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Sunday Special: Just For You, Too

Happy Sunday, Sweethearts!

Today is Father’s Day in America and since I had already written an homage to my late father and to my friends who are fathers, I decided to post a special message to men everywhere.

Men: Generally speaking, you get a bad rap when it comes to the family circuit. You thrive in the business and economics (hence the glass ceilings that still exist), but when it comes to matters of the heart, you don’t receive your spotlight when you do well. If you have received shade all day, all month, all year — let me be the first to tell you, thank you.

A deeper look: You may be discouraged to extend your love for fear of being rejected or emasculated. Perhaps you were dismissed when you tried to hug your parents as a child or attempted to kiss your significant other. When affection is rejected, it can cause men to shut down and not feel emotionally safe. The result can be an adult male who does not know how to adequately express his feelings. This can manifest itself in destructive or distant behaviors and your family suffers the most from those inaudible blows. Furthermore, you may have a positive father reference to model, let alone a positive friendship with other men to keep you lifted. I encourage you to not to shrink into the shadows. No matter what you think, it won’t make things better.

person on a bridge near a lake
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

From a daughter who experienced an estranged father and later an involved one, please consider the following for your future:

  1. Never underestimate the power of your presence. Whether your reputation is tarnished or squeaky clean, your love will shine through anything when you decide to show it. Let them say no, but don’t let them say that you didn’t try. I believe my biological father did the best he could within his capacity. The father who raised me simply had a deeper well from which to draw.

  2. You’re the blueprint. I’m a firm believer that a man’s interaction with his child(ren) can create a customized definition of provision and protection. Sons and daughters tend to use their fatherly relationships as reference points for platonic and romantic relationships. You’re more than a sperm donor. Your fingerprint is part of their growth. You’re a life-giver and women grow what you plant. We nurture what you give, so remember that as you interact with your family.

  3. You need a team. In the name of sports, be humble enough to be a team player. If you have friends who are also fathers or men that you will take you seriously when it’s time to confide, let them know what you need in order to stay on track. Whether it is an addiction, temptation, or a knot of anger you can’t comb through, talk to your tribe. Just like on the court/field, everyone plays a role to win the game. Let your friends play their roles.
photo of men having conversation
Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

I encourage you to breathe through each attempt to be better and if you are already doing those items listed, offer to be a safe space for another man as he grows into a better version of himself. Mentor a neighborhood child who could use a father figure. Offer to make amends with a family member. Just don’t stop trying. Let them say no. You can live with the peace of knowing that you extended the opportunity for them to meet the new you.

I love you all. Keep standing strong. I see you.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Happy Father’s Day!

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Wednesday Wind Down: ED

Hello, Sweethearts! I know it’s Thursday, but this one took some simmering… and you may be wondering where I’m going with those two letters. I’m going exactly where you think I am.

In the world of social sciences, there’s a term called emotional dishonesty. Various definitions exist for it, but in essence, it is when someone does not own up to their feelings or needs, yet s/he holds the other person accountable for the offense. This can manifest itself as passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive behavior.

When I taught adult education communication courses, we would always engage in authentic and lively dialogue about relationships (platonic, professional, romantic, familial, and social). Every quarter, someone would attribute a lack of intimacy to dysfunctional communication. Every quarter, someone would tell me how lack of trust was the undercurrent in their relationship deterioration. After my first year of teaching, I learned to carve out two days in my lesson plan to discuss the conflict chapter because it always birthed the fruition of self-discovery among my students.  The chapter also landed in the middle of the textbook, so by that point in the course, they usually displayed sharpened self-awareness and reframing skills. They were not only able to professionally assess and verbalize the conflict but also express ownership of its escalation which was often via emotional dishonesty. You can bet that made me one happy educator. 🙂

two man and two woman standing on green grass field
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

To listen to a man say “I see it now. I’m not helping the situation.” To hear a woman say “Yeah, I don’t really listen to my kids. I need to do that more.” That was what kept the blood flowing in my teaching career. That is what produced life within those four walls and fortified adults to engage in healthy relationships of all kinds.

Speaking of blood flow… let’s talk about that ED.

When a man experiences erectile dysfunction, it can be emotionally crippling. He may not be able to communicate how emasculated he feels and his behavior can be misunderstood and misdirected toward his partner. Multiple factors can cause ED and one of them is decreased blood flow.

