If you could have any singer, musician, artist… perform at your wedding/reception or renewing of vows, who would you choose and what song(s)?
Ok, I know some of you might be thinking “Is she really suggesting that I try doing a triathlon? Uh, I can’t, I’m not in shape, I can’t swim,….” First, let me say, if you like diversity in your workout and a little bit of a challenge, doing a triathlon is probably right up your alley.
Even if you aren’t a good swimmer or feel like you’re out of shape, this can be a fun event for you to start. Particularly, indoor triathlons are great for those that are just learning or not strong swimmers. Typically the swim portion takes place in an indoor pool that is shallow enough for you to walk or stop if need be. You can take each segment at your own pace and not feel overwhelmed.
Indoor triathlons are based on the distance you do in a particular time. Usually they entail a 10-min swim, 20 min bike, and 15 min run. The bike is done on an elliptical or spin bike and the run on the treadmill, unless the location has an indoor track. They are fun and you will be done in an hour. Indoor tris also are great preparation events for outdoor events and if you’ve never done one.
Different park districts or gyms sponsor them and if you’re looking for one in your area, feel free to check http://www.active.com or even Lifetime Fitness gyms have them in a variety of states, see http://www.indoortri.com/
Check out and feel free to comment or tweet me and let me know if you’re up to ‘try a tri’!!
Well, last week in the post “Create Your Day, Your Year, Your Life”, I mention writing and saying affirmations. It’s crazy how I keep getting confirmation on things. This past Sunday, our pastor’s sermon was on how we can “speak life” into our circumstances, situations, our journey and the power of our words. So I decided to follow up with my thoughts on the power of speaking positivity and life to ourselves and others.
To be honest, I have a very low tolerance for negativity, drama, and deconstructive energy. We all have our own trying times that get us down, and I think one should also be very selective in the people they open up to because not everyone is going to give you encouragement. This is not to say that there are not those that can give you sound advice or suggestions, but be mindful of not surrounding yourself with haters, gossipers, people who are simply jealous or dispiriting. Try as I might to be uplifting to others, if someone is determined to embrace negative energy, I tend to stay away and just pray for them. For those that are discouraged and receptive, I think it’s just as important to speak uplifting words of encouragement to them as well as ourselves.
I often have positive thoughts, tell myself or even read silently encouraging things I write, but there is even more power in the spoken word. Recently something that I’ve resolved to do more consistently is to actually speak out loud to myself. I want to encourage you to do the same. When doing this, I really get into it, my attitude and voice is emphatic and it just brings a dynamic spirit and atmosphere into my soul, the room, and creates my day.
So below, I went ahead and shared a snippet of a list of statements that I’ve been saying out loud to myself every day (preferably in the morning). You can also carry with you, put in your phone and state them throughout the day or in moments when you feel tested or disheartened. Feel free to duplicate, amend, or add as I want to encourage you to affirm for yourself things that you seek to create in your own life, as well as others.
I will make a difference to our youth and change our communities.
I will achieve a level of wealth to be able to bless others more abundantly.
I choose to walk in good health, positivity & lots of energy.
I have joy!
I establish a foundation for my life, home, career, where God leads me & desires me to be.
My relationship with God will keep growing.’
I will have a beautiful relationship with a Godly, loving, and amazing man.
I love myself enough to choose only the best that God opens to me.
I release negativity that blocks who I am/who God made me to be.
God is working everything for my good. Relax…just wait & see!!
I accept & embrace love, peace & joy right now.
I open my heart & allow wonderful things to flow into my life.
The warmth of love surrounds me.
I embrace fun, youthfulness and new possibilities each day!
I am powerful and changing the world.
I originally wrote this as a post for having a powerful day, however, in entering 2013, this is a perfect time to embrace this for the New Year and beyond. I’m not one for making New Year’s resolution or focusing too much on the New Year, as I feel that it’s important to know that each and every day that we’re given is an opportunity to be powerful, set forth new things, as well as have growth, transformation, and a renewal of self.
With that said, there are a few things I decided to share that I incorporate daily to center myself on being powerful and the person who I’m called and was created to be.
Daily deeds (*indicated by DD)
Doing and/or updating a vision board. For those that don’t know, this is a visual board of photos, pictures, and images of things you want to achieve and have for your future. It’s a way to visualize and see things for your life; professionally, personally, spiritually, financially, and in various other aspects.
