Sea of Galilee

Sea of Galilee
Israel: Peaceful shores, Historical wonders, Unresolved Conflicts

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Take II

The bad news is I’m undergoing surgery again for the same problem.
The good news is it’s non-invasive.
The bad news is, it’s surgery. No matter how invasive or non-invasive, things can go wrong once you enter that sterile, white operating room, and you’re unconscious.
This time, I am awake since the procedure only requires moderate sedation.
Good news for a recovering control freak.
The bad news is I always think about my life and death during the weeks and days leading up to surgery.
I always have a checklist.
Is your life insurance paid? Yes.
Did you hide things you don’t want your mother to read if you’re in a coma? Yes.
Did you set the out-of-office email alert? No.
Did you take the living will to the hospital? No.
There are certain life events that force you to do a BIG reality check.
The last time I had surgery (in 2007) I spent quality time with my mother, who flew in from Florida to help me during my recovery.
We did mundane things like watch wall-to-wall news coverage of Ana Nicole Smith’s sudden death. I had four weeks to do nothing except recover and reflect.
After I recovered, I took time to plan my next move and found a main anchor job.
Surgery forced me to have a sense of urgency about making decisions that would enhance my life and legacy.
Since my recovery time is shorter this time, I’m free to think without the haze of pain meds as I plan my next act.
I’m also 8 years older.
I reflect on what an older brother - the straight shooter in the family - told me as he approached 50. He said, “Kat, we’re closer to the other side now.”
I was taken aback by his candidness, but he was right.
He meant that we had lived most of the years we’re going to live unless we live to be 90 or 100.
Thank God I did not tip over to that other side during surgery two.
In fact, my doctor had decided to retire, and I would be his last patient.  
Surgery went well. I only needed pain meds for a few days.
I can’t focus long enough to read a good book.
In between naps, I’m getting new company promotional material designed and building a new web site. I’m making plans for my next Wow media and branding seminars and contacting prospective partners.
Without phones ringing, I’m thinking creatively and strategically.
So, what was I waiting for? I’m not sure, but I pray I don’t have to endure one more second in the operating room to get me on track.
Surgery is like life. Sometimes you gotta cut off the source of the pain or people no matter how much it hurts. In the midst of the pain, you’re forced to get up and walk to regain your strength.
I’m walking tall again. Taking deep breaths without pain. My voice is strong.
I feel like singing a cappella. But I’m going shopping for makeup. Gotta look my best for my next act.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Week 6 of the Diet: Yes, I Can Cook!

It is week six of my self-imposed sentence, and yesterday and today, a friend and cousin called while I was in the kitchen. They both said, "I didn't know that you cooked." I laughed because I cook almost every day, and at first I struggled with this sugar free/grain free/gluten free/fruit free regimen. Angels have come to my aid along the way. The Angel-of-the-Week award goes to my old buddy, Corey Thomas, who suggested we meet at one of his favorite places for lunch - a Chinese restaurant with an Oriental Supermarket. I was pleasantly surprised after discovering they sold fresh fish, including bass and red snapper. I pass this place all the time! I scooped up the snapper at a great price and made Tanzanian fish stew. Today, I cooked cabbage and lamb shank using a Senegalese recipe from NY chef Pierre Thiam's cookbook Yolele! We met during a trip to Senegal years ago. For the first time I tried one of his recipes, and he became one of my angels. Here's the proof (Herman and Sara) that KT can cook.

Another angel is the butcher/manager at the Fresh Market in Ridgeland. Tip: Get to know the produce manager and butchers by name. Once we started talking, he introduced me to all kinds of hidden gems in the spice aisle, and best of all they didn't have wheat and very little or no salt. He is a former military man who has lived in Morocco and other parts of Africa. He convinced me to try the lamb shank in a stew and turned me on to Urban Accent's Moroccan Tagine and Madras Curry - all natural one-pot spice packs.

