In this interview, I asked Michelle to give her expert opinion on a book I’d recently read. See what she has to say about wives being constant in their love…
Here is the third way I maintained the Christmas spirit after Christmas.
This next idea was a combination of a failed attempt to volunteer at a food pantry and something I’d seen other people do on social media. In February, I thought I was going to hand out food with United Community Outreach Ministry (UCOM). Instead, the director asked me to clean the toiletry section for an hour and a half. Although I saw the indirect benefit of helping her because she probably didn’t have time, I couldn’t see myself continuing to do this for three more weeks.
“I could do this myself, in my own way, I thought.”
That’s just what I did. The third thing I did was pass out goodie bags to transient people (March). I packed four 1-gallon Ziplock bags with deodorant, wipes, Vaseline, fresh fruit, granola bars, water, and five $1 bills. The first week, I started with the guy I see sleeping under I95. He mumbled something to me that I didn’t quite understand. The second week, I traveled downtown to where I know a group of the same population hangs out. Before I could make it there, a guy stopped me.
“Can I have that orange?” he asked
I gave him the entire bag. He seemed genuinely pleased, and even more excited when I told him there was money in there.
The third week, I was battling allergies and busy with book stuff, so Dwight gave a bag to an elderly gentleman with a cane.
I had planned to hand out the final bag on my way to Gainesville. For the past two years, I’ve noticed a small population of men who alternate holding a sign right at the Baldwin exit off I10. This time I tracked a guy as he crossed the street to nearby trees. I parked my car, walked over to the men who were seated around a makeshift living area, and handed the bag to the bearded man nearest the fence that separated us.
“God Bless you hun.” He said it twice.
“You too luv,” I replied.
With this one, I’ve learned that the homeless population is invisible, until you open your eyes and look for them. Then, they’re right in front of your face, begging to be seen.
Let me know what you think about this one. Do you think you could pack a goodie bag for the transient population in your city? Is that demographic high where you live?
Today’s answer comes from Charlene Bullard of the self-named blog, Charlene Bullard:
When I was 16 years old, I asked my Grannie if she’d heard what the preacher said. Whatever it was had confused me because it was illogical. It made zero sense.
“Oh, Kathy,” she said matter-of-factly. “You’re not supposed to actually listen to what he says. You’re supposed to make your grocery list or think about the week, or something like that.”
And so, I learned that going to church is ritualistic. It’s a centuries old past down tradition for some, where going through the motions is sufficient. This is not a blanket statement, but I’ve noticed that this is how many operate.
Being Christ-like is least of some people’s concern.
That’s my earliest thought of how baffling religion seemed. My next memory is when my father became Deacon Gregory at Starlight Baptist Church, off 113th Street in Chicago. I was in my mid-20s. He was proud. His wife was proud. His stepdaughters were proud.
When my family and I visited, parishioners beamed with more pride.
“Your dad is such a great man! He’s such a good deacon! You must be proud!”
I smiled and shielded my thoughts. I haven’t seen this man in two years, and if I wasn’t here now, then no telling how many more years would pass. I let them hold on to their beloved deacon. He seemed to be doing more good for the church than with me.
Were his actions Christ-like? Perhaps with them, but not with me.
My wonderment with religion continued into my 30s where I found my own sense of purpose and meaning for life. It shifted into spirituality once I recognized the universality of all religions. There are certain principles inherent in each one.
But I couldn’t let go of how people just seemed to go through church motions.
For example, when I suggested to a friend that she stop judging another person, she responded as if I was crazy. She replied as if not judging was some nutso idea that I’d developed from the crevices of my brain.
“Do you mean stop judging in your head or do you mean stop judging out loud, like don’t say the words?” she asked.
I wondered if she’d ever asked her preacher to clarify what he meant when he said don’t judge.
Instead I replied, “I mean at all. What right do you have to judge someone else’s choices or decisions?”
She went on to describe her understanding of my suggestion. She’d stopped giving her opinion about her sister’s life because she realized it was her sister’s life and there was nothing she could do about it.
Similarly, this thought crept back into my head when people began to judge Kanye West so harshly after his alleged breakdown. I wrote about this already, so I won’t re-hash. However, that post wasn’t about a so-called crazy rapper. It was about how once again self-proclaimed Christians are sometimes the first to be least compassionate. They are the first to call someone an asshole. They are the first to condemn someone to dark places.
They are the first to become defensive when I bring it to their attention.
Like the time when I asked this FB question: What’s the point of going to church if you treat someone like crap?
My question, as always was intended to promote thought and conversation. But I could tell that some people seemed offended. Wounded.
Answers ranged from “To grow stronger in Christ” to “We all fall short.”
It confused me. I thought if you were growing stronger in Christ then you might be doing things that are Christ-like. Christ cared for the poor. Christ hung out with prostitutes. Christ washed people’s feet and spread love.
Well, according to the Bible anyway.
Over 25 years later, I realize some people must have gotten the same advice my Grannie gave me. Maybe they’re all making their grocery lists.
Every year I take a 30-day Facebook break. Just like other things, I tend to use Facebook intently and intensely, so I need to deactivate every now and then.
