Category Archives: Personal Growth

Oh, no you DI-N’T…!

In a recent intercultural development and training workshop, I learned about the concept of “Oops, Ouch, and Educate”.  I don’t know who came up with it, or if that’s even the exact title, but the spirit of it is this: if someone says or does something that is offensive to you (“Oops!”), you tell them.  It might sting or being uncomfortable (“Ouch!”), but then you educate them on why it was offensive AND share with them what might be a better way to be in communication with you going forward.  So in the spirit of that, I’m writing this post to offer support and encouragement to a very special group of people that I’ve encountered throughout my life.  If you see yourself or someone you know in these words, feel free to ‘fess up and/or share!  No judgment past admission…we are ALL works in progress…!

 

As much as I can appreciate the attempt to “relate”…it baffles me when a non-black person automatically assumes that I speak “homegirl”…then commences with the “mmmhmm”s, “girlfriend”s, soul food/music references, neck rolling, lip twisting, or (THE WORST) COMPLETELY UNRELATED references to their mixed children or black [WHATEVER; i.e., boy/girlfriend, spouse, best friend, college roommate, grocer…you get the point].   While I’m glad to know that you are “down for the cause”…you’re going about it ALL WRONG, and further widening our gap of communication.  Not to mention, really annoying the sh*t outta me.  Because NOW I’m in my head, trying to figure out what the hell in our interaction (besides my skin color) made you break out into this alter ego that was non-existent in your communications with other people groups.  And I’m also wondering if you think you’re somehow mirroring me…which is the subject of an altogether different rant.  But for now, I want to encourage people of color the world over (and “white” IS a color…for those who seem to have missed that memo; so YES, this is for you too…ESPECIALLY, actually): the best way for you to relate to ME, is to let me see YOU…the REAL you, not the “my friend’s grandma’s fried chicken” you.  Nkay, pumpkin? K. Thaaaaanks.

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Whatcha Lookin’ fer?

Postcards_and_magnifying_glassHave you ever been looking  – and HARD too! – for something…that was already in plain sight?  Yep, this just happened: I’m rummaging through my purse (which has WAY more crap in it than I will EVER need, anyway) looking for my dental floss.  I’d already taken out my travel toothbrush (because I didn’t have time to brush my teeth before darting out of the door, so my nephew  wouldn’t be late for school because of me) and laid it on my desk.  So, I’m just a-lookin’, lookin’, lookin’ for my dental floss…*wait for it*…that I had already taken out WITH my toothbrush, because what I was really needing was my toothpaste. Wait…WHAT?  Damn.

Needless to say, as soon as I stopped shaking my head and rolling my eyes at the foolery that had just happened, it hit me.  This “phenomenon” of looking for things that are in plain sight happens on many levels, in everything from dental hygiene tools to business ideas to life partners.  We actually ALWAYS have everything we need within our grasp…really.  It may not always necessarily what we think we “want”, but we have everything we NEED for whatever moment and season in which we happen to be.  Just think about it.

Ever heard the phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention”?  Well, you can’t “invent” from lack.  We can only invent and make manifest (or call into being) things that we psychokinetically KNOW are already there for us to manipulate…we just have to figure out how.

So if I may, let me encourage you to join me in slowing down, taking inventory, and being intentional in our “search” for the things we believe we need.  More often than not, they (be they ideas, prospects, or other seemingly elusive objects) are usually “right there” in front of us.

What are YOU looking for?


Back to the Future: A Letter to the Past

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It’s so interesting how the universe responds to us. I’ve recently found myself saying on a number of occasions that I wish I could “go back and give [a younger version of myself] a hug’. I say it whenever I remember behaviors that were mindlessly prominent, stemming from a number of perceived deficiencies or flaws…efforts to get others to notice or “see” me and perceive or (even worse) ascribe my value. Then I stumbled across a challenge to– no… I was presented with an opportunity to do a writing assignment about advice I would give to my younger self. Serendipity in play, for sure. Well, actually the time frame that I was referring to was only about 4 years ago, but what follows is a letter to myself at around age 10, which is when things really were still in the middle of heavy twists and turns that were shaping the way I saw myself and the world…

Hello, Beautiful!

You are an amazing and strong young lady! You have come through some really hard things already, and you’re still smiling…that is a beautiful thing! I know at this point you are having a hard time understanding that people who really love you do not hurt you, but it’s true. The truth is those who hurt you did not love you at all, and only told you lies to get you to think they did…so they could have the chance to do harmful things to you. This is NOT LOVE, SWEETHEART. Love is not selfish and doesn’t willfully hurt or mistreat others. This is something that is REALLY important for you to learn, so that you know how to recognize the difference between when someone genuinely cares for you, and when someone is trying to trick you so they can be selfish with you. It’s also important for you to realize this so that you don’t grow up believing that it’s okay to do or say harmful things to people you say you love…because that’s not okay, either.

Love is a wonderful and miraculous thing, and I know you feel it strongly when it happens. You feel this way with your dad’s mom and your mom’s dad the most. They REALLY love you! They show you this by sharing healthy embraces and kisses with you… You know how when you’re in their arms or near them, you feel safe? Like nothing and no one can hurt you? That’s how true love is supposed to feel. You know how when you’re with them, they speak kindly to you…even when they’re angry, upset, or disappointed? That’s called respect. It is okay to be upset with someone, but you can still let them know how you feel without yelling or saying mean things to hurt them…even though you may want to do that. It won’t always feel natural, but as you grow older, you’ll learn that one of the most important things you can have is good relationships. And learning how to speak respectfully to everyone you encounter is a very big part of making sure you hold on to those good relationships.

Speaking of relationships… You are a sweet, kind and attractive young lady who has been exposed to relationships that you should have been introduced to only several years from now, when you are old enough to better understand what they mean. So, first, let me tell you that is not your fault. Second, although many who love you and will eventually learn of what happened will be upset and try to help you direct blame for what happened, that hear me when I share with you that that will not change who or where you are today…but beginning to practice blame and acting like a victim CAN affect or even change your future. You are a powerful young lady, who has the ability to do and become anything you can imagine…and you have an amazing imagination! It is very important that you remember the awesome power that you have within you to create and to choose. And to choose to create. Everything that makes you feel good about that gorgeous chocolate skin that God dipped you in, and those thick thighs that protect your sacred space, and that ivory smile that lights up your face…find ways to do more of those things, which help you celebrate the glorious daughter of Love that you are. (And although your hair is still being relaxed now, you’ll eventually learn that even those unruly kinks and coils that sprout from your scalp are to be celebrated and CAN be naturally tended to and honored.) Do not be ashamed of the wonderfully unique creation that YOU are! The more YOU know this, the more intentional your life will be. You don’t have to go through life apologizing for other people being uncomfortable with who you are in your natural state…you are not the reason for their discomfort – THEY have not learned the truth about themselves, and so they feel uncomfortable seeing you walk so freely in yours.

I tell you all this because it will give you something to hold onto when the world feels mean and cold. Because there WILL be days when things will hurt. People you love very much and who you thought would be with you forever will die and leave your life. So it is very important that when you get to share time with people you love that you make each time very special. If you want to hug them, hug them. If you want to tell them you love them, say it. These are special times that you can never get back.

Learn who your brothers and sisters are…on the inside. Pay attention to what makes them smile, and what makes them sad. Pay attention to how you feel when they do certain things – whether good or bad. And it’s okay to tell them, because this helps them get to know who you are on the inside. Remember me telling you about relationships? Your relationships with them can be among the most special relationships that you have. And when you grow up and all live apart from each other, you’ll still have your relationships to keep you close.

From where I sit now, we’ve been through a lot, babygirl. So you will have plenty of opportunities to share love and speak respectfully, with others and with yourself. I know that sounds weird, but as you get older you’ll understand. You’ll experience a few more very disappointing and hurtful people even before getting out of grade school and on to high school…as well as throughout the rest of your life, but remember who YOU are. Be proud of who you are becoming. Love yourself. Other angels will show up along with way to help you safely arrive to where we are now.

Who knows…depending on how much of this you remember and hold on to, “where we are now” could look much different the next time around. 😉

You are loved deeply,

40-year-old You (and no, that’s actually not “old”)


Chasing Bad Guys

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I’ve come to realize that “chasing bad guys” is EXHAUSTING!  Not in the sense of being a police officer (although I have been called that a time or two…THOUSAND), nor in the sense of being the chick that likes the so-called “bad boy” type. I’m talking about the temptation of general suspicion that follows a “fall”, if you will, of a personality or institution that was once held in high regard, or to a standard that all but ensured CERTAIN failure…no matter how long it took to become evident.

It’s so easy to become cynical (or even sinister) in the face of major disappointment…but what good does that do? It becomes a toxin that seeps into every fiber of one’s being and eats away at the very soul. Life becomes a moot point, and everyone becomes a potential enemy or betrayer.  Just thinking about such an existence, I can feel the very cellular makeup in my body changing and the energy becoming stale…

This is not to imply that one should necessarily go through life with rose-colored glasses and blinders on to the very real evils and lack of integrity and noble character that in fact DO EXIST. However, to suspect EVERYONE of such “possible” failure, or live in such a way that infers a defensive offense is the perfect way to make it through life having merely “existed” or “done time” on the earth.  One can’t possibly fully experience life’s beauty, wonder, Love, and divine exchange while being engrossed in such a dreary outlook.

I particularly appreciate Max Ehrmann’s encouragement in his 1927 poem Desiderata to “…exercise caution…but let this not blind you to what virtue there is…” This has been true from the beginning of time, but as the media relishes in glorifying and sensationalizing every negative happening, it is even more critical that we become aware of the air of light that is all around us!

We only notice the negative so prominently because it is NOT NORMAL.  Think about it… The air we breathe in is most commonly good.  Yet the only time we “notice” it is when something foul comes along and we go into maniac mode (at least I do) to try to get rid of whatever “not normal” stench is disturbing the norm. The same can be said of crime, disease (whether physical, emotional, or spiritual), and any other “evil” we perceive.

To be honest, I believe that conspiracies do exist. I believe we live and function in so many broken systems that it would drive us to literal insanity were we to REALLY know what goes on behind the scenes.  But I also believe in the inherent good that IS THE NORM. It is the air we breathe. I believe in the ultimate triumph of good over evil, and that our being here is somehow part of the solution to whatever ails the nations.

So instead of spending my energy chasing bad buys and “confirming” my (and the rest of the world’s) suspicions, I’m choosing to learn how to become aware of these rarities…while desperately fighting to strengthen my link in the chain of healing.  I believe this is the most productive use of my life.


What’s Your Address?

Live the life you LOVE

What’s keeping you where you are? Whether it be your home, your school, your job/business/career, your marriage, or your religion/church…examine and be conscious of the power of the glue that binds you to it. Love is far more powerful than fear. If you are there because you are afraid that it’ll be a mistake if you leave, that your soul will be tormented, what others will think of you or your decision, or even that nothing better exists for you and separating would make life hell for you…it is already on the verge of ending in calamity and no amount of “trying” will make it work. If you are there because your heart is content and you light up and are filled with joy and gratitude at the thought of being there, and wondering how in the world to create more things like it in your life…more is already on the way and any challenges will only increase the strength of your original “yes” to it.

In this moment of reflection and examination, make note of where your fears cause anxiety versus where your love abides. Once fear is dismissed from its imagined duty of protecting you from harm, if love grows there instead you have saved something precious from unnecessary ruin. If, however, you find that when you release fear, love leads you on another path, graciously release that situation and allow love to manifest and fortify your true heart’s desire. Fear and love cannot occupy the same space. Know the addresses of each and live accordingly.


All Things New

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New things always seem to infuse us with the hope of possibility. Ideals of all that we can achieve, areas we can make headway in, opportunities that not only can we seize but actually create, and so on. Everything from a new toy as kids, a new notebook as a writer, a new sketchpad as an artist, a new baby as a parent, a new spouse as a lover, a new friend as a companion, a new business venture as an entrepreneur, or a new year as a human being.

But oftentimes, somewhere along the way, the work of maintaining or “doing right by” these areas gets sidetracked by things that impersonate scenarios of dire importance. Things like over-demanding bosses/jobs, obligations we half-heartedly agreed to but now can’t go back on our word, co-dependent friends/family who are always in crisis, etc. But if we look at things honestly, these things would go on just fine if we removed ourselves from the picture. And with that as the case, and the world not falling apart, it stands to reason that the framework from which we operate should be LESS on what we “have” to do to keep the proverbial ball from dropping, and MORE on what we “desire” to do to keep our passions active and infuse life into the world we want to experience.

What reflections do we want to see? What environments, people, and experiences will best express what we know to be true of ourselves? How can we authentically show up and manifest the joy, peace, and love that we are? Every day is a perfect day to start afresh and view life from the Creator’s perspective, rather than attempting to keep up with illusions we’ve unconsciously bought into because of how damned persistent they are. So, from where you sit right now, take inventory of how you feel. Are you relaxed? Worried? Fearful? Hopeful? Horny? (Hey, let’s be real…) Expectant? Angry? Happy? Is your body comfortable? Is the air around you light or aromatic? What sounds do you hear? Birds chirping? Kids laughing? Water dripping? Cars driving by? Can you feel your breaths coming in and going out? What about your chest rising and falling with each inhale/exhale? Do you feel open to receiving? Or are you closed and protective? Just BE here in this moment. Not rushing or hurried. Not overthinking, judging, or “trying” to make it be anything in particular…just observing.

This moment was created for you…BY YOU. Rest in it. And in this space, however you’ve colored it, you can begin creating the next. Our lives are created moment by moment… What will your next creation be? Follow your bliss, and create intentionally.

Happy New Year, all.


CLASSIFIED

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This is going to sound cliché (by the way, I’ve come to realize that some sayings have come to be what they are because they resonate for a lot of folks), but… I’m looking for someone. No, not the dashing 6-foot-something knight with piercing eyes and a blindingly gorgeous smile in a linen suit strolling toward me on a sandy beach…although I would not turn such a one away…BUT I’m not on a sandy beach, so we’d miss each other anyway.

Nay, I’m looking for someone who is calm and strong, certain yet flexible, resourceful and gracious, kind, caring, gentle, loving, forbearing, peaceable, impeccable, hopeful, and effective. Someone who remains peaceful in the most turbulent of times, and maintains not a “front” of calm but a genuine certainty that everything is alright…regardless of outcome. Someone who is magical in a crowd, but also divine in solitude…able to light up when others are present, or warmly flicker as a quiet flame and be perfectly content in either setting. Being fully present in whatever moment presents itself, or possessing strong knowledge of how to reclaim presence if ever it’s stolen by temporary chaos.

It seems like a tall order, but as the eternal optimist I am ever believing that it’s possible. Will these traits all show up at once? Eh…dunno. But it’s highly possible for them to all live and abide in the same being. And the place I’m looking? The mirror. Now I don’t know if all of these things are characteristics that rest at my core, because I’ve been so busy chasing life and things. Or if they’re yet other things that still need to be sharpened and polished. All I know is I’m exhausted. I am. I just “Am”. And I’d like to think that in “Am”ness I have nothing but the life of God (all of which these resonate as such, with me) I used to know to rely on…which is what I want to get back to.

I don’t aspire to titles. I don’t aspire to be seen or heard. I don’t even aspire to be the best at my job, or in my field of work…or even in my DESIRED field of work. And quite honestly that’s a scary place to be in for me right now…I mean, seriously. The bills don’t pay themselves. But I simply aspire to be successful at being the best ME I can be. I aspire to INspire my own life and waking. I aspire to let the child in my care know that he’s loved and fully capable of doing anything his heart desires. I aspire to show him how beautiful life can be every day and that our only limitations are those we put on ourselves. I aspire to demonstrate what bravery looks like. What honor and integrity look like. I aspire to think and live outside of the box and color outside the lines because that’s where the bigness of God is. I desire to know the depth of myself…but I’ve looked and searched and worked everywhere except within.

I’d LOVE to be able to “just live”, without the pressures of HAVING to work to provide for our basic necessities. Although I know me, and it wouldn’t be long before I’d find myself working on a passion, or trying to provide a solution for something or creating something…but THAT’s the space out of which I want to work. Because it’s coming from a pure place. From an unobstructed place.

So the question becomes how do I begin to achieve that now? From where I am now? How do I begin to sculpt my life’s happenings, my thoughts, my energy, etc. to begin to shift things to occupy more appropriate places and priorities without jeopardizing our current standard of life? I believe I’m doing some of it now, just by calling conscious attention to it. I believe the rest of the answers will come… And that’s not to sound hokey, but I just don’t have answers ready. When I started it out by saying I’m looking for answers…I really am. But I also know that the questions are already the answers in seed form, just waiting to bloom under the right set of circumstances.

Time for a shift…