Lunchtime Lessons

Lunchtime Lessons

Today, at lunch, I needed a stamp and a greeting card, so I decided to spend most of my hour walking through midtown (the post office is a bit of a trek, but I need the exercise so why not?). On the way to the post office, I passed a guy who yelled out, “Hey! What are you reading?” Because he caught me off guard, I actually had to look at my book before I replied “Hurricane.” The guy didn’t look homeless necessarily, maybe sick, maybe a little lost in life, so I wasn’t sure if he was going to ask me for money so I had “no cash” idly waiting on the tip of my tongue (which was true, but it definitely has become a bit of a stock phrase over my years of working downtown and midtown, although I try to make it a complete sentence “I don’t have any cash, sorry”, because I don’t like being rude to strangers*). But he didn’t. The light changed and he crossed the street.

Fast forward, I ran all my little errands and was headed in the direction of my office to get some grub, and I passed him again sitting on the steps of a little apartment building. I kept walking, but I was thinking, wow, how interesting to pass someone twice within an hour. He had the same idea, and he said to me, “Hey! I’ve seen you twice today. My name is Randall.” I slowed down, still a little worried, but I had no real reason not to. I spoke to him, and he said “Will you pray for me? There’s some reason I’ve seen you twice today. I’d really like you to pray for me.” So I asked him if he had any specific prayer requests, and he thought about it. Then he told me “my strongholds and my decisions.” By now, of course the sap that I am was really moved, so I said “I will definitely pray for you, Randall. Take care.” He smiled then went into what seemed like deep thought.

I spent the rest of my walk thinking about and praying for Randall, and I hope he’s okay. It just goes to show that you never know who you will encounter, and you never know if all someone needs is for you to stop walking and just engage them for a couple of minutes. Happy Friday, folks.

(And in case you’ve been wondering where I’ve been–I’ve been on tumblr and twitter pretty regularly, but I’m definitely gearing up to start  back carving out time to give you more than one thought at a time, so please stay tuned!)

*Disclaimer: I will totally be rude to mean people and people who are rude to me, whether I know them or not. Work in progress here.

Be You

Be You

This song popped in my head while chatting with a friend today. It’s a song that’s actually a Stevie Wonder classic that I’ve always loved since the first time I heard it watching School Daze when I was a kid.

Butterflies begin from having been another
As a child is born from being in a mother’s womb
But how many times have you wished you were some other
Someone than who you are

Yet who’s to say that if all were uncovered
You will like what you see?
You can only be you as I can only be me

Flowers cannot bloom until it is their season
As we would not be here unless it was our destiny
But how many times have you wished to be in spaces
Time places than what you were

Yet who’s to say with unfamiliar faces
You could anymore be loving you that you’d see?
You can only be me as I can only be me

Now when I was a kid, I may have just liked it because the college queen was being crowned to it and the guy sitting on the steps was just crooning away. But now I like it because it’s something that I really strive to live by. So many of us spend so much time trying to go against the grain of whom we are instead of identifying then leveraging our talents and skills and personality traits to the fullest. We spend lots of time focused on what we (or actually, most ofthe time, others) perceive as flaws, instead of focusing on the essence of ourselves. God made us who we are on purpose. That’s not to say there aren’t things in life we don’t need to work on, but we need to just be. How do you even know what flaws you have if you really don’t know what makes you tick or understand what is really important to you and what’s not. Be who is naturally you. And let me be me.

I think there are several people out there that have issues with the fact that I. Am. Always. Me. I can’t even help it. It’s just not in my make up to even give a thought about being something I’m not. In fact, the couple of times that I’ve consciously tried, usually specifically just to make someone else feel at ease, it was a mega disaster. I know I’m quirky, I know I do based on what I feel, I know I say what’s on my mind, I know I can be hot or cold–which just so you know, is directly related to the fact that I’m either all in or pretty much completely unconcerned and I’m very passionate or nonchalant. I have dabbled in the gray, but it’s not often–usually it’s black and white. I’m okay with that. Why? Because I know it about myself, and I’ve learned (and am still learning) how to utilize the natural characteristics I have.

