Friday, November 30, 2012

The Addictions I Won't Let Go Of...

“It's probably weird to think about an addiction like it's a sentient being, but that's how it feels - like it's something living inside you. Something you can't get rid of because killing it means killing you.”
~Ellen Hopkins

Addiction: “The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance(s), thing(s), or activity”…

Hello, I’m Rose. I’m addicted to keeping happiness in my life…

It may be controversial and a bit challenging to think of happiness as an addiction, but it can be one of the heaviest addictions known to man. It can be the basis for which many of the other addictions present themselves; the need to keep ourselves happy. I’m pretty sure that when you talk to many of the people who struggle with addiction, you begin to hear similar statements… “It makes me happy,” “I need this to get by,” “This is the only thing that takes my mind off of …..” We’re all addicted to getting happy.  How we get there can be left to the individual to determine. Some happiness will only last until the bottle is empty, or the lover has gone home, or the high is lowered. I choose to follow the road that leads to a deeper, happier happy.

Happiness depends on your perspective…

While my road to happiness is reached with healthy daily “pills,” my addiction is one that doctors do not care to cure. There are different paths that lead to what one considers their ultimate happiness…

Throughout the years, I’ve learned to be the only deciding factor in what my happiness will be based upon. I’ve trained myself to not depend on others’ actions and opinions but in contrast, how to judge based on my needs and life experiences… Happiness, similar to addiction, equals different things to different people. The definitions and characteristics of happiness vary from person to person. For everyone it is different and its meaning can change during time… Happiness depends on the nature of our mind and the will-power behind it. Happiness (its source, what it entails) is a choice in life that you have to make and create.

“This is our purpose: to make as meaningful as possible this life that has been bestowed upon us . . . to live in such a way that we may be proud of ourselves, to act in such a way that some part of us lives on.”
~Oswald Spengler

My addiction to happiness is a very complex one and unlike other addictions, it is dependent on several components to make it a work.
We all have different roads that lead to happiness, our happiness… The saying, “All main roads lead to Rome” describes well the sentiment that there are different paths that lead to the same goal, same achievement and same outcome. However, not all paths are healthy and none destructive. Satisfying an “addiction” can be detrimental when making the wrong choices. We all want to be happy but what makes us happy is sometimes where we get lost on the road to reaching that happiness. My road to achieving happiness is through having love in my life, dreaming big dreams, appreciating the joy, focusing on my sanity by staying sound minded, relieving myself of unnecessary stress, finding the perfect balance in seeking perfection (can’t escape that word!!!!), being a hopeless hopeful for a better us -searching, speaking and living the truth as best as I can, and healthy search for beauty… Inner beauty of course!J

Happiness is a feeling, a state of mind; it’s a choice… right or wrong. It is the ability to see your aspirations and desires come to fruition. It is deciding what your today is, what your tomorrow will be and what shapes it.

To healthy addictions…

This article is part of my guest writing project for the website, visit the site for more entries by talented writers

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Guest Post "Maximizing Differences" by Djino Real McCoy

Djino is a passionate loving young man happily married but who went through some very difficult times. He once did not believe in loving anymore after a terrible separation from a woman whom he believed to be the love of his life. Little did he know that those trials and tribulations would make him a better man and a better husband to his wife...Love was the farthest thing of his mind until he gave it another try...Now he is back at it again with an exponential outpouring of love stemmed from hurt...may sound like an oxymoron but out of hurt sometimes come the best things in life...Now, Djino has found and rediscovered himself...Love is a beautiful thing...

Maximizing Differences...

"You just don't understand!!!!" is a complaint that we hear on a consistent basis in relationships nowadays...on more than one occasion to say the least. Ever wonder if that is the realization that perhaps one lover is just not compatible with the other one or is it just a case of plain and simple differences between the two lovers?"

It is very invigorating to be around people who choose to have a winning attitude no matter what happens. That shows tremendous resilience in the midst of all storms. When people get married, it is clearly stated to them that it is for good or bad, for richer or poorer but in today's permissive society, it is very common to choose the easiest way out i.e. terminate the relationship, not giving too much of your time to a cause that one will claim lost. Certainly, there are instances when it is warranted but when the person being your partner is genuinely and viscerally a person of decent character, doesn't that make it worth fighting for? We are all human beings and instant gratification is something that we all long for. However, one has to allow to see the big picture. We can forgive but not forget.

I've been discussing lots of topics with lovely people (past acquaintances, current friends or confidantes). Some of them are just downright appealing in their intelligence, their wits, their demeanor and their way to deal with adversity. They have been quite inspirational to me and there is just something respectable and noteworthy about people who fight that speak volumes. I personally love women who are fighters. They look at the big picture and realize that certain things need to be forgiven but not forgotten. I'm not saying that you have to let things slide all the time however, when the record has been set straight, a new beginning is to be implemented.  

In a nutshell, I came to the conclusion that our differences are magnified in the fall season of a relationship and in the winter season, they stand as icy walls that divide us. In God's plan, our differences were never intended to divide us. In fact, God is the author of diversity. Even better, when God instituted marriage as a union of 2 unique individuals, he knew that he was creating unity out of diversity. Some other people will tell you that to have a blissful relationship or marriage, you need to have EVERYTHING (95% or above) in common. In fact, incompatibility or "irreconcilable differences" is often given as the grounds for divorce. After talking to a lot of people, I'm convinced there are no irreconcilable differences but only people who refuse to reconcile.

Maximizing differences in a relationship or marriage requires the following: look for assets in your differences, learn from your differences and replace condemnation with affirmation (meaning that both partners in a relationship or marriage need to feel appreciation rather than condemnation). Mutual affirmation creates an atmosphere for positive change.  

