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“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lord

Usually when you think about a revolution, you think about a war or fighting against someone or something.  A revolution can also be a highly personal thing – you decide you’re going to make a change, but it’s going to take a Radical Act of God to get you out of that thing you’re in.  Toxic relationships, overeating, partaking of too much alcohol, self-deprecating behavior, a smoking habit; whatever it is that holds you hostage, you know you’ve got to muster up the courage and fight to break free.

I quit smoking in 1996 after having a nicotine addiction for 15 years; I did it cold turkey.  I never used a patch or hypnosis or any of those methods; it was my thought that those things only distracted you from smoking and didn’t actually break the chain of addiction.  I learned through my own research that if you ignore a nicotine craving for 10 minutes without succumbing to it, it will go away.  It will come back, but it certainly does go away; this I know from personal experience.  I also learned, through my own behavior, if I deprive myself of something, panic will set in and I’ll lose control.

So, in setting out to quit smoking on my own, I knew I had to have a plan.  I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  I knew depriving myself of smoking, without help, was going to send me into a frenzy above and beyond withdrawal.  I put an unopened pack of cigarettes in my kitchen drawer and told myself if I really wanted a cigarette, the pack was right there at my reach.  But I had to wait 11 minutes before going to the drawer.  I’m happy to say I went to the drawer only once; I opened the pack and lit one up and it was horrible!  

Admittedly, when all of this finally seemed successful, during a stressful period about a year later, I began smoking again.  But, I didn’t beat myself up about it, I simply redirected and never turned back.  We will rise, and we will fall, but it’s all well within the flow.

Fast forward to the present – after a recent doctor visit, I realized how truly fed up I was about my weight.  I weigh more now than I ever have, including when I was pregnant!  I knew that once again, I’d have to take matters in my own hands.  There is no magic pill or tea or potion – anything in that category is simply an aidYou have to do the work!

I once read that sugar is as addictive as cocaine, and let me tell you, I was deep in the throes of a sugar addiction.  I knew the only way to stop was to do just that – stop.  But I was scared and I knew it was going to be difficult.  Then I remembered how I quit smoking and how I found the strength – through prayer, talking to myself and others – and realized it was time to go that route once again.  I knew I would have to fight – the cravings, the desire, the temptations.  I took my earrings off, smeared my face with Vaseline and got ready to put my dukes up – and the revolution began.  I am happy to say I’m a month into my journey and I feel so much better for it – I’ve lost five pounds!  I’m on my way – one day at a time.

Have I had a piece of cake?  Yes!  But after I enjoyed it with a smile, I went back to my plan, knowing that I will slip up, yet giving myself permission to do so.  This has worked for me thus far, and I know there are some who will say you should never slip up; should never have a cupcake here or a cookie there.  But I know me – if I don’t let myself have a little, I’ll eat a whole cake!  Ha!

Most importantly, whenever I take one step forward and two steps back, I’m gentle with myself.  I remind myself from whence I came and what I’ve done – with strength!  The road from here to there is not a straight line; there are starts and stops and zigzags…but as long as you stay the course, you’ll get there!  You and I both have a well of inner strength we have yet to tap into!  Lower your well bucket in and get some!  You’ve got to get your mind wrapped around the fact that when you don’t do what you know you need to, you’re the only one standing in your way!  And you’ve got to do it today; tomorrow is not promised!

Self-care is a revolution; those demons are not going to go away on their own, it takes an act of rebellion to slay them!  Don your armor, put on those boxing gloves, button the Superwoman cape around your neck and go to war!

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A while ago, I was in the break room at work, toasting a couple of slices of blueberry lemon bread for breakfast.  While waiting for the slices to toast, I figured I’d do some important multi-tasking –and began checking my social media.  After scrolling a few minutes longer than I intended, I remembered my toast!  I pressed the button to force-pop my toast and lo and behold…it was slightly burnt.  After saying a few spicy words over my roasted toast, I turned to throw the slices in the trash and…I heard my mother’s voice – clear as a bell – “Don’t throw that good toast away!  Scrape the burnt part off with your knife and eat it!”  Well, you know we always obey our mamas, even if they’re in Heaven, so I did exactly that.  And you know what?  That toast was delicious!  Underneath the burnt surface, it was perfect.

