Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Connections

Isn't it interesting the friends/lovers/mentors we pick? The people we choose to be intimate with or share our secrets?

What causes us to choose one person over  another? Which force of nature draws us to one individual while disregarding another? Is it same force that allows us to overlook the flaws our friends but notice the weaknesses of outsiders?

I've been thinking a lot lately, about my circle. How it seems to have an ebb and flow of its own. Expands and contracts without me consciously tending to it. I notice the things that draw me to people.

Openness. Insight. Kindness. Humor. Intelligence.

And I notice other parts organically drifting away. Not far really. But still away. What causes me to love someone who's life is so different from my own? Perhaps it is the differences themselves that create the connections and bridges that bind us together.

The irony of relationships is that sometimes they are simply a catalyst for some dramatic change that will  lead you onto an altogether separate path. Completely different from the one you've started on.

Paths diverge. People progress. Conversations evolve. 

Suddenly you're on another bridge, heading down a different path, waving to the lovers and friends of times past. Still holding hands with those who have never left and possibly new companions you've met along the way.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Check yo' self


It takes equal parts maturity & humility for a person to be willing to examine themselves. To acknowledge/accept weaknesses and mistakes. 

"What am I doing well?" "Which things could use a little work?"
I've had several interviews over the past two weeks and each time my prospective supervisor asked me to define who I was as a person and professional. It was interesting to hear my voice telling a stranger who I am and whats important to me. It made me consider whether the words I speak and the actions I take are truly aligned.
"Do does my life reflect what I say I believe?"
Each interviewer also wanted to know which areas I felt needed work. I had to pause and think critically about my character. I found myself thinking that one day soon, the areas that I relayed during this meeting would no longer be my weaknesses.

Although, it's true that certain parts of our characters are innate, there are also other things we have just grown accustomed to over the years.  Figuring out which behaviors can stay and which must go is something only an individual can determine.

Growing stronger, smarter, healthier, or wealthier requires two things:

1. A willingness to check yourself.
2. The continued practice of replacing poor habits with better habits.

As with most things in life finding new habits or establishing favorable outcomes takes time. But eventually the tortoise catches up to the hare and new habits become second nature.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

That Sh*t Crazy


What do you do when you find yourself living in a "Twilight Zone"? Experiencing un-necessary foolishness at the hands of people you have no choice but to deal with?

Part of my New Year's goal was to learn to accept the things I cannot change. People are definitely one of those things.

I cannot change my parents. I cannot change my elders. I cannot change my children. I cannot change my neighbors. I cannot change my spouse. My co-workers, siblings, politicians.

They are all integral parts of my life. But at some point they can no longer be intricate parts of my happiness, fulfillment, or joy. My personal peace/joy/sanity has to come from within.

I'm not saying it's easy to look within while all around me people make choices that can negatively impact themselves and others. Or when their decisions seems to only positively impact a select, at the expense of many.

However, at this point I'd rather try to find peace from within versus continuing to seek peace from with out.

Doing otherwise is just crazy.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hide & Seek


I once went to a marriage 
counselor that was a little eccentric. 

She gave me a list: Relational Truths. 
One of which being that both 
partners will experience periods of hiding
and seeking. When one seeks togetherness
the other may need space. But 
resilience comes in losing and finding.

I lost him; then found him.

~~Happy Six Word Friday. Today's topic: Lost and Found!!~~

Thursday, January 12, 2012

When I was a poor black kid


Almost a month ago, to the day (12/12/11) Forbes.com writer, Gene Marks penned an essay on being a poor black kid in America and how to overcome it. It angered many. Pleased some. And sparked dozens and dozens of Internet and media responses.

My husband and I had quite the interesting conversation about his piece. We each saw the material (through the eyes of former poor black kids) pretty differently.

From the same community, schools, and block we both had single moms who raised us in the way they knew how and grandparents that did tremendous amounts to pick up the slack.

