Reflection ~ Chris Brown (F.A.M.E.)

I remember the night of the 2009 Grammy Awards vividly! News broke that Chris Brown, the nineteen year-old teen heart-throb, the Upcoming Prince of Pop, heir to the King of Pops apparent throne had been arrested for physically assaulting his then girlfriend Pop Princess Rihanna. I was shocked. I shook my head in disbelief as more details were revealed. It all suddenly became very real when TMZ.com released the photo of Rihanna’s badly beaten face. I could no longer deny that this had occurred. I took a stand — and I will always take a stand against domestic violence! As the police reports were released and after Rihanna did her interview with Diane Sawyer, I felt a softening in my heart for Chris Brown. It surprised even me! But after Rihanna admitted that she hit Chris first, I just felt sorry for both of them.

Better Days

I felt sorry that they were too young and inexperienced in their love to talk and work things out. I felt sorry for them because of the sheltered existence that allowed BOTH of them to act out in inappropriate ways that caused irreparable harm to both of them. I felt sorry that Rihanna had been beaten. I felt sorry that the rising star that Chris had been riding was now tainted and he was now “untouchable!”

Time of course passed and these star-crossed lovers let the dust settle as the judge in the case made her decision for Chris’ sentencing. Community Service and anger management was the penance that he was told to serve and he did so in the allotted time and manner as was prescribed by the judge. Rihanna went forward with the love and support of her peers in the industry and her fans, while Chris continued to be ostracized and ridiculed at every turn.

People questioned his remorse, people questioned his regrets and people even questioned his manhood. What they failed to remember was this boy became a man without the guidance of a father. This boy became a man after watching his own mother being abused and suffering from domestic violence. This boy became a man of “means” after being a boy who came from nothing. This boy became a man in the world of entertainment — where nothing is as it appears. His “friends” deserted him, the people who gave him accolades suddenly refused his calls. He knew he had done wrong, but all he could do was try to grow from it and press forward with his music.

I remember when Chris’ latest CD F.A.M.E. (Forgiving All My Enemies) came out. I was excited for him. I wanted to hear about the things he had learned. I was glad he had time to reflect on his life, his choices, and his “friendships.” His music matured, the lyrics were certainly more sexually explicit and less bubble gum. He had changed, he was embarrassed and remorseful about what had happened but what was crystal clear, people where not ready to hear from him. It is three years later and people still aren’t.

I have to state that, “I do not condone Chris’ actions in beating Rihanna, but I do not believe that this particular action defines who he is and who he shall ever be.” I know that I will lose readers at this juncture, but I encourage you to continue reading.

F.A.M.E. to me, is a call for all of us to really look at what it means to FORGIVE! I realize that this is a difficult task for all of us. No one wants to condone domestic abuse. We know it is not right for guys to hit girls, we also know girls should not hit boys and we all learned that in kindergarten. No one wants to excuse Chris Brown for this assault, but I find it interesting how many other celebrities have not received this type of backlash after a domestic violence issue. Jackson Brown, James Brown, James Taylor, Wesley Snipes and a host full of other celebrities have never seen the likes of other celebrities condemning them, like Miranda Lambert has done towards Chris Brown since the 2012 Grammy’s. The only exception that I can think of was Ike Turner!

Miranda Lambert’s dismay that Chris Brown performed twice at the Grammy’s this year and won two Grammy’s was not an isolated reaction, her’s was just one of the most verbal. Twitter was all a buzz with Chris Brown haters. Domestic Violence haters. Friends began threatening to unfollow each other and in the midst of this three-hour show, something stopped me dead in my tracks! There was a tweet sent out from the Huffington Post from 25 different women, which stated in no uncertain terms that Chris Brown would be welcome to “beat” them as long as these women could be his girlfriend. Yes, you read that correctly! There were young women, whose self-esteem and self-worth is that low that they were willing to broadcast that they would be willing to accept such horrible treatment at the hands of a superstar.

As the parent of a tween aged girl, I found this to be shocking. What are we teaching our girls? Why would this be acceptable? Is the fact that he has “gotten away” with this given young girls and women the ideology that domestic violence is okay? This certainly gives us reason to pause and think about our own reactions to domestic violence, the way we condemn abusers, the way victims are perceived, the way that the law punishes them, and the standards and tolerance that our society holds abusers accountable.

It would be great if both of them put forth a positive message about the pitfalls of being young and in love. It would be great if Chris would talk to young men and tell them that they have an alternative to using their hands. It would be great if Rihanna would tell young girls and women, that sometimes love just ain’t enough and encourage them to feel better about themselves and walk away because love is not supposed to bring them injury or physical harm. They could both be great role models by speaking out about domestic violence, but the public relations machine that makes them their money has advised them both to do otherwise in order to keep the money coming in. Only GOD knows what their future holds, but the aftermath of their relationship has had a great effect on our youth according to the non-profit called Futures Without Violence (formerly known as the Family Violence Prevention Fund), according to their website, “1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped or physically hurt by a partner.”

Chris Brown is a young, talented man who is trying to go forward with his life as is Rihanna and apparently they have found it in their hearts to forgive each other and if they can do that and it truly appears that they both have, then who are we to still judge them!!! As they continue their musical journey this week with the release of two songs that they have released together. One of the two songs (Birthday Cake) is already controversial because of its lyrics and intimate nature.

I can only hope that this will be a peaceful journey for both of them and that they have learned the hard lessons of their youth. It’s their business and as public figures it is now our business. We have the power to speak out against what we believe is wrong but we are not the ultimate judge! GOD is the only judge that matters and GOD is the only one that truly knows both of their hearts. So the next time you begin to spew hatred about an incident that took place three years ago, please take a moment and think about what your own life was like three years ago and how it has changed. Think about a time in your life when you did something that you regretted and think about how hard you worked to overcome that situation. Think of all the people who embraced you at that time and think of all the people who went out of their way to remind to just how terrible you were because of what you did. As you remember that time, I hope that you will find it in your heart to forgive him — not forget what he did, but forgive him. He has already professed his forgiveness for you publicly!

Don’t you think it’s time for us to forgive all our enemies? Let the debate begin!

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Song Of The Week ~ STAND by Donnie McClurkin

I wrote a post about Whitney Houston last week and I believed it would serve as my final farewell.  But one of my favorite gospel singers sang a song that was so appropriate as a farewell to Whitney Houston.

Pastor Donnie McClurkin’s lyrics truly saved me at at time in my life when I felt all hope was gone when my life was at its most difficult and all the lies I told myself to try and cope with being raped rapidly began to unravel.  Pastor Donnie McClurkin was raped at the age of eight by his uncle, his family was ravaged by domestic violence and drug abuse, but he went on to do great work to help people with healing their lives.  I found strength in these words and it reinforced what I knew in my heart but couldn’t reconcile in my head — “You just stand when there’s nothing left to do. You just stand, watch the Lord see you through.  Yes, after you done all you can, you just stand!”

Whitney Houston’s life was full of ups and downs just like everybody else’s, her down period was more notable than most but she stood and held onto her roots and her love of GOD.  There s a lesson for me in this song.  There was a lesson for her in this song.  Sometime in your life there may even be a lesson for you because after you’ve done all you can — you just STAND!

STAND ~ Lyrics

What do you do when you’ve done all you can

And it seems like it’s never enough?

And what do you say when your friends turn away

And you’re all alone, alone?

Tell me, what do you give when you’ve given your all

And it seems like you can’t make it through?
Well you just stand when there’s nothing left to do

You just stand, watch the Lord see you through

Yes, after you done all you can, you just stand
Tell me, how do you handle the guilt of your past?

Tell me, how do you deal with the shame?

And how can you smile while your heart has been broken

And filled with pain, filled with pain?

Tell me what do you give when you’ve given your all

Seems like you can’t make it through?
Child, you just stand when there’s nothing left to do

You just stand, watch the Lord see you through

Yes, after you’ve done all you can, you just stand

Stand and be sure

Be not entangled in that bondage again

You just stand, and endure

God has a purpose, yes, god has a plan!

Song of the Week ~ We Found Love (Cover by Boyce Avenue)

I love music and it touches me in the strangest ways and at the strangest times sometimes. The melodies evoke emotions and memories of times long since passed.  Music is the pulse of my life.  I love popular music, acoustic music, gospel music.  Honestly, I love a little bit of everything!

I am always attracted to the words of a song.  I wonder what the writer was thinking when I hear it.  I often try to avoid seeing a video to a song until I have gotten a grasp of its lyrics because I find that video treatments often don’t match the song.  I had the pleasure of hearing WE FOUND LOVE by Rihanna as an acoustic cover version of the song by Boyce Avenue and I am so glad that I did!  This stripped down version truly touched my heart.

I had forgotten all about Boyce Avenue’s version after Rihanna’s synthesizer infused original version hit the airways and the seductive drug reference filled video hit the video channels.  I watched a behind the scenes show about the making of the video where she said,  “Love is unexplainable, intoxicating and illicit just like a drug.”  She went on to talk about the good and bad sides of love and the feeling of being out of control and how sometimes we need to release the very thing that we value and love in order to love ourself.  To say that I was dumbfounded was an understatement!

