When are You Going to Get Up from your Pain?

Standard

One day a salesman walked onto the porch of an old woman sitting in a rocking chair. Next to her laid an old hound dog. He noticed that blood was coming from the dog’s hind legs. He said to the old woman, “Ma’am, it looks like your dog is hurt?”

“That’s a fact, young man. He’s been that way for a while,” the old woman replied.

The salesman was more than a little perplexed and said, “Well, if you know that ma’am, why won’t you help him?”

“Well, Duke’s been with me for a long time. Everyday, we sit on this porch. He knows the nail is there, but everyday he chooses to lie on it, anyway. I figure, when the pain gets bad enough, he’ll stop lying there.  It just hasn’t got bad enough for him yet.”

Discrimination for One is Discrimination for All

Standard

I believe in Jesus Christ and I am very upset about the religious freedom law better known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that was recently passed in Indiana. But I should have been upset a while ago since 19 other states have already quietly passed  this law or some version of it.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/03/27/19-states-that-have-religious-freedom-laws-like-indianas-that-no-one-is-boycotting/

No matter how you feel about gay people or anyone that is DIFFERENT from you, this law is unjust. Freedom to worship is one thing, but freedom to discriminate can never be a good thing. And in spite of our diversity, isn’t the money we spend or the credit cards we use, the SAME?  Discrimination against one group leaves the door open for discrimination against all. Remember, this type of law and thinking was used to enslave millions of African-Americans, keep women from voting and relegated them to the status of second class citizens, and most recently to discriminate against Muslims after 9/11. Everyone is entitled to practice their religious beliefs, but do you really want to practice a religion that teaches hate or discrimination? I have never read where Jesus Christ, the Prophet Mohammed, or Buddha taught such things.  However, I did read about loving one’s neighbor like you would love yourself or treating others as you would like to be treated.  While, I have your attention, this is also the same type of law that Adolph Hitler used to discriminate and murder millions of the Jewish faith, except his law was not as thinly veiled.  Monsters can hide behind religion too, and just as religious persecution is a horrible thing, so is discrimination by those who claim to be religious, moral, and upstanding people. This is something we should all be paying attention to, especially the TRUE followers of religious faith and those who despise discrimination in any form, are compassionate and open-minded, and appreciate and respect diversity. There is a silver lining in all this, many people voiced displeasure and disagreement by marching, tweeting, writing, and talking about this hot button issue, this past week, and that gave me hope.

Lastly, I am reminded of the famous quote by Pastor Martin Niemollerwhich is still very relevant today:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Hmmm, something to think about.

For Maya

Standard

By now you’ve seen or heard the sad news about the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou on May 28, 2014. Famed author, poet, director, civil rights activist, mother, teacher, scholar, and humanitarian, she captured the essence of what a phenomenal woman is. How blessed we were to have her for the last 86 years. Although she’s gone, her body of work will live on through the ages.

I haven’t written in a while. Frankly, I’ve just been downright lazy, but  hearing of Maya’s passing lit a spark in me, and all day yesterday and today, I thought about how I could pay homage to her.  And this is what came to mind:

Maya, yesterday, you were called to rest, after a job well done

The little girl from Stamps, Arkansas, who stopped talking

Grew up to command the world stage with your elegant voice and command of the spoken word

With your arsenal of words, you inspired women to love themselves “phenomenally,” no matter what the world said

You inspired the downtrodden, disenfranchised, and discriminated to “rise” up, no matter the world threw at them

Visionaries often see things that others do not and Maya like so many too numerous to mention, must have traveled to that mountaintop and seen the promised land, because her body of work had a message.

Maya wasn’t a preacher but she preached a message through her words.  She gave us sermons that taught us how to love, how to endure, even against the toughest odds, and  how to forgive, and didn’t need a divinity degree to do that. By example, she followed the edict of Christ teachings; love your neighbor as yourself, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Sometimes, words kill but she used her words to heal a world that is often hurt.

Maya kept it real too.  Through her poetry and prose, she shared the story of her life; the good, bad, and the ugly. No matter how many times she got knocked down, she got back up. Talk about resilience! She was the rose that grew from concrete, that bloomed so beautifully and blazed a fierce red.

Maya, you may never know or maybe you know now, how many lives you’ve touched and how many lives you changed, by the power of your words, but I just want to say, thank you.

What Are Your Possibilities for 2014?

Standard

Happy New Year, Healthy Soul Crew!  Thanks for sticking with me.  I’m not making any resolutions for 2014, only possibilities.  How often do we keep resolutions?  For that first week in January, don’t we just go for the gusto and dive right in?  We say, ” I’m going to lose 10 lbs by January 15th.” So, we hit the gym with a vengeance and step on the scale to find that maybe we’ve only lost a pound or two. Or we  decide we are going to stop smoking. We throw away those cigarettes on the 1st, but a few days later, we pull off the patch, stop chewing the Nicorette,  or give in to our cravings, and go out and buy a pack of squares.  Our intentions are good and the desire may be there, but can you really go from zero to sixty in five seconds flat?  It takes time, and often, we are  impatient and want results immediately, and when we don’t get them, we get discouraged and give up. I have learned that good intentions and desire will only get you so far, you must have a plan to succeed and a realistic timeframe to achieve it. It took me eight times to quit smoking, but it wasn’t until I really researched the effects of smoking and how other people successfully quit; prayed; and really made up my mind, that I was able to quit for good. I created a plan and stuck with it.  My quit date was October 30, 2004, and I haven’t had a cigarette since. Whatever possibilities you pursue this year, create a realistic plan to achieve them. WARNING: It may not be easy and you may suffer setbacks.  And you will  have to give up something  to achieve them, but for everything you lose, you will gain much more, and nothing beats the satisfaction of knowing that you achieved something. So, much success in turning your possibilities into realities this year.

Are You Going to Take a Leap of Faith in 2014?

Standard

Recently, I discovered, there is no way around it. Sometimes, you have to step out on faith and see where it takes you.  Let’s face it, people who play it safe often go nowhere.  It’s the risk takers who find success and/or change the world.  Think Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, and Sam Walton.  At one point in their lives, they were told,  ” You can’t do that! it would be crazy to go and start your own_________.”  If they would have listened to the naysayers, then there may not have been an Apple, OWN Network, Microsoft, or Walmart. So maybe your dreams aren’t that big, you just want to open a little cafe, land a new job, lose weight, or write that bestselling novel.  None of that is going to happen if you don’t do something about it.  Change begins with you. The road to nowhere sometimes takes you to places that you may have never imagined. Life is about chances.  Life is about choices.  And guess what, you are the sole decision-maker in your life, but sometimes we give that important role to others, knowingly and unknowingly,  and we allow them to define us and tell us what we should be doing, when we know we should be doing the very opposite.  Are you going to take your role back in 2014? Are you going to keep living the same way in 2014, even though you know it’s not working and hasn’t been for a very LONG time, or are you going to that leap of faith and see where it takes you? Make the impossible possible.

Mandela: Part Deux

Standard

Four days have passed and I’m still thinking about Mr. Mandela or Madiba (the name of his clan) as some are beginning to call him. But I have also been thinking about other people. I mentioned Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X in a previous post, but right after I published it, I thought, ” How could I have forgotten Steve Biko or Winnie Mandela?”  Yes, she fell from grace, but she, Biko, and so many others continued the fight to end apartheid and even died for it, during Mr. Mandela’s imprisonment.  So as we celebrate  his life and accomplishments, let’s remember those who never received any accolades but fought the good fight. That day in 1990, when he took that long walk to freedom, I like to think, he walked in their footsteps.  Yesterday, I heard Mr. Mandela say in a sound bite, “I’m no angel.” I didn’t hear all of the interview but that stood out, and made me think of so many other people who are considered heroes, revolutionaries, and freedom fighters to some  and are vilified by others.  Yasser Arafat, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Chris Hani, Yitzhak Rabin, Lech Walesa, Robert Mugabe, and Benazir Bhutto, are a few that come to mind.  Controversial?  Yes, but they all shared a commonality.  At one time in their lives, they sparked a revolution, spoke out against the status quo,  or evoked change, or all three.  Speaking cost them a lot and some of them paid with their lives. During his trial in 1963, Nelson Mandela said that to end apartheid, he was prepared to die.  How many of us believe in something so strongly that we are prepared to die?  In the next few days, world leaders and dignitaries will descend upon South Africa to pay their respects and eulogize him.  95,000 people are expected to attend his memorial service tomorrow with millions viewing.  How will you remember him?  And don’t forget to check out the biopic Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom and read his biography of the same title.

Nelson Mandela: A Man for the Ages

Standard

Freedom often comes at a price and Nelson Mandela paid dearly.  Today his debt was marked “paid in full” and he is now at rest. The price he paid was not just for Mother Africa but for Mother Earth. Through him, the world learned how valuable freedom is and how costly it can be to achieve it. Twenty-seven years he sat in a cell, while his oppressors continued to fuel apartheid. For 27 years, they tried to break him and crush his spirit, but wrong cannot kill right, and a Higher Power had other plans.  By keeping him imprisoned they thought the dream would die, but as long as the desire is there, it lives.

What an extraordinary man and as President Obama said today, “A man for the ages.” Only an extraordinary man could endure what he did and not hate his oppressors.  Only an extraordinary man can stand in his truth in the face of  insurmountable odds, and overcome them to become even greater than he was before. Don’t think it’s possible, just read about Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King,  and Malcolm X.

Even though he is gone, his legacy lives on.  When you hear the world freedom, he will come to mind.  When you hear the world unity, he will come to mind, and when you hear the word peace, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela will come to mind. Freedom fighter, husband, father, son, friend, African, teacher, prisoner, President, world leader, humanitarian, and a man who stood for something that benefited us all. He changed the world and you can too.  RIP, Mr. Mandela.

2013 World AIDS Day

Image

2013 World AIDS Day

Take a moment to remember all those we have lost from AIDS, the courageous individuals who are living with it, and the soldiers who are fighting to eradicate it once and for all. Become a warrior and donate or volunteer. RIP, Jesse “Sonny” Jones and Caleb Dube. A cure is coming!

http://www.red.org/worldaidsday/

http://www.stephenlewisfoundation.org

http://www.aidsunited.org

http://www.charitynavigator.org

Remembering Paul Walker: There Was More to Him Than You Think

Standard

It’s always tragic when someone dies before their time and don’t some people, famous or not, seem to affect you more than others. That’s how I felt today when I heard about the sudden, tragic death of Fast and Furious star, Paul Walker, yesterday in California.  He was only 40 years old and that was too young to die. Yesterday, when he woke up,  I wonder if anything felt different or if just felt like a normal day?  I wasn’t that crazy about the Fast and Furious franchise, but I really liked his roles in Snow Dogs because it was the total opposite of most of his movies, and Takers, because he had a such a small role, but such presence, and that was the last movie of his I saw.  Besides being one good-looking man, his acting had depth, kind of like a 21st century, James Dean; with a bad boy image, but a sense of vulnerability about him, and a private side (the real him) that he shared with those who knew and cared about him.

The irony of his untimely death, if there is one, is he was best known for playing a character who lived a fast and furious lifestyle, but yesterday, he was just a passenger on his way to an event for his charity organization, Reach Out Worldwide.  There was obviously more to him than his movie star good looks.  Besides being involved in charitable endeavors, he loved cars and made many personal appearances at car shows, and actually wanted to be a marine biologist.  He even made a documentary about the subject for National Geographic.

Whatever the findings of the autopsy of Paul and his friend, he appeared to live a good life, doing what he loved, helping people, and having fun.  He leaves a daughter behind and a host of people who loved him.  He didn’t just make movies, he made a difference in the world and touched lives in his own special way.  In the end, isn’t that what really matters? How many of us can say that? RIP Paul.

Image