Thursday, December 31, 2009

Coming out of the holding pattern for 2010

As 2009 is coming to a close, I had started to listen to and read commentaries on New Year's Resolutions and goal setting for the new year. I think at the end of the year, it is only natural for everybody to make plans for a better New Year.

I don't really like the idea of New Years Resolutions. They are percieved more as "wishes" than real directives and goals. In the month of December, I had come up with four areas of my life that needed immediate attention. I referred to them as focus points. The focus points involved my spirituality, health, financial status, and home-life improvement. I tried to come up with goals that were SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound). I'm doing pretty good.

God always makes sure that I have the right people in my life at the right time! As you may know, I am a conversationalist and always engaged. LOL. Anyway, all of the conversations with my soul sister friends prompted my spirit to recognize that I was in a holding pattern.

If you google "holding pattern", you will come across a wikipedia (you know I love wikipedia) entry describing it in relation to aircraft and flying. When there are issues on the ground, bad weather, traffic congestion, other emergencies..etc. the control tower uses a holding pattern to delay an incoming plane from landing at its destination. So the plane or planes will fly around in a circle waiting to land at its destination.

During a conversation with Martha (shout out to you!), I realized that every since I began to regret returning to Michigan I just started waiting. I was waiting for something to happen; waiting to leave; waiting for some magical force to prompt me to MOVE/DO/CHANGE/ADJUST. And during that time, I have been coasting along. I have been finding myself wherever the wind blew me. So for four years, I've been in a holding pattern waiting for air traffic control to tell me that the coast was clear and that I could continue on toward my destination. Four years!!

At the end of 2009, I realized that it was time for me to come out of the holding pattern for 2010!! There will always be issues and distractions on the ground, but I am the air traffic controller. I have to make sure that I am moving with clarity/focus/determination/perservence/tenancity..with unwavering will and focus toward my destination - being the best me in this lifetime!!

There are some things that are not in my control. But how I operate, react and fly on this journey is all up to me. At the end of 2009, I realized that it was time to move forward -For Real-.

I'm on my way. And I wish you a wonderful & successful journey into the New Year!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Living Love

god is love. this sentence is so profound and full of meaning that i think it is often over looked.

Googling the word love gives you varying definitions, examples from different cultures and religious groups centered around concepts of love. like, selfless love of humanity (mahayana buddhism,) or the beautiful concept of Sufism, where love is a projection of the essence of God to the universe.

i often separate myself from religion because i think that religion places god in a box and constrains our thoughts relating to god specifically to the wrapping of that particular box. so that your ideas of god and the practice of relgion is sometimes bound to whatever religion and text you hold to be true.

but that sentence, god is love, i think removes god from that box. so that if you worship god, regardless of the box you uphold, your life..your attitude, character and behavior..should be a reflection of love. as god is love.

in 1 John 4:8, he says that "whoever does not love does not know god, because god is love (new international version).

often times, we think of love as just based on affection between two people, a romantic and passionate concept of love. sometimes we have to be reminded that "love exists outside of the affection between two people" (a quote from me).
when pastors talk about this topic in church they often mention that greek has like five different words for love (agape, eros, philia, storge and xenia). c.s. lewis, the christian author (chronicles of narnia, etc.) wrote a book about four of them called the four loves. how many people do you know who know what those words mean?

about a month or so ago, i went on a first date with a guy and the topic of homosexuals came up. he was very uncharitable and he was very comfortable being that way because of his religious box.

i often see people with bumper stickers and bracelets and necklaces with WWJD on it (what would jesus do). a very nice concept. but sometimes if you get those same people talking about a hot button topic (homosexuality, abortion, sometimes even welfare moms, etc.) and you might witness an example of what jesus would not do.

sometimes i wonder, if jesus were alive today would he attend church...
how would he behave with the those people who live differently than we do. the ones who believe differently then we do. what about the atheist or the lesbian female with her same sex spouse, raising kids...

in the bible there is something known as the "great commandment". matthew 22: 37-40 where jesus says "love the lord your god with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. this is the first and greatest commandment. and the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself. all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments."

he says that those two commandments sum it god with everything you've got and love your neighbor just like you love yourself.

