Wednesday, October 2, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 51

On Monday, an old friend buried her 7 year old son. And while, burying a child must be one of the most difficult life experiences ever, her and her husband exuded grace. Some of us, if we're not careful, miss the experience ... grace, that is. Oh, we believe it exists, we get it later and we know it happens but ... when you get to experience it, witness it first hand, it is truly sublime.

'Exuded grace.' I struggled with that phrase as I wanted to honor my old friend and her family appropriately. So, I decided to look it up on the Internet. Exude is defined as 'to exhibit in abundance' or 'to project abundantly.' That seemed to fit. But what about this grace thing? I looked that up, too. Grace (in Christian belief) is 'the free and unmerited favor of God.' It's 'unmerited divine assistance.' Ooh, that thing could make me shout right now. Yup, 'exuded grace' most certainly captured my thought. And that was exactly what I, along with countless others have witnessed over these last few days.

My old friend is an author, which means she has a gift for expressing herself though words, for being fearless in sharing her heart and for bringing us along on the journey. And that is exactly what she did during this past week. She shared her heart using words and brought us all along on the journey. Here are a few of her Facebook posts.

Folks minds were blown but ... experiencing grace ... witnessing faith will do that. After those posts, I don't think anyone knew what to expect at the service. But, the service was an amazing tribute to their boy's life. His nurse spoke, his teacher spoke, there was a Liturgical dance to Vicki Yohe's I'm at Peace. The first verse says:
I'm at peace. Even though my heart is breaking. I'm at peace. I never thought I would be shaken but you came and laid your hands on me and now ... Oh, Lord you came and laid you hands on me and now, I can see, my storm has moved away.
'My storm has moved away.' In the midst of losing their son, in the midst of this tragedy, these folks were showing us what faith and 'unmerited divine assistance' really looked like. It had been in each and every post throughout the week. It was in their demeanor as they entered the sanctuary. But it was never more apparent than the moment my old friend and her husband spoke at their boy's homegoing.

As they approached the pulpit, folks clasped their hands and grew nervous. We were sad, heartbroken even, but resigned to being strong and not crying out over their unimaginable pain but we had no idea. We had no idea how their story would minister to each and every one of us long after they had laid their son to rest.

My old friend spoke with her husband at her side. They spoke about how being a parent to their son was a blessing, how he was their assignment and that they were grateful for the experience. They spoke about how our response to others should edify and uplift them. They spoke about prayer and praised God for the 7 years they spent with their son.

But, peppered in between their funny stories, fond memories and tears was a simple love story. A love story about faith, about tranformative power, about 'unmerited divine assistance,' called grace and about a beloved Son who would die that we would all have peace.

So on this Day 51 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for old friends ... who exude grace. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Thursday, September 5, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 50

Ever have one of those weeks or two where everything seems amiss. I mean it just seems like every little thing that can go wrong does. It takes an hour to go a few miles. The car won't start. A shelf that's been up for years crashes to the floor. Oh, yeah, it's been a rough couple of weeks. Hmm, the contract end date is fast approaching, folks seem edgy... and I'm left feeling ... uncertain.

Grr, where was my swag? What happened to the 3rd grader (Day 9) who makes me laugh at the most mundane things? Yup, even me ... Ms. 'I choose gratefulness' had succumbed. Here I was stuck in magenta. I borrowed that from the TV show, The Golden Girls. Magenta is when you're not quite happy...  not quite sad or blue but stuck somewhere in between. I'm not hopeless but I can tell my stay here, in what I like to call, d-town has been around for a good 2 weeks. D-town? I know I name everything, maybe the 3rd grader still reigns. D-town is what I call the space I'm in ... discouraged.

It's that place where things don't go so smoothly, where I disappoint folks, where folks disappoint me, where I overreact and that place where I eat cookies every night for dinner.

What did I do to have all this uncertainty knock on my door? When was it leaving and why am I stuck? Isn't it interesting that no matter how old you are, how bright you are, how comfortable you are ... when you come across some thing you thought you knew but didn't - it makes you question everything. Why is that? How can one or two singular events stop you in your tracks? Why couldn't I remember all those little notes that kept me encouraged (Day 21)? Am I not the strong woman I thought I was? You know the one, who scoffs at sequestration (Day 14), has great energy (Day 46) and planks for fun (Day 22). Where was she?

She's on the sofa watching the ID channel. REALLY!! Watching the show, Fatal Frenemies is not a good look. If my roomie (Day 23) wasn't saved, I'd start locking my bedroom door at night. SMH

I know, I had just hit a bad patch - we all get them from time to time. But, I was sick of D-town, what I really needed ... was to turn things around. Ah, the engineer in me perks up. Let's implement the perspective modification plan. Never heard of a perspective modification plan, it's really easy to put in practice so let's give it a whirl.

Oh, woe is me, work is stressing me out. Really? Now, let's review the converse. Try not working, bet that would stress me out, even more. Yup, a perspective modification plan works every time. So what do I do to get my mojo back?  I go on vacation.

Travel light!
Yup, off to the beach on Spirit Airlines. Oh, it was the cheapest flight ever but one thing about Spirit, they don't disappoint. They make traveling easy ... only your seat is free. Better travel light for the baggage fees could make you cry or punch somebody in the face. Here's my luggage, with all my necessities - iPad, underwear and a bathing suit.

'My Country Crush'
The beach was great. A few days away was just what I needed, I frolicked in the ocean, bought clothes at Wal-mart and had my first country crush with the ATV tour guide. I told him to move in closer when we took this picture ;-)

The beach was just what the doctor ordered but one or two days later ... I could feel D-town licking at my boots. Rats! I thought I had turned this thing around. The lawn service didn't cut my grass but billed me just fine. The t-shirts I was selling for church, were on backorder for 3-4 weeks. Aaargh. I missed my prayer partner - this was turning out to be a fine Wednesday and it was only 6:00 in the morning.

Oooh, D-town was rounding third base but then I remembered - let's turn this thing around! What did that perspective modification plan say? 1. Focus. 2. Pray So, I prayed aloud. I hadn't done that since I was a little kid kneeling at the side of my bed. It was magical. It set the tone for the day. I could feel the day turning around ... something incredible was on its way.

By the time, I drove to work, magically the t-shirts were no longer on back order. This day was getting better. I had lunch with a friend. We talked about everything and nothing but it felt good, connecting. I skipped to my meeting, this day was turning around nicely. And by the days end, I discovered that my contract had been extended just this afternoon. Woo-hoo.

Wait!! It gets even better. My prayer partner had emailed me a prayer, it actually hit my email just as I was having lunch with my friend. LOL {praise break} This prayer asked the Lord to extend my job and give me a salary increase. LOL Well my contract had already been extended, now what was I going to do with that salary increase? HAHA

So on this Day 50 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for things turning around. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Monday, July 8, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 49

Do you remember your first? Don't worry I'm keeping it holy ;-) Firsts are almost always significant. Your first steps, your first words ... your first love ... your first job. And it's been almost a year to the day since ... since I recognized the first change. Let me share with you. Within the last 12 months, I've changed so profoundly and significantly, I'm not sure I'll be able to explain.

