Use What You Already Have

Image

As I sit on my front porch watching for the impending downpour, I’m inspired by one of my neighbors. Determined to keep his head dry during the coming storm, he has invented a bicycle tarp, obviously using old items he had on had or could easily procure.

People complain about their lack of resources; time, materials, money, energy, ideas. But if you want something badly enough, you start where you are; with what you have; doing everything you can!

Passion is simply energy and determination. What have you decided to achieve? Get started. Don’t worry about the people who say you can’t. Don’t worry if they laugh at your plan, your materials, or even your finished product! Sure; people are laughing at the man pictured above. He doesn’t care. He’s a successful engineer who’s got a product complete! What have YOU done today?20140622-145059-53459771.jpg

20140622-145102-53462144.jpg

Advertisements

When Facebook Friends Die

20140418-172704.jpg

Everyone with a Facebook account has “friends”. What’s a friend? It’s a classmate from middle-school; when your American family was stationed in Germany back in the eighties. A “FBF” (Facebook friend) is often a real-life BFF (best friend forever), a close acquaintance, a current or former coworker, sometimes a sworn enemy whose status you’d like to observe; an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend, a college roommate, a cousin, a mother, the majority of your highschool graduating class, or even your child.

Then there are the STRANGERS. Those people who, ironically, are not so strange at all. You discover that you enjoy interacting with a new person; a person that have never seen. For some reason, you find them worthy of interaction with you.

And then something happens in the course of daily living: After posting a witty or inspirational or funny or angry or insightful or raunchy or crude or whatever-particular-style-of-posting-you-have-come-to-expect-from-them “status,” the person dies. WTF and OMG. Let that sink in.

If it’s happened to you, then you’re familiar with the shock and bewilderment that can descend upon you as you scroll down the person’s page to read Rest in Peace postings from their acquaintances. Worse; the final declarations of love and the gut wrenching grief expressed by their closest friends and family members. And you follow suit, posting your virtual goodbye to a person who will never reply.

From YouTube to Twitter and Instagram, there are abundant ways to meet and interact with interesting people who stimulate our minds, teach us things, intrigue and attract us, repulse and disgust us, and etc. People who spend hours on social media each day become accustomed to seeing the same faces. But when one of your favorites actually succumbs to illness or injuries and dies, what are you supposed to do?

1. Identify and accept your feelings.
You can grieve for whomever you please, whether you knew them in actuality or online. When popular vlogger Domineque Banks succumbed to lupus on April 9, 2014, hundreds of thousands of people felt the sting of shock and in their own way, grief. It’s natural to grieve after the death of someone you know; whether in real life or online. Give yourself permission to feel shock, grief and loss. Express these emotions to your close friends and loved ones who will understand.

2. Remember the Good Times
If you feel dismayed at the passing of a beloved FBF, take the time to consciously appreciate the things you liked or remembered most about the person. Treasure the videos, photos, posts and comments; screenshot or print them in remembrance of your FBF.

3. GET CLOSURE
If possible, find the person’s obituary, research the cause of death, express your condolences and attend any memorial or funeral services if it’s practical to do so. You may be surprised at what you learn about the person once you’ve heard his or her eulogy or met their family members. And grieving families might appreciate knowing that their loved one was loved by many more people than they ever knew!

4. Evaluate Life and FOCUS on Important Matters

No one expects to die suddenly; a few hours after Instagramming a picture of their lunch. But in some cases, life is short. Death forces us to remember this fact. What can you learn from the death? What will it take for you to seize the day(s)? How much time do YOU have left. Pose these hard questions to yourself and honestly assess your priorities, timeline and goals.

Grief is never typical; each person’s grief is unique. Likewise, we each grieve differently for celebrities, friends and family, and yes–social media acquaintances. When a social media friend dies, there isn’t any oneway to react or respond. Simply listen to and process your emotions, cultivate gratitude for having known of the person, then ascertain the story of what happened and apply the life experience of your social media friend to that of your own life; helping you begin your personal grief process and continue on without your friend. Because life goes on; regardless of how you feel. Live well.

