Monday, January 30, 2012

"The Life of Pi" by Yann Martel

Piscine Moliot Patel, also known as Pi, is the main character in Life of Pi. Pi lives in India with his parents and his older brother, Ravi.

Pi's father was a zoo director; therefore, Pi spent a lot of time at the Pondicherry Zoo. His father took quite a drastic measure to show Pi and his brother how deadly animals, such as tigers, can be. A lesson that would save Pi's life later. (God always prepares us for NEXT.)

As a child, Pi loved religion, and he became a practicing Hindu, Christian, and Muslim without his parent's permission.

Pi was out with his parents one day and ran into what he called "The Three Wise Men:" the men who were his religious teachers. The priest said that Pi was a good christian boy; the imam stated that Pi was a good Muslim boy, because he faithfully came to Friday prayer, and he had exceptional knowledge of the Koran;  and the pandit stated that he was a great Hindu, because he frequented the temple for darshan and performing puja.

The three religious leaders got into a huge argument about Pi and his studies. The imam stated that "Hindus and Christians are idolaters. They have many Gods." The pandit stated that "The Muslims have many wives." The priest stated that "There is salvation only in Jesus." All three strongly felt that a person must practice religion singularly and that Pi must chose one. Finally, all eyes were on Pi, and they wanted to know why was he studying these three religions?

Pi stated: "I just wanted to love God."

After this confrontation, Pi stopped attending mass, he no longer went to Friday prayer, and he went to the temple only when it was crowded so that he would not be noticed. Pi decided that he would take matters into his own hands; he asked to be baptised and for a prayer rug. He was determined to be Hindu, Christian and a Muslim; he just wanted to love God.....

Because of the political strife in India, Pi's family decided to leave India and move to Canada. Pi was sixteen years old at this time.

However, the ship that was taking them to Canada sank, and the only survivors were Pi, a tiger, a zebra, an orangutan, and a hyena. He was on a life boat with these dangerous animals. (God always prepares us for NEXT.) All of the other animals were eaten except for Pi and the tiger: the hyena killed the zebra and the orangutan, and the tiger killed the hyena.

Some really unbelievable things happened on that life boat.

Imagine being on a ship with this for seven whole months!

When Pi was finally rescued, he told his incredible story of survival, but the people whom he was telling did not want to believe him; they only wanted to believe what their minds could envision.

When Pi told a story that their minds could wrap around, they believed him. Pi's response was "And so it goes with God!"  It's difficult to believe what we can not rationalize with our minds: mortgages being miraculous paid off, people being healed etc.....

However, I have a true story that confirms that miraculous things are still happening today.

I have been running a lot for two reasons: I love running in cold weather, and I was planning to do a half marathon in Miami this past weekend. So, if you over work your body, it will retaliate: my knee became swollen and sore.

I knew that I was going to Miami, but I was not sure if I would be able to run the race. I laid on the beach Friday with ice on my knee, and I thought about the Life of Pi, my daily bible readings which were about Joesph's brothers selling him into slavery, and I read from my daily word called Jesus is Calling. Finally, out of the my readings, it came to me that God is a healing God, and he can do what does not make sense to the logic.

I rubbed my knee and stated that "it will be healed for the race," and I believed that. Of course doubt came into my mind, but I replaced that with "God is a healing God." I did my part, Advil and Icy Hot creme, and God showed out.

I successfully ran the race and finished. My intention for the race was to start strong and finish strong, and that is what I did. I never run with music, because running is my time to give my undivided attention to God. During the race, I was "raising 'em" and praising HIM as stated by my nephew Vance Lang (Raising my hands and praising HIM), and my knee was more than fine; it was GOOD!

I know that it is difficult to believe what our minds can not logically explain, but God is still performing miracles....

I must give a shout out to Yann Martel for writing Life of Pi that challenges ideas about religion, God, and survival and also for giving me something to turn to when I needed it the most.

Be extremely careful about what you put into your spirit, because that is exactly what you will resort to in your time of need. In a place of need, I instantly pulled on what I put into my spirit: my bible readings, my daily word, and The Life of Pi!

Consider staying in a mode of learning so that you can be prepared for what's NEXT, and NEXT is always coming.

Read The Life of Pi by Yann Martel!!!!!

Me with my running girls before the race.
Look at that left knee: slightly swollen.

