Moving Through Life’s Phases

Life Has A Track List

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When you’re making plans to move on to the next phase of life, or when you are close to a goal that you’ve set for yourself, Murphy’s law is in full effect — anything that can go wrong, will go wrong (or so it seems).  The people in your life will start to (or seem to) act differently; sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse.  At times, it will feel as though things are going wrong for no other reason than to interrupt your flow.  It can make you want to throw in the towel, throw your hands up, and scream “FUDGE IT” and stick to what you know — stay in that comfort zone that clearly is not very comfortable.  If you were truly comfortable in your position, you probably wouldn’t have devised a plan to change it.

I know this feeling all too well, as it has been my life all year.  I’ve given up, I’ve started over.  I’ve changed my mind, and then changed it back.  I’ve changed my plan a zillion times.  I’ve changed the way I approach certain things.  But, most of all, I’ve changed personally.  I had to change, otherwise I’d be taking the same baggage and dirt from the situation that I’m leaving to the adventures and event’s of the next volume of my life.

This has been a recurring action for me.  I left my hometown of Saginaw, Michigan in 2010, to move to Nashville, Tennessee.  I’ve been in the Nashville/ Clarksville area ever since, but I never adapted.  Since I was never comfortable with the culture (it’s not for me), I never had much of a life here.  Every time I’d go back to Saginaw for a visit (which I tried to do at least twice a year), I was sad when it was time to leave.  After each visit, I’d spend most of my time hating Tennessee, and in constant nostalgia for my hometown.  This didn’t help the fact that I had no friends, and no life, in the south.  I was angry and bitter.  There was no way that I could ever be happy there.

Let’s Hit Rewind

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When I left Saginaw, I wasn’t happy with that town.  I wanted to leave and go anywhere else.  It’s a small town full of small minded people.  I felt that my brain and spirit was too big for it.  (Yes, that is very arrogant of me.  But, that’s how I felt at the time.) At that time, Tennessee seemed to be the best move make because I had family there, my daughter always wanted to go to an HBCU, and, my sons wouldn’t arbitrarily fall victim (or suspect) to the high crime rate to the city.  The decision to leave was a win/ win /win decision.  I’m happy to say that everything worked out for the most part.  My daughter graduated from Tennessee State University, and is doing well.  My sons are also progressing and are college bound.  The only problem is that I never found a life for myself, and that had a very negative effect on me.

I’d go home once or twice a year because, I thought I felt better there.  I had family there, and all of my friends are there.  People would come to visit me at my fathers house, or we’d all plan to meet somewhere and hang out together.  I felt loved and wanted there — I belonged.  Most of all, I felt comfortable.  I really believed that I wanted to move back.  I often thought about ways to make that happen, and go back to a place that wanted me.

After a while, those two visits per year trips were not so much fun.  In fact, they started to feel the way I felt when I lived there.  I reduced the visits to once a year, and eventually, I’d only visit if I really wanted to, or if I had to.  This would give my friends a chance to come and visit me.  (That never happened.  But anyone who has moved away from their hometown can relate, I’m sure.) Those trips were limited because I realized that I was never really attracted to my hometown, I was attracted to the familiarity.  That attraction created a false sense of the reality of living there, which wasn’t always a happy situation (but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have amazing memories of back home).  Moving back home would not have encouraged evolution, it would have only temporarily pacified me.  And, that could never be enough.

Fast Forward

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With cutting back on those visits home, I had decided that although I loathed Tennessee (as it was not conducive to my growth either), and I spent most of my time depressed and alone, it was home. It was where I would be.  In my comfortable apartment, working a job that pretty much keeps me isolated.  But, it would all be mine.  I would never have to worry as long I could maintain those those things.  I had taught myself to accept that, until I got tired of sitting in my patio, watching other people live their lives.  Even if they were doing things that I wasn’t interested in, at least they were doing something. My primary way of communicating with other humans was by scrolling Facebook.  Those were my friends. That was my life.  It was pathetic, but I learned to deal with it.  It was the life I had chosen.

Press Play.  This Is Now.

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There’s something to be said about accepting an unhappy situation, because if it’s bad enough, it’ll force you to make some serious changes.  After several of the most scarily depressed months and years of my life, I got myself together and took a long hard look at where I was in life.  I couldn’t stay that way because it was killing me.  I took a step back and looked at the bigger picture, which was that I don’t know how many years I have left on this planet.  So, I noted some things:  I don’t have babies anymore.  My children are independent and able to take care of themselves.  And, a hard reset on my life would save me.  I began devising a plan to get the hell out of the south and start a new life that is all mine!

There I was, planning.  Putting things together.  Changing this, changing that.  Paying things off.  Giving stuff away.  At every given chance, something would go totally wrong.  In fact, even when there was no visible chance, things would go wrong.  One of my kids would have issues.  Or, financial issues would pop up out of nowhere.  I even had health issues! (WTF?! I never have health issues!)  I believed that the Universe was conspiring against me…and I wanted to kick it’s ass!

Not only did things going wrong interrupt my flow, but sometimes things going well would interrupt things.  A restored relationship with my son, which had been strained for the last couple of years, and reconnection with other relatives made me second guess my decision.  “Maybe things are turning around, and life will get better here“, I thought.  Even though I would absolutely love for those things to happen, I feel in my heart and soul that its time for me to move on.  It’s as if I am magnetically drawn to this move.  I don’t know what’s waiting for me on the West Coast, but good or bad, it’s for me.

