Behind the Fast: I’m YOUniquely Financed

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Hmf! This fast has started off with a bang. Not literally, but figuratively so. Whenever I begin a fast I usually am prepared for everything I desire, want, and need to be a struggle. Everything becomes a challenge because of the focus. This time is no different.

The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating — in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life. – Anne Morriss


I just left gongyo celebrating the new year and checked my bank account. THE SHOCK! THE HORROR! UGH! Let’s just say I was not impressed by what I saw. And, so, I began to think about all the things I have been striving for and put at stake with this fast – one is financial increase and stability. With that in mind, I am aware that what I saw was not devastating, but it was a result of being in survival mode for so long and my inattention to details as I once had done. Now that I am clear about that, I can sorta breathe and take on those things that will support my goal of financial increase that will create the stability. Makes sense right?!


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What makes me excited about this mishap, well kinda sorta excited, is that I know I have talents that can bring about stability. Over the past 10 years I have consulted, written training manuals, done executive and personal coaching, refurbished furniture, worked at a cemetery/funeral home (yes, I did!), contracted writing adoption reports, been a truancy mentor, been a program coordinator, and stated a gourmet popcorn business (I LOVE POPCORN! Check out Popliciousness on FB.). I’ve been told to “pick one thing”, but I have also paid attention to Warren Buffet who speaks about multiple streams of income. He says, “Never depend on a single income, make investments to create a second source,” and surely he can’t be against more that a second source considering he is worth $66.7 billion. That did not happen by only working at Whataburger all his life and being a miser. It’s called diversifying – read about it.


YOUniquely Me.

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It has taken me a while to be alright with saying I have many talents and letting them be exposed. We are all too often conditioned to “pick one thing” and forget about the many talents we have been given. They are there for many reasons. I remember not having a job while in graduate school and needing money to pay bills. What did I do? While driving home I stopped at the flea market, picked up two bamboo chairs, bought sand paper and spray paint as well as shellac. It took me two days to complete the projects and I make $75 which paid my cell phone bill. I refurbished an Army footlocker and was offered $275 for it! have coached people looking for internships, and been paid well for it. To stop being me to make others feel comfortable about how things should be is inauthentic for my life. I love teaching, cooking, exercising, coaching, laughing, training, researching, and them all well because that is who I am.


During this time of fasting I am going to work every aspect of my talents and gifts to create financial stability. That means being aware of where I am, what steps will Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 5.21.08 PMmove me forward, and moving quickly. Steve Maraboli says that the universe doesn’t give us what we ask for in our minds or thoughts. Meaning, just thinking something does not make it happen. He goes on to say that the universe gives us what we demand with our actions. When we take action towards goals, desires, wants, or needs the sheer energy of our actions begins to move things towards having the goal achieved. When I do nothing, I get more of doing nothing. My thoughts will not make popcorn be sold, but my action will. My thoughts will not have a book sold, but my action will. My thoughts are useful in creation, yet, without action they are only dreams. Daydreams can come true if I am willing to take action on them. Daydreams, for me, are where I see things coming together, get great ideas, run through scenarios, and kill other thoughts or dreams that don’t fit. That is the mental lab, but again, taking action is where the physical lab begin to take shape and produce results. All results are not going to be the immediate success I desire. The results to tell me what works, what doesn’t, if this is a good idea, how much money is being made or lost, and whether I put in enough effort (time, thought, and money) in it all.


So, here I am at day 2 of 21 and the financial perspective has shown up. That only pushes me to buckle down and expand my thinking and reach as well as use all of my talents and gifts to reach my goals. I’ll start by researching such things as Digit, Acorns, Mint, and Level Money. Well, since I have mentioned them it seems only right that I begin researching each and write a review. That’s what I get! You’re welcome. Anywhoo….Let’s go Popliciousness – the ideas have been flowing and the action has come as well. Take action with the things you love, have talent to do, are skilled in, and watch what happens. Let’s see what January 22nd holds in finances.



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21 Day Water Fast: No Mud, No Lotus

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The secret to happiness is to acknowledge and transform suffering, not to run away from it.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Fasting, for me, starting as a desire to rid myself of the depression, fears, frustration, guilt, grief, and anxiety that had been plaguing me for may years. I could rehash a variety of stories, but I will simply share with simplicity.

