All For One!

The phrase “it takes a village” didn’t come from nowhere. This video warmed my heart and filled me with so much happiness! When one person succeeds around us, we ALL succeed. This beautiful South African community GETS it.

 

So often, even the kindest and more considerate of us gets bogged down with the “me, me, me” of life instead of the “we, we, we!” It’s easy to get lost in the demands of our own lives or just think about “me and mine.” I know I do! But, when I see a scene like this one, it’s just a reminder of how shortsighted and selfish that mindset is, not to mention isolating. We are all on this planet together, a beautiful way to be!

Love,
El

Defiance!

I may be the first person in history to ever walk out of a meditation class and then, soon after, be filled with a spirit of defiance thanks to a clear mind. But I like it. And I welcome it. And it’s necessary.

Following the session at a local yoga wellness studio, I took time to drive around my favorite neighborhood along the ocean and take in the view: the beautiful houses, the private beaches, the ocean sparkling in the sunlight. It was just gorgeous. I did that thing that you do when you think about earning millions of dollars, cashing in some of your chips, and buying your dream home. I thought about buying a house there… and then, my next thought was about whether it would it be safe for me and my family as African Americans. There aren’t many of us in that neighborhood if any, so I thought of how it would be if my husband were driving to our hypothetical multi-million dollar house late at night after coming from a night out. Would he be stopped by police on the way home for looking ‘out of place?’ I thought about my daughter as teenager, hanging out on the private beach with her friends. Would people question her if she lives there and has “permission” to use the beach?

I’m not alone with thoughts like these. Many a black wife and mother before me and probably after me will wonder these things, but the meditation helped clarify my thinking – detoxing me from the negative. And just as quick as that thought popped into my mind, it was gone and it was replaced instead with the spirit of resolve and appreciation for how far we’ve come as a nation. As if on cue, a few hundred yards later and I was greeted with a friendly smile and wave from a blonde woman walking her dog. Homegirl was not even thinking of me being potentially out of place and I was doing all the stupid thinking for both of us.

Last week’s election results have had me questioning who sees me as me and who could care less. It has had me questioning who sees me as less than them and who sees me as not even worth a thought. Between the election results and the uptick in police brutality, my mental has been under assault for several years now.

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Today – it stops.

Our country has come too far to snuff out all of the good and all of the strides we as a collective American people have made in our very short history. Warm smiles, friendly exchanges with people from all backgrounds, all religions, all races – DAILY – can’t be belittled or ignored in place of the acceptance of fear and exhaustion given the hate that was able to win last week.

Today, I choose to become both defiantly optimistic and defiantly successful in my quest for justice for all and my own personal achievement.

It means speaking up when I’m tired and taking action when it’s not convenient. It means not accepting hate as the norm, but also not turning a blind eye to it and acting like it doesn’t exist just because it doesn’t feel good to think about it. It means that a lot of days are going to be a challenge and I’m going to have to really work to be positive. But I’ve never been afraid of hard work, so this is no different. My opponent – hate – may look like Goliath right now…. after all, it was just voted into the halls of our highest office. But, when it was all said and done, when you go back and look at history, David was the victor. When you fight for what is right, the battle is yours – and the only arms needed are love, patience, resilience, and the refusal to be silent.

I’m done being afraid. I’m done being angry. I’m going to live my life in spite of people who would try and govern my steps and I will seek opportunities to be a mouthpiece for people who can’t speak up for whatever reason lest they be trampled by Goliath.

I have one life and I’m no longer going to waste it thinking about how much better it could be elsewhere when I can make it great right here. “Every day can be a great day” – especially when the tough ones are still building a brighter future.

Wish me luck.

Love,

El

Then and Now and In Between…

My husband’s cousin shared this feature yesterday about a photographer who took pictures of strangers 40 years ago, only to hunt them down again and recreate the images.

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According to designyoutrust.com:

Paramedic Chris Porsz spent hours walking around the city of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire (Great Britain) in the late 1970s and 80s, taking candid shots of punks and policemen, siblings and sweethearts, traders and teenagers. More than three decades later, Chris has reconstructed a handful of his favourite photos from his collection. He spent the last seven years tracking down the people in his pictures and persuading them to pose once again. His hard work paid off and he has now published his photos in a new book, “Reunions”.

