Sunday, January 31, 2010

Post 34: Faith and Feelings

I must admit...

Not only to you, but moreso to myself...

That my faith is not always where it should be.

And I don't feel bad about that.

I am woman enough to admit that, and not hide from it.

Because let's face it... is anyone out there operating in 100% faith?


That's because faith is like a muscle: it's always in the process of being built. And if it's not being built up, it's probably weakening.

I'm always building up in my faith. But situations in life come along where I must stir up my faith and then execute.

I learned something very interesting from blogger That Southern Black Gal a while back in a short email convo: I may want something, but my faith has to catch up. My faith has to get to the point where I will step out.

My faith is always being tested. It's always being proved. It's always being built up.

I can see that's the case, as confirmed by Hebrews 12:2

(AMP) Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].

My faith is alway being brought to maturity. It is constantly being perfected.

And I gotta remember that, man!

And I think about that often. Where is my faith concerning this situation I'm facing? I need to at least have the courage to admit when I know my faith is not ready to take on a situation. Then I need to have more courage to sit down and figure out what to do to increase my faith.

I do relalize that my faith is always being thrown through a bunch of filters: my logic, my experiences, what Oprah said, what the media said, what Dr. Phil said, what they say on Twitter, on the Facebook, on the blogs, and everywhere else, even all the junk I feed my soul on a daily basis...

Before I get to what God says...

For I always hear 2 Corinthians 5:7 shouted with glee...

"For we walk by faith, not by sight!"

But it takes a minute to get there. Well, I don't know about you, but for me it does.

The amplified version of that verse presents a more stoic view of faith:

2 Corinthians 5:7 (Amplified) For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance.

That means to me that I live and conduct my life by my trust and belief in God, not by my trust and belief in my circumstances.

I trust God! Not what this situaion says!

It takes a moment though, to be able to shout THAT from the hills.

Hebrews 11:1 gives the biblical definition of faith:

(KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

(AMP) NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].


The last part of that amplified verse catches my eye.

Faith perceives as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.

Faith moves beyond what I say, see, touch, smell or hear concerning the situation.

And it confirms what I learned a long time ago, and I'm STILL trying to get a grip on.

My faith MUST go past my feelings.

My faith MUST go past alllll the question marks.

I'm finding, when looking back on my life experiences, that nothing happened while I was considering the matter, and all muddled in my feelings.

It's when I make a quality decision to leave all that behind, and decide to grasp hold of my faith and move forward that I see things begin to happen...

It's when I stop asking all the questions, and sarcastically questioning God on the matter that things start to move.

Until then, my feet stay stuck in the thick sticky mud of my feelings...

And I move nowhere fast.

Move nowhere in my head.

Move nowhere in my heart.

Move nowhere in my life.

Move nowhere in my reliance and trust in God.

(Sounds a little like that ol' reciprocal of faith to me: fear).

My faith. It must go past my fear tinged feelings.

My faith. It must go past all the skeptical questions...

For it is nothing that I can figure out with my feelings, with my logical mind.

That's the only way it will build up, become strong.

That's the only way I can carry on.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Post 33: Temporary

One thing I realize...

One thing I've come to know is true:

Everything is temporary.


Every thought, every feeling, every situation, every event, every life...

It's all temporary.

That's a huge statement. Huge.

But you know when it was that I realized that everything is temporary?

When I was in school. It took me 12 years to get all my degrees. I started college when I was 16 and I didn't finish until the age of 28. Twelve long years. And that doctorate mess was the worst. Man, we thought we thought it was the end of the world! That was some craziness.

But you know what?

It's all over.


I finished school eleven and a half years ago.

It. is. over.

It was merely a temporary situation.

I started it, went through it, and finished. Period.

Now, this is my opinion. Really it is. But for me, it rings true.

And I understood one thing, and I see it in a lot of people, including myself:

When I'm upset about something that happens, I am usually upset because I am reacting to the whole thing being permanent.

Like with any break-up I've had. Just looking back, I'm upset because we broke up, it's over, and I'll never meet another man, blah, blah, blah...

And we know that ain't true. It was a temporary situation, and life moves on. I'll meet new men and do new things. Thank goodness I'm out of that bad temporary situation.

I think like that now. But not in the past. I've learned not to get over into panic.

Panic is groundless fear. Fear with no real basis.

I know I react more to the harsh pictures I build in my mind about stuff, moreso than to the situation.

The situation is temporary. Always.

A different way of thinking, I know. Oh well. I'm a different kind of Oldgirl.

But I heard something a good 10 years ago that has stuck with me.

One of the assistant pastors at my New Orleans church was speaking on the subject of perserverance.

And he said some things that I know all women can relate to:

"Ladies, when you go get your hair done, it look all nice and all."
He had all our attentions then. We know about going to the hair salon.
"But you can't go just once. You have to go every six weeks, sometimes every month."
He got a lot of head nods on that one.
"That's because that hairdo is temporary. And you need to understand that about any situation you're going through right now. It's temporary. Just like a hairdo."

That was a light bulb moment for me.

Everything is temporary, like a hairdo. If I think of things like that, I can become more solution-minded versus being out all up in arms over the problem. Every problem has some solution.

Everything is temporary. Even our lives.

We are born. We live. We die. Period.

Morbid way of looking at things, but it is what it is: temporary.

But as I said, my thinking changed for the better when I thought like this, especially in situation that seem hopeless.

No it's not hopelss, only temporary. And I can and will get through it.

A lesson learned indeed.

One that I'll take into my 40th year. One I'll remember for the rest of my days.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Post 32: Judgmental


Such a harsh word, ain't it?

And I ain't gonna even bother to look it up. All kinds of images and thoughts flood my mind when I see that word.

For we all know what it means. To me, it means the act of pondering people, places, and situations and making decisions about how you view them, and what they mean to your life. Making decisions that these things are either good or detrimental to your life.

Sometimes being judgmental can go astray. It can get a bit off, where we constantly make assessments of people, whether they are good enough or don't measure up. Yeah, that's an assessment that we all make, but for some reason, we tend to project all that.

Well, I don't know about you, but that's the case with me. And I've been on both sides of that stick.

I'm rendered good enough.

Or, I don't measure up.

Neither should have anything to do with how I feel about myself.

But they do.

And I'm learning, as I get older one thing: it ain't what other's think of you, but what you think of yourself that's important.

So if I'm judged on the negative tip, so be it. As I always say, if I don't measure up, if I ain't good enough for you, or if I'm a detriment in your life, RUN from me. And I mean RUN FAST.

'Cuz who needs that?


I think our society teaches us to be judgmental. You see it all throughout out media -film, music, books, everything.
We are constantly judging.

But when I think of being judgemental, I always find myself going back and reading the first part of Romans, chapter 2. Let's just say... NOBODY ever mentions this part. I've heard chapter 1 a lot, as it is constantly used by Evangelicals to denounce, but they don't follow it up with the next chapter.

I came across this verse some 10 years ago, and only heard it mentioned recently. I like finding biblical truths on my own. It sticks with me, especially the part I highlighted in red.

Romans 2: 1-4 (Message)Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn't so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you've done. You didn't think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he's such a nice God, he'd let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he's not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.

I like that message version. It is a straight up hard and swift kick in the teeth.

It seems that having a judgmental mindset denotes one thing: I'm not dealing with my own mess.


And that ain't good.

For if I spend time earnestly dealing with what's going on in my own house (my heart and life), I ain't got time to be worried about what's going on in someone else's house.


Keep things in perspective here. You know what I'm talking about. That constant judging of people, got a problem with anybody and everybody. That "turning up the nose at everybody" type of thing.

Just judgmental as all get-out.

And I'm also talking about that ol' subtle stuff we do, too.

You know what I'm talking about.

I have this issue just like everybody else. I can definitely tell as I've gotten older, I've matured. People are who they are, and it is wrong for me to think everyone should measure up to this almost impossible standard I've set up, and vice-versa.

We should be working hard on meeting the standards we set for others.... working hard on meeting those standards our ownselves.

Yeah. It's painful to look at oneself and judge oneself. It's a very solitary act.

But I do it everyday. With Romans 2 in mind.
And it turns the inner thermostat setting from "selfishness" to "selflessness".

There's no time to worry about what others are doing. And the only time that is right is when I can ask the question "Can I be helpful in this situation? Can I judge the situation, and offer some sense of help and encouragement of some sort to help it move in a bettter direction?"

Other than that, I'm probably being judgmental because I'm procrastinating in dealing with my own problems. I'm learning to face that, and learning to deal with it expediently.

An unorthodox way of looking at things, I suppose. But let's face it, anything that goes against the grain of our popular culture is just that... unorthodox.

And I wouldn't have it any other way. Really.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Post 31: The Mysterious Motive Machine


And I mean everything...