I've cooked lamb chops, rack of lamb, and leg of lamb, but I had only eaten the shank in a restaurant. It wasn't my favorite, but I'm glad I listened to the butcher's recommendation and gave the shank a try in a crock pot with moroccan tagine. The sweet smell of coriander, cumin, black pepper, basil and a few other herbs and spices filled the house like potpourri. It's an earthy rich mix. The curry was my favorite and made an easy curry chicken.

My lesson of the week is that fresh tomatoes or tomato paste along with red peppers add just the right touch to the Mediterranean and Caribbean dishes that I've tried recently.  In fact, I added tomato sauce to homemade crackers made with fresh basil, thyme, and cumin.

The wonderful thing about this journey? I'm constantly learning new things about cooking and myself, and I'm meeting people who love to cook or eat, and realize the importance of healthy eating habits. More often than not, restaurant employees are happy to answer questions about what's in the food and how it's prepared.   I'm thankful for these angels, and on this Memorial Day weekend, I'm thankful for the angels who died in service to our country and those still defending our nation. Next Adventure: Pound Cake With Coconut Flour, Stevia And Vanilla Beans. I am scared of this one because a pound cake needs a good pound of buttah.  Bon Appetit.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Week Four of the Diet: Thanks Mother

It is week four of eight of my candida diet, and on this Mother's Day, I thank God for my mother who convinced me to stick with it. She was blessed with great curves, but not the best metabolism, and she knows any secret you can imagine about healthy cooking. Did you know seaweed is good for thickening soup? Learned that from mother. Anywho, I'm the sixth and last child born to my parents, and unlike my sisters, I wasn't a debutante and didn't take Home Economics in middle school. I can still whip up a mean southern dish of fried chicken or a pretty good french sauce. This gluten free-sugar free-candida diet has me trying new recipes and digging out and enjoying culinary toys that have sat in my kitchen cabinets for years. On Cinco de Mayo, I made homemade guacamole for the first time.

The food processor,, and crock pot are fab for a working lady. I can't have any grain-based flour or vinegar, which means I make my own salad dressing, and treats. I stopped eating most processed meats years ago, but I miss cooking with smoked turkey meat. I mean what's a good pot of collard greens without meat? FYI, organic collard greens don't need the meat. They can be sauteed.

Who would've thunk purple onions, vegetable broth, and fresh sage could work wonders for the boring green bean. Oh, potatoes are out too. A great substitute is rutabagas. I threw a few in the pot with green beans, and cooked a turkey meatloaf with fresh tomato sauce with just a little Stevia. I don't think I've ever cooked meatloaf; so, this turned out to be a nice surprise. My grandmother introduced me to rutabagas, and I think about her every time I cook them. Miss you grandma! This plate's for you, and all the women, (including my big sister Pammy) who taught me to burn. Next, coconut and almond balls courtesy of

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Chard. Chicken. Chocolate. 60 Days To Better Health

Chard, chicken, and chocolate are okay. Butter, cheese, fruit, sugar, and gluten are not. No cereal. No grains. No rice. No corn. This is my diet of choice – vegetables, free-range poultry, and fish for 60 days. Pray for a sistah. I’m on day six. Research and experts say this yeast-free or what is called a Candida diet will give my digestive system a break and help the healing.  
My journey back to homeostasis started a little over a year ago when I couldn’t tolerate raw food and was experiencing debilitating drop-to-the-knees, lie-on-the-floor stomach pain (see previous blog). I stopped eating gluten, and hallelujah, the pain went away.
An occasional fried hush puppy cooked with corn meal is heavenly. I don’t even think about eating a fried piece of anything unless it’s oven fried with rice flour.  I have faith that this year, I’ll be able to enjoy my favorite foods such as key lime pie with graham cracker crust, gumbo, bignettes, and elephant ears. 

For now, the picky palate is trying new foods, such as kale, quinoa, and chard, and it likes them. 

