D art of Storytellin’

Gettin’ Kinda Heavy

 

How many times have we walked by a piece of trash on the ground or knew that something was out-of-place and we had the time to stop and fix it but decided not to? How many times have we said that “something needs to be done” but have never taken the time to do that something?

I recall a summer’s day on my porch…….

Music was in the air and the sweet aroma of BBQ filled my lungs. My daughter and I sat on the porch enjoying one another and the entertainment of the neighborhood children. As we sat, a group of young missionaries walked past the porch talking amongst themselves when one of the missionaries kicked a piece of trash that was in the middle of the sidewalk. Another missionary noticed that the missionary didn’t bend down to pick up the trash and made a remark about what had just transpired.

“Everyone else walked by it.” The chastised missionary said in her defense and kept on walking.

That response totally licked the red off of my apple! Even though it was true- which was probably hoodthe real reason for my reaction- I got up and picked up the piece of trash and said loudly: “Well, let me be the first to pick it up!”

I mean really! Can you believe the nerve of some people? Isn’t that what missionaries are trained to do? Aren’t they supposed to go out of their way to pick up or fix the things that are broken in this world?

I fumed for about an hour, wondering how could someone be so blatantly disrespectful. Then I realized that I should only be mad at myself.

Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” Judges 6:14

Not only did I see the piece of trash, I had witnessed children and adults alike kick, throw, Heavyride over and even play with the trash that was ignored by the missionaries. I was more responsible for that missionary’s view of trash than anyone else. It was true that I had not said anything to anyone about the trash until an outsider came into my neighborhood and decided not to do what I had deemed as their responsibility.

When we pass on the responsibility of our neighborhoods to someone else we forfeit our right to say anything. Until we say – “This is my community! I learn here. I play here. I grow here. I deserve a place to thrive and be happy.” – we have to look forward to being disappointed by the people we ‘think’ should fix us.

 

 

Advertisements

Silver & Gold

” Winners forget that they are in a race, they just love to run.”  – Fortune Cookie

Disclaimer: Jonesitis is a terrible disease. In most cases, people  suffer from envy, low self-esteem, comparing themselves to others and procrastination. Many people are troubled from this ailment daily, but have been undiagnosed for many years. The only known cure for Jonesitis is to become more self-aware of the individual beauty that one possess. 

My former employer was a community based organization that was always involved in different outings. One of my favorite ventures was a big cookout that featured local bands. The goal of the cookout was to raise money and donate it to trackthe organization that would come out and sell raffle tickets during the event. It was like the Woodstock for non-profit organizations and I loved the scene.

One year, the Executive Director and I had this crazy notion that we would make tie-dye shirts ( but that’s another story for another day).

The following year, we decided that it would be best to pick a color that everyone could wear orange. I was sent to the Goodwill to find shirts for everyone. As I scanned the racks, I found what seemed to be a baseball jersey with the number 2 on it- I fell in love with it. Since I was the Administrative Assistant, I had the advantage of claiming ‘ grabbies’ when our company received clothing donations- and I used this perk every chance I got.  Like this memory, I still have this shirt and I wear it often.

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” – Zora Neale Hurston

The year I picked this shirt I had an answer for why I initially became smitten with the 2nd hand jersey that bore the number 2. I said that aiming for 2nd place was easier than going for the gold and I was perfectly fine with being known as the other girl. I even posed the question: If the number 2 pencil was the most commonly used pencil, why was it number 2?

Though I seemed perfectly fine with being 2nd best, I was not perfectly fine with being 2nd best- and my actions and reactions resounded louder than my words. I needed the praise and admiration of my peers and I was willing to gain it by any means necessary. I constantly  found myself competing with not only others, but myself as well- always trying to ricky bobbyprove my relevance  to the company.  This struggle spilled over into my social media profiles with many rants about how intellectually superior I am compared to others and the blocking of anyone who disagreed. I was an attention tyrant who could not be stopped…

Then, I found myself unemployed.

I was lower than number 2, I wasn’t even in the race. For two years, I had considered myself one of the pillars of an establishment but now found myself alone in a desolate place. I was forced to examine the thoughts, actions and deeds that had gotten me to this place. I began with the jersey situation.

Why was I trying to convince myself that I was willing to be overlooked?

Was I really okay with playing second fiddle?

These questions plagued my thoughts causing me to take an inventory of myself.  My tyrannical reign did not begin at my former employer, it began when I became an older sister-I willingly confess that I do suffer from Middle Child Syndrome. The birth of my sister evoked my need for competition. For about three years I was the only girl and had the adoration of my family. It was not hard for me to claim the spotlight because I was the center of the universe-or so it seemed. Then one morning, my brother and I were riding in the back of a truck that had a U-Haul connected to it. I fell asleep talking with my brother. I woke up and had a baby sister.