Isn’t that the way with a lot of situations in life?  You meet a new him/her who could potentially be your match made in Heaven…but you discover there is hair growing out of their ears…so you turn up your nose and throw away the WHOLE soulmate!  Honey, that’s good toast!  Take them (with love) to the local spa/esthetician and teach them to wax that hair out of their ears.  And guess what?  Voilà! You’ve got perfectly good toast!

People who have known me for a while are always shocked and amazed that I’m still driving the same car after 11 years.  That car is good toast!  No car payments!  It’s got a dent here and a ding there — but then again, so do I – which means I’m good toast too!

Everyone and everything has a flaw here and there.  Can you live with it?  Can it be fixed or changed?  Of course, I’m not talking about asking someone to change their entire personality – that’s something you should never do.  Just don’t throw away someone or something if there’s a jewel underneath that could add value to you and your life.  Especially if you look down deep and find you only need to scrape off a little burnt surface.

Moral of the story: Don’t throw away good toast!

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“Love yourself enough to be able to say yes or no.” – Susan Gregg
I think I’ve finally arrived at the place where I am very comfortable doing (or not doing) whatever I feel!!
In the past, I’ve gotten myself into some real jams in the pursuit of “going along to get along.” Now, I am saying yes when I mean yes and no when I mean no, and I must say, it is quite liberating.  It definitely keeps down the level of stress, pressure and drama when your response honors you.
One of my favorite books is Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.  There were so many nuggets of knowledge in her story that carved a new path for me.  Saying yes means saying yes to yourself, but sometimes it means saying no to others.  Her story took me a long way in validating my own feelings and doing only the things that are asked of me that I have time for, that I feel capable of, and that I want to do.  If you haven’t read her book, I highly recommend it, especially if you can’t seem to bring yourself to say yes to you.
A “no” response is a full and complete sentence (period!).  To explain, or apologize for a “no” response means you aren’t secure with your stance, or that you owe an explanation for your response.  When your answer is no, it’s just no – and “maybe” is never a substitution for no!  Ha!  Ahhh, the freedom!
And the absolute beauty is, there are no worries about what others will think or say about it. Being authentic rocks!!
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“Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.” – Hans Christian Anderson

As most of you know, I am a member of Classy Living Society, which is a national women’s community service organization.  This past weekend I, along with several other members and CLS Founder LaShanda Pitts, went to Tampa, Florida to sisterhood bond with Tampa members.  As part of the MLK Weekend of Giving, we went on a community service mission to Random Acts of Flowers, located in Dunedin, Florida.  RAOF is an organization that uses recycled flowers, vases, ribbons and a few good volunteers in a community outreach of the most beautiful kind – improving the health and well-being of individuals in healthcare facilities by delivering fresh bouquets, encouragement and kind words.

With the help of the friendly ladies at RAOF, CLS members selected vases, flowers, greenery, ribbons and other decor and crafted beautiful bouquets, each with our own personal touch.  It was so much fun!  RAOF loaded the 76 bouquets we completed onto their van and together we delivered the bouquets to Atria Senior Living.  Atria Senior living houses seniors who are active, require assisted living and are in hospice care.  We walked through the halls of Atria, delivering flowers, kind words and warm-hearted smiles…but not one of our smiles could have ever matched the smiles we received from each senior (including the men!) who received an unexpected bouquet from us.

I love flowers, don’t you?  The soft feel of the petals, the different hues, fragrances, shapes and sizes – ahh-mazing! It is said that flowers have healing powers; and I suppose that’s the reason why they are the No. 1 well-received gift at hospitals.  I’d like to believe that, by our surprise gift of flowers, we provided a bit of healing to someone that day.  I’d like to believe that, if we were the only outside visitor someone received in days, that our visit provided an emotional and mental boost.  I’d like to think that some cute little old lady pressed one of the flowers between the pages of her Bible, so that each time she looks at it, it reminds her of the lovely ladies of CLS who visited her one day.

