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Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

Thoughts, Surroundings & Positive Deposits

In Education, Family, Friendships, Love, Relationships, Religion, Spirituality on February 19, 2016 at 10:21 am

Been doing a lot of thinking recently; I mean I am always thinking don’t get it twisted, but been doing more thinking about my surroundings, my interactions and my “people” / network.  It seems the older I have become, the more wise I try to be, the less tolerance I am developing.  All my life I have strived to always do the right thing by others – not always myself.  I have always tried to help when needed, asked or implied.  I have always tried to impart any knowledge I may have on a subject or use my influence or connections to assist others.  I have neither been perfect nor always cautious with my approach, but I have always been consistent.  Basically, I have always tried to leave a positive or helpful deposit regardless of “delivery”.  I have been taking stock of the deposits those around me, past or present, have made in my life.  In being honest with myself, I have to admit – there have been only a small few who have made positive deposits, especially on a consistent basis.  Very few have ever added or done anything without an ulterior motive or “want” in return.  They are all cool, don’t get me wrong, as long as there is a benefit in it for them or a need within them are satisfied.  They take all the time, be it actual time, energy, emotion, money etc…, but do they ever leave a deposit?  When you are in need are they there to lend an ear, a hand or a shoulder?  Sometimes it’s just knowing you can count on someone or someone actually “listening” when you need to get something off your chest.  What’s crazy is when you choose not to give in or can not assist a person who you have always tried or have helped, how quick they flip and attack.  They start to judge or become accusatory of your efforts, not seeing the pattern they have always exhibited.  It’s always about them, never about you.  Then you start hearing how “you’ve changed”, “you don’t care anymore” or the best one “you forgot where you came from”.  Nah, its not that.  Honestly it could mean you just couldn’t provide the necessary assistance or the assistance provided could not solve the actual issue.  Perhaps the positive deposit being left is trying to help them problem solve on their own or see the pattern they’ve created, while giving them the room to adjust and fix.  It’s not always that one specific instance, but rather all the instances before or after that will continue if the pattern is not altered.  Sometimes it’s about big picture processing not individual, micro instance occurrences.   And oh boy, when you call them on this, well – that’s a whole other post.  Suffice it to say, the onus and wrath is put on you and the issue at hand gets blurred.  We as people do evolve, not so much change.  Our perspectives, based on life experiences change.  We must adapt for sure.   Life is full of stresses, most self created.  Our time and energy is limited, especially the older we become.  Thus we must surround ourselves with individuals who consistently leave positive deposits in our lives. I can only assume this is why some folks find God; it gives them that positive infusion of hope and purity we all seek.  I am not saying forget all the old heads, never that.  What I am saying out loud – truly hoping that I am hearing myself, is to just try to guard your time, heart and soul more.   Take stock of those who provide the positive deposits in words, actions or shared experiences, even when they are masked in ways we choose not to see.

They say I’ve changed, I say you didn’t.

– Joe Budden

Rights, Struggles & The Cost of Being Black

In Education, Politics, Racism, Society, Spirituality on August 17, 2014 at 11:30 pm

