Belief Series: Aging

 

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When I write this I am 41 years old. The only time I think about my age is when I have to write it down or share it. Most people do not believe I am 41. They say I don't "look my age." I appreciate that, but I then ask, what does my age look like? My belief about age is that it doesn't really mean anything but a physical progression. We are linear beings, at least in the physical sense and age is a way for us to keep up with the progression.  But mentally, emotionally and spiritually we all fall on different spectrums and I think the progression in these areas are more important than the physical one. 

I also think aging can be a consistent reminder of the inevitable lost. I think about my parents and that I have enjoyed 41 years with them and at some point I will be on this earth and they will not. That is sometimes difficult to manage, but I hope that my spiritual and emotional growth now will allow me to feel the pain of this and understand I am still connected to them spiritually. 

I think that I am in at a good age. I am more than grown. I cannot deny that anymore, but I am not in physical decline as of yet either. my brother and I talk about the age we feel we are in our head. There are times I do not physically feel any different than I did at sixteen. Yet the way I think and emotionally process things are beyond sixteen years of living. 

Bottom line, no matter what age I am what I truly believe is that at 14 or 41 or 141, the best thing to do to enjoy life is to be present in the moment no matter what age. 

Do You Have a Light?

 

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I am not a smoker, but as a designer, I have seen some very intriguing art on Bic lighters. While walking to work the other day, I stopped at a corner, waiting for the walking signal to change.  I see a guy and woman in a car also waiting on the light to change. The man in the car was looking at me. I tried not to make eye contact, but his hand started moving. I looked and he was making the hand signal for lighter. He also mouthed the words, Do you have a light?" I told him no. His question sparked a couple of memories and observations.

Smokers have no trouble asking for a light or even a cigarette from other smokers. I think as a smoker, another smoker understands the need to smoke and in that spirit, supports the other smoker any way they can. Even though smoking is a horrible, horrible habit, I focused on the openness of that gesture and wish that more of us could be more empathetic about the things that others are going through or need.  How different the world would be if, when you are need, you could go out and say, "Hey. Do you have a meal?" or "Hey. Do you have an extra bed?" If people knew that in time of need that there will always be someone there with a light, sort of speak, to help them some of the desperate acts that people do to survive may not happen.  Maybe that mom would not have to steal so that her kids can eat or maybe that man that lost his job wouldn't have to worry about sleeping on the streets. If we were faster about sharing our light with people, that kind act can change how you and they interact with the next person.

I do wish that people stop smoking anything that is going to cause health issues. I also wish that more people share their light. Share kind acts all day. Share your light.

Belief Series: Love and War

 

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This has been a eye opening week for some and one of confirmation for others about what is going on in the world. In this week alone, three countries (at least that we know about) have been the target of terrorism. Beirut, Paris and today, as I write this, Mali.  Prior or these attacks, a Russian plane was hit and destroyed killing over 200 people. My belief is that we are at war.  It is hard to say but truth is hard to say and hear. I also believe that Love is the answer. A lot of questions are being thrown around?

  • Why is this happening?
  • What is ISIS?
  • Why was Paris attacked?
  • Why did the media ignore the terror in Beirut the day before the Paris attack?
  • Is this the beginning of World War III
  • Why is America thinking about closing its borders to a struggling people desperately in need of our help?
  • Why are Muslims so evil?
  • Why are Americans so scared?
  • Why is the world filled with hatred, fear, despair?
  • What kind of world will the next generation live in?

The answers to these questions are different for each person. Here is my short answers:

