It goes deeper than a prayer. However, a prayer is the start to hope, faith, and healing. Historically, we respond to tragedy in the aftermath and not as trailblazers to the forefront of prevention. Not because the mass majority do not care. Not because these prolific illnesses and the potential for violence, chaos, and destruction do not matter- but because we are human; we are flawed; we are uninformed. We are at the mercy of our limitations more often than not.
There is nothing more tragic than being blindsided by unjust cause. The inability to see what is to come in our lives is one thing, but the inability to change outcomes that have passed is devastating. Personally, in the grand scheme of everyday life, I take for granted that I am walking forward in a life that many never got to see. That is heartbreaking. And, it is not for lack of compassion, thankfulness, and acknowledgment of life’s blessing, but because I- like many- take for granted the power of evilness in the world. Evil is dark and silent, until it is loud and furious.
I am an educator. I am someone who much of the world sends their children to believing they are safe in my hands and the hands of my fellow colleagues. And, every time these horrific events plague our history, I remember that there is no day or time I can take for granted my role as an educator and my role as a human being to be more than average; superior to the norm of protecting the children that are sent to be apart of my care. My hope is that we [our all] rise together to protect children, educators, people- victims who become targets of mental health issues. This is not a new plague in our history.
Today, it is a heavy burden and an honor to serve children. I speak very little about this part of my career in the social media realm, not because it is not an honor, but because it is a sacred honor. The limelight, for me, is bestowed to all the amazing moments and accomplishments of students I have had the pleasure to witness over a decade in the profession of education. And while there have been moments of student tragedies in my career, the ache never feels ordinary. It never should.
It is deeper than a prayer. It is a prayer with actions, and towards outcomes that leave the hero being everyone that should be standing in these hideous acts- still standing. I cannot just pray for the victims of the recent events. It is not enough. It is deeper than a prayer. So, I pray as we move forward we take the word of our prayers and bring them forth to actions, so that we can change the plague of our history for once. And, hopefully, for all.
on Facebook at LaToya Easter
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The last time I made a mistake was a few minutes ago, and the last time I failed at something was a few days ago. It is a cycle I, like others, will face time and time again because rocky roads and sharp unexpected curves are a part of life. However, it is not just what you learn from those challenges that knock you off your feet or sock you backwards, it is what you create from them; how you renew yourself stronger and more equipped for the next curve. There is really only one control that we have in life, self, and even that is questionable in the blur of the stones that come crashing into us in the worst of times. Ultimately, it is our personal determination to muster-up our pity and disposition, whether it is relevant or not, and leave our unfavorable circumstances on the side of the road as we pass through these swerves that try to keep us from our destination.
I have been lucky. Lucky enough to: 1.) believe I was lucky, 2.) let my luck take me somewhere, and 3.) find luck again and again. Depending on your beliefs, what you define as luck may be different from me. For me, luck has been the good favor and inexplicable blessings that have come my way- sometimes when I expected it to come simply by faith. Believing that you’re worthy of prosperity and goodness is crucial to how you get back on your feet every time you miss the mark on your journey to reach those important milestones in your life. So, find your belief about luck and treat it like a mantra.
My great grandmother would say, “I’m down on my luck”, when things just went every way but her way. As a child, I did not quiet understand that phrase and found it almost amusing because I was too immature to understand its connection to life. As I got older, I began to realize that chance is a double edged sword and that is what my great grandmother was expressing. Chance, can propel you forward or backward depending on what side of it you land. There are two facets of how chance plays out in success: 1.) what you achieve, and 2.) what you don’t. The two swerves.
It goes without saying that what you achieve in life is the easiest celebration to acknowledge. If you are a decent enough person most people will want to pat you on the back and toast to your achievements. They want to know how you did what ever it is and why, because achievements are inquiries to what people believe about happiness. In other words, he or she must be happy because they did this or that. Thus, the more we achieve in life the more we stockpile what people- especially strangers- believe about our happiness.
The notches of accomplishments a person achieves in theory mean that you have somehow dodged or leaped the curves- those ragged rocky roads did not flatten your life tires or dismantle your mind; you were lucky enough to beat the norm. No matter how flawed this thinking may be in relation to happiness, because real happiness is a resilient state of being and not all achievements bring people happiness, the power of what you achieve is intoxicating to others. The limelight of achievement is your opportunity to thrive; to shine beyond the moment. If you believe that a little bit of luck came with that achievement, you likely believe your success is evergreen. That is powerful to the way that you live. That is powerful to your mindset about what you believe of failure, the other side of success.