I very much believe in the power of the spoken word. Truth be told, I need to do this more. Affirmations are a way to speak into your life. You can type or write various positive statements and post them up for you to say aloud to yourself each day. Sometimes life can get you down. People and things can bring negativity, disruption and trials. So, affirmations are a good way of speaking encouragement and positive declarations into your life. Like the word of God has the power to create the world, what you speak has the power to manifest your reality.
Gratitude List *DD
It’s very important to look at all things you have been blessed with and be grateful. Even if you think you don’t have much or are dealing with illness, financial difficulties, heartbreak, a loss, or other challenges, there are many things to be thankful for. Writing a list and keeping a journal of things that you are grateful for is a great way to stay mindful of how blessed you are. It allows you to focus on the positive versus things that may not be going well, plus if you’re not grateful for what you already have, why should you expect to be blessed with more.
If you are a music lover like me, this can make the difference in a single moment. Something as simple as waking to or playing music can kick start my day or change my mood.
Prayer & Meditation *DD
Before you seek anything in life, as a Christian, I personally believe you must first ask what is meant for your life, what is your purpose, what are you meant to do, what are the gifts that God has given you. It is in prayer and meditation that you can find these answers. It is essential to do both. Prayer is our way of talking, asking and telling things to God, but without meditation, putting yourself in a space to listen and hear from Him to get answers and direction, you can find yourself lost. Each day is an opportunity to speak as well as listen to Him.
Stillness and Fasting
I’ll admit that both of these take discipline and level of spiritual growth that is committed to doing things that are not always easy. I won’t get too much into fasting, but to deny yourself of various things, not necessarily just food, puts you in a place to submit to God as well as get clarity or just spending time developing your relationship with Him. Fasting for a day, a week, or 40 days, gives you time to focus on your spiritual walk. This and stillness, for me personally, I embrace particularly when I don’t have direction, when I’m not clear or struggling to get confirmation on things in life. However, there are times that I simply feel God is calling me to fast. I will also say that stillness, especially for someone who is a mover and shaker, a doer and hard-worker, at one point was incredibly hard. However, like many things, God takes us through challenges and changes that grow us. In persevering through it all, we evolve and allow Him to shape and mold us. (James 1:2-5)
Scripture Reading *DD
Reading the word of God allows us to continually grow in our relationship with God, as well as our understanding of our lives and purpose. Today, it is easier to commit to reading daily with online reading devotions that can be sent daily to your email, Bible apps and plans on your phone, even to the point you can have the audio read to you while driving in the car.
BAB – Be A Blessing *DD
I already have a giving heart and spirit, but to be intentional on a daily or weekly basis to impact another’s life would be a way to step it up. Why not challenge ourselves to go out of our way to call someone we normally don’t speak to, shoot an encouraging email, post an uplifting song, even send a gift or somehow use our talents to touch another person EVERY day, especially those that may be struggling. Through blessing others and allowing yourself to be used to touch someone in a special way, it allows us to create a better life and a better world.
I thought as a final list, I’d post about my top readings of 2012. Seeing I have a habit of reading more than one book at the same time (my mood can vary on what I want to read from day to day), some I haven’t quite finished, but so far are pretty good. Here are a few that I really enjoyed or are currently having the pleasure of reading and would definitely recommend. **Note: these are not books published in 2012 but that I’ve read this year.
This spiritual and philosophical book is a powerful one on the journey, convictions and transformation t Dr. King emphasizes for change in our society…our world. He points to our inner spirit, authenticity, vulnerability, fear, struggle, purpose and ultimately the ability to embrace and demonstrate love to one another.
Written from a spiritual perspective, this is a phenomenal book that I feel every woman and young lady should read to tap into the depths of one’s heart, a mirror to her own beauty, and truly cherishing who one is. The way the book focuses on the desires or longings of a woman’s heart, intimacy, experiences of love and sex; it causes one to reflect on life, to recapture an innocence and purity of the heart, mind and body, and allows one to truly fall in love with oneself and who God intended you to be all over again. I actually plan to do a online video stream and chat with teens and young women on this book, so look out!
This book engages us in a conversation on how to embrace hip hop or shall I say the hip hop generation as it has evolved into one that often depicts African Americans in a negative light. With music focusing on money, crime, sex and sexual imagery, indifference to what is happening in our communities and more, the book focuses on how to have a dialogue that allows us to critique the music while still embracing it and the generation that lives by it.
I’ve already done two previous postings on this book. In some ways, it can be seen as unconventional and even controversial, but it also speaks to the desire to seek God and truth. Though only half-way through, this book is thought-provoking and spiritually re-awakening in how it prompts to you to seek God within you. Feel free to read my previous posts for more…
Conversations With God: Part 1
Conversations With God: Part 2
Not so much a biographical or autobiographical book but in the words of Duke Ellington. This book is more so a perspective of the man and music from himself and those who played with him. Ellington gives his insights on what jazz is, how he sees and hears music, and his life experiences as a music legend. The book includes interviews, as well as accounts of performances, tours, travels, and the span of his career.
This is an amazing book especially for those in a place of seeking God, seeking discernment, growing in one’s faith, and perhaps feeling lost or unsure about life. The book focuses on truly ‘listening’. There is an emphasis on developing a two-way relationship with God and the book takes you through various exercises, questions, and recommendations in the act of truly discerning God’s voice. This is one book that I’d definitely read again.
Just making a small dent in this book, this is a biographical look at one of the greatest musicians, songwriters, singers. Stevie is a personal favorite of mine, so it is intriguing to learn more in-depth about his life, his experiences, and the man himself.
This is a philosophical book that translates the reflections and thoughts of the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius. The 12 books that make up this body of work are an analysis of self covering a wide range of spiritual, personal, intellectual writings on a variety of aspects of life; virtue, human understanding, the substance of man, faith, and so much more.
Notable Books I’m set to read for 2013
Divided Soul: Life of Marvin Gaye – David Ritz
Discourses and Select Writings – Epictetus
I thought this would be an appropriate post with all this talk about 12/21/12. No, I don’t necessarily believe the world will end today, because no one knows what day or time that will take place. I did decide to re-read Matthew 24 to reflect on, in part “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father…Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” – Mt 24:36, 42-44
This prompted me to ask the question “Are you ready?”
I often reflect over the year and even life in general, and one thing I do do is really pay attention to the world and how we are spoken to.
This last year, as in past ones, many things have occurred where I see God speaking to us in a powerful way, such as:
– The death and worldwide attention to Whitney Houston’s passing and funeral, including LL Cool J leading a prayer at the Grammy’s
– Athletes who have acknowledged God and brought Him to the forefront publicly like Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin, Allyson Felix testifying about her faith: “My speed is a gift from God, and I run for his glory..Whatever I do, it all comes from him.”, Gabrielle Douglas: “I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to him and the blessings fall down on me.”
– Obama praying with his administration, March 2012:
– The magnitude of Hurricane Sandy
– The shocking and horrifying shooting of 26 including 20 innocent children in Newtown, Connecticut
God has a way of showing up and being all around us even in the smallest things, from a child’s smile, to the sun shining as you wake up, to the face of a homeless person, or even a difficult or hurtful situation. In all kinds of people, things and spaces, He’s there, if we just stop to look. It is especially these huge and large scale arenas, events, and circumstances, where He and His message ring loud, like large mass wake up calls.
He’s giving us time to be ready.
I often hear people say ‘carpe diem’ or ‘seize the day’ or ‘tomorrow is not promised’. I hope we all begin to take that to heart. Not simply as an opportunity to accomplish things, but also to see each day as a potentially final chance to be all that we are called to be and do, to seek His face, and walk the path He’s laying for each and every one of us.
– In how we treat and have treated others, ensuring we are at peace with people and our relationships
– In experiencing joy and gratitude for all the things that we have, those in our lives, things we have experienced.
– In those things we have held off doing, but keep hearing a voice nudging us to do them.
It’s as simple as asking ourselves each day, “if today was the last day of my life, am I at peace with the life I’ve led?”, “have I done all that I know I was meant to do?”
“Did I hug my parent/children/siblings when I last saw them? Did I tell my family ‘I love you’?”
“What were my last words to every person my life has touched? Was it positive, uplifting, a blessing?”
“Did I thank God for this day, all that He’s done, did I acknowledge & praise Him for everything He is?”
“Have I listened to His voice, and been obedient and doing that which He’s led me to do, used my gifts & talents in the way He desires?”
Even if today the world is not ending, it’s still a day to reflect on these things and act if there is some void or area in your life that you’re not at peace with or in a place to truly say’ I’m ready’. Take this day as one to keep watch and ‘get ready’.
