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”.

…losing virginity after age 60

I lived in America for decades and I have been away from there for many years. During that time I have missed people but I have not missed the place. I now live on the Atlantic coast in Senegal, West Africa. The environment is pleasant, the pace is humane, and I have access to technology. Today these factors combined to bring me to a completely new experience – MY FIRST “MISSING AMERICA” MOMENT. I LOST MY “Missing” VIRGINITY! This is big enough deal for me that I decided to write a few words about it.

For many of the last 20 years that I lived in America I traveled from Washington, DC to Newport, RI for a weekend each summer to enjoy The Newport Jazz Festival.

The Newport Jazz Festival, was founded by jazz pianist George Wein in 1954 as the first outdoor music festival of its kind devoted entirely to jazz, and is now universally acknowledged as the grandfather of all jazz festivals. For information on attending this Festival, visit their official website.

Newport Jazz Festival

So obviously I could not go to Newport for the Jazz Festival this year. Dakar to Newport is just too much of a commute for me. In fact, I haven’t been able to attend in a decade or so. My good friend and alter-ego, “the other side of the same coin”, that the title of this blog references, was going to be there though. I went on-line and “Googled” Newport Jazz Festival. I found a link that led me to a National Public Radio (NPR) webcast of the event. I started listening to the broadcast yesterday and I continued today. It was in the process of listening today that I Lost My “Missing” Virginity and experienced my first “Missing America” phenomenon. It was exhilarating!

This makes me wonder if there are others things that I can experience missing in America.

The list is long of things that I will certainly not miss.  I do not need to write it out. All of those micro and macro level “isms” and the societal responses to them… Regardless of one’s political outlook or persuasion the media continually outlines them for you.

I think my first “Missing America” experience may be like my first love – unforgettable and irreproducible.  I’ll be ready if another one comes along though.

Until then…

Newport crowd shot

I’ll always have memories (and hopefully NPR)!

…and He Stood His Ground

granddad-and-grandson

When I was a young boy I used to go on vacations at the home of my maternal grandparents. My paternal grandparents died decades before. My father was an orphan by age ten.

I used to watch my grandfather. He was my good friend. He would wake up in the morning and sit on the side of the bed for what I thought was a long time. Eventually I would have what I considered the honor of helping him oil his feet. They were always very dry and I got to apply an oil that he liked.  We were buddies. I think the oil felt good to him and I remember that being able to apply it made me feel good.

I was only about 7 or 8 years old and this was long before the advent of video games. We had a small black & white television but it was only viewed at night when something special was on. My grandmother liked to listen to baseball games (a Yankee fan) but that didn’t interest me. Gramps and I entertained each other.  We sang and whistled. We laughed. We were friends!

Gramps had an accident before I was born. As a result one leg was shorter that the other. Gramps wore an elevated shoe on the foot of the shorter leg. He walked with a cane. None of that stopped him from escorting me all over town. We went to the hosiery mill that he used to work in. He took me to the neighborhood barber shop and the local mom & pop stores. We even went to the movies where we sat in the upstairs section reserved for people who looked like us. Everyone was always glad to see me and Gramps. They often gave me gifts like penny candy or little spinning tops. Life with Gramps was grand. I thought that was why he was called my grandfather!

One day I knew that Gramps was sick. He came to the city where I lived.  After what seemed to be a long time of being in the hospital Gramps died. I was 12 years old. I missed Gramps. Everyone did. My grandmother would never be the same again.

Decades have gone by but this morning I thought about Gramps. I still miss him and he is still my friend. I notice that each morning when I awaken I sit on the side of the bed for more than a few minutes. I am thinking of what I need to do for the day …making my plan. Maybe that’s what Gramps used to do. I don’t discuss what I’m thinking about with anyone. Eventually I put the day in motion. I keep a container of shea butter near the bed. Most days I apply some to my feet. It always makes my feet feel and look better.

It makes smile, and tear a little, to recognize these similarities between me and Gramps.

I’ll tell you another thing about Gramps. After sitting on the edge of the bed in silence and having his feet oiled he’d put on his socks. He’d pick up his cane, which rested on the headboard, and get fully dressed. Then he would take a few steps in the center of the room. I would be right beside him. He would then go out the front door into the yard (small by today’s standard). There, before doing anything else, He Stood His Ground.

You really don’t need a weapon to Stand Your Ground.

oldman  ibou in high point circa 1953

Gramps taught me that. I’m glad I learned that from him.

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!

edge of a dream

Lately I have been encouraging friends to journey toward the edge of their dreams. The phrase comes to me from an old Minnie Ripperton song, but it has contemporary implications.  We can experience amazing phenomena at the edges of dreams.  These are the places from which we are able to glimpse paradise and conceive new realities. These glimpses present glorious opportunities as we sojourn on The Path.

We’ve discussed “Living the Dream” and considered “Expecting a Miracle.”  Edge of a Dream takes our journey a little further. This phase begins with the yet to be conceived. It can be a little unsettling and we may feel unsteady, but the discomfort is so worthwhile.  This is a Faith Walk that can take us beyond anything that we have ever imagined.

