Tag Archives: children

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.

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“Mine…”

A friend of mine once advised me against giving all of myself away, and shared with me that some things should be “just for me”.  I was familiar with the concept…even wrote about it years before…but when I heard it at that precise moment, it “clicked” in a different way.

We’ve all, at some point, either witnessed or gone through the “Mine!” phase that all children go through.  That experience of joyfully playing with a toy, or sitting in a loved one’s lap, and another “competitor” (who usually doesn’t even realize they’re such) comes up and wants to share that experience…  All of a sudden something (or someone) that was taken for granted and the implied eternal loyalty of our now extra-beloved friend or object is “at stake” of being compromised, and there is a sudden surge of possessiveness that rises up and those infamous furrowed eyebrows and the barked “Mine!” appear out of nowhere.

What happens when that beloved object is one’s sense of self?

With the advent of reality television, I’ve noticed an increased use of video diaries and even recently watched a documentary that was formatted in this way for about half of the time.  These video diaries contained many of the most intimate parts of the documentary footage, because it wasn’t just observing the person’s life and interpreting a set of events…the video diary portion was the person’s actual thoughts, emotions, revelations, fears, and so on – a journey into the very “self” of the person.  From these diaries it was fairly easy to connect to how that person actually was outside of the persona that was projected in [or inferred by the] public.

Of course, they chose to make these diaries public, but I find a lot of value in just the act of creating them to begin with.  Video or audio diaries have a different depth than the traditional written diary, and here’s why: we can audibly verbalize much quicker than we can write.  And for a person whose mind is full of ideas, heart is full of emotions, and who receives understanding and makes certain connections as the thoughts come sometimes those moments can be lost in trying to put ink to paper.  Seems weird and might not make sense, but the temptation is to “edit” what’s written, whereas a video or audio diary just “is what it is” typically.  Conversely, a written diary seems to encourage a decision about which thoughts to actually pen, so reviewing it tends to read with the fascination of a novel.

Nevertheless, keeping a diary of ANY form has value because most of us have far too many thoughts and ideas to stay “squoze” (yes, squoze…keep it movin’) up inside.  And taking just a brief moment to get them out in SOME kind of way is much healthier than keeping them bottled up and trying to “sort through” them…that’d be kinda like dressing a baby before it’s born – good luck with that.

Another benefit of keeping a diary is having a “friend” to talk to, without bitching about the same shit and eventually realizing they’re not really paying you much attention anyway…you have become white noise.  With a diary, there’s no misinterpretation of intent or meaning and therefore no temptation to offer advice where there was none requested, and no hurt feelings when that advice is ignored or when the action taken seems to be completely opposite what was “advised”.  With a diary, you can be as silly, zany, discombobulated, confused, concerned, opinionated, angry, frustrated, inventive, deep, upset, emotional, revealing, perverted, experimental, curious, steadfast, strong…(you get the point)…as you wanna be, and no one is judging you except you.

Of course, thinking about it, hopefully we all have at least one person who comes to mind as our living/breathing diary…and we cherish that person to no end.  Maybe that person is even our chosen life partner.  But for illustration purposes, that person is excluded right now, because even with that person, as implied in the beginning of this entry, some things should be “just yours”.  And this is not to discount the value of that relationship…it’s actually to preserve it.  We know how WE need a break from our thoughts at times, so if another person is receiving them all the time how do they have time or space for their own?

So getting back to the concept of “mine”…  I’m the first of many siblings (I have 6 of them, to be exact), so I had to share all the time.  It wasn’t an option to keep anything for just myself.  I had a brief period in my teenage years where I was alone, but as a very involved teenager I still didn’t learn how to tend to “just me”, or that I SHOULD actually learn how to “be”, independent of outside feedback.  It was just habit to seek counsel and advice from everyone and everywhere except my own core.  Is there value in having another perspective besides our own?  That goes without saying.  But if external feedback is the primary sustenance for our personal growth, therein lies a serious problem.

Allow me, for just a brief moment to make an important and controversial observation.  Raised as a Christian, I was taught by well-intended Bible believers that we should “trust in the Lord with all [our] heart, and lean NOT to [our] own understanding.”  So how or why would I ever learn to trust myself to make good decisions without first seeking my warped concept of God?  What I thought or felt didn’t matter, unless it aligned with what my concept of God said was the right thing.  And how did I access that concept?  By comparing notes with other “believers” to ensure a right interpretation of what I thought I should do.  In retrospect, to call this dysfunctional and crippling would be an understatement.

I held onto this way of existence for a very long time, relatively speaking.  [I’m only 38, so it hasn’t been “that” long.]  And it wasn’t until fairly recently that my understanding of “God” evolved into fully accepting that I actually AM God.  How did I come to this heretical stance?  It is impossible to take anything from infinity.  And if God is all there is and my being here is just another expression of the infinity of that very God-energy, then I am still that same energy…just manifesting in another form.  Therefore, being cloaked in this human shell that I wear, my experiences and upbringing merely taught my human form how to be and perform in this world.  This means that “seeking God”, “praying”, and other terms for connecting to our understanding of what or who God is means actually pausing our humanity and stilling our minds to allow ourselves to more clearly express the divinity that we are…where we “know the Truth, and the Truth makes us free”.  Only when we marry ourselves to the idea that what we need is outside of ourselves or somehow away from us or NOT us, do we find ourselves fumbling, stumbling, and otherwise just plain ol’ fuckin’ up. (My humanity came back.)

And this is where a diary is helpful.  Because no matter how many times I forget who or what I am, I can go back and process my own madness to once again arrive at a place of not only functioning but maximizing my life experience with a renewed sense of self.  I can walk away from those pages, that recorder, or that camera and know that I was able to work my way through some of the clutter without burdening another soul…and what’s left is all “MINE”.


Teaching Freedom

I had the opportunity to take my 8-year-old nephew to the citywide parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., yesterday.  And as we drove on the way to the parade, I asked him if he knew who Dr. King was, to which he of course replied yes and told me “he died”.  Mmmmkay…  So I asked him if he knew what he did BEFORE he died, and not surprisingly he did not.

Then I started thinking…many of us adults don’t really know what Dr. King did before he died.  We just enjoy the day off…IF our jobs are among the few that actually take off to honor the day set aside to do so.  But how would I explain this to my nephew?  How would I share this important part of American history with him, and share with him what it means to live and lead a life of significance?  It wasn’t quite as easy as I thought it would be.

How do I teach an 8-year-old concepts of freedom, justice, and equality that we as adults still don’t seem to really understand or follow?  We still discriminate not only against other ethnicities outside of our own, but WITHIN it…especially within the African-American community.  From skin hue to hair texture to facial structure, on up to the more widespread separators of education and financial status.

How do I drive home the idea that we are “finally free” when, at 8, he sees a police car and already has learned to be anxious about whether we might get pulled over and there be an adverse outcome affecting that freedom?  I won’t start lying by making up statistics on African-American arrest and incarceration rates, but we know it’s significantly higher than any other ethnicity in this country…multiplied a few times.  And yes, there are other factors that affect these rates, but generally speaking it’s still almost as if being born black is a sexually transmitted disease and predisposes those affected by it to certain socioeconomic conditions…even if nothing more than being forced to overcome the “basic” negative stereotypes.

Why is it such an “achievement” for a black man to go to actually graduate high school, go on to graduate college, find and work in his passion, create a family in his own time, and live his life…WITHOUT having done a stint in jail, or have 8 kids by 7 different women…whereas this is just “normal” for his white counterpart?  Why is the average rite of passage for the black male some kind of tragedy (jail, getting shot, knocking up his 8th or 9th grade piece of ass – because that’s how he’s been taught to view her, up to that point – or the death of a loved one)?

We’ve come a long way, but we still have so far to go.  So what DID Dr. King do?  Because this was NOT the dream he had in mind.  He took a stand.  He spoke out, but in a way that was so full of conviction, passion, and certainty that it inspired others to stand (or sit or march) for what they knew was right.  He wasn’t content “just getting by” with what he was told he was allowed to have during that time.  He didn’t conform to his allotted corner and just hope for the best.  He honored what was RIGHT, not just what would let him live a “safe” life.  Because truth be told, even if he HADN’T taken the stand that he did, his life still wouldn’t have been safe and certainly not comfortable.

Perhaps that’s part of the “stagnation limitation” that we’re experiencing as a nation now.  All of the tension, turmoil, turbulence, and friction that it took to get us to this point was actually what was called for in order for it to be so uncomfortable and obviously unreasonable that something HAD to happen.  Today, much of the blatant discrimination and ideologies have faded into the background and they’re much more subtle.  So subtle that it’s difficult to call it outright injustice.  And the mentalities have seeped so deep and settled into generation after generation that we almost don’t even recognize them or know any better, and we’re perpetuating our own demise.

So where do we even start?  We start by telling what we know.  We know that “once upon a time”, racial injustice wouldn’t even have allowed us the freedom of having the conversation.  Once, the little black kids and the little white kids wouldn’t have been allowed to learn, play, or eat together.  Once, multi-racial homes and neighborhoods were illegal.  Once, not only did children have a curfew but even black adults had to be in before the sun went down and the street lights came on…or they risked not only their freedom but their very lives.  These only seem “basic” to us right now because they fought so hard for them back then.

Today, we’re confronted with a far more dangerous type of injustice…because today’s injustices don’t hang a sign that say “back to the trees, boogies”.  No memo on the job application that indicates “black folks make 25% less than their white counterparts”.  There’s no demarcated neighborhood that says “these kids will grow up knowing only impoverished thinking and habits”.  No written rule that notes “black girls make the easiest targets for teenage pregnancy, promiscuity, and domestic violence”.  Nah…this is an enemy that has partnered with an internal champion.  No march on this one.  No bus to ride on this one.  This sly alliance is likely why Dr. King died the death that he did.

So what did I tell my nephew?  I told him what I knew.  That Martin Luther King was a man of vision, and that he saw some very special things.  He saw how special EVERYONE is, and that everyone should be treated fairly.  That we all deserve to be allowed to be our best…no matter how we are born, or how we look.  That it’s wrong to be mean to someone just because they are different from us.  And I told him that we all need to make sure we do what we know is right, no matter how hard it may seem at the time.  That not everyone will like us for it, but that by doing the right thing we live the life we are meant to live.

I doubt he understood most of what I said, but that is where leading by example comes in.  I can show him better than I can tell him.  And you best believe I intend to show him everything I know for as long as I’m able…and pray that he has something far more powerful grow within him.  It starts with one seed…