I’m not a crier, but I cried a lot during this time.  I had panic and anxiety attacks, and sometimes, I was very unpleasant to be around.  At times, the situation felt hopeless.  I no longer believed in myself or the plan.  However, it was natural for me to keep moving towards my goal.  Even when I wanted to quit (and knew that I should quit), I just couldn’t.  At the beginning of my planning for the next phase, I told myself that if it ever started to feel forced, I’d quit.  If it doesn’t feel as natural as summer easing into autumn, it isn’t meant to be.  Thus far, it’s been a natural progression, so I’m confident that this isn’t a bad decision.

Workout And Work It Out

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When things begin to go awry, I try to look at it in the same way that I look at exercising. I do it because it makes me stronger and healthier, which enables me to better endure whatever life tries to throw at me, and I’m also well enough to enjoy the good things.  If I don’t exercise, my chances of being defeated are increased.  The issues that threatened to throw me off my square serves the same purpose (in their own twisted, sadistic way).  How can I make it on the West Coast if I can’t make it past the first step: leaving Tennessee.  Besides, moving to the other side, or reaching a goal does not mean that everything will be smooth sailing henceforth.  There are going to be ripples and waves, and being mentally prepared is most important.  Whatever you are going through right now, is the training ground for what’s next.  This is where you’ll toughen up.  If you can  get through the setbacks in the beginning,  you’ll get past anything that happens along the way.  But for that to happen, you have to workout, eat right, get rest — take care of yourself! Be prepared to deal with whatever life will throw at you (and keep in mind that life has a hell of an arm!).

I know where I have been, and I am aware of the choices that I’ve made.  I accept responsibility and I hold myself accountable for the state of my life, at any point of it.  However, I will not hold things over my own head, or allow anything to stop me from making progress.  I know what I have to do.  I’ve only got one shot at life in this vessel, and well.. it’s a pretty good vessel! I’m going to go for what makes me happy, despite any issues that may attempt to defeat me.  I encourage you all to do the same.

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in defeating it.”

~Moliere

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4 Reasons Why “They” Don’t Know What They’re Talking About

Experts And Professors of Nothing

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When it comes to things that other people are dealing with, we’re all experts.  It’s very easy to analyze and diagnose other peoples problems from the outside, because it seems that we have a view of the bigger picture that the person going through it cannot see, which is not completely untrue.  However, as outsiders, we don’t know (and really have no way of knowing) all of the intricate detail of what a person is going through.  Still, we appoint ourselves as authorities in everyone else’s problems.

This behavior isn’t limited to problems, it’s also applied to events, plans, and ideas.  There is always someone there to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do, and why; even if you didn’t ask what anyone else thought.

For the most part, people who interfere in that way don’t mean any harm.  In most cases, they genuinely have our best interests at heart and want to help.  And, of course, there are those who will interfere only to interrupt your flow.

The bottom line is that regardless of intent, this can be quite annoying — especially when it’s volunteered.  When soliciting advice or input from others, we have to be cautious of who we trust with the inner workings of our lives.  We also have to remain calm and mature when that advice includes things that we don’t want to hear.

But, who are these prophets, professors, and experts of nothing? How did they become so knowledgeable?  The answer to the second question is obvious — experience.  Oftentimes, their opinions are based on their own life experiences.  Actually, that’s a good thing.  Sharing knowledge and experiences with each other is essential to the human experience.  That’s never a problem until someone attempts to force that opinion on someone who disagrees, or is not receiving the message fast enough for the messenger.  What works for one might not work for another, but a different perspective can always be appreciated (even if you disagree).

When it’s all said and done, you’re responsible for the choices that you make.  Be cautious of the advice that you take, and from whom said advice is coming from.  It’s always possible that your counsel is uninformed.

4 Reasons Why “They” Don’t Know What They’re Talking About

1) They Don’t Have The Whole Story

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Only so much of a situation can be expressed verbally, so an outsider isn’t capable of getting a full picture of the situation.  This can be frustrating.  Even though they’re trying to help, they’re making things worse because they don’t have all of the details.

2)  They Rely On “I Had To Do It Too”

Have you ever had a bad day at work — or even better, a job that you’re not very fond of? And, when you vent your frustration, someone responds with, “I had to do it too“, or, “I had to put up with…“.  When this would happen, I’d want to scream! It’s as though they feel that whatever you are dealing with is justified because they had to deal with it — as well as their version of worse.  Is it their intent to make you feel as though you’re not struggling enough?

I turn my ears completely off when I sense that someone is minimizing my situation because it’s not as bad as theirs, according to them.  What might be a problem for me, may not be a problem for them.  And, their problems might be futile to me.

The most frustrating part of this type of conversation is that they never offer any solutions.  All they do is say that they’ve dealt with it.  Ask them if venting was ever a part of their “dealing with it“.  And if so, why are you not afforded that same opportunity.  They won’t have an answer, because they don’t know what they’re talking about.

3) You Know What You Want And What You’re Capable Of

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Have a good idea? Want to make a change? Want to try something new and exciting? (I didn’t say “exciting and new” because those of you who are old enough would start to sing, or hum, the theme to “The Love Boat“.) If you do, and you share it with the wrong person,  they just might tell you how crazy you are, and give millions of reasons why whatever you want to do, won’t work.  Usually, in this equation, they don’t rely on their own experiences, but the experiences of others.  They all know someone who tried what you’re doing, and failed.  We don’t even know if these people that they know, (who fail at everything) exists.  For all we know, their stories are nothing more than fables that they created to prevent you from taking a chance on something that you really want to do.

