Like Water

Today is the beginning of the “Like Water” series of topics that will deal with the essentials of  nurturing our faith and spiritual based needs for a healthier lifestyle and a healthier body.  The constant demands on our time and struggles with juggling homelife, careers, and personal relationships can wreak havoc on our overall well-being.  We can’t ignore our personal  needs.  It is important that we establish, practice, and respect our own core set of values that will maintain balance and order in our lives. 

Sometimes, that means doing something as basic as being silent.  This week is all about self.  Find ways in which you can love and pamper yourself.  It doesn’t have to cost a thing and can be quite rewarding to your mind, body and soul.

Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 12:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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TOP FIVE FRIDAY

RISING ABOVE FAIR TO MIDDLING

Fair to middling is defined as just above average, so so, mediocre, moderate, commonplace, ordinary.  Would you attribute any of those descriptors to yourself ?  I hope not, because we are all capable of greatness!  What we have to stop doing is waiting for those hopes, dreams, and wishes to come true and start creating  what we want.  Surprisingly, not everyone is willing to give what it takes or stick with the task long enough to see the results of success.   

Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t”, is one of the country’s elite business consultants for some of the top Fortune 500  companies.  However his concepts can be adapted to every day life as well.  Jim Collins believes that failure to some extent is largely self-inflicted, and recovery lies within our own hands.  He goes further to say: 

GOOD IS THE ENEMY OF GREAT. And that  is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of organizations never become great, precisely because the vast majority become quite good-and that is the main problem.

 Decide today to make your vision a reality at it’s fullest potential!

Today’s Top Five Topic:  Rising above fair to middling, what you should know.

    Find your passion; the thing you are just genetically built for.

    Become the expert on what you know or do.

:.   Network with others; share, learn and grow.

::   Don’t give up too soon; “No” does not mean never, it means not right now.

::.  Give it your all everyday; practice makes perfect.

Share what has encouraged you to be your best?

Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 9:00 am  Comments (4)  
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Fail to Plan; Plan to Fail.

THE NOR’EASTER POST MORTEM

No, nobody died!  BUT, braving blustery winds, maneuvering through snowflakes the size of cotton balls, combating failed windshield wipers, defeating swerving cars, hitchhiking, YES, you heard right, I said hitchhiking, and walking in snow covered streets up to my ankles, sure felt like an out of body experience to me, that deserves some afterthought and further examination.

Allow me to explain.  The phrase ‘Post Mortem’ is the saying my husband and his colleagues have coined the accountability meeting which is held at work after an (IT) catastrophe has happened to discuss the previous day’s events.  A typical agenda would follow as such:

  1. Explanation of initial problem
  2. Attempts taken to remedy the situation    
  3. Road blocks encountered or loss associated with failure
  4. Resolution
  5. Lessons learned
  6. Action plan to avoid future occurences

 And with that, here are the turn of events that brought me to the Post Mortem table to account for the day after winter storm, January 26, 2011.

1. I went to work, despite repeated warnings of a nor’easter snowstorm with potential of up to five inches of snowfall.

2. No attempts to go home initially, until the government dismissed everyone 2 hours early from work.  My departure time was 4:00pm, unfortunately I was doomed.  Obviously, way to late.  And so the saga begins….

3. I-270N was disastrous and became a virtual parking lot.  My car put me out on the side of the road stranded with no where to go. Worse, when I tried to to flag down a ride-on transit bus, the driver shouted that the bus was too full, and shut it’s doors in my face. 

4. And then, a stranger appeared in a SUV, who I’ll say was sent by God. Only because, Lord knows I am not the one to get into anyone’s car that I don’t know. But I was a little desperate to say the least.  He asked me where I was headed to, and let me tell you, when he said he was  going in the same direction, I just knew my prayers for help were answered.  A commute home of usually 45 minutes had taken me a total of 5 hours, and left me with a $263 towing fee. 

5. Looking back at all of this, I must admit that the chaos that ensued could have greatly been avoided if only: I stopped using up every hour of my leave until the next pay period that causes me to have to go into the office on days like this one; paid more attention to the weatherman’s forecast; AND listened to my husband’s numerous pleas for me to leave work early.