My First Blog!
Initially, I would have attributed it to Whitney passing. But I was no die-hard-got-every-album fan but I, too like a lot of other folks felt like we grew up with Whitney and wanted her to win. I remember being surprised when the funeral was televised, that was a first for a lil' black girl from Jersey. And after watching, I got it. While, the world may have tuned in simply to pay their respects, they ended up attending a Holy-Ghost filled home-going service. I'd like to think her momma knew it would changes lives. Ms Cissy Houston, you would be correct!

I decided then. No longer would I tarry ... no longer would I wait to do all these things I had planned ... like biking (Day 18) or remodeling my kitchen. No longer would I waste time thinking about all the things I was thinking about - dreaming about all the things I was dreaming about. Yup, things were definitely changing. The 3rd grader (Day 9) in me affectionately likes to call these last 12 months, the year of the firsts.

Now, July holds some real significance for me as it's my birthday month and I'm pretty introspective but I'm certain that's when it really started, last July. It may have begun with a simple post. A random chick from bible study posted about 2 job offers she was considering ... nothing exceptional about that. But within a week or two of her post, I had asked this random chick to move in. Or could it have been that I gave away my first car? Or perhaps it was when a team member from work suddenly passed?

Whatever is was, this season of growth, maturity, shift in perspective or as I like to call it ... this season of firstness all kicked off last year this time. Had I lost my mind? Was I in the midst of a mid-life crisis? Or was I finally starting to listen more, see better and understand this here life experience with a clarity that made no sense using conventional wisdom.

You see, as it turns out --  this random chick from bible study would become my roomie (Day 23). She was only supposed to stay for 3 months - at least that's what we thought, last July and we're just a few days shy of a year. And right now this very second, I know that the moment she moves outta here, we're going to act like a couple of 3rd graders on the last day of school. You must appreciate that if you had asked anyone who knows me, they would have never believed I would have casually asked some random chick from bible study to move in. And they would have been right because I'm not the sort of chick who makes rash decisions ... ha, but I did, last July. Yup, another first.

And as for my car, I had that car for some 18 years and I loved it ;-) - it was my first, there it is again, real purchase that I made by myself with money from my first job. I gave it away last July on a whim and a family member is still pushing that puppy.

And as for the gentleman at work who passed almost a year ago, where do I begin? When I received the call he had passed, I was with my Roomdog (Day 2) and she knew immediately something was wrong. I was shocked, not that I was particularly close to the gentleman but I had just seen him in a meeting the day before. That was the first time I had lost anyone I worked with. I shared with my roomdog that I wanted to say a few words at his funeral. And as life would have it, his family requested that someone from work speak on his behalf and I volunteered. Something happened back then last July, maybe it happened on that very day I spoke at the funeral? For it was crystal clear to me that speaking at his funeral, getting rid of that car and asking some random chick to move in were things I simply was supposed to do. I didn't give it a second thought - It just felt right and I simply ran with it.

It's exactly a year later and I'm feeling good too but I'm still a little tentative in my new self. A little unsure about how I'll behave ... it feels strangely unfamiliar. In fact, I feel a little like an X-men. LOL I know it's a movie but it's like when the mutants realize they have new powers and they don't know how to use them. I'm more patient ... just the other day the Wal-mart clerk was giving me the business. And no one was more surprised than me when I didn't give her the business back. Another first.  Who was this strange little, relaxed person with curly hair? I walked to the car shaking my head trying to figure out what happened. I sure was changing. What happened?

Da' Finish Line
This firstness was stretching (Day 44) a sista' out and opening the door for a number of other firsts. A few weeks back, I participated in my first 5k, look at me crossing that finishing line. I'll work on improving that time later. ;-) Yup, I even gave the opening prayer and sang in the church choir (Day 47), a dream come true I had to put down on these pages. It was fabulous. But wait, there were more firsts. I started blogging and ... I prayed with a friend. My friend had been asking me to pray for some time but I stalled. I had never prayed with anyone who wasn't clergy. This joker was crazy, prayer is personal and private, right? It is, but the idea that some one would invite me to intentionally spend time in the Lord's presence together, blew my mind. I must tell you, a few days ago, I finally stopped stalling. Praying with my friend was indescribably amazing. SMH ... Me, with no words, another first.

Ah, I could tell that the new me, with all these new firsts, was going some place new and exciting. For my birthday just yesterday, my roomie made me a scrapbook ... of this here, blog. Another, first for this gift made me cry. It was such a beautiful presentation and it's got love all over it. No, really! You can feel it when you turn the pages. It honored me like she'll never understand. It was proof that whatever this change, this shift in perspective, this firstness that started last year this time was absolutely exactly what I was supposed to do ... pen this here, blog for it feels right, like something I was simply born to do. I can't even believe I wrote that down but that's exactly how I feel.

We choose gratefulness!
I'm still wrapping my head around this firstness and am looking forward to learning more about the new me but I'd like to share a few things I've learned along the way. We choose to be happy, healthy and whole and it requires work. We choose gratefulness. We have influence over others and should pray continually that we choose to contribute and not contaminate them. The best gift we can give to ourselves and others, is to be our best grateful, joy-filled self. We should relish in it; basking in its glow. We should pray it's contagious, infectious and so authentic that folks recognize it the moment we enter a room.

So on this Day 49 of 40 Days of Gratefulness, I'm grateful for firsts. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Monday, June 17, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 48

Hello, my friend - it's been a minute and I've missed you terribly. Really? Just a few months ago, I didn't know that I liked writing but I found myself missing it these last few weeks. I'll have to start another blog for there have been a few days when I was just straight pissed off. And all I wanted to do was rant, complain, get twisted and get it in! And while I was quite comfortable with that ... until the very moment I'm forced to consider things within some grateful context simply by reading the title of this here blog ... and voila, I'm not angry anymore. Now, I've always been a softie, punk and a little bit of a push-over until abruptly I'm not ;-) Yup, I'm a little hot-headed from time to time - but this gratefulness thing always seems to change my perspective. But perhaps that's the point.

Well, work has been crazy busy due to the sequestration (Day 45) but it's never a dull moment. A few weeks back, over Memorial Day, I attended the US Naval Academy Graduation and it was great! My President was in attendance and I was too pumped over seeing him in person. I was also too pumped about seeing my roomie (Day 23) as well. She was in the faculty processional and due to the rain, she wore her favorite pink galoshes. She's pretty wacky, I tell you but this chick is driven. In fact, I affectionately call her 'the unstoppable unicorn' ... C'mon! How many 'sistas' do you know with a Ph. D. in Mechanical Engineering? I know, it's such a stereotype that smart women aren't attractive or fashionable but being a card carrying member ;-) we dispel that myth, baby!

Anyway, the weather sucked, it was some 50 degrees, windy and rainy. I was uber prepared as always - look at me with my Roomdog's (Day 2) fancy camera - I looked legit. Of course, I had to take some great shots. And while I snapped away, I became intrigued at the two secret service agents who 'covered' the President. Nothing new here, they were alert as expected but, could it be? Was there another unicorn in my midst? Yup, a sista' secret service agent who was killing it. She stood at attention the entire time my President spoke. There was no fidgeting, no shifting her weight side to side. I'm assuming she blinked but you couldn't tell. It blew my mind. It was cold, rainy, windy and she would not be deterred - she stood at full attention, that's right covering my President. Do you understand, this sista' was covering the leader of the free world. [ASIDE: I love how they say that in the movies.] Well, my only regret, is that I didn't get a chance to go down there, meet her, tell her I was so very proud, hug her neck and get a picture of her, doing her thing - covering.

And ever since then, that covering thing has stuck with me. I know, we usually reserve cover for the police like my favorite, Olivia Benson would say to her partner (depending on the season) 'Elliott, cover me!' Or if you are a bible scholar, it's about a husband covering his wife - the story of Boaz and Ruth come to mind. Yeah, I could be in the wrong book with that but you get the picture. Or it could be when someone looks out for you. 'I gotcha covered.'

Brothers, I'm an independent woman and all ... yup, make my own money ... but it's still a turn on when a brother tells ya 'he got ya covered.' For real. As luck, aah but I don't believe in luck. As life would have it, when me and my roomdog when to see Kim Burrell in concert a few weeks ago, she talked about 'keeping your friends covered.' Miss Burrell, I certainly will!

You see where I'm going with this thing, right? 'Cover' captures that magical,  je ne sais quoi feeling that things are better simply because someone else is there. They don't even have to do anything. Oh, it could be your Daddy, or your hubby or even ya best friend. And it would not be a coincidence that I would find myself capturing these here thoughts on Father's Day. My little cousin posted  'the way that you feel about your father will influence every single relationship you have.' Well said!! Me not being a Daddy's girl has certainly influenced me. I am fixer, a mover and a shaker, I don't dawdle and I'm usually very comfortable with my decisions. Now, those are good traits but only in moderation ;-) I don't believe I have trouble asking for help but I've not always been accustomed to people simply looking out for me. Hmm, not sure if that's good or bad but what it does do ... is it causes me to be very appreciative about each and every thing people do for me. It just so happens, I've been blessed to have good men who are great fathers in my life, who taught me about covering even before I understood what that meant. I can also tell you that with all my fixing, handling it, resolving issues, kick @ss decision-making skills ... being covered sure feels good!

When I had surgery a few years back, my roomdog (Day 2) stayed with me in the hospital the entire time. She even helped me bathe and get dressed. Let me tell you, it was not a good look ;-) but I'm so very grateful for her. Of course, she would have me covered, she's my roomdog. But, you know what? My roomdog and her husband hadn't been back from their honeymoon a full 24 hours before she dropped everything and stayed with me in the hospital for some 4 days. I even spent 4 weeks recovering at their home. I missed it at the time but her husband had me covered too.

Amazing how a 'lil gratefulness illuminates things. Just the other day, I saw a snake in the garage. Let me tell you, I was horrified. Where was Miss Independent, cool, calm and collected? She was cowering in the driveway, sweating like a junkie and swatting her ears at the imaginary bugs she could feel crawling all over her. I was afraid, alone and didn't know what to do until ... I called my Roomdog. Her and her hubby came over. That's right ... to cover me. Just as they arrived, my roomie (Day 23) came home from work. Yup, more covering. [ASIDE: I told my roomdog to 'twerk it real good for her husband ;-) hehe, I was trying to cover him] And later when I was still wound up, my roomie baked me some Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies and they were still warm from the oven when I inhaled them. She even promised to check the garage in the morning. Yeah, she's definitely a unicorn, what chick isn't afraid of snakes? She isn't - go figure, it must be a Texas thing.

Slim Shady 'Da Snake
Now, nothing had changed but I sure felt better. Slim shady, as my roomie named him, was not captured, he escaped in a crack in the wall. Am I afraid to go in the garage? Absolutely! You should see me in the morning leaping through there in a single bound. Pray that I don't twist my ankle speed hopping. In fact, my feet only hit that garage floor twice as I hop through there. And, I have no idea if slim shady is still in there or not. But what I do know is that covering feels good .... like warm, fresh baked Pillsbury chocolate chip cookies.

So on this Day 48 of 40 Days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for covering.  #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 47

And they say dreams don't come true. I beg to differ. For as long as I can remember, I've loved music and singing. And I'm no ordinary lil' black girl from Baltimore, my mother indulged me as I've had both piano and guitar lessons. Hmm, guess that make me a well-rounded lil' black girl from Baltimore ;-)  I also grew up in the Episcopal church which means I appreciated classical, orchestral pieces as well as the usual R&B and soft-rock. Hey!! No judgement, Hall & Oates was my very first concert.

Sorry, I digress. Now, I didn't stick with any of those instruments and I have exactly zero musical talents but I secretly harbored a pipe dream to sing. Let's be clear, I can not sing, I'm pretty much tone deaf and 'couldn't carry a tune with a bucket' as my Roomdog (Day 2) likes to joke me. SMH Let's just say, that I was in no danger of pursuing a musical career but that didn't change anything for me; I still dreamed of singing.

I grew up with the likes of Whitney and I still love me some Anita Baker. Regina Belle, whom I've actually met, was my favorite but if I could pick just one person who I'd like to sound like; hands down that would be Phylis Hyman. I mean it was something about her that simply gave me goosebumps. With my zero musical talents, I clearly recognized that I would never be out front leading a song but I didn't need to -- because I really wanted to be a background singer.

Chalk that up to the 3rd grader (Day 9) in me. For whatever reason, I didn't need to be out in front. See to me, background singers are the ones who fill the song. For example, everyone knows Aretha Franklin's Ain't No Way. Yup, a classic but what makes that song memorable is the soprano in the background. The soprano is the one who makes you feel 'longing' in that song. That actually was Cissy Houston, Whitney's momma. Anyway, I do my share of singing in the shower and in the car but generally I'm simply listening and enjoying the music. I was happy, content even with just enjoying the music until an opportunity presented itself.

The Psalmist, me!
At church (Day 35), there was going to be a Women's Day Choir to celebrate Mother's Day and guess what? There were going to let anyone sing, which made me laugh. I joked about joining but I thought 'Nah, it'll never happen, you can't sing.' Duh, I must have forgot what we learned back on Day 6 about missing out on blessings and killing dreams. I even sent an email explaining that I was unable to attend the first practice, asking if I could still participate but I didn't receive a response. 'No big deal, it wasn't in your cards,' I told myself. Riiight! But my roomie (Day 23) forwarded me an email she had received and it said they were really going to let anybody sing in the choir, even me.

WHAT!! Let me tell you, after the first practice I was hooked. The choir director, Janel was astounding. It it exhilarating and inspiring when you see folks walking in their purpose. And I don't know this chick personally, but she was born to choir direct or is that direct choir? You get the gist. She had fabulous energy; explaining that we weren't just singing in the choir, we were using our voices to praise and possibly bless someone through music. Whew. After that one practice, I started calling myself, the Psalmist. LOL I know but the 3rd grader in me never stops.

Well, just last Sunday, I performed in the Metropolitan Baptist Church Women's Day Choir and it was phenomenal. I can't tell you - it was one of the most rewarding experiences ever and I gave it 110%. There was no way I wasn't going to get it in! I mean I was literally 'living my dream' performing. Me, singing, praising the Lord with my voice, rocking from side to side, clapping and I think I even threw up 'holy hands.' Could it be that I'm finally starting to shake that Episcopal 'quiet-in-church-upbringing?' Maybe.

So on this Day 47 of 40 Days of Gratefulness, I'm grateful for dreams that come true. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 46

Hmm, I set out with every intention of capturing yet another adventure as me and the roomie (Day 23) went hiking (Day 29). That post was hilarious and I'd love to do another one because it really made me laugh. We took some great pictures so I'd imagine that hiking Part III is coming soon. But despite my plans, when I sat down to capture my thoughts, there was another plan at work.

Anyway, fooling around with that roomie, I had got to church super early - yup, 6:30AM and needed coffee badly lest I'd end up fighting an usher in the aisles because I was super tired. So off I go to get coffee on Sunday morning. I was surprised at the number of general contractor-types that were out. First, when have you known any contractor to work on Sunday? And despite them getting coffee at 6:30 AM, I've never seen them anywhere near my house that time of the morning, I digress.

So, here I am waiting in line just behind a gentleman who still reeked of alcohol. Haha, I remember those days, trying to absorb the previous evenings' liquid escapades with sugar or grease. Lo' and behold, a lady whose seen better days, says good morning to no one in particular. But, she sidles up right next to me. LOL While we wait, she starts taking off her shoes, rubbing her feet, stretches and begins to tell me about her evening that was filed with misfortune. I nod politely and smile. She tells me she just got released from the hospital. The Olivia Benson in me wonders what might she have done with her name bracelet. LOL

She goes on to say that I smell really good and that a long time ago, she had perfume like that too. That make me sad, sucker! That 3rd grader (Day 9) in me, falls for it every time like I've been waiting my entire life for possible homeless people looking for free coffee and donuts at 6:30AM in the morning to compliment me on my perfume.

I bite and ask her if she would like a cup of coffee. 'Yes, ma'am and how about 2 donuts as well, I didn't get much to eat.' Well, I can accommodate that request. Good thing,  she didn't want a dozen. ;-) She actually has a sense of humor and I wonder how she may have been under different circumstances. She tells me I'm funny when I tell the server 'I'd like my coffee with 4 creams;  just about your complexion.'

Then, she asks which way am I heading. I invite her to church. [ASIDE: I have definitely turned into my mother when I'm actually considering picking up strangers off the street. But I'm certain nothing bad will ever happen if you pick up a stranger and bring them to church. I really believe this!] Nope, she's not headed that way - she needs to go to Southeast. Well, I'm not taking her there. But, I could put her in a cab and look there's one right there filling up his gas tank. The cabbie is giving me the 'You know, she's a racket, right?' I do know and I give him a $20 bill. I notice that he's attractive, he asked what school I went to and did I live nearby -- I laugh, sorry, babe it's too early for game ;-)

I bid her farewell and hope she enjoys her $20 worth of time in that cab. By the way, she's so busy talking, she drops her coffee on the ground. I crack up laughing that she would come over to me in that line. For as long as I can remember, strangers have always picked me out in a crowd. I don't care if it's 100 people and my hair ain't been combed and I'm wearing a dirty, torn t-shirt and I'm a little musty, they are going to head straight to me and ask for something.

Why do strangers always seem to come to me? I used to think it was because I was the smallest one in the bunch or it could have been my little glasses. My roomdog (Day 2) says I remind folks of Puss in Boots, a little character that makes people laugh. It could be that I inherited it. My mom has a true servant's heart and got approached all the time when we were kids. And, she was notorious for picking up strangers and giving them rides. Well, I'd like to think a little of that may have fell my way but what I do have is good energy, the ability to talk to anyone and enough 3rd grader in me to leave Dunkin' Donuts $30 light when all I wanted was a cup of coffee.

So on this Day 46 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for good energy. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Friday, May 3, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 45

Yesterday was quite the day. Sequestration had finally hit my team. My entire team was cut ... except for me. I'm feeling exceptionally blessed that I get to stay but I'm saddened by the fact that this team will never be the same. I've been here for 5 years and while I've seen a number of folks come and go -- this time it feels especially different, unfamiliar and fragile.

It could be a combination of things - perhaps it's that folks were given just a day's notice. It could be our SA team is moving to another building. It could be I've been 'feeling some kinda way' about life in general. Or it simply could be that we were here for a specific time for a specific purpose and that time has now come to an end.

Post from Our Last Team Outing
What have I learned you might ask? It's that at the end of the day, we're all just people. People with families, lives, hopes, dreams, regrets, shortcomings and flaws. And what I've learned from this team is that we did some good things together; both professionally and personally. We respected each other, egos were checked at the door and we really care about each other just a little more than co-workers do because we're friends. The kind of friends who encourage and pray for each other. The kind of friends who'll drop you off at the airport or the mechanic. The kind of friends who would use an entire day of leave to make the best pulled pork I've ever had. The kind of friends who would tour the Naval Academy one November afternoon and toast the night away responsibly ;-) at Ruth Chris. The kind of friends who would attend a co-worker's wake together. The kind of friends who would agree to pray corporately at the exact time, I was to speak on our team's behalf at our deceased co-worker's funeral. The kind of friends who never made it to the stadium but still had a fabulous time watching the Ravens Victory party on TV at a local dive. And the kind of team that would shed tears when they learned some would not return on Monday.

I'm not sure what Monday morning will look like. But whatever it will be,  I'll fill it with fond memories. Fond memories of us going to the gym, getting smoothies, laughing at how small the gym towels were, exchanging good recipes, talks of soccer matches, husbands that know just what to do, ailing parents, nuances of Peruvian chicken and just having a good time with each other at work.

I have no doubt that we will keep in touch but ... to my team, uh, my friends, we did some good things together! As they say, all good things must come to an end.

So on this Day 45 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for good things! #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 44

'Tremendous things are in store for you!' That was the slogan on the back of a box of candy a friend gave me. It made me laugh. Good, because I needed something tremendous. I'd been stressed the last few weeks and no, I wasn't hopeless but joy was just around the corner, right? Oh, I could almost see and taste it but I couldn't quite reach it or feel its embrace but it's right there ...  just beyond my finger tips, staring me in the face ... if only I could stretch just a little more.

Ooh, I had no idea that 'stretching out' would be a re-occurring theme in the story of my life these last few days. Since I began this blog, things have been changing and that includes me. Recently, I had a difficult conversation with a dear friend - our friendship is going some place new, different and better. Aah, but it still feels a little uncomfortable but growth is just that, uncomfortable until you get there. I pray that she's not worried because I'm not. See, I have a little more experience with being comfortable with the uncomfortable (Day 29) and going some place new (like this here, blog).  Be Still, baby girl, (Day 19) I'm just over your shoulder ;-)

And that's just how this week-end began, me being stretched out. On Saturday, me and my roomie (Day 23) rode our bikes for 22 miles. Did I think I could ever make it that far? Nope, but having her with me, caused me to stretch out. See what happens when I get out of the way, More. That's the longest I've ever been on B, my bike (Day 18) but it wasn't bad at all. The weather was perfect, the ride pleasant and strangely enough relaxing. See what happens when we leave fear (Day 36) behind and stretch out.

