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Full circle part 3: Right here. Right now.

New Jersey is where I grew up; however, Illinois is where it started.

My nearly 3 weeks in the state where it started is definitely a blessing. It's about reconnecting with a place where I didn't reside for too long a time, but for too long a time, in a quiet way, resides in me.

The Juneteeth events (click HERE for part 1 of our series) along with additional book signings, interviews, and bookstore placement are definitely a blessing (click HERE for part 2 of our series). The support from friends and people who I met for the first time are times I am truly grateful for.

My time isn't all just working and networking. It's about having a little fun too.

Enjoying the hidden gem that is Make Music Normal is music to my ears (and just about anyone's given the wide array of music genres and people having a nice time). My time spent in Chicago is a good time for me. It's still a favorite city of mine. Yes, like any place, there are some challenging times and situations, but there are good (make that GREAT) people who care about the city. Maybe if we do a better job of amplifying what they are doing and better support them, then things could conceivably pivot in a more positive direction (click HERE and go to the 26:00 minute mark to learn about the 2022/12th annual #UnityDayChi event).

That's just a thought as I enjoyed dinner at a Bronzeville staple and proceeded to another Southside spot for some classic R and B mixed in with some house music. How can you not listen to house music when you make it to the Windy City (let alone, forget a quiet spot in the northern part of the city which is part Chicago and part Jersey)?

As I wind down, connections are what they are. I'm grateful for the ones I have, the ones I've made, and the ones I've yet to make. Be it a return visit for a book signing or related engagement (including this Saturday, July 30th, for the Cultural Festival at Miller Park in Bloomington, IL) or time with family, friends, and loved ones, while not often enough, making a few days to connect and reconnect where it all started is all worth it.

It's a place to slow things down just for a moment, and then pick up the pace.

It's a place for me to pause, grow, and go.

It's where it all started and starts again.

Right here. Right now.

Notes: All photos are recorded by Andrew Snorton. The video is from enjoying some downtime at The Family Den.

Photo grid: The top row (left to right) features a snapshot near my old neighborhood, along with the downtown square (Normal) with an audience view from Make Music Normal. The middle row (left to right) includes a random photo, a look at me enjoying a meal at Pearl's Place, and time with Devo Ent at The Family Den. The bottom row is a candid with a family member, a fish sandwich and fries from Frannie's Beef and Catering, and the sun setting in Central Illinois.

Video: Enjoying some time to relax during "Sunday Funday" at The Family Den (and no, we don't own the rights to the music; it's public domain, so enjoy the sounds).

The flyer is a reminder to join the author at Miller Park in Bloomington, IL on July 30th (for the Cultural Festival); you may stop by his table for more details.


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