Everything with me is about 2 things:


2 small words. Both only 6 letters long. But they pack much power. They're the reason behind world wars, murders, politricks, heartaches and heartbreaks... every betrayal known to man.


2 short words. Both only 6 letters long. But they are more dangerous than a loaded gun. They pack more deadly power than a nuclear bomb.

Responsible for everything I do... every single step I do make.

And let's hope they're good.

Good motives. Good agenda.

Sometimes they're bad.

Bad motives. Bad agenda.

And you know me. I love the shows Snapped, Law and Order, all that craziness...

And you know why?

Because it is all an exercise in the exposure of motive. One of the early questions always asked is "Who committed the crime, and what was the motive?" And then they go back and tell the whole story, trying to pinpoint where things went wrong, and what was the thing that caused the person to commit that crime. And then the whole plan, agenda, is laid out in court... and it has to be proven.

Motive. Agenda. Motive. Agenda.

Simple words. But they're more complicated than any machine.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Oldgirl is all about motive and agenda.

And if you've been lounging on the sofa at the House of LadyLee for any length of time...

You know how I do:

Gotta go look up my definitions in the dictionary, Mayne.

Motive: something that moves a person; an inducement, something that leads a person on; an incentive, something that inspires a person. Motive is applied mainly to an inner urge that moves or prompts a person to action, though it may also apply to a contemplated result, the desire for which moves the person

Agenda: A list or program of things to be done or considered; a plan of action

Very simple defiinitions. And everything with me is about those two things.

As usual, I like to relay a little scriptural reference. Just a couple of quick ones. There are plenty more, but two come to mind when I think of motive in particular.

James 4:2-3 (AMP)
You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your desires go unfulfilled; [so] you become murderers. [To hate is to murder as far as your hearts are concerned.] You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask. [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures.

I Corinthians 4:5 (NLT) So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives.

Another version of that verse: ...When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of—inner motives and purposes and prayers.


My oh my, I just found out the reason why a prayer may not get answered. Shoot, I found out the root to a whole bunch of crap in that James verse . That verse is bananas. Goodness gracious alive!

More interestingly, I found out what God's criteria is when He views me: He looks very closely at what is going on in my heart. VERY closely-- at my darkest secrets, my private motives, inner motives, purposes, prayer--- ALL DAT.


That word purpose is an interesting word.

It is synomymous with agenda. Is it not?

So if He's doing that... uh, then I better get the slack out and do it too, don't cha think?

THIS is the reason why I say everything with me is about my motives and agendas...

What is my motive behind doing or wanting certain things?

Are my motives good? Or are they bad, i.e., selfish in nature?

I spend MUCH private time thinking about this. I will spend all kinds of time journalling about it. All kinds of time.

You see because before I even THINK about going and praying about certain stuff, I spend time examining my motives and purpose for praying about it. It might take me a minute to figure out if I got bootleg motives, or I may have to spend time praying about what my motives are... before I even build up the faith to pray about the issue.

I hate to admit it, but sometimes I have to scratch praying about some things... because I have bad motives.

And until those motives turn right side up, and get right, then I let it go.

I may as well spend my time on praying for other people. That is MUCH better time spent.

Come on now, you all with kids... especially older ones. You know how you feel when your kids come at you sideways asking for stuff. Stuff that they probably know that they shouldn't be having. You're not gonna give it to them. Heck, they might wolf up and get mad at you, try to manipulate you. Yet you know if you give them what they are not ready for, it may be harmful or dangerous. May not be the right time for them to have it.

Or you may figure out a pattern of sorts: they only run up on you when they want something.

You know your children's hearts. And you know how you have a hand in training them up to be responsible individuals, to do what they do out of a good heart.

And you know it's your business to protect them. By any means necessary.

That's my experience with God. Uh, I learn REAL quick when I'm praying about something out of ulterior motives. I can tell you everything-the what, the why, the how- of why some of my prayers aren't answered. I've gotten to the point where I don't even bother praying about some things. I KNOW I got bad motives about certain things. I may write about one of those things later, but not now. (Yeah, I "hear" you wondering to yourself what I'm talking about, lol.)

Examination of the heart is everything. I myself must admit it is a very painful process at times. I don't like learning that I want something for selfish reasons.

But I've learned to take a little time, a little "me" time, and at least make an effort to be honest with myself.

That's the only way I can be honest before God.

That's the only way I can close my eyes and pray, and tell God, "Hey, uh, my heart ain't in the right place concerning this. I'm just letting you know. Please help me get my heart right on this matter, so I can properly pray about it. I want to pray about it, but I'm a bit shady concerning it. Can't quite put my finger on the issha, but I'm just letting You know. Shoot, I'm not all that sure about how I actually feel about the situation."

Simple enough.

And a LOT of stuff happens real quick, to show me my heart on the matter. FAST.

Hey, I'm cool with that, the unraveling of the mystery of my motives, this mystery more complicated than any machine.

But when God examines all those things in my heart:

My private motives

My dark secrets

My purposes

My inner urges

My resulting agenda


It's my hope that He will find something good and pure... Sometimes he doesn't. I'm not ashamed to admit that.

But He is a faithful sculptor, and my heart is an imperfect lump of clay. He chisels away the imperfections, the bad motives, all the messes, to reveal that which is good in me, that which He sees... His vision of the purpose and potential that He will mold me to fulfill.

That's where my faith and hope lay... especially as I step over into my 40th year.

Yes indeed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Post 30: Lessons from My Granddaddy

Here's a picture of my Grandfather, circa 2000 I believe, with my brother Milk and Cookies.

That's one of the last pictures I have of him, as he died a year later.

I must admit, I do miss him so. He was the only consistent male figure in my life.

He gave me my nickname of "Lee". Not sure how my mother feels about that, as my bro and sis, who have very odd names, don't have nicknames.

I've posted interesting stories about him on my blog, like the ones about pogo sticks and sharks.

I remember some 20 yeears ago, he and I had a most interesting conversation, one I'll never forget.

"Lee, you can be anything you want to be. You can be a crack addict if you want."
"Yes, it's okay to be on crack."
"No, it's not."
"Yes it is. As long as you're not affecting nobody else's life but your own, it's okay. You can do anything you want, as long as it's not messing up other folks lives."
"I guess you're right."

He was right. It's okay to have addictions and what-not.
You can do anything you want really...

As long as it is not affecting somebody else's life.

And thinking on it from that perspective... NO, it's not okay to be a crack addict. Hell, you will probably get to the point where you all smoked out, and stealing from your loved ones to support that crack habit. You caught up in all kinds of craziness, trying to chase that high...

And it is probably stressing out everyone around you.

So no, it's not alright to do anything you want. As it is affecting people...

This goes for crack addiction, alcholism, and any other "-ism".
It also goes for stuff we don't consider all that bad, like lying, backbiting, gossiping, laziness, anger, envy... you name it.

What we do affect others.

But I didn't truly understand what my Granddaddy meant until I came across a very interesting verse last year in the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 10:17 (KJV) He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth.


I'm not all the big on the King's English. My grandmother has a degree in bible psychology, and said if I want to know what the bible really says, I need to go learn some Hebrew and Greek. (Uh, I don't think so.)

But there's a version of the bible that pulls real heavy off the greek and Hebrew: the Amplified Version. The verses are a lot longer because of the fuller direct translations, but more detailed. I do believe the greek is in parentheses, and the hebrew is in brackets.
(Something like that.)

So the same verse above in the Amplified Version reads:

He who heeds instruction and correction is [not only himself] in the way of life [but also] is a way of life for others. And he who neglects or refuses reproof [not only himself] goes astray [but also] causes to err and is a path toward ruin for others.
I've read about 15 different versions of that verse, and that version has the most juice.

And I thought of my strange talk with my grandfather when I read it.

It does get to the root of things, don't it?

A lot in life is based on if I accept or reject the role of wisdom and constructive criticism of others in my life. My path in life is loosely connected to my ability to seek and use advise wisely.

And interestingly, I'm not only affecting my own life with my decisions and choices, but I'm affecting the lives of others. In ways I know and in ways I don't know.
There are countless examples of such. On the positive tip (and we see this in blogland), if someone meets a certain goal they've been pushing for, it has an affect on others.

For instance, Chele has been documenting on and off her thoughts and path toward irradicating fear from her life... the ups and downs, highs and lows, triumphs, tribulations, failures...the ebb and flow of it all. Uh, that has an affect on me, and many others, as many of us have similar issues. She sure has me thinking about it A LOT, that's for sure. It has me thinking, and taking action.

Her positive journey towards faith and away from fear is affecting others. I'm sure it's affecting the people in her life, especially her offspring, her children.

Got me 'bout to get the words "I am NOT afraid" tattooed across my forehead, man.

