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As America celebrated her birthday this weekend, I took some time to reflect.

Time to consider what it means to be free. Free to be who I am. Free to come and go as I please. Free to rebuild my life. Free to question what we are becoming…in these yet-to-be-United States.

In contrast to what we as citizens of the United States sought to celebrate…on the 4th of July, with it’s still-unresolved history of abuse towards Africans, Native Americans and anyone deemed a threat to progress, I am at peace. That peace emanates from the past 5 years of coming to terms with my own shortcomings, choice-consequences-lessons, and newfound faith in a life-journey that has me more joyful and hopeful than I’ve felt in more than 30 years.

Unlike some Americans, I know how I have hurt others by my choices. I have sought to make amends, offer apologies and even, and of utmost importance, forgiven myself. The Creator of this Universe has laws that are indisputable. Laws that can not be bought, redirected nor displaced. For it is true that there is a consequence on the other side of the choices we make. I have been on both sides…and am now being welcomed into the place of true joy and emotional peace.

It is my prayer that this Country, founded on principles of freedom of religious worship, freedom to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, available to only White men who owned property in 1776, but must now include Black Americans, Latino Americans and Same-sex Americans…will do as I have done. Take a deep and honest look in the mirror. See the truth that is obvious to everyone…make the required changes allowing every citizen a fair chance at the opportunities we are so ready to kill-to-protect.

As I received the final divorce papers from my attorney this week, thus setting me free from a difficult and painful time in my life, I am eager to move ahead, secure in myself like never before. Ready to take down and permanently place, in my own museum, the Confederate flag of my painful past. Maybe I can convince a few others in America to do the same.

And the price of this freedom can’t be bought. It is truly FREE.

Peace.

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Let it all go…Fear. Doubt. Disbelief.

One of the seminal early scenes in a top 5 Favorite Movies of mine, The Matrix, has Morpheus telling Neo on the rooftop, prior to them jumping from one building to the next…is that line above. “You’ve got to let it all go, Neo. Fear. Doubt and Disbelief.”

It really is a mind game that we play on ourselves, usually more times a day than we want to believe, when we scuttle our better interests because of a fear-based false belief. Neo made a great run to the end of the building, jumps with conviction, having witnessed Morpheus successfully make his jump. Then, not yet halfway towards the target building, he looks down, and in that moment loses his focus, and likely, his faith. He hits the ground below…just like everyone else who had attempted this jump before him.

How many people do we see each day who are in flight, between the two buildings, and are wavering in their faith…and focus? It is quite possible that we all have varying degrees of that loss of belief in what the Creator has for us in this life. We are long past our youthful innocence and ignorant bliss. A time when we believed we could do ANYTHING. And now, at what should be our most powerful and productive years, we listen to long to that voice which says…not Me.

Now, in my new decade of living, I must believe that my best days are ahead of me. I am grateful for the lessons learned from years now behind me, some full of pleasant memories and good times, while others a bit darker and painful from harsh consequences of choices not well made.

Let’s be mindful this year, to ignore those fear-based noisemakers, real and imagined, that would keep us living below our greatness. I challenge you to turn off the TV…and visit your local library. Check out a book or two. Visit a museum and enjoy the art created by those who overcame the shackles and limitations imposed by a society afraid of “differences.”

Ready. Set. Jump. Click here for the Jump Scene…

Peace.

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What an amazing time I have enjoyed the past few days, as I celebrated the 60th anniversary of my birth. To spend the afternoon with my immediate family and extended family/friends, many of whom I have had as part of my life for over 50 years was special in a way that I have not words to describe.

The well-wishes sent to me via the multiple social media outlets to which I subscribe have been overwhelming. It has again reminded me of the power that social media can play in our lives. It is my intention to publicly and privately thank each person who took time to salute me on this birthday occasion.

In reflecting upon the journey to arrive at 60 years, I sought to blog daily from T-minus 60 days…up to the actual date, January 19th. I got sidetracked a few days, and even went weeks without posting my thoughts. However, when I did take the time to write, it gave me a sense, as it should do for us all, that what is inside of us is important. Not just to us, but to those who are watching our lives unfold.

Our stories of overcoming as we trek through this life journey are but stepping stones for our children, grandchildren, and unseen others, who want to find their way without getting too wet and dirty…because, as we can now attest, life is not always pretty nor perfect.

I commit now, and for as long as The Creator allows me to be here in my physical body, to share my thoughts, feelings and even my foibles, so that my heirs will know that it can truly be a journey of love and laughter. If it is in His will, the next 30 years are going to be such a wonderful experience and, I pray, makes each of you proud to have shared this time with me.

Now, let’s get moving…there is much to be done.