How interesting it is that a lack of life in one area can be the cause of death in another? If blood is not allowed to flow and recycle through our bodies, we experience death. Then again, there are two types of death… two organs that are vital comrades in the cessation of life – the brain and the heart. I believe the effects of dysfunctional communication resemble the intimacy breakdown that can occur from ED. Emotional Dishonesty can lead to Emotional Dysfunction. One deters the physical production of life while the other deters the flow of spiritual exchange. In both instances, there’s a broken piece – trust.

person holding pen
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And let’s be real… What good is a relationship without trust? How can a relationship survive without the trust that all valves are open… that the flow is free and clear? After all, there are 4 valves in your heart – two for incoming blood and two for outgoing blood, so obviously God knew that circulation and regeneration were vital in keeping you alive in both your head and in your heart. Why don’t we give it a try in the spiritual realm as well? Why not gift that freedom to each other and to ourselves? Be emotionally honest with yourself and with those you love. When you don’t, it hurts yourself because you’re blocking healthy intrapersonal communication, and it hurts the other person because it creates a disconnect from the intimacy you desire from her/him. As I mentioned to some friends this year – I’m in the business of having real conversations with real people that want real relationships. Sweetheart, can you say the same thing?

Disclaimer:
This doesn’t mean that you need to bleed your heart 24/7 to everyone you meet. As in physiology, that could leave you spiritually drained 
and unable to function effectively.

Ask God to balance this spiritual flow as you learn to communicate truthfully in HIs Love from one person to another. It can be done; I promise. I have witnessed and experienced it.  You may have to be gentle or set some ground rules, but allow truthful communication to flow between your lips. Cherish those in your circle who provide opportunities for that to happen. No matter how messy or how awkward it may be, it is worth the trust structure. Letting communication flow between two hearts creates freedom amidst two people… and that’s the pinnacle of God’s Love toward us and Christ’s sacrifice for us. Freedom in mind, body, and spirit. The kind that can only come from the Prince of Peace and the Author of Love.

For more information about emotional dishonesty, check out this article. It’s one of my favorite classroom references.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week and I love you all!

 

 

Sunday Special: Just For You

Happy Sunday, Sweethearts!

Today is Mother’s Day in America and I decided to post a special message to my mother; my family and friends who are mothers and mother-figures; and my family and friends who no longer have their mothers here on Earth. I pray these words will reach you wherever you fit among them.

MOMMY

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Our 1st vacation together in bajillion years. Epic.

These 3 words come to mind when I think of you – courageous, relentless, sincere. I could write a million words and they would still fail to capture the power of that trifecta. I’ve watched you peel back layers of motherhood to reveal the woman within. The bravest part was allowing me to be part of that journey. In this phase of our relationship, we are discovering the latest version of ourselves. I love it. In our rawest state, we unfold unapologetically and I love that too. We aren’t afraid to grow in front of each other and I am so grateful for that gift. From wearing your natural beauty to your larger-than-life laughter to your fervent and effectual prayers, you are the epitome of a spiritual soldier and I appreciate you with every fiber of my being. Ain’t no mountain high enough.

I love you, Mommy.

MOTHERS & MOTHER-FIGURES = THE WARRIORS

red bear child childhood
Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

You are fierce. I can’t imagine what it is like to be you. Throwing on your armor every day to ensure your tribe is enveloped in love. You are nurturing, protective, and flexible. You don’t break; you shine. Through the mud that life throws on you, the unkind treatment you receive, the dirty looks from religious hypocrites… you wake up with a back full of bruises and start over. Some of you have let me into your village and it has been a hilariously beautiful experience. Your children will always be family, just as you are to me. I stand with you as you fight for them. Some of you have children who are no longer here and, my sisters, I admire your bravery and your humanity. You were entrusted with a forever gift and you will forever be a mother to me. Warriors, I see you and I salute you. Thank you for being your beautiful self.

SONS & DAUGHTERS

photo of person on brown surface
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Whether your relationship with your mother was positive or negative, I am so glad she birthed you into the world. You are part of my circle because of her and I couldn’t imagine experiencing life without you. So, while the world celebrates mothers here on Earth, I also celebrate who your mother left behind for me to cherish – you. Consider sharing one thing your mother said that positively steers your life with someone younger than you. If this isn’t applicable, choose one negative behavior from your mother that you refuse to perpetuate in your circle. Either way, I encourage you to breathe through today and every day. I love you.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Happy Mother’s Day!

Wednesday Wind Down: The Trickle-Down Effect

Hi, Sweethearts.

This post is dedicated to my aunts and uncles. How many of you can attribute something you do to a family member, better yet, a family member older than you? I can. The older I get, the more I realize how much of my behavioral traits can be directly traced to my family and I’m proud of that truth.

Aunt Janice – She’s so creative and resourceful. I have fond memories of helping her create flower arrangements and searching for just the right item to make it perfect.

Uncle Buck – Supa fly. Had style and swag like no other. Military veteran, strong confidence, and a breezy disposition. We could talk about anything.

Uncle Mack – Passionate and resilient. It is what it is. When I broke my arm as a child, he was limping but carried me down about 15 steps. When I rode in his car, we always listened to R&B classics, and I fell in love with them.

