I’ll be in reflection, will you?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin…we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”
Beyond Vietnam—A Time to Break Silence
Delivered 4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York City
On this day as we commemorate a holiday bearing his name, we need to ask ourselves what we are doing to shift our values back to people.
I will be in reflection, will you?
Has society moved too far in the direction of being “thing-oriented” that we will never recover and return to our roots of a “people-oriented” existence? What are your thoughts? How did you help another person today?
Making a cameo and laying down some lines
Ahhh, I’ve actually missed you, blog. I’ve been way too much in my head for the last six, seven, nine months and neglected you. Here’s a great big hug and a promise to love you unconditionally in the coming weeks.
Now that the saccharin is out of the way, I am trying my hand at poetry. I woke up in the middle of the night last week and jotted down this “poem.” It doesn’t rhyme or have 5-7-5 syllables. Iambic pentameter is nonexistent. It is dark and grimy, yet authentic and sad. I will spend some of the weekend studying poetry writing.
Since nothing great was ever accomplished without taking a risk (borrowed from Emerson and added a twist), here’s my poem. Love it. Leave it. Critique it. I welcome it all.
Spoken in a sing-song one octave above meek.
Suckling at the teat of dependence.
With a metallic clatter they arrive.
Jagged mountains in the distance. Stark surroundings greet them.
It is alive; ready to devour.
Fragile, needy and wistful.
Stay the course?
There is no flame.
They sit. They rot.
Never say never
I once uttered the words, “I am NEVER going to live here again.” My mother replied, “Never say never.”
Mom was right and Karma continues to have her way.
I returned to the nest almost a month ago. I am three years shy of forty, and I am back at home. Upon arriving, I was embarrassed, ashamed and frustrated with this life change. That is a lot to process.
Imagine an exquisite ballroom, the most grand of staircases, chandeliers draped in crystals, you can see your reflection in the polished wood of the floor. The food is lavish, the champagne flows and each centerpiece is a magnificent arrangement of the most exotic and fragrant flowers. The orchestra—elegant and classic—plays a samba and bodies move in unison. You are in the moment, enjoying the now and something catches your eye. You look closely, and you see a pool of striking navy chiffon.
Take a step closer and you notice white-gloved arms holding a face. With ardent curiosity, you have now inched within a few feet of the ball-goer. She sits crying, wallowing in self-pity, not noticing the brilliance from where she rests.
I am the woman in the navy ballgown, holding on to a past, being pushed and shoved by the maniacal Ego, all the while too sullen, too tired, too stubborn to realise the beauty that surrounds me.
I am thankful that I do have a place in which to return. I am thankful that I do have a mother who is loving (and a pain in the ass!) and who welcomes me home with open arms. I am thankful that I have a mother who does not judge my season, yet encourages, asks me too many questions (her way of helping), prays and lets me find my way.
"You don’t worry, baby girl. You are a hard-worker and talented in so many ways. This is only a season," she says to me.
She tells me that she loves me. Four weeks ago I did not believe her or anyone else for that matter. Four weeks ago, I was being punched in the face by Ego and every time I would try to get up, Ego would take another swing. You are not contributing to society, you have no purpose, why are you here? When Ego hits, he packs a powerful blow. As you are flat on your back, too scared to cover your face, Ego doesn’t walk away, he comes with a combination and suddenly you can no longer see.
Blood coming out of your mouth, you can no longer feel that you have a face and the feeling from your gut was lost a long time ago. You lay there. You take it.
Just when Ego grins and the referee starts his count, 1…2…3…4…
Fuck you, Ego. Fuck you. You will not win. I am better than this. I know that with every fiber of my being.
I muster everything I have, wipe blood from my mouth, feel my way up off the ground and start to stand. I wobble, but I will not be knocked down. I will own my life. I will not wallow in self-pity. I am a fighter with too much to accomplish, too many dreams to let die, too many people to love and too much life to live.
I am standing. I have been invited to join a group of young professionals and entrepreneurs in the county. I have been invited to become a youth mentor. I attended a workshop for aspiring political leaders, and have been encouraged to seek office in 12 months (residential requirement). I have been encouraged to meet with several leaders in the community to discuss initiatives, growth and development in the county.
My eyes and heart are open. The bruises are healing and I try to soak up the knowledge and the lessons of the season. The shame and embarrassment have subsided. The frustration remains, but I know that It will not last forever nor will I let it consume me again.
Learning lessons in the ER
Yesterday I spent the day at the Emergency Room. Not exactly my idea of a great day, but like everything, there was a lesson…or two.
Last Wednesday night I noticed that there was pain deep within my calf muscle. As graceful as I am, I hadn’t run into anything nor had I injured it playing sport. I found it odd, but went along with my night. The following night the pain was a bit more pronounced, but I went along with my day as usual.
