I Cried…

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This morning as I was driving to drop my daughter and nephew off to school, traffic came to a stop in front of me and because the cars on both sides of the road paused, I was sure it was because of a school bus. But when I looked at the clock, I realized that it was too late for that, and saw the man in the car in front of me get out of his vehicle and approach what I now recognized as two young black boys—teenagers I’m guessing—fighting in the street. The black male driver got in between them and attempted to break them up, and then I heard the sirens and my first reaction was, “I hope they send a black cop.” And then I cried.

I cried for whatever they were fighting for in the first place. I cried because I felt like only a black cop could safely contain the situation. I cried because I even felt that way. I cried for all of the decent officers, of all cultures, races, and backgrounds, who get the blow-back every time one of them does something wrong. I just cried. And as the babies got excited by the sounds of the sirens, and exclaimed with joy over the first pair of lights popping into view, I cried even harder. I cried because it was a black cop who jumped out and calmed one boy, but then had to wrestle with the other who refused to be contained. I cried as another non-black officer arrived, skidded to a stop and hopped out to help his comrade slam and pen this boy to the ground, and still he struggled with them. I cried because the baby boy in the back, in his innocence excited by the sirens will very likely one day not be so excited to see or hear police lights and sirens. I cried because my baby girl had to ask what they were doing with that boy on the ground. I cried because as I inched past to continue my journey, the emotions of this week flooded me and I just couldn’t stop.

I couldn’t stop my heart for hurting for the family of Trayvon Martin and all of the circumstances that led up to his death. I thought of his family and the prayers I’ve muttered for them, for God to heal their places of hurt, and not allow them to get caught up in the wrong things, but that ultimately he’d give them wisdom on how he’d have them to proceed. I thought of George Zimmerman, and wondered even in light of his obvious culpability, what brought that man to this point and how does he feel right now. I thought of all the hateful comments and messages I’ve read about him, and most shockingly, about Trayvon, and thought how could people be so hateful when an innocent life has been taken.

I wondered how people could spin his murder into a political jump-off, arguing how liberals will use this to try to push through stricter gun control, or how conservatives don’t care about “us”, see how they let his killer walk free. I read hateful language and speech be tossed around message boards as casually as ‘Good Mornings”, and “How ya doings”. And I listened, watched, and read commentators, and “experts” volley about how the situation would’ve been different if the child, yes child, as 17 is still defined as by law, had been white and Zimmerman black. And it hit me, that wrapped up in emotional turmoil, our true colors always shine through.

I recent blog post suggested that this was different from other perceived injustices. That somehow Trayvon’s death has galvanized the community to long-overdue action, and proposed the question why? Why is his death the rallying point for so many? Sure, there was outrage over Amadou Diallo’s murder, but it felt nothing like this. Is it because Trayvon was a child? Is it because he was armed only with examples of the innocence childhood represents—candy and a drink? Is it because the shooter still has avoided police custody? Why him? Why now?

All things being related, we are in a dangerous place in our society. We have the luxury of sitting anonymously behind computer screens and inciting actions that can easily snowball beyond our control. From the obvious racial attacks on our (meaning the American) President, and the accompanying ignorance of those who perpetrate it, to the blatant disregard of due process in apprehending a person who should be the prime suspect in a homicide, and our educators showing a lack of common sense when dealing with students from varying backgrounds, the facade of years of forced and faux equality and justice in this nation is cracking and the flood of racist vitriol, heated actions, and non-unifying behavior threatens to drown the very spirit of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness we hold so dear.

So I cried, and sometimes that’s alright.

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Wait for it…

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I am not a patient person. That has never been my strength. Waiting is boring. Waiting is quiet. Waiting is unnerving. Waiting doesn’t make me feel like I’m in control. Someone asked me if I was depressed. I don’t feel depressed. I feel IMPATIENT! I feel out of control—not in a dangerous, I’m-going-to-go-postal way, but in a what-the-hell-am-I-waiting-on way!

I’ve received LOTS of advice—Pray on it. Be Patient. Don’t rush. Take time to think. Be still.

And it all sounds great in theory, until you really actually have to do it. For someone not skilled in patience, such as myself, all the above is like torture for me. And frankly, I feel a bit out to sea without a sail, paddle, whatever! A good friend, who actually has some credentials or letters or something after their name, gave me the best advice—advice that had waded in my spirit, but it felt good to hear a licensed professional say it, and that is it’s O.K. to let the crazy out.

