Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Silence. Deafening Silence. Silence so loud I cannot hear my own thoughts, Instead, words just clammer and smash into each other creating a quiet chaos, a derailment of order. Tornados, hurricanes and floods undo painstaking organization. Paper jam, misfeed. Ideas caught within a machine, misplaced, full of smeared black ink.

I try to catch the thoughts, to transport them into orderly patterns, recovery positions. Words, emotions, flying around me, entering and exiting as I inhale and exhale. Suddenly, I stop breathing, and the world calms around me. Gasp...inhale. In goes the day's worries, appointments, to do lists, heartache, madness. Exhale, the flames fueled by my oxygen, become chaotic and hot. I can't touch my own thoughts, they burn my mind  on the inside causing my organs to sweat.

Writing them down, my words, my loud silence, leaves me with blank pages, white with no black. A tombstone with no inscription. Death to thought. What comes with such death, but a plague that demonizes all words, ideas, thought. Sleep...close to death, sleep. Darkness prevails over the lightness of words and ideas. Words become dreams, forgotten experiences, nightmares, and haunting revelations. Ideas are soaked in reality and washed until dry.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Finding Balance and Putting Yourself First

We all struggle to find the time to do certain tasks and balancing is something that seems to be elusive. Let me share something with you that may be helpful. There were two sentences that have dramatically changed my life. The first was in a book, titled Life After Trauma, by Rosenbloom and Williams (1999). As a relatively recent survivor of a life-threatening attack, I sought out a book that would help me to put my life back in order. I determined that I sought to be better than I was before the incident. The first life-changing sentence identified the first step in that very long journey:
"Do unto yourself as you would do unto others" (p.91).

In other words, put yourself first. Make yourself and your goals a priority. Do those things that you often find yourself advising others to do. Take your own advice. Take the time out each day to think about those goals that are most important. I made a list of goals, things that I wanted to do for myself. One of which was to develop a plan to get to know myself. I want to be my own best friend: laughing at myself, loving myself, knowing intimately how my mind, body, and soul work together. Another goal was to learn to make time to put myself first, to spend time making me a better person - a better wife, daughter, educator, employee, leader, scholar, etc. Remember not to confuse goals with tasks. The latter consists of only those things that you feel have to be accomplished, while goals would capture the accomplishments and successes that make you feel good at the end of the day.
The second sentence that changed my life falls right in after that and can be attributed to Stephen R. Covey (2003):

"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities" (p.77)

I'd always thought I was doing this, until I came across that sentence. So, I reorganized my planning. I wrote a list of true priorities by asking and answering the some of the questions that are often overlooked in this era of hustle and bustle. I asked myself: What is truly important to me? How would I like to live my life, and What would make my heart happy? When I answered these questions, I realized that my relationships with myself, my family, and my friends; my spiritual journey; my continual self-improvement via unmitigated self-awareness; the financial welfare of my family; and my professional growth and development.

With these questions answered, I printed a blank calendar for the week. And, for the first week, I wrote down everything I did. Everything. Then, on Saturday morning, before my husband or family could distract me, I sat down and crossed off everything on the list that didn't fit in the above description. Amazingly, so much of my time was being spent on other people's priorities!!!! I was shocked at how much attention I'd given everyone else, in unbelievable contrast to the lack thereof for myself. The next step was to change it. So, I created a schedule that began with my priorities filled in. Any blank time could be consumed by those 'non-importants;' but I scheduled everything as if it were an appointment. I scheduled time with my husband, lunch (I had not taken a lunch at work in over a year), gym time, personal meditation, church/fellowship time, and of course, my job and my school work. What I found was that, when I do more for me, I am able to do more for others. If we are to praise the concept of servant leadership, then we should find ways to apply it and recognize that you cannot do for others what you cannot do for yourself. What I once thought as selfish has turned into the only means by which selflessness can continue to exist.

I cannot tell you how much this activity has done to enhance my work/life/school/family/volunteer service/spiritual journey balance. I strongly encourage any and everyone to take that time to provide yourself with the care that you need.


Covey, Stephen R. (2004). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons In Personal Change. Free Press: New York.
Covey, Stephen R. (2003). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Personal Workbook. Free Press: New York
Rosenbloom, D. and Williams, M. (1999). Life After Trauma: A Workbook For Healing.The Gulford Press: New York

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Organizational and Personal Change

There are many people who are going about their lives always speaking of the changes they want to make, but not having the discipline or understanding of how to make those changes. I am no exception. As I read new texts, I build the capacity for change. This will allow me to engage those newly acquired concepts in a meaningful and effective manner.

Michael Fullan (2008) talks about the six secrets of change. His book focuses on change in organizations, but just think about how that could also be applied to us individually. He identifies the secrets as stated below:

  1. Love your Employees 
  2. Connect Peers with Purpose 
  3. Capacity Building Prevails 
  4. Learning is the Work
  5. Transparency Rules 
  6. Systems Learn

The first secret speaks of loving your employees enough to make work something they can enjoy. Allow them the freedom to grow and watch the effectiveness and commitment increase.
The second secret is about connecting and building effective relationships. Networking, sharing ideas, and getting to know the people you work with/for can make work more satisfying. The happier the employee, the better the level of work.

The third secret "concerns competencies, resources, and motivation. Individuals and groups are high in capacity if they possess and continue to develop knowledge and skills, if they attract and use resources (time, ideas, expertise, money) wisely, and if they are committed to putting in the energy to get important things done collectively and continuously (ever learning)" (p. 57).
The fourth secret tells us that we should be always striving for balance between consistency and improvement. We have to be consistent in our methods, consistent in our interactions, our expectations and our mission. However, we also need to be open to vias of improvement, better efficiency, increased effectiveness, and precision and accuracy.
The fifth secret is to be open about your agenda. Let it be know what you intend to do and how you intend to do it. Allow others in to provide accountability and reinforcement. This doesn't mean that everyone must know every detail. Instead it means giving people more than just the end. Show progress, show employees how their efforts are making a difference NOW and not just at the end.

Finally, the last secret involves 'lac(ing) the culture with a theory that will travel over time, in which leadership manifests itself at all levels of the organization" (p.109). This also requires humility, recognizing though, that while you can increase the odds of success, you cannot guarantee it. Lofty goals serve no useful purpose; being realistic about the goals we set and taking the path that is most likely to get us there will ultimately result in more success.
Change within an organization requires change on an individual level. The change may come in the form of new systems, new technology, more globalized economies, etc., but what must stay consistent, is the commitment to personal and organizational excellence. This can only be achieved by having a personal identity, knowing who you are and what you represent, setting realistic and attainable goals, and reshaping your culture to allow effective change to occur.



Fullan, Michael (2008). The Six Secrets of Change: What the Best Leaders Do to Help Their Organizations Survive and Thrive. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Simple Pleasures

Somewhere, some time, maybe back in middle school, I lost sight of the small things that bring joy to my life. And, because of the serendipitous reunion with strawberry kiwi caprisuns, a little taste of my childhood idealism has returned. Funny, some things just have the ability to bring you back to a place of peace...whether caprisuns, eggos (with each square filled with the sweetest Log Cabin syrup), or playing in the rain--even getting my hair wet!

What else gives me pleasure? Hmmm. I think I am going to be on a mission now, to seek out the small things, the forgotten, simple pleasures that bring me brief moments of happiness... where do I start?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spiritual Retreat: Day Three

Responsibility: Response + ability...we have the ability to choose our responses.
                               --Stephen Covey

Today served a unique purpose for me. I did a lot of reflecting and application exercises. I didn't really get more in depth with my reading, rather, I took some time to really ponder how the information I've gathered over the last few days can really help me. This journey is going to take far more than a three day sabbatical from human contact, but it has been very eye opening so far.

There are some things in life that will never change. I am okay with that. There are some things that will. I am okay with that. And then there are those things that I have the ability to change, but often lack the courage or wisdom to do so. I am often overwhelmed by such responsibilty that the action never takes place. Today stops all of that.

Tomorrow, I will reenter the world. But I am making myself some very serious promises. I am putting them out there because doing so provides a sense of accountability for my actions or lack thereof.  So, starting now, I promise...

1. To find ways to love me first. Each day, I will find something about me or my life that I absolutely adore.
2. Not to be selfish, but to put myself as a priority. I need to recognize that I can't be much help to anyone  
    else if I am falling apart.
3. To continue on this journey, no matter what. I am committing to no less than 30 min a day for reflection
    and meditation on things learned this week.
4. To seek professional guidance. To engage my therapist and my pastor in this process. Listening first.
5. To finish reading the books and working through the workbooks.
6. To do something productive with my experiences (help someone else, write, etc.)
7. To allow myself to feel whatever it is I am feeling when I am feeling it.
8. To become better at communicating and allowing others into my world.
9. To finish what I start. Period.
10. To live, laugh and love...myself, my family, my friends, my life.