Ferguson, Mo, the site of the most recent crime against a person of color can be any town USA. This type of atrocity has occurred all over America spanning decades. It is a travesty the powers that be continue to allow these acts to go for the most part unpunished. As a human first & a person of color second, it saddens & infuriates me that these instances continue to occur without any seemingly remorse from those who continue to perpetrate these crimes – and yes crimes is what they are. If two men are fighting and in the course of their battle one man unintentionally kills the other, he is brought up on charges – usually murder at first. Then tell me please how the police can continuously kill unarmed black males without charges? Don’t give me that fear for their life shit! In these cases there was no life or death instance. As a person of color, a Latino male and a black man, I have been victim to many a racial insult, profile or injustice; instances that have shaped me, have stuck to my gut and is never far from my thoughts. They have made me who I am. My anger and my sorrows. I easily could have been Mr. Mike Brown, Mr. Travon Martin, Mr. Oscar Grant, Mr. Sean Bell….must I continue? I have been in situations just like these young men found themselves in, in some instances even fighting back, but was lucky enough to have physically survived them (thanks Brother Blood), but each left an emotional scar. So each time this happens, I can taste the anger inside me. As a youth, my initial reaction was to strike back with force, but with age comes knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Unfortunately the protests, the rioting, the speeches don’t change much. They bring some awareness, but are usually forgotten in short order. When these scared souls see the rioting as portrayed in the media, they sit at home shaking their heads while exclaiming….”see they are animals!” Are we supposed to expect these fools to understand how the years of institutional hatred, human betrayal and attacks on our dignities have affected us? These simpletons believe all that they see & fear what they do not understand. I can go on for pages on the issues, but in my humble opinion, to make real change, we need to change ourselves too. We need to first & foremost focus more on education, as it will be our salvation. With education comes confidence, comes creation, comes self reliance. We need a change in our leadership. We need leaders who understand the plight, not just wax poetically when shit goes down, but leaders who are there everyday trying to teach and help. Leaders who will hire, educate & mentor. We need to raise our families, be fathers to our children & take pride in our communities. We have to stop giving ignorant people reasons to fear us. We need to teach our people that a singular action by them can cause a ripple effect on us all. Let’s stop giving the police reason to stop us, fear us or kill us. Let’s pull up our pants, tighten our belts and speak intelligently. Youngsters put the colors away, channel that energy into uniting and growing stronger collectively. Let’s pick our brothers up when they struggle with the change. Let’s stop complaining about what they are not doing and let’s just do ourselves!!! Create our own commerce. Let’s get the Jordan’s, Beyonce’s & Lebron’s of the world to the table and become spokespeople for our communities. Let’s force them to take a stand while teaching the youth who look up to them. Let’s work hard at whatever it is we do for a living. Let’s teach our young people how to respond when we are stopped by the police while still keeping our dignity. When we get into the boardroom, let’s bring more with us while remembering where we came from. Unfortunately, we can not keep expecting these folks to change, we gotta make the change. Each and everyone of us must do our part or our future will remain our past.

Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness.

– James Thurber

Honor, Integrity & One’s Code

In Friendships, Relationships, Self-Improvement, Society, Spirituality on May 21, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Throughout my life I have struggled with many levels of betrayal from different folks. It didn’t always register with me, but I always felt a certain kind of way. It didn’t change how I treated or interacted with anyone, but it always left a bad feeling in my gut. Sometimes the betrayals were small in nature, while others were bigger. People would do or not do certain things, leaving me to question how or why. Sometimes, especially when younger, I would approach or call out some folks in an effort to understand their reasoning or inform them how it was not appreciated. As you can imagine, that did not always go over very well, so suffice it to say I had many battles. As I grew older, I would internalize it more and cope differently. Some of these instances, probably more than not, would be very minor to most folks, but to me – especially dealing with friends or family, always left an imprint. Even after these instances, I maintained solid relationships with most because of my sense of loyalty, attempt to accept or understand. But honestly it would chip away at me, sometimes manifesting in bitterness or distrust. I remember thinking one time if it was me? Was I just different? Why do these things bother me or why can I not be like everyone else and let stuff be? Now let me be clear, it wasn’t a difference of opinion or handling a situation correctly in a different way than I would-no; what I am trying to explain is when one of your “people”, who you have been there for whenever needed or helped or listened to or carried or supported, basically doesn’t reciprocate or even appreciate. Again to be clear, I never did anything with the intention of getting anything in return – never. It’s more a hey, we are “peoples” I got you; but I would be damned if others felt similarly. It wasn’t til I met a guy who became a sort of mentor to me, who after working with me for a few weeks, approached me with a smile while saying he understood me, claiming we were very similar. Surprised, I asked how so. He responded how I live by a code. A code he believes not everyone lives by. While humbled by his words, I gave it a little thought, but continued living. Recently I met another professional who after speaking with me a few times, reiterated the same exact thing. He also explained how I live by a certain code of honor & loyalty; a code of helping & thoughtfulness. How I am too hard on myself when things go awry. He mentioned selflessness and sincerity; passionate and thoroughness. To hear this again, it made me acknowledge how I do have a code I try to live by and how it can sometimes affect me when people portray a sense of loyalty or togetherness, but rarely act on it when it doesn’t benefit them or puts them out of their comfort zone. It’s like when you help your friend or cousin move, but when you need the help they are too busy. Or when you call your friends always asking bout their loved ones, but rarely is it initially asked of you. These are the minor ones, all which I am sure can be reasoned about or made excuses as to why, but ultimately it is a snapshot into who they are or what their code is. I understand people have different codes they live by, which is what makes this world interesting. But it’s when they are cingular in focus that give me pause. By no means does it make them all bad people, just different. Different can be great, but when it affects your code or moral fiber, then it may be time to loosen the cord or move on.

