I am better today than I was yesterday

I’m not perfect. I never will be. But I am working everyday to make myself better today then yesterday. ~Intentionallyrefined.com

I have been listening to orators lately in an attempt to uplift myself. My heart is breaking because of my relationship with someone who is learning that the company they keep could potentially be their downfall. I remember having to learn this lesson myself. I didn’t see how the company I kept was a direct reflection of where I was headed. And how the people who loved me would indirectly feel the repercussions of my actions or inaction.

One of the orators I listened to was James Baldwin. The speech, “Baldwin speech in Harlem,” via YouTube. At some point in this speech, he recites Langston Hughes’ poem Mother to son. This poem makes me nostalgic. It brings about my memory as a little girl in elementary school when I recited the poem before my class.

To have stumbled upon James Baldwin’s speech, someone I admire reciting a poem that holds a message that speaks to my current situation is like a cool glass of water on a hot summer day. I needed to hear it. Then it happened again the other day at work in the elevator. I’ll call him Mr. Charlie, I heard the words of Mother to Son rise up in a chance encounter.

I had already been given a heads up by my colleague that this elderly man had a whole lot to share about his life. It was the day after he shared his story with my colleague that I cross paths with him. I walking through the lobby. When the doors chimed Mr. Charlie came walking up. I had to ride up seven floors and I thought I’d escape his storytelling. I caught glimpses of him in my peripheral view, his hair speckled with gray. His jaw hung open enough to see the spaces between his teeth. I felt his energy wanting to say something, but unsure if the woman in the cap would even return a good morning.

I knew from my colleague that Mr. Charlie just had a birthday. And that his mini-speech would include how he managed to work fifty-four years. This is what I thought about standing there watching the doors close. I resisted his welcoming energy. I figured I heard it before through my colleague. My pain told me that no matter what anybody said, I still had to go through the process. I didn’t want to hear his story—if I can do it, you can do it.

I continued to steal glimpses of him. I soon succumbed to his energy. I relaxed and I opened up to the energy he was projecting upon me. And he let me have it and that’s when the poem, “Mother to Son,” came flooding back for the second time.

Mr. Charlie, “Good morning! I’ve been working for fifty-four years.”

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor—

Bare.

 

“It’s been hard, but I did it.”

But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

 

“I was working over at X-job for twenty-four years before I came here.”

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

 

“I’ve been here for thirty years.”

Where there ain’t been no light.

So boy, don’t you turn back.

 

“The X-delegate sent me a card!” He pulled it from his breast pocket of his charcoal gray uniform jacket. It was special, he made me see how significant something like this was to a man who had lived a life worthy of sharing with a stranger.

Don’t you set down on the steps

’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

 

“I just had a birthday. I turned XX – years old! Been working for fifty-years. If I can do it-anybody can do it!”

Don’t you fall now—

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

 

“Been working hard – still working hard. God said, show his strength through working.”

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

 

The mind wants what the mind wants. We see what we want to see. We get what we focus on. If, like in my case, you can’t access the best parts of life from within yourself because the pain is crushing you, at least try to receive it from the outside when it meets you where you are.

And what does that mean? Allow the laughter of a child to soothe your pain. Embrace a hug from a stranger. Invite a smile when it’s posed to you. Ease drop on a joke. Share in the happiness of others. Pour in hope and soak yourself in it. And although I am not where I want to be, I know that around the corner I have lessened my pain some way somehow.

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Trying to figure it out one thought at a time…

“It is only the impossible that’s possible for God. He has given over the possible to the mechanics of matter and the autonomy of his creatures.” -Simone Well

W38 Sunset     W38 Sunset   W38 Sunset

A Thought Piece (Written: Friday, May 13, 2016), meant to stir conversation and generate thoughts in others. These and similar thoughts have helped me figure out how I best move about in the world. I may not agree with these thoughts tomorrow. I may not choose to even agree with them once someone has given me a different perspective on them. I choose to grow. I choose to expand my mind and share. I hope not to offend neither by ignorance of the subject or by intention. I have a strong desire to grow. This desire for myself I also have for others. Questions are key to expanding the mind. I am a dreamer. In dreams, I have the power to change, create, and shape my reality. This power to dream, create, change, and shape my reality has carried over into my waking life. I thank, God/Jesus/Universe, for awakening me to a new reality. This is my hope for others.

Although my thoughts towards the question below may change in time, my love and hope for others to begin to question the space that they hold in this world, will not.

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Earth Park

“It is through gratitude for the present moment that the spiritual dimension opens up.” – Eckhart Tolle

 

What if I said, heaven and hell had no place in the afterlife? What if I said, that we all just become formless–– wandering about the world? What if I said, that the house we grew up in or the home we lived in right up until the day we died ––the one that we paid the mortgage on for 30 years didn’t count on the other side?

What if I said, that there isn’t a hierarchy in this sacred space?  What if I said, the people we hate live in our house, invisibly watching our every move? Do you think we all just float up or down depending on how much good or bad we contribute to the world? Don’t we have enough to worry about let alone trying to figure out what will happen on some random day in the future, near or far?

