Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bob and Weave

I find myself standing on my soapbox often as a high school teacher and one of my latest catch phrases has been 'bob and weave' or 'roll with the punches'. Sometimes I knock myself out with the truths behind my words. I find myself saying them more for my sake than for my students' consumption.

As of late, I have had to put this form of action and reaction to practice, not letting the actions of others or the setbacks that are inevitable, take precedence over my future. The ability to look at 'defeat' and simply move away into new territory is terrifying, almost crippling. It is so cliche to say that we are 'keeping it moving' and frankly the reality is that dwelling on setbacks and failure is the norm. It is difficult to stop staring at what was or what you initially perceived and re-calculating the steps needed to reach your definition of fulfillment. The ability to keep moving, bobbing and weaving, is contingent on the belief that the best is yet to come.

The fighter in me is continuing to throw jabs here and there, and simply moving around in order to not suffer the downfall that comes from stagnation. There is nothing worse than standing still and sitting in the mess that is your life (at those occasional moments). I would rather die trying than to sit idly while my life opportunities waste away.

Live, my lovelies. Bob and weave. If someone gets you in the chin or on the cheek, learn and grow and move. Do not just stand there and get your jaw rocked without putting up a heck of a fight.

As the once loved and respected Pastor Masen Betha once stated "Breathe. Stretch. Shake. Let it go."

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thank You, Kemet

Sometimes all that you have hang on to is the virtue that is within you. When all feels like it may be crumbling or you feel misunderstood, self awareness will carry you through any trial. No one should know you better than you do and no one can question that.

Kemet's advice is perfectly timeless and incredibly timely for me:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inward Focus

I will take any opportunity to learn and grow and one of the challenges that many people face this time of year is committing to those changes that we may have endeavored to make at the beginning of 2012 or at whatever point we deemed necessary. I, like the rest of us, often lose focus and grow weary of doing the things that I need to meet all of my goals. This year, one of my focal points is living out my word of the year, SHINE.

In the spirit of self renewal and sacrifice during the Lent season, I have decided to give these three things 'the boot':

1. Impersonality (noun): having no personal reference or connection

The Twittersphere and other social networks have limited my preferred interactions with human beings via face to face communication or even a phone call. I have become a slave of sorts to Facebook status updates and Twitter posts, as ways to catch up with and engage with people that mean a lot to me and, frankly, it sucks. It is an incomplete story with no soundbites and simply does not give me the truest sense of community and connection that I cherish. I must do better to maintain the human relationships that I value.

2. Insecurity (noun): state of not being highly stable or well-adjusted: beset by fear and anxiety

It is so easy to lose one's foundation of confidence and assurance in one brief interaction or circumstance. I have learned that firsthand recently and I am determined to believe all that God says about me and not what my warped mind, at times, wants me to believe. 98% of the time I know that I am and I feel quite awesome, but those days that represent the 2% need to be no more. Lack of security gives birth to fear and anxiety which gives birth to none of my goals -- nada. I simply cannot be successful while insecure about my firm place in this world. I do not need anyone to affirm that. It simply is a known fact and is one of the keys to future accomplishments.

3. Instancy (noun): the quickness of action or occurrence

Everything in its time. Todo a su tiempo. I literally have ascribed this to be my new motto. I am the world's most impatient person and I am continually learning that slow and steady is not bad, in every way. Frenetic actions or reactions or demanding that of others is simply unnecessary and unproductive. The need to have everything RIGHT NOW can overtake your truest intentions to seek the best in your life and invest in your priorities correctly. Everything will align itself in its time and it may not be what we want to hear in our 'right now' culture, but it truly what I need to hear...until it sticks :-)

Time to keep shinin'

How are you all progressing on your 2012 goals/ focal points? Any new commitments made to yourself?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What Friends Are For

(This song always makes me teary. I am allowed a sappy moment, no?)

This past weekend, I had two of my best friends in the world visiting me from NYC, Marie and Tamara. These ladies have known me since I was a young lass, a bright eyed freshman at Cornell. The many mountains that we have climbed together and the hands that they have lent to me on my life path for the past ten years is a gift I can never repay. Per usual, we spent the entire weekend rehashing past tales, shared dramas, funny moments and running every inside joke that we have to the ground. I love them for that. It made me consider my non-negotiables for friendship:

1. (Often Brutal) Honesty
I know we are grown adults and are ultimately responsible for our actions, but there is nothing like a friend snatching you out of a 'pit' when they see you going south. They DO NOT cosign on your nonsensical ideas but rather are honest with you, whether gently or brutally honest as needed. I cannot tell you how many times my girls have presented questions to me or pushed back on something that I said or did, to my initial discomfort, but eventually to the benefit of making the best decision for me.

2. Passion & Challenge
I strongly cleave to and ensure that my friends have their own motivations and support mine to the extent possible. Beyond the friendship or anything that we may be able to provide to one another, I love that my friends are different from me in a variety of ways and have engaging pursuits, hobbies and the like. I do not have a clue about business marketing or event planning or micro-finance. But there is nothing like seeing the spark in the eye of a friend that shares their goals, interests and love with you. Heck, I can take a liking to anything (within reason) or simply appreciate you sharing your heart. I cannot tolerate mediocre, unmotivated energy sappers. As a friend, I want to learn with and from you; My thinking should be pushed just a little every so often.

3. Giving
Shared values are super important to me. I do not mean carbon copies of me but some intrinsic values that dictate our lives. One that I have seen as a more clear necessity as of late is the shared value around selflessness. When I think of all of the times that my friends have stuck their necks out for me, in ways that are not in any way required or mandated, I cannot help but be so thankful. Towards the end of 2011 when going through a tough emotional stint, I had a friend that would text or call almost daily just to say that she loved me and that meant the world to me. While I felt that much was crumbling around me, I was also reminded of the beauty of true friendship. No one is obligated to do anything but your actions show your heart. Despite busy lives and demanding schedules, generosity of spirit is the greatest gift.