They said, “I’d think you were insane to feeling nothing, so it’s O.K. that you are stressed, you have reason to be. The key is channeling that stress. You’ve had some major life events in the past two years. On a stress test, you’ve had at least three major events that land on the top of the stress scale. You have to give those stresses a positive outlet, a spiritual channel that will balance what you’re experiencing. That may be church, or sitting in a park staring at a tree, but whatever that outlet is, you have to find it, prioritize it, let it out.” Read the rest of this entry

When He Moves, I Move—Just Like That

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Ludacris is a genius and I don’t know if he even knows it! I’ve co-opted his song “Stand Up” to make my point, but the spirit the same. Well, not totally since I’m sure he was referring to some ample-gluted chick moving in a suggestive manner on a dance floor, but stay with me here. The song actually says when “I move, you move,” but I’m on some next levelness with it right now.

My life is changing, and that IS a good thing. Whenever change hits, whether expected, or unexpected, it is usually a good thing. The problem is that most of us don’t really know what is good for us. Before we get too deep into this thing. Let me preface this with the fact that I am emoting. This is not an idealistic rant, but a genuine spirit-born observation as it relates to my life. If you can glean something from it, Hallelujah! If not, Hallelujah anyhow!

Now, back to our previously scheduled program…

My life is changing and that is a good thing. I recently parted ways with my employer. I worded it like that, because that is exactly what it was—we parted ways. Details aren’t important for the point I’m trying to make. What is important is the hoopla surrounding it, and the things that begin to reveal themselves when God-ordained/initiated change is happening.

Often, when such changes occur, we are to busy either looking back, or skipping forward, to be in the right now. We miss the lesson and the point of the thing, and so we have to repeat it all over again. CHANGE IS GOOD. You cannot grow, without changing. Growth may manifests itself in different ways for each of us, but that it requires, is the harbinger of, or the result of change is constant. If you aren’t growing you are dying, and that is a heck of a way to go through life.

For those that I’ve lost, the growth I’m referring to is spiritual. The precursor to true emotional and mental growth, and everything else follows suit. From religious ideology, to psychology, to weight management, they all preach change starts on the inside. It is a spiritual move—one many of us miss because it can be subtle, or, as in my case, acute, but it’s there.

So here I am in the midst of change and I will not miss the process. While still in spiritual transition however, it is difficult to manage the outside world. And with a change such as this, the stream of questions (“What happened?!” or “What’s next?!”) have been endless. I’ve been asked one of the above no less than a million times in three days (a gross exaggeration, but you feel me). And you want to know the truth? I have no clue what’s next.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it, or tried to make plans, or that I don’t have ideas, or even options. It means that for me, I really don’t know which move is the best one—yet. There are immediate opportunities. Take the job offered in this state. Move across the country and do this thing. But the idea that has called to my spirit is just be still. And that, my dears, is the hardest thing to do.

It’s not about just being still, sitting on the couch, and popping Bon Bons all day (I don’t even think I’ve ever HAD a Bon Bon! What the hell is that anyway?!). No, it’s about being still and knowing that God is still God whether I have a seemingly glamorous title, or position, or not. It’s about doing all of those things I’ve put off that I never had the time to do because of work, and it’s about NOT wasting this time watching Nancy Grace take over the throne Jerry Springer abdicated so long ago, or watching bedazzled vampires glitter in the sun for the one hundredth time.

Here’s the real: In the two months leading up to making this official, I have seen hundreds of jobs I might like, even love. I’ve seen hundreds of ones I could take if circumstances dictated that I just had to have something or we were going to starve or be homeless. But the truth is, I haven’t been released to do any of the above. What I am free to do is BE STILL and KNOW. That’s it.

Some people think I’m crazy; some are rolling with me on this, while *shooting me the side eye,* and others are giving me what I need—opportunity, the means, and most importantly the prayers to just be still. For anyone who knows me, being still is not my forte. I’m always into something, have something working, or looking forward to the next thing. But God has not revealed that yet. I can feel the energy behind the door. I’ve caught a glimpse through the window. But it’s not time. Right now, I’m baby-stepping it toward living in the here, and now. That doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything! There are my educational pursuits, and this oft-neglected-but-now-that-I-have-time-will-be-regularly-updated blog, and some other projects that are in queue (the future glimpse through that window is looking mighty bright!). But the latter have to get the God-stamp. Because I cannot—will not—move until He says move.