In 2002, my mother died; 2004, my maternal grandmother died; 2004, I moved with my son to Georgia; 2007, my father died; 2008, two of my homes were foreclosed on; 2009, I ended my relationship; 2010, I moved back to Ohio and began graduate school; and 2011, we moved to Texas. Now you have a snapshot. Here are some tidbits, when I got to Ohio I had $700 to my name, we left Ohio with 4 bags and shipped everything else, and during the majority of this time I was overweight and not confident. Off and on I worked out, but also could not find employment even with a degree. When the fall of 2012 came around I was overwhelmed, sad, anxious all the time, frustrated, and tired of it all. I purposely stopped communicating with many people – a self-imposed desert experience. In December 2012, I decided I needed to do something drastic and the only thing that came to mind was a fast. It was the most drastic thing I knew to do that could possibly reset everything. So, I took it on for spiritual, mental, and physical reasons.

                                  Me (2012)

During that 40 days, I did not have a car, was not working, and remained in graduate school. In fact, I traveled to Atlanta for a Residency while fasting. The whole experience showed me what was possible for me. I had people who thought I was crazy for taking it one, others who thought I would damage something, and, then, there were those who completely understood the stance I was making for myself and my life. One person asked me why and I said that I felt like if I wanted something I had never had before I needed to do something I had never done, and the fast was it for me. I lost 48 pounds, my skin cleared up, my tastes changed, I saw clearer both physically and mentally, and haven’t turned back. It has not been easy, but I am aware when the depression comes, when anxiety shows up, and I regulate it with diet and exercise.

            First picture after the fast. February, 2013

I am committed to being healthy in every area of my life that takes attention and balance. My commitment is evidenced by my withdrawal from a doctoral program for Industrial and Organizational Psychology to pursue certification as a personal trainer, investigate homeopathic medicine and/or herbology, and pair them with my Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. However, before that my desire was to meet people in my area since I was new. I started running at a local park and one day I saw a group of Black women running. It struck me because I had been to that park before, but never had I seen so many Black women there. When I inquired I found out that they were a group from Black Girls Run! Dallas. That was the end of June, the next month I ran 100 miles by the 31st! I pay attention to what I eat by following the Eat Right 4 Your Type plan for my blood type as well. My life has changed drastically since February 2013, and my first water fast because I was willing to take on the mud of my life as well as do something drastic.

                   Comparison: 2012 and October 2015

“No mud, No lotus” is a reference to Thich Nhat Hanh and the lotus flower. Often when we go into a fast it is because we are coming through the mud of life looking for something new. A lotus flower grows through mud to expose its beauty. It is the muddy water, a metaphor for suffering, that makes the lotus so unique. Thich Nhat Hanh acknowledges that because suffering can feel so bad, we try to run away from it or cover it up by consuming. We find something to eat, turn on the television, spend time in large groups, or avoid facing what needs to be faced. But unless we’re able to face our suffering, struggles, challenges, and at the basic level, ourselves we can’t be present and available to life, and happiness will continue to elude us. It is through fasting that we can recognize the strength in ourselves, uncover the wonders that we are, see the possibilities in the world and become happier and healthier. Come through the mud to reveal the lotus.

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“It’s like growing lotus flowers. You cannot grow lotus flowers on marble. You have to grow them on the mud. Without mud, you cannot have a lotus flower. ”-Thich Nhat Hahn
Categories: Holistic Health, Motivation | 4 Comments

LIFE LAB 180º: Baby Steps Are Ridiculous.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 6.22.20 PMYou don’t have to settle for baby steps all the time. Some times you need to take a long jump! -Me

Life Chart #17: I’m going to make this as brief as possible. When I was contemplating the meaning of life today, I was almost to the answer and got side tracked. I hate when that happens. What caught my attention? Great question. I have the answer.

Baby steps. Yep, that. As a concept we tell people to take “baby steps” in a process. Baby steps seem to be the way for people to give you a safety net or tell you to “be careful, Baby” without having to say it. What is interesting is that many people who choose not to take baby steps when they are looking to transform their life or circumstances often become successful quickly.

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I admit there are small steps that have to happen theoretically. However, inch worms only move slowly, baby steps are only so wide, and slow and steady can take a lifetime. Sometimes you have to be willing to take a long jump. I picture myself as kid walking in the little stream that was in our neighborhood. In there were rocks that were visible above the water some were closer together and others were further apart. To get across quickly it was rare for me to step on each rock, taking baby steps. Nope. It was jump to rocks to get across. And often that game meant looking for those that are far apart – GO FOR IT! It was a way to keep up and show myself (and others) I could do it.

