Mental Illness Doesn’t Discriminate

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Just because you’re pretty or handsome, doesn’t mean that you are immune from mental illness or anything else for that matter.  Much is being made about how beautiful, Miriam Carey, was.  I don’t know how many times in the past two days that I have heard, “Looking at her, you would never think she was nuts,” or ” I didn’t think she was black,” or “She was so pretty, why would she do something like that?” What image filled your mind when your first heard about the Capital Hill Shooting? What ethnicity did you think the suspect  was?  Did you think it was a man or a woman?  And when you found out it was a woman, what image formed in your mind?  If Miriam Carey’s tragic death means anything, let it teach us that mental illness doesn’t discriminate based on beauty, race, gender, age, economic status,  or education,.  It can happen to anyone.  Why people would even focus on the way she looked versus the illnesses she suffered from, is beyond me, but it does speak volumes on where many people’s mindset are. We will never know what set Miriam on her tragic course, but we do know that she left behind a beautiful daughter, family, and friends who loved her.  And she left with us a tragic reminder that mental illness is not just a cry for help but a disease that needs to be taken seriously. It is often ignored, swept under the rug, or shamed into silence. We treat it like a Scarlett Letter and label people without understanding the cause of their mental illnesses. RIP, Miriam.

For more information and help with mental illness, contact:

http://www.nami.org/Template_itstime.cfm?Section=Its_Time

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What Thorn is in Your Side?

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Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…”  (2 Corinthians 12:7-9, NIV)

There are many ways to interpret that scripture.  Theologians and scholars have debated for centuries about just what was the “thorn” the Paul the Apostle had.  Some believe it was a physical affliction,  others believe it was mental or emotional,  and still others  believe he was a tortured soul who had issues with sexuality.  Whatever it was, Paul dealt with issues,  like most of us do.    I like Paul,  because he was flawed, but is still considered one of the greatest heroes of the Bible.  And if you study the many heroes and heroines , the majority of them had some type of ” thorn in the flesh.”  Moses stuttered, David committed adultery and murder,  Jacob stole his brother’s inheritance, Elijah suffered from depression,  Jonah ran from God,  Mary Magdalene was supposedly a prostitute, and Saul of Tarsus, who later became Paul the Apostle,  persecuted Christians.  But it was something that God saw in each of these individuals that no one else saw, and they went on to do great things, in spite of their afflictions.

Yesterday, I saw a wonderful production of The Mountaintop, by Katori Hall.  It was a fictionalized account of the last night of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life.  What made it so interesting was that Ms. Hall chose to portray him as a flawed man, not the saint that he is often portrayed as.  Instead, she chose to show his human side; the side that experiences doubts, fears, pride, and lust.  The side that experiences life. He battled demons, like we all have.  He had thorns, that he couldn’t remove and had to live with, just like we have thorns, whatever they may be, that we must live with. Who was more holier than Paul, who on earth came closest than Dr. King? He was a man of non-violence and peace, who spoke of love and unity, and cared for all people and their freedom, but yet, as he says in the play, “I am just a man.” He was a man who went on to do great things in spite of his thorns.

What is the thorn in your flesh?  Maybe it is there for a reason; to humble you like Paul, to remind of what you should or shouldn’t be doing, or to force you to act.  That thorn makes you human and connects you with others, because it is something we all share.   Are you going to let it hinder you? Are you going to let it stop you from achieving greatness?

 

Reflections on the 50th Anniversary March on Washington

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August 28, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, I Have a Dream.  While looking at news coverage of the event yesterday, I learned that his iconic speech was not originally on  the agenda, he planned to speak about something else.  Maybe it was divine intervention, but  I am so glad he said those words.  Fifty years later, some aspects of it have been fulfilled,  but it has yet to be fully realized.  There is still work to do.  It is not too late to fulfill Dr. King’s dream. On August 28,  let’s think of one thing that we all can do, individually or collectively to fulfill the dream.

Sometimes You Just Have to Let Things Go

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A few days ago, I forked over $700 for some sensors for Scarlett O’Hara, my 1998 Ford Mustang Convertible.  I’ve had her for about three years and we have made it through some tough times together.  So, I feel a sense of loyalty to her.  She’s a beauty. People always stop to stare at her.  She has style and panache, but I have had to make repairs ever since I got her.  What’s beautiful on the  outside may not always be beautiful on the inside.  The service clerk at the repair shop told me, “Look at this way, by the time you’re finished, you will have a new car. ” By the time I’m finished! Sure, he can say that, because he’s sucking up all my money!  Last week, when I saw my “Check Engine” light, I knew it was time to let Scarlett go. She no longer brought me enjoyment,  instead I now viewed her as  a burden.  The last repair just solidified that.  It was the best thing for the both of us.  Feelings change and if you don’t feel good about something, that’s a sign that something isn’t right.  Go with your gut and trust your instincts.  No one knows what is better for you than you do.  Listen to the advice of others, but always let the final decision be yours, because you will have to live with it.  Even though I let her go on Thursday, I know there is someone out there for her.  Guys love her, so I know she won’t be sitting on the lot too long.  Doesn’t Scarlett O’Hara always get her man?

Scarlett O'Hara, gone but not forgotten.

Scarlett O’Hara, gone but not forgotten.

How Will the World Know that You Were Here?

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Beyoncé has a song entitled, I Was Here. It’s beautiful, haunting, and inspiring all at the same time.  In it, she tells us what she wants the world to know about her.  Have you thought about the mark you will leave on the world? What do you want your legacy to be?  You don’t have to be famous to have a legacy, but it is important to have one, because you were not created by chance.  You have a purpose.  We all do. For most of us, the hard part is figuring out what it is. How will the world know that you were ever here?   What do you want your legacy to be?

Don’t Wait to Use the Good Dishes

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I have a set of beautiful teacups and saucers that were given to me by mother and they have sat in the cupboard for years  collecting dust because I was saving them for a special occasion that still hasn’t come yet. Recently, I saw them and thought, You may die without ever using these and they are just too beautiful to waste.  Use them now. Why are you waiting for a special occasion? You are the special occasion! Then I was like, yeah, you’re right!  So, I took a teabag and made myself a  proper cup of ginger peach green  tea.

What are you saving for a special occasion?  Don’t delay any longer, use it.  Believe that you are worthy of the finer things in life. Believe that you are worthy, period.  Make yourself feel sexy by wearing that lingerie or  pretty red dress.  Have a  private toast and enjoy the warmth of that fine cognac sliding down your throat.  Savor the taste of that Godiva Chocolate.  Let the fact that you woke up this morning healthy and strong be a cause for celebration.  Don’t deprive yourself of the blessings and gifts that have come your way.  We often overlook  the most important and most beautiful things because instead of focusing on the here and now, we’re too busy looking  off in the distance, waiting for something that may never come.  Don’t wait any longer, use the good dishes!

The Blame Game

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It’s so easy to blame everything and everybody for what is going wrong in our lives. But we often ignore the main culprit, ourselves. As much as we try to avoid taking responsibility for our lives , we are the producers for the soundtrack of our lives, the CEO’s of our sole corporations, and the responsibilities rest solely on our shoulders.

While the Dialogue Continues

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While the dialogue continues, keep your humanity. Anger can be used for good or bad; victory or defeat. Use it for change or destruction, the choice is yours. Do you remember Emmet Till? His tragic death became a catalyst for the civil rights movement.

Continue the dialogue but, let’s offer solutions, not generate discord.

Continue the dialogue, but instead of causing further separation, let’s come together and map out a plan. Separation is what brought us to this point.

Continue the dialogue, but remember that there are good and bad people in every race, and at times like this, it’s important to remember the good folks. Judging, condemnation, and stereotyping do not aid, they only hinder the cause.  I realized that as I sat last night reading posts and watching the news.

While the dialogue continues, I will start with me and follow Mahatma Gandhi’s advice to be the change that I want to see in the world. Who is willing to join me?