Despite not being a big fan of the outdoors, when I am with nature, I feel closest to God. As I was snapping pictures of myself looking at the sky, I was purposefully trying to capture a, "Are you there God, it's me Kenya" kind of face.Read More
A reflection of the past…
It was October 2008. She was about to go to her 20th High School reunion. She wanted to look good because she believed that was all she had going for herself. She crash dieted and lost ten pounds before that weekend. She dodged questions about what she was doing now. She was in fact working part-time and giving her last two weeks to her employer. She was working in an industry she hated and had worked in since she was 19. But she said it was all good. She had just completed studies for an Associates degree and was pursuing a Bachelor’s degree. She didn’t want to say outloud what she believed. She believed at 37, she should be much further along in life. She didn’t say she had long forgotten what her dreams were. They knew she had gone away to college right after high school. They didn’t know she returned after two semesters. What they saw, “She hasn't changed a bit!” Little did they know…
Unemployed she would have time to reflect. In school she would learn she was smarter than she realized. She would rediscover her passion for writing. She would find she could still entertain with pen and paper. At age 38 the veil would slowly be removed to reveal who she had left behind. She would learn how to be herself and believe in herself. She would make herself a priority.
“I believe in giving 100% to my commitments, but I no longer believe in emptying myself for them." LaMonique Hamilton
A snapshot of the present...
Though still unemployed, she would not exchange acquired fortitude for loss of wages. Her path is no longer muddled with the debris that doubt leaves behind. She knows who she is. She is a writer. She has learned that dreams are not impossible. She is an author.
Only God knows. Until then…
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4: 10
"There is no agony like having an untold story inside you." ~Zora Neale Hurston
"Write... not only to heal yourself, but to help your future readers to heal as well. You are not the only one waiting for the birth of your literary baby." Antoinette Dickson
Here’s the thing I know… without a shadow of a muddled past or path, I will write.
The following blog is a favorite written and posted in October 2010. It was my 10th blog post and I had maybe three followers.
Today I am linking this post up with Katherines Corner Favorite Things Thursday Blog Hop.
When I orginally wrote this, my title was not Here's the thing. No one knew my real name or what I looked like. So the only modification I made to the original post was adding a photo of yours truly and my trademark Here's the thing...closing.
Rhythm of Words...
I am reading a book where I was asked the question, “What difference are you making or have you made in the world?” Wow. I am so glad no one put me on the spot with that one; the answer or non answer is one to ponder. For some reason I thought about what role I may have played in the days of slavery. I decided I definitely wouldn’t have been Harriet Tubman. I would have been the one trying to get promoted out of the fields to work in the big house where it was not so hot. And then perhaps my contribution may have been to pilfer goods from the big house for those who braved the escape to freedom.
Then the question made me ponder down memory lane. In the 2nd grade I joined the Brownies. However that works, I don’t remember going back after I made my right hand pledge with my mom as my witness.
In the 3rd grade I tried modeling and lasted through what was for me, the first and last fashion show. In my memory I had to walk a square as big as a baseball field, pivoting at each corner. In actuality I believe we were on a small dance floor. The music for my walk was a Bob James instrumental and when I hear it today, the nostalgic tune is still mixed with the sound of my own heartbeat. I wasn’t cut out for the stage.
In the 5th grade I attended a predominately white school (let’s say 98 % because I was the only black girl in my class). There my only acting experience consisted of playing a dual role of an orphan and maid in Annie. We had to mess up our hair to play the orphan and when I went to dress as the maid I couldn’t fix it back; well perhaps my Jewish best friend couldn’t fix her hair back either.
In the 6th grade I naively walked toward the music room for talent show try-outs with my Denise Williams 45 of Silly of Me in hand. I heard two 8th graders belting out Luther Vandross’ If this World were Mine, followed by another singing Truly by Lionel Richie and then another piping out Michael Jackson’s She’s out of my Life a cappella. I realized I couldn’t sing (not like that) and inconspicuously hid my record under my shirt while acting as an observer and not a participant.
In the 7th grade, convinced by others that “pretty” would make me a good cheerleader, I tried out. Friends worked with me on some simple steps that I could never master. I made the pep squad which meant I sat in the bleachers and screamed the cheers as the cheerleaders performed them. I lasted for a few home games.
By 8th grade I had also learned that I couldn’t really dance either. Try as I might, after I learned I was being ridiculed from the sidelines, I became a wallflower. With lessons after school provided by my best friend for weeks leading up to 8th grade prom, I learned the latest dances in time. I was able to impress my partner, who was a military transfer student, and had no knowledge of my dance history while also drawing good attention from everyone else who did.
Dancing has never been so easy since. I still have a phobia of being made fun of from the sidelines. To keep from being seen, if anyone asked me to dance, I pulled them into the middle of the dance floor nested in between as many people as possible. I recall in college being jumbled up in a crowd who had begun the electric slide, I hadn’t learned it, couldn’t do it and had a hard time getting out from the dance floor without stepping on everybody’s toes. Dancing after that came after too many drinks to care who was watching and that hasn’t happened since 12/31/99.
Going down memory lane does not have anything to do with any difference that I am making anywhere. The question asked only made me ponder on experiences I fell short of succeeding. However, as a little girl I also remember my mom taking me to see Maya Angelou speak and realizing my love for the rhythm of poetry and writing. In a recent pep talk about my writing aspirations, my baby cousin told me that the gift I had was in my delivery; I repeat this to myself often. Her comments and this question I have pondered, give me the inspiration to stop being a wallflower and dance with pen and paper; here is where I have rhythm.
Here's the thing...I need only ponder on the difference I can make in dancing with my writing. Taking on the challenge of making a difference in the world can occur with one reader at a time.
Today I am inspired by North Carolina Governor, Bev Purdue, who decided to get out of the political fight so that she could focus on the fight for education in our public schools.
Today I am linking up with Create With Joy for Inspire Me Monday. This post has nothing to do with politics but I thought it was appropriate to repost now, as we enter the dog fight of the political season.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not as friendly as my husband. I am barely a church hugger; always the receiver and not the giver. I don’t like wearing someone else’s makeup, cologne or perfume. My reserved personality could be in part because of where I am from (up North) or where I was raised (a Southern city where the confederate flag still has its place of honor on the State House grounds). Regardless of what that flag represents to some, let me just say, I have experienced my fair share of prejudice and racism. Now a 14 year veteran (active duty military spouse), I have lived other places and I have grown tremendously.
When we first moved into the neighborhood we live in now, the neighbors were so friendly. We learned that quite a few active duty and mostly retired Marines lived in the neighborhood. Aside from living on base, this was the friendliest community I had ever experienced. People would drive by and beep the horn, slow down and talk, or wave their arms off. I used to look around to see if there was someone behind me that they knew. I would try to avoid checking the mail or rolling the trash to curb if a car was coming. On my morning walks, everyone that passed by in a car waved like they knew me. What was wrong with these people? Within a few days of being in the house, someone brought us a dessert and another brought us a plant. I was already used to the hospitality and fooled when I answered the door to someone holding a bottle of Spic & Span welcoming me to the neighborhood. It was the Kirby vacuum people; which turned into a two hour demonstration. I wasn’t so soft yet; I gave them a stern and firm "no thank you" AFTER they cleaned my carpet.
Years later, I have turned into the cupcake/brownie/cookie/cake lady. Whenever I make desserts and especially around the holidays, there are a few neighbors that put in their order. I give them all away – with cheer. My dessert giving has extended to my son’s teachers, his bus driver, deployed military and even a man that works at Lowes.
Last week after Hurricane Irene, everyone was outside cleaning up debris and pitching in with other yards. One of the gray haired retirees had a huge tree to cut up and lots of debris to take to the landfill. I watched as the men in the neighborhood walked over with their tools (my husband included). As I watched from the window (to the tune of how many men does it take to screw in a light bulb?) I thought the same about cutting up the tree. My husband came in to get some Gatorade. While looking exhausted he also had a twinkle in his eye. Despite the cause, they were having a good time.
As my eggs and butter cooled to room temperature in the refrigerator, I would bake something if the power came back on in time. It didn’t. A few days later when I went grocery shopping to restock, I replenished my dessert baking supply. I even replaced my flour. The house got hot enough that I imagined something could have hatched and would fly out of the flour bag. Yes, that happened once.
