MLM: The Time of My Life

MLM: The Time of My Life

Happy Monday to you and Happy Birthday Eve to me!  The post I’m about to share was written on 9/22/04, and in it, I talk enjoying my 20s, which I’m about to be saying goodbye to over the next year.  Also, I thought it was nifty that my birthday, my golden birthday at that, was on a Tuesday that year just like it is this year.

I still don’t have a bunch o’ regrets.  As I move into my 30th year, I know that I’ve accomplished a lot, I know tons of great people, and I have so much I want to do and know I will do.  Life will always have its ups and downs, and I’ve had some hella ups that are way more vivid memories than the downs.  So no complaints over this way.  Especially after a great weekend.  Friday, I chilled and talked and chilled and talked.  Saturday, I had a day full of tons of stuff, including a workshop,a business launch, a dinner with the girls where they surprised me with cupcakes :), and dancing at Old School Saturday with a slew of friends.  Yesterday, I got to see my mentee strut her stuff in her first pageant, and she won Most Photogenic in her division and overall and 1st runner up to Miss Jr Teen Atlanta, and I was treated to a nice dinner and a delectable dessert.  And later this week, I’ll get to spend my Thanksgiving with my awesome family.  See, how could I complain?  Yep, I’m still having the time of my life.  Anywho, here ya go.

I was listening to the radio this morning, and for one time, Ryan Cameron made me think. (I usually don’t listen to him because he aggravates me.) Anywho, I came in on the end of the convo so I dunno what prompted the topic, but he was discussing with the rest of his crew the importance of living life and not putting things off until you can “afford” it because alot of us will never enjoy ourselves that way. He talked about how some parents miss out on the special moments of their kids’ lives working all the time and saying, “Well, next time, but this time I need to do overtime so I can…” And then he said something about a girl who gave her entire 20s to a guy and now she’s alone and talking about how she’ll never go back to all that drama after she’s missed out on probably the funnest part of the average person’s life. Which got me to thinking about me and this part of my life. I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying my 20s (even though I kinda just began them but that’s ok–I’m looking forward to the rest of em). I know I gripe alot about different things, and I do get sad and unsatisfied sometimes, but overall, I don’t think when I look back on my life I will have many regrets or woulda/coulda/shoulda’s so far. I’m having a ball while working on the future. I’m meeting people, not as many as I’d like sometimes, but the people I have met and gotten to know are great people and you can’t beat that. And my networking circle is widening by the week. And again, I am having fun. I get stressed sometimes, but that’s a part of life, right? Last year was kinda boring, but this year and my senior year were great. Now as I’m finishing up my 23rd year (for you folx who hate my math logic–when you’re 22, that’s cuz you’ve lived 22 complete years and are going into the 23rd), I’m pleased with where I am at the moment. Not to say I’m about to become stagnant–never that–but I’m pleased with the overall state of things.

So enough with all that, let’s talk about this weekend. Methinks I’m going to the Classic. I’m trying to see how many people are coming with, so far 2. So fun. I plan to go to the parade that morning. It’s been so long since I’ve been to a parade, and the one I used to always go to is kinda hood rich (but I love it) so I’m excited that this may be a little more “big time” than I’m used to. I heard a rep of the 100 Black Men say that they flew in the Ghanaian Royal family, so that should be really cool. Of course there are free parties all weekend, so I gotta see if any of my friends are down. I’m also planning a trip to DC with two very special people for my birthday, so I’m extra excited about that. Extra extra. I hope everything falls in line. And I need to be figuring out what I will give my brother for his 18th birthday, which is 2 days after my birthday (and Thanksgiving). Any ideas? When I can afford it, I think I may start taking him different places for his birthday. I didn’t get my big brother anything for his birthday. It was Monday. But I did call and talk to him awhile. We had gotten close for awhile, but that kinda fell off. Maybe I’ll start calling for often. I was enjoying him being more like a friend brother than the big-bad-I’ll-beat-everybody-up-if-they-mess-with-you brother. But sometimes that is cool too. 🙂

Well, it’s off to the regular grind. But today seems a tad bit brighter than yesterday, and that’s always a good thing!

[lyrics for the day]
So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind, hang it on a shelf in good health and good time. Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial. For what it’s worth, it was worth all the while.
good riddance>>green day

This is a really classic song.  I guess I’ve always had good taste in music. 🙂  I’m going to live the rest of you up, 20s!


