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Gracefully Broken

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My church recently celebrated Women’s Day. Part of the worship experience was a performance by the liturgical dance ministry. The women of the dance ministry worshipped God through dance to Tasha Cobb’s, Gracefully Broken. The song was new to me but almost instantly my spirit was in a posture of gratefulness as I thought about the title of the song, Gracefully Broken. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? How can something be gracefully broken? In the human sense it can not. When something is broken it becomes useless to us. We may attempt to fix it but soon learn that it does not function the same. And what often happens is we discard it and seek out a replacement. Those times my heart was broken, I’d venture to say it was not done gracefully. It was painful; sometimes so painful that it was numbing. It felt as though all of the breathe in my body had escaped. I had no strength and wanted to curl up in the fetal position until the pain stopped. Nothing graceful about that.

But then there are those times when God broke me. The times when I had veered off course and in order to get me back to the place where he needed me, a breaking was required. However, unlike material possessions or being broken at the hands of another human, when God breaks us he does it gracefully. When God breaks us he does not cast us aside. When God breaks us he does not see us as useless. When God breaks us he also loves us through the process. When God breaks us his intent is not to harm us but to make us better.

“God will break you to position you. Break you to promote you. And break you to put you in your right place. But when He breaks you He doesn’t hurt you….When He breaks you He doesn’t destroy you. He does it with; grace.”

I’m reminded of a friend whose prayer was, “God, break me.” I thought my friend was crazy for praying that prayer. But my friend wasn’t crazy at all. My friend recognized that a breaking was necessary that they may become better. I respected my friend. And I admired my friend for their courage.

“Here I am, God
Arms wide open
Pouring out my life
Gracefully broken
My heart stands in awe of Your name
Your mighty love stands strong to the end
You will fulfill Your purpose in me
You won’t forsake me, You will be with me”

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It Doesn’t Affect You Until It Affects You

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It Doesn’t Affect You Until It Affects You

It doesn’t affect you, until it affects you. I’ve said this a lot over the past ten days. I’ve recounted the number of times I have seen parents on television pleading for the publics help to locate their missing child. My heart hurt for them because I could not imagine one day having to report my child missing. Nor could I imagine receiving a telephone call that one of my nieces or nephews was missing. That is until September 19, 2017.

This isn’t a blog about me. But rather a plea for the blogging community to share this flyer across your social media platforms. My niece, Ashanti Billie, is missing and her family and village are frantically searching for her. When sharing please use the hashtag #bringAshantihome.

Thank you for sharing.

Fitness Goal

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Fitness Goal

Growing up I was not into fitness. Physical fitness and healthy eating were not something that was talked about at home or in school. My first real introduction to physical fitness did not come until I entered Air Force Basic Training. Every morning myself and the other airmen, affectionately known as “Rainbows” and “Pickles” were rudely awakened to the sound of the infamous trumpet call. At the sound of the trumpet we had less than 10 minutes to get dressed and outside for PT.

Morning PT consisted of varying calisthenics and a mile and a half run. The struggle was real! But thank God I survived. At the end of the six week training, I had not noticed a difference in the shape of my body, but my mother definitely did; and she immediately brought it to my attention.

Upon entry into basic training, I was a tall thin girl weighing approximately 115 pounds. Post basic training I was a solid and toned 150 pounds!!!! I actually had a stomach and waistline that Janet Jackson would be envious of! Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but I was giving her a run for her money! My mom loved it….I did not. I was use to the tall thin girl.

As I’ve gotten older I yearn for the commitment and discipline to achieve those results again. Some would say it’s not possible but I disagree. My shero, Mrs. Ernestine Shepherd proves that it is vey possible.  I do however think it’s much harder and will take consistency and dedication on my part.  But I tell myself if Mrs. Ernestine can look like she does at 80, then surely I can do it!

I share this because I’ve set a new goal for myself. By months end I’m pushing to be able to do at least five pull ups. By years end I want to be doing a minimum of 10. I have never been able to do a pull up. Not a single one. And it’s something I’ve always wanted to be able to do. I know it’s a little harder for woman because we typically lack the upper body strength to do one. But that does not mean it’s impossible.

So armed with some pointers and suggestions a friend gave me, oh and Mrs. Ernestine’s picture on my refrigerator for inspiration, I am beginning tonight. Of course I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Stay tuned!

#fitness #fitchicks #strong #ageisonlyanumber #Icandoit

A Rainy Saturday

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A Rainy Saturday

Life can be very demanding. It doesn’t matter if you work a traditional 9 to 5, or are an entrepreneur, your work can be demanding. It doesn’t matter if you are married or a single parent, family can be demanding. And it doesn’t even matter if you are single, simply being single can sometimes be demanding.

