Monday Mayhem: Go to Your Happy Place!

Sometimes happiness gets a bad rap. It can be depicted as flighty and fleeting, something we shouldn’t put stock in or count on too much. It’s a temporary feeling, like infatuation, that we warn teens against. Preachers say it’s far better to have joy than happiness and that God intends for us to be holy instead. But when I listen to Pharrell Williams’ song and watch this video I am reminded of what we all know is true:

Happiness is joy personified!

Sure, it’s a feeling that passes when times get hard. Of course, we don’t always feel like dancing, but happiness is also a vital part of our well-being.  It’s what gives life to our lives! Without it, I believe we would surely die—or at least we would want to (Prov 17:22)!  Besides that, it’s the very temporal nature of happiness that gives it its value. Precisely because happiness is a temporary state of being, we should cherish every happy moment that we enjoy.

My friend Chandra has reminded us that summer, too, is a temporal state, so, quick, while there’s  still time, find your summer time happy place—the beach, the pool, the park–wherever–and revel in it! Grab your favorite drink—ice tea, ice coffee, ice cold lemonade—and sip slow! Because it’s these kinds of moments that you’ll want to remember with fondness when the winter winds blow and you’re feeling low. It’s the glorious days of summer music in the park and fishing off the pier, kayaking in the rapids, scuba diving off the coast, cruising in the Caribbean—or just staying up late and watching Netflix ‘til dawn!

Whatever summer looks like to you, wherever you find a little happiness that you can tuck into your pocket to save for a rainy day, take it! Think of these final, fleeting days of summer as the precious memory-filled days that they are and enjoy every moment.

Happy Monday!

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Stay cool this summer with these Food Network Snacks that Taste Better Frozen or check out my own favorite recipes. Also, find more Monday Mayhem here!

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Monday Mayhem: Get Motivated!

I am FIRED UP!

The semester is wrapping up and the summer is almost here! But before we get to the graduations, recitals and weddings that this month promises, I want to talk about the kind of heat that comes–not from the sun–but from within…

I’m fired up about the passion that I’ve seen in my students this semester. They are proving that the pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword as they tackle the serious issues that concern them. You may remember that I challenged them to do research projects on topics of their own choosing. My only requirement was that it be a topic for which they are passionate!

I must say, that for the most part these have been the most interesting end-of-the year essays I’ve ever read in a Freshman Composition class! These students took thier jobs seriously and charged ahead into issues they cared about:

  • improving the athletics program at our school
  • questioning the relevance of HBCUs
  • challenging contentions within a religious organization
  • calling for better waste management in the Bahamas
  • and appealing to the officials at Rykers Island to reconsider their use of solitary confinement.

These are just a few of the problems that they tackled and even as they understood the limitations of their power, they also felt the excitement that comes with the possibility that somebody might actually listen to them! Imagine if something they’ve said reaches the ears of someone who can do something?

That is the power of the pen. The power to transform words to life. That’s what motivates me and I’m excited to see the light in their eyes as it seems to have motivated them as well.

There’s another issue that one of my students wrote about and, by coincidence, I discovered this movie short that addresses it.  Watch this powerful performance, then let’s all get FIRED UP! Because words mean nothing if they don’t lead to action.

I’m motivated to do something, how about you?

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Revamp Monday: God is in the Gym!

Every year Writer’s Digest comes out with their “101 Best Websites for Writers” and I LOVE flipping through the pages of those issues then surfing the web for the latest sites and resources. There’s just so much fantastic stuff out there for writers! There’s the traditional stuff like critique or discussion forums and “everything agents,” job listings and writers’ conferences.  But then there’s the non-traditional, inspirational, stuff, like the creativity portal which offers a slew of brain teasers and visual prompts to spark the imagination, or coffitivity.com, a site that provides the background noise you would hear in a coffee shop–you know, in case you can’t get to an actual coffee shop to do your work!

My point is that Writer’s Digest has the same idea that I do.  We recognize that writers need all kinds of resources. Yes, we need to talk about writing, but we also need inspiration that will motivate us to write! That’s what Mayhem Mondays are all about! I’m trying to get us motivated to do the work that we were meant to do!  That’s also why I’m glad to have Tanzy back again to inspire us to keep pushing–whether it’s pencils or power squats!

GOD IS IN THE GYM

 In my experience, I’ve found that physical activity has the ability to mimic many of my personal spiritual experiences. My intangible journey of faith suddenly takes on shape, form and weight, when I’m in the gym.

The heaviness of the bars I press, remind me of the heaviness I feel at times when raising my arms to praise God. Struggling against the burden of complacency to honor Him through worship.

