Return to Peace

I had to make a really hard decision this past weekend. Before I could come to a conclusion, I had to understand some important pieces to ensure that I exhausted all of the possibilities within my power.

When I was younger (childhood through my twenties) a number of my decisions and reactions were based upon what others would think of me.  I wondered what people would say or do or how I’d be perceived. And as a result, the decisions I made left me with more anxiety and smiling faces that surely shared their real two cents outside of my presence. As I’ve grown into a woman, not only by age, but more importantly by experience, I realize that decisions are still hard to make, and seeking wise counsel helps.

Here’s the thing about wise counsel though, in order for it to be WISE you have to evaluate those from whom you choose to seek counsel. If and when there is a decision to be made that involves another person, it is MOST BENEFICIAL to have a conversation with that person FIRST.  Why first? This person deserves to know what is happening and have their say about whatever the issue may be. If you don’t converse with them FIRST, you give your counsel the power to use an imbalanced perspective, which sways them to take on your perspective, leaving you pumped up because your emotions have gained momentum, and a following (when the real issue could simply have been a miscommunication between two people.)

After FIRST having the conversation with the person involved, there are a few questions to ask yourself.

1. What does my counsel have to gain or to lose from the advice he/she gives me?

2. Does this counsel share my faith and instruct me to pray and listen for a word from God to confirm or dispel the counsel he/she has given me?

3. How does this counsel feel about my growth in life? Does he/she want to keep me at the level I’m at for their benefit or does he/she push me to grow even if it causes me discomfort to do so?

4. Is my counsel causing me to hold on to my past or challenging me to move forward into my bright future?

I’ve lived long enough to know when someone has been give wise or unwise counsel regarding me. I can see in the way they move, I can hear it in the way they talk and respond. If the counsel is unwise, I understand that the cardinal rule has been violated, ” If and when there is a decision to be made that involves another person, it is most beneficial to have a conversation with that person FIRST.” The counsel has already swayed the mind and behaviors of the one who sought them out.

So back to my big decision…

Where did all of this leave me?

It left me with enough information to make an informed decision. It left me with enough space to re-evaluate the mental strength of a person who could turn a concern into a complaint and a complaint into a decision while never having had a conversation with the person to whom it pertained. It left me with time to grieve the decision I had to make before I ever made it. It left me with the peace Jesus left with me. It left me knowing, trusting and believing that God always replaces “good” with “best.” It left me accepting that the counsel given was WISE for this situation because it gave me what I needed to become better.  It left me with the courage to walk away…and that is when all of the uncertain anxiousness “left me.”

“I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

To Whom This May Concern:

I have questions. I always have questions.

There is an issue with public schooling. Why, in this country, is it set up to fail?  I’ve heard a bunch of different reasons over the years. They range from lack of parental involvement, poor teacher training, students deemed incapable of learning, the post traumatic stress students are under due to the war zones called neighborhoods that they reside in.  I don’t necessarily consider myself a conspiracy theorist, but as I spend more time in the system, my hypothesis is proven time and time again.  I don’t know if this was the original objective of the public school system or if there were masterminds who said, “let’s sabotage schools to obtain world domination!” Here are my thoughts, if you’re interested.

There is a such thing called “social stratification.” The upper class must maintain a lower class in order to remain the upper class. Because of this, society has to produce a lower class. It cannot be called, “Lower Class Production,” so it is masked as law that serves as a double edged sword; designed to seemingly advocate yet subtly assault, simultaneously. People are needed on the floor of retail/department stores to make its owner the wealth needed to maintain his/her upper class status.

What becomes the deciding factor for your social stratification? Some will argue race, gender, inherited wealth or lack there of. I argue that the deciding factor is mentality. I do not negate the legitimacy of the aforementioned factors, but I believe mentality is a factor commonly overlooked because the root of mentality digs up a history of effects that have yet to be dealt with.

If you think you are beaten, you are; If you think you dare not, you won’t;

If you like to win, but don’t think you can, It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost; For out in the world you’ll find Success begins with a fellow’s will It’s all in a state of mind.

For many a game is lost Ere even a play is run, And many a coward fails Ere even his work is begun.

Think big and your deeds will grow, Think small and you’ll fall behind; Think that you can and you will; It’s all in a state of mind.

If you think you are out classed, you are; You’ve got to think high to rise; You’ve got to be sure of your self before You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go To the stronger or faster man, But sooner or later, the man who wins Is the fellow who thinks he can.

I am only scraping the surface here. There is more to come. Soon.

Climbing Out of Boxes

What do you do when tradition stifles your artistry?… When the daily humdrum of routine life emits a high pitch bore that makes you grab your head and scream for the monotony to STOP? When words like “I get out, I get out of all your boxes
I get out, you can’t hold me in these chains/I’ll get out/Father free me from this bondage/Knowin’ my condition/Is the reason I must change” pervade your thoughts like neurotransmitters? How do you face a bland tomorrow with fidelity to the creative creature inside rejecting its endemic repression?

I imagine that this is a fight that I am suppose to lose so that I win. I imagine that surrender to the Creator’s creativity surfing inside His creature is a “dying to self” decision where the battle ONLY manifests when the inevitable is suppressed to assimilate for the acceptance of fickle beings with capricious heart conditions.

Is this a vocabulary lesson? Nope.

This is the onset of an unleashing. This is a “because I felt like it” fro, gold Adidas, stretch pants with a Wu-Tang baby tee while teaching teachers how to tap into the attention span of teenagers who care nothing about you or what you have to say unless you ask questions that make them curious and spat info that makes them tick, literally … from the pit of a university lecture hall.

This is the “oh shit!” moment that nay sayers refuse to regard. The essence of a “come forth.” This is the “under the influence of what is Greater than the hemispheres encased between my ears in submission to words worthiest of my hearing and doing.” The absolute attribute to a reintroduction of myself, to myself, post death of pimped butterfly. Lathered in faith; dripping purpose. I am exposed.

I won’t support your lie no more/I won’t even try no more/If I have to die, oh Lord/That’s how I choose to live…Oh, just get out/Of this social purgatory/Just get out/All these traditions are a lie/Just get out/Superstition killing freedom/Knowin’ my condition/Is the reason I must die.

Lyrics by Lauryn Hill, “I Get Out”

Literacy: An Issue, “Literally”

Our society has an issue. No, I did not just come to that conclusion, but I did just come to understand the root of many systemic education issues we face today as a people.

As a child, I remember my aunt laminating and cutting out a colorful abundance of letters that ultimately spelled out, “Reading Is Fundamental.”  Because the “R.I.F” campaign slogan was plastered on a myriad of bulletin boards throughout Chicago public elementary school hallways in the late 80’s, I guessed that the word fundamental meant important. And according to my online dictionary app, my use of context clues was pretty accurate. Fundamental is defined as forming a necessary base or core; of central importance; affecting or relating to the essential nature of something or the crucial point about an issue.  Needless to say, the slogan rang true then and remains true to this very day…READING IS FUNDAMENTAL.

The term literacy means the ability to read and write.  It can, therefore, be inferred that the term, illiteracy is defined as the inability to read and write. The unspoken gray area that is not disclosed within the definition is the extent to which a person is deemed literate or illiterate.  So I have yet another definition for you. To be functionally illiterate means  to lack the literacy necessary for coping with most jobs and many everyday situations. 

DISCLAIMER: Please understand that when I speak of functional illiteracy that it is not a knock against African-American English (AAE) in which, I am fluent, and treasure dearly as foundational to my cultural heritage.

Now that you have ingested all of the above information, think about our youth.

Reading is still fundamental but is not the past time of choice for a great percentage of our young people. Record companies give recording contracts to functionally illiterate “artists” to make functionally illiterate “hits” with catchy hooks (repetition) and a dance (kinesthetic) to distract its listener from the sporadically inserted grunts and groans upstaged by basic vocabulary that fails to add any words or ideas of substance to improve the literacy of its listener.

I often challenge young people to listen to music that speaks to their future plans and how to accomplish them. With it, I include the caveat, “the artist you choose should use a minimum of five vocabulary words with which you are unfamiliar so that you can learn something new.” Many laugh at my “ridiculous-ness.” This issue is, however, no laughing matter.

To be continued…

Write About What You’re Thinking

I often teach my students to write about what they’re thinking instead of wasting time thinking about what to write. I have more than a few rough drafts that I could have posted this week but I think it’s best to shoot from the hip and see what manifests.

As I write this, I am home midday, midweek due to a a pulled muscle in my lower back. Sitting hurts, laying down is awkward, walking is slow and uncomfortable, but all is not lost. Moments like this remind me of what’s important. Health? Yes. Mobility? Yes. But the first thing that comes to mind is how it took for me to reach for a shirt hanging on the shower curtain rod (hence, pulling the aforementioned lower back muscle) to sit me down so that I could reflect on life and the important things.

