What’s In A Name?

January 24, 2010

This entry started in my mind and journal as one that talked about the power of names; naming ourselves; what we allow others to call us and why.  I thought about asking us to investigate the titles we hold tightly as if our every breath was dependent upon what’s written on a plastic name tag.  Then I thought about asking what we might call ourselves if we named ourselves to fit our character; our habits, our desires.  I was thinking about challenging us to consider what others call us and whether we ought to allow them to continue.  Then I nixed those  ideas and made room for something else…..here it is:

Got a new name today.  One that speaks to who I am.  One that reminds me of the brilliance placed inside of me even before my Mama knew I was nestled in the cradle of her womb.

Got a new name today.  One that makes me stand up straight and walk with the stride of African queens; dark and regal.

Got a new name today.  One that helps me dry the tears of the broken-hearted and laugh out loud without worrying about what others might think.

Got a new name today.  One that humbles me with every breath and coats my tongue with gratitude.

What’s your name?

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Say It Today

January 17, 2010

 In less than twenty days into this new year, I’ve attended a memorial service for my aunt where people spoke….and she couldn’t hear and an incredible retirement celebration for my husband where he was able to smell his flowers….SO

Say It Today.  You know that thing you’ve always wanted to say.  That thing you always felt like you’ll have time to say.  That thing that is burning inside you.  Say It Today.  Don’t wait another minute. 

Don’t worry about saying it the “right” way.  Say it today.  Don’t worry about what people will think of you after you say it.  Don’t waste another moment fearful that someone will stop liking you if you say it.  You haven’t got the time to think about whether or not you’ll be misunderstood or if people will “get it.”  Just say it today!

One of my favorite Bible verses says, “I tell you,” he replied, “If they keep quiet the rocks will cry out.” (Luke 19:40).  What this says to me is that “it” has to be spoken. 

Someone is waiting to hear what you have to say.  The someone might even be YOU( yes, talking to yourself is allowed.)  Don’t take for granted that people know how you feel.  SAY IT TODAY! 

Now, don’t get it twisted.  I’m not talking about going around getting folks told off.  I’m talking about taking the time to share those things in your heart, from your heart, that if today were your last day, you would want said.  Get it?

So, why are you still reading?  SAY IT TODAY!

Re-Write

January 9, 2010

You are writing your future each day; so make it the BEST story  possible. 

I just shared this thought in an email to my 10 year old grandGodson (my Godson’s son) and it began to resonate with me.

So many times we spend time admiring the accomplishments of others or wondering at their failures.  Many of us are still punishing ourselves for past transgressions that God has forgiven and others have forgotten.  It is becoming clearer to me each day that all we really have is this very moment.  Before you rush past that thought, go back, take a deep breath and read it again…all we have is this very moment. 

With each thought and deed we are writing the story of our lives.  Our thoughts define our internal lives – the way we think, what we believe is true; while our deeds show up in the lives we live in the world with others.  It’s not Mama’s story or Daddy’s story.  It has nothing to do with your husband, wife, lover, friend or ex.  YOU are the main character.  It is YOUR story. 

You might be asking yourself how you end up in such a story?  Before you start making a list of all the people, situations and circumstances you think are responsible for your current reality, take a minute to consider what you’ve written.  How are you living each day?

Do you have your own “pen” or have you allowed someone else to do the writing for you?  Have you become a footnote in your own life?  I don’t know about you, but I’ve often overlooked the footnotes when reading.  It’s something about their place and size that make them seem less important than the title of the book.

Take this moment to decide YOU are worth being the main character in a story YOU write for yourself.  Before you get carried away, it isn’t about thinking the world revolves around you.  It is about understanding your own self-worth in relation to others and recognizing you aren’t worth much to anyone else, if you’re not worth much to yourself. (SPECIAL NOTE TO MOMS:  I know we’ve been encouraged and supported in putting our children first.  This statement goes for us as well.  You can’t be the best mom, if you’re not the best YOU.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this at another time.)

Here’s a little something for us to do together:  I love those exercises that have you write your own obituary or memorial tribute.  In the next few days write yours.   It doesn’t have to go on for pages and pages; a paragraph or two will do just fine.  Read it to someone who knows you AND isn’t afraid to tell you the truth and see if they agree.