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With that said, I encourage people to think strategically and be willing to take a long jump. You may not get all the way to your goal, but you will be much closer than you would have been taking baby steps – take a long jump.

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*So now that I am behind on day you can count on a double dose tomorrow! I hike on Fridays, so surely there will be some Life Chart materials.

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LIFE LAB 180º: 3 Magnificent Ways to Stay on the Ride of Life

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“The people and circumstance around me do not make me what I am, they reveal who I am.”
Laura Schlessinger


LIFE CHART #16: Over the past week, I been overwhelmed, stressed, and simply not been myself. When this happens I sleep, its like being around someone with a form of narcolepsy. The plans I have for the next 3-6 months seem daunting and that causes me to feel that it’s too much. I have the plan, Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 3.34.01 PMbut now the execution looks like an obstacle course. Have you ever felt like that or am I alone? Circumstances are often thought to be the overwhelming factors in decisions and choices. Maybe this will be good news for some, circumstances are simply “accessory facts or details” that we often give undue credence. For me circumstances can be a source of fear or doubt. In the current “economic” state, we are bombarded with circumstances: unemployment rates, high prices, and fear of “x” happening. Right now, there are few conversations for having life be a blessing regardless of the circumstances. Those conversations are not always easy when we consider or look at circumstances. Life is just one circumstance after another, each day hands us circumstance after circumstance. How do you manage to live through them and come out as a diamond? As I step into a new phase this is the time to reflect and build anew. Maybe you too are going through a new phase, change, transformation, or are making new choices to move to a new place in life. I invite you to take these 3 actions to heart, repeat them, and enjoy the magnificent ride that is life.
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1. Relax
A few years ago, I realized that I was getting headaches and migraines more than I had been before. As I paid attention to when they came I found that I was clenching my jaws (called bruxism). Since then, I have learned to pay attention to my body, the sensations, and results. It is clear to me that these headaches and migraines are the result of circumstances more than anything. Often when we are in the middle of the storm or circumstance the tension is unbelievable, frustration is high, and it is hard to see our way out. Find a place of quiet, which may mean turning off the television, radio, cell phone, computer, and refusing company to gather your thoughts. Often times I clean, tidy up, retreat to my bedroom where I do the same, and  then simply lay on the bed with candles lit. Relaxing will allow you to let the racing in your mind to slow down, it will quiet the voices, and release any emotions that have been bottled up. I am not a crier, but I do it. It is a release it allows me to let go of the tension inside. Relaxing takes practice, it took me a while to get used to, and I still have to force myself to be. Once you allow yourself to relax you can begin to clearly create a plan of action. This month I am taking the weekend of the 26th to read A Weekend to Change Your Life. One of the exercises requires being alone, that for me is going to be hiking somewhere and sitting alone to complete some of the exercises. Consider a weekend to focus yourself, reflect, release, and create an action plan for yourself.
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2. ReGroove
ReGrooving is the process of planning to do something that is different from what you have been doing. I cannot say how many times I have done this. It takes learning about your strengths and weaknesses, skills and talents, revealing opportunities, and discovering and addressing what threatens your regroove. You have to take stock of your abilities, what talents you possess, and all of the resources at your disposal. Yes, it includes finances, people, jobs, locations, time, discipline, and the ability to focus even when emotional. The new actions you will take may be radical and unexpected; they will take courage and planning, and will move you to a new level of responsibility, freedom, joy, and peace. They will have you take stock of who you are, what and who are important, where you want to be, and seek resources to support you. This is where you begin to purge the old and produce new blossoms. As a part of this process you will begin to see all you have which will lead you into the last, but most important step.
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3. Rejoice
In hard times or in circumstances when you do not see the light at the end of the tunnel, the simple Principle of Thanks is necessary. Why rejoice last? To rejoice you have to be able to see what you already have, if you never stop to see it, you will never appreciate it enough to “be gladdened”. The word “rejoice” is a verb, which means it is active, you cannot rejoice passively. Be glad that you have the opportunity to move your life to another level, be glad that you have the people around you, be glad that you have a voice to speak, be glad that you have a mind to create, and you will be amazed at how your circumstances become a stepping stone. It is not always easy to rejoice. I have been in a position where I have had less than $20 in the bank, however, I still had a roof over my head, my son had clothes, my car had gas, and we had food. For a 6 month period I did not have a car, but I had a bike to get to the store or anywhere else I needed to go. During that time I was thankful for everything. I learned to appreciate everything from the air pump for my bike to the light in the refrigerator. December of last year (2013) I shared my experience of regrooving and the circumstances via a Youtube video. At first I was ashamed, embarrassed, and hesitant. I chose to do the video not because I thought I had “madi it”, but because I knew there were others who were going through or getting ready to go through what I had experienced and wanted to be transparent, inspire, and encourage someone else through their circumstance. Circumstances are a part of life, let them be a part of building what you want and allow them to reveal the diamond within. It is with these 3 actions and strategic planning that you can make a difference. Rejoice! Enjoy something! This weekend, I will be at a jazz club for the first time in way too many years. I am going to dress up, hang with friends, and enjoy the evening. I will rejoice in who I am, rejoice for having friends, rejoice for having a place to go, rejoice for loving my life just the way it is, and rejoice for the ride.
Please press the link and take the ride!


