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Archive for the tag “beliefs”

The Four Agreements, Me and My Hair

I often talk about timing. Things happen in certain sequences not only for dramatic effect, but for some kind of reason. Usually when you really pay attention to a sequence of events, you find that reason over time and you get why things lined up exactly the way they did when they did.

I’m currently reading “The Four Agreements” and yes, it is one of those self-help enlightenment books that folks like Oprah thought were all life-changing and amazing.

But I have a few opinions on this book. I’m not done yet, but I’d like to share what I’ve taken from it thus far.

First, I think reading this book while I’m attempting to go natural with my hair helps really clarify a lot of my original fears of wearing my natural hair.

*Meaning I’m growing out my chemical relaxer which straightens my hair.

The premise of the book is that there are things society, our family, friends, enemies and we agree and believe them. Because of what we are trained to believe, we can even tell ourselves positive or negative things and we’ll agree with them and believe them to be proper and correct also.

As far as black women and hair, we had society telling us we were not attractive if we were not as close to looking European as possible. So even if we couldn’t alter our skin color, we for damn sure straightened our hair. In turn, society responded to us more positively and particularly men.

But we can change what we believe and what we agree to and I think by reading about going natural and hearing stories about how liberating it was for women and just the celebration of natural hair on pinterest and seeing women in a lot of television commercials with kinky, wavy, curly or super short hair, reconditioned me.

I wore my hair in a fro in public for the first time, and I actually felt good about it. Those other women were letting me know it was ok, and in turn, I believed it, agreed, and now I think I can wear my hair almost anyway I want.

I also believe and agree that I can wear my hair straight from time to time too and I won’t be turning on my culture or hating myself. LOL.

It made me think of relationships. It made me think of what the men in my life found as beautiful. I could either agree or disagree with them and keep it moving. Same thing about my weight.

At one point, it did seem like the Four Agreements was promoting narcissistic behavior and dismissing the thoughts of others and becoming disconnected and diluted.

But when you put all four agreements together, and practice them intently, it’s completely far from that. You are more cognizant of yourself and what you say and how you treat others.

The other agreements are not to make assumptions and to always do your best.

So when you think about it, if you use your words wisely and in positive ways, if you don’t tear down others, or gossip, or set out to hurt people, if you don’t make assumptions, if you seek clarity from people and you always do your best, then that isn’t being selfish or narcissistic. You are just being a great citizen the not taking things personally or believing everything people say to you and taking it as gospel is not being delusional or dismissive.

I think the book asks us to come from a place of honesty in all that we do and seek positivity. Negative things will happen and you will be misunderstood, but you have to shake it off and not let it as one guy I knew would always tell me, “not shape your ball of clay.”

It’s made me think of what people have said about me and how I let what they said shape what I think of myself and what a huge effect that has on everything. How do I use my words? Am I putting out poison because of my own problems, hang ups and insecurities?

Sometimes the wordage can be repetitive or even seem way out there, but with an open mind, as you read, you can pick out things that resonate.

I have a feeling I’ll be rereading this from time to time.

 

Like It Or Not, You Are a Representative for What You Believe In

artemisphoto/freedigitalphotos.net

Today’s post has been rattling around in my mind now for about a week.

About twice a week, I go to my local 711 which is a convenience store and gas station to get my gas. From time to time, I also indulge in an iced coffee and a glazed doughnut.

Every time I walk out of the store, there is a car, with two women sitting inside who quietly ask if you have time to talk about Jesus.

I politely say no thanks, but today I was annoyed by them. I barely heard them today as I walked past, but I realized what they were doing and said, oh, these are the same ladies.

Now as much as the Jehovah Witness people annoy me in terms of their aggressiveness, showing up to our doorsteps just when we are about to have dinner, I respect their hustle and their zeal. They still annoy me and I pretend I’m not home.

I’d also like to shout out the Mormon boys in black slacks and white shirts riding bicycles– often times in the hood–not looking the least bit worried. They are gangsta, but they are committed.

These women setting up shop in a Camry, I should ask them what church they go to so I can rat them out, or help them out by telling whoever is in charge of that particular outreach ministry, to just put these ladies out of their misery.

Not everyone is a sales person, it’s either that or they’ve lost faith in what they are supposed to be selling. I can’t recall if these women sitting in the car this year, were the same women walking up to people at the pumps and being rejected last year. So they just gave up.

Either these ladies need to quit, or their church needs to grab a page from the Mary Kay book and give these chicks a pink car as an incentive and recharge them up about the message and vision. Mary Kay ladies, Avon ladies those women are passionate about their products. They are looking good, they are confident, they make you want to be a part of the brand, not only by buying the products, but selling them too!

So it made me think. If you are representing your church and your God and you want people to join and be down with it and you are doing it in such a lackluster, lazy way, it’s not very attractive. I don’t want to go to that church if this is how the people who signed up to be there really feel about it.

Why do you think so many people go to mega churches these days?

It has to be good if this many people show up here every week. I want to be a part of this group.

When I lived in the south, the first thing people asked me was, “What church do you go to?” That affiliation meant something and the folks down there were serious about it. If you didn’t have the connection, even if you were almost the devil yourself, they kind of questioned your connection to the community. And among the elite southern black folk, the question that followed or preceded the church question was, to what sorority/fraternity do you belong. Southern folks want to know where you stand, what you believe in and what you represent.

Those ladies made me drill down deeper in my own thoughts and made me think about the fact that whether or not I like it, I’m a representative of all sorts of things. I represent where I’m from, where I’ve been and what I believe.

So, you all know me, I made a list.

I represent my family. My folks reminded me of this every time I acted a fool. And because I come from a small town and a well-known family that was active in said town, the stakes were higher. I represented my last name and there were expectations.

Where I’m from. I’m proud to be from New York and I’m proud to be a Long Islander.

Women. I represent women. I believe in women, I believe in the advancement and empowerment of women and our value to the world. So I have to represent those things by respecting myself, respecting other women, and trying to help uplift other women.

Howard University. This is a big one, I love, love, love my school. Me and my fellow alums we beam with pride. We stand on the shoulders of other great alumni that came before us and you cannot leave that place without feeling like it is a part of you and you a part of it.

Journalism. I represent journalism, because I am a journalist. I’ve been doing it for years and it is a part of who I am. I argue it’s merits and talk about the craft of reporting and accuracy and source building in an age of blogging and being able to add information to Wikipedia sites. People trust the media less than ever, and there are folks like me who are crying out not to shut us out, because we seriously are trying to get you the correct information while so much other information is flying around out there.

Black Folk. Yeah I said it. Everywhere I go, I can’t hide my color. It’s important to me to negate stereotypes, by being me.

Faith. I consider myself to be a liberal Christian. I’m working on myself daily and find myself having longer and more deep, real conversations with God. I learned a long time ago, people who take their role as a representative seriously without badgering people to come to church, but just by letting their light shine consistently entices others to come to church on their own.

Speaking of representation of beliefs and organizations, I’ll give you two examples.

A dear friend of mine is an excellent photographer. She talks about it all the time, she talks about it with such love and passion. It’s changed her life. She is obsessed with getting better and she surrounds herself with people and experiences to get better and she makes a number of sacrifices to achieve goals she’s set within her craft. She makes me think about the things I’m passionate about and go after them with the same ferocity. She is indeed an ambassador and representative of photography.

Another dear friend of mine joined a sorority after college. She loves her sorority, not just because she has a bunch of clothes and accessories and art work celebrating the Greek letters and colors, but because she believes in their values and the message and the commitment to community the group holds as it’s cornerstone. She has such passion for the organization, she travels for meetings, organizes and supports other chapter’s events. Just like my photographer friend, she lights up and can talk on and on and on about it and with passion. She makes me almost want to join, and that’s not even my thing. But all of her photos and activities and her passion for it, makes it attractive.

I feel bad for the church ladies sitting in the car. God is an awesome thing to be excited about. If they’ve lost their passion to beat the pavement to win souls, they may need to channel their energies in other Kingdom building activities.  Maybe they should teach a Sunday school class, or be the folks who volunteer in the soup kitchen or pour the communion wine in those ity bitty cups. Maybe they should help people with financial literacy or hold classes on healthy living. They are older women, maybe they can help young moms with parenting classes. There’s so much to do. There’s no excuse not to find one thing to be passionate about.

What do you represent? Or what do you think you should be representing but you’ve lost passion for it?

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