No one knows your strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities better than you do, so trust yourself enough to believe that you know what you’re talking about.  Their outcomes does not have to be your outcome.

4) The Can’t Solve Their Own Problems

Just as everyone else in the world, those who are intrusive with their advice also have problems — some of which, they cannot solve (even though they may not admit it).  Apparently, their experiences, fables, and the experiences of the the people they know, are not sufficient to aid in their dilemmas,  as they are for yours.

No one can solve the problems of the world, or even their family and friends, if they can’t solve their own — but that’s alright.  We are not on this planet to be consummate saviors to each other, that’s more weight than any human can carry.  We are here to be there for each other, help when we can, and be aware that none of us are perfect in our judgements.

“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about their own.”

~ Paulo Coelho, “The Alchemist”

 

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Knowing Your Worth: Define Yourself

You Are Priceless

Lately, a couple of my friends have been talking about this guy that we all know (or at least, know of).  He’s the type of person who is all ego — no substance.  I doubt if anyone really knows who he really is.  He’s so obsessed with what he has that the people around him have also become obsessed.  I wonder if he has ever had any real friends, or just followers and flunkies, or if he even cares.

The recurring story of late is that this person has acquired a piece of jewelry that is worth tens of thousands of dollars. When I asked how anyone knew how much he had paid for it, I was told that he volunteers that information.  Why? So, the conversation around the campfire is: “Did he really pay that much?” “Where did he get it?” “Have you seen it?

WHO CARES!

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Talking about it gives energy to something that shouldn’t matter anyway.  Why care? That type of attention only feeds the beast.  Why take time out of your day to discuss what someone else has, or how much they paid for it? (Even if the owner is tacky enough to voluntarily broadcast that information.)  Instead of feeding the beast and stroking it’s ego, you should pity that kind of person and pray that they find their true selves.

The society that we live in damn near insists that identify ourselves with what we have.  And, if we don’t have the latest and the greatest, or the best of whatever is trending, we are picked on, ostracized, and made to feel bad.  Because of that kind of behavior, some children don’t go to school if their parents can’t afford to dress them like their peers.  Others may turn to crime to support a lifestyle that society says they’re supposed to have or they’re nothing.  The trickle down effect of that logic can present several negative scenarios, such as: isolation from society because they don’t fit in, or getting into toxic relationships because they’ve been taught (by life) that they are not as valuable as those who have what they don’t have. Its fashionable to flaunt what we’ve acquired and make others feel that those things are required.  Many good and talented people never reach their full potential, because they don’t believe that they’re good enough.

When a person achieves the kind of material wealth that affords them the things that they flaunt for the purpose of triggering envy from others, I have to wonder how they are using their influence? What are they doing for their community — their human family? Clearly, they have the resources to make a difference, as well as encourage others to become active in their community.  But, people who are that prideful are usually not very charitable — if at all.

Of course, I’m not suggesting people should not be proud of the things that they’ve acquired through their hard work, in fact, I encourage that.  However, we should not allow those things define us — that says a lot about our character.  It shows a lack of pride in the people that e truly are.  There’s an adage that says: “Who you really are is who you are when you think no one is watching“.  Surely, this guy isn’t spending his alone time basking in appreciation for the things that he has.  Instead, he’s likely dealing with the shame that he feels for himself by thinking of what he can do next.  Or, how to further impress his audience with things that shouldn’t matter.  Things that, when in his possession, serves only the petty purposes of feeding his ego, impressing his followers, and making others envy him, because in his mind, that’s all there is to him (albeit he’d probably never admit it).  Sadly, his hangers on will continue to feed his ego, while others will continue to feel bad about the material things that they don’t have.

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This is a vicious cycle that does not start or stop with one person.  And, one side is as guilty as the other.  We have to love ourselves enough to know that with all that we are, or are not; with all that we have or don’t have, we are awesome and amazing people.  We define ourselves, the things that we have are merely accessories.  Possessions don’t have souls or minds. Possessions can be bought and sold, so they are NOT priceless, but YOU are!  Anyone whose worth can be measured in dollars and cents, isn’t worth very much.

Always remember that whatever you have, be it designer clothes, expensive jewelry, fine homes, or fancy cars, it’s you who makes those things special, they don’t make you special.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are…the true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

~John Wooden

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Living To The Rhythm of Life

Finding A Groove That You Can Dance To

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I was playing around with my youngest son, Chris this evening, and I asked him to help me come up with a topic to  write about.  As we began tossing ideas around, a conversation commenced that went like this:

Chris: What’s going on with you right now?

Me: Work, moving, work-work, condensing my stuff so I can move, move-move, work.  That’s pretty much it.

Chris: Have you written about any of those things? And, how do you say “chair” in Spanish? (Of course, that last question has nothing to do with the subject.  I don’t even know why he needed to know how to say “chair” in Spanish.  That’s just how conversations with Chris usually go.)

Me: Constantly! If you followed Afrologik, you’d know that! But I digress…  And I don’t know how to say “chair” in Spanish.  I know how to say table though. 

Chris: Then what are we supposed to do? How do we solve this?

Me: We are both wordsmiths.  We should be able to put something together.

Chris: What? You want me to put it to a rhythm and a beat? LOL!