6.  You can best believe that next time at the first sight of a snowflake I am out the door! 

The take home message from me sharing my experience is an example of how our lives can be easily altered in the blink of an eye when we fail to plan.   In the words of Maya Angelou,  “Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.”

Published in: on January 27, 2011 at 11:58 pm  Comments (1)  
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Away With Words

Published in: on January 26, 2011 at 7:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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LIVING MY CROWN WITH GLORY

by guest author Melissa Ricks,

For women, our hair is a very important part of who we are. Not for you? Well, I’m sure you spent that extra five minutes today primping and prepping because you really don’t care….NOT. We all care about our hair because it is one of the first things people notice when they see us. It is our crown. But do we put too much emphasis on our hair?

For the sistas it has been a tried and true testament of expression, devotion, career moves and at times dedication. We all sang the lyrics of India Arie “I am not my hair” with great pause and conviction because it allowed us to say “yeah” I am not my hair, I am not your expectations no no, I am not my hair, I am a soul that lives within. Can we really relate to India?

I think back to the days of youth when my mother’s entire goal for two weeks before the next hair washing was “don’t get your hair wet.” I missed out on so many swim days because the 2 hours of wash, blow dry and hot comb just wasn’t worth it. As I got older, I recall going on vacation to the Keyes with my then sweetie, now hubby. Of course one of the first things I did before boarding the plane was get my then permed hair “freshly DID” at the salon. When we hit the beach to my companion’s dismay my first words were “I can’t get my hair wet.”

Today, many sistas have called it quits with the stress of trying to keep the permed tresses straight. Many of us have returned to “Natural.” Is the stress any better? Or is it just different? Recently, I decided that wearing my “do” hair-brush short for the last 10 years was boring. I began growing my hair out. My hubby immediately said “you are trading-in your $15, low maintenance hair-do for a $100, all day in the salon, gonna be hot in the summer, hair do?” I thought to myself, “yeah, why do I want to do this again?” But I continued on my journey. The looks that I received from my corporate co-workers were nothing less than hilarious to me. Each day my bush got bigger, until one day I decided, I will wear a wig to help me through this transition. Well, they loved the wig. But today I am rocking the shoulder length kinky twist, and they are, well…silent.

Sistas, how are we preparing our daughters for the hair journey? I was determined that my daughter was not going to miss out on any fun due to the fear of getting her hair wet. So if the fun includes water, I say go for it! I am very cautious about not using any negative comments as I manage through her thickness. When she wants “shaker hair” (the ability to be able to shake her hair) I spend the time to cornrow and add beads. When I see her pining to have a little more bounce to her hair, I either let her play with my wigs or blow dry her hair out a little. I truly want my daughter to be able to embrace who she is and say with total conviction: My hair….it’s not an issue! It is one of the forms in which I express who I am, but it is not me!

And for our sistas with the not so course texture…well, I know you all have a journey too! One of my co-workers, who is of Irish decent, amazed me when she said she goes to the salon every 6 weeks to get her hair thinned (the process by which special scissors are used to thin out some of the layers) because it is too thick.

Another complains of her hair being too curly; and another complains of her hair being too straight. So we all go through some sort of process of getting our hair….perfect. But what is perfect: short, curly, kinky, permed, colored, fried, dyed, laid to the side???? I don’t know, but does it really matter? I’m living my crown with glory. What about you?

TOP FIVE FRIDAY

 

Not Your Usual Suspects

I know you have all heard of the catchy slogan “Who’s in your Five?”  It’s the advertisement created by T-Mobile that offers its customers unlimited calls to their five favorite people.  Deciding who to let into your fave five is similar to choosing those you allow into your inner circle.  A covenant is an agreement between two or more people that is established to help each other fulfill their divine purpose and true calling in life. It is essential to form this type of covenant relationship with the people who play a vital role in our lives. What we fail to realize is that the fave five we most often select in our group of friends may be the very reason why we are not prospering in that business endeavor, excelling in school, or achieving a goal.  Once we recognize this and begin to surround ourselves with the extraordinary instead of the usual suspects, we will reach our fullest potential.