Will we ask ourselves, what really matters when our body melts away? How will we go; without realizing it, will we make a sudden move to notice that we’re a little lighter than before? In that moment will we see ourselves slumped over like an ill-fitting coat that we just tossed away?  Will we panic and rush back to our side, like the hermit crab too scared to strike out to find a more fitting shell, so we hide behind our lifeless body like a naked soul until we’re found out?

There we’ll be without any second chance, without anyone to tell, shifting invisibly from one place to another living among the physical. Our own mother afraid to admit that she feels us next to her. We will be too immature to know how to express ourselves without our body. We will be too immature to send warnings about impeding danger. We will be too scared to know how to clear the house of strangers and enemies living invisibly among our loved ones. We will still view people with high and low status.

We will still function as if we still had limbs, it’s easier that way. Even a newly severed hand feels functional. Even the amputated leg still kicks at the air. Even the dead dress themselves and mock a routine that no longer serves them––visiting old friends and loved ones.

What would it all be for, in the end, a pastime? An amusement park we call Earth. Some rides lasting long enough to pull us through the birth canal. Some rides taking forever, round and round like a merry-go-round. Then there are some rides that take us straight ways lasting well into retirement, but of course, the lines are longer and some figure too long of a ride to wait. Plus, they heard that it’s not worth it in the end; you get off with a headache and the re-entry takes too long. Why make a fuss if we all just end up at the same end? Some don’t ride at all, they’d rather hear about it and that’s a ride in itself without the pain of dizzy spells or abandonment issues.

Who is the mastermind behind this Earth Park? Every engineer that stands in line, of course. Everyone fooling themselves that they know how to make the park more interesting. Everyone believing in teamwork until they’re next in line switching amniotic fluid for air and what was before fading away with our purpose dissipating in the air. A purpose where all for one, one for all is lost on forgetfulness, but those invisible spirits keep rooting for us, their fantasy-like football team MVP of a lifetime. Will we remember to get the golden ticket and turn on the light of this world and tear the curtain that separates the blind from the seers?

How powerful would you be?

 

“I love the ability to transform because that, for me, is a liberation.” –Andy Serkis

How powerful would you be…?

If you took the one thing you feared and went for it? I asked myself that question when it came to my hair. I made small steps to the greater achievement of wearing my hair natural. It may not seem like a big deal if your hair meets society’s standards of straight hair, but it is a big deal if it doesn’t.

For years it became part of my routine, a habit that I honed from my teenage years. A routine that you don’t realize is a routine—like making tea—I got up and went into the bathroom and for ten minutes flat, I slid through my hair with the flat-iron turned up till the red-light flickered. I would take the comb and slide through my hair and top it off with sheen.

That question rephrased, how fluid would my life be if I just accepted the natural state of my hair.

On the weekend, I never plugged up the flat-iron. I just tucked my hair under with a pen—two seconds tops.

Over a five-year period, I answered that question, how powerful would I be if I took the one thing I feared and went for it, powerful beyond measure.

How powerful would you be…?

I asked this question again every time I went to the pool. I would get in and splash around and play with my girls when they were children. I would watch poolside as they learned how to swim. No one would have ever guessed since I go to the pool year round.

I get on water slides and even get in on the deep end, I’m 5’1, so not that deep, but deep for me.

Until I asked myself, how courageous would I be if I took my fear and went for it? With that question, I signed up to learn how to swim. It was challenging from day one. When I saw my elderly classmates, I thought, thank God I’m not the youngest here, but when I saw these women floating and doggy paddling, I wanted to run out of there.

My classmates were encouraging and they shared that they had taken the class a couple of times. I still stood in the water, shaking. At the end of the course, I had learned how to save myself, plus I became an expert at the elementary backstroke, something I’m so proud of.

How powerful would you be…?

When I meet people who share their fears, I think this question for them. I’m excited when I hear their challenges knowing that it is possible to take the things you fear and become powerful. What saddens me though is knowing that it’s a choice that so few of us are challenged to go after.

We think not about our fears as goals to conquer. Like goals, it is a process. Yes, take the smaller ones that seem less stressful first. This way you have practice and with practice, you gain confidence and know how.

I bully myself with the question, if I invest more time on myself than on others, how much further would I be?

This question time and time again has forced me into action. This question alone gave me the courage to leave and create relationships, reinvent, stand up for myself, volunteer, vacation, go natural, learn to swim, start a blog, write more, forgive, trust, quit jobs, read, do workshops, and begin again.

I get excited about the accomplishments of others because I know that connecting with those individuals that dare to ask and act, are powerful beyond measure.

Opportunities to become better are accessible. Learning through fear is the best way to learn, plus you’ll never forget it. Using my experience of learning to swim, I know that jumping into the deep end isn’t the ultimate end for me. I can go in and bounce back up. I have a reference because I dared to ask, how powerful would I be if I took the one thing I feared and went for it.