Defeat is not a reality worth living. During my 9th grade district track meet, my coach came to me and said I would be running the 300M hurdles because a teammate was injured. I had not practiced the hurdles in weeks, and even when I did I still was not particularly good at them. I had zero form. My approach: run hard and jump high. There I was at the starting line in the blocks, “Boom”. The gun goes off and I’m running hard and jumping high. The first 150M I feel like a pro. My adrenaline was off the charts as I rounded the curb in a tight race for 2nd place. I remember looking up in that moment because I was now in direct eyesight of the crowd in the bleachers. And, then it happened. About seven seconds of losing focus caused me to clip a hurdle and fall. It was apparent and staggering. There were gasp in the crowd and laughter on the sidelines. And, as I lay on the ground with my knees bruised and my ego tarnished, I found something that I needed much more: my pride. I got up, as every racer passed me, and with all I could muster I finished the race dead last. Clearly, I did not get a metal that day for the 300M hurdles. And, this was not some feel good story were the crowd stood-up and cheered me on and tears streamed down my coaches face as I finished- no- none of the made for the movies moments happened. I simply finished the race, got a passing pat on the back and a quick check by the trainer, and then I was told to stretch for my next race. The other side of success: what you discover in failure.
Nothing can defeat us, unless we let it. The swerves that we face in life are what make us stronger or weaker depending on what you believe about the swerves in life, the two sides of success. The easy part of success is the first celebration you have after an accomplishment. The most difficult parts of success are getting there, believing you are lucky enough to have it, and sustaining it. The latter requires a commitment to embracing defeat as a means of growth and not a fatality of your target goals. Swerve straight, keep your focus, even with the road is severely hazardous.
Facebook: LaToya Easter
What could be the demarcate (exponential limitless) growth in what I've learned, how I've grown, and what I've experienced since I last posted my ever expounding philosophical abbreviations of my beliefs on LIVING. I didn't croak from writers-block or go off on some spiritual journey, in which I discovered that I could "eat, pray, and love" myself to death (not that there is anything wrong with that). But, I did keep living. Life, didn't pass me- but- it stood by my side, nestled behind me, and jogged just a little bit in front of me. For this, I am grateful. For this I am ‘still’.
"What's next?" This is what people ask you when you achieve things. It's not what you're asked after the ordinary standards of achievements: marriage, having a baby, or the passing of another birthday- because people assume what comes next with each of those preludes; or, disasters (depends on who you're asking). This question is quintessentially asked when you've done something out of other people's or societies ordinary. It is almost an estrangement when you embrace bold and different; away from the norm of expectation. That's bravery. When you've drifted past standard expectations to MORE. It's heavy recognition. It's profoundly smothering and freeing at the same time. It's a contest in which popularity takes a backseat to enjoyment. And so, I respond, "I'm not done yet."
Happiness comes from not having to paint a picture of who you are, how much of something you have, or what you've done just so other people will find you acceptably-acceptable and perhaps moderately interesting or annoying eventually. Genuine happiness is when you find the exception to the rules and the picture of your life paints itself naturally. If your schedule for life is so planned that it's almost un-moving or causes you to miss out on the best of things, the littlest, the simplest, and the one time "really big and meaningful" moments- can you really say you're living purposefully? Life is not a spreadsheet.
There are 3 things that standout most in the past 5 years of my life: 1.) heartbreak, 2.) accomplishment, and 3.) love. I don't think I would be where I am today without either of these experiences. Heartbreak taught me why love matters; accomplishments taught me that persistence is the champion to any success; love taught me that all else fails without it.
I offer insight on what has become one of the best ingredients to growing in my life: Learning to release.
There was a time when I literally felt as though I was suffocating from all that I wanted and did not have. I'm not talking about material things, but the missing connections to fulfilling emotions and a real thirst and appreciation for living. I searched for it in observing others, but as time went by that brought me more hopeless perceptions because I could not find an example of true adoration for life through observations. Hence, my first mistake was seeking out rather than within. And, I found myself settling for everything until I realized that settling is the safest part of misery. For a while, I enclosed myself in a circle of living that wasn't about living life out for enjoyment; real purpose and passion. Sometimes we live in oblivion to really unhealthy relationships, people absolutely miserable with what they are doing and how they are living, life-sucking desperation to appease others at the detriment to self- so much toxic living. One day, it dunned on me that I can keep making choices out of fear of everything that really had nothing to do with me, or I can make choices with faith in who I am and with belief in my strength.
