Posted in Career, Social Commentary, Writing Prompt

Good News and Bad News

Daily writing prompt
What jobs have you had?

🎶 I left a good job in the city...just kidding. I actually have a new job. Welcome to the blog of a newly appointed Operations Systems Manager! While it may seem like a lateral move from my previous position, the trajectory of my career has taken a completely different direction. It’s an organic opportunity that resulted from flexing my superpower of innovation. I’ve always had a talent for embracing new technology and making it do what it’s supposed to do. Office support has been my entire career. As organizations introduced PCs, the internet, email, Microsoft products, and countless other advancements, I always morphed into some form of an administrator. I’d be the one throwing up my hand to get the system up and running, set operational parameters, and ensure things continued to work as intended. The fact that I get to do this as my core job rather than my side gig is fantastic! I’m looking forward to this new phase of my career. Wish me luck!

RIP Tina Turner (November 26, 1939 – May 24, 2023) – She was the manifestation of what we all could make of the adversities of our lives if we just believe in ourselves and stay true to who we really are. She will always inspire me to keep going, even if I need to take a few minutes to water the dirt beneath my feet.

Posted in Social Commentary

A Transplant’s View of Stockton

Twenty-two years ago, I moved to Stockton, California, which is about 90 miles east of San Francisco. The husband I had at that time earned us an eviction from our Bay Area apartment causing all other rental opportunities to fall through. I was on the brink of becoming disheartened when I learned from a realtor that while landlords would be squeamish about renting to me, a bank would possibly be willing to if I tidied up the old credit report.

That launched a streak of good fortunes: My parents took in my five babies, a work friend generously offered me a room in her already cramped apartment, and my supervisor, whom I had confided in, gave me as much overtime as I needed.

Within three months, I had paid off the credit oversights and saved up the amount needed for a down payment. On July 1, 2000, I was handed the keys to my new four-bedroom, three-bathroom home and moved in without the spouse but with the anticipation of my sixth child, due to arrive on July 29th. This was all possible because Stockton was, and still is, one of the last bastions of affordable home ownership in California.

One day after I was reunited with my other five children in our new home, we were coming out of Walmart when an old farmer-looking man in overalls walked up to us with a bag of oranges. He greeted me and said “Your children are just precious. I’d like you to have these.” He handed me a bag of oranges from the bed of his truck that was brimming with bags. It was a simple gesture of kindness, but it made me feel good about making Stockton my home, and despite many contradicting opinions, I continue to hold on to that feeling.

Right now, October 2022, Stockton has had 43 homicides, surpassing last year’s total homicide count of 39 and there is a report of a possible serial killer running loose.1 Other violent crimes like rape, aggravated assault, and robbery are constants, as is the lack of inspiration, guidance, and career possibilities for many of our young people transitioning into adulthood.

Over the years, my children have seen many friends die from gun violence. They have seen schoolmates incarcerated for choosing to succumb to the lure of gangs and drugs. And they have seen what mental health struggles do to families that are ill-equipped to manage.

Two of my daughters were robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of their apartment complex. One of those daughters and a niece were also held up at gunpoint while working at their fast food job. I could belabor the point by adding the number of killings that have happened within a one-mile radius of my home, but you understand.

There are serious crimes and many hard times in this city that I love; however, none of this is particularly unique to this city. So, I remain committed to my beloved Stockton because it is also full of a lot of great people, places, and things.

Penny Mims, of Mim’s Corner, is one of those great people. She and her husband Tony, along with many volunteers, spend two Sunday afternoons a month in their ministry passing out food, clothes, and other necessities to the homeless. They also coordinate family outreach programs during the holidays and throughout the year that feed low-income families and provide toys and other necessities for children.

This city is also full of progressive-minded people who, in 2016, voted in the youngest Mayor in the country, Michael Tubbs, whose life story of high achievements from humble beginnings is inspirational to many. His passion for community guided his innovative approach to closing the wealth gap and unapologetically serving those who lacked representation.