Flash forward two months.  It is Sunday morning. January 29, 2012 at my Church’s Bring A Friend to Church Day.  The theme is the “Power Of Love.” The message was about finding a place of love during difficult times.  It was full of hope for the hopeless, spiritually broken, and those that needed to reconnect to the power of the cross and reconnect with GOD.  The message spoke of promises of forgiveness and new life.  Communion was served and the chords of the piano began to play and my favorite soloist began to sing:

“Yellow diamonds in the light and we’re standing side by side”

By the time she sang, “Because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny. But I gotta let it go.”  I was in tears.  I never thought of this song in this context but it was a beautiful call to the altar to restore people’s hopes and dreams.  A call for people to release addictions or hurt and pain from their past.  I was uplifted in a way that I have never been before while listening to this song.  It took on a whole new meaning and its one that I am going to keep in my heart this week and beyond.  Like I said, music can soothe the soul, convict the heart, and release the past.

We Found Love LYRICS:

Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive
Because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

Shine a light through an open door
Love and life I will divide
Turn away cause I need you more
Feel the heartbeat in my mind
Because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

Yellow diamonds in the light
And we’re standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive
I because the way I’m feeling I just can’t deny
But I gotta let it go

We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place

20 Things I’ve Done In My Life ~ Gratitude Journal

GRATITUDE JOURNAL ENTRY #1 for 2012

I have had a great forty+ years of living and I’ve done some pretty awesome things. There are tons more I’d love to do, but this is not a bad list of my top twenty life highlights for my gratitude journal!

1. Married to a wonderful man.

2. Completed my Masters Degree just before I turned 40 years old.

3. Became a Certified Meeting Planner.

4. Gave birth to amazing children.

5. Became a Soccer Mom.

6. Traveled to: Paris, France.

7. Went Parasailing in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico.

8. Sang a solo in front of 3000 at a conference.

9. Walked in a 5k race.

10. I was told by my favorite author, Mr. E. Lynn Harris (R.I.P.) “You have the name of an author!”

11. Danced the night away until I had blisters on my feet.

12. Saved someone’s life by performing CPR.

13. Rescued two children out of a burning apartment.

14. Raised $300,000 to renovate a preschool.

15. Voluntarily read through the entire bible.

16. Had an article published in a magazine.

17. Breast Cancer Survivor.

18. Rape Survivor.

19. Written a book on helping children who suffer from the impact of trauma that is currently being edited for publishing in the Summer of 2012.

20. Made the decision to take back my life and get healthy!

Happy New Year

For those of you that are reading this, thank you for stopping by and welcome to 2012!

It has taken me two days to really focus on something to blog about. I wanted to do a year-end recap but the end of 2011 was not really enjoyable and it’s after effects are still being felt. In spite of having surgery and a minor setback with my recovery, moving to a smaller home and still trying to get rid of the excess “things” that have cluttered my families life, the final blow came on Christmas Eve when we were told that one of my son’s friends who is 21 years old and a new husband and father is dying of cancer. Needless to say 2012 is now all about perspective.

So instead of the traditional resolutions I usually make, I am compelled to really look into myself and into my heart this year to make things better for not only myself but those around me.

MY TEN RESOLUTIONS FOR 2012

1. I resolve, to help develop faith in GOD in my friends and family that are running low.

2. I resolve, to live my life to the fullest in spite of PTSD and my Anxiety Disorder. I resolve to be forthright about my struggles and no longer hide in the shadows.

3. I resolve, to work hard to maintain happiness in my life! I know that I am the only person responsible for my happiness. I am NOT responsible for the happiness of others, I am only responsible to make sure that my actions do not cause others to deliberately become unhappy.

4. I resolve, to continue to bring attention to affects, fight, and research of cancer in honor of Rich, my Mom and me.

5. I resolve, to continue to uncluttered my mind, my heart and my home of useless emotions and things.

6. I resolve, to concentrate on my physical health and I will shed the mental and physical weight that I have hidden behind. My time is now and I have no time to live in the past!

7. I resolve, to focus on things that make me a better person so that I can become a better friend, parent and partner.

8. I resolve, to push forward with my blog writing and novel writing. Being disciplined in my approach and stretching myself to write in genres I have never written.

9. I resolve, to continue to grow and learn something new daily.

10. I resolve, to live my life my way in 2012 and beyond!

Song of the Week — OPTIMISTIC by Sounds of Blackness

Wow it’s Monday already! So many things to be grateful for. So many things to appreciate that people have done for me. So many reasons to keep my head up and be

OPTIMISTIC!