I am still sorting through the baggage, but I am beginning to understand some of it. Which, in turn, will allow me to put it where it belongs.

Life is to short to be stuck in one place.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Spiritual Retreat: Day Two

A new golden rule could read: Do for yourself as you would do for others.
                         --Dena Rosenbloom, PhD

Today was particularly insightful because I didn't spend time assessing the experiences of my life, rather, I explored how I'd reacted to them. I stepped out of my own situation and looked back as if I were a friend of mine who wanted to give me advice. I realized that I am pretty good at encouraging others, loving others, and taking care of others, but I am horrible at taking care of me.  What good will I be to the rest of the world if I am too tired, worn out, frustrated, angry to take care of myself? So today was about me.

I explored physical reactions, behavioral reactions, mental reactions and emotional reactions. I noted my inability to really relax in most environments. (Even at home, I sleep with my teeth clenched together). My shoulders are seldom relaxed, my body rarely stops moving. The headaches, the upset stomachs, the rashes that develop randomly on my legs or arms, chronic fatigue, and the lightheaded moments are all physical responses to my anxiety and stress.

Every experience changes you. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Many of my experiences, both good and bad, have changed the way I think about myself, how I perceive the world around me, and how people are in general. These negative experiences are no different. My hyper vigilance, difficulty concentrating and nightmares are all mental reactions to my past.

Behavioral reactions for me have included being withdrawn and isolated, avoidance of places or situations, and a change in my ability to connect intimately with others. Intimacy is not just a word used for couples, but with anyone you connect with and share my personal life with. My relationships have been affected dramatically, and the emotional consequences have been devastating.

Constantly being fearful, being sad, depressed, angry, numb, etc. takes a lot out of a person. And trying to protect others from your emotions makes me distance myself from them in other ways, lessening my ability to trust someone else.

These reactions are draining, miserable feelings. And, so I found ways to minimize how often I felt them. These are my coping strategies. Funny though, I'd never considered some of the things I do to be a mechanism for coping, rather, just personality traits.

I made a list of 'coping strategies,' both good and bad, that I use to get through things. As I'd identified before, my first strategy is to put it away for later. I just forget about it, focusing on something 'more important.' I have 6 degrees, not because I'm brilliant, but because I was in a lot of pain and school was a lot more pleasant. I control everything I can control (my work, my home, how things are organized, my weight, etc.) I clean all the time, reorganizing almost daily. I get lost in projects at home, building something, fixing something, making something, etc. And, when all of that is done, I use my 'accomplishments' as proof that my situation wasn't so bad after all. Then, I do everything I can to forget about it completely.

I have a definite pattern. I've employed this system of 'chaos resolution' for as long as I can remember. So today, after reading a few chapters in a book about relaxation after trauma, I tried some new techniques. I hadn't even realized my teeth were clenched, or that my shoulders were contracted. I didn't notice that I was bending my fingers back, etc. until I stopped. Until I actually lay in bed and assessed my body, part by part.

I did a relaxation exercise that lasted about an hour, allowing me to go through each part of my body and to relax each area deliberately.Then, I listened to music. I wrote poetry. I created new dreams. I made a dream catalogue...ever wondered what you could do with all of those story beginnings?

I began writing letters to the most important people in my life, both good and bad. I wrote to the members of my family that support me all the time, to the members that I need to learn to forgive, to the friends that have stuck by me, and to those who have hurt me. I wrote to each of the perpetrators separately, naming them, giving each one a face, a name...which surprisingly made them look human, not like monsters. A lot less scary, and a lot easier to overcome.

Finally, I took off every article of clothing and took pictures of every part of my body. I printed them out and put them together as best as I could on the floor. I went and documented every mark, every scar, everything I hated, AND everything I loved. I found that there is more about me that I like than things that I don't. I just harp on the things that I don't so often that I forget about the things that aren't so bad. That was a big lesson to learn for me, one that can and should be applied to other areas of my life.

Tomorrow, I will look at my reactions more in depth. I will try to find healthier alternatives. I will finish my letters. Some will be mailed, others won't. I am doing this for me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spiritual Retreat: Day One

What wound did ever heal but by degrees?
     --- Shakespeare, Othello

Today's journey began with a moment of appreciation upon waking up. Instead of getting up and getting dressed right away, I laid in bed and thought of as many positives about my life as I could. I thanked God for them. I prayed that God would order my steps in this process and I promised to try to submit to His will and abandon my own.

I went to church today with a different attitude. I have only begun to go to church about a month ago after a hiatus of about a year and a half. I felt that I had lost faith. My world had been rocked and God had let it happen. I have been angry at Him since. So, I essentially abandoned Him when I needed him the most.

In my family, we have an 'inside joke' where we declare that Jesus is coming in a Hyundai. I have a Hyundai and I have extended that to include that He is going to talk to me through that GPS system. So, I've put it to the test. I choose the church service I am going to attend by selecting 'nearby churches' and seeing what pops up. Then I just randomly select a service to attend. So far, so good.

Today, however, was something unexpected. I went to a church service that was only 40 minutes long (and there were a lot of brown people--I didn't know brown people had church services under 2 hours!) Anyway, I digress. But the 40 minutes were important. The pastor's sermon was about Faith. He talked about how God tests our faith. Not because he doesn't know who we are, but because he wants us to know more about who we are...by passing these tests, we are made stronger in him. The pastor spoke of the story of Abraham and Issac. In summary, God had asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, a son that had been born after great turmoil and strife, the only heir to Abraham. Abraham had been following God for 25 years. His faith was mature and strong, still, surely he had some reservations about what God was asking him to do. Yet, he acted immediately. He did as God told him to do, faithful that God would stop him from doing that, but that if he didn't, then it was for a reason. So, he took great care and took Issac to the place where he'd been told to go. He'd left his servants at the bottom of the mountain telling them to wait there for Isaac and him to return. (Declaration of Faith because he claimed God's mercy before going up there.) On the way up there and as he built the altar, Isaac asked where the lamb was that they were going to sacrifice. Abraham replied that 'God will provide the animal for sacrifice.' Now, the passage doesn't talk about Isaac and how he must have been flipping the heck out (because I certainly would have been), but it does speak to the calmness of Abraham. Although he didn't agree, he trusted God enough to continue. Just as he was going to slay Isaac, an angel called to him to stop. He was told to take Isaac down. Just then, a ram, caught in some shrubs or something appeared. This was the offering that Abraham knew would come. In that, his faith had been tested, tried, and made stronger. He was being prepared for obstacles to come.

I thought about my own faith. And, I thought I'd matured it very well. I had been tested. I had overcome many obstacles. But, I hadn't finished the process. I hadn't dealt with the emotions, I hadn't given them to God, I just hid them. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, when I was raped, again, I thought God had forsaken me. I was angry that he would allow something so horrific to happen to me when all I was trying to do is to live right by Him. I carried that anger and bitterness and it just intensified over the last year and a half. No matter how I look at it, God is in me. So if I hate God, I end up hating me. When I start doubting God, I start to doubt me. And if God doesn't love me enough to protect me, then how can anyone else? How can I justify loving me?  I have spent the last year and a half feeling inadequate, unloved, empty, worthless. I am filled with shame, guilt, frustration, anger, and I have pushed away the people closest to me. I've isolated myself in an effort to 'protect them' from my drama. And so, while everyday is filled with people, I am completely alone.

I came home from church, broke my social fast to encourage my little sister, and returned to my solitude. I wish I had as much confidence as I portray to others. I wish I thought as highly of myself as my sister thinks of me. It was hard for me to admit how much I hated myself. I wasn't sure what it was that I hated either. I can't make a list of crap I hate, I just don't like it.I'd gone to Barnes and Noble's late last night to find some guidance in this process. I picked up 5 books.

I began to read a book called "Life After Trauma." I was emotional after the first few pages when I saw myself in every paragraph. So, per the advice of the book, I put it down and took a break from it.  I went to the lake and read a book called "Learning to Love Yourself." This book was very enlightening. I began to understand why I feel how I do about myself. I spent time journaling about the events in my life that made me feel how I do. I realized that I generalized a lot of things into the confines of one or two incidents. I recognized that I am a workaholic perfectionist, who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, and has not figured out how to forgive others. I learned that I am angry, not just sad or ashamed as I'd thought. I am really angry. But instead of addressing it, I allow it to simmer. I focus on achieving at work, at school, etc. But, like any addiction or short term remedy, your tolerance grows and you need more and more to feel the same way. So, now, it is not unlike me to work from 0730-2300hrs. It is not like me to leave things undone. But what's worse, is that I no longer gain satisfaction from completing a task or project, I just find other things that I need to get done. And the cycle continues.