Stockton Activism. We Care!

Stockton’s farmer’s markets host beautiful, fresh produce, and provide a venue for Channel a highly driven Latina wife, mother, and owner of Freedom Rising Earrings to sell her beautiful handmade jewelry to supplement her family’s income as she journeys through law school. I can’t forget many of the other community and ethnic-centric events hosted at the San Joaquin Fair Grounds and the lovely downtown waterfront.

I’m a terrible videographer :-/
Quick View of Downtown.

The hidden gems of the city are its charming neighborhoods like the Victory Park area with its old craftsman-style homes and the lavish homes overlooking the San Joaquin Delta in the Brookside and West Lincoln Village areas.

Let me not forget the food! Don’t miss the two-dollar street tacos from El Grullito’s Taco truck in the parking lot on the Robinhood side of Sherwood Mall, or the amazing Wing’s and Pizza from Smitty’s Wing’s and Things, a family-owned restaurant with the best wings you will ever taste! And lastly, Prime Table Steak House with their 45-day aged burger that will change your life or my husband’s newfound favorite their beef bourginon.

For nature and scenic beauty, you can’t beat the San Joaquin Delta, the waterway that makes Stockton the Central Valley’s gateway to the world. Large shipping vessels from Japan, Russia, and other countries can be seen moving in and out of the channel. It is also the place you go to escape the heat of the summer and where many residents spend much time on various banks throughout the city casting lines into the water and retrieving bass, catfish, and even the elusive sturgeon.

Village West Marina, September 19, 2022
The view from a walk along the banks of the Delta.

As I am writing this article, I am sitting in my travel trailer at the Village West Marina looking out at the lush greenery along the Delta and listening to bird songs. Earlier in the day my husband (I upgraded) and I rented a couple of Kayaks from H20 Excursions, another family-owned business, and enjoyed some fun exercise out on the water. The Marina is ever-changing and growing. Its two restaurants, Garlic Brothers and Bob’s at the Marina are wonderful places to eat and gaze out at the water. There is the new Sunset Sweets where you can grab ice cream treats. I can’t list everything the Village West Marina has to offer so be sure to check out their website.
Kayaking on the Delta!

There is a desperate need to end the violence that plagues this city. Our elected officials swear they are trying; in the meantime, and while we lend our voices to discontent, we would do our hearts good by reflecting on the goodness that can be found here, as well as the possibilities that are represented by all the people and all the businesses I have come to love in this city. The city of Stockton. The city I call home.

Double Rainbow, captured on Hammer Lane September 19, 2022

1As of October 15th Police report that they have a suspect in custody. He was caught around 2am in my neighborhood park and lived in the Stone Brier apartments not too far away from me.

Posted in Social Commentary

Transcript of Episode 2 – Method for Gaining Empathy

Podcast Recording

Welcome to another edition of Gathering Wool.

I am your host Shonda Rene

The Mission of this podcast is to get people to:

think in more positive ways;

Interact with others in positive ways;

Look at unexamined beliefs and feelings in new ways as they relate to life and recent events; and
to encourage engaged reflections starting with the source of the issue at hand

It’s sort of like you all are on my personal journey of growth. I do this through random musings that I ruminate on throughout the week. It could be about absolutely anything that springs up through my day that stays on my mind and gets me on that road of self-examination that I mentioned a moment ago. 

For this episode we’re going to explore a thought that sprung up as I was watched Bobby Brown’s new reality show, Bobby Brown Every Little Step.  The show is a look into Bobby’s personal struggles and his family life. This was Season 1 Episode 5

The segment involved Alicia, Bobby’s wife of 10 years, she was preparing herself for Bobby’s tour with New Edition and how that could impact his sobriety. The last time he was on tour with them he did an excessive amount of drugs and alcohol and ended up having a heart attack that he walked away from with a stint as a souvenir.