The economy has definitely taken a bite out of my livelihood, my personal finances and my daily way of living. When people lose their jobs they don’t need childcare and when people don’t need childcare — I have an employment problem.

Just two months ago, I sat in my Town & Country with airbags deployed all around me and the engine and other car parts from under the hood sitting at my right hand inside of my demolished van. I was banged up, bruised bit not broken! My van was totaled but I survived.

My job was eliminated due to low enrollment, and I was offered a lower position with much less pay. A couple of weeks later I had a panic attack as I approached my new car and was about to get in to go to my job. My employers were less than understanding and I was extremely frustrated as I finished my last days of my employment with them but I survived and I got a better, higher paying job.

Live has not gone like I planned this summer but I kept pushing harder. I kept things in perspective. I suffered with unimaginable pain, but I took each day to remind myself that I’m still here. It was my optimism and faith in the midst of sorrow, chaos, and uncertainty that ultimately prevailed and led me to a new job, a new car, and a new understanding of who I am and how much I could bare. I know on the days when I didn’t have the strength to get up, it was GOD who carried me. It was GOD who kept food on our table, and friends at my beck and call.

It’s so easy to get bogged down in sadness, but we have to hold onto our dreams and keep our vision while remembering who we are, what we are capable of, and most of all remembering WHO we belong to! We were created to live in the winner’s circle, regardless of how hard our reality seems.

You can win, as long as you keep your head to the sky. Be OPTIMISTIC!

Love,
Sammie
xoxoxo

OPTIMISTIC Lyrics
Keep, keep On…. Never Say Die….

When in the midst of sorrow
You can’t see up when looking down
A brighter day tomorrow will bring
You hear the voice of reason
Telling you this can never be done
No matter how hard reality seems
Just hold on to your dreams

Don’t give up and don’t give in
Although it seems you never win
You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky

Be optimistic

If things around you crumble
No, you don’t have to stumble and fall
Keep pushing on and don’t you look back
I know the storms and strife
Cloud up your outlook on life
Just think ahead and you’ll be inspired
To reach higher and higher.

You’ll always do your best
If you learn to never say never
You maybe down, but you’re not out.
Don’t give up and don’t give in
Although it seems you never win
You will always pass the test as long as you keep your head to the sky
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky (you can win child!)
You can win as long as you keep your head to the sky

Be optimistic
Don’t you let nobody stop you…..
Be optimistic
You can win, Yes
Never say die….

THE HELP — A review through the looking glass

I had read a review of the movie The Help by Russell Simmons last week on http://www.globalgrind.com and he was verbally being assalted because of his appreciation of the film. Some sentiment was just what we need another movie with African American Women being portrayed as hired help, others actually called him a sellout for liking the film. I am not easily swayed and I decided to hold off on the debate and see the movie myself and form my own opinion. Off I went to see The Help on opening day.

I had the pleasure of seeing The Help with my Mom and two younger children on Wednesday. My immediate thoughts were I enjoyed the movie but I am still processing it. Do I recommend you seeing it? I surely do. Take your girlfriends, fiends, dates and teens. Do I think it is worth the Oscar buzz — you bet your sweet cheeks I do! Was I disturbed by portions of the movie? Of course I was. Do I feel as if the African American characters were stereotypical? I do not! Do I think there is power in these African American women’s voices? Yes, indeed, I do, because it is the telling of their stories that created the the lives that African Americans get to live today.

It’s been three days now and I have taken time to reflect on the movie and compare it to the true to life example of my great aunt’s experience as a domestic in Alabama and later on in some of the finest homes in Chicago. This is my Aunt Tee’s story. This is the story of all those women who traveled near and far from their homes to take care of others households.

I always admired my Great-Aunt “Tee” because she was a hard worker and she spent her life raising children other than her own (she was childless) including my father and his four siblings. “Aunt Tee” was a fierce Christian woman who had a sharp wit, and sharp sense of business to match. She managed to buy a house, and send two of her nephews off to college: one to University of Indiana and my Dad off to Purdue. She worked hard as a domestic and she did that so that my Dad and his siblings could have a better life. She often worked 6 days a week and she never complained, she just smiled when she was able to help someone who had less. She was humble and the daughter of a sharecropper.

As I watched The Help, I couldn’t help but think of “Aunt Tee” and all of her struggles. I thought of how she cared for another families children as if they were her own in order to take of her own family. I thought about how she must have felt and how she must have been treated and I just remember her as a wonderful, loving, proud, hard-working woman. One thing that stood out for me in the movie was the bonds that children had with the domestics. I really felt sad for those children that their maternal bond was with the hired help and not their mothers. That really left an impression upon me since I am an Early Childhood Educator, and it is my job to strengthen the bonds of the family not to act as a surrogate mother.

