by Willmarine Hurst, New Orleans Tribune Contributor
“After the storm is over. After the rain has come down… the sun will shine after a while.” – Rev. James Cleveland
Dr. Lisa Green-Derry is a wife, mother, grandmother, motivational speaker, medical laboratory scientist, educator, published author, teacher, and ordained minister, among some of the many “hats” that she wears. In her book, “Mostly Sunny, Partly Dramali In Between,” Green-Derry reveals “tidbits and snippets” of her life as a ‘NOLA BRAR, (New Orleans, Born, Raised and Returned, pronounced bruh) native.’
Over a lifetime of experiences from early childhood, to teen mother, to mature wife and distinguished minister and philosopher of sorts, are detailed with humor and heartache, with invisible scars and visible change, with fond memories and resolved traumas, with grace and gratitude and with a renewed spirit and zest for life.
She says, “Many of the ‘Dramalisades’ (the dramas of Lisa) are recollections of my life and others in my circle of influence. Others are compilations of writings done at various stages in my life.” Green-Derry says the title comes from her former pastor, Rev. Dwight Webster, who would always reply “Mostly Sunny,” when asked how he was doing.
In Mostly Sunny, Green-Derry challenges you to rethink, redirect and relearn how you process or have processed the things in your life. “If you read with a willingness to unlearn, relearn, and expect something better, provocation may lead you to forgiveness, increased confidence, and strength to make plans for ‘living your best life’ while helping others to do the same,” she says. This is not a book of poetry, but rather musings, sayings, and recollecting things that have helped her to get to this point in her life. She pays homage to her ancestors and those who have helped to mold and shape her life—the good and the bad. In all things, she says that she is thankful and “thinkful” for lessons learned and input for others. This is who she is—all that is in this book makes up the person that she is today.
Growing up – The Front Porch
Growing up in the Seventh Ward of New Orleans, Green-Derry recalls fond memories of “the front porch at 3922 Buchanan Street.” She says it was where she spoke to her neighbors and played with her friends. It was a window to the world beyond her house, into the streets and across St. Bernard Avenue to the St. Bernard project.
While it might seem strange to some who are not from our city, this musing is not unusual to many who can identify with the writer’s lifestyle in her seventh ward neighborhood. “The front porch was so important that while pretending to not listen to what the grown folks were saying, we [kids] sat below them on the steps. In that position, exchange of knowledge and conversation occurred,” she tells. The front porch was almost like a de-facto class. Green-Derry muses about the “jewels of wisdom” that came along with the gossiping and other such conversations all on the ‘front porch.’
All Grown Up – Reality Hits
While fond memories of Green-Derry’s childhood are interspersed with the various topics of her book such as the front porch, her new shoes, her father’s advice while relating to shoes, her mother’s beautiful handwriting, and childhood friends who remain a part of her life, there are some stark contrasts and realities that she also faced as a young mother, and wife.
She tells about finishing college with a child in tow. She tells of a relationship gone bad. She speaks of the heartache of losing her parents, the devastation and destruction of Hurricane Betsy and later Hurricane Katrina. But she now acknowledges that she has the power to speak truth and healing into her own life.
Healing Visible and Invisible Scars
One of the main focuses of this book, however, is to bring about a healing and a resolution to deal with unresolved pain. “A desire to resolve my pain, diminish unhealthy coping mechanisms, intermingled with success and strength, wanting to bring tidbits of thoughts written over many years—all of which have been driven by unresolved trauma,” were the driving forces for writing the book, Green-Derry explains.
She alluded to some of those painful issues in several topics in her book. Under the topic “Timeline,” Green-Derry tells, “Pressured memories in the crevices of my mind about a sexual molestation as a five-year-old kindergartner then as an eight year old barely able to comprehend Hurricane Betsy’s devastation left some unresolved traumas.” These traumas, says Green-Derry, “left marks of uncertainty and wobbly confidence.” These were the invisible scars that couldn’t be seen. Scars that invaded her mind and memories.
And as a young mother there were issues to be resolved that left visible and invisible scars. However, some more pleasant memories were able to displace other more painful ones of spousal abuse, she gladly admits. Green-Derry says that she also wrote this book to see how others were dealing with personal experiences and emotions during the pandemic and to use this book as a healing tool for others.
Overcoming and Renewed Life
Mostly Sunny, published this past November 2020, is divided into five parts, each ending with questions to consider. However, the fifth part is inclusive of others who responded to her discussion on Post Traumatic Stress(ed) Daughters, (PTS (ed) D. Green-Derry has incorporated a special addition that deals with this new stressor, the COVID virus and the affects and changes that it has played on her life.
Several of Green-Derry’s friends and acquaintances who have read the book found it most helpful. “It was a thought catcher,” says New Orleans native Vivian McFarland. “It made me look back to see how I made it.” Lora Carmicle of Clinton, MS says “I felt like you were sharing a journal and a journey. You showed that everyday events can be used as prompts to explore personal healing.”
The book, though not in a chronological order, does have a ‘jump off’ point with part one, “I Am Because,” in which Green-Derry introduces pictures of things from her past, speaks about her parents and the things that they taught her and explains the true meaning of what life is for her now.
David Harrison of Ridgewood, NY, one of her male acquaintance who read the book, says, “The essays are lyrical, poignant, and nearly poetic prose. The stories are honest, memory is stimulated; the struggles are real. Her healing is transparent and the love is laudable.”
That love comes through in the words of her first-born daughter’s Foreword in the book. And it shows in Green-Derry’s appreciation for her spouse, as she says, “the one I call husband.” And it can be seen in Green-Derry’s familial use of the word, “cousin,” when addressing friends and relatives.
Mostly Sunny is an easy read, but a very insightful and soul-searching book that can provide a sense of hope and healing. Linetta Gilbert of New Orleans, says, “Mostly Sunny is a testimony to how one can thrive throughout her/his life.”
If you’ve ever had or still have any unresolved issues, any lingering pain, any trauma in your life that you have not faced, then you might just find that Mostly Sunny, Partly Dramali In Between is just the book that you need to read!