Volunteerism is something I encourage everyone to take part in, especially those who are looking to learn a new skill or land a job. If you’re afraid to strike out and switch careers, volunteer first in the field. Search your local job postings or indeed for opportunities and go give your time. You would be surprised how giving your time and putting your skills to good use can open up space for you and people in your circle. It is my experience that after putting in time and effort most organizations will offer you a position. If you think about it, you’ve put in the time and you know how the office functions, volunteers are the best candidates.

I encourage you to take at least one thing, just one and be powerful.

From the Friend in Me, to the Friend in You

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward.” –Soren Kierkegaard

It was the friend in me that shared a time when I was afraid to walk away. For lack of communication, I found it hard to express how I felt. I wasn’t mature enough to express what I wanted to myself, let alone to the person I planned to share my life with. It took years of false starts and broken promises before I woke-up one day and understood that it was imminent, I had to leave.

It was the friend in me that shared that jobs will come and go. I say walk away if you find yourself feeling the tug of a greater calling. Yes, it takes planning and faith when your family depends on you. There are ways to make this a reality and if you’re focused and determined the door of opportunity will present itself like it has done for me time and time again. The fear of walking away from a paycheck ever two-weeks will paralyze you for a second but as the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Save and plan well in advance or if you’re bold take a leap of faith—I’ve done both and found that the fear is greater if you choose the latter but they both are equally liberating.

It was the friend in me that shared I’m afraid to let go, I spoke a truth about what it’s like when forgiveness is the only way. I dug deep into my closet and pulled out a childhood trauma that I knew would show her that there was no other way. It’s not about the other person, it used to be, it’s about you forgiving yourself. Live and be loved. Use the thing that tried to destroy you as an example of all the cards you’ve been dealt that turned into a handful of aces.

It was the friend in me that shared that trusting yourself is the best policy. How much advice do you need if you are telling yourself the truth—not much? Go into your safe space and I bet that if you can be honest with you then the less advice you’ll need. Trust yourself. I did when a client stalled after meetings to pay the invoice. Or when she used her title of Bishop to manipulate me. A few phone calls, meetings, and a game of hit and miss and it was clear, she wanted a business contract stamped FREE SERVICES.

It was the friend in me that shared that being a single mother is hard. It is when you don’t ask for help. As hard as it is sometimes to ask, I do. For every time I had to ask, I have to admit to myself that I can’t do it all, I feel defeated for a short while. Then I think of all the people who love me and my girls and I know how disappointed they would be if they knew I didn’t even ask them to help out.

It is the friend in me who wants to share with the world how easy life would be if you understood the gift of your experiences, I say, share for the sake of liberating others–the reward is your own liberation.

It is the friend in you who can make it your mission to build a bridge over the pitfalls that others would have otherwise fallen in. Your experiences can help people cross their troubled waters.

Character Is Simply Habit Long Continued – Plutarch — The Seeds 4 Life

You have probably heard the phrase, “We are what we repeatedly do.” It is our habits that define us, not our circumstances. If you want to change your character, change your habits. Life can be a struggle when our habits and actions don’t correspond with the type of person we desire to be. Habits are […]

via Character Is Simply Habit Long Continued – Plutarch — The Seeds 4 Life

The Mackie-Keyes, a short story

THE MACKIE-KEYES| RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 19

As many of you know, I wrote a short story collection a couple of years ago. Although it wasn’t my intention to write about stories centered on women, I soon discovered there was a thread at the end—female protagonist with issues stemming from domestic violence to obsessive-compulsive disorder and more.

Last year, I self-published, “Things Do Fall Apart,” a story that got me an invitation into my first workshop and I soon came to love this story for its powerful character Vivian, who became a bigger than life person. I could and still can see Vivian as a one-woman play. I have often toyed with the idea of staging her in all her glory.

On September, 19, 2017, I am proud to announce that I will be self-publishing another story from that period titled, “The Mackie-Keyes.”

Below is a short summary that will appear on Amazon in a couple of weeks…

 

The Mackie-Keyes

For Cecilia everyday mirrors, each other. It starts with an inhale, followed by a five second hold, exhale, and another five second hold. Then the Lord’s Prayer, and her husband’s daily routine—seven minutes in the bathroom each. This same routine is instilled in the children. They all move in a succession of events, chores, structures that make up a full day up until night fall. Inhaling on the same count and holding for the same seconds and expelling all at once.

When the routine is off their breathing quickens and panic sets in for Cecilia. The tragedy of the past surfaces to take her further away from her daily routine and threatens to paralyze her in the present.

The Mackie-Keyes is a story about Cecilia, a wife and mother of six, who cannot escape an orderly life filled with repetition, counting, and strict routine triggered by the witnessing of her brother’s tragic death in childhood.

As always, Thank you in advance for your continued support.

Best,

Wake38/Tiffany Q.

When We Dare To Be Powerful

I have a habit of going on Forbes every day and if for nothing else, I read the quote of the day.

The Forbes Quote of the Day

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde, Writer and Activist.

 

Then I copy and paste the author in google and read until I’m satisfied—bon appetite!

“I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you…. What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.”

I began to ask each time: “What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?” Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.

Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.

And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

Unapologetically yours,

Wake38