MLM: Stagecoach Prayer

MLM: Stagecoach Prayer

Happy Monday, lovelies!  I had a spectacular weekend, and I’m ready to rumble this week.  Yesterday, I felt the urge to watch a friend’s church online, and just like the old days, the Word was just for me.  The sermon was based on Exodus 13:17-18, and it was about how God wouldn’t lead the Israelites through the shortest path because they wouldn’t have been ready for war with the Palestinians and how God may take us a longer route, but long isn’t wrong.  The sermon conjured up all types of thoughts not only about my life and the path I’m on but also about the black community (but I need to organize those).  Anywho, this Our Daily Bread that I shared on 4/4/07 kinda extends my thought process about the sermon.  About how my path is mine–I need to stay in my lane and work on what I’m meant to work on and what’s meant for me will be mine.  If I swerve into other folks’ lanes, I may shortchange myself. Hope you have a productive week!

Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. —John 14:13

Five-year-old Randy wanted a toy stagecoach for Christmas. While shopping with Mom, he found just the one he wanted. It was about 6″ long and had cool wheels and dark brown plastic horses pulling it. “Mommy, I want this one. Pleeeease!” he begged. As young children sometimes do, he threw a tantrum, insisting that he get that stagecoach for Christmas. Mom said, “We’ll see,” and took him home.

Randy was sure he’d get what he asked for. Christmas morning came, and he opened the package confidently. Sure enough, it was the stagecoach he had begged for. He was so pleased. But then his older brother said, “You really did a dumb thing to insist on gettingthat coach. Mom bought you a much bigger one, but when you begged for that little one, she exchanged it!” Suddenly the small stagecoach didn’t seem so appealing.

Sometimes we’re like that with God. We pray about a specific need and tell Him how He ought to answer. We beg and plead—and God may even give us exactly what we ask for. But He may have had something better in mind.

Phillips Brooks once said, “Pray the largest prayers. You cannot think a prayer so large that God, in answering it, will not wish you had made it larger.” — Anne Cetas

Do not presume to know what’s best
When you begin to pray;
But say to God, “Your will be done,”
Then trust His perfect way. —Sper

Large asking results in large receiving.

I rock!

I rock!

Sunday night, BET aired Black Girls Rock, and it was so awesome!  It’s about time we see some positive, inspirational, motivational, strong images of black women in the media.  BET did this one right.  Working with Beverly Bond to give more exposure to the positivity her initiative exudes, this program did wonders for grown black girls and small black girls alike.  If you missed it, I encourage you to watch it, whether you’re a black girl or not.  You can catch it online at the link above.

So let’s spread some love on my page today.  Share with me why YOU rock!

Why do I rock?  I rock because I’m a risk taker.  I dream and then I go after them.  I rock because I’m a M.A.D. black woman–one who’s making a difference.  I’m a change maker.  I rock because even though I’m a rough and tough with my afro puffs at times, I’m versatile–I’m also a softspoken, sensitive southern belle who loves alliteration and all things vintage and frilly.  I rock because I know my style and I love myself for it.  I rock because I want to be an influence on those around me.  As Iyanla Vanzant said Sunday night, I rock because I have no other choice.

Here’s one of my fave parts of the show.

Why do you rock?  Tell me!

5 Reasons God Permits Problems

5 Reasons God Permits Problems

Tanjala P sent this to a group of friends on 6/7/07. I needed to read it, so maybe it’ll help one of you guys out there.

The problems you face will either defeat you or develop you–depending on how YOU respond to them. Unfortunately, most people fail to see how God wants to use problems for good in their lives. They react foolishly and resent their problems rather than pausing to consider what benefit they might bring. Here are five reasons God may have permitted the problems you have experienced in your life:

1. God permits problems to DIRECT you. Sometimes God must light a fire under you to get you moving. Problems often point us in a new direction and motivate us to change. Is God allowing this situation to get your attention?

“Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways. ” Proverbs 20:30

2. God permits problems to INSPECT you. People are like tea bags … if you want to know what’s inside them, just drop them into hot water! Has God tested your faith by allowing a problem or two into your life? What do problems reveal about you?

“When you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience.” James 1:2-3

3. God uses problems to CORRECT you. Some lessons we learn only through pain and failure. It’s likely that as a child your parents told you not to touch a hot stove. But you probably learned by being burned. Sometimes we only learn the value of something… health, money, a relationship. ..by losing it.

“It was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws.” Psalms 119:71-72

4. God permits problems to PROTECT you. A problem can be a blessing in disguise if it prevents you from being harmed by something more serious. Last year a friend was fired for refusing to do something unethical that his boss had asked him to do. His unemployment was a problem-but it saved him from being convicted and sent to prison a year later when management’s actions were eventually discovered.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good”… Genesis 50:20

5. God permits problems to PERFECT you. Problems, when responded to correctly, are character builders. God is far more interested in your character than your comfort. Your relationship to God and your character are the only two things you’re going to take with you into eternity.

