Archive for February, 2010

“There’s No Me Without You”

February 28, 2010

It’s Saturday evening.  I’ve been working all day, but didn’t want to go to bed tonight without sharing this with you.  This was written this morning  at 5:02am; clearly it was on my heart~

My mama taught me not to talk behind a person’s back; that if you had something to say to someone, you said it to his/her face.

Well, this week “in the village” talking behind a person’s back turned into taking jabs at each other via the airwaves, both radio and television.   This week, I was exposed to two of  Black America’s considers Special Sons – Tavis Smiley and Tyler Perry take jabs at two of Black America’s other Special Sons – Rev. Al Sharpton and Spike Lee.

It seems like the 2 Ts either missed the lesson my mama gave, ignored it or simply forgot  the lack of integrity exhibited in talking behind someone’s back. You can google Sharpton and Smiley to hear what went on.  I warn you it leaves you feeling the need to bathe.  Although I am totallly sided (see what happens when somebody in the village acts out, by nature, the rest of the village takes sides) with the “jabbed at brothers”, I am getting an exercise in forgiveness for the “brothers jabbing”.

We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.  We can’t afford to forget that many of the success and comforts we enjoy came at the pain, suffering, sacrifice and even death of someone else. I wonder if Tavis stopped to think that if there was no Rev. Al, what he has been able to accomplish would have been even more difficult.   And where was Tyler when Spike was financing “She’s Gotta Have It” with his credit card?

There’s room in the village for ALL of our talents, ideas and opinions.  There’s room for us to disagree but it is unacceptable for us to be disagreeable ESPECIALLY at a time like this.  On the one hand we have too much for which to be thankful:  The 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue address of The Obamas, and too much work to be done:  The rebuilding of New Orleans’ 9th Ward and Haiti; finding solutions to the devastating violence in our communities, the correcting of a public school system that has failed too many of our children, etc., etc.

As I watched and listened to Tyler Perry accept the NAACP Image Award, The Chairman’s Award no less, telling us about the impact of the recent loss of his mother AND taking a low blow (I know why they call it this because I felt like somebody had sucker-punched me below the belt when I heard his ’40 Acre and A Mule’ comment) at his brother, Spike, it was difficult to believe he even understood the honor he said he felt at receiving the award!

For someone who keeps telling us that his body of work is about healing hurts, forgiveness and redemption, I wouldn’t have known it by his actions/words last night.  Maybe he ought to go see a Tyler Perry Movie.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my heart, here’s what I took away from being exposed to all this in-fighting between my brothers this week:

1-  We are not all the same nor should we be.  What makes us so great is our diversity.

2-  We need to work harder at celebrating our similarities and stop looking to attack each other over our differences.  Your story does not negate the story of another.

3-  The brilliance of the good we do is dimmed when we throw mud at each other.

No matter how different you think you are from that other brother or sister, take a moment to acknowledge our commonality as Blackfolks in America.  Much of what you see in our attitude and behavior is our way of surviving and thriving in hostile territory.  Our genius was born in response to getting somebody’s foot off our necks.  Our creativity built pyramids and has the answer to our ecological ills (SHOUT OUT TO BROTHER VAN JOHNSON; OUR “GREEN” BROTHER.) 

With all that we are, we have to find a way to do better than we did this week.  In the words of Brother King (Rodney not Martin) “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

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Lead The Way

February 19, 2010

The last few weeks the theme of leadership has shown up in my conversations with folks from various walks of life.  I had a conversation with a young college student who wanted to interview me on the role of culture in the helping professions; my beloved Marcus Book Club had a lively and thought-provoking conversation on the impact of Dr. MLK, Jr.’s death on America and what leadership has or has not been since April 4, 1968; yesterday a colleague and I talked about the role of parents’ leadership efforts to effect change in the educational lives of their children.

All of this leadership talk got me to thinking….What is leadership?  How are leaders made?  Where are we all going?

I said I was thinking; not that I have any answers and certainly if I did, they would be answers from my perspective.  So here are a few things that have been rolling around in my head the last several days:

1.  Being your own leader (with God’s guidance) has to be first.  Finding a path for yourself prevents you from getting lost and/or following other lost folks.

2.  Know where your leader is going.  Vision is a wonderful thing and necessary for achievement and success; however, leaders ought to have a plan to go along with that vision.  A leader without a plan is just somebody walking around.

3.  Consider how the leader became a leader.  Was someone outside of the  group assigned by someone else outside the impacted group?  Did the leader spring up from the ranks of the people or bring gifts, skills, talent and a heart for the people he/she will be leading from some other station in life.

4.  Leaders who don’t understand that to lead is to serve are dangerous.  If the people being led aren’t better off, to some degree, than they were before the leader came, was he/she really a leader or just somebody who wanted to be in front.

5.  Is the leader creating an environment that develops and nurtures new leaders?  One of the issues I have with “leaders” is that they act as if they will lead forever.

6.  STOP insisting that leaders be “perfect.”  Time and time again this has proven detrimental for a cause or movement.  No man or woman is perfect.  They were created the same way the folks being led were created and often have the same fears, limitations and challenges. 