In this segment, Alicia went to a Reiki Master who said something that got the wheels of thought turning. He listed a number of challenges she has faced and told her she’d beat the challenges and emotions of fear and anxiety brought on by anything headed her way. 

I wondered how she’d continue to rise to the challenge of overcoming the pain and suffering she’s experienced should the unfortunate happen. 

One word instantly came to mind. And that was acceptance. I had drawn the conclusion that acceptance was the only way to move beyond devastating events of life. Events that are beyond our control, or events that absolutely can’t be changed. 

As I thought about it I challenged myself to try to get into a mental space that would allow me to get close to how it would feel to get to that place of acceptance. To see how my body would respond and if I could actually just accept a devastating event like the loss of a child. I have friends and family members who have lost children so I have been close to that anguish. But being close to it isn’t living in it. 

Many years back I went through a very difficult divorce. One where I was actually reeling from behavior and actions that many men have gone through in terms of parental alienation syndrome. Ever since I got through that situation with the love and respect of my children intact, I’ve had the resounding thought that only the loss of one of my children could move me back into that place of utter despair. The reason I felt so strongly about that is that simply thinking about such a loss made my heart beat faster, my stomach became ill, and I had to rush the thought from my mind. 

Thankfully it was just a thought that I could push away and replace with a reflection of how I felt the moment I had acknowledged that I had overcome the extreme domestic mental abuse and on rare occasions the physical abuse I suffered for years. I felt unstoppable. The anxiety and fear that I’d lived with all of my life that made me ripe for such a relationship was no more. I felt light. I felt new. But at the same time, I realized that losing either one of my children was the absolute single thing that would break me. Right now at this moment, I am praying that these contemplations do not manifest such an event. Life can be tragically ironic that way. 

But I wanted to share this because it’s the way I try to process things. I try to mentally step into whatever situation I am struggling to understand in an honest way that would provoke true feelings and reactions and I question them and try to answer as honestly as I possibly can. 

Why do I feel this way? 

Why do I think this or that? 

Is that thought even true? And 

are these feelings or these thoughts rooted in love or fear?  

This is my method for developing empathy or simply viewing things from another perspective that could be just as true as my own. 

This has helped me to embrace or to give grace to more people, I did not say everyone of course. And that is not because it’s without effort. It’s because there are doors that simply don’t open. Or at least they do not open to me and I accept that. 

I want to also say that it’s a slow process that our fast-moving world doesn’t always allow for. 

It’s a pause that has to be deliberately taken and the necessary time spent to feel that the best effort was made while leaving room for the possibility that one can do more. 

It’s also not to say I always express a cum-ba-ya kinda personality. I have my moments, and I cuss like a sailor and always have since elementary school. It’s a very bad habit that I’ve always chastised myself for but dammit, sometimes those words are all ya got. 

While I’m thinking about this another thought sprung to mind. How much I appreciate access to celebrity shows like Bobby Brown Every Little Step and while the Red Table Talk has suffered some challenges as of late, the similarity of both shows inviting viewers into some level of transparency into celebrity lives with the hope of helping their audience improve their own lives in some way is why I am pulling in the Red Table Talk. 

As a side note, I have a sincere disdain for celebrity worship and am working on fine-tuning my language when someone asks if I like this or that celebrity to be specific and speak to the work they produce rather than the individual. The work is true and is what stays constant, while the person can be a chameleon and is prone for change in any direction. 

I feel that shows like those, that show black celebrities, in particular, extending themselves in ways that allow us to explore experiences and unexamined beliefs from as open a space as might be possible is admirable. 

While they are reality shows and go only so far into reality, what they do bring up are real struggles and situations that we all can take in and use as yardsticks against the value of love that should be the foundation of everyone’s existence. Self-examination from that foundation is key to changing the world for the better. Seeing vulnerability in action is important. Vulnerability is naked truth and a sacred gift from one person to another. 

Keep in mind that not all reality shows are created equal. Some are foolishness for the sake of foolishness. But I think these two shows strive to do some good for people

So I am going to just leave it right there. 