My parents came to visit for the long weekend so I had an excuse to bake. The gray haired retirees’ wife was outside still cleaning up from the hurricane when I took her a few of the cupcakes. She surprised me and gave me a big hug. I grimaced a little. She was sweaty, but I hugged her back. She was so grateful for everyone that had pitched in with the tree and the cupcakes were either “the icing on the cake” or the “last straw” for her emotions. She wanted to do something for us and here I was bringing them cupcakes. I explained that it was “just because”; someone always benefits from my baking spree and she just happened to be the one.
The next day my husband was outside on the grill and he came in with a card from the gray haired retiree and his wife. It was a VERY sweet card that read:
You are a gift to others…Some have a gift for helping others to see the world as a place of possibility… Some impart wisdom or comfort and care. Some point out the path, and some take you there. Some warm the heart with a human touch. You have all these gifts… Thank you so much. In her writing it said: Thanks for sharing your time and for helping us recover from the hurricane. We truly appreciate your kindness. P.S. We all enjoyed the delicious cupcakes!! Included in the card was a $50 gift card to Olive Garden!
While I have grown over the years in my sociability, there is always room for improvement. Just because some drivers are rude, some store clerks are unhappy, some people in line are impatient, some people don’t want to nod or speak, doesn’t mean I have to share their sentiment.
Here's the thing...if I can brighten someone’s day with a smile, a word or a cupcake – then a change shall begin with me.
"A mind is a beautiful thing to waste", said my Imagination.
“Let’s not mince words”, Me, Myself and I said when imagination woke us up at 5:00 am on a holiday. We had a dream last night that pretty much said, "Stop sleeping and get back in the game.”
So here I am at 5:07 am on January 16, 2012, needing to write down the dream I had and decipher it before Me, Myself and I forget all the details.
Here's the story...
In my dream it was a snow day. I had other plans and the season changed just like that. Christopher and I were the only ones home. I know because I was on the phone with my husband who couldn’t believe it had snowed. With my multi-tasking iPhone I took a picture while we were on the phone to show him that it had indeed snowed. The snow was melting fast as we stood outside to take a picture. I turned around to see someone using a slow blower. One side of the street was wet and slick from rain. Another side was green and bright with sunshine. Moments later, everything had melted, dried and warmed up.
Christopher and I were back in the house and he was asking what we could do today. The sun was coming out and it was heating up. I suggested we go to the pool – crazy right? I’m deciphering as I type. I only wanted to sit on the side and get my feet wet. For Christopher to be in the pool without me I needed some paperwork that proved his swim level. We were sent on a mission to get what we needed before he could get back in the pool alone.
Even though I had parked in the wrong place, I found where I needed to be. Even though the weather had made the roof leak in the building, and everyone had moved from where they should be, I found the lady whom I needed to get the paperwork from. Even though she tried to tell me I needed something different, I was persistent and she realized I was correct. Crazy right? I get it.
I believe God speaks to me in dreams; in a way that I hear Him and only I can understand. When I was having my “lost dreams”, I would have never found the building I was looking for. If I found the building, I wouldn’t have found the lady. If I found the lady, she wouldn’t have had what I needed and I wouldn’t have found my way out of the building. Being lost is behind me now. But I am struggling with standing still with my purpose while life is pulling me in different directions.
A snow day in Jacksonville, North Carolina represents standing still. Everything shuts down, though the weather doesn’t stick around very long. God wants me to know that time goes by in a blink of an eye and I need to be ready for every season. I’ve only gotten my feet wet. I need to be persistent in what I want for myself, even when there is a detour. It is a sacrifice but I must immerse myself completely.
I haven’t shared all what I believe the dream to represent because the other parts only apply to me. I wanted to share this much because I know there are others in my same position. We struggle with what is practical, what is rational, and what will pay the bills. We exert ourselves to maintain the household. We abide by for better or for worse. We make every effort to be everything for our children. We fight to keep our sanity when in the process of it all we find we are losing ourselves.
I commented recently to a blogger who wrote a post that sounded just like me. She wondered if she should just step back and away from her dreams. I wrote, “I propose that you never give up. Believing in oneself is time consuming but it energizes. It drains me when I am not doing anything to work towards my goal. I rather spin my wheels towards my goal than not at all."
Here’s the thing... If you found my title misleading, it was purely intentional unintentional.