That does present a bit of a practical dilemma, seeing as I have grown up responsibilities to tend to. However, for every excuse I can think of for, moving NOW!, doing something NOW!,  all that good home (church) training pops up, and I hear, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Or when I feel like I really am being crazy, I hear, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

And then the “buts” start: But what about the rent, food, and the baby?! But what about the light bill, and the water bill, and the car note and the… And I hear, “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?” or “And my God will meet all your needs* according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

And what of the career path I’ve worked so hard to establish? What of all my contacts and connections? “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” And just as I get ready to start another round of “buts” and “ands” I hear, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

That’s a hell of a question. Why do we ask/expect of God abundance, and provision, and blessings, and we don’t even do what he tells us? So, this is me doing what I’m told. This is me being still and just knowing. And when God moves I’ll move, just like that.

Now That’s (Black) Entertainment!

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The BET Hip-Hop Awards went down in Atlanta this weekend. The city was surprisingly tame (no shoot outs, no arrests). Yes, it is unfortunate that those types of occurrences have become synonymous with these events, but I’m proud of my folks. Way to hold it down!

On a totally unrelated subject (but relevant to my obsession) @paulwalker47 is also in town with his Fast Five crew. They’ve been tweeting all about their exploits (apparently @Tyrese and @Ludacris are in it too!) I would say I’m on stalker duty, but I’m a professional! Still, Paul is quite lovely to look at (like really lovely…like if I saw him again and him smiled like he did and he conversed like he did, and touched my back in the familiar, friendly way he did, I just might embarrass my mother…It’s the eyes, they’re like ice blue or some craziness you don’t see ’round these parts.)

But I digress. Enjoy the pics of the show and make sure you tune in to support your fave Hip-Hop artists on Oct. 12 and tune in to @BET for the show. Special thanks to @Stefan78239 for the flixs and facts.

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PICS: Gangstarr’s DJ Premier, Rick Ross, Roscoe Dash, , Soulja Boy, Trey Songz, Twista, Wocka Flocka Flame, , Young Money, Baby, Digital Underground, Shock G, DJ Drama, Lloyd, Mickey Factz, Nelly, New Boyz,

Bored Musings

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Ice blue like his eyes. Cutest white boy alive. Bored to death. Should be excited. A group of new friends all united. Designer preview sale I’m looking forward to. Not enough money to spend, what to do? Sun playing peek a boo with the clouds. Why is that rigging machine so damn LOUD?! Talking with a new friend about college debauchery. Life is short, that I now really see. Time is spent, often wasted. Dedicated to living it up and whatever comes I’ll face it.

Get ’em Started…Right

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I never really ate school lunch. Sure, I remember the compact little tin foil dishes and the line of kids in elementary school queued up for sustenance. But it was never me. I came up during the era when Lunchables were first introduced, and between those and whatever lunch goodies our regular weekend grocery trips yielded, I was covered. Even in high school, school lunch was a RARE occurrence. Sure, our open campus policy helped contribute to that, but even when I did hit the lunch line I kept it simple: tater tots and grilled cheese sandwiches.

I was not, then, very conscious about what form my nourishment took, so it never dawned on me that there was a bit of self-preservation at work. After coming across this blog though, mine eyes have been open(th).

The site validates my obsession with packing my baby’s lunch/snacks and milk everyday for daycare. And if that is what she’ll be looking forward to in a few years, I most certainly will be doing it when she hits elementary school too!o

The blog, written by an Illinois teacher highlights her “adventures” eating school lunch everyday and blogging about it–and it’s not a good look! The blog is interesting though (read the American Teacher in Japan post…I’m trying to send my child to school there!) No offense to my teacher friends, but you know I want to my child to attend high school in another country anyway and your stories don’t go a long way to sell the American public school system. Some of the charter schools and magnet programs yes, but public education overall? Not so much.

With my baby, I don’t get absolutely everything organic and you don’t need too. Foods like bananas don’t usually have high pesticide residue, but apple, grapes, potatoes, thin-skinned fruits and greens (kale, spinach, etc.) do. Focus on those. There’s a list “The Dirty Dozen” that has the produce that is the dirtiest/most contaminated with pesticide residues, etc.

Produce is one thing that I may be flexible with, but I don’t even want to LOOK at non-organic animal products. Milk, meat, yogurt and I’ve been on the prowl for cheese (which a friend found recently. Yay!), whatever I can find that is wholesome and good and not loaded with unnecessary preservatives and sugar (stay AWAY from high fructose corn syrup, and it’s in just about EVERYTHING! I just read that it was in my beloved Wheat Thins a couple of weeks ago and I’m hesitant to even read the whole grain Ritz ingredients! We’ll have to find a new snack.)

