Category Archives: building bridges

Gifting Your Gift

In a world where our time is valued and selfishly mishandled, we tend to miss the opportunity to gift others with our gift(s).  The attributes and abilities one holds are useful to those around him, however, we do not take the time to recognize the value in extending ourselves unless of course there is a momentary reward involved.  Now, I am not advocating that your time is not worth anything and that everything you do should be without payment; however, there are times we should “give of ourselves” without expectations.

Do we withhold sharing what we have because we become intimidated or afraid that someone will go beyond where we are?  You and I know that happens more often than we would like to admit.  The fear of sharing knowledge or your skills only to see someone get ahead seemingly can appear to be unfair.  Therefore, we hold things close to the chest and at times pretend we do not have the knowledge they seek.  How sad is that commentary of withholding.  There is not anything good that you can do for someone that will not come back to you full circle, some may even call it (as I do) a blessing.

What do you do well that you can extend to others to help develop their skills or uplift their day and make their journey better?  It’s not always something big, it can be as simple as your time to listen, your presence just to sit in silence, or maybe to share in the celebration of one’s accomplishment great or small.  These are important, but we minimize them when we have other commitments which seem more important.  In the meantime, we have robbed someone of our gift(s) and deemed it as something which was not significant enough for us to give of ourselves.  Everyone has something to offer, it’s just a matter of finding what it is.

Sometimes we even question our own abilities and wonder if it would make a difference, therefore we refrain from using what we have as benefit for others.  There is always someone who will need what you have and I would like to stress, it’s not always about money.  You may have knowledge of resources, experiences that provide insight into making good decisions in a specific area, you may have the skills that can be used to truly change someone’s life.  We can be afraid to use what we have not realized the benefit it can be to others.  Now, some of you believe that some of the things I’ve named aren’t really gifts, but when you don’t have it yourself and someone else extends it to you, you then see it as a gift.

Learn to extend yourself and allow people to evolve and grow through the gifts you have and you may find great joy in doing so.  Free your mind and free your time understanding, “to whom much is given, much is required.”

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Positioned for Your Purpose

Last week, I participated in a Holiday Bazaar at work where I could showcase and sell my book, “The Silence is Too Loud.”  Though my initial outlook was positive, as the hours passed I begin to feel a bit discouraged and thought about leaving earlier than the closing time.  As I was considering my departure a woman stopped by and begin to thumb through my book.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure it would result in a sell but I was appreciative for her taking the time.  After a few minutes, she put the book down and walked away.  Not too long thereafter, the same lady returned picked up the book had her money in hand and was waiting for someone to come stand with her.  At the time, I didn’t realize it was her daughter she was waiting on, but she wanted her daughter to look at a couple of the poems.  They began to talk and the woman said to her daughter “do you think this would be good for him?”  Her daughter answered “yes.”  She handed me the money and took the book.  I told her “let’s trade, I’ll give you an autographed book and I’ll take that one from you.”  She said, “it’s not for me, it’s for my grandson, he has stage 4 cancer and I think this book (as she begins to tear up) would…..”  I finished the sentence and said lift him up and she shook her head yes.  At that point, she took the book and thanked me as she walked away with her daughter.

This was a defining moment as well as a powerful testament to what was happening right before my eyes.  I realized that I had been positioned for my purpose.  Had I followed through and left when I initially thought about it, this would have never played out.  I would have missed a pivotal moment where I received a blessing.  The blessing wasn’t the purchase of the book, but it was the circumstances surrounding the purchase.  The fact I could connect with someone based on the words which I had written in my poems was a beautiful experience.  Now I understood it was all relevant that I was supposed to be at the Holiday Bazaar to meet this specific woman.  We both had something the other needed.  She needed to find something to comfort her grandson, while I needed to recognize my purpose I had been positioned for.  It wasn’t about how many books I could sell or how much money I could make, but it was about touching someone’s life.  I got the lesson and embraced the confirmation of my purpose.  Words are powerful and they create emotions that impact us on every possible level.  So, writing “The Silence is Too Loud” is not just my own journey, but it is the catalyst to reach those around me.  I hope my book can have a major impact on people’s lives and they are empowered, uplifted and stand boldly in the truth.

People who cross your path never show up by accident.  They are purposeful and a part of a greater picture.  They can help you identify your purpose and allow you to see your destiny more clearly.  Your purpose may be closer than you think, look for the signs and walk through the door when it opens.  Once you are positioned for your purpose, you will discover it’s bigger than you.