  • Why is this happening?
  • What is ISIS? Islamic State in Iraq and Syria
  • Why was Paris attacked? This is my opinion – beyond the fact that Paris has been a key player in fighting ISIS, it is  a location that may not have the strength of America but will give a great visual impact, which is what a terrorist group would want as they create a reputation of terror and strength. 
  • Why did the media ignore the terror in Beirut the day before the Paris attack? The media is prejudice. It did not react to Beirut getting attacked because it was not a Western country and we in Western media tend to detach from that. Beirut has been in a warlike state for some time and again, the suffering in that part of the world has been deemed normal and lastly, westerners are just prejudice when it comes to people who look different and act different and feel that the terror and bombing in that part of the world is "their problem" – Paris made it our problem.
  • Is this the beginning of World War III? Simply – yes. You cannot have war anymore without it affecting several countries and the world. 
  • Why is America thinking about closing its borders to a struggling people desperately in need of our help?
  • Why are Muslims so evil? All Muslims are not evil. Just like all Jews aren't cheap and all Christians aren't holy rollers.  Muslims are just like you and me. Some are loving and nice and some are real assholes. What we see happening now has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with the individual, the love or lack of love in their heart for others and themselves. People use religion as a scapegoat for their own desires and needs. Christians have done it during the crusades and used Christianity during the colonization of continent such as Africa.  Jews use their "status" as chosen people to take over homes of their Palestine. This is egotistical human thing – not a religious or spiritual thing. We need to stop taking something beautiful and making it horribly ugly. 
  • Why are Americans so scared? Really, Americans have lived comfortably out of danger for a long time and outside of people who live in ghettos in this country, most of us would not know how to live or react in constant danger. It is scary to live in a country where bombs can drop anytime. It is scary to not know if the person sitting next to you may blow up and take you with them. We are already dealing with our own mass shootings of each other and even with that, many of us pretend that it is not a normal part of our countries culture and fabric. Yet, here were are trying to close our borders to refugees and thinking about stupid shit like marking or placing Muslims in databases so we "know who they are".  How un-American is that and how Nazi of a reaction. 
  • Why is the world filled with hatred, fear, despair? Somewhere in too many of our lives, we were taught things and experienced things that have made us like and love less.  Our own selfishness keeps us from hearing and taking care of other people's needs.  LOVE is the answer. 
  • What kind of world will the next generation live in? I am crazy enough to believe that the world will finally get it and we will live in a place of love instead of anger, hate and despair.  I truly believe this. 

Belief Series: Family

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Family is very important to me. It sounds so predictable, but it is true. I love my family. I get along with all of my siblings and adore my nieces and nephews.  I wish I knew more of my cousins, aunts and uncles, but those that I do know, I am very fond of. My family beliefs are simple. 

  • I believe family is wonderful
  • They are important to who you will become as we grow 
  • I believe family can be a great support system (not for all, but for most)
  • I believe family is honest and at the same time secretive
  • I believe that a family works best when you let the people who are best at what they do 
  • I believe that family can drag you down if you let them
  • I believe that you learn love or the lack of love from your family 

I live away from my family. I miss them a lot, especially the kiddos. Yet, they call and I hear stuff. Too many times it is the bad stuff like whose broke, whose lost a job, whose sick and whose dead. The kids are different. They talk about school. Sometimes it's sucky things, but a lot of things they share brings me joy. They are so open and honest and open (did I say open). I like hearing that and I love that they share it. My family is honest in many ways. Anything we talk about it is talked about openly and honestly. But there are a lot of things that are not talked about and becuase of this bad habits and patterns in families continue. I believe I can stop these patterns.

I made the big decision not to have children when I was eight years old.  I think that decision was more part of my beliefs about women than family. Yet, I think that decision has made it important that I stay in touch with my immediate family while at the same time making sure my nieces and nephews have a different family experience and more positive beliefs when it comes to family. 

The other day one of my brothers called me and said "Pops is sick." My father has a long history of being in and out of the hospital. I felt my anxiety go up. I felt one of my biggest fears raise from the back of my mind to the front. I am in one state and a parent is dying in another one.   I find out, it was a cold.  A cold. Yes, people have died from colds, but I am so tramatized with bad news and bad things that my mind went to dying very quickly. 

My belief is that my family is wonderful but there is a lot that has dragged us down. The things that I am doing (projects, work, art) cannot be dragged down by our baggage. It is really challenging and very sad for me to think this way. I want this belief about family to be different and I feel it will be.

 

 

 

Belief Series: Black

 

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Last week's post was about my beliefs when it comes to my womanhood. This post is about my beliefs connected to being black. It is a little clearer for me. I love being black. I love my blackness. I am very sure this love comes from the fact that many blacks are taught very young those cliches that stick with us:

  • Black is Beautiful
  • Love the Skin You Are In
  • Black and Proud

Our history is deep and full of distress and hard times. It is full of death and dispair. It is full of moments of victory, unity, overcoming the worst and creating the best. From my lineage comes so much beauty in music, art, words and deeds.  Even until this day, blacks are discriminated against, killed because of other's beliefs about us, and still live in a place where we deal with inequality every day and in the midst of all that, we fight, forgive, laugh and live. It is amazing and I love that I come from a people who survivie. I think that one of my biggest beliefs about being black is that it is more than a cultural status. It is more than a skin characteristc. It is a spiritual experience. To live fully in an environment where you are misunderstood by so many for so long takes spiritual strength.