When someone shows you who they are you best believe them.

– Maya Angelou

Life’s Pain, Vulnerability & Re-Discovery

In Love, Relationships, Self-Improvement, Spirituality on January 20, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Life has a way of humbling you. When you think you have it figured out, it reminds you that you don’t know shit. We think we can control things, steer the outcome to how we want or need. However, what I keep learning, as shared by a good friend of mine, is that all we do is control the process, but not the outcome. We can try a plan for things, try to make things work, save, love, work hard, but ultimately we have no control over what happens. Too many variables can interfere with the ending. Real talk, I have gone through some rough emotional moments recently, culminating in a dark sad moment where I felt lost, alone & broken. Where I felt sorry for myself & asked why me? I thought I had done all I could, was a good man & deserved better. It has put me in a bad emotional place where I want to disappear, be alone & not hear about anything or anyone. When you invest yourself totally in something, someone or in everything you do, but it never seems enough, it gets rough. When you are shunned, ignored, disrespected or taken for granted, even though you know you have extended & exhausted every fiber of your being, only to result in failure, what do you do? How are you to feel? Recently, I have been unable to focus, to overcome this feeling of emptiness. It resulted in real tears. Yeah, those who know me may be surprised, but I cry too. Maybe it was the realization that in this world of billions, I felt alone. I have been trying to dig into my spirituality, to find some meaning, but have yet to come across the answer. I went to church in my search, but instead of contentment, it bought me an overwhelming sense of loneliness, of questions & of confusion. I lost it as an overwhelming feeling of sadness enveloped me. A recent loss suffered just overtook me & I broke down. I became embarrassed; how could I feel this way? Why do I? Life gets painful when you feel pulled in multiple directions, always there for everyone when they need you, but find what you need is never fulfilled. It’s painful when you realize you can’t find happiness where you want it most. I felt like I had nothing left inside, nothing more to give anyone. Like a piece of me was gone, taken & never to be regained. I became reflective, thinking of my experiences & failures, my triumphs & goals. I wondered what the good Lord’s plan was for me & why were my plans not good enough? I tried to suppress the oncoming feelings, but couldn’t. I hated the fact I had gotten to this point, had allowed myself to become vulnerable. I had always prided myself in the belief I could handle anything, but now I had reached a level of brokenness I could not contain any longer. I fashion myself a private person, strong minded & tough. But here I am sharing a piece of me with you, with the hopes of reducing some of the burden. It’s a hard thing when reality hits and you realize how regardless of your efforts, other factors influence outcomes. How what you think is right is wrong, and what you thought was wrong was right. How you can love completely, but still be left empty. How you can work tirelessly, yet be stunted. Somehow, someway we have to overcome this & solider on – never allowing these unexpected feelings to become permanent. I had reached my limit I suppose & just realized I had to keep being me. Stay true to self & maintain my dignity no matter the situation. I have to start thinking of me, living for me & doing me a little more often, while still being who I am, keeping my essence. By this I mean, not sacrificing my personhood to please everyone, thus leaving myself depleted. It might be a long road, but I have no choice. I have always been this way & it has lead me to this point. I have to move forward, learn & grow; accept, persevere & be strong. I am not sure if you all have experienced a moment like I described, but I can tell you it is a deep cleansing of the soul. A cleansing I hope leads to happiness, freedom & inner peace.

