Category Archives: Connecting

Opinions and Judgment

As I awoke this morning, I had two words stuck in my head, opinions and judgment.  I immediately decided this was a great topic to write about for my blog.  Let me preference this by saying if you are not interested in becoming better or healthier in your journey, this probably won’t resonate with you.

When we think about opinions there are not completely factual truths about a matter and often we want to believe opinions should be discounted when they relate to the negative aspect of our character.  However, I believe that growth is inevitable when we are open to others opinions.  While we like to believe, we know what’s best, there are simply moments when a person can share something about you that is worth embracing and processing.  If we are closed off and easily offended, we find ourselves being more defensive than receptive.  We like to say things like, “they don’t know me,” but again there can be value in what one has said even when it’s not comfortable.  Yes, opinions are also the perception of another person’s views, but does that mean it’s not accurate.  Perception can be a reality even though we would like to fight that concept.  Give people the liberty to speak their opinion and take the time to honestly assess its value.

I find judgment to be a slippery slope because initially, some will say “you’re not supposed to judge people.”  They will even go as far as saying “the Bible says….”  The unfortunate part of this is that people misquote what the Bible says and stop at that one passage of “judge not.”  However, to continue that concept and keep it in context, the subject of judgment goes on for the next couple of passages and tells us to “judge by the same measure in which we would want to be judged.”  I’m paraphrasing but I wanted you to get the meaning.  And in the conclusion of that concept, it instructs us to use righteous judgment.  If we wanted to take the Biblical approach, righteous judgment is that which is right and true.  If we were to go outside of that, we would still be able to qualify social judgment as long as it is based on truth, it would still be righteous judgment.  So, that dispels the notion that people cannot judge, but it qualifies how they can judge.  There are times when people pass judgment on us and we resist, deflect and project because we do not want to accept the truth that has been spoken.  We run to the statement “you’re not supposed to judge or we start telling someone you can’t tell me anything, look at yourself….”  Invariably these are approaches we use to denounce something that has been said which has validity.

Here’s what I know to be true when I am willing and open to growing, I can listen without becoming defensive and trying to attack the person who is talking to me.  If my pride is an issue, I am unable to hear anything that has been spoken and attempt to discount what has been said.  Pride and lack of humility can keep us from growing and becoming better as we have convinced ourselves we are already living our best version.  Even if you are living what you believe is your best version, there will always be room to become even better.  Accepting the truth that is negative about you makes you a stronger person as you are humble enough to accept and execute the information.

Criticism can be constructive and we must learn the difference between criticism and constructive criticism so we don’t misinterpret the intentions of others.  Become strong enough to say “if it’s true, I am willing to improve.”  Stop getting caught up in fighting for the position to be right instead of fighting for the right to become better.

 

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Associates & Friendships

Today I wanted to pay homage to true friendships as I build on the thought of “Valued Friendship” from my book, The Silence is Too Loud.  First, it’s important to be able to identify real friends and not confuse them with associates or people who are truly just passing through for what they can get from you.  We all have experienced associates who have shown up in our lives, even if we didn’t accurately identify them at the time they were there.

Friendship takes a lot of work and if the person is worth it, you stick and stay and talk and cry and process the problems that come before you.  I believe many of us would agree that true friendship only affords us very few friends in our lives.  I have often told my children and younger folks, “everybody who says they are your friend, are not truly your friend.”  I’m sure some of you as parents have utter similar if not the exact words to your children.  But this is not just young people, it’s all of us who sometimes confuse real friends with those who really do not have your best interest at heart and will not be there for the long haul.  It hurts when people leave your life, but do know it is sometimes the best thing for you.

pass to behave inappropriately, it just means I love you enough to walk through the stuff you may be going through until you get it right.  These are the people you can allow to see you at your worst, knowing they have that much love for you they’re willing to stay.  If you’ve followed me at any length, you know my phrase is “ride or die” friends and we all should have at least one if not more.  These also are the people who will sit with you even in that moment where there are no words, but their presence is felt and appreciated.  Always make sure that you’re giving your all in your friendships and that you can be described as that “ride or die” friend.

Now, pick up your phone and call your “ride or die” friends in your life and let them know you love and appreciate them more than words could ever say.  Never take time for granted, let them know you love them, even when they feel they don’t deserve your love.

Until next time, continue to evolve into the best version of you.