I've always wanted to honor my late grandmother and have her poem published in one of my books. Now seemed like the appropriate time and place to share it. May someone be blessed here today with wit and wisdom.
September 8, 2011 was the last time I had my lost dream. This is the only date I have recorded of having the dream. I do not have a record of how many (countless) times I have had these dreams, but I can retrace the origin of them all the way back to when I was 19 years old (21 years ago). My dad and I rode to work together and I remember riding by a building that looked like one in my lost dream. For many years the lost dream was in that same building. In the dream the building seemed to represent a school but it looked like an office building. At age 19 I had gone to college for one year and I was back at home working a full-time job.
The recurring dream always had different variations, but the ultimate outcome was that I was lost. In the dream I keep walking around in circles or I keep getting further and further away from the direction I need to go in. It wasn’t until this year (now it seems obvious) that I really figured it out.
Examples of previous lost dreams:
- Driving and getting off on the wrong exit that led me back to where I started
- Looking for a way out of a building but walking up a stairwell that keeps getting narrower
- Trying to find a building in a large downtown, walking the same blocks over and over
- One on a cruise ship I was trying to find my room and ended up in the crew quarters
- I still shake my head at the one where I chose to abandon my car, and find my way on a bicycle???
- A large office building where I missed my job interview. I got on the wrong elevator. By the time I found where I needed to be, the office was deserted.
I am always, ALWAYS so lost and cannot find my way back. It was like the dream would just give up on me and I would wake up feeling defeated.
I have known for some time that the meaning behind these dreams was significant but I could never make a connection. When I woke up after the having the dream on September 8th, I took the time to analyze it. The dream did not make me feel good and I was tired of having it. I wanted to be in control of not having it again. I was saying to the dream, I’m not lost. I’m writing now. I’m headed in the right direction. What are you coming back for? I asked myself, "Okay what has changed in the last day or two?" It just so happens that our, my husband’s photography business had just started up again the day before. He is a sports photographer on the side and soccer season was cranking up. I am his partner assistant.
Upon waking after the September 8th dream I was really disappointed for having the lost dream again. I understood now that the dream meant that I was “lost” in my life and I disagreed this time. As I analyzed it, I realized this lost dream was slightly different from all of the others. One difference about the dream is that there were three elevators. Instead of getting on one like I would have in other dreams, becoming further lost, each elevator had a sign that told me going up was the wrong direction. The dream ended with me going down a long winding escalator. Though I woke up from riding out of there on a long winding escalator, I know this dream was positive. Other dreams would have had me looking for my car, or riding around in the parking garage and not finding my way out. When I woke up from this dream and took time to analyze it, I discerned that after 21 years this was the last time I would have THIS dream. The dream was telling me you are going in the right direction now; do not get so wrapped up in other business that you forget your own. Do not walk away from your future. So I’m learning how to juggle.
On Friday night I had a different dream that I interpreted immediately. I woke up to write down a few lines and went back to sleep peacefully. In this dream I was driving in a dark fog. It was so dark and foggy I literally could not see in front of me. I was three streets away from home so I knew exactly where to go (I was not lost); I just could not go any further because I could not see.
I have been working on a project that is pretty much complete. In my mind I had hoped to have it ready for Black Friday by way of self-publishing. It’s funny how things get held up. It took a little long to get the edited file back. My editor will smile if she reads this. I took another week or so putting on finishing touches and then ordered a proof copy of the book. I kept checking the mail wondering what was taking so long. When I finally decide to check the status, the proof is still in the online shopping cart. When I finally get a shipping confirmation, I decide I should have done one more thing. It’s still not really ready.
So my Friday night dream was telling me to pull over and focus. Don’t rush to have this ready for Christmas. Maybe it can still happen but for now I’m not going to worry about that. I am pulling over until I can see things more clearly.
Here’s the thing…what happens when you drive too fast in a dark fog? If you don’t think God speaks to you in dreams, you haven’t had a real revelation.
I used to read into a recorder (my iPod) when I was in school (back in school for my BS degree). I would read out loud to retain what I was reading. Later I would play it back for emphasis. I didn’t know that I had saved any of those recordings until I was listening to my music on shuffle one morning. I was startled hearing the sound of my own voice through my headphones. I have no idea what book this is from, and I wish I knew so I could give credit to the author of what I am plagiarizing transcribing quoting below. I was bored to tears with this text at the time..