I broke down a while ago, picking up the pieces; memoirs of how the undefeated can feel depleted.

– Joe Budden

Celebrity, Athlete’s & A World’s Perception

In Society, Spirituality on January 12, 2013 at 6:30 pm

My daughter works for a high end clothier in the Center City section of Philadelphia, PA, often calling or texting me about some celebrity or athlete who happened to patronize the establishment. Recently she told a story of how the actor Harrison Ford had come in to shop & was attended to by an older female sales associate. He was alone & casually dressed. Apparently, the sales associate had no idea who he was & dealt with him as she had with countless other shoppers. When he left, my daughter walked over & asked her if she recognized whom she had just tendered too; to which she replied in the negative. Upon learning of who it was, this associate acted as if she won the lottery & became quite excited, panting while she quickly made it to the exit with the hope of catching him before he disappeared into the city’s fabric. While trying to catch up with him, she was heard shrieking, “I love Harrison Ford, OMG – it’s Harrison Ford”. I couldn’t help but laugh at this as when the associate had no idea who he was, even while looking directly at him, she found him unremarkable & had no interest other than making a sale. However, once she learned of his celebrity, she professed her love & affection for him, running after him like a teenage girl at one of the boy band concerts. What is it about celebrities or athletes that bring people to incomprehensible behaviors or reactions. They could see these people in any setting & think nothing of them, but once it is learned who they are, they are treated better & fawned over by most. It seems they become prettier, sexier or more handsome once their celebrity is recognized. It’s sad & funny to me at the same time. Now, I am no hater – more power to those who can attract all this attention by the sheer perception of who they are, but why exactly to they elicit this type of reaction? Is it because people fall in love with a character they portray, the income they make or the perceived fantasy life they live? Does it ever dawn on most people that these celebrities or athletes are regular Joe’s with ordinary lives away from the spotlight with many of the same problems or life circumstances we all deal with. Just read the news or watch the shows depicting how these individuals sometimes live toured lives, have numerous failed relationships, commit crimes or end up bankrupt. With some, when their stars dim & they are no longer in the limelight, depression, angst & recklessness can often overtake them. They sometimes become incorrigible, thrill seekers looking for their past glories, causing all types of issues, heartaches & woes. I say all this only to point out how even though we should appreciate their skill at entertaining us, we should not expect them to be any different than other people. They should not be held to different standards or treated better because of it.

You can fool some of the people some of the time – and that’s enough to make a decent living.

– WC Fields

Definitions, Emotions & True Love

In Relationships, Spirituality on June 23, 2012 at 2:01 am

I read an article recently about what love is, which got me thinking. The dictionary defines Love as a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. I find this to be a rather simplistic description of what is probably one of the most complex of emotions. There are different shades of love, love of your children, parents or siblings. But here I speak of a romantic love, which is deep, intense & committed. People who are strongly commited to one another will always have each others back, won’t allow negative talk about them & are compelled to let the world know. When you love someone, deeply love someone, it gives you an uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability, a sense of joy & a sense of fear all in one. Vulnerable because you feel completely exposed. You open your heart & soul to someone completely; you give them pieces of you never given before; you share your innermost thoughts, dreams, fears & aspirations. Joy because you feel full, complete and warm; a silly joy every time you are near them; a joy everytime you see or even talk to them. Fear because you hope the person reciprocates, appreciates and honors your love. You pray you are never taken advantage of or for granted. If lucky, the person loves you back with the same fervor. When in love, it teaches you patience, acceptance & better communication skills. But love also hurts; words sting a lil’ more; actions you normally pay no mind to have greater affect. You find yourself doing things or accepting things you may not have done before. That’s deep love. You learn what the person likes or needs and you instinctively try to fulfill it; it can be something simple like flowers or making their favorite meal to trying to do things not normally done because they enjoy it. I am sure a lot of people love, but I wonder how many love deeply? When you see or hear the person, does your heart smile? Are you willing to do almost anything for that person? Make sacrifices? Are they beautiful on their worse days? When you touch does your temperature rise? Do you just reach out in any way at anytime just because? Do you always have time for them? Do you still love the things that first caught your attention about them? Do you respect how they feel about certain things even though you may not agree or completely understand? You see when you love, really love, it’s no longer just about you & yours. It becomes us. It becomes a deep union of understanding, compromise, passion and sharing. You don’t think or want anyone else, just the person before you. You applaud & console; defend & protect. Money is not an issue between you. You wonder if your patrner would like this or that & then you just get it for them, for no reason but to see them smile. You plan with them in mind; their familes become yours, for better or worse. When you love someone, everything reminds you of them. You give of yourself freely & you both become one. If you are ever lucky enough to experience true love consider yourself truly blessed.