But I get hungry a lot because I’m not eating sugar, and research says that may not be good for an extended period of time.  Sugar really is addictive – like a first love. That’s all I think about when I’m not busy. Now, I can relate to those who constantly fight the urge to eat sweets. My favs are pound cake, croissants, glazed donuts, and other stuff that clogs the arteries, raises blood pressure, or causes cancer. Take it from me. Drink more water than anything else. Enjoy sinful delights once a week, and get up and MOVE while you can. I only got better after I got off the couch or should I say floor and took my doctor’s advice: work out four to five days a week. Bon appetite.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Stress Can Kill: My Road To Healing

I thought that I was on my way to managing my stress better than ever. I got a wake-up call when - while on vacation - I ended up in the hospital. I spent two days there after suffering severe stomach pains last November (2011). It was the fourth episode in less than a year. These pains almost always hit while I was traveling. Digesting food was excruciating. After being in the hospital for 48 hours and undergoing several tests, the doctor told me that I should have a biopsy of a vital organ. I started thinking, “Would my family or husband carry out my wishes and have a closed casket funeral?” Should I write my own obituary? Nah. With the support of family and my closest friends, I would keep the faith. While lying in that hospital bed, I looked back at my life and realized that I was always in a hurry. I walked fast. Chalked it up to being from a crazy city - Miami. I would eat healthy snacks, but it would be a piece of fruit while I sprinted out the door. For two years, I learned to multi-task with the best of them as president of the National Association of Black Journalists.

I also worked full time as a solo anchor who reported virtually everyday. Few people knew that I had spent almost three years always smiling for the camera while anchoring a newsroom that was either on fire or taking on water. Months before my term ended as NABJ president, I left the anchor desk and the traditional newsroom madness.  When my term ended as president last August, I looked forward to leading a normal life again. I did not know that my body had taken such a beating until one day it hurt to breathe. I would only turn off the cell phone and take a break during Christmas time. Three out of the four belly bouts happened after I skipped meals and was traveling.

On the way to my last convention as NABJ president, I had a fever and food poisoning. I was in such agony that I stretched across three seats on the airplane and had to be wheeled through two airports in a wheelchair. An angel on the plane – a doctor -- gave me prescription meds that helped me get through a tense week. Again, I put on my best anchor face, and no one had a clue about the troubles I’d seen. The last belly bout came suddenly while I was on a working vacation, and my best friend, Gloria took me to a Tampa, Florida ER.

Instead of going 100 mph daily, I was still going about 100 mph several days a week. I had left behind the newsroom deadline pressures, but being self-employed can be stressful. I often worked until midnight or later. I had just taken a trip to Israel, but it was no vacation.

The schedule was fast-paced. Two months after my hospital stay and experts in other states studied my innards, the diagnosis was stress and acid reflux coupled with at least one brutal infection. I was dehydrated, and I constantly ignored warning signs that my body wasn't functioning like it was supposed to. My doctor ordered me to get to the gym at least four days a week. I thought, "Really?" During the next few weeks, I had to adhere to a special diet. No fried foods, no nuts, no raw fruits or veggies. No salads. At times, I could only tolerate broth. (In another post, I'll tell you why the broth was making matters worse). I told God that if he healed me, I would tell the world. World, this is my story. People assume that you are healthy when you are thin. They ask me all the time, how do I stay so thin? I tell them that I eat to live.

I have learned being healthy is not about what you eat. It is how and when you eat. It is about saying ‘no’ to unhealthy things and saying ‘yes’ to things that enrich and balance your life. Stress can and does kill. Real love, God’s comforting words, and the love of family and friends are the best diet of all. Bon appetit. Written January 2012

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lessons I Didn't Learn In J-School