 After the race with a healed knee: "raising 'em" and praising HIM!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Part 7: What are you passionate about?

(All pictures in this post were taken with my very own camera.)

View from my balcony this fall!

I am passionate about The GREAT OUTDOORS!

There is no place where I feel closer to God than outdoors. When I hear the wind blowing on a crisp fall morning, feel the sun shining brightly on my face, see snow covering my car, and hear rain pounding on my windows, I know, without a doubt, that there is a GOD! It is never too hot or too cold for me, it just is..............

Because I am passionate about the Great Oudoors, just know, that is where I spend quite a bit of my time: sitting, running, biking, hiking etc. I make sure that I let God know that I appreciate his Great Work by noticing it.

Here are pictures of God and all of his beauty:

Ain't GOD Amazing!

As Janet Jackson states in the Nutri System commerical: "Get on it!"

Be about the business of discovering your passions.................

Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3
Read Part 4
Read Part 5
Read Part 6 
Read Part 8

Monday, January 23, 2012


Two Tuskegee Alumni talking to Terrance Howard at the University's chapel
during the Red Tails weekend on the campus!

Being one of many proud Tuskegee graduates, I saw more than my share of updates on Facebook about the movie Red Tails. However, one quote really stuck out in my mind, and I must share it......

Excellence Conquers every Obstacle!!!!

Being excellent is not something that I practice; it's what I am.......  Even when I slip up, I get back up and continue on my excellence journey!

How do you behave when no one is looking?

Tuskegee: Excellence, Pride, Honor, Integrity, history.......
I am a PROUD graduate of Tuskegee University!!!!

The Mighty Golden Tiger!!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Part 6: What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about learning!

I know that people say all the time that "knowledge is power," and I do believe, with everything in me, that knowledge really is power. I just can't get enough of learning, and the more that I know; the more that I want to know. Sometimes, my thirst for knowledge is overwhelming.

Take for instance that I am reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks with all of it's astonishing knowledge; I may find myself completely consumed with the reading. My heart may even beat fast as I am reading the book. Then, I may download about three more books by that same author or on that same topic; I get a little obsessed until life kicks in and slows down my reading. (Please read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and learn, learn, learn.)

Around April, May and June, I start getting calls from my friends asking me "What are you studying this summer?" If I say nothing, I always get the same reply: "I don't believe it!"

My friends questions' are not without merit. I normally do go somewhere to study during the summer. I've studied the Ethnic Autobiography in Philadelphia, Blacks in Politics in Chicago, The American South and South Africa in Atlanta, Zora Neale Hurston in Florida; Crime, Culture and Punishment in Massachusetts, and I've studied many more topics with my Free Time in the summer. (Not so FREE right?)

My massachusetts study group!
My Atlanta study group on the steps of the church
that was bombed in Birmingham during the Civil Rights Movement!
My Philadelphia Study Group!

Last summer I did not go away to any summer programs, but I sure did learn a lot. I read many, many books, had courageous conversation with friends, took in some great exhibits, and I felt so much smarter once school started back. However, once school started, the learning really started.

My students gave presentations on different novels, and many of the novels I had never read before. I was so intrigued by their presentations, and now I have this long list of books that I am going to read upon my students' recommendation. Knowledge! Knowledge! Knowledge!!!!!

Loving to learn means that I love school right? Well, I do! I love the buildings, desk, teachers, professors, structure, bells, books etc. I just finished my 3rd degree, and I mean it, and I really mean that I am not taking another class for a grade. (Grades are for kids.) I just want to take classes to learn. Be careful about what comes out of your mouth...........

One of my friends sent me an email about a New Year's Eve Celebration, and at the bottom of the email I saw CLASSES. Me being me, I clicked on that, and lo and behold, I am currently taking a life coaching class with the honorable Iyanla Vanzant and the dynamic Robert Pruitt, and I ain't getting a grade; I'm just growing and learning. Power! Power! Power!

Iyanla Vanzant

Most of the knowledge that I have, I must admit, I DIDN'T get it in traditional schools. I love traditional schools, but they only serve to pique a person's interest on different topics. We must pursue what we want to learn and its normally independently. In school, I hit the surface of health, English, math, history, but it was up to me to go deeper into the things that I wanted to know or needed to know.

So, you see that I have another passion!