You know what’s really difficult for me? Dealing with people who won’t be themselves. It’s much much worse than dealing with people who are themselves and I just don’t agree with them or like particular attributes. But the genuine sincerity of just being commands my respect. We’re all different so we won’t always agree or even click, but at least we can have a real conversation. I’ve encountered this in dating because I’ve met a couple of guys who wanted me to direct them into being who I wanted them to be. Well, I can’t. I just want them to be themselves. If you being you + me being me = compatibility, then great! If not, that’s ok. It happens. But who wants to live a life of keeping up a mask to make someone else happy? Does that make you happy? If it does, well, … alrighty. But I know I wouldn’t be happy with someone imposing their ideas of whom I should be onto me, so I can’t do that to anyone else. Not on purpose anyway. Dig it?

I just really think that we really have to look within and appreciate our good qualities and recognize opportunities to drive your own life using those qualities as tools instead of always being worried to death about flaws that may or may not be flaws and letting them inhibit us from our dreams and goals.

Well that’s all I have for you today. 🙂  I’ll be back later. Until then, hopefully, I, while being me, will bump into you being you.

Lemony Snicket… with a Happy Ending

Lemony Snicket… with a Happy Ending

When some random object flies off a truck on a busy I-285 and you can’t do anything to avoid running over it and then your tire as predicted begins to get low and you have to make your way across three or four lanes to get to the shoulder where cars and trucks are zooming past, you come to a juncture in the road where you must decide:

Do I panic and let this tear form? Or do I stay calm?

Yep, that happened to me Sunday. I chose to stay calm even though my eye was tingling with the thought of a possible tear forming. But as soon as I made that decision, I stayed in good spirits for the rest of what would become your run of the mill Lemony Snicket and a Series of Unfortunate Events kinda day. Now, this is the second time I’m writing this blog post–I lost it the first time, and I’ve decided to stay calm and just retype it–but this time, I’m leaving out some details, lol.

Alright, so after calling Roadside Assistance, I called the office where I was headed for an appointment, then texted the two people I had plans with later. One asked had I called the hero truck, to which I responded “what is a hero truck?” After getting over the initial disbelief that I have lived in Georgia for 9 years and didn’t know what a hero truck was, she told me to call 511 and they would come help me for free. By then I had the dispatcher State Farm referred me to on the phone asking me questions about getting a tow, so I asked her how much it would be, took down the number, and said I would call her back. I called 511, and sure enough, they asked where I was, what kind of car, and all that. (Read: God’s plan, step #1) Then the fateful question: “Do you have a spare?” It really is a long story, but suffice it to say that my daddy took my spare out and I had no idea if he had ever replaced it, so I answered “I don’t think so.” Why? Because I just didn’t want anyone coming to help me if I didn’t know AND as I was on 285, I wasn’t getting out of my car to clear out my trunk and lift up the mat and see.

So I called the dispatcher back, and she put me on hold to locate a tow truck to take me to where my tires are under warranty. Then she came back on the line and told me that it was taking longer than usual to find someone open on Sunday, and she would call me back in 5 minutes because she wanted to make sure she didn’t drain my cell phone battery. During this time, I asked my friend to come get me because I hadn’t eaten all day, and I would just make sure I was back in time to ensure that my car got to its destination. So about twenty to thirty minutes later, I see a yellow truck pulling up behind me… Hmmm, I think to myself… Tow trucks aren’t usually yellow… Then I see State Farm on the truck. Hmmm, State Farm sent me to the dispatcher service, so I’m confused… So a lady gets out of the truck, comes to my window and tells me she’s with HERO and she’s here to help me. (Read: God’s plan, step #2) I told her that I was told they wouldn’t be able to assist because I didn’t know if I had a spare. After telling me they sent her anyway, she said, “Well let’s see.” After together putting the contents of my trunk in my back seat, sure enough, I had a spare. (Read: God’s plan, step #3) As she changed my tire, I called the dispatcher back, who is sounding really stressed and worried. As soon as I told her that I was canceling, she replied, “Oh my God, I’m so happy because you wouldn’t believe I called this entire list and either they’re not open or they don’t have a truck they can send to where you are today.” (Read: God’s solutions ain’t got nothing on ours.)

When I tell you at that very moment, all I could do is think about how blessed I am, I’m understating how I felt. I immediately called my mom to share, and of course, I love sharing with her AFTER something has happened because she worries herself into oblivion. (Love you, mom!)

That’s not the end of my Lemony Snicket day though. Here’s the rest:

1- Went to tire place to get a new one

2- They didn’t have the tire I needed, so they called the next closest, they were putting their last 4 on a car at that moment. They then called the next closest. They had it and put it on hold for me.

