Publisher's Pen: MLK Dream Jam will unite community for youth basketball tournament

MLK Dream Jam Banner 02This coming weekend's MLK Dream Jam Basketball Tournament will personify and celebrate "The Dream" of one of America's most honored civil rights advocates and scholars, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK Dream Jam Basketball Tournament is a unique two-day sporting event. It will celebrate the legacy of this King by demonstrating his philosophies of peace, harmony and the coming together of all peoples regardless of race, nationality or religion. The event will celebrate those cherished principles. It will also celebrate the teachers and coaches who support and educate Fayetteville's young people, who are our future.

Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper is exceptionally proud to be sponsoring this event.

The tournament will showcase all the outstanding basketball players from public, private and Christian schools in Fayetteville, Ft. Bragg, Cumberland County and the surrounding areas. The MLK Dream Jam is a friendly sporting competition bringing schools, players, teachers, coaches, parents and local college and university scouts all together for the best basketball of the year.

The MLK Dream Jam tournament logo says it all and is very significant to the event's theme. At its conception, Karl Molnar and the MLK Dream Jam organizers reached out to two influential Fayetteville celebrities to ask if they would support and promote the concept of bringing everyone together for a private school vs. public school basketball competition. Dennis Smith Jr., a graduate of Fayetteville's private Trinity Christian High School and current player for the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers and J. Cole, singer and songwriter, from Fayetteville's public Terry Sanford High School, were onboard. Both are featured in the logo.

The MLK Dream Jam Basketball Tournament became a reality. The cherished prize: One full year of bragging rights.

We want to congratulate Coach Karl Molnar for his insight, hard work and perseverance in creating a unique sporting event that brings our community together. In addition, we want to extend our gratitude to Fayetteville Technical Community College, Piedmont Natural Gas, and Public Works Commission for their willingness to support this all-inclusive event and for their countless and ongoing contributions to the quality of life in our community. We encourage everyone to come out and support the best high school athletes in Fayetteville, Ft. Bragg, Cumberland County and the surrounding areas.

Have fun and thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

Resolutions and you in 2022

resolutionsThe New Year celebration is a time-honored tradition that brings resolutions at each annual reset. New Year's resolutions are usually made with good intentions but fade as time passes. About 60% of us make resolutions, but only about 8% follow them through. The top New Year's resolutions include weight loss, exercise, saving money, learning a new skill, quitting smoking, reading more, finding another job, drinking less, drinking more water, getting organized and spending more time with family and friends. Nothing on the list mentions anything about personal me time and pampering yourself.

As a fitness trainer, I advocate for healthy eating, exercise and lifestyle. Lifestyle, however, also has to do with taking time for ourselves and personal indulgence. The holidays especially are a go, go, go, do, do, do. The holiday season is satisfying with the grand celebrations, charitable events, parties, family gatherings, fabulous meals and decorating. Still, the time spent on all of this may have left you feeling tired. Me-time is an essential part of well-being, and there is nothing wrong with feeling the need to crank it down a bit and do something for yourself without feeling guilty. Mental health is just as important as physical. A friend of mine has a one-liner; she often says, "Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in a day, and you cannot add to that period." It took a long time for me not to feel guilty about doing something for myself and to say no. It is usual for us to volunteer, be on committees, spend time with friends and it is easy for schedules to fill. It can be hard to say no to an increasingly busy schedule and find time to squeeze in one more thing. Saying no is better with a straightforward approach; don't make excuses. It can seem that one more thing will lead to an avalanche of responsibility to the point that you feel overwhelmed. It is unfair to you and those involved because quality is better than quantity when you overextend yourself. How often have you said, I do not know why I am doing this because I do not have the time. This year take your time to think about the commitment involved and ask questions.

We all need time for ourselves, and while what everyone likes to do varies, everyone's preferences are equally important. Your me-time may be a hobby, activity, going to lunch or shopping with friends. My indulgences are occasional spa visits. For me, there is nothing like a great facial, massage or pedicure. The personal time, relaxation, music and attentive pampering throw me in the ultimate state of relaxation with no thoughts of the outside world for an hour.

Make your resolutions — create a healthier you. Set small attainable goals and reward yourself when you reach them. Be involved with organizations, committees, fundraisers but don't feel you have to be involved in all of them. Remember to take me-time and make sure you set that time aside. It helps to have a schedule in front of you when making your decisions. Good decisions create less stress for you. Learn the art of saying no without feeling bad about it. You are not letting someone down if something is not a good fit, and you do not have to make excuses.

Live, love life, keep moving and remember you cannot squeeze more than twenty-four hours into a day.

Bracing for the New Year

Joan Didion2Let’s be honest—2021 was a long and dreadful year with COVID-19 in its various iterations and toxic political divisions that separate family and friends and threaten our very democracy. We continue to face uncertainty at every turn, and we feel beleaguered. So, while we may have celebrated, at least sort of, the arrival of 2022, nothing has changed.

Shortly before the New Year arrived, the quintessentially American author and journalist, Joan Didion, died at 87. Her long and storied career taught us about ourselves in stressful periods of American history. She also knew a thing or two about loss and killing sadness and wrote about that as well, work that earned her a National Book Award. Before deep personal trials beset her early in her career, Didion wrote a 1961 essay for VOGUE entitled “Self-Respect: Its Source, Its Power.” Her essay has been widely referenced and reprinted since her death, and it seems newly powerful as we slide into a new year saddled with the angst of the unknown.

Here is some of what Didion, then 27, says about those with self-respect and the strength that comes with it, you can find the full essay at

“… people with self-respect have the courage of their mistakes. They know the price of things. If they choose to commit adultery, they do not then go running, in an access of bad consciences, to receive absolution from the wronged parties; nor do they complain of the unfairness, the undeserved embarrassment, of being named correspondent….

“In brief, people with self-respect exhibit a certain toughness, a kind of moral nerve; they display what was once called character, a quality which, although approved in the abstract, sometimes loses ground to other, more instantly negotiable virtues. The measure of its slipping prestige is that one tends to think of it only in connection with homely children and with United States senators who have been defeated, preferably in the primary, for re-election. Nonetheless, character—the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life—is the source from which self-respect springs.

“Self-respect is something that our grandparents, whether or not they had it, knew all about. They had instilled in them, young, a certain discipline, the sense that one lives by doing things one does not particularly want to do, by putting fears and doubts to one side, by weighing immediate comforts against the possibility of larger, even intangible, comforts….

“That kind of self-respect is a discipline, a habit of mind that can never be faked but can be developed, trained, coaxed forth….

“To have that sense of one’s intrinsic worth which, for better or for worse, constitutes self-respect, is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference.

“…to free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves—there lies the great, singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.”

Didion’s words from six decades ago do not address COVID-19 or our endangered nation, but they do guide us. She tells us to know ourselves and be responsible for ourselves, not to be led blindly by others—social media come to mind here with politics and pandemics. She suggests not to take the immediate comfort—think no mask or social distancing, but to head for the longer-term goal of a healthy community.

None of us knows what 2022 will bring, but going with the flow in both politics and healthy living is rarely the answer.

Wishing you and those you love a healthy and happy 2022.

Counting your many blessings

2022In our first whole week of the new year, I have to admit how little I remembered about the last one, 2021 is a blur.

To be more accurate, how difficult it was for me to distinguish memories of 2021 from those of 2020. It's been a weird run, to say the least.

It seems forever ago, but 2021 lays claim to the disruption of global trade.

A massive cargo ship got lodged in the Suez Canal, a first-time event, leading to a six-day effort involving a dozen tugboats, under the watchful eye of worldwide media outlets. On the bright side, millions of people around the globe learned the Suez Canal is in Egypt as it became one of the most-searched items on Google last March.

And while the story had a happy ending, it wasn't any easier to explain than the bottled water and toilet paper shortage that took place a year earlier.

A little later in the year, that search was outpaced by a considerable uptick in searches for how to say "I love you" in sign language as BTS and many other K-pop stars began incorporating sign language into their choreography.

According to Google, the world searched "love you in sign language" more than ever in 2021.

Additionally, the world was abuzz with concerns over extreme weather, from widespread fires to floods in the U.S. and abroad.

