A Blue State of Mind

"The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams." Oprah

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Location: The Western U.S, United States

I spent 48 years caring about what people thought of me. I'm not spending the rest of my life caring about that anymore!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #3

With a nod to Bob's letter to "Sally", here are thirteen ways to spread joy this Christmas (holiday) season.

1. Take more than one Angel from the Angel trees in the mall.

2. Place some "quiet" money in the kettle. These are the bills that don't jingle.

3. Go to Target or Walmart (ugh) and buy make-up and other personal toiletries that can be donated to women shelters. Make sure you buy an assortment of makeup shades/colours.

4. Babysit for a single parent one weekend while they go Christmas shopping etc. This is a great form of birth control for us childless folk. After spending two days telling those bad kids to "stop, get that out your mouth, put that down, stop hitting your brother, don't put that on my walls, stop, get down, get that out your mouth, put that down, stop hitting your sister..." we'll be so thankful we don't have kids we'll stop worrying God about it.

5. Create a caroller choir for retirement centers or rehab centers.

6. If you're out early Christmas morning, wave a police officer down (caution: DO NOT do this if you are a black male and you live in any part of New York state) and offer candy or just to say "Merry Christmas!".

7. Take the neighbourhood children to their local firehouse. Most children love this stuff!

8. Visit your local pet pound and help with the annual "Adopt a Pet" drive.

9. Volunteer to pack and deliver food boxes.

10. Pick up sports equipment and donate it to your local Boys & Girls clubs.

11. Leave a special treat for your mail carrier. We always do this because our postman rocks!

12. Donate books and sports equipment to schools for the homeless.

13. And the last thing is to donate money to folks who want to go to the Super Bowl. Specifically the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redkins and---wait for it---Arizona Cardinals!

RIP-Bebe Moore Campbell

Do you remember where you were when you read "Your Struggles Ain't Like Mine!"?

Christmas Song Meme

I'm still pretty new to this whole blogging thing so it's great fun to learn new things and read so many inspiring stories of survival, love and perserverance. Apparently I've been 'tagged' for a Christmas Song meme. Don't know what exactly a meme is but Barb 'tagged' me and if you know Barb, you know she's a powerful force in this here Blog Universe:-)
I couldn't come up with just five songs so my list is a little bigger than Barb's but that's okay too. If you read this consider YOURSELF tagged, or at least leave a comment of your top three. So without further ado, here are my favourite Christmas songs.
1. The Holly and the Ivy-Natalie Cole
2. This Christmas-Donny Hathaway
3. Mary Did You Know?-Kenny Rogers & Winona Judd
4. Sleigh Ride-Harry Connick, Jr
5. Away in a Manger-Mariah Carey
6. Do You Hear What I Hear?-Whitney Houston
7. There Would Be No Christmas Without You-Willie Neal Johnson
8. O Holy Night-Josh Groban or Mariah Carey
9. Santa Baby-Eartha Kitt
10. Joy to the World!-Anyone's version

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Few of My Favourite Things

Back home from a great vacation, thank the Lord! Boy I love my family and miss them already but I'm so glad I'm home! Should I feel guilty about this? I don't know but when I woke this morning there was great joy in my heart because of these few favourite things:

1. Being able to sleep in my own bed. No one's kicking me, snoring beside me or turning on the t.v. because they can't sleep.

2. Not having to use the restroom in shifts. Can you imagine the patience you need to have to time your shower lengths? To remedy this I'd get up early to shower, brush my teeth and all that because I didn't want to be the one who was showering when the hot water ran out.

3. No one's put jelly in my peanut butter, and vice-versa. Okay, so I'm a spazz sometimes about my food touching on my plate. One of my pet peeves is seeing crumbs and other junk in jelly and peanut butter. I love peanut butter (the crunchy kind) and hate hate hate when someone's used a knife or spoon to double dip back into the peanut butter jar. At home my peanut butter's ALL MINE and CLEAN!

4. If I've laid something down in one place, it will be there when I return to it later. Same thing goes with leftover food, makeup, hairbrush, books/magazines, iPods etc.

5. Decision-making is quick and easy. No more wasting 30 minutes to decide if we want to eat at a casino, or a restaurant, or fast-food or potluck. We talk about it as we're driving!

6. Not having to change your cellphone ringer tone. What are the odds four of us would use the same ringer tone? Scary when you think about it.

7. Peace and quiet. Nothing's on but internet radio (1Faith), sipping my favouriet raspberry tea and just enjoying solitude.

8. Not having to fight with my tweens and others to use the PC. Where are all the wi-fi hotspots in Vegas anyway?

I love my family and I'm so grateful to God that He allowed us to meet once again. But, I'm also glad I have this peaceful life to come back to.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thankful Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things I'm Grateful For:

1. My health-there are so many people my age and my weight who are unable to care for themselves, have lost their self-esteem or will to live. I'm grateful that I'm blessed with a reasonable portion of health and strength.

2. My family-most of us have already made it. Still waiting for the baby brother and sister and the last niece and nephew. We'll all be here to laugh, remember our loved ones who have gone on ahead, and make new memories together.

3. My friends-all of them. From the crazy to the not so normal. From the drama queens & kings to the rationally inclined. For every one of them that allow me to be a part of their lives.

4. My country-"And say does that star-spangled banner yet wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave?" There ain't no doubt I love this land. God bless the U.S.A.

5. I have my mother here to cook her famous jalepeno dressing! You can't imagine how good this stuff is!

6. Cyber Monday-because this year I'm armed with a new notebook, high speed Internet and a bonus. Look out Target, you have a Canon digital camera with my name all over it.

7. The NFL-because this year they're televising more than one game. I'm trembling just thinking about it!

8. My fortune (blessings)-"It could have been me outdoors, with no food and no clothes. Or just alone without a friend or just another number with a tragic end. But You didn't see fit to let any of these things be 'cause everyday by Your power You keep on blessing me. I have to say, Thank You, Lord for all You've done for me!"

9. My job-even though we keep being reengineered and downsized, it still pays the bills and provides benefits.

10. Buying music online-there's no greater high than finding older Gospel music along with newer Gospel music and being able to download it w/i minutes.

11. Realizing the power of me-I'm smart, I'm educated, I'm fashionable, I'm easy to get along with and I'm good-natured. Who wouldn't love me? Oh, forgot to mention I'm modest too.

12. My new online community-Barb, Pea, Kiyotoe, Blu, Sicka, Afronerd, Bob, and other sites I read daily.

13. That after having peeled and diced ten lbs of sweet potatoes, ten lbs of white potatoes, chopping three large stalks of celery, peeling three dozen shrimp, chopping and dicing six jalepenos, my part of the cooking IS DONE! Bring on the football, turkey and dressing, green beans and potatoes and let's bless this food! Thank You, God!!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Opposites Sometimes Do Attract

I have a friends, really good friends. Friends who listen to my problems and let me walk through them without trying to rescue me. Friends who allow me to rant and rave, throw up my hands in disgust and walk away or who just keep passing the tissue 'til I cry it all out. I recognize the blessing that is a good friend. Knowing this has made me work harder at being there for my friends during their times of need.
Most of my friends don't look like me, or believe like me, or have experienced the same lessons of life like me. And though we each have something different in common, the common denominator between me and my friends is the ability to support each other. There have been times when I've looked around and wondered, "why in the world are we friends?" We're so different racially, economically, marital-ly, education-ly, parent-ly but we still mesh. We still call each other, email each other, share photos of the kids etc.

I truly thank God that He has blessed me with friends because this can be a lonely world in of itself. Without another human to help from time to time would be complete and total despair.

This blog is dedicated to my friend, "Sicka" who has become very close to me in a short amount of time. She is completely opposite of me and I was just wondering why we were friends. I can't explain the chemistry and all that other scientific stuff, again, I attribute it to God.

Where I can be compassionate to the point of bawling after seeing a homeless person sitting on the side of the road, her posessions strewn out all around her, watching as she smiles at passing cars while craddling a small dog. While my heart is aching for the poor lady and the horrible situation she's in, Sicka will have a totally opposite view.

She, being the pragmatic realist will respond to the situation as the lady doesn't have to be in that situation. She allowed this to happen and it's okay because no one tells us how to live our lifes and that lady made the choice to live like this. Tough words but I've seen Sicka pull over and offer cash to people like this lady or circle back with food if there are children, the old softie.