There are things that I see in the black community that I want to change. Things that I have a hard time with. I see my people putting more energy into consumption than into their spiritual and emotional growth. I see that some of us live in mental enslavement which keeps us from reaching our potential.  I see that the inequalities of this world has broken some of our spirits and lives. I know that some of us are giving up our cultural values to be more accepted by those around us.  The unitiy that once drove most things in our communities is too many times replaced by self-desire. Wanting to be rich and famous is more important than group success. Caring less about each other and more about self in a way that is unhealthy. I believe that the lessons of unity, love, self acceptance, pererverance, strength will be remembered again and that we will find balance in being Black and being and American without having to give up either one. I see this blanace coming now in the way we are reacting to injustice, the way we are standing up more for our history and that we are looking for positive ways to sustain the black community as we continue to be a vauluable part of American society. 

Here are my beliefs about being Black.

  • I believe it is a spiritual experience.
  • I believe it has shown me how to work hard
  • It has made me proud
  • I think it has made me compassionate and filled me with a passion to do good and be fair.
  • I believe that being Black has shown me that the impossible is always possible

 

Belief Series: Womanhood

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What do I believe about womanhood and being a woman is a melting pot of more bad than good. The image above is one of my works that I created as I tried to learn more about my femininity, my woman-ness.  I like what I created. It says that women are beautiful, and rich and complicated. It says to me that women are strong, calm and sensual. Women have emotions and most of the time they cannot be hidden.  Women are intuitive and organically infuse with the world around it, making it, shaping it and cultivating it. This is what I believe womanhood is but, the world is changing and in America my experience of womanhood is too many times in contradiction with my core beliefs. Here are other things a believe about women. 

I believe that women are nurtures in general but are beginning to push away from this important thing. I believe women tear each other down too much and expect too much out of intimate relationships. I believe women can be superficially silly and superficial about life.  I believe that women limit themselves either by characterizing themselves with words like girly, independent, as good as any man.  Womanhood is too connected to having children, having a spouse and being a spouse. Womanhood is about what you experience as a female and not what you look like as a female. Too many times "real woman" is about the roundness of an ass and not the roundness of character. 

I am a woman, but I cannot say I am always proud of it. I want to be. I look through history and in my family and I see womanhood I want to be and be proud of and it gives me hope. Their stories, experiences, love and pain. It inspires me to be a better woman and to be my own. It inspires me to fight against this definition of woman that I run from. 

Even as I find my footing as a "woman" my whole life, from different men I have been told otherwise. The way I dress, the fact I do not go ape-shit about makeup and clothes, or that I use sex as a toy or a bartering chip. Too much of what being a woman was seemed to be defined by men and that experience have created a sense of self-hate for me as a woman and little bit of anger toward men. Less so as I grow older, but it is there and this too has defined my experience as a woman.  The effect?  I dismiss gender in relating to people while at the same time, I blame gender for certain shortcomings.  It's all silly but real. 

After all of this, my true belief about womanhood is that it doesn't really matter for me. My humanity supersedes it.

Belief Series: Who am I and What Do I Believe

 

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Oprah has been part of my life since I was eleven years old. At that age, she was a black woman that had her own show and came on everyday. I didn't pay too much attention. Cartoons were still more important. I don't think I really start paying attention until I was in my 30s and I saw that spirit was important to her and that she seem to have made a decision to change the world through spirit.  Despite all of the marketing stuff that is needed to build empires in this world, I think the work she is doing is important. 

Right now I am taking part in a meditation challenge that she and Deepak Chopra has made available and at the same time I am watching a series on OWN called Belief and of course it has made me start thinking very deeply on my own beliefs.  In one of Deepak's guided meditations, he asked the question, "Who am I?" and then the next question he asked was "What do you (I) believe?" Who we are is deeply connected to what we believe you know, but sometimes our characteristics, physical attributes and what we do is the language we use to talk about who we are. So, starting there, I want to go deeper into my beliefs by listing and analyzing who I am. Here is the list of characteristics, titles and attributes that make me who I am:

  • Woman
  • Black
  • 40 years old
  • city dweller
  • sister/daughter/aunt (family)
  • non-practicing Christian
  • spiritual
  • friend
  • loner
  • single
  • intuitive
  • artist

The next few weeks I will focus these things and my beliefs connected to them with a simple goal of finding out truly what I believe. I know there are things I believe that may be keeping me from fulfilling some my potential. It is time to let them go and to be what I and God intended.