Peace.

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They Don’t See…

One of my favorite songs by my All Time Favorite music group, Earth Wind & Fire, is entitled “They Don’t See.” It is a song that seeks to share the message that through the troubles and triumphs of life, the disappointments and despair, our faith in God is what sustains us.

Now that the next decade of my life is upon me…I ponder what has really changed in the past 40 years?

“Saw a man the other day, said he was giving up his faith, going to turn his back on God, make his way twice as hard.
We both said were fools, but can I really be? To say it for real he was, quite in misery.”

I struggle, more lately than ever it seems, to not become another older, cynical man who laments over the “good old days”, all the while crying the tears of a clown as I see a lack of humanity in the world today. How can we as a nation continue to act like the moral authority in the world, yet have more citizens imprisoned than any other “civilized” nation? With such a wide disparity in wealth distribution? So many children still living in poverty…

What are we to do as we seek to make a difference in the lives of our children? In our local communities? Nationally? When our politicians and corporate moguls play monopoly with our economy? I ask these questions in hope of getting a dialogue started that will not just create pretty proclamations, but will tear down and rebuild the structures that continue to separate each of us from the beauty and possibilities that exist when we better understand our need for unified progress.

“Well, I read my news. Ain’t nothing changed, ain’t nothing improved.
Pain comes down like the falling rain,
But your soul don’t feel the same.”

“When you love, love is all you are.”

Love is the answer…I hope that WE can see.

Peace.

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Reeling in The Years…

I had a funny experience recently, where I overheard a conversation between a couple of 20-Something’s. They were lamenting about how much closer to 30 that they are. One, an obviously bright, funny and beautiful woman, said she recently spotted a gray hair while looking in the mirror. Oh my….

It caused me to smile and recall how I felt when, now more than 30 years ago, I saw my hairline begin to work itself away from the front of my head. As my Dad had been a prematurely bald man, I am told as early as 27, here I was thinking that would also be my fate.

Today, I have a silver crown upon my head where a once full head of Black hair had resided. And, on the precipice of my 60th birthday celebrations, I know that gray hair, crows feet and a few digits less than 6 pack abs are just fine with me. Yet, what does await me going forward?

The wisdom that I have gained during the past 30 plus years, not all of it from choices made wisely, is invaluable. The adage, “If I knew then what I know now,” rings true each day that I now journey forward. Nothing can prepare us for tomorrow other than the experiences that we walk through today. There really are no shortcuts.

So many friends have not made it to this time in my life…while others have health challenges that restrict them from living fuller lives. And here am I. Never spent a day/night in a hospital since I was released to my Mother 60 years ago. Never had surgery. Never had a major illness. All of my children are healthy and living well. There is nothing about my life that I can complain about.

A couple of lines from a song by Steely Dan, Reelin’ in The Years, is my foundation for today’s post.: “The things that pass for knowledge I can’t understand…”, “The things you think are useless, I can’t understand.” Click here for the song:

Going forward, I will seek to understand more…about myself, about my children/family, and life itself. Having an 11 year old daughter will certainly keep me poised and current; even when I won’t want to be.

EnJoy with me this day. It’s all that we have because the years keep on moving forward. And we can’t reel that back in, no matter how hard we try.

Peace.

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Wake Up Everybody!

In this age of technology that allows us to know within minutes of events that occur half-way around the world, it is still a mystery that we have not made more progress with a number of local issues that plague our communities. Sure, we all have heard about the police shootings of unarmed Black men, the unjust incarcerations of innocent men and women of color, and the mis-education of our youth, who are spoon fed carefully-selected tidbits of information.

To what end is this allowed to continue in a society that has so much to gain by being a Global leader in justice and equality? In a country that seeks to monitor the human rights infractions of other sovereign nations? Where I grew up, it is said that if my kitchen needs cleaning, I better not have too much to say about the grease stains on your stove.

Imagine if our school systems taught financial literacy. Entrepreneurial classes. Educate our youth on how the judicial system is set up and how to play a part in it. Might we then have a better-prepared work/business force that can lead us into the next 30-50 years of growth as a nation? As a World?

One of my all-time favorite social justice songs is from Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, “Wake Up Everybody.” The words are still relevant 40 years after they were first penned. Take a listen and then let’s make a commitment to do more for our children…so that their futures, and ours, are brighter.

Wake Up Everybody: http://youtu.be/-TDfPgd3Kyc

Peace.

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I Never Can Say Goodbye.

Sitting on the precipice of a new year, 2015, I reminisce about what 2014 has been for me.