To my understanding, there were other instances that had transpired but I can only remember these glimpses of the past.

Overnight, I went from being the adorable little baby to the older sister- a position that I was unready to fill at the time. I being-mary-jane-speechwent from tea parties with my brother to coloring by myself in my room. I immediately started to act out for my well deserved attention, but unfortunately those attempts did not turn out so well for myself (or my rear-end). After a while, I had gotten immune to the whippings and punishments,  I began to do more life altering things. I had a daughter at the age of 14; barely graduated high school; married and divorced by 21 – the list goes on. I was willing to pay a high price for my attention fix and no one was going to come between me and my high.

Since the birth of my sister I made destructive decisions to prove my worth among both my family and other peers. This behavior has brought a strain between me and my sister, but throughout this tumultuous time, she has been my voice of reason and best friend throughout my life. She has taught me the power of self-discipline and determination and has always been proud to call me big sister. Her birth was only placing me in second by birth order, not in my worth.

Competition forces us to compare ourselves to others. When we decide to compare ourselves, we lose out on the opportunity to learn a new trait or gain a different perspective of life.

Society teaches us that there is only room for one winner so we fight our way to the top. We do whatever it takes to be number one. We do things, most times unconsciously, that could detour our fellow-man from reaching their goals and dreams. When we realize that everyone that enters our lives  helps us to grow as individuals, we begin to see people for what they are- Divine teachers.

* All images found on http://www.google.com

She’s A Lady

‘Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.’ Nicolo Machiavelli

My daughter has one of the best imaginations. I can send her to her room for a “punishment” but no matter how or why I send her up there, she always ends up having a blast. One of her favorite things she likes to pretend to be is a teacher or a secretary- two of the career choices that she has seen me perform. She likes it better when I play along with her, but she can have the time of her life without my presence just the same.

Yesterday was such a great day that we decided to play a new game- investigation.  Let me tell ya, this girl could put Horatio out of business, she really looks for all of the details. I was to play someone who was getting investigated. So, my first character was a mild mannered woman who had never been investigated and she was absolutely terrified of being around an investigator. During the theatrics, I had to step away for a moment, but when I returned, my daughter the director was ready for me to change my character’s position.

“Mommy, I know I’m a kid, but I need you to woman up for me.” she declared.

“I am playing a woman.” I respond.

“No mama, I need you to woman up. Don’t be afraid. You know how kids tell other kids- be a woman about it.” she responded.

I was taken aback by my daughter’s orders, how would she or any child ever know about being a woman at such a young work_at_home_momsage?

Then it hit me- I thought the same thing when I was her age. Growing up in a single parent home taught me a lot about the roles I would soon play in life. Though my mother worked hard to take care of my siblings and I, she also felt like her home was incomplete without a father figure.This made me view my mother as a weakling. By the time I was in the third grade, I was learning about how women could do anything that they wanted and here was my mother sitting around crying over a man not being present.

Television also made a huge impact on my views of womanhood. Many of the images that I saw were of middle class European women who were in control of themselves and big corporations as well. They made the bacon and also cooked it without shedding a single tear or murmuring a complaint. The images of  African- American women were of either strong, and driven women or highly paid prostitutes.

These many  images became the seasonings that created my contorted jambalaya of what womanhood should have been and my mother was not holding up that standard. She was the urban version of June Cleaver- nurturing, loving and repulsively submissive. It was like she was stuck in a 1950’s musical and  I was a 90’s hiphop video. I knew that I was going to be the leader of the pack and no man was going to out do me. I would never allow a man to tell me when to come and go and most definitely not tell me  to cook him supper. I was a material girl living in a material world and I wanted to know what have you done for me lately.

“It’s so disappointing to see some of these young girls that will never know what it’s like to be a woman. Not in age but in actions.” – Maurice Johnson

My perception of my mother changed when I became a mother and it continues to change daily with the many women I come into contact with.  With each passing day I become more and more aware of how my actions impact my daughter’s frotasticdaily interactions and I begin to change my patterns slowly but surely.

One of my biggest patterns is pretending to be strong when I am faced with adversity. This thought has been the driving force of my life. I must be tough and show the world that I can make it without anyone’s help- especially a man’s help. I don’t have to depend on a man to pull me through my hardest times, I have the power within to make my life complete.This thought I have found to be true to a certain extent: Though I believe that women can do anything that they put their minds to, I cannot deny the fact that men are needed in this world. No matter how liberal one may feel, babies cannot be produced without egg and sperm- point blank.

As I have grown I have learned that being submissive is not being weak, it is actually strength. It takes a lot to keep calm and cool when someone is getting on your last nerve or seems to be barking orders at you. Though my mother chose to be humble it did not subtract from her inner strength that rose to each and every occasion that presented itself. My mother worked hard to ensure that her three children attained a quality education and that they became productive citizens.