Picture courtesy of

Monday, November 26, 2012

Are All Opinions Created Equal?

“Your opinion is your opinion, your perception is your perception--do not confuse them with "facts" or "truth". Wars have been fought and millions have been killed because of the inability of men to understand the idea that EVERYBODY has a different viewpoint.”
~John Moore

“Q: Why do you blog?
A: Partly to make Butterflies and Wheels more frequently updated and more interactive (as well as that bit more interesting, I hope), but also because I think the world desperately needs to hear my opinions, and I like to oblige.”
~Ophelia Benson

I thought this was a pretty funny dialogue… It’s not my personal truth but nevertheless, very amusing!

I choose to write about my experiences or views because:

1-      I love to write. I write for myself; for my own benefit, for my own enjoyment. I write for self-expression, self-reflection… I've learned so much about myself in this process. I've met a part of myself that I never knew was there. And not only that, but I've learned a lot about other things in the course of the past 10 months.
2-      The second reason I love to write is that it allows my thought process to take its time, revisit the sentiment I’m feeling, and analyze it to make sure the thought or view is clear and sound. The more I think while trying to lay my thoughts on paper, the more everything gets reshaped into a decisive viewpoint. And ultimately, my writings become better. It’s like fine wine, the longer it’s allowed to settle itself and age; it becomes finer tasting. And lastly:
3-      I write because I love the challenge of hearing views that are completely different than mine. I write for the opportunity to share and acknowledge a different stance than mine. It’s not wise to go through life thinking that it’s “your way or the highway.” More often than not, our opinions, theories and beliefs are based on a set of circumstances that we were born into, moved into, adopted into, or even married into. Our thoughts are based on our experiences, relative to us. And everyone’s experiences are different. For example; if you were raised into a very wealthy family, you can’t expect to have the same take on life as someone who was born into poverty. The fundamental beliefs on “right and wrong” might be similar, but the thought processes will be quite contrary. It’s only when you hear the thoughts and opinions of others, that you can truly validate whether or not what you thought was based on a limited view of the world and how things really are….  

At the end of the day, being able to hear someone else’s opinion on something that took time and work/effort for you to comprehend, digest, and summarize, makes you a more understanding person and a better one! It’s like getting a free class on life; a free opportunity to learn from someone else’s time spent here on the earth. And that is invaluable. I would certainly love to sit and listen to great minds like Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and many others that have traveled different and successful paths in this life. They could simply tell me their views and opinions on how certain things should be done, how people should conduct business, and their opinions on how people could go about achieving success. Imagine the type of person you could become if you could connect brilliant opinions/ideas from others, to your own genius ideas…. You could be a person without limits. It really just depends on what opinions you value… 

Let’s place a caveat here. While you can have a healthy respect for anyone’s opinion, you can’t absorb everyone’s opinion. Did you catch that? I love reading responses to blogs I've written, and sometimes someone might say/write something that totally strays from the point I’m trying to convey. That’s fine. Everyone is entitled to their interpretation of my writings and to their opinion. The point is; I’m also entitled to not accept your opinion into my mental database.

Opinions are just that… They are interpretations. They’re our very own conclusions to a situation, or event that we are asked about (or not asked). Opinions can’t be deemed true or false as they are not factual statements. An opinion is equal and comparable to the mind that creates it. Opinions, by definition, are theories. A theory is an unproven idea.
However, an opinion has to be strong enough that you believe it to the core. It has to be very well thought out, so that you can defend and argue it if the occasion arises.
Although my writings, opinions, viewpoints and statements are not set in stone, I feel very strongly about them because of all the reasons I stated above. BUT, I’m always open to my beliefs being challenged and possibly modified because I value everyone’s opinions… and some more than others J.

Well, here it is… Are all opinions created equal? I’m not sure. I can’t say… I think that one person may be able to give a more relevant opinion on a particular matter, given they have more experience than another person. But does that make the opinion of more or lesser value? It’s hard to tell… It’s just an opinion. When a child says (concerning Christmas), “We should all love each other because Santa will be happy,” is that a silly opinion because we (as adults) know there’s no Santa? No; it’s a relevant opinion based on what the child knows. 
Let me put it this way…
It is my opinion, that one opinion is equal in value to another... as long as it doesn't contradict mine! (Joking…)

“It were not best that we should all think alike;
it is difference of opinion that makes horse races.”
~Mark Twain


Picture courtesy of

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Women in Congo...Let's do the little we can... Sunday Awarness

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing 
because he could only do a little"
~Edmund Burk

The Greatest Silence: Rape in The Congo (HBO documentary official trailer)

Their faces define pain their spirits reflect hopelessness...  

Tens of thousands of women of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are being kidnapped, raped, mutilated, and tortured. Their eyes are with no sparkles, they are blank stares and when a glimpse of emotion appears it is in the form of tears…
The inhumane actions initiated against these women are heart breaking. Where we would rather die than having to face such atrocities, they are left with no choice in their calamities… Where we have “the law” to protect us and (in worst case) to “avenge” us, their culprits are those who are supposed to safeguard them…those who are supposed to uphold the law...
This documentary was taped in 2006, 6 years later the message still stands just as loud and unresolved…the cries are still piercing…the women of Congo only want their voices to be heard, their pain taken into consideration…

Our Voices Matter Congolese Women Demand Justice and Accountability


At the end of the video one of the women says "we are tired of telling our sufferings, our difficulties; as no one cares, we are not taken into account."



Friday, November 23, 2012

Gratitude Isn't Only for Thanksgiving...

“If you want to know how rich you are,
add up everything you have that money cannot buy
and death cannot take away!”
~ Anonymous

   …and those will be the things you need to be thankful for every day of your life…

I had a late start today; waking up to Thanksgiving-based shows on television, many wish filled text messages, emails on my phone and Facebook statuses, all focused on being thankful…
I read my texts… smiled at some of my messages, replied to some and posted my own meaningful Facebook status update. 