Throw in a solid dose of the turbulent social and political arenas, that we found ourselves in over the past year, and maybe your memory will get a little fuzzy, too.

One thing I can say for sure, though: none of this has caught the God of this universe by surprise.

We just celebrated Christmas, a recalling of a world-changing event which took place more than 2,000 years ago.

The world was steeped in chaos at the time.

Thousands of people in dozens of nations were living under oppressive regimes.

These people were forced to pay taxes to their oppressors while trying to outrun imprisonment, enslavement, cruelly harsh punishment and even sometimes ordered to surrender their children to be slaughtered by evil and corrupt regional leaders.

So, if you're inclined to look back and think, 'this is the worse it's ever been,' you may want to count your many blessings before saying it aloud.

During 2021, most (at least in America) had enough to eat that we could share some with those who didn't have enough.

Most of us had a place to call home, the opportunity for a job to pay for it and more than enough to wear as the weather threw us its curve balls throughout the year.

Let's enter 2022 consciously aware of all we have to be thankful for. Maybe, just maybe, we'll look up to see it's actually the best it's ever been.

Publisher's Pen: What's up and coming from Up & Coming Weekly in 2022

Pub Pen TypewriterAs the New Year begins, we have much to reflect on and look forward to. Fayetteville and Cumberland County have much potential and many opportunities, but only if our civic and political leaders relent and start communicating and cooperating. Until that happens, Fayetteville's image, reputation and potential growth will suffer under the burden of stubborn, belligerent and failed local leadership. One of the biggest obstacles our community faces is a lack of local media coverage. We are the fifth-largest municipality in North Carolina, yet we are without a viable daily newspaper and void of a local television station. The absence of media coverage puts our community at an insurmountable disadvantage. Truth and knowledge are power; lacking news and information makes our citizens and community vulnerable. The media, free speech and a free press, support American freedoms by keeping our leaders honest and accountable. We appreciate people, businesses and organizations that understand and respect these tenants. Through their and our actions, we have rallied to support our community's free and honest flow of information. Notably, we applaud the efforts of Tony Chavonne of City View Magazine and Marty Cayton of the Greater Fayetteville Business Journal for stepping up to fill the media void left by the decline of our daily newspaper. Likewise, here at Up & Coming Weekly, we utilize all our available resources to provide hyper-local news, views and insights. Our goal is to support the residents, businesses and organizations that endorse and embrace these constitutional tenets of democracy. We are committed and will continue to reach out to all nine Cumberland County municipalities to promote their communities, businesses, activities, events and achievements.

Thanks to the encouragement and support of our readers, and the confidence of our local advertisers, we have begun an expansion of newsroom operations to provide much-requested and much-needed transparency into local government. To this end, we have invested in a professional, young, talented and energetic editorial and production staff. They strive to focus on Fayetteville and Cumberland County's future and quality of life. These gifted reporters and writers are committed to accuracy, fairness and transparency and will be engaging in more in-depth investigative reporting on local government officials, issues and policies. They will report on and explain the policies and procedures of significant matters in city and county government and the relationships of those involved. In other words, we want to help our readers "connect the dots." Help them understand the details of the policies that impact their families and businesses. Up & Coming Weekly will ask the hard questions that are now conveniently ignored.

There will be no change in our newspaper's mission or mandates. We will continue nearly three decades of policy that includes supporting Fort Bragg and showcasing the people businesses and organizations of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. Those that make our community distinctively unique. Our local charm, southern hospitality and cultural character defined by our music, art, and theater assets are too often overshadowed and minimalized by the unsavory parts of our community. Local newspapers and news media can provide the defining balance. Local is the keyword here.

In 2022, you can expect the best from us. We are committed to Fayetteville, Cumberland County and Fort Bragg. Up & Coming Weekly will continue to offer a free, unbiased and open public forum for local citizens regardless of race, religion or political affiliation. We want these voices heard. Nationally, local community newspapers thrive while the daily papers struggle with relevance. We are Fayetteville's local media resource, and local is what we do best. You can depend on it.

Happy New Year, and thank you for reading the Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper.

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