WHAT DOGGED DETERMINATION WILL DO

What would happen if you “forgot” to be limited…?

Don Miskel

I’m proud of, just got off the phone with, and am big-upping my brother, Chris Miskel. Though he’s younger, he lost the “little brother” moniker years ago, when we both became dads. I am mentioning this very talented individual because he is a maverick that decided to break the rules and live his dream.

Chris is a professional musician, a self-taught drummer who has been doing it since he could pick up sticks. When we were little, it was the oven door, pots, pans, oatmeal boxes, and any anything else that could produce a sound that got beaten. He’s gone from using pencils and chopsticks to being promoted by Pearl (those are the folks who make drums, y’all).

He also hails from the same impoverished Chicago South Side neighborhood that I do, currently nicknamed Chi-raq due to all the violent crime that goes on there. A young man who was…

View original post 241 more words


Back to the Future: A Letter to the Past

216602_10150269067622409_3156971_n

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”)


The Power Within

The Power Within

I was fumbling around at my desk at home, trying to find the cord to my speakers so I could plug it in to my computer. There was the cord that went to the external hard drive, then there was the cord that went to my phone charger, then there was the one that went to the charger for my “other” usb devices, as well as the cord for yet another device. Didn’t have to worry about the cord that charges my laptop, because it was already plugged in. ALAS! I finally found the cord for the speakers, but when I did the strangest thing happened. As I reached for the different cords, I noticed the occasional “buzz” or “pop” from the ends touching each other…because everything was plugged into the main power strip so it was all live. [I know, I know…not the best setup, but this particular gangly mess wasn’t a usual occurrence.]

In particular, I noticed the cord to my speakers because the volume was up a little. What I noticed was that when my hand touched the plug, the speakers would hum or buzz. The first time it happened, I thought it might have accidentally touched one of the other live cords. But when I tried to use my hand to try to “protect” the end until I got it plugged in…it got LOUDER! What the…HUH??? So I dropped the cord to make sure I didn’t electrocute myself […”again” (but that’s a story for another day)].   But what had just happened? Why did it make that sound? I took inventory and once I made sure everything else was back to its intended setup, I picked up the speaker cord by the base…and deliberately touched the tip to my hand. It did it again…but I didn’t feel a current.

I did this a few times, and like a curious and fascinated child was AMAZED! So then I explored… Holding the cord by the base, I touched my desk…nothing happened.   So I touched my hand again, just to be sure…the buzz was still there. I touched a book…nothing. Touched my bare leg…buzzzzzz. Touched the desk lamp…nothing. Touched my neck…buzzzzzzz. FASCINATING! I marveled for a little longer, and then decided to go ahead and plug the cord back into the computer.   When I did, I noticed a pop and the SAME BUZZ until it was fully inserted and securely in place.

I’d heard a number of times that our bodies have enough energy in them to light an entire city, were we to learn how to harness its unique power – but I honestly thought that was just something people were saying to inspire and motivate others and make them feel good about themselves and their potential. But NOW…? I kinda believe it! Granted, my bootleg home experiment was not a sophisticated setup, and could quite possibly just be happenstance. You know, this particular brand of speakers, the type of power strip they’re plugged into, a combination of the energy of the other items also in the space…but I doubt it.

This got me thinking about the literal THOUSANDS of thoughts and ideas that pass through my consciousness on a regular basis. I also thought about the different pains and discomforts I’ve experienced…possibly due to NOT properly protecting and/or directing the power that IS ME. How many times have I doubted my ability to do/say something, or to otherwise act, thinking there was something outside of myself and the power with and in which I was born into this realm? Way too many! And how many times have YOU?

What power-packed ideas and activities have you kept unjustly and improperly shelved, waiting for something outside of your divine mandate to give you unnecessary permission to do? What have you denied yourself and the world by not realizing the incredible power that lives in you NOT because you activated it, but BECAUSE YOU ARE?!?!!! Your breath, beating heart, and even your doubts are evidence that you ALREADY have and ARE the power you need. Now, it’s only a matter of moving from curiosity and exploration on to intentional creation.

Yes, you’ll continue to face things that may cause you to doubt who you really are, and the power you actually DO have to create. But your magnificence and brilliance are really not EVER legitimately up for debate or challenge…E.V.E.R. You don’t even have to believe it to make it so. IT. JUST. IS. But in order to MASTER your ability to manifest your true desires – I mean the “real” ones, not the “it would be really nice IF…” ones – you DO need to learn your power and how to be responsible with it.

Watch any movie or read any book about superheroes “stumbling” onto their power and yes, there is the period of discovery or of fun exploration where they do dumb stuff just because they’ve discovered they can. [Think about puberty, and the realization millions of hormonal young folks have that they “can” have sex…and that they can even create another life. Great power…not always wisely exercised upon initial discovery.] Ideally, there is some trusted voice of reason that commends them for finally discovering the power that lives within them…and cautions them on being prudent with their new discovery.

I don’t know what your “superpower” is…YOU may not even know what it is yet. But I DO KNOW – without ANY shadow of doubt – that you have it. Hopefully your life is structured in such a way that you’re allowed to sit and just “be”…even if for a few deliberate minutes each day. It doesn’t have to be a long time, but having this time of quiet connection to yourself and the Power that courses through you is important. Your life will take shape and form based on how connected you remain to this understanding. It goes beyond description, labels, titles and identification. What you call it doesn’t matter. But your ability to shape your life – as well as affect the lives of others – is directly related to this power and your ability to effectively direct it.

And contrary to the popular notion that it’s more important to know your purpose, or else risk not fulfilling it, it is more important that you recognize and relate to the Power that you are. Because as you become more attuned to all of who you are, the purpose will both reveal and protect itself….and it cannot be destroyed.

Think about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Dream”. He is who pronounced it, but his beautiful crafting of the words that related to the hearts of millions didn’t “make” the dream. The dream’s time had come…and he was simply the man who recognized its universal cry and harnessed his own powers of words, passion, and unwavering commitment to propel it forward. And the dream did not die when his body was no more. But because he lived a life in recognition of his power, that dream “crowned” during his lifetime…even though it has YET to be fully realized…but it still continues.

And yours will, too…


Good morning, 2015! (UNBLOCK)

What do you do when you’re blocked? Great question. I had all these INCREDIBLE ideas floating around at the end of the year, and it feels as though that “inspired” person went back to whatever universe they were visiting from, and left me here to deal with THEIR idea skeletons. Where’s the inspiration? Where’s the magic? Where are the damn ideas??? I feel like the ideas I have are broken records of “dreams past” (that never came to pass, so they’re not really “past”…but they haven’t shown me how to free them, either). So now…I’m just writing. Writing for the sake of exercising my fingers and hearing the keys on my laptop tap. Something about the SOUND of producing something…even when that “something” is completely non-descript…is mildly satisfying. And seems to summon up other words to come. Now whether they make sense or not is another story altogether, but at least I hear tapping…

When I awaken from this blank coma, I’m hoping that something of substance will have appeared once I get all the creative “eye buggers” out. It may not be THIS particular post, but something that comes forth…maybe the 3rd or 4th time I choose to exercise my fingers and take them for a stroll around the keyboard track. Who knows? But I DO know I feel my chest swelling, as if something has stimulated my ideas to come alive again. I actually FEEL the neurons in my brain firing off in the same manner that an onlooker summons others spectators of a bar fight or car accident. You know, that “OMG! I don’t know what happened, but LOOK! Words are starting to appear on the page…and they keep coming!” kinda thing.   So who knows who’ll “win” this round…? But I feel myself waking up. Even though I’m kinda stumbling around like when I wake up from sleeping in real life… It’s actually kinda funny and pathetic, because I will LITERALLY pace and walk aimlessly from room to room in my home until my body is fully awake and able to make reasonable choices on what to do. And I mean even on the everyday stuff like brushing my teeth, getting in the shower, picking my outfit, styling my hair, and whether or not I feel like doing anything to my face. I am a MESS in the morning! And this post puts me in remembrance of that same kinda “waking up” confusion.

No real insightful words, or inspiring thoughts…just getting out of the proverbial writing bed. (So don’t hold any grammatical or spelling errors against me…my foot is not even really on the floor good yet!) BUT I’m “coming to”…and thank you for being a part of my transition from sleep to awake, just by being here with me and reading this. If you want to help me even more, feel free to suggest some topics or scenarios on which I may comment, to help give my ramblings some direction while my writing vision becomes a bit clearer. In the meantime, I’m going to call this year ONE writing day…so I’ll just say “Good morning” for now and prepare for a good one.


Chasing Bad Guys

Police-sirens-and-lights

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

Image

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.