The Missing Factor

Today I wanted to share a very important topic that brings to mind several situations that have occurred over the past several months. We are all aware of the horrific killings in Charleston, SC and the recent trial of the young man who has been convicted of the deaths during the Boston Marathon. And unfortunately I could name numerous other incidents that would fit quite appropriately with this topic, but I will stop with the two presented. If you have been following my postings, you may recall the one entitled “Human Ties that Bind,” where I talked about a bond we all hold universally despite our differences. This posting may have a slight familiarity, but I believe the overall will give you a more extensive look at how we treat one another and the “missing factor” that causes this behavior.

Recognizing both the killings in Charleston, the bombing in the Boston Marathon appear to be relative to hatred, so I believe it is appropriate to look at the “missing factor.” It has been reported the young man in Charleston wanted to start a race war and had been convinced the hatred he has toward African-Americans is justified by things he believes they taken away from his race. I will not attempt to enter into a deep philosophical discussion about race relations because that is not what this posting is about. The bombing that took place in Boston while it was an act of terrorism it definitely was engineered by hatred for a country and the people who live in it. When we allow our emotions to skew our perception of people and we become emotionally charged, the ability to act rationally has been eliminated. Sometimes our perception of people stems from misinformation from misinformed people and we take it as factual. Subsequently, this snowballs as the misinformation goes from one person to the next and before you know it you have a group of emotionally charged people acting on personal opinions and half-truths.

The “missing factor” I am referring to is love. In my book, Poetry in Different Colors there are two poems that lend themselves to this idea, “Is love on Strike,” and “When Love Conquers Hate.” The poem Is Love on Strike speaks to the unhealthy relationships we observe whether it be between parents and children or some other type of relationships. The unhealthy behavior is so prevalent, momentarily we have to ask “is love on strike?” Although we are not able to control those around us, we can be the front-runners for exemplifying a love that can be infectious as we journey through life. The way we react or respond can be the difference between peace and chaos. The “missing factor” of love can create an environment of distress which allows people to engage in such a way that love has been removed or unable to enter because of the hardness of heart. Love doesn’t have to mean best friends but it should exemplify the concern for other’s welfare and well-being. “When Love Conquers Hate” is a poem about a vision that takes place in a dream but for a period of time it seems real that love just may have conquered hate. Through this dream it describes the unity and peace that has arrived among mankind and the ability to embrace and extend yourself to others regardless of their culture, creed, or race. After recognizing the vision was simply part of a dream there is a sense of disappointment but yet hope that this can one day be a reality.

We don’t have to love what a person does or represents but we should love the person despite their shortcomings and flaws. Let’s face it, we all have shortcomings but despite it all people have found a way to engage with us. Love will allow you to look beyond one’s flaws and shortcomings. Consider for a moment if you were to meet a prostitute, you may not condone her lifestyle, but would it really warrant mistreating her, tearing her down or even being hateful toward her. We choose not to be around certain types of people without considering if we take the time to get to know a person, we may be able to walk them to a better and healthier place. We flee what we fear and fear what we flee. If we take the time to get to know someone it is very possible we will find there are certain things we have in common. In finding some commonalities we are able to establish a rapport that can lead to compassion, empathy and love in our discussion. It is easy to speak out of ignorance and fear, but it so important to break down those barriers and try to develop some sense of understanding and to better communicate the issues. People tend to be more receptive when they are approached with humility, meekness and love rather than with anger, hatred or a combative attitude. Let me be perfectly clear, I am not asking that we throw away our moral compass and give up our principles, but simply learn to meet people where they’re at. This could be the first step in finding common ground and a healthy place to engage.

Dayton Book Expo; Thriving in Your Element

?Dayton Book Expo 2015 Dayton Book Expo

Today I had the most wonderful experience in an environment of what I will call “kindred spirits.”  The Dayton Book Expo was composed of authors of all different types of genres and of course that which is near and dear to me, poetry.  I had the honor and opportunity to meet authors who are writing poetry books and doing well at their craft.  I was mentored, motivated and provided key information to help me continue to build on my poetry.  The one thing I found to be so inviting is as I spoke with various poets we shared a special bond in our very first meeting.  One author of poetry said it best when he said “it is like a family because you have a love and gift for poetry.”

Throughout the day, different people from all walks of life visited my table whether it was other authors or potential customers who share the love of poetry.   The theme that became clear is people want to know why I write poetry.  The answer seems to flow so naturally as I responded, “I have something to say.”  Along with that initial response I have to add there is a love I have for speaking my words poetically from the heart.  My book, Poetry in Different Colors is a voice I share with the world. The  pain, sadness, joy and triumph all resonates in this book.  I often say my book has been my therapy after which I was able to exhale.  My new-found poets understand and embrace my journey of writing because we all want to share our personal side while engaging universal issues and emotions.

What I learned today is the value of networking and genuinely connecting with people. Although part of my purpose in attending any book event is to sell my book, it is not the determining factor of my success. I truly cannot put a price on the networking of today’s event as I believe I was able to thrive in my element.  When you are thriving in your element, there is a hunger and thirst to learn more about your craft and you have a high level of excitement. Your desire is to be the best you can be while being open to the lessons that others can share with you. I found this Expo to be the first of many which will continue to push me to be better.

At the end of the day I was encouraged and looked forward to continuing to work on my next project. Well, just between us I have already started working on my next poetry book and I am confident you will love it just as much as Poetry in Different Colors. I am always looking for the next thing which also is a key component when you thrive in your element.

Human Ties That Bind

We have had some very intense reports in the news over the last several weeks, but this post will not focus on racial issues or on the judicial system. Although Poetry in Different Colors includes three very significant poems, whereby the foundation is built on the “black” experience they were written for edification and information. Ultimately it is important to me that we recognize the humanistic side, which should create empathy, understanding, compassion and respect. When we put our energy into race, creed, gender or any other external dressings we are with, we tend to miss the individual (person) and become judgmental and intolerant. Culture provides us with some unique experiences; however as human beings we still have commonalities; which are the ties that bind us. All of us share emotions of hurt, anger, disappointment, joy and love. Some of us are parents, some have siblings and we all have a mother and father. And while those conditions may have variations, again these are things we all have knowledge of and can relate one with another on these levels. But when we don’t try to understand and relate to one another, the result becomes the categorizing of people and their cultures; ultimately resulting in negative and dismissive behavior, leading to Tragedy.

The poem entitled “The Black Skin I’m in,” truly is not racially motivated to cause harm, but it is the experience of being an African-American that sometimes is frowned upon for the wrapping in which I am wonderfully, beautifully made of. However, even I experience those moments of isolation and disassociation, but I have learned to accept the misconception and conjecture of others. Why, because what I know to be true is they really have no idea who I am. This outward appearance has created a missed opportunity for others to get to know just how much we have in common and for that I am sadden. Despite the perception, I will continue to embrace “me that I was gifted to be.” I’m sure some would look at the title of this poem and say, oh here we go with the “woe is me” story, but I assure you this poem was written for quite the opposite reason.

In light of the fact we (humans) share similar experiences, I also wrote another poem entitled “Calling on All Men.” Although I do specify “Nubian brother,” I acknowledge that the hardships of our young men are not all about the “black” experience as young boys of different racial groups are potentially going down the wrong path and desperately need the assistance of a male mentor to provide the roadmap for the path needed. However, the target of “Nubian brother” lends itself to the reality of what there is such an abundance of in our media, that being young black men dying because of reckless behavior and in a number of instances, poor judgment on the part of someone else. I think you get the picture by now; how this is all relative. We can relate one with another once we open ourselves up to the idea of the “human” experience; what we all have in common, the familiar widespread thread the “Human Ties That Bind.”

The third poem that comes to mind is entitled “Because They Did We Do” it was written with great intent to be powerful and empowering to help African-Americans understand the shoulders upon which we stand as a result of the sacrifices made to move us forward. However, generally, in history, people have made sacrifices for mankind and we are all guilty on some level of forgetting and taking for granted the sacrifices made for the opportunities we now share. So, notwithstanding the “black” experience, there is much to be gained by all individuals who read these poems for the reason that it’s all relative. And beyond that, it is always beneficial to understand a person’s journey to increase your ability to be on familiar terms with which they are, maybe even why they feel what they feel and do what they do. We should want to be acquainted with those intimate feelings and thoughts to better aid us in having a healthy relationship with all people.

When we can see each other in the simplest terms of humans understanding the similarities and appreciating the differences; we will then be unified. The barriers will be removed and we can become a human race in its most pure form.

An Intimate Moment with the Author

I had my Book Review on Saturday, November 22, 2014; it was a small and intimate group of people, most of whom I knew personally. Those guests who had already purchased the book began to share their experiences immediately with great joy and gratitude. The common thread revealed was clear, it was personal for everyone; each felt the journey was very familiar. While I was open enough to discuss some poems which are extremely personal for me, it allowed me an opportunity to connect with my guests on an entirely different level. I made reference to this very experience on the back cover of my book “our experiences are universal.” One of the guests said for her, reading the poems was a deep experience that she had moments where she said, “that’s me.” As another person said, “it was so familiar I wondered how you knew.” At that point I acknowledged the thought we connect in more ways than we realize, but giving a voice to my experiences in this book has also given a voice to others.

With my first reading, “Allow Me” we considered the meaning of relationships whether they were friend, romantic or something else. I also shared my reflection on the poem and how it in fact speaks to true friendship and what one will allow in the name of friendship. One of the messages that filter through is the silence of a broken heart and the experience of no words and just simply being present. Friendship allows us room for error and to have many chances to “get it right” while we walk and talk through the very things, which may challenge us. The poem becomes even more significant when I write about “no judgment” and allowing one to “just be.” These are characteristics friends should have one for another. “Allow Me” is a tender poem that embraces the ever changing friendship and the ability to be open to difficulties which come at any given moment in time. Most importantly, the poem embraces being strong enough to tell someone the truth at the expense of hurt feelings or offense knowing the relationship can sustain a temporary injury. The group agreed; the value of friendship or any important relationship is worth the challenges you may face to maintain it.

The second reading was “Closure” where the group agreed there are a variety of closures we experience. Some had a lot to share regarding the passing of a love one how closure is needed and relevant in that instance. The poem lends itself to the understanding that closure is internal and not dependent on the external. Though often we look at other people to give us the very object we can provide for ourselves, we often miss the mark awaiting the action of others. Closure must become present in your spirit and the reality of “it is what it is” will take on the capacity to embrace moving forward regardless of actions yet to be taken by others, such as an apology or dialogue explaining the “why” of a situation. We have the ability to control our fate and our emotions, but too often we have surrendered them to others and hold them hostage to bring resolution to our discomfort.

My last reading of the afternoon was “Let It Go.” There was a moment when everyone knew this was the best medicine when you can “Let It Go.” While not all could say they have arrived at this point, they were working on it and recognized the benefit in doing so. This poem is simple but powerful in its declaration. The overall message is when you have done all you can do “let it go.” There will be stuff we can’t change or control and the energy and time wasted trying to do so is frustrating so why put yourself through it. If you have exhausted all avenues then “let it go.” The old folks use to say, “Stop beating a dead horse,” and I have learned to embrace that idea and walk away from many situations, which can only bring pain, heartache and disappointment. The desire to make something be what it cannot is dangerous when we don’t know how to “let it go.” Letting go is a principle for people in your life, a job, or something else that you have allowed to plague you. Take a deep breath and release it.

Overall, we had a wonderful time and shared a camaraderie that I will treasure. By examining the concept behind these poems, I hope this has given you the incentive to purchase Poetry in Different Colors if you have not already done so.  

I realized, as the Book Review concluded, this is what they call an intimate moment with the author.

 

Book Signing that Creates Kinship

Reading "This Ain't That"

Reading “This Ain’t That”

Another great experience in my life happened, my book signing was Saturday, October 25, 2014. It was a unique venue and event.  Like I said, I have a great group of friends and they inspire me to try new things, so in conjunction with  “Pamper Me Pretty” day held at my friend’s beauty salon, we had vendors selling ceramics, jewelry and of course, me and my book “Poetry in Different Colors.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as I sat at my booth, I noticed how people gravitated towards the hors d’ oeuvre and other vendor tables. I wasn’t discouraged, but grew more curious about how the day would unfold. The attendees were very polite and walked by and smiled, not asking at all about my book. I took it all in stride realizing they had no clue what the book was about.  Perhaps they thought it was just another sweet, simple book of poetry such as “rose are red,”  you get the picture.

After about an hour, the crowd had grown significantly,  the host asked the guest to gather in the front area where I would perform my reading. I had already selected two of my poems.  Everyone quickly gathered and it was apparent they were uncertain as to what they would hear.  I took my place in front of the group and opened my book and announced my first poem is “This Ain’t That” with ease I transitioned into character.  I read the poem with the brisk silence and concentration of the attendees before me and by the end of the poem the applause were a resounding affirmation of approval. My next poem was “Calling on All Men”. The title itself created a buzz and curiosity among the attendees now ready to hear where I would take them on this journey. Quietly and carefully they listened, the ever present sighs throughout, at the end, and once again applause that gave affirmation to the poem. I had read both of my poems, now the attendees really had a true understanding of “Poetry in Different Colors.”  The wheel had been set in motion and questions and conversation were now in the air.  They came to the booth ready for poetry and a copy of my book.

What I learned during this experience, most people have a very basic understanding of poetry, often from what we learned in our early education years, most of which has faded over time. So opinions become less descriptive, dull is mostly what we hear.  Now I realize that is only a temporary state of mind.  With just a preview my works in an open venue, “just a sneak peek” one can imagine just what’s in store with their own personal copy of my book.

The most moving part of the book signing was realizing people in attendance found a connection with the poetry.  One female guest stated “I don’t read a lot of poetry, but I understand yours.” She proceeded to say, “I could relate to the first poem (This Ain’t That) because that’s me.” The statement had me speechless, there was such a connection and we were sharing an intimate thought, which created a kinship. As I reflect on that moment, I recall writing on the back of the book cover “we have different experiences; however, our experiences are never isolated.” It was a touching moment for me as I realized that my efforts in writing this book were not in vain.  I will continue my journey and look forward to  sharing “Poetry in Different Colors” with my readers along the way.

Reading "Calling on All Men"