Monthly Archives: February 2016



Although I didn’t travel anywhere (travel is only one aspect of  My business) during this quarter,  I’ve been engaged in other activities associated with This…I…Do…For…Me!  Here’s what I’ve been up to:


I had the pleasure of attending three theatrical productions — “Gotta Dance”, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”, and “Satchmo at The Waldorf.”  Each production was exciting, well written and executed. Each taught me something different.

“Gotta Dance” entertains and reminds us that dreams can still manifest in our Golden Years, and unrecognized or undeveloped talent can still find an outlet for expression.


“Beautiful” reminds us that the soundtrack of our life would not be complete without musical classics like “You’ve Got a Friend”, “It’s Too Late”, “I Feel the Earth Move” and the iconic “Natural Woman.” Carole King has truly made her mark on our collective consciousness and the American songbook.

Along with 13 clients of This…I…Do…For…Me! (TIDFM), I saw “Satchmo at The Waldorf”. This production informs us about another layer of jazz genius Louis Armstrong. He is portrayed by the phenomenal actor Barry Shabaka Henley, who shows us that this great musician was not one dimensional.  I left the theater blown away by Henley’s portrayal of an Armstrong who was often misunderstood (he was perceived by many as an Uncle Tom) despite his genius.


In February, I attended the opening of an exhibit at The DuSable Museum of African American History entitled “The Masterworks Collections (Series I)”, which featured venerable African American artists Henry Ossawa Tanner, Archibald Motley, Jr., William A. Harper and William Edourd Scott. I was mesmerized by these artists’ works, and I was honored to finally see some of the works created by artistic masters  that I’ve heard about all of my life.


In February, I revisited two of my favorite Southside restaurants and a coffee lounge that I had not patronized since its opening.

Chant Restaurant — I never tire of this Hyde Park gem.  Its menu is a fusion of Asian and American classics, and Chant brings you the best of Poutine with Short Ribs, Blackened Red Fish, delectable Gumbo, and other dishes too numerous  to name.  It’s affordable and has some of the best and most unique Martinis.  You MUST try the Triple G Martini!

La Petit Folie — Another Hyde Park diamond,  this French Bistro never disappoints. The Prefixe Menu offers a great Alsatian Onion Tart, outstanding Salmon with Wild Mushrooms in a Puff Pastry, Steak Au Poivre with Herbed Butter and what would a bistro be without classic fare like Chicken with Roasted Vegetables? Additionally,  their desserts are most impressive — don’t leave without trying the Apple Tart or the Dark Chocolate Mousse.  When we exited, I and my TIDFM clients felt as if we had been to the South of France.


Robust Coffee Lounge — Located in Chicago’s Woodlawn community, this haven serves a diverse offering of specialty coffees, teas, blended drinks (I had The Carmel Crunch) and smoothies, along with salads and sandwiches.  The combination of its rustic and industrial environment makes it the perfect place for a business meeting or for getting some work done on your laptop.

Excitingly, I reached some new vistas with This…I…Do…For…Me! I announced TIDFM’s first overseas trip — Sydney, Australia scheduled for November 2017!! Eight slots were offered, and to date only two slots are available. See ya down under, mates!

I really had fun interviewing expat Carolyn Davenport Moncel for this blog.  I admire how she, along with her family, have created a beautiful life in Lausanne, Switzerland.  Additionally, I hired a food and restaurant writer/reviewer — Eleni Murphy. Happily, I  hired a Washington, D.C. journalist Yvonne Hawkins, who will cover the cultural scene in the DMV!  We’re growing by leaps and bounds, and more importantly, I’m having fun!







   Sunlight makes such a difference.


Yvonne Hawkins, our Washington, D.C.. Correspondent, shares insights from her recent visit to The Washington National Cathedral.  If you are visiting the DMV, this landmark is one to see!

I visit D.C.’s Cathedral historic district a couple of times a year to attend interfaith services that the Washington Hebrew Congregation hosts. The temple sits a stone’s throw from the Washington National Cathedral. And I love seeing the cathedral’s spires as I near the temple.

I’m still learning D.C.’s neighborhoods, though. And because the interfaith services are held in the evenings, I didn’t realize I was driving straight through Embassy Row each visit. But during a Sunday morning tour of the cathedral, a spry docent confirmed as much.

Originally, I planned to take a nighttime tour of the D.C. monuments as a Valentine’s Day treat. I really didn’t expect February’s temperatures to pose any problems. As a native Midwesterner, the DMV’s winter feel more like intensive fall to me. But this year’s V-day weather would’ve made Chicago proud.

So I headed indoors.

And since it’s Lent, joining the cathedral’s Sunday worship followed by a docent-led tour was a great blend of spiritual nourishment and personal getaway.

As the nation’s cathedral, Washington National Cathedral simultaneously is home to both an active Episcopalian congregation and official national events. Tours run daily. Even on Sundays.

Our docent joked about how boring young students seem whenever they visit. But the next time you’re in D.C., here’s what you do: Make sure to attend a Sunday lecture or worship service. Then do one of several tours. I had no idea how amazing this one-of-a-kind combo would be!

The cathedral obviously draws high profile guest speakers to its pulpit regularly. The list includes towering figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Billy Graham and Desmond Tutu. Bryan Stevenson, a nationally acclaimed social justice lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, happened to be the guest lecturer and preacher that weekend. The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, a prominent womanist scholar, served as a canon.

If ever I picked an amazing weekend to drop in, this was it.

The cathedral is astonishing. Hand-carved from Indiana limestone. It took more than 80 years to build. Though, a docent can tell you much better than I about the architecture and layers of symbolism throughout the cathedral.