“We can rejoice when we run into problems…they help us learn to be patient. And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady.” Romans 5:3-4

** Here’s the point: God is at work in your life-even when you do not recognize it or understand it. But it’s much easier and profitable when you cooperate with Him.

My Time in New Orleans

My Time in New Orleans

Where were you when Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc over the gulf coast communities and when the levees broke? I was in Atlanta, worried sick about my friends and their families and about the city I have had a sincere love for since I was a little kid—New Orleans. I remember not being able to get in touch with anyone for weeks because the network was down. And I remember feeling like there was nothing I could do. I did clothing drives for my friends, but it never seemed to be enough.

Well, five years have passed since that disaster that hit so very close to home and affected so many people that I personally know. And still, the city has not recovered. There are still empty but overgrown lots, houses that are abandoned, people that can’t return yet. There’s still so much to do, and this past weekend, I helped do it.

I led a group of 15 volunteers—3 traveling from here in Atlanta, 2 from Jackson, MS (plus a hubby–shout out to Trey), 1 from Vicksburg, MS, 8 from in and around Hattiesburg, MS, and 1 from Chicago, IL. We worked with Hands on New Orleans in two areas of town. And boy, were those two volunteer projects different.

On Saturday, we went to Harvey, Louisiana, which is on the West Bank of New Orleans. The project was with the Latino Farmers Cooperative of Louisiana to move their Esperanza Neighborhood Farm. Not just develop one—move it. From one parcel of land to another.  I walked into a land dispute that I had no knowledge of until we showed up to work. The organization had received an acre of land from a board member, but they didn’t go through the official channels of learning where the property lines were. Turns out they spent months creating a garden on someone else’s land—someone who didn’t want them there. So much in fact that the owner of the land showed up with police to make sure we were moving the garden, and not tending to it.

That whole situation was a mess.  Both sides were wacko.  She was wacko because she felt like the owner owed her something.  No ma’am.  Her organization should have done their due diligence to ensure they understood where the property was.  So she kept calling this man a bad person because he didn’t want to lease her the land for the three months it would take to reap the harvest.  It’s his land so he has a right to say no.  But going by her behavior and attitude when the owner pulled up (she was even rude to the police who weren’t at all mean when they pulled up), it’s clear that she was not pleasant ever in the situation.  So much for the attracting bees with honey because I’m sure when he (a black man) first pulled up to ask what they were doing, a group of white and Latino people working on his land, they probably acted like he was the one who is crazy.  He ordered them to move the garden asap. Now he’s crazy too, though.  First of all, she did him a favor really because the land was very much not taken care of before they made their mistake, so he really won out on that end of the spectrum.  However, he ordered her to move the land, but was threatening to charge her with trespass that morning (not us, her, lol–we 15 were not going to jail over voluntarism.  No. indeed.).  Well, sir, she can’t move the dang garden by osmosis.  We had to be on the property to uproot it all.  Once we, the sane and calm and unbiased black people, explained that to him and the police, though, he exhaled, still a little tightly wound, but just said it needed to be gone by the next day.

So my group of 15 had the task of moving a sign that had been cemented in the ground, uprooting a fence, clearing the land on the property that actually was for them (and by clearing I mean moving loads and loads of vines and trash), preparing it for soil, digging up and moving the soil from the original garden, and finally, moving and replanting the crops. It was very hard work, let me tell you, and the project leader was more like an overseer or slave master than a volunteer coordinator. She was barking orders at us and showed little to no appreciation even though we did in 5 hours what took weeks.  I think I knew it was a wrap when she asked us to relieve the Dillard students who had only been there for an hour compared to our four, and wanted us to stop planting to start back digging.  Oh, and did I mention she had stopped working because some students from Princeton had come to interview her for a study they’re doing about farming and community gardens.  Did I mention that the owner of the land of the first garden is attempting to sell it to a mechanic shop (we found that out from a neighbor)?  So… if that happens, surely the garden will not survive behind that. We left feeling borderline defeated and wondering if we had wasted a day.

The bright side of things is that the whole group felt some kinda way after leaving so we decided to unwind at a nearby daiquiri shop, where we played some New Orleans classics (so classic that the owner of the shop turned the music up louder and customers were coming in bobbing their heads–woot woot for the DJ (me)) for a friend who had never been to New Orleans, had Jello shots, played pool, and of course, drank daiquiris.  The girls left there and went to a nail salon.  We keep it pretty, yanno.  We have no idea what the guys were up to.  Later, we went to the Quarter, ate heartily, then looked at all the Halloween costumes on Bourbon St.  It was a great night.