The movie easily transported me into that turbulent time called the 60’s when the Civil Rights Movement was brewing to eradicate the ugliness of the Jim Crow laws. It was interesting to see how the all of women reacted and responded to the social norms that had been dictated to them. Hilly was a monster created by an ambitious nature. She was power-hungry, grandiose, and almost inhumane, unlike her mother who was compassionate, witty, and likable. Millie her housekeeper was verbose, hard-working, stubborn and proud. These two characters represented the battle for civil rights, the battle between the rich and the poor but most importantly they represented the classic dichotomy of good versus evil. Abeline and Skeeter and their quiet strength helped the society women take a look at themselves through the eyes of the help and I can only hope that those “society women” were able to see how truly inhumane and silly they behaved.

I am still processing The Help in terms of race relations in the 60’s and today in 2011, but I do know that there are still some differences that exist like this in certain parts of America, Europe, and India. It saddens me, but this is still reality for some people in parts of the world. I hope The Help will make all of us take a look at ourselves and the doctrine in which we say we believe. I hope The Help will open doors for discussions about the importance of the 60’s and give this generation of people a better understanding of what went on during that time and how what was brewing then has the same undercurrent which is brewing today (think of London).

My final hope is that those who watch this film look into their hearts and NEVER EVER let history repeat itself because we are all made equal and the sun that shines above each of us marries all colors into one race called human!

Defying Gravity


(Glee Version featuring Chris Coffer and Leah Michelle)

Last week seemed to have a recurring theme for me and those around me online and offline. Many of us dealt with FAITH! We either tempted it, my online friend @SharonDV did the CN Tower Walk in Ontario, Canada and survived. Alex @L8enough struggled with faith, My friend/Sister @MOMmagRocks as we begin to challenge ourselves to get out of our comfort zone and do something DARING! Finally, I literally verbally fought with someone I love because of my faith (I assure you it wasn’t my finest Christian moment).

This week has been an incredible week for each of us, but when I look back at it I hope Sharon, Alex, Tamara and J know that they are loved beyond anything they can humanly measure. I hope that they continue to challenge themselves and continue defying gravity and press forward with the courage and questioning that inspires so many people. We are each evolving, growing, clinging to and testing our FAITH. Life can be a bumpy journey but I’m so glad to have met each of you as I have traveled along my path.

Defying Gravity Lyrics ~ from the Musical WICKED
(Melody Sung by Idina Menzel the first wife of MY HUSBAND Taye Diggs — LOL)

Something has changed within me,
Something is not the same.
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game.

Too late for second-guessing,
Too late to go back to sleep.
It’s time to trust my instincts,
Close my eyes and leap.

It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m Defying Gravity
And you won’t bring me down…

I’m through accepting limits
‘Cause someone says they’re so.
Some things I cannot change,
But till I try, I’ll never know.

Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost.
Well, if that’s love,
It comes at much too high a cost!

I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity.
Kiss me goodbye,
I’m defying gravity.
I think I’ll try
Defying Gravity
And you won’t bring me down.

I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity.
Kiss me goodbye,
I’m defying gravity.
I think I’ll try
Defying Gravity

And you won’t bring me down.
Bring me down!
Ahhahhoahh

Waiting on the World to Change

A few years ago when I completed my Master’s degree I was ready to set the world on fire! My graduate school experience was an exhausting process, but I did it. I worked hard to balance being a wife and mother, keeping up with all of my readings and assignments, working full-time, and completing my thesis. I was proud of myself. I had completed my goal of of finishing my studies before I turned forty.

When I gave my Valedictorian Speech I chose not to focus on the struggles I had gone through to get to that day, I choose to reflect on a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Grad School was the beginning of creating the change I wanted to see in the world. I was hungry to create change for my family, economically speaking. I was compelled to create change in the ways that children were taught. I was driven to become a catalyst for change within my community. I worked hard to change things around me and I tried to leave things better than I found them, but in all my hard work and efforts to create change around me, I neglected the most important changes that needed to occur — those that began inside of me!

As I begin my unemployment, I’m reminded of all the hopes and dreams I had when I graduated. I completed the goal to finish school but I accepted a “job” and I was waiting on the world to change instead of BEING THE CHANGE I wanted to see in the world. Well, now I’m looking forward to the creating the opportunity to find balance between my life, my work and my community. One thing I know for sure is all lasting change begins and ends with me. Change can’t be instructed — it must be applied in thin layers in order to survive. I’m ready to put in the work and BE the change I want to see in the world. I can’t wait to see what my future holds!