later on, a proponent of religious boxes approaches jesus and says that according to the law, even this great commandemnt, i should be straight..and get to heaven..but can you tell me specifically who is my neighbor?
jesus's answer to him is the parable of the good samaritan. the samaritans (themselves jews) and the other jews couldn't stand each other. each thought they were the chosen and each thought the other had veered off the path.

when reading the parable, substitute samaritan with whoever it is you revile (or think is going to hell, or think you are better than)

"A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

the samaritan in the story knew that god is love. the samaritan came out of his box ('cause another samaritan might not have..they had reasons to not like the other jews just like the other jewish folks had reasons to not like them..and they could all quote whatever book/law to justify it)

at dang near every wedding you go to, you may come across a reading or quote on a program of 1 Corinthians 13.

specifically it says love is patient, kind. does not envy, does not boast, is not proud. is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs. always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (some reads love never fails)

that's a pretty good definition.

i'm trying to keep this at the forefront of my mind..and heart..god is love, go and do likewise

Monday, August 17, 2009

from there to here

in the natural order of things, there is conflict between the younger generation and the older. with babies, at some point they begin to understand that they are separate from thier mothers; that there is a world that is "me" and a world that is "not me". this is the process of the baby becoming an individual.
it is the same with the teenager. they go through a sort of rebellion to their parents and the world they grew up in. while growing up they accepted the parents world-view and as they develop, the begin to individualize. this is cataclysmic. thier hormones are raging, thier brains are developing and they are coming to terms with their own world view.
this is normal.
in my teenager years, i began to read. in doing so i encountered so many ideas that were alien to anything in my experience. i read books about religion that were critical of my own. i read books about other religions that made me doubt my own.
i read writers essays on current events (of their time) that i didn't even know had happened (from my time). i also saw the shortage of books related to me, specifically as black and as a black female.
although the writers themselves, were long since departed from the earth, i was dealing with their thoughts in the present time. and it caused a revolution in my mind. in a sense, this was like time travel - in the 90's, i encountered Woodson, DuBois, Garvey, Booker T., Diop, etc.
that made me look at my culture in the present from that past perspective and i asked, what happened to the black leaders? where did all of these educators/intellectuals/writers go? what was going on? did we drop the ball?
i was like the teenager who begins to see a different world view than what i had been given. it was cataclysmic.
it gave me a feeling of disrespect for the older generation of black people (after the civil rights movement). it felt as if they had stopped being activist and started being conformist. it felt like they had stopped going to the picket line & marching..and had started just going to work. i remember looking at my grandparents and wondering what had they done to further our struggle. (my grandfather still thought of black people as "coloreds"). i was resentful that they had not purposefully given me anything to foster racial pride, cultural affirmation..i felt that they didn't give me anything to go on. just sent me out into the world.
it would take years before i would lose that sense of disrespect for that generation.
as an adult, there were two items that i came across that sort of slapped me in the face.
one was alice walker's Everyday Use (from In Love & Trouble: Stories of Black Women. in the story, there are two daughters, dee & maggie. dee lives in the city, she's college educated and african-centric (with a muslim boyfriend, african dress and the popular african-centric phraseology of that time) and has since changed her name and generally looks down on the more traditional black folks from her home town. maggie, stayed in the communtiy, did not get an education and is basically just one of the regular ole "folks". she's going to marry a local farmer. dee comes home to take some relics from the family to use them for museum pieces. at issue, are the quilts made by their grandmother. the mother had promised maggie the quilts as a wedding gift. maggie appreciates the quilts..knows the history of them and wants them in her new home. dee wants to hang the quilts, like art. dee says that maggie just wants to put the quilts to everday use and that the sister and mother do not understand their heritage. the story is narrated by the mother. it shows dee as shunning her culture for the more idealistic african centered culture. the story asks the question, how should you honor your heritage? should you put it to everday use or view it from a distance...set it up for show as something you no longer associate with?
the next is the movie/musical sarafina. the movie takes place in south africa and is about the students of soweto during the soweto riots & apartheid. in the movie, we see the students rebelling against their oppression and their oppressors. we learn of the men, who leave thier homes to fight the system. we see students being beaten and killed by thier oppressors. sarafina, the main character, goes to visit her mother who works as a domestic for a white family in a very nice neighborhood in contrast to the shanty town where they live. everything is clean and orderly. it's nice. and in the conversation sarafina looks at her mother with disgust because her mother doesn't understand why the children are fighting and burning the schools & causing trouble. her mother says that revolution does not put food on the table. she tells her mother "you've been a servent for too long momma". at the end of the movie, the students are rounded up, they are taken to prision, they are beaten & tortured and some are killed. a bruised and dirty sarafina is on the train going to her mother after she is released..during the ride, she looks at some of the women and the beautiful landscape and she walks to her mother, who is there with open arms..waiting..and she walks into her mothers arms. she realizes that while the men are off fighting, the mothers are there, working..the mothers were left to deal with life..the only way they knew deal with life...sarafina realizes that while her mother wasn't a "revolutionary" in the tradional sense..women like her mother kept them going...she tells her mother "you make me strong momma"
i always cry at that part of the movie. every single time.
after the teenage years..after you settle into adulthood. where do all of the ideas go? where is all of the fight?
in highschool, in my own mind i was a revolutionary. since that time, i joined the military, i go to work everyday and i take care of my family. i try to work my ideas into the way i raise my children. i try to mold my reality as much as possible so that it reconciles with they way things should my mind. i try to put my ideas to everday the same time i deal with life the only way i know how...i deal with life.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Long time coming

Ok. I really did think that I would be posting on a regular. At least once a week. It's been almost a month since my last posting.

Today, I listened to Leelah James and her classic remake of A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke.

And that is exactly what's been going on this past month. I've been dealing with changes.

Some physical - been going to the doctor to figure it out. And the other mental & emotional.

Possibly, this is all just normal for a thirty-something with a fifteen year old and a seven month, a full time job, school, navy reserves, bills, bills, bills..and then regular life.

I tell you that God has been communicating with me through books and music (as always). And without those, I might have gone around the looney bin and stopped for a visit.

As it stands, my sanity seems to be present and I'm doing fine.

About to do my two week annual training with the reserves and I plan on posting almost daily. I've got so many topics, I don't know where to begin. But to keep it simple, my first topic will start with a woman whose been with me through most of my journey -alice walker.

Talk to you soon.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate

Today is the last day of my drill weekend and I must say I'm glad that its over. I talked to Ms. Stampley at lunch today and we had a great conversation that involved quite a few books.
Today, I'm reading "Fatal" by Michael Palmer. ( It's a medical suspense novel that involves, among other things, a grandmother who is dealing her her grand daughter who was normal until she was given the DPT and MMR vaccines. Pretty good, so far. The book is quite timely for me, as Kaeden, my 6 month old, got his 4 month shots on Monday.

Although I had heard of and considered the vaccine debate, I wasn't seriously thining of bucking the system and skipping my son's vaccines on principle.
In fact, I had no thought of the side effects until Wednesday night, when I realized that Kaeden was still cranky and acting completely out of character.

First off, Kaeden is such a good tempered baby, that he rarely cries. And when he does its because he is hungry (and he can eat) or because he needs his diaper changed. His daycare provider was worried when I picked him up because he had been crying most of the day. When we got home, he continued this behavior. He cried and screamed. He wouldn't eat and he didn't sleep well through the night. I think he cried more during that day than he had his entire life!

I took him to the doctor on Thursday and had him checked out, concerned that maybe had had an ear infection or something. The doctor said that nothing was wrong and that he was still reacting to the vaccines (pain in his legs where he got the shots; two in each) and suggested giving him Tylenol every 4-6 hours for about a day or so and if he didn't seem better after that to bring him back.

Which I did. And it appears to have worked. He seems to be back to his happy, baby self.
But now I have some fears about his next set of shots, due in August. Friendly advice has been to just give him the tylenol before we go to the doctor. But what about the possible side effects to his brain. I've since read about DTP and a correlation to/with Autism and the concern that we are over vaccinating our children and the increase in Autism, ADHD, even childhood diabetes.

I'm not out to become an activist or anything, but I do feel that as parents we need to become more informed about what we're putting in our children. For more information, go to

Any thoughts?