If you don’t like how yours is coming out, that’s what this moment is all about, remember?  Begin the RE-WRITE!

Preparing For NEW

December 30, 2009

Read a couple of things this morning during my quiet time/prayer/meditation that hit me like a ton of bricks.  Because I believe there are no coincidences, it became quickly clear that both of these readings had been especially brought to me to prepare me for the New Year.

The first reading comes from a book entitled, “Until Today” by Iyanla Vanzant and talked about PURPOSE.  During one of her book readings/signings years ago she said something that has stayed with me and returns to me when I need it most:  “God has a plan.  That’s ALL you need to know.”   For me this was huge because I am one of those folks who wants to know what the plan is (and yes, I recognize that this is a part of my trust, faith, patience issue…I’m working on it – LOL.)  The reading this morning discussed OUR purpose within the plan and how few of us take the time to listen for our purpose.  No wonder our plans don’t go as planned.  It is not our plan that matters.

The second reading is from Proverbs 31:8-9.  From the New International Version of The Bible it reads this way:  “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Sounds like PURPOSE and PLAN.

As you prepare for a new year,  cast off all that binds and blocks you.  Throw away those things that no longer serve or fit you.  Make up your mind to be on the lookout for your purpose or if you have been blessed to already know it, to walk boldly in it at all times.  Stop devising plans and worrying over their execution.  Wait and the plan will be revealed.  I’ll be joining you.

Wishing You A Purpose-Realized New Year!

“Oh, What A Gift!”

December 25, 2009

Before I get started, let me be clear.  There is NO Christmas without CHRIST.  I mean a not so even close look at the name gives it away, right?

Oh What A Gift….LOVE – unconditional.  HOPE – unbelieveable.  JOY – incomprehensible.  PEACE – undeniable.  All this because God sent us His Son.  So what if calendars were different back then and December 25th isn’t the exact date.  Christmas isn’t a man/woman thing.  It’s a Spirit thing.  Don’t miss all that the Spirit of this season brings by bickering over technicalities.  Christmas; the REAL Christmas (not the one advertised right after Halloween) is bigger than all that.

I know.  It’s 2009 and it isn’t politically correct to talk so openly about Christ  – even at CHRISTmas (go figure.)  Fortunately, I never signed on the PC dotted line.

If you haven’t noticed, the past year has been a little short on LOVE, HOPE, JOY and PEACE for many.  You can’t find any of these gifts at Nordstrom’s or Macy’s.  No Personal Shopper or Secret Santa can deliver these.  These gifts cannot be purchased with coupons of gift cards.  There’s only one way to guarantee receiving these gifts, and that’s inviting a baby, born to a Virgin in a manger, who died on a Cross to rise again, to take up residence in your heart.  No bows, ribbon, tinsel or garland necessary.

This year more than any other in my adult life, I am grateful for THE GIFT that guarantees LOVE.  HOPE.  JOY. PEACE.  No worries on not being able to pay them off in time to place them under a tree.  No dodging collection agencies in their attempts to repossess.  There is no threat of foreclosure on these gifts.

So, if you and your family are fortunate enough this year to share presents purchased from your favorite shopping spots, be sure to bring home the real Christmas GIFT…..and share them.  They multiple when you do.

Merry Christmas!

Mother of a Black Prince

December 18, 2009

Okay, something else besides my son can be on my heart…but today it is not.

Months ago when the announcement was made that FINALLY Disney was doing an animated film with a Black Princess, I was overjoyed.  No longer would our voice come out of lions (and I did LOVE The Lion King) and hyenas.  A REAL Disney princess would be Black.

So what that it came 20 years too late for me to buy a comforter set for my oldest niece (I refused to have blond, blue-eyed, princesses be the first thing she saw every morning or the last thing she saw each night.)  My joy at the coming of The Princess and The Frog soon dissolved and turned into disgust and disappointment.  WHAT!!??? No Black Prince!?

Disney – SHAME ON YOU.  Every other princess had a prince who looked like her.  Why not Tiana?  As the mother of a Black Prince, this ticked me off and brought into question whether I would EVER give Disney any more of my money.