Sunday night the pain reached a crescendo. I took a step down and let out a noise that could have passed as a note of a diva’s aria. I gimped my way to my car and then into the house in severe pain. No redness, no heat at the area of pain, but extension was impossible so I dialed up my physician-in-training. After answering her questions and pushing and pulling and taking pulses she determined that there was no blood clot and instructed me to ice, take ibuprofen and to do gentle stretches. However, if fever did arise or if the pain got worst, I was instructed to head to the ER.
I am the last person to go to the doctor for anything other than my yearly complete physical. I’m normally healthy (minus sinus and allergy seasons). On Monday I noticed a knot deep within the muscle. Hmmm…where did that little guy come from? I consulted my physician-in-training and was told to try a tennis ball for a trigger-point massage. Ha. That knot laughed at the tennis ball and did not budge.
So Wednesday morning I decided to have it examined. I slipped on a dress and flats and stained my lips red and packed a few magazines and crossword puzzles in my bag and headed to Urgent Care.
I was seen right away and told to go immediately to the emergency room at the main hospital. The ER would be waiting for me for the ultrasound. The nurse practitioner at urgent care was determined that it was a blood clot. There was no localized heat at the point or redness, but I did have a fever (98.6) and elevated blood pressure, something was definitely going on.
You’re shaking your head confused by my 98.6 temperature. I normally walk around closer to reptile than mammal, sporting a cool 96 degrees, so the “normal” temperature was indeed feverish for me. My blood pressure reading usually comes back, “cool as cucumber,” yet Wednesday it too was elevated.
Off I go to the Carolinas Health Care System ER.
CMCS’s version of Cartier.
Once admitted and changed into my tres chic gown, I sit and wait. While waiting, I text a group of friends who knew what was going on to give them the latest play-by-play. One of the return texts says “Are you ok?? Don’t be afraid.”
I reply that I am just relaxing in the bed, reading while waiting for the attendee to visit. I also say that I’m not scared, just lonely.
I wasn’t scared at all. If indeed a blood clot, then either drugs to thin the blood or a little surgery. I did have an incredible urge to see my mommy and wanted Apple Juice-long story). The hospital, for the first time ever, felt comfortable in a way. It is truly being revealed to me that my destiny in life is to help others. Not necessarily in a hospital, but what that represents.
I did feel lonely. At the time I was texting with a bevy of folks and even had friends commenting on Facebook, but I still felt like I was out on an island. Again, not scared at all, I just wanted a hug, someone to hold my hand or someone who would be laughing at my corny jokes.
I received a return text from one of my besties saying,
"You are not alone. ‘For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who says to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’" Isaiah 41:13
And this is where the scientist in me and the believer in me battle it out. The scientist wants to touch something. I often say that I want to cuddle up next to Jesus. The believer in me knows that he is with me daily and He has a definite plan for me. Ye old Periodic Chart-toting nerd thinks she knows it all. This is my daily battle. Learning to give in to Him, learning to let go of my plan for it has no dearth.
Today I am going to spend a little more time with God. I’m going to get out of my own way and trust a little more and lean into a little harder.
Postscript: Thank you to Chris, Brenda, Dr. Bustin & Dr. Pearson for taking such excellent care of me.
He is Risen!
Let us rejoice on this day, Easter, the day that Jesus rose from the grave. The day that he took away the sins of the world so that we may one day join him in Heaven. What a beautiful action of love. Can you even imagine?
I can’t and I am humbled each and every day by his sacrifice, and his love. Yes, there are days that I yell at Him, curse his name and even rip him a new one. (And those are just the beginning of my list of sins). Once that moment is over, that moment of prayer, I can step back at the end of the day and say, “Thank You, Lord, for loving me and sacrificing your life for my sins. I am not worthy, Lord.”
I am not worthy, Lord. I am not worthy, Lord. Let that sink in. Say it aloud and take a moment to let it resonate.
This next paragraph could go in a myriad of directions, but I am going to concentrate on something that I learned last Easter (Thank you Crossbridge Miami and Felipe!)…Women Rule!
I must admit, I knew that before Easter 2012, but it was made abundantly clear during the homily. (I’m getting old, this could have also been the Mother’s Day homily, but nonetheless, the following events happened at Easter).
On that third day when Jesus rose from the grave, it was WOMAN who found the empty tomb.
I will say again, that when the Saviour was come, women rejoiced in him, before either man or angel. Luke 1:42-46.
From Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678)
Sure the Gospels differ on how this whole Resurrection went down, but at the crux, there are women.
I read not that ever any man did give unto Christ so much as one groat; but the women followed Him, and ministered to Him of their substance. ‘Twas a woman that washed His feet with tears, and a woman that anointed His body at the burial. They were women who wept when He was going to the cross, and women that followed Him from the cross, and sat over against His sepulchre when He was buried. They were women that were first with Him at His resurrection-morn, and women that brought tidings first to His disciples that He was risen from the dead… (Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678).