Me: Hmmm…

 

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Chris was joking around, but the truth is that this whole life experience is pretty much a bunch of changing rhythms and beats.  We dance to the beat thats playing at any given time, only instead of calling it dancing, we call it living (perhaps because we find it to be a bit ridiculous to consider that we all dance through life.  Personally, I think dancing through life sounds much more fun than simply living life).  Maybe that’s why music provides the soundtrack for our lives.  And, maybe that’s why all sounds can be perceived as music: rain, wind, birds, laughter, or crying.  The flow of the oceans, rivers, and lakes.  The sounds of cars, busses, trucks, and trains in transit — it’s all to a rhythm.  That rhythm is the soundtrack to life.

The time signature — the amount of beats per measure of music, or in this article, life.  Regardless of how unique a beat, or time signature my seem, it’s never new.  It’s nothing that has never been done before.  The difference is the way each individuals plays or move to said beat.  Even if the sounds and movements are recycled, the combinations are what make them your music.  The movements and the beats represents the way that we move through life —  the highs, the lows, or just day to day.  We are always moving to a rhythm, whether we realize it or not.

Life’s rhythm is very real and it should never be interrupted, because it is the natural flow of things.  There is space for errors and mishaps, happiness and sadness, fear and bravado — every emotion can exist peacefully together inside of that rhythm with ease, and even a level of control.  Only when that rhythm is interrupted does chaos occur.  Chaos, being those things that are wildly unexpected — tragedies.  Tragedies only happen outside of the rhythm — it’s never on beat.  In other words, it doesn’t belong.

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The rhythm of life is going to keep moving and grooving whether you’re on the beat or not.  Music will keep playing, birds will keep singing — life will go on.  We all lose the beat sometimes.  Even though the nuances, timing,  and tempo changes, the groove is constant.  We can always find the beat and get back into the groove.

All of this is to say that whatever you are going through right now, whether happy or sad, your situation is probably not unique, and your actions won’t be unique either.  Anything that you will deal with will have been dealt with before by others, so just as they found the beat and got back into the groove, so can you.  It’s up to you to create your own combinations of movements that get you through the nuances, timing, and tempo changes of life.  Your life is your music.  Only you will know how to dance to it.

Life comes in all genres, and you have to know how to move to them all.  Some you will like, other’s you won’t.  However, the only way that you will ever navigate through this life is to find your groove, and keep moving.

“To live is to be musical, starting with the blood in your veins.  Everything has a rhythm.  Do you feel your music?”

~ Michael Jackson

 

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Finding Yourself Without Losing Yourself

*Repost*

The Art of Being True To Oneself

One thing that has been consistent over the decades is that people are always on some kind of trip. Be it political, religious, or health (to name a few), we are all on a journey for truth and a better life.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call these concepts fads or trends, because there are many people who are stringent about their beliefs and lifestyle choices. However, for many, they really are fads and trends. Of course, they don’t start out that way. As stated earlier, we are all on a journey; and that usually requires trying many things until we find a process that works for us as individuals. In any case, in the experimentation phase, we are afforded opportunities to expand our minds, learn more about each other–as well as ourselves, and gain a better understanding of the way things are and perhaps, should be. Those are all good things.

On the other hand, belief systems and ideological differences can be quite divisive (especially political and religious differences). Bible thumpers have problems with spiritual people, counter cultures, and alternate lifestyles; Republicans and Democrats hate each other; normal people are envious and afraid of so called weird people (even though they’ll never admit it), traditionalists don’t like hippies. And then there are the really important differences; you know, like: 2pac or Biggie, who won the rap battle between Jay-Z and Nas (Nas won. Ether? C’mon son!), Coke or Pepsi, winter or summer; and everyone has the right answer (in their minds). It’s sometimes all fun and games, but other times, people become offended and it can escalate to violence.

Don’t Get Lost In The Divide

If you know who you are, and you are true to your convictions, there is no reason to feel a need to choose a side or become confrontational. It is possible to stand your ground and still appreciate the perceptions of others. I can love people who are not Prince fans (I probably wouldn’t like them very much, but I could still love them).

You don’t have to be a “social chameleon” to give others the benefit of expressing their opinions. In fact, I can’t stand the term “social chameleon” and I don’t care to be in the company of those who identify themselves as such. Those types of people usually sway with the wind and you never truly get to know who they are. Contrary to popular belief, chameleons do not change their colors to blend in or camouflage themselves for protection–only humans do that. Chameleons change colors to reflect their moods. By that rationale, a true social chameleon would be able to stand their ground even when their opinions are not shared by present company.

Express Your Beliefs Without Being Condescending

Have you ever been the odd person out in a room full of people who have decided to make an attempt at converting you? Maybe it wasn’t a room full, maybe it was only one or two people, or perhaps a family member. I’ve been in that situation, and it isn’t fun. There are people who have given themselves the pseudo importance of being so righteous that they can not only change your life, but improve upon it. That type of person is extremely inflexible and lives in a completely black and white world–no gray. The gray area of life is very important because that it where understanding happens, even if we are in disagreement.

No one has the right to force or shame a person into submission. It’s better to share information, lead by example, and allow others to do their own research and make their own decisions. Whether or not a person shares the same beliefs and opinions should not decide whether or not they are a good person.

Some People And Things Will Have To Go

Currently, people are gravitating to the Keto lifestyle in droves. Some of my friends have lost weight and are now healthier since adopting this lifestyle. I think that is awesome! I had similar success years ago when I adopted the low carb lifestyle. The results of Keto will vary for each individual, as it is contingent upon what each person is willing to give up. This is true with any lifestyle change.