If you enjoyed this episode please be sure you subscribe and follow or whatever the method is for the platform you use to stay in touch with what’s going on with Gather Wool.

Until next time, always choose love. 

Posted in Poetry, Social Commentary

Be Kind

The contentious tango between older generations and the young has been going on since the birth of Cain and Abel (parable characters used purely for symbolic reference). The only difference is the technology that is used to facilitate the discourse.

I’m posting this poem, Be Kind, by Charles Bukowski, for my beautiful millennial children because it is an exact replica of many of our conversations about the way millennials engage older people and their view of the world. It begins with my refrain and transitions to their honest, brave and resolute responses. This generation does not go along just to get along, which is what previous generations did and I truly admire that. I’m actually cheering them on even though the end goal is not completely clear. I just hope that their englightened rebelliousness leads to a kinder world where values are shifted to people rather than things so that we can correct the course we’re on which, for all intents and purposes, is continuing old and creating new unnecessary suffering and loss.

This poem exemplifies why I–love–poetry! The genre is a fully focused magnifier of absolutely everything.

Be Kind

By Charles Bukowski

we are always asked
to understand the other person’s
no matter how
foolish or
one is asked
to view
their total error
their life-waste
especially if they are
but age is the total of
our doing.
they have aged
because they have
out of focus,
they have refused to
not their fault?
whose fault?
I am asked to hide
my viewpoint
from them
for fear of their
age is no crime
but the shame
of a deliberately
among so many

Bukowksi Image by Ulf Andersen / Getty

Millennials, Save Us All Please!

Posted in Political, Social Commentary, Work Related

Juneteenth – Independence Day for All

When people think of independence in America, they usually think of the 4th of July, the day the United States adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Hardly a thought is given to the fact that many of those who signed the document were, in fact, slaveholders. On June 19, 1865, 89 years after the Declaration of Independence, and two-and-a-half years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed all enslaved people in the rebellious territories, the remaining legally enslaved people of Texas were given their freedom.

On that day, enslaved people in Galveston, Texas received the news of their freedom from Major General Gordon Granger who arrived with 2,000 Federal soldiers to establish a union presence to inform the enslaved people  that they were legally freed people—the Civil War had ended.  Thus, Juneteenth was born.

Juneteenth has been celebrated over the years with parades, picnics, and large family gatherings. These celebrations include lots of entertainment and great food with red velvet cake being a staple to represent the bloodshed and resilience of the enslaved people.

In 1980, Texas officially recognized the day as a state holiday with “partial staffing.” In 2020, Virginia, New York, and New Jersey officially recognized the holiday with paid leave for state employees. Last month, Washington also has officially recognized Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees. Many companies such as Nike, Citigroup, and Twitter have made Juneteenth a paid holiday for employees.

As with much that has to do with the relationship of Black Americans and the country we helped build without compensation, Juneteenth is bittersweet. It’s indicative of how difficult the forces we battle have been and continue to be just for us to simply claim our humanity. It is also indicative of our passion for life and our resiliency. In many ways, the fight for freedom continues.

Until it is fully achieved, we will remember the ancestors who persevered under the harshest of circumstances and celebrate Juneteenth as Independence Day for all Americans.

Posted in Parenting, Social Commentary

Coming Out of Myself

“You ain’t gonna make me come outta myself!” is one of Chadwick Boseman’s lines as James Brown in the film Get On Up. I recently revisited the film and remain in awe of Boseman’s performance of course, but this time, it was that line I carried away into my week. The line, unbeknownst to me, remained perched somewhere in the back of my mind, and became a central reflection point for me when a personal matter arose regarding one of my children.

Now, there isn’t a whole lot that can make me “come outta myself.” The hair-trigger reactions of youth subsides with age and experience, affording one the wisdom to take a brief moment to decide if something or someone is even worth the very precious time it would cost to address. I consider this a real perk of getting older. There is a satisfying feeling that, if you could put a name to it, I suspect the name would be, “oh lord, not today.”

It’s been so many years since I’ve had the out of body experience of coming out of myself that I really didn’t think anything would come up in my life to make that happen; however, I was woefully mistaken. It’s as if I forgot, I am a mom!

As a mother of adult children, all of whom are on very different paths in life and encountering all of the rewards as well as the difficulties of the decisions they’ve made, the latter can sometimes drift into my lane and I’m called on to support and/or advise. This was the case a few days ago, when my son brought his co-parenting difficulties to my front door. He is going through a text book case of mismatched individuals dealing with the aftermath of a failed relationship.

They were having the common challenges that occur during visitation transition. There is really no need to go into it any more than that. I advised my son to be flexible with the mom as that is what’s best for everyone. I reminded him that she had been flexible on occasion. He eventually conceded and the transition went forward. However, at the same time heated words were being exchanged, and like a virus, the words branched out into my direction, which I was not prepared for. Being caught off guard, I failed to go high and came out of myself and was directly cast into hell where the expletives pop off like corn in a sizzling pan. Woo chile!

I hadn’t realized the correlation between the scene in Get On Up until the early morning of the next day. In the scene, James Brown was confronted by his band members for lack of pay among other things. Mr. Brown said that he’d take their concerns under consideration to which the drummer jumped up and said “Fuck you!” That’s when Mr. Brown lost his composure and came up out of himself while warning them not to further provoke him.

Just to ensure clarity, the band’s complaints had merit, while the attack upon my character as well as parenting style did not. To be further clear, during the two-year long relationship, nobody in my family had the opportunity to even get to know the young lady or her family and we still barely know them and are quite content to keep it that way.

Nonetheless, I had reflected on how the situation made me feel when I woke up in the middle of the night to a feeling of anxiety and disappointment in myself for not handling the matter better. I had realized that I had, in fact, come out of myself and that the feeling had continued to simmer long after everyone had left.

I whole-heartedly believe that there is always a way to handle conflicts without things rising to the level of anger and irrational behavior but one has to be prepared. After getting these words down, I feel that I will be better prepared next time. I support all of my children when they are right, and when they are having difficulties doing the right thing, I counsel and provide solid guidance. But, at the end of the day, they are adults shaping their own lives, the same as I did. I have faith that the challenges will be overcome, lessons will be learned, and better days are always ahead, that’s how life goes when your heart is truly in the right place, even when there are times when you have to come up out of yourself.

If you’d like to share an experience you’ve had parenting 20 somethings, I’d love to read it, so please leave it in the comments. Sharing is caring.

Posted in Political, Social Commentary

MLK Day Reflection: Having A Change of Heart

While government sanctioned discrimination in the form of Jim Crow laws were successfully dismantled by the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. understood that legislation alone could not change the root cause of such laws, the hearts of men. In his sermon, The Goodness of the Good Samaritan, he wrote, “It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless.”

The result of that restraint is a racial limbo that leads to the racial unrest that came to a head in 2020 as a result of the murder of George Floyd, the murder of Ahmad Arbery, and the murder of Breonna Taylor.

As we reflect on MLK Day, consider how hearts can be changed. Many hearts were changed as the world watched the light of life go out of George Floyd while an officer of the law applied the weight of his entire body on his neck. Many allies were gained as we watched Covid 19 ravage communities of color due to what was clear to Dr. King in 1966 when he addressed a group of medical professionals and said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death.”

It shouldn’t take a loss of life for us all to examine our hearts to see what we could do better in order for America to live up to its promise to all of its citizens. Whether you care about the lives that have been lost or the businesses that have been impacted, we all have a stake in resolving the inequities that exist in our society. Dr. King did his part, he lost his life doing his part. On this MLK Day let’s make a pledge to do our part. Let’s examine our hearts and make individual changes that promote unity and diversity so that we all have a chance to live the promise of America.

MLK Quotes to inspire you to examine your heart.

“One day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid… You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. Well, you may go on to live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90.” ~1967 Sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ~1963 “Strength of Love” a book of sermons

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” ~1967 Sermon: Three Dimensions of a Complete Life

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” ~1957 Speech: Conquering Self-Centeredness

Posted in Covid-19, Political, Social Commentary

Musings on Connections, Covid, and the Election

Right now, I’m thinking of my last refreshing interaction with a stranger. With the toxic atmosphere that is in abundance today along with having to wear pesky but life-saving masks, it’s difficult. A body needs that type of interaction where you leave feeling like you’ve just departed a warm embrace. Those are the small moments of eye contact with a stranger on the street, punctuated with a gentle smile. Those are the spontaneous moments that trigger a quick exchange that leads to a laugh that leads to a lingering smile you carry all the way back to your car.

In thinking about it, I realize that it wasn’t very long ago that I had one of those experiences. I had made what was supposed to be a quick trip to the grocery store. As I stood in line, my husband FaceTimed me to say that we needed snacks because “We don’t have any snacks. Get some Cheez-Its and some beef jerky.” he joked. We never buy beef jerky but the man behind me, who must have been a beef jerky fan, said through his mask “I’m with him!” I turned to him and laughed while exaggerating the squint of my eyes to overemphasize my amusement behind the mask. I told him not to worry about holding my spot when he kindly offered as I left the line in search of snacks. That was actually only two days ago. It was the day I voted.

That morning, my husband and I got out our voting guides, our mail-in ballots, and our laptops and spent several hours going over the local candidates and the propositions. It was very important for me that we really read and understood as much about the propositions as we possibly could outside of the ads that collectively intrude on the latest news of yet another tweet from President Trump.

Going over the propositions isn’t an easy task. I began by mentally settling myself on my foundational principle: That which is going to be best for those with the least–and worked my way from there through the purposely confusing language. My husband and I talked a bit about each one and found that we were usually on the same side when we’d bubble in our choice.

It’s kind of a lovely thing really. It’s a moment to escape the constant assault of the cephalopod that is cable news and social media. Their tentacles latch on to our compulsive nature, the need to be informed, and the desire to connect, so pervasively that turning it off or deleting an app conjures feelings of absurdity and anxiety. Those several hours of sitting, undistracted, with just the text, and giving thought to the implications of impacts raised by those charged with writing the pros and cons, along with a bit of sleuthing to understand, as much as possible, the hidden hands behind all the pieces, was an investment of time that paid off with the feeling of honoring those who fought and died for my right to have my say.

For the past, almost four years, we’ve endured the toxicity, the destructive policies, and divisive behavior of a man who makes us question our own connectedness to our fellow human beings. A man who makes no secret of his self-absorption and bigotry, and has reinvigorated the disease of racism in this country to such a degree that Covid is merely the cherry on top of his noxious administration. An administration that has us eyeing strangers and summing them up along party lines, and labeling strangers as idiots if they aren’t on our side and wonderful compatriots if they are. Of all of the things that President Trump lauds about being the only one to ever do, the most astounding feat of his leadership that nobody has done since the civil war is split the country in half, disrupting the spontaneous connections that make us all know that we are one. While you can easily glean which way I chose to vote in the Presidential race, you can also glean that my choice is not without the deepest consideration for my fellow citizens, especially those with the least.

The one thing I am looking forward to in the next four years is that the U.S. begins to build back better our connectedness to one another and to continue the work of creating a country where everyone is welcomed, everyone is valued, and everyone is safe.

Posted in Parenting, Social Commentary, Uncategorized

I Don’t Want White People to Apologize

In the wake of recent media traction of the two-month old murder of Ahmaud Arbery, I shared a Facebook post by speaker and author, Sharon Jamison from May 7th, 2020, where she asserted:

I don’t want white people to apologize. I want them to use their privilege to help dismantle a system that kills black people.