But in those demanding moments of work, family, and to do lists, it’s good to just stop and relax. It’s not only good, it’s needed. In those moments when we stop to relax, we can be restored. We can clear our minds of the “stuff” that has been so demanding of our time and energy, and regain focus. We can gain clarity and be reminded of our purpose.

Writing helps me to relax. Music helps me to relax. My crayons and coloring book are helping me to relax after cleaning my home and doing laundry. And later today, an at home spa treatment will help me to relax. What you do to relax is your personal choice; as long as you are taking time to slow down so that you can be restored.

What do you do to escape the demands of life and relax?

Hotep

Unwanted Touching

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I had the pleasure of attending the 2017 Summer Spirit Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion. I enjoyed musical concerts by some of my favorite old school artists such as Bell, Biv, Devoe; SWV, Babyface, and En Vogue. And learned about new artists like The Internet and Trombone Shorty who was phenomenal!! Also, representing the sound of DC were GO-GO legends EU and my all time favorite Trouble Funk. It was a great two day event that had the thousands that attended dancing, singing, and reminiscing. It was the first concert I had attended in almost five years and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

But of course there was that brief moment when I thought I was going to have to introduce one of the male concert goers to my alter ego. And this is really the point of this blog.

Let me begin by saying fellas, not every woman is open to being randomly touched by a man that she does not know. It may seem innocent enough to you, but I find it intrusive and would prefer that your hands be kept to yourself. I apologize if that sounds prudish or arrogant. I’m really none of those things. I do however find it disturbing that some men feel a sense of entitlement and thus think they can just touch and/or grab on a woman without being invited. As though the female body was designed for him to do as he pleases.

One male concert goer clearly had that sense of entitlement. Or maybe it was the alcohol he had obviously consumed. Whatever the case, there was about to be a situation at the festival that was not going to end well for one or both of us. Initially I thought his random touch was simply a gesture that connected us as we shared a laugh at a funny moment. However, his hands found their way to my body again, even though the moment had passed. I said nothing nor looked in his direction, until he touched me again. After the third time I glanced at him, looked down at his hand and then glanced back up at him. I thought (or maybe I was hoping) that my look would inform this gentleman that his touching was not welcomed. I was sadly mistaken. Said gentleman touched me yet again. At this point I could feel myself becoming perturbed. I don’t like to make a scene but I quickly saw in my mind this situation escalating to the point of security being notified and me and said gentleman being escorted off the premises. So I thought to myself, “Self, there are a few empty seats, just move.” Problem solved.  I continued to enjoy my evening and no arrests had to be made.

Maybe I’m different, but that really is a turn off for me. Afterwards I thought about a time in my 20s while at 32nd Street Plaza, a nightclub in Baltimore. I was with my girl Renee and we were doing what we do; dancing and having a great time. The music must have gotten real good to the gentleman I was dancing with because before I knew it his hands were on my body from my shoulders, stopping to cup my behind, and down my thighs and legs. And before he knew it I had dropped kicked him dead in his chest.  He was, as you can imagine, caught off guard.  But he also had the audacity to be angry at the fact that I kicked him.  My argument about his hands not belonging on my body fell on death ears.  He saw absolutely nothing wrong with it.  And so here we stood, in the middle of the dancing floor, toe to toe, going word for word because I was not backing down.  Eventually security came to deescalate the situation.  But it really just got me to wondering why do some men feel that they have the right to touch on a woman’s body without her consent?  Fast forward many years later and sadly the mentality still seems to be alive and well.

I continued to enjoy the concert.  I had no more problems out of said gentleman and I was thankful for that.  I really wish some men would have a little more respect for women and lose the mentality that our sole purpose in life is to pleasure them.  Wishful thinking I guess.

 

Hotep

 

Please Do Not Lean On Door

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Please Do Not Lean On Door

#CommuterChronicles.  Every day my commute to work is eventful. It’s not always news worthy, but eventful nonetheless. I enjoy my ride to work as it allows me to prepare for another day. Sometimes I read. Other times I play Candy Crush. Sometimes I am even inspired to write my next blog post.  Then there are those mornings when I just sit quietly with my eyes closed, or maybe observe my surroundings.

Yesterday was one of those days where I sat quietly observing. I was in day three of a complete fast so my spirit was sensitive to everything. I looked towards the door and gazed up and I saw words that I have seen every day for the past three years…..Please Do Not Lean On Door. Every day for three years I have seen this often ignored warning and thought nothing of it. Today however the words literally jumped off the wall and landed in my lap….PLEASE DO NOT LEAN ON DOOR! In that moment God whispered, “Aren’t you glad I don’t come with such a warning?”

Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.”  When life gets rough and I begin to feel as though I can’t go on, I only need to lean on God. I only need to find rest in the Lord and lean on him. He is strong and able and more than willing to hold me up while I regain my strength.

So the next time you see the warning, Please Do Not Lean On Door, remember God who is a strong tower….run to him…..lean on him…..rest in him…..and you will be safe.

Hotep

You Only Turn 50 Once!

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Birthday’s are a big deal for me. I know some people aren’t exactly thrilled about turning a year older but I am grateful for every birthday that I see. And this birthday was a big one because I turned 50! I am now an official card-carrying member of the Fifty and Fabulous Club! I have entered into the second half of my life and I’m excited to see what God has planned for me.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I would see my 50th birthday. There were quite a few incidents that occurred over the years that by all intent and purposes should have taken me out. But God said no, I would live! And live I have; in spite of the twist and turns life has taken me on.
As my 50th birthday approached I began to think about how I wanted to celebrate. Turning 50 is a big deal and therefore I knew that I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something that I had never done before. I wanted to do something that I was afraid of doing. I wanted to bring 50 in with a bang. Therefore, the traditional dinner, dancing or spa day was not going to suffice this birthday. Oh, don’t get me wrong, those things are wonderful. For my 49th I treated myself to a day at the spa. From the crown of my head to the soles of my feet I was pampered and it felt marvelous. For my 48th birthday I gave myself a birthday party. Approximately 20 of my friends, Soror’s and colleagues helped me celebrate as we danced the night away. Each year was a great celebration of which I am grateful for, but I wanted this year to be different.

And so, after much deliberation I decided I wanted to celebrate my 50th birthday by jumping out of a perfectly good airplane at 11,000 feet! Yes! This 50-year-old woman who has an insane fear of heights went skydiving! What made me think of going skydiving? I wish I could tell you. I will say it was NOT on my bucket list. I never had a desire to jump out of an airplane. I do not ride roller coasters because I’m a scaredy cat! So the thought of skydiving petrified me. I admire people who do things like skydiving and bungee jumping. And I guess my logic said, “if they can do it so can I!”

So I put a plan in motion. First thing, see if there is anyone else as crazy as me who would want to go skydiving. Ironically, there was; my Soror’s. And can I be honest with you? When they said they would, I thought “darn, I really have to do it now.”

The date was set and from that point it was a waiting game. I was so nervous and scared the days leading up to my jump. I would look towards the sky and imagine me falling out of an airplane. I watched videos of other brave souls skydiving, including the 80-year-old woman who almost died skydiving. And every time I watched a video or talked about it, I became more and more nervous. What was I thinking?! Did I have a death wish or something. I laughed with friends as I thought about my mothers reaction to my pending jump. It would have been one of mass hysteria followed by her putting a direct call through to God asking him to send a blizzard. Or maybe she would have burned rubber up I95 so that she could tie me up and hold me hostage until I came to my senses.

After one failed attempt due to the weather, the day had finally arrived! I did not sleep at all and I had knots in my stomach. It was finally time to bring my 50th birthday in with a bang!

My wingman, my boo (at least for 30 minutes) got me all suited up and then we, along with my sisters and their wingmen headed to the plane. Before long we were taking off and the higher we climbed the more nervous I became. I thought about backing down but I knew I’d regret, possibly for the rest of my life, not finishing what I had started. So I went within and began to pray. I was so focused that I did not hear my name being called.

Before long, it was time. Time to jump out of the airplane. I had my instructions….I was ready. I was the second one to jump and when the door opened fear kicked in to high gear. First jumper out. Oh no, it’s my turn. My heart is pounding. My palms are sweaty. And I forgot what I was supposed to do. My wingman and I had made our way to the door. I was expecting a countdown or something so I could be prepared. Instead what I got was, step….OUT!! OMG…..I’m falling!!! I’m falling fast!!! I’m falling from the sky!! I’m screaming!!! My wingman is taking pictures and recording my jump! Then suddenly, WOOSH! Our parachute is released and we are gliding towards the land! What an amazing view!!! It was simply spectacular. The air was cool, not as cold as I thought it would be. My screaming turned to awe as I repeatedly said, “oh my gosh this is amazing.” After about a minute we were back on the ground and I was in complete awe.

Someone asked me what did skydiving do for my life. I pondered that question and can honestly say that has given me confidence. It was a reminder that “I can’t” should never be an option. I accomplished what 99% of the population never will. Skydiving also put life into perspective and reminded me not to take things too serious. Yes, in addition to being an absolutely amazing experience, skydiving was life changing for me.

By now you’re probably wondering if I’d do it again. Well, to answer that question I will refer you back to the title of this blog: you only turn 50 once.

Hotep