• Meeting new people whom I now call friends
• Saying goodbye to friends who have returned to Spirit
• Making peace with people from whom I have been estranged
• Honoring my Mother in each opportunity to share her story of Love for her family…
• Helping Meisha to navigate her space in the middle school environment
• Being a peacemaker for my Granddaughter and her Grandmother

Alas, as we embark upon a new year, we all look back and wonder. What else could I have accomplished? What should I have done better? Differently? Not said?

It is my sincere hope and belief that 2015 will afford us all new opportunities to be better human beings. I pray that we will learn more about how similar we are, desiring the good things for our children, wanting a safe, happy community in which we can live, versus focusing on the few areas in which we are different. How boring would it be if we all looked, thought and acted like everyone else? Ugggh.

And so I must say goodbye today…to 2014. It has been a grand experience.

Hello 2015. I am ready to live in all the fullness that the Creator has for me. You, too!

EnJoy this piece of iconic music from Mr. Isaac Hayes: http://youtu.be/zKKVIEZPTYk

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No Time for The Pain.

Funny how songs can not only bring back memories of times gone by, but also have the ability to cause us to think about the areas in life that today really mean something. On this Saturday morning, sipping a cup of coffee and reading, while listening to an Internet station playing some oldies music, this song was played. It was refreshing, yet, stirred no historical imagery of my life back in 1974, when it was released.

What it did for me today was to hear its lyrics with a new understanding.

Check out this stanza:

“Suffering was the only thing made me feel I was alive,
Thought that’s just how much it cost to survive in this world,
‘Til you showed me how, how to fill my heart with love,
How to open up and drink in all of that white light
Pouring down from the Heavens…”

As I prepare to step into my next decade of living, I am so thankful to those who have shown me love, even in the midst of my not-so-good choices the past 30 years. The true friends who loved me unconditionally and waited for me to release the pain that seemingly directed my thoughts, words and choices. I am so blessed now to be able to see, feel and TRUST the LOVE that is real and genuine.

And, at this wonderful intersection of my life-journey, I haven’t got time for the pain.

EnJoy this great song from Carly Simon here: http://youtu.be/E3_l5Ss203I?list=RDE3_l5Ss203I

Peace.

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We are so Beautiful…

As the media wire carried the news of the death of singer Joe Cocker, it caused me to consider how swiftly the years pass by….and how young it feels to be approaching 60 years.

He, Joe Cocker, was “just” 70 years of age.

There was a time when we thought of those numbers, 60 and 70, as “old.” Now, the closer I get to them, the more I realize that the learning opportunities of living are so many. And, the time in which to grasp them seems so miniscule.

In reflecting upon Mr. Cocker and his life, I have a deeper appreciation for what he did…he never wavered from his own “brand” of singing. It was raw, honest, not polished and “made for TV…” He wore clothing that embodied his “everyman” attitude toward his art. Gotta love that he never “sold out for Hollywood.”

That is how I seek to be remembered when my day of transition arrives…and my family and friends are left to consider who I was here on Earth. I did not sell out to the “fad of the month…” I walked and talked the truth. I loved everyone and found the best in each person whom I encountered. In my head I told myself, and where it was prudent to tell others, that you are so beautiful…even if they did not believe it about themselves.

In honor of Mr. Joe Cocker, take a listen to his most famous song, “You Are So Beautiful.”

Peace.

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Choices…Choices…Choices.

For many Americans, especially those over the grand age of 60 years, many of who are on a fixed income, there are some really difficult choices that must be made each month. Not that I know about this personally, yet, but I have heard such a thing from a friend of a friend…

Whether to pay the utility bill and buy food, or buy food and get prescriptions filled. Should new tires be purchased or let the car sit parked in the driveway and catch public transportation.

At a time when people of the 60 years club should be able to relax and enjoy the spoils of their working years…many have very little to show for the many years of their lives that they gave to an employer/business/vocation. With the life expectancy expanding now well into another decade or two, how can one do anything but subsist in an environment that only sees the young as valuable?

Many of us have had some major life changes since the Great Recession of 2008, and are still not quite back to where we were before the economic floor gave way beneath us. Who has the energy to get back into the job force and rebuild again? Social security payments will not even house and feed a healthy, single person, let alone someone whom might have some varied health challenges.

The closer I get to this new 60 year threshold, the more I see it as one that came all too quickly. And I had made some plans…yet; I still could not walk away from my businesses and live comfortably. Nope. I will be in the marketplace for at least another 8 years…until my daughter is well into her college program.

America would do well to create a platform for her wizened-by-life Baby-Boomers who don’t have that bulging nest-egg that is advertised on too many late-night cable programs. We still have a long time left and many lessons to share before we are done. In the mean time, I will keep my lights on and my cupboards filled.

Here’s an article that might provide some insight: read more

Peace.

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