3- There was construction on I-75 so I drove all the way up Marietta, which was fine because I needed gas. I pull in, swipe my card, it reads “SEE CASHIER.” I go inside, they say my card went through. Manager had to go outside and reset everything. I got gas.

4- Finally got to tire place, get it changed. End of debacle. Finally.

The other component of the day that made it a happy ending was the people I encountered. There are really good people in the world, even in Atlanta. (Kidding, y’all! (kinda, lol))

  • The dispatcher I talked kept telling lame jokes as she was processing my request. She knew that there was a good possibility I could be stressed out, so she was trying to lighten me up.
  • Before anyone got to me, a guy stopped and asked me if he could change my tire. Of course, this was before I knew if I had one. Thanks, Mister, for letting me know people care!
  • The HERO lady was soo nice and way diligent. That was my first experience with them, and I’m very pleased that we have that service here. Thank you, Georgia Department of Transportation!
  • The people at the gas station were very patient, and it rubbed off on me. Well, at this point, I figured the day was just what it was and if I hadn’t been upset yet, no need to start over a gas pump, but still. I appreciated them. The manager even pumped my gas.
  • As I was walking out of the gas station, a guy stopped me just to tell me I was beautiful. No pick up lines, no asking me for my number. Just wanted to give a compliment.
  • The mechanic on duty at the first tire place I went to recognized me from when I was there to get my oil changed, so he came over to speak and to look at my tire, and he assured me everything would be taken care of.
  • The manager at the place that put the tire on hold ended up being an AKA from Cheyney in PA (’82), and we had a great convo about politics while I was waiting on my car to get its new shoe. She was so nice and a great person to meet as I ended my journey.

So all that to say, you can’t see the rainbow unless there’s a little rain. And one of my favorite quotes is

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain.

Sunday could have been a monsoon if I had treated it as one. But it turned out to be a little blip in the road. I mean, yeah, I missed my social plans of the day, but I still got to my (rescheduled) appointment and ate dinner with my friend (who got to me at almost exactly the same time the HERO truck did and then followed me all over the place to make sure I got to the tire place–another person who was in that list of people who made my day). But the perspective is that things could have gone in a number of different ways, but they didn’t. And I still enjoyed the day because I allowed myself to, and because I trusted that everything would work out as they should. Now, I guess I’ll finally let my friend teach me how to change a tire, just in case that happens to me in another state. 🙂

Feature Friday: The Number Game

Feature Friday: The Number Game

So on Facebook this week, the number game blew up!  I particularly liked it because my FB friends were very positive about the people for whom they dedicated their statuses.  I only played for about 30 minutes Tuesday night, but here are a descriptions of those who sent me numbers.  Some made it into that 30 minute window, and others were sent after I stopped playing.  So needless to say, I’m blessed to know some great people. 🙂  Happy Friday!

3.14 I feel like you’re buttering me up. hmmmm lol. No really, you are the smart and super spunky lil sis that refuses to be placed in the nerd box. Keep on pursuing your dreams while enjoying every minute!

4 I used to love going to the barber shop when my stylist had a chair in there so that I could joke with you and get my eyebrows arched!  You’re a great guy, and your family is gorgeous!

17 I’m proud of you for all that you’re trying to do with your life. I want you to spend more time focusing on the good than the bad, and I promise the world will look like a better place!

20 I love that we became fast friends. From our mutual love of soul music and natural hair to your benefit-of-the-doubt giving nature, hanging out w you is always a blast!!

227 I always felt safe with you on the bus. You were always really sweet and cool to me and wouldn’t let anyone mess with me!

‎0329 I think u were my 2nd friend when I got to Clinton. So many memories, esp in orchestra. Like when u left your violin at hm and “borrowed” one and it turned out to be a viola and the whole year with Massimino. Haha

601 You are one of those least judgmental, most optimistic people I have ever met.  You can see the silver lining in any storm cloud.  I hope you never outgrow that remarkable and uncommon trait.  I love you for always being there and refocusing my perspective.  You’re beautiful inside and out, and I am blessed to have you in my corner.

‎799 You were one of the only non-freshman guys that would risk befriending a 16-yr old the 1st semester of my freshman year. I’m happy to see that you’re thriving like I always knew you would. Oh and I have a pitch to make to u soon. lol will msg you.

808 When I met you, I noticed how great you are with the kiddies!  Keep being stern yet soft with them!

1003 You and I have been through a lot, and we have such special memories.  From hating each other freshman year to being attached at the hip (and forehead haha) sophomore year through our rough patches through being grown-ups together now.  Keep being positive, keep being a trendsetter, and keep taking such good care of those cutie patooties!

