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Reflections: Life Cycles & Progress

Have you ever been knocked off your mark? Have you ever found your place? Knew it was your place  and still left it? Since leaving Arizona, I’ve been looking for another place to call home. Two and half years later, the place I want to be most is the Sonoran Desert, the special place I left.

The last few years have been about revisiting and returning for me. This snippet of my future is one I’m certain of: I will return home.

Feeling full. All cycles complete. When lessons are gathered and applied, the next steps reveal themselves. Life is good.

Listen to the full post on Podcasters:–Progress-e2cnuae

Or watch on YouTube

#video #life #reflection #road #lessons #lifelessons #keepmovingforward #harvest #harvestlife #myplace #home #town #desert #full #complete

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Kirk Franklin’s Father’s Day

Kirk Franklin is a phenomenally successful and beloved musician. I’ve been a fan since 1993. Songs from his debut album, are all-time favorites and on my regular gospel inspiration rotation. Since 1993, he has produced fifteen albums, several with five named groups. His latest album, Father’s Day was released on October 6, 2023.  Shortly before the album’s release, Kirk released a short documentary by the same name. Watch it here:

Father’s Day: A Kirk Franklin Story

His documentary is very poignant and sad. As expected, with a focus on abandonment and adoption, his pain is palpable.

Three things came to mind while watching.

  • 1. What is it about people who grow up fending for themselves that lead to extraordinary lives?
  • 2. What is his mother’s story? It’s clear he doesn’t know the half of it.
  • 3. Does he really believe he hasn’t learned love in all these years with the anointing his music has?

Despite his tremendous success, Kirk says he has always been the most insecure man in the room because he has never known the love of his mother or father.

I don’t discount that. I certainly understand him. However, I know that love cannot flow from a place where love does not exist. His music is pure love and joy. Deeply so. He specifies that he has never been able to receive love. He gives a lot, but he’s not taking it in. Profound and sad.

Know that you are blessed as you are. Continue to be blessed as you go.

Somebody’s Son by Kirk Franklin
Needs by Kirk Franklin
All Things by Kirk Franklin

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Poem: For My 10th Grade English Class / Class of 2026

People will use your trauma
To keep you down
Keep you bond
Keep you dependent
Keep you focused on pain
Those who encourage your
Seek to control you the most
Be alert
Be ready
Be protective
Of your growth
Your life
Your hopes
Your dreams
Why someone wants
To do everything for you
Make class easy
Give you things you haven’t worked for

What’s your story if you never
Never hurt?
Never feel?
Never heal and recover?
What have you accomplished
If someone can tell you they did everything for you?
Your voice is the gateway to your life.
Use it.
Say who you are.
Be who you are.
Improve yourself every day.
Your story becomes more dimensional
With each new experience –
Good bad happy or sad
Everything in your life builds you
Into the person you are
Be intentional
Be mindful
Be aware of the fact that
Who you are today is not
All you will ever be
But you have to feed your future self
Start now

By LaShawnda Jones
October 7, 2023
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Learning to Trust Myself Again

These last several years of my life have been about relearning, revisiting, rewriting and starting over. I spent well over a decade prior to this phase letting go of people, hopes, dreams and ideas. All of life is a process and I’ve generally stopped fighting against my cycles years ago.

The New Gig

The day after Labor Day, I began subbing as a tenth grade English teacher in a working-class suburban neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I shared feedback from that interview in The Best Interview Feedback I’ve Ever Received. The other day, while driving to a job for which my excitement had evaporated by day three, I wondered why I keep getting into situations that sound like they’re a godsend but function as a nightmare.

Note here: My wondering is almost always a conversation with my Creator. Whether thinking or vocalizing, the answers always come.

So, I was driving and asking God how I got roped in with a crock of lies by people who apparently think they have unlimited access to my labor despite not following through on any letter of their word. Assuming the job itself was the blessing, I questioned if I would show a lack of faith by quitting. Is this a trial I’m intended to persevere through? Am I obligated to suffer through incalculable daily indignities to get to the blessing on the other side of yet another toxic environment that is everything I hate and more about capitalist assumptions and indoctrination in the workplace?

Season of “No Struggle Blessings”

Season of “No Struggle Blessings”

What came to me last weekend in a blink of understanding was that nothing God has for me is conditioned on my suffering or my performance. Work always has to be done, of course. However, the work we do to bring our purpose about and the work that moves us forward in life is usually counted as joy and certainly adds up to gratitude for unexpected opportunities. My writing is my work. Everything else is what I do to pay the bills.

I’ve reached a point in life that I seek to impress and satisfy only myself. I am in competition with no one. There is no leverage or power anyone has over me to stop me from existing how I want in this world. Suffering is not the route to blessings for me at this stage of life. The certainty of that knowledge radiated within me when it came to me last weekend. Shared in this clip titled “Season of “No Struggle Blessings“” from Know Your WHY & Be True To It.

Later in the week, while driving to this job, my primary question was, “What lesson am I supposed to take from a series of jobs that could have been catalysts for full-life transitions but became horribly acrimonious instead? In my spirit, I heard this (paraphrased), “It’s not about Me. It’s about you. When are you going to trust yourself again?”

Blocking My Own Progress

I don’t doubt God. There is nothing in me that fears My Creator’s provision for me will ever dry up. I have no concerns about food, shelter, or money. I am sustained in a very healthy way (**pats belly**). Yet in my young adulthood, I put so much of my trust in the connections I thought I had with people that I weighed my worthiness and the understanding of my faith by their response to me. Their lack of response and general absence of reciprocal care made me think I had misunderstood a lot – instructions, guidance, teachings, messages – even up to the foundation of my faith. My recovery from the dreadful lapse of trusting my intuition, my hearing, my heart, my eyes and my hopes was to push it all into the shadows and trust only what I could confirm as God’s guidance. This is what we call an over-correction.

As I write, I can see clearly that the loss of so many imbalanced relationships – with people I held dear as friends and family or would have gladly called lover – paved the way to my withdrawal and isolation. For the last few years, I have actively resisted making new friends and aggressively shooed away men. What I’m understanding now is, I stopped trusting my sight. Not only did I have visions, but I also saw what people could be and accepted their representation of themselves.

I had eyes filled with hope and love. This is the filter that covers a multitude of sins.

Now, all I see is what people are in a world I don’t want to be a part of.

This is what the Spirit called me to remembrance of this week, “When are you going to trust yourself again?”

I questioned back, “Can I trust myself to love again? Do I even want to love again? What good has love in the world done for me? In my mind, love has only made me a sucker, a mark, and a target. Loving others has not brought love into my life.”

But the Spirit hadn’t questioned my ability. The Spirit questioned my will and my timing, “When?”

Old Scars

Two other jobs I had really been excited about since 2020 came to mind. I realized I would have suffered indefinitely had they not forced me out. I would have continued showing up to those places filled with rancor and petty-mindedness because I had committed to the roles. I was determined to transition my career fully and thereby pave a way for a new life outside of New York City. At the time, I was certainly confident in my ability to make whatever I needed work out. My self-confidence may waver in moments, but those moments are barely blips on the arc of time.

At the time, those two former acrimonious jobs were seen as answered prayers and steppingstones to a future I was trying to create for myself. They each lasted about two months and my termination was seen as a frustration and a blessing. “Frustration” because I believed I needed employment to fully transition in life. “A blessing” because I wanted to quit, but I’m not a good quitter. Presently, with the sub role, quitting is not an issue, and I know the job itself is not the blessing.

That was the lesson. That was the realization and the manifestation.

The Cycle and The Lesson

It took three cycles for me to separate the perception of the satisfaction of my needs from anything in this world. Environments are acrimonious to me because I’m not meant to stay in them. They’re test stations. Spaces where my understanding and faith are sifted and refined. It was my life-long practice of holding on to things that aren’t for me that made the lesson necessary.

The Conversation continued (paraphrasing). “You know what’s good for you. You don’t need to ask Me if you can do what you need to do to protect your Peace. You can trust yourself.

Ahhhhh. *Light bulb.*

I can see people and things as they are and not conform to the darkness enshrouding them, even if I’m attempting to counsel them through it. This includes seeing myself as I am, in all my flawed fragile humanity. The filter of love and hope that I had once viewed others with was also how I viewed myself. Perhaps the understanding that’s forming is that in my inability to see myself and others through the filter of love and hope, I should trust that it’s still necessary to practice doing so. I need to trust that my deficiencies are not limitations if I remain open and willing to allow God to work and love through me.

When will I trust myself again? Trust myself to open up, despite the inevitability of disappointment, without sliding further into isolation? Trust myself to see with refreshed eyes of grace instead of through the prism of all the false relationships in my life? Trust myself enough to protect myself in any environment without concern about retaliation?

I already do. That work has already been done.

The Result

As I continued driving that morning, my response was “Yes and Amen.” I knew within the first week of interactions at the high school that as soon as I got another offer, I was gone. None of the terms agreed to by phone were written into an offer or adhered to. I had dealt with the principal, and we had come to an agreement. In exchange for an emergency license and conversion to full-time teacher with full benefits after three months subbing, I committed to teach for the full school year. When the HR manager finally spoke to me on day three, she said she couldn’t make any guarantees regarding the principal’s verbal offerings. She reduced my day rate to the lowest level and claimed I would have to pay out of pocket, at this reduced pay, for the courses leading to a license. I told her I couldn’t make any guarantees either, and there was no way I was coming out of pocket in order to work for anyone. Not when I have three degrees and thirty years work experience. In that moment, I knew I was done.