As we evolve and become more conscious, it’s likely that we will no longer be as tolerant of some things as we had formerly been. We might not laugh at the same kinds jokes, go to the same places, or spend time with the same types of people–that’s a component of evolution. We become more attracted to that which elevates us, and better able to identify that which holds us back.

Distancing ourselves from people cannot always be done as abruptly as distancing ourselves from certain foods. People have feelings–food does not. As our tastes and ideals in life change, we should not cop a “holier than thou” , “I’m better than you” attitude to the people around us. Ostracizing those who are not, or no longer aligned with who you are is counterproductive to evolution. We must be tactful in our restraint. Like attracts like, so the universe will send us people who are aligned with our beliefs, and people who will elevate us. The time will eventually come for us to be a beacon for someone else.

Be True To Yourself

Regardless of whether you are certain that you are on the path of your destiny, or experimenting and trying to find your bag; be true to yourself and understanding of others.

One of the greatest things about this planet is that there are so many different kinds of people, cultures, and ideas. There is always something new to see or learn, but we can only make use of that accessibility if our minds are open to the possibilities–which are endless.

If we all make love our “trip“, the rest might be a little easier.

Always remain steadfast on your journey to greatness”

~Avijeet Das

Letting The Past Off The Hook

Mind Control

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While sitting in my patio this morning, a thought randomly crossed my mind, and it really upset me.  That thought brought other unpleasant thoughts, and they were all related to each other.  They all shared a common bond.

I believe that mornings set the pace for the rest of the day, so It’s important to be cautious of how we spend our mornings.  If the day starts off bad, that will likely be the trend for the rest of the day.  Because I allowed unfavorable thoughts to enter, and occupy my mind, my day didn’t go as well as it could have. And, that was my own fault.

On the job, everyone that I spoke to really got on my nerves.  (This isn’t uncommon, but today, it was magnified by 1,000.)  I’m sure that my aggravation was extremely legible to my customers, but I didn’t care.  This attitude was the theme of my entire shift — which felt more like sixteen hours than eight.  I kept watching the clock and the calendar, as I counted down the days that I have left before I’m off to start the next volume of my life.

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“44 days, and its SEE YA SUCKERRRS!!!”

Finally, the shift ended, and I was still in a funk.  I was glad that both of my sons had to work, and were not home when I got off.  Since I’ll be leaving soon, I really want to enjoy them, not take my hard days and bad attitudes out on them.  Especially when my issue has nothing to do with them.  I decided to get out of the house and get some air.  So, I took a walk.

At first, I was still kind of pissed about that thing from 2,000 years ago, which involved people that I don’t even have contact with anymore.  I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings, as I usually do.  I was just walking blindly.  All I could see was the growing rage that I had at that moment about things that I can’t change, and probably no one even cares about.

Butterflies Saved The Day!

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I love butterflies.  I can’t be anything other than happy when butterflies and/or sunflowers are in my presence.  Even pictures of butterflies and sunflowers can change my mood from not so good, to great.  While I was walking, three yellow butterflies flew past me.  (I’ve been telling people that yellow butterflies have been following me, and everyone keeps telling me that they haven’t seen any.  Either they aren’t paying attention, or the butterflies are a figment of my imagination.  But anyway…) The sight of the butterflies put a smile on my face, and I could then see all of the beautiful things that were around me; like the flowerbeds, the trees, the beautifully manicured lawned.  The sun.  The sky.  The Universe! My attitude had done a 180.

While in the newfound calmness of my day, I continued to walk.  I thought about how I not only allowed negative thoughts to enter my mind and fester, but I also gave them control of me, as well as my day.  I know better than that.  Since I now know that I can be blindsided by my own negative thoughts, and that my guard is not always up (I’m usually a very guarded person), I had to do something about it.  I had to figure where these ideas where coming from, and how to prevent this from happening again.

As I continued to walk, and in a much better mood, surrounded by beautiful things, I figured it out: I’ve got to let those people off the hook.

It’s not always enough that we clean up our lives, rid ourselves of toxic relationships, or even move away, if we are going to drag excess baggage into each new situation.  We can do all of those things and still be miserable and unhappy.  Many of us are carrying grudges and ill feelings about people and situations, and we don’t even realize it until it sneaks up and catches us off guard (and ruin our day).  These are the types of things that can pile up and block progress.  You can’t allow that to happen.  You’ve worked too hard and have come too far, to block your own progress.

 

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It’s been said a million times, and by a million people, that we have to learn to forgive ourselves. In my opinion, that’s not always true.  “Ourselves” don’t always deserve to be forgiven.  But, we can let ourselves off the hook.  In other words, recognize your offense and be aware of that you are capable of whatever you have done — but don’t dwell on it.  Let it go.  The same goes for those who offend you.  You don’t have to forgive anyone for unforgivable offenses. But, you have to let them off the hook so you can get on with your life —  sans negative thoughts about they did, didn’t do, said, or what happened.  All of those things are past tense — you can’t do anything about those things.  However, you can stop being angry about them.  You mind is very powerful.  Probably, more powerful than you believe.  You have the power to shake it off, think of something else.  Tell yourself that by letting events from the past ruin your day, you’re giving power to people who have wronged you.  Do what you have to do to let go, and train yourself not to allow that kind of energy to occupy of your headspace.

For the rest of my walk, I chanted:

As of todayI’ve let all of those people, and all of those situations off the hook.  I will never again give them control.  And, as of today, the past has let me off the hook.”

