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What does Family Mean to You?

I know what Webster defines as family but what’s your definition?  Is it just your mom n’ em or does it extend past the folks who live under your roof?  Depending on our cultural background, experiences, or focus some of us understand and accept that “family” refers to more than just who we’re related to.  We call best friends, neighbors, and the people who support us and who we support “fam.”  Unfortunately, for some of us who’ve been burnt, family can be a dirty word that brings up bad memories we’d rather forget.  Yes, family can be the people we love and hate at the same time.  What do you think about this?

So, why the big deal?  In a day when we’re faced with more unknowns that we can handle, who or what keeps you grounded and feeling like you matter.  Like it or not, we are relational creatures.  If we know that there’s somebody(s) who are thinking about and looking out for our best interests even when we’re not…well, there’s no words to describe it.  And, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done, they still love you.  That’s true fam—simply put.  Comments are welcome!

Sisters

See, What Had Happened Was…

How do you deal with disappointments, unmet expectations, or broken promises?  What about the ensuing myriad of excuses that follow?  It seems that some people are masters of coming up with some reason they did not or could not meet a scheduled obligation.  Often, consideration for the bigger picture does not come into their view.  In other words, who or what may be impacted by what did or did not happen?

We do not have to become a victim of the mishaps of others whether intentional or not.  How might we begin to see things differently?  Certainly, all of us have been on the receiving as well as the giving end.  But, oh we don’t see ourselves as excuse makers, do we?  It’s something about how we view ourselves—position, privilege, influences, self-worth or whatever—that we think allows us to get a pass.  It can be something as simple as not returning a phone call and dismissing it as “I’m too busy with an important client” and yet this is just another way that we excuse ourselves when we make excuses.  Perhaps a different perspective is needed.  There are always going to be people who could care less whether they hijack your time.  However, the next time we’re tempted to burn within at someone who stood us up, let’s step back, soften, and consider what it must have been like for others when we fell short.  Comments are always welcome.

Wrestling Not Against Flesh and Blood

When It Hurts

Often people say things like, “I understand what you’re going through” in an attempt to ease the suffering of a person going through an extremely challenging time or the loss of a loved one.  Well-intentioned as that statement might be we really do not know or understand what another person’s experience is.  True, you lost your brother and I did too but what you’re going through is truly unique to you just the same way it is for me.

Because suffering is part of the human experience, all of us will have our share of it as long as we are on earth.  In our attempts to console someone, perhaps it is best to simply be there, hold space for them, and remain silent.  When people are hurting, the last thing they need is to hear are platitudes stating that their physical pain will be over soon, that trouble is only temporary, or that their loved one is in a better place.  Remember the story of Job?  Looking at the situation, when did he receive the most comfort from his friends?  If words are meant to be shared, less is more.  Being an instrument or part of someone else’s healing can be beneficial if we are sensitive and thoughtful.  I am learning to do this; how about you? Comments welcomed as always.

Untitled

Flipping Sticks and Throwing Stones

To be invisible and voiceless is a reality for many—especially for minorities; including those with disabilities.  This may be uncomfortable to think about or consider.  But if you’re in the majority with inherent privilege it can be easy to overlook the struggles others have.  Living in a predominant Western society comes with certain assumptions:  whether you were born here or migrated to this culture shouldn’t you know what to do, how to live, or say or behave in ways that are “appropriate or correct?”  If not, why don’t you?

Voicelessness can potentially affect one’s ability to effectively state what they truly need.  It can deter from a person’s confidence to make decisions they want to make but don’t feel they can.  How are you helping or being a deterrent towards someone being able to speak “their” truth?  Clearly, there are exceptions—no it’s NOT ok to slander folks or engage in microinsults.  Yes, we may not necessarily agree with that person but that’s not the point, is it?  As one who has experienced invisibility and voicelessness, I can appreciate true “freedom” of speech when it is given space.

“Jus Lemme Have My Say!:

Hot Air Balloon

How much value is there in your word?  If someone, were to assess a cost for your spoken or written message what would it be?  I think we can all agree that the political arena holds the record for having the biggest hot air balloon on the planet—filled with loads of empty, meaningless jargon that holds no weight.

However, what about you?  Is your word bond?  Or are you strategic and calculating in how and what you present to others?  Oh yeah, we can communicate very loudly with our facial expressions and body language; much more than words will ever do.  So, with your mouth you announce good intentions to your neighbor but your body says “You’re really bothering me right now!”

