Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The upside of everything

The terrible part of coming from a family with so many elders is that as they age tiny parts of you feel as if they're withering.

Growing up there are the family gatherings and talks. Pictures and funny stories. And then, inexplicably, the elders start to fade. Great uncles and aunts become grayer. Great grans pass on and the family somehow becomes smaller.

My uncle Joe, who could never ever remember our names, passed this week. He was such a handsome man. Fun to be around. One of my grandpa's many brothers. He called my sisters and I the "LaLa Girls" whether we were all standing together or in separate parts of the house.

I don't want to lose anyone else.
I just don't want them to leave, because they know things I can't possible know. They have seen things I can only imagine. But they are going anyway. Slipping from us one by one.

When I heard the news of Uncle Joe's passing I almost ran from Starbucks and sped over to my Papa's house. I just needed to see him and feel his hug and hear his voice.

Sit on the couch that was made before I was born. See the turtle figurines he has collected over the years. Thank God he was home. And that he felt like talking.

He had stories to tell and I had ears to listen. That I suppose is the upside of everything. The fact that I still have some elders here to love and to hold

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Well-Lived Life

I am currently taking a Human Development class and I had to research Abraham Maslow, a humanistic psychologist for a paper.  Maslow fathered the study of "Self-Actualization", or a fully lived life.

His basic premise was that all people who experience both great success and great fulfillment have common attributes. Whether the success be on a global scale or as local as a well-run neighborhood grocery, fulfilled people have common threads.

I have no real commentary to add to this discovery of humankind and nature. Except perhaps, that as I look at this list it resonates with the person I am striving to be.

The Self-Actualized Person
1. Perceptive of reality and comfortable with it
2. Acceptance of self, others, and nature
3. Spontaneity and simplicity
4. Problem centering versus self-centering
5. Able to detach in order to achieve privacy
6. Independent of culture and environment
7. Fresh appreciation
8. Mystic and peak experiences
9. Kinship or connectedness with others
10. Deeper and more profound personal relationships
11. Democratic character
12. Able to discern between good and evil
13. Good-natured sense of humor
14. Creativeness
15. Resistance to cultural peer pressure

Maslow believed that as we progress through life we have choices. Similar to forks in the road. We can go left, right, back, forward. And our choices may not be inherently right or wrong, but they do take us closer to self-actualization or further away.

We can choose fear, self-defense, and assimilation all of our lives. Then at some point decide to start focusing on our resources, our relations, and our ability to positively affect outcomes and those later-life choices would still be able to get us to a place of peace.

Isn't it beautiful that we have choice after choice in which to implement the principles of a well-lived life? So many opportunities to choose the fullness of life.

~Abraham Maslow's list was retrieved and adapted from here.~

Friday, February 24, 2012

Naked band of brothers

There are few people with whom
we can be completely totally bare. 
Our spouses, our siblings, our parents. 
Give those naked people a hug. 

~~No man is an island. And I very much appreciate the individuals who will Ride or Die for me. I know not everyone has those crazy type of naked people in their life. Happy Six Word Friday all! Our prompt was BARE.~~

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fuel Efficient Charity

Ever heard the phrase "Charity starts at home?" I generally take that saying to mean that whatever one is willing to do for others, they should be able to apply the same generosity to their family.

If I give money to charity, shouldn't I be able to spare some change for loved ones? If I mentor youth, shouldn't I spend time with the children closest to me?

The simple idea of having charity at home has dogged me for years. Which is weird because charity should not be a stressful, guilt-ridden, resentful task. Granted some aspects of charity are easy for me, but others not so much. Other times I have felt forced to make up for the shortfalls of others around me.

But lately, my brain seems much more vocal than my bleeding heart. Or perhaps it is my boys, maybe they are just more pertinent to me than extended family. And I'm okay with that.
I've found myself re-imaging what charity means to me.
Charity means I give to organizations that help women overcome their circumstances. Charity means I tutor children who haven't been given enough exposure to written words. Charity means I join in the responsibility of my Gran's welfare.

I also realize that charity means taking at least a day off per week to give my youngest son the extra hugs/direction/tutoring/discipline he needs.

Charity is not guilt. It is not saving the world. It is not playing fairy godmother to every child I see with a need.

Charity starts at home, goes to work, and leaves me with enough social and emotional resources to return home again.
That's the type of charity I can live. The type that does not leave me with an empty tank.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Truth

Guilt is a conniving little bastard.
Be vigilant against his triflin' a**.

~I know this is an awfully short Six Word Friday post, but those two lines are the truth. When we can atone for the foolishness we've already done...GREAT. When we can avoid things we will feel guilty about later....even BETTER. ~

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Happy Feet

I've been selected as an Ambassador for the 2012 Fort2Base 10 Nautical Run. This basically means I'll be spreading the word about this amazing racing experience! I'll also get the opportunity to host a few Fun Runs for those who would like to run together to prep for the race.

