Category Archives: Storytelling

It’s Never Too Late To Decide How You Will Live

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“Like wildflowers, you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would” – E.V.

So this is the last week I will live in my 20’s and I am very excited about it. I never thought I’d feel this way at this stage in my life. From a very early age, people talk at length about not really enjoy getting older past 30, but I have no plans on turning 30 for the next ten years. I have learned so many good lessons, even the ones that make me cry when I think of how stupid I was or rather hard-headed, because I am sure someone gave me the perfect advice and I just didn’t want to follow it. It’s something special to learn from mistakes, maybe I am wrong, but I have always been a fan of learning. So going into my 30’s, I kind of feel like it’s the first day of school, and as I’ve mentioned before, I was excited about every single first day of school. There was no exception. For three simple reasons:

Something new…

                                                       Something unknown…

                                                                                               Something unexpected…

was going to happen. This is how I view the future, it’s still exciting and I am just a little more equipped. As I get older, life might not be easier, but if you allow life lessons to teach you, you get smarter or that’s the goal.

But I am not going to lie, all of this reflection comes at the same time as a couple of my favorite athletes and  I subconsciously feel as if we’re doing this together. My favorite football player retired this year, and it was announced that my favorite basketball player will be inducted into the Hall of Fame later this year. Yes, I am referring to Peyton Manning and Allen Iverson and there is definitely a connection here.  Trust me.

If you haven’t read or listened to Peyton’s retirement speech, you should, it’s definitely one of the best sports speeches of all time, but clearly I am biased. But there is something that he said towards the very end of his speech that resonates very strongly within me:

“When I look back on my NFL career, I’ll know without a doubt that I gave everything I had to help my teams walk away with a win. There were other players who were more talented but there was no one who could out-prepare me and because of that I have no regrets.(source)

I am sure there are some people who would argue about his talent level, but it is very true that very few out-prepared him and because of this he had no regrets. I am sure there are things he wished hadn’t happened, but when you give it everything you got, and it doesn’t work out, you can’t help but not have regrets. And I would have to argue that is the way to live. There are definitely experiences that give me a little anxiety when I think of them, but I don’t regret them. How can I? Our experiences and mistakes make us unique, but as we get older it is harder to live this way, with no regrets. There are so many external factors, such as family and friends, society or the lack of money, status or power, telling us how to live or how we should live, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Forget the milestones you haven’t hit, who decided them in the first place.

Christians often talk about having a child-like faith, we can similarly take this approach towards the way we live with an adult perspective, and this is why I am excited about gething older. I want to approach life with the heart of a child but with the experience of an adult.

So moving onto A.I. a.k.a Allen Iverson. A few weeks ago when the NBA Hall of Fame induction was announced, Iverson did a number of press interviews and his quotes also resonated with me as I contemplated the end of my 20’s.

But before we go there, we must look at life through three phases.

Phase 1:  Budding (from the beginning – from birth, new idea or new experience)

Phase 2: Maturing (the largest part of our life – This is the part where we’re really living and the most growth happens)

Phase 3: Knowing (Experienced and the time to give back – a wise savant)

Often people think of the cycle of life, or the phases of life occur in one cycle. But to me, we go through this cycle of life a couple of times in every area of our life it seems. In some areas, I am still maturing and very far from being the wise savant that I want to be and others I have already done several cycles. This happens, because even though in some areas we have learned and grown, life knocks us back down on our feet and you have to learn something completely new about something you thought you knew a whole lot about (i.e. being laid off from a job, lost a loved one and learning to live without them, etc.)

I thought Allen Iverson described this best while fighting back tears about becoming a Hall of Famer:

“It’s hard to be a Hall of Famer, I had to fight, I fell, got back up,  fell, got back up, fell, got back up, it’s still going on in my life right now”  (source)

This is the cycle of life that is real. You fight. You fall, but you get back up. And at this point in life, I am very comfortable with living with this cliché. Because some cliques are just freaking true. More over, for those who are unfamiliar with Allen Iverson, he was known for one thing in particular, something I consider most important in life – heart.