Guess it wouldn’t be so easy to criminalize our sons if the world thought of them as Princes, huh?  Well, anyone with a Black daughter, granddaughter, niece or cousin planning to take them to see The Princess and The Frog, be sure to have a direct conversation with her about why Disney chose to disregard and disrespect our Black sons – her Prince.  For those of you with little Black Princes of your own, I wouldn’t even take them.  Why show them a beautiful, self-determined, intelligent Black princess who doesn’t choose them?

Note:  The above was written before I saw the movie~  In honor of my feelings, which didn’t change after I saw the movie – I skipped the all important first weekend, not wanting to lend my dollars to its #1 status at the box office.  Just hope it doesn’t take Disney 75 more years to bring a Black prince to the screen. 

What this reminds me of, and what I want to share with each of you, is that it is up to us, to treat our sons as princes.  To pour love and confidence into each of them each day.  To give them the power to hold there heads high, despite what the statistics say about them and their future. To stop telling them what they will never be.   Let’s be sure to let our daughters know that our Black princes are worthy of their time and love.  No frog kissing required.

One more thing.  Following the plot, I see why they had to have a prince….AS IF HE COULDN’T HAVE BEEN AN AFRICAN PRINCE!!  Again, SHAME ON YOU DISNEY.

STOP and START

December 6, 2009

I couldn’t wait until our usual time together on Fridays.  Just saw the movie, “Precious” and we better STOP!

STOP judging and blaming.  STOP allowing ourselves to imagine we are so different from each other based on the texture of our hair, the melanin (or lack thereof) in our skin, where we live or with whom.

We better STOP ignoring the cries of our children; cries that look like anger, defiance, drug and alcohol abuse, promiscuity, apathy, homocide and suicide.  We better STOP assuming every pregnant teenager has a boyfriend and find out if she and her baby have the same father.

STOP shaking and talking about what a shame it is when we see mothers yelling and cussing at their 2 year olds.  STOP pretending that our sisterfriends are  just “tired” when they sit in darkened rooms, staring at TV sets for weeks.  STOP ignoring our own pain.

START loving (first yourself in all your glorious imperfection.)  START healing.  START listening and helping.  START letting your light lead someone else out of their terrifying darkness.  START loving children and the child inside every adult you see. 

Who knows, you may just fool around and save the lives of those generations we call lost.

P.S.  See the MOVIE!  And tell every mother, father, grandmother, teacher, social worker, teenager……you know.

Blood Don’t Make You Family

December 4, 2009

I was born into an incredible village; comprised of blood relatives and people born from other family trees.  Many times in my life it was the non-blood members of my family who loved and nurtured me; supported and encouraged me.  For this village, I am immensely grateful and can truly say that anything wonderful I have ever done or been is because of them.

I was fortunate enough to understand, at an early age, that biology didn’t guarantee relationship.  I embraced my village of non-bloods and added to their numbers throughout the years.  In my mind and spirit there is only one family and whether or not we shared ancestors makes no difference to me.

When people who didn’t understand the depth and breadth of family the way I did, complained to me about a disappointment they’d experienced because of a relative, I would utter what I found to be truth:  Blood Don’t Make You Family.  I often said that one day I’d write a book with this title to help folks get over what they felt they were owed by folks just because they had been randomly selected to share genealogy.  It would share the importance of relationships and the gift of receiving love.  It would take the time to  help us put down the unrealistic expectations we place on others just because of shared DNA and the absolute joy and peace that can be yours when you build a village of like-minded and like-spirited people; people who will lovingly go with on this journey with you.

My biological parents had 2 children.  I’m the oldest.  But MY FAMILY consists of an older brother I loved dearly for the 7 years I knew him before his untimely death; sisters I’ve met along the way who “get me” and love me anyway; a younger brother who always makes me smile even though we only see/talk to each other a couple of times a year…and did I mention the sons and daughters I did not have to labor with?  I’m “Auntie” , while my biological sister has no children and “Iya – our family word for grandmother” to grandchildren while the only child I gave birth to has yet to start his family.

Blood Don’t Make You Family.  So the next time you find yourself angry or disappointed because the “leaves” on your “tree” are unable to give you something you need or desire, open your heart to the people placed in your life.  There are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, cousins, nieces and nephews waiting for you.

