Thursday, February 28, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 14

Sequestration. Does anyone know what that means? I actually had to do some research as I wasn't familiar with the term. It sort of sounded like sequester, you know as in 'the jury was sequestered' but let me tell you what I've discovered. According to Wikipedia, sequester or sequestration has several 'legal' definitions. Some of them are as follows:

1. the seizure of property for creditors or the state
2. the isolation of a jury
3. the U.S. legal procedure in which automatic spending cuts are triggered.

According to CMM, the sequestration is pretty much a gigantic  across-the-board spending cut for the government, with the cuts split 50-50 between both domestic and defense spending. It was initially to be addressed in late 2011 but that didn't occur, so naturally it was tabled until now. Which means the federal government could very well be smacked with a massive spending cut which we could feel the effects of in the next few weeks. It's not clear to me who the culprit is but things could change drastically overnight. I'm in the Baltimore/DC Corridor and folks are going crazy. The news is reporting around the clock what could happen, I'm receiving ALERT text messages on my cell. I mean, the parks could close, there could be no afternoon school programs, homeless shelters could close, there could be more pay cuts and layoffs (these have started as folks prepare), furloughs are possible, I mean it sounds like all hell is breaking loose. I mean, I'm not expecting folks to be looting in the streets but on the other hand, I never dreamed of 'tent city ' or the 'occupy movement' either.  

Both my roomie (Day 23) and I receive our income from the government, so while we are not around here pulling out our hair, we did prepare. We turned off the premium cable channels - hey, every little bit helps ;-) And by the way, we got 2 apple TVs. Hey, we each needed one for our own room. What if she wants to look at a movie and I want to listen to music. By the way, I hope Steve Jobs forgives me for not adding that to the best money I ever spent (Day 12) list because it's the best! Sorry, oh yeah, back to sequestration.

I hope and pray Congress remembers they are sworn in and at the end of their pen strokes are people lives. So, now that the Sequestration is coming, what's a Sista supposed to do. You know, where I'm going with this right. Don't know what to do - Get Grateful. That sounds like a lovely idea for t-shirts ;-) 

Worry? I will not! Have a pity party? Nope, I'll turn on that apple TV. Slash my wrists? Pull-lease, I 'choose gratefuleness.' Remember, as Christians, we are never hopeless even in the face of disaster, disease and yes, even sequestration. We were never promised that things would be easy but we rest assured in knowing He, who has our back. So, I will not bemoan this stupid sequestration. I will steal back it's sting. When someone ask me years later, 'Girl, what were you doing when the sequestration hit?'

'Me, I was toasting with 'sequestration strawberries' and champagne.' 

Ok, so no, champagne, I do have to go to work this morning but sparkling cider will do. And 'sequestration strawberries' are really chocolate covered strawberries. I will make today incredible by taking both 'sequestration strawberries' and sparkling cider to work and I will raise my glass:
'Screw you, Sequestration. I choose gratefulness.'
Yup, you heard me, I'm going to take this thing in stride - like any good 3rd grader (Day 9) would do. Just last week a friend sent me a verse, Hebrews 13:6 to keep me encouraged. The message translation says "Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have."

So on Day 14 of 40 days of gratefulness, I am grateful for being relaxed with what I have.  #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 13

I was actually trying to hold off on this one to later but I can not. Can I tell you I've been consumed with this blog? It's interesting (no, coincidences, right - you see the recurring theme) that my roomie (Day 23), LG would comment just yesterday on how I've magically found time to blog. By the way, LG, I love you for that post. She would not be exaggerating. I'm nervous about using 'it came to me' but there is something new, exciting, strangely unfamiliar and familiar at work here. Now, let's not get ahead of ourselves, I don't know what's in store after these 40 days but these last two weeks have been incredible.

You see, with this blog, everyday is a new opportunity to look for something to be grateful for - my 3rd grade mind (Day 9) is busy all the time. I dreamt several times this week that I was running uphill fast - it wasn't like I was afraid or running away from something. I simply was running full steam ahead, my breathing was tight, it was easy, the weather was gorgeous, I had a good rhythm and I was relaxed. I couldn't see what was up the hill - I was simply just running. I don't know what that was about (cause I'm no runner) but I am open to the possibility - I'll keep you posted when 'it comes to me.'