Strength is not being able to win every fight it is being able to decipher when to fight.

Let us not underestimate the “plain Jane” women who choose to devote their lives to raising their families with humility. Not every woman is fist fighting or breaking dishes at the dinner table. There are women who honor their husbands  and find it not strange to ask for their guidance. These women are also hard workers and some are even business owners. They are not primitive nor are they weak. They are my mentors, teachers, aunts, and mother. Their Divine wisdom illuminates my ever growing path.

 If you like this or any other posts on this blog and would like to read more please check out our magazine edition: Find A Way The Print Magazine http://madmagz.com/magazine/full/446229/kdwha

 

* Images found on http://www.google.com

Salt

“The end did not forget the beginning, nor did the beginning remain sterile to the end.” – James V. Schall

 

“You were born a nigger, you gone be a nigger and you gone die a nigger.”  he  proclaimed smiling like the Cheshire Cat.

It pierced through my body, sending a shock that knocked  the breath out of me, awakening a quiet rage that swirled like kuntacreamer in coffee. In disbelief, I stood there hoping to wake up and it would all had been a dream. I felt my expression change as the blood began to rise to my face. The lump that always comes to my throat when I want to fight back my tears rose like a dam that was about to gush through the seams of my cheeks.

That phrase pulled me back into a past hurt that my ancestors bore. The more I tried to move past that pain, something inside of me kept me looking back at the shackles that my predecessors were forced to wear around their hands and feet. As I continued to reflect on all of the horrid depictions of the former, I became frozen in the thoughts of history and how it continued to repeat itself.

“Is that what you think of me?” I asked slanting my head hoping that through my glasses he saw more. More than the girl who had tried so hard to win the affections and respect that he rendered. More than a government dependent junkie waiting for her food stamps to come in. More than an affirmative action charity case from the bad side of the tracks. More than a “wannabe like him so I wouldn’t have to deal with remarks rendered by a society that had labeled me since birth” type of person

I don’t remember ever crying as much as I did that day. It was an angry cry. A cry that wanted to burn the building down and light a cigarette from the inferno. This was 2014 man! This was the present. We don’t say that word in this part of Georgia without  somebody getting cussed out or sent on to glory and here I was doing nothing but crying and regretting all of the things that I did not do.

afro loveI did not set the place on fire (Glory be), but I began to think about what made me so angry? For obvious reasons of course, you know the whole being black thing, but there was something beyond the surface that penetrated my makeshift  armor of being color blind  and liberal.

I had connected that word to the struggle that my ancestors fought. My great-grandmother was born into slavery and had endured  some of the most horrific things that even she did not want to speak about nor remember.But, it was there. Like a big pink elephant in a cramped room that no one wanted to address, the pain of the past. I associated the word with depictions of Kunta Kinte being whipped or Sethe being raped by School Teacher and his boys.

  “The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.” – Mary Pickford

Though slavery was a pain to my ancestors it does not have to be my pain today. That does not mean that it did not happen. Nor does it mean that I will forget it. It means that I will not allow that pain to keep me stuck in an uncontrollable rage that leaves me battered and wounded. It means that I have been given an opportunity to show my ancestors  that I appreciate the hardships that they endured yesterday to accommodate my dreams for today. It means that the next time that someone of any race-including my own, uses that word I will inform them that their ignorance will be the death of our society.

We cannot change what happened in our history nor can we open the minds that refuse to be opened. We can only strive the worldtoday to make our latter better than our former. If we continue to look back on what was we will be left  paralyzed and unable to make the necessary changes that our community needs today.Let us embrace the past as a point of reference  that teaches us to be grateful for the strides that we continue to make as a society, not as a pillar that leaves us powerless and pathetic.

* Images found on http://www.google.com

Subject to Change

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” ― Leo Tolstoy

There are a lot of opportunities  that I have missed out on  because things were not perfect. I missed out on truly changeembracing motherhood because I was single and too young to be a “good” parent. I ignored my zeal of writing because I would never be considered one of the “greats” because of my lack of formal education.  I eliminated myself from being a successful person because of my sordid past. I counted my self out for true happiness because that never  happened to black girls like me.

Perfection is the second cousin to procrastination. If we wait until something is perfect to make an action, we would never get anything done because our situations are constantly changing.

Just last year, I was getting ready for Christmas with a smile on my face because my mentor decided to sponsor my family’s Christmas. She not only took me shopping, but she made a loaf of pumpkin bread from scratch and equipped me with a gingerbread house kit. My children and I gathered at my mother’s house and decorated the gingerbread house while eating most of the candy in the process. It was a great Christmas and a very promising New Year.

Then, the seasons changed…..

