“You are the source of my life. You are the source of my strength. I lift my hands in total praise to You.” – Richard Smallwood

America. We stink.

I thought of several short essays I could write for this post of affirmation, but this is what resonates right now.

I could’ve written an eloquent letter to my black men letting them know just how much I loved them; how I admire them for their poise and persistence during this tumultuous time.

I could’ve written a letter to people with fairer skin about the plight of the people and why it’s time that the message of Black Lives matters started to resonate.

I could’ve written a message full of anger and and hate. But that’s not my style.

It hasn’t been for quite some time.

THE PROVERBIAL CHIP ON EVERYONE’S SHOULDER

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about getting past the “b” word. I allowed people to assume what the “b” word was. In reality, the “b” was for bitter.

I’m not sure if bitter ever has a place? In food, it’s hardly ever regarded as a positive note. In life, it’s what we like to call people who seem to have this everlasting chip on their shoulder.

And that’s what we’re seeing today. A lot of bitterness living out loud.

People are bitter – standing with the presumptuous chip on their shoulder. But the reason for the chip is different.

Blacks have a chip on their shoulder because from the day the majority of us were brought to this country, we’ve had to fight. We’ve had to fight to live. Fight to eat. Fight to get married. Fight to rest. And for centuries, we’ve been fighting for equal rights.

Generation after generation, we’ve run, hidden, fought physically, picketed, marched, and staged sit-ins. In the midst of all this, generation after generation, we’ve continually been told we’re not good enough. We’re ugly. We’re only good enough for sports. We’re not smart. We’re stupid. We are not the elite. And when we finally do something for ourselves, we’re told we’re racist and separatists.

No homie. We’re just trying to survive.

This is survival, yo.

And then there are people who don’t look like us who have a bitter chip on their shoulder for multiple reasons: Some think we’re taking their jobs. Some think we’re not good enough for the sons or daughters. Some think we shouldn’t have the same rights. They think we’re inferior.

Then there are those who think we should “be over” the “slavery thing.” Some think we haven’t worked hard enough; they think we’re riding on a free pass. They think our men are dangerous or drug dealers.

Then there are some who feel they are (and may be being) blamed for the plight and hurt of people of color. So they rebel. Or maybe they harbor feelings of hurt because they can’t understand why they have to bear the burden of things that happened long before they were even born.

Ultimately, this bitterness stems from hurt, fear, pride, and rejection — sometimes all combined.

IT AIN’T JUST YOU

I know because I have experienced this bitterness. It’s a bitterness that I have to keep in check — appropriate it for the right moments, places and times.

Yes, I get ticked off when I go to work and don’t know whether the person walking the halls are friend or foe. Yes, I question whether or not a “friend” is no longer speaking to me because of my outspoken nature surrounding the Black Lives Matter campaign. Yes, I get ticked off when I think that I may not be getting a promotion or treated fairly because of my race.

But then I’m reminded of my friends who’ve brought their kids around me. Laughed with me. Joked around with me. Watched me cry. Those FRIENDS are white.

I’m reminded of the promotion and support given by my white boss. I’m reminded of the encouraging words white people have said to me as they’ve watched very vulnerable steps I’ve taken in this journey. I’m reminded of the white people – adults and teens – who joined the picket line with me…and those who stopped to simply say “we agree.”

If all people who didn’t look like us were our enemies, I wouldn’t have stories like this.

In the midst of all of this, we must stop. Pause. Remember racism is an individual thing.

Just like we don’t like stereotypes to be applied to us, we must implement the same thinking and behavior.

Finally, I’ve learned we must be willing to be vulnerable enough to share our stories and compassionate enough to hear the other side. We must be willing to speak as well as to listen, even to those who don’t share the same view points.

C IS FOR CONVERSION

If we don’t have any other example, we can think about our conversion to Christ.

There was a time when we were on the other side of the Jesus fence. We couldn’t stand Christians. We just didn’t get them. And thought, why would we give up our “freedom.”

Those on the other side of the fence knew there was so much more to gain on the other side, but we had to be willing to cross to the other side.

America. We have to be willing to cross to the other side. There’s so much to gain on the other side of hate, anger, separation and inequaltiy.

To my fellow black Americans, be righteously angry, but sin not.

To my fellow white brothers and sisters, know that all we want is equality. Not perceived equality, but one where we don’t have to worry about who is calling us the “N” word behind our back. One where we don’t have to hide who we are when we go to work…or to a restaurant…or to a club…or to the mall. One where we don’t have to worry about being “the good black.” Where you’re no longer referred to as “one we can trust.”

We should get to a point where we’re simply referred to as people. PEOPLE.

Is it going to take time to get there? Absolutely.

Will we ever get there? Probably not.

But we can get closer.

We’re closer than ever before so let’s keep moving.

HOW TO GET THERE

It all starts with you. It’s a matter of your heart. His heart. Her heart.

The bible says that what a man thinketh, so is he. It also says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

We have a lot of things to unlearn, America. Ignoring it like a moldy leftover pot that’s been left in the sink for too long isn’t going to help. The only way we’re going to get the smell to go away is by putting in the work.

Examine your biases. Check yourself. Identify how you can make a difference. Then do the work.

If it’s by picketing, do it. If it’s by breaking down the barriers and having the tough discussions with people who look like you and those who don’t look like you, do it. If it’s by simply affirming within yourself that you won’t let another day go by living in hate, do it. Do whatever it takes to bring unity AND equality.

It’s time to start cleaning up this stinkin’ thinking and move on because #weareone.

