Reflections

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou

2018 hasn’t been my best year. Learning to live on without my mom has not been easy. I’ve had good days and I’ve had days where I stayed in the bed with the covers pulled over my head. I’ve learned to go with the flow and live in the moment. If I feel like crying, I go ahead and cry. I’ve learned to embrace and acknowledge my feelings, so I can move forward.

2018 has been the year for dealing with my emotions. I used to bury my emotions. Burying emotions is not good, and only leads to an explosion. An explosion affects everyone that has any contact with me. I no longer wanted to be that explosion.

Choosing not to be that explosion led to me having to deal with some things in each area of my life. I chose to deal with every area of my life and in the process learn to handle the outcome.

I’m stronger physically, mentally and spiritually. 2018 has been about being better: a better me, better wife, better mother and better friend.

Every valley and mountain has molded me into the woman I am today. I’m looking with expectation to 2019. Yet striving to BE BETTER!

I Fell in Love with Black History

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I remember as if it were yesterday. The moment I fell in love with Black History. I was born in Chicago, IL and grew up in Cairo, IL. My first vivid memory of even receiving a glimpse of what my ancestors went through is when I saw Roots on TV. Roots provided a foundation for the treatment of Blacks in America. I was horrified and angry at the images that were seared in my brain.

Fast forward to what I was taught in school. Black History was not focused on as much as it should have been in school. I remember being taught year after year about the same few icons of Black History: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman. That was pretty much all we were taught. While in high school I had to read an autobiography of a person of my choice and write a book report about the person. I wanted to write about a woman and decided to research and find a Black woman. I read some information about Mary McLeod Bethune and wanted to find out more about her. After reading about her life, I thought I could achieve whatever I wanted to achieve. I fell in love with Black History!

I searched and found more and more books about Black History and the achievements of Blacks. I read about Fannie Lou Hammer. When I read her story, I vowed to always vote! I would never belittle the privilege that my ancestors sacrificed their very lives for me to be able to simply cast my vote. The trial of the men that murdered Emmett Till instilled in me a willingness to perform my civic duty and partake in jury duty. Never will I miss the opportunity to make sure there really is a “jury of your peers” available to hear your case! I fell deeper in love with Black History!
As I continued my research, I learned of the great Black Kings and Queens and of the various inventions that were created by Black people! My self-esteem increased even more. I read Malcolm X autobiography and knew being militant resonated more with me than practicing civil disobedience. I refused to be mistreated and when presented with racial situations I spoke up and demanded to be treated like everyone else!

Today we have a school of thought that our children need to learn about some other aspects of Black History and we should be passed focusing on slavery and Civil Rights. Well, guess what?! Those aspects of our history are still relevant today because there are those who still only see us as slaves and living beneath them. We have to teach all aspects of our history until everyone understands the ramifications of slavery, racism and prejudices. Slavery and Civil Rights history needs to be taught until racism and hate are torn from the foundation of our nation.

PBS has programming this month that will provide a broader knowledge an appreciation of the contributions from African-Americans.  You can view the listings HERE

Yes, all those years ago I fell in love with Black History! When did you fall in love with Black History?

Living My Best Life!

I started the morning of Chapter 50 eating breakfast with family and friends. I want to thank you for all the birthday wishes that were received in every form.

I wanted to go somewhere that was on my bucket list of places to go and never been before for my 50th. NOLA was my choice. I wanted to celebrate with my family and friends. Everyone couldn’t make it, but I’m having a blast with everyone that was able to make it.

I’m excited about my future. This birthday has been one of my best! I received one of the best gifts ever! Fifty looks good on me. I mean I do look good period! Here me roar – ROAR!! I love me – flaws and all. My theme this entire year is BETTER! Every day I’m striving to be BETTER.

I have another item I want to check off my bucket list this year – learning to swim. I’ll be finding a class to help me on my quest to be BETTER!

PS – LEO SEASON IS NOT OVER💁🏽‍♀️💁🏽‍♀️☺️☺️

Marriage Is A Triathlon – Not A Sprint!

Recently, I was watching a video about training for a triathlon. A triathlon is a race that is split into three different activities: swimming, biking and running. Let me provide my disclaimer that I’m not ready for a triathlon. First, I have to learn how to swim. Learning how to swim is on my 2019 bucket list.