Writing is important to me. It, and the grace of God, are the reasons why I do not currently reside in a state penitentiary. Writing is a detoxification process for excessive critical thinkers; a purging of sorts. There are times when I know that I should write, but I think about writing instead and nothing gets resolved. When I write, somewhere between the thoughts pouring from my fingertips and the words that mingle on the page, a resolution seeps through, bursting forth with an aroma of genius that I refuse to take credit for. I simply reply, “Thank You Lord.” It is in that moment; that space in time that I realize that writing is a kinesthetic prayer.  Writing is a conversation between God and I. I come bearing it all on the page and in the midst of the surrender, He speaks.

But don’t take my word for it. Try it out and let me know what happens. Prepare for a miracle.

P.S. I didn’t know where this was headed. He did it AGAIN! Thank You Lord!

How to Kill the Revolution ( a work in progress)

This is a portion of one of my “works in progress.”

IF you kill the children, you kill the revolution. How are our children being killed…mentally, spiritually and physically?

Mentally. Give them what to think. Give them reality shows and videos. Make them believe that it is uncool to read. Make them believe that power lies in money and murder their innocence in the pursuit. Pollute them, corrupt them, make them desire to die. Make dying cool. Make them believe Y.O.L.O to justify the infinite “turn up.” Make them believe that teachers are evil and weed is good. Make them believe that the benefits package that comes with corner employment supersedes the purpose of their lives. Give them Face book pages and Twitter accounts to post “how to kill the revolution” ideas and laugh about it and repost…make them “counterrevolutionaries” and make them believe they did voluntarily.

Confuse them spiritually. Make them medicate their joy and their pain. Make them believe that they don’t have to feel what they don’t want to feel because “Molly” makes everything alright. Make them believe that marijuana is not a gateway drug so that they never ponder if crack was a crack heads first drug of choice. Make them smoke with their elders so they believe that it must be okay. Drown out their intuition with the desire to be cool.  Teach them to lie and finesse so that the world distrusts the likes of their age, gender, race and mindset. Feed them bullshit stanzas backed by a hook and jig and make them meditate on it day and night until it becomes their character. Present the holy book as outdated science fiction so they believe that power lies in the dollar that reads, “In God We Trust.”

If you can achieve the aforementioned goals, they will die. They will kill each other with words or weapons. They will kill themselves. They will kill because they have practiced it. It has become their plight;  their purpose. And they will die to proclaim it. That is how you kill the revolution.

Just before dawn

A preacher once reminded me that God always begins a new thing in the dark. He used midnight as an example.

“The darkest moment of the night is the beginning of a brand new day,” he preached.

My thoughts are there because it’s nightfall and there’s ten thousand feet of snow outside my window! Ok…ten thousand feet is a slight exaggeration but the limitations that the accumulated snow has put on my mobility is real. With a lengthy list of things to do before tomorrow comes, I am far from stir crazy but I am often pulled to sift “mortal metaphors” from such occurrences.

The forecast predicted a winter storm for Chicago, followed by a blizzard ( I had to research the difference between a storm and a blizzard because it looks like a blizzard already). In other words, in addition to the snow that has fallen nonstop today, more snow will fall, the wind will blow at about 45 mph resulting in a “white out” that will hinder visibility causing havoc on road conditions and mobility in a vehicle or on foot.

Being in the midst of this winter wonderland is a blessing (don’t look at the screen like that…hear me out first). I can see the snow, pick it up, eat it, make a snowball, shovel it or fall down in it, if I choose to. I am blessed to be able to do those things whether i do or not. I can feel the cold air on my skin and then run inside my warm apartment to thaw out. I can eat and watch television as I watch the bottom of the screen to see if city government will close schools tomorrow (fingers crossed!).

So though the weather is beautifully dreadful, it forces me to sit still and reflect on not only how blessed I am, but how temporary this condition is. It’s February people! Yes, we may get more snow next month (don’t act brand new…you’ve either lived here all your life or you knew what it was before you moved here) but seasons inevitably change. This blizzard will soon be a memory…it will consume a mere line on a list of conditions you’ve survived. The caveat is that you have to hang on now, to add it to the list later. I’ve been told that when you can’t hold on, hang on…either way, don’t let go.

Sooner than you think, the smell of Spring will fill the air.  Anticipate it. Expect it. When the storm is at its worst, just know that it is time to look forward to your new season, your new day, your new beginning. #newmercy #newgrace