7.  Don’t worship leaders; support their efforts and work toward the good of the whole and not individual comforts and rewards.  True leaders know that leading is not about being popular (even with the people you are leading.)  Leaders are often alone and have feelings of isolation.  Leaders have to make difficult decisions and that usually makes someone angry.  When your identify a true leader, whether you agree with where they are leading or choose to follow, have some compassion.

8.  Leadership is often thrust upon the leader.  If you think for a moment about any task that has been given to you, remember that there is sometimes resent, uncertainty around the task and the folks that expect so much of you.

9.  Are leaders born or are they created?  I think somewhere in the middle lies the answer.  Are there “born” leaders who never led?  Absolutely.  Leaders get the choice to step into their leadership or not.  Situations and circumstances often create leaders….did Rosa Parks want to spur a movement or just sit down on a bus?

10.  Lead closest to home.  I am often very skeptical of taking leadership from someone who’s “house is not in order.”  I don’t mean, the standard of unrealistic expectation that is often placed on leaders, I’m talking about someone so far away from doing what they are asking me to do that it becomes laughable.  If you are a parent; allow your children to see you as a leader in your own home.  If you are an educator, your students ought to be inspired to lead by being in your presence daily.

Leaders shine light in dark places and help us to find the courage to go into scary places.  So, LEAD THE WAY!

Love Without Heart-shaped Boxes of Chocolate

February 13, 2010

Dear Hearts,

If this weekend finds you home wondering why you are alone or has you wondering what made you love the person sleeping next to you in the first place, give yourself a break. This  holiday, even if you can call Valentine’s Day a holiday, has a way of making us feel like we’re missing out on something if overpriced flowers don’t start arriving. 

How you choose to spend this weekend is all up to YOU!  Even if you’re in a relationship that makes you smile, YOU get to decide your mood this Valentine’s Day.  I say, choose to show yourself some love!

To do that you first have to find out what makes you feel loved.  If you have no idea, not having a date for Valentine’s Day is hardly the issue. 

I don’t know about you, but surrounding myself with love always helps me.  Before I remarried sixteen years ago, a group of girlfriends and myself sent each other Valentine’s cards that talked about friendship and  our loving hearts.  Sometimes we took ourselves to a movie or ordered Chinese and spent the evening listening to Motown tunes and watching our favorite movies.  Far from the sad picture of women sorry that they didn’t have a man that this scene may conjure in the minds of many, it was a night of celebration and sisterhood.  We CHOSE to have a good time on Valentine’s Day date-less or not. 

Love comes in many forms.  None of them are in the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate that many of us just feel guilty for eating anyway (smile.)  Love is being able to laugh with someone or at yourself.  Love is knowing when to allow the tears of a lonely sistah to fall in silence and knowing when to hand her a Kleenex and tell her to blow her nose.  Love is helping someone see the best in themselves for who they are and not who does or does not ask them to dinner on Feb. 14th.

This year, like during my un-married years, I mailed Valentine’s Day cards to my sistahs!  Because that’s love.

So this weekend MAKE love….not the physical kind, but the kind that warms hearts and brings a smile to the face of someone who thinks that the world has forgotten about them.   You’ll be pleased to discover that what you receive is better than any flower that will die in the next 7 – 10 days or chocolate that comes in heart-shaped boxes.

Making Dreams Come True

February 8, 2010

Greetings,

When I started “On My Heart” I committed to posting a new entry each Friday.  This was to re-focus my writing efforts and to be consistent in my conversations with each of you.  Well, I’m late this week, because I am making my dream of finishing revisions on my first novel come true!  So, if I miss a Friday or two over the next several months or so, just know that I’m up to something even greater that I hope to share with you all as soon as possible!

Dreaming is wonderful.  I feel it is necessary to a worthwhile and productive life.  Dreaming allows us the chance to move outside of our current circumstances and into a place where we can feel freedom often denied in our day to day lives.  Dreaming without discipline is self-indulgent and wasteful.  Making dreams come true takes sacrifice and discipline.  Making dreams come true can be inconvenient and sometimes physically uncomfortable.  You may miss out on some things in the short term, as making dreams come true is all about the longterm.

So, what do you dream for yourself?  If you can’t answer this, it is time to press the  STOP button on your life and spend some time allowing yourself the luxury.  I’ve found that just having a dream can help you get through those rough times that are known to come to human beings.  Just knowing that you were created for something larger than the job you go to daily, or the trivial chaos we happen upon from time to time is enough to move us to our dreams.

Several years ago, I worked as an independent consultant for a health and wellness company, Warm Spirit, Inc.  One of my tag lines in sharing the way I worked my business had to do with moving folks toward their “dreamed about” life.  It is time.  Dust off those long forgotten dreams you had before the children, career and mortgage or dream some new dreams.  Take the time to listen to the dream of someone else, encourage the dreams of your children. 

Make room in your life for your dreams.  I am now budgeting my time to include 2 hours of writing daily.  Yes, there are still only 24 hours in a day.  I just looked at what I was doing with my waking hours and discarded a few things (like watching back-to-back episodes of Criminal Minds or NCIS on the USA Channel) that weren’t helping to make my dreams come true.

What are you dreaming?