Archive | February, 2012

Conflict of Passion in Success

16 Feb
dreams and wishes. 62/365

dreams and wishes. 62/365 (Photo credit: nicole.pierce.photography ♥)

“Success comes from following your passion”.

I often battle with this notion because I have been raised by generations of people who valued the privilege to work, not necessarily loving what it is that they do, most of the time steering clear of innovative methods of making an income. There are of course a few exceptions, but with the majority, the question I tend to get is “do you have a job yet?” Never once inquiring about my passion or even what my strengths are. Because of that, I find that a lot of my family can be surprised at what I have the audacity to dream of making money from.

They appear to view cultural icons (i.e. Toni Morrison, Soledad O’Brien, Kadir Nelson and yes even Kanye) as the exception more so than the rule, as is any other person who decided to take a risk and follow their heart in pursuit of finding happiness in a career as opposed to a benefits package and salary. The irony is that most of these people are handsomely rewarded in their pursuits and when asked, often admit to never truly feeling like they have “worked
 a day in their life.

After admitting to myself that I have not ever been employed doing what I love, I had to also ask myself why that was. A part was the pressure of feeling like I had to make money over pursuing fulfillment. But a bigger part was that while some of my counterparts were being asked by their families about their dreams, desires-what they would do with their life if money was no issue, I wasn’t. Although I demonstrated tremendous talent in the arts, rarely was I encouraged to pursue that as a possible career. I even remember clearly, someone telling me that those who major in arts, were meant to starve, so that wasn’t a smart path for me to choose. Although I now beg to differ, I was impressionable at a young age and looking for guidance as much as I was looking to please. That is how I ended up here.

For years, I struggled with those expectations of who I should be, as opposed to who I am. But acknowledgement as to why, has helped me to not hold a grudge. I come from a lineage of maintenance workers, factory workers, butchers, soldiers, admin staff, with the only professionals being teachers. Many of my family members operated out of need and who can dream when you’re fixated on making sure your family is fed? Better yet, who can dream when a system seems to tell you that you can’t? It took me a long time to even allow myself to think outside of the box, but I am committed to doing so because I believe I deserve and have the ability to do so. Moreover, I think I owe it to generations past and present to at the very least, try.

“Happy Valentine’s Day”

14 Feb

It is Valentine’s Day again and even though I once scoffed at the idea of another financially driven holiday that we have been brainwashed to believe we must partake in, the notion of such has grown on me. To have one day dedicated to love is smart. Especially since amidst the chaos, a lot of us forget how pivotal love is, why not set aside a day to encourage you to take time and remember?

I hope all of you have a Valentine’s Day filled with tons of love =) And here’s a little something to help with that!

Whitney Houston (Facing My Reality)

13 Feb
The Greatest Love of All

Image via Wikipedia

Whitney Houston’s passing isn’t surreal for me. It’s very real. Bringing into question my mortality and quality of life, reminding me that tomorrow is never guaranteed.

It puts into perspective that which makes my heart sing; forcing me to acknowledge that if I had it my way, I would spend these moments with the love of my life, living close to the beach so walks along the shore would be a few short steps away. I’d want to fully indulge in the blessings of life, taking short breaks to write (because I adore doing so) and to share laughs with family and friends. I’d want to do so free from the anxiety and stress placed upon me by a chaotic world, that dictates my daily path by superficial faded pieces of paper with dead presidents’ faces imprinted on them.

Ms. Houston’s passing arouses the fear that I am anywhere but in this utopia of my dreams, and makes me question why not, as well as the possibility of such a world.

We all throw around phrases and mantras about tomorrow not being promised and the importance of living for today but I know I am not alone in being bound by the fear of truly doing so. That in some way by living each day as if it was our last, is acknowledging the possibility that it very well could be. We procrastinate because we hope and long for tomorrow and the years to come, and if we are truly honest with ourselves we aren’t living out our maximum potential because perhaps we are afraid to accept that at some point we will all breathe that last breath and continue to whatever destiny our beliefs have in store for us.
I do believe that Whitney Houston is resting in peace now, but I can’t help but wonder, if she had it her way, would she have rather her existence here on earth, to be as peaceful-overflowing with love, encouragement, joy, and the expression of her dreams as it has seemed to be in these subsequent days of her death; If perhaps she would have made different choices throughout her life had she known how brief it would turn out to be. I too have childhood memories of wishing I had a red and black tutu like Whitney Houston’s so I could belt out “I wanna dance with somebody who loves me”, but the mature adult in me is reminded of the reality that tomorrow really is not promised and if that is in fact the case (which proved to be true for our fallen icon), what am I doing about that truth today?

Humanizing God

12 Feb

Many Christians discourage humanizing God because it can in some way diminish the supremacy of God as being omnipotent. I disagree with that. And matter of fact I believe that doing so can actually contribute to a clearer understanding of God and biblical principles. Plus if I am made in God’s image and I am in fact a human, there has to be some overlap there.

I’ve found that humanizing God has transformed the way I look at God. I used to be afraid of God, as this ominous figure with a bunch of no’s, cannots and don’ts, who just ruled over me frowning on all the wrong I was doing. I was often afraid of judgement and  started thinking I was being punished for the choices I made. Then I gave God some human character to gain a better understanding.