The book has given me some strategies; one of which was to remove negative relationships out of my life. So, a lot of names got deleted from the phone. I sent out 'resignation emails' to people letting them know how I felt their relationship to me was caustic and that I am doing what I need to do to take care of me. And, I was, for the first time in a long time, brutally honest about my feelings, without real regard to those of the receiving party. It wasn't to be callous, but to say what I should have said a long time ago.

The book didn't cover all that I'd hoped it would, but it was great for realizing the degree of my situation. I didn't know until today that things were so far beyond bad. And, it gave me hope that with some effort, a lot of faith, I could recover...but that just as it took a long time to get this bad, it will take some time to find real and complete peace.

Tomorrow starts a new day.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Spiritual Retreat: Introduction

That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy...all of these are undoubtedly great virtues...But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of the beggars, the most impudent of all offenders, yea the very fiend himself--that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved--what then?
                   --Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion:West and East

In my world, it is difficult for me to put myself in a position of priority. I spend most of my time and energy catering to the needs of others. I work long hours, I volunteer all the time,and I seldom take a moment to relax. My 'free time' is often cluttered with projects and tasks, I clean non-stop, etc. As much time as I spent decorating my house, I have not really stopped long enough to enjoy it. My television has been used primarily for guests (which are typically children I babysit).

In the chaos of this frenetic activity, I am able to ignore the internal struggles of my life. I am able to suppress my emotions, my feelings, and to be 'successful.' I am a hard-worker, always recognized for my outstanding performance at work and at school. I am 'all degreed up' and I seem to be doing well for myself. I volunteer just about every weekend. I don't drink (very seldom) and I go to the gym almost everyday. In this regard, I have no time to display any emotions. I just smile and portray an image that all is well, even when I know it isn't. For a few hours of the day, I even begin to believe that myself.

But, in the evenings, when I am home alone, the tears fall. In the shower, the tears fall. At night,when I can't sleep, the tears fall. When I wake up frantic from night terrors, the tears fall. When I wake up to see the bruises I've left on my own body in my sleep, the tears fall. But then, I wake up to a new opportunity to excel at what I do best, pretend that everything is okay.

I have always had issues here and there to deal with. But it was just recently, when confronted with yet another issue, that it dawned on me that my situation was far graver than I'd originally thought it to be. I hadn't realized how much I had suppressed until I could hold no more. I hadn't realized how much hurt and pain I carried around, how much emotional baggage I pulled along every day. After a while, I'd just stopped feeling things. I'd just say my usual 'whatever,' and ignore how it may have made me feel...and eventually it seemed to be forgotten. Until now.

I listened today, by chance, to a song by Alicia Keys on her Elements of Freedom album called "Pray for Forgiveness.' It shook me up unexpectedly. I began to cry so hard that I had to pull over and gather myself. It took me 20 minutes to regain my composure enough to drive home. I kept thinking, I am drowning in my own tears, and nobody notices. Even those who may have an idea of where I am, really have no understanding of the depth of my emotion. I understood that I needed real help, not from a therapist (I've been seeing one for almost a year and a half), but from the Maker of my emotions. I need to get back in conversation with God.  I need to rebuild my faith. I need to accept my past for what it was, and accept the changes to me, therein. You cannot be the person you were before life happens to you, there will be some changes. How you handle the experiences, what you change, how you learn to cope with your situations dictate the level of success you can have in recovering.

I haven't recovered. From any of it. I thought I had, but I just hid it; even from myself. I told myself I was okay. I convinced myself that my relationship with God was okay. I felt like I was doing just fine in life, until 14 November 2008, when it just got turned upside down and all of my dirty laundry fell out for all to see...not just that situation, but the pain and hurt I'd endured and suffered in silence my whole life.

So, I am taking a spiritual retreat, beginning tomorrow. I will pray, meditate, and fast (social fasting). I will step away from the commotion in my life and be still. Only then can I hear the answers. I am chronicling this very personal experience, not because I want everyone to know my business, but because I know there is someone who will read this and understand all too well how I feel at this moment. There may be someone who is on the verge of giving up (I've been there a time or two) and needs a little encouragement to continue. If I suffer in silence, no one will know. No one will be able to grow as a result of my experience.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


That night, as I walked into the room, I was almost trembling; nervous about how he would see me. My black satin lace negligee was covered by a matching satin robe, tightly tied to prevent any unintended exposure.

I’d been preparing for this all day. I’d just taken a bubble bath to soothe my mind- candles illuminated the room, emanating a soft lavender aroma. As I bathed, I took my daily solemn inventory of my scars, remembering the birth of each one as parts of me died. Tears felt slowly into the water, disappearing, worthless, lost. How could anyone think this is beautiful? How could something that originated in such darkness and evil ever be good?

My hands trembled as I added lotion to my skin, creating a sheer separation between those moments and this night that I’d been planning for months since then. God, I hope it’s dark enough in the room…
By the time I opened the bedroom door, he’d already lit all of the candles, prepared the pillow and made a place for me. The soft scent of vanilla and chamomile immediately began to calm me. As I looked up, I noticed his gaze. He looked at me as if there had never existed a woman more beautiful. My heart was racing; I swallowed hard and moved slowly toward him.

It had been months since I’d allowed anyone to touch me. His hands reached out slowly to take mine. He looked at me with so much love and affection. I looked thankfully back at him, gazing into his eyes. His grip tightened gently to assure me. He pulled me closer to him, caressed my hair and then put his hand softly on my cheek. Without a single spoken word, I knew he loved me, I knew this moment was beautiful. I knew that he was going to touch my body, I’d prepared for that. But I didn’t know how I was going to react as he made love to my heart and soul.

Gently, his hand moved to my shoulder, to my arm, and to my waist. I held him back, tears filling my eyes as he untied my belt. The robe dropped to the floor, and I stood there, vulnerable, exposed. The satin-laced negligee was form-fitting and very short-teasingly exposing. “Beautiful. Simply beautiful,” he whispered. My heart melted and I finally exhaled, allowing my body to relax a bit.

He brought his hand gently to my side and guided me onto the bed. He carefully and slowly undressed me, inching my negligee past my hips, my back, my breast, warming my body with his sensual as he exposed skin to the flittering light from the candles. He looked at me, softly, sincerely, deeply ‘Beautiful. Simply beautiful.”

In an instant, the automatic reflexes of my self-consciousness forced my hand up to cover as much of the scarring as possible. And just as quickly, he placed his hand on top of mine and slowly eased them to my side. He held them there, reassuringly. “Why do you hide yourself from me,” he asked gently. The tears began to well up in the bottom of the my eyes as I responded “They are such ugly reminders of the worst moments of my life.”

He leaned in closer, and placed his soft, succulent lips on the tip of the worst of the scars. “With this,” he whispered softly “you became more of who you are today. Scars are a testament healing, survival, resilience, courage…and that’s nothing less than absolutely beautiful.” He bent down and kissed every single inch of each scar. Between his kisses and soft caresses, he whispered over and over again “Rare beauty…Damn; just beautiful.” And in that moment, I felt beautiful.

I sat up to kiss his lips. We embraced, melting and molding into each others’ arms. I was ready to let him be a part of me. I pulled him closer, leaning my body slowly back to meet soft bend of the satin covered pillow. I allowed my body to melt into the bed, releasing my thighs as he lowered his body into mine.

Gently, slowly, he danced with my soul to the most beautiful melody imaginable. The easy rhythm that our bodies assumed flooded my senses with an array of sensual cues. I felt whole. I felt loved. I felt beautiful.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A new spring....

A new phase of my life awaits me. A new beginning, a new chance, a new opportunity to be better than I am stands before me. The newness of everything superficially feels refreshing, exciting, and promising. Beneath the surface, though, fear, anxiety, and panic fill my body and mind. Worry overwhelms my senses, making sleep an impossible chore. So, I sit awake, here, writing to you.

The fear that crowds my thoughts every day and scripts my dreams each night is not a normal fear. It may or may not be rational, may or may not be understandable, but it is definitely powerful. Fear and happiness cannot coincide peacefully. This is to say that if someone is filled with fear, then they are void of happiness. Fear can only displace happiness; and happiness displaces fear. Happiness cannot exist without peace. I’ve figured out that without my fear, I could never have appreciated the joy. Without the darkness shadows, we can never recognize the light.
I fell in love with happiness; with peace. It loved me back, hard and good. There were times when I feared less, and loved life more. There were dark and desolate times when fear stole my joy completely. And just when I couldn’t live through the darkness, your light shone brilliantly. You brought so much peace into my world, and when I felt peace, I felt happiness. I felt the warmth of your rays on my soul. And yes, fear always exists outside of the confines of my room, but it is diminished so much by your presence. It’s hard for a shadow to maintain its integrity in the sunlight. And if the sun is before you, then shadows are forced to the rear.