With my mind a constant swirl of ideas -- trying to think of some way to capture what I'm thinking and feeling, putting it to paper and documenting it with pictures -- you would think I'm overwhelmed. Doing anything for 40 days is a reach but my mind and heart are clear.  Could it be that I have less things I'm worrying about? Don't let me find out being grateful will reduce my blood pressure. Headaches bothering you? Be grateful. Arm in a sling? Be grateful. Got Diabetes? Get Grateful. You can see where this thing could go. Now, I don't know what day 20 or day 30 will look like. Will I be grateful for Costco or hand sanitizer? But in the meantime - I'll continue to be open to the possibility - dare I say it aloud - His will. There's no way I'm just coming up with this stuff. If I can be still and learn to listen more? Whew, I'm growing nervous discussing such things casually on a blog but it's simply where my mind is. Let me change the subject less I'll be in here all day - calling up my praying Sistas-in-Love (Day 3) trying to figure this thing out.

Yesterday was crazy busy. Afterwards, I was looking forward to some bootcamp - planks, baby! But, a friend called me, she was in a jam - it just so happens that she came across the blog yesterday and that she would need me for a ride. Riiight? There are no coincidences. We had good conversation about introspection and change. So there I was derailed from bootcamp and off to the emergency room. Another friend joined us and I hate to say it but we had a good time connecting. Funny how a spill down the stairs and trip to emergency room would clear our schedules. You see even when life gets in the way, when I'm busy making plans and trying to adhere to schedules, when I'm focused on doing other things ... somewhere unconsciously I'm still looking for something to be grateful for. We actually had fun connecting in the Urgent Care Center. REALLY? Yup, Really. There's a hand clap somewhere in there -- wish I could shake my 'quiet in church' Episcopal upbringing ;-)

I can't tell you how much fun I've had blogging. I've laughed and shed a few tears while writing. Some mornings, I say a little prayer, asking to be more grateful and other days, things simply fall into my heart and make their way onto these pages. I particularly had a fabulous session photographing, Karamel. Here she is again in her street clothes. Nice watch, Karamel! It was funny b/c my roomie (Day 23) came upstairs and said 'Was that bear wearing different clothes?' She just shook her head and kept it moving. So far, Day 1 and Day 10 are my favorites - it brought up a lot of fond memories. As for my time, I must admit, my journaling has pretty much come to a crawl - I am behind on my Daily Devotional (I'll catch up this week-end) and the dirty clothes pile is taller than I am. But it's all good cause I'm more grateful.

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 1
Could it be that something that started on a whim, just a few hours after the Ash Wednesday service  - would leave me with such clarity about things that I'm grateful for - or even highlight things I'm ashamed of - they too may make their way on these pages soon - so that I can chose to be different. One thing I've learned in these last few days is that gratefulness is a bonafied, choice. While I wasn't certain what 'choosing gratefulness' was going to look like, I thought perhaps, it looks like me journaling but I didn't journal everyday. Someone bought me that journal for Christmas - there are no coincidences. Then the idea was for me to post to facebook, ensuring I was accountable, that I could post quickly and that I would actually finish. I sometimes -- not often do I set out to do things and fall short but once I'm in ... I'm in. This is why Day 1 doesn't appear on the blog.  Here is that first post.

Now, my obsession isn't simply with the writing and taking pictures. It's with the idea that this blog could be relevant to more than little old me. It's with the folks who are reading this somewhere in Germany and the UK. Hey, if you read this today, shoot me an email ( or leave a comment, I'd love to hear how it came across your path. It's in the comments, emails, text, facebook posts and likes. It's how folks are so encouraging, supportive and affirming. It's in the faces of those folks who I've shared the URL with. Their gaze is just a little different - like they see me differently. Could it be that I've changed already and we're only a third of the way in? Someone called just yesterday -- she wants to discuss the blog more at our leisure. I could tell she was moved ... moved not by me .... but by whose words are pouring into me. Whew - this thing is making me nervous. [ASIDE: I just told my roomie, this blog was making me nervous. She yelled at me 'Stop institutionalizing it.' LOL - What even does that mean?]

So on Day 13 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for this blog, for 'choosing gratefulness' and for more grateful eyes. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 12

So what's the best gift you've ever given? Ok, so let's set some ground rules here ... It can not be an iPad. Do you hear me, it cannot be an iPad. I don't know why but it's something about and iPad that makes folks go crazy. You could give them a laptop or something that costs even more money -- it doesn't matter, because when folks get an iPad they go straight nuts.