20140418-172852.jpg

“I Would Like to Thank the Academy”: Lupita and Black Self Esteem

In the weeks prior to the 2014 Academy Awards, Lupita Nyong’o floated down red carpets to the absolute delight of fashion designers and critics. Svelte, statuesque and sophisticated; skin the color of black coffee. Lupita enchanted Hollywood with her Afrocentric goddess qualities as black America looked on with awe.

No longer the despised and destitute slave girl she portrayed in Twelve Years a Slave, Lupita emerged into the Hollywood scene as a startlingly gorgeous and unapologetically African beauty; a standard.

Although Lupita’s beauty, talent and achievement inspire legions of fellow humans beyond the community of black women, nowhere else is her reign more celebrated. As she joins the ranks of the six other black women who have won coveted Oscar Awards, she gives billions of Africans, African Americans and dark people permission to be and feel beautiful without the chemicals and artificial enhancements that have caused physical and emotional damage to so many celebrities and pedestrians of color. Bravo!

Make Them Love You

20131218-002754.jpg

Want to be a magnet? Is it even possible to be attractive to everyone you encounter? Maybe. But you CAN increase your mojo; your IT factor, and your appeal; right now.

Hopefully you’ve got bigger goals than wooing a member of the opposite sex. Cultivating your inner magnetism can help stimulate your career, your finances, your everyday life, and your personal/social interactions as well. The following list will enable you to sell yourself in business, personal relationships, social settings and more. Here’s how to Make Them Love You.

1. Decide that you’re the best. No one is perfect. However, everyone has something that no one else can imitate. What’s unique about you?

Identify your talents: Pay attention to compliments to determine your strengths, and fine-tune the present version of yourself (hone skills, practice, improve, upgrade). Organize your life so that your activities, conversations and social interactions enable your strengths to shine. For instance, if you’ve EVER been told you have a beautiful smile, start using your smile like a weapon; a disarming, charming magical magnet. Smile even when you’re less than happy. Never be caught without your smile.

Similarly, if you’re great at chess, play chess all the time and hang out with people who appreciate the game. It’s easy to shine when you’re in your element. Great dancer? Humorous personality? Let it shine. Dance at the company party or neighborhood gathering. Make people laugh if you’re good at it. Super clean? Show off and brag about your meticulous housekeeping. Great clothes? Flaunt them. If you have a great body, show it off! Find something great about you, embrace it, publicize it and praise yourself.

To start this new habit immediately, go look in your favorite mirror and make yourself look as appealing as you can. Then say you yourself, I’m glad you are mine. Then reply to yourself, thanks, I agree; you are the best person for me.
If you expect others to gravitate toward you, you’ve got to believe your own hype. Want him to like you? He’ll like you equally as much as you like yourself. Don’t lie to yourself. If you’re not totallyin love with you, start correcting that right now.

If you’re waiting for your boss to be impressed by your work, impress yourself and everything will fall into place. Are youimpressed with yourself? If not, do something about it now.

2. Be busy. It’s okay to dream of a promotion, college acceptance letter or a date with that special someone. But dreaming alone won’t work without action. What are the qualifications for getting into that great position, or school, or relationship? Have you done the work? Preparation is the key to seizing your moment of opportunity.

Suppose your boss is considering promoting you. Show him or her why you’re a great investment. Hinting and askingfor what you want is only the first step. But to earn any substantial promotion, opportunity or relationship, you’ve got to be seen doing a damn good job, repeatedly, with a passion.If you want to feel beautiful, religiously attend to your personal upkeep and walk the walk of the attractive, successful, motherly, fatherly, wifely, husbandly or scholarly role you desire.

Go the extra mile. Look great every dayas opposed to being lazy on occasion. Work hardeven when no one is looking. If you know exactly what you want, you should be busyall the time; setting or accomplishing new goals, evaluating and upgrading, maintaining and planning. What’s more appealing; a bustling restaurant with steady business or a quiet establishment with no customers; just a bored staff, sitting around waiting for the phone to ring; waiting for a customer to walk in?

Busy is always better. If you don’t know what to get busydoing, see our article about setting goals, (click here to set goals).

Since the majority of our readers request relationship advice, we will reiterate the above advice for their benefit. Busy is better. Never be too available. If you don’t have a lifeoutside of work and family, try to establish one. No one thinks it’s interesting that you sit around waiting for their call. At least pretendto be busy. Moving on…

3. Be consistent. Anyone can act a certain way, but consistency separates the real from the fake. Everyone behaves when the situation is new, but how long can a habitually tardy person beat the clock? Usually not very long. Always be consistent in your efforts, attitude and demeanor. Just be yourself and you won’t have to worry.

Make sure that being yourself includes mastering certain virtues like good manners, promptness, discipline and character. After you’ve become comfortable consistently putting your best foot forward, everyone around you will be convinced that you’re pretty great.

4. Be mysterious (a little). No boss, coworker, friend, or potential romantic partner needs to know every single detail about your past, present and future. Are we advising you to habitually lie to make yourself look good? Absolutely not. We do believe that honesty is the best policy. However, learn to use honesty carefully with discretion.

Don’t tell your supervisor or boss your personal business. If you’ve already started sharing too much, just stop! Business and personal conversations should NOT intertwine unless you’re counting on being promoted via a relationshiprather than your skills and abilities. Be loyal to yourself! Don’t expose your deepest and darkest secrets to anyone unless you are paying for a therapy session. Yes, people need to vent and express their feelings. Wisely find a neutral party; perhaps a stranger in whom you can confide…only for the sake of getting advice.

Like it or not, people judge each other based on what they know,so do you really want to spill your guts and reveal your weaknesses to a person you want to impress? Take care of yourself emotionally, but do so in a private manner. Relationships and work situations are competitiveand very judgementalatmospheres. Don’t show your hand! Honesty is the best policy; but save your revealinghonesty for last; once you’ve reached the top and no one can deem you weak or unreliable.

5. Maintain the utmost confidence. It’s easy to be confident when you’ve got goals that you can complete one by one; when you’re focused on your future and busy making your visions a reality. Look your best and always give your absolute best performance, no matter what the stage.

The key to confidence is knowing who you are, where you’re going and exactly when you plan to get there. Picture yourself handling your business, climbing the ladders of achievement and success; deeply involved in your ideal social and romantic relationships. Then be grateful that you’re focused and motivated. When you live your life with this kind of purpose and focus, you’ll be so confident and magnetic that people will be drawn to you. Opportunities will come to you! People will approach you and become instantly engaged and attracted. And if anyone doesn’t love and admire or approve of you, you won’t even notice.

Learn To Love YOURSELF Instantly

Everyone claims to feel good about themselves. I Love Me, they say. Have you ever said it? If you’re anything like the authors of this journal and millions of other women and men around the world, you’ve had moments of tear-jerking weakness when you’ve looked at yourself in the mirror and despised the skin you’re in; considering your physical body, your mental equipment, your actions, habits, thoughts; your life, and your very existence to be a frustrating mess that’s just not good enough.

Mastering the love of self is the first and most important step toward the best YOU . We are taught to love Jesus, our parents, our children, our significant others; if we had a dollar for every time we demonstrated passionate, unconditional, lavish, pampering, bend-over backwards love toward others, we’d be very wealthy.

What does self love look like? Intense focus on the plans, goals, needs, desires, comforts, stability, success, happiness, health, wealth, etc, that pertain to each facet of our lives from minute to minute.

According to Suze Orman, “It is only when we give to ourselves as passionately as we give of ourselves that we create the life we want and deserve.” How often do you ignore, reject, judge, hinder and delay your plans, desires or goals? Who are you sacrificing yourself for?

YOU should be your top priority; regardless of your family structure, marital status, living arrangement and responsibility for others. Your primary assignment in life is to manage yourself. Listen to yourself as you think, plan and strategize. Be sure to take expose your fearful, shameful and guilty thoughts. Get to know your own mind in the same way you’d dig into the mind of an attractive, new love interest.