My mother used to always say “give me my flowers while I am alive” whenever we gave her flowers.  I always thought it was a pretty profound statement, since we always seem to inundate people with flowers when they are sick or have passed over to the other side.  The phrase comes from a gospel song of the same name and the lyrics say “give me my flowers while I yet live so I can see the beauty they bring.”  I’d like to believe that if no one else ever gave flowers to the people of Atria Senior Living, we are the ones who gave them their flowers while they yet live.

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You begin your day serial snoozing your ringing alarm and now you’re late!  So you jump out bed, half asleep, and hit the floor running, frantically making a pass through the shower, rushing around the house and finally jumping in the car to drive to work through snarled traffic that really sends you over the edge.  You arrive to work exhausted, angry and frustrated…  That used to be me. But I changed all that.
I began to spend 15 minutes, right after I open my eyes, sitting quietly and becoming present in the world.  I pray, meditate, read Bible passages, or affirmations.  I celebrate that God has opened my eyes once again to see another day.  I take a breath in the quiet of a new morning to center myself in peace.  And that 15 minutes made all the difference in the world…as a matter of fact, I’d venture to say it changed my life.
To be sure, it takes making a conscious choice to leave morning mania behind to achieve it.  You may have to rise 15 minutes earlier to incorporate your new session into your morning, but trust me, it is a worthwhile investment.  Spending time with God (and myself) for a brief period before I brush my teeth or take a shower, or read emails, or ANYTHING truly grounds me.  Taking time to be grateful, or telling myself “You’ve got this, girl!” sets the tone for how the day will go – no matter what happens after that!
Think about the power of covering yourself in peace and mindfulness before anything else.  In making sure you’ve fed your gratefulness before you drink your coffee.  Self-talk and talk to God, being quiet enough to listen to what God wants you to hear and what He wants you to do  has infinite power over your ability to think positive thoughts!
Positive thinking requires self-talk.  It requires that you say positive affirmations to yourself, and sometimes you have to say them aloud.  When you have a negative thought, whether it’s about yourself or something else, go ahead and have the thought!  Let it pass right by…but immediately after, remind yourself through self-talk that the negativity has no place in your mind or your soul.  It’s a practice – success doesn’t come overnight!  You’ll have to remind yourself each and every time – the same way you talk yourself out of a cupcake or chocolate chip cookie when you know you’re on a diet.  Don’t you have to do that more than once?  I know I do, sometimes many times a day!  It’s the same with positive thinking – it requires consistent and intentional self-talk.
Tomorrow morning, set your alarm 15 minutes ahead of your usual waking time.  No matter how difficult it is, do not press the snooze button.  Do not lay there to sleep 5 more minutes, because, let’s face it – there’s really no such thing as 5 more minutes of sleep!  Get up and go to a quiet place in your house – even the bathroom – somewhere where you will not be disturbed.  Light a candle, play spiritual or meditative music, and immerse yourself in meditation, deep thought, prayer, whatever YOU call it.  Read affirmations – there are ton of daily affirmation books that will do the trick.  One of my favorites is Acts of Faith: Daily Meditations for People of Color, by Iyanla Van Zant, which contains 365 days of affirmative passages and quotes.  Get a chalkboard for your space, and write affirmations on it – for example “I Am Beautiful,” or “I Am Enough” to speak aloud to yourself.  Download an app on your mobile device that contains daily Bible verses.  Create a list of things you are grateful for and add to it or re-read it each day.
No matter the method you choose, the key is to enjoy a period of time, before the hustle and bustle of the day begins, to honor your Higher Power and yourself by doing something that brings you peace and personal fulfillment.  Fill yourself with positive energy, and I guarantee that it will set the tone for the rest of the day.  However the magic spell is created – Law of Attraction, or a superpower cape you’ve symbolically draped over your shoulders, or just God’s infinite grace – in time you’ll find this practice will change your life too.
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Yvette Greene stole my eyeglasses when I was in the fourth grade (her name has been changed to protect the not-so-innocent).