I'm the culprit behind several schemes to buy folks iPads. You know, I'm the one sending out secret emails to family and friends - the more the merrier - folks want in - even cheap folks. I've seen folks straight break down like they've lost a loved one, heading right for 'the ugly cry.' Some don't know what to say. They just stare into space and look like they've won the lottery. It's only a couple hundred dollars and I've had about 10 of your closet relatives, coworkers, friends, neighbors and your church family go in. The folks who cry are the best 'I can't take it. uh, uh (sniffling) it's too much.' Riight? They're going to give it back. REALLY.

The best I've even seen is when folks straight scream. Not the 'Oh, no you didn't!' scream ... uh, uh, the bloodcurdling-Texas-Chainsaw-Massacre- Freddie-Kruger-Saw-in-3D someone is stabbing me dead. The scream that's so scary it leaves everyone within ear shot uncomfortable and nervous. Now, I must admit, I too have drank the kool-aid.

'Hmm, maybe it is too much?' I say.

So what do I do? What any self-respecting, uncomfortable person does, I back-paddle.

'Pullease, Oh, no, we got it on sale.'
'They had a coupon.'
'I bought it hot (I know it's Lent, but let's keep it real)'

Why do I do this? I don't know perhaps I'm crazy, too. I'm pretty generous - I'm not flossing that's just how I am. Gift giving is yet another opportunity for me to make it incredible. But if you think I'm exaggerating, Buy someone an iPad. It's the best gift money can buy! Now, back to the question at hand - the best gift I've ever given - well, that now sounds suspect and could get me in a world of trouble. 'How in the world is she going to be handling out iPads when all I got was a Carrabas gift card.' Yeah!

Let's modify this question a little, what's the best money ya ever spent? Now, I stimulate the economy as much as any 'good American Citizen' but here's a list of the best money I even spent:
    • If ya ever in San Diego ... Check out Extraordinary Desserts. Lemon meringue bread pudding made with croissants was FA-NOM-MA-NUL. That's phenomenal if you're into phonetics. I've been there about 6 times and I've spent a mint every time I go there. It is worth it. That's the apple bread pudding picture there - my roomie, LG (Day 23) went there this summer. This place is the best!
    • Bootcamp (Day 5) enough said.
    • Nike Boots - Not only are they comfortable, the make me feel strong and want to pounce. With them on, I really believe I can do anything. No, no for real. They're great in the snow, they are warm and they are oh so comfortable. It helps that they add a few inches or two as well. Look how cute they are and no one has these with the red bottoms. Still a city girl at heart - I still must have fresh sneaks.

        • I helped plan an awesome wedding for one of my friends. I can't even remember what I gave her - maybe I did the invitations or something. But when I sent a car service to take her and the hubby to the airport for her honeymoon. That took her over the top. $120 roundtrip for the ride. How excited and thankful she was - priceless. 
        • I was heading out on a girlz trip and bumped 2 chicks up to first class. They were so nervous when the flight attendant called their names and told them to gather their things - like they were terrorists. She then bought them up front - It was great.
        • Barbara Streisand. I bought me and my Mom tickets a few years back. It was a gazillion dollars and one of the most stressful nights of my life (I lost my Mom in the parking garage and she's in a wheelchair) but she had a wonderful time.
        • My kitchen. You have no idea how many times I've planned to remodel the kitchen. I mean I would spend hours in the store, picking out cabinets, looking at magazines and then  I would  'go bananas' when they gave me the price. Well, last year, after Whitney passed (I still can't believe she's not here), I finally decided to actually 'remodel' the kitchen. It came out wonderfully. I've had friends over to fellowship and share a good meal. I find myself cooking more, having coffee in the morning and I'm really enjoying the space. Here's a before and after pic.


          So on Day 12 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for an abundance which I can use to bless others ... and myself ;-). #beblessed #40daysofgratfulness

          Monday, February 25, 2013

          40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 11

          Now, I've been supporting the same customer for about 6 years which is a lifetime for contractors. The team started out with some 30 folks and we're down to a skeleton crew and even though we work for different companies, both contractors and clients, we stick together. Last year one of the team members passed abruptly. I think it all left us a little dazed - for it suggested the inevitable, that this effort we support would one day come to an end. 