About a year ago, I was having a conversation with a male friend about relationships. The more I listened the more I realized that a lot of what people look for in a relationship is prescribed and has nothing to do with love or genuine adoration of the other person. One of many statements that stood out to me was when my friend said, "LaToya, I use to think you can just plan everything you want in life out. And, to a degree you can. Except for the real stuff that you really need to be happy. It took a lot of growing up, and I'm not talking about age I'm talking about finally realizing when I was making the same bad decisions over and over again, for me to realize that if you don't have unconditional love for somebody and they don't have it for you that check is already bounced". That's release. When you stop relying on the superficial things to carry your heart and your happiness, and you come to the actuality that the baggage we carry around all day, bring to bed at night, and pull out of bed in the morning (hear the exhaustion) has every thing to do with the life we chose to live.
Release is hard because you're bound to disappoint someone and your bound to meet resistance. In matters of the heart, standing your ground for every thing you do want is a lot less harder than staying on your feet when what you don't want is weighing you down. But, it takes a strong belief in yourself to let go of things that are harder work, worry, and pain than they are enjoyment. Because, once we love anything it matters. Whether we love it 100% or 20% it becomes something in our life. The key to knowing just how much you want it is actually simpler than we make it. Take for example, your favorite flavor of ice cream. You know you love it. You know every time you have a craving it's exactly what you want. But, you get paranoid and start thinking that you need to try something different. A new flavor. And, you do. It's not bad. It's got potential. You could live with it. But, it's still not as good as your favorite. Because, your favorite flavor comes from that 100% kind of love. The kind that you never want to let go because it's so good to you. You know it and it knows you. It's rare and it's essential. No new ingredients or replacement needed. It's perfect just the way it is. And, those are the things we should never release from our life.
I'm excited. I'm refreshed. I've got a lot more to share...
I have failed not to fail over and over again, but I have learned so much about who I am and what really matters to me through those failures. Why do we settle on resting weary? Attempting to snuggle our doubts and apprehension into our hearts, as if it feeds on agony. Why do we marginalize our expectation of others, while scrutinizing our expectations of ourselves? When did disappointment become an acceptable form of attachment? Sometimes, we are willing to lose so much to gain so little. We run our bodies and emotions to death continuously trying, granting pardons, and making exceptions to the behavior and habits of the people and circumstances that negatively affect us; only to live for those ‘short circuit’ moments of acknowledgement and temporary satisfaction. In this state, we are steadily at battle with ourselves. While we work overtime to mold others to be what we wish they could be, on the reverse we slowly melt away who we are. And yet, we rage against being cautious of our worries, concerns, and uncertainties and thrust ourselves into obstacles that we fully recognize but do not know how to release. I have been at odds with obstacles, knowingly and willingly. These experiences have taught me more about life than many of my accomplishments. At 32, I think deliberately about who I am. While I am gratefully still a work in progress, I have learned that I cannot be better to or for someone else than I am to myself. This is not to be confused with being selfish or vain, it is a true acceptance that the expectations that I have for any facet of a relationship, albeit friendship, family, or partner, I am worthy of those expectations because I will give them in return tenfold. It is not ‘credit’ that I seek, it is to know that I never have to wear a mask or facade for people who willingly know and accept me for who I am and vice versa. At what point do our tears become so heavy that we realize something is wrong; something is off; something is simply not right. To realize, under this condition of self-sabotage we are not fulfilled with living.
After-the-fact people are concerning. I would rather a person tell me “I told you so” and actually have “told me so”, than those who become bystanders and watch me drown or swim in muddy waters. Sometimes attempting to do nothing while a person stumbles, is the same as rooting against them. Anyone that you feel a sense of connection to enough to say that you have a relationship (friend, family, partner), should always be proactive in protecting, supporting, and helping you ‘in the moment’ of your worst and best of times; not after the moment passes. Whether you speak or act guided by opinion or fact, if you have a person’s best interest at heart and you see signs that they are in an unhealthy or unhappy state, or on the verge of damaging who they are and the positive things that they have built in their life- as so long as your intensions are grounded in wanting the very best for them you should cast away any degree of caution that you may have of losing a relationship with them for speaking-up. At the end of the day, love is a sacrifice of our vulnerability. Loving anyone, at times will be tough; gritty; seemingly impossible to grab a hold on; un-controllable. Nevertheless, when you genuinely love and care for someone the unconditional supersedes all else. The worse should be watching a person you love ‘in the moment’ of worry, stress, pain, anger, struggle, contemplation- any form that is not in the presence of seeing them in JOY. For this, is the heaviest of tears. Personally, I want love to sit with me in the presence of the moment and not be the scolder of judgment after-the-fact; I want the same for those that I love.
Be a Cheerleader of Your Harmony So That You Can Do the Same for Others
We all dance to a beat of a different drum. We share some similar beats, but ultimately we have a unique harmony in life that is authentic to us. There are few people in my life that I know will cheer for me, even when my harmony is not in succinct with theirs. To be clear, they cheer for my harmony and not my woes or downfalls. Our life is always in the present; how we feel about it, what it looks like, and what it sounds like- we just have to listen and watch closely. Is it consistent? Is it our life that we are living? Are we present in it? Take for example, sitting in the doctor’s office 15 minutes past your appointment time. What begins to happen to your body and mind when you are waiting and anticipating? Are you calm or on edge? Waiting around to live is very similar to that feeling in a superlative form. Many people think that the more they do the more they are living. However, what if everything you are doing amounts to nothing significant in your life? What if it does nothing to propel positive changes in your life? Grow you? What if the investment is only leading you backwards? Does what you are doing inspire and motivate the very best of who you are? Life cheerleaders know how to cheer for others, because they know how to cheer for themselves. They know how to recognize what their life looks life, and how to proceed in changing the things that continue to drag them down or stunt their growth. It is amazing how faithful we can be to those ‘short circuit’ people and moments, and dismissive and sometimes vile to the people that love us tough, deep, and above all absolutely. Do not be afraid to ask for your joy. The unhealthiest thing we can do to ourselves is stop advocating for what we need.
Tears of Joy
It took almost 3 decades for me to understand tears of joy. For a long time, I thought that hurt, pain, and sappy moments that really where connected to a recall of hurt, pain, or disappointment, were the only emotions that really brought tears. I’ll say this and allow everyone reading to have their own private thought: Someone in your life will tell you that they love you, and you will feel such a surge of unexplainable surprise, energy, and emotion that it will bring you to the sweetest and deepest tears. And, this love- this feeling will not be anything like you have ever experienced. It won’t be a short circuit. It will adorn your heart with everlasting beauty, and it will stay. What you do with it, is up to you. But, you will know what it is because it is something that you will always feel comfort in; something that you will want to have cheering in every moment of your life for a lifetime. Those tears, those rare massive elephant rains of pure elation, are the ones that make life such a constant favor.
The misconception about being happy is: it begins with a search for someone else’s gratification of self. When we seek happiness in others, we slowly lose sight of what ultimately makes us happy; what we need to be fulfilled in the presence of living life. Happiness can manifest itself through others, but will not absorb our flaws nor needs if self-doubt and uncertainty resides in our soul. Empowering your journey to self-happiness, happens through belief of deep faith and hope that inspires you to take on the challenge of discovering who you are, who you desire to be, and what you need from the people that surround your life and affect your personal livelihood. When you stop trying to be the person that someone else will love, and start with being a person that you can love- your happiness will become a permanent confidant. The trials and tribulations that you will face in life, will never be the same when you have you and your faith on your side.
The Power of Believing and Healing
1. Start with self-discovery. Relying on others to define who you are will only lead you to who they want you to be. For many people, their definition of self is based on the people that they feel have the most influence and made the most impact on their life. While these influences may serve a very important role in your growth, they are not absolute to your identity. Men and women on both ends of the spectrum, albeit with strong family upbringing and those with non-traditional family upbringings, may rely on what they are most familiar with from their parents or upbringing to paint their personal identity. However, self is discovered though realization that you were created uniquely and with authority to authenticate your life in HIS teachings. Your following of that discovery will never be eye for eye with anyone; as it is specific to you. Thus, life's journeymen declare treasures through important and significant findings on their search for the gifts of life that exude elation powerful enough to uplift their spirit, and give them the strength to share the greatest parts of who they are with others. If this is difficult for you, you very well may be unsure of yourself or unsure of the judgment or lack of acceptance from the people to whom you attempt to extend your heart and mind. Search deeply for your confidence and assurance and not others; do not be conflicted by extraordinary effort to become anything but who you want to be and be intentional through your actions of that discovery.