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was nine years old.  The teacher told my mother I was squinting to see the blackboard, so my mother took me to the eye doctor on Fordham Road in the Bronx to get them checked out.  Sure enough, I was extremely nearsighted in my left eye and a bit nearsighted in my right.  I was given the privilege to choose the frames I wanted for my glasses – and I chose a pair of light blue cat-eyeglasses; I guess we’d call them retro today – pointed at the top edges with silvery accents right at the tips.  They gave me an eyeglass case, and my mother printed my name and address on the inside flap with a black magic marker.  I was told I didn’t have to wear them all the time if I didn’t want to – but that I should definitely wear them to see the blackboard in class so as not to strain my eyes.

I was soooo proud the next day when I got to class and showed my eyeglass case to Yvette, who sat next to me in Mrs. Gold’s class.  I popped open the little snap on the front of the case, and with so much flourish it would make Vanna White jealous, I displayed my sparkling brand new glasses inside.  I placed them on the bridge of my nose, and was so excited because I could see the blackboard (and everything else) with such clarity!  I looked around the room to see who was looking at me, because I just knew I was looking good!

The details of the how it happened and the what the heck happened is fuzzy — somehow I arrived home a few days later without my glasses, the case, the glasses, everything – gone.  I would imagine I was nervous about telling my mother they were gone (“I lost my glasses…”), and I can also imagine she wasn’t happy about it, and I was in deep, deep trouble…

But this I do recall: the following day when I arrived at school and walked into my classroom…there was Yvette sitting at our desk with my eyeglasses on her face.  I was astounded and bewildered – as I gazed at “Yvette’s glasses” and noted they were just like mine – light blue cat-eyeglasses with silver accents at the tips.  Yvette sat there, wearing my glasses and looking around the room to see who was looking at her (even though I’m sure she couldn’t see worth a darn), just like I did when I first showed them off.  “How do you like my new glasses?,” she asked me.  What did I do?  Well, I was a lover, not a fighter, so I said nothing, until I arrived home after school when I told my mother that Yvette had accidentally “borrowed” my glasses.

The next day, my mother went up to the school to report this egregious act of thievery and Yvette was taken to the principal’s office where she was interrogated as she sat in a chair with her hands tied behind her back and water dripping on her forehead until she confessed (not really, but it sounds good and dramatic, doesn’t it?).  In the end, my eyeglasses were returned and all was right in my nine-year-old world.

The years have passed and I’ve had Lasix surgery – so no more glasses and I have no idea where Yvette is these days.  In looking back at this life event, two things come to mind.  First, I suppose my gloating and shoving my eyeglasses under Yvette’s nose probably egged her on to “borrow” my glasses.  I guess I should be flattered that she was so impressed by them that she had to try them for herself.  After all, as they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery!  But, I also know that even though she probably thought she looked really cute to everyone in the outside world, actually, she really couldn’t see or focus on a thing while wearing them!  They weren’t made for her, they were made for me.

Sometimes you may envy someone else for something they can do, or something they own – so much so that you may decide to “borrow” it.  But guess what?  Just like Yvette, you’ll find your “focus” is way off and not right at all.  You know why? It’s because whatever you’ve decided to try on for size wasn’t made for you, it was made for them.  It may look shiny and perfect when they show it to you, or tell you about it, but it looks that way because it’s only for them.  Besides, you have no idea what that person had to endure to get where they got.  I wore glasses because I couldn’t see clearly past a hand in front of my face.  And even if I did look really cute wearing my glasses, Yvette was a “far sight” more privileged because she could see clearly without assistance – I think…

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”  I have learned that when you take the time to explore what’s for you, you’ll feel so much more comfortable in your own skin, doing your own thing.  And it can never really be taken from you.  What’s for you is for you; and if it’s worth having, it won’t come easy.  What you envy has not come easy to the object of your admiration either – you may see that girl on the street who looks just fabulous wearing her glasses, but also remember she probably can’t see who’s waving at her from across the street without them.

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Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare.   Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.  And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them.   And new ones will find you and cherish you.  
 
And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.” ~ Audre Lorde
In the last few days I have hashed and re-hashed over various subjects to post about.  None have seemed quite appropriate to my current season. Until I stumbled upon the above quote by Audre Lord.  
 