Another part where we differ A LOT is social interaction. I have been accused, from time to time, of being something of a social butterfly. I mean yes, I do speak to people, I do smile at most everyone I meet and yes, I will make time to listen to other's problems. I think it's because I can quickly make people feel at ease and I'm round and squishy. Sicka, on the other hand, can have more prickly stickers on her than a farm of cacti.

She's not very social, has a tendency (yes, she'll read this sometime) to be negative or unhappy, sees the bad in most every situation and has few friends. BUT, and this is a huge BUT, Sicka will literally give a person the clothes off her back. Her heart may be black around the edges but the core is pure gold.

Where I'm slow to allow someone up close and personal, Sicka quickly envelopes others but sometimes her dark views causes them to shy away. Where I love being in a crowd and making sure everyone's happy, Sicka's there to make sure no one runs off w/the hostess' gifts or silverware.
I'm a conservative, Bible-believing, tongue-talking, no drinking, no smoking, one man-woman Black Pentecostal and she's a conservative Third Realm smoking and drinking, free love sharing Caucasian Agnostic.

How then is it we're friends? What does she see in me to keep hanging around? I don't know. What I do know is that I don't want to think of her not being around making me laugh, gasp, or gently chatising her about some of her wild ways.

I'm sure she'd miss me too if I left. After all it's she who's been my biggest supporter of the WLS and exercising. She drops off great-tasting recipes that are low-fat, low-sodium. All the stuff I need to eat and snack on.

So, I'm not gonna keep wondering why we're friends. I'm gonna show love to her, pray for her and keep her close like I do all my friends. I don't have time to break our relationship down into microscopic sections then theorize on each part. She calls me Friend. I can accept that.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Come On Holidays

I'm about ready for some good old make-sure-everything's-packed-so-we-can-be-ready-to-get-on-the-highway-by-11a, hope-everyone-will-be-able-to-make-it, wow-it's-gonna-be-crowded-how-will-I-ever-find-time-to-do-homework?-man-I-shouldn't-have-eaten-all-that-dressing-and-chitlins-does-anybody-have-a-lemon?-holiday fun.

I've buried my uncle and pastor and cousin and nephew in 2006. I've undergone medical test after medical test this year. I've enrolled to complete my Master's. I've spent too much time blogging and blog reading this year. Time to gather in Vegas and start de-stressing. Well, as much de-stressing as you can while temporarily living w/1 mother, 1 sister, 2 brothers, 1 sis in law, 2 nephews, and 5 nieces in two small apartments. But de-stress I shall!

Yesterday at work they announced we are in a hiring freeze so anyone wanting to leave their departments will have to stay put until new budgets are announced. This does not bode well w/me because I'm actively seeking new positions. I hope this freeze doesn't last very long because I sorely want a new position but don't want to leave the company.

My mid-year's next week. Why would this guy schedule it for Thanksgiving week? He knows this is stupid and callous! He even called for class on Wednesday preceding Thanksgiving. What a maroon (yeah, maroon. Bugs Bunny, get it?). I've told him I'll be out of town so he said just find everything at the website. Cheers to you too, Buddy!

Two more days before a week's vacation. Two more days before I'm crunched in two apartments with 1 mother, 1 sister....you get the idea.

I can't wait.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #2

My thirteen biggest weaknesses (in no particular order).
1. Lay's limon potato chips.

2. Lay's plain potato chips used to dip cottage cheese that's been mixed with a whole lot of freshly ground pepper.

3. Gored Gored from my favourite Ethiopian restaurant.

4. Buying leather totes, purses and organizers from Coach, Swiss Army, Dooney & Burke.

5. iTunes-I've had my 4 gig iPod for less than a year and I'm already planning to upgrade to a 30 gig next month. My Christmas present to myself.

6. Buying music from Walmart.

7. Buying music from Amazon.com.

8. Buying music from BestBuy.com. I'm seeing a trend. See now why the 30 gig is needed?

9. Buying clothes and accessories for my seven month old niece. Everything for little girls is so adorable!

10. The warm goat cheese salads from "Cheesecake Factory".

11. WWE Smackdown. Love me some Batista and "King Booker".

12. NFL football. Too many of those to love, but Dallas is my favourite.

13. Loaning (read giving away) money to my family.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My Country 'tis of Thee...

"And when this happens, When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
I'm sorry this picture isn't clearer. It was on the front page of my NY Times and immediately brought tears to my eyes. I didn't weep because the picture was sad, I wept because the picture says we're finally about to give Pastor King a spot on the lawn of the Great Washington D.C.
I was only a toddler when Pastor King was murdered but after entering school I learned about him and other civil rights workers every year. This picture makes me feel really good about my country. Yeah I know all about the great Divide, and all the other ills we have but you know what? We're still in one of the greatest countries in the world.
So, to all of us who still hope one day to see a unified U.S.A., and still consider this a great country, let me end with another great patriotic message... "And I’m proud to be an American where as least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me. And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today. ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the U.S.A!"

Friday, November 10, 2006

Gerald Levert-RIP

Time Waits for No (wo)Man

Found this over at Blu's a new site I've stumbled upon. I was nice and told her I was stealing it from her site. The rest of the site is a list of her short stories and poetic prose.
It is so awesome to find this message during my troubled times. Just proves my point to my family and friends that the (ever increasing) time I spend blogging and reading blogs is therapeutic. Read and enjoy, then make a commitment to stop wasting time.

To realize The value of a sister: Ask someone who doesn't have one.

To realize The value of ten years: Ask a newly-divorced couple.

To realize The value of four years: Ask a graduate.

To realize The value of one year: Ask a student who has failed a final exam.

To realize The value of nine months: Ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.

To realize The value of one month: Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize The value of one week: Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize The value of one minute: Ask a person who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize The value of one-second: Ask a person who has survived an accident.

To realize The value of a friend, family member or a pastor: LOSE ONE

Time waits for no one. Treasure every moment you have.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Now Comes the Hard Part

Well, Pastor's funeral is over. The tension in my stomach muscles has relaxed. The shoulders are a bit less stressed and strained feeling. The only part of me that hasn't changed is my heart...it's still a bit cracked and continues to give signals to the brain causing tears to suddenly form in my eyes at some of the most inopportune moments.

I just don't know what I'm gonna do w/o him. I was with him and Mother Strong (his wife) and the Faith Tabernacle family for so long -18 years- that it's still a bit scary thinking about him being gone.

Now, in most church organizations the church board or some governing official would send a new pastor. In my denomination most churches are privately "owned and operated" by the pastor so the bishops can't bring in anyone unless the deacons ask for someone. And even then, we can either approve or disapprove the new selection.

My pastor has a daughter who was his assistant pastor but she and her family moved away. So unless the church approves her as the new pastor she will not return. The only problem with the daughter becoming the pastor is my denomination does not ordain women pastors and do not recognize women pastors.

Warning-Bitterness ahead:

My denomination, although comprised mostly by women (upwards of 75-80%) recognize women's importance by the amount of money they bring in to fatten the pastor's pockets. Our women literally make our church run financially, but as far as our worth to the church...only by our giving are we recognized.

There are HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of churches across this nation that were established by the contributions -both financially and physically- by women. Women have sold millions of chicken and barbeque dinners to buy church property, pews, choir uniforms etc and we have reared our children in the Sunshine Band, Purity Class and YPWW. And all we can do is lead Praise and Worship, sing in the choir, clean the church, visit the sick and shut-in and raise money for church and pastor & wife anniversaries.

I mean, some of the women are running Fortune 500 companies and leading high-performing teams but in the church world, our community oasis away from the world, we are nothing more than dumb sheep to be led by the wiles of our pastors.

So, knowing this and deciding this type of setup won't make me happy, I decided to find someplace that appreciates my worth. Alas, I only found that marginally in the church I've been attending so I pay my tithes and give my freewill offerings and support where I know my help is greatly needed. I no longer attend the national meetings nor do I attend the state and local meetings. Just Faith Tabernacle and now my pastor is dead and I am feeling bereft and confused.

I know God will send me somewhere and all I can do is what I've always known to do.

Wait on Him.

Thursday Thirteen

Found this over at Barb's. It's the perfect site for those of us new to blogging and it's just the site you need when winding down after a long day debating political and religious issues.
Here are Thirteen reasons I'm glad the election's over:

1. I can answer my phone without having to worry that it's a recorded political message telling me how to cast my vote.
2. The NY Times will finally have something ELSE to write about on their front pages and in the editorials.
3. No more having to hear Rush Airbag and Dumb Kerry make jokes at others' expense.
4. I don't have to see nasty commercials paid for by rich sociopaths.
5. No more public debating where each candidate sounds pre-recorded and mass produced.
6. All of those crummy boards on the edges of sidewalks and vacant lots will be carted away.
7. No more jokes on Leno and Kimmel about the latest Arnold Schwarzenegger opponent.
8. I won't be subjected to more gross commercials showing animal cruelty.
9. Donald Rumsfield has 'left the building'.
10. Now we can see if the Democrats do what they promised to do if elected.
11. Not having to watch election commercials featuring local actors who couldn't act their way out of a brown paper bag.
12. Not having to worry about the amount of germs I've just inherited by shaking hands with a candidate who's just shaken hands with 132 other campaign workers.
13. The thirteenth reason I'm glad the election's over: we have our first Black Governor of Massachusetts, and only our 2nd since Reconstruction!!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Should Have Known Better

Tonight at work some of my peers and I were gathered reading election results as they updated on the web. One thing led to another and, you know how this happens, we began talking about the propositions that were winning and the tightly followed senate race. Most of all we were talking about the ballots that dealt with human services to illegal aliens and smoking bans in both restaurants and bars.
At first we were all behaving, being polite and courteous to each other but, as we all know how contentious conversations become when discussing politics and religion. I innocently brought up my very conservative views on some of the issues at hand, and my peers began to shoot me down like one of those skeet shooters.
So, I got a bit upset because I'm entitled to my opinion, right? I'm not out there pushing my beliefs and religion down anyone's throats BUT THEY ASKED didn't they? I should have known better than to walk into that viper's nest. I should have kept my mouth shut or filled it w/dinner.
Now we're really going at it and one of the guys suddenly announces he didn't vote anyway so there's no reason he should get upset.
What???!!!! We're doing all this debating that turns into arguing and you now decide to tell me you didn't vote? Why did you waste everyone's time complaining about the ballots, and the candidates when you didn't have enough gumption to make your voice heard?
When will we Americans stop taking our rights for granted and vote? So many countries around the world would love to be able to vote and live in a democratic country. Have you seen pictures of the people in the Congo and the lines they had to wait in to vote? They see how precious voting is and treat it as such.
Okay, I'm off my soapbox. We hugged (some of us) and made up. I'll never talk politics at work again. Life's too short!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Will The Circle Be Unbroken?

"Will the circle be unbroken by and by Lord, by and by? There's a better home awaiting in the sky Lord, in the sky."
Life is so short and sometimes so fleeting that it's a complete and utter joy realizing all the friends and families we're blessed with that sometimes we take for granted or just don't understand how very fortunate we are.
I'm very fortunate to have folks who: love me, love being around me, pray for me rather than prey on me, look to me for comfort (this can also be attributed to my large round body) and find it, will let me call in the middle of the night to listen to my troubles. Most of these folk are my family, a few good friends (thanks Ester, David and Rachel) and others God's placed in my life. So when things change it can be pretty tough seeing the positive when your eyes are filled with tears.
Last week my pastor of 17 years died due to complications from surgery and pre-existing illnesses. This has left me scared and filled with so many questions. Should I stay at the church? What if I don't like the new pastor? What if the family sells the church and it no longer goes on? So many questions, so many things that have suddenly been thrust upon me!
I loved my pastor. He was frustrating, sometimes too conceited and arrogant (my opinion), a slave-driver, selfish, and tyrannical. He was also generous, forgiving, sensitive, loving, encouraging, a great listener, a wonderful advisor, helper of the poor and defender of the weak.
He loved his members and he loved the community but his love for God and His commandments outsized everything else. He believed in going to church, for praying in season and out, raising and spending money, traveling and taking the church body w/him. He would encourage anyone to sing, even if they couldn't sing (does this include me?). There are so many people out there who owe so much to Pastor because he was very willing to help anyone with an important cause.
I'm going to miss his jubilant hollers when the Spirit hit him. I'm going to miss his humour and bullying. I'm going to miss his prescence and his love. Most of all I'm going to miss his love that I took for granted for 17 years.
In memorium of Pastor Arthur Strong, Sr. My pastor, my brother and my friend.