My First (Self-Published) Project is Now Available!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Writing has become a central part of who I am and recently I published my first solo publication! You may find it by clicking on this link.

This brief e-publication, which is only available in digital format, will soon be available to library patrons as well. In addition, it is a womanist planning proposal, and it summarizes what I have learned (over the last twenty years) about the rebuilding of former black ghettos and predominantly black neighborhoods and communities in urban cities. It is both, a proposal and a love letter, as I reflect on the motivations and business legacy of Ollie Gates in Kansas City, Missouri.

It is also a book that I have dedicated to the memory of John Lee Johnson, who was a major catalytic force in redeveloping the North End of Champaign-Urbana, or an area where black residents of Champaign-Urbana were “allowed” to live. The North End is/was also spatially situated right across the street from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). I had the privilege of following Mr. Johnson for about two years, when I was working on my master’s degree in urban and regional planning at UIUC. I learned so much from him, first-hand, about community and economic development.

If the development of former black ghettos, or predominantly black communities and neighborhoods is something that interests you, then this is definitely worth the read. And, it should not take you more than an hour to read it! I made it brief on purpose.

In addition, if you are someone who has supported my writing over the years, thank you, once again, for taking an interest in what I have to say. If you are new to this blog, then welcome to my world!

I look forward to publishing more in the future!

©2019 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

Daddy Issues Matter Too

When a little boy is neglected, belittled, and abused by his father and he remains wounded as an adult, it is not unusual for him to transfer his shame and pain to women and children.

A man-child abuses women and children -and most of all he abuses himself- when he does not choose a healthy way to let go of his pain. Instead, he holds on to his pain; wears it like a badge. Consequently, he causes pain to others, whether he means to or not. With his actions, he demonstrates that his trauma is central to who he is.

By carrying the trauma in his person, front and center, he is asking everyone else to acknowledge or interact with his trauma experience, yet his pain will not go away just because it is visible to others . He must address it for himself.

Sometimes he abuses women to prove to his abusive, absent father (and other abusive men) that he is a man, becoming just like his father, or worse. He is an abusive person The abuse that he causes to others justifies his own abuse. It is scary to imagine how he might interact with his own grandchildren, especially the ones that remind him of his little self.

Then, to explain the problems in his life he may say, “I have bad luck,” which is self-loathing. On the other hand, there are times that placing the blame on “luck” becomes a way for him to avoid culpability when his problems are of his own doing, or the consequences to the poor choices that he has made. This is not a generational curse. No one has to remain in a place of woundedness.

Nevertheless, in some cases – perhaps even in many cases – abuse is passed down, generation to generation and on to good people who do not deserve to be abused by wounded adults who are still hurting and casting their trauma on to those who had absolutely nothing to do with their original pain.

We spend a lot of time talking about people with mama issues, but tend to forget that daddy issues matter too.

© 2023 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

If You Are a Star, Just Be Who You Are!

I know that this title sounds cliche-ish, and maybe even a little cheesy, but there is an important message that I would like to share. Besides, I have not written a blog in over a year. I have been missing this old familiar space. On the other hand, to be honest, there’s been so much going on that I haven’t had much to say. So much trouble in the world. It has literally taken my breath away.

Nevertheless, I recently recalled a memory of interviewing for a position, back in the late 90’s, for a position that would become one of my most memorable career choices. During the interview, one of the interviewees asked me about a statement made by one of my references. He said to me that my reference said that “One day Annalise will probably be a star.” He proceeded to ask me what my referee meant by that statement. Being the savvy person that I am (for such a slick interview question such as this) , I replied, “I’m not sure; you will have to ask my referee what he meant.”

Subconsciously, however, I knew the answer to his question. And what I knew then, as I know now, was this: I am a star. I am a star, I am a star, I am a star. And, because I am a star, I shine, brightly. It is what I do no matter where I go. As the saying goes, I literally let my little light shine. I light up a room, and I bring light to whatever I am doing. I used to be afraid to say it; shucks, it is probably more like I used to be afraid to mean it. But not anymore. I have learned to know myself as a star, and, most importantly, I have learned to embrace my natural “starpower ⭐.

If you are star, like me, continue to shine brightly. Shine as bright as you can until you can shine no more….or, of course, until you EXPLODE!!! You’re not obligated to explain to others who you are, especially if you know they would not or could not appreciate or respect it. Rather, just keep on being who you are, and in time you and everyone else will come to the realization of how amazing you absolutely, positively are.

© 2021 annalise fonza, Ph.D. – updated 01/23/2023

The Pain of the Past

If you let the pain of your past define and control your present, it will affect the breadth and depth of your future.

Failure to address (and thus respect) any prolonged pain – bodily or emotional – can have devastating consequences. Eventually, if you do not acknowledge and/or release your pain, it can make you sick, angry, abusive, or cause you to isolate and numb yourself to the point that you might lose everything and everyone that is important to you.

Worst of all, holding on to an emotionally painful past can make you lose sight of who you are. It can make you believe that you are something or someone that you are not.

You have the power to let go of the pain from your past. Use it to name it, feel it, release it, and watch the pain of the past slowly but surely fade away.