I have always shied away from confrontation (not to be confused with non-confrontational because as humans we are all faced with conflicts now and again).  I also tend to remain silent rather than speak my mind — out of intimidation or for fear of not being heard, acknowledged or just plain fear.  I wouldn’t express my ideas for fear that they weren’t good enough, or didn’t make sense.  I wouldn’t express myself for fear of invalidation or that no would agree with me.
 
I have realized that this stance does not serve me well.  Imagine all of the creativity I’ve wasted because I haven’t shared!  You will hear me say on many occasions that God is slapping Himself in the forehead because many of us are sitting on the gifts, talents and abilities He’s given us instead of  sharing them with the world.  The tragedy!  All because we are afraid no one else will think our offerings are as great as we do.
In my case, Audre Lord’s quote hits home – I asked myself – “what’s the worse that can happen?”  If you can withstand whatever “worse” your words may dredge up, then it is worth it to break your silence.  It’s worth it for you to stand up for yourself.  It’s worth it because – even if you only halfway inspire ONE person among those others you may anger, or who may put you down, etc. – you’ve spoken your truth.  That’s golden!
 
It is not important whether your words are heard, acknowledged or validated.  But what is most important is that your truth is spoken.  And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and go to the party.
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New York Red….

 

Welcome to my new blog — New York Red!  This is the place where I will share Musings, Thoughts & Prose on love, life, new beginnings & everything else!  Philosophy, inspiration, humor, a bit of my inside info and things I’ve learned along my journey.

 

I’m a New York girl in Atlanta, Georgia…I always tell people I’ve lived in Atlanta since 1985 and I’m told “Oh, then, you’re a Jawja peach, guhl!” – well, not exactly!  Anyone who knows a New Yorker knows that no matter how long we’ve been away from the Empire State – we still claim ourselves New Yorkers!  My East Coast (New Yawk) accent has all but faded, although it rears its head when I’m excited or angry – or just when it feels like it! Accent aside, one thing about New Yorkers, it’s really not just about how you say it, it’s the way you say it, and that about me has not faded…

 

Where did I get the name New York Red, you ask?  Well, there’s a story behind that too.  One of my friends, an Atlanta native (and you rarely meet Atlanta natives in Atlanta – go figure! *shrug*), and I would banter back and forth about the habits of New Yorkers and Southerners.  She is a true Atlanta lady, with a feisty, yet calm Southern spirit (how do they do that, these Southerners? lol) and she’d say “How come you New Yorkers always….[fill in the blank].  And I’d say “How come you Southerners always….”  Trust me, it’s all in mutual fun and giggles.  Anyhoo, she began calling me New York Red and the name stuck!  For those who don’t know, in the South if you are Black, but have a lighter complexion than a brown paper sack, you’re called RED, which is also short for redbone – phrases which, I might add,  I’d never even heard of until I moved to the South.

 

Needless to say, although I may poke fun, I LOVE Atlanta and all of its  … well… Southern-ness!  This New York girl in Atlanta celebrates the parts of her that are still very much honking yellow cabs, hot dog carts, cheesecakes, pizza, open fire hydrants in the summer, Mr. Softee ice cream trucks and skyscrapers.  But I also embrace the part of me that’s the Varsity (what’ll ya have?), Southern hospitality, inside/outside the Perimeter, shut it all  down when it snows, bless your heart, 100 streets named “Peachtree,” sweet tea and PEACHES kind of girl…

 

In all of this, I’ve learned that no matter where you came from, you pick up where you are and who you are as you go along traversing the globe.  Ella Fitzgerald said “It isn’t where you came from; it’s where you’re going that counts.”  Whether I remain in the South, or return to the East Coast or change direction altogether, where I go with all of what I’ve gained along the way is what counts.

 

New York Red….

Welcome to my blog.  Pull up a seat, take your shoes off, get a big ole glass of SWEET tea and stay awhile!

 

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Welcome to the NEW Classy Chronicles!

Formerly, the Classy Chronicles was the official online digital magazine of Classy Living Society. The newly revamped Classy Chronicles is now a platform housed on the Classy Living Society website! Through easy-to-navigate dropdown menus, the Classy Chronicles provides an outlet to many subjects of interest at the click of a mouse – articles and features that highlight people who are doing amazing things in the community, health and wellness, work-life balance, beauty and fashion and more!

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