Uncle Bo – Any question you have, he has a wise answer. Practical, a well of knowledge, and can get along with just about anybody. Taught me how to change my brake pads too.

Uncle Greg – The life of the party, daring, and devout in his faith. Always smiling and laughing. When I was a kid, I remember wanting to be fearless like him.

Aunt Lisa – Full of joy, intuitive, and a garden goddess. Pure horticulture athlete. I get my playful side from her. She always looks at the bright side and helps people along the way.

Uncle Ed – The debater. The intellectual. The Bible scholar. His drawer full of cassettes compelled me to dive in and listen to everything, then try to put all of them back before he came home.

Uncle Ced – Courageous. My first superhero besides my mother. Military veteran and family man. My fondest memory was him returning from deployment and me acting like he had just come from the moon.

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My uncle’s tapes. *sigh* All the feels.

My musical love affair comes from my family. My fierce ride-and-live (I don’t say ride-or-die) loyal spirit comes from my family. My insatiable appetite for learning, desire to enjoy life and relentless drive comes from my family. My grandfather and grandmother empowered their children with life-long skills that have reached throughout generational branches. I am so blessed to be part of this family tree and I encourage you to dive into yours and explore yourself. You may be surprised by what you find. More importantly, I encourage you to pour into the fruit around you. Don’t leave a person in your home in the dark about something that you’ve learned from your elders. That water needs to be pulled through the roots in order to drip from the leaves. It’s valuable. It’s what make you rich. It’s what makes you live forever.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Full Circle

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

So, a beautiful thing happened this month and there were 3 messages that were so clear to me. I chewed on them a bit before sharing them with you and now I’m ready. But first, the context.

On Saturday, February 16th, the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation hosted A Conversation with Dr. Angela Davis at the historic Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama. I had the honor of performing Glory (from the Selma movie soundtrack) with my childhood friend G.I. Magus in front of Dr. Davis and a potpourri of historical and political pillars. I was appreciative just be a piece of the puzzle and I couldn’t have written a better chapter in my life story. Besides the obvious prestige, let me tell you why this was a jewel of a moment.

In elementary school, I saw a photo of Dr. Davis and was entranced. She was a beautiful mix of political prowess, academic excellence, and natural beauty. I loved the way she wore her freedom like a long technicolor cape. Her hair, her voice, and her facial expressions screamed confidence. It was official – she was a shero. The more I read about her, the more fire I felt and I was proud to know that she was a native daughter. I was convinced that I would have an afro just like her when I found the courage to do so. For over 10 years, I did and still do.

Seeing her this month was the culmination of multiple dots connecting to create a beautiful experience, which leads me to the first message – your past can touch your future at any moment, so spend your present well. You never know how hello’s can turn into a double helix of lifetime connections. The people I met in 7th grade, high school, and college would become creative geniuses, community organizers, academic powerhouses, and prolific speakers. Any way you slice it, the fingerprints of my past were all over my future and I was in awe of the masterpiece.

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It’s a blessing to genuinely develop relationships over time, which leads to the 2nd message I heard that week –  your character will follow you wherever you go. This past weekend was a reminder that how you treat people goes far beyond the present moment. I’m not perfect, but I am so grateful that my rapport was strong enough to last a decade or two and some awesome individuals thought positive of my footsteps. That is a gift I will never take lightly… as long as I live. I hate it when people size me up based upon what I can do for them. That’s why I love learning about the spirit behind the job title and socioeconomic status.  In the end, we all appreciate being seen as a person. We appreciate a chance to disrobe our character and let it walk freely ahead of us.

The third message was just as loud – your help is waiting on you. I couldn’t have performed with confidence without the support of my tribe. The prayers from my mother, the love from my small group, the perfect track from my friends, the training from my mentors… there were familiar faces in every facet of this opportunity, each of them believing in God’s gift in me. I am forever grateful. Forever appreciative that when I asked for help, many hands opened wide. Pride keeps a lot of people in the jail cell of their souls’ contempt. I was once a prisoner of that warden and never will be again. This experience was a reiteration that some are still held captive.

Sweethearts, you are exceptional. Stop trying to be perfect. See everyone around you as an individual, not as a marketing tool. Try to be a better version of yourself than the day before. Whether you know it or not, everything will come full circle if you let it. I am so glad I did.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 20 – Happy Feelings

The Good

#20 – My mother got a great doctor’s report!

I was able to attend my mother’s check-up visit and her doctor gave her rave reviews. Mind you, my mother only schedules early morning appointments. No, really… if they opened up at 5:00 AM, she would be the first patient. So, I was grateful to go with her before my morning class and hear that her numbers were good. She has been working hard to be a healthier version of herself and I was so proud of her in that exam room.