2. What lies beneath you is what lies within you. You cannot run from who you are; you can only chase the shadow of who you will never truly be without discovering yourself. This is a hard truth. Unrest occurs in two ways: 1.) recognizing that something is right, and 2.) recognizing that something is wrong. The vast majority of the most successful people in life will say they had to take a risk at some point to get to where they are, but they knew from the moment they took the chance that the outcome- the experience- was worth it. This is not a question of the undertakings that will be encountered in the risk, it is a response to avoid making excuses. To know this, you have to know what lies within you and accept who you are as a work in progress. Nonetheless, that work must be for you and in alignment with your faith and not for the pleasure or appeasement of others. Before anyone can better themselves, they have to eliminate self-sabotage and self-judgment. The degree of confidence that we have within our self is a direct response to our awareness and understanding of our flaws and our needs. When people say, “I have my doubts”, that is a true acknowledgement of what they feel. However, for those who are too afraid to open-up and surrender to the challenge of revelation because of fear of losing something that they really never had, you may eventually be the one that leaves you behind. Be cognizant of your agony, confusion, and hurt or pain in your relationships and experiences in life; as these are indications that something important to you is missing. More often than not, you will feel these feelings of unrest within yourself early in any stage or transition in life, if you are struggling to accept or identify what is missing. Do not think of this investigation of people and circumstance with the focus of identifying defective traits, think of it as an investigation to divulge and simply acknowledge “what is and what is not”. You will make a decision on the relevance of this discovery in a response of emotional transfers. A mistaken perception is that anger, frustration, or confusion is the reflection of desire. This is how people begin the stage of losing sight of self, as they try to figure out who they need to be to appease or motivate others to be whom they wish they could be. Intuition is not a gift, it is a synthesis of belief.
3. Embrace the boldness and the audacity of love. This is quite simple: love yourself. No one can give you the kind of love that you can give to yourself or that you can receive from the higher power, because perfection is an imposture of living. Material wealth, fabrication of reality, feeding the hoax of tradition as it is forever changing- those benefits and features of someone else’s fortunes- will only sustain you for a limited time, if they ever really did at all. Do not build a life that is based on those superficial desires. Your ultimate fortune is built by your ownership of your life, and at its best it requires you to be bold and audacious with love; to forget about checking off the proverbial boxes established by people who very well may have never really “got it” for themselves. You can become the wisest person to never live wisely, or you can make the decision to become the best version of you. For that, you will be better to yourself and for the people that you love. But until you accept, grow, and include you in your life, your definition of living will be a faint appearance of what you wish it would be. Surround your heart with people that want to see you be the very best version of you that you can be for you, and not for them. True love of self and others will never flee through challenge and obstacles; it will be unconditionally faithful to you.
The people and experiences that influence us spiritually stay with us for a lifetime. Being wealthy spiritually is a far greater connection than any ordinary experience. You will know the difference; you will recognize it in yourself when it happens. Whether it last or not, will be up to you. Recognizing what brings you bliss and not being afraid to demand it of yourself and of the people that surround your life, makes all the difference in feeling alive. Perhaps other than the blessing of being a parent, finding when you were best at being yourself, that moment or time when you could look at someone with all-encompassing vulnerability and transparency and say, “This is ME”, is the most rewarding and defining moments in our life. It is the very thing that we do in prayer when we surrender ourselves to HIS ear. Many of us have had the opportunity to have this great favor for a lifetime and chose the path less; that’s just it- less. We are sometimes simpletons for “good enough”, even when we have been blessed with “more than enough”. We ask HIM to be a superlative version of more than good enough for us every day, but we seldom stop to ask our self to be more than good enough, nor do we ask that of the people we love. Why is that? You can dress-up anything unappealing or undesirable with sympathy, disillusion, and false hope and it will walk, talk, and act in your mind as if it is a necessity for you. Just as, anything beautiful can be the most broken and fragile image that you may never see. The things that make us feel healthy and happy are sometimes what we run from the most; while the things that cause us hurt and uncertainty are what we tend to chase. You have a choice to live in a wealth of euphoria; the sacrifice is being faithful to the pursuit of loving yourself first.