 Today’s Top Five Topic:  Ways to foster healthy relationships

.    Create an agreement or pledge between you and that other person

:    Establish reasonable terms or expectations of the relationship

:.   Honor the covenant and stay committed to what was promised

::   Enforce consequences of not upholding your end of the bargain

::.  Practice forgiveness and reconcilation

Have you encountered adverse situations in your immediate relationships that have made you re-evaluate those in your Fave Five?

For The Sake Of Our Children…Lies We Tell

In our incessant search for something to believe in, the familiar to hold on to, have we become liars?  

My recent encounter with dispelling the lies was this past Christmas when I unveiled to my daughter that Santa Clause was not real.  Just a few days ago, my daughter lost a tooth.  Well, here we go again.  Placing blame for our lies on the sake of tradition.  It all begins when we are children.  Our parents tell us these fairy tale stories of  princesses, prince charming, fairies, and super heroes.  When we grow up, we continue to embed these untruths in the minds of our young daughters that this knight in shining armor will swoop them away into their happily ever after. Likening them to damsels in distress that will always need to be rescued.

The beginning of my lie occurred 4 years ago at the sight of my daughter’s first lost tooth.  “Now put this tooth under your pillow, and the tooth fairy will be sure to bring you something special,” I told her.  The usual hidden treasures that she would awaken to the next mornings became any change that I could scurry up around the house, or sometimes a mommy-made coupon that would allow for a special dessert or fun outing.  As she became older, whenever she lost a tooth she would daintily place the tooth in an envelope with a note on the front of it, that read “Dear Tooth Fairy, No money please”.  Over time, I could plainly see that I had this tooth fairy gig cut out for me.  Gone were the days of loose change and home made things, oh no, she wanted and asked for more.  I began to keep a box chock full of little goodies that I would pick up from time to time during my shopping so that I would always have something “special” from the tooth fairy to give to her. 

Fast forward to the most recent happenings. My daughter says, “I wonder what the tooth fairy is going to bring me tonight.”   I just knew that I had something in my box that I could make magically appear in the morning for her, so I didn’t give it much thought. But, unfortunately to my surprise, when I opened my goody box I realized that I let my supply get low and had absolutely nothing to place under her pillow that night. What ever would I do?  It was too late to go to the store.  I made up my mind that instant that I would just simply tell her that the tooth fairy must have been so busy last night and would probably come by the next night.  Of course, she woke up disappointed.  During the course of the day I told myself to remember to pick up something for the tooth fairy while I was out.  I forgot!  Two mornings later, this 9 year old was not a happy little camper.  All I heard was “why mommy?”, and “where is she?”.  I decided that damn it, this would be the day.  No more would I continue this tale of lies.  So as gently as possible I asked her if she believed that a fairy really came to our house at night to bring her a gift for exchange of her tooth?  She kind of shrugged her shoulders and looked down and screeched, “So now you’re telling me that the tooth fairy isn’t real either?!”  As she burst into tears I held her tight and comforted her with these words, “No matter what, mommy’s love for you will always be real”. 

At that moment I wasn’t for sure if what I had done was to protect her from further disappointment or if it was out of spite for not receiving recognition all those years of pretending to be the tooth fairy.  What I do know is that it takes a brave momma to love her child so deeply that she will go leaps and bounds to make them happy.  I hope that one day she will understand. Bravery is in truth.

Get in on the conversation and let me know whether you think I did the right thing? Also, what are your thoughts on how fairy tales and super heroes impact our lives in the following ways:

1. Ability to form healthy relationships

2. Creating unrealistic expectations

3. Projecting negative self-image and body disorders

[image credit: litscribbles.wordpress.com]

Published in: on January 19, 2011 at 10:30 am  Comments (8)  
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Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

His Spirit Still Lives

Reflections of the past, realization of the present, and hopes for the future

As my honor to  Martin Luther King, Jr., I share with you my thoughts on a man who stood in the forefront for peace and equality and how he is remembered today.  My earliest recollection of Martin Luther King, Jr. is the dumbed down version of what was originally taught to me in elementary school, most likely during this time of the year.  What I knew of him then, black  man, civil rights leader, against violence, famous for “I Have a Dream” speech, assassinated for his beliefs. My vow in 2011 is to learn my culture, my history, not just of Martin Luther King, but of all great African American leaders and social activists, and to teach my children that not all things can be learned in the classroom. 

Daughter, Bernice King, is president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a group co-founded by her father 54 years ago, knows all too well the importance of upholding her father’s legacy and philosophy of nonviolence.  “I am a King, yet I am mindful that I am not the only one, ” King said as she stood in front of a congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church.  Bernice King plays a key part in the movement for advancement of social equality and recognizes the crucial role and leadership of women in society today.   

“It is critical to the success of the next generation of social change to have the full and active commitment and participation of girls and women of all ages,” King said. “After all, as my mother would remind me, a woman’s place is in the struggle. We must be the soul of a nation.” MLK’s Daughter To Head Civil Rights Organization

The community makes a committment to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., through acts of service.  The Corporation for National & Community Service has organized a call to mark the 25th anniversay of the King Holiday a day on, not a day off, by launching the MLK 25 Challenge.  All Americans are urged to take a pledge to perform at least 25 acts of kindness during 2011 that will make a difference in the lives of others in and around their communities.  Learn how to take part in this action: http://mlkday.gov/

His spirit still lives on through his children, through me, and through the community.

Published in: on January 16, 2011 at 1:10 am  Comments (6)  
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TOP FIVE FRIDAY

UNIQUE, by design

Qualities that make you stand out from the crowd.

 Your innate characteristics that others distinguish you by.

Could be your swag; the style that’s all your own.

It’s the you deep within that fights for survival.

Your shield and cloak that protects you from harm.

You can’t suppress it, dismiss it, or give it away.

You are the heaven blessed, filled with grace, one of a kind you!

 

 Today’s Top Five Topic:  That thing about You…

.    my hair journey

:    peculiar pet peeve with lint balls on clothes

:.   eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches

::   always willing to go the extra mile 

::.  my most common saying, “WTF” 

 

Throughout our lives it is important to know and be reminded of who we are.  Do away with subconscious thoughts of yourself that lower self esteem, create self-loathing, and inadequacies.  Reinforce positive affirmations of productive behaviors and images that will uplift your mind, body, and soul.  Most importantly, be proud of who you are, embrace yourself  in all its distinctiveness, and flourish!  Leave your indelible mark on this world simply by being you.  How will you be remembered?

Comments are welcome.  To leave a comment or respond, please click below.

Published in: on January 14, 2011 at 8:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Bells for Haiti In Remembrance

by guest author Melissa Ricks, 

Today is the one year anniversary of the earthquake that struck Haiti, at 4:53 pm bells will toll for 35 seconds in unison across the United States.  Read more

I read an article recently (Essence Magazine Jan. 2011) that moved me to tears. One year since the earthquake that killed 200,000 in Haiti there is still devastation. Haitian women and female children in particular are suffering due to the increased number of rapes since the disaster. The article highlighted that prior to 2005, rape was considered a crime of passion. Since then rape is punishable but very few are prosecuted. Psychologists say that men rape after such a disaster because they have no power over anything else. The make shift tents are no protection from the predators that come in the night disguising their faces and raping women and children as young as 1 years old.
 
One simple thing we can do to help is send flashlights, batteries and whistles. Some Haitian women have formed a security night watch in which they use flashlights to help them identify the predators and whistles to scare them away. When the whistle is blown other woman come to the rescue of the would be victim and either scare him away or hold him until the police arrive.
 
If you would like to contribute contact MADRE (www.madre.org). MADRE is an international women’s human rights organization that works in partnership with community-based women’s organizations worldwide to address issues of health and reproductive rights, economic development, education and other human rights.

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