Sunday was a totally different experience, however. We went to the Lower 9th Ward, which is one of the most affected parts of the city because it’s near the levees. When we arrived at the Lower 9th Ward Village (which I plan to feature this Friday), we were all wary, ready to leave the project, straight throw the deuces, as soon as we were done with our assignment. Turns out we stayed 2 hours longer than the project was supposed to be. The morning started with an inspirational introduction from the Village CEO Mac McClendon, who started the community center to help his neighborhood after losing all his material things, including a house he had spent months renovating with his own hands. He explained to us what he went through during the storm and its aftermath, looking for his family, dealing with the smell of death when he returned, finding out that silence is a deafening sound. He said that hearing a car was a treat because there were literally no sounds—no birds chirping, no dogs barking, no crickets chirping, nothing. Out of hopelessness, he found his purpose in life and now, he’s running this center, still rebuilding his own life, but giving to his neighbors. Because there’s a law saying that if the grass is over 18 inches, a lot can be seized, we spent our morning cutting grass and weeds. Although the project wasn’t as “glamorous” as creating a garden, we felt like we had become a part of this community. After we were done, we spent two hours talking to Mr. McClendon about his life and experiences, with his younger brother who is the Program Director at the center, and with a couple of elderly residents who just wanted to pick our brains and get us thinking. We didn’t want to go, but we had to so that we could get home.  Here’s a link to a clip of the convo we had with Mr. McClendon.

The difference between those two projects illustrates the true meaning of community building—we volunteer, but why? To do good, yes, but more importantly, to build and restore communities. When I go back to New Orleans again to work, I’ll definitely be going back to see what my new friends at the Lower 9th Ward Village need. I won’t give up on helping other parts of the city, but I definitely want to dedicate at least part of my time to the ongoing efforts in the Lower 9th Ward.  I hope that next time you will come with us. 🙂  Here are links to the pictures.  Oh the memories.

Ranada’s Reads and Reels FB Photo Album

J Photo Group’s Flickr Album

MLM: What’s Your Dream?

MLM: What’s Your Dream?

Well, my dream is to make a profound positive impact on the black community. And through Reads and Reels, I can see some of that coming to fruition.  This weekend, I led a group of 15 volunteers in New Orleans as we participated in the ongoing rebuilding efforts.  It was a humbling, educational, inspirational, reassuring, lesson-learning, comical, friendship-building time, and I’m so glad that I had the idea and acted on it.  I’ll definitely be doing it again very soon.  I’m uploading pictures and sharing stories over the next few days.

For Memory Lane Monday, though, I want to share this piece I sent to friends on May 4, 2007 after a sermon I heard.

“Look, this dreamer is coming!…Let us…kill him.” Genesis 37:19-20

What’s your dream?

Everybody has a dream.  What’s yours?  If you could do anything, what would it be?  Most of us don’t achieve great things because we give up, we fall short, we get off track, we settle, or we dream too small.  Only two things stand in your way: dreaming it, then doing it.  Have you dared to dream, really dream?  If something is within your apparent reach, it isn’t a dream.  If it doesn’t stretch you, cost you, or involve risk, it isn’t a dream.  Dreams change you even as they change the world around you.

Maybe you’re listening to critical people. Remember the story of Joseph?  He dreamed big dreams.  God-given dreams.  And what was the response of his brothers?  They said, “Look, this dreamer is coming!… let us… kill him.”  People who aren’t pursuing their own dreams are usually the first to criticize people who are.  So, who are you listening to?

Maybe you’re afraid to dream too big. You don’t want to fail.  Nobody does.  But “safe living” leads to regret.  Theodore Roosevelt said, “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor souls who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”  What’s the worst thing that could happen if you pursue your dream and don’t achieve it?  You could end up where you are now.  And what’s the best thing that could happen?  You could find yourself in new territory, enjoying new blessings, living the life God meant for you to live!

So, what’s your dream?  Are you pursuing it?

MLM: Life’s Challenges

MLM: Life’s Challenges

I picked this post, written 10/10/06, because it’s funny to me now, 4 years later, that I actually titled it “Life’s Challenges” (when the challenges seem like much more of blips on the radar–but maybe that’s a brain thing–maybe my current challenges are just as surmountable as they were then and as soon as I overcome them, I’ll be laughing about it). It’s also funny just how consistent I am.  In this post, I talk about someone who can dish smart aleck comments but can’t take them, I talk about my birthday plans, I talk about my social life, and I talk about being busy.  Well, guess what.  I was just dealing with someone who can dish the sarcasm but can’t take it; I just sent an email about part 1 of my birthday plans (an awesome trip to do some volunteer work in New Orleans, my fave city) and I’m still trying to figure out part 2; I was just telling a friend that I feel old now because it seems that now I hibernate in the winter with the exception of Red Tie Soiree and that I’m not the young socialite I used to be; and I am still as busy as ever (but now I have a handle on it).  I love it that even my blog shows what people tell me all the time–I’m one of the most consistent people alive.  Another thing that is consistent over time is that when I’m stressed or feeling challenged, although it’s hard sometimes, I try to focus on other, not so stressful parts of my life while overcoming the challenge (which is why only part of this post is actually about my challenges then).  Anywho, I hope you enjoy this window into the past.


I didn’t go to bed till about 5:30 this morning. And I have to leave my apt to 7:25 to ensure timely arrival to work. I left at 7:45. Yes, I was late. WHy did I stay up so late? Because my partner in one of my classes is something… He sent me his part of the paper we’re writing (mind you, I’m the one compiling our findings to make a consistent and worthwhile paper AND editing) at 12:15. YES, 12:15. And do you think he appreciates any of the extra I’ve had to give in order to make assignments even remotely okay? Nope, cuz he’s too worried about whether or not I’m kissing his ass (and I’m not). Every thing that I say results in a “Why are you so mean?” or “You shouldn’t be so sarcastic.” To which I reply, if you can’t take it, don’t dish it. He always has smart ass things to say, but he can’t handle when I simply reply. I know this is a test from above, so I’m trying to hold my peace and make it through this class without cursing him out. And the paper still isn’t done. But after his monologue about how we’re a team and if he needs to sacrifice to get it done, he will, I’m letting him. I’m sacrificing my assurance in myself to write a good paper to let him write a possibly mediocre one since I had to take off work last time we had an assignment because of his late ass. And he had the audacity to tell me how he’s juggling so much as if I’m not. UGH! Lord, help me through, PLEASE! But because I wrote most of it and gave him directions about what is needed to complete the paper, hopefully, he can’t botch it up too bad. And I’m still going to review it before we turn it in. I just hope I have enough time to edit if I need to.

Anyhow, on to more positive things to think about. I woke up because of a very plain but somehow very meaningful “Good morning.” text from someone I only see in a social setting every blue moon, and it really made me smile and get on up and tackle a new day on less than 2 hours sleep. Looks like I quite possibly got my mojo back. *hmmm* I need to find my calendar so that I can try to make time for special people.

I am throwing a birthday party the weekend before my birthday. I’m so excited about it. This weekend and next weekend we are gonna shop venues. I’m leaning toward the Royal since I’ve been there more than once and since it’s one of those low-key under-the-radar spots. But I’ll have to see if I can get the DJ to be a smidge more crunk. I usually like the laidback thing, but I have a feeling I’m gonna wanna shake my groove thang that night. But we have a copla more places on the list to check out. I would go back to Sutra (where I threw my graduation party) if they hadn’t tried to kick me out of my own party even though I wasn’t doing anything but sitting down looking inebriated. Ugh. But yeah I’m sure out of the places on this list we’ll find a good spot. I just gotta find me a super fly outfit. And I gotta do something with my hair. I don’t think I want the big fro that night. I think I’ll want a sleek sexy look. 🙂

Have I said on here how much I love being a little urbanite/socialite? I love mixing and mingling and expanding my social network. I like it that people know they can count on me to support them, whether it be a community service activity or a party or a roundtable discussion or a happy hour. I like being that girl that people love to send their evites to. I bask when people call during their event to ask where I am if I haven’t arrived yet. I didn’t really have a point for that besides that I just really enjoy the social part of my life.

Who am I kidding? I pretty much enjoy all parts of my life. Staying busy with the stuff at the top of my priority list keeps me happy. Yeah, I get stressed out every now and then, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have my hands in a bunch of worthwhile activities/projects at one time. I enjoy seeing projects from start to finish. I enjoy seeing stuff executed properly and successfully. I enjoy working with those people with whom I work very well. Oh yeah, and I enjoy making A-‘s on my first midterm! *yay me* I still want to push to do better on the second midterm and final, but I’m so happy that so far I have a solid A in that class. I’ll need it since I’m not so certain about making an A in the other class. And since my stream of consciousness has guided me full circle, I guess it’s time for me to sign off. Until next time, folks!

And I’m still talking about my hair and what to do when I’m not wearing a big fro.  lol. I have an event in a couple of weeks, and I need another “sleek” style.  We’ll see what happens.

Here’s a song to get you through life’s challenges.

Happy Monday, folks!