This is an abbreviated version of a speech that I delivered at the University of Mississippi to an audience of future shot callers (journo-preneurs).
LESSON 1 – Be adventurous.
LESSON 2 –  Don’t let your enthusiasm cloud your judgment. Slow down or you could become the next day’s front-page news.
A former NABJ president always says people who fail to plan – plan to fail.
LESSON 3 – Set short term and long-term goals. Make contact with people who can get you where you want to be. I resisted the temptation of taking a producer position because I wanted to be on the air.
LESSON 4 - Never settle.
LESSON 5 – Have fun on your way to the top. And if you meet a nice guy or girl and they don’t mind moving around the country with you, get married. Many women my age who are in the business don’t have children.
Know the difference between a big baller and a shot caller.
A shot caller can hire you or pick up the phone and get you a job.
A big baller makes great money. For example, he can say honey pack your bags, I just bought us round-trip first-class tickets to Paris for a few days.
A shot caller picks up the phone, calls the pilot and says get the jet ready. We’re flying to Paris, and let’s stop in Barcelona. I’d like to spend some quiet time on my yacht and a week at the castle in Malta.
LESSON 6 – Don’t be lazy. Any reporter can cover the news. The best reporters break news.
I had fun doing all kinds of wild stories in Birmingham, including one story that remains an unsolved mystery.
A few years ago, someone sent an email to the newsroom in Birmingham. It was an email from the school superintendent’s office. It said one of his students did not return from a senior trip. I called the superintendent’s office and the school principal. A few hours went by and neither returned my call. So, I went to the school and went to the principal’s office. His assistant told me had just left for the day but a counselor may have details about the senior trip. I went to the counselor and asked her about the email and reports of a missing student.
She turned white as snow and told me the school did not sanction the senior trip. I pressed her for more information and she gave me the number of the travel agent who booked the trip.
I called the travel agent and she told me her business partner was still in Aruba. There was another clue. Most of the students were already back home.  I called an Alabama congressman and his office told me he heard there was a student missing, but he did not have a formal request from her family to get involved.
Throughout the day, I followed up with the congressman’s office. Just before the 5 o’clock show started, the congressman himself called me back and confirmed a high school grad by the name of Natalee Holloway was indeed missing. My station was the first to get the story on the air. My persistence paid off.
LESSON 7 - Strive to be first on every story. The early bird really does get the worm. The second may get his leftovers. And if you keep coming in third, you or your boss eventually gets fired.
LESSON 8 - Change sucks, but it doesn’t have to drain you.
LESSON 9 - All shot callers don’t have planes or corner offices. They do have crystal balls.
LESSON 10 - Whenever you think about giving up on something or someone, work harder than you’ve ever worked and sleep on it for 30 days if you can. Then make your move.  
Before I made my move, this old dog learned new tricks.
I also knew things and people that no one else in the newsroom knew.
LESSON 11 – Cover a beat that no one understands or wants.  Have a niche.
Know how to network and cultivate sources.
Spend some time in the sales department or going to lunch with sales people. They’ll tell you how the company is really doing.
Instead of always talking to public information officers, get to know the crime scene workers or the coroner. They know where the bodies are buried.
Some of the best flirts in the world go far in this business.
Find out where politicians and shot callers drink.
LESSON 12 – The more they drink, the more they leak. But protect your sources and maintain strong ethics. You’ll earn a good reputation that could someday pay off especially if you suddenly find yourself out of a job.
As an entrepreneur, I still work hard, but I play hard. I can finally take vacation during Sweeps. Remember, successful entrepreneurs solve problems.
LESSON 13 - Decide now.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What’s your dream job?
Are you driven by money?
Are you driven by power?
I was driven by power. The media can change people’s lives.  
Will you be happy driving a Toyota and owning a 3-bedroom home?
Do you want to live in a tony neighborhood, travel abroad, and give your kids a great education? Do you want your name on a building?
Do you want to anchor in a top 20 market? Own your own business? Be editor of the New York Times? Rupert Murdoch’s apprentice? Reality tv star? Sales executive? Pundit?
LESSON 14 - You find many big ballers and shot callers in journalism
at conventions and awards dinners. If you’re not a member of NABJ - SPJ – RTDNA – PRAM – you’re missing an opportunity for a one-on-one meeting with a shot caller.
Every year I would go to conventions and show news directors my work. I’d take their advice. A news director told me to get braces. I did.  
Remember, tv is a visual medium. 
Care about the quality of your work.
Care about the community that you’re covering.
Don’t put things on Facebook that will make your mother or minister blush.
LESSON 15 - Unless you have a trust fund, your credibility is all that you have in this world and you can’t afford to blow it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Part One of Israel: State of Contradictions

While Palestinians seek United Nations’ recognition as a state, I am in Israel getting a first-hand look at this complex State of Contradictions.

