Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mid-Week Boost: 5 Lessons from the Puzzler

For the last few weeks, I have been doing puzzles with my son (and by doing puzzles I mean coaching him while he completes them on his own). I think that puzzling can teach my busy 5 year old a lot of valuable lessons. By me choosing to guide and support him through his own processes, he can have fun and learn along the way. In watching him complete 4 or 5 puzzles so far, I have realized that puzzling can not only teach kids valuable life skills but it has lessons but can help us adults too.
  1. Start small. In the beginning of whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish it may be overwhelming. Especially when you are looking at all the little pieces in front of you however, you should start with what you know and keep working from there. 
  2. Always keep the end in mind. Some times you have to step away from the little pieces and look at the big picture to remind yourself what it is that you are working towards. We can get lost in the details and day to day hustle and bustle so it is always important to take a step back and remind yourself where you are headed.
  3. If the first piece doesn't fit try another one. Some times things look right but don't end up working out how we plan. That does not mean that we stop. We just try a different way. It make take three or even ten times but if you get it right that will be all that matters. Your breakthrough may just be waiting on the other side keep pressing on.
  4. When you get frustrated, don't quit. We all get frustrated at times but do not quit! Take a step back, take a deep breath, and start again. If you always get things right on the first try, you are not pushing yourself hard enough. You can seek out wise counsel but don't miss the lessons you can learn through the process by trying to take the easy way out.
  5. Trying to get me to help him. 
  6. It will take time but it is worth it in the end. Nothing that is worth it happens overnight and if it does it most likely will not last. Beware of instant gratification. It is always far more rewarding to accomplish something that you have really invested your time in. 
When is the last time you did a puzzle? Try one out and see how the discipline needed to complete a puzzle is really the discipline that we need in our lives overall.
So proud of what he did on his own!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Good Good Father

Have you ever asked God for something and he gave it to you but it didn't quite turn out how you expected? Fancy that. Well this is exactly what happened to me about 4 months after taking a leap of faith into a new job after leaving my previous job after 7 years.  I mean the job was everything I had prayed for until it just took several unexpected turns. What I thought was my dream job was slowly becoming a nightmare (well parts of it). But God...

I reignited my prayer journaling and went to war. My church and small group have instilled in me the firm belief that battles are won through prayer. And as if God could feel the depths of my desperation---my personal need for a glimmer of hope, he blessed me with a promotion one week and two days later to be exact!

I have often been one to seek burning bush types of sign of the hand of God and I am grateful for a father that indulges his children. God wants to hear our cries, petitions, and especially our frustrations and hurts. There have been times this year where I have felt like a failure or embarrassment to God but his grace has been sufficient. His power has worked best in my weakness. I am praying and believing God for more miracles in 2017. I encourage you to do the same. Write down you prayer requests and keep track of your answered prayers so you have indisputable evidence of the hand of God in your life. Some prayers may be ongoing, such as those for the safety of our children and loved ones. Some prayers may take days, months, or decades to be answered but keeping track allows us to never forget what God has brought us from and help us reflect later when we fall into trails.

He is a good, good father.

Monday, November 28, 2016

2016 Christmas Jams

Hey y'all!!!! I am back. I know I know. I did it again. It has been way too long yet again. But it is my favorite time of the year and after talking about blogging with one of my dear friends, I have decided to put my self on a schedule so I can get back to lifting us all and what better way to jump back into the game than to write about Christmas music??

With all the craziness going on in the world, I could write about a million different things but why not start the week off by getting into the holiday spirit. I love this time of joy, family, food, friends, and rejuvenation. I love picking out gifts my family will love, decorating the Christmas tree, and listening to Christmas music. I literally have 5+ versions of This Christmas on my playlist (I will spare you with only one). A few years ago, my Top 10 Christmas song list was featured on BlogHer and while many of those songs are still my jams, I discovered a few new (or at least new to me) ones. This years list definitely an eclectic one. So without further adieu here is my list.

Be lifted into the holiday spirit my friends!

 Top 10 Christmas Jams for 2016 

1. Peabo Bryson-It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

2. Anthony HamiltonSpend Christmas With You

3. Michael BubleHolly Jolly Christmas

4. Train-Shake up Christmas

5. Mariah Carey-Santa Claus is Comin' to Town

6. John Legend-Winter Wonderland 

7. Donny Hathaway-This Christmas 

8. Mary Mary-'Tis The Season (repeat but this song just gets you right in the spirit!)

9. Andra Day & Stevie Wonder-Someday at Christmas

10. Mary J. Blige & Jessie J.-Do You Hear What I Hear?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Let Us Live

Artist: Unknown
Today I am mentally exhausted. I have been drafting this blog post since May and I fear how much more will need to be added to it if I continue to write any longer. My Blackness continues to weigh heavily on me. It is a glorious gift that I would NOT trade for anything in this world however, at times living in an America in which Donald Trump becomes the republican presidential nominee, it often feels like a sentence to perpetual despair. With the first two not guilty verdicts in the Freddie Gray trials, the images of a girl with rope burns around her neck after being invited to a "slumber party", tasteless tweets by the Baltimore Police Department following the SECOND not guilty verdict in the Freddie Gray trial, the most recent police execution of Alton Serling, and before I could even grief for one brother Philando Castile is murdered next--in front of his baby. There are countless other stories of Black people being wrongfully convicted and/or spending decades in jail while white men guilty of similar or lesser crimes get lesser sentences or are allowed to roam free. I am reminded far too often lately about how hard Black life can be.