Life is good… no worries (actually some worries, however nothing that would bring me down…nothing that can’t stay tucked in the back of my mind)…I’m thankful

It's 3pm and I finally get out of bed (yes…didn’t I say life was good?). I have 2 rice requests I have to cook for Thanksgiving dinner at my sisterfriend Susan's house… Again, I’m thankful that I didn’t have to host, or cook a full meal…
At 6pm we are finally all together. I’m holding hands with friends that we call family. We bow our heads and give thanks to the feast we are about to have, praise the man who made it all possible and we're also missing the family that is no longer here with us…

I Am Thankful

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget
that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I didn’t grow up celebrating Thanksgiving; it is really a holiday I learned about once I befriended military American expats children late in my teenage years. My first Thanksgiving dinner must have been in 1992 (my first year in the United States). Although I understood the holiday, I never made a big deal about it…I appreciated that we should be grateful and thankful but shouldn’t we be everyday of our lives? Should recognizing gratitude only be left for the 4th Thursday of November? Is that the only day that saying "thank you" matters? Is that the only day that acknowledging your blessings counts?
I almost feel as though there is more outside pressure for us to prove our thankfulness on holidays (and it matters more), than the genuine appreciation we feel at any given moment in our lives, which makes us thankful everyday… Happiness isn’t easily obtained. Having a warm plate of food everyday isn’t a given. Love and health are becoming rare commodities, and breathing is a blessing. Our freedoms, lives, families, friends, shelter, clothing, and numberless other personal things are not a certainty… so when we are blessed with those gifts, do we need to wait for Thanksgiving to recognize loudly all those everyday blessings?

One could say “Being grateful every day is nice, but it's important to have special days where you sit back and really focus on things... whatever you're thankful for. If every day was a holiday, then holidays would just be everyday occurrences... they wouldn't be special times in our lives.” Maybe I'm looking at things with a skewed perception; being that I'm from Europe. Maybe the whole point is, people are grateful everyday, but this is the "Superbowl" of gratefulness. It could be like appreciating a person who's important to you (every day), but on their birthday (or special day), actually giving them a significant gift to show them how much you really do. Maybe the whole point is to take a moment, reflect and literally count your blessings. That being the case, I would agree by saying, "Be thankful every day. See or call your family (as much as you can). Remember the less fortunate, and when dealing with others be mindful of their circumstances. Give little gifts that make others smile (a joke, a story, a hand on the shoulder…). Spend the holidays reflecting on the times you've had together and don’t let them be the ONLY time you've seen each other. Don’t wait for a forced holiday to be thankful and appreciative BUT use the holiday as a day of reflection in remembering together what we should all already know."  

You can be grateful every day and be especially grateful on Thanksgiving, and when someone says “thank you”…simply say “you are welcome”

 To enjoying giving thanks,

Picture courtesy of

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Guest Post "God Really does Know Best" by TaNisha P.

TaNisha is a research assistant focused in HIV prevention for a public health research firm based in Atlanta.  She currently lives in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan with her husband and 3 children.  In her spare time she likes thrifting, reading and studying fashion.

God really does know BEST…

“I am highly favored
because HE brought me the love I needed to fill my heart
and with all the blessings that came along
 I am loved with no measure…”
~R. Sanderson

 I am an only child born to my parents and primarily raised by mother and maternal grandparents.  My parents separated when I was very young, the last time I laid eyes on my father I was 8 years old.  From the time my parents separated and ultimately divorced I felt unsettled, out of sorts…a void that I couldn't figure out how to fill.  I wasn't necessarily sad; however I knew I wanted something else.  Don’t get me wrong my mother and grandparents compensated for the love I desperately desired from my dad.

At 19, I met a rather charming young fellow totally different from the guys I had dated before.  He was 1 of 14 children born to the same parents.  His parents were married for 27 years before his mother passed on.  His family was large, extremely close and charismatic Pentecostal while my family was small, quiet and Baptist.  I was intrigued by him and his family dynamic and soon after meeting we were inseparable and in love.  I married my charming fellow a year later at the tender age of 20 and the rest is happily ever after as most fairy tales would end (I know corny right…LOLOLOL).

While I was born an only child and raised without a father through this wonderful union I gained a father in-law, over 20 siblings and now 38 nieces and nephews and still growing.  I do not question God in his infinite wisdom and timing.  Not only did he give me the desires of my heart but he blessed me with an extended family.  I have a wonderful husband approaching our 16th year of marriage, we have 3 beautiful children.  My cup runneth over and on this Thanksgiving I know just how truly blessed I am.  Yes, I get to eat turkey and all the other annual trimmings but I get to do it with the wonderful people in my life.  So, I say to you take some time out of the hustle and bustle during this busy holiday season and reflect on where you have been and the place that GOD has brought you to. 

                          HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

“Although you will often receive something other than what you prayed for, I have never known it to be worse - it has always been better than expected.”
~SQuire Rushnell

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Truth Hurt and Lies Can Heal…

“So you're always honest," I said.
"Aren't you?"
"No," I told him. "I'm not."
"Well, that's good to know, I guess."
"I'm not saying I'm a liar," I told him. He raised his eyebrows.
"That's not how I meant it, anyways."
"How'd you mean it, then?"
"I just...I don't always say what I feel."
Why not?"
Because the truth sometimes hurts," I said.
"Yeah," he said. "So do lies, though.”