Feel free to leave comments! I always respond.
Enjoy the ride.
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LIFE LAB 180º: I’m Gonna Grow It Up ‘Round Here.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 6.22.20 PM“If growing up means it would be beneath my dignity to climb a tree, I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up! Not me!”
― J.M. Barrie

LIFE CHART #4: I tend to be a Sport Spice type of gal. Dressing up with heels, finger nails done, and makeup has never been my style. When necessary, I do it. My style is more sporty casual where I can wear jeans, Converse, and a cute shirt with a little makeup – that’s me. Recently, I thought I might joojoo it up and dress in what I thought would be grown up clothes along with hair styles. Thanks to the cultural expo at the Fort Worth Buddhist Center I got to work it out faster than I thought.

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Then, today, I was speaking with a friend as we lamented having to revamp our attire for clinicals and academic residency. I do not mind the change, it seems to come with this phase of my life, but I’m not totally giving up my Chucks.

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“Grown up” doesn’t have to mean “stuffy.”

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LIFE LAB 180º: The Rain in Texas Edition

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 6.22.20 PM“The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!” -Robert Burns

LIFE CHART #3: Rain, rain go away. We don’t need anymore, not one more day! The rain strikes again. I live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas where rains have taken their toll on every aspect of life. Fortunately there has been no significant personal toll, it has all been seen on the news. What I am aware of today is that I had plans. Plans. Plans. Plans. And the water has changed them.

Two friends and I were heading to Irving to attend the DFW Women’s Expo featuring speakers such as Tabatha Coffey, Melissa Gibert, Nancy Grace, and Nene Leakes. During the early morning the rain started, again. One of my friends send a text indicated she was worried about the flash flooding in her area. I texted the other to cancel. And, so the whole “Be Water” is apparent today because I had my plan that included visiting Pan African Connection to pick up clothing for a cultural expo.


With my doctoral program beginning, I guess the reading has to be done. I write adoption reports and have a family of 10 kids to complete, I guess that could be on the agenda. And for the expo, my partner and I are going to have to come up with something that works for Sierra Leone. Right now I’m feeling like “faith like flowing water” is a part of this all. Being consistent no matter what and continuing no matter what. For me, it seems like there is so much to be done in such a small amount of time. Reports. Expo. Class starts. Assessments. Life.

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“Faith like flowing water” is a concept I read about in the Living Buddhism magazine. Reading it has transformed my perspective in how I perceive, act, and take in what is going on. Right now, I could say I have no choice but to do “X”, but I do. Flowing water is consistent and continuous. About this topic the article reads,

The belief of some is like fire while that of others is like water. When the former listen to the teachings, their passion flares up like fire, but as time goes on, they tend to discard their faith. To have faith like water means to believe continuously without ever regressing.


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How do I apply that right now? I have to simply do what I know in all areas of my life. If I want good health, I need to be consistent in my choices. If I want to be financially stable, I have to make choices that are consistent with that perspective. If I want a healthy relationship, I need to be consistent in finding those qualities that are what I desire with no shame. If I want a great career, I have to be bold, confident, and consistent in that pursuit. If I desire to be spiritually fulfilled and grown, I have to pursue it “continuously without regressing“. Does “continuously without regressing” mean I don’t have days where all of this seem too much, annoying, overwhelming, and whatever else? No. To me, it means that I have the feeling, acknowledge them, and take action anyway. I invite you to read the article here, Faith like Flowing Water. I made available from my magazine so keep the snickers down at my scanning capabilities.