          Since then I think as a team, we've all grown a little fonder of each other -  more appreciative of each other  - taking time to celebrate more ... birthdays, births, the Superbowl champions (GO RAVENS) - making time to exercise together, play Biggest Loser and encourage each other to be more healthy. And while plans are underway to move the team to various locations, I really haven't thought about things changing until something happened on Friday that brought it to my attention.

          When we were returning from lunch, we saw the 'cafeteria cashier' leaving. When she saw us, she busted out crying, giving us all big hugs and kisses - today was her last day and as so often, management had forbid her to speak of her departure (I'm still giving the Today Show a strong side-eye for Ann Curry). Now, we've seen this lady for years, spoke to her, inquired politely about her health, family, etc. Never inquiring too much, because it's just work, right? But she told us that she loved us and would miss us because we're like her family to her. Whew. As luck would have it, no not luck because there are no coincidences! Today was the first day ever, I carried my phone into work to store in the electronic lockers, I snapped this picture of her departing from the building. She's only moving to the building up the street and when we say we'll go see her - we mean it! We'll have a meeting and schedule time to get in our cars, travel to her building, find parking, to purchase too expensive, unimpressive food and give her our money, so we can exchange smiles and hear her say 'Thanks and have a good day.' So on day 11, I'm grateful for my team and all the little things we do that impact others in a big way.  #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

          Saturday, February 23, 2013

          40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 10

          What's the best gift you ever received? From time to time, I do this ... try to figure out what's the top 10 gifts I've ever received. Now before I begin - my friends are incredible, most don't have children which means 'Ca-Ching' -- disposable income to spend on their friends. And I've received some doozies,  my Roomdog (Day 2) gave me 30 gifts for my 30th. Wondering what she did for my 40th - Ya got it 40 gifts - she rocks for sure.

          But I've been blessed beyond measure with the gifts I've received. So here are my top 10 gifts I've received:
          1. A pink robe for Karamel (She's chilling on the right). One year I just had to have this little bear from build-a-bear and because I live in the 3rd grade, I dressed the bear and used to keep it strapped in in the backseat -- she was my riding buddy. I even put a Tiffany-inspired heart bracelet around her neck one year - LOL. But when I was in the hospital a gazillion years ago for surgery, I just had to bring her with me so I wouldn't be alone - I know, 3rd grade (Day 9). So there I was prepped for surgery and my Roomdog (Day 2) bought this little pink robe for her. Karamel stayed w/me in the hospital every day and so did my Roomdog. Ooh, I could kiss her face, right now for that. ;-)
          2. Campbell soup magnet - My little sister game me this for Christmas for my first apartment. It's simply a refrigerator magnet with an antique Campbell soup label (we grew up on Campbells) but the sentiment touched me. I still have it on my refrigerator today.
          3. Rainbow Bible - My mother gave me this bible when I graduated from high school. I can't tell you how many states I've dragged this thing through. I'm ashamed to admit that it's in mint condition because I never wanted to mess it up. Keep praying for a Sista ;-)
          4. My Prayer - My current roomie, LG (Day 23) wrote me a thank you note last September. In it she included a prayer, what she doesn't know (guess, she will now) is that whenever I have a particular bad day. I take it out  and read it aloud. She will never know how it touched my heart that she took the time to consider me in her prayers and put it to paper. Whew.
          5. iphone - Yup, I bought a 'used' iphone from a guy. Needless to say, it didn't work. My ego was a little bruised - really! I should be more on top of my game. Where was my swag? My good girlfriend, Kisha took me to the store and bought me an iphone. Yup, she made it incredible. Thanks, Kisha!
          6. Bijan Perfume - Does anyone remember this perfume? I can't even remember what it smelled like but I was at the mall w/a girlfriend telling her how I loved the lotion. And lo and behold, I ran into my boyfriend, Broderick at the time (I think we were official that week - you, know how it is when you're young - he's going to get a kick out of this). He was out w/his boy, James and blew my mind because he whipped out that wallet, bought me that perfume and kissed me on the lips. I felt like a million dollars. I know, how sappy is that but that's just how I felt.
          7. Leather Briefcase - When I graduated from college, my BFA, Deneen (Day 7) and her mom bought me a leather briefcase. It was bad - butter soft leather with chrome hardware. It was actually stolen when I went on an interview but it affirmed me. They thought I was a business women already - THANKS!
          8. Cookie bouquet - Do they still make these? They were like cookie lollipops wrapped in pretty paper. My mom sent these to me in graduate school with a lovely note. I think it was right after I failed that comprehensive exam. She always signed he letters with 'Love, Mommie' then she drew a heart with a cross in the middle of it. I like to think that it stood for the love of Jesus. Don't ask.
          9. Coach Bag - Ok, my aunt, Cookie (yup, that's her name) bought me a coach bag one year for Christmas when I was in high school. I was through the roof. My family wasn't the type to exchange large gifts or say 'I love you.' But her buying me that purse was her way of saying it.
          10. Teddy - My mother gave me this for Easter when we were kids. Teddy is a pillow case shaped like a bear and this is probably one of the first years or so that I don't sleep with him - he's too hot. He's had it but I love it. My Mom always gave us a little something for Easter and still does.
          So on day 10 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful not just for every gift I've received, but for the sentiment behind them. #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

