WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY?

Remember when we wished we had the time to do our own thing, time to pursue dreams and fulfill purpose?

Yeah, me too, and now that we have that extra time, how are we managing it?

What did you do today?

Woke up (Yay!), and laid in bed for a while.

Mindlessly scrolled through social media.

I do have a plan in mind; Just need to execute it better.

Maybe I should create a schedule.

Recorded video for read-aloud page, “Storytime With Ms. Donna.” I enjoy reading out loud and today shared one of my favorites, “The Paper Bag Princess.” Hope my viewers enjoy it!

Daily conference call check–in with school CEO and a colleague.

Toasted English muffin, brewed Keurig hot chocolate for breakfast.

Too much unscheduled time on my hands.

I should create a schedule.

Created FB Live to create more community as we SIP (kind of an appropriate acrostic, isn’t it).

Wi-fi is slow in the bedroom. Go into the living room to upload videos.

Had a funny idea for a video series the first of which I create on the spot and post to my social media platforms. I think it’s funny.

Lunch, chicken sandwiches made by daughter. It’s good.

Chips and salsa snack.

Daughter asks “What are you doing?” Huh?

“I’m on two conference calls daily.” Duh!

Tuned in to a new favorite British reality show (Netflix) about interior design.

Mindlessly scrolled through social media.

Post to blog.

I really do need to create a daily schedule.

What day is it?

 

My links:

Storytime With Ms. Donna

DonnaNotDiva Facebook Page

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN LIFE SHIFTS: The Gift Of Desperation

The first week of Consecration week was challenging; everything went to the left and I could control nothing (as though I could even control anything)

In 1992, Queen Elizabeth used the phrase annus horribilis to describe just how tough that year had been; in other words, that year was a hot mess.

I looked up Latin for a horrible week and it is iter sabbati.

My intent was to walk into Consecration like a boss — Instead it was my iter sabbati; it was a horrible week.

There is a Facebook page titled “Humans of New York.” A line from a recent story caught my eye. A man described his coming to gasping for air in an ambulance, most likely the consequence of a heroin overdose.

As he recounted his story, and the decision he made to be clean and sober for 160 days, he said, “There comes a point when you’re given the gift of desperation.”

I instantly connected with that phrase and stretched it out even more, that sometimes God allows us the gift of desperation. We are at our wits end; we are facing tough challenges; the ends don’t meet, the finances run out, the spouse takes an extended hike, the job locks its doors and we are left holding the gift of desperation.

What do you do when you’ve done all you can and you’re left holding the gift of desperation?

I say hold on to your hope in spite of this because this gift just might be the push you need to make a decision you may never have made but really needed to make. .
Here’s the thing:
Desperation can either push you into a positive space or it might lead to self-destruction.

Desperation can make you look inward to reassess the choices you have made or it can make you look outward to blame people and circumstances, to act out, to implode.

Handed the gift of desperation, the Facebook man chose to turn away from heroin in order to reclaim his life but he could have just as well celebrated being revived and then returned to the needle.

He chose life. He opened the gift of desperation and chose life.

Have you ever found yourself in a state that literally sucked the wind out of you, where you found yourself wandering around in an emotional fog because you didn’t know where to begin, what step to take next?

What is one to do when you find yourself holding the gift of desperation and you find yourself holding it between a rock and a hard place and when you open it you are faced with hard choices, neither is pleasant but one is better for you than the other.

Whenever I’m in the car, I have the radio tuned to listen to the different (and sound) bible studies. This time, however, tuned to a station which airs, most of the time, hymns and contemporary gospel and this one hymn came on that I have not heard in years:

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or land
Yes I’d rather be led by his nail pierced hands
Than to be the king of a best domain and beheld in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today
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Choices, Decisions, and Faith, Oh My! The Journey Begins…

It had been a tough week. Emotionally drained, I dragged myself through each day! I felt disconnected, standing on the outside of myself going through the motions. It was a struggle to maintain any kind of momentum! I was caught up in the doldrums and I had no energy to stir anything up! Each morning I crawled out of bed in weary anticipation of the same kind of day.

But Sunday, Oh Sunday invited me into the new week with a full blown praise party in my car on my way to church. It was triggered by one nonsensical word spoken by a pastor in a service that was live streamed. That one word, “whoop,” sent me into a paroxysm of praise! I needed that moment. It was my moment of recovery but I still was not where I needed to be spiritually.