You don’t have to be Anglican—or even religious—to appreciate the cathedral’s beauty. But worshipping—even just for an hour—in such grandeur is significantly better than simply taking a tour. I didn’t take any photos during the service so that I could worship, but I did record a snippet of the pipe organ postlude.

After worship, take the tour. I felt more grounded in the experience by combing worship with the tour. And as with most things D.C., I felt the juxtaposition of the wonders as well as disturbing parts of our national history as I learned more about how this sacred space is built.

That’s because the cathedral’s Gothic architecture tells two stories: The story of God and God’s relationship to God’s people, and the story of the United States of America. As the docent lead us through the cathedral’s highlights, I couldn’t help but notice whenever those two stories blend into a wonderful crescendo and whenever they diverge painfully at odds with each other. As a minister, I was reminded of the principle that a person’s theology—what she or he believes about God—dictates that person’s anthropology. That is, how that person views other people.

And a person’s anthropology then dictates her or his sociology. That is, how the person relates to other people. In many ways, the cathedral’s architecture tells the story of the nation’s theology dictating its anthropology dictating its sociology. Riveting and sad at the same time. I understand, though, if students on tour in D.C. might not get into that much.

D.C.’s 5.8 earthquake in 2011 left the cathedral badly damaged. Because Washington National is a regular church, the government doesn’t support any of its operations, including earthquake repairs. Like all churches, Washington National depends on its congregants for sustenance. Imagine being a congregation responsible for repairing rare earthquake damage to a hand-carved limestone building.

Yeah, they need money. About $32 million.

Our docent said the congregation is committed, as the faithful do, to completing all repairs, no matter how long it takes. I only had a few bucks in cash with me, but I left it in the collection plate. Seemed the least I could for such a magnificent building.

I left that day falling in love in the cathedral. What an amazing jewel. Beautifully flawed and wonderful. Valentine’s Day didn’t disappoint after all. I know I’ll be back.

But one of the times I’m in the neighborhood, I’ll check out Embassy Row, too. Now that I know where it is.

            Yvonne D. Hawkins is an ordained minister, former newspaper journalist, and church leadership consultant who specializes in pastoral care. She currently lives in Northern Virginia. She went to college and seminary in Evanston, Illinois, so she deeply misses Lake Michigan. And the Taste of Chicago. She definitely misses The Taste. Her newest blog is of arms.jpg








A Weekend of Theater


“On Friday, February 5, 2016, I was able to see the production of “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical!”  While I was in New York City in 2015, I opted to pass on seeing “Beautiful” in order to see two other Broadway productions — “Kinky Boots” and “Brothers in the Bottom.”

When the Carole King musical production arrived in Chicago, I still was not motivated to see it.  It wasn’t because I didn’t like the music of King — after all, I knew all too well the lyrics of “Natural Woman”, “I Feel the Earth Move”, “Will You Still Love Me” and the ever recognized “You’ve Got A Friend.”  I think I wasn’t motivated  to see it mainly because I wasn’t interested in another biographical tale of yet another musical artist UNTIL…I started having conversations with people who shared just how many other artists King either wrote for or how many artists (that I adored) covered her music.


Photo:  Marquee of The Oriental Theater, Chicago, Illinois

“Locomotion” — Little Eva, “One Fine Day” — The Chiffons, “Will You Still Love Love Me” — The Shirelles, “Chains” — The Beatles, “Up on the Roof” — The Drifters, and of course Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman” and James Taylor’s “You’ve Got A Friend” — these are all classic songs, thanks to King, that are woven throughout the American songbook.

During the performance, I was amazed at how many King compositions I didn’t know she wrote.  With my head bopping back and forth, feet tapping and snapping fingers, I openly sang along with the cast, and I was proud that I knew all the words to most of the musical numbers featured in the production.

It is also important to note that despite her prolific composing career, this delightful musical production highlights her emotional roller coaster marriage and partnership with one of the world’s best known lyricists — Gerry Goffin.  That aspect, deeply focused on in the production, illustrates King’s vulnerability, her human desire to hold on to love even when it is not healthy to do so, and her talent for incorporating those painful experiences in her music, along with the greatest gift of all — human resilience!


Photo:  Musical Genius Carole King




I also had the opportunity to see another production at The Court Theater “Satchmo At The Waldorf” two days after seeing “Beautiful.” Based on the book “Pops” by Terry Teachout, the drama critic at The Wall Street Journal, this is a moving story line bound to cause you to reexamine Armstrong.


The Court Theater (Chicago) production centers around Armstrong’s performance in the famed Empire Room of The Waldorf Astoria as the landscape for a virtual one man performance (the only other voice in the play belongs to Armstrong’s manager Joe Glaser) showcasing his life as an African American musician and all of the challenges that accompanies that journey, particularly as it relates to racism.

This production of “Satchmo” features famed actor Barry Shabaka Henley as Armstrong, and he channels him expertly.  Henley’s portrayal provides great depth, elicits an emotional intimacy with the audience that comes forth as you are immersed in the dialogue of some of Armstrong’s painful memories and the unfortunate destruction of his relationship with his manager.

It isn’t happenstance that Henley, himself, is a native of New Orleans; his understanding of jazz and the spirit of one of our great American cities permeates throughout his performance.  Henley has appeared in numerous films —  “Ali” with Will Smith, “Collateral” with Jaime Foxx and Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg’s “Terminal,” and after Edward James Olmos left television’s “Miami Vice” as the superior officer, Henly took over in the role as Lieutenant Martin Castillo.  He is a great character actor, and his performance in “Satchmo at The Waldorf Astoria” showcases his solo acting skills. He did one outstanding job! “Satchmo at The Waldorf” is currently on the San Franscisco stage, as well.


Photo: Actor Barry Shabaka Henley


Photo:  The Master — Louis Armstrong