Jamie Mayes, AOE

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Don’t Let a Bell Pepper Block Your Blessing

In Culture, life, media, News, reality, religion, Uncategorized on December 26, 2017 at 6:44 am

A few nights ago, I was in Wal-Mart Market purchasing a few items for my Christmas buggy. I had gathers a plethora of things and made my way to the self-check-out due to the long lines in the few open cashier lanes. As I rung up my never-ending basket of items, I watched the numbers increase from cents to dollars instantly. At the end my total was just over $150. I begrudgingly reached into my wallet and pulled out my debit card, which had already seen its share of swipes and purchases throughout the day. I grabbed my receipt and headed for the exit, hoping that I had forgotten nothing on the extra long list. When I got to my car, I loaded my son into his car seat, and then popped the trunk to load the grocery. I had loaded what seemed like far too few bags for such a large total when I reached to get one more bag. I suddenly noticed a plastic bag stick out from between my beautiful poinsettias, which I had scores for only three bucks a piece. Just as I grabbed the second one, I realized I had accidentally missed scanning a bell pepper that was tucked between two poinsettias. I signed heavily. I looked at the door, my trunk and then the bell pepper. I thought to myself, “I just spent $150, I am not going back in for an 89-cent bell pepper. I mean, I can really just keep this little pepper; it’s not big deal.” However, I looked at the bell pepper once more, and I could not convince myself to toss it into my trunk. I could already hear my mom in the back of my head waving her finger and telling me I should have taken it back even if it costs ten cents. I looked at the bags and my son once more; I was simply not up for unloading a toddler and going back into the store for this bell pepper. I asked myself, Do I really want to block my blessing because of a bell pepper?

This is the situation so many of us often face. We are presented with bell peppers that seem like they won’t cost us much, but that’s exactly the problem. Something that is worth so little can cost us so much if we lose focus. I am sure, so many are like me; you have some 89 cent bell peppers in your life. Situations or people who test and tempt your morals and character; you have contemplated letting them “have it” or catching them after work. However, I urge you to look at the bigger picture and ask yourself if these situations or people are worth your dignity, self-respect, public image or Christian relationship. Undoubtedly, they are not. Therefore, take that bell pepper and return it to where it came from; place it among those who are just like it, and keep going.  I know that can be much easier said that done, but I urge you to…just…keep…going. Bell pepper people and situations can seem so small, but they can cost us so much. That was the problem with the bell pepper between the poinsettias; it seemed easy and convenient to follow my mood and just toss it into the trunk, so I could get home. However, in the end, it would have still been stealing, which is not pleasing in the sight of God. I was certainly not willing to trade my dignity and self-respect for a bell pepper. Some would declare that no one would have noticed or even cared about the missing bell pepper, but that’s the art of not letting it block my blessing. Why should I be wiling to put a blemish on relationship with God or a stain on my self-respect for something no one would even notice? Yet, I would have to pay a price, and the bell pepper wasn’t worth itistock_photo_of_bell_peppers.

I looked at the door of the store once more and made a swift decision. I hopped into my car, pulled up as close as possible to the front door (no, literally, on the store side walk, up to the front door), looked for an employee coming in and out of the store, turned on the emergency lights, cracked the window, locked the door, jumped of the car, ran about five feet to the door where an employee was standing, told her I accidentally left a pepper in my buggy and ran back out. Whew! It took me less than ten seconds to do what I knew was right. I was not a bell pepper thief, and most importantly, I wasn’t going to let an 89-cent bell pepper block my blessing. Don’t let one block yours either.

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A Disappointed Christian: the Orlando Shooting

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, Race, Uncategorized on June 13, 2016 at 7:31 pm

Matthew 22: 39-40And the second commandment is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

One these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.orlando1

Sunday morning I turned my television on to a woman with tears streaming down her face saying she knew her son was among the unidentified dead bodies. My heart sunk as I watched her cry hysterically and I felt my heart break as I watched her crumble to pieces. Many knew what it took me a while to figure out- there was a mass shooting targeting homosexuals at a club in Orlando. The Christians are about to go crazy, I said to myself. Immediately, a sense of discomfort swept me as I anticipated what many of my fellow believers of Christ might say.

They didn’t let me down either. I saw everything from comments about a lack of sympathy for others’ loss to claims that this happened because they were living in sin. I was infuriated to think that people could be so insensitive and outright disrespectful. I was dumbfounded to think that people were suggesting that people deserved to die because they felt they were unforgivable sinners. Here were people wearing the title of Christian so proudly but defaming the word of God so blatantly. I was so disappointed to know that so many of us are doing God a disservice. I can no longer continue to spare the rod on Christians, for so many have become spoiled and intolerant children.

I question how those who criticized Orlando’s victims felt about other American tragedies? Did they have an explanation for why the children of Sandy Hook were killed? What about the people who died in 9/11? What about the massive terrorism of slaves in America for 300 years? Did all of the people deserve to be murdered because of some people felt they had sinned?

Yesterday’s catastrophe was one of the world’s most opportune times to minister; yet, many Christians failed miserably. I continue to think back to Jesus’s ministry over and over again. I think about the number of people He healed and touched and how often he hardly spoke, he only acted. I think about the number of times He denied a sick person a healing because they were of a different religion or because they had sinned. I cannot recall one. Instead, Jesus ministered through love over and over again. He changed lives and hearts through actions over and over again. He focused on His to love and heal and not on their actions.