          Friday, February 22, 2013

          40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 9

          "I live in the 3rd grade." I say it all the time and it's an indicator of my crazy sense of humor and how excited I can get about random stuff. Indicator, that's the statistician in me ... my bad.When I tell you I love the most bizarre things -- and they make me laugh like a child ... in the 3rd grade. For instance, I love seeing old people cursing. I don't know why but it cracks me up. Round kids with glasses. (Yes, round -- please don't use that cursed h word, husky - I'm still in need of counseling to get over seeing that word in my jeans from Sears when I was a kid.) Plumber's crack in church ... I did tap the young lady in question and tell her to tuck in her shirt. ;-)

          Men with lady hips, men who play with little dogs, mullets and dirty@ss sneakers. Those are the things that get me going. Here, I am in the gym dunking - I call this 'Black Girlz Dunk' Yes, that's me (pre-bootcamp, I might add) and I still have mad hops.
          Other things that crack me up is how excited I get and lose all cool. Just last summer, I actually met Regina Belle. Yes, the Regina Belle. I mean I LOVE REGINA BELLE. I even have a framed poster on the wall in my family room -- a real live poster, not a print cause I'm just that old school. And God bless her cause when I met her -- I hugged her neck like we were 'fam' and told her how I was a crazy fan and appreciated her testimony. We took a picture and she signed my cd, 'Ce-Ce Thanks for the Love!' You're welcome, Mrs. Belle!

          You would think as I get older, I would cut it out but NOT. A meeting in DC could very well turn into cupcake wars -- Never heard of it. First, I go to Georgetown Cupcakes then I catch up with the food truck, Curbside Cupcakes and Cupcakes Wars is on!

          And I 'm ready for it all the time. Look at me, getting it in with my shiny, new recycling bin. I was so pumped that I needed a picture. Even something as boring as taking out the recycling bin, now makes me smile and it's for a good cause. Truth be told, I'm an adventure 'ho.' Any mundane task is yet another opportunity to 'make it incredible.' That's my new mantra for 2013 ... Make it Incredible!

          And I have no shame. Here, I am with Maurette Brown-Clark after service no doubt. I had met her a few times before as she's from the same chapter as my Roomdog (Day 2) but this is our first time taking a picture. Look at how serial killer crazy happy I look. We're hugged up like besties ;-)

          And for as long as I can remember, I've been silly, intentionally trying to stay in the moment ...  enjoying this thing called life and trying to -- make it incredible. So on Day 9, I'm grateful for 'living in the 3rd grade.' #beblessed #40daysofgratefulness

          Thursday, February 21, 2013

          40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 8

          "Blast at Kansas City Restaurant" - that was the headline I read yesterday morning. I picked up the phone and called my good girlfriend, Kim out in Kansas. I wanted to make sure my 'peeps' out there were ok. I don't exactly remember when I met, Kim - we were in the same class from elementary up to high school. However, I do remember meeting her mom, Mommy Bryant (Day 2). That was back in the day when my grandmother made me go to the A&P (Remember those) everyday. I would see her Mom at the market and she recognized me from school where she dropped Kim off in the morning. She was always engaging, inquiring about school and seemed like a nice lady and she still is ;-)

          Well, it turns out, Kim and her husband actually had reservations at the restaurant a few days before the explosion but cancelled so they were perfectly fine. But, it conjured up fond memories of silly things we did as kids. We would go to the drugstore, Manny's, everyday after school for Whatchamacallits candy bars and Mrs. Pac Man. We were so good at Mrs. Pac Mac, we made up handicaps - 'No glasses!' What? 'How about left hands w/no glasses." Yes, this was us as freshman in high school.