We all are still wrapping our heads around the Newtown, CT tragedy. I can be a pretty emotional person so I had to stop watching footage and stories or I’d be crying all the time as so many things were bringing me to tears. However, after seeing so many different reactions, I wanted to probe deeper into the spirit of who we are as a nation, a people, a society.
The day of the incident, conversations with peers, Facebook statuses, my Twitter timeline, and more included a variety of sentiments.
Some expressed moving out of this country.
Some expressed a need for gun control.
Some expressed anger at how someone can go around and kill children.
Some expressed a desire for a discussion on violence and the culture of violence in the U.S.
We can change laws; we can move away, we can get angry, we can talk, but I began to wonder how do we truly get to the source of what we, this world needs; how to get to the heart of the matter and how God can use me to do so. I often hear, “they need to” or even “we need to”, which usually translates to politicians, people that it is believed are directly impacted or can have an impact, or simply put someone else. I’m a big advocate for being the change we want to see and how each and every single one of us can take accountability for each and everything that occurs in our society be it something we do or something we don’t do.
I think because we are so accustomed to having past leaders, like Gandhi, Muhammad, Dr. King, and looking to someone else to lead a change, when in all actuality if every individual person did something or devoted their life to something that brings change to our way of life, we can collectively have a greater impact.
We, and I do mean myself as well, get so caught up in our own little world, that we don’t do the things that can begin to make even small changes in our community, neighborhood, city, state, etc…that ultimately begin to transform the whole world.
I say all this to say, if each of us took responsibility for what happened not just in Newtown, but also all the street and gang violence, the war affected countries, and various other things that we may hear and read about that we don’t like, feel is unacceptable, and think should change, then we begin to ask ourselves, what can and do I need to do to change this? What (no matter how small) is something I can contribute to, work towards, and have a commitment to DOING that can positively impact these issues?
Now of course there are so many different causes and issues in this world from health care to education, from violence to environment. But for every problem, there are at least a million people on this planet that if they each did something towards these issues each day, each week, or even a couple of times a month/year, we’d likely begin to see change take place.
So, I’m going to start with this issue of violence. Feel free to reflect on your own things that you are passionate about, but for the sake of this post which specifically speaks to violence, I have one question that is not intended to be a rhetorical one.
What is at least one thing that you feel you can do to create positive change in the violence that is occurring in the world?
In my 7th grade youth development program, we had a discussion on social media a few weeks ago and I was thinking to post about that topic then. Well, with the backlash about recent events with Instagram, and this recent dispute between Twitter & Instagram, I figure I’d share some thought on all this.
We asked them what they thought about social media, the good and the bad. They like the fact that it’s easy to post things that your friends and family can see all at one like photos & videos versus having to text or email each one. They also recognized the benefits of it along with promoting and announcing things about yourself, what you do, how you’re doing, things you’re working on, promoting music and projects, and more. We even delved into the whole concern about appropriate vs. inappropriate posts, photos & videos, as well as safety concerns of Foursquare and letting everyone know where you are in the moment of a post.
One thing that I share with my young people, especially as a techie myself is this simple rule of thumb:
If there is anything that you don’t mind ANYONE, and I mean your parents, the police, the owners of these social media networks, or the whole world to see or use, that you’re thinking to post, then by all means feel free to do so. If there is anyone you wouldn’t want to see or use it, then don’t.
Yes, I’m that kind of person that works with youth that follow me and are friends with me. My pastor, church members, as well as my family members follow me on Twitter and Instagram. There is nothing I wouldn’t want them to see now or 10-20 years from now. I often see people posting sexually explicit pictures, photos of them with drugs or guns, personal thoughts or statuses, or things that they may want to be private. And maybe they are cool with this, but often I find that in time they either regret they posted something and once it’s out there it’s out there…to be seen, copied, downloaded, and used for whatever anyone else can think of.
“When you are posting on FB, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, a website, etc…you are leaving your intellectual property on someone else’s site, server and/or service. It’s like leaving your coat, book, purse or whatever at someone else’s house. You may feel like it’s still yours, but since it’s at someone else’s house, they can use it or do what they want with it seeing it’s in their possession.”
Truthfully, I assume the worst case scenario that anyone that can see or has access to my pictures, posts, music, and videos, can and maybe will do whatever they can with them. I’m not saying I want them to, but I never know. So if there is something you want to hold on to and not be seen, and possibly borrowed, used, leaked, manipulated, then don’t put it out there in cyberspace.