© 2020 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

Post updated 10/4/2020

Be Who You Are, Not What You Do

The things that I do for a living do not make me who I am. I work, primarily, so that I have money to pay my bills. On the one hand, my work is – to some degree – a reflection of who I am and what I value in life. On the other hand, and this is something that I believe we have all learned during the Coronavirus pandemic, is that work (as in a job) is temporal. It is time- sensitive and often limited by the environment in which we live, whether we understand that or not.

I know people who define themselves by the work that they do (or for more superficial reasons such as the benefits of work, i.e., money, prestige, power, material possessions). But what happens when that work dries up or goes away? Who would they be if their day-to-day work duties came to an end through no fault of their own, or through some fault of their own? It is good to take pride in our work, but it is even more important that we learn to define and express ourselves by what is within us, as opposed to what is outside or around us. And, we must know that who we are is not contingent upon what we do for a living, rather who we are is contingent on the beings that we are deep down inside.

There are people who I know in life who define themselves by the work that they do day-to-day on “the job.” Often, those very same people are workaholics, which is, as I have been told, one of the most acceptable yet destructive addictions that a person can have. Because, without that work, they feel meaningless, worthless, and very lost (in a world of so many possibilities). These very same people, who display so much pride and ego about their jobs may easily feel like nothing if and when their jobs come to a complete halt (and so do the things that that work provided). And, this should tell us something about their character, huh? Perhaps they lack the ability (or the courage) to reinvent themselves when life calls on them to create new ways of being and doing; and, unfortunately, that work and those things are what they use to define themselves. It does not have to be that way. 

In summary, who we are is connected to our character, which is an intangible thing and something that we develop over time, ever since the day that we came into this world. Are you a lover of trees or nature; are you a friend to the broken-hearted or the homeless; are you a fighter for peace and justice, or a natural-born leader? Are you a person who genuinely wants the good or advancement of others?

Or, are you only concerned about yourself and your earthly possessions? Do you misuse and abuse others? Is it easier for you to hate than to love? Of course, I know people who do not know who they are; or, they pretend that they are someone who they are not, usually to (cowardly) get what they want. These people do a lot of damage to themselves and to others.

Whoever you are, it is our character that will reveal who we are: good, bad, or in-between. To be sure, I do know some people who are genuinely good. That is, they are in touch with their own sense of self, which can exist on its own, apart from work, others, and the environments in which we live. Of course, character comes out in word, but most of all it is articulated in our deeds. Yes, the work that we do on a day-to-day basis may be a reflection of our character, or maybe it is not. It all depends on how and why that work is needed. Perhaps the work that we do today for ourselves simply sets the stage for what is to come later, or maybe the work we do today will last for a lifetime. Only you can be the judge and the jury for the place or value that work will take in your life. But, in times of uncertainty, it is always important to remember to be who you are, not what you do.

©2020 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

Red Flag

If a man intentionally harms a woman that he has claimed to love for no other reason than to punish her, hurt her, or make her suffer for something that he did to compromise their relationship or being together,

And he is a father, and he has granddaughters and grandsons, then you must know that something has probably gone horribly wrong in his life.

© 2020 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

What Do You Believe?

What you believe about yourself and others will show up in your actions, not in your speech.

If you believe you are worthy, you will act like it and you will make the best choices that you can to experience the best that life has to offer.

If you believe that the lives of others are precious and free, you will treat them with kindness and respect.

If you believe that life is worth the living, you will live it to the best of your ability.

If you respect the people in your life, you will show them that you care about their lives and their feelings.

If you are a good person, you will say and do good things, and you will probably be a giver.

On the other hand, if you believe that you are not a good person, it will be articulated in your actions.

Perhaps you will sabotage just about every good thing that comes into your life, and then fail to take responsibility for the damage that you cause.

The malevolence of your beliefs about yourself will show up in your day-to-day living, and you will probably be a taker.

If you are selfish, you will not care about how your actions affect others (and being selfish is not a sign that you love yourself, rather it is a type of greed or, frankly, narcissism).

If you are manipulative, you will lie and deceive others to get what you want, and even when what you want could be freely obtained or given.

If you are hateful, you will belittle and spew hate on to others, including those you do not even know.

If you are not trustworthy, you will not trust others.

If deep down you believe that you are not worthy of good things and good people, then you may choose things and people who are not good for you.

Oh yes, I have learned to pay attention to the core beliefs of others (and to my own) by observing their actions, not their speech.

And doing this has enabled me to save my own life.

©2020 annalise fonza, Ph.D.

When You Are Loved

You will know when someone loves you and wants you in their life

When they make themselves present and available to you,

When they tell you about their day and how it went, but they also want to hear about you and your feelings;

They will want to be there for you, emotionally

Because the power of love makes room for reciprocity.

Most of all, when you are loved, they will show you that they care about you in word and in deed.

When you are loved, you will be a priority:

The first thing in the morning, and the last on their mind at night.

You will be to them like a light at the end of a dark tunnel,

Like an oasis in the middle of the desert or a dry place.

And, when you are loved, it will be hard to go for a day without you.

© 2019 annalise fonza, Ph.D.