It’s not just food though. It’s a lifestyle change we’ve been working on to just live better overall. Dr. Oz said (yes, I’m quoting Dr. Oz), that we’ll either pay for it now (yes, organic does cost more) or pay for it later by way of increased health-care costs, declining health and lower quality of life.

Most of the things I buy are available at Super Target, WalMart, Publix and Kroger. And if you PLAN you can find sales and use coupons: Kroger had Horizon milk boxes (organic milk that doesn’t require refrigeration. It’s all an interesting process-heated at extreme temps to pasteurized then packaged and sealed, making it shelf stable…(check this link for more details) on sale recently, 10/$10. I tried them with my child and they were highly convenient and good for her. And though we moved to almond milk almost five, six months ago, I would still use the milk boxes for travel and in a crunch.

Need more examples of the practicality of living better? I went to get charcoal for from Publix. As a joke, and a way to discourage the menfolk from asking me to pick up extra stuff from the store, especially since this was the third pass, I got the Publix Greenwise (organic) brand all natural wood charcoal. But the joke ended up being on me–not only was the BIG bag of that charcoal CHEAPER than the Kingsford and other brands, but all of those die-hard grilling men LOVED that stuff and now don’t even want to use the other charcoal anymore!

One of the best tips I’ve ever received was to buy in season. It seems logical, but how many of you knew that shrimp isn’t a year-round food? I didn’t. It’s in season in the Summer (June-August!). That’s also when it will be the cheapest. And buy wild caught seafood, not FARMED. Farmed sound better, but it’s not. Check out www.sustainabletable.org/shop/eatseasonal, for what’s in season when and what’s in-season in your area.

There is a plethora of ways to make it work within your lifestyle. These ideas will get you started or one of my fav sites, The Daily Green.com has thousands of tips and the dirty dozen list is on there as well). It only take a little bit of effort and some of you have it easy (The City of Chicago PICKS UP recycling, I have to load the car and drop mine off or pay an extra monthly fee to have it picked up. It may sound easy, but when the closet drop station is only open during the week until 4 p.m. and closed on the weekends, not so much.

You decide what works for you-don’t flush the toilet every time after using it unless it’s really necessary. Don’t let the water run when you’re brushing your teeth. Wash your clothes in cold water (really, only linens and greasy/oily things need hot water). Use vinegar and baking soda to clean. Whatever it is, just do something.

The Others

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Dazed and (Be)Dazzled

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I am late. I know. The Twilight Saga has been a phenomenon for what, five years now? I get it. I’m LATE, but in the words of Celie, ‘I’m here! Thank God I’m here!’  And where I am, I’m actually a little pissed. As fan of most things mythical (I loved reading the Chronicles of Narnia, but only really could get into the first film; loved the LOTR triology and it sparked me to reread the The Hobbit (and then the others for the first time); Star Wars? Check! Harry Potter — read all the books pre-film and love the films!), I was strangely unmoved by the whole Twilight hype.

I don’t know if it was just lost on me, but as one who usually is right there in the midst of all things pop culture and teen/tween oriented, I’m usually the FIRST to jump on the bandwagon. That is when I realized this maturity thing was no joke! I just didn’t have time to really dive into understanding why Miley/Hannah was so popular. Or to keep up with a corny little dude named Aubrey Graham, a Nickelodeon star no less, who  would become the hottest hip-hop artist in the game! And I certainly didn’t even breathe a sigh of acknowledgment in the direction of Justin Beiber until my 1 year old just burst out with (what was to me) a random chorus of “Baby, Baby, Baby. OWWWWWWW!”

But this Twilight thing just wouldn’t go away. My friends were ribbing me about how they just knew Robert Pattinson had made my cute white boy list. And I was befuddled because I had no idea who the guy was. So I caved and rented the original Twilight film, and I was immediately pissed. As soon as the tortured Edward (who couldn’t hold a candle to Brad’s much more alluringly tortured Louie) stepped into the sun, I turned it off. Bedazzled vamps were the single most ridiculous thing in the world!

I justified my anger by reverting back to my understanding on why I’d shunned the hype in the first place—it clearly was not worth my attention. Then the book showed up at the house. I don’t know where it came from, or why I even picked it up, but I did and I WAS HOOKED! I was impressed with Stephanie Meyers’ prose. Though I blushed at the thought pf preteens and teenagers reading some of it, she takes a very responsible stance on premarital sex in the books. But still, it is beyond passionate, even sans the physical act.