Back to triathlon training. I was curious about the preparation for a triathlon. After watching the video, I realized that preparing for a triathlon is similar to preparing for a lasting marriage. Let me explain.

You can’t just wake up one morning and go complete a triathlon! There’s some preparation involved. That preparation requires commitment. You have to decide to train so many times a week in preparation for the triathlon. Marriage takes commitment. You have to take your vows seriously and be committed to demonstrating your vows by your actions.

A triathlon requires dedication. There will be some days you don’t feel like training. There will be some days you would rather be spending your time doing something else. There will be days you won’t like training. However, you have to train anyway and remain dedicated to being prepared for the triathlon.

Marriage requires dedication. There will be some days that you don’t want to be married. There will be some days you don’t like your spouse. There will be some days you would rather be doing something else. When those days come and trust me they will, you have to remain dedicated to your marriage.

A triathlon requires some essential gear: a bike, helmet, shoes, swimming cap, goggles and a trisuit to name a few. Without the essential gear, you hinder your chances of doing your best. You want to do your best.

There’s some essential marriage gear: love, good communication, good sex, honesty, God and prayer to name a few. If you don’t have the essential marriage gear, it will be difficult to have a lasting marriage. Essential marriage gear is necessary and beneficial to a good marriage.

A good marriage deserves a good foundation. A good foundation begins with commitment, dedication and the essential gear. Are you ready for your triathlon?

If You’re the Toxic Friend and You Know It, Clap Your Hands!

Recently, one of my friends asked this question on Instagram: “How do you know who is toxic?” My short response was you bring their toxic ways to their attention and they don’t try to change their ways. You find yourself in a constant struggle of not talking to them for awhile versus talking to them on a regular basis. It seems they act better after a hiatus, but alas their old toxic self shows up!

I used to believe toxic people didn’t know they were toxic. However, as I’ve matured I recognize they know their toxic and they don’t care. You know why they don’t care? They don’t care because they have the number one characteristic of a toxic person – they are selfish!

Their selfish ways show up constantly. Every activity has to revolve around them. Every conversation has to revolve around them, or they make the conversation about them.

You call the toxic person to vent about something you’re going through and this is how the conversation goes: First, they compare what you’re going through with something they have went or are going through. Then, somehow the conversation turns to be all about them! After you finish the conversation, you feel worse than you felt before you called them.

Another characteristic of toxic people is they are always the victim. Someone is always doing them wrong. They don’t do anything to anyone. They mind their business 🙄🙄. You know these are all lies because you know this person! They never take responsibility for their actions.

Then, toxic people like to monopolize your time. They want to be your ONLY friend. They don’t get along with any of your other friends. As a result, you can’t invite them to group outings. The toxic person not getting along with your other friends is their way to monopolize your time.

Furthermore, toxic people are users. Most of the time you interact with them, they need something. If you analyze your relationship, you will notice the toxic person always wants something from you. The relationship seems to always be you giving and the toxic person always taking.

Finally, another classic toxic person characteristic is they are never happy for you. If you tell them about your new job, they have to mention they wanted to work for that company and they didn’t get the job. They say you must know someone that works at the job. When you tell them about your financial increase, they have to mention how they need the increase more than you need the increase.

Toxic people leave you feeling drained surrounded with negativity. Their words and actions make you question your self-esteem and worth. The reality is the relationship is built on a foundation of jealousy. You may be wondering can any good come out of this relationship?! Yes, it can!

Here’s the good: As you grow and mature, you recognize toxic relationships have no place in your circle. You recognize there is nothing wrong with severing toxic ties and moving on with your life. You will more quickly identify toxic people before you have invested your time and energy in them.

If you read this post and recognize yourself, you are the toxic friend so clap, clap! Now that you see yourself, what are you going to do about it?

For those that have or have had toxic friends, how did you determine your friend was toxic? What did you do about it? Let’s talk about it.

Broken Humans

Broken as defined in the dictionary, “having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order.” Brokenness means “Forcibly separated into two or more pieces; fractured.” As you read those two definitions, you might have thought about a time that you were broken or in a state of brokenness. You may still be broken or in a state of brokenness. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to remain broken or continue to be in a state of brokenness.

When we are broken, it’s difficult to continue on our life’s journey. Being in a constant state of brokenness hinders our ability to move on. As a result, the relationships we form doing our times of brokenness have a tendency to be broken.