Last year around this time, the most influential living person in my life was laid to rest. "Mammo", I miss you dearly, but I feel joy and comfort in knowing that you are with HIM.
Lately, I've been reflecting on her [Mammo's] life; who she was as a grandmother, mother, wife, sister, aunt, friend- all the many stages of her life. The most consistent trait that continues to resignate in memory of her, is that she was resilent. She was a fighter- tooth and nail and for better or for worse. She molded my understanding of accountability and self-awareness. She helped me to understand that joy is a mindset, and pain is the predecessor of life's destiny's and catastrophes. She gave me wisdom and strength to understand that sometimes the inexplicable results of Gods' work, is simply his way of calling home his angels, and that our faith in him is attested in our response to his work. Because of her, I believe that with faith we inevitably RISE from all adversary, pain, and misfortune.
Mammo passed on Palm Sunday- the beginning of Holy Week. I think about how her legacy within our family is the beginning of all of us. I can't think of one important moment in my life past, present, or future that I wouldn't want her to be witness to. Yet, I know that she's watching me from near and far. My heart rest knowing that she's proud of the women that I am and will continue to be. These very simple rules, are what her life taught me about RISING from any fall:
1.) Pain is a temporary state. Pain, when allowed, eventually becomes strength. It is a grave part of our life lessons and wisdom, and as such God never grants us more than we can handle; however, we are tested time and time again in HIS will.
2.) Love is extraordinary. Love is why we have pain and how we find joy. It allows us to experience the very best freedom in our life; the most important recognition of ourself and others. Without it- we are sheltered in our soul, and that is not living.
3.) Failure is inevitable. It will happen; not once, not twice, but many times in our life. Nevertheless, it is essential to our growth. How we handle it [failure] is eventually how we achieve success.
4.) Character is POWER. The poorest person in the world can have fascinating power over others; if their character is indicative of righteousness their influence over others will be evident. That type of character is the richest source of power; as such, a person that embodies that will never be poor.
5.) Sacrifice and servitude are the very best nourishment for the soul. They provide joy and bring piece-of-mind that supersedes anything that money or materialistic things can bring. When you extend a helping hand to others and you sacrifice- not at the detriment of yourself but for the sake of helping others develop- you give back to yourself tenfold.
Mammo was a simple women, with an extraordinary faith. She rose from every fall. Even at the mercy of death, she was very much ALIVE... and still is. I know she's dancing in heaven with great grandpa "Bull", Fatto, Uncle Marvin, "Uncle Head", Tottie, grandpa "Rico", and many more. They rest in peace to rise in eternity.
When people ask what if you fall short? What if you fail? What if you don't get what you desire? What if you struggle? Just remember, "You can rise again." And when you do, have faith in HIS path for you.
Mammo was so patient with the faults of people. So much so, that it took a toll on her spirit. Her life taught me that patience is not always the best practice. She taught me to be aware of what you're patient for, and what people ask of you. People will often conceal themselves around people that accept their faults, because it takes accountability to accept flaws in our character; and that is a huge feat for most. Most of all, she taught me that life is a journey- it's YOUR journey. How you LIVE it, is up to you.
Be blessed. LIVE.
It's been a little over two months since I posted. Nothing has changed, but everything is different. That's life.
There are few things that truly amaze me. 1.) Life, 2.) Happiness, and 3.) Love. In the past couple of months, all have come full circle in various ways. Here is what I know: Love is a gift of life and a partner to happiness. The simplicity is that it [love] can awaken your spirit; can heal the edges of a broken heart; and, can bring the clearest picture of clarity. I've seen this through friends, family, and colleagues... And, I've felt this through the same tokens of sacrifice.
Why do people open themselves to love? It's not easy. It's extraordinary scary. It's imperfect. It's even controversial, at times. But... It's RELEVANT; it's NECESSARY. Even with it's difficulty and stubbornness- it's worthy.
Most, if not all, reading this post associated love to a person in their life- which is perfectly appropriate. However, when you associate love to EVERYTHING in life- it makes a world of difference. Personally, I would sacrifice the societal "norms" and "traditions" for love. Why? Because, I know love will lead me in the right direction, always. This belief requires faith. It requires a person to disassociate actions that do not exhibit LOVE. Abuse, is not love; hatred, is not love; abandonment is not love; pain may not be love- but sacrifice certainly can be.