It was women who brought the good news of his Resurrection to His disciples. God gave women that power, strength and courage. In what most would consider menial duties, God saw that women washed Jesus’ feet and anointed his body. These, were in fact, the most important tasks of all, and God gave them to women. (Taken from LT’s God for Dummies).
I write about the women on this day and their importance as I relish the strong bonds that I now have with some amazing women. I know I say this a lot, but I am truly the luckiest person in the world. I have a strong and amazing network of men and women who love and support me, keep me grounded and humble (yes, a small few can even yell at me and I accept it), talk me off of ledges and inspire me. Although the men of that group mean a great deal to me, it is my bond with the women that is one of the most beautiful things that has ever happened to me. Unless you are a woman, you have no idea what it’s like to be one of us.
Wear our Spanx for a day and live to tell about it.
I won’t go into the rah-rahs of Woman, here me roar, we all know those facts. I want to take these last few lines to say that I am over the moon grateful that I am a woman. Not just a woman, but God created me as a loving, kind, thoughtful, strong, grounded and giving woman. I am a woman with a voice. Sure, I cry, am vulnerable, feel defeated and alone sometimes. I fail and even become depressed for short periods of time. Then I look around my network of amazing women and I am inspired, happy and thankful and feel loved even more knowing that God sent these beautiful souls to me.
A very small lot of photos of some of the beautiful souls in my life.
Today we celebrate Easter. We rejoice that he has given up his life to wash away our sins, and we love one another the way He has asked us to love our brothers and sisters. Today we also celebrate the loving, caring, and strong women who first shared the word of the Resurrection of our Saviour.
Peace be with you.
Greetings from a frigid Charlotte.
I inadvertently gave up the blog for Lent (Happy Holy Week!). As Easter approaches, I find myself renewed and ready to take on the world, change my current state (existential) and move forward.
I was struggling with the purpose of the blog—Is it my journal? Am I doing this for the audience? If it is my own personal journal, then why am I posting it on the most public space ever—Al Gore’s Internet? Is it funny enough? Who is going to think that I am an idiot for the grammatical errors?
Then a story popped into my mind. I am a horrible storyteller, so here is the gist:
A young and hip pastor prays the Benediction at his church. At the end of the service, a little old lady approaches him and tells the pastor that she does not like the way he prays. He kindly tells her that in fact, she does not have to like it as it is not her prayer, she just happens to be eavesdropping on his talk with God.
This blog represents my prayers, my struggles, my stories, the good and bad and the audience is merely eavesdropping. I will continue to post this blog on the internet and if someone can relate, benefit, realize that they are not the only one struggling or thank God for their blessings because they are not in my shoes, then that is wonderful. Or perhaps someone needs a good laugh—I will sometimes provide that as well. As for the grammar, I read from a blog guru, that for this purpose, it is secondary. This is the raw real deal.
During the Lenten season, I have been writing blogs daily—just inside my head. Now that I have shaken off the fear, I will put some of those thoughts on virtual paper.
Laugh, cry, shake your head, argue, refute, hate it—do what you will, I am still going to talk.
I spread love everyday, but in honor of Love’s special day…Happy Valentine’s Day!
Three take-aways from today…
1. Any chance you get to brighten someone’s day…DO IT. There is a widow who comes into the store EVERY day and she’s normally a curmudgeon to the nth degree. I’ve never lost a spouse so I do not know the road she is travelling, but she’s still a grump pot daily. Nonetheless, I made small bags of Hershey kisses and tied them with a bright red ribbon to distribute to co-workers today. I also made a handful for the friends that I’ve made who come in daily. This woman was not on my original list, but when I saw her this morning, I was overwhelmed with the spirit of making her smile. I took one of my ribbon-clad treats to her table and she looked up and was stunned as I presented her with the treats and a “Happy Valentine’s Day” and then came a genuine smile to her face.
2. I absolutely love the arts! I went to the dress rehearsal of the local community college’s production of Big River and although the performance was just that—a dress rehearsal, I was still in awe of the magic that happens on that floor. I can’t wait to start dancing again, gliding across that stage floor is an amazing experience. Throughout the performance I kept focusing on the stage floor—grounded and yet high as a kite from euphoria.
3. I will own you Lent. Each year during Lent I give up something that helps to make me a better person as I walk with God. I also take on something also in hopes of righting my walk with God. This year I have given up diet coke, processed foods and a negative attitude. I have taken on daily time spent with God’s Word and giving back to the community in some form or another each week. As I retire for the evening, the scoreboard reads: LaTonya 1, Lent 0.
Shalom, my friends and know that you are loved.