God loves me. So much so that he wants the best for me. The best. God knows me, even down to my inner-most thoughts. He knows that sometimes in my choices, I settle for less, that I am going to go right when I know that I should go left. But he still gives me free will. In my choices, I have repercussions (both positive and negative). That’s life right? But he does give me the tools to make the wisest, best decisions for me. Those which will further reinforce his love for me. Now sometimes I may make a poor decision and have to face the music. If I had taken heed to God’s guidance perhaps I wouldn’t have experienced the heartache, disappointment, frustration, and hurt. But in the midst of all that, God gives me comfort. Why would a God that love’s me, want me to experience anything but joy?

I am not a master decision maker, but I can say that I have a healthy view of the role of God in my life which has kept me from shying away from my faith when I made a wrong turn or poor choice. It may seem odd to some, but my spiritual relationship is probably one of the healthiest relationships that I have but that is because of my resolve to put human-ness to the God that I believe in.

Dirty Laundry: Good Hair

11 Feb

Good Hair?! My heart almost stopped when I heard a few of my family members use the term. Why? Adults can choose to believe whatever they want about themselves. They can build themselves up or foolishly put themselves down by superficial traits such as hair texture, but it is serious issue when we transfer our warped vision to children.

Aren’t children in and of themselves beautiful just because of their innocence and unadulterated will to be happy and joyous; untainted by life’s criticisms? You can’t tell me that the hair texture is a determining factor in that. And it shouldn’t be. There should be no separation and discrimination based on the tightness of curl in hair just like there shouldn’t be a differentiation based on skin color. In a world where people are fixated on labeling in order to categorize a person to then decide how to deal with them, we do not need to place additional labels on ourselves that create division.

Whether Afro Puffs, tendrils, braids, waves, silky, kinky, nappy,curly, or bone straight all hair has its good and bad days and in whatever state it chooses to take on or be put in, it is beautiful. In these modern times, we need to focus more energy on the things that truly matter and since we have yet to hear that someone’s graduation rate or college acceptance was based on their hair, we have more important aspects of our community that deserves our attention.

Quarters

10 Feb

The new year always brings about reflection. 2012 is no different. I can say that as usual, 2011 was a rollercoaster, a lot of which I didn’t feel prepared for, although I rarely found myself in a place that I had never been…

…First quarter was casual, fun, and exploratory to say the least. It left me hyped but at the same time a bit bruised, but I can’t say that I didn’t ask for it. The key takeaway, if it looks, walks, and talks like a duck-it’s a duck…

…Second quarter was damage control. I don’t like loose ends, especially those that leave me disturbed. I tried to tie them. Opposition ensued. Let’s say that I learned a lot about my family. I had to accept the possibility that the ideal relationship that I may have wanted with some of them, may never be. Doing this allowed me to accept them even if I didn’t like it, and to keep myself from becoming bitter…

…Third quarter was filled with elements of surprise of the positive and negative variety, but in all it left me questioning friendships, and accepting that in all of the preparation that life can provide, it cannot ever effectively prepare you for loss; literal and figurative loss. I was equally unprepared for the mourning that ensued….

…Fourth quarter was one of tremendous growth as I found myself feeling alone in the midst of many struggles. I let my critical inner voice take hold and began to question most of the decisions I had made within the year. Where the hell were all of my friends anyway? I found myself in the emergency room very much alive but feeling the need to be emotionally resuscitated. Highlight: I’m going to be an aunt!

2011 was a year of tremendous proportions. Growth. Loss. Facing fear. Exposing vulnerability. Lots of tears. Speaking up where silence once stood. Introspection in isolation. Numerous times feeling stripped of that which I valued, what kept me balanced. The sources from which I would draw for joy were compromised and in all that I prevailed. So in retrospect, 2011 was a good year because all contributed to me becoming a better version of myself. Would I have preferred to alter parts of it? Sure. But isn’t four quarters what makes a whole?

A Pretzel Story

2 Feb
Typical brands of Potato Chips at a superstore.

Image via Wikipedia

So I’m sitting here, typing and munching on organic pretzel sticks. Not because I wouldn’t rather be enjoying a slice of pizza, but because my body isn’t as forgiving as it used to be, say when I was like 17. Sure potato chips would probably even taste better, but years ago after gaining a considerable amount of weight, I took the responsibility of educating myself on what I was putting into my body.

I approach diet as I would philosophy or any other course for that matter. I have intellectualized it. And although I do still indulge in foods that I like and do still get much pleasure from eating, I realize that what most American’s are probably missing is the educational part of diet. If you just listen in on a conversation about food and you hear someone rationalizing the low-fat cookies they bought so they could eat more or even the 100% fruit juice that they can’t live without because it’s healthy, you’d realize that people are misguided and misinformed about the food they eat.

Primarily I don’t think it’s the what, it’s the how much. However, they are related because if you eat the wrong things, you’ll be hungrier faster and subsequently need more. Now I’m not going to go into my tirade of diet and nutrition (yet) but here’s my advice. Make wise choices with food. Yes, you can still enjoy it, but read the labels and school yourself on what they mean. If a serving is 10 chips and you eat the whole bag, you ate more than a serving. Doesn’t seem like a big deal until you add up all the extra servings of everything you consumed all day. It only takes 3500 calories to make a pound! And only a few extra pounds before a new dimple or roll appears and your clothes don’t fit!