And just when I thought, ok, I'm starting to get this thing. Sunday rolls around. And church (Day 35) is indescribable! Guess what? The guest psalmist sang about 'Stretching out.' I can't make this stuff up. Next, I can't even tell you what happened in church. The Holy Spirit moved so fast, we were only a few minutes in to service and something happened. Pastor came out of the pulpit, walked down the stairs and held this gentleman who seems to be going through. He invited the entire church family to come down and pray. I can barely even describe it, folks were everywhere, crying, hugging, touching and agreeing, praising the Lord. We could hear Pastor pray but then I heard others praying and while there were several prayers going on at once, I felt like I could hear each one of them individually - dare I say it was miraculous! Prayer is the one gift that keeps on giving and even on Monday evening when I sat down to capture my thoughts, I'm still trying to wrap my head around what I experienced.

But, what I can tell you, is that I, along with a few others left a few things back there at that altar on Sunday and it feels tremendous ... just like that box of candy predicted. Coincidence? NOT! I rounded the corner, dropped off regret and hurt, picked up some forgiveness and there it was .... joy, mine for the taking.

So on this Day 44 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for stretching out. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Friday, April 19, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 43

I went to Serverworld yesterday! I know, it sounds like an amusement park. Serverworld is actually a big room with a gazillion servers, you get the picture. Despite the room being cool, noisy and drafty with terrible lighting, it was a new experience and I had a great time. It could have very well been the company, the SBSA team escorted me there and I love their repartee. They laugh, bicker and joke like teenagers. They even joined me in the 3rd grade (Day 9) and planked with me on the floor just for kicks. And when we had lunch we prayed -- it simply can't get any better than that. It felt like a field trip and like any 3rd grader, I dressed especially for the occasion ... that's me in bright colors because wearing bright colors puts me in a good mood. And this field trip, oh, I mean work ;-) was a much need reprieve for the last week has by far been one of the toughest weeks of my life.

My BFA (Day 7) buried her dad last Saturday and I wrestled with the fact that my mother had not been herself the last few weeks. Her dad, was a simple man. No late nights out w/the fellas, no secret family or illegitimate children - he believed in family first, period. I remember trying to surprise Deneen one year for her birthday and she was so worried about what would happen if she didn't go over to her parents' house on her actual birthday. I busted her chops good "Girl, you are 40 years old, get over it." Now, her family was in on the surprise but she worried like she was a teenager who had missed curfew. LOL. That still cracks me up. Needless to say, her Dad passing wasn't a surprise but can you ever really prepare? The first time I saw her after he passed, I cried wondering how in the world was she managing, when I felt like I was 'gently unraveling' -- barely holding on worrying about her, my mom and the cursed d-word, dementia the doctor so casually threw out.

It's interesting that for as expressive as I am - my mother is not. It could be why she thought it important to nurture that in her children. I'd like to think as the first born, she had more time to nurture that in me - I can always tell you how I'm feeling ...  just ask any of my friends.

But whatever is going on I'm ready or should be, right? Being grateful should have helped me face my fears easier and address those concerns I thought best left buried. But, I struggled, it's not easy but it's important to do the work - gratefulness is a choice. It's not dependent on a good day - it is a place where we must choose to stand and hopefully we're walking down emotionally-spiritually-healthly boulevard together. And if not, we should at least be ready to round the corner. One of my sisters-in-love (Day 3), always says 'lean into it.' That basically means that which we're afraid of, we must ease into it. 

Well, this is me trying to ease into it. But, there are moments usually in the early AM (when I'm accustomed to being grateful) that I slip into a fog of worry, regret, concern and fear but then I remember that I've been practicing this gratefulness thing - so I'm seemingly able to hold on. It's in these moments of 'gently unraveling' that I'm am resigned to remember (Day 14) to be relaxed with what I have. You see, all the time I busy myself with spinning my wheels, playing the negative sound track and making moves, I could be practicing relaxing with what I have. If I could only wrap my head around 'relaxing with what I have,' there would be more time for me to touch, taste, see, feel and absorb more ... more joy, more happiness, more peace.

What's that scripture, Philippians 4:7 'And the peace of God, which passes all understanding ...' I gotta tell you I thought Fred Hammond was a genius a few years back when he sang that. I didn't know that it was straight from the bible. LOL. That makes me laugh. This peace is what I pray for my BFA and her family, this peace is what I pray for my mom, this peace that will soothe my broken heart, this peace that give me hope, this peace that keeps me from plummeting into despair, this peace that helps me remember I am never alone and this peace that is available to me if I could learn to 'relax with what I have' more.

So on this Day 43 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for peace. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 42

It's been a few days since I posted. I've decided that I'll try to post at least once a week or maybe until we have 50, 100 or 1000 days of gratefulness. Guess what, I'm not going to institutionalize it - I'll drop in from time to time.

It was a strange week. I sort, of feel like I was home from college for the first time. Does anyone remember that? When everything seemed the same but somehow it felt different. Your crazy drunk uncle was no longer funny, he was now embarrassing. And when did you little church-going neighbor grow up over night and start running the streets? Yup, that's something my grandmother used to say. While you hate to admit it, home hadn't changed, you had. Your friends that stayed home reminded you that you were different and you couldn't remember why they seemed strange.

... between here and there ...
For some, the idea was that once you were away from home, from the notion of who you were, you were finally free to be exactly that - who you were meant to be. Some may say you reinvented yourself or 'got all brand new.' But, you were finally starting to discover that it was ok to be exactly who you wanted to be. No longer were you limited to the roles and sometime rules associated with home. And that's exactly where I find myself these days. I'm intentionally practicing gratefulness and joy. No longer must I conform and color inside the lines. I like me. I like my life and I still believe in true love! And that Mr. Right is probaly 5'3" and bald. A girl can dream can't she ;-)

Needless to say with my feeling all different, the week felt familiar, right? But I struggled some. Yes, I was concerned about sequestration, the price of gas and the weather. Yes, I was concerned that a few relationships were changing - some are going some place new and wonderful. While others, I'll regrettably have to lay to rest very soon. But everything was as it should, my grateful meter was going good - joy was mine for the taking. But something was amiss. And then Friday, happened.

My mother no longer seemed herself. I chatted with a good friend (Day 7) on the ride home about my fears. She too, shared her fears about her ailing father. I felt better, this was one of those friendships that was going some place new and wonderful. But later that evening, at 10:28PM, her father passed. He had been ill for over a year and his health had declined rapidly over the last few months. And while we had just talked about our fears, I sat here stunned. Stunned in that for as many years as I've known her, I didn't have any words to say. Where was my gratefulness? I simply told her I loved her and that I would see her soon.