Spend time with yourself. Patiently attend to each and every one of your needs. Study yourself and notice where you need to be healed, protected or enriched. Rearrange your schedule and manage your time in a way that permits you to accomplish things for YOU.

Who’s responsible for making you feel fulfilled, successful, happy, loved, wanted, important, smart, appreciated, needed and special? It’s YOU. Who’s responsible for sweeping you off your feet? Who’s going to swoop in and rescue you; pick you up, dust you off, bandage and heal your hurts, and say, You can do this? YOU are. Love yourself like the perfect mother and father would do.

But what about my family? I take care of my kids, I work, I’m tired! I don’t have time for myself because nothing would ever get done.
The mother syndrome, though heroic to some, demonstrates a lack of self love. We’ve all seen the mother who looks and feels like a train wreck because she’s too busy with the kids. Stop. Put yourself on the schedule! Love yourself by actively rescuing yourself from the land of neglect. Place yourself on your daily schedule. Upgrade yourself to the “favorites” category; just like the romantic partner or loved one for whom you would catch a grenade.

Looking for romantic love that actually works? Learning to actively express your love to your SELF is the first and most important step in preventing a disastrous relationship. What do you allow in your relationships? Do you allow yourself to be neglected, ignored, rejected, hindered or delayed by your partners? Loving yourself means actively policing your relationships like a watchful father to a teenage daughter. It means dismissing the disrespectful and losing the leaches and liars in your path. Loving yourself means keeping your standards and principles in tact because, well…you’re the protector of yourself. YOU are the overbearing mother and overprotective father that no one likes at the time, but appreciates much later.

Taking pictures if yourself and showing them of to others does not constitute self love. It’s about respecting yourself to the highest degree; treating yourself like royalty; being he best possible YOU, from inside to out. You are the wise ruler of your own life.

Identify one way you can demonstrate your love for yourself TODAY. Choose a goal you can complete Within the next 24 hours. Examples include scheduling a workout, giving yourself a gift, eating a healthy meal, polishing your nails, etc.

Here’s your first self-love test. If you complete this task in the name of self-love, you’re on your way to the best possible YOU.

Count the Ways: List 100 very specific ways you can shower yourself with love. If you need inspiration, list things you’ve wanted others to do to prove their love. You will do each of these things for YOURSELF, so keep it practical.

20130302-041617.jpg

The Dark Lore

Black history month is about repairing the damage done to the black community over a period of centuries.

Black history month is about repairing the damage done to the black community over a period of centuries.

February is a significant time of year for blacks in America. Why? Not because we need to know who invented the traffic light or cellular phone. February is the one month of the year that American blacks actively and collectively focus on empowering the entire troubled race through information, affirmation and love.

Those who oppose the celebration of February as Black History Month generally fall into two categories; some feel it’s too much: Why should a historically despised and downtrodden race receive a special month? Others feel it’s not enough: One month of historical trivia, ironically the shortest month of the year, is not sufficient to educate the African diaspora on its unique lost ancestral records, original religions, native family languages, culture, customs, spirituality, and even knowledge.

Both sides believe themselves to be correct. People complain that “there is no WHITE history month, LATINO history month, IRISH history month..,and the list goes on and on. Black Americans complain that all other historically abused races have received proper apologies, reparations, favors, etc., that blacks do not receive.

What’s so special about black people? Weren’t Jewish people, gassed and tortured by Hitler, also persecuted? Didn’t they bounce back? Yes, they did. Jewish people, although they suffered tremendously as a people, are now fully protected by the greatest armies in the world, have managed to maintain their distinct culture and religions, are  and cherished in Christian theology, and to top it off, they have a reputation for being filthy rich. But back to blacks.

Black people in America still suffer from complexes of inferiority.

Black people in America still suffer from complexes of inferiority.