It's amazing that after all the new news stories since 12-12-11, I still keep thinking about what it means to be a poor black kid. Perhaps because I live next door to many. Tutor a few. And am raising three that have no concept of what poor means.

My sisters and I often marvel at how three girls raised in the 'hood could be so NOT 'hood. The answer for us was our Village.
"It takes a village to raise a child." --African proverb
There were teachers who actually taught us well. Several of whom bought Christmas presents, school uniforms, and books for us. Grandparents who made sure we had a home, food, and clothing. After-school programs and camps to keep us occupied. Church youth groups to shape our behaviour. The list goes on and on.

And with all of the input and effort that adults put into our lives, there were plenty of friends and classmates we knew who had no such luck. Kids who were poor and Black/White/Latino who did not have anyone who gave a damn.

Who did not become a teacher's pet. Who were raped and lost will-power. Who were randomly jumped (beat-up by a group) or abused and became angry and disenchanted. Who became homeless, in much of the same way we did in high school, but did not have a generous grandfather to step in and provide shelter.

Kids who shared Honors and AP classes with me but still did not go to college. Or went and then dropped out because of family stress/finances/pregnancies/lack of support.

I can not stop thinking that I was a poor black kid that did not realize I was. My mom/nana/aunt/teachers/church somehow blocked that realization from me. Because had I known how close we were to the edge I may have given up. May not have reached for college. May not have dreamed big.

May not be raising three middle class black boys who don't understand how good they have it. Three boys who have never taken an cold "shower in the sink" because the water is off. Or went to the food pantry because the refrigerator was empty.

My village saved me. That was the point my husband and I adamantly agreed on. Now it's our turn to be the village for the children around us. And teach our boys to count their blessings.

It's not enough to overcome being a poor black kid, or write articles about how they can pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

We have to be the village we want to see.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Horizontally Inclined


This year is a little different
in that I don't have any 
defined goals staring back at me. 

No lists and no vision boards.
I do, however, have some things
I'm looking forward to experiencing, like.... 
Races and personal bests. I'm looking 
forward to finding a publisher that 
will love my work as much 
as I do. And perhaps most
importantly, I'm looking forward to completing 
my degree program. I guess you 
could say my eyes are on 
the horizon. I've much to see.

~~Happy Six Word Friday! Forward March!~~

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I know some guys who'd rather die...

Ran across this video on Twitter today and it made me smile on a morning that was trying my last nerve.



The beautiful part is that although my father definitely was "That Guy" who didn't care about personal responsibilty or fatherhood, I've married a man and aquired some friends who'd rather die then let their children go without a dad.

Here's to them!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Back in Effect


Well, 2011 is in the books. I didn't think I'd take such a long hiatus from My Iced Tea during the month of December, but that's exactly what happened.

I suppose we all need time and space to be fully present in the moment and disengaged from the world.

Saturday, December 31st found me with no elaborate plans for ringing in the New Year. I ended up on the phone with my big sister until the all balls dropped and 2012 began. Which was unexpected but nice.

We talked about the holiday we had just spent together and what 2012 may bring. We discussed the one thing we wanted to accomplish, if nothing else got done. And it all got me thinking about how...

Over the last few years I given myself a long list of goals and ambitions for my life.

For my 27th year of life I wanted to:
  • paint the rooms of my house
  • take in a professional sporting event
  • get more frequent pedicures
  • learn how to change a car tire
  • etc., etc. etc.
For my 28th year I planned to:
  • grow this blog
  • remodel my closet
  • take my boys to a water park
  • increase my course load
  • exercise more regularly

Each set of goals had their twists and turns. My exercise goal turned in a marathon. The water park became swim lessons for the kids. But I definitely painted all the rooms of my house (in colors I'm now ready to change!)

As productive as my lists have been I'm giving myself a break this year. No long lists of feats to accomplish.

There are several things I want to do. But I think I can manage to get them complete without taping bullet points to my mirror. Or graphic organizers to the cork board.
This year I want to live in acceptance, health, & wealth. And I'm sure, one way or another I'll still manage to get 'er done.