In all my working years, no one has ever not honored terms of a verbal job offer. The shadiness of it is not loss on me.

The beauty of being able to see people as they are, is that the little power they have in subterfuge is taken away. I can be as open and honest as I want and be fine with the consequences. When truth is spoken into a deceitful person’s face, they have no idea how to respond. They usually double-down or back down. Either way, they know they are exposed. Truth takes away the go-along-to-get-along cushion where they think they can dangle a carrot to control performance. No. That’s not an option. Not with me.

I’ve come through the testing stations with a layer of grit I never asked for. I wanted to be soft, caring, trusting and full of grace, but the people of the world keep trying to break me down and chew me up. So, My Provider began training me in courses that have incrementally toughened me. [Perhaps, broken teeth will be a symbol of my legacy. 🤔] Knowing I am equipped to stand in victory makes trusting myself much easier.

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New Project: Cover Art

I’ve been in creative mode for the last few weeks. What I’ve learned over time is to ride this wave whenever it comes until it dumps me on shore again.

This time around, I’ve been writing almost daily, editing images and manuscripts. I’m so confident that I might finish something during this cycle, I marked book festivals on my calendar for 2024. 🤞🏾

This book cover design is for a collection of poetry titled “Alone | All In One”

What do you think regarding the following?

I like the font, but readability is important. If it’s not readable, let me know.

Font color and positioning?

This is the color scheme I’m going with. The colors didn’t look as bold on my desktop, I may desatuate a bit.

Do you like slide 1, 2, 3 ,4 better than any other? Why?

What doesn’t work for you?

Think along lines of walking through a book fair or book store and liking something enough to pause and flip through it. Does it have any of those elements? What would help?

Thanks! 😘

#books #bookstagram #bookcover #bookcoveedesign #font #graphicdesign #photooftheday #photographer #poetry #poetrycollection #poem #poet #writer #indie #indiepublishing #alone #allinone #aloneallinone

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ChatGPT: Africa

From my first session with ChatGPT   

I find most of these ChatGPT answers unsatisfactory. ALKEBULAN is the ancient indigenous name for the continent we call Africa. In Kemetic History of Afrika, Dr Cheikh Anah Diop writes, “The ancient name of Africa was Alkebulan. Alkebu-lan “mother of mankind” or “garden of Eden”.” Alkebulan is the oldest and the only word of indigenous origin. It was used by the Moors, Nubians, Numidians, Khart-Haddans (Carthagenians), and Ethiopians. The word *Africa* is European (derived from Greek or Roman words referencing Northern Alkebulan People). This chat dates everything to Roman and Greek occupation. The continent is obviously much older than those civilizations.

LJ: Where was Judah in Africa? 

ChatGPT: Judah was not located in Africa, but rather in the Middle East. In ancient times, Judah was a kingdom in the southern region of the Levant, which is roughly equivalent to the modern-day regions of Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. The Kingdom of Judah emerged around the 9th century BCE and was centered on the city of Jerusalem. It was one of two kingdoms that emerged after the division of the united Kingdom of Israel following the death of King Solomon. The other kingdom was the Kingdom of Israel, which was located in the northern part of the Levant. 

LJ: What does the Kingdom of Whydah translate to in English? 

ChatGPT: There was a historical kingdom known as the Kingdom of Whydah, also spelled as Ouidah, which was located in what is now the West African country of Benin. The name “Whydah” or “Ouidah” is believed to have originated from the local Fon language, and its precise meaning is not entirely clear. However, it is thought to be a combination of two words: “wé” meaning “water” and “dah” meaning “shore” or “landing place”. Therefore, one possible interpretation of the name “Whydah” is “landing place on the water” or “shore by the water”. 

LJ: Why do people think Whydah and Ouidah are the same as Judah? 

ChatGPT: There is no factual basis for linking the names of the Kingdom of Whydah (Ouidah) in West Africa and the Kingdom of Judah in the Middle East. The two kingdoms were located on different continents, separated by thousands of miles, and existed in different historical periods. 

It is possible that some people may have been confused by the similarity in the sound of the names and attempted to draw a connection between them, but such claims have no basis in historical fact. It is important to rely on verifiable sources and evidence when making historical and cultural connections, rather than relying on unsupported claims or misconceptions. 

LJ: What is the original name for Africa, Egypt and Ethiopia? 

ChatGPT: The names of Africa, Egypt, and Ethiopia have evolved over time and have been referred to by different names in different periods of history and by different cultures and peoples. 

The name “Africa” is believed to have originated from the ancient Roman word “Africus,” which referred to the winds that blew from the north across the Mediterranean Sea. The term was later used to refer to the land to the south of the Mediterranean, and eventually came to encompass the entire continent. 

The ancient Egyptians referred to their country as “Kemet,” which means “black land” in reference to the dark, fertile soil of the Nile River delta. The Greeks and Romans called the country “Aigyptos” and “Aegyptus,” respectively, which is the origin of the modern English name “Egypt.” 

Ethiopia, which is located in the Horn of Africa, has been known by different names over the centuries. The ancient Greeks called the region “Aethiopia,” which means “burnt-faced” in reference to the dark-skinned people who lived there. In the Amharic language, the official language of Ethiopia, the country is known as “Ethiopia” or “Ityop’iyā.” 

It’s worth noting that the names of regions and countries are often influenced by the languages, cultures, and perspectives of the people who use them, and may change over time as a result of shifting political and cultural dynamics. 

LJ: What did Egyptians and Ethiopians call Africa before the Greeks and Romans arrived? 

ChatGPT: The ancient Egyptians and Ethiopians had various names for their respective lands, but there is no record of a name that referred specifically to the entire continent of Africa before the Greeks and Romans arrived. 

The ancient Egyptians referred to their land as “Kemet” or “Kmt,” which means “black land” or “the land of the blacks,” in reference to the dark, fertile soil of the Nile River valley. The term “Kemet” was later used to refer to the entire region of Egypt and Nubia (modern-day Sudan). 

The ancient Ethiopians referred to their land as “Habesha” or “Abesha,” which is still used today as a term for Ethiopia and its people. The name “Ethiopia” is believed to have been derived from the Greek term “Aithiopia,” which referred to the lands to the south of Egypt and was used to describe the people who lived there. 

It’s worth noting that the concept of a single continent known as “Africa” as we understand it today is a relatively modern construct, and was likely influenced by European colonialism and the scientific exploration of the continent in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

LJ: What was the longest reigning civilization in Africa? 

ChatGPT: The question of which civilization was the longest reigning in Africa is a difficult one to answer definitively, as the continent has a rich and diverse history with many different civilizations rising and falling over time. 

However, one of the most well-known and enduring civilizations in African history is Ancient Egypt. Founded around 3100 BCE and lasting until its conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, Ancient Egypt spanned thousands of years and saw the rise and fall of many different dynasties and rulers. During this time, Egypt developed a complex system of writing, religion, art, architecture, and government that influenced not only its own people but also neighboring cultures in Africa and the Mediterranean. 

Other long-lasting African civilizations include the Kingdom of Kush (also known as Nubia), which flourished in what is now Sudan from around 2500 BCE to 350 CE, and the Aksumite Empire, which ruled over what is now Ethiopia and Eritrea from the 1st to the 8th century CE. 

LJ: What do Africans say about the transatlantic slave trade? 

ChatGPT: The transatlantic slave trade is viewed as a deeply traumatic and tragic event in African history. Africans were forcibly taken from their homes and families, and sold into slavery in the Americas, the Caribbean, and other parts of the world. The effects of this trade continue to be felt today in the form of economic and social inequality, as well as cultural trauma. 

However, it is important to note that Africa is a diverse continent with many different cultures and viewpoints, and there is no single “African” perspective on the transatlantic slave trade. Some Africans may feel a deep sense of loss and anger over the atrocities committed during the trade, while others may be more focused on the resilience and strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity. 

LJ: What is the relationship between Egypt and Canaan in the Bible? 

ChatGPT: In the Bible, Egypt and Canaan are often depicted as neighboring regions with a complex and sometimes adversarial relationship. The biblical account of the relationship between Egypt and Canaan begins with the story of Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers and taken to Egypt. Eventually, Joseph rises to become a powerful figure in Egypt and is able to bring his family, including his father Jacob (Israel) and his brothers, to live in Egypt. 

In the Book of Exodus, the relationship between Egypt and the Israelites, who are living in Egypt as slaves, becomes strained as Moses demands that Pharaoh let the Israelites go. After Pharaoh refuses, a series of plagues are sent by God to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites. Eventually, the Israelites are able to leave Egypt and begin their journey to the Promised Land, which includes the land of Canaan. 

Throughout the Old Testament, there are references to conflicts between the Israelites and their neighbors in Canaan, including the Canaanites, Philistines, and other groups. Egypt is sometimes depicted as an ally or a potential enemy, depending on the historical context. 

Overall, the relationship between Egypt and Canaan in the Bible is complex and multifaceted, reflecting the historical realities of the ancient Near East. 

LJ: What is the relationship between Egypt and Israel in the Bible? 

ChatGPT: The relationship between Egypt and Israel in the Bible is complex and multifaceted, with various events and interactions recorded throughout the Old Testament. Here are some key points: 

  • Exodus: Perhaps the most famous event involving Egypt and Israel in the Bible is the story of the Exodus, in which Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and towards the Promised Land. This event is recorded in the book of Exodus and is a cornerstone of Jewish and Christian theology. 
  • The patriarchs: Before the Exodus, the Israelites were living in Egypt as a family of 70, as recorded in the book of Genesis. The patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) had all visited Egypt at various times in their lives, and Joseph (one of Jacob’s sons) famously became a high-ranking official in the Egyptian government. 
  • Interactions with pharaohs: The Bible records several interactions between Israelite leaders and Egyptian pharaohs. For example, Joseph was favored by Pharaoh and helped him during a time of famine. Later, Moses and Aaron had a series of confrontations with Pharaoh, demanding that he release the Israelites from slavery. 
  • Conquests and alliances: After leaving Egypt, the Israelites frequently came into contact with Egyptian armies and other neighboring nations. At times, they formed alliances with these nations (such as the Amorites) in order to conquer other enemies. 

Overall, the relationship between Egypt and Israel in the Bible is complex and multifaceted, with a mixture of cooperation, conflict, and cultural exchange. 

LJ: Is there historical documentation of the Biblical interactions between Egyptians and Israelites? 

ChatGPT: Yes, there is some historical documentation of the Biblical interactions between Egyptians and Israelites. The most well-known historical event involving the two groups is the Exodus, when the Israelites were said to have been enslaved in Egypt and then led out of slavery by Moses. While there is no direct historical evidence for the Exodus story as told in the Bible, some scholars believe that there may be some basis for the story in historical events such as the Hyksos invasion of Egypt in the 16th century BCE, which involved a group of foreign rulers and may have led to a large-scale displacement of people. 

There are also some references to Israelites in ancient Egyptian texts, including the Merneptah Stele, which dates to the late 13th century BCE and contains a reference to “Israel” as a group living in Canaan. Other Egyptian texts mention a group of people called the “Apiru” or “Habiru,” who may have been related to the Israelites. 

Overall, while there is some historical evidence for interactions between Egyptians and Israelites in the ancient world, the exact nature of these interactions and the accuracy of the Biblical accounts remains a subject of scholarly debate. 

LJ: Does ChapGPT include data from African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries?  

ChatGPT: Yes, as an AI language model, ChatGPT has access to information from various sources, including data from African, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries. The model’s knowledge is based on the training data it was fed, which includes diverse sources of information from around the world. However, it is important to note that ChatGPT’s responses are generated based on patterns and correlations in the training data and do not necessarily reflect objective truths or the full complexity of any given topic. 

LJ: Why does it feel as if I’m receiving westernized answers to my global and historical questions? 

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I strive to provide unbiased and factual information based on the data available to me. My responses are generated based on the information that I have been trained on, which includes a wide variety of sources from different parts of the world. However, the availability and accessibility of data can sometimes be limited by factors such as language barriers, cultural biases, and historical perspectives. 

Additionally, it is important to note that the perspectives and interpretations of historical events and cultures can vary depending on the source and the person interpreting them. It is always recommended to seek out multiple sources and viewpoints to gain a more comprehensive understanding of a topic. 

LJ: How many languages are you able to read, translate and communicate in? 

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I can understand and generate text in many languages. My primary training data includes English, but I can also work with languages such as Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, and many others. However, my proficiency in each language varies based on the amount and quality of training data available. 

LJ: What would I have to do to relocate from the United States to Dakar, Senegal or Accra, Ghana or Cairo, Egypt? 

ChatGPT: Relocating from the United States to Dakar, Senegal, Accra, Ghana or Cairo, Egypt would involve a number of steps and considerations. Here are some general steps you may need to take: 

  • Research the country: Before moving to any new country, it is important to do your research. This includes learning about the culture, language, customs, and laws of the country you are considering moving to. 
  • Obtain a visa: Depending on the country you choose, you will need to obtain a visa to legally reside and work there. You can find information on visa requirements from the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to relocate to. 
  • Find housing: Once you have obtained a visa, you will need to find housing. This may involve renting an apartment or house or purchasing property. You can use online resources to research housing options and connect with real estate agents in your desired location. 
  • Plan your finances: It is important to plan your finances before moving to a new country. This includes setting up a bank account, obtaining health insurance, and understanding the cost of living in the country you plan to move to. 
  • Arrange for transportation: You will need to arrange for transportation to your new country. This may involve booking a flight and arranging for transportation from the airport to your new home. 
  • Learn the language: Depending on the country you plan to move to, you may need to learn a new language. It is important to start learning the language as soon as possible, ideally before you arrive in the country. 
  • Connect with others: Finally, it is important to connect with other expats or locals in the country you plan to move to. This can help you navigate the culture and make new friends. 

Overall, relocating to a new country can be a challenging but rewarding experience. It is important to plan carefully and do your research to ensure a smooth transition. 

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Marriage or Happiness?

(Thoughts on a thread of comments from social media in early 2023.)

Joy like breathing

He said, “Committing to joy is like breathing. You don’t have to think about it. Joy is easy. Commitment is hard. Commit to hard things.”

This viewpoint seems incredibly detached from a life lived in reality and truth. It comes across as untried and devoid of any emotional awareness.

After reading this comment, I spent most of the day thinking about the people and activities that have brought me joy and how difficult or illusive maintaining connection or a routine has been.

On a very basic level, nothing makes me as euphoric as a long bike ride with amazing scenery and long breaks to take it all in. Yet I haven’t been on my bike in nearly two years.

I call a nice hot sauna the joy of my life. Yet I’ve only been able to enjoy three sauna visits in the last five years.

These two relatively simple things are easily within my power, resources and ability to enjoy daily or at least as often as the thought crosses my mind, yet it’s been years since I’ve committed to making them part of my regular self-care routine. Why? Because commitment requires time. Commitment requires focus. It requires attention and intention. There is always something more urgent or important to do with my limited time and energy than cater to myself. Or so I keep telling myself.

I responded to a comment on a thread about a woman choosing to love herself over remaining in an unhappy marriage. Many of the commenters called the woman selfish. Nearly all of them scoffed at her happiness. Quite a few seemed to scream: Marriage is duty! Not happiness!

Quite frankly, I’m flabbergasted.

While it’s true I don’t know anyone who is happily married, I have always thought that carefully choosing a compatible partner could lead to a happy union. With this in mind, I commented, “Commitment should be rooted in things that bring joy. If you’re committing to a painful, distressing situation, that’s your prerogative, [but not] the purpose of marriage.”

Comments from the from the original Facebook post

Unknown: Marriage is not about self love. Marriage is a duty. It’s commitment. This is more that just about how you feel after reading, self-help books and doing yoga. Marriage requires obedience to your vowels [sic].

Found self love and destroyed her family.

Sorry I have to disagree, marriage is work and is a covenant and to simple say it’s about me and my happiness shows me she didn’t seek God first.

Unpopular opinion: Screaw [sic] your happiness when it breaks up your family. I didn’t’ hear anything about her husband cheating, beating, or talking down to her. It was all “my happiness” “self love” me” and “I”. this is a very selfish outlook. It’s an outlook that’s going to cause a lot of woman to grow old and die alone. Marriage is not about your happiness it’s about commitment. This annoying.

Bullshit. You decided to commit to someone and bring in life… then decide you needed to be happy? I hope she realizes how ridiculous she sounds.


thejuicypeach: those comments aren’t wrong through. Marriage is all those selfless things…. Which is why I’ll NEVER do it again. You’re literally supposed to put your commitment above everything including your happiness. Damn that.

HarvestPhoto [me]: Commitment should be rooted in things that bring joy. If you’re committing to a painful, distressing situation, that’s your prerogative, that [but not] the purpose of marriage.

thejuicypeach: The issue lies in the fact that you can only choose what YOU’RE rooted in. You can still fall victim to your partner choosing something or someone else. Then you’re stuck bc of some stupid vow you took. No thank you.

Harvest Photo: How are you stuck? Every day consists of choices. Choose different. Especially if your spouse isn’t choosing you or your relationship.

NothingToSeeHere2023: By definition, you don’t need commitment if the only thing you are committed to is your own happiness.

[….]You don’t need commitment if what you are committed to 1st and 2nd is your own happiness. Vows are made for difficult circumstance, not shit that’s already easy to do. Committing with the caveat of happiness being paramount at all time would be like me vowing to breathe.

HarvestPhoto: Read for understanding. You’re inserting a lot of things that weren’t said or implied. Joy is not easy to maintain, yet it can be a natural occurrence. If you want to commit to a difficult thing that bring you no joy, by all means do so., it’s your prerogative (as originally stated).   

A Woman is a full human

What remains shocking about these comments is the idea that a woman’s joy or happiness in her marriage is a selfish nonstarter. How dare a woman seek to not be at war with her humanity and her choices? The fact that so many women commented with deep vitriolic disgust tells me that many are as deeply unhappy with their choices and partners than they want to admit. So unhappy, in fact, that they insist that those seeking to self-correct their course, forget about their own self-care and continue to suffer in silence for the sake of the “union” and children.

What union is there in discord? If two people are not content with one another, there is no way they can live in harmony. If there’s no harmony, how can they live as one? Do people still believe children don’t sense discord? Do they believe children aren’t affected by their parents’ unhappiness?

The discord in my family

My parents never divorced but my dad was out of the house for the last eight years of my mother’s life (my pre-teen/teen years). He was abusive and I did not want a relationship with him. More importantly to me, I wanted my mother to have a man who was worthy of her goodness. I was her divorce advocate and her cheerleader when she expressed interest in suitors. My mother has been gone for nearly thirty years. I usually write a poem or journal to her on her birthday. This year’s piece wistfully wondered if she had ever found joy in life.

If you are unhappy, don’t allow your legacy to be overshadowed by your child’s sadness for your unlived life. No parent wants their child to be unhappy. Yet most fail to show happiness to their children.

Self-care is a beautiful practice that infiltrates the hearts and minds of children and improves their outlook and expectations.

One action changed my worldview

After years of witnessing my mom and an aunt get beat by their husbands; and of me being a victim of sexual violence by these same men, it took only one instance of witnessing another aunt call the police on her husband the first and only time he put his hands on her. She was in the wrong that day. She was yelling at him about something. She followed him from room to room twice over in the apartment. He kept saying OK, OK. He didn’t want to argue. Finally, he grabbed her by the shoulders, perhaps he shook her, and he said, “OK! Leave me alone!” That’s it. She called the police. They came. He was taken away, not charged, but he slept someplace else that night.

I was fourteen. That was the first time I saw a woman fully protect herself. No matter my opinion on the circumstances, my aunt became a superstar in my eyes. Their marriage didn’t last long. Because discord and she had no respect for him. Yet his gentleness and earnestness showed through in everything he did. Of all the uncles I have, he is the only one I called uncle.

This aunt is indeed very selfish. She thrives on conflict. And she pursues her pleasures above everything and everybody. She’s on her fifth marriage. She loves carnal love and wants nothing more than to be adored, but she’s not a good partner or supporter. Everyone she has ever loved has been scorched in some way, me included. However, she is the most wonderful counterbalance to staying in a situation for the sake of someone else. Or staying for the idea of duty and marriage. I needed to see her in action. I needed to understand that the options in front of me are never everything I have access to.

In me, both sides of my family see this aunt and my mom. My mom was the caring strength of the family. She was the nurturer, the feeder, the gentle lover, and forgiver of everybody and everything. My aunt’s focus is solely to enjoy life on her terms. Now that she’s in her later years, she may be hurt that her children and exes have grown and moved outside of her will, but that doesn’t stop her from looking for her next great adventure.

It may seem incongruous to have such disparate women as my life models. I admit it took years for me to accept their warring personalities within me. Fortunately, over time, I settled into my personalities as I learned more about my needs, wants, and goals. I’m okay with the way I share my gentler side and the way I erect and maintain my boundaries. I’m fine working to exhaustion then resting and pampering myself beyond any period of time folks deem reasonable.

We are so much more than what others would limit us to.

My aunt is content with who she is and has shared no regrets with me.

Even though I wonder if my mother experienced joy in her short hard life, she was clear about her priorities and what she wanted. She was intentional about doing what she had to do to get to her next level. And she knew I was rooting for her to enjoy all that she could.

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The Best Interview Feedback I’ve Ever Received

Not only did my latest job interview get me excited – a rare feat these days – my interviewer was super excited about me. His feedback turned me into a spinning chorus singer.

I’ve been working for over thirty years. I’m sure I’ve collected many pieces of advice and phenomenal feedback in various roles. However, this most recent post-interview feedback immediately had me thinking of other memorable moments that have contributed to my very capable and self-assured persona.

In short:

1. Ask for what you want and stick to your number. This was an early and hard lesson to learn. It has been reinforced with almost every manager I’ve had since.

2. Go where you are wanted. There are jobs that not only need your skills, they want your presence and everything you’re willing to bring into their space.

3. Chemistry is better than experience. Working with people you click with improves life in so many ways. When work is not a hardship or a chore, you have so much more zest for the rest of life.

Each of these roles defined a period of my life – McDonald’s, Citigroup, and a transition to teaching. Watch the above video for the detailed feedback stories and great bonus advice I remembered while filming.

Cheers and be blessed as you go!


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Why are men so frustrating?

Why are men so frustrating? The older I get, the less patience and interest I have for their foolishness, especially when unsolicited and unnecessary. This particular interaction resulted from me asking two professional contractors for information on day laborers.

I didn’t cover in the video that I was also extremely taken aback by how forcefully these two men (black) were against the idea of me getting help for anything less than an exorbitant amount of money. Even as I repeatedly explained that I could move the materials (70 drywall sheets from driveway to second floor) over a period of days on my own, but getting 3 to 4 men to help would reduce the task to about an hour or so. Definitely less than two hours. Not only did they insist the task helpers get paid, but they were insisting on union rates of $85 to $100 per hour per person. I asked repeatedly if they were serious, and they never deviated from this ridiculous opinion.

As an active laborer on a project I’m personally financing, it’s hard for me to take anyone seriously when they speak condescendingly from a one-dimensional perspective. The union contractor bragged about keeping a full wallet and being on the job for 35 years, but his 2 examples of paying more than double a decent rate for basic services told me he doesn’t know anything about money or project management.

I may seem frugal, but I’m working with what I have. Becoming reckless with my limited resources will not get me to a completed project.

That being said, I’ve learned a great deal from most of the contractors I’ve worked with and those who bid on work but didn’t follow through. Without a doubt, the best information initially came from me knowing nothing and the men happily talking my ears off. However, I took notes. Most provided fuller contextual information when I followed up with my progress updates and questioned what they meant when they said xyz.

I’m still a novice, but I don’t require hand-holding. And I certainly don’t have time for outright foolishness.

#homerenovation #tools #toolcenter #contractor  #union #uniontradesman #realestate #labor #diy #realestatefinance #getitdone #how you can

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Beach Day: Ebb and Flow of Life

Every year, for as long as I can remember, I’ve tried to make time for a beach day.

Varying degrees of access

In New York City, getting to a not-so-crowded beach meant commuting for over an hour. Walk to the subway. Take the subway to Penn Station for a Long Island Railroad train to a beach of choice. I usually went to Jones Beach, which was a short walk from the train stop.

I rarely arrived while the sun was high and super hot, but I do recall struggling as I roasted with no shade on the hot sand.

That being said, I lived on an island – Manhattan. Every day outside was an opportunity to see, walk by, ride alongside, or sit near the water. So, getting to the beach once a year to put my feet in the ocean was a symbolic goal.

Me touching water for the year.

I didn’t realize how much water was part of my daily life until I moved to Tucson, AZ. The closest beaches were four hours south,  Rocky Point/Puerto Peñasco, Mexico on the Baja Peninsula, and six hours west to San Diego, CA. The highway ends at the Pacific Ocean.

I figured I could do a road trip a year for beach time, and life would be fine. I made it to San Diego one time before leaving the Southwest.

In Milwaukee, Lake Michigan, a practical sea, is less than ten minutes from my door.

Though I get to the water often, to peek at it, moon over it, decompress with it, I rarely get close enough to touch it. To wade in it. Certainly never to swim in it.

Lake Michigan is more accessible than the Hudson and East Rivers were in New York. Certainly more accessible than the Pacific Ocean is to Arizona.

Now that I think of it, I don’t think I heard waves from the piers in New York City. The city is full of so many sounds, it’s hard to isolate soothing rhythms.

Appreciating greatness

Perhaps that’s why I love Lake Michigan so much. The sound and the power. It’s expanse. Within minutes of sitting near the water, all I hear is its symphony, engulfed in its fresh smell. The breeze coming off of the water is both flirtatious and nurturing with eye-catching color changes and luminosity.

Get out and touch water

Bodies of water are rejuvenating, envigorating, life-affirming.
The push and pull of the waves. The retreat and reach of foam caps. The way the water ripples and shimmer as it stretches into the horizon, connecting with heaven at the end of our sight and with our feet planted on the earth at the beginning of our frame of vision.

Ah, maybe that’s the lure. The attraction. The beauty. Touching something that seemingly touches eternity infuses the moment with vigor and greatness in a drop of simplicity.

Such is life. Full of simple moments waiting to be seen as great opportunities for whatever a life needs.

Don’t resist the Ebb and flow

As much as I’ve been pulled into the unknown vastness of the sea, I’ve also been returned to the comfort of the shore every time.

Often, people seek the rush and highlights of life. Rarely taking time to sit in nature and be reminded by the breeze of purpose. Take time to see power in the unity of drops. To recalibrate their vision with the vibrancy of nature’s color palette and sound board. Rarely do we simply exist in the space we occupy, ebbing and flowing with creation. Like a drop of rain joining with the sea to form a wave before greeting the land.

When we crash, we think it’s the end of all things. What if we viewed the crash against shore as the beginning of a cycle. No longer part of the wave, separated briefly from the sea. Until the next wave comes to gather all the drops stranded in the sand. Ebb and flow. Pushed and pulled. Retreat and advance. Wherever you are, keep moving. Ride the wave. Crash. Jump back in. Life gets better with every cycle.