365 Days to Thank You

November 27, 2009

I know the story of the Pilgrims and the help they received from the “Indians” that enabled them to survive their first winter in the “new” world.

Oprah talked to the masses years ago about the wonders and healing powers of gratitude and millions rushed out to purchase journals to scribble their thanks each day.

Some of us who kinda get the part of the holiday that has nothing to do with turkey and cranberry sauce participate in the pre-dinner ritual of having everyone present share one thing for which he/she is grateful BEFORE eating his/herself into a turkey coma!

But there are 365 days (366 for Leap Years) to say THANK YOU. It just seems ridiculous to save it all for the 4th Thursday in November.

Let’s be THANKFUL everyday AND take the time to thank someone.
Look the salesperson or checker in the eye and THANK them, particularly today when most are out stimulating an economy that’s abused us all royally (let me stop…that’s a conversation for another day.) THANK your parents or folks who served in their place for some life lesson or experience that helped shape you. You can even thank those parents that fell short of your needs and/or expectations. They taught you what NOT to be/do. THANK your child(ren) teacher. He/she shows up every day, sometimes unable to do what he/she signed up for – to teach – because so many of our children arrive in classrooms each day needing mommy, daddy, nurse, psychologist, etc. that it make teaching the ABCs almost impossible.

THANK your spouses and partners. As terrific as you think you are sometimes you can make those who love you answer “YES” to the Southwest question, “Wanna get away?”

During this recession (which by the way, I heard on the news a couple of nights ago is over – my memo must be lost in the mail because it is still alive and well at my house) I’ve even felt a twinge of gratitude while paying bills.

So, that’s enough of blog reading for today…go say THANK YOU to somebody!

From The Heart of a Black Mother

November 20, 2009

24 years ago I arrived home to my small, one bedroom apartment with an 8lbs. 4 1/2 oz. 20in. long beautiful baby boy  Having skipped the ultrasound that would have revealed the baby’s sex (I wanted to be surprised) it was at the moment of his birth that I was overcome with JOY – a healthy baby and TERROR – a BLACK, male child in America!  Just how strong did God think I was? 

He grew strong and healthy surrounded by unconditional love.  I parented wide awake and intentionally, knowing that each moment we experienced would become a memory for him.  He thrived. While I taught him to play “patty cake”, I was preparing for the day I’d have to  tell him that the world feared his greatness and strength and would come at him with a full frontal attack to destroy him, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I wondered how much easier it must be white  for white mothers(raising white sons)…they could just let their little boys pretend to be caped superheros and one day dream of being President (he was born in 1985 BEFORE we sat in the Oval Office and I didn’t even dream that for him.) 

It’s not enough for Black mothers (or other mothers raising Black sons, but that’s a discussion for another day) raising Black sons to teach them their ABCs, how to say the magic words, “please” and “thank you”.  Black sons have to be taught how to maintain their dignity and self-worth when the world around them takes every opportunity to dehumanize them.  It’s not enough to teach them to say grace before a meal or their prayers before bed.  Black sons must be taught the strategies for staying alive WHEN (that’s right WHEN not IF) they are stopped by the police for driving, walking, breathing….

My Black son has grown to be a well rounded, loved and lovable young man.  He was a scholar-athlete (emphasis was ALWAYS on the scholar part in our house) in high school.  He graduated from college and is gainfully employed.  He pays his taxes, goes to church on Sunday and loves his Mama….

And a couple of weeks ago while exiting his job (in suit and tie), getting into his car, he was followed and stopped by a white police officer.  There was no speeding, no expired tags, no broken tail lights or illegal turns.  As a matter of fact the officer was in the parking lot when my son left his job and got into his car WITH A KEY!

The JOY and TERROR combo showed up again when he called me to tell me about it moments after it occured.  JOY – he was alive and on his way home after an encounter with a police officer and TERROR – at the thought of how it could’ve gone.

Maybe that’s why Black mothers raising Black sons, pray with such passion and consistency.  We know from the time they leave the safety of our wombs that we can no longer protect them.  We know that no matter how well we raise them, how wonderful they are as human beings, they will become feared and hunted. 

All I had to give him when he called angry and frustrated was my love.  Black mothers, you better make sure you have enough to give your Black sons when they call.