Be about the business of discovering your passion.

Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3
Read Part 4
Read Part 5
Read Part 7
Read Part 8

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Salvage The Bones by Jesmyn Ward

I am from a small town outside of Mobile, Alabama called Mt. Vernon, Alabama. One of the colleges in that area is the University of South Alabama. Now, I know that there are scholars who work for The University of South Alabama, but I have not heard of any until I heard about Jesmyn Ward.

My sister, Dorothy, who is one my sources for intellectual stimulation, sent me a link about a professor at the University of Alabama who won the 2011 National Book Award Winner for fiction. Also, my nephew, Vance, sent me a link to an article about this same book. His motive was a little bit different than Dot's; he really wanted me to know that a cute girl had written a book who just happens to live in Mobile, the same place where he lives. However, he also let me know that he was waiting for me to write my book. (You got to love Vance Lang.)

I downloaded Salvage the Bone and another book by Jesmyn Ward: Where the Lines Bleed. Before I give my thoughts about this book, let me say that I will not rip a part a writer who teaches in my home state, but I have to state the truth as I know it: I disliked this book a whole bunch. (Ok, I said it. Now, I can breathe.)

This book is about a girl named Esch, her dad, her three brothers, and a dog named China and her pups. The story is not very cohesive. I definitely get what Jesmyn is trying to do: parallel the life of a dog with  puppies with the life of a fifteen year old girl who is pregnant? (I guess!)

To be honest, I went into the reading of this book with a lot of high hopes, but it failed to delivery. If I had to sum this book up in a few lines, I really couldn't do it. Something was missing.......

I just can't give up on a writer who teaches in my own home state. So, I will read her other book: Where The Lines Bleed. (Pray for me!)

Salvage the Bone is definitely not on my list of books to read again, but you should try it and enlighten me, and I just might try it again.

However, Vance Lang is right. She is cute!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Something to Marinate on!


One of my favorite groups is Outcast, and my favorite Outcast CD is Aquemini. In the song, SpottieOttieDopaliscious, from the Aquemini CD, Andrew states  "Marinate on that," meaning that he wants you to ponder on what he just said.

Andrew from the group Outcast!

So, I was doing my Bible readings from Genesis, and I was reading about Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. I'm going to give you the cliff notes version of their story.

Jacob saw Rachel and wanted to marry her, but her father told him that he needed to work for him for seven years in order to marry Rachel. So, Jacob worked for seven years, but Rachel's father gave Jacob Leah at the end of seven years instead of Rachel; in this culture, he needed to have his oldest daughter married first. So, after a week of being married to Leah, Jacob was able to marry Rachel, but he had to work for Leah and Rachel's father for seven more years. The bible states that "Jacob loved Rachel so much more than he loved Leah."

Here are some words that I want you to marinate on:
Genesis 29:19........"So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days." (What you won't do, do for love!)
Genesis 29:32......"So Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son........And now my husband will love me." 
Genesis 29:...."Then she (Leah) became pregnant a third time and gave birth"..... "Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons!" (Really Leah?)
Marinate on these words and share your thoughts please!

I had to leave you with SpottieOttieDopaliscious by Outcast!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Long Live The Kings! Period

Guess where we are on his Birthday?

I have two Kings in my life that are worthy to be praised, honored, served, and have a monument erected in their honor: My dad, LJ Stallworth, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I am patiently waiting, with excited anticipation, on my third King, who will take the role as my husband!

My #1 King

MY #2 King

Today is King #2's birthday, and I spent the day with my girl Toya at the Dr. King memorial. She and I are both a little sentimental, and we did shed a few tears when we thought about the significance of the monument, this holiday weekend, our people etc.

Today, and everyday, I will honor the memory of both of my Kings by having a dream of my own and living it. Thanks guys for teaching a humble girl, like me, how to have HUGE dreams and vision.

Long Live The Kings!

Girls with HUGE Dreams!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini

"It wasn't easy tolerating him talking this way to her, to bear his scorn, his ridicule, his insults, his walking past her like she was nothing but a house cat. But after four years of marriage, Mariam saw clearly how much a woman could tolerate when she was afraidAnd Miriam was afraid." (Excerpt from A Thousand Splendid Suns) 
I have read this novel a total of three times for three reasons: It is a very powerful and moving story, it is a great story to understand the life of women in Afghanistan after the Taliban took over, and I teach it to my seniors, and I read it again everytime that I teach it.