These relationships are built on brokenness and once we choose to move from our place of brokenness the relationships cannot withstand our path to being whole. For this reason, we should not begin a new relationship while broken. We need to be working on being made whole.

Whole is being “in an unbroken or undamaged state; in one piece.” Being whole seems impossible but we can be once again be whole. What does it take to be made whole?

First, we have to be honest with ourselves and recognize we are operating from a place of brokenness. We sometimes wonder why we are so angry or almost anything can have us crying. We are broken.

Second, we have to want to be whole. If you don’t want to be whole, it doesn’t make sense to lie to ourselves and others that we want to be whole. It’s better to wait until you’re ready. I have needed to lose weight for years, but until I was ready I wasted my time along with the time of others. Now, I’m focused on being healthy and making continuous progress. You have to do whatever you decide to do for you!

Third, seek help. Do not be ashamed to admit you need help. There’s nothing wrong with going to counseling, finding a support group for your brokenness and even reading self-help books. I encourage you to see a professional therapist.

Once we are beyond our broken state, we will be able to see the scars from the healed wounds and help someone else. We can have healthy relationships built on trust and respect. We can be happy and free! We can be whole:

My Spirit Animal is A Sloth

 

Recently, one of my coworkers went to an event to see a sloth.  She was able to meet and interact with a sloth.  I looked at the pictures she posted of the sloth and realized I have some similarities to sloths and there is a sloth characteristic that I want to embrace.

First, sloths are nocturnal.  Sloths are their most active at night.  That’s me!  I perform my best at night.  I think more clearly and have some of my best ideas at night.  I am most active at night.  I seem to have a burst of energy at night.  When most people are probably sleeping, I have found something to occupy my time, as if I don’t have to go to work in the morning.  

Second, sloths move the least during the day.  I am not a morning person.  I fake it until 10am. On the days I am off from work, I am content to lie in my bed all day.  If I have no plans for the day, I will lay in my PJ all day and, I’m not ashamed to say, will not brush my teeth or bathe.  I’m content to limit my movement!  Oh to be a sloth and be able to have my least movement during the day!

Have you seen the movie Zootopia?  One of my favorite scenes is when Nick Wilde and Judy Hopper go to the DMV.  They are trying to get the name of a car owner using the license plate information.  They are in a hurry and want to receive the information and go.  The sloth in this scene is hilarious!  He acts like he doesn’t have a care in this world and is in no hurry.  He has a nonchalant attitude: https://youtu.be/0woPde7OE1k

This picture taken by my friend reminds me of the sloth in Zootopia. 

The sloth is chilling with his panda bear as if he has no worries.  He is living his best sloth life!  That’s the attitude I want to have in life.  I want to live my best life and not allow anything to hinder me from living my best life.  I want to march to the beat of my own drum.  I want to be different and not care that others may have a problem with me being different.  I want to move through life at my own pace and not allow myself to be up in arms about anything.  What about you?  Which animal is your spirit animal?

Social Media Robots

Social media has taken over almost every part of our lives. The latest news can be found on social media. We received the play by play of the latest breaking news, and experience the changes in the news as statements are retracted or further explained. As we navigate through the vast amounts of information that is available via social media, we cannot be social media robots.

Social media robots are people who believe whatever they see or read on social media without vetting the information. There are a few obvious signs of a social media robot:

1. Posting without reading what you are posting. So many post out dated articles or articles from satire sites and don’t let their their followers know the information is outdated or satire.

2. Comment on the post of others without reading the article the person has posted. How can you debate efficiently by only reading a headline? It’s similar to saying you don’t like Beyoncé’s music, but you’ve never listened to one song!

3. A firm believer in conspiracy theories. A popular conspiracy theory is that Bill Cosby was framed because he was trying to buy NBC. Here’s the link to the first article from 1992 that mentioned Cosby was interested in buying NBC

The article mentions that GE said NBC was not for sale.

Cosby expressed interest again in 1993 and was told once again NBC was not for sale. Fast forward over twenty years later and some want to tie Cosby’s sexual harassment allegations to being a product of him wanting to by NBC 😳😳😳. Cosby admitted to drugging women. The reason he is in jail today is because of the wrong he admitted doing.

There are other obvious signs of being a social media robot, but the ones mentioned above made the top of my list.

God created us with a wonderful thing called a brain. We must use it. We should refuse to blindly believe the information that is pushed on us. We must choose to be critical thinkers.