This time the plane didn’t crash
What a fun day! Today is Mardi Gras and I’m reminiscing about my first and last trip to New Orleans for the party 17 years ago. Abe Lincoln’s 204th birthday, Darwin would also be 204 today (and I love it that he’s still going strong to the disdain of the religious right). Virginia kicked Virginia Tech’s butt in hoops—Wahoowa! I’m psyched for Michigan State vs. Michigan basketball—two excellent coaches, both teams ranked in the top-10 all the ingredients for a heated rivalry in a hostile Breslin Center, it doesn’t get better than that. Still receiving birthday love from peeps!
I survived my first night of thirty-seven. I woke up this morning and discovered that I have a few more prominent freckles under my eyes—and I love them. The larger event of the evening is that my reoccurring airplane dream didn’t end in a fiery crash.
For the last few years, I’ve sporadically had the same dream where I board an airplane with my dear friends the Kantwill family. We never arrive at the destination. (Side Note: I will NEVER take a flight with the Kantwills after these dreams).
The dream has only been different one other time and that was when my sister and mom were on the flight and my expired father made a cameo on the flight. He shows up in my dreams sometimes, but never with a face.
In this dream, I decide to take a last-minute flight to Japan. When I arrive to the airport, the ticket has already been purchased for me and I’m ushered out of the line and directly to the airplane. While waiting to push back, a severe thunderstorm arrives. I see myself looking out of the window as brilliant lightning lashes and loud claps of thunder boom. As quickly as the storm arrives, it clears out and we’re ready to begin our journey. I was also upgraded to first class and into a sleep cabin. The rest of the first-class cabin was filled with athletic media relations professionals and burly football players. I exit my cabin to go talk to the folks I know in first class. I’m not sure that we arrived in Japan, but we did not crash and that was a first for the agonizing airplane dream.
(I started this post last night, but got bored before I finished it. I didn’t change the tense).
What exactly is a Thirty-seven?
This is the first time in my existence that I did not have a birthday party.
There is a photo from my very first birthday party that I absolutely love. I’m wearing a silly hat, surrounded by family and there are three, that’s right, THREE cakes on the table in my honor. (Now you know why I am so spoiled and why I love cake).
An early birthday party. Look at that cake!
Each year I always had at least two cakes—my grandmother made one, there was always one from the local bakery and sometimes my mom would bake a third. Birthdays have always been special to me. It’s the one day of the year that I can call my very own (except the two years that I had to share the attention with Leo). As an adult, I’ve enjoyed throwing my own birthday parties. I’ve had great celebrations shared with some of the most amazing people in the world. From the quiet dinner parties to outlandish celebrations. From homemade treats to pastry-chef designed confections to the favorite cake of one of my guests. I love every detail of the celebration.
Thanks to Nick for hosting this celebration of my thirty-third birthday.
This year was completely different. I had no desire to celebrate, in fact, I’ve been dreading this day for a few weeks. What exactly is a “37”? This year, there is no party. There is no planning, designing, entertaining or sharing an evening out with my dearest friends. There is a cake—I picked up one from Whole Foods as an afterthought on Sunday.
I’ve stood on the precipice of a complete meltdown for days. I can feel the tears just underneath the surface, ready to break the flood gates. Seriously, what is a “37”?
At 12:10 a.m. this morning, I received the first birthday wish from my friend Mark, who also shares this birth date. It warmed my heart and made me smile. A few more text messages and several Facebook posts and 37 wasn’t feeling so bad. I woke up to the phone buzzing this morning. It was my mom. She loves this day—the day that she first gave life to another being. She cries on this day, overwhelmed by the gift of life and that she has a “special little girl” (her words, not mine). She sings the Birthday Song to me and then meows it. Yes, she MEOWS the song as a sentiment from my son—the indomitable feline, Mr. Big.
My very first birthday card from my parents. 2/11/77
I take a few minutes to think about this day from her perspective, and I’m overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed and I have no idea what it feels like to give life to another being. Wow. I think about Mark and his wonderful note and I smile. I look back at the other messages I have received up until this point (7:30 a.m.) and I take a moment to reflect on what each person means to me.
I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of the love that has been bestowed upon me today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to each and every person who took a moment to type a message, send a text, e-mail, or card, who phoned or tweeted.
There was no party today, but I received well over three hundred presents and I am humbly grateful for each. I opened each one with awe and wonder. I took a moment with each one and held it close to my heart. I took a moment to reflect on how I know you. It has been a beautiful journey all day.
I have no money, no home of my own, no heirs, no lover, but I am so rich in my heart. I sit here and warm tears stream down my face. I am overwhelmed not by which I lack, but by the depth of the journey and the strangers I have met along the way who have become family and mean so much to me.
I’m still not sure exactly what a “37” is, but I’m going to make it about love, awe and wonder.