As I write this, I listen to your breaths, watch your chest rise and fall. I feel the vibrations of your dreams resonating within me. Peace and happiness are alive, but not inside of me. Tears fall uncontrollably. My heart aches. My stomach tightens at the thought of leaving your side. All of the peace I’ve found becomes futile, inadequate; I don’t know how to own it, produce it, or find it. I only absorbed it, embraced it. I never made it.

I am trying to fill my mind with positive thoughts. I am remembering the laughs we shared, the long engrossed conversations we’ve had. I remember our duck talks and I laugh out loud. I remember your pen tattoos and I smile. I remember our expensive cab rides, our city explorations, our pillow fights, manicures, pedicures, spa trips. I think of roses.

I feel like a rose. A rose who was once part of a healthy bush, stolen from her home; I was thrown to the hard and lonely streets. Many people passed by, many people kicked me, stepped on me, stepped over me. But you didn’t. You saw I didn’t belong. You picked me up, clipped my stem, and fed me. You loved me and allowed me to be part of your space. You allowed me to bloom, to feel the sun’s rays, to develop and grow. And now, as our paths take us in opposite directions, I am thirsty for more. The more I thirst, the more I begin to wither. Slowly, I am fading. Already, I am fading. I pray for my survival.

I watch you and I look around the room. And I remember butterflies. I feel like a butterfly. Once caged within my own cocoon; afraid of all that exists outside. I tortured myself in my cocoon. I hated myself there. But, one day, I ventured out to get my mail; I noticed a small crack in the wall of my shell. I peeked through and saw and felt the glorious sunlight. It felt so good and warm and it embraced me. It loved me, unconditionally, just because. And, in its light, I played outside, I danced, I laughed, I smiled, I loved the sun right back. From the darkness of night and the storms I still hide, but I can still peek through the cracks. Now, my world begins to darken, my shell becomes more inviting. The cold dark outside appears dismal because the sun has gone away. My wings are brittle, my strength is fading. Already, I am fading. I need to subsist.

My heart beats for the sunny days. I will cherish forever the kisses of the sun. I vow to continue now, not because it will be easy, but because I have learned that it can’t rain all day, every day. I see that more now than ever before, because now I open the window; because now, because of you, I can peek outside. Wisdom spoke to me, saying that no one can ever hurt me any worse than they already have. I have control over whether or not they win. Resilience. Patience. Courage. Determination. Conviction. For me, it is the only way to ensure my survival.

I haven’t lost all of my optimism; I still want to change the world, to make a difference. Sometimes, in order to change the world, we have to first change ourselves. And sometimes, that change begins somewhere else. Sometimes, that change begins with a simple statement, a warm smile, and a surprisingly easy conversation. Something so simple, yet so powerful has come to change the way I see the world and how the world sees me, forever.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Old People Dance to 'Billie Jean,' Provide Best Memorial to Michael Jackson Yet

Old People Dance to 'Billie Jean,' Provide Best Memorial to Michael Jackson Yet

I love how much life these men have. Michael Jackson may not have been perfect, but this proves he was and continues to be a powerful and inspirational force!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Obama to Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy


In 2010, in a world where gay marriage is accepted, where gay pride flags are recognized by nearly everyone, it should be hard to believe that this has brought so much controversy.

Like racism, anti-gay policies have resulted in a huge disservice for America. When I was swearing in to come into the Air Force, I almost backed out. In a video moments before, they explained in detail what it meant to commit "homosexual acts" and how such acts could result in court-martial and possibly immediate and less than honorable discharge.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Was it that serious? Really? I, wrongfully and remorsefully, justified the video as a means to promote sexual privacy...or something. I was so convinced that the Air Force was what I wanted to do, that I ignored that video.

Then, since I have been in, I have seen the effects of that policy. I have met Airmen who have been forced to live an "alternative" lifestyle. They have been forced to declare themselves heterosexual or to remain completely closeted. Not only do they have the government to fear, but they have their fellow service members to fear as well. Hate crimes do occur in the military.

So, we are fighting in two wars, our men and women die everyday; we serve everyday to protect the freedoms afforded us by our Constitution. But, while we serve, we cannot live those freedoms? It isn't enough that we have to worry about terrorists attacking us and protecting our families back home? We now should care about the sexual orientation of our wingman? We don't have time to care about that. And even if we did, what good does that do?

I am not homosexual, I don't really agree with the principles associated with it, but I accept people wholly for who they are. At the end of the day, you have to live with your decisions and I have to deal with mine. I choose not to judge people, but to accept them and be tolerant of our differences.

I am vegetarian. There are many who don't agree with the principles and the concepts that permit my decision. But that's who I am. Am I less of a person because of it? Should I say I am not Christian? The Bible allows people to eat meat. So, should I be kicked out of the military because I take all of the vegetarian MREs? I mean seriously. People can choose to accept it or not. This is not to undermine the seriousness of the issue but to highlight the pettiness and the shame of the situation.

To the senator that claimed that "this country was founded on the Christian principles of heterosexuality," I say back- this country was founded on hatred, intolerance, and the backs and lives of others. I would even suggest that some of the members of the Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria were closeted homosexuals. And, I am quite certain that they all partook in the turkey dinner!

Just my thoughts...what do you think?

Chris Matthews MSNBC: 'I Forgot Obama Was Black for an Hour'

Chris Matthews MSNBC: 'I Forgot Obama Was Black for an Hour'

What do you think about this?

Personally, I am not in the least bit surprised. It is so easy for someone who does not live a problem daily to feel as if we have somehow overcome that problem. Racism is alive and well. It's not just against Black people, it's against Latinos, Asians, and even Caucasians. The perpetrators are not all Caucasian either. I have known Black people to denigrate other Black people (i.e. Jamaicans, Africans, Haitians, etc). I have witnessed people of all colors and socioeconomic status promote racist views of other races. Unfortunately, as I sit here to type this, I cannot say that there has been any major group of people against whom racism hasn't been thrust. There is no question about the prominence of racism in American or even global society.

However, the effect of the racism varies from one population to another. Black people have felt the pain of it for hundreds of years. That has not subsided. Nor will I be willing to claim that it has begun to subside. It has never been the case that every White person hated Black people or even succumbed to the beliefs that have driven the egregiously committed acts and policies of American history. I uphold that today, racism is not the flaw of every White person. However, it is a flaw of more than we'd like to admit. It is the flaw of many Americans- of all races- way more than we'd like to say.

Again, though, the question returns to the effect of the racism. If a prominent Black man decided not to like White people, would that influence an election or a major policy? Would it change the way Americans see the White person? Would they question his nationality? his morals? his ethics? No. They would think the Black person was offensive and racist. The majority of Americans would call it what it would be: RACISM. But when the tables are turned, does this still hold true? I'd think not.

We have always known the White man to be the hegemony of the world, especially here in America. He sits at a huge table where his influence reaches far and wide. Yes, we are starting to have dialogue at this table, but he's still at the head. The table isn't round as it should be.

So, while Chris Matthews comments were not meant to be offensive, they were a blatant reminder of what it is to be Brown in America. It doesn't stop at the White House. In corporate America, brown men and women are vying for recognition and promotions to top positions. They are fighting hard to be seen for their accomplishments and capabilities, not for their skin complexion. In the military, the Army, partially due to the higher number of Brown service men and women, is perceived to be inferior to their sister services. A historically Black college or university (HBCU) degree is somehow less valuable than one from a predominately white school. Latinos and Blacks are being blamed for the increase in welfare costs, but the reality is that more White people receive welfare than any single group. The list could go on...

But for every achievement, for every new name taught in schools during the month of February, those who do not live in brown skin every day tend to forget the daily struggles. They tend to use a displacement theory to replace many "bads" with one great "good." The notion that a Black president means racism is over is naive and remorseful. This is especially true when you see how hard many have tried to thwart every effort he has made, or when you consider the death threats, or the racial commentary that permeates the media. Even Black activists are 'disappointed' because he hasn't done much for the Black community....WHAT!?! He is helping America...which, to my knowledge, includes Black people. Did they think that just because he is Black that he would pass the "Black Act" giving all Black people some entitlement at the exclusion of others? That has never been his rhetoric and we should fear that approach as much as any racially driven objective.

If racism were over, we wouldn't even notice he was Black. No expectations would come from his skin color. And that goes both ways.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Thank you, Angels


I hope and pray that this note finds each of you in the midst of good health, good spirits, and great peace. In my journey, I have been privileged to encounter each of you at some point. I honestly believe that every person you encounter in your life, no matter the brevity of such encounter, touches your life in some way, whether positively or negatively.

In my life, I have been adversely affected by many. Some of these encounters have affected my body, some my spirit, and I have even allowed my faith to waiver. People have stolen my joy, robbed me of my peace, and covered my world with darkness. And there were those unspeakable moments of my life when I didn't have enough faith, enough strength, enough love for myself to make it further. And it was in those moments, when the faith, strength, and love of my family and friends held me up. It was in these moments when my friends, family, and even strangers, seeing that I'd lost my way repositioned me in the direction of God.

There are people who smiled at me at that moment when I'd given up on the world. There is the man who helped me with my bags as I slid across the icy parking lot. There is the lady who offered me a ride when she drove past me walking in the rain without an umbrella. There are the customers who come in and thank me for helping them, letting me know my work is noticed and appreciated. There are the friends who randomly send messages on facebook or to my email just wanting to say hello. There is the family that holds me up when I feel faint at heart. My sister, Cale, who always listens and, when I was quieted by circumstances, helped me find my voice. She is one of my best friends. Another sister, Bri, my little copycat! She inspires me to continue, to be better than I was the day before, to remember that someone is always watching me. My sister Dee is my comedy relief, the one that makes me laugh when there is absolutely nothing to laugh at. My mother, oh the woman that has shown her courage and strength time and time again, who encourages me, lifts me up when I am down, pushes me to be better, tells corny jokes when I need them the most, and who taught me how to 'cry two tears in a bucket...' (smile).

There is Ryan who continues to support me. Who continues to love me, no matter how complicated things get. It is he who promised to spend the rest of his life with me, knowing that wouldn't be easy. He is a great source of motivation for me, his words and actions push me to be better, they push me to be the best I can be, no matter what happens. It is he that made me recognize that my own peace and happiness are my responsibility, and no one elses.

Then, there is Raheem, my best friend here in Korea. It is he that, literally saved my life, twice, here. He is a sounding board for the myriad of thoughts that seem to short circuit my brain sometimes. He's my bodyguard from all of the vultures that pervade Osan. He's great company: funny, considerate, kind, respectful. He never disrespects me, my marriage, or his. In fact, he has introduced new facets of loyalty that I'd never even considered before. He, too, inspires me to be better. He makes me appreciate the power of the sun, especially in the midst of great storms.

There are so many people who have touched and inspired me. There are some whose negativity and ignorance have propelled me ahead, forcing me to distance myself from the disappointing levels on which they reside. I am learning, the more I grow, that no man is an island. I am learning to find lessons in the good and bad situations. I am finding that someone can be an example of what I don't want to be. And, I am learning that sometimes, you have to let some people, some things, some thoughts, some feelings, some hurts and some memories go.

So this note, is a 'thank you' to all of you. Thank you for loving me when you did. Thank you for supporting me when you did. Thank you for the good, the bad, and the ugly. Thank you for being a part of my life and for allowing me to be a part of yours. I hope and pray that each of you continues to be a part of my life and that you continue to be the person that God created you to be. You are all angels sent to help someone make it in this world.

To this end, I have one request. Please send a message to me with an update about what's going on in your life. I want to know if you have children, if you are married, etc. Send your birthdays and anniversaries so I can add them to my calendar. Also, please send your email addresses so that I can do my best to keep up with you as we travel in our own directions. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Absolutely Sensational....

So what's the count up to now? 13 women? Tiger seemed to be busy in 2009. I can guarantee he wasn't alone. In fact, just months ago, Steve McNair was killed by his alleged ex-girlfriend with whom he openly spent time. Let's not mention Tye Tribbett and Da T.R.U.T.H., two gospel music artists. And not to keep politics out, South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford and Sen. John Ensign of Nevada all had their exotic rendezvous this year. Even David Letterman made 'shocking' confessions of sleeping with various women who work for him. And these are just a few of the illicit affairs...

We can continue by talking about the boy in the balloon...or not in the balloon. Baltimore Mayor Shiela Dixon was convicted of embezzlement. There were six major abductions/disappearances (none of them brown) that covered the screen. Nas, the singer was ordered to pay more than %51,000 in alimony and child support to Kelis. Chris Henry died after falling off the back of a pickup truck. The Colts are (to date) undefeated but were joined for 13 weeks by the Saints. The Yankees won the World Series. Oprah going to retire from her media empire in a matter of months.Let's not forget Kanye West's disgusting display at the music awards. Jon and Kate plus Eight minus one...And of course, Obama's every move displayed for the public.

While these stories are, for some, entertaining, they are no where near the most important stories of the year. They are overly sensationalized as a means to distract us from the most important stories. I mean, what else could we possibly talk about? How could we function without an average of 7.8 hours a day being devoted to Obama and the economic recession, with an average of 4.6 hours being used to find him at fault for it's enduring presence. Tiger Woods almost caught up in the last month coming in second place for media coverage.

Lobbyist and the GOP spent more than $100 million dollars to thwart Democratic efforts...the Democrats spent almost as much to recover from the political punches and to throw some of their own. But the public schools got no more money (because of the recession), the US lowered it's UNICEF contributions (because of the recession), the military is downsizing (because of the recession) while simultaneously increasing the number of service members in Iraq (now that one is because of the terrorists).

I guess all of this is to say: What in the world is happening here? Where are our priorities? Will things change? Will parents wake up and spend time with their children? Will they monitor them on the internet; what they watch on television? Will we get off our butts and actually exercise? At least exercise our minds? No one at home, judging the rest of the world is free from fault. None is without his or her own transgressions. But, we live in a society that is full of stones to throw at others.

Let me just put this out there...how many people reading this post have ever cheated on a significant other? How many have hated on someone else's accomplishments? How many have lied, cheated, or stolen to get something they wanted? Before we judge others, consider what we have contributed to the problem. If the news ratings didn't soar when people made mistakes, they wouldn't keep them on the air so long. No one is without sin. No one is free from temptations. That's life; not news.

Let 2010 be the year that we put family first; the year that we focus on healthy habits; the year that we read and research, not perpetuate unfounded gossip. Let's let 2010 be the year that America grows up.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Criticisms of Obama...

Lately, I have listened to debates over how effective the Obama administration has been. I have heard harsh criticisms of his progress and his ability to lead. Until now, I seldom respond. I usually just resign to allowing people to have their own opinions, no matter how different our perspectives are. However, being that the end of 2009 is near and Obama is leaning toward a year in office. I decided to put forth my two cents.

First, I must say that no one person in Washington, DC controls America. No one person is that powerful. To this end, the successes and failures of Washington DC cannot ever be attributed to one person, even if he is the President of the United States. There are many who blame Obama for the economic crisis, the war in Afghanistan, and every other world dilemma. The allegations have proven themselves to be unfair and largely unfounded. Yet they continue to pour in. Aside from the blatant ignorance of some people, there are reasons for the perpetuation of disregard for the President and his administration.

Racism. There are some people who have been very vocal about their disdain for a person of color in a position of power. They have challenged his loyalties, challenged his nationality, his religion, his identity. This doesn't come from just one group. There are prominent African Americans who say that he isn't doing enough for Blacks in America. Should he be doing something in particular to build just Black people? His response has been that he is doing things for the greater good of everybody, regardless of race and ethnic orgin.

Inpatience. People elected Obama in hopes of change. To date, a lot has changed. However, it is difficult to see the smaller things as they are overshadowed by the larger consequences of the economic crisis and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. People expected that on 21 Jan 09, the world would automatically be different. Contrary to popular belief, we didn't fall into an economic depression, a war in Afghanistan and Iraq, or disrespected by most of the world over night. Things will take time to show drastic improvements.

Noncooperation. Time and cooperation are essential for change. When Obama campaigned his slogan was not "Yes I Can!" it was "Yes WE Can!" His campaign was based on the premise that everyone had to do their part to make things work. We have right now, the "Party of No" who just refute anything the President tries to do. They vote against common sense legislation, the debate and push obstacles in the way for every change. People, like Danny Glover, complain that companies need to lend more money to Black people. The stimulus aimed to help banks lend to people...not just Black people. But, according to a survey conducted by Consumer Digest, the average credit score for an African American? 536. For Latinos? 511. Has it occured to anyone that credit ratings are still a factor for lending?

For all of the money spent by networks, lobbyists, and the GOP to thwart Obama's efforts, we could have seen much more change. The progressive attitude of the administration may not be appreciated for a long time. But the effects of health care reform, the effects of the war in Afghanistan, the effects of this economic depression, will be felt for generations to come.

Instead of adding to the problem, we need to step up and be part of the solution. Stop fearing change. Stop arguing for things you haven't researched. Work together, build this country together. Fight the fight together... and we will all win.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fantasy Football

(from the ball's perspective)

It’s Sunday Morning, time to impress

Everyone’s looking, I have to do my best.

Do I have enough air? Are my seals closed tight?

I wouldn’t want to be lonely on Sunday night.

The day starts early with many inspections.

The team manager looks at all of us, and makes his selections.

He chooses the one that feels the best.

And look at that! I feel better than the rest!

Oh, I am looking good today, ready to play.

The final inspections before I get my say.

These are the hardest because these guys are the ones

Who are going to hold me, caress me, and squeeze my buns!

Well Good Morning Peyton! How do you do?

I am so lucky to be starting for you.

I’ve always dreamed of being in your hands.

All of your wishes today are my command.

I love how you squeeze me from head to toe,

Placing your fingers firmly between each row.

You tell the manager you like my shape.

You say I feel lucky, inside it makes me go ape!

You toss me aside and pick up the next

And do the same until you get a text

It’s the coach wanting to see you soon

I just wait patiently until game time, around noon.

When everyone’s gone, the football babe gossip begins.

They tell me how things are for all of my friends.

How they got treated, where they worked and where they’ve been.

This week has been tough, it’s a shame and a sin.

One friend got picked for the Patriots game last Sunday night.

Got her ass kicked up and down the field, just isn’t right.

She begged to be handled sweetly, licked and tossed,

She longed for another chance with Randy Moss.

Another was selected to play with the Bills.

Hhh~ Another boring night with no spectacular frills.

Yes, T.O. is on the team, but that’s no big pop

Because every time she touches his hands, she ends up dropped.

My girl was chosen to play with Romo.

What she’s expected to do, she doesn’t know.

She tried to explain that she can’t perform miracles.

His plays are not planned, rather completely lyrical.

“Poor girls!” I say as we continue to talk through the walls.

Thinking how it’s better to be us than other types of balls.

The other kinds of balls have it much worse than we do.

They often don’t return to talk and laugh and see another day through.

Although we may get our asses kicked from time to time,

Their Daddys try to kill them and send them flying.

We’ve got golf balls, hit with clubs across a huge course.

We’ve got baseballs hit with bats, can’t say what’s worse.

They there are the basketballs, slammed to the floor.

When the players get mad, they slam them into the doors.

Like us they are handled by the best of millionaires.

Man I miss the touch passes by Steve McNair.

Hhh back to us I now return.

Thinking of how my body yearns

To be felt, grabbed, tossed and kicked.

Collie, Wayne, don’t let me get picked.

At this time, I’ll take a quick break

Don’t want to look tired cuz I tried to stay awake.

“See you soon Peyton dear” I whisper before going to sleep.

I dream about him holding me tight just before going deep.




Doriannicole Standish

8 Nov 09

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I know your name...

You know, the world may not see your game.
You may never be shrouded in shame.
But I know your name.

You may try to move on with your life.
You may lie to your families, your wives.
But I know your name.

You can follow me from place to place.
Your actions you may have tried to erase.
But I know your name.

You think you lucked out, you got away.
I am here to tell you that there will come a day.
And I know your name. God knows your name.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Have you ever....

Have you ever found yourself in a valley so low, you were drowning in water? playing in black oil? or looking Satan right in his eyes?

Have you ever found youself crying so hard you forgot to breathe? your heart hurting so bad your body begin to ache?

Have you ever been surrounded by people, yet felt completely alone? Felt like trust for others was an unattainable feat?

Have you ever felt so worthless, so devoid of value, that killing yourself gave more effort that you deserved?

Have you ever feared so much that your mind refused to sleep? felt so much anxiety that you couldn't digest food?

Have you ever hated yourself for hating others? Have you ever tried to forgive but couldn't make your heart comply?

Have you ever prayed hoping to find faith again? Have you ever hoped for the ability to pray from the heart again?

Have you ever been murdered? Raped? Beaten? Criticized? Ridiculed? Persecuted? Tortured? Drugged?

Have you ever wondered about the world we live in? Questioned how people could be so cold? So callous? So selfish?

Have you been so estranged from God that the idea of church brings a fitful burst of tears and weeping?

Have you ever wondered what is below hell because you've already reached there?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Were you there?

A testament of faith...

This week, I found myself in the Emergency Room twice. The first was scary enough, the latter, damn near took my life. I have spent the entire week in bed, in pain, in and out of sleep. I kept thinking that things happen because I speak my mind... LOL. I published my last blog and spoke about the anger and rage I felt toward God for letting me hurt so much. And, then, this week when my body was screaming with pain, the frustration just became deeper... why me?

Anger, frustration, resentment and disappointment all charged my spirit at once. I was angry at my mother, my pastor, the Bible, and God for allowing me to believe he'd always be there for me. I hear Fred Hammond singing 'No weapon', I read the Bible (Hebrews 13:6) and I think I am going to be okay, no matter what comes my way. God is supposed to be there, to save us, to protect us, to comfort us.

So, how does it happen? How was I left alone to fight for my life? At church, they still tell me that God was there. Really? Was He? I am no longer asking my family, the pastors, my friends, the Bible. I am asking HIM:

Were You there...

...when they decided to take what didn't belong to them?

...when they beat me, spit on me, cursed at me?

...when they lied on me?

...when they tried to kill me?

...when they abandoned me?

...when they told me I wasn't going to make it?

...when they turned on me?

Were You...

...holding my hand while they raped me?

...carrying me when they threw me in a ditch?

...watching while they laughed and made fun of me?

...protecting me while they destroyed my dreams?

...with me when they killed my baby?

...there when they took my loved ones away?

...lying by my side when I woke up from nightmares?

Were you there...

...through all of the treatments, the needles, the pain?

...when migraines controlled my life?

...when my family doubted me and some turned their backs to me?

...when my body almost lost life..again?

I prayed to Him, asking Him, yelling at Him, demanding answers. I haven't been able to talk to Him lately. Admittedly, I've been giving him the silent treatment for months. But now, I needed to know why I should believe in the power of God when He never wielded it for me. Why should I believe in the mercy of God, when He showed none toward me. And how could I ever believe He loved me if all I felt was unyielding hatred, shame, and disappointment towards myself?

The one thing I hadn't expected happened...He put me in such a place this week that not only would I call to Him, but the pain kept me still so I could hear him...

He responded; His voice spoke delicately yet with firm resolve. He said to me:

My child, you ask me whether or not I was there, yet here you stand. I was there, taking your pain, protecting you from the ultimate loss. I was there making sure that all that you endured was never more than you could bear. I was there, moving things, making sure that what you live through will ultimately build you and bring glory to my name. I heard you cry out my name, and I answered. I wiped away your tears. I am mending your broken spirit. Do you know, my child, the beauty of a broken spirit? It is similar to a broken bone. Once broken and healed, it is extraordinarily difficult to break it in the same place again. The mended bone is much stronger than the never before injured bone. Like a broken bone, it hurts and it takes time to heal.

There was never a moment of shame for you. You acted in my grace. You did what I asked you to do. You did what your heart told you to do. Do you remember how they treated Jesus? Do you remember how they beat him, lied on him, abandoned and tried to kill him? Do you remember how Jesus wept? He wept for you. He wept for the pain that you are feeling right now. But, while his body died, his spirit remained alive, indomitable.

The pain you feel now resides in your inability to focus. Focus on me, not that pain, and it will disappear. The more you give it, the more it will take from you. My commitment to you is unwavering, you are my child. No matter your perceived flaws, your mistakes, your emotions, you are mine and I made you exactly how I want and need you to be. You do my work everyday, humbling yourself, maintaining peace, and giving to others that which you barely yourself have. And even when they attempt to steal from your happiness, you radiate with joy. Your very presence literally lights a room. It is not because of your greatness, but because of mine that resides in you.

And, my child, you aren't faithless. If you were, you wouldn't be calling on me now. You couldn't be angry or disappointed. So while your faith and trust in me may be limited, it is there. And all I ask is that you have faith the size of a mustard seed...together we can move mountains.
Know that I love you...no one in this world can love you the way that I do...I understand that it will take time for you to know that in your mind. But, your heart is now and has always been mine. Your spirit may have once been weakened, but it has never died.

Your faith kept you from giving up. It is your faith that helps you pull it together each day. It's what keeps you doing what you started. It's why you still love and help others. Because you have faith in Me. You may never see how much stronger you are, you may never see past that moment in your life, but the darkness of the situation creates a beautiful contrast with what is store for you. I love you, my child.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Keeping it A Hundred....

I am sitting here in front of the screen with a million and ten thoughts traversing recklessly through my mind. I am wondering which of these will make it to the page, which of these will die in my heart. I have never publicly written anything in this manner; great thought and care goes into the things I choose to share with the world. So, as you read this, I ask you to forgive me for being so blunt, so honest, and for showing blatant and complete disregard for anyone's feelings and/or opinions. Forgive the ping pong effect of my writing as I am just putting it down as it comes out of me; without edits, without take backs. I learned a long time ago that what is said, once it comes out, can never be taken back. And, more importantly, I am learning right now, more than ever, that at the end of the day, I have to deal with me and no one else.

First, to answer the many emails and messages about why I haven't written much, let me say that I was holding back to avoid offending anyone, to avoid putting anyone in any particular situations, and to try to avoid anything I hated about my life completely. It's hard to write from the heart when there is so much weighing it down. The past few months have seen me at my ultimate worse ever. There were days when I thought I didn't belong in this world. Here I am serving my country, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for my country and the people in it, and so many of them are ambivalent, ungrateful, spoiled and selfish. I watched as people lost their lives defending our country. We have been at war for almost 8 years. I know it's hard to believe but this September 11th will be the 8th year of this incessant battle. But who are we fighting? I am not even sure anymore. Moreover, why are we fighting? To protect innocent lives?

We need to be focusing on the wars at home. Teenagers having sex with adults, "sexting" from video game devices, children smoking smarties...THE CANDY! to get high, snorting kool-aid for a buzz, sneaking shots of alcohol but putting them up their noses for an immediate high. Let's not mention boyfriends constantly killing their girlfriends, husbands beating the hell out of their wives, women throwing their lives away in underground strip clubs and a whole fucking state considering making prostitution legal. Let's not talk about what I think about this. We have people killing each other over words written in a song. We have people going back and forth disrespecting the very essence of another because of something childish that one said about the other. Rhianna decides to speak out for abused women and then goes back to the bastard that beat her. Mariah and Eminem going back and forth about who slept with who? And the thing about it...all of this makes so much money. We allow this bullshit to happen.

What about quarterbacks that retire 15 times? Can we talk about football for a sec? Because it is a great analogy to the lack of loyalty and conviction that we are seeing around the world today. For everyone, it's about the money, the title, the fame, the fortune. All of these things are supposed to make them happy. Yet, these dumb asses go right back to their old neighborhoods that they so desperately tried to get out of, and kill each other. They want media attention, so they retire and then come and suck royally...again. Money isn't enough. We have no real role models for our children to follow. Those that make it, never return to lift others out. Those that get some status, return only to add to the problems. They are loyal to everyone but themselves. They have little values, little respect for themselves and others, and they certainly don't give a damn about the little boys and girls who are doing everything possible to emulate them.

Let's talk politics for a second. Barack Obama came into office and within the first 100 days people were 'disappointed' with the progress that he made. The fact that he made progress in the midst of such a mess is in and of itself a miracle. Do you know where the economy was? Really? Do you really know how messed up the schools were? While we are talking about schools, did you know that the Secretary of Education that Obama appointed was the first one ever to have a background in education? Does this speak about our previous priorities? Does this explain why No Child Left Behind left more children behind than any of its predecessors? Hmmm. Maybe schools in the nation's capital will get some books...maybe we can pay teachers enough to support themselves on their salaries. Has anyone out there ever lived in NYC, DC, LA? Do you think $35,000 is going to cut it? Nah...not without a second salary.

Then, there is the health care crisis. Let's face it, there is no solution that is going to make everyone happy. Most developed countries have some form of government subsidized health care. Think about this for a second: I have cancer. In the United States, one chemotherapy treatment cost $16,000. Most health care plans that you get from work have a cap of $250,000. So, let's just put it out there. 12 rounds of chemotherapy $192,000. Prescriptions (of which I had 13-14 per day at any given time) $1000/month. So in a given year: $12000. Operations to remove tumors and growths, tests, doctor's fees, specialists fees, radiation...before we even find the right solution, we've busted the cap. Now, it's out of pocket for us. So, government subsidized health care wouldn't be right for everyone necessarily, but it would allow me to do what I wanted to do for a living without starving to death. It is a common saying that the drugs aren't what makes chemotherapy patients thin and fragile, it's their inability to pay for the food they need to survive.

Then there are the deeper sentiments that have come into my mind over the last several months. As much as I have a love and respect for God, we just don't seem to be on the same page. I am praying now, to be able to repair the relationship I once had with him. I look to my faith to bring me through trying times, but in November, my faith was stolen. I felt like I'd died...alone. I went to church a couple of weeks later and heard the pastor say that God is with you always; that He never leaves your side; and that when you are going through tough times, that He holds your hand and leads you out... And all I could think was: was God holding my hands when they were raping me? Did he have my back when they were kicking me, when they were spitting on me, burning me with cigarette butts? Was he leading me through the darkness toward the woods where they ejaculated time and time on me, in me; taking turns on me? Where was He when I was screaming out His name? Was He holding my hand when they were stepping on them and kicking my side until I stopped fighting? Was He watching and delivering me while they were literally pulling my hair out, dragging me by my hair through the woods? My Father which art in heaven...would I have been able to watch my child go through that without reacting? Would I have allowed the military to revictimize me over and over again? To blame me for what happened that night? Would I have left such a void in my child's heart that she could not find enough love for herself to even look in the mirror some days?

How do you justify allowing someone to suffer? How is that grace and mercy? I know I may be offending some, but it has plagued my heart for months. Slowly I am working to repair my relationship, but it's hard to put my trust in Him to protect me and keep me. Really hard.

While we are on familial relationships... let me put something else out there . I am working hard to forgive everyone in my life that has done something to tear me down. I am trying to forget the images of my mother with the phone cord wrapped around her neck, or the can of coins hitting her in the head. I am trying to forget the cousins who molested, the neighbors who touched me inappropriately. And no, most of the world doesn't know about all of this. I am not looking for revenge. I am not looking for any kind of reparations or for them to be punished. I am only trying to find peace and closure. I am trying to close doors that, left open, inhibit me from being able to fully love myself. I am trying to find peace with it all.

If you know you wronged me, you betrayed my trust, you hurt my family, you hurt me, stop acting like you've always been there. Stop pretending that you 'supported' me and I have accomplished all that I have because of your encouragement. Stop taking credit for things you had nothing to do with. I am sure it doesn't help me to find forgiveness. What I don't understand is how you can think that because in your heart you feel that you have changed, become more of a man, given your life to Christ, or whatever it is you say, that it overrides the damage you've already done. That your life changes somehow ameliorates the pain and suffering you put me through. Just putting it out there.

I am who I am because of my life experiences. So, in some perverse way, sure you had something to do with it. The men in my life taught me what NOT to accept in a husband. The women in my life taught me how NOT to accept bullshit excuses as to why he hit you, or why you have to sleep with him whenever he wants to, or why marriage somehow means relinquishing control over your life and letting go of your dreams. There are women in my life that taught me to speak up for myself, to put these big feet to use when necessary and to not be afraid to speak my mind.

I am tired of people seeing me for what is on the outside. I am tired of being my rank, tired of being my accomplishments, my failures, other people's expectations. I am tired of trying to live up to other people's definitions of success, of a wife, of a sister, of a friend. I am tired of being happy when behind the smile are tears of frustration that I don't have permission to express. Fuck that. I will cry when I need to cry, laugh when I think something is funny, and express myself when I need to. I am on my time. I cannot fear man anymore...what else can he do to me? I've already been murdered twice. What more can you do? You've taken so much from me. You've trampled over me, beat me, raped me, scarred me, broken bones, destroyed everything you could, even my self-esteem. But I am here to let you and the rest of the world know... I am still standing. I'm stronger than you think, hell, I am stronger than I thought.

I work out twice a day for a couple of reasons: one, I think it is awesome that sizes 2,4,6 are always on the clearance rack...so I, in frugality and vanity, choose to stay that size...although cheese sticks and french fries call me like the snake in the apple tree. Two, I am getting physically stronger so that the next man (or woman) that feels they can take advantage of me has a lot more coming at them than they may expect. I am finding my inner gangsta... LOL... I will cut somebody if necessary.

I am not condoning violence. In fact, that's what breaks us down as a people. But, I am condoning taking care of yourself. Cuz, at the end of the day, no one has your back like you do. No one is going to be there every time. And, like I said before, at the end of the day, you have to deal with you. Someone wise let me in on that little secret. So, i am dealing with me. One day at a time.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Playing outside of the sandbox...

There comes a time in your life when you have the opportunity to step outside of your box. You have the chance to make the greatest decision of your life, possibly. You realize the safety and security of your life, albeit extremely superficial, is at stake...but that the joy and happiness that is possible as an outcome is far greater.

The truth of the matter is that we get these awesome chances very rarely. We so often miss them because we feel the risk is to great, we have not opened our minds enough, or we have no real sense of self to be able to defy the status quo. So often, we are so preoccupied with the possible judgements and criticisms of others that we don't do what our hearts say is best for us. Sometimes, we have to learn to just do what works best for us and allow others the opportunity to get over it.

With time, people will learn to move past the fact that your world has expanded beyond the box. You will learn that you have the ability to step out and will do so more often. Life is short and precious. There is nothing like trying it out. IF all else fails, you can always step back into the box.

Risk, take the chance... Live, on the edge... Love, without boundaries...

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Phenomenal Woman

Today, we are transitioning from Black History Month into both Women's History month and National Poetry Month. So, in honor of all of these celebrations, I am posting one of my favorite poems. It's inspiring, thought-provoking, and written by one of the most intelligent women I have ever met, Black or White. Over the years, as a author, a poet, or as my professor, Maya Angelou has taught me so much about myself without ever telling me about myself. Instead, her words, whether in poetry or prose, speech or other, speak directly to the definition of my being. It is this poem, built of confidence, that allows so many women to find the courage to be who God made them to be.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,That's me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,That's me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,That's me.
Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a womanPhenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,That's me.
Maya Angelou

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Missy's Garden

Once there was a girl, Missy, who just loved gardens. She loved the colors, the patterns, the freedom and ability to design God’s work for him. She couldn’t wait until springtime when the butterflies would come to visit the gardens, or the summertime when the fireflies would light up the evening views.

Missy was bright, ambitious and determined. So, she ventured out to create the garden of a lifetime. She imagined herself standing amongst the most beautiful plants and flowers in the world. She even considered planting trees in her garden.
First, she began by cultivating the land where she planned to build her garden. She treated the soil with special fertilizers, removed all of the weeds and rocks that had inhabited the earth where she’d decided to plant her garden.

On the eve of the sowing process, a terrible storm came and destroyed all of her hard work. The water and wind stripped the soil of all of the fertilizers she put down and tossed in rocks and sticks and outside rubbish from other lots. Moreover, the winds and rains had carried away many of her supplies.
The damage was devastating. It would take a long time to cultivate the land again. Many of her resources were low. The cost of repurchasing all of her supplies, the time to remove all of the rocks and sticks, the changing climate, and the fear of another storm consumed her. She began to doubt her ability to make a garden. Her garden, once pregnant with possibility, now seemed helplessly barren. Maybe this had been God’s way of telling her she wasn’t meant to have a garden. Still deep inside, the longing for a garden persisted.

After some time, she cleared the rubbish and rocks to a side of the lot. She had already decided that she would only plant a smaller garden. So, she took some of the resources she’d saved since the storm and began the process all over again; just on a smaller scale. As time progressed she began to see the fruits of her labor. Small blossoms appeared in a myriad of colors and shades; greens and reds, purples, oranges, yellows. She was beginning to hope again.

Deep in her heart she wanted that garden she’d always longed for. So, she began the great expansion project. She wanted people to be able to see the beauty she saw in her small garden. She wanted people to be able to really see all of the elements that created her garden. So, day by day, she expanded little by little until one day she reached the maximum area.

While it was difficult to manage such a large space, she did her best to make it presentable and inviting. People stopped to look but very few saw past the vastness of the garden to see the smaller parts that created the greater image. After a couple of years, she got tired of people trampling her flowers, tired of the storms that blew rubbish into her flowerbeds and moreover, tired of people stealing flowers from her beloved garden. She felt like maybe she needed to revamp her garden and focus the garden around something more fixed, more permanent. Maybe she could find something that no one could take away…maybe the trees from her original design would suffice.

In the midst of the garden remodel, Missy found herself growing physically tired. Caring for such a massive garden was proving to be quite a bit of work, not to mention choosing the perfect tree, moving it to the garden, and supporting it until it had strong enough roots of its own. Yet, she continued. She knew there was a long road ahead of her, but she could see her garden coming along.

Then, one day out of nowhere, Missy woke up to a garden plagued with some kind of disease. It ravaged her garden, spreading like a malignant cancer across her garden. It destroyed the perimeter of her garden, it killed the blossoming flowers on the ground and finally her rose bushes began to die too. She sought professional help to save her garden. She worked side by side with them while they toiled in her garden trying to stop the metastasis of the dream killing disease. The professionals gave her garden treatment after treatment. The disease would go away for a few months only to resurface because they’d left a single infected plant in the garden. Again, they’d provide treatment after treatment.

Missy focused all of her energy on her trees in the middle of her garden. She refused to let this disease affect her trees. She watched them carefully and continued to pour her resources into both the garden at large and the trees. Eventually, Missy had to change her career to make sure she could continue to watch her garden.

It took almost seven years for Missy’s garden to begin to develop again. Her trees were doing well. By the end of the 8th year, Missy had seven trees standing tall in the center of her garden. She still fought off the garden bandits who sought to steal her flowers. She still had to protect her plants from the abuse of storms, trampling feet, and the little boys who played too close to her garden. She built tall fences around her garden. Yet, they still managed to enter. So she made her fences concrete, wide blocks, impenetrable without major effort.

In the beginning of the seventh year, she opened her garden for the first time. She determined that she could allow select people to see it up close. Her first visitor was so great. He seemed to know all about the garden. He identified so many of the flowers on the first try. She was so at ease with him. She let him into her garden regularly. He always noticed changes, she loved that he loved her garden. For seven months he came every day. Then, just as quickly as he’d entered her world, he disappeared. She was devastated. For three months he didn’t show up to see her garden, although she tried to invite him.

Just when she’d given up on her garden companion, he showed up at her gate entrance. By now, she’d closed off the garden to anyone. He begged her to let him come to see the garden. She reluctantly obliged. But something had changed. She saw him more as a trespasser instead of a visitor. And, she found herself asking him to leave.

She frantically uprooted her garden and moved to a different place. In the process, she lost some of the plants but figured she’d replace them as soon as she was settled. Her trees all survived the move, although one tree, that she’d affectionately named Faith, was not as strong as the others. The move really weakened Faith because her roots had been so deeply planted and the uprooting process is most dangerous the deeper the roots are. Between the disease and the move, the garden had grown much smaller than it once was, but it was still something to behold.
Amazingly, the lot she moved to already had big walls. Her garden was finally safe. The professionals hadn’t detected any of that malicious disease that had killed off so much of her garden. No pests, in insect or human form, were going to enter her garden ever again.

It was lonely without any visitors but the beauty of the garden was beginning to become more apparent. Missy worked overtime to repair Faith. She needed to make sure that her Faith was strong and intact. While she worked on Faith, she also continued to work on Knowledge, another big tree. This type of tree needed constant care.

One day, she sat in the garden and leaned on Faith. She decided to extend her garden in a way she hadn’t before. She was going to add a balcony from which she could see the full aerial view of her garden. She went to the contractor’s office and told him of her plans. He helped her design her balcony and get her started on this long project. This was no ordinary balcony. It depended on the height of her Faith and on her Knowledge.

As she was leaving the contractor’s office one day, she ran into a man who was very attractive. His name was RJ. She thought about her garden and her last visitor. She continued past him. Time and time again, she ran into him until finally, she begin to let him see elements of her garden. She’d bring cut flowers from her garden, small examples of what lay behind that massive wall. He seemed interested in all that she had in her garden. So, she very hesitantly allowed him to peek inside the walls.

After a while, he began removing parts of the wall. He understood that the plants needed sunlight from all directions. RJ understood that there were so many things that made Missy’s garden beautiful. He saw more than the plants. He saw the love and dedication that she put into it. He saw the fear which caused her to protect each one. And while he couldn’t protect her garden from disease, he could help her protect it from the trampling feet, the blossom thieves, and allow her to remove the wall, so every plant can have sun light.

With him there, the garden blossomed. Butterflies began to emerge and grow in her delicate garden. A beautifully ornate vine, Amorous, was planted. This was a project that required a lot of effort from both of them. But, it was a beautiful addition to the garden. It surrounded the garden, like the wall had before, but gave way to brilliant sunlight. Oh this garden was becoming a sight to see.

Like any success, there were those who sought to destroy the garden. And they came in, one Friday night in November, and vandalized the garden. They threatened Missy that if she rebuilt it, they’d do her more harm than they had done her garden. She fell to her knees, afraid for both her garden and her own life. Faith had been damaged the most. Confidence, another tree was hurt badly too. They had carved their mark into the bark of Confidence. Still worse, Missy had all but given up. She didn’t want to talk to anyone. RJ, who had been away on a work assignment, called her frequently to encourage her. He helped her make it through the most difficult days. Before you know it, she was back in the garden working diligently to fix her garden.

Confidence and Faith are still not as strong as they once were, but they grow a little stronger every day. RJ still comes to help Missy in the garden. In fact, he moved in, so that he can be there to help Missy every day. RJ’s presence, his added love makes Missy’s garden just blossom. And while storms may come, Missy and RJ will be there to replant the seeds in the garden.
One beautiful summer day, when Missy’s garden was in full bloom, she and RJ stood on the balcony looking into the garden. It was if she were floating hand in hand over the garden she loved, and had for so long dreamed of, and the man she loved. And, just like that, he turned to her, and asked if he could tend her garden for the rest of their lives. She, beaming said that he could, if that was something that he could promise her he’d do.

The next spring, when all of the beautiful flowers began to peek from behind their green cloaks, RJ whispered something else. He told Missy, “Forever and ever, I do.” And, with that, Missy’s garden became home to RJ forever.
The End.