There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice.

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

Smiles, Demons & Death

In Friendships, Society, Spirituality on May 9, 2012 at 4:54 am

A few days ago we learned Junior Seau, a popular, all-pro NFL linebacker inexplicably committed suicide. By all accounts, he was respected by his peers & well liked by all. Everyone who encountered him in the days leading up to his death all state he appeared happy, smiling & full of life. They saw no clues indicating he was in trouble, depressed or on the brink. Here was a man who seemingly had it all to the naked eye, but was drowning inside. Being a football fan who respected his ability on the field, I was saddened by his death. It made me think of an old dear friend of mine, who years ago also made the decision to end his existence on this earth. I remember feeling devastated when I heard the news, thinking to myself what could I have done to have prevented it. I began to reminisce about all the good times we had shared. I remembered the day when I first noticed a change in his behavior. How he went from being a fearless, seemingly confident young man to a confused shell of his former self. We kept him close until he gradually appeared to have regained his mojo. He seemed in control, affable & content. Sadly, he fooled us. He was still hurting inside. Those smiles he showed were but a mask, a tool he used valiantly to ward off those demons he carried within. Would a weekly call prevented his demise? An occasional visit? Folks, I understand life takes hold and we either grow apart or are too “busy” to reach out to many of our people. We see them smile, having a good time while in our presence, but are they ok? Do we take the time to really watch them, talk to them, find out what is happening in their lives? Do we let them know we care? That they have people in their corner whenever needed? It can be a little gesture, but one that can resonate with them. Just because we see them smiling, does that mean they are in a good place? Why do we make excuses, saying we are too busy? Why can’t we seem to share important moments in each others lives, making excuses when it’s time to partake in special occasions? Life is short folks & happiness are moments; moments made special by the people we share them with. Some of us are blessed to have that special someone in our lives who complement & complete us, those are the truly blessed. Some have a good group of “friends or acquaintances” with whom they visit with on occasion. They interact with them often, those are in good shape. I speak of those that when the party ends, find themselves alone. They see no value in their interactions, are not happy with where they are in life or are disappointed in things that have occurred. You see when they leave the party, they still have their solitude. These encounters can be seen as superficial, leaving them more empty. Therefore I have come to the conclusion it’s those shared occasions in each others lives that define relationships. Even if it’s a five minute encounter with a stranger, I try to make those five minutes as pleasant as possible. Relationships are the lifeblood of life. So reach out to your people. Share in their lives, accomplishments & family. Show them you care. You just may save a life.

One who sees only with their eyes are easy to fool.

– Jackie Chan

Rex, Dungy & Muscular Christianity

In Religion, Spirituality, Sports on August 19, 2010 at 11:57 am

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a die hard NY Giants fan, I respect Tony Dungy & believe wholeheartedly in God.  With that said, I must respectfully disagree & call out Mr. Dungy for his comments recently regarding Rex’s use of some, or obviously to some people, a lot of profanity during a taped segment of the HBO show, Hard Knocks.   Now what possessed Tony Dungy to criticize Rex Ryan to the nation is beyond me.  And therein lies the problem with people who I call “Muscular Christians”. Now come on, we all know people like that, very good people for sure, but people who try to force their Christian beliefs down your throat every chance they get.  I consider myself a spiritual person, but not religious.  I believe in a greater spirit, one who looks over us & provides us with guidance when needed.  However, I do not believe the use of profanity makes anyone less Christian than the next.  I mean known criminals have committed crimes Monday thru Saturday, only to go to church on Sundays to absolve themselves – every week.  Now I would understand Mr. Dungy’s comments more if Mr. Ryan worked in Corporate America, was a doctor or held some sort of political office.  Rex Ryan however is a football coach and from what I see, a damn good one.  That fact that he curses a lot is irrelevant, as he works in an environment of Alpha Males who, by the way seem to enjoy his banter.  It’s not like Rex is being disrespectful to his players; in fact he seems to be quite caring & motivational to them.  Tony Dungy was also a damn good football coach.  Actually he is a Superbowl winning coach, but he had a different style, a quieter, calmer, more stoic approach to his game.  Regardless, I am sure he has heard cursing before.  By lashing out at Rex, Tony came across as being judgmental, intolerant and well unchristian like.  It is that type of behavior that turns people off to Christians and the positive message they try to spread.  It is also a bit hypocritical of Tony to come down on Rex for cursing, but then support others who have committed crimes against society.  It’s like their cause is better than others?  Spirituality is a personal thing expressed differently by everyone.  Now I am not condoning all of Rex Ryan’s rhetoric.  He can sometimes come across as a blowhard.  But if one listens close enough, one can hear the voice of a passionate, caring coach who just wants to win.  Come on Tony, you’re fucking better then that!

Cursing the darkness only delays the dawn.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Society, Mediocrity & Acceptance

In Self-Improvement, Society, Spirituality on August 18, 2010 at 11:51 pm

I have been saying for years how we have become a society where mediocrity has become the norm.  Where being average has become cool and most individuals feel a sense of accomplishment when they just get by.   Want proof?  The passing grade at my kids high school is 60%.  Most people want a job, but none seem to want to work.  You hear people all the time complaining about what they can’t do, but never stating what they CAN do.  I have had individuals come to a job interview after being unemployed for months, some for over a year, and still do not hear or see the sense of urgency expected from some one who initially express a need for a job, but when presented with the work, they fold like wet noodles.  Its like they rather starve then put in an honest day’s worth of work.  And God forbid they have to work a little extra or put in a little extra time – you might as well as them for their first born.  When discussing this with people, I can sense the uneasiness in the air.  Some become agitated or personally offended, beginning to make excuses for why they do things the way they do & how it doesn’t mean they are mediocre.  Forget the fact I neither stated they were nor gave examples of mediocre behavior, but obviously a nerve was hit and they feel the need to defend themselves.  Colin Cowherd, a sports talk radio personality recently agreed, stating 70% of society is mediocre; however he bellowed that everyone should accept it and “move on”.  Why though?  Why should we accept this malaise?  I have always believed that once one becomes satisfied – one might as well die.  Life is about constant growth.  We should all continually strive to improve Mentally, Spiritually, Emotionally, Financially & Physically and then improve some more.  You see my people, life is in reality a struggle to reach the pinnacle of each of these existences simultaneously.  These five aspects of life are hard to attain individually, let alone in unison.  But that’s the point, everything worth obtaining takes effort and dedication.  Now we all come upon times in our lives where things don’t go as planned or we have moments of self doubt, where life seems to get the better of us, but it’s how we stand up after the fall that counts.  So pick up a book, hit the gym, work a little harder and you see how luck begins to favor the prepared.  So no Mr. Cowherd, I will not accept mediocrity as the norm.  I myself will continue to strive for the freedom I seek.  You all with me?

Winning isn’t everything; Wanting to win is.

– Catfish Hunter