Most of you know I picked up running last year in an attempt to quell my fears about turning 30. I have to say between the talks with my grandfather and the miles on the trail, my quest was successful. the big 3-0 is no longer filling me with dread. In fact, I'm kinda of proud that I'll be the first among my homies to cross over.
More about the race!
This race which starts in the historic Fort Sheridan and ends on Great Lakes Naval base is friendly, fun, and fast. With only one hill on the course it makes for happy feet. There are also frequent aide stations and spectators along the course. The two distances are 3 (3.45mi) or 10 (11.5) Nautical miles.  Both of which receive great finisher coins and post-race parties on base.

I hope any of you who live or run in Lake County (and surrounding areas) will come out to run, cheer, or have a beer.

Want to know more? Check out Fort2Base dot com and (@fort2base) or send me a message and hit me up on Twitter (@my_iced_tea).

Monday, February 13, 2012

How Whitney killed "Kim"

This weekend Whitney Houston passed away. And I felt so sad upon hearing the news. Even though my husband and I were heading out for a date and I couldn't get her off my mind.

A break out star, Whitney seemed to have hit the lottery of life. Amazing voice. Gorgeous face and body. Famous relatives and a sweet personality that drew people in.

But in the end all that wasn't enough.

Her luck wasn't enough to keep her alive. And that makes me sad. That her decisions stole her beautiful voice and figure. That her choices kept her career from making a full comeback.

I remember when my older sister received the "I wanna dance with somebody" single for maybe her 9th or 10th birthday. We played that little eight track cassette out! Over and over again. Dancing and singing and skipping around the house.

I would even sing "I will always love you" in my bedroom fan. Singing directly into the whir made it sound like I was really hitting those notes.

Whitney was such a beautiful and classy black woman to behold, especially at a time when I would wear pillow cases wrapped around my head as "blonde hair" and tell my sisters to call me "Kim".

Whitney was a sista...a African American woman who was adored for her talent and grace. She didn't change her name or her hair to become lovely. She just was. She'd even work her neck with a little bit of attitude as she belted out her award-winning songs. Whitney gave black girls and me in particular someone to call their own. I didn't need to be a white girl to be pretty, I could be me.

Thank you for being you, Whitney.

I pray her daughter and family heal from this loss. And that we all, both individually and collectively think on the incredible impact our choices have; good or bad. That we're able to draw on the beauty we already have inside ourselves.

I will always love you, Whitney Houston.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Silencio, por favor!

Everyone knows we need to have
this gathering. A meeting of the 
minds. The accountability council. Yet 
no one wants to breach the 
silence. Well....actually two people do. 
I do not. So we wait.

**Happy Six Word Friday! Our prompt was CHAT Something I'm entirely not in the mood for. Why commence today that which can be pushed away 'til spring? Don't answer, that was a trick question :o)**

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Just one thing

I saw a Tyler Perry video the other day that talked about how to be successful. I'm usually leery when someone chalks up all their hard work to "blessings, blessings, blessings", which is how Mr. Perry started off his video message.

My general feeling is that "Your blessings don't help me understand how you got to where you are". Saying "grace" made you prosperous is like attributing straight A's in school to "blind luck".  I'd rather you tell me how to study.

Thankfully, I didn't stop his video there. Mr. Perry went on to say perseverance and determination made him keep pressing and trying when nothing was coming together. Many people see his independent media empire as an overnight success or even a fluke. When in fact, he spent years toiling in small theaters. Bank-rolling his own (then) lack-luster productions.

It was through that process of working out the kinks and learning his craft that he ultimately found success. But the most pivotal thing was staying focused. He didn't divert his attention on a thousand little projects. He wanted to write plays. Period.

That point alone resonated with me more than anything else. Focus. Pouring all one's energy into one goal.

Sometimes it's hard to differentiate between what is a needless distraction and what is "LIFE"? How can we live our lives but still remain focused on the main thing? That would be my BIG question for Tyler Perry, Oprah, Paulo Coelho, etc...
How do you keep the main thing THE main thing

I know last year when I trained for the Chicago Marathon I was married to the road. Every week building up miles. Every Sunday just me, a water bottle, and my ipod. Rain or shine. Hours and hours of running.

Perhaps that what he means. The focus and dedication that one needs to run a race is the same drive we must maintain to reach our dreams. Constantly training to reach that one thing. Hmmmm....that's something to think about.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I like people. I love connections
Learning new things and gathering information. 

But in the process of discovering
closeness and dialog I sometimes stumble
into the awkward land of over-sharing.

The line between "realness" and discretion
becomes blurred. Of course, I never 
realize it until the words have 
already sprouted. Would someone who has
discovered the "discretion" secret please share?

*Happy Six Word Friday on a Saturday :o) I had to boogie the night away at my husbands fundraiser last night so I'm a little behind. This week's topic was SHARING. Something I do an awful lot of :o)*