~Sarah Dessen

Yes, to some degree it’s true (the truth hurts), but the distinction must be kept in mind so that you always distinguish the good from the bad lies. Lies do heal at times and can do more good than the truth… sometimes. Absolute truths are difficult, but I always like the road less traveled. When a lie doesn't carry a clever mind, it will never know that regardless of how many things it has out-smarted, it will always be exposed and brought to light…

But in the end, all lies lead to the truth…

Last week someone that I know asked me if and why I didn't like them. In the tone of the question I could sense the pain and confusion. Do you think I should have been honest and just confirm what they were feeling? I don't…and I didn't  Not because I was being cowardly towards my feelings, but simply because I didn't want to hurt their feelings. These are the same feelings that were already weakened by pain I caused; brought on by the perception I gave out. Sometimes you are put into situations where individuals hold you and your opinion to a high standard or are just drawn to you. At the same token, you can be adversely lacking connection (to be proper) even though nothing was engaged towards you that would make you dislike a person. So I lied… and while I thought I was doing well by them, I now realize that in addition to deceiving them I also made them believe that their instinct, gut feeling wasn't accurate. But in all honesty (what an oxymoron) I don’t think I would have done anything different…
But then I start thinking - what if it was me? Would I rather be told the truth and have my feelings hurt or told a lie and my feelings spared? In the end the truth will always show itself. So I know I'd rather take the brutal truth because a lie is a huge waste of my time. I could have been moving on to better things. Truth might hurt but it will also give me the platform to move forward, knowing what I’m dealing with.

Few people can successfully sail through life without receiving a single piece of lie or brutal honesty. Some brutal honesty delivered by a trusted friend or mentor can be the push a person needs to effect a positive change or damaging outcome. On the other hand, people who enjoy being brutally honest simply for the brutality (aspect of it) don’t hold an almighty title; they are usually just self-righteous!

“A truth that's told with bad intent
beats all the lies you can invent.”
~William Blake

Everyone lies… does that make it okay?

I've lied before… I've been caught in my lies (yikes…I’m not that good of a liar actually)… I can’t promise that I will no longer lie… but what I can say is that I've never been proud of resorting to lying (or of my lies). We all at some point try to find the easy way out of things and in doing so, we at times easily lose ourselves in make-up excuses and reasons. But it is my belief that if you can make small little lies you can make the small lies bigger…
Honesty is a trait that we should value as it is essential for a fulfilled life with worthy and healthy relationships; we have to live a non-hypocritical life.
I remember looking into the eyes of family members and friends and knowing that I could trust them with everything I had, just the same as their trust toward me. But life experiences made me learn to pay more attention to what people do and pay less attention to what they say. While words are sound and encompass the expectations you hold towards someone, actions portrayed always show the true colors… A straight-forward nemesis holds a higher place than a friend who lies… remember that!

When all is said and done, when there are no rules about telling the truth or lying (but the ones you set for yourself), it helps to consider some of the things involved. When deciding to tell the truth, remember to ask yourself if what you are about to say is really that important; worth the consequences. Also think about the way you express the truth. Remember, sometimes no matter how nicely you tell the truth, people will not always receive it as such. We can't control how other's react to what we say, but we can control the way we say it. Use your best judgment in your decisions to be truthful, that's the best way to avoid damaging relationships.

How about you, do you find it hard to always be truthful? Do you think that "little lies" are justify in certain occasions? Or the truth should never be compromised, no matter what?

To being mindful of others while staying truthful

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Sunday Quote of The Week...

“People have to forgive. We don't have to like them, we don't have to be friends with them, and we don't have to send them hearts in text messages,
but we have to forgive them, to overlook, to forget.
Because if we don't we are tying rocks to our feet, too much for our wings to carry!”
 ~C. JoyBell C.

You don’t need everyone to like you. We don’t have to like each other…

We all want to be loved; we all need love in our lives. But every relation you build in your life is not the same; so you can’t expect everyone to feel about you the same. And it’s okay… You have to learn to not care for two, to not needing everyone’s love and approval… In certain circumstances and amongst certain people you have to learn to not give a fuck (pun attended!) and live your life…

Julien Smith said it best: “When people don’t like you, nothing actually happens. The world does not end. You don’t feel them breathing down your neck. In fact, the more you ignore them and just go about your business, the better off you are.”
Read Julien Smith full article The Complete Guide to Not Giving a Fuck


Picture courtesy of

Friday, November 16, 2012

We Are Not Here For Your Pleasure...

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." 

Ummmmm… I need to let this one sink in!

So a few months ago, after coming to my brother’s house to pick up my 2 “monster-angels” after work, I asked my son who came in their kitchen to look inside the pots on the stove a couple questions. It went something like this:

“Did you have diner already? Are you hungry?”
He quickly answered, “Yes I’m hungry and no I haven’t.”

I kept doing whatever it was I was doing in the kitchen and after a few minutes I realized that my son had left the kitchen, although I couldn't recall him fixing himself a plate…

“Baby did you fix yourself something to eat? Didn't you just say you were hungry?” I asked him as I found him sitting in front of the TV in the living room

“Oh… I thought you were going to fix my plate…” He replied…  

Naaaaah, I just didn't hear that… He has to be joking, right? Was it an episode of “Prank my mom” that someone set me up on? Well no… My little man is actually sitting down, oblivious and we are staring at each other. The whole time I was thinking, “My son just lost his everlasting mind!” And he was just there, with an innocent look that says “did you hear me mom?”

“Get your butt up and go fix your plate now!”
“Its okay mom, I’m not hungry anymore” (is he trying to guilt trip me? Really!!!)
“I said NOW!”

Is this what our little ones are learning when seeing women doing nice things for the men in their life? I know my sister-in-law (90% of the time) fixes my brother’s plate and my children’s plates because of a habit she doesn't mind having. I also, will fix their plates (more often than I would fix the hubby’s) however; that doesn't mean that it is a duty and an expected obligation.

So let’s fast forward to this weekend. I was having a great time with one of my favorite couples, “NicMuiks” (a nickname given to my cousin and her hubby – a combination of their first names, like “Brangelina”) who were in town for my brother’s 50th birthday celebration. As usual, there were good times, us teasing each other, laughs and smiles, never ending conversations, storytelling, and drinking. Then, all of a sudden we’re in this convo about how times have changed. We’re suddenly talking about how today’s woman is not the dedicated woman she used to be back in the days, and how “emancipation” has apparently changed things. WHAT!? And apparently, how today’s woman has forgotten where her place in society (and family dynamic) is. She has chosen to not recall when she is supposed to speak, eat, or display any brain activity… And while the hubby and my cousin’s hubby relentlessly continued to ruffle our feathers, he actually remembers a story that leaves me speechless and had me wondering if we will ever escape “the inferior species” label we were so graciously given…

I’m going to try and remember the story as best as I can, but trust… you will get the gist of it… So, my cousin’s-hubby’s-brother had a “traditional” engagement ceremony where the father of the bride to be wasn't present for the event as he was home in Africa. He was represented by his brother and the rest of his family who at the time lived in Europe. At some point (after the ceremony) a video of the festivity was brought to the father. Everyone was sitting down - watching, commenting, and enjoying watching the event when all of a sudden the father’s voice rose up, while asking to slightly rewind the tape; to which someone quickly obliged. He looked at the rewinded part and all of the sudden a look of disappointment came over his face. He right away called his daughter and asked, “What is this? How can you let this happen?” He was referring to part of the footage where his daughter’s new fiancĂ© reached out and fixed himself a drink. The patriarch was ashamed and highly upset that his new son-in-law to be was seen serving himself a beverage during an event that was supposed to honor him (follow me here…his daughter’s engagement however her fiancĂ© was the one being honored…yes!).
This is a true story which happened within the past five to six years… This is a true representation of the culture that surrounded me while growing up. Culture can change, culture are meant to evolve and this is one of those I wouldn't mind seeing move forward instead of staying at a standstill...

Back in the Stone Ages, history has women being generally viewed as being inferior to men; a view commonly accepted by both men and women. Women were taught at a very young age how to behave and the importance of being obedient to their husbands; quiet and humble. But I’m talking about the 21st century… I’m talking about right now… I’m talking about the perception that society has about us women.
Aren't the days of food gathering and hunting over? Aren't the days of child-bearing, child-rearing, and being wife-and-maid in your own home (as the sole responsibility of a woman) over? Haven’t men realized that you don’t need big muscles any more to do their work but an educated brain? Aren't the days when women were considered being primarily put here to be submissive over? Aren't the days when we were merely the other side of the coin gone? 

Napoleon said, “Give me good mothers and I will give you a good nation.”…
We (no matter what class standing we belonged to in society) would be expected to be good housewives and experts in anticipatory service for our male counterparts. The main responsibility of a woman is to preserve the human race. As a mother, we have a very unique stand; we bring up children with extreme care. The first school of a child, all that he/she learns is from the mother’s mouth, while sitting on the lap of his/her mother. It is quite true that great men had great mothers. The progress of a nation depends upon the way the mothers bring up their children. While Women played a very vital role in human progress and had a significant place in the society for that reason, it is even still more than often, always in the background of men.

Men and woman have been rightly compared to the wheels of the same carriage. We are not inferior to men; we are capable of handling and sharing all of life’s responsibilities and while we do it, we also preserve our compassionate, nurturing side that makes us natural at being considerate of other people.
But considerate doesn't translate to being a servant, at least not in my book. "Serving" anyone isn't any instinct of mine. I try to be a good hostess when others are in my home, but that's because it's polite. I enjoy, at times, fixing (for the ones in my household) their plates or getting their drinks. And when I do, it’s because I feel like doing it and not because it’s a duty; an obligation of the female gender. In my home, it has to be a give and take... We are considerate of each other, serve each other, and help each other... Because it's the right thing to do and it is how you treat people you care about. You do this to make life easier at a particular moment for your loved one(s). I serve because I love and not because it’s a requirement in “wifey-hood”, “motherhood”, “sisterhood”, or any “hood” we can come up with! I can recognize when I’m being taken advantage of, when my kindness is being taken for granted and trust I can nip it in the bud just as quickly, as the thought of the expectation is being formed in one’s brain!

While I enjoy bringing ease, support, and comfort to my loved ones, it is unfathomable to me to accept that today’s society still believes that we (women) were put here on earth for the mere simple reason to be of service to the men in our lives…
I’m not here for your pleasure! This includes viewing pleasure, entertainment, physical/mental enjoyment, and any other act that makes us into toys for your amusement. I’m here for both of our pleasures, I’m here because I love and want the best for us.
Let’s make sure we teach that no one is entitled to anything from another human being and to keep expectations to the reciprocity of what we are willing to give! Servitude is a mutual benefit and not a one way action…

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
~Eleanor Roosevelt



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Guest Post "My Crooked Path to A Straight Life" by Conrad James

My name is Conrad James. I am from Amityville, New York (By way of Panama). I am a 47 years old mechanic who currently resides in Duncanville, Texas. I am married with a 14 year old son.

My Crooked Path to A Straight Life...