1908 You are the best front a girl could ask for. When I need to lean forward, you’re right there! You are the most fabulous diva I’ve ever known, and I’m sooooo happy that we’re more than just sorors–we’re friends. I’m proud of everything you’re doing. Keep that infinite finesse going!

[Side note: How cool is it that my front and back ended up next to each other? Smooches to both of you! And no wonder I ended up going from pseudo tomboy to super girly–how could I not stuck between two super fashionistas? lol!]

1976 I remember when I met u and I’m pretty sure we changed ur opinion of good MS stock forever lol. You even married a MS magnolia! I’m very proud of you and can’t wait to meet your lil mini you!

2408 You were the cutest young kid I knew way back in the day. I’m so happy to see how well you’re doing despite adversity! Ill always be a member of your fam, even if y’all don’t see me often, lol.

7890 You and DP showed me how huge skeephi love really was. I still remember how special I felt when yall got an ad for me for the Miss Black and Gold pageant. I enjoyed being a Step Afrika groupie after the skeephi.com stint. You’re so talented and I hope life is treating you well.

46038 Being friends w your crazy, funny butt was the highlight of freshman year. Let’s see, I stood on top of a dangerous annex, spun around in a car and laughed as ur roommate cursed us out, rode Amtrak and got hit w my first snowball all w you. I know u don’t believe me, but I’m coming to Indy asap!

111169 Jr high would have never been so memorable without you. Many many laughs and I’m glad you’re still my bro after allllllll these years! Keep it funky!

384426 I’ve seen you evolve into a mature, creative, good mommy. I wish you the best in all your current and future projects. Keep up the good livin!

The Greats and Grands in Our Lives

The Greats and Grands in Our Lives

Instead of a feature today, I just want to get some things off my chest. I have a half-written post about Nacirema Society, but y’all know how I am–I have to have some inner inspired motivation to write in this here blog. Even despite my little ploy to get myself to write twice a week no matter what.

What’s on my mind today? Family. Love. Responsibility.

I dream of a day when I’ll be able to just help my loved ones when they need it. Remember when my granddaddy died and I said that I needed to step up? Well, stepping up ain’t so easy. I mean, really, who thought it’d be hard? Well, I guess I should have known. For goodness sake, I live 400 miles away. I see my mom struggling to help everyone, and I feel bad because I can’t be there to help her help everyone.  My other granddaddy has Alzheimer’s and it’s more than a notion caring for him and making sure he’s safe and as healthy as he can be.  Sometimes he thinks it’s the 80s, sometimes he can be a little sneaky, sometimes he can be a little aggressive, but all the time he needs someone to make sure his best interest is being considered.  My mom feeds him everyday and really doesn’t get much thanks.  And of course, when I got home last week I kinda felt some kinda way about it and didn’t want to visit.  But of course, my mom is who she is and made sure I walked next door, and I softened as soon as my granddaddy said “Besides your hair, you sure are looking pretty!”  (I think it’s funny–he’ll always be himself no matter what.)  I had to be thankful that he can still recognize me and is still happy when I come home to visit.  I just wish I could help distribute some of that caretaker’s burden.

I also went to see my great aunts who I usually do not make time to see, and I have no excuse for it.  My Aunt Geneva is doing GREAT for her age and my Aunt Sweet had to blink her eyes and give me her suspicious stare before giving me her award-winning smile, and I immediately felt bad that I hadn’t been inside either of their houses in way too long although I have to drive past them any time I go to or leave my mom’s house.  Houses I used to walk to just to be around them when I was a kid.  I used to love sitting in my Aunt Sweet’s kitchen and watching her bake.  I credit her for my little baking talents now.  Why does the absent thing happen?  I know I’m not the only one who has gone too long without checking on my elderly loved ones.  I think there are several reasons. It’s hard to watch your loved ones get older and less spunky, less mobile, weaker.  It also gets easier to keep focusing on the distractions–I’m sure the first time I didn’t make time to stop by, I felt awful, but as the visits passed and I still didn’t make time, the bad feelings went away.  It also gets overwhelming to hear about family drama that you can’t do anything about.

But here are some reasons we should make time for the foundations of our families.