During this read, the above quote stood out in my mind, and my mind starting racing. I thought about this idea that I got from another book, not sure what book, but the idea stated that everything that we do is done out of fear or love. After many years of thinking about fear and love, I must say that I agree with this. I consciously try and act out of love at all times. Really and honestly, it ain't always easy, but I must say that I try anyway.

I thought about the millions of people during the Jewish Holocaust who endured such horrible treatment with the fear of dying on their minds. I thought about Africans, who were turned into slaves, enduring dehumaning treatment out of fear for their lives. I thought about Immaculee llibagiza, who, in Left to Tell, writes about being huddled in a bathroom for 92 days with seven other women during the Rwanda genocide out of fear of losing her life. People can really endure a lot when fear is involved. However, I wonder how much we can or will endure out of love?

Mariam, the main character in A Thousand Splendid Suns, really, and I mean, really, tolerated a whole lot from her husband and father. In class, today, we talked about the idea of whether or not these men were mean and evil or were they simply following the traditions of Afghan culture which treated women as second class citizens according to Western Society. One of my students said that this novel made him so angry, and he wondered why we, the United States, did not do more to help these women.

This is one of those novels that definitely pulls at a person's heart strings. I thought about the women in this story, even though this is a fictional novel, and my heart was sadden to think that there are women on this planet who have to tolerate so much out of fear. (I do believe that there is truth in fictional works.)

I must say that I truly appreciate Khaled Hosseini for telling this story. I have heard of the stories of the women of Afghanistan, but LORD, I had no clue how bad it could be.

I never, ever need to hear about someones hard times for me to be grateful. I am grateful, because I am grateful. However, this novel made me really think about how great it is to be a women in American even with all of it's problem.

Read this book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and I'm positive that you will walk away with a lot to think about.....

As reiterated in Who Moved My Cheese: "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy Birthday Zora Neale Hurston

Zora beating the hountar or mama drum!
Today is January 7th, and it's Zora Neale Hurston's birthday.  I am so thrilled that John Hurston and Lucy Ann Hurston created this wonderful person, Zora, who understood people and relationships and wrote about those topics in her "Zora" way.

Happy Birthday Zora!

I love you to pieces.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Part 5: What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about Breakfast!

If you have been reading my series on passion, you know that I am a passionate person. I am passionate about artists and their art, my health, fellowshipping, and I am also passioniate about breakfast.

About four or five years ago, I was working with this trainer, and he stated that I needed to eat breakfast every morning. I started complaining saying that I could not get up early enough to fix and eat breakfast before I left for work. He stated, "If it's important to you; you will do it."

That statement "If it's important to you; you will do it," convicted me, and I got up the very next day and ate breakfast and have eaten breakfast every morning since. I thought that I was the kind of the person that could not eat as soon as I woke up. However, I have learned that I am hungry in the mornings and need food. I will not leave my house without eating breakfast.

Here is a normal week day breakfast:

Old Fashion Oatmeal with blueberries, raisins, etc.
a protein shake with or without blueberries.
After doing research on breakfast, I realized that breakfast is very important. Maybe it's not important for everybody, but it's definitely important for me. If I don't eat breakfast my energy level is low, and I normally eat all day, and by lunch time, I just can't eat enough.

I want my body to start off on a good note everyday. So, I make sure that my breakfast is not processed or loaded with sugar; I make sure that my breakfast is something that will jump start my body.

On Saturdays, when I meet my running group, I eat old fashioned oatmeal before I leave the house. If I do not go for a run, I will either cook breakfast:

Scrambled egg whites with Ezekiel bread with a little peanut butter
on one side of the bread.

Ezekiel Bread is the best bread in the land!
or I head down the street to Whole Foods where they make my omelet any way that I want it. I love my people at Whole Foods:

Egg white omelet with salmon, capers, garlic, sun dried tomatoes,
onions, a little feta and cheddar cheese with a half slice of French toast and a
a little maple syrup. Heaven!

My favorite omelet maker at Whole Foods!
Is there anyone else out there passionate about breakfast or really can't eat breakfast?

Please share your thoughts on breakfast and what you eat for breakfast.

Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3
Read Part 4
Read Part 6 
Read Part 7
Read Part 8
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