There are so many childless mothers and fathers and fatherless children for no reason other than being Black or making a mistake while Black. Since when are we allowed to KILL for a mistake---whenever there is in fact one that has been made? I think about myself and so many of my Howard University educated friends and no matter how many degrees or promotions we earn, no matter how many houses we buy, happy hours or brunches we attend, in spite of the fact that we pay our taxes and mind our own business, we still have yet to reap the benefit of merely being able to exist without the possibly of being gunned down for nothing more than living while Black. We cannot wear a sign that says I have a PhD or that I am just trying to get home safely to cook dinner for my family. My body literally tenses when I see police car or police lights flash behind me even if they are just passing me by. I fear the police more than any "gangster or drug dealer" I have ever encountered in the Black community.

Credit: Awesomelyluvvie
In 2016, Blackness has been displayed in so many glorious ways. We have seen Black Girls Got The Juice and the vivacious curves of beautiful Black woman being celebrated. We have witnessed President Obama and the First Lady continue to lead with class and slay for Black families all over this country. We have seen awesome musical performances laced with Blackness and Black pride. We have drank the sweet tea of Beyonce's Lemonade. We have seen Harriet Tubman become the face of the twenty dollar bill and this fall, we will behold the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in our nations capitol. What a time to be Black in this country.

However, despite all triumphs of our people and the privileges that are no longer alluding some of us, we continue to find our people at the end of a police officers gun. This has left me bewildered. I love Black people and so many proclaim to love us. Yet as we continue to see numerous white murderers walk free and even try to make a profit off of our extinguished lives, I am disheartened.

I hurt for my son who will eventually have to navigate even more realms than me as a Black man in America. Eventually his cuteness will fade and he will be another Black man that people will fear and try to tear down. No amount of good manners and following the rules can protect him. He will never be afforded the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms or make the same mistakes as his white friends. I remember praying for him to be "light skinned" when I was pregnant with him in an attempt to protect him from at least some of the many of the injustices targeted towards our Black men. But that of course could save him. Teaching him to be respectful, feeding him organic foods, and making sure he does well in school cannot save him. I want to instill in him the ability to be free-thinking, assertive, and kind. Why can't that be enough for my Black boy? Every parent wants their child to be happy and healthy but as a Black mother, I think over and over about how I just want my child to remain ALIVE. A simple yet complex request in the America we live in today. 
Artist: Debra Cartwright
I hate that Alton Serling's son will see his beloved father's murder on the internet repeatedly. Why do we have to record our injustices in order to be believed? I hate that no justice will most likely come to the Sterling family. I hate that other police officers won't stand up and say that this kind of behavior is unacceptable. Where are the white people that cheer us on and enjoy our performances? Where are the White people who use our exceptional skills to make their businesses thrive? Are they waiting for my son to be next? Or maybe one of my other friends sons? I don't want my baby to become a hashtag or a viral video. What about Philando Castile's daughter and girlfriend? Who will support the mental turmoil that they will now face because some police officer missed the day in police academy where he swore to protect and serve.

How can we change this? I have been educated in the halls of Howard University and stood in the shadows as a student of many greats yet sometimes I feel helpless. Everything else seems trivial when my people are being hunted. I don't want to see an ad for what you are selling. I don't want to see you telling us all the ways our brother could have avoided death. If I did not have God in my life, I would live in a crippling fear. I kick myself everyday that I get in a rush and cannot pray over those I love before we head out of the door. Only God can give us the strength that we need to live in times such as these. I will continue to do the work on the ground working to help build strong Black communities and to empower Black families. That is how I will fight this fight.

All in all though, I just desperately want my baby boy to be able to grow up.

Monday, June 20, 2016


Who doesn't love a good redemption story? As I come down from my high from the Beyonce concert (you all know the depths of my love for her right?), I continue to be in awe at how she just speaks to my soul in her music, through her business savvy, and through the Black Girl Magic that she sprinkles in places that we didn't even know we needed it. As a Black woman, a lover, a mother, and a working mom, you cannot leave one of her concert's and not feel empowered to overcome whatever is trying to hold you back. The other night she said one of her favorite songs from her new album was All Night; a song in which she sings about redemption.

This season of my life has a lot of redemptive qualities. I was reading my girl's blog the other day and it reminded me that I do not need to be overwhelmed by what I have to accomplish ahead of me but instead, I need to take time to remember where I started from and what I have accomplished. There were so many things that could have held me back but by the grace of God, they did not. There were so many things seemingly out of my grasp but I was able to surpass them all.

So as we stand smack in the middle of 2016 here is my recap:
  • 2nd master's degree completed.
  • New job secured.
  • First paid therapy client.
  • 9 years of being an educator completed. 
  • Survived being the mom of a Pre-K student (I really must write about being a working/teacher mom...very interesting experience with your own child in school and dealing with the micro-aggressions of white teachers).
I don't list these things to boast on myself but to boast on the goodness of God---our true redeemer. I have come a long way and have been able to do some really awesome things along the way but, sometimes I am quick to just move on to the next thing without savoring the moment. In fact, I actually almost listed out what else I would like to accomplish in 2016 but instead I will just revel in this moment.

I am feeling this season of my life.

My journey is truly a testament of God giving someone a vision and him equipping me with all that I need to execute it along the way.

There may other things that I want to do in 2016 but I am mighty proud of what I have been able to do so far.

Silly Bee's Chickadees: