Be Here …Be Happy

africa-child-waving

Just want to say “Hi”.

We are approaching the threshold of another year. Let’s take a moment to GIVE THANKS & BE HAPPY! Sure, we’ve faced adversities but we have also been showered in blessings. We are older today than we have ever been while at the same time we are younger than we will ever be. This LIFE IS NOW! We must remind ourselves to ENJOY IT. Yesterday was… Tomorrow may be … TODAY IS!

The Best Way to Prepare for Tomorrow is to

LIVE & LOVE TODAY!

Anticipate a GLORIOUS New Year!

touba-dialaw-top

Just saying “Hi”.

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a way to a good start

man looking in mirror

When I awaken and come before a mirror I exhale upon it. When I see vapor I smile and say “alhamdililahi!”. I AM here! I recognize that some that were here yesterday are not here today. I have a responsibility to make the most of the day.

My life is fairly good but I still have to remind myself how fortunate I AM to be here sometimes. You know the saying “…life has its adversities.” As we travel the course of life those adversities can sometimes get bring us down. Maybe you are fortunate and it doesn’t happen to you. I’m not so lucky. It happens to me every so often.

My environment is pleasant. My dwelling place is simple. Stress is minimal. I have people close by that usually bring me joy. So when I am visited by this melancholia I can usually be touched by an interaction or a memory that encourages it to dissolve. I then begin to take on a task that I can “throw myself into”.  If I need to rest before I start, I DO.

Now the best thing about this is that it allows me to manage. This approach can not be called problem-solving because I really don’t change the presenting conditions. Its probably more appropriately referred to as ” refocusing attention”.  Rarely do I actually change the particulars of the predicament. I just alter how I perceive and react to them. I AM then able to continue and prepare myself for the next step. I AM able to attain small successes that develop into significant achievements. I won’t win a Nobel Prize and you won’t see me on the evening news. Come around though and you’ll probably find me at peace. This is the key to my day-to-day approach to life.

It’s working! I have been around for a while now and I’ve experience many more “ups” than “downs”. I’m glad to be able to say so. It’s good to remind myself of it.

Cat-Looking-in-Mirror

When I look in that mirror do I see myself as I AM or is it as I WILL BE? No simple answer but seeing the reflection means I’m a winner!

Expect a Miracle

I am thankful each morning that I awaken poised to accept another Glorious Day.  Despite my readiness the glimpse of glory sometimes eludes me. I am an ordinary mortal. Life presents adversity.  When it catches up with me it can be distracting.  This happened one day to underscore an important lesson.

It occurred in Senegal. Ramadan was in full swing.  I had been getting accustomed to fasting.  The lack of food and water was not too difficult.  The hard part was keeping my mind clean and clear.  As the day started thoughts about difficulties began to creep into my head.  They continued to visit throughout the morning…  Then I was drawn to a Brenda Russell song to remind me that potential difficulties do not have to materialize when I “Expect a Miracle”.  So simple yet so true!  Granted it’s a head game of sorts – but we have a choice.  Why not choose to expect miracles rather than difficulties?  Expecting miracles felt better to me. It still does!

Practical application…

Decades ago I was in a situation in America that my best case scenario was to just endure (I’ll spare you the details – not a pretty picture).  I had chosen to survive life rather than embrace and enhance it.  Fortunately, I started to wake up.  I began refocusing myself and streamlining my lifestyle.  I now recognize that I was planning my return to Africa although I didn’t announce it.  The move eventually happened but I needed more than a change of venue.  Some internal work was necessary.  Parts of me had atrophied.  They had to be invigorated!

Major action was required.  I accepted this fact and pursued it.  In retrospect, it was long shot …a bold move.  Following through on it was not easy.  It was painful and expensive but I expected that it would accomplish what was needed.  I wanted to feel whole again – renewed.  Never once did I consider the odds against success.  I expected the outcomes would be miraculous and THEY HAVE BEEN!   I started life anew – A Renaissance Man!  While my peers were planning for retirement and hoping for the 21st century version of the “good life”, I was initiating a new game plan.

Years have now passed and I am in Senegal on a full-time basis.  I am still expecting miracles.  I expect that I will have the resources to support my family and lifestyle.  I expect that I will always be in touch with people who know how to love me and receive the love I extend to them.  I expect that when I am faced with adversity there will be a way to handle it.  I am confident in my expectations.  When I put my Faith in Action I can count on Divine Assistance.   It’s a safe bet to expect a miracle and it feels better than anticipating the alternative.

So, why did I write this note?  I just needed to articulate the affirmation for someone who would understand and appreciate it – ME.  I still have those mornings when I can benefit from the reminder. This morning was one of them.

Do you ever you have those mornings?  Expect A Miracle!

Dreaming Reality

Acquaintances from the U.S. frequently remark, “You are Living The Dream!” Sometimes the comment is framed idyllically.  There is a bit of projected pride in the speaker’s tone because I am seen as doing something that he or she may want to do, but isn’t.  Other times the comment is an accusation. In those instances, the speaker’s tone, facial expression, and sometimes even body language, suggest that my motives are selfish, if not harmful, to others.  I have concluded that it does not matter which view is correct.  The salient point involves the notion of the dream and recognizing that they too are living one.  Let me explain.

Each of us lives our dream.  We choose it.  We change it.  We keep it.  We abandon it.   It is ours to do with as we please.  Some of us let someone else give us a dream.  Claim it and it’s ours.  We alone are responsible for what we do with our dream.  Our dream can be very simple.  It can be very complicated. We make it the way it is.

The dream of the crack addict might be to get the next hit. The dream of the U.S. senator might be to be the next President (or vice versa).  Clearly, these are extreme examples but they really are the same in essence.  Both have subtext that the dreamers will have to contend with.  Nothing is guaranteed except that their decisions and actions will affect the outcome. The crack addict and the Senator can decide to keep the dream, abandon it, or change it.  No one other than the Senator and the crack addict knows the “whys” and “wherefores” that operate inside their individual dreams.  Only they know the inside story.

Ask either of them to explain their dream and you’re sure to get a superficial answer.  Dream description is like that.  My dream is not very complicated. It’s about creating a safe haven for those I love. Although I thoroughly understand my dream it is difficult to explain it to others in detail. I can only live it and hope that others, if they are interested, understand what they see.  I think that is all that anyone can do.

Let me be clear!  I am not saying that we live alone in our separate worlds and that our actions do not affect others.  I recognize that what others do affects us.   Have you ever noticed how an important event is handled differently by individuals in a group?  The event is the constant but the reactions are functions of the individual dreamer’s dream.  Given this context, we have more control over life situations than we may think.

How about you? Are you the actor in your dream or the one being acted upon? Do you go left or right at the fork in your road? Do you choose to do neither?  Do you rely on the advice of others or follow your instincts?  Maybe you have a mixed approach.  It’s your choice.  You have the power to decide.  It’s your dream.

All this said, I’ve learned that it is critical to define your dream and live it with intentionality.  We are the stars of our show though we did not write the script.

Each of us has a unique dream.  Our reality can only be perceived from that perspective.  …and we only perceive what we can conceive.

Worth Remembering

This rocking chair is about 65 years old.  It once belonged to my older brother who died before I was born. Years ago I retrieved it from the home of my maternal grandmother before the house was demolished.

Why study it now?  Because it reminds me of some important lessons!

I enjoyed rocking in this chair as a child as did my younger brother.  I have children ranging from 4 months to 29 years old.  All but two of them, and many children in my large extended family, have used this chair.  This chair is certainly old and somewhat worn but my young children love and still use it.  It was well built.  It is strong!  It has served us well and continues to do so.  Can’t I construct my world so that the same can be said of me?  I think the answer is “YES.”

Like the chair, it requires neither magic nor vast resources.  It just requires the use of grounded common sense, some basic materials and a few tools.

  • Be honest about the goal.  The results may surpass expectations.
    • This chair was intended to be child’s rocker, not a piece of “fine furniture.”  Today it is a multi-generational hierloom.  It is priceless.
  • Make simple plans that allow incremental progress.
    • The chair’s frame is hand-fitted and glued.  The seat is woven and knotted so that even after all these years it has not unraveled and can be repaired.
  • Don’t be afraid to course correct when needed.
    • There are places on the chair that indicate changes during construction.  I’ve had to really study this rocker to see them.
  • Celebrate successes whenever there’s an opportunity.
    • The rocker was painted red.  When I was growing up, the chair was always called “Spanky’s Red Chair.” Adults were always happy to see me to sit there and I remember them standing behind me pushing to make it rock.  I felt like it meant something good to them!

My goal is to make a positive difference!  With simple persistence, I evaluate and measure each small step.  When faced with an obstacle or setback, I seek to make an adjustment and proceed.  I remind myself and others that each triumphant moment is worthy of recognition.  People tell me “it’s working”.  I’m happy to agree!

I hope that the world that I am creating is well built and of service to others. I pray that its outcomes are sturdy and utilitarian…like “Spanky’s Red Chair.”