Yesterday was not about homosexuality or a night club. It was about a tragedy that rocked the country and a result that will affect everyone at some point- death. The pain of losing someone to violence is something that no one deserves and that hurts a family whether the individual is gay or straight, black or white, religious or non-religious. At this moment, so many Christians had the chance to extend arms and join hands to say, “I am sorry for your pain and your loss. God loves you and I do, too,” but so many failed to do so. Many tried to justify the actions of a deranged murderer because they disagreed with the lifestyle of a group. It sickens me. So often, it is not the bible that has caused people to stop going to church or believing in God; it is the actions of the so-called Christians that turns people away. Being hurt and judged by the church has caused so many to forego a personal relationship with God.

This situation is not about your opinion on homosexuality. We have all done something or do something that people do not agree with, and quite often, our opinions of people don’t really matter. This about the chance to sow seed so love and compassion when love and compassion are needed more than ever. God bless the families and victims of Orlando.

Black Crime, Black Self Hate

In Culture, justice, life, media, News, prison, Race, reality, Uncategorized on April 14, 2016 at 7:38 pm

wpid-20150828_191001.jpgLast weekend was filled with tragedy in Louisiana. At least 3 African Americans lost their lives due to violence. Emotions were charged as people took to social media to voice their frustration over such unfortunate events in such a short period of time. However, it was not the reply of my white counterparts that made me cringe and grit my teeth. My people pulled out a phrase that burns my ears worse than nails on an old school chalkboard, “How can we keep crying about racism when black people kill each other every day?” Several thoughts ran through my head every time I saw a status update, tweet or post implying that racism in America is excusable because a certain portion of a population’s race is involved in violent acts. I suppose these are the same type of people who say that slavery could not have been that bad because black people sold other black people and there were black overseers and slave owners throughout history. Their justification for injustice is justifying the acts of the unjustified against an unjustly subjugated people. Read it twice. Read it slowly.

I guess what frustrates me the most is the alarming amount of evidence we have which dispels the myth that black on black crime is the biggest crime problem in America. Yet, people fail to research information for self and, instead, believe the skewed information presented by the news and media. According to the FBI website (link below), in 2013 white people accounted for 3799 manslaughter and non-negligent crimes, while black people accounted for 4,379 of the same crime. However, that gap widened as I continued to research. White people accounted for 8,946 rape crimes, while black people only accounted for less than half of that number at 4,229. White people accounted for 183,092 arrests for aggravated assault arrests, while black people accounted for 98, 748. As matter of a fact, white people exceed black people in criminal arrests in nearly every single category, sometimes with double or trouble the number of criminal acts committed. The total criminal arrests for white people were over six million, while black people had 2.5 million total arrests. Yet, the news and media outlets and society places primary focus on incidents by black people in black neighborhoods. We, then, ostracize and criticize our own people without being properly informed. Do not worry; the link for the website is below. Let your jaw drop a little; the numbers might shock you.

Do not fully rely on statistics for a full justice report, though. One astounding lesson I have learned over the years is that there is huge number of unreported crimes within the white community. Time after time, I have gotten vicarious information or heard stories about violent incidents within my community that were “taken care of” financially or through some other type of agreement. Within my professional experience, I had been told stories by individuals who committed offenses, but were “let off” several times because of family connections or racial advantage. I know I am not the only one who is privy this information; however, many who know this information ignore it and deny its relevance to the inaccurate portrayal of blacks in America.

Instead of treating the unfortunate incidents of last weekend like two isolated cases in two different cities, many people passed judgment on a race. They pulled a race card, but not a king or queen; it seems more like the joker. As much as individuals claim to hate being judged and stereotyped, so many fellow black Americans did both as soon as news of these fatalities was released. What used to create a sense of compassion in me now causes me to seethe with frustration and anger. I keep wondering when the black population will stop believing the labels and stereotypes that have been attached to our people by people who feel threatened by us. We have such a lack of self love individually that we are willing to accept what others say about us collectively. The truth is that we can never expect to see justice from the system if we do not see the value of our own race and culture. We have to start having a better attitude towards and about our people. We must make an important realization: when we support stereotypes and negative assumptions about our people, we as individuals are included the number. Agreeing with the derogatory statements made about our race does not make us an exception. Speaking against these misrepresentations of our people is the only way to combat the problem.

For many, the argument that black people are America’s biggest problem and that the black race is violent angry race that is destroying the country with crime seems small. However, it is this belief that has contributed to the alarming number of hate crimes against black people, prejudiced attitudes and biases, lack of cultural empathy and respect, and discrimination in work places. In essence, supporting a negative view of our culture has prohibited all of our people from receiving fair and equal treatment more often. One clichéd quote is true; we cannot expect others to respect us if we do not respect ourselves. We must change our perspective of our own people, research and information others of the truth and become positive advocates for changes in policies and attitudes.

There is an important lesson I have learned over the years, and it’s that numbers don’t lie. Educate yourself, people.

FBI Website:

https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/tables/table-43

 

 

Learning to Live an Unbothered Life

In Culture, life, media, News, reality on September 11, 2015 at 10:15 pm

I will be the first to admit that I spent most of my life concerned about others’ opinions of me. I was insecure for manywpid-20150828_191001.jpg reasons; I was a dark-skinned, pudgy, kinky-haired little girl in Creole South Louisiana with a list of visible and invisible problems. Childhood insecurities became teen insecurities which led to adult insecurities that were multiplied with each failed relationship or broken friendship. By the time I was 23, I was swimming in a pool of emotional misery, yearning to feel a true love for myself so that I could truly love everyone who loved me.

At the tender age of 29, life began to transform and at 32 I am finally on a journey to live life unbothered. Unbothered is such a funny word to me; when the popularity of the word soared I found myself laughing at the memes depicting women in bubble baths with wine or little babies with carefree faces laying on plush pillows. However, eventually, I wanted to be a true depiction of the snapshots; I wanted to truly be unbothered.

The demands of being a grown-up places an immense amount of pressure on us to play certain roles, to behave a certain way, and in my case, to try to live as close to perfection as possible- all the while, I had been killing my soul softly. Striving to make others happy and keep the peace while living in misery blocked my ability to think clearly and inhibited my ability to be “real.” For a while, I have falsely attributed the adoption of my new attitude to motherhood, but the truth is that I started to evolve before the possibility of my son was imaginable. My search to become unbothered began when I realized all the things I had missed by living inside of a mental box, and the urgency of being unbothered was escalated when I realized the pressures of single motherhood, work, entrepreneurship and trying to get closer to God.

Thoughts of the best advice ever given to me by my 8th grade Art teacher and my 11th grade English teacher bombarded my brain repeatedly, forcing me to revisit the quote “to thine own self be true.” In essence, being true and honest with me about who I am and what my feelings were was essential to becoming unbothered. Becoming unbothered meant that I had to let go of many things and cling closer to some others. Becoming unbothered meant directing my energy to causes that matter and staying away from things that are not for my well-being or for the betterment of mankind.

In essence, I had to live my life, love myself and focus on the lifestyle my son and I deserve. In realizing who and what matters most, I was able to release myself of unfair obligations and mistreatment by others. I learned to focus on things and people who focus on me. I have chosen to find the beauty in everyday by remaining unbothered.

God & Poetry Saved Me from Suicide

In Culture, life, media, modeling, News, Race, reality on May 24, 2015 at 12:51 pm

For years I have been asked what motivated me to start writing. I have only been able to give part of the truth when I told people that I used writing to help me cope with issues. The other part, the most important part of this answer, has been an uncomfortable story to tell. I have hinted at the truth, only alluding to the answer because I was afraid to give full disclosure and worried about how the answer would reflect on me. This is not an easy explanation; it is the hardest story I have ever had to tell. However, what I experienced is all too common and not talked about enough.

I have never danced around the fact that I suffered from depression most of my teen, preteen years, and some of my early adult years. Unfortunately, the illness was pervasive in my household throughout my childhood. My mother was a serious sufferer of depression and I silently fell into the same pattern, as I struggled to understand what was wrong with our family and how I could solve the problem. In our apartment in the projects, there was a broken woman in a dark room on one side of the wall, a sad little girl crying everyday on the other side of the wall, and a boy I could not understand down the hall. This scene went on for years. In addition, self-esteem problems, the absence of my father, and poverty were all issues that I understood too well too young. Though I understood the issues, I did not understand why they were a part of my life or how to escape the problems associated with them and the emotions I experienced as a result.

My depression became even darker when I was about twelve years old. There are many things I cannot remember, but of those I can recall, I remember hating everything about myself and my life and believing that no one loved me, not even God. I believed that my dark brown skin was jet-black and ugly and that I was the sole source of problems in our home. I hated waking up in the morning; each day seemed to drag on and I could not see a reason for my existence. I began to pray for God to kill me in my sleep at night. I had convinced myself that no one would miss me if I was gone, not even my family, who was doing the best they could to help our family while trying not to upset our situation even more. I thought that if I died in my sleep it would be quick and painless. I was convinced that death would be my only peace, but a few more years would pass before I would actually get the courage to consider killing myself. Yet, when the moment arrived, I stood in the kitchen with the lights off and a knife to my wrist. I had never felt more desperate and ready. With tears running down my face, I stood ready to relieve myself of all pain. As I stood in the kitchen, I prayed one last desperate prayer, If you will give me one reason to live, just one God, I won’t do this. But I just cannot take it anymore. It was the last prayer I felt I had the energy to pray, and I had given up on God. I had wondered why I had seen my mother pray so much, but it seemed that nothing about our lives had changed. I had witnessed her praying through the crack of her door and reading her bible multiple times a day when I was child; yet, she was still so unhappy. I could not understand what prayer was supposed to do, but I knew it had to do something. I wondered why I felt the need to mimic her example, but still could not see the benefits of praying. Just as I finished my ultimate plea for a reason to save my own life, God spoke to me so clearly it was as if He was in the kitchen with me. He said three simple words, Write about it. It was such an unfamiliar experience and voice that I doubted myself when I first heard the words. He repeated, Jamie, write about it. It took me a minute to compose myself, but I dried my face, put the knife in the sink and went to my bedroom. I found my school notebook and starting writing words on paper.

I began writing paragraphs about my feelings and the anger with my life and my situation. I wrote when I was happy, angry, frustrated and depressed. Some of my writings were dark and filled with rage, but the more I wrote the more I was able to release the pain that I felt. I frequently heard God speaking to me as I wrote. Sometimes I wrote multiple times a day, and sometimes I would go days without writing. Yet, I knew that my pen was my savior and it was helping me to escape my pain. Though nothing was changing at home yet, things were changing within me. I started to feel hope and my motivation to become successful drove me to excel in everything I did. Mediocrity was never acceptable; my performance always had to be exceptional. I believed that my exceptional performance would help to change so many things about my life, and though I did not see much progress, writing continued to give me hope.

After my ninth grade year of high school Mrs. Sylvia Smith (formerly Hawkes) encouraged me to enter the public speaking contest at 4-H Short Course. Given my talkative history, she thought it would be the perfect competition for a girl in an agriculture club who could not have farm animals in the projects. I loved all famous black orators, and I secretly wanted to be like Dr. King one day, though I never thought it was truly possible. I thought the writing I had been doing for the past few years might help me write a speech for a contest. My paragraphs became poems, and my poems became my first essays. I became a competitive speaker who was more enthused by sharing a positive speech than by winning; though, I went on to win and place in most of my competitions. Speaking validated my calling to share hope with others.

The irony of my life was that most people never knew my living situation or that I lived every day for many years in depression. They had no idea that the outspoken honor student who was a member and leader in almost every school organization was smiling on the outside and praying for a reason to live inside. School gave me validation, and education gave me liberation. Seeing the success of others gave me hope on wpid-11221215_852934968112718_1626851941_o.jpgthe day that I almost gave in. I am thankful that God saved me and I am living in every single moment of this life. As I hold my son, I am reminded of why I am so blessed to see every day and I frequently think to myself that I almost missed this wonderful life. Each night when I talk to my mama, I am thankful that God created such a beautiful masterpiece out of the shattered vessels that we were. When I stand on stages and talk to audiences, I think about how I almost missed the chance to share such important moments with others. All of the pain I experienced equipped me to be as strong as I am today. All of the hurt I felt gave me the compassion that I share with others. All of the depression I experienced made me appreciate true joy. All of the brokenness in my home was to bring my family even closer together in God. My friends and family frequently make jokes about how much I cry when I get emotional, but when I think of all the years I spent crying tears of pain, I want to make up for them by crying tears of joy. I am not perfect, and neither is my life, but God’s will for my life is being perfected each day. I have been freed because God and poetry saved me from suicide.

Favor Ain’t Fair…Or is It?

In Culture, justice, life, News on March 17, 2015 at 4:51 am

It is a line that drives me absolutely crazy. So much so that sometimes, I imagine myself jumping up and down on a table in a room full of “favor ain’t fair” quotees (yes, I made that up) chanting, “Yes, it is! Favor is fair!” If I could find the first person who made this statement, I would smack them on the back of the head and say, “No! Don’t start it! It’s not even true!”

However, nearly every black church across America chants this line an average of 455 times per Sunday service or Wednesday night bible study. (Do not mock my fictional statistics.)  I have disagreed with this statement from the first day it slipped from the lips of the anointed. The implication that favor is not fair makes it seem as if God is not just in His dealings with us when the bible states the contrary.            Psalm 5: 12 states, “For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as a shield.” Psalm 84: 11 states, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” As a matter of fact, the bible provides several scriptures that tell the benefits of living according to His will with Psalm 21 reminding us that God will bless us when we seek His face and His will. He makes promises of overflows, ten folds, open doors and foot stools. Yet, we continue to insist that the favor granted by living a righteous life is not fair.

To this concept I mupoet4st contest. For what is the point of joining a specialty club if one does not expect to receive exclusive benefits? The benefit of serving a mighty God, honoring His commandments, getting in line with His will, and repenting of errs and sins is favor. I beg to differ- favor is fair! For who does not enjoy reaping the benefits of being a saved child of God?

I think I have targeted the problem- we think favor applies solely to material things. Visual blessings tend to qualify higher on the “favored” list than non-visual blessings. However, peace in the midst of the storm can only be achieved when one has favor. An increase in finances or special connections will not buy peace, but a solid relationship with God and obedience will make one steadfast and joyful in the worst situations. There are many non-physical blessings that are purely the result of favor due to obedience. But the obsession with materialist things has caused us to misunderstand the true blessings of favor. This is not to decrease the value of material blessings, but to clarify that they do not determine whether one is experiencing favor. Material things come and go but a spiritual connection that brings for supernatural blessings is favor that cannot be explained.

There is one aspect of God’s dealings with us that is not “fair.” That aspect is grace and mercy. This twosome is given to nearly everyone on a daily basis- saved or unsaved, Baptist, Muslim, and even Atheist. Psalm 145:9 reads, “The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” God gives us a new chance every morning that our feet hit the floor. He gives us another opportunity to seek His face no matter how often we mess up. He loves us relentlessly, not because of favor, but because of grace and mercy.

Some preachers and teachers may disagree when they read this, but as the old gospel says, “like a tree planted by the water, I shall be moved.” There is nothing unfair about favor. The most amazing part of being saved is knowing your relationship with Christ connects you to favored blessings like no other. For committing your whole heart to Christ, He promises to never leave or forsake you and that He will supply all of your needs. The word declared that He is rich with houses and land and He holds the power of the world in His hand; so, why would he not want to give His children who are after His heart access to these amazing blessings? God’s desire is for His children to live in joy and peace that can only be found when individuals know Him. God honors His promise when we honor our commitment. Yes, it is absolutely favor, and despite what you have heard, it is fair.

American Injustice for Black Men: Part II

In Uncategorized on December 30, 2014 at 8:26 am

Lady-LibertyIt’s funny how a young white male killed 14 people and wounded 50 in a Colorado movie theater and there was more focus on his mental illness than the dead and harmed. It’s funny how a young white male killed 20 children and 6 adults at an elementary school and repeated stories about his mental illness struggles were the main headlines for many news websites and stations. However, when black male Ismaaiyl Brinsley went on a spree killing his ex-girlfriend and two NYPD police officers, it was hardly mentioned that he too had suffered from mental illness. Brinsley had a history of suicide attempts as recently as last year. Yet, he has been tattooed as a cop killer and murder, and little focus has been given to the unfortunate loss of his estranged girlfriend. Instead, media and society have used this incident to claim that the protests in New York and across the country have sparked this unfortunate situation. Brinkley’s mental illness issues and history have been used as ammunition to make it seem that black Americans are unruly and uncontrollable. Henceforth, the deaths of black men are justifiable in attempts to hurt them before they hurt others. I laugh, but not in a comical way. I laugh in a sick, demented, this-joke-is-too-dark, darker-than-my-too-black-for-America-skin way.

I have struggled for the past two years to control the anxiety and anger I feel towards America as it allows its racist face to show. It has been hard to accept that America has made no progress at all. Yes, laws were created following the death of Dr. King. However, what I have learned is that these laws were written on paper in attempts to pacify blacks, not to actually correct a problem or force American society to change. For that is a much bigger issue. One cannot unteach systematic racism or force individuals to stop making their offspring feel that they must remain separate to be superior. Therefore, the result of individuals teaching racism at home is the development of an unjust neighborhood which leads to a biased community which creates partial leaders which infiltrates an unfair country thus creating a divided society leading to a broken world.

Brinsley’s case has not justified police actions across the country; it has confirmed what I suspected. Black men who commit the same crimes as their white counterparts are presented in different manner and portrayed as beasts, thus creating an automatic sense of fear in society. Purse clutching and unwarranted deaths will be at an all-time high as America continues to paint images of Trayvon Martin dressed as a hoodlum who created fear in his own neighborhood, Mike Brown as an overly beastified pit bull who could not even fall at the shot of a bullet, Eric Garner being so large that his very voice overpowered a cop, and Tamir Rice needed no questions asked because 12 year-old black kids should not play with toy guns. Our own community leaders will continue to turn their backs on the youth who are ready and radical enough to fight by using the weak excuse that “blacks kill blacks every day” as if whites do not kill whites also. My fear has become that those who hold the real power will not work to make impactful changes.

Writing these posts has become painful to me, for it seems that this is an issue which has no beginning or ending. I struggle to find a solution for a problem that has existed for so long. I do not think America truly wants a resolution because to destroy the image of the black man is to destroy the black family. It is not a point of pride to draw this conclusion. It is disheartening to know that the struggle of a black man in America is so serious and scary to realize that I have no answer to change it. The only power I truly hold is to pray and train my son to be a fighter, because one day he will be a black man in
America.

Magnified Levels of Greatness for 2015

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2014 at 9:22 am

IMG_2356Wow…how do I begin to talk about 2014? The first image that comes to mind is a roller coaster. No, not one of the kiddie ones you see at a local fair. I’m talking about a Texas-size Six Flags, blow-your-mind, scare-you-to-death, hold-on-tightly-for-the-ride-of-your-life roller coaster. I was up and down. Some moments passed fast and others seemed to drag on forever. Now, I find myself at the end of the roller coaster, glancing back at 2014.

I started the year with a prediction of chasing book sales across the country and speaking any and everywhere. I was putting the wheels into motion for my dream and making plans to finally be free. My first stage play had been produced. My name was moving across the state faster than my Altima could travel, and my hands were itching for a new writing project. A return to school was calling my name and financial stability was finally within my grasp. But 2014 would take a turn I could have never, ever…everevereverever predicted. My plans were paused when I learned that I was soon to be a mother. I won’t repeat a story that has been shared at least twice on my blog site. Yes, it was unexpected. Yes, it was a long and strange nine months. However, it was a nine month period that forever changed my life. It could not have happened at a better time or in a better situation. It was a necessary transition to a part of life, that had it been according to my planning or timing, may have never happened.

As I look back at 2014, I had nearly forgotten the life that existed before my son arrived. All of my accomplishments seemed so far gone; the possibility of returning to the same state of success seemed impossible. And to a certain extent, it is. 2014 has been the most serious year of transformation that will probably ever occur in my life. This year forced me into a zone that I was blessed to experience but afraid to embrace. This year pushed me to live life differently and to take control of situations that the old Jamie would have simply ignored. My life is no longer about me; it is about whom I want my son to see and who I want him to become.  I have realized that my role can no longer be taken casually. My responsibility is to live in the image of the person I would like for him to be. With this in consideration, 2014 has given me five things I will aim to engrain in my son:

  • Be true to yourself. I first heard this phrase from my junior high school art teacher and then again from my eleventh grade English teacher. Never did the clarity of such a phrase matter until this year. I had spent years aiming to please and impress others, whether it was friends, family, my boss or even strangers in an audience. What I did, thought, and spoke was often manipulated in aims to not offend or dishearten others. The struggle with aiming to please others was that I was usually displeased with self. Failing to be true to myself made me feel like a fraud. I would frequently hide my true emotions and perpetrate an image of perfection when I felt like a train wreck on the inside. I often denied myself the right to be angry and sad, telling myself that I had to keep my head up, remain focused and always be the person with the level head. My true emotions were reserved for the privacy of my bedroom at late hours of the night or when I was alone. I was living an unfair life that was unreal. When I learned that I was pregnant, the fear of hoarding stress and miscarrying loomed over my head like a storm cloud. I knew I could no longer live falsely by lying to myself in order to maintain an image of happiness and perfection for others. There were times when I deserved to be sad. It was understandable when I was angry. I had to keep it real with myself. I learned a lesson that was years late; being true to myself meant I felt less stress and others (whether they were close friends or not) respected my opinion more. Though this has been a gradual lesson in progress for several years, the changes of 2014 forced me to learn more quickly.
  • Establish boundaries. Stick to your boundaries. As an entrepreneur, I struggled for years to be solid in my demands. I would often make sacrifices that cost me more than those I was servicing. Time taught me to be more consistent in boundary setting, but motherhood taught me to be abrupt with establishing boundaries. I have always valued my word and, thus, expected others to value theirs. My expectation for others to value commitments often caused me to be lenient, thinking that leniency demonstrated my loyalty. This mistake often left me depleted of energy and full of disappointment. I quickly learned that my energy had to be reserved for the one who deserved it, my son. Establishing boundaries and sticking to them helped me focus my energy where it was needed most.
  • Fall in love with yourself. I have always believed that love and hearts are to be treated gently and handled in a serious manner. Unsuccessful attempts at relationships left me prone to avoid relationships and dating as I struggled to understand love and men. My post-pregnancy self-esteem struggled to find my pre-pregnancy attitude- which loved my age, my body and my life. Recitation of a few of my favorite pieces from my book Pennies In My Pocket helped me remember what had put me in such a state of elation at the beginning of 2014 when I was head over heels in love with…me. Falling in love with me had allowed me to be vulnerably open to loving someone else, which led to…well, you know. I learned that when I was not in love with me I felt insecure and scared of the feeling of love. Undoubtedly, I felt nervous when I finally opened myself up, but I also felt ready. The most important thing an individual can do is focus on being a better self for self; everything else will fall into place at the right time.  Falling in love with me helped me embrace my imperfections as part of my authenticity that is to be treasured by Mr. Right.
  • Live in the moment.  If I could count the number of times I tried and failed to predict my future I’d be a millionaire. After spending years trying to always have the perfect plan and perfect execution, I finally learned that there is no perfect way for either. I let years pass by trying to plan for the future while failing to enjoy the moment, but when my son was born it seemed as if the world briefly came to a stop. Moments passed that I would never get back and fresh out of my womb was something my son would never be again- a newborn. I had let so many other things pass me by, but the moments with him were ones I never wanted to miss. My worries about superficial things became secondary, and my primary concern was to make sure I never missed a special moment of his life. The moments of our life together are priceless treasures that can be remembered through pictures but can never be relived.
  • Remember God is in control.  The ultimate lesson of 2014 that I hope my son will carry for a lifetime is to remember that God is in control. Never have I relied more heavily on God than this past year. I have witnessed my faith growing over the past few years, but never in the manner that it grew this year. As I struggled with medical issues early in my pregnancy, financial woes in the end, and family life, I reached a place where I finally came to peace with the idea that there is only one option: trust God.  I was a believer in Christ, regular worshipper, and dedicated woman of prayer, but as I have stated in times past, my faith in God was often tested and I came dangerously close to failing. Though it is an uncomfortable statement to make, it is a true one. However, pregnancy was a day-to-day journey where both my life and that of my unborn child were at risk. I nearly worried myself to death during the first four months of pregnancy as I agonized about eating the right foods, getting enough rest, taking care of my body and avoiding stress…I was actually stressing about avoiding stress. At last, I prayed earnestly to God and remembered the timeless biblical quote from Sister Bradford, “God is in control.” He was not just in control of my pregnancy, but He was in control of everything that seemed to out of control in my life. When I truly embraced that God was in control and that He would never leave nor forsake me, my blessings started overflow and my cup was running over. At times I still worry, but when I notice my overwhelming feelings, I breathe deeply and remind myself that God is in control.

It is not only my son that I thank God for, but the growing experience that has come through the birth of my son. As I continue to grow, I eagerly anticipate the life lessons I shall share with him. It is my hope that the path before will lead him to have the morals of an upstanding man and the dignity of one that fears and respects Christ. May I be a constant work in progress with the ambition of evolving into greatness before the eyes of my offspring. I am thankful for the changes that have begun in 2014, and I look forward to magnified levels of greatness in 2015.

 

Check out why my 2014 year was so amazing! Click the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSv1gJuCgE4

What I Will Tell My Black Son

In Uncategorized on December 4, 2014 at 2:13 am

lee3

I will tell him of all the things he must do
To maintain in a society that insists he is not civilized
He has to keep his pants up and his temper down
Keep his grade average high but the volume of his voice low
Not because he needs to be quiet
But because a man who can hear your plan will also try
To guess the power you hold in your hand.

I will teach him about the lineage of strong black men
Who brought this country to be
And that in this America there are two versions of history.
There is the one that crooks wrote in textbooks
But one that involves him but can only be found
In the back corners of libraries and on the lips of ancestors-
Some here, some gone, some unknown.

I will tell him that society will always feel threatened by him
Because he is a black man who has the strength of ten thousand
And the courage of ten million
He must know when, where, and how to fight
And don’t ever let anybody make him believe he must back down.

I will tell him that true love has no color
But no woman will love and respect him like
The sister who is cut from his rib, has walked his struggle
And holds the world on her shoulders every day.
For it is only her who can understand the call of a black man
To be something great in a world that often denies his value.

I will teach him that he is guilty until proven innocent in America
That if he gets stopped by the cops, no matter how he feels
He must handle the situation like he is wrong to stay alive.
My son must understand that arriving in my arms at the front door
Is much more important than trying to stand his ground
Because that works in all states but only for certain people.

Most importantly, I will teach him that I am his mother
The giver of his life who will love him despite his flaws
I will wipe his tears and kiss his boo-boos
I will give him everything that was never given to me
And will spoil him but try my best not to ruin him
So he understands the value of fine things
But respects the hard work that comes from them

I will teach him that no matter how tough life gets
He must remember the strength he was given
And the courage he already possesses
But be wise in his actions
Slow with his tongue
And quick with this thoughts
Because he is a black son
His journey will be different
But different makes him unique
And uniqueness makes him chosen
To overcome difficulties
To share his lessons with others
And to change the world around him
Yes, yes, that is what I will tell my black son.

©Copyright 2014 by Motivational Inspirations

Journey for a Day, Impact for Life

In Uncategorized on June 1, 2014 at 6:13 am

jamieinstamps

Today was life altering…even more profoundly, it was life changing. The woman who was my first inspiration to write therapeutically passed last week and I found myself deeply saddened that one of my dreams had not and would not ever be fulfilled- meeting Maya Angelou. For months I had talked about visiting her childhood home and getting a visual connection with the place I had heard and read about that transformed her life. I figured over and over that I had time to go, that not only would Stamps be there, Maya Angelou would be alive when one of the most grand moments of my life occurred. I took into light consideration that she was approaching a delicate phase in life and that there was only a matter of time before my dream would fade with her. Yet, reality struck last week and I suddenly felt the urge to make my visit happen immediately. I felt wounded, even broken hearted, that fate had brought about a situation that I could not fix nor change. And Stamps, Arkansas was the closest that my budget and body could get to Ms. Angelou.

I am not sure what I was looking for by going to Stamps. I was not sure what I would get when I got there, nor was I sure of what the traveling experience beheld. I thought others would think that my journey was a little crazy, so I shied away from telling people what I wanted to do and instead shared what I needed and I why I needed it with only a few people who wouldn’t question my motives whether they understood them or not. I got more than I bargained for when Breonda agreed to travel with me and Mrs. Whitfield was eager to go.  We took to the road early today with tribute balloons to be released in Maya Angelou’s honor waving wildly in the back seat of the truck. Excitement made this short journey seem long, but each mile did not seem to matter as we got closer to our destination. However, a lingering question loomed in my mind: what would we do when we got there?

This question would fulfill itself in a capacity that I never imagined. As we passed a beautiful scenic lake we came to the end of a road with only two directions to turn. The GPS said we had arrived in Stamps, Arkansas. To our right were a church and some houses on a country road and to the left was what appeared to be a highway. After mistakenly turning right onto the country road, I turned around in a stranger’s yard just past a white church sitting on a V road. We headed towards a highway which passed the back of the lake, over the railroad into the middle of Stamps, Arkansas. A few people were outside, and I was indeed nervous about what we should do next. The truck led us to the downtown area, which like any Southern country town, was dead on a Saturday afternoon. But, there was a single boutique open, with a young black woman and a middle aged man standing inside. “Forget it,” I said aloud, “This is the country. Let’s ask questions.” I parked and exited the car. We approached the young woman and the man, inquiring about any place in Stamps that honored or recognized Angelou. She told us that unfortunately, there was no street named after her, no landmark, not even a local plaque with her name on it. The town barely showed any recognition for this woman, but she knew someone who could show us the store that her aunt and uncle ran if we had time to wait. She made a phone call and we casually browsed the beautiful shop lending our patronage, partially for her beautiful items and partially for her kind help. Within minutes, a man and woman entered the shop and introduced themselves as Jerry and Dora, former residents of Stamps.

Jerry was much too young to have known Maya Angelou personally, but he did know her Uncle Willie who was still running the local store when he was a kid. The store was gone and so was Uncle Willie, but he could show us where the store and the home were located. He could also tell us a little about her visit to Stamps in the late 70’s when he was 12 years old, but he had some ladies who could tell us more information than he could. My eyes lit up; the trip was already beginning to be more than I had expected. We smiled and told him that anything he and Dora could offer would be a delight to us. I felt like we had hit the jackpot!

We followed Jerry back in the direction that we had come from. The familiar route led us to a house facing the road towards the church and country road where we had made the “wrong” turn only minutes ago. We pulled into the yard of a small and neatly trimmed white house. As Jerry and Dora spoke with the woman on the porch, I surveyed the area. At the church across the street three small puppies rolled in the grass. One puppy dragged his two legs behind him and crawled only on his front paws because he had been hit by a car nearly a month ago. (I’m still working on a way to get that puppy here and find him a home.) Still, the all of the puppies looked peaceful and happy and played in front of the church happily. On the church door was a wreath and a few feet from the front door was a large wooden Easter cross and a young tree with a black bow tied around it.

Jerry walked from the house with a small lady with a mini-blonde afro and glasses we got out of the truck. We were excited! She introduced herself to us as Maurine, not Ms. Maurine, Maurine. She had the energy of a young girl and the sweetness of my grandmother. We introduced ourselves and Mrs. Whitfield told Maurine that I was a writer and a major fan of Maya Angelou.  Her eyes lit up and she embraced me, saying that I looked like someone she had met before. She told us she was a much younger than Maya or as they knew her, Marguerite, but she could show us the land and tell us what she did know. Marguerite had been good friends with her sister, her cousin, and another man named Willie. Many of the others who had been good friends with Marguerite had passed already, and very few people were still around. Maurine told us that Maya Angelou had been to their house for dinner and to hang out just as she got ready to write I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She told us that if we could walk, the land where their house and the store were located was just down the street. As we walked, we passed the house where I had turned around because we were traveling in the “wrong” direction. Maurine told us the past few days had been crazy with statewide and national news stations coming down to view the town where Angelou spent the most important years of her life and had written about in her autobiography. Her sister had been interviewed and would be appearing in a documentary in the next few weeks. She stopped in front of a trailer with a huge tree in the yard and told us that this was where there house once stood. A few feet from the trailer, she showed us where the general store once operated. She laughed and talked about how Mr. Willie (Maya’s uncle) was handicapped and would allow the children to get their own cookies and candy from the jar. They would load their pockets with goodies they bought, or supposedly bought, with the money that they supposed to use for school lunch. Maurine spoke very highly of Maya’s grandmother. She said she was a tall and graceful lady, who was well-spoken, “like a teacher,” she said. “That’s why Maya was like she was. Her grandmother was always so well-spoken and graceful,” Maurine said. It was instilled her, I thought. She even told us that she did not personally know the teacher who helped Maya come out of her mute stage, but she knew who she was.

Suddenly, it all seemed even more real for me. She had been here- in Stamps; what she had been through to become Maya Angelou was real. I wanted to cry, no really, sit down on the grass and weep, but this was not the time to fall to pieces and have to explain something that I still could not quite put into words. It seemed that images described on paper had now become tangible. The tangibility of these images made the capability of being great more real.  

We continued to talk and a few passer byers waved and one even stopped to welcome us. I told Dora, Jerry, and Maurine about the balloons and they said that they wished they had known I was coming and they would have rounded up the community. But they did not know I was coming and I had no idea I would meet them. We talked about the lack of respect shown to Maya Angelou by the community and even disrespectful remarks made about her by community officials. Dora talked about the hopes of at least getting a street named after her and determination to pursue this for a woman who of deserving of so much more than having her name tattooed to a dusty street.

As we made our way back to the house and prepared for our good-byes and journey to the lake to release ballons, another older, thin lady was walking into the yard. “That’s my sister, Mary B., “ Maurine told us, “she knows more than I do.” Maurine’s sister told us she was Mary B., not Ms. Mary B., Mary B.  Maurine told her of our journey, to which she seemed excited. Mary B. hugged us and reiterating many of the things her sister shared adding details. She talked about how Maya Angelou was no guest at their home; she fixed her own plate and ate to her delight when she visited. She told of how their family member Tessie played the piano and Maya sang gospel songs when she visited before she wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Mary B. said she had read most of Maya Angelou’s books not because she purchased them, but because she would send a test copy to their dear friend and he would let her read it after he had finished- the raw, uncut scripts. My emotions were so charged, the atmosphere was than I could process at the time and I’m still taking it in. After several more minutes of talking, we told them we had to proceed to the lake for the balloon release so we could start our journey home. However, there was no denial that we did not want to leave and I do not think they were ready for us to.

As we pulled up the beautiful lake, I thought about how it was the perfect place to release the balloons. I took deep breaths and promised that I would be a big girl, no tears. We headed up the walk path to the gazebo on the water and heard some familiar voices behind us. Dora, her granddaughter, Jerry, Maurine, and Mary B. were getting out of the car. They had come for the balloon release ceremony, turning the moment into so much more than I imagined. After organizing the balloons, I shared a short speech about the meaning of each color of the balloons I had chosen. I talked about how much Maya Angelou/ Marguerite Johnson meant to me even though I never knew her personally. I told the women how important they were to such a beautiful story and how our lives intermingle to create history. We prayed and then set the balloons free.  We shared a final round of hugs and kisses, thank you’s, and goodbyes.

I still cannot quite express my feelings in complete words. There are some experiences in life that are bigger than a moment and a day. They are bigger than one or two people. They are bigger than a small town or a big city. They change us; they make us. The help us become who we should be. This experience cannot be defined or completely explained because it is so much bigger than me. Thank you Maya Angelou.

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