I read all four books in one weekend and then rewatched the first movie (it still pisses me off the he’s all sparkly), but I did enjoy New Moon and can’t wait to catch Eclipse on DVD. I also determined that the real reason that the initial film upset me, was that the truncated screenplay didn’t effectively develop the depth of Edward and Bella’s obsession with one another, so it came across as ridiculous puppy love, and not the crazy illogical, passionate real love cum obsession that slowly unfolds in the book. It’s a film, yes I know, but New Moon did a far better job of developing that connection between Jacob and Bella than both of them together did for she and Edward.

The books did an excellent job of conveying all types of emotions the films didn’t, though I blame that more on the directors and actors more than anything. Only Taylor Lautner seems to fit his role, I just don’t get godlike, Adonis and unnervingly beautiful from Pattinson.

Eclipse is certainly probably my favorite book in the series (Breaking Dawn was…until I got to the anti-climatic end) and so I think will be my favorite movie. I will give the Breaking Dawn films the benefit of the doubt, since the author herself is listed as the producer and Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) is directing, but I’m wary.

This whole ordeal has strengthened my resolve to read the books BEFORE I see the films they inspire. Unless, of course, the movie was just so amazing or emotionally potent that I don’t think it would matter (as was the case with Brokeback Mountain).

Next on the book-to-film reading list: The Help, which is stars Cicely Tyson, Sissy Spacek, Viola Davis and Aunjunae Ellis and starts filming soon.

Totally Crossed Out!

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For three weeks I have been in pain. PAIN! It hurt to go to the bathroom (those dang squats! But more one that later). Let me explain. I made a decision—one probably a decade in the making—to get healthy and physical. A variety of things contributed to that—being pregnant and having a baby, watching one of the parental units almost die as a result of diabetes…

For years (YEARS!), people have tried to help me battle the bulge. I remember giving my mother hell because she registered me for a weight loss class at her job, when I was in high school. I didn’t understand what her deal was. Wasn’t I pretty? Wasn’t I outgoing? Wasn’t I talented and involved in everything from church, school to even career-related pursuits? Didn’t I have boyfriends and go out on dates? For a 16-year-old, that was enough right? I didn’t get pregnant, got decent grades and people constantly wanted to know how my parents raised such wonderful kids! What else did she want?!

What I can humbly acknowledge now is that my mother was concerned about my health, but my personality and the guilt trip I put on her was no match for her concern. I won that battle. But she should’ve made me stay and see it through. It took me to be a real adult and now parent to really get it. Get why what she was trying to do then was important. Hindsight is 20/20 and it would’ve been SO much easier to have gone through this process with no bills, no baby, no responsibilities and the promise that they would’ve bought me whole new wardrobe when I reached my goal. No haps. It’s all on me now.

But it hurts. Physically, I AM IN PAIN and it’s all because of Crossfit Pulse. I’ve never been a fitness girl. I don’t want to work out at Bally’s with the model/video girl-types and their poom-poom shorts. I got turned on to CrossFit by a girl at work. She did an article on this new fitness craze and after watching her (she happens to be a bit of a fitness queen herself) call out of work after doing a class, my curiosity was peaked. She said it hurt to get up. She said it hurt to even think about moving.

Yeah, I was curious, curious and scared. I get the concept of working muscles previously under used muscles causing discomfort, but all out pain? Hmmm. So I shared the CrossFit info with a friend and she found a CrossFit gym in our neighborhood and so the journey began.

Fast forward three weeks and here I am—in pain. The initial pain of the first workout went away after about a week (it really did hurt to sit on the toilet…I abused my bladder by forcing it to hold ungodly amounts of liquid, just so I wouldn’t have to sit (and get up from) the commode). But the thing with CrossFit is that it works something new (or in a different way) every time so you never plateau—and as a result, something is ALWAYS sore. This week it’s my calves and my biceps. Despite the pain (it really isn’t that bad) I can’t stop going. I wake up at 4:15 a.m. three times a week, to go and “get it in.” I get it in so my baby doesn’t ever have to walk in and find me hovering on death’s doorsteps from a preventable disease. I get it in because I have dreams of rocking my own pair of poom-poom shorts to the gym one day (actually, if I can get them on and look how I imagine I will, I will rock them to the grocery store, church*, hell, I’ll rock them to take out the trash!). I get it in because I owe my mother, for making it so hard for her when she tried to help me get it done all those years ago. I get it in because I want to be a good steward of the body and good health I’ve been blessed with. I get it in because it is the right thing to do. Get yours!

* Just kidding about rocking them to church…at least not in the sanctuary anyway.