Monday Mayhem: Beat the Blues by Doing Good

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

It’s easy to get caught up in your own problems. They’re kind of always right there with you. But, every now and then it helps to be reminded that no matter how bad things may be, they could be worse. And, no matter how bad they are, it’s likely that for someone else it is worse! So, we might as well shoulder our own cross without complaint, ‘cuz complainin’ ain’t gonna change nothing anyhow!

I guess I’m a little preoccupied with all of this social and political unrest, but there’s as much swirling around in the news as there is in my own personal life. Perhaps you can relate? We’re barely into 2017 and already realities are shifting–nationally and locally–making the future uncertain.

I don’t want to get swept away with the fray, so I’m turning my focus to the One who is constant. Peering out through the lens of God’s perspective at this chaotic world, I’m in search of a life that I can change for the better.

Today’s Monday Mayhem is about reaching out.  Shake off the Monday blues by shifting your focus to someone else’s struggle. Buy a cup of coffee for the driver behind you in the Starbuck’s line; carry someone’s groceries to their car; stop by your co-worker’s cubicle and pay him/her a compliment. You never know what good the smallest gesture might do.

It may brighten someone’s day.

And it just might give you a little pep too.

Happy Monday!

signature

Why Write?

So, people who don’t like writing won’t understand this, but those of us who are in love with the Word will…

Writing is like breathing! It gives life.

I am happiest when I’m creating something–whether it’s a poem, a story or a commentary–there’s this high that comes from stringing words together like pearls. Such a simple thing, yet so captivating!  Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m about to say, but the words just come spilling out. Then I’ll read what I wrote and have to sop it up with a napkin…”that was awful.” But other times, the words flow as they should. In a steady stream, cool and sweet as iced coffee and I must admit, “mmm…that was good!”

But, good or bad, the blank page is a faithful friend, always there waiting for me. And I hate to leave my friend waiting too long.

Speaking of friends, I’ve found that as much fun as it is to write, it’s equally as fun to connect with other writers. Since starting this blog I’ve entered an alternate universe where people like me gather to babble. I can get lost in the sea of syllables! If I didn’t have to go to work I could sit here all day reading and responding to writers and bloggers like me. There’s comfort in the coalition of common interests.

So, these are some of my reasons for writing, what are yours? Is writing therapeutic? Does it help you think more clearly? Escape from the daily grind? Tell me what writing does for you!

In the meantime, here are some great image quotes that I found in response to this enduring question…smallsignature

Monday Mayhem: Get Fit in 5 Minutes Flat!

In a former life I was a certified aerobics instructor and personal trainer and people would ask me all the time how they could lose weight and get in shape.  For years I’ve, pretty much, given the same answer: exercise often and eat healthier. But, in response I would often hear two things: “I do eat healthy, but I’m still overweight” and “I don’t have time to (or don’t want to) exercise.”

Well, now I have an answer to both!

First of all, it’s not just what you eat, but when and how much.  Because the metabolism is on an upward swing in the morning and begins to decline towards the end of the day, it is important to eat your heavier meals early when you have more time in the day to burn off the calories.  Save your snacking for the evening.  But by “snacking” I don’t mean donuts and chips! How about hummus and pretzels? Air popped, lightly salted popcorn? Or Aiyesha Curry’s Yogurt Parfait? Fruit salad?  Or, my favorite, a cup of tea or Postum?  These kinds of snacks, in the evening, a couple of hours before bedtime should satisfy you without piling on the pounds.

Second, high intensity interval training (HIIT)—more specifically, Tabata. It’s my new favorite “go to” workout routine, especially when I’m in a hurry.

Even if you only have 5 minutes, you can burn calories, build strength and endurance.

It’s true! All you have to do is pick an exercise that uses the larger muscle groups; then set your clock and begin!  To make it easier, try this online Tabata Timer or download a Tabata Timer app onto your phone You will do the exercise as quickly as you can for 20 seconds, then you get to rest for 10 seconds before repeating the same exercise. Come on, you can do ANYTHING for 20 seconds!!!  Challenge yourself to maintain the same number of reps for each round. It will get harder each time, but as long as you give it your all for 20 seconds, you will benefit from this exercise. And when the 4 minutes is up, cool down for 1 minute and head for the shower! What? Really? Yes, really! You’re done, in 5 minutes flat!

So, for our Monday Mayhem workout, let’s do some burpees.

If you have more time, try some of these other Tabata workouts. You can do one set or string together several sets to comprise a 15, 20 or 30 minute workout. You won’t need longer than that!

Happy Week!

signature

Why Obama’s Legacy Will Live On

I heard this piece by Mat Johnson today and I think he captures, well, the senitment that I share about our out-going president.  This is also an excellent example of creative non-fiction, which we’re learning about this week in my Creative Writing class! Check it out:

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/510269800/510450175

smallsignature

 

Why Trump is Not “unprecedented”

The word ironic can mean coincidence or unexpected. The MLK holiday comes in the same week as the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States. I would say that’s ironic because it’s a coincidence.

Eight years ago it was Barack Obama.  I would say that was ironic because it was unexpected.  Yet, it was also fitting because it apparently fulfilled the famous dream.  To the amazement of all who had very present memories of racial injustices, segregation and inequality, the first African American president raised his right hand and pledged to “faithfully execute the office of president of the United States…to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” No one missed the poignancy of this ascension to the highest office in the land, this audacity to set up residence in a house built by slaves. It made that inaugural day truly inaugural, both historic and unprecedented…

obamabidenThere’s another word for us wordies to think about, unprecedented.  It has become the buzzword for this current political season as businessman, reality show star, leader of the “birther” movement and Obama nemesis, Donald Trump set his sights on that highest office. (Of course, we remember that he misspelled the word in one of his infamous Twitter posts—“unpresidented”—perhaps he was attempting a pun?)  But, is Trump’s ascendance to that position more astonishing than Obama’s?  What made Obama so “different” was mostly his skin color. People criticized his lack of political experience, but he was president of the Harvard Law Review and senator for four years. He had, at least, been working in the political field.  Trump, on the other hand is “different” because his experience has been in corporate rather than national politics. Yet, this lack of experience was “trumped” by his wealth, race and gender. Being a wealthy white man opens doors that no amount of intelligence or experience can touch.

Let’s face it. If you’re black, poor, or female you have to prove yourself worthy of respect. If you’re white, rich and male you don’t have to prove anything.

Ironic? Not really. Unprecedented? Definitely, no. It’s the way of the world.

So, while many of us called Trump’s meteoric rise shocking, we have merely forgotten where we are. Those very present realities (not just memories) of racial unrest and inequality never went away. The fact that we had an African American president merely soothed us with the appearance of change. But the reality is we never entered that post-racial era that optimists heralded in 2008. Race is as much a divisive presence as it ever was in the past. Thus, with the rise of Donald Trump we merely see the resurgence of what was always there, white power “taking back” what it never lost. There’s the irony.  The real irony is that all the while that we clapped and cheered the rise of Obama, we were merely hailing a dream that is still deferred.

“…with the rise of Donald Trump we merely see the resurgence of what was always there, white power ‘taking back’ what it never lost. There’s the irony.”

This year, in the wake of the 2016 social and political unrest, the MLK holiday leaves me melancholy. The hope and change that I had hoped for hasn’t come and the future seems frighteningly uncertain with the mercurial man who stands next to lead.

Nonetheless, this image reminds me that the path forward must be paved in love.mlk5I am reminded that this is why we honor Martin Luther King every year, because his words are timeless, his vision unhindered by current circumstances, nor by the winds of change–good or bad.  Whether the dream is alive and well or withering like a raisin in the sun, we must keep hope alive! That’s no irony, just straight talk.

Happy MLK Day!

mlk2

signature

Jessica Reedy: from Bitter to Better!

I had the pleasure of hearing BET’s Sunday Best star, Jessica Reedy sing this weekend and I was struck by her testimony as much as by her voice.  Her voice, clean as a country breeze, blows right through you. When she drops down into her lower register you think she’s going to slip off of the note like one would slip on a wet floor—maybe not a fall—but waver slightly, yet she holds it steady, rests there for a while until we all feel the mourning in our stomachs.  Then she lifts us, gently, with each verse, out of the dark and heavy place, higher and higher until the clear tone and sheer volume urge us into the light where she—and we—find relief from pain.

Effortlessly her voice pulls us along as her song bears witness to the abyss into which she had sunk—when the accumulated hurts and disappointments built up a wall of resentment around her, then inside of her, shutting out the offenders, but sealing in the hate. Until, one day, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and didn’t recognize what stared back at her. The scowling face of a monster born of bitterness startled her to the reality that she had been buried alive—trapped in a tomb with the skeletons of her past and the corpses of relationships long since departed. Broken by the revelation, she crumpled to the floor with the words of this song floating in through the rain:

…in your pain lies a blessing
A sweeter song of victory
So keep walking n’ walking n’ walking
Though it seems so far.
No matter who you are…

It’s alright, dry your eyes, send a prayer
To the skies. I know it’s hard to fight
But you must believe
That it gets better…

Jesus took me in
He held me close
Gave me love
Refilled my heart
Helped me grow
Better…

Life it can leave,
You so bitter, bitter, bitter, bitter
But you must believe
That it gets better, better, better, better

 

Her words and her music struck a chord in me…perhaps you too?

Reedy released her debut album From the Heart in 2011, is featured on a 2013 Light Records compilation album, Unplugged, with James Fortune and JJ Hairston and dropped her second album Transparent in 2014. Despite some initial set-backs and a first runner up finish on Sunday Best in 2009, Reedy seems to have found her rhythm.

Hear for yourself the power in this voice and keep your eyes and ears open for more from this rising star!

signature