Sports commentators we’re surprised when Allen Iverson, a mere 6’0” would compare himself to the likes of LeBron James and others in today’s league, but it was all about the heart:

“Their heart…and the way they compete… The fight in them. That’s why I would say LeBron. LeBron ain’t got none of my game, but his heart is all mine.” (source)

And LeBron only seconded what Iverson said, by stating that while he was not able to take any part of his game from Allen Iverson, he was inspired by his will:

“I watch Jordan more than anybody for sure. But I’ll watch tapes of A.I., too. I don’t take anything from A.I.. Well, I do — his will. They say he was 6 feet, but A.I. was like 5-10½. Do we even want to say 160? 170 [pounds]? Do we even want to give him that much weight? And he played like a 6-8 2-guard. He was one of the greatest finishers we’ve ever seen. You could never question his heart. Ever. He gave it his all.” (source)

So as I enter into the land of 30, I find myself with the same child-like feelings of giving it my all, even when the cards are stacked up against me, but at least in a more slightly thoughtful manner. This is why I am excited. I have learned to say no, one of the hardest parts of growing up for me, so that I can continue to be excited, and passionate for the things I love, to have time to lead with my heart. So more than anything, I want YOU to stop and think about whether you have decided to live the way you want to live or are you only living by how you think you should live. It’s never too late to decide to act differently…. don’t be afraid to fly.

M/P

Four Women That I Know

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“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” – Helen Keller

I have been working on a post about women and the strength of our relationships for quite some time. (Seriously, like 6+ months) I’ve gone back and forth between several themes, and couldn’t settle on just one. The idea of a strong ancestral matriarch, where I roar, is my go to choice.  The women who’ve come before me roared and as a descendant of those strong women, I am strong. But I wasn’t feeling it. Other times, I want to write to women that we have a responsibility to support each other first and foremost and not play second fiddle to our relationships to the opposite sex. How women relate to each other shouldn’t be dictated by this male dominated system.  For instance, the idea that women should forego our innate womanhood to support each other simply win over the attention and affection of the opposite sex. But, yeah, I wasn’t really feeling that either. Last and definitely the least, the topic on balancing our time between female friends and male friends has been done to death.

In my heart of hearts, I really want to talk about four women that I know.  I haven’t been able to write about them, despite several attempts, because my pen to the pad couldn’t quite capture their story, their lives, and their struggles.  They are so diverse in ethnic groups, ages, careers, and societal roles.  The four women I know aged with wisdom, seasoned with laughter, and equipped with love.

Sometimes words can’t encompass the most precious things in life. You must experience it and it must be felt. When you enter into their house, you can feel the love. One of my favorite lines from a Toby Mac song is, “When love is in the house, the house is packed”, and their house can get very packed, because they let people in with open arms. I am never ashamed to take someone to meet these four women that I know.

As I sit here, I am in that house, of these four women bonded by sisterhood that blood could never have forged, but of life and circumstances brought them together. I’m forever indebted to these four women, one who is my “real” aunt, but all of them, are family.  When I was broken, they loved me back to life with their generosity, but most of all their spirit of kindness and love. You can fake a lot of things, but a true spirit of kindness is hard to mimic.

So when I stop to think about these four women who roar, they roar mightily, but not in the way you would think. You would never hear, because the roar is not loud or boastful, it is in the small things that show they really matter. And each one has a unique roar that form harmony in their universe.  As a daughter of a science teacher, I couldn’t help but to describe their qualities to the elements of nature: Fire, Water, Earth, and Air.

Fire – One is like fire which associated with energy, assertiveness, and passion. She is the spark, full of life and energy, with an extra dose of spunk. There are days the fire shines brighter than others, but the best quality is that she is always warm. Her heart warms the soul of anyone who comes close.

Water – I think there are several ways to look at water, but for me, I believe the two things I love most about water is its calmness but even more so its steadiness. Although constantly, moving and changing, water is a steady, calming force the nurtures the soul when things are dry and brittle. She rises early and calmly to not disturb anyone who is slumbering about. All of her manners are calming from her speech to reading.

Earth – is associated with the qualities of patience, thoughtfulness, practicality, and hard work. It is seen nurturing and seeks to draw all things together with itself, in order to bring harmony and rootedness.  She tends to mother anyone in her orbit. Her decisions are for the good of everyone. She has weathered many storms which allow her sound advice to be valued.

Air- One of the most important elements in life, it is necessary for survival or we would all perish. It fits into the nooks and crannies and fills the open space, it knows where the breaks and cracks are in a foundation. Air is also about movement. She is always on the move as she goes about making the environment comfortable for everyone.

These elements have the ability to destroy as well to heal and soothe. They have chosen to use their superpowers for good.

That pretty much sums them up: Warmth, Steadiness, Strength, and Harmony

So I don’t get to visit these four women as often as I would like, but whenever I tell people, I’m going to visit my 4 aunties, sometimes people get confused. I do have 7 aunts. I sometimes have to break it down, and people will reply, “So you’re Aunt lives with 3 roommates?” But its so much more than that. I am going to visit my 4 Aunts. So, I guess I have 10 aunts.  I am blessed!

The reality is sometimes people just don’t get it and that’s what I’m really want to write about. Their house is made of love, and it’s different and people don’t always get it, because it’s not normal for 4 grown women to live in a house together after the children are grown, until death did you apart, or divorce. But that’s what is wrong with America these days. For every group, there’s a box, and sometimes people got outside the box to only end up creating another box. So it makes sense when people are confused because people don’t conform.

When things are true, you don’t have to explain it. Often times, the world, friends, co-workers, and even our family want to understand who, what, why, when and where you’re doing something. I’ve learned at some point in life you just have to do what’s best for you and EVERYTHING else is truly background noise. If you are unable to let go of conventions and boxes, you might never find the right fit, and be muddled with unhappiness for most of your life.

These four women I know in a subtle and silent fashion have taught me to be content with myself without being loud and boastful. To just walk in my purpose regardless of who understands and is watching, and that comfort and love will come to you. And that’s what is most important.

In Beyoncé ‘s video Pretty Hurts, she is asked, “Miss 3rd Ward, What is your aspiration in life? and she replies, “To Be Happy” , that rings so true to me. We do anything to be happy, except the one or two things that really makes us happy.

In the New Year, let go of the things that are keeping you from your happiness.

The Right Words to Say

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“We never say so much when we do not quite know what we want to say. We need few words when we have something to say, but all the words in all the dictionaries will not suffice when we have nothing to say and want to desperately to say it.”  – Eric Hoffer

It has been over a month since I have written a blog post, and I very much relate to Hoffer’s quote.  I had nothing to say, and many times I tried to put words together, but I couldn’t formulate sentences. I attempted and have several posts, started and unfinished. And each time, I felt more and more unsatisfied.

Maybe I am emotional, or maybe I just lacked the words.

But as I look over the posts that I tried to write, there is an underlying theme:

FAMILY

Often when people obsess over something…. it is because they lack it. Is this not where desire comes from? The lack of it. Now, if you know me personally, I do not lack family. It’s quite the opposite. I have more family then I can deal with it. But they are very far away from me and I miss them very much. But I appreciate them for giving me the tools to spread my wings, to be able to be here, far from them.  But sometimes, it’s just not enough.

Maybe I am emotional, or maybe I just lacked the words.

But that’s not it, I am always emotional.

I am avoiding the issues, trying to move around problems, and push forward. But I cannot push forward till I deal with what I am lacking. That’s kind of how I feel about American politics right now. It doesn’t matter that we live in the same country, want the best for our friends and families, our interconnectedness no longer matters to the people in charge nor the ones running for office and trying to be in charge.

Now, nowhere does it say that America is supposed to be like a family, but that’s exactly what it feels like. Some of the most broken relationships come from things that happen right in the family.

Abuse, divorce, theft, and death.

We do things to our family members sometimes that we would never to do a complete stranger, because it’s not appropriate. And it’s so unfortunate. And based on our experiences in our family or the way we are brought up, these experiences affect our views on the most pressing issues in America right now.

  • Immigration.
  • Social Security.
  • Abortion.
  • Gun Control.
  • Race Relations (especially with the police)

So back to my family….

I have been very fortunate to have only lost a cousin in the 29 years of my life. I have mentioned this before, mostly because I think of my namesake, with whom I have never met, and as much as I would give anything to meet her, I didn’t lose her. But I have two grandparents, who have been a part of my life since the day I was born. I was always special to them as I am their only granddaughter and that works out perfectly for me.