(I know Chele is like "Why is she always picking at me?" Cuz I can, lol. And it is a good and fine example).
I've been trekking on the vegetarian tip for the past 7 months, with all its highs and lows and whatnot. That's affected A LOT of people. Which strikes me as odd, but whatever. People ask me for advice. I don't know much, but I can tell you what I do know, and hope it's helpful.
On the negative tip, a most unassuming one:
People don't know you're a cleptomaniac. You're a shoplifter like no other.
But all that liftin' you doing: it causes the prices in the stores to go up.
It's affecting us all, although you think you getting over with your stealing.
And let's not even talk about crack. I have a family member who is coming out of that. But he was a crackhead for over 20-25 years. He lost his home, his job, his family. Been living in a car for I don't know how long. I can't even imagine him living in a house or apartment of his own.
His decisions have affected not only himself, but others.
It affected me. I know I need to stay away from the pipe. If I don't know much, I know THAT.
There was a lot of substance in that odd talk I had with my grandfather.
And I found a ton of confirmation in Proverbs 10:17. All of us could write a dissertation on the particular verse alone, detailing how all of our decisions and the decisions of others have affected our lives and the lives of others.
We could fill up a whole library with our stories.
Our lives preach the best and worst of sermons to all.
Oh, how I miss Granddaddy. That was someone who really loved me, even when I was unlovable.
Whenever he saw me, he'd holler "Hey Sweet!!!"
I miss being called "Sweet", lol.
I am thankful for that bit of knowledge he dropped my way so long ago.
I will forever hold his words close to my heart.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Post 29: Things That Bother Me, Part I

I was looking through my little trusty blog notebook at the various topics I wanted to write about, and I came across one that I didn't know how to write about, but wanted to write about anyway.

As it is something I deal with for most of my life.

And I find myself having to hit the "reset" button in my heart concerning it.

So if this post seems convoluted, well, it probably is. Remember, these 40 posts are about me, private little conversations I have to myself... and I'm letting you in on it.

A couple of weeks ago my sister Kentucky came home from her teaching job at a local elementary school. She works pretty hard, leaving every morning at 6 a.m., while doing her best to finish up her Masters program in the evening. Sometimes, she may not even get home until late at night.

I am very proud of my sister and her diligence.

However, she came home one day and she asked me a question.

"Lisa, I have a question."
"The black faculty at school, they cater to 'Amy'. I don't understand. She doesn't come to meetings, she don't work as hard as I do. I don't get it. Why is that?"
"Oh, that's normal. That happens everywhere."
"I just don't understand."
"That's life. Happens on my job. Happens everywhere."
"I feel like I work so hard, though," my sister said. "I'm not treated the same. And I do everything I'm suppose to do, even more. Amy doesn't. She skips mandatory meetings, she blows things off, and-"
"That's normal. You just keep working hard. Don't worry about it. Happens all the time."

If you haven't figured it out from this little exchange...

Uh, "Amy" is white.

You know, I hated talking to my sister about this type of thing. I have seen it all my life, and she hasn't.

While I was talking to my sister, I was sitting there thinking....

"Don't cry. Please don't cry. It's going to be alright. Please, please don't cry!!!"

I didn't say that. We just talked about it. I let her know one thing: you work, and you work hard. Period.

At the same time, I know she still doesn't understand one cold hard truth:

That this society deems white people more important than black people.

And something else, most disturbing of all: us black folk consider white people more important than our own selves.

I first understood this as a child. My great grandmother was a maid for a white family on the Northside of Atlanta. She wasn't working for them by the time I was born, but I use to spend a considerable amount of time with my grandmother (She died when I was 12).

But we would go up to visit the family she worked for every so often. I, as a 4- or 5-year-old, would go with her. Now, I have NO idea where these people lived, but I knew it was a long ride, on a couple of MARTA buses. A long HOT ride. I did not look forward to it.

I remember sitting in a chair, watching my Grandmother dote over these people, especially the little boy "Tommy", the little blonde son of the lady she use to take care of, "Jane".

And it was at that time that I concluded in my young mind:

White people are more important than black people.

And this is reinforced every day when I would sit down with my Great-grandmother, and watch her beloved "stories", i.e. soap opera shows. I learned that white people were rich, had interesting lives. We were just black people, had to catch the bus, didn't have interesting lives.

That idea was pushed even further as I got older. I knew I better be on my best behavior if white people were around.

But something strange happened: I begin to make white friends.


Now, back in '89, when me and LadyTee were in our late teens/early 20's (she is older than me by a couple of years), we were invited to a family Halloween party of one of my white friends, Tim. He and I were in college together.

I told my mother about this. She sat us down and said "Look, you're going to white people's houses. You need to make sure you are on your best behavior."

Uh, okay.

I thought she was tripping for acting like that. I mean, Tim was my friend.

But... you best believe there was MUCH discussion between me and LadyTee concerning this. Let's just say, we felt the way my mother felt, but were undercover about it.

We weren't going to wear halloween costumes. There was NO way we were showing up dressed as witches and what-not. I brought a couple of lab coats home from my lab at school for me and LadyTee.

We went to the party dressed as Doctors. No make-up, no props, none of that. We slipped on lab coats and showed up.

And for some reason, we thought we were going to some big mansion. We rolled up to Tim's house and knocked on the door. Me and LadyTee were both like "His house is no bigger than our houses."

We were shocked to see this. But you best believe we went up in there, and were on our best behavior. We were quiet. We ate quietly. We answered questions... quietly. Tim's little niece, a one-year-old at the time, walked over towards us. We made sure not to touch her, and hoped she didn't fall down.

After all, these were white people. Better act right.

I think for me, that was the beginning of the unraveling of the "truth" that white people are better and more important than black people. Tim was my friend, and he was a normal dude. I had another white friend, Carter, who was white, but wasn't a rich chick. I learned MUCH from her about perserverance. I would come home with all KINDS of stories about her .("Ma, Carter lives in a warehouse on MLK!"). She use to go down to the nearby projects and do her laundry. She'd verbally shank me for my thoughts about white people.

She was key to undoing some of the stuff in my head.

But something REALLY crazy happened that pissed me off, made me KNOW that this myth isn't true:

I went to graduate school.

At times, I was the only black person in a sea of whites in my classes.

And I was considered the smartest.

This struck me as odd. I mean, they were white people. They were automatically smarter and better than me. I remember thinking to myself, when we would be discussing grades "But you're white. You're suppose to know this stuff."


I learned through the whole grad school process: white folk ain't no smarter or no better than black folks.

And I wish we as black people knew and understood that.

I felt as though I had been duped or something.

I know, every once in awhile I talk to young black people about furthering their education. I know, when I was in New Orleans, I would get requests to come to schools and speak to kids, tell them about my job, what I did, etc. It's still funny to me, but it's like they just wanted to touch me or something, just to see if I'm real, lol. Most black folks have never met a black scientist, especially one with a doctorate in something as hard and strange as Or.ganic che.mistry and dru.g design.

But I always tell them, you can do whatever you want to do. And the question about white people comes up. Yes, they are priviledged. Yes, they have that extra helping hand, whereas we don't. Nothing we can do about that.

The answer is to work hard. Work hard, work hard, work hard.

And that's what I told my sister that day. Do not worry about it. Work hard. It's upsetting. I know it is. But do your best. Period. Focusing on the extra perks will only upset you . Work hard.

And this has caused "problems" in my own professional life.

I remember when I finished school, and was about to take a post-doc fellowship in Louisiana, one of my advisors pulled me to the side, sat me down, and said...

"You know you're black, right?"

And we had a LONG conversation about being black. And it meant much coming from my WHITE advisor. He sat me down and explained a few "truths". He made REAL sure I knew what color my skin was, and how I had to work harder than the white people.

It's a bit daunting when a white man sit your tail down and talk to you. Very much so.

(And uh, he was right. A couple of the other black post-docs and myself would stand on the front steps of the building and ponder the swaying trees on the property. We joked constantly about of they could have legally hung us from those trees out there, they wouldn't have hesitated to do so. We were treated like SH**. HUMPH).

I know one thing: white folk take care of each other. I've been a victim of it on the job. Had a discussion about it yesterday with my group's specialist, who's Asian. It is terribly difficult to explain how things work to him. He thinks I'm very smart, and doesn't understand the deal. It's hard to explain to him that I ain't white. It's hard to explain to him that black management don't listen to the black employees, and if we were white, then they would be doing the soft shoe Bojangles dance at our feet. He doesn't understand such complexities. He seems to understand that they are set up to enjoy life on the job, and not have to work as hard. (He has been a victim of that craziness, just like the rest of us...). We explain this to him in many ways, and he sees it, but it is hard for him to "get" it.

And then I have an underlying issue with "sorry" white folk. I mean, come on, life is laid out for you on a platter. All you gotta do is show up, and you got the job. You have the opportunity. You can have anything you want in life. You have NO excuse for being so frickin' sorry.