Since June of this year I have been unemployed after being ‘separated’ from my former employer. As months passed, I dedicated myself to helping at my daughter’s school, blogging and my newest venture- I.N.S.P.I.R.E .Though these embraceactivities bring me joy, they are not very lucrative as of now and I had no clue of how I was going to keep my light bill paid to even think about Christmas.

Things are far from perfect for me at this moment in my life right now, but I have never been more joyful. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, just last month I was bugging out about the aforementioned  things and more. But, this month has been a grand experience of the joys of love and family for me;  there are so many things that I can and will be thankful for. If I wait for things to get better or be perfect, I will miss  some of the most wonderful things that are taking place right now for myself as well as my loved ones.

In her Tedtalk, The Power of Believing that You Can Improve, Professor Carol Dweck motivates us all to relish in The Power of Yet– where we are in a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset.  She encourages us to stand firm in the face of adversity and to put more effort in the things that we do.  She persuades us to engage with our errors so that we learn from them and correct them. She rallies us all to praise the process of improvement instead of allowing ourselves to be beaten down by life’s circumstances.

banksyThough last year was better for me economically, I seem to be so much happier with the direction that my life is taking. Yes, I miss being able to indulge in some yummy pumpkin bread and build a gingerbread house,  but I would not trade my freedom to create and be myself at all times for anything in this world.  Though I have less financial independence, I am not excluded from being productive in my household and community. My separation empowered me to breathe life into situations that I did not have time to nurture because I worked. I have the ability to be more involved in my daughter’s life and the luxury of writing all day if I so desired. I have been presented with the best opportunities to bring change in my neighborhood, and honey I am seizing each and every moment.

Basing our happiness on temporal things will always keep us in a rut. When we decide to be content no matter our situations we thrive! Shine on urbanites! 

* Images found on http://www.google.com

 

 

 

First Sight ( A Poem)

Just like I often do

He stood there, using his  fingers

Checking titles

“Anything good?”

I asked

“It’s all in what you call good”

He replied

Something to ponder on

And it increased my curiosity

So I pumped the gas

And revved up the conversation

with tremendous velocity

“Where are you from”

Let me guess….Brooklyn”

“Nah, nah”

He responded

Honestly, it didn’t matter

Because really

the truth is

I’m happy that you’re here

and that you dig books

You have a beautiful soul

and not too bad on looks

But back to your spirit

I think we may connect

Because beyond that baseball cap

Lies a man with intellect

Nothing could be more attractive

With you, I could probably talk all night

I may need to clean my glasses

or did we unite

At first sight

Diamonds are 4ever Act 1 Scene 1

It’s in a black person’s soul to rock dat gold. Spend yo whole life tryna rock dat ice. – Kanye West

Setting: Present day urban America

Characters:

Elizabeth Wolfe– A young lady in her mid-20’s

Daniel Amherst– A young man in his early 20’s

Tyrone Jenkins– A teenager

Scene opens with Elizabeth Wolfe sitting in a a chair with a lamp illuminating the room shining in the far left corner of stage. She is writing while gazing out of the window.

Elizabeth Wolfe: What is the price of a happy life? What is one willing to pay for it? Is integrity truly a virtue? Who judges virtue and who could possibly be virtuous in such a cruel world?

She leans back stretching her arms above her head yawning. Two young men, Daniel and Tyrone walk in rambunctiously from stage right. Elizabeth, startled, opens the window to see what the commotion is all about. She seems to recognize the two young men, she grimaces and sits down. Daniel noticing the opened window nudges Tyrone and points up.

Daniel– Ay yo Lizzie I know you jus ain dis me like dat!

Tyrone snickers as he amps Daniel up with his gyrations.

Elizabeth sits in silence.

Daniel: (rappin’) Frizzie Lizzie let’s get buzy. When I roll thru da hood baby come get wit me.

Tyrone– Na’ na’ G. She on dat Erykah Badu. An’ she can call Tyrone.

Elizabeth (gets in the chair on her knees. She sticks her head out the window): If ya’ll broke bustas don’t get from under my window.

Daniel: Whatchu gone do?

Tyrone: Cry prolly

Elizabeth: Imma call da zoo and tell em I found Caesar, they betta come get em before he try an take ova the world agin.

Tyrone falls to the ground and begins to laugh. Dramatically he rolls on the ground pointing at Daniel.

Daniel: Dats how ya feel tho

Elizabeth: Jus like dat.

Elizabeth pulls her head back into the window. She pulls the window down comes down the flight of stairs and exits stage left.

Tyrone gets up off of the ground and dusts himself off. He puts his hand on Daniel’s back and shakes his head. Daniel pushes Tyrone’s hand off of him.

Daniel: You think dats funny my guy. Lettin’ dat uppity hoe talk to me like dat?

Tyrone: It’s all fun and games. We did start it tho.

Daniel: YOU SO WEAK IT’S PATHETIC!

Daniel pushes Tyrone to the ground.

End scene