Monday, February 27, 2012

Makeda by Randall Robinson

Randall Robinson

My first introduction to Randall Robinson was through his book The Debt: What America Owes to Black, and I was so moved by this book. This was the first book that I had read that examined the legacy of Bill Clinton in a perspective that made me look at him and his presidency from different lenses. This book also focused on the idea that the only way that Blacks can lay a foundation for their future is by reclaiming our lost heritage, and he also talked about reparations for slavery and racial discrimination. After reading this book, I went on a journey to discover who is this smart man who definitely has "fire shut up in his bones."

Randall Robinson is the founder and past president of TransAfrica.  (I have been to several of their functions, and I love this group.Randall "organizied a sit-in at a South-African embassy in order to protest the apartheid era government's policy of segregation and discrimination against black South Africans, a personal hunger strike aimed at pressuring the United States government into restoring Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power after the short-lived coup by General Raoul C├ędras, and dumped crates filled with bananas onto the steps of the United States Trade Representative in order to protest what he viewed as discriminatory trade policies aimed at Caribbean nations, such as protective tariffs and import quotas." This man has "fire shut up in his bones."

After reading The Debt, I read several of his other books, and the one that really gave me a lot of knowledge and made me angry was An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President. After reading this book, my respect for many of our leaders during the second Bush administration was left in question, and my respect for Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Randall Robinson, and his wife Hazel, went through the roof. I LOVE RANDALL ROBINSON! (Please, please read An Unbroken Agony. You'll never be the same.)

So, I was browsing through a magazine, and I read that Randall Robinson had written a fiction book titled Makeda. I had never read a fiction book by Randall, and I had to try it. The main story line is about a boy named Gray who's grandmother confided in him about past lives that she has lived. However, this book touches on so many other issues such as the Civil Rights Movement, African American writers during the Harlem Renaissance who were thought to be writing to please White people, life at Historical Black colleges with professors who challenges the status quo, the complexity of the African American family, Black love etc. (It is evident that this man has a lot on his mind, and he has "fire shut up in his bones.") I really prefer his non-fiction books so much more, but with all of the things that I think about on any given day, I am sure that if I write a fiction book, it may be similar to this book with a lot packed in.  

Let me tell you a true story about Randall and me. I promise that it is true. I live a life where I am always experiencing those Serendipity Moments. I have the most random, pleasant things happening to me all of the time. 

So, I was in the beauty shop one summer, and I think that it was about two summers ago. If you know anything about my summer activities: hiking, biking, swimming, tennis etc, you know that I am not the person who worries about her hair in the summer. But, for some reason, I felt the need to let my stylist, Eddie, touch my hair. As I was leaving the shop, guess who was passing in front of the shop? Randall Robinson, of course. I ran outside and asked "Are you Randall Robinson?" and it was him in the flesh. Here is the proof:

Randall and Me!

This is a man that people should know. Read anything by Randall Robinson, and I know that you will be enlighten in ways that you could never image. He has "fire shut up in his bones."

I LOVE RANDALL ROBINSON, and I think that you will too!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Journeys of Serendipity

To know my friend, Margaret Schreiner, is to love her. She is such a warm person, and she has this way of making a person feel like he or she is the only person in a room; she gives every person undivided attention.

Me and Margaret

Margaret has decided to follow her passion for traveling by starting her very own travel company called Journeys of Serendipity. If you know anything about me, you know that I love group travel, and most of my travel has been with organized groups: Wine Country Trekking, Bike Vermont etc. So, when I heard that Margaret was starting a travel company, my heart jumped for joy, because, like stated before, to know Margaret is to love her, and I know that traveling with her company will be totally, without a doubt, incredible.

This past weekend, she hosted her very first trip with Journeys of Serendipity, and it was amazing. Seven ladies and I traveled to Douthat State Park for a weekend to nurture our souls and re-discover our spirits. We had amazing conversations, meals, and snow.

Over the weekend, Margaret told us about several serendipity moments that she has had on many of her trips, and guess what? We had a serendipity moment of our own.

So, it was predicted that we would have snow on Saturday, but the weather guys have predicted snow so many times this winter, and the snow just hasn't shown up. I was still hoping that we would wake up on Saturday and the ground would be covered with snow, and we would start a fire, drink tea, and relax. However, when we woke up on Saturday, it was quite warm and there was no snow.

But, lo and behold, it started snowing around noon, and we got quite a bit. It was beautiful, and it added so much warmth and joy to our group and the trip. Not sure why, but cold snow tends to make people feel warm on the inside. Boy were we warm and fuzzy!

Thanks Margaret for a Wonderful Weekend!

Cabin before the snow.

Cabin after the snow.


Ok everyone, I will be going on the Rocky Mountain Retreat with Journeys of Serendipity the first week of August. Why don't you go to the website, pay the deposit, and join me? You never know what may happen!!!

If you book any trip before March 31, you will get a $100 discount.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Honor Your Gift!

(This post has a whole lot of random thoughts. Just Warning You!!)

I have been thinking a lot about vision, purpose, gift, (Whatever you want to call it.) and I really believe that every person has a purpose for being on this planet.

So, last night I was watching Whitney Houston's interview with Oprah Winfrey, and they talked about her voice and her purpose, and my mind started racing.

I thought about if Whitney's purpose on this earth was to use her voice to bring other people joy. If her voice was her gift, I wonder did she know that, and if she did know that, then why would she abuse her gift? And if she did not know that her voice was her gift, maybe that is why she abused it. (I hope that you are following me.)

So, I started thinking about the idea that if people do not discover their gift, then the world would be missing something. Maybe the world would compensate in other ways for a person not discovering their purpose, but it still would be missing something.

Let's take Zora Neale Neale Hurston and her books. I really believe that one of her purposes for being on this earth was to write great books, and not just any books but books that told women stories, African American stories etc, and I wonder what would the literary world be like if she had not honored the gift that God gave her....(Trying to image the world without Their Eyes Were Watching God, Seraph on the Swanee, Dust Tracks on a Road.)  The world would be just fine maybe, but it would be missing something.

This morning when I got to school, I asked the students if they believed that everyone has a purpose for being on this earth, and they all agreed that they think that we do. So, I gave them the challenge of finding their purpose or gift and to be conscious not to abuse it and not allow anyone else to abuse it. We talked about what the world will be like if they do not discover their passion and live it.

In my mind, I went a step further and thought about what the world would be like if Michelle Obama had not honored the calling of challenging people to be healthier, if my mom had not honored the calling to make beautiful clothing, if I had not honored the calling of supporting people in living their best lives through literature, if Frederick Douglass had not honored the calling to be an abolitionist, what will the world be like if you do not find out why you are here, and honor that?

We had an incredible Black History program today, and I was thinking about the kids and their purposes. They were on the stage singing, dancing, playing instruments, reciting poetry etc. They were all contributing to a Black History Program that almost had me doing one of those ugly cries. And, as I was watching them, I was really hoping that they all knew that they are gifts and that they have gifts, and I really hope that they honor their gifts.

I'm just thinking.............................................

Picture of Booker T. Washington. I am so happy that he honored his purpose
of leadingTuskegee Institute so that Tuskegee could produce me, The
Commodores, Tom Joyner and many others.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Chronicle of a Death Foretold" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I love a good story! There is almost nothing that brings me joy as much as a good story. And, if a story has characters that look like me, then I am really completely overjoyed. However, I must admit that I will give almost any book a try.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold was recommended to me, and of course I love a good story, so I gave it a try.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a Latin American writer and his most famous books are One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in Time of Cholera. (I loved Life in the Time of Cholera.) Gabriel Garcia Marquez is considered to be one of the most significant authors of the 20th century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. He pursued a self-directed education that resulted in his leaving law school for a career in journalism." So, without a doubt, this man is incredible.

I went into this reading of Chronicles of A Death Foretold with an open mind, but I knew something was wrong when I started to read it, because I had to force myself to pick it up again the next day. I didn't read it for a few days, and when I tried to pick up where I left off, I couldn't remember what I had read before; therefore, I had to start over.

In any situation that is not working, I always try and make sure that I am not the problem. In my current life coaching class with the wonderful, magnificent Iyanla Vanzan and Robert Pruitt, I came to the realization that many times people will "produce worthlessness in their lives and make it about something or someone else." So, with this book, I decided to make sure that my mind was not preoccupied with other things, and I was giving this book a fair shot.

So, I tried reading this book again from the beginning, and I must say that this is a book did not speak to my heart. It didn't leave me excited or even make me want to go out and tell others about it. I was really relieved when I was finished so that I could get back to the business of reading something that I really enjoy and that speaks to my heart.

The plot of Chronicle of a Death Foretold "revolves around Santiago Nasar's murder. The narrator acts as a detective, uncovering the events of the murder second by second. Literary critic Ruben Pelayo notes that the story unfolds in an inverted fashion. Instead of moving forward... the plot moves backwards.  In the first chapter, the narrator tells the reader exactly who killed Santiago Nasar and the rest of the book is left to unfold why."

I normally love books that tells the reader what happens and then spends the rest of the book telling why, but this book had a lot of characters that did not seem to be important, and even when I found out why Santiago was killed, I did not feel like WOW, I felt like Ok!

So, after identifying that I was not the problem, I came to the conclusion that I do not have to love every book like I am suppose to love everybody. I have the right to say that I did not love this book, but I still think that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a great writer, but this one was just not for me.

The lessons that I learned from this experience is that we must give things a fair try and then decide whether or not we like them, and just because I did not like Chronicle of a Death Foretold does not mean that all of Marquez's books are bad or even that this one is bad, it just didn't make my heart happy, but I still think that Marquez is a great writer. (Not liking broccoli does not mean that I hate all vegetables.)

Hey, don't throw out the baby with the bath water. (Writing this quote has me laughing out loud.)

The Honorable Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Jumping Jack and Bouncing Beatrice

Growing up with eight older sisters, yes that's right, eight older sisters, I never really felt that there was a need for friends outside of my sisters, but there was something about Beatrice McCray that helped me to realize that it was ok to have friends that did not live in my household.

Not sure when our friendship began, but my most vivid memories began in middle school when we were two peas in a pod.

Middle School can be really tough for children with puberty, trying to find their place in the world, school work etc. And during the middle school years, children will do the darnest things. Beatrice and I were usual middle school children who did the darnest things.

In the 80's, yes, the 80's, Beatrice and I attended a middle school, E.T. Belsaw, that had no air conditioning and no screens on the windows in HOT Alabama. (The fact that we were actually able to learn in this type of building and for people to think that it was ok is a whole 'nother blog.) One day, for no particular reason, Beatrice and I jumped out of one of the windows of the school. It was not during class time, so I am not sure why the principal made us write "I will not jump out of a window" 100 times on a brown paper bag. After the jump, we become known to many as "Jumping Jack and Bouncing Beatrice."

This morning I received a call informing me that my dear Bea has gone on. At first, I did not know what to think, but I got up to get dressed for work and found myself in the shower in one of those cries that comes from the depths of the soul. I am in pain..........

I saw Beatrice three years ago during the celebration of our twenty years of graduating from high school, and it was just like old times, as if we had not partied ways twenty years earlier.

It was always comforting to know that my Dear friend and I were breathing the same air and that I could check on her from time to time.

But now, I'm am suppose to go on as if everything is ok, but everything is NOT ok, My Beatrice Is Gone.

I know that she loved deep and laughed often and that is what I loved about her the most!

I'll be loving Beatrice always.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday may be America's best holiday!

Yesterday, The Super Bowl was played in Indianapolis, and millions of people watched the game from home, bars, or at the actual game. I was invited to three parties, and when I contemplated which party to attend, ( I did contemplate, because who you watch the Super Bowl with is very important.) I thought about location, who would likely be there, and I slightly thought about the food. (The food is least important to me.)

One of the parties was about thirty minutes away and the other two were closer to my house. However, all three of the parties would have people that I love and love spending time with, and of course, all three would have great food, for heaven sakes, it's The Super Bowl.

So, I selected the party that I would attend, and boy did I have a good time. We laughed a lot, talked a lot, ate a lot, (The hosts had salmon and beans with no meat. I love my friends.) and watched the game just a little.

The morning before the game, I couldn't help hearing people in the grocery store asking each other if they were going to a Super Bowl Party. Almost everyone said "Yes" with excitement. There is something that millions of people and I love about Super Bowl Sunday, and here is why I think that it just might be America's Best Holiday:

  1. People get to decide who they want to spend time with. We don't have to be with our Aunts that really get on our nerves, siblings who just can't stay out of each other's business, cousins that you really don't know etc. You can spend the day with whomever you like.
  2. Nobody has to slave over the food. No turkey that takes ten hours to cook, no ham that may take even longer. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has to stay up all night to cook. Chicken wings, potato salad, chips and dip, and desserts that were prepared by the grocery store work just fine.
  3. Nobody has to travel far. You can just leave your house and drive to someone's house and have a good time and go home. No crowd airports, expensive airline tickets, and stays that can really end up being too long.
  4. Overall, people are normally happy and the conversations are light and whimsical. The commercials and halftime really make for great conversations.
Man, I love Super Bowl Sunday.

Do you agree that Super Bowl Sunday may be America's Best Holiday!!!

You must have punch with... you know what!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Part 8 The End: What are You Passionate About?

God is soooooo good; he gives us choices. Yes, that's right, he lets us decide how we want to live. He sent Jesus so that we can have life and have life abundantly. But, he does not force abundant life on us; we must make the choice to have it.

He does not make us chose happiness, healthy foods, to workout, to spend time with great people, to love with our whole heart, work on jobs that we actually enjoy, follow our passions etc. He lets us decide. All I can say to this is Hallelujah!!!!

If you have been reading this series on passion, you know that I have made a conscious decision to live an abundant life by deciding to make my bad days good, doing things that bring me complete joy often, and making no excuses about the life that I have decided to live.

So, you may ask, "How am I discovering my passion?" (I am still discovering things that I love to do.)

1) I made the decision to live a life that I like and that honors God.
2) When opportunities present themselves to try something new; I try it.
3) I do not let fear rule me.
4) I make no excuses. No one cares about my excuses, especially God.

My sister, Dorothy, sent me an email that was the "Top Five Regrets of the Dying" by Bronnie Ware. Bronnie spent time with people who were dying. When he asked people about their regrets, here are the top five things that people regretted:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end, it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
I must give a shout out to my sister, Dr. Dorothy Reed, for sending me this email and to Bronnie Ware for having enough compassion to spend time with people who were dying and sharing their stories with the world.

People, life is meant to be lived with abundance. So, discover what that means for you, and live your best life.

Remember that God gives us choices.... make decisions that lead to abundant life TODAY!!!!

Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3
Read Part 4
Read Part 5
Read Part 6 
Read Part 7

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February is a GOOD month!

February is a good month for three reasons: the Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe, Love, and the celebration of Black History.

Every February, the Alvin Ailey Dance Troupe comes to the Kennedy Center in DC. I look forward to this event the same way that someone may look forward to a good meal, meeting friends on an island, or anything else that may bring a person complete joy.

February is also when we celebrate Valentine's Day. I know that there are people who look to this day with dread, complete joy, anxiety etc. I look to this day and month as an opportunity to relish in all of the love that I give and receive throughout the year. I love LOVE!

BLACK HISTORY MONTH....need I say more? I love Black History! I can read and hear about Black History every day. I just can't get enough. On that note, I am so grateful that Carter G. Woodson pushed to have this month set aside to focus on Black History... I focus on it all of the time, but it is so great to have other people focus on Black History at the same time.

So, February is always a good month for me.

I want to leave you with a LOVE poem:

Resignation by Nikki Giovanni

I love you
because the earth turns round the sun
because the North wind blows north
because the Pope is Catholic
and most Rabbis Jewish
because winters flow into springs
and the air clears after a storm
because only my love for you
despite the charms of gravity
keeps me from falling off this Earth
into another dimension
I love you
because it is the natural order of things

I love you
like the habit I picked up in college
of sleeping through lectures
or saying I’m sorry
when I get stopped for speeding
because I drink a glass of water
in the morning
and chain-smoke cigarettes
all through the day
because I take my coffee Black
and my milk with chocolate

because you keep my feet warm
though my life a mess
I love you
because I don’t want it
any other way.

I am helpless
in my love for you
It makes me so happy
to hear you call my name
I am amazed you can resist
locking me in an echo chamber
where your voice reverberates
through the four walls
sending me into spasmatic ecstasy
I love you
because it’s been so good
for so long
that if I didn’t love you
I’d have to be born again
and that is not a theological statement
I am pitiful in my love for you

The Dells tell me Love
is so simple
the thought though of you
sends indescribably delicious multitudinous
thrills throughout and through-in my body
I love you
because no two snowflakes are alike
it is possible
if you stand tippy-toe
to walk between the raindrops

I love you

because I am afraid of the dark
and can’t sleep in the light
because I rub my eyes
when I wake up in the morning
and find you there
because you with all your magic powers were
determined that
I should love you
because there was nothing for you but that
I would love you

I love you
because you made me
want to love you
more than I love my privacy
my freedom my commitments
and responsibilities
I love you ’cause I changed my life
to love you
because you saw me one Friday
afternoon and decided that I would
love you
I love you I love you I love you

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