However, my grandmother has stage 4 ovarian and colon cancer, and my grandfather who is in perfect physical shape, has been diagnosed with early stages of dementia. They have been married for over 60 years, and I love them very much, and blessed to have them in my life. Growing up with your grandparents, you think the world of them for so long. Then as you get older and become an adult, things are never as rosy as you think, because you learn that they are human. But I appreciate that lesson, because as you make mistakes, and you learn the mistakes of your parents or your grandparents, it makes overcoming your mistakes easier. Because if they fell down, and got back up, made poor decisions, and learned to make better ones, so can you.

So now, as one’s physical body slowly fades, and the other, is mentally fading, they are constantly on my mind. Talking to them, visiting with them, is harder each and every time, and more and more, our convos are shorter, not because I don’t want to stay on the phone longer. But they just can’t. It is a good day when our conversations last a whole 5 minutes, but they rarely do. And when they do, it’s mostly my grandmother telling me (at the ripe age of 29), to not rush into marriage. Yes, the woman who’s been married for over 60 years. Either way, I have learned that in the past we used to talk a lot, but now we say very little, but it means the world, because the only thing that needs to be said is that we love each other.

Now this brings me back to the issues that are being discussed over and over.

We do so much talking. Presidential Candidates are doing

so

much

 talking.

But when you hit the nail on the head, it doesn’t take much. The few lines from the presidential debates that seem to stick with you, feel like zingers, such as, “no one gives a damn” about Hilary’s email. But in all seriousness, you’re not saying much when you have to repeat yourself over and over. I tried to find the number of  speeches Trump has given about immigration, but I couldn’t find the exact number. What I did find were articles that highlight that Trump’s focus on immigration is a good thing. Prior to him zeroing in on it, very few republicans were willing to have conversations about immigration. (source) . If this is true, maybe something positive can truly come out of a negative. Except the words we say matter, what we say matters.

To me, a debate over two hours is exhausting, or I walk away from long speeches feeling like little is said. It is less about the words that you say, it’s more about what is being said as it is with my grandparents. And this is coming from a bona fide motor mouth. Growing up, I hated awkward silences, or people who said few words. As I have gotten older, I’ve learned the importance of saying the right words and listening to the words that are being said to you. It is one of the best, and most difficult, lessons that I have ever learned. Maybe with less words, and more meaning, we can have better conversations, but we have to all give it a try. And there are probably some people who are out there not saying quite enough. But I talk about that a lot, standing firm, expressing yourself, and even chasing waterfalls. Today, I am saying take a moment to think about what you have to say, share, or joke about. I have thought about this post for a very long time, and it took several attempts to find my truth to share. What I found is that owning your truth doesn’t always involve a litany of words, because sometimes it can be said in a few short words. But you must find the right words to say.

M/P

Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough

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“Excuses are tools for the weak and incompetent used to build monuments of nothingness. Those who excel in it seldom excel in anything else but excuses”.  

That’s right folks, I am here to talk about excuses, but I am not talking about politicians and celebrities today,  I am actually doing a little self-reflection. I am participating in another blog post link-up  (click here for more details) and this month’s topic is “WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE FALL?”

Now, I generally walk around with a number of goals in my mind, and they are always around my career, working in my community or blogging . I am very ambitious and my focus on those items are solid. Therefore, I had to take a hard look on a few things that I need to work on. Okay wait, let me stop lying, I didn’t have to take a hard look, I know exactly what goals I need in my life, and they all surround self-care. I am that person that rolls their eyes when people talk about paying attention to self-care. I mean we’re selfish beings right? (for more on selfishness, click here) So of course, I focus on myself plenty, and I wouldn’t neglect things that are important to, say my health,  getting enough rest and then I realized…

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I MAKE PLENTY of EXCUSES and neglect myself. I have mastered turning excuses into perfect arguments that could win any legal battle ( I blame law school). I called these glorified excuses, and I just can’t get enough. I can rationalize myself out of anything that I do not want to do, especially self-care. I realized there are certain areas in my life where I am not setting goals. I have talked myself out of focusing on those areas in order to achieve the goals that I do enjoy.  I think I have always viewed my goals as  building on my strengths, or reaching new heights to have more badges of honor. I mean, who wants to work on areas that they don’t enjoy, but I realized that it’s much deeper than that. It is also about avoiding failure. Why set goals in areas in which I struggle? The probability for failure is much greater. Nobody wants to set themselves up for failure. I sure as hell don’t. I have even heard speakers who suggest that it is wrong to focus on weaknesses, because you’re exerting too much energy on the wrong things. Maybe I have bought into this too much.

Therefore, I have decided for my fall goals to focus on areas where I need actual improvement, and not in areas I am just trying to reach higher heights. So here they are:

  1. Exercising and Eating Healthy
    1. I actually love exercising, and letting out steam with a little sweat. I do not, however, like to eat healthy. These two items are connected for me,  because I make excuses not to get these done, because of time. Over the next three or four months, I am going to MAKE TIME to pay attention to my health. Since I wasn’t unhappy with my body, but I needed to lose a pound here and there, I was just putting it off. But being healthy is just as important as anything else and I need to make time for that as much as I make time to have a mentor, going to a training to improve my professional skills. Hopefully, it will assist in my mental and emotional well-being, which makes the whole machine (ME) work better.
  2. Take A Break/Alone Time
    1. Yeah, I have this as a goal, because as an extreme extrovert I definitely get a lot of energy from being around others. People motivate, inspire, and excite me in general. I am weird and enjoy networking. But what I am learning as I get older taking time for yourself is actually important in building relationships. Just like a car, we can cause ourselves to end up on E. We have to fill ourselves up whether its reading, mediating, or asking ourselves tough questions and finding answers that will provide better interactions with others. The other reason  is taking the time for self-reflection.  I need more of this. I am learning that I can be on the go to the point, where I am not sitting and evaluating what’s going on. Obviously, these types of posts assist in self-reflection, but I need to take more time  to breathe in and exhale. I am excited to see what I learn here.
  3. Just Say No
    1. Simple. I need to say no to things. I know, especially women, make this goal often, because we are givers, and love to give, give, and give. For me, this isn’t even just about giving to much. Sometimes, I need to tell my family no and my friends, but I also need to be able to tell myself NO. The hardest person to tell no is the person in the mirror. I know giving excuses to others seem easy, but for me, I have become to comfortable with making excuses for myself, convincing myself to say Yes to too much. I believe this goal will also assist in achieving goal 1 and 2.

Now that wasn’t too painful (it was actually), but I am glad I stopped to think about it. It’s your turn!  Share what your goals for Fall? AND please be sure to check out POSTS from the other bloggers that I am linked up with this month below.

Annie Reeves
26 and Not Counting
Alyssa J Freitas
Carly Blogs
Feathers and Stripes
Carrie Loves
White Oak Creative
PRBlonde
Sequins & Strawberries
Pieced Together
PreppyPanache
Knowing Kelly
Something Good
Life By Bri
My Beauty Cloud
La Vie Petite
Wealthy in Health
White Cabana
Mrs. on the Move
Boys and Bombshells
She’s All Smiles
Life Modifier
Everyday Cuvée
A Little Leopard
Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough
L is for Lucy
Cori’s Corner
Beauty and the Pitch
Dreams and Colour Schemes
Viciloves
Lights Camera Catwalk
Pattern Me Pretty
A Few of My Favorite Things
Chic Glamorous and Splendid
She’s All Smiles
StyledbyKesha
Suzy Speaks
Luv in the Bubble
The Minimalist

M/P

Great Expectations (The Anniversary Edition)

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“Ask no questions, and you will get no lies”- Charles Dickens

Today is the anniversary of the launch of my blog. This time last year, I published my  first post  here on Missing Perspective. And the rest is history. I am so thankful for my faithful readers, commentators,  and sharers of my work. Without you this wouldn’t be as interesting, engaging or fun!

As I have been approaching my one year anniversary, I have been asked:  Have you reached your expectations over the last year? Absolutely! Why? Because at the beginning I set zero expectations. I had purposed in my heart, I was going to do this and anything was going to be better than nothing. Sounded like a good idea in the beginning. Well, along the way, I laid out expectations at different times of the year. At times, I reached them and others, I completely, and utterly missed the mark. But that’s okay, because no one is perfect right.

When you’re starting something new in uncharted territory, you  take advice from others, read tips, how to’s, and every manual that tells you exactly what you should do. And sometimes people ask your advice along the way, because they too are trying to do exactly what you are doing. Having to read what others did, successfully or unsuccessfully, and then describing to others what you did/do, is one of the ways we can have Great Expectations failings for ourselves every time.  But guess what I learned from that experience.

In the process of working on my blog,  I learned to read, hear, and know bull shit better than ever before, and boy, did I need to learn that lesson. If you ask my mother, she will tell you that I am naïve, and even though she would never admit it, sometimes I surprise her with my silly naiveté or trust and belief in what other people say. But when you embark on a journey like writing a blog, which causes you to put yourself out there, you learn a lot from this experience, but that’s only when you’re honest with yourself.

So after 6 months, when I would read other blogs, or talk to other people about blogging, I could honestly tell the fakers from the truth Sayers. Some people are quick to tell you their readership, or following and why they are awesome, instead of providing practical application and advice. This matters, because if you start to compare yourselves to them, you start wondering if you are doing something wrong or what more could you be doing, even though you are already barely getting any sleep.

But I just decided to sit back and learn genuine people versus the completely lying out of the side of their mouth people. Blogging and social media worlds are generally pretty friendly, sharing, and authentic. (Join any tweet chat, and the top word most of the time is authentic, trust me, I know). Everyone has been to lie to, and that gets kind of old.

I say all of this, because expectations are important. We should all have them for ourselves. It’s good to even have expectations of others, but if you don’t like heartbreak, having few expectations for your friends, family, and significant others is probably the best idea in my book.

I write a lot about creating goals, working on them, and achieving them. But the reality is that it’s so much more than your professional life. It could be personal, spiritual, among many other things. More importantly, they can be small or large goals, just don’t let anyone else define them for you. I wrote earlier this week about not putting ourselves in boxes, or getting caught up in identifying ourselves with a particular group. But sometimes, people on the outside do just that,  and try to set our expectations.

Because of my aspirations (taking over the world), ambitions (semi-entrepreneur), views (feminist, feminist, feminist, and girls rock), and passion (there is literally no end to it), people even put me in a box. I have to explain so many misconceptions of what I believe, what I am most proud of, and what things are most important to me. To the point, I create expectations based on these demands and not because it is in my heart. I encourage you not to do that as well. At some point in life, you have to live for you and realize, like I have learned, misconceptions will always be there, there is nothing you can do about it.   Smart people will move on and keeping doing what makes them happy, because at the end of the day that’s what is important.

So I picked, Great Expectations as my title, not because I like Charles Dickens’ book by any means. If fact, Great Expectations is probably my least favorite Dickens novel and not because it isn’t beautifully written, and the story is compelling, gut wrenching, etc, but I just wish the story was different for Pip.  Who can’t help but sympathize and admire him throughout the story. I oddly have a fond admiration for a story that I do not enjoy.

The term “Expectations” refers to a Victorian definition, “a legacy to come”, sounds beautiful does it not. Despite Pip’s orphan status, he has great ambition throughout this book, but at many points throughout, he is disappointed and it kind of hurts. So for me, I can love the thought of having great expectations, but reality will always set in. But as the preacher used to say, “trouble won’t last always”, and that’s exactly it. It is always better to try and miss the mark then to never try at all. Hopefully, our lives won’t be a tragedy  like Pip, but at least it won’t be half lived.  Create expectations, reach for the stars, and believe in dreams that only you are meant to enjoy.

So as I celebrate my anniversary, I encourage you to remember:

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Thanks for reading, and to another year!

Jackie-Monroe

Value the Unknown (The Monday Fits)

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I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value. – Hermann Hesse

In our world, we like to validate ____ (fill in the blank) anything by how many likes, shares, or re-tweets something gets. We like to validate certain causes, initiatives, or businesses based on some genius or celebrity that has their name attached to the venture. We like to validate our bodies and self-images based on magazines and the media.  We also like to validate each other in our day to day living by who we think is important, and how they can help us make it to the next stage in life. Now, when I say, WE, each of those examples may not apply to you, or all of them might. But what I am sure of, is that each of us could take some time in valuing something a little more.  Not because it has been validated by someone or something else, but taking the time to make that decision on your own.

Disclaimer: There are a few areas that I am definitely not talking about i.e. babysitters, new car recommendations, your local mechanic, etc. I know I say that jokingly, but there are certain areas in our life, where having a little validation helps you sleep at night. But what I am talking about today, are things that deal with improving our core values and learning new lessons. I am not talking about taking risks (my favorite subject) , but taking a person, an experience, or a new path with “arms wide open” and ears wiped clean. We often hurt ourselves by making judgments too soon or being tainted by the experience of others, and placing the wrong value on something and potentially disregarded it altogether and missing the benefits.

Due to my extreme extroversion, I have a knack for going to places where I know no one, because I might have an interest in a speaker, an event or maybe the occasion. I’m kind of a seasoned pro, so I now expect something out of most of my experiences, whether I learn something, make a connection, or reaffirm something that I already knew. I get annoyed with people who hesitate to do something, because they already know how x, y and z is going to happen…

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I wasn’t always so open to the unknown, and there are times still, people and experiences surprise me, but you honestly have to be open to them.

*Enters new experience*

I don’t know what’s going on in your world, but I currently live in Texas, so the last two weeks have been consumed with the story of Sandra Bland. Last week, there was a vigil and silent march to the Capitol held in Austin. Now since Trayvon Martin, there have been a number of marches, protest, vigils, etc. for the many, many young black men and women who have died over the last two years and I haven’t been to a one.  I do believe they serve a purpose, but I contribute my time to the community in other ways quite a bit. I would publicize and get the word out, but I had never put my foot to the pavement. Well, last week, I was asked to be the legal observer for the vigil and silent march, and I didn’t hesitate to take on this task, because there really wasn’t a threat of anything happening.  Now, I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into, and I really was expecting much personally from the march, but boy was I surprised.

There were over 200+ people of all kinds of races, religions, and ethnicities to walk in silence up to the Texas’ capitol. Now it was hot, and I had a long day, but I was ready. The march was led by an amazing group of young women, and just to see all of those people come together was truly amazing. And as I walked, my mind had a million thoughts, what was it like in the 1960’s to do this over and over, and to not see the results you wanted instantaneously or  being attacked with dogs, and water hoses, and all the horrible things that were happening to stand up for the rights  that I enjoy today. And as I walked tears rolled down my face with the many thoughts of my parent’s past, and left me with more focus for the future. That the freedoms I have do have aren’t supposed to be taken for granted, and I have to be even more intentional with my time, effort and money to make a difference.  I did not know that I needed that reminder, to refocus my efforts (as I wrote on focus JUST two weeks ago), but it was the experience I needed to shape my paradigm. New experiences, new knowledge.

But it just doesn’t stop with experiences, it happens with people as well. I have told this story quite often, but a nice old (er) lady made a little difference in all the world when it came to me starting my blog. I went to an entrepreneur talk put on by the City of Austin. With events in Austin, I always leave early to beat the traffic. This lady  and I were the only two at the event location, a good 20 minutes before another soul walked into the place. We struck up a conversation, she told me she was retired and her first several comments were discussing how she had been caring for her parents, who now were no longer living. Now to be honest, if I didn’t have a strong appreciation for caregivers, I might not have seen any use in the conversation. I mean, she was an older lady, who’s been taking care of her parents, my thoughts could’ve been:

  1. What do we have in common?
  2. What on earth can we talk about? Or relate about?

But neither of those thoughts crossed my mind, and I am glad they didn’t. Maybe my intuition was working in my subconscious that day, because she was there for the same entrepreneur talk that I was attending.  Too much delight and my improvement, she gave advice about taking risks, starting my blog, and not being afraid. I soaked it all up, not because I knew who this women was, but I figured she was taking the time out to talk to me, why not listen. It was only did I find out later, when we finally connected on LinkedIn, that this women was a powerhouse in her own right who chose family over her career. What a woman! But with her success, did it make her advice any more valid or correct, maybe? But had I made an assumption from her appearance or her initial comments, and not given her any of my time, I would not have gained inspiration that made a difference in my life.  No matter how big or small, you never know the impact of something, pre-judging your experiences or people can have you missing out on a great opportunity or placing in value in the wrong things.

We have to be able to discern who is worth your time and who is not, but don’t be too quick and forget to value the unknown, you might just be a little better for it.

Since the Day I Was Born ….

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For me, the hardest part of watching the movie Selma was the first five minutes. It is the scene when the young girls, doing what young girls do in church, were blown up. I have thought of this scene multiple times prior to seeing the movie and just the thought of this scene was chilling, but Ava DuVernay captured it even more poignantly in the movie. So as I woke up this morning, June 18, to hear that 9 black people were shot in a historic church in South Carolina, I couldn’t even imagine what was going on in their minds and hearts as it was happening. As a child who grew up in the church, the thought of some one coming into our sabbath school, choir practice, youth service or a sermon brought me to real tears for so many reasons. Cried for their kids, their families, but also that our people have to be killed in a church, for everyone to find outrage. To utter the words that this IS a hate crime unlike all the other incidents. Because when our people are in the streets, not wearing the right clothes or defending themselves (if only with our words), the life of a black person is not of the same worth. We have to be doing what society deems appropriate for there to be outrage.

THIS
IS
NOT
OKAY

See what’s so troubling about this shooting is that the black church is a center piece to black culture. Despite our difficult past, the church has been a place of refuge for us. It IS a place of refuge for us. Despite its faults, because no establishment is perfect, it represents so much for black people. This feels like the highest violation, because almost every black child can relate to some degree when it comes to matters of faith. So now, in 2015, we are still being terrorized in our places of worship like in the days of MLK. How are we supposed to attend our places of worship? Of course, this won’t keep us out of our churches, but it will make some look over their shoulders. And it shouldn’t be this way.

Over the last two years, we’ve seen our young sons and daughters killed, and protestors and activists lambasted for speaking out against the police. Here’s the truth, we are racially profiled, wrongfully jailed, unjustly sentenced, and leniency is rarely given, yet a privilege white boy can receive leniency for a disease called “affluenza”, because he was born in privilege so he couldn’t grasp his actions.

Am I missing something?

I’m not radical. I actually love the police and respect the 5 -0 , the men in Blue. But when I sit here and speak to older black people who are not seeing why we are upset. That in some way, they implicitly say that we are the problem, is when I realize I have to say something. To speak up.

TODAY, we have earned the right to be angry,  to be sad, but we must not sit. We want equality in every area. But there are certain things I want right now from three groups of people:

1. The Media and the People Who Watch It
2. “Educated” Black People
3. Everybody else

1. MEDIA

For the last week, I was saturated about the Rachel “whogivesashit” Dolezeal story. Wake up media and get some respect about yourself. How can this nation grow, the people learn and understand,  if the information you give us is horrible. You ARE dumbing down America.

The People Who Watch It

STOP WATCHING IT …

Until its worthy of our attention

2. EDUCATED BLACK PEOPLE

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of my peers talk about how they are numb. STOP. You’re still living, breathing and have a sound mind. Do something. I’m not asking you to move mountains. But all of us need to have a hand in making a difference in our communities. It’s about each of us contributing in some capacity. You don’t need to live in Baltimore, NYC or Cleveland, but help where you are. You can protest, but there are other ways too. Use your unique gifts and talents. More importantly, as I’ve said so many times, have real conversations with your White friends, your Hispanic friends, your Asian friends, your Jewish friends. We need allies. Don’t have any of “those” friends? Well, we can not sit in our little educated black circles and expect people to understand or care if we’re not out here shouting from the mountaintop.

3. EVERYBODY ELSE

Wake the HECK up to the world we actually live in and not the world you think we do. Get out your shell or your/our world will fall apart, and it won’t be the underprivileged, the mistreated, and upset young people’s fault, it will be yours.

Since the day I was born, I have loved America and I have been a Black American. Since the day I was born, I believed I lived in a post-racial America. That is not true. I have been proud to be an American, I just hope those days are not numbered, because we are blind to reality. I now know,  since the day I was born, there is still a lot of work to be done about race. I have taken off my rose colored glasses, won’t you?

M/P