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Running miles, up and down hills on the treadmill as my heart aches in my chest. Step after step in agonizing fatigue, mirroring the deliverance I’ve been desperately pursuing. Pleading for the finish line to come into view.

The rope I grasp to pull my body vertically against gravity, is not unfamiliar to the ditch of depression I’ve tried to pull myself out of, time and time again. Muscles of hope burning as I grip tighter and pray harder that I can make it out this time.

The delicate yoga poses I hold are identical to the moments that I am expected to be still, and know that HE IS GOD.  Breathing deep and slow, as I patiently wait for God to instruct me to change position.  But until then I am forced to make still my anxious thoughts and trust in my creator.

For me, physical movement is capable of materializing my walk with Christ. God is indeed present with me in the gym.

Speaking to me on the bike trail.

Whispering to me with each lap in the pool.

Lifting with me rep after rep.

He helps me as I battle against the voice that says, “You can’t do this”. The spirit reminds me, “I can do all things”. In my world, he resides not only in the church, but also in the gym and Exercise is my reasonable act of worship. It’s my way of giving God praise for the gift of my body. It’s His way of  teaching me that I can overcome any challenge he calls me to face.

Physical fitness is the language God uses to save my soul.  A strong body is simply a side effect.

Tanzy Chandler

Founder of REVAMP FITNESS

Thanks, Tanzy!

Tanzy Chandler joins us on the first Monday of every month. Check out her article “Demote the Scale” and her YouTube channel! Also, for more Mayhem Monday Madness, check back every Monday and throughout the week for writing and word play.  Also, check out my  recipes  (I have a new kale salad that’s yum!) and energizers, ’cause you can’t write–or exercise–on an empty stomach!

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Monday Mayhem: 6 Ways to be Unstoppable!

They say youth is wasted on the young.

I would agree.

When we’re young we think we know it all, that life is simple and our success is guaranteed…

As I look into the wandering eyes of graduating seniors whose only thought is what design they’ll put on their graduation cap, I chuckle to myself. If only that were the most difficult decision they’ll be faced with in the coming months and years!

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I just pray their high hopes and lofty aspirations are not dashed against the rocks of grad school rejection letters and not-so-tweet-worthy entry-level jobs.

I’ve been there.

My lofty dreams were to author books, but life led me on a long detour of learning experiences. When I first stepped onto a college campus I was prepared to make my mark, but I had no idea what the future had in store…

So, here I am, all these years later with novels yet unwritten, but I have a clearer focus. While I’ve managed a few accomplishments along the way, I could be closer to some of my personal goals if I had just realized a few things a little earlier in life.  I wasted a lot of time worrying about what others thought and living my life according to unrealistic standards.  Now that my perspective is different,  I’d like to offer the young people who are gazing out the windows at their imminent futures 6 things I would tell my younger self if I could because

if I knew then, what I know now, I would have been unstoppable!

  1. Don’t let anyone discourage you from doing what you love—even if you have to do it as a side gig, keep doing it!
  2. Get used to hard work–it doesn’t end after final exams!
  3. Hone your networking skills—success is ALL about who you know
  4. Look for opportunities—paid or unpaid–in your field, or related to your field
  5. Don’t snub the small stuff–all experience is valuable. You have to start somewhere! The more you do, the more you’ll figure out what you want to do and what you’re good at. The more you experience the more you learn, which is what makes experience so valuable!
  6. Never stop learning.  Don’t ever think that you will reach a point when you know “enough”. There’s always more to learn. Once you stop learning, you stop living.

And, I’m all about living life to the fullest. So, go be unstoppable!

Happy Monday!

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Monday Mayhem: It’s Gonna Be Okay!

Do you ever look around and feel like nobody is dealing with the problems you are? Nobody understands what you’re going through? The pain you’re feeling is unique to you and nobody in the world will ever understand it? Guess what?

You’re wrong!

EVERYBODY has been there!

I’ve been there!

In that deep pit of despair that feels like the abyss? When you’re in that cold, dark place remember two things:

  • you’re never really alone because God is with you—call out to Him!
  • you’re also never alone because somebody has faced this problem before and survived.  You will too!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” (Eccl. 3:1, 4)

My new favorite pick-me-up is a warm drink, but now that the weather is warming up you may want to make it the night before and pour it over ice in the morning. It’s just put two bags of Twinings Buttermint tea and one bag of Tazo Green tea in your mug.  Pour in 8 oz of boiling water, let it steep then sweeten with a teaspoon of honey and you’re good to go–yum!

While you’re waiting for your tea, click play on the video below, ‘cuz it really is gonna be okay!

Happy Monday.

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Monday Mayhem: PURPOSE

Purpose comes from knowing who you are.

Knowing who you are requires acknowledgment of what GOD has put inside of you and the great thing about what GOD has put inside of you is that NO ONE can take it away from you!

  • not your boss
  • not your spouse
  • not your roommate or your
  • so-called friends

No matter what they say about you, to you or on your behalf. The truth shall prevail, because GOD’s word is bond.

I’ve spent a lot of years searching for love in all the wrong places…

Wondering and wandering who I was and whose I was…

unsure of my purpose and place, all over the place…

but I’m finally starting to get it…

It’s been in me all along–now nobody can take it away!

One distinction that I’m especially going to make moving forward:

I’m not a teacher.

I didn’t go to school to be a teacher.  I studied Communications and English. So how did I get stuck with that label?

I let someone else define my purpose–no more!

I’m not a teacher.

I’m a writer.

I’m a professor of English who works with student writers.

I’m a writer who writes and works with writers–student writers and professional writers–and part of my work is to educate novices and professionals about the work that I do, because most people have a very limited understanding about the work that I do!

But I will NOT be confined any longer by the narrowness of others’ views.

I will NOT be defined any longer by the narrowness of others’ minds–tiny minds that think in tiny thoughts and tiny words…

I will NOT be restrained by institutions that are so buried in the bones of the past that they are unable to rise above the ashes of ancestry to see the light of a new day…

I will NOT be a cog in a wheel of an old wagon that’s draggin’ on but goin’ nowhere…

I will NOT be enslaved because I. am. free.

I am controlled by no one but GOD.

I am a free agent

with

purpose.

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Check out more from my new friends, the Piano Guys

 

Monday Mayhem: Intentional

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Note: This is a “Monday Mayhem Post” that’s a little late, so, just go with it…lol!

When I look at my students dozing off in class I wonder…

Why are they here? Why did they bother to roll out of bed, slide into their sweats and flop into those horrible green desks today? Why are they staring at me with those blank stares or into the blank screens of their laptops or cell phones? Why do any of us bother?

Professors dress up. We slip on our uncomfortable heels and button up our bow ties. We revise our syllabi and re-write our semeter schedules to make room for one more assignment, because, well, just because…

Is it intentional?

I’ve been challenging myself and my students lately to think about this. What are we doing–and why? Two of the four classes I teach each semester are sections of the “dreaded” Freshman Composition. The class everyone loves to hate. One of the reasons it’s so hated is that it’s considered to be a “pointless” class–an extention of 12th grade English–touché.

So, this semester, I’m being intentional.

I’m going to assume that their writing skills will progress naturally through the writing process, as writing skills tend to do, and I will instruct my students on the grammatical and usage standards, as any good English teacher should.  But, rather than have them write the traditional final essay–that they’ll read once (maybe) and never again–which I’ll, then, read once (or twice) then stick in a file–I’m going to have them, instead, create something of value, something meaningful, something that goes beyond this freshman class! I’m challenging these students to create a document that has legs!

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I want them to write with intention, to a real audience. Well, I’m real, but not just to me–to people other than me.

They’re going to identify a problem that they care about–a problem that they want to find a solution to–then they’re going to search out a solution to that problem and write to people who might be able to do something about…

  • the friend whose dad got deported
  • this religious organization that’s still segregated in 2017
  • the family with a history of violence and abuse

It’s about being intentional.

Because, what’s the point of learning how to write better if your essay just gets shoved in a drawer?

So, they’ll submit their articles to magazines or newspapers, or they’ll send off their letters to senators or presidents. They’ll draft feasibility reports or white papers for corporations. Whatever document they think will best serve a real purpose, that they think will make a real difference, that’s what they’ll create!

Who knows? Maybe the documents will still end up in a drawer, but if these students pour their hearts into these projects, their documents will no longer be “essays for Dr. Roper” but rather personal projects that achieve a purpose that they actually care about. These should go far beyond this class.  That would make me very happy.

I don’t expect perfect projects, but I’m excited because the act of doing this is enough to shake all of us out of the doldrums. Doing something that matters is worth it’s weight in gold.

So, what about you? Have you gotten stuck in a routine? Been doing the same old thing in the same old way? Why not re-evaluate?

Why are you here? Why did you bother to roll out of bed, slide into your slippers and flop into your day?  Are you staring out at your life, blankly wondering when, or how, it’s going to end? That’s no way to live! Challenge yourself! Try something new! Look for ways to make the mundane more meaningful. Why not start by looking for a problem you can solve? Even a small one.  Small accomplishments can go a long way towards moving you in the direction of your goal.

For us writers, that may mean a few words, a few pages or 10 minutes!  Just be intentional. You won’t regret it.

Happy Monday.

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