I had allowed my emotions to trump my faith. I was in fact dragging my faith behind me as I allowed my emotions to take the lead which led to the inevitable result, malaise and doldrums. I looked forward to nothing. I was excited about nothing. I wanted nothing. I embraced nothing. I expected nothing.

Then I picked up a flash drive onto which I had loaded some writings years ago. I inserted the drive into my computer, clicked and opened it. I immediately went to the folder labeled, “Gern,” my code word for Journal in case someone got into my computer and happened to come across it (as if their curiosity wouldn’t be piqued by this weird word). “I thought I knew what the journal contained and to some extent I did but I was not prepared for the rawness of the text, the pain and passion between each line. As I read those thirteen year old words, I had to ask myself, “Have you ever felt this way about the Lord?”

It was a revelation that my heart best so strongly for a person while those same kind of heartbeats for God were often moment based and momentary rather than lifestyle laced.

From time to time, when I am in my car, I listen to a Christian radio station that plays hymns in different slots of time. In the week following my week of the doldrums, I was driving and I tuned in to that station. A hymn played that I had not heard in years,‘I’d rather have Jesus.” At first I was locked in to the beauty of the arrangement and the singers. Then the question came to me, when was the last time I put Jesus first in everything rather than giving Him first place in a few things? How often have I intentionally surrendered the reins of my life to Him in all things?

I read the book, “in His Steps,” some years ago. I like the premise of what would Jesus do and tried to emulate the concept but as with all trends, that soon passed as a habit. The hymn challenged me to institute a “I’d rather have Jesus” mindset in all things, as best I could in this fragile frame of dust.

My journey begins now. When I reach out to try and hold on to people and stuff; when I try to control circumstances, when I put It or Them before Him, I will give it my all to remember, “I’d rather have Jesus.”

63 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

“I’d Rather Have Jesus”
Rhea Muller
George Beverly Shea

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or land
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand

Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sins dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today

I’d rather have Jesus than vain applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
I’d rather be true to His holy name

Than to be the king of a vast domain or be held in sins dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords

Impostor Syndrome

Have you ever felt as though you were not the person you presented to the world, the genuine and authentic you? I’ve felt that way a few times, times when I’ve stood in front of a group of people or sat at a conference table in wood paneled room or just shared in a 1:1 conversation.

It turns out there is a name for this “dilemma,” Impostor Syndrome, defined as a psychological pattern in which one doubts one’s accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”

Impostor Syndrome, those moments when your represent yourself as someone other than yourself, repped a relationship that looked ideal but was in reality tore up from the floor up.

What happened along our life’s journey that short-circuited our authenticity, forced us into a “suit” that does not fit yet we squeeze into it each and every day. We are uncomfortable but we’ve worn it so long, we’ve convinced ourselves that it does not limit us and how we relate to the world.

What will it take to strip ourselves of that suit, to move into the ease of our true self?

Well, I think it takes my no longer lying to me about my value or worth, to affirm that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by a faithful and true God. It takes my waking each morning to affirm my faith in God, in me and in my ability to create and achieve. It takes me celebrating every scar that speaks to healing, and embracing the flaws that makes me unique. It takes becoming friends with my body and my mind, to no longer compare myself in any aspect to any other self. It takes, moment by moment, daring to look each challenge in the eye without blinking or flinching. It takes my letting go of that which I have convinced myself is just right for me, be it a job or a relationship or any prestige or status, to take the chance to walk away without a backward look, to relinquish any controls I thought I had. It may take a moment to get past the pain of letting go, but each day of courage and resilience will be reward enough as I, as you, as we, step into the new, real, authentic self we were designed to be!

Let’s do this!

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Posing outside of Southern University, Baton Rouge

Once Upon A Time When I Was Colored

I was not born by the river in a little tent, but I was raised in the Jim Crow South. I was never the object of taunts and racial epithets, but I did drink out of the water fountain marked “Colored” and I did see food handed out to my grandparents from the side window of a “Whites Only” cafe. We had no buses in which we had to sit in the back, but I do remember road trips with my parents where the bathroom was the side of the road because we could not use the restrooms at the gas stations from which my father purchased gas for the car. Our teachers taught us well in our segregated schools, but I often wondered who were those kids whose names were written above mine in my text books. My baptist church was all Negro and His race was never an issue, just the condition of my heart. I learned to be my best, to do my best in that marginalized community because everyone from the maintenance man in the school to the preacher in the pulpit and, all others in between, expected nothing less. I was not taught to hate people but I despised the system that tried to force their definition of me on me. No, I was not taught to hate, but I learned to be discerning. I learned to be twice as prepared and to speak up when I had something to say. I learned to pay attention and when the time came, to apply what I had observed. I learned never to blink, especially in those moments when it was expected that I would. I learned to never let them see me sweat even when all I wanted to do was scream out my frustration.

I remember my first experience in an integrated restaurant. The woman/mentor who took us there noted my folded arms and told me to unfold them because I had a right to be there. I never folded my arms again in a new experience again, no matter how different the experience was to me. I always looked like I belonged, which was unsettling to some but it worked for me, always. I have had conversations with people who truly wanted to know, not for curiosity’s sake but because they wanted to do better, be better. I’ve had a jr. college civics professor (my first integrated experience), who pronounced “Negro” “Nigra,” apologize in front of the class to the three Negro girls in the class and then ask us for the correct pronunciation. I’ve had a California colleague exclaim over my natural hair, “Oh, I just want to touch it,” but quickly thought better of the idea when she caught the look in my eyes.

I haven’t seen it all but I’ve seen enough to know that all this back and forth will accomplish nothing. Until genuine courageous conversations begin to take place, we will all find ourselves waving our banners at one another while the beat goes on!

Happy Birthday To Me

My birthday was November 24th. It seems, these days, that birthdays are on speed dial, that just as soon as the last candle is blown out on the birthday whatever, the earth double times its 365 and as I’m adjusting to that new age, it’s time to say “Hello” to a new number.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; there are more years behind me than there are in front of me and, yes, I do have a few “I wish I had” thoughts as I travel down memory lane. But, this has been an intentional year of courage for me, a year to say “Yes” to the adventure of walking into the unknown for discovery, revelation and life lesson. I never imagined that freedom could be a by-product of daring to take the next step without an outline, agenda or commentary (figuratively speaking, of course) but that’s exactly what I’ve experienced.

In years past, I would have said “No” to new relationships, travels to new places, stretching a talent or embracing a new skillset. This year, I’ve stretched and reached for the stars just out of of my grasp. I’ve taken the next step even when I did not know where it might lead. I’m learning to quash those negative voices that demand I return to the safe and comfortable. This year I might even begin to share my age (don’t press me, though).

Here’s the point I’m trying to make. You will never discover who you are until you dare to step into who you think you aren’t! I know, it doesn’t make sense but it really does. I defined myself by who I thought I wasn’t rather than embracing who I might become. I am still God’s blank canvas, His painting of the me He designed me to be is not yet completed. I can’t wait to see what the next stroke of His gracious brush brings about in this chapter of my life.

I began this piece last week, seated at a table in a Louisiana Library that was swathed in southern accents as two dueling gray haired librarians debated the merits of this, that and the other.

It was quiet. It was southern. It was heaven!

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Posing outside of Southern University, Baton Rouge

 

 

GENIUS!

I originally posted this as a comment in a Facebook thread about people throwing shade. I want to share it with those of you who have had shade thrown at you, been ignored or overlooked, or just downright kicked to the curb.

This one’s for you:

“Genius attracts detractors like a magnet. Genius reminds people of their lesser strengths and insecurity pushes them to act out in arrogance aka shade. The sad part is when they are eventually shaded by the person they so admire (and it will happen), they will be crushed but unfortunately they will not see it as a reflection of their own behavior.

Genius does not have to announce its greatness, it just shows up. The arrogant work hard to prove they are great because otherwise, in the face of Genius, who would know or even notice them?

Genius does what it does without attitude or self-constructed hoopla because, well, it’s Genius. Those who throw shade can only do so because they are standing in the light of Genius. There can be no shade if there is no light.

Keep moving forward, Genius. There will be more shade as your light grows brighter but just remember, their shade can never diminish your light.

Genius’ “weakness” is that they almost never see themselves as Genius because they just do what they do, but others see it and covet it to the extent that they seek to diminish it.

Bottom line: Do You, Genius, and stop giving free press to the carriers of shade. They do not deserve your acknowledgement nor benefit of your light!!”

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