The Lesson

It’s OK to switch places for a bit. As I sat there with my mother, I thought of how many times she was in my position – at the doctor’s office waiting for the all-clear. Now, here I was doing the same thing. Yeah, my prayers and expectations were up, but it didn’t stop the wait and wonder. When I got in the car, I was overwhelmed with gratefulness that I could be there with my mother like she was there for me. I was appreciative for a caring mother that I could care about that day and every day.

Peace & Thanks for listening! “See” you tomorrow!

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 7 – Behold the Queens!

The Good

#7 – I get to do life with a group of women that are hundreds of miles away!

Distance does not win if Love is in the middle and the ladies in my life group are proof. The group I am referring to is the Zion Queens iCampus Life Group based out of Zion Church in Landover, MD. Twice a month for 1.5 hours, we see each other’s beautiful faces and whenever we get ready, we check in to laugh and encourage one another. Gotta love technology. When I visited the church in 2013, I didn’t know I would connect with people that love me like a sister and pray for me like they’ve known me their whole lives. That’s definitely the good stuff!

The Lesson

Real relationships take exposing of the soul, and it takes courage to do it no matter what age you are.

These women have been vital to my spiritual growth. They’re authentic and exceptional. I am so blessed to have them in my life and you probably have the same opportunity at your place of worship, in your community organization, or in your neighborhood. The hundreds of miles that separate us do not diminish the intensity of intimacy we have among each other. The special ingredient? Trust. That’s the magic sauce.

Who are you willing to expose your soul to? Guess what. Someone else wants to do that with you too. And even though you’re scared, you’ll find your safe space and your tribe will be there with open arms.

Peace & Thanks for listening! “See” you tomorrow, Sweethearts!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 4 – Who’s Your Crew?

The Good

#4 – I get to do life with Workmanship Incorporated!

20171217_162133.jpgNo matter how tired I am after a long day at work, rehearsing with my Troupe always energizes me. It fills me up. Workmanship Incorporated is an exceptional hodgepodge of spiritual, intelligent, quirky artists that love God, love people, and go hard in the paint every day. In January, we kicked off a rebranding campaign and geared up for a new performance season. While rehearsing with them, I often ask God how I could be so blessed to know them, let alone work with them. Being around them blesses me inside and out. We laugh, cry, and serve together. We can be transparent with each other without judgment, accepting the messy version of each other at the drop of a dime and uplifting each other. I may be the founder/leader, but this fantastic group of humans has stuck with me through the most difficult seasons in my life and I am humbled to be a page in their life story. They are definitely some Good!

The Lesson

 

At one point, everyone in these photos was a stranger. What made us family is that we took a chance on becoming friends. Can you imagine how many family members you’re missing out on because you won’t get out of your comfort zone? Let’s take it a step further – are you around people that bless you internally? Do you refill them as well?

What makes my Crew amazing is that they’re tangible, not perfect. You may not have a group of people to be perfectly imperfect with, but there’s at least one person that fits the description in this world. She or he just may be a stranger right now. Don’t be afraid to fill and be filled.

Peace & Thanks for listening! “See” you tomorrow!

Wednesday Wind Down: We Did It

We did it.

Those are the three words that have been sitting in my spirit since September. I even got three lotus leaves shaved in the nape of my new ‘do to represent each word for the special occasion. Who is “we?”

“We” includes my late father, who chose to love and encourage an angry, confused 12-year-old until she melted in his arms and trusted him with all of her heart.

My former husband, who carried the bills while I finished graduate school and mentored me in the education profession which created a segue for me to teach at my newly-added alma mater.

My family and my very much alive and awesome mother, who was my cheerleader and the perfect example of love, loyalty, strength, courage, wisdom, and fight.

My performing arts troupe, also known as my tribe, that kept my creative lifeblood flowing, balance out the academic grind, and navigated the ship when I was weak.

My pastor and church family that, with open arms, understood every worship rehearsal night I missed due to working and studying and always had a prayer in their pocket.

My beautiful small group of strong and Godly women, which created a spiritual safety net for all of my hills and valleys.

My incomparable instructors who collectively created a safe space to learn, grow, and heal with insurmountable passion and sincerity.

My friends that texted jokes, encouraging words, and random “I’m checking on you” messages to ensure that I knew that my goal of being a licensed massage therapist was well within my reach.

My complimentary massage clients that trusted me with their physical and spiritual well-being.

Twas the Wednesday before graduation weekend and I am one blessed creature. Why? Because I had a “we,” and truth be told, you have/had a “we” somewhere in your life too. Think about one person that was supportive and inhale that gratefulness, then exhale that truth into a message to let them know. If they are no longer on Earth, smile and support someone else in their honor.

Peace, blessings, thanks for listening, and wind down safely, my loves!

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