“This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”
~Martin Luther

"Happy Father's Day" is what the young lady said to me as she walked by. Who would have guessed that a simple greeting would be the beginning of the new "ME"? Until I received that simple greeting, I really didn't think anything was wrong with the old me. I knew there was room for improvement but, I wasn't very proactive about it. I was sitting around waiting for something positive to happen AND THEN I was going to ride the wave of change where ever it took me. But there was no wave; just still waters. I did nothing to "upset" the waters either. All I did was float around and went where ever the tide took me. I didn't go very far…
I was living with my grandparents at the time. I was in my early 20's. I had a car, a job, friends, and a close-knit family. I was very grateful for all those things. I knew people on my street that had none of those things and weren’t has blessed as I was. I also knew people that had a lot more than me. I figured I would be like them one day…just waiting for my ship to come in. But in the meantime, I was actually content. I wasn't in a big rush. If there was something I wanted but couldn't afford, I would just save my money until I could or just learn to live without. This is how I figured that the people who "Have" got their things. And now as I look back I realize I was only half right.

The one thing that I did have that most of my friends didn't was a police record. I had been pulled over and arrested many times. During that period of "Comfortable Bliss", I used to drag race repeatedly and drove cars around my neighborhood without the proper registration, plates or insurance. Sometimes when the police would pull behind me and turn their flashing lights on, I would "ready" myself behind the wheel and begin to think "How close are they?  Do I have enough space? Can I outrun them?" and a few of times I did. When I would pull over and get arrested, I would just think to myself' "Aw well, here we go again". Sometimes I just got tickets and they would let me go. As the tickets piled up I used to think to myself "I will take care of them one day… when things get better"

I also used to sell drugs and steal cars. I sold drugs as a way to make a little extra money. I stole cars "Just because" I actually got a kick out of pitting my intelligence against the Police department. I used to take pride in the fact that I never got caught.  Oddly enough, all of my choices in life up to this point were actually somewhat thought out. Thought out in the sense that each time I would weigh the pros and cons of each and every decision I would proceed with calculated caution. I learned early on in life that the police (and most people for that matter) would judge you initially on your overall outward appearance and the way you carried yourself. I was almost always able to succeed in any criminal endeavor merely by looking and acting the part. For example, when I went to buy drugs to sell, I would have to take the train and subway to uptown Manhattan; a 3 hour trip. I would dress in old clothes and act the part of a drug addict or a derelict. I would keep to myself. I would project the overall appearance of someone broke and non-threatening. This way I could blend in without drawing the attention of cops or those who might want to rob me. I even had what I called "contingency plans". I would already have a "script" planned out in my head in case I ever had to explain my actions to law enforcement. Once, I got searched by an undercover after leaving a crack house. They found $764.00 on me (no drugs). They asked me who I robbed this from. I told them I just sold a 1984 Toyota Celica GT for $800.00. My story also included common details like the color, the new parts, and mileage. Turns out the undercover cop was just as crooked as me. He said "Guess what??? I don't like Toyotas. I'm buying it back" and he took the money! Since I didn't get arrested, I chalked it up as "The price of doing business". Close calls like that never deterred me like they should have. As a matter of fact, moments like that (and occasionally outrunning the police) gave me a type of "Street credibility”. The type of respect amongst others that operated on the other side of the law couldn't be purchase if you tried. Not "Famous", just "Commonly Infamous". Unfortunately, I earned this same status in the eyes of people who I wouldn't brag about my fame to.

Despite all what I did in the protection of the night, all of my activities became clear to the eyesight of my fellow church members. I was raised a Seventh Day Adventist by a loving grandmother. Getting arrest didn't bother me but when members of the congregation started to whisper about my activities and my associations, I became genuinely ashamed. My church was like a large extended family. When one of the members pulled me to the side to ask me about rumors she had heard, it was like looking into my grandmother's eyes. I had to put my head down in shame. The guilt I felt that day really bothered me. I went home afterwards and sat one the hood of my car, drank a beer and tried to get the look of disappointment that Sis Thurman had in her eyes out of my head.

I woke up the next morning and found a puddle of antifreeze underneath my car. I started to repair the leaking hose when I heard someone say "Happy Father’s Day" It was a woman, about my age walking down the street with a purposeful stride. She was attractive and I remember thinking 2 things. "Wow, where has SHE been hiding" and” Man, I forgot to get my grandfather a card" I looked at her and said "Thank you, But I don't have kids" At that moment she stopped. She had a surprised look on her face. She turned to face me and put her hand on her hip and said "Aren't you sexually active?" I was curious to the meaning of the question all the while taking in her beauty.  I answered "Yes" and immediately, her expression changed again. She uttered “whatever” while rolling her eyes at me combined with a look of disgust! "LIKE I SAID-HAPPY FATHERS DAY" She then turned away and went back to her same purposeful stride. Completely confused I stopped working on the car altogether and tried to understand this brief and puzzling encounter.
What was she REALLY saying??? I was certain I had never seen her before. At this point in my life, I didn't have any children. After much thought, I came to one conclusion. She must have felt that ANY brother from the neighborhood that was sexually active MUST have children. I felt insulted. Then, almost like a revelation; it hit me." I DON'T HAVE ANY CHILDREN" I am 24 years old and unlike some of my friends, the only person I have to care for is me! I then began to reassess my current situation. Here I am living at my grandparents’ house; I don't have a career… just a job. I am a drug dealer and a car thief with an arrest record 5 sheets long. I don't know why but for the first time in a long while I looked back at my life and I wasn't happy by what I saw. I was actually quite embarrassed. I thought about all my unfulfilled dreams and why I had allowed myself to be content with such a sad existence. I wasn't raised this way. And one thing was sure I couldn't blame the "White Man". I was responsible for every decision made. I took a long, hard look at myself in the mirror. Looked at what I was; what I became and I almost didn't recognize the person looking back at me.
I thought about just who I used to be and how I was raised. I used to be a short nerd that went to church, played sports, read lots of books, loved cars and stayed out of trouble. A good day used to consist of riding my bike to the library and finding a new book; or going on a job with my grandfather and listening to the ball game on the radio. I was raised by my mother, aunt and grandparents with great values. I was taught to love God, be independent, hardworking and respectful of others. I listened to my elders and did what I was told. When I got older, I was still a nerd; just a taller one that sought pleasure and thrills by committing crimes. I allowed the opinions of others to cloud my thinking. I allowed myself to be embarrassed of who I was. But (as I looked in the mirror) I realized that a lot of the old me was still there. I still liked reading, still loved cars and I still was a hard worker. This is when I decided to go back to what I knew and turn things around. 