And by Sunday morning, I was ready to eat chips and ice cream at such varying intervals that church was out of the question. And just like that, out of the blue, my roomie (Day 23) sent me a text asking if I was attending breakfast at church. That simple text helped me to remember that I needed to practice gratefulness. So off to church, I went where my Pastor challenged me again. The sermon, it seemed, was tailor made for me and pretty much hinged on one word, surely. Surely, I know who I can count on.

... going through ...
Well, no more avoidance for me. B, my bike (Day 18),  and I were going to ride it away. I rode some place new. I rode until my legs burned and my hands trembled. I rode until I cried. I rode until my cell phone died. I rode past fields and power lines. I rode until I remembered that I choose gratefulness - that I practice joy - that when I'm between here and there - that when I'm going through, Surely, I know who I can count on. I rode until I got good and lost. And that's exactly the point. That when I'm lost, when I'm out of moves, when I've played my last card, Surely ... I know who I can count on.

So on this Day 42 of 40 Days of Gratefulness, I'm grateful for ... surely knowing who I can count on.

Monday, April 1, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 41

Well, it's Day 1 after 40 Days of Gratefulness and while it's definitely a victory. I'm torn, what will I do after this thing is over? What's going to happen in the next chapter of new me? It's funny, I missed having a little something to share yesterday and thought I would go to my new found friend, my confidante, my safe space, my blog. I'll try to keep it brief. Who knew that this thing would change me so profoundly? I feel different. It has to be good but I'm nervous. Nervous that perhaps some other things have changed in the meantime. Some things I hadn't expected.

Some things I've been running from, I simply cannot anymore. Which means the next few weeks, I can feel it, will be resigned to doing more hard work. It'll be well-worth it but I'm nervous about it, not fearful  - I left that fear somewhere last week (Day 36). But there is something different, folks I'm close to - I want to hold on a little tighter. I haven't decided what that looks like. Should I send folks cards? Write them funny stories? Or make them tasty treats? I haven't decided yet but I'll keep you posted.

As for Easter, it was indescribable. Church was fantastic and a straight Holy Ghost set-up. As usual, Pastor took us all some place new. Some place wither 3 scriptures and 3 trees. It was great. Some place where the Holy Spirit showed up and showed out. Some place where the choir fell out. Some place where folks fell out. Some place where children gave their lives to Christ. And some place where no one can quite remember what happened after the offering. It was a fabulous celebration. Dare I say, it was the Best Easter ever. 

I did get to sit with my roomdog (Day 2) which was great. I wanted to hug her neck the entire time because I hadn't seen her for 2 weeks. But it was great worshiping together and I got to hear her sing which touches me each and every time. Now, she's no Whitney Houston but there is something about her voice that's textured and colorful. Aah, I do love my roomdog.

Anyway, I savored my notoriety ;-) ...  it seems Pastor saw fit to send my blog (Day 35) out to the entire church. Let me tell you - it feels good - like I won the lottery. Folks reading it and taking the time out to respond affirms me like you wouldn't believe. After church, I was off to brunch with my church family and it felt good. The meal was delicious and the company was delightful.

... the choir fell out ...
So on Day 41 of 40 Days of Gratefulness, I'm grateful for Easter Sunday. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Saturday, March 30, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 40

GOOD MORNING!!! Let me talk to you for a minute. Yesterday was incredible, I spent the entire day attending 2, did you hear me 2 ... 7 last words by 7 women services and it was PHENOMENAL. In fact, it was the best Good Friday ever! Just yesterday morning, my Day 35 post made my church online bulletin with Extra! Extra! Read All About It! as the headline. LOL ... I'm published ;-) I digress, my roomie (Day 23) spent the entire day with w/me and I appreciated each and every second. Let me tell you, this gratefulness thing will blow your mind, change your heart, stop you in your tracks and help you recognize. Hello, somebody! I'm moved that I would even make it - that for 40 days He would see fit to let me share with you. Next, I'd like to extend an apology to my 'peeps' because pretty much I've been out of the loop - well, I'm back with a grateful heart. Brunch next week? And for the record, there is no way I could stop this thing -- stay tuned ;-) Now, that I've got that out of my system ... Let me begin ...

On the 3rd day, yes the 3rd day of documenting this 40 days of gratefulness aka journey to joy, it came to me clear as day what this gratefulness, joy journey was all about. Ready? It blew my mind and keeping it a secret was killing me. I didn't even tell my roomdog (Day 2) and I'm not very stealth as my LG (Day 23) says. What I've learned is that we are not to travel this road alone, meaning if we have joy it's to be shared each and every chance we get. I'm no bible scholar but as Christians we are called to be a witness for Christ. And It's no accident that this would come to me on the 3rd day -- we all know the significance of 3 in the bible, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit, He rose on the 3rd day. WHAT!! If I ever shake this Episcopal church upbringing I'm going to shout all over the place.This intentional awareness of recognizing grace or choosing to be more focused on all that God has blessed me with ...  has helped me to know him better and trust Him more  ... what's that scripture, Proverbs 3:5-6 ... just a sec ..
Trust in the Lord with all your heart And lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 
 Wait, it gets better, here's the Message translation ...
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.
It's a simple premise, Trust him more -- meaning I need to get out of the way. Where is my roomdog (Day 2) and LG (Day 23) those chicks are good for a shout and a praise dance.

Now, I'm still a work in progress as they say and will continue reading the bible in one year -- God bless the Israelites, who knew Genesis and Exodus was so long. Needless to say, is that so many folks have encouraged me and ministered to me on this journey that I thought on Day 40, what I'm most grateful for is people whom He has placed around me. Angels by Richard Smallwood, with Maurette Brown-Clark singing comes to mind ...

Unseen hands, guiding me,
through my storm and through my rain.
Healing hands, holding me,
through the darkness of my pain.
Wings of love encamped around me,
so I will not fear, for I can feel their presence hovering near.

For I can feel their presence .... whew ... I'm talking about folks who blow my mind with their generosity, kindness and sincerity. People who are intentional about this faith walk and their calling. People with vision. People who are younger than me who inspire me everyday. Eunique Jones, EU. Yes, Baby Girl, I tell you all the time I can't wait to see what He has in store for you. And to my LG, my unstoppable unicorn, I see you! I see everyone who has crossed my path for a specific purpose - there are no coincidences. That is so clear to me. People who I meet once or twice whose energy or what I like to call, SOF (that's spirit of favor) leave me smiling.

Oooh, and these two folks who I'm about to call out. Have you ever met someone with real joy. Remember joy isn't a feeling - I think folks believe it's a feeling .. nope, it's a state of mind, it's a place where you choose to stand in firmly so that even when you're having a bad day, when 'all hell is breaking lose', when you're between 'here and there,' you still have it.

I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting, befriending and falling madly, sisterly-in-love with two ladies who are really my heroes - I just never tell them - til now. Wendi Nowell and Rev. Adriane Wise. LOL. They are both going to pass out because they're just that humble.