  • They are so wise and full of information, knowledge, and inspiration. I feel rejuvenated after I spend time with my grandma.  She loves to tell stories, and she gives advice that sometimes is masked in anecdotes.  I guess, almost like Jesus and his parables, except as she’s giving me advice, she’s sharing our family history.  I love to hear about her life experiences, how they are similar to or different than mine, and how she became who she is.  You can’t beat an oral memoir.  Besides that, I enjoy looking at her features and thinking about who looks like her, kinda like her, and imagining what I will look like as I get older.
  • We should appreciate people while they’re around to feel appreciated. My grandma and I share a special crocheting relationship.  I appreciate her for teaching me how, and she appreciates me for wanting to learn from her and carry on her talent.  And now that my granddaddy is gone, she needs to know that she’s not alone.  Of course, her kids and grandkids can’t replace her baby, whom she was with for 60 years, but we can still try to fill that gap with love.  I’m so grateful that my cousins spend time with her and do for her.
  • We kinda owe it to them. They may be a little feeble compared to the old days, but think about all they did before they went through a transformation of getting older.  It has to be tough getting older, realizing that your hands don’t work the way they used to, seeing the wrinkles invade your space, having to take medicine more than ever before.  But before that, they were ripping and running.  Doing for us.  Showing us the way.  Working to provide a good life.  They took care of us, so now we need to take care of them.  Besides, we’ll miss them when they’re gone.  I should know this especially.  After all the family funerals I’ve been to, you would think I wouldn’t have to learn this lesson so often.
  • The elderly are not aliens from outer space. Some people get really uncomfortable around older people, and sometimes I wonder how uncomfortable that makes the older person.  They’re still people, just a little older.  They still need companionship and human care and concern like er’body else.

I could talk more about abuses that I’ve read in the paper and online.  But y’all know how dirty people can be and how some people target the elderly.  All I will say is, please don’t be one of those awful people who take advantage of people.  If you haven’t visited an older member of your family in awhile, I encourage you to do so soon.  Maybe at Christmas or something.  And if you don’t have a “Great” or a “Grand” in your life, consider going by a nursing home or assisted living facility and meet one.  They’re treasures, and we should treat them as such.

Not Too Busy to Love

Not Too Busy to Love

Today’s Memory Lane Monday comes from an email I sent on 1/31/07.  I spent last week in Jackson, juggling relaxing with visiting as many family members as I could with meeting up with friends and classmates.  Yesterday, when it was time to leave, I wasn’t ready because I felt like I hadn’t really done everything or seen everybody I had intended to.  But alas, I had to get back on the road.  I say all that to say, at the end of the day, it’s all about love.  Showing people, friends, family, and even strangers, love.  We’re here on earth to make a difference in someone’s life, and who knows who it will be?  Maybe just the fact that I spent a little time with my grandma, my granddaddy, my aunts, and my great-aunts was enough.  Or maybe the fact that I spent a lil time catching up with old friends was enough.  Or just maybe the short convo I had in the mall with a stranger at random was enough.  Anywho, enjoy.

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.  Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”—when you now have it with you.  Proverbs 3:27-28

A major part of being Christians is our responsibility to love.  And part of loving is giving–our time, our effort, our resources–to people in need.  It’s not always something big that the Spirit urges us to give, but we often ignore those urges.  You never know how a smile might have changed someone’s day.  Or stopping to give someone directions.  Or giving someone a dollar.  Or helping someone with a homework assignment.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, especially for myself since I’m always on the go–every time Jesus stopped to helped someone in the Bible, he wasn’t just sitting there waiting to help someone–he was on his way somewhere, and he stopped what he was doing to assist that person in need.  We should follow suit, and try to make sure we have a loving attitude throughout our day.

Feature Friday: Green Building

Feature Friday: Green Building

In preparation for our New Orleans’ volunteer trip, one of my group members helped me tremendously (and graciously!) by creating a card that gives green tips in building to give to organizations and residents who may be interested.  As a Feature, I’m giving Sirobe a shout out (soon to be one of less than 300 black women architects!!) and the tips in case any of you are doing any home improvements over the holidays.

Here are a couple of the tips:

  • Since appliances and electronics are responsible for 20% of the average energy bill, it pays to make your home more energy efficient.  You could receive up to $500 in rebates or $1500 in tax credits if you purchase Energy Star appliances.  Visit www.energysavers.gov for more information!
  • If you’re moving any time soon, remember that large trees are your friend.  They can help to shade your home from direct sunlight as well as block cold winds.

If you know any one building a house or anyone who is rebuilding on the Coast (or anywhere else), send them to my page.  They can contact Reads and Reels for more information.