Should another ugly memory threaten to ruin my day, I’ll chant those statements as many times, and as loudly as necessary. I will protect my peace, and move on to the next opportunity.

“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.”

~Friedrich Nietzsche

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Accepting Life’s Challenges

Turning Failures Into Flyness

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For the last few days, I’ve been pondering my upcoming transition as I prepare for it.  At times, it feels like I’m on an emotional rollercoaster, worrying about the most ridiculous things.  One night, I actually cried so hard, that I had to awaken my sons.  Why was I crying? Because right now, I have my own bathroom in my bedroom. When I move to  Los Angeles, I probably won’t have my own bathroom anymore.  Because of my depression over having to leave the room to go pee, my two teenaged sons had to stay awake for a couple of hours and try to chill their irrational mother out.  At first, they didn’t seem to mind, but as time progressed, my oldest son suggested that we “finish this tomorrow“.  That actually lightened the mood for me because I thought it was funny.  To my surprise, we really did further discuss it the next morning.

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Prior to and beyond that instance, I’ve had several instances of being frightened that things are not going to work out for me.  I’ve worried about everything from living conditions, to employment, to having my own bathroom.  Each of those worries have found me in a state of “WTF AM I DOING?!!”.  I’ve been planning for months and I have been confident the whole time, but the closer I get to the end, I’m becoming more and more afraid.

Through all of my apprehensions and self doubt, I never gave up, considered giving up, or thought about making this transition some other time — not even when someone else had suggested it.  I know that I have to do this now, and as long as I feel this way about it, things will somehow work themselves out (even when I have no idea how).

During these extreme bouts of worry, I consulted everyone and everything from friends and family to Magic 8 Balls (by the way, Magic 8 Balls are pessimistic liars! One of them told me that most likely, my name is not Brandi…).  Every little thing, regardless of how small and insignificant, was magnified be 10,000.  I took it all as signs that I should reconsider my plans.  This was one extreme case of cold feet.  Even when I got signs that things were working out and would be fine, I was still afraid.

As life would have it, something really did go awry.  This was a big thing and a small thing at the same time.  Since I was already in a sort of fragile and unstable place, the worst part stood out the most.  Even though this situation hod knocked me on my ass for a while, I still never gave up.  I knew that somehow things would work out.  They have to! Things will be more difficult than I had planned, but not impossible.  However, knowing that something isn’t impossible, and having a plan are two different things — my plan had been disturbed.

No Plan, But Lots of Ambition

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My original plan had fallen apart, but I had two things: a oneway plane ticket, and ambition. As long as I have those things, I can figure the rest out.  I could create a new plan.  But, I was still afraid.  Since sharing this idea of doing a hard reset on my life and starting all the way over, plenty of people have been following me on this journey.  Many have expressed to me that they’ve considered making this kind of move, but haven’t for whatever reasons.  And now, they are living “vicariously” through me (their words).  I want everyone to be confident enough to challenge themselves to find what really makes them happy.  This added pressure to the equation.  I can’t back down now, because if I do, maybe they won’t try.  The activist in me would never allow that, so I gotta do it!

But What If I Fail?

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I worried (and sometimes I still do) that I will fail quite often.  “If I fail, no one will ever take a chance on themselves“, yes, I have given myself that kind of importance.  However, it wasn’t totally arrogant of me to feel that way because there really are people who are watching, and I really do have to lead by example.  Some of those people might not have the kind of encouragement that I have, or even people who love and support them like I have.  I want to be those things for those people, so I can’t fail at this.

The one thing that went wrong was actually valuable to me because it forced me to look at things from a different perspective.  The move that I’m making can potentially change lives — not just mine, but the lives of everyone who is watching.  Those people might need to see someone that they know, or can relate to, doing the things that they would like to try.  I asked the Universe to put me in a position where I could help others, and the Universe obliged.  Now that I am in that position, I have to play it.  Also, setbacks are designed to make us work harder.  Once again, I had to prove to myself and the Gods that I really want this thing to happen.  So, I have to fight harder.

But How?

As time moves on, and my time left in Tennessee shortens, I become more and more afraid.  “How am I gonna do this?“. “I‘m gonna miss the kids, how can I make it without them?“.  “What if this doesn’t work? What will I do?”  None of this is any different than it was when I first made the decision to move across the country.  My kids will be fine, I will be fine.  I’ve done, and have been doing, the work and making the necessary provisions to ensure these things.  At this point, I was only making excuses for being scared.

There is nothing wrong with being cautious of the unknown — in fact, that is probably the best way to prepare for whats ahead.  I didn’t realize that, so I continued to ride the see-saw of what to do/ what not to do.

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During one of my “Woe is me.  I”m gonna fail.  This isn’t gonna work” phases, I was chatting with a friend who had heard this same story from me 973 times in the last hour.  While once again saying “What if I totally fail?”, my mind and my soul connected, and my next sentence was, “If I fail.  If I fall on my face… I’m gonna do it so fly that everyone will want to fail!“.  At that moment, I let myself off the hook and allowed myself to be human.  Sometimes humans fail, and when we do, the world does not stop spinning.  Besides, I had counted this transition as a failure before it even happened — that’s the best way to ensure a failure.  I know better than that.  I have to keep speaking life into this thing if I want it to give life.