AFFIRMATION

I will not go another day with hate and unforgiveness in my heart. It starts and ends with me. I will be the difference.

PRAYER

Lord, help me to not allow my heart to be a residence for hate. Lord, replace hate, bitterness, and anger with your joy and peace. Help me to live the life that you’ve taught me to live; one where I love my neighbors as I love myself. Lord, the world is ugly; America is ugly, but there is not one hurt that you cannot heal. Help us heal. Help us to not only cover up the bruises. Let us feel the hurt. But then let us move on. Let us do the hard work. Help us to cry in front of one another. To argue, but utltimately to not let the sun go down on our wrath. Bring unity. Bring joy. Bring genuine laughter and peace.

Lord, we will lift our eyes to you. Amen.

See you next Wednesday.

Gina

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“You are smart…you are enough.”

I was recently presented with an opportunity to work alongside a cohort of professionals on one of my organization’s internal projects. We’re in the very early stages of this project, where the foundation is being laid. Key questions are being asked and the work that is fundamental to the identity of this project is being executed.

As with any project, the work is being divvied. My friend drew the lucky straw of drafting a few statements to represent the groups purpose.

After reading these statements, I was left a bit perplexed. Thesaurus-laden buzzwords and corporate jargon had drowned out the message. I asked my friend to rewrite the statements in plain English. Though she knew I had good intentions, she was offended.

I wanted her to see that her message, the one she believed in, the one without the colorful language was enough. Adding colorful language not only took away from the message, but it made the reader work harder. In fact, I had to read the statements more than once to deduce what was being said. And in the end I was still confused and frankly, frustrated.

But this also created a great opportunity for feedback. While, my colleague wasn’t happy with my feedback, I had the opportunity to follow up with what was in my heart.

My feedback had less to do with the message and a million times more to do with what I believed, and what she needed to believe, about herself.

I had an opportunity to tell her that she was smart and that she didn’t need to rely on anyone else to tell her that. She didn’t need the “extras” to impress anyone. Simply being who she was was enough. And when she delivers her message from her heart, that would be enough.

I had an opportunity to tell her that she was, and is, enough.

 

 

Affirmation

Today, I repeat this message to you. You are enough. Give yourself the gift of relaxing the security of who you are. Stop trying to outfit yourself with the proverbial colorful layers — fancy clothes, an extensive vocabulary, multiple degrees, or the pursuit of the seemingly “perfect life” — to gain the approval of others or even yourself. Don’t water down the magnitude of who you are. Be you.

The Bible says that you were fearfully and wonderfully made. Who am I to disagree with God?

Take off those layers. Life is a lot lighter and much clearer without them.

Until next Wednesday,

RP

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Over the course of the years, I’ve seen a number of CEOs, LLCs, Presidents and more pop up; so many that it makes me a bit less than wowed. Hand raised. I’ve been one of those businesses. I’ve been Owner, Founder, Consultant, and Digital Marketing Affecianado, and I’ve had almost as many, if not more, business names, Twitter handles, and Facebook pages names that follow suit.

And I’m passionate. Still am.

We can take on the world, right?

Reach for the moon. Reach for the stars. And every other inspirational quote we can think of spurs us.

That is, until the day, the fire burning your rocket ceases to burn. And you have nothing else left.

Long hours. Minimal return. Unpaid bills. And stress. If this were an accounting ledger, liabilities outweigh your assets.

But you’re a fighter. You have to keep going. It’s your dream.

Or is it?

Is it your dream to go to work and come home to more work? Is it your dream to not know where your next paycheck is going to come from? Is it your dream to play accountant, lawyer, marketer and sales person – all in addition to what you’re really passionate about.

Sure. You have the talent, and you’re super smart. No one is doubting that. But is it really your dream to work all the wee hours of the day and night, watching life slip you by as you incessantly chase your dream?

I get it. It’s hard to feel as if your talents are going to waste. Or that you could be invoicing thousands for “consulting” work. But it’s just not that easy. Trust me. It’s not.

After watching myself feel as if I were spinning circles, I swallowed one hard pill; running a business isn’t for me. I have the talent. I’m super smart. I even have charisma.

But I don’t have the will.

The will to be continuously turned down nor the time, flexibility or even drive to go after the customers who can afford me. That may sound a little crass, but in business, you have to know your worth. Giving ridiculous, putting in multiple hours, and giving up what I like to do for “my dream” wasn’t “what’s up”, as the saying goes.

I traded in that tenacity for more rewarding moments. Lounging on my butt after a long day of work, breathing in fresh air, and ” the peace of God that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) is so much more rewarding.

Yep. I kinda regret I’m not chasing that dream. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t. But I don’t regret this newly found meaning of life.

Journeys tend to represent a longer period of time with winding roads, forests, ups, downs, and many adventures – fun and not-so-fun. Journeys are different than short trips, spring breaks, and quick road trips with the girls. When you embrace a journey, you have to be in it for, well, the journey. And as cliche as it is, it’s true; life is a journey.

There are tears.

There’s laughter.

There are bumps in the road.

There are hellacious potholes we try to avoid.

And then the are hellacious potholes we hit.

There are stinky boys.

And then there are boys that smell amazing.

The trip tends to be long.

But not all bad.

There’s a ton of enjoyment.

And the journey wouldn’t be the same if there wasn’t a bit of pain.

There are realities we must embrace – good, bad, and ugly.

And, with every polar opposite, there are the items, thoughts, and notions we must reject.

In the end, the goal is to live life to the fullest.

Jesus said that he came so that we may have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

I’m all about that life.

Today, I’m trying to embrace the journey.