Why haven’t blacks “gotten over” their tragedy? What IS the tragic story of black people, and why does it NEVER go away? In 2013, America has a black president, but blacks in America continue to suffer through generations of poverty, crime, incarceration, discrimination, police brutality, failure, under achievement, disappointment, disaster, disease, teen pregnancy, broken homes, abuse of every kind, domestic violence, and more. Black people in America, without the advantages of college education or some other legitimate path to financial stability, tend to repeat cycles of struggle. Poor parents raise kids who immediately obtain dead-end jobs to raise their own kids, who get dead-end jobs to raise their own kids…until someone breaks the mold and finds a way to earn more than the minimum wage. What’s wrong with black people?

Self esteem seems to be the biggest problem. In every neighborhood, black children are being informed that they are ugly, dumb, and/or a number of other undesirable adjectives. They are being called “big nose,” “nappy head” and a host of other names; usually by other black kids. When they’re smart, they’re called “sellout,” “Oreo” or flat-out “white.” Kids who act ignorantly are being rewarded with popularity. In black communities, it’s often considered “cool” to be stupid, violent, disrespectful, shallow, materialistic and wasteful while pursuing money through illegal means. What’s wrong with black people? Why do so many black people perpetuate the negative stereotypes we see in the media? Why are black people continually struggling? Killing each other in gang wars, amassing great wealth to waste on expensive cars and sneakers? Wearing fake hair pieces and chemically straightening their hair as a general rule? Bleaching their skin? What’s wrong with black people?

Many black people bleach their skin, believing that dark=ugly.

Many black people bleach their skin, believing that dark=ugly.

20130203-064153.jpg

Black women have naturally curly hair, but they straighten it with chemicals, wear weaves and wigs, and even go blonde to attain white standards of beauty.

There is no one answer to this question. We can, however, examine the stories, the history, the legends, and the experiences of black people. Piecing together the history of a people I the first step to understanding its present state. And no, one 28-day month is not enough time to tell black America’s story. The story isn’t always pleasant, but it isn’t finished. Whether flashed across our television screens, extracted from rare historical books, or spread by word of mouth, healing the African-American race starts with understanding its lore. The Dark Lore is an offspring of THE LORE; dedicated exclusively to uncovering and publicizing the story of the world’s darkest people.

Think You’ve Found the “One”? Think Again…

Image

Young girls are taught to EXPECT pampering, doting and undying love from their mates, which sets women up for disappointment and discontent when they are treated more like Married With Children’s Peggy Bundy than the Cosby Show’s Claire Huxtable.

Who lives happily ever after? Whether you use Match.com, nightclubs and bars, or churches and libraries to scout out a potential mate, it’s important to debunk one common myth of love and relationships. THERE IS NO “ONE–” there are only choices. Each potential choice leads you down a journey of learning and growth. Believing that there’s a special person who is “fated” to be yours forever is a great way to set yourself up for failure in your relationship, disappointment afterwards, and eventually, the cycle of heartbreak that so many people endure. Instead of blindly seeking the person you’re “destined” to be with, or the “perfect person” or your “dream mate…” recognize taht you can engage in a relationship with whomever you choose. Use the following tips to make sure you choose well.

COMPATABILITY IS KEY. If you’ve met a person with whom you share interests, hobbies and preferences, there’s a good chance that the two of you would enjoy a relationship together. Although compatibility is not the only factor that contributes to successful relationships, it’s a key component to look for. Even if a person has one or two annoying habits, it’s still possible that the two of you could be compatible. But here’s a warning: Just because you’re compatible with someone doesn’t guarantee the relationship will last a lifetime. A relationship is nothing more than a journey of learning and growing between two people. If you figure out that you and your mate aren’t compatible, it’s okay to find someone with whom you have more in common. On the other hand, if you and your mate are not compatible, don’t force the relationship just because you hold a deep and spooky belief that he or she is “the one” and you’ll never be able to find another. There is no ONE. There is only life, with its choices, lessons and growth.