Oftentimes, we ignore our humanity and forget that failure is a part of life, and that fear of failure is never a reason to give up or not even try.  Sometimes, it’s even necessary for things to not go as planned.  The problem is that we allow ego to take over, which does not allow us to see anything other than the failure, and who is responsible for that failure. Only you are responsible for what choose to do, or what you choose to not do.

Whatever we go through, good or bad, is for a reason, and that reason might not always be one that benefits you.  We are a human community, our wins and losses are effective on a universal level.  Death is the only thing that is permanent, so move yourself around.  Try things, and don’t be afraid to be afraid, because it’s natural.  However, don’t let that fear stop you from trying.  Don’t allow it to speak negativity into your plans and dreams.  If by chance, things don’t work out, try again — or try something else.  Just because one thing didn’t work does not mean that the next thing won’t.  You have to be willing to fail if you ever want to accomplish anything.

As I move forward with my plans, sometimes things work out perfectly, and sometimes things fall apart for no good reason — but I continue to move forward, and I really am confident that things are going to work out.  I might have cold feet, but my plans have not gone cold.  Because I want what I want, and I want it badly, I’m willing to try.  Win, lose, or draw, I’d at least know that I reached for it.

“The strongest people take the hardest punches.”

~Christopher Byas-Pearson

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Taking Your Confidence Back

Forgetting About What “They” Said

*Repost*

How many of you have had a dream of something that you’ve always wanted to do, or become, but the words and perceptions of others deterred you? Perhaps, you’ve always wanted to become an actor, but felt that you didn’t look as good as Denzel Washington or Halle Berry, so you believed that no one would want to see you. Or, maybe you’ve always wanted to be an athlete, but didn’t believe that you’d ever be good enough to play professional sports. Here’s one that I know many of you can relate to: how many of you never went for that person of whom you just knew that you could spend the rest of your life with, because you didn’t think you were good enough for them?

Missed Opportunities

Missed opportunities are nearly impossible to get over. They hang around and haunt us forever, encouraging thoughts of what could have been. We beat ourselves up for years for not taking that life-changing leap — just taking a chance on ourselves. Eventually, we adjust and learn (or pretend) to be content in the safe lifestyles that we have chosen.

Ask yourself, “what or who was it that planted the seed of self doubt inside of you?” Most likely, it wasn’t you. By nature, humans do not elect to put ourselves down. Feelings of inadequacy are always the result of other people, and or forces, whether advertently, or inadvertently. They tell us (in a variety of ways) that we are not good enough. The best defense to that is to hone our crafts and go on to become great, but that doesn’t happen often enough. Most of us learn to accept that we are not pretty enough, tall enough, thin enough, strong enough, or smart enough, and settle into a conventional life where we are not often reminded of our inadequacies. Safe; it is. Happy, it’s usually not.

Growing Pains

We’ve all had dreams when we were younger of what we wanted to be when we “grow up“. Adults seem to love to ask children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. Since we were brave enough to dream, back then, most of us gave elaborate, festive answers to that question. We’d say that we wanted to be everything from doctors, to astronauts, to cowboys — because we believed that we could become those things. Then, somewhere along the way, someone, or some people, began to criticize us and point out (or make up) reasons why our dreams were stupid and unachievable. Usually, this begins in school, and as time progressed in our scholastic careers, the criticism would increase, until we’d begin to believe that our ideas were unrealistic and that we simply were not good enough.

The Cool Kids Clique

Every school has the “Cool Kids Clique“. The group of popular kids who pretty much decided who and what was cool, and what was not. Although this clique was always a minority in numbers compared to the rest of the schools population, those who were not selected to be a part of the “in crowd“, would find themselves measuring their own worth by comparing themselves to the popular kids. In most cases, this is the beginning of self esteem issues that, in many instances, last a lifetime.

Inferiority Complex

When you have your peers, family and the media causing you to feel inferior, you’ll begin to believe that you are not “good enough“. You’ll stop challenging yourself, and eventually, you’ll settle for “good enough“. Not being a part of the “Cool Clique“, or not having the latest fashions, or not looking like the people on TV, are constant reminders of all of things that you feel that you are not. This will cause you to lose the confidence that you had when you were a child, and believed that you could be an astronaut, a cowboy, or a princess. The cool kids were right; it was unrealistic — for you.

Good Enough — Not Good Enough

Settling definitely has a snowball effect — especially if you are settling because you do not believe that you can do a thing or that you deserve better. You’ll settle for a good enough job, a good enough car, a good enough home, and a good enough spouse. Things might look good to outsiders (there are more people living a good enough life, than there are those who are living an extraordinary life), but inside, you’re unhappy. When you look in the mirror, you’ll see the reflection of a person who could be, and should be, more. Not necessarily making more money or acquiring more material things, but being happier, more fulfilled, and simply liking yourself. You’ll also see a person who allowed others to measure their worth, compared to what they found ideal, and worst, you believed them.

Beware: The Spirit Assassinators

Usually, when a person tries to destroy another persons spirit, it’s because they are afraid. They see something in you that makes them feel inferior. They believe that you are capable of achieving great things, and they’d rather destroy you than see you reach your full potential. They don’t have the nerve to step out of their clique and delve into the things that they are really interested in, because that if they try new and/or different things, they may no longer be “cool“.

I’ve always felt bad for the cool kids, because they never had what us outcasts had: the courage to be ourselves, and allow others to be themselves, regardless of who their true “self” was . We didn’t have to be pretentious; we created our own version of “cool” that worked for us, and because of that, we never lost our confidence. Some never caught on to that and have spent their adult lives trying to catch up to the status that they never achieved with people who stunted their growth. Vying for “likes” on social media, and still trying to hang out with the very people who grossly rejected them in high school.