The pictures show the passage of time is fun ways (i.e. questionable fashion trends) and heart-aching ways (the homeless man still on the street 40 years later). Yet, whether pleasant or melancholy, humorous or stoic, they are all captivatingly beautiful thanks to the stories they tell… and the ones they beg the audience to ask about. What of the four friends pictured 40 years ago and now there are only three? Are the twins still close – and, for that matter – are all the friends in town? If not, why not? If so, how did they maintain it?

Life, in its simplest form and measure of time, minute by minute and moment by moment, is compiled of feelings of joy and connection that can either persist or dissipate. My husband always talks about ‘making the good things great.’ This photo compilation is a sweet reminder that even the little moments – a smile or laugh with friends, an ice cream cone from the ice cream man, a trip to the beauty supply store – can all contribute to a great day and thus, a great life.

Love,

El

A Time For Anger…

ec3-11Real Talk? This past week has been beyond trying. I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine who, while acknowledging that my exhaustion and disappointment were real, challenged me not to get so caught up in the anger or loss of this time and push ahead to both look at the positive and resolve myself to purpose.

I heard her…. but not really. Not fully.

A couple hours later, I was prepping to find a positive topic to cover on this blog and instead found myself googling “A time for anger” in an effort to almost justify me taking this time to be upset or wallow before moving myself to being more positive and forward thinking. Yes, I committed to this blog to find and continue to share positive stories, but I never said it wasn’t a challenge for me at times.

But if you are paying attention – and I am trying to – God speaks. Today, when I did that google search, I instead came up with the following:

Ecclesiastes 3New Living Translation (NLT)

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season,

    a time for every activity under heaven.

A time to be born and a time to die.

    A time to plant and a time to harvest.

A time to kill and a time to heal.

    A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to cry and a time to laugh.

    A time to grieve and a time to dance.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

A time to search and a time to quit searching.

    A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear and a time to mend.

    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate.

    A time for war and a time for peace.

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.seasons

14 And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. 15 What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.

The Injustices of Life

16 I also noticed that under the sun there is evil in the courtroom. Yes, even the courts of law are corrupt! 17 I said to myself, “In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds.”

18 I also thought about the human condition—how God proves to people that they are like animals. 19 For people and animals share the same fate—both breathe[a] and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals. How meaningless! 20 Both go to the same place—they came from dust and they return to dust. 21 For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth? 22 So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is our lot in life. And no one can bring us back to see what happens after we die.

I read it and then I thought of my friend’s words this morning, my husband’s words all week, my coworker’s words yesterday, and my other girlfriend’s counsel the day before. God has been giving me the same message over and over and over from different sources all week along and, instead of listening, I have been vacillating between anger and acceptance and hopelessness and selfishness all week.

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Today, I am making the decision to LISTEN – to challenge myself to really LISTEN and ACCEPT healing perspectives beyond my own, to not trust my own devices and have so much faith in my own knowledge and perspective alone. I don’t know everything. That’s a  simple sentiment, but humbling and hard to swallow at times.

I am going to continue to make a concerted effort to inundate myself again with positive news and step away from social media a bit like I did before (outside of blogs like these, of course). I have so many questions, so many concerns, so many fears. I feel weary. I feel annoyed. I feel faithless in people. I owe it to myself and to my friends and family to take root in God’s promise and push ahead… so I can appreciate the beauty that is THIS life. We only get one and these feelings, while human, are not divine… and there’s a little bit of God in all of us to tap into. Wish me well and I wish you well too! God never said it would be easy, but with Him, I have faith it will all be worth it.

Love,

El

Soul Connection

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You never know who you are going to connect with, much less when or why. I ran across the sweetest little slice of life yesterday about a little girl befriending – and I mean, TRULY befriending – a random, elderly man and it just made me smile the widest smile. Take a read here on The Little Things and enjoy 🙂

I would paraphrase the story myself, but Tara Wood does such a great job writing this little piece, I would be doing her a disservice.

Love,

El