My social media vacay is typically around the holidays, but this time August seemed to be the best time of year. I figured I wouldn’t miss the back-to-school pics, latest Donald Trump outrage, or eclipse images. I was right. The only thing I missed is my go-to for random thoughts. Instead, I used my Notes section.
Boundaries help define who you are and who you are not ~ Thomas J. Leonard I forgot where I read this quote, but it was helpful. With the help of Dwight, I’d recently realized that I still have some unresolved issues with my grandmother. Part of it is a boundary issue. While I’m firm about who I am and what I’ll take from other people, with her, my boundaries look a little like jumbled up squiggly lines (sometimes). I’m going to work on that.
It is possible to only do things you WANT to do. People argue with me about this, but for me, it’s all about choices. If you’re (an adult) participating in situations that you don’t want to, then I’d suggest it’s because you made a choice to do so. Stop choosing negative and displeasing experiences, and watch how much your life will fall into a place where you’re always where you want to be.
When do you put your spirituality into practice? Well, when do you?
Life is just an exchange of energy with others and we can choose how much, what frequency, or how often we make that exchange. I wrote this comment on Reena’s blog. I forget which topic, but something she shared made me re-think how we function as people. We tend to forget that connection is important, but we don’t have to be beholden to others’ whims.
People will not combust if you say, “No.”
If you ask me to do something, and I say, “No,” and you try to convince me to do it anyway, then that’s called manipulation. Have you ever thought of it that way? I first heard a rendition of this from Oprah years ago. And once I considered it more, I agreed. This month people have asked me to do all sorts of things that I just wasn’t feeling. I’ve gotten a lot better at simply saying no. Once they go into convincing mode, it’s much easier for me to stick to my decision because I now view it as manipulation, and I definitely don’t want to be controlled. Conversely, I respect others’ decisions more readily because I also don’t want to manipulate them into doing what I’d prefer.
Relationships aren’t meant to be stressful. Period. I’ve had a few pleasant experiences with friends this month. My friend Tarra and I hung out for approximately twelve hours one day. We laughed. We ate. We drank. I fell asleep. There was no drama and no doubt that we were both in good company. Likewise, my friend Rhonda reached out to me during her annual Florida trip. We went to the beach. I got to know her sons a little more. We ate. There was also little doubt about our friendship. In my mind, this is how relationships are supposed to be…stress-free.
Let me know what you think about social media, social media breaks, blogging breaks, or any of my August thoughts.
Did you realize this is a number 9 year? (2+0+1+6 = 9) A number nine year typically symbolizes a period of letting go. Whether it’s releasing people, habits or situations, and whether you like it or not, this is a time when the urge is strong to free yourself.
My letting go began last July when my dad died. I had let go of him in some ways, but you know, death requires you to fully let go of someone’s physical being, thus stepping into a complete release.
Then, I started a new job in August. Being a community college professor is not what I thought I’d be doing with my PhD. Taking this job meant I accepted a path filled with 20 thousand fewer dollars and students who possess a different mind set. There were a lot of tears because letting go is not always easy. However, the next ten months revealed the benefits of this next step. I could’ve never jumped fully into writing, blogging or authoring had I continued to be a professor at a research institution.
In March, the unfathomable happened. I had to let go of my dear Rascal. I won’t rehash how difficult it was to put that relationship to rest. I almost settled in a funk about it, until I saw a woodpecker. I choose to believe that bird, with its bright red feathers and focused pecking was behind me on purpose. He urged me not to get caught up in a cycle of sadness. The following week, a hawk flew on top of my building, looked right down into my eyes and reinforced the message. Rascal has moved on. You have to too. Focus on what you’re supposed to be doing.
Shortly after, I decided to let go of six boxes of books. They had cluttered our dining room for almost a year. It was time for me to give them away. I posted to FB about the release and three colleagues gasped and asked me to send them their way. So I did. I also bought two small bookcases for the ones I deemed important. Whether you subscribe to numerology or not, there’s something about clearing space that allows for more creativity and higher vibration. Those books symbolized twelve years of (outdated) university learning. It was time to let it go.
Then, I decided this was the year that I needed to cut my hair. I went natural in 2010. And I hadn’t cut it since. When I washed my hair, it stretched near my butt! That’s too much hair. It weighed me down. I was tired of doing twist-outs twice a week. It was time to let it go. My daughters begged me not to cut it. They disapproved of any style I showed them. The thing about liberation is once you feel it’s necessary, you have to follow your gut and ignore naysayers, even if they are family. So, I scheduled an appointment and cut my hair. Whew! I felt free.
I thought I was done letting people and situations go, but there was more. For the past three years, I’ve grown on purpose. I’ve become a more conscious version of myself. Some of it I’ve written about here: less judgment, more mindfulness. Some friends have rolled with me during this transition. And some have resisted the new me. While I haven’t released any friendships, per se, I have let go of certain aspects of the friendships that previously existed. Meaning, we can remain friends, but maybe our conversations are limited. Trust me. It’s challenging. But it’s okay.