Monday, December 31, 2007

Get Excited About 2008!

..... 'cause I know I am. I have my red party dress laid out on the bed even as I type. No matter what did or didn't happen in 2007, I am so excited just thinking about the possibilities that 2008 has to offer.

Because you know what? The quickest way to turn a bad situation into a blessing is to get excited! Things may not look so good right now. You may be facing more trials and tribulations than you ever thought possible. Your job may suck and your love life non-existent. You may even doubt your ability to hold up under the pressure or the scrutiny of trying to make things different. You may think you’ve done something to deserve the storm that circles around you.

It's all okay! You can still choose to be excited.

Excitement is the opposite of anxiety. It brings a new energy into any situation. Excitement gives you power and puts you in charge of what you do and how you react to what’s going on in your life.

Just imagine how you will feel when the situation is over. Think about what you will do with the knowledge and experience you are gaining. Think about the stories you can tell, the people you can assist, the fact that you will know what to do if you are ever in this situation again. Isn’t that exciting?

In any situation, you have the right, power and ability to choose your experience. Old habits and negative thought patterns will be the first to show up, but we can choose a new way in which you affect the outcome. Rather than slipping into fear, resentment, or anger; you can get excited! Be excited that this has come to an end. Be excited that you are equipped to handle it! Be excited that life is trusting you to do the right thing! Be excited that you will do your best, no matter what happens. Be excited that your best is more than good enough.

And be excited that in any given moment, you can change your life.

Wishing you the best of everything in 2008!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Rest In Peace - 2007

Pamela Joyce Johnson - my sister-in-law, a friend, mother, sister and daugther - died December 20th from cancer.

Terry Armour - my friend and a damn good entertainment reporter - died yesterday of a heart attack.

Both gone too soon, but what a difference they made while you were here. I can only hope to do the same.

Life is too short to waste even a second on being unhappy. As long as you can take a breath - there is hope and a chance for a new start. If something isn't working in your life, all you have to do is make a different choice. That's one of the wonderful things about life.

Nailah O. Franklin and Brandi Drexler - both died from senseless violence this year.

Because I am you and you are me - I will never forget.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Legacy of Mae Phillips

This is a repost. My grandmother celebrated her 100th birthday today and I feel so blessed to still have her, I could cry. I wouldn't be who I am today without having her hand firmly planted on me every step of the way. I love you Mama Mae.

Mama Mae

Her name is Mae Phillips but I call her Mama Mae. She's 96 years old and barely weighs 100 pounds but I still am in awe of this woman who is my grandmother.

While in Ocho Rios, Jamaica last week to celebrate my __ birthday and 3rd wedding anniversary I made the trek to Kingston - the capital of Jamaica - to spend the day with Mama Mae because at 96 years of age, well, you just never know ...

Despite the terrible road conditions, the ride was easy and the length of the trip seemed shortened because the driver I had hired was personable depsite his strong political views on the declining state of his country. The weather was in our favor - no rain in sight - but I still entered Kingston with a heavy feeling in my stomach.

Kingston is a world unto itself and hard to describe to anyone who has never been. The high crime rate and increasing levels of poverty are bad enough, but add in the heat (that most days is unbearable enough to be described as smothering) and the congestion (that could make the most social of people feel like a claustrophobic weenie) and you've got less than a tourist attraction. Yes, it is steeped in culture and history and is the location where Bob Marley recorded some of his best stuff, but to ME it's about as close to hell as you can get.

BUT Kingston is where my grandmother lives and for whatever reason the need to see her on this visit was so strong, I would have dueled with the devil himself if he had tried to keep me from going.

I think she felt the same way; she began crying when she heard my voice and hailed my visit as a sign. I didn't understand the gravity of her statement considering this is the same woman who for the past five years has described the Thanksgiving holiday as her last supper but as the day wore on - and got hotter - I knew our time spent together was indeed special.

For four hours she talked about her favorite memories of me. The long summers that she stayed with my family, teaching me to bake plantain tarts, beef patties and coconut cookies. How she kept my mother from knocking me out (too many times to count) when my mouth was at its smartest. How she thought I would put her on a plane back to Kingston when she accidentally let my dog escape from the house and how hurt I'd be when my cousin David would come for the summer because my daddy's attention would inevitably be taken away from me. She spoke in amazing detail about the summer trips we took in the family station wagon, criss-crossing the United States and Canada. She was the reason I got married in Jamaica, her traveling days long since gone and I couldn't imagine taking my vows without her. I cried tears of joy when she pressed a hanky in my hand and told me I looked fat in my wedding dress.

But then she also told me that she was proud of the woman that I had become.

The more she talked, the more I laughed, realizing how many of my best childhood memories are shared with her. I also realized how large of a hand she's had in shaping who I am today and I realized how very much I love her.

And Kingston. Because it is my heritage. It is the place where my grandmother taught me to wash clothes by hand, how to pick ackee then sautee it with saltfish. Kingston is where I learned how to properly suck my teeth and say "me soon come" in a proper Jamaican accent and eat Mangoes right from the tree.

Yes, I am the legacy of Mae Phillps. But I call her Mama Mae and she is my grandmother.

As We Go Into A New Year ...

... maybe you should ask yourself a new question.

The question is, what are you willing to do to get what you say you want? Are you willing to discipline your mind and your mouth? Are you willing to get up early, stay up late and work hard all the hours between? Are you willing to work for free? Are you willing to do it with excellence? Are you willing to do it even when your best friend shakes her head, laughs at you and tells you that you're crazy?

The question is, what are you willing to give up to get what you say that you want? Are you willing to give up bad habits, negative thinking, and negative people? Are you willing to take a risk and put your butt on the line when all the signals indicate that you are totally insane? Are you willing to stand up for yourself? To speak for yourself? Are you willing to walk away from the people who will be very upset when you stand up and speak up? Are you willing to walk away from everything you now know to get to something and someplace you can only hope will be what you want it to be?

The question is, who are you willing to be? Are you willing to be a free and independent thinker? Are you willing to be the one who calls the shots? Are you willing to have fun? Are you willing to live in total peace and joy? Are you willing to have fun and joy in total peace all by yourself, if necessary? As long as you can find one excuse not to answer these questions affirmatively. You will never have what you say you want.