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“Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water, yet nothing can better overcome the hard and strong.” –Lao-Tzu

Through this process I’ll keep in mind the words of Lao-Tzu, while remembering that when I see water hit a rock and splash up I smile like it is celebrating. So, I’m going to celebrate something just because I can.

* I wrote about how I want to inspire others and be water, I invite you to read it here.


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LIFE LAB 180º: Focus

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 6.22.20 PM“but there was nothing I could do to dim the supernovae exploding inside my brain, an endless chain of intra cranial firecrackers” -John Green

LIFE CHART #2: That quote explains how I feel about the impending beginning of this doctoral program. Let me say, I always thought about a doctorate, but never thought I was smart enough. Heavens, I barely thought I was smart enough to get into a graduate program because of the entrance examination. That alone deterred me for 10 years, well not just that. Anyway, there is a list of things to work on, do, or take care of in this Life Lab. Due to Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 6.29.28 AMthat I wonder if I should have ever taken this on – and, I haven’t even read the first page of my text book yet.

As my list grows the more I know I have to be organized, deliberate, and focused. Ticey, a childhood friend of mine, has a little saying about being focused on being focused. That is what I have to remember. Last night, “overwhelm” was the word. And, waking this morning, it is the same. I am overwhelmed by it all. Not just the process, but the gap between the life I want and the one I recognize I have right now.

There is always the conversation about “breath”, step back, and more, but there is nothing that can change what I am facing. It feels like a Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 6.27.15 AMtornado sucking everything into it – the eye of it never goes away. I only wish there was some way to stop it. It seems that the remedy truly is just to wait it out. Yet, that feels like ay to much. Can’t I just disappear for a little while someone takes care of the assessments, reports, emails, assignments, Mom stuff – my life?


Yes, this is that “entry”, the “OH HEAVENS! I FEEL LIKE I’M DROWNING,” one. And, yes, “this too will pass.” At the same time, I know that someone else is feeling it too. So, here is the coach in me for me and for you. Keep going. Communicate with others. Be alright with riding the wave. Feel the overwhelm. Cry or don’t, just do what works. Create a plan to manage it all. And, plan a day of self-care (sleep, shopping, ice cream, family time, hiking) whatever that is for you. Be water through it all. It will come, flow with it.

Today, I will be water. Complete these assessments with elementary school kids. Work on some reports. Read the chapter for this class and write my first assignment. Then, at some point sit outside.

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LIFE LAB 180º: Be Water My Friend.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 6.22.20 PM“Challenge is the pathway to engagement and progress in our lives. But not all challenges are created equal. Some challenges make us feel alive, engaged, connected, and fulfilled. Others simply overwhelm us. Knowing the difference as you set bigger and bolder challenges for yourself is critical to your sanity, success, and satisfaction.”

-Brendon Burchard

LIFE CHART #1: There is no doubt in my mind that life takes twists and turns that we never see coming. In the past year I have finished graduate school, moved to a new city, spent time looking for a job, continue to look for a suitable home for my son and me, had to have much work done on my car, had to share a home with a family, and starting June 1 I will begin a doctoral program.

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Just a few weeks ago I went home to Ohio (Go Cavs!) to see my niece graduate from high school. Without a doubt it was the most exhausting and exciting time I have spent at home in a long time. While there I spent time with my brother and sister together. It is a rare occasion for me to be with them both because we all live in different parts of the U.S. There are no words for the enjoyment I get from being around and with them.


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On top of it all, my nephew was in a national robotics competition that I got to see. The same weekend was the 1st birthday of my little cousin, the cutest 1- year old I know. At the end of it all, my son and I ended up taking my sister to Yellow Springs, Ohio to see her bestie since preschool. And, with that my son got to reconnect with a friend, go downtown, and hang out.


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We spent the night, but had to get back on the road to Arlington, a 15+ hour drive. On the way home, he expressed his desire not to leave Ohio, but to be close to family and live in a small town – his little brother lives there. He got to spend time with him. Being away from family, I know, has been a thing for him for a while. And so it begins – for me. I do miss family, however, there is a pull to create the life I see here.


The road stream that has brought us to Arlington has been filled with rocks, waterfalls, and some rip currents. On the drive back to Texas, it came to my mind that I am at another phase of life. We share a great home and love it, but need to move. I continue to look for a position that affords me what I want and need both in a career and financial compensation. What I know is that places like education, experience, innovation, and all of that yet they do not want to pay for it (see my LinkedIn profile if you are interested). My heart is all for families and youth especially youth who have been in foster care, are aging out/transitioning, and involved with juvenile justice. Additionally, when I think about them I desire to work with the organizations that interact with them. That is one of the reasons for my doctoral pursuit in industrial and organizational psychology. With all of that in mind, I thought about how water flows where there are openings or creates a path, but it keep flowing. So, I created that I am open to whatever comes in the way of career openings. If that is in Ohio I will pursue it. If it is in Arlington, I ill pursue it. No matter where it is I will be like water.

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” – Bruce Lee


As a result, I am taking on a 33 day personal challenge that will open up areas of life I have barely tapped, change relationships, and transform who I know myself to be. For the most part, it is my intention to secure a position with youth and families that pays well and allows me to use my skills, experience, knowledge, and desire to expand the organization. Next, identify a home that fits my desires, can house my son and me, and has room for family to visit and for me to entertain through cooking with an outdoors area. Then, the last are to experience myself as intentionally powerful, alive, audacious, and peaceful.

So, Life Lab 180º is my little expression of what is going on as it unfolds. THIS is not like other blog posts simply because my perspective is share with other who may be in the same space. Maybe something I am doing will encourage or spark a new idea to further their life. Join me for the next 33 days, check out the pictures, plans, achievements, disappointments, challenges, and take on a journey for yourself.


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KWANZAA: Call to Build and Maintain

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If you have not read the second day of Kwanzaa post “Call to Determination”, I recommend that you read it before you go on.

Today is the third day of Kwanzaa, and I had no intentions on missing any of the events at Pan African Connection in Dallas. However, with the flat tires it was a day of bringing things together. The third day of Kwanzaa is Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) meaning “to build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together”.

Last night while sitting in the parking lot waiting for our ride home, my son asked about going to the Soka Center – Forth Worth  for clean up. It was the last thing on my mind, but it was important to him to be a part of the community today. When we got home, I sent a message to someone to see if they were available to support him. In the Soka Gakkai International community we are taught ujima without knowing it. How? We are taught Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 8.22.04 PMto help support others in the community in their endeavors to create happiness for them and ourselves. We are taught that if one person has a problem or circumstance coming along side them is a way to relieve their struggle. Having more than one persons moving a boulder makes it lighter, the same is said with problems. Calling upon others to help is not an easy thing for me, but I wanted him to be able to go, so I did. He was picked up and went to help out. Additionally, I called upon a friend to take me back to the car and look for another set of tires. She came, drove my sister around looking for a repair for one tire so we could put it on and get the car on the road to a tire shop. And, it was interesting to find that others in the community helped namely a man names Archie who happened to be a mechanic and spied that the tires were fine, but the wheels were bent. We took his advice, got the wheels repaired, and I ended up paying only $12 for it all. I absolutely did not expect to only pay $12, I expected to have to buy two new tires and possibly wheels.

Today was an example of being aware of how others can make our problems theirs in support of us having what we want and need, and the need for us to allow for that to happen. There are plenty of people willing to help, if we ask or say what is needed. Archie didn’t have to stop to help remove the rear tire. Marlowe didn’t have to come pick us up and take us around town to get anything done. And my sister didn’t have to come with me to get it all completed. Ujima is alive in the world we just have to look for it, name it, and continue being willing “to build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together”.


Dirty hands of ujima getting things done. My sister and me.

Dirty hands of ujima getting things done. My sister and me.

Categories: Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

KWANZAA: Call to Determination

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Today is actually the third day of Kwanzaa, but I wanted to give my reflections of yesterday for a reason. It was KUJICHAGULIA, the day of self-determination, and it was full of just that.

Kujichagulia is embodied by the right to define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves. With that all in mind, yesterday started with time listening to a TedX talk by Simon Sinek about how great leaders inspire action. I took notes, wrote about why I do what I do. Then, took my son to the library and while there I made sure to get books for me too. I was sure to post a picture on Facebook to share what I checked out:

My jewels from the library are simple:Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 6.52.18 PM
The Joy of Appreciative Living – Jacqueline Kelm
Bringing Out the Best in Others – Thomas Connellan
The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers – Meg Meeker
The Everything Guide to Crowdfunding – Thomas Elliott Young


Not long after that I was laying down with a migraine that was accompanying days of body aches and sweats. But, to spite that I knew it was the second day of Kwanzaa so I was determined to be at the Pan African Connection in Dallas, Texas. With my sister and son in tow, we drove to spend the evening with community. We had the opportunity to watch a fantastic film called The Black Candle about the creation of Kwanzaa. It was on the way back that self-determination showed up.

Determination is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as “firmness of purpose, resoluteness.” As we drove from Dallas to Arlington on I-30 we encountered a huge pothole that took out the front passenger tire. With the cold wind blowing, I was determined to get the tire off, the spare on, and get home. That was easier said than done. My sister and I are adept at changing tires. Thankfully we were reared by a woman who embodied self-determination as well. She taught us to check oil, pay attention to the pressure of the tires, and to be able to care for ourselves. Those lug nuts proved to be more than we wanted to wrestle with and the cold air partnered to make for a simple decision: CALL TRIPLE A. And that we did.
However, while sitting with my sister we talked about what self-determination meant to us. And it brought to mind how people had told us about what girls should wear or play. I remembered being in high school and switching from playing basketball and volleyball to only volleyball. I can’t tell you how many times I was told that “Black people don’t play Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 7.38.39 PMvolleyball.” My sister remembered being told that she cannot play hockey or football because of what girls do. Additionally, we talked about the things we did not do because of what we thought we should do or what someone else may have said that blocked our determination to pursue. I once wanted to be an architect and use old building to house homeless people. Someone in the neighborhood told me that I was not getting good enough grades in math, and said “you have to have god grades in math to do that you don’t have them” so I didn’t pursue it past high school. What we came to were a few things 1) adults need to stop placing their ideas of what is possible on children, 2) determining my life from now forward is up to me without apologies, and 3) kujichagulia today defining who we are personally, naming ourselves and embracing the name, creating our life for ourselves, and speak up and out for ourselves assertively.

The Triple A car came, changed the tire, and we were off. Returning there were two hungry passengers, we stopped at Taco Cabana, ordered, got it to-go, walk out, and I see the rear passenger tire is flat too. Well, well, well. Here we go. We get in the car thinking that we might be able to make it home, instead, I was determined to simply let it be. Since we were in a parking lot, I parked and called a friend to pick us up. When I got home I was upset, frustrated, sad, annoyed, and tired. We moved not long ago and I’m still getting grounded in the city, looking for a permanent place, and balancing it all. And not feeling like I’m doing well with all. This simply added one more thing to it all. Although I was feeling of that I was determined to make it all work out. Below is what I wrote on my Facebook page as a determination to define myself and situation, name my circumstance, create my world, and speak for myself in an opportunity to spread self-determination to others as well – as is what I will leave for you too:

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 1.00.35 AM

I wish being thankful meant that everything was exactly how I want them to be. I wish that it meant I never had upsets, setbacks, or disappointment. I wish it meant everything was always sunshine. Thankfulness is simply being and showing gratitude and appreciation for people and things as they are, and are not.

All this comes from the past 4 hours of unexpected happenings. It would be easy for me to slide down a wall somewhere, cry, be in despair, and lament the whole situation. A good cry has no shame (I just finished), being upset is par for the course (I’m in that), and a lament can turn into action (that may show up in the morning). I’m not happy, smiling, and joyous at this moment, however, I can be grateful for the challenge because it is an opportunity to take a new perspective, be thankful for what IS, be creative in the solution, keep moving forward, and transform the future. It doesn’t feel like it at this moment, yet, I know that feelings are only a sensation not an indication of possibility.

I encourage whoever needs to read this to be thankful no matter what you see, feel, or hear. Whatever your “it” may be is temporary, circumstantial, and can be solved with determination, creativity, community, communication, and taking action. It may not feel extraordinary, fantastic, fun, or be comfortable, but that doesn’t determine the outcome.


COME BACK FOR …Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together….and the conclusion of this tire story!

Categories: Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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