Critical thinkers use research and analysis to evaluate information and form their own opinion. I get it – being a critical thinker requires work. In our microwave culture, so many want someone else to be the critical thinker and then tell them what to believe or who to support. This mindset is dangerous and leads to being a social media robot.

I challenge you today to be a critical thinker. Let your actions demonstrate your unwillingness to be a social media robot!

Most Of What I Learned About Black History, I Taught Myself

Today is the last “official” day of Black History Month. I celebrate every day and continue to share knowledge on a regular basis.

There’s so much Black History that I didn’t learn in school. When I was 15 years old, I went to the library and borrowed Mary McLeod Bethune’s autobiography. My need to learn more led to me studying African Kings and Queens. I found this book. If you haven’t read it, it’s an empowering read:

Next, I discovered the various inventions that wouldn’t exist were it not for a Black man or woman. Here is a partial lists:

Then, I read Malcolm X’s autobiography and he woke up the militant spirit in me: “We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.” I became proud of my people and recognized we have persevered and succeeded against all the odds and obstacles that have been placed in our paths.

Finally, Fannie Lou Hamer made me even more proud to be a Black woman and honor her and others like her who secured my right to vote. Fannie Lou Hamer said, “Actually, the world and America is upset and the only way to bring about a change is to upset it more.”

In studying Black History, I found my voice. My voice to speak out about injustice and demand to be treated right. Studying Black History made me recognize I have a legacy of determination, intelligence and ingenuity pumping in my veins. I have no other choice but to be the best at whatever I set my mind to do. It’s in my DNA!

What Black History knowledge didn’t you learn in school?

I Have A Problem…

I didn’t realize I had a problem until I finally recognized that every time I go to the bookstore I buy a bookmark. I mean this problem is really bad. Just look at this picture of my bookmarks:

Since recognizing I have a problem, you would think I would stop buying bookmarks. Nope – I’ve continued! I haven’t taken a picture of my latest bookmark purchases.

The other indication that I have a problem was when my husband asked if I had a bookmark he could use. For a moment, I looked like this 😳. I wasn’t going to give him one, but I knew one day he may see my stash and then remember I refused to give him one. It pained me to do it, but I gave him one.

I’ve resigned myself to the realization that I have a bookmark purchasing problem. I know I can only use one at a time. What if the current one doesn’t match my book reading mood? Having multiple bookmarks makes sure I have one that fits my current book reading mood. Here’s my current book reading mood:

I know I’m not the only one with a weird problem or habit. I did go a few times without purchasing a bookmark, but my latest bookstore visit had me back purchasing a bookmark. I only bought one pack this time. They are so cute! I couldn’t resist…

Do you have a weird problem or habit? Let’s talk about it.

*Book Review* One Person, No Vote – How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Democracy by Carol Anderson

When the votes were tallied for trump, I wondered how he won. Hilary Clinton won the popular vote, but lost the electoral college votes. The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. Your state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for your Senators, (https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html).

Voter suppression has led to millions of minorities being removed from voter rolls. In 2013, the Supreme Court stripper power from the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Supreme Court’s decision allowed districts to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice, (Anderson, 2018). Carole Anderson provides the history of voter suppression and discusses how voter suppression and gerrymandering has affected the voting rights of minorities.

Time and time again Republicans have cried voting fraud to further restrict minorities right to vote. Republicans have used voter suppression as a means to maintain political power. Carol Anderson outlines her research, which proves the extent Republicans and racists will go to restrict and eliminate the voices of the marginalized.

This book is a must read to understand the history of voter suppression and a call to action to reverse the damage that has already been done by voter id requirements and gerrymandering. Republicans have removed polling places, restricted early voting and instituted voter id requirements all in the name of eliminating voter fraud; even though voter fraud has been minimal. The truth is these actions were taken to maintain political power and racism.

We are already experiencing the results of voter suppression in our courts, in the murdering of minorities without accountability by the police, and in the laws that are being placed on the books. We have to educate ourselves and then fight the power! Fight so that everybody has their voices heard through voting.

An interesting part of the book was the outlining of Russia’s involvement in our 2016 presidential election. It is scary to read the lengths some will go to suppress minorities and elect someone that represents only their interests. This book further proves that racism is built into the foundation of the United States and may never be eliminated.

References

The Electoral College. https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/about.html

Anderson, C (2018). One Person, No Vote – How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Democracy. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Publishing