NOW it’s interesting and I want to know more:
When people think about solving a problem, they mentally cast about for an association that might serve as a solution. Most of us accept the first idea that solves the problem. Many argue that creative people are those who go further down the list searching for more unusual but higher quality associations to solve their problems. It is these remote associations that produce creative products.
Then a bunch of mumbo jumbo that I still do not understand - and on to:
Some people have very short lists of ideas that are strongly associated with each other. They can produce only a few associations. These people are often rigid and dogmatic in their beliefs and tend to produce little that is creative. Others have longer lists of less tightly associated ideas and are not so threatened by being wrong. They have the flexibility that encourages the mental search for remote associations. Some of their freely associated ideas may be silly but some produce really creative combinations. Most people fall somewhere between these extremes.
Listening to this recording was what I would call a sign. People derive different meanings from quotes, scriptures, poetry, literature etc. For me, this recording was a sign; an inner voice emphasizing, "You are special, you are creative and you do not fall somewhere in the middle."
If ever on a job interview and I’m asked that dreaded question, “What would you say your weakness is?” I might say, “I am creative.” When they ask me what my strength is, I’ll say, "I’m creative." And I won’t get the job, but I know that I am who I am because I don’t have short lists of tightly associated ideas. I have loooooooong extravagant lists that are all over the place waiting to be produced into a creative masterpiece.
I have journals stashed here and there, with a word here and a one liner there. I bought them because they were pretty and I thought, "oooh a pretty journal will be exciting to write in". None of the journals are complete, none have a theme, none hold the permanent record of a good day. I can’t maintain a journal, it’s like chore and I have enough of those. In the ordering of the Eleventh Divine Rule I shall be my own counsel. I shall sporadically follow principles but mostly sway to the rhythm of my inner voice because I am different, I am creative, I am me, I am being myself.
Here’s the thing…if I find myself really reading a textbook, that may be a sign that I am ready to go back to school for my Master’s Degree – NOT. Been there, done that, didn’t buy the t-shirt, nothing but a framed piece of quality stock paper and a long standing relationship with Sallie Mae to show for it.
P.S. I'll be back with proper citations for the quote above, when I find it.
I ended last week on such a high note. This week monkey wrenches have been whacking me in the head. Only one made me stumble, but I did not fall. I am resilient! Thank you, my friend, for telling me so. I only went to workout once this week. I'm blaming that on the "clouds" and that annoying Aunt that comes around.
Additionally, I went to a busted job fair. There were so many employers there that, "don't have any positions right now but if you check back...". If I wanted to become a trucker, a police officer or work 2 1/2 hours away, there were so many opportunities for that. The job fair was set up on base in a gym seemingly without air-conditioning. There were so many people in there. I couldn't believe so many people were looking for jobs. I felt bad for the ones that were desperate enough to listen to the dog and pony show of so many sales recruiters. Driving back home, there were so many cars on the road, so many parked at the mall, so many in the Starbucks drive-thru. I just looked and wondered, Didn't they have to work today? And if they didn't, where did they get money from?? I came back home with so many of the resumes that I left with.
So I'm reading internet news yesterday and see that Hallmark is now making layoff condolence cards. Really? What is the thought that counts behind giving someone a card like that? I am sure they would be less offended if you gave them the five dollars you spent on it. You are so fired - Hallmark.
It's still all good; I strive to end every week on high note. I am RESILIENT!
I gave my cousin a crazy analogy this week. Let me see if I can recall it. In reference to "doing you", I said something like, "Always keep some pots on the stove. Sometimes they will be boiling over, and sometimes there will only be one simmering. If you always have something cooking, you will always have something to feed off of. " Wow. That actually came out better than when I said it to her. You can quote ME on that. And for someone who doesn't like to cook, that really came out of the left field. Must have been a monkey wrench with inspiration.
Always keep some pots on the stove. Sometimes they will be boiling over, and sometimes there will only be one simmering. If you always have something cooking, you will always have something to feed off of. ~Kenya G. Johnson
Here's the thing....as for that beautiful forecast in my photo, so many brighter days are ahead and I am going to be a walking fool all next week!