It’s Never Too Late

It’s never too late to challenge yourself. Be daring! Accept the fact that although you may not have been the textbook definition of “cool”, you’re a better version because you’ve defined yourself. You are the judge and jury that decides who you are. When you relinquish your power to those who have elected themselves as the gatekeepers, you are doing yourself a great disservice.

Go back and take back your confidence! Become the cowboy, astronaut, or princess; it’s possible if you believe that you can. I’ll share a secret with you (SHHHHH! Don’t tell anyone), when I was a kid, more than anything, I wanted to be “Mork“. Do you remember that TV show, “Mork & Mindy”? Robin Williams played an alien named Mork, who used to say “Nanu Nanu“, and sit upside down. He was from the planet Ork. Mork didn’t have a spaceship, like most aliens. He flew through space in a giant egg. I loved Mork, and I wanted to be him.

As I grew older, in my own way, I became Mork (a female version, of course). I’m not an alien from planet Ork, but I am kind of an alien on planet Earth, as I am told that I am weird, compared to what is considered usual. I’ve never been in outer space, but I often study the stars and planets, and how they effect us humans. I don’t have a spaceship, or a giant egg, or a demented prophet named Exidor, and a superior called Orson, but I’m lifted by the Universe and God (superior), and elevated by several personal prophets (some are demented, some are not. But they’re still my prophets. Lol!).

At the end of each show, Mork would concentrate and connect with Orson — much like how at the end of my day, I meditate and connect with the Universe.

So, all of my life, I’ve been working towards being Mork, without realizing that I was. When I realized that perhaps I am kind of an alien compared to the norm, and people tried to make derogatory remarks and innuendo, I didn’t care. If I could become my own version of Mork, then you can become a cowboy.

A strong spirit transcends rules”

~Prince

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Don’t Be Afraid To Say No

Take Care of #1

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Those who have spent enough time around me have likely heard me state the phrase, “So.  They won’t die from that“, or, “They won’t die from madness, disappointment, etc“.  Anyone who has heard me make that statement most likely heard it during a conversation about someone having to say “NO” to someone.

Well, it’s true.  No one has ever dropped dead simply because they heard the word “NO“, so,  there’s never any reason for anyone to feel bad or afraid to give “NO” as an answer.  Perhaps you are not able to accommodate the needs of the person who is making the request.  Or maybe, you just don’t want to do it.  You have the right to say no without feeling guilty about it.  You never have to give an explanation for why you choose not to do something.  Don’t let anyone make you feel as though you do.

 

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A few days ago, I was conversing with a good friend who was telling me that he want’s to take some time to himself, because he has never lived alone.  Currently, he has other people living with him, who are NOT legal dependents.  These other people are adults.  They may possibly have nowhere to go, should my friend decide to execute his plan.  He has set a date that is far enough away for anyone to make living arrangements.  He’s being extremely fair  — in fact, he’s being more fair than most people would be.  Still, he feels a sense of responsibility to the others.  He really does not want to leave them in a bad position.  While that is definitely commendable, I had to ask him some questions: What if they are never ready to leave? Is he willing to give up the rest of his life, miss out on opportunities, and disrupt his own evolution, all because he feels responsible for other able bodied adults?

There are times when we’ll extend ourselves to people in the spirit of help and support — which I feel is a beautiful thing.  But, instead of using said help as the stepping stone that it was intended to be, those people will become complacent and dependent on the situation that you’ve provided for them.  In other words, they’ll become lazy.  I advised my friend that by putting himself on hold for the sake of providing for those who he has no obligation to, until they “get on their feet“, he’s enabling them, and they will always depend on him.  Also, allowing himself to be used in that manner could potentially change his personality, or cause him to miss out on opportunities that could better his life.

He plans to make his move in a year — which is more than enough time for his roommates to devise a plan for their living arrangements — especially with being informed so far ahead of time.  There is no reason for him to feel guilty for whatever becomes of them.  He’s being more than fair.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to help friends, family, or mankind.  In fact, if you follow Afrologik, you know that I advocate for us all to be “our brothers/sisters keeper“.  However, that doesn’t mean that anyone has to be a human doormat.

We have a responsibility to each other, and some of us really need the help. In helping others, we cannot forget ourselves.  We can’t give so much that there is nothing left of us.  Denying ourselves the necessities of life is not what being selfless is about.  Being selfless is perhaps yielding whatever we can for the sake of the greater good.  As individuals, we get to choose what is a necessity for us and what we can sacrifice.  And, when we are not comfortable enough to be of service to anyone or anything at any given time — we just can’t.  Humans can certainly wear each other down

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There is such a thing as too much help.  You have to be careful that your help is not being taken advantage of.  This happens to people with big hearts frequently.  It has the potential to turn a warm heart into a cold heart.  Allowing the nature of another being to congest your soul has an effect on your vibration.  You must protect your vibe, even at the risk of severing ties with those that you might feel close to.  If they care about you, they wouldn’t want to burden you or make you feel guilty.

The bottom line is that everything always works out somehow, so it’s okay to say say “NO” when you can’t, or just don’t want to do something.  You’ve heard the saying, “Take care of number one“, well, you’re number one.  If you are not in a good state of being, you can’t help the rest of us make the world a better place.

No one will die if you tell them “NO“.

Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious.  You get to choose how you use it.  You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” 
Anna Taylor

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