4. Humor
I admit: I take myself way too seriously sometimes. During the past weekend, I was reminded of that so vividly(I will spare you the details). I love people that can snap me back into reality and provide a lightness and different perspective when I inevitably may get set in my ways, discouraged or feel defeated. Laughter is the best medicine. Some of the best memories I have with most of friends revolve around some laughing fit, mostly at each other's expenses. This weekend, I must have lost many calories laughing about the silliest things but sharing the best moments with women that I love dearly. The inside jokes and made up words seem frivolous but truly bring so much shared joy and wonderful experiences together that I will never forget. If given the opportunity to live long enough, I hope to still be laughing at our inside jokes about college folk and random people well into my 80's.

My friends are my treasures, the 'iron' that has sharpened my 'iron'. I am blessed to have each of them in my life. Each friendship that I have developed I take joy in cultivating, knowing that it is not always easy to find people that truly bring the best out of you. I am constantly challenged to become a better friend, through seeing the awesomeness that my network provides to me in friendship. Give and take - Love and Laughter: That's what friends are for.


(as young punks)

(8 years later- 8 years classier but still silly)

What are your friend non-negotiables?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Love + Commitment

You would be hard pressed to find a professional of any sort- writer, athlete, businessperson- that loves what they do but only engages in their craft sporadically.Find me one and I will surely give a Simply awesome prize. Kobe Bryant spends hours in the gym, "shooting between 700 to 1000 makes per day", investing in a sport that he loves. Each of us when we find something or someone that we love, want to consistently invest in that thing or that person...or do we?

I was reading an article from the Huffinton Post recently that totally nailed this idea, in the context of loving relationships. It asked if love or commitment was the most important to have in a relationship. Although many would argue that both are needed and are inextricably linked, the author made a good point in regards to how the concept of love has been connected to a set of emotional responses that do not necessarily give birth to particular actions, namely the choice to commit. Many people can give the flowers, send you the sweet text and essentially can go through the motions of 'love' without any consideration of commitment. I definitely that a person should feel the 'warmth and fuzziness' and have the 'butterflies' in his/her stomach but is that enough?

I will admit that I am a lover of love. 1 Corinthians 13 type of love. But not just the feelings involved but the seflessness and consideration that goes along with those emotions. It is simply not enough for me to say that I love something or someone and show no level of commitment and longterm investment. I sometimes wonder how modern society has made love such a surface experience, with such shallow expectations and expressions. Listen to mainstream radio or watch any sitcom on a major network. Apparently tatooing someone's name on your body is as committed as we are going to get. Sad!

The article also discusses the irrationality of love and the need for commitment as "commitment is not dependant on the heartstrings, it's dependent on a conscious choice you make".

My two cents: Invest in what you love. Feelings are not enough.

What say you? Are love and commitment the same? Different? Why are some folks able to 'love' but not commit?

"Love never fails." - I Corinthians 13:8

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Focusing on Who Matters

I have been reminded lately of how much time I have spent thinking, agonizing, or simply poring over situations, but most importantly people, that are not closely relevant to, concerned with or invested in my wellbeing. In particular, the birth of Ms. Blue Ivy Carter definitely helped my thought process. To see how invested my Twitter and Facebook feeds were in the reasons behind and accuracy of Beyonce's and Jay's baby girl's name, her birthplace, her trust fund, song written for her- blah blah blah- was overwhelming to me and disturbing. I would usually get enthralled in this typical celebrity- inspired feeding frenzy but this time, my mind went elsewhere. As I even considered thinking of a baby, of a couple who knows not a single thing about me or cares for my welfare, I began to think of all of the family members that I have, who have not heard from me in weeks, months and in some cases, years. I could not fathom Googling for information, doing cross analysis of the etymology of a name, nada. It all felt futile and I felt plain ol' guilty.

I know that we all have our diversions and distractions and the celebrity world can provide an outlet to our increasingly stressful and busy lives - I will be the first to confess that I have lived vicariously through many a celebrity. I know that our commentaries are not always malicious or delusional. I know that some of us can multitask, reading Huffington Post while on the phone with Grandma. I am simply not one of those talented people.

I promise I am not wagging my judging finger at any of you. I am far from perfect. I have not reached the peak of enlightenment in any realm. I just feel particularly challenged to spend more time in this new year affirming, loving, and thinking on the folks in my life that I have inadvertently pushed to the back burner. My priorities have been totally out of whack and I will be the first to admit: Change is an imperative.

Who will you call this week? To whom will you send an email or *gasp* handwritten note, just to say that you were thinking about them?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Time to Shine

Mediocre has become the status quo. In the effort to extinguish our own greatness, many of us spend inordinate amounts of time trying to convince people of how ordinary you are, not worthy of any positive attention or accolade. I used to think that I 'was' that person but there are tiny remnants of it still in me.

Thank God for the One Word challenge that I read this morning. Such a simple suggestion with profound impact on our concept of a new year and its endless potential. The word I would choose seconds after reading the blog post on the One Word 365 challenge rang loud and clear in my

mind, as if God took out his holy 'megaphone' in case I would let some emptier word fill my consciousness. SHINE. 2012 will be the year where I stop hiding, masking or diverting attention from my talents and abilities and simply live the life that God has called me to live. And that is simply one layer of meaning that I have found in my 2012 word. I am excited about the near and distant future.

So excited that I finally got around to starting this new blog. It is so timely and I am glad, like with many other decisions, that I did not hastily whip some mumbo jumbo together, for the sake of saying something.

What will be your 2012 word?

Let's shine, my lovelies.

"Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky" -Philippians 2:14-15