What a WASTE.

And I have to blink when I think that. It's not right to think that.

Especially when I've had to counsel or tutor some young white student. Those thoughts rush through my mind a mile a minute.

And I am ashamed of thinking that way. Because it ain't right.

Let me repeat: it's not right to think that. It's the product of years of a black attitude concerning white people. I realized, when talking to my sister, who didn't understand, that I am the last of the generation who does understand about the way things are, and the way things use to be.

I have prayed about it. Because I don't understand the root of the thing. I've been honest, sincere with my feelings about it. Not looking for an answer or anything, just wanting to talk out loud about it. I guess I wanna make sure between me and God, that He know that I don't have hatred for any group or race of people.

And I realized something: my entire age group seems to think like this. It peppers our conversation. We all actually believe certain things.

And it don't help that we are in the south.

I don't know what's right or wrong, or if it's a question of that. It is what it is.

My answer is to think more of myself. Think highly of myself.

No matter the color of my skin.

Certain "truths" seem to be embedded in our hearts, all our lives.

But I know it will forever be one of the things that bothers me.

I know one thing to be true:

It doesn't mean that I have to let them control who I am, and who I hope to become.

And I hope I conveyed that truth to my sister. I really do.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Post 28: Of Life and Grocery Store Lines

One thing I can't stand:

A long grocery store line.

And it just disturbs me to no end to have a cart full of groceries and I run up on a long line.

And it's REALLY disturbing to look up and down the checkout area and ALL of the lines are long. Or, only two lines are open, with like, a gazillion people waiting.

So, what do I do?

I wait patiently. I've even gotten into the habit of slipping a book from home in my purse. Or, if I don't have a book, I grab one of the tabloid magazines off the shelf. I may talk on my cell phone.

I occupy while I wait patiently.

I'm weird like that. I just can't stand there. I have to occupy, be busy doing something. Nothing worse than just standing still and watching the line inch forward. Ugh.

And as the line gets smaller, I breathe a sigh of relief.

That means it's getting closer to my turn.

And that's how I look at life.

You know, it disturbs me to no end when people get all upset when someone has a victory or accomplishes a goal. I've seen it all my life.

"She think she all that because she got that raise."

"He won that race. Look how he celebrating. I can't stand him."

"Look at her prancing around in that new dress. She think she cute. She ain't all that."

I can't stand that. I make a note of people who ALWAYS got something say about people. I tend to stay away from them. Because if your're grumbling about everyone, then newsflash: You're grumbling about me, too.

Now I understand there's a caveat here. There are folk that make it a habit of flaunting, or of getting things done on the shady tip. Yeah, those people aren't to be praised for anything. We all know the difference there.

And you know what that's about, right? Those people have to operate on the shady tip, because they don't have the chops and skills to do anything legitimately.

No, I'm talking about people and their earned accomplishments.

I LOVE seeing people meet their goals. I LOVE seeing people have big accomplishments.

LOVE it.

Especially if I see the beginning of it all. Especially if I see the whole thing grow from seed stage, from when a person begins thinking about it, when it's nothing more than a mere thought on their mind. Especially if I'm there to see the whole process from beginning to end.

LOVE it.

But, there are people out there who get all jealous of people who accomplish their goals and do great things.

Why is that? Not sure. I think it may be society driven. Competition and jealousy are first cousins, you know.

I mean, it's like being in a grocery store line. I'm happy when that grocery store line goes down. I'm not standing there holding up the process. I'm glad when someone with a lot of groceries gets all that stuff bagged up and pays their bill. I'm VERY happy when I see them roll their cart up out of the store.

That means it's my turn. MY turn to get my groceries.

I'm happy to see you accomplish something. I applaud you. Especially if you've been praying for it. Believeing for it. And it comes to pass.

I do the HIGH rockette kick behind that.

Why? Because I'm genuinely happy for you.

And it jacks up my faith a notch. Gives me more hope and faith for my own desires to come to pass. I've learned much from watching you. I've learned that there is a process. I've learned to patiently wait.

And I'm happy for you.

Just like in a grocery store line. You got your stuff, you're outta here.

Now it's MY turn.

My turn in the checkout line.

I've noticed one thing: People who are snarky and get a stank attitude concerning other's accomplishments rarely have accomplishments of their own.

And that ain't good.

So, you don't have to worry about me if I'm behind you in the grocery store line. I'm not going to hold you up.

I'ma need you to go ahead on and pay for those groceries and roll up on outta here.

Because now, it's my turn.

Shoot man... An Oldgirl might just help you out.

*Chele frowns up as she stares at the candy next to the checkout line*

"Uh, what you need, Oldgirl?" LadyLee asks.

"Pass me the tic-tacs," Chele replies.

Lee looks at the tic-tac candies. "What flavor?"

"Uh-, uh-, gee, I'm not sure what flavor-"

*Lee snatches all the tic-tacs and throws them at Chele*

LOL!!!! (You know I had to inject a bit of smurfiness.)

This is something I like about myself: I celebrate others accomplishments. I love it.

Let's me know that all things are possible.

Not only for you, but for me too.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Post 27: Vision Board Personal Statement, Part 8

Good Sunday Afta-noon...

I suppose that I should continue on with the personal vision statement, since the next sentence, highlighted in green below, is very much related to the subject matter of the last post.

"I am 100% healthy in my body, soul, and spirit. I acknowledge God in all my ways, and I seek Him before I make any decisions, big or small. I am a blessing to my family and to those that God sends across my path. I am an incredible asset to my friends. I am a good listener. I am an excellent employee, and I not only work hard, but I work smart. I take time to periodically evaluate myself, and I make changes accordingly. I stick and hold fast to the path God has charted out for my life. I accept and openly welcome constructive criticism, as I know it will help me become "a better me". I am a good steward, a fine manager over the finances He has blessed me with, to the point that God knows He can trust me."

This is a sticky, sticky point for me. Last post, I wrote about it from a workplace context. This post, I'm thinking about my own life in totality. But I am constantly thinking about it.

In the last post, I wrote about something I heard in a sermon some years ago.

Take a little time to evaluate yourself each evening, during your quiet time. If you messed up that day, take time to admit to yourself and to God that you did. Same thing if you were lazy, or mean, or if you had a good day. Take time to think about it and be honest with yourself and God, think about how and what you can do to do things differently, if you can expand and build on what went right, etc.

That was interesting. I remember it, and know when I put it into action, I feel better. There's a huge amount of mental freedom resulting from it. It's sort of like sraping the gunk off the walls of my mind, so it doesn't have time to take root in me.

I found a most interesting verse of scripture, highly related and confirmational of that written above. Last week I was flipping through the pages of my journal entries for 2009, and saw it highlighted.

Corinthians 13:5 Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere heresay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it.

Now, that verse talks moreso about your faith and your beliefs. I looked up other versions of that scripture, and it mentions closely examine yourself, try yourself, prove yourself, look closely at yourself...

The reason being so that you know for yourself that you aren't a counterfeit, to make sure you're yielding the proper fruit (results), and to make sure you're not reprobate.

Sounds a bit strong to me. And applicable to any and every area of life. Every.

And I think if I can examine my faith, and make the necessary and changes accordingly... well, that will influence and permeate all other areas of my life.

So it looks like everything is related in someway.

Now, this is wholly seperate from other folks evaluating me. That comes later in the vision statement. That's a whole nother animal right there.

I'm talking about sitting down, taking time to evaluate myself.

Just where am I with that portion of the vision statement?

Quick to evaluate myself, slow to make the necesssary changes.

Slow. Slow as syrup pouring from a bottle.

And I must admit, it takes a little pain for me to get busy about making changes.

Pain is the birthplace of change for me. I wish that wasn't the case, but it is what it is.

And you know why I'm so slow? It's because I have a tendency to get caught up in looking at the massiveness of the end result I want to achieve, rather than being tenacious about working hard on the little steps involved in reaching the final goal.

The thought of eating an elephant is daunting, but I can eat it, if I eat it one bite at a time.

I ain't all slow about stuff if I think of it from that perspective.

I'm particulary caught up with the more global part of 2 Corinthians 13:5"

Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups... test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it.

That's A LOT if I'm not only thinking about my faith and beliefs, but also every single part of my life. A lot.

But it is a great piece of advice. One must be highly involved in self-evaluation, even moreso than depending on others' evaluation.

One thing I know about other people's evaluation: I have to throw it through a fine filter. And there better be a lot of trust there. Because peeps can care for me and want what's best for me, or they may just want me to conform to their own self-serving motives.

I find the latter to be true, more often than not.

And I gotta treat what they say like the acorns that fall from the tree in my front yard: look at it, kick it to the side, and smash it with my shoe.

But self-evaluation? It is what it is. I can only lie to myself for so long. If I can't be honest with myself, well... change, peace, growth, and progress will be nowhere to be found.

And that results in one thing: Stagnation.

And I can't have that, Can I?

I hate stagnation.

And what's worse than stagnation? The amount of drift involved with not paying attention, not taking time to periodically evaluate myself, and implementing the necessary changes.

I mentioned something about drift a few months ago in one of my posts. Something about at times, feeling like I was in a boat, and I can see the land and everything is all good. Then I fall asleep and wake up and find that I can no longer see land, the water is rough, and lo and behold, frickin' sharks are circling my boat.

A most unfortunate situation to be in indeed. I can sit in the boat and complain and cry about the dire circumstances all day long, but nothing will happen. Things will happen when I check around for my resources. Change will come when I get out my compass, get out my oars, fight off the sharks, and start paddling in the right direction.

With me, it's a matter of doing all of that faithfully, sincerely and expediently.

For I'm understanding, stagnation and drift have had me looking real crazy far too many times than I care to go into here.

And the older I get, the more I understand that that is beneath me and unexceptable.

"I take time to periodically evaluate myself, and make changes accordingly."

A most formidable and appropriate piece of the vision statement, there to keep everything in proper order and perspective.

No, I'm not there yet, but it feels good to be mindful of its importance in my life.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Post 26: Vision Board Personal Statement, Part 7

We still rockin' it, rockin' it.

Stomping hard up the path like Miss Sophia...

Getting closer and closer to that goal of 40 posts in 40 days, a little gift I'm giving to myself for my upcoming 40th birthday...

You know, it looks as if I could do about 60 posts. But I won't do that. I have a limitied amount of choices as to what I can write about before I run out of days. So, the hard thing now is picking and grouping posts together right. It is a more arduous task than I anticipated, just doing that much.

But writing about things comes easy for me.

And exploring the details of my personal vision statement is central to this "40 in 40" food-for-thought blowout bonanza extravaganza.

So we will roll on with that...

As always, the part highlighted in green is what's important today.

"I am 100% healthy in my body, soul, and spirit. I acknowledge God in all my ways, and I seek Him before I make any decisions, big or small. I am a blessing to my family and to those that God sends across my path. I am an incredible asset to my friends. I am a good listener. I am an excellent employee, and I not only work hard, but I work smart. I take time to periodically evaluate myself, and I make changes accordingly. I stick and hold fast to the path God has charted out for my life. I accept and openly welcome constructive criticism, as I know it will help me become "a better me". I am a good steward, a fine manager over the finances He has blessed me with, to the point that God knows He can trust me."

"I am an excellent employee, and I not only work hard, but I work smart."

This is a part of the statement that I have to meditate on and really get well developed in believing about myself.

I've always considered myself a good employee. I always work hard. But I don't particularly work smart. But I'm a hard worker.

I don't particularly think management thinks this though. There's a particular element of uh, brownnosing that goes along with considered an "excellent employee".

So in that respect, I'm not an excellent employee.

I don't fare all too well in political and illegitimate work environments, where honesty and integrity are frowned upon.

This is why I feel that that part of my vision statement is very much self-contained. I have to evaluate myself on the type of worker I am. For my employer to evaluate me, well, it's all tainted.

I heard something in a sermon awhile ago that struck me enough to the point that I remember it, and think of it often. I take the time to apply it to my life on a daily basis.

Take a little time to evaluate yourself each evening, during your quiet time. If you messed up that day, take time to admit to yourself and to God that you did. Same thing if you were lazy, or mean, or if you had a good day. Take time to think about it and be honest with yourself and God, think about how and what you can do to do things differently, if you can expand and build on what went right, etc.

I try to do this concerning work. And I when I do this, things go pretty well. I am a lot less stressed, less depressed.

And I must admit there are times when I let this slip. I get discombobulated and depressed.

The biggest difference between being vigilant and letting things slip is that one involves trusting in God and another involes allowing the circumstances to dictate my feelings and emotions and the way I handle myself.

I'll let you decide which one is connected to which.

When I am having a difficult time at work, I think back to an interview I had some five years ago, for a promotion. I don't think much of these opportunities, as management tends to make decisions beforehand. We all know who the promotion is written for, etc.

I didn't get the promotion, and this black woman who was on the panel called me into her office. She explained how stellar my credentials were, and how she fought for me. She needed to know what was going on upstairs. I told her, peeps were sleeping together, and I can't really get around that. While she was talking, I was still trying to figure out how I'm suppose to get around management sleeping around, but that's neither here or there.

She gave me a long talk about my career. I gave her a long talk about how God takes care of me, and I want what He gives me, and I want it on the basis of merit. Let no man say I got something due to ulterior motive or because my boss was sleeping with someone higher up. I mean, a measly $10,000 raise ain't worth my integrity.

I told her, I have a "Dr." on the front of my name. Uh, no one in management does. Get at me when they go through the fire to get the title. Holla at me when you earn that.

Oh, we had a good lonnnng talk. I think we even talked about my love for writing. That's my true calling, you see. To communicate with the written word. I told her, this here is a job. It pays the bills. Don't get the two confused.

(I ain't a talkative chick, but I had much on my mind that day.)

I think back on that talk when I get the notion to feel bad about my work habits. And the bad feeling comes from outside, not within. I am an great employee with stellar credentials. I have more good days than bad. Many more.

And I must now, stay even-minded... and remember the spirit of that talk.

I believe what I believe about myself employee-wise. I am a great employee. Now, the fact that I don't bend to strange managerial tricks and games, well, that's up for managerial peeps to decide. That fact that I can sit down and evaluate myself truthfully and honesty is everything to me right now.

I'ma be me. And I have gotten back to the core of what's real.

My best friend always tell me, "Listen, I don't let peeps on the job bother me. I work for God. As long as I know that, then whatever, man."

(Yeah, LadyTee knows how to word things where I can understand them, lol).

Getting to the core of what's real, and what's right is essential.

You know, I was spatting off something terrible back in the last quarter of the year because I was so overworked. My boss was tripping. I was behind. And it wasn't my fault, really. We lost half our group to vacation, and the work was still coming in. And I let it stress me out and depress me.

And along came a new reader who wanted me to post up my notes on depression. Not something I cared to do, but I knew I had to deal with it in terms of my job situation. It was a path to an open door to some type of solution... it got me back to that essential daily evaluation and tweaking of how I deal with things...

So I am thankful to you, Ms. Jennifer... you helped me more than you know. I am thankful you stepped across my life's path.

I've been back to evaluating myself... and it always comes back to not so much as working hard, but working smart. It comes back to being pleased with my workday, and to know that I did a good job before God. And if I have to humble myself and make the necessary adjustments, then I need to be faithful and do that. Period. For that is the key to keeping myself out of depression, and out of bewilderment.

That, and trusting in God.

I am an excellent employee.

I will continue to build on, and believe that about myself.

And I must keep that in mind, hold it close to my heart, no matter how I feel about the job.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Post 25: Vision Board Personal Statement, Part 6

We've already reached post #25.

Man. Time sure flies when you're having fun...

And in 15 days, I'll be the big 40!


Ok. Let me stop. I'm celebrating much too early.

I'm going to mosey along and dig more into my Vision Board Personal Statement.

As always, the part of importance and discussion for today's post is highlighted in green.

"I am 100% healthy in my body, soul, and spirit. I acknowledge God in all my ways, and I seek Him before I make any decisions, big or small. I am a blessing to my family and to those that God sends across my path. I am an incredible asset to my friends. I am a good listener. I am an excellent employee, and I not only work hard, but I work smart. I take time to periodically evaluate myself, and I make changes accordingly. I stick and hold fast to the path God has charted out for my life. I accept and openly welcome constructive criticism, as I know it will help me become "a better me". I am a good steward, a fine manager over the finances He has blessed me with, to the point that God knows He can trust me."

"I am a good listener."

You know, it's hard to find people who know how to listen. Our human nature is more wrapped up on us focusing on ourselves and on our own needs.

But listening forces one to not focus on oneself, but on the needs of others.

God is an exceptional listener. That's one of the reasons I pray a lot. And you best believe, the ball gets rolling on things very quickly. I get much help, many answers.

And there are specific people in my life who are good listeners. I take notice of that, and I try to model myself after such.

My Auntie Joyce is an exceptional listener. I know me and my siblings are responsible for the gray of her hair, lol. We figured out if you got problems, she's the go-to person who will listen, and not use it against you later. I learned that in my 20s, and clued my bro and sis in on that while they were still young.

My best friend LadyTee is a good listener. Although I know she is use to me by now. I tend not to talk about much. She has a good ear, and can read between the lines with me. She can pick up real fast on when I'm hurt or upset. I am thankful for that.

And one of the best recent listeners I've known is Nikki. That's one of the reasons that it hurt, hurt, HURT to lose her. There was absolutely NO judgment between us. I could tell that chick ANYTHING, and it was no problem. And vice-versa. Man, it hurt to lose her, because that type of connection is VERY rare to come by. Very rare. I still keep our convos close to my heart. I still draw on them.

I know for myself, it is extremely hard to express my feelings and to talk to anyone about how I'm feeling or if I am hurting. Growing up, I got in much trouble for feelings and opinions, and as a result, I've automatically have kept what's on my heart to myself. Even to this day, it is extremely hard to get me to express what's wrong. I tend to go off somewhere and brood. I've grown in this area in the last 10 years, since I understand the root of why I am like that. As I get older, I find that I need to go seek out my friends who's specific purpose in my life is to just listen.

For I find that if I talk enough, verbalize how I'm feeling, well... the solution to the problem is going to come up.

And I find that it is true when I listen to people. Folk talk long enough, they're going to come up with the solutions to their own problems.

And I find if one listens long enough, it is possible to "hear" the root of the problem. Always.

I rarely give my opinion on stuff. I have a hard time navigating the troubled waters of my own life. But if I'm listening to you, and if you deal with me long enough, you will notice that I ask a TON of questions. Heck, I don't want the answers. They're the type of questions that you should go sit off in a dark corner and answer quietly to yourself.

For the answers come from deep within. Just a matter of stirring the pot, churning it up.

My goal ain't to give an answer. My goal is to listen.

I received a good compliment from my BFF LadyTee, who considers herself an expert on all things LadyLee. She said, "I like the fact that you listen. You don't dog a negro out. You listen."

LOL. No, I ain't dogging people. Been accused of such, though. But I've found that when people say that, it's because that that has been their general experience with people in their past.

Hey, I can't unscramble the eggs of the past. And sorry, you won't be projecting that on me. I ain't like that AT ALL.

But I listen. And I've found that if I listen long enough, I can see and understand that I've gone through the same feelings and emotions that you're currently going through. So no, I won't give my opinion. But I will share what happened with me, and how I dealt with it.

For me, listening also involves learning to be still and quiet long enough to absorb the impartation and advice from people who are trying to help me in some way.

Listening involves me understanding that the axis of the world does not run down the center of my head. In other words, it jumps me out of selfishness real quick.

All of my food-for-thought posts are actually a way of me listening to myself. They are personal conversations I'm having with myself, and you just get a little glimpse of what's going on in my heart.

For if you can't sit quietly and listen to what's in your own heart, it's hard to listen for what's in the heart of others.

"I'm a good listener."

And if you look real close, you'll understand why that statement sits in the middle, in the very midst of my personal vision statement.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Post 24: Vision Board Personal Statement, Part V

Still pondering my vision statement, turning it over and over in my mind.

And I'm making an effort to discuss each sentence in detail, trying to discover what it all truly means to me and my life.

Not quite where I want to be in each area, but I am forever mindful of where I'm at on the path to the goal.

As always, the part of interest for the post is highlighted in green.

"I am 100% healthy in my body, soul, and spirit. I acknowledge God in all my ways, and I seek Him before I make any decisions, big or small. I am a blessing to my family and to those that God sends across my path. I am an incredible asset to my friends. I am a good listener. I am an excellent employee, and I not only work hard, but I work smart. I take time to periodically evaluate myself, and I make changes accordingly. I stick and hold fast to the path God has charted out for my life. I accept and openly welcome constructive criticism, as I know it will help me become "a better me". I am a good steward, a fine manager over the finances He has blessed me with, to the point that God knows He can trust me."

"I am an incredible asset to my friends."

This doesn't take much discussion, as I feel as if I've been touching on it all week. As a matter of fact, that is why I grouped the last few posts together: they all involve facets of friendship. My friendships are important to me, since I don't have the huge deep close knit family relationships. As a result, my friendships hold a lot of weight with me.

But the most significant word in the sentence of interest is asset.

I looked the word up: it means, in this context, a person of value.

I am an incredible person of value to my friends.

Yes, I like the sound of that. That is a good, good, confession/affirmation for me to speak over myself. As a matter of fact, that was the easiest part of the personal vision statement to memorize.

The word asset has some wonderful synonyms: aid, benefit, blessing, boon, credit, distinction, help, resource, service, treasure.

Those are great words. I wanna be ALL that!!

There are some interesting antonyms to asset: disadvantage, liability.

To be a liabilty to someone? Ugh. That is crazy.

And if I am leave me alone, man... Run as far away from me as you can possibly get. Who needs someone bringing them down?

Although I have come across people in my life who will probably holler and scream that I've been a liability.

I think we've all come across that.

Usually, for me, it's because I ain't doing something they think I should be doing.

I, LadyLee, fall short of expectation. Yep, I said it. And that's alright. Will I change? Nope. Well, only if I'm doing something hurtful. Otherwise, I ain't jumping the hoops you're setting up for me. I cannot win that game. I stopped all that in high school.

You know, the older I get, I find that the easier it is for me to be okay with not being accepted by certain folks. I am really alright with it. I tend to concentrate on those with whom I've developed a good history with, and with those who I know love me.

Listen, there are 6 billion people on this planet. I have a handful of them in my corner, who are incredible assets in my life.

I don't need all 6 billion people in my corner. That's too much going on.

I can't be everything to everybody. And everybody can't be everything to me.

This affirmation of being an asset to my friends was born out of the way I felt growing up. My mother made me always feel like I was this horrible abnormal really bad person. I'm not so sure what's up with that. And I look back with sadness to a discussion I had with my brother and sister a couple of years ago, here at my house, and they have felt the same way, too. To the point where they were both saying that they didn't know if they wanted to have children, because they didn't want their kids feeling the way we all felt growing up.

Can't be upset with her. She did say some nice things, but it didn't hold much weight with any of us, for it was drowned out by all the negative. She even admitted to my sister that she didn't know what how to be a good mother.

(Oh that made me mad. Almost picked up the phone and called her. But I let that go. At least she realize it. We were GREAT kids. She just didn't know it.)

It took me well into my twenties to understand that I decide who I am and who I want to be. Period.

I am a person of value. To myself, and the people around me.

I am a great person, a very good person to know. You want me in your corner. I'm a great resource. I am helpful. I am sincere. I ain't gonna jack you up or do you wrong. I don't come at you with ulterior motives or agendas. I have the distinct ability to impart some things into your soul and your spirit that will help you become a better you.

You know, I say that to myself when I look in the mirror.

Heck, if I have to walk around the house and just say it to that Oldcat Oscar Tyrone, then that's what I'll do.

But I believe that about myself. I want it for myself. It's a desire of my heart. It's something I desire more than material things.

That's my definition of being an incredible asset.

And I have so many wondrous examples of that in my life. I know, in the last five or six years, I've had a grand infusion of people in my life who have been assets. They have taught me what it means to be a person of value.

For all of my friends are incredible assets to me. Each of them have their own specific purpose and dynamic in my life. No two are the same. I can look at each person in my life right now and let you know specifically what their purpose is and what type of asset they are to me.

I know I heard on the weekly show of a minister in my area that you really need to make sure you know the purpose of each of your friendships. And it ain't gotta be all deep.

"A friend's sole purpose" he said, "could be to simply keep you from cussing everybody on the job completely out."

LOL. I thought that was hilarious. But it is true. That person is an asset. Let's just say, uh, I got a couple of people who will snatch me by the arm and walk me to another corner of the building if I even look the least bit perturbed.

I can't be everything to everybody. No, that ain't possible, and I'd never want to be that. It ain't realistic.

But I can be an asset in some way to my friends. I can fulfill my purpose in their lives, however small or big it may be.

That's all I can ask for.

That's all I can hope to be.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Post 23: Tales from the Smile Box, Part IV

You know I like my little smile box.

And since I've been working on my 40 posts goal, I've returned to it often, trying to decide what I want to use from it.

A few of my favorite scripture are in the box.

One of which I wanted to discuss today:

Proverbs 13:20 (Message Version)

To become wise, walk with the wise. Hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.

Yeah man, I like the Message version of that verse, as it is a swift kick in the teeth.

Seems simple enough, don't it? And you know it's true. I don't know about you, but I see it everyday.

If someone's successful, look carefully at the company they keep. Look at their friends, their mentors, and their influences.

If someone's unsuccessful, look carefully at the company they keep. Look at their friends, their mentors, and their influences.

Seems to me that one clue to the wisdom or idiocy of a person is the company they keep.

When I think of this verse, I think of a young lady I met when I lived down in New Orlea.ns.

And she's one of the most memorable people I've ever met.

Now, I lived in New Orleans from 1998-mid 2001. I was there doing a postdoctoral fellowship with the Department of Agr.iculture. I had an apartment in an area of the city known as New Orlea.ns East.

I lived upstairs from an interesting chick. She was about my age, had two children. She lived with her mother and her brother.

Her name was Bernadette. Very nice girl, but she was a little slow. Not much, but just a tad. You know, you can tell when folks are a bit slow.

But she was real nice nevertheless. I don't talk to you if I don't know you (one of my worst idiosyncrasies). And I would say hello in passing. That was the way that was for a year or so.

I know she use to hem my husband up outside, as he was always very extroverted and talked to anyone. I always told him that he could walk into a room full of non-English speaking Chinese, and as long as they had some beer up in there, he'd get along just fine.

And it was the same with this chick. She'd catch him outside, and talk his ear off. To the point where when he'd come in the house, he'd be like "Lee, why didn't you come rescue me? That girl know she can talk."

Now, I knew if HE said the girl was talkative, then she was talkative indeed.

Well, somehow, she started talking to me. I'm not sure how that happened. I think we may have been caught in the laundry room together. And we struck up a conversation.

I found her to be talkative, but she was SO full of hopes and dreams, for herself and her children. I'd never met anyone who thought about so much stuff.

I told her what I did for a living. She was so amazed.

I remember her telling people. "This is my neighbor, Dr. LadyLee. She's a Bayou Chemist!"


(Man, I don't even know what a bayou chemist is. I'm STILL trying to figure that one out. I never corrected her. Just let her run with that. Blogger Ali, maybe you can hip me to the "Bayou" thing, lo;.)

I thought she was interesting. Me and my ex- use to talk about her. "That doggone Bernadette is a trip. Always trying to do something, always thinking about stuff."

All I know, she liked me alot. When I'd come home from work, and if she was outside, she wanted to know about my day at work. If I didn't have a good day, she always came with the encouragement. She even spent time trying to think up different ideas about what I was doing. (Now that was interesting.)

I had 2 cats, so her kids immediately liked me for that reason. "Miss Lee, could you bring the cats outside?"

I could bring out Oscar-Tyrone. (Not my other cat, Jeremy. That sucker was very mean, and didn't like children.)

Oscar-Tyrone didn't care for kids, but I could bring him out and sit on the steps and let them rub him. The 3-year-old in particular really liked to seranade Oscar. The first time she asked if she could sing to him, well, I thought she would sing some nursery rhymes or something.

Nope, that little girl would stretch her arms wide and sing Sade's "Cherish the Day", loud and strong like she was on stage.

(Interesting. But we got use to that. Never seen a child that young so enamored with Sade.)

They were nice people. Bernadette didn't work. I think they were on Section 8. (I didn't ask.)

I wasn't around much, due to my working long hours and my marital isshas. But if she saw me, she was coming my way. One time she dragged me up to the local mosque, and I watched her debate with leadership about having to wear the traditional garb. Not sure why she wanted to be a muslim so bad, but she went to church with me one day, and my pastor talked her out of it. (Yeah, she talked that man's ear off, too.)

She saw that my car had messed up, and that my hubby's car had been repossessed, so she would let me ride with her whenever she ran to Wal-mart, if I needed to go. (She had a PHAT stereo system in her van. She was partial to the Hot Boys and Master P... And she would play some Sade for the children, of course, lol).

It was on one of those little rides to the store with her that I came across my New Or.leans church home. We had to drop her brother off at the church. It was a nondenominational church (which I prefer), a few minutes from our apartments. I'd never seen it before, but was immediately interested. I remember sitting outside that church, watching him walk in thinking, "God, if you help me get a car, I'm coming to this Church."

(I bought a car a couple of weeks later. Started attended that church. Loved-ed it! Hated to leave!)

Very interesting chick indeed.

But one day she told me something that truly truly amazed me. Something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

"LadyLee," she said one day when we were washing and folding clothes, "I decided some time ago that I would make it my purpose to make sure I'm around the right people. People who got goals and dreams, people who trying to do something positive with themselves. Because I've figured out, if I can just be in their presence, it will help me think big and think positive, for me and my children. I make sure I don't spend my time around people who aren't about anything. That's where people get into trouble. It's all about who you spend your time around. It's very important."

Now that was a paraphrase. That was the gist of what she said. She's a wordy chick, so I am sure she said more. I know before I left that laundry room with my baskets full of folded clothes, I understood fully what she meant. I even spent time writing about that in my journal. I thought about it for days on end.

And when I came across Proverbs 13:20 in my Message Bible, I circled it. I thought "THAT'S what Bernadette meant. That's what she meant right there."

To become wise, walk with the wise. Hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.

That is a truth indeed, and I've thought much about it over the years. I am fully convinced that if you have yourself a good set of friends, you solve 99% of your problems.

That's a bold statement, but you know it's true. We're all important, as important as the Queen of England. We all have entourages. If you have people surrounding you who can impart good advice that put you on the right path... Man, that's worth more than it's weight in gold.

And I truly understand the seriousness of such. I refuse to deal with people who act foolishly. It's not gonna happen. Friend or family or foe.

Not going down. And it's alright for those people to dislike me. Really it is. I don't want to fool with them anyway.

I tend to like and be attracted to folks who have dreams and goals. People who, if things aren't going well, then they hang on to and work their faith. I like people who are very different from me, and very different from the crowd. I like people who think in their mind "I must move forward. I must do better."

For they influence me, you see. And they influence me in the right direction.

So I am thankful for that little verse being in my smile box. It reminds me to be cognizant of who's in my environment.

I don't know what became of Bernadette. Our apartment complex was destroyed during the Storm.

I know one thing: she's still making sure she's around good wise people. For her own sake and for the sake of her children.

And she's someone who I'm glad came across my life's path.

I am thankful for the impact she made upon my life, for letting me know how critically important it is to be around great people.

Because she was herself a truly great person.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Post 22: CoStars, Fire, and Water

This is my Life.

And I am the Star of this Show.

And what is a Star without a CoStar?

As you all know, I have a CoStar: LadyTee.

And she has been my co-star for the past thirty years.

It's always been "LadyTee" and "LadyLee." And yes, we really used those names.

She was more drawn out with hers back in the day, though. I know in high school, I'd holler "Lady T double E." And she would holler "And don't forget the exclamation point!"

So it was LadyTee! and LadyLee.

And as my co-star, she knows the details of my life's show. And she knows me better than I know myself.

"I've been there, Lee. I've always been there. I know the whole story."

Sho you right, LadyTee. You surely do.

So this summer, one of my good friends passed. And LadyTee knows me. I'm already not one to communicate my feelings, and I'm not one to talk on the phone. I was more in stunned and hibernation mode. And she's that type, she don't ask questions. We talked a little about it, I suppose. But she does what she does.

"I'm coming through and taking you to the funeral, Lee."

This really bothered me. I mean, I really didn't want to look at people I loved. What if something happened to them? What if they were no longer here?

But there was no arguing about it. She picked me up and we attended the funeral together.

I was glad to introduce her to my big blog bruh Hassan. I don't think she's ever met any members of my blog family. I hate that I never introduced her to Nikki, though. LadyTee had to hear how wonderful she was at the memorial.

She sat next to me, let me weep in silence, and handed me crumpled tissues from her purse. Afterward, we decided not to go to the repast, but to go have lunch elsewhere, just the two of us.

For you see, we rarely hang out. She's busy, I'm busy. That was the second time all year that we actually sat down and ate out somewhere.

But on the way to our destination, a little Thai noodle house near my job, LadyTee gave me a good laugh. A much needed one.

And a little insight into myself.

She spoke of a conversation she had with one of her classmates. "Girl, my friend Vanessa is a trip. Letting folk get to her. She said 'Tam, you don't never let people get to you. You just blow it off, and keep it moving. Why are you like that?'"

"Yeah," I said. "You amaze me with the 'Hey, how you doing, yada, yada," and then turn around with the "that sucka."

LadyTee laughed. "That's right."

"I am nothing like that," I said. I've always been uh... different.

Girl, I told her, my friend live over at 555."

[That's my proverbial street address. Tam has this thing for calling home addresses by their street numbers. Dont' know why, and I've never asked her.]

"My friend live at 555, and as long as everythang is alright at 555, then I don't care what folks gotta say. WHO CARES?"

"You are crazy," I said.

"Girl, I'm for real. As long as thangs are alright with LadyLee, I don't give a GOT- ". She pauses. She's trying to work on not cussing. "I don't give a flip what people think."

"Man, you crazy." I laughed.

"Now, I told Vanessa, if you think I blow folk off? LadyLee is a whole nother story. When she through with you, then she through. She gone. She ain't dealing with you, she ain't talking to you no more, nothing. You might as well had fell off the face of the earth. You won't be seeing her no more."

"You shouldn't have told her that," I said. "People don't understand me."

"Oh, don't get me wrong. I told Vanessa, that you don't hold grudges. But you ain't thinking about folks. I told her, Lee don't cheese in your face, none of that. Lee don't skin and grin at all. She is done. Lee don't hate on you, and she aint' thinking about you. Don't wish you no harm, none of that. You just won't be up in that girl space. Not going down like that."

"Really," I said.

"But boy, you might as well have fell off the face of the earth when it come to Lee. She can't stand shadiness."

That gave me a much needed laugh on such a sorrowful day. My best friend takes waay too much pride in knowing me... She's my biggest cheerleader, all the way back to elementary school.

She rarely reads this blog. "I don't need to read what you write," she has always said. "You've been writing stuff since you were 10 years old. Why I gotta read about what I already know? I was there for it all. I've always been there."

She continued telling me of how she was trying to help her friend understand how she doesn't need to let folks get her all shook up.

"If it ain't your true friend, your best friend, who cares?" LadyTee said.

"You have a point," I said. "That's a good way to look at it."

"I told Vanessa," LadyTee said, "when you turn the fire off, and the water stops boiling? The only thing that matters to me is whether everything is alright over at 555. That is it."

I guess you're right, LadyTee.

We were talking on the phone the other day. I was telling her about some conference call I'd been tricked into attending. Not sure why they like to periodically throw me in with the crew who are a level above me (but refuse to give me a promotion. humph).

I told LadyTee I thought about what she said. I told her "Whatever man. As long as things are all good over at 8000 [Tee's proverbial address], then who cares, man. I'ma do my best and keep it moving. They ain't stressing me out."

We laughed about that.

When the fire on the stove is turned off... and the water stops boiling.

I come back to what's truly important.

Everything is alright over here at 555.

Everything is alright over there at 8000.

And that's enough to get me through the tough times and the tough people.

I do love my costar. And she loves me, even when I'm at my most unlovable. I am glad for that.
She told me, "I know God really loves me, because He gave me you as a friend."
I feel the same way too, LadyTee.

I hope you, my readers, have a costar who is just as wonderful as mine:
A Costar who, when the fire is turned off, and the water stops boiling... is there for you, through thick and thin.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Post 21: Tales from the Smile Box, Part III

Today is the Memorial King Holiday, and it is a day that I take time to remember and be thankful for all those who fought the good fight for our civil rights.

It always amazes me that the mere color of my skin, or even my gender, is a guage for judging who I am, or what I can become.

For if we all closed our eyes, none of us could tell who was black, white, asian, indian... we couldn't tell at all.

But someone said at some time in the past "You are inferior", just because you're a member of the minority race...

That had to tax a lot of people's minds back during that's time. Heck, it taxes a lot of people's minds right now, in 2010.

Many haven't reached their potential, haven't become all they could be...

Just because of what someone said about them.

And it brings me to a little quote that resides in my trusty smile box.

"It's not what others say or think about me, it is what I say and think about myself that's important."

I think I needed this basic truth back when I was a little girl. I really did.

You know, people can have us in such bondage. It seems like everything in life is based on someone else's approval of us. It is based on what someone says about us.

Not sure how things have gotten to that point. We have someone gotten things confused. Somehow, being approved of has gotten mixed up with being loved.

In many cases, that's just not true. All of that, well, it has to come from a healthy place...

But as for me, I put what other's say about me through several filters before I accept it.

First, is it the truth?

Does it bring peace and progress to my life?

If it is criticisim, is it constructive or is it meant to hurt me?

If it don't pass those filters, it gets chucked. Don't get me wrong, I take A LOT (really, too much) time thinking about what someone says about me, especially if it's someone who I have respect for. I really do.

People's perceptions are not always meant to be taken as truths, though.

And at the same time, I have to make sure I'm not saying something to someone that is not uplifting and not building them up.

Because it all boils down to this: the words coming from our mouths are full of power, enough so to change the course of one's life... even our own life.

For the better. Or sadly, for the worst.

So on this holiday, I think of the people who stood up and said "NO! I choose not to believe what you say. I choose not to believe that I have to sit in the back of the bus. I choose not to believe that I'm a second class citizen. I choose not to believe that I should not enjoy the rights of the majority."

I am thankful for those people, those people who chose to believe what they said and thought of themselves to be right and true. So much so, that they fought and died for our civil rights.

I can learn much from them.

You can too.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Post 20: Vision Board Personal Statement, Part 4

Alright, I've reached the halfway point of my food-for-thought bonanza blowout countdown to my 40th birthday.

20 down! 20 to go!!!

So, I know I still have to dig into the personal statement on my vision board.

It's not who I am now... but who I hope to be someday.

Just know that the vision is plain, and written up on the walls of The House of LadyLee. And I will get to the point someday where I can say I embody all of the listed characteristics.

Of interest, as always, is the part highlighted in green.

"I am 100% healthy in my body, soul, and spirit. I acknowledge God in all my ways, and I seek Him before I make any decisions, big or small. I am a blessing to my family and to those that God sends across my path. I am an incredible asset to my friends. I am a good listener. I am an excellent employee, and I not only work hard, but I work smart. I take time to periodically evaluate myself, and I make changes accordingly. I stick and hold fast to the path God has charted out for my life. I accept and openly welcome constructive criticism, as I know it will help me become "a better me". I am a good steward, a fine manager over the finances He has blessed me with, to the point that God knows He can trust me."

I am a blessing to those that God sends across my path.

This is simple, yet complex, even for me to explain. For me, I suppose it means that people who I come in contact with, well, I am helpful in someway. I am not a detriment to their life's journey.
Simple enough.

I don't want to be a detriment to anyone. I don't want to be the cause of their downfall, or the cause of them going in the wrong direction.

You may say, "Well, you're not LadyLee!"


I've had problems with folks over the years. I've been told I am no good, I'm an awful person, etc.

And that's cool.

Let's get something straight.

My being a blessing to you does NOT involve validating your bad decisions and bad behavior.

My being a blessing to you does NOT involve loaning you money. I got burned back when I was in my early 20s. Therefore, I don't care if you think I'm filthy rich, uh... I don't loan money. If I can't afford to give it without expectation of ever seeing it again, then I don't give it. Period.

(That one has gotten me in trouble over the years. I don't see Bank of LadyLee scrawled across my forehead. I don't believe you see it either).

My being a blessing to you does NOT include me saying what I need to say in order to receive your approval. One thing folks learn about me VERY quickly: If I gotta bank on you approving of me, then I may as well be broke in that area. I'll pass. That, my dear, is called "Faking the funk." People do that everyday. Go surround yourself with those types of people, because they are a dime a dozen.

My being a blessing to you does NOT include me doing what you think I should be doing. If that's the case, I fail miserably. VERY miserably. Look, that's how I grew up with my Mama. You think that's going down between me and you? Uh... Nope.

I'm sure I've missed a few things. Like I don't fare well with people who have low self esteem, and they don't realize it, and they ain't working on it.

(Read that real close. I'll let you figure out the intricacies of that one.)

But here's the gist of what that part of my vision statement means to me. Over the years, I've come across a lot of people who are at the time going through something that I've already gone through and have conquered. Maybe I can offer some advice on the right thing to do. Or I can offer some type of emotional support or assistance.

Those types of people come across my path. I am quick to recognize such.

People who are working on a doctorate come my way and say "Hey, they told me to come talk to you, LadyLee."

People who are going through a divorce come my way. Folks who getting jacked up on the job come my way. People who have lupus come my way. People who are looking for a church home come my way (they're not looking to join my church, but I open your head to what you should be thinking about when making such a decision.)

And here's something really odd. A woman at work whose baby seems to be allergic to meat... someone said "Go over there and talk to LadyLee!"

Very odd, since my vegetarian journey is only 7 months old. But you best believe I was able to encourage, and let her know not to worry because there are all KINDS of ways for that toddler to get his proper protein. At least I could give her something to think about. I think I even have a whole chapter in one of my books geared toward that particular problem. I will be sure to give that to her.

Just a few examples for you.

People say I always have the right words to say...

I like people saying that about me. That's better then folks saying "Here she come, causing trouble again. Let me hide my stuff. And let me watch what I say, cuz she crazy as hell. She'll cut you if you look at her the wrong way!"

(Come on, now. Don't act. You know you know people like that - people that spray drama and drop carnage everywhere they step. Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.)

No, I want to be a blessing. I've had convos with people, and they're like "Lee, that convo we had so many years ago. Man, that changed my thinking. It threw me in the right direction. I still think about our conversation, all these years later."

That right there make me cheese real hard, just like Miss Celie, lol.

And it gets over into a principle that I'm understanding more and more over the years.

I'm a blessing to your life, then God will send someone along to be a blessing in my life.

That's all I can ask for. I don't really even care much about that. I get a kick out of being one of the people along someone's life path, a small piece of your support system, no matter how brief.

I like being someone who is one of the many keys to you being a better YOU.

That's better than trying to jack you up and mess you over.

Am I right about that?

I am a blessing to those that God sends across my path.

It is indeed something I strive for... and continuously pray that I achieve it.