Here is my personal conviction: People may not fully understand why I push them- why I do what I do and say what I say; however, even in the "gossip" what I care is that they know my heart; that they understand my passion is real and relevant. And in turn, all I want from people is the same realness; the same opportunity to reflect and grow- because that's just who I am. I am not, nor will I ever be, an advocate of CAN'T; it [can't] has never succeeded.
Love plays a huge role in passion; motivation; drive; inspiration. Center your life around LOVE, absent of it's false fallacies, and your LIFE will come full circle. If love is only the people and circumstances that agree with what fits in your or "a" perception of LIVING, then how will you ever know reality? It takes courage to choose between what you fear most- but love more. And that... that very idea, is LOVE and LIVING in HAPPINESS.
Pray with me... For love; for happiness; for life.
In rolls a new year, and out rolls old resolutions; or perhaps, the same resolutions revamped into new resolutions with very little change taking place. I'm not sure that we resolve things in life by regression. If only we pay closer attention to actions; actions that lead to progress. Thus, my personal New Years resolution is to focus on change; not a benchmark for it- just change in the simplest of ways.
I'll start with this: 1.) More investment into life. This is the poker game we play each and everyday, and if we play our cards right- we just may come out the back-end (or perhaps the front-end depending on how you look at it) with the priceless and immeasurable accomplishment of "living a good life". A good life, however you choose to define it, is about joy and happiness, love and relationships- the wealth of all good things. Nevertheless, wealth is not a dollar sign- it is the amount of success you accomplish in all things important to LIVING.
I'll be supported by this: 2.) Faith that all things that fail are not forever fallen, hopeless, or done in vain. The mistakes, hiccups, and downfalls we have in life are all about perception. To think that no one has or will ever fall short in life is an absolute acceptance of a lie. Why pity yourself for falling short, when falling short only opens your eyes and mind to what you need to succeed in those shortcomings. After all, aren't we all imperfections of life? So, I vow to keep the faith in who I am, what I do, and why I do it. That, to me, is strength.
I'll be humbled by this: 3) Working for what I talk about, so that I can truly be about it. There's nothing cheaper than talk. If only we could transform our thoughts into actions on a consistent bases; if we could only find the guts that it takes to breakthrough those boundaries that we allow our fears to draw for us. Why can't we be who we say we are... Perhaps, it's because we often doubt who we want to be. Make a choice and do not let it be a choice that is driven by fear of being different- of stepping outside of what is ordinary in your world. Know this to be true: Extraordinary only happens when we go the extra mile, and going the extra mile is not easy. It comes with sacrifice and pushes us to our limits. Extraordinary is not for everyone; it's for those who believe it's possible. Work for it...
My life is not based on a compliance of how people want me to live, expect me to live, or need me to live. MY LIFE is based on living to be the best I can be to happiness that invades my space, to any degree of love that absorbes into my heart, and to wealth that sticks to my soul- not just my bank account. I want everlasting resolutions. Not those that I have to redo every year of my life. I resolve to change only if change is fruitful to my life.
I resolve to live.
Hopefully, you'll find the purpose of the beginning to the end...
Vanilla is a plain flavor. It is the go to flavor to "dress-up" with other toppings, because its simplicity lends it to be so compatible with other flavors. Vanilla isn't complicated; it doesn't require a great deal of ingredients; it's simple. Everyday, I am thankful for vanilla faces: The people who make life feel simple- yet purposeful.
Recently, I met people from different parts of the country and beyond. I re-discovered what I appreciate most about traveling to various countries, cities, and states. The WORLD is so full of simple people; simple really good people that are not concerned with being classified by race or status, but serve a cause simply because they have a passion for others and a zest for living. Vanilla faces have an appreciation for life in its absolute presence, and recognize the abundance of life all around them.
While working with these vanilla faces, I found myself observing what made them smile; the jokes they made; their non-verbal ques of affection. My observation reminded me that life is often not as complicated as we make it. In fact, the chaotic and devestating moments are majority far and few between, because love and happiness is happening all around us and within us more often than we acknowledge. So, I found myself intentionally observing JOY.
I literally watched joy personify itself through the actions of others. I saw pure laughter- the kind that brought tears; the embracing of one another- the kind that let's you know someone is happy to see you; genuine smiles- the ones that just happen unintentionally; most of all, I could feel the energy and presence of life in the room. As cliche as this may sound, my heart fluttered.