Wendi aka wendog because she's an honorary roomdog (Day 2). Wendi is calm, easy and one of those folks you instantly like but can't explain why. The type of chick who loves an adventure, has great energy and is comfortable in her own skin ... taking the 33 street bus or riding in a money green Phantom (that's an obscure, Jill Scott reference but she'll get it). She plays a mean game of spades, can cook like somebody's Big Momma and is all love down to her bones. She initially seems quiet but she's not - I've never once heard her complain, she is slow to anger and stays angry for about as long as it took you read this paragraph.

Rev. Wise
Rev Wise aka 'Adriane' when we're alone is my friend. Yes, we met at a random church class (Day 27) she taught and she couldn't shake me off with a stick. She is an old soul, prayer warrior, who is probably walking around with some holy oil in her purse, right now. Her personality is larger than life, she's not loud but she's definitely in the mix. She talks to everyone, believes in the Lord for real and I know that her secret prayer is that everyone is saved.

What's interesting about these 2 ladies is that they are similar in their countenance, their cooking abilities, their ample bosoms ;-) but their approach is different. Wendi aka Nana eases in while Adriane comes in loving you to life, as she says. Now, neither of these ladies have biological children but I would be remiss if I didn't' mention that they have Momma written all over them. The way they care for, minister to, teach, befriend and love on folks, is nothing short of a miracle. Pull-ease. It's in their ample Momma bosoms to the way they cook a good meal and pray over it. It's in their countenance, it's in their demeanor and it's simply just who they are.

To me, they are shining examples of what the Lord wants for each and every one of us, pure, unadulterated joy. To me, they embody joy each and every day in how they live, love and serve.

Ladies, I love you both to the moon and back. I appreciate each and every time we get a chance to share because there's a lesson in nearly every conversation we have - whether it's letting go to letting God or how to cook a mean stew. I thank God for both of you and am looking forward to continuing this journey to joy with you along the way.

So on this 40 Day of 40 Days of Gratefulness, I am grateful for Joy. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Friday, March 29, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 39

When I tell you, I've never been so pumped for Good Friday. In fact, I just started my day with 6 AM prayer, I'm going to lay down for second sleep and it's going to be fabulous. I mean today, I have planned, not 1 but 2 church services. Both services are 7 last words by 7 women and I'm taking my roomie (Day 23) who is a 7 words by 7 women virgin ;-) I typically go every year, I love it and I know she's going to love it too. I try to eat a good breakfast, for having noon day service w/7 preachers could take a minute although it's time well spent. I usually try to fit in another activity, like I actually have time. Last year, it was off to get a pedicure, I drove with the heat blasting trying to dry my toes before service. The year before that I stopped by the hospital, a friend's fiance was there. He didn't make it but he was saved and changed her life so profoundly, and she is still grateful for their time together.

This year as usual, I will have a good breakfast and I will take snacks ;-) And while every year, I love Good Friday, I am particularly excited that for 39 days the Lord would bless me with 39 specific reasons to be grateful for and give license to share my story as honestly as I could. Was it hard someone asked? If you had asked me that at Day 3, I would have said yes but that was only because I was attempting to institutionalize it. LOL That simply means I was trying to color inside the lines. But once I let go, about Day 4 or Day 5, it was all good. There were days when I didn't have any idea what I would share just one minute before I sat at this keyboard. I've even had a few bad days although my good days outweigh my bad and I have even have proof (Day 32). I've been grateful for a gazillion random events (Day 27), surprises (Day 21),  my bike (Day 18), my church (Day 35), home (Day 17), and for being comfortable with the uncomfortable (Day 29), which is hilarious.

And while it feels good to know that I'm actually going to bring this thing home, it's bittersweet because I'm going to miss this here blog because for a while it's been my friend and confidant. It's been my safe place to share. REALLY, who puts all their business on the Internet and it feels safe. LOL Deneen's (Day 7) mom would have a fit. ;-) I'm feeling safe because I've trying to live fearlessly (Day 36). It's been liberating, I feel so alive, I could pounce, where are my favorite Nike boots? I'll save my biggest lesson I've learned for tomorrow but there's so much I've learned about myself. I've discovered that I like writing, who knew? I just started journaling right before Christmas, here's an excerpt from my first journal entry on 12/21/12.
This has been an incredible year and I've so many things to be thankful for - primarily my deliverance (I'm healed) while things seem the same on the surface - I feel so different. More in tune with me and recognizing that I'm good at loving folks!
Not bad for a first entry. It seems like back in December I knew something was different. But I could have never predicted where I'd end up. The idea that I changed someone's life besides my own simply by sharing my story - blows my mind. If I blessed just one person besides myself then it's all been worth it. You see,  I only started this gratefulness thing because I wanted to make me better, make me more joyful, make me more appreciative, make me more loving, make me more fearless and make me more me. And what I've learned is that it has helped some of you feel the same - ooh, it fills my heart like you wouldn't understand.

Just yesterday, several folks emailed me saying they had no idea it was so good, that it moved them, that it encouraged them, that it even blessed them. That made me smile because I prayed that it would be. I prayed that it would be edifying, uplifting and inspirational. I prayed that at the end of this journey, I would discover what joy was all about and that I would get to eat from it's cupboard. I prayed that I would be different in my countenance and my demeanor. I prayed that I would learn to ease into things and not go in with guns blazing. I prayed for faith, for being still and for getting out of my own way. I even prayed for you.

I learned that I have time to serve. I learned that I have something to offer. I learned that I like me. I learned that He can use even me. I learned that I have something to say and a new medium in which to say it. I learned that he has put people along my path for a specific purpose and I've learned to trust Him more. 

So on this Day 39 of 40 days of gratefulness, I am grateful for learning more ... about me. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Thursday, March 28, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 38

'I don't know what I'm going to do.' 'My mom was just rushed to the emergency room.' 'My last day is Friday.' Just words on paper, right?  Well, 3 people called me yesterday to share some news. None of it was good news. Rats! Just 2 days ago, I was pumped about having a good day (Day 37) but as they say 'all good things must come to an end.' What!! Strong-Side-Eye. Have I learned nothing these 38 days, woman up, chick!

C'mon now. If there is only one thing I must capture, remember, chant or say under my breath, 'it's that I choose gratefulness.' No bad day, no crazy news story or no shenanigans can deter me because I choose it. I choose it just like I choose what I eat for breakfast. I choose it like it's on the top shelf of the cabinet where I pick it up and put it in my lunch bag. I stick some in my shoes and I put it in the glove box for a raining day. But just yesterday, 3 people, no not people, 3 friends called to share some bad news.

At first I was floored, what is it that old people say 'You know, they come in 3s.' LOL I think that's reserved for bad news and pregnancies ;-) You know what I did? I looked in my lunch bag and pulled out a grateful snack - why did they choose to call me? Did they think I would have an answer? Nope. They called me because we're friends. Yup, let the Jedi-mind-meld begin. They, too have fallen into this here gratefulness thing. They could have had a pity party, simply cried their little eyes out but in the midst of their concern, worry and fear they picked up the phone or dropped by my desk ... looking for a different perspective, some insight or just someone to listen. They could have called their 'messy sista girl' or a 'drama filled family member,' but nada, they called yours truly and hopefully I rose to the occasion.  I didn't solve anyone's problem, I didn't dispense any secret life-changing information, I simply listened just like friends do.