HONESTY: YOUR BEST SCREENING POLICY. When screening prospects for a relationship, consider whether the person is honest. White lies and tall tales can be an indication that the person is a little deceptive. It’s important to be able to trust your partner. In a relationship, you are vulnerable to be taken advantage of. Why? Because you let down your guard, share your innermost feelings, dreams and fears, and place all of your proverbial eggs in one basket. If the person lets you down, you could be disappointed, heartbroken or devastated. Look for honesty. Don’t be led astray by a pretty face, an attractive words and a nice body. Just because the person looks “just like the girl of your dreams” doesn’t mean you should overlook that fact that she tells a lie every ten minutes. Never deem someone “the ONE.” It causes you to overlook their character flaws. Look at everyone as a possible CHOICE, not a gift-wrapped present from the Gods. Make sure he or she isn’t speaking with a forked tongue. Don’t be moved by smooth words. Check the person out to make sure he or she can be trusted. Especially if children are involved. How far should you investigate an individual? Use your intuition and go with your gut. But NEVER give ANYONE a pass because you think it’s “meant to be.” Test a person to see how easily they reveal difficult truths. They don’t have to be perfect; just willing to work on honesty as a pillar of the relationship.

SEASONS REASONS AND LIFETIMES. You’ve probably heard the quote about people: they’re either in your life for a season, a specific reason, or for a lifetime. Sometimes relationships do last a lifetime, but most of them do not. It’s okay to leave a relationship after the season changes from happiness and joy to gloom and despair. It’s even okay to leave a boring relationship. No one has a right to hinder your enjoyment of life. Do what makes you happy. There’s no mysterious consequence awaiting you for getting rid of the man you thought was “the ONE” but who is now ignoring you and seeing other people. Sure, married couples try to save their relationships with couseling and so forth, but if you’re not married, or unhappily married, don’t fall for “destiny” and “fate” speeches people try to use to persuade you to remain in a dead relationship. “But we’re meant to be together.” Many men and women use this line when they know they’ve already lost. Some people even use religious manipulation to hold on to a partner after the love is gone. “God brought us together.” Don’t fall for this! Unless you’ve got something in writing from God, starting that He wants you to stay with Ray-Ray, it’s quite possible that he’s wrong. God gives everyone the opportunity to choose what he or she wants.

It’s okay if you once believed that you and Kate were “meant to be.” But if Kate continues to max out your credit card and bounce around at night-clubs when you’d rather her spend time with you at home, WAKE UP! Nothing is “meant to be.” There are CHOICES. You can choose to stay with Kate, or choose to find a better situation for yourself. There is always a choice. There is no relationship-puppet master pulling the strings. Decide whether you want a person in your life at all, whether it’s, for a season, a reason, or a lifetime. Then tell them the truth. It’s hard to find a “reason” to break up with someone who has done nothing truly wrong. Try the truth: “I think our relationship has reached its end.” There’s nothing wrong with moving on to someone else. You are in charge of your choices. Simply tell the person you don’t want to be in the relationship anymore. Don’t let someone try to lock you into a situation with guilt or manupulation. You are always free to choose something different.

MAINTAIN REALISTIC STANDARDS. If you have a list of over 20 things you expect in a mate, try throwing it away. How can one person fulfill your every want, need and desire? Sure, it’s nice to believe that we can receive whatever we request from the universe, but wouldn’t it be wise to open yourself to the possibility that an imperfect person could make you genuinely happy? While you’re waiting for a man with a six figure income, you’re lonely, bored and ashamed that you don’t have a mate. For men who “need” a woman with butt-length hair an a body that stops traffic, you’re still eating TV dinners. Meanwhile, a sincere brother named Craig is having a wonderful time applying oil to his new woman’s naturally curly hair and slim body while the smell of homemade post roast fills the air. Craig doesn’t make six figures, but he works from home, which allows him to take care of the house, his new potential step-child, and his new woman. Don’t count anyone out because they don’t have every trait on your checklist. When we begin to understand that there is no “ONE”, only a series of choices that we are in charge of making, we can relax and let relationships unfold naturally, ending whenever they must.