          Kim was crazy silly, 'mad cool' and had stylo even back then. She would have on all white with a yellow blazer and hot pink MIA flats. I dunno, but it worked. Her parents were even cool. Daddy Bryant, with his Frankie Beverly maze baseball cap and Mommy Bryant, who could work a mean suit, with her perfect manicure and she drove a pink Cadillac. That still makes me laugh. Needless to say, they were good people and treated me like their own and they still do. Her grandmothers were the best too. Nana who couldn't say my name, 'Cel' so she called me 'Feil' and kissed me full on the lips as she always seemed to miss my cheek. And Grandmother Bossie, who loved me to pieces - we once walked on the beach holding hands, not talking just listening to the waves - it's still one of my most fondest memories.  Needless to say, we had some good times and continue to do so. So on Day 8 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for my good friend, Kim and her family. Here's my favorite picture of her 3 lovely girls. #40daysofgratefulness #beblessed

          Wednesday, February 20, 2013

          40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 7

          Back in October, my BFA, Deneen Ratchford got married. If that's a new term to you that's Best Friends Always. We've been signing that in birthday cards since pagers, Atari and name belts. Back when video games were a quarter and folks were rocking Jordache jeans. Back when penny candy was a penny. A few weeks before the wedding, I got the sense she was feeling 'some kinda way.' 'Some kinda way' is when you feeling uncomfortable but you don't quite know why. I suspect it was because her father was in the hospital and she really waned him to attend the ceremony. She didn't want to have a shower and wasn't sure if she wanted to have a reception or even a honeymoon - she thought it was just too much.

          But I called up her real good girlfriend, Cheryl  to see where her head was - we didn't want to stress her out but we wanted to do something. Deneen is the best. She has great energy, is real and it genuinely pleased for other folks when they accomplish anything. If I tell Deneen, someone I knew bought a new house. She doesn't just say that's nice. Nope, she wants pictures and goes around telling folks how nice, Cel's friend's house is - who does that.

          After talking, Cheryl and I decided we would take those things off her plate. I called Deneen and told her we wanted to host the reception and the honeymoon. It wasn't too difficult, Deneen's known me for years and trusts me - period. I mean trusts me ... if I told Deneen I was going to open a Starbucks on the moon, her reply would be 'Will it take gift cards?' I mean she believes in me like nobody else. So, I wasn't really worried about her but I was concerned about her fiance. I had met the gentleman on several occasions but he didn't really know know me. He too had great energy and made that girl happier than I've ever seen her. So, I thought long and hard about the medium in which I would contact him. Texting seemed to impersonal - but email was easy. I fire off this well-crafted email - anticipating any concerns as I wanted him to be comfortable. This is his response:
          "It is truly a blessing for Deneen to have such precious friends like you. I thank you for all that you are planning to contribute and I am 100% in favor of whatever your hearts' desire is in regards to you being a blessing to us with hosting and/or the honeymoon.  I am also especially thankful for the talents that God has placed in you. Words cannot express how I greatly appreciate you sharing your talents and blessings with us. 
          In closing, you have my carte blanche approval, for anything you plan for me or Deneen, of course. Do you need to consult with me?  Never. I am always available and willing to help you plot or plan any surprises for her." 
          WHAT?  In this day and age of Bridezillas, Deneen was not. In this day when folks are consumed with information - they weren't. Here I was ready, poised -- engaged for convincing him who were were -- how we rolled and he took it completely off the table. I was done. This guy who didn't know me trusted me not because of anything he had seen me do - he trusted me simply because Deneen did. Deneen didn't even know where she was going on her honeymoon until she checked in at the airport. Who does that? It was so fabulous. So on Day 7 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful that John and Deneen Price trusted me enough to  plan their special day and I love 'em both because of it. #40daysofgratefulness #beblessed

          Tuesday, February 19, 2013

          40 Days of Gratefulness - Day 6

          Ever listen to that little still voice? You know, the one some folks call 'instinct' or 'conscience?' I call it the Holy Spirit. How often do we ignore that voice and miss out on God's blessings? A good friend shared with me that he woke up one morning with the idea that he could play the guitar. Now, this gentlemen was not musically inclined. He simply had an idea. Of course, he thought it was ridiculous at first but he couldn't stop thinking about it ... and he just happens to be a Christian. So, he goes out and buys a guitar. Two months later he has taught himself how to play and he has a voice - he didn't know he could carry a tune. Now, he's no Earl Klugh (jazz guitarist) but he can play the guitar and writes/sings songs to his daughter from time to time. No, he didn't blow up and make music videos but I'm certain his playing/singing has poured into his little 3 year old baby girl. What little girl wouldn't love her Daddy serenading her?

          What's my point, you might add? Is how often does that 'little voice' give us some idea that we bury it. Some dream, hidden talent or fantastic new opportunity is lost because we kill it. We kill it with practicality - "Girl, I'm too busy. Or "Everybody does it already?" We kill it with frugality "I can't afford to do that." How do you know what's in store for you? You have no idea where 'your gift' will take you. Now, you may want to consider from where this idea comes from first - let's not be irresponsible here. Buying a hot new purse you can't afford -- chances are that's your voice. But what about all the other ideas we have. I'll share my 'little voice' story with you.

          I was attending a luncheon in my honor as I had accepted another position and it was my last day. My replacement had attended the luncheon as well - it was his first day. After the luncheon, he pulled me aside and asked if I ever considered going into business for myself? No, I was comfortable with my pseudo-junior level corporate position. He gave me his business card and told me to give him a call when I was ready. I laughed - I wasn't going to call this crazy joker and besides he didn't know me. But once he mentioned it - I absolutely couldn't stop thinking about it. A week or so later, I called him up to ask him why he would say that to me. He told me I had good energy which made me laugh. But, my mind was blown - so within 3 months, I had quit my new position and started my company, Solutions Enterprises, Inc w/the trade name, Better Solutions. Now, my company has not amassed millions but it has employed both me and my Roomdog (Day 2). It paid for our homes, our health care and our tithes. We don't have a building or office space - we don't even have a website. And we only have 1 person on contract right now, me. And with this new market, I'm not sure what to expect but I can't tell you the invaluable lessons I've learned along the way. So on Day 6 of 40 days of gratefulness, I'm grateful for my company, Better Solutions. By the way, Better Solutions will turn 10 years old in just a few weeks. #40daysofgratefulness #beblessed.

          Monday, February 18, 2013

          Day 5 - Bootcamp

          "Girl, let's do something crazy?" Famous last words, right. What replies come to mind. "Girl, I am not wearing that, it's cut too low." ;-)  That wasn't quite my response when a good friend asked me that last August. Of course, I was intrigued. My reply "Sure, I'm down." Her reply "Ok, bootcamp tonight."

          Bootcamp? That wasn't quite what I had in mind but I thought 'I'm good'.  Zumba twice a week, riding the bike a mile or two. But bootcamp was a game changer. I walked in -- feeling a little anxious -- I'm an overachiever on the DL -- meaning I could hurt myself being an idiot. But I was not prepared. My heartbeat was crazy -- I saw stars -- worried about adult on-set asthma and by the end of the class I could have very well drank from somebody else's water bottle cause I was just that tired.

          I wouldn't quite say it was fun at first but -- on the inside I was pumped -- I would have bet a paycheck or two that I would have never been able to finish anything.  Everyone was encouraging - I loved the instructor, Tiffany of BNFIT rocks. I didn't finish every exercise but I attempted everything and that pleased me. That was enough for me. I went back again - this time I was prepared -- the girls were properly strapped down -- new sneakers and a sweat band to boot - I sweat a lot! And I've been going pretty consistently ever since. I love the energy and I absolutely love how it makes me feel - like if I can plank for 3 minutes then I could pretty much do anything. Now, let's be clear, my 'perfect' planks have nothing to do with where I'll go in life and what I will accomplish but what it does for how I view myself -- is priceless. After bootcamp, I feel strong, accomplished and excited about the next time we meet.

          So on Day 5 of 40 days of gratefulness, I am grateful for bootcamp. #40daysofgratefulness #beblessed 

          Saturday, February 16, 2013

          Day 4

          The weather in DC yesterday was incredible. So incredible that I put down the car windows, opened the sunroof, leaned my seat back and enjoyed my breakfast in the parking lot at work. I thought, I should probably go into work. But it was too gorgeous, so even before I entered the building, I considered "what was I going to do when I got off?"

          Everyone in the office buzzed about what they were going to do "I'm going to happy hour." A good friend called and said she was going to take a walk somewhere - even if it was just  walking around the Whole Foods parking lot. Everyone wanted to witness this gorgeous day. I hadn't decided what I was going to do - all I knew was that whatever it was - it was going to involve being outside. So, I left a little early and decided I was going to the mall. 

