snapped this photo. This is a tribute to what it represents.

Two hands, wrinkled by time and love. Interwoven trust. Aged tenderness. White hair brushes against a weathered gold band.

Sixty-three years.

Knots and callouses of a romance built by faithfulness, little touches of twenty thousand days. An extra cup of coffee. A touch of the hand. A look of admiration.

Sixty-three years.

They traveled the world, one inch at a time. Hot air balloons over the Sahara. Cups of tea in China. Children and grandchildren in Australia.

Sixty-three years.

The moments they made by simply showing up. Piano recitals. Graduations. Weddings.

Sixty-three years.

The places they seemed to make the center of the world. The Root Beer Stand. Skyline Chili. The swimming pool.

Sixty-three years.

And in no small way, everyone leaves feeling like a best friend. A farmer boy who got to sit on Mr. Jones’ tractor. A drop-out who was reminded that he was a person. A waitress who dug into her own pocket to bring chili every week, all because she couldn’t imagine a Tuesday without them.

Unnumbered people who have witnessed a marriage that has lasted.

Sixty-three years . . . at least.

I Finally Did It!

I finally did it. I took the plunge. I ditched my desk job and wound up at my dining room table, joining the ranks of tens of millions of other Americans who earn a paycheck in their pajamas.

Some days it feels almost too good to be true. Other days, I’ll admit, I feel a tad lonely; but only when my newly adopted cat isn’t sitting at my feet begging for food or showering me with feline affection.

There are all sorts of decisions to be made when one launches out on their own as a full-time freelance writer (I still haven’t decided if that’s an oxymoron). Perhaps the most important being where to work, as in where to physically plop your rear.

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