There we were, all from different walks of life, in this isolated place to work for others and with one another. We had cuts and aches from wrapping and lifting heavy boxes and standing on our feet for hours on end; we had frustrating moments from having our space invaded and listening to people bark out orders. But despite all of this- people continued smiling, laughing, and encouraging one another because they were investing in something that they knew would bring others joy and in turn bring even more joy to their heart.
I remember pausing and allowing myself to take in the moment. Not often enough
do we truly take these moments to reflect on what they symbolize. Mothers and fathers often have those incredible moments of joy watching their children grow. But, how often do we allow ourself the opportunity to observe joy in every day people? It exists. It actually is all around us. Life provides us with free admission into what is intended to be the most epic movie we ever see.
The challenge for happiness is to believe that it truly exist- that it is truly a choice and a state of mind. Many people can be incredibly jaded by the mis-perception that hope and joy do not exist. They do. For everyone. Yes, they become clouted by the storms that life bring. Yes, they are often difficult to obtain because they are so ridiculously immeasurable and un-plannable- but that is the beauty of hope and joy.
Ten years ago, I watched an interview from a girl from Sierra Leone. She spoke about her experiences with sexual assaults, poverty, and violence. You would have expected tears- breakdowns and anger- but she focused on joy. She talked about her family and the good aspects of her culture. She reflected on her journey as if it were an experience that made her appreciate life in a way she never dreamed possible. It was remarkable.
When you cannot find hope and joy within yourself, open your eyes to the things that are happening around you. Do not pay attention to the superficial things like financial wealth and materialistic things- those are not natural elements of joy- they are simply the "dress-up" to finding it. Pay close attention to the vanilla faces; the simple actions of people happening all around you everyday. Motivation is driven by purpose- hope and joy revive us in the most difficult of times...
Tis the season to by joyful.
What a difficult time; a difficult pain and a difficult reality. And, what reality is that? It's not the reality that most assume- which is racial tension is still alive or politics will always be politics- these are things that will withstand with time. The difficulty underneath this very harsh reality is a cry for help. A cry to understand why something so devestating took place in the lives of many people of different races. The obstacle is not the color that binds and sadly divides us; it's the colorless reality that we must do a better job of preparing adults and children of all races and sexes to be aware that actions and reactions can ruin the construct of our belief in democracy and love for one another.
John Vito Mason. This name will mean nothing to the vast majority of you, because you do not recognize it. However, he is my nephew. My one and only nephew at this time. I think about him, now as a 3 year old, and I wonder about him in the future as a 13 year old. I wonder if we can teach him enough about being a good person, citizen, and a man to keep himself out of harms way. But, I'm not so sure that what we teach him will inevitably save him. Nevertheless, we must teach, hope, and pray.
This world is full of all kinds of human-beings; we are common people who make decisions and mistakes that can ill affect our life at any moment. None of us, no matter our race or position, are flawless. But, we condemn each other in times like this as if we are the guaranters of perfection- of righteousness. I cannot bestow that right to anyone on this earth.
There is a larger concern- a greater cry. We must do a better job of educating and preparing the people who serve and protect this country to deliver the best possible actions in situations like this. Furthermore, we must teach our children to respect the very people that we call upon in times of desparity to protect us. If we continue to live an eye for an eye- we will never heal. It cannot be one sided; it cannot be so black and white. It is simply not that simple.
John Vito Mason. If I die today, I want you to know that you matter. You are pride and joy to me; a smile that comes effortlessly. You are important in this world, and you will be recognized. The question is: How will you be recognized? How will you be remembered in your life? I do not want you to live in vain, and I certainly would not want your life to be taken in vain. So, listen to this plea:
You must respect that we live in a society that is no stranger to good and bad people of all kinds. If you surround yourself with people on the wrong side of the line or if you place yourself in situations that could produce the worst of consequences- then you too could be this story. Live your life to the best of your ability by being the very best person you can be. Love your life enough to recognize it is a gift and a blessing, and as such must be lived with care. Never take it for granted. It is a timeless moment...
We cry because it hurts. It is the epitome of pain to wonder how we could have prevented such a devastating act on both ends; to think of how we may have changed such an extreme unfortunate act. There is no justice that can change the moment, but there is justice in building a response to the core concerns embedded in this situation.
This can't speak for everyone, but this is why I cry...