Going back to what I used to be, what I use to know... It was a scary endeavor as it meant a boring life lived by a simple person in a simple existence. As soon as I realized that being a boring nerd never once got me chased by the police or arrested, it was a pretty easy sell.  Almost immediately, I started changing thing that I could. For example, the people I hung out with, the places I hung out at. My Saturday nights still consisted of sitting in the same car that helped cause me so many problems. But now, instead of driving fast, it was parked in the back yard with the radio on and a book propped up on the steering wheel while I ate Chinese food and drank a Coke. No more police in the rear view mirror; Just a view of the back porch.
My crooked path to my straight life had me go through experiences that today I can say I’m not proud of and although they mostly brought challenges that I could’ve done without, they are also the ingredient of what allowed my growth to the wiser man I am now. I was lucky enough to have had a great base of values from the family members whom raised me so when all failed I knew I would be okay starting over at square one.
The big part of my transformation consisted of me changing my environment all together. I always wanted to go back to college. So I applied to Grambling State University and got accepted. I took up Automotive Engineering Technology as a course of study and as extra curriculum project I committed to a really special private course called “How to respect a beautiful Black Women by Jeannette Goodman". I got an "A" in automotive which finally gave me a career. In the other course I only got a "B" however it’s a lifetime class and so far it has been 20 years and even though I STILL don't fully understand the curriculum of her class, I strive daily to achieve a “A”. Her presence alongside me make this straight life I created (from the good through the bad to today) even more worthwhile because I know I am her favorite student and changes got me here…

Picture courtesy of

Monday, November 12, 2012

Can He Resist Temptation?

I was reading an article the other day and came across this question, “Could any man resist the temptation of evil if he knew his acts could not be witnessed?” Ha! Temptation of evil… Evil can represent so many things but (really) in this instance what the asker was referring to as evil was a woman! Can they resist cheating?

"Life's temptations have the purpose of putting our spiritual integrity to the test. To yield to them, however, gives one a precarious and tormented satisfaction. But the worst temptations are those we give in to without getting anything in return except for the brutal discovery of our weakness."
~Paolo Maurensig

Temptation is such a big umbrella. It can represent all attractions and encompass all kinds of “wickedness,” like food, drinking, sex, money, drugs and heady thrills. This very common word is a part of our lives and is present wherever and whenever we need to make everyday decisions and choices. It shows itself extremely, when we must choose between what we consciously know to be right or wrong. No matter who we are, no one is immune; we are all vulnerable to temptation. We all can and will be tempted. But temptation (or being tempted) by itself is not a sin; it is merely an option presented for us to act upon. It does not become sin until we make the choice to enter into it, accept it or submit to it.

Now let me answer the question that caught my attention. Do I think all men would give in to temptation (and cheat) if there was no witness?
I believe that all men are capable of cheating; they all have it in them. But no, not all men cheat… just most of them! I think that some of them are smart enough to stay out of compromising situations because they know it will be hard to say no! Temptation is a lot easier to resist when you nip it in the bud and avoid any situation that could jeopardize your integrity. I think any human being might cheat if the opportunity presents itself but it all boils down to the substance of your character.

Now, I am a woman and I can’t help but wonder why people always assume that the men are the only ones that cheat. While I can admittedly say that women cheat (not leaving the “sinful” act to men alone), I can also say that men have us beat in that game. Alas, at the end of the day, what matters is not the quantity of your indiscretions; it is committing the indiscretion that matters… period!!! We all have the capacity to be faithful but it's mainly circumstance that determines which way we will act, the majority of the time. Again, all men don’t cheat and all women are not faithful.

I've been brought up observing (not first hand) and growing parallel to a culture that believed that it was/is okay for a man to have several women. I've heard stories and seen women accept, allow, facilitate and make excuses for their man’s extra-marital behaviors and while I don’t agree with them, I’m not shocked. It had been established pretty early on in my life, the conviction that while I don’t believe all men will cheat, it is NOT a behavior or a situation that would surprise me… it would hurt, but not surprise me.
I think the real reason a man will cheat (married or not) is for the sex, curiosity, ego and not having the “kahunas” to say no to temptation; no to the “chance” that has presented itself so conveniently to him. While these reasons are definitely not right, I believe they are the real reasons… I am ready to bet that 90% of the time, the reason one cheats has nothing to do with (or is connected) the relationship they are in and partner they are with. 
The one cheated on shouldn't be left wondering what they did or didn't do to lead their expected committed partner to stray and share someone else’s bed.

In this context of temptation (cheating), we don’t just stumble upon it… Unlike men, for us woman, I believe that you just don’t wake up one morning and decide you want to cheat. While I believe for men, sex is mainly a physical connection, for us woman it is linked to an emotional connection. We long for it, crave it, need it and want it. Women are enticed by or are attracted when we are offered the hope of reward or pleasure.
Do we realize that we are the only creatures on Earth that choose - in most cases - to face one another during sex? That makes us unique as we are blessed enough to be able to look into the eyes of those we choose to share our bodies with, who we choose to be intimate with…

·         A man can have causal sex with another woman without having any feelings for her, while still loving you as much as he always has. For a man, love doesn't always go hand-in-hand with sex.
·         Women usually are more content with their sex lives with their husband or boyfriend, often enjoying the closeness and intimacy as much as the physical act.
·         Men, on the other hand, may become bored or restless with their own sex life because the emotional aspects do not outweigh excitement and arousal. This may lead him looking for a quick fix, something or someone different.
·         Men also have a harder time saying no. If a man is being hit on frequently by an attractive woman, he may eventually give in.
·         A woman on the other hand, usually can block out any other male advances just because she is in a committed relationship.

Because I don’t condone or make allowance for the act of betrayal in an intimate relationship, I have made it a conscience effort for me to learn the why we might get in that situation and the how to avoid it; without having to make excuses to save face.
When we become faced with the knowledge of betrayal and indiscretion, the circumstances around the action will determine the course of your decision (i.e.: forgive and forget, forgive and move forward, or simply not forgive and walk away). But even then, although the options you have are simple enough, so much more comes into making that kind of decision other than eeni-meenie-minie-mo…

Do you recall the last time you were tempted? It was probably not too long ago—maybe hours, maybe just minutes. If you are like most people, the thought rarely crosses your mind that you have been tempted.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Sunday Quote of The Week...

                                     Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote,
 “Every wall is a door”.

Obstacles…every day we encounter them, from trivial ones, obvious ones, life altering ones, unnoticeable ones, major ones, and life enhancing ones. We call them obstacles because at first it is those events/moments which stand between what we reaching for, what we striving for, what we desire and deem deserving of.
We need to realize that the only true obstacle in reaching and achieving anything in life is us. There is nothing out there that can’t be endured and our lives are a true testament to that!
Ramming into an unexpected wall can be painful and crippling but there is always a way to see yourself through the obstacle, around it and over it. In retrospect I have come to see these as my life lessons, my learning journey road checks, as necessary growth process
It isn't exactly comforting to know that we will always have to endure hardships, that we will be tested, again and again, for our willingness to circumvent life’s inevitable obstacles. But we are empowered when we realize that whenever we hit a wall, we hold the key to its door.

There are always solutions to unforeseen obstacles…

Friday, November 9, 2012

Can We Only Live Life by Faith?

“Faith and doubt both are needed - not as antagonists, but working side by side to take us around the unknown curve”.
Lillian Smith

Can we only live life by faith?... The more I think about the question and (in my mind) go through the different possibilities of response, the more it is clear... the answer is very simple and obvious. 
YES, we can only live our life by faith. To me, it’s unfeasible to pull faith away from any decision we make in our lives. In essence, every choice, or any resolutions we make are because we believe; we have faith in something or someone, or simply because of mistrust and disbelief.
Belief is a heartfelt acceptance of (and trust in) a set of philosophies and principles. Faith is the manifestation of that belief. To put it another way, faith is belief in action.

At the heart of anyone’s life lies the question and struggle on the importance of faith.

Look at it this way: You hear atheists say, “I don’t believe in God” and on the other hand you hear Christians profess, “I believe in God and the afterlife.” While we like to debate against each other, depending on which side we stand, we fail to realize that in either statement the core of it is belief and to believe is to have faith.
I have come to realize that before I can stand for (or against) anything or anyone, before I can make decisions on any given situations, I have to believe. I have to believe strongly, especially if all odds are going against the grain.
We make the mistake of thinking that all things concerning “faith” are spiritual and religion-based, while in reality “faith” is just the strong belief in something/one. It is the aptitude to wait patiently on an outcome. You can apply faith to anything in your life, in the same token you can envision, manifest anything in your life through faith. To completely believe in something that hasn't occurred yet or that you haven’t seen or experienced is having faith. Why we choose to blindly believe, with no need of proof, is where the argument should lay, not in whether or not we have faith. From the moment we choose to believe we already have faith whether we like it or not, whether we realize it or not…so, if belief is present in your life so is faith!

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1

Faith by definition is illogical; it basically means to believe in something without any form of tangible proof. To have faith is not to adhere to a life of uncertainty, but one of strong convictions. To live in faith is to rely completely on your hopes and believes and that’s where I have (at times) an issue with faith. Faith to me becomes a problem when we rely solely on it and disregard any common sense or logic.

Religion vs. Faith… is there a difference or is it one in the same?

Again I say, YES! While the 2 are often viewed and spoken about as one in the same, they are 2 different notions. However, it is also true that without faith, religion is nearly an impossible concept as it is based on little fact but on the other hand faith doesn't require religion to stand on its own.
Believing and having faith in something doesn't guarantee that you are right and can’t be deemed wrong, however the big difference with religion is that your faith in it requires the belief and certitude (without being proven) that it can’t be wrong!
I.e.: We have faith in the loyalty of our spouse, we have faith in the goodness of mankind, we have faith in the school system, and we have faith in the system. However, time gives you the opportunity to change, fine-tune or substantiate your beliefs. Religion doesn't allow you to do so. It asks you to have faith, regardless of what evidence may come up to challenge it… Either you have a blind and binding faith in it or you don’t!

Why is it that people worry about if, where and how much time you spend in church or cultivating your faith? My failure to go into the house of God to praise Him has no bearing on my faith in Him. I go to church when my life’s schedule allows me to go but as I spoke about it previously, does that determine the depth of my faith in my religion? I pray quietly, sincerely when I need to and when I’m drawn to Him
I have a great and liberating faith in God; I know that because (and through) him I am granted each day in the life I’m living. I thank Him everyday for my blessings, humbled by the gifts he’s bestowed on me and above all, I’m in gratitude for his daily forgiveness.

To me, the biggest difference between religion and faith is that religion (with its written doctrine) will inform you of what you are to believe but faith is an actual deep knowing that you trust in your own belief in God. Faith and religion compliment each other, but are not the same. Faith is the belief that everything will work out the way you hope for, and religion is a structural entity to guide you in the practice of your faith

Can you live your life with no faith?


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