I mean how many of us have googled for a picture and saved or copied it for use on a flyer, a profile pic, a background pic, the cover of a paper or something similar? How many have tweeted quotes of others? How many have regrammed Instagram pics? Truthfully, not everyone has some malicious intent or is trying to profit or milk someone else’s talent…or at least I’d like to think.
However, I guess from reading the book ‘1984’ in high school, I’ve always thought about the use of technology. We give people access to seeing and using what we do and we make it convenient for government and companies to do so. With the ease of use of these services to reach more people, we also put ourselves in the position to allow others to use what we share for their own purposes and benefit (i.e. make money, advertise). And it’s not right, but often it is done without your consideration, concern, or even acknowledgment.
In many ways, technology has made things easier for us (to sell, to promote, to share things on a grander scale), but it also has made us more vulnerable to others using our gifts, talents, information, thoughts, and likeness. One can argue it’s the price we pay for convenience, however, we should always consider is that a price we are willing to pay.
Just something to think about, before you share your next post.
Below my list, please feel free to comment with YOUR top albums of 2012. Though not in any particular order, I tried to narrow it down to my top 7 but I couldn’t decide to take sum off this list so, here you go…
Favorite Songs: De Novo Adagio (Intro), When It’s All Over, Fire We Make, One Thing
Best Described As: Absolutely beautiful music, in message & spirit. Uplifting, refreshing and powerful. A complete project, album flows well.
Least Liked Feature: Don’t have a least liked aspect. I like this whole album.
Read full review
Favorite Songs: I honestly can’t pick favorites off this project. Just gotta listen to the whole thing…simply amazing!
Best Described As: Ambient, colorful, mystical, stirs the senses
Least Favorite Feature: The music is so beautiful that some songs that are short I almost want them to be longer.
Favorite Songs: B—- Don’t Kill My Vibe, Backseat Freestyle, Poetic Justice, Sing About Me I’m Dying of Thirst, The Recipe
Best Described As: Amazing production, a truly classic album
Least Favorite Feature: This is such a strong album, he’s hitting cut after cut, though the last 4 songs (bonus tracks) didn’t really have the same impact in my opinion.
Favorite Songs: Grand Endtrance, Balcony, Torture Chamber, Peace and War
Best Described As: On a whole other level in production, artistry & message. Possessing variety with an epic sound. Thought-provoking. Powerful.
Least Liked Feature: Another complete project that can’t say I have anything I don’t like about this album.
Read full review
Favorite Songs: No Introduction, Daughters, Bye Baby, Trust
Best Described As: Hard-hitting, clean, dope hip-hop
Least Favorite Feature: The song “World’s An Addiction” without some drums the song kind of came across watered-down.
Favorite Songs: Move Love ft. KING, Ah Yeah ft. Musiq & Chrisette Michelle, The Consequences of Jealousy ft. Michelle Ndegeocello, Letter to Hermoine ft. Bilal
Best Described As: Soothing, melodious, an album that speaks to the body, mind & heart
Least Favorite Feature: No complaints, can listen to this over and over again.
Favorite Songs: In The Middle Of The Night, Golden Temple, As We Stand Here Together, I Say (ft. L. Santiago)
Best Described As: Smooth, amazing production, hitting but with some melodic grooves too
Least Favorite Feature: Another really solid project that I can’t say I have anything specific I don’t like.
Favorite Songs: Round the Outside, Moogy Foog It, Esperanza, Double Trouble, Summer Madness S.A., No Way
Best Described As: Simply dope, a variety of so many different sounds from slamming drums to smoothed out melodic to electro and more.
Least Favorite Feature: I don’t think I have a least favorite feature. There are 34 tracks on this project so you may not like every one, but I like and appreciate listening to the different sounds he creates, especially for his own project.
Favorite Songs: Objectum Sexuality, In The A, Lines ft. A$AP Rocky & Phantogram, Raspberries, Descending
Best Described As: This is hot, bangin, will make you wanna dance or at least move your body.
Least Favorite Feature: Overall album doesn’t flow together and ‘Mama Told Me’ doesn’t fit at all, song I really am not feeling.
Notable Albums of 2012
Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 – Lupe Fiasco
Channel Orange – Frank Ocean
Two Eleven – Brandy
A Dream Deferred – Skyzoo
Let It Go – House Shoes