Although we continue to function on this plane, managing our day-to-day issues and taking one step at a time, WE ARE, in fact, advancing into previously uncharted territory.  WE ARE moving on faith…faith in ourselves, faith in what we know, and most importantly faith that WE ARE finely tuned, divinely inspired instruments. As we recognize and analyze life experiences and incorporate Lessons Learned we soon accept that WE ARE ready and our world awaits us.

We have practiced our entire lives for this stage.  The weights that we have worn “in training” can now be removed.  Our personal repertoires now include the skills and expertise that we will need for this leg of the journey. WE ARE equipped!  WE ARE superbly prepared! Believe me.  Believe in yourself.

It is normal to have doubts…cast them off. As obstacles are presented…bypass them. When faced with a chasm …build a bridge. When challenged by an enemy…call a friend. When struggling with uncertainty…rely on faith.  When in need of inspiration…look around and glimpse paradise. It is at hand.

We’ll rest when we need to and advance when we want to.  We can enjoy it all. We’ve not come this far to settle for less. The Edge of a Dream is exhilarating. We are ordinary people empowered to do extraordinary things when we believe, conceive, and proceed.  We each have this capacity. Exert it! Faith in Action takes us beyond.

I have been taught that we are “never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true.” Once that wish is clarified we are divinely equipped to realize it if we work for it.

Looking forward to visiting at the next reflecting pond.

Take a few minutes to enjoy Minnie Ripperton’s The Edge of a Dream

no mistakes…

I have been sick this week. Although I have the inclination I do not have the energy to prepare a new blog post. Instead I am using text that I received some time ago. I enjoy blogging. It has become an important vehicle for transmitting messages as I travel.  In retrospect, I realize I that while this entry may not be “new” it is “right” for this week. Read on and you’ll understand why.

“A king who did not believe in the goodness of God, had a slave who, in all
circumstances, said: My king, do not be discouraged, because everything
God does is perfect, no mistakes!

One day they went hunting and along the way a wild animal attacked the
king. His slave managed to kill the animal, but could not prevent his
majesty losing a finger. Furious and without showing his gratitude for
being saved, the nobleman said “Is God good? If He was good, I would not
have been attacked and lose my finger.” The slave replied: “My king,
despite all these things, I can only tell you that God is good, and he
knows the “why” of all these things. What God does is perfect. He is never
wrong!”

Outraged by the response, the king ordered the arrest of his slave. Later,
he left for another hunting trip and was captured by savages who made
human sacrifices. On the altar, ready to sacrifice the nobleman, the
savages found that the victim had not one of his fingers, so he was
released. According to them, he was not so complete to be offered to the
gods.

Upon his return to the palace, he authorized the release of his slave whom
he received very affectionately. “My dear, God was really good to me! I
was almost killed by the wild men, but for the lack of a single finger, I
was let go! But I have a question: if God is so good, why did he allow me
to put you in jail?”

“My King, if I had gone with you in this hunt, I would have been
sacrificed for you, because I have no missing finger, therefore, remember
everything God does is perfect. He is never wrong.”

Often we complain about life, and negative things that happen to us,
forgetting that nothing is random and that everything has a purpose. Every
morning, offer your day to God, don’t be in a rush. Ask God to inspire
your thoughts, guide your actions, and ease your feelings. And do not be
afraid. God is never wrong!”

Sometimes life’s situations have us question this fact…  even that questioning is by design.

I pray that I’m feeling better by next week. Incha’Allah I will!

from a simple seed…

Long ago a simple seed was spawned.  Gentle winds carried it not far from the tree that created it.  Before the heavy rains came, it settled in a patch of earth and began to take root. Soon it sprouted, breaking ground and being drawn upward by the rays of the sun.  This is how it began.

Its development suggested promise.  Changing seasons became years and the sapling continued to grow. It was nurtured. Growth spurts were substantial and required that the young tree be moved.  The powers that control such things transplanted it a few times.  The tree’s root system remained intact and so it managed to flourish in each new place.  Adversity came in the form of droughts and floods.  Lightening occasionally altered the angle of its branches.  Periodically it was pruned. Nature took its course.

The maturing tree served many purposes.  On sunny days it provided shade.  During storms of all sorts its broad canopy offered shelter.  Items that needed tethering were often attached to it for security.  Things that were precious were hidden deep inside its trunk. It was never used for fuel because the forces that condone such things determined that its value lay in longevity more than immediacy.

The tree also bore fruits.  The fruits never fell far from the tree but were sometimes carried afar to serve preordained purposes.  In the places that they settled, the fruits of the original tree combined their goodness with the richness of the earth to support growth in new ways and new places.  And the cycle continued…

This simple tree has become a communal anchor with deep roots; a tall, sturdy trunk; and broad, expansive branches.  Today it stands strong — worn smooth in some places, nicked  and scarred in others — but in graceful maturity and useful flexibility. It serves well and IS well.

You will not miss the forest for this tree.  There may stand many forests because of it.

Previous Older Entries