News flash—most of the time people can tell when you’re not being real or less than truthful.  I believe it has to do with change in tone of voice, shift in the body position, and little eye contact.  Instead of trying to hide in plain sight, perhaps its best to come correct—being truthful and sincere—not making promises we know we can’t keep simply because it sounds good and gets us off the hook in the moment.  We’ve all have had this done to us and if we would confess, we’ve done the same to others—even those we care about.  In the blink of an eye, we’ve already completed half of 2021 and we cannot undo what’s been done.  What might you do to change your narrative going forward?  Comments welcome always.

Synchronicity

Satisfaction Guaranteed?

Is it possible to provide a service or produce a product where satisfaction can be guaranteed?  Well, when humans are involved, you already know the answer.  Some businesses claim this is as their motto and that you should expect a full refund if you don’t get what you were expecting.  But it seems that no matter how much effort is made, some folks will never ever be satisfied.

What if we were to flip the script?  What I mean is…is it ever ok not to be satisfied?  Consider what’s at stake when you become satisfied:

  • You stay in your comfort zone and never venture past your front door
  • You’re never woke—so you can’t relate to important things happening around you
  • You develop couch-potatoitis; a disease with symptoms that include laziness, apathy, and a big sloppy butt
  • Your answer to most things is, “I just don’t give a _____”

I’d rather stumble, bumble, and fumble at trying to do what I can to make change than to sit back and be a passive spectator in Life.  The motivation to avoid the things abovementioned is the ever present need to do what I feel I’ve been called to do.  In this way, I’m able to remain true to who I am as one who is part of the Struggle and to encourage others on the journey.  Be ever curious, wanting, expecting…

Comments welcome!

Preponderance

Be a Mosquito

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease” is one of those sayings that has stood the test of time.  Check it out:  You’ve planned to do the weekly grocery shopping and while walking the aisles you take the opportunity to do some leisurely thinking, mindfulness, whatever.  Suddenly, there’s an ear-splitting, screeching, fingernails-scratched-across-the-blackboard noise that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.  Someone has grabbed that shopping cart with the squeaky front wheel and now the annoying buggy that needs a lube job is all you hear for the rest of the time you’re in the store!  Great—so what’s the big deal?

There’s something to be said about getting others to take notice; similar to the way we get annoyed by mosquitos buzzing around us.  We make sure to pay attention to where it is and what it’s doing—killing it if we’re quick enough—so that we can avoid getting bitten.  How about when it involves things we’re passionate about or believe in?  Like when you’re trying to get a new business idea going, sell your latest product, drop a new beat, or pursue a new relationship.  Being persistent, refusing to give up, and staying the course are what it takes to be this kind of insect.  How much are you willing to be a “pest” to do what you need to do?  Only those with a coat of armor, tough skin, and not being afraid to get in folks’ face while ignoring haters need apply.  But in the end, it will be worth it.  Comments are always welcome.

“You are so annoying!”

What’s A “Mother?”

On the heels of the past weekend’s Mother’s Day celebrations, I wanted to explore the meaning of the term “mother.”  For me growing up, a mother was someone of the female gender in relation to her children, While the traditional gender roles in which I was raised by my family of origin are still valued, I believe that being a mother or father does not necessary equate to being of the female or male gender.  Females who give birth may not be “mothers” in the sense of what this may mean to some (e.g., primary nurturer) as males adapt to this role based on family dynamics specific to their experiences.  Likewise, males whose sperm produced offspring may not be a “father” in the sense of what this may mean to some (e.g., provider) as females adapt to this role based on family dynamics as indicated by their experiences.  In addition to the traditional mother and father roles defined by society is there is place or latitude for freedom and the importance of not being limited by social constructs which often change.

I embrace my identity as an African American female and mother and I do not have any concerns or desires to change how I see myself.  As a person of color and woman of faith living in today’s world, I see myself in a position of great influence.  Who said that windows of opportunity have to be shut after a certain season has passed?  Beyond my eyes, I see huge living rooms, corners to turn, a full basement, and open doors to where the roles of nurturer, provider and more can exist and thrive.  The needs that others have in this heartless world are never-ending. Instead of ignoring, hiding, or downplaying the seriousness of people’s concerns I act.  Yes, in witnesser role I have “pulled a uey” to watch how Po Po handles the person of color he just pulled over or stopped.  Who are you and what about it makes a difference?  What doors will you walk through?  Comments welcome as usual.

FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE

Humpty Dumpty Revisited

Most kiddos can quote this famous nursery rhyme by heart.  Visually, I can imagine what it looked like to see Humpty “lose his stuff” on the ground beneath the wall he fell from.  Not only did he look like a hot mess—perhaps bewildered with what caused him to stumble in the first place—but he also had to endure the shame and disgrace of onlookers who were helpless to do anything.  Now, what if we could rewrite the story to have Dumpty survive the trauma that befell him?  What if he was a boiled egg instead of raw?  After he slipped, he would still be intact; perhaps only having suffered a hairline fracture.  It’s not hard to compare the resiliency of a boiled egg with a raw one.

But consider if you will a group of people whose very existence is born out of survival and the audacity to fight back although faced with a dilemma similar to Humpty’s.  Last week we saw the beginnings of what life might resemble if Justice is allowed to dress in her Sunday’s best.  Will the George Floyd verdict signal the beginning of changes in law enforcement practices?  Instead, maybe ask: What will need to happen in order for police brutality and systemic racism towards African Americans to cease?  Better still, when will African American parents no longer have to have “the talk” with their children hoping they will make it home that evening?  Yes, we come from ancestors that despite a history of unspeakable shame and disgrace have endured.  And just like a boiled egg that can hold up under tremendous pressure and still look pretty good, we remain resilient. You already know, comments are always welcome.

The Beauty of Simplicity

In a world that spends a lot of time obsessing over things that are unreachable, unsolvable, and unchangeable it is refreshing to get back to the basics.  How often do you think about what you are involved in and why?  Adhering to the “Joneses” mentality is like the futility of a dog chasing his tale.  We can spend our entire lives working extremely hard to get, succeed, and achieve that we fail to take time accomplishing that which is most important.

Think about the source of oppression, disenfranchisement, and social injustice.  So many people live with feelings of being unfulfilled, having low self-esteem, and suffering from identity crisis—all the while striving to get all they can.  Corporate says its greatest asset are people.  However, this claim becomes suspect when sickness, day care problems, or other personnel concerns loom large taking away from the bottom line; and its never ok to say “production must go on” when someone has endured discrimination! Should caring for others be our primary focus?  What is yours? Think of those resultant dividends.  Simply put:  love, serve, invest in…others.

Comments are always welcome.

“You, Me, We…Are NOT Alone”

Can Hope Remain?

It was an absolutely gorgeous day when I made a recent visit to the MLK Memorial—Out of the Mountain of Despair a Stone of Hope—in D.C.  As expected, there were a minimal number of visitors that day as social activities slowly return back to pre-Pandemic life.  As I walked along the wall where some of King’s notable quotes were etched, I experienced many emotions simultaneously.  Surely, it was not the first time I had read these quotes.  But what struck me the hardest was the reality of how far we’ve regressed as a Nation almost back to Jim Crow and lynching days.  Are we a failed State?

The birth of a newborn and the accompanying excitement it brings signals hope.  It’s a wonder how much fuss, toil, and attention are given to that small frail soul.  Could it be that the promise of a changed future is neatly swaddled within that soft blanket?  Having this outlook is akin to holding on to a weakening tree branch for dear life when the only alternative is_____.  It takes genuine optimism not to give in to apathy when everything and everyone around says that fighting back for change is too much effort.  And, yet another wave of “nothing will ever change,” it’s happening again”, and “there’s been another one” is upon us.  No matter how bad it gets, I will hold onto that branch frantically believing something firmer will take its place.  What will you feel this time and what will you do?  Your comments are always welcome.

How You See It/How I See It

Why are we sometimes errant in our thinking when it comes to having an opinion on a subject?  It may not be cool to have a ‘my way or the highway’ world view.  Someone once shared with me a problem they were going through.  As I listened and thought about what they were saying, the convo gradually became about it being just a bad day—not a bad life.  Although the problem still existed, I was intrigued at how the individual was able to see things differently despite still being knee-deep in it.

Perhaps one reason people hold tightly to what they perceive as important may be the need to maintain normalcy for them.  Could it be that one’s opinion is closely tied to their self-worth or identity?  My perspective, though important is mine and often may not jive with your perspective that is just as noteworthy.  But somehow it does matter, doesn’t it?  For some people, this is the major way they differentiate themselves because after all God didn’t create us to be robots.  Can we learn to appreciate another person’s footprint even if their shoes don’t fit us?  Comments are always welcome.

“You are Significant

Can You Feel It?

Waves crashing against rocks on the seashore, a baby’s first cry immediately after birth, and the rumbling sound of a strong wind against a window have in common a constant theme we all experience daily—struggle.  It’s no mystery that life is hard and we all have issues—some of us more than others.  Most smooth surfaces have to be made that way; naturally their rugged and coarse.

This is why texture is germane to my artmaking and art practice.  It is an integral part in the process of how I create no matter what media I choose to use.  For me, including texture goes way beyond a style, look, or feel in the way I want to represent my art.  It is the what and the why which seeks answers where there might not be any.  It is like the stranger who steps in to help a poor soul digging through garbage for his dinner while allowing him to maintain his dignity.  Or the meaningless cruelty of a teenager brutally murdered for merely walking down the street. Only God knows.  Simply put I purpose to have my art speak to the reality of life.  It is gritty, gracious, rough, dirty, joyous, fulfilling, empty.  My art must be able to manifest that somehow.  It is what it is.

Comments always welcome.

“You Feelin’ Me?”

A Little Chaos

Routine is good and can be a welcomed constant when life in unpredictable.  Do you think there’s ever a time when being in a groove is not good? Have you ever noticed that no matter how bad things get, humans have the ability to find a silver lining in the most dire circumstances?  Perhaps we possess an indomitable desire to refuse to lose or admit defeat.  Life these days is nothing short of navigating chaos as seen in failing school systems, health care disparities, untrustworthy information sources and, of course misgovernment—just to name a few.

One blessing or positive takeaway resulting from the Pandemic has been a spirit of inventiveness exuding from being abruptly thrown into the unexpected.  Before March 2020 most of us never imagined we’d be in such a dramatic life-changing situation!  These stretches out of our comfort zone have been catastrophic—there is no way to process the enormous losses that have occurred and I won’t even try.  We have been forced to come up with new ways of thinking, doing, producing, communicating, living.  Yet, because of COVID there have been new markets for designer masks along with other creative business startups, renewed focus on healthcare research, boons in video communications, huge changes in our relationships and family dynamics, and so on.  Shaking things up is unsettling and nothing is ever the same afterwards.  This is the mark of chaos.  Comments are always welcome.

Why You So Messy?

Exploring Intentionality

What is an intention?  I recently asked someone this question and answer was, “Uh-h, umm something you intend to do?” Granted this came from someone one on the youngish side; however, when I’ve asked this of others there seems to be some hesitancy.  Could it be that the meaning brings with it the need for time-consuming brain work or deep reflection?

When I think of intentionality two different ideas come to mind.  Most times whenever someone thinks of intention—they think in terms of something they need or want to do such as I intend to start my spring cleaning or paint the garage.  However, one can also set an intention to simply be.  Who were you in the past, who are you becoming, who will you be in the future?

Whatever meaning you’re drawn to, one thing may be worthy of consideration; how can one live with intention in everyday life?  Now you might be thinking, Uh-oh I knew it here comes the brain strain!  No. Without much effort we can learn live in ways in which intention comes naturally.  Taking a break to unplug from social media; noticing one’s surroundings; being around people who support and encourage you; and taking time for self-care might be a start.  Your thoughts and comments are welcome always.

Intention Dolls

Resilient

I was beautifully encouraged at a recent Time Magazine article titled, “We Will Handle It” on how women of color have responded to the hunger crisis that is currently happening in our Country.  Of course, this unfortunate reality has existed way before COVID 19 wrought its ugliness on us https://time.com/collection/women-covid19-pandemic/5942123/women-solve-hunger-us/.  Kudos to Time for dedicating a March double issue including this and other amazing stories on how women all over the world have been impacted and how their responding in the midst of a global Pandemic.

But, are we surprised, really?  I’m not!  As a woman of color, I strongly embrace my culture that has known nothing but challenges to our survival, well-being, etc. Yet, we continue to find creative ways to be resilient.  This is what we do, period!  As I write this, my heart is overjoyed and cheeks hurting (from cheesing too much) because I am reminded how this strength unifies us in many ways not always known.  Women of color may well be the inventors of repurposing, reusing, and possessing the ability to make something out of nothing.  Be mindful that creativity is not to be relegated only to the arts.  Look around you to notice the things that are being done proactively; without waiting for permission.  Although we may not always have the resources budgeted by or approved by the Government or other entity, we always find a way to forge ahead—without fear.  Your thoughts and comments welcome!

No Fear

Unknown Beauty

Sometimes the beauty around us can found in the unknown.  To me, beauty is often seen in the ethereal, sublime, mysterious, bewildering, breath-taking, and other-worldly.  Insight gained from accepting “the other” can take us to another place where we can find we are able to deal with almost anything.  Although acknowledging that ugliness in this world has its purpose; it does not to pull at us or detract from what matters most.  It can be challenging to choose to look beyond and see true beauty sprouting in everyday situations.

My eyes constantly search for the simple things—acts of love that can go unnoticed if I stay on the surface. What can be discovered from digging deeper, finding more? Perhaps in doing so we can position ourselves to look beyond what we’ve grown accustomed to.  I continue to appreciate the personal growth realized in chasing after the unknown! 

Crimson Paradise
Stingray in Flight