 

 

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.

A Milestone

On September 4, 2015 I celebrated my one year anniversary of Poetry in Different Colors.  That’s right it has been one year since the book was published.  I can’t believe time has moved so fast, but here I am talking about a one year anniversary.  I remember considering titles for my book and Poetry in Different Colors came to mind.   As the poetry writing continued to flow, it was one thought after another until I felt compelled to cut off the number of poems I wanted to put into my book.  There were people who were curious how I had come up with so many poems and even in what place did I write them.  My response was once I got started, thoughts kept coming because the writings were relevant to my own life and things which I had observed.  To address where did I write my poems, that answer is any and everywhere, e.g., sitting in the car, at home on the couch, you get the picture.  Ultimately the story I share about my book is it was therapeutic because I wrote about real pain and disappointment as well as joy and anticipation of improvement.  In truth, at the end of Poetry in Different Colors I had given the reader my heart.  I had shared things which had stayed bottled up for a long time and realized my book was my release valve.

It is because of Poetry in Different Colors I have met and shared with people who I would have otherwise not had the opportunity to do so.  Typically when I autograph a book I’ll write “thank you for sharing the journey through my writings.”  I say that because even though there is a lot of personal writing in my book, I know there are others who have travelled through some of the same situations.   I shared with you before that I have had someone say “that’s my story” after hearing me read a poem; when I have connected with someone that is a priceless moment.

Poetry in Different Colors is becoming an important book because it has the power to change lives.  It can change the way we see each other and it can change the way you feel about yourself.  I can say that with confidence because of the feedback I continue to receive.  It’s not that I consider myself a great poet, but I recognize that God has given me something to give to someone else; therefore I have been charged to do what I’m doing.  Don’t misunderstand, I am by no means trying to imply that God has spoken to me, but I do believe that my ability to write is from God and I have to use my talent and share it with others.

It didn’t take me long to understand my book is not about being the number one poet or even making a lot of money from it, but it’s about giving people something that is invaluable which would be myself.  Every word, every emotion in the poems I write is me giving you a part of who I am.  I am grateful for such an opportunity.

For those of you who have taken the time to follow my blog and peak in from time to time, I so appreciate you.  I don’t take your time for granted when you make the choice to read a posting on my blog.  I hope that you continue to read and find a valuable take away each time.

Why I Bear the Weight

I have been going over these thoughts in mind for several days now, and as we celebrate the many facets of our Black History I decided this would be a critical dialogue to initiate. I first decided to share my thoughts on this topic with a close friend of mine, I asked her “Why I Bear the Weight.” She responded “what are you talking about.” I told her, when people of our ethnicity are caught in the wrong, why do I feel “weighted down.” The more I talked about it, the clearer it became and I knew this was an important piece to write about.

Despite what one may believe, there is a sense of family amongst the African American race and it reaches back to the days in our history when our ancestors were enslaved. They recognized that everyone was not biologically related but there was a common thread shared through slavery. During this extremely tragic period everybody looked out for each other; felt responsible, as well as, answerable for the actions of one another. That feeling of responsibility still rings true for some, still today. I personally experience disappointment, anxiety, embarrassment, and irritated when “my people” are doing wrong, but I also feel joyful, elated, and triumphant when “we” do well.   When I have those feelings of disappointment and irritation, it is usually because I know the behavior “my people” are engaging in, reflect negatively on many levels, and this continues to perpetuate the perception of the ongoing stereotype that “we” are aggressive, violent thugs oh, and the self deprecating phrase “they are ghetto”.

We know all too well, when the news media gives an account of a bank robbery, or an attack and the suspect is a black man or men who are the assailants, we want to, and I know I do, grab the microphone and say “I am so sorry.”

There is no doubt in my mind “we” are better than that and we have black Americans who demonstrate that every day, but yet “I Bear the Weight” of those who have not arrived in a “better” place. I celebrate when I hear about persons who have graduated from college, male or female, those who have become professionals, and entrepreneurs. Yes, I stand a little taller and prideful as if they were my own flesh and blood because there is instilled in me that sense of family that cannot be concealed or denied.

I do not write this piece to disgrace or diminish anyone among the black American culture, but more to remind us from where we began. When I look around and too often see police officers stopping a black man and cuffing him; my heart sinks and my head drops down because in that moment, “I Bear the Weight.” Understandably, there have been many incidents of late, that are injustices and the individual has not done anything wrong, but right now, I am addressing those incidents based upon just cause. Somewhere inside of me I make that familial association, that could be my brother or my son being escorted down to the county jail, but by grace it is not. However, that doesn’t make it any less important, because I don’t merely keep driving and release it with no true regard. I carry it and grieve over it as if it were my brother or my son and wonder where it went wrong and just maybe, could I be a person to make a difference. There is an important need for the acceptance of “I am my brother’s keeper” and many days I wear it and bear it, but at the heart of it all, I cannot be responsible for what another person may choose to do, regardless of his/her ethnicity.

As I examine our black females struggling to be single mothers out of wedlock with multiple children by multiple men, and genuinely no concept of raising children, I feel sad and on some level ashamed, but I cannot be responsible for every black female in America – can I?   In that instance I understand the significance of being a mentor and sharing my story with others so they can rise above. It is not that I desire for anyone to be like me, but it is my hope that they be better than me.

Our experiences whether good or bad can make the difference in someone making a good decision or one that will take them down a path that ends badly. We often choose not to get involved when we see bad behavior or we hear something that is inappropriate. We live in a world that has become dangerous and unpredictable; how does one help when we fear to speak up? I will leave you to ponder that question.

What I know to be true is, I love deep and that love extends outside of those I share my blood line with and for that reason “I Bear the Weight.” Perhaps there is something in this writing that will help awaken others and we as individuals can try harder to be a better example and to be more compassionate and give of our time, each one teach one, if you are not already doing so. Whether it is a family member who has gone astray or someone we don’t know personally, we can and we do make a difference. I see my face in the face of others who walk in the same skin that I am in and I am empathetic to the troubles which they have been charged. Maybe I have written this piece to give myself permission to bear the weight of those of my ethnic group and reflect on how I can make a difference. I hope that this message gives you pause and leaves you with the inspiration to shape the minds and lives of others.

Maximizing Our Moments

I was thinking about my father today who passed almost 30 years ago. I began to recall some moments that brought a smile to my face and laughter to my heart. Also, I thought about some missed opportunities and time we didn’t spend together. Well, I believe we can all attest to these types of memories and feelings. There are points in our lives where we don’t take enough consideration into the time we spend with one another and we take time for granted as if we KNOW there is a next time, tomorrow or later; however that is not the truth for any of us and all we have is the moment in which we live. Now, I’m not trying to step on your toes, but I’m aiming for your heart. I do want you to think about the amount time and energy you put into maximizing your moments with those around you.

It’s very easy to say things in gest like, “I’ll call you later,” “see you later,” “we’ll do that some other time” or “I don’t have time today.” Oh yes, we are all guilty as charged. When I consider the times I put off spending time with others or I didn’t say “I love you” before leaving with the thought that I could do it the next time, I shudder at my negligence. Today, my mother is 82 years old and has dementia. For those of you who know anything about this disease, it is very debilitating on the mind specifically on the short term memory. She was diagnosed about 5 years ago and for all intense purposes is holding her own. What I appreciate is the time we spent together before her diagnosis and the conversations we had over the years and how she has always has been my “rock.” Well, needless to say the roles have changed, but I understand that my mother has always been there for me and now it is time for me to do the same. Even though her memory is not what it used to be, I still have to maximize the moments I have with her. We can still laugh at certain things and sometimes we sit in silence, but I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world just to be near her. For each visit we have I have no idea which one will be the last one, but I must strive to do all I can to be present. I shared this very personal side of me with you because it’s important to understand we have no control over life and we don’t know when the last time is upon us.

One of the most crucial issues occurs when we are upset with someone and an apology needs to be extended. This is a very serious situation that should never happen, especially when we choose to leave without apologizing, angry or in haste. When hurtful words have been spoken and you have no guarantee there is going to be another opportunity to rectify or mend the situation this is the time to pause and make things right. Maximize the moment, it is all you have, that moment in time, that right here, right now moment. The mistake we make is behaving as if we will be extended some type of “do over,” but often that is a false perception that will lead us down a path of many regrets and disappointments.

The poem entitled “The Last Time” from Poetry In Different Colors gives us a sneak preview of the story we are writing with our lives as we take time for granted. The basis of the poem is what was just mentioned in the previous paragraph about not using time to spend with others and not following up. Trust me, I am guilty of using the words “I’ll call you back” and not doing so. It wasn’t my intent to not follow up but I allowed the day to get in the way and conclude without calling back. It’s not to say we should live our lives in fear of the ones we love passing away, but it’s more about maximizing the moments. What that entails is giving all of yourself in the moments you have with others whether it is in person or on the telephone. Don’t postpone saying those things that mean the most, take and make time for the people in your life. One of the most regrettable moments is when we lose someone that we did not maximize our time with. The saying is “seize the moment” and we should always strive to do just that. There are 24 hours in everyone’s day therefore no one is getting more or less time than you, it’s just a matter of how we choose to use our time. With that being said, do not allow “busy” to rob you of engaging with the people in your life. Live your life in the reality of not knowing what the future holds and living out each day as if it is the last time, let us MAXIMIZE OUR MOMENTS.

Confirmation, Affirmation and Growth

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Today I participated in our company’s Annual Holiday Bazaar at work. I set up my booth and readied myself to promote and sell “Poetry in Different Colors.” What a day it turned out to be. Let me start by saying I was a tad nervous, but also very excited to see how I would be received and how well my book would go over.

I arrived at 6:40 am lugging a roller bag filled with my prized possessions in 30 degree weather. After, I made the trek into the building, I realized I forgot my personalized table top poster, you know, the one that catches the eye of the passerby, yes, that one. So, I go back out to the car and grab my poster and return to begin my tabletop set up. I prepared my simple yet attractive display, with a white tablecloth that I dressed up with colorful silk fabric leaves, spread around the front of the table. Who knew, as the day went on, my simple but beautiful table display would end up becoming a topic of conversation.
That’s right people wanted to touch the leaves, ask about the type of material, etc.

There were people, who would stop and look, and those that pick up the book and thumb through the pages, which were my preference; yes read it. However, I had a back up strategy for those who thought they would just walk by without curiosity. I had a stand up frame, which I inserted my poem entitled “Baby Girl,” for those of you who have the book you are familiar with this one. This lovely frame filled with words drew the attention of many eyes and they couldn’t resist nor ignore the table and its position, so they couldn’t ignore me and I encouraged them to look at the book. This was the selling point for my second customer of the day, she tried to walk by but the framed words caught her eye and she read the poem, picked up the book and said, “I think I should buy this,” well I’m thinking, “I agree with you.” Then you had your normal encounters with people who said they would return, not. But that didn’t deter me from my mission, confidently selling my book.

The biggest purchase of the day was by a colleague, she purchased four books. She said she was giving them as gifts to several friends. She said “I appreciate the book more than the other items at the bazaar because she realized the book was something I had put my heart and soul into. Subsequently, she had no problem paying the full price, but I felt compelled to give her a discount anyway since she was purchasing several copies. As if, that wasn’t the highlight of the day, it gets better; she took my business card and said she was going to share it with her sister, who works at the museum in Cincinnati, Ohio. She said they have a gift shop in the museum and they are always looking for unique items to sell to visitors. I think I scored with my new reader. She shared her love for books and acknowledged my book as a practical gift for the holidays.

But the encounter that stood out, that one special customer. It was a woman with a beautiful spirit. She shared that her husband who had passed away four years ago wrote poetry. She described how he would leisurely write poems on small pieces of paper and laid them around the house. Over time she had collected quite a few of his poems and eventually had them published. My mouth dropped as I thought how beautiful and moving that was for her to have made such a grand gesture in honor of her husband. She stood right at my booth and recited two of his poems, one of which he had written over 40 years ago. I was amazed at how naturally the words flowed, so clear and precise. She smiled the entire time. I knew she missed her husband and I listened as she took the time she needed to reminisce and express the love they so clearly shared as man and wife throughout the years. Then she had a question for me, she asked me, what inspired me to write my poetry book? I simply responded “life.” As we continued to talk the affirmation was clear that poetry written by an individual could resonate for others and bring into being words and thoughts that they themselves were unable to articulate, and they are grateful to see them on paper. At the end of our conversation she bought my book, thanked me for writing it and told me she is excited about reading it.

So, I end my day with confirmation and affirmation that what I am doing matters and the words I write are part of my life experiences connecting with others and it continues. My growth comes from the engagement with others as they share with me their journey. The time I spent at my company’s Bazaar “Priceless.”

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