The American Jewish Committee invited me and other African-American leaders, including elected officials from Atlanta, New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., to the Holy Land.

We are meeting with scholars, educators, health and medical experts, and military and political leaders to get a better understanding of the conflict that literally divides Jews, Christians, and Muslims in a state that is controlled by the majority – Israeli Jews. About 7.5 million people live in Israel. Three-fourths are Jews and 21 percent are Arab-Muslim according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

We visited Shaul Goldstein, the mayor of a West Bank Jewish settlement that just celebrated 44 years of occupation in the rural outskirts of Jerusalem. The West Bank is home to mostly Arab families (Palestinians) and Jews. Palestinians control two of three areas identified as A, B, and C. 

During our meeting Friday, Goldstein paused to check his pager for updates on protests related to the historic United Nations meeting. He received a report of protestors throwing rocks at cars with Israeli license plates. It happened just hours before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke before the UN Assembly as he submitted a letter asking for formal recognition as a state.

Goldstein explained why he says - as a direct descendant of Abraham - he has a right to the Holy Land and the town of Gush Etzion. The anniversary of Gush Etzion’s survival is no small feat. Goldstein recalled how his predecessors were forced out of the West Bank twice early in the 1900s. 

We also met with Ibrahim Abu Shindi who is proud of his Palestinian heritage and says his family has lived in Jaffa, Tel Aviv since 1673. Yet, the Arab Muslim has been detained and questioned for hours at Israel’s airport, although he travels to teach tolerance. Peace is a part of Abu Shindi’s daily existence. He is the Director of the Arab-Jewish Community Center in Jaffa. While there, we ran into Peter Yarrow, a member of the famed Peter, Paul and Mary folk music trio of the 1960s.

The “profiling” of Arab Muslims is a way of life. To keep suicide bombers at bay, guards check purses and bags before people enter open-air markets and malls.  Soldiers carrying high-powered rifles are also interspersed on the street and at the Old City of Jerusalem, home to ornate churches, mosque, and temples. They preserve a walled stretch of holy ground that includes Via Dolorosa, the path that Jesus took while carrying his cross to his crucifixion.  

From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel is trying to build a reputation that doesn’t center around national security. Keep in mind, there is a mandatory draft for both male and female Israeli Jewish students once they turn 18 and finish high school.   

On the coast in Tel Aviv, tourists enjoy a robust nightlife, upscale hotels, and beautiful Mediterranean beaches. Travel southeast to Jerusalem, and you can’t miss an impressive new light rail, which just opened in Jerusalem earlier this month.

Thanks in part to a mini-Silicon Valley, Israel is third behind U.S. and China for its companies listed on the NASDAQ. Tech stars like venture capitalist, Jonathan Medved live in Jerusalem. His company launched the world’s first paid video ringtone serviceWhile Israel’s unemployment rate is 5 percent, it also has some of the highest taxes in the world.

In the Palestinian-controlled Ramallah, West Bank, an eco-friendly olive oil industry thrives there. We planned a trip to Ramallah, but organizers of the trip canceled it. They say permits were not being issued to allow visitors inside the city as residents hit the streets to rally support for a Palestinian state.

Permits, tunnels, walls, fences and checkpoints control the comings and goings of people traveling in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the many towns, known as settlements, that make up this region.

Still, I had the opportunity to speak with Palestinians. Some expressed their disappointment with President Obama and Middle East leaders. Professor Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi told me he “felt very sad that both (President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu) lost opportunities to go before the world to be peacemakers. I was disappointed with Obama. He missed another opportunity to lead because he is worried about his reelection. I think that this is sad because he contradicts the values that have been raised by Americans.”

One thing is clear, both Palestinians and Jews agree President Abbas’ bid for a peaceful Palestinian state won’t be successful without broad support from other countries and religious leaders.

Next Blog, “We Are Not A Religious State” – Part Two of A State of Contradictions.