After posting it, I received a message from a dear friend who’s white. She asked exactly what it is that she’s expected to do? I didn’t consider the motivation behind her question because her feelings for having the question are rightfully her own and an analysis of that wasn’t really required for me to give her my thoughts on the matter. I took on the role of messenger which is something I’m getting really good at as I navigate parenting 20 somethings. When my children come to me with a question or a need for input on a choice they intend to make, I succinctly offer my truth as I see it and move on with my day.

In that regard, I offered my friend this:

  • Acknowledge that racism exists.
  • Fully understand the impact of it on nonwhite people.
  • Challenge your assumptions and motivations when forming an opinion on social issues involving black people.
  • Ask questions and be willing to accept the validity of another’s perspective from a lived experience that is not your own.
  • Champion causes that are designed to facilitate equity in opportunity. Conscious and unconscious biases are at work that make this very necessary.
  • Tell your uncle Bob, your co-worker Karen, your supervisor Tom, your husband Josh, to shut the fuck up when they go on about “them niggers…”

I am resolute in my understanding of how pervasive racism is. Those who made it their business to construct the institution were very thorough in weaving their virus-like ideology in with our natural human instincts, the latter being the same no matter what racial category we are placed in. They are woven so tightly that unwinding them seems impossible.

At this point, I seriously question the possibility of all of us living totally free from the sick mindset that avails itself upon us, generation after generation. Down every street we jog, in every park where our children play , in every coffee shop we enter, on every road we drive, the evil of racism lurks. It’s either a simmering boil or boiling over scalding everyone in its path.

My heart goes out to Ms. Wanda Cooper, Ahmaud’s mother, and the rest of his family. I suspect I will compose other writings motivated by similar events and my heart is heavy. I’m going to text my two sons now, to make sure they are okay.

Image used courtesy of

Posted in Social Commentary

This Week’s Discovery

My mother-in-law passed away in February of this year. Among the things she left behind, was her collection of books which I have been so eager to dive into. Now that all of her affairs have been settled, I plucked a book from the shelf by closing my eyes and grabbing the first book my hand landed on. It just happened to be The Joy of Living and Dying in Peace by The Dalai Lama. This is my “This Week’s Discovery.”

The book is 181 pages long and serves as an introduction to the idea of how to live life without suffering. It focuses on developing a disciplined mind by first recognizing that our minds are subject to ignorance, confusion, and misconception, all negative states of being. Then it shares the Buddhist approach to overcoming those things. I cannot go much further into any concepts or ideas right now as I’ve only completed Chapter 1 but it has been an inspiring read so far.

It’s fascinating to me that this book is the one that I came to because the question of how to live without negativity has been a prevailing question throughout my life. As of late, it has had a strangle-hold on my consciousness. The primary motivator of the negative emotions I experience these days, have a great deal to do with exposing myself to news media as well as social media. At times, it gets to be an obsession. When I feel the obsessiveness becoming too toxic, I am able to pull back from engagement and try to balance out the negative energy by seeking ways to positively connect with people or to share more positive, funny, and inspiring posts or articles. It’s important to be engaged with news and social media in order to stay informed, but it is a constant battle not to drown in the vitriol, gossip, and negativity.

As I read this book, my goal is to remain focused on the ideas presented because so far, what I’ve read has resonated with me in a positive way.

Now, I’m not of a religious nature. This means that I have no desire or compulsion to rep any religious order. I do believe; however, that my spirit, made up of a cycle of energy that governs my thoughts, has to be fed through a quest for understanding. I’m stating this here as a reminder to myself not to move beyond the pages of the book to seek out information on the person through which the resonating ideas have come. The ideas are what I’m interested in. Not the Dalai Lama. He is no more of a human being than I am. He is filled with as many good qualities and flaws as I am and it is too easy for me to allow human flaws block the ideas that could prove to be helpful in my life’s journey.

In closing, another wonderful discovery I made this past week is! This site publishes 750 word essays by new and established writers. They also have a wordpress blog for writers to connect and share ideas.