          Now what you consider is that it's a holiday week-end and traffic was going to be crazy but nothing was going to deter me from witnessing this day. And the fact that Friday traffic did not deter me, means this gratefulness thing has already started to work - for I hate traffic! I headed out and found parking just outside the MLK memorial. I think some folks complained initially how the MLK memorial was 'too far' from the rest of the mall but it's one of the only memorials with close, free parking. 

          I get out and I'm walking around, listening to my music - just drinking it in. Folks are going crazy, frolicking everywhere. Kids are running around screaming, couples holding hands, girlfriends chatting on the benches. So I venture off and stumble across the Roosevelt memorial. And as long as I've lived in the DC Metropolitan area, I've never been to the Roosevelt memorial. Well, let me tell you, it's worth a look. It's quiet, has a few waterfalls and it's surprisingly moving. Did you know he was the president for four (4) terms? Who knew? I sat down on the steps overlooking the mall and thought about how it was important that I witness this day - that traffic, convenience and comfortable shoes didn't deter me. Here on the mall, I was surrounded by visionaries - people who have monuments and memorials to witness  how they served other people. It made me think about the things I had witnessed and about how I serve. It made me think about the last 2 times, I was actually here on the mall. I stood with millions who too witnessed not just once but twice, the inauguration of an African-American President. I made a vow to explore the mall more and to serve more.

          So on Day 4 of 40 Days of Gratefulness, I'm grateful to have witnessed the inauguration of the first African-American President ... twice. #40daysofgratefulness #beblessed

          Friday, February 15, 2013

          Day 3 - Sisters-in-Love

          I first heard someone use that term to describe their Sister-in-Law whom they were very close with. I immediately borrowed it. Sisters-in-Love to me are those women who share this Christian experience, who understand that as women we are naturally inclined to encourage others. These are the type of Sistas (Yes, Sistas!) who would call me all throughout the day encouraging me - saying they too were encouraged - asking how they could assist me on my journey for these 40 days. Telling me they couldn't leave a post (I modified the setting, anyone can comment, now) -- asking me whether I needed them to just read this blog or comment on it - you know, Sistas love instructions ;-).  The kind of women who would respond to my first post within minutes telling me they were proud of me. The kind of women who pray with me and for me. The kind of women who will tell me the truth - even when it hurts. The kind of women who would text me 'ya up?' to make sure I make the 6AM prayer call. The kind of women you see once a year during restaurant week - who honor that commitment to fellowship over a good meal. The kind of women who had a crazy idea to take cupcakes and Paul Dean chicken soup to a women's bible study and turn it out. The kind of women who would pass out this devotional, The One Year Book of Inspiration for Girlfriends by Ellen Miller like candy because it encouraged them. The kind of women who understand without a doubt - that we are our Sistas Keeper!

          So on Day 3 of 40 Days of Gratefulness, I'm grateful for my Sistas-in-Love. #40daysofgratefulness #beblessed

          Thursday, February 14, 2013

          Day 2 - 40 Days of Gratefulness

          Bare with me here - this is my first blog and I'm a little nervous. For the past few years, I decided not to give up anything for Lent - as Lent is a time for reflection, I thought I would 'add' something to what I already have. Usually, I attempt to read the Gospels ... never quite finishing but learning something new each time I read them. For this Lenten season, I would intentionally focus on being grateful for all the things I have. Too often, we live by the 'glass is half-empty' notion and as Christians, we are called to recognize the 'glass as half-full.' To make myself more accountable (meaning to finish) - I would post my journey for 40 days. I pray that it works ;-)

          Almost 2 years ago, my second mom, Mommie Bryant lost her friend, Evelyn Winston. I remembered being angry w/God at the funeral. She was a sweet lady with great energy and she was only 65. As I sat there trying to get myself together, Mommie Bryant said 'I'm so grateful that we were friends for almost 60 years.' 60 YEARS!  Wow, that simple declaration made me look at Evelyn's 'going home' differently. So on Day 2 of 40 Days of Gratefulness, I'm grateful to have shared both time and space with the friend of my dreams, Traci Birckhead. There are no coincidences, we met at a C+ training class and exchanged pleasantries during the bathroom break - we talked for hours and haven't stopped. And for this I'm soo very grateful. #40daysofgratefulness #beblessed