For the record, I have a gift. I know, its sounds crazy and I'm not tooting my own horn. In fact, I have even joked in women's bible study that my ministry is 'befriending, unfriendly chicks.' LOL A good friend of mine jokes me all the time, calling me a 'friend to the friendless.' HAHA That cracks me up. See I understand that the unhappiest people are those that don't have friends. No, for real.

What it amounts to, if you're ready -- come with me now, is that without a doubt, I have no shame, embarrassment, or fear about telling folks how I feel about them, how I have their back and how I try to have good intentions, period. I'm not encumbered by conventional practices. I will buy you a gift for no reason. I have no shame ending a call with 'Love ya' or just dropping by to you house to 'hug ya neck.' I have no shame in making up stuff like 'Roomdog Day' where I reserve one-on-one time with my roomdog (Day 2) or hold family meetings with my roomie (Day 23) exactly one month after she had moved in. Ok, I did suspend those family meetings but that's another post. LOL That's just how I am. See, I know that what under girds all great relationships is real friendship, plain and simple. The kind that runs deep and wide. Ladies, you don't just want any good, Christian man, you want a good, Christian man, who's your friend. I digress.  So, when troubles hit my door, I have to get ready. Ephesians 6:11 says 'Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.' Whew. If I ever shake this Episcopal up-bringing, I'm going to shout all over this place. The devils schemes, didn't I just talk about shenanigans? Uh, oh, I hear a organ banging out a chord just for me, is the choir singing 'Yeah. Yeah' Where's that roomie of mine, I could have a little church up in here, right now.

So once I was sufficiently prepared for the devil's shenanigans armed with gratefulness, I could help my friends. I could encourage them, I could pray with them ... I could even plank for them right there at my desk. I could simply talk with them for while. While I didn't magically solve any problems or make their day incredible, I made them feel a little better and that's what friends do.
Best Friends: Karamel and Butterscotch
Now, the first rule of having a good friend is that you have to be one. And let me tell you, I must be the hottest chick on the planet because I have the best friends, ever. I'm not kidding! I have friends who have scheduled their honeymoon around my surgery date, who have stayed with me the entire time I was in the hospital. Friends who let me borrow their car for an interview while they took the bus. Friends who pray with me, pray for me and write custom prayers with me in mind. Hello, somebody! I have friends who signed me up for a 'random church class' (Day 27) which would change my life. I have friends who would leave their jobs and go into business with me, when my company was one person deep. I have friends who don't judge me when I fall out after 6 AM prayer, they just play music on their iPad. I have friends who would call me up just yesterday to pray for me as I was headed out to accompany my mom to a doctor's visit. So if these friends, are any indicator of the type of friend, I am, then that means I got it going on. Whew.

You see each person called me because we are friends.  They knew that no matter what they were going through, I was going to go through it with them. And I know the same. They knew I would listen and try to make them laugh. They knew I would be willing to cry with them, ride with them if needed, make strong phone calls on thier behalf, write letters, plank on demand and when all else fails, make them tasty drinks.

See in this era of reality TV, real housewives of anywhere -- women are portrayed as frenemies, cutting each other down with their words and actions. Wearing meanness, hatefulness and spitefulness like it's a Gucci clutch to be cherished and proud of ... For the record, I don't know a 'dayum' thing about that for I don't have friends like that  and I'm not that kind of friend.

So on this day 38 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for real friends. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 37

The Seder Table
Hmm, today was a good day. Plain and simple. I started the day off participating in a Seder with my church family (Day 35). If you didn't know, a Seder is a Jewish feast that kicks off Passover. I know, we're not Jewish but it was fun. It's always neat learning about other customs and traditions. We read scripture, drank wine, had traditional Jewish foods and did I say drink wine. There were several courses, each food item symbolically representing some aspect of their Exodus out of Egypt. Afterwards, we chatted casually about the rest of our day, Good Friday service and laughed wondering how folks were going to make it through the entire day after having several cups of wine. It was already clear some folks were going to have a good day already and it was only 9:00 AM. Here's a picture of my roomie (Day 23) enjoying a lamb bone at the Seder. She's so classy, look at that pinky finger extended. LOL

It was already clear ... folks were
going to have a good day.
Next, off to work. Nothing spectacular except that traffic was light. The sun was up and I opened the sunroof, turned on the heat and enjoyed the ride. A good friend called just as I was parking, she had shared a previous day's post on her face book wall and was excited at all the comments she had received. She even told me that she was going to email the post to pastor. LOL She also mentioned that she had used this here blog as a devotional for a day or two.  I beamed.

Yup, up the stairs and into a meeting. I must have been in a good mood because folks asked me where I had been. I mentioned the Seder and the meeting was magically derailed while folks shared their experiences with participating in a Seder. Who knew? There wasn't one Jewish person in the room. That made me laugh.

The day was pretty busy. I spent the day catching up on emails, trying to meet deadlines as I'm out of the office on Good Friday. A co-worker and I shared stories about our ailing parents, making hard decisions and recognizing that the only thing to do about it, is pray. Even though our conversation was heavy, we weren't left hopeless and defeated. It didn't 'bring us down,' it was just nice sharing this experience with another person who knew where we were.

After work on the ride home, I had a chance to connect with my Roomdog (Day 2). Now, we talk everyday all day but I had a chance to share with her somethings I was experiencing. She didn't offer any extraordinary advice or solutions, she just listened. And to me, it felt like she had just entered my space and held my hand. Whew, this day was turning out to be pretty good.

Once I got in from work, I hit the door and there's my roomie telling me funny stories about her day. We only chatted for 10 minutes or so but that joker is crazy so we had a good laugh. Next, off to boot camp (Day 5). As usual, boot camp was hard but phenomenal. Boot camp is a stress reliever, an ego boost and a sleeping pill all rolled into one. The energy was great, our instructor, Tiffany of BNFIT showed off her new signs that me and my roomie made. It was great and we toasted afterwards with smoothies.

Now, you'll notice that nothing magical and incredible happened throughout my entire day, right? Yeah? Well, why did it feel like the entire day was magical. The clouds looked different, it felt as if spring was in the air despite it being cold out. Work was busy, I didn't have much time to sit still or lay on that sectional. I didn't even eat any dinner. I came in, straightened up my room and cleaned the bathroom.

I found myself humming some Kirk Franklin song, Chains in my head. My roomie laughed that I had the energy to clean. And after I showered and sat down to share with you, I received this message on face book, from one of my church family members.

What was this gratefulness AKA 'journey to joy' about? Just changing my perspective, fine-tuning my grateful barometer, being still ... that an ordinary, mundane day when I absolutely had no time would turn into something magical, incredible and fun. By simply 're-directing' my focus, I could choose gratefulness, I could choose joy, I could decide that my day was a winner. That this 'sharpening my view' could touch others, inspire them, bless them and lead them to see things more gratefully as well. Whew. In the infamous words of Ice Cube, Today, was a good day!

So on this Day 37 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for good days. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness