“If you find it necessary to judge me by my past, don’t be surprised when I find it necessary to put you there.” – Unknown
How many times have you said, “I am sorry”, for the same thing more than a few times? You know the feeling, you feel terrible and there seems to not be enough of anything in the world to alleviate the pressure or make it go away, even for a little while. So on you go in life, feeling bad and guilty about past transgressions that once invaded every space of your life, and even though time does not necessarily heal all wounds, you know deep down that it is time to live your life with honor and self-respect.
The type of self-respect that does not disavow the victim(s) or ignores the responsibility you may have as the perpetrator, but the type of self-respect that recognizes once you have served your pennants to society or made amends for your trespasses, it is time to move on with the rest of your life.
Yes, it is simpler spoken than acted upon, but can nonetheless become a life changing moment for the accused. A moment of liberation that can transcend time and become your lifetime mantra for peace, harmony and felicity.
No one is perfect and I am certainly far from it, but I have been through enough drama in my life to realize that at some point we must simply get over it and move on. Again, not to discredit those that we hurt, but to recognize the responsibility we equally have to ourselves to live whole and full lives.
Perhaps there will always be ones in your life that believe you do not deserve to live a full life because of what you have done, but how long will it take for those persons to have a change of heart? Maybe a year from now, perhaps ten years or maybe never. So are you supposed to wait until they are good with you until you begin to live again?
The answer to move on may seem obvious, but many of us remain trapped and haunted by a past that seems to stay attached to our present conditions. Conditions that are continuously affected by yesterday, and a mind that has not learned how to be free.
So as someone who has directly lived this type of life, what can one do to finally break free from the past and begin to live, truly live? Below are a few suggestions a friend once shared with me that I still hold true to today.
1. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present. – Simply stated.
2. What others think of you is none of your business. – Stop trying to please other people and wonder what they are thinking of you. You most likely will never be enough in their eyes, so move on.
3. Don’t compare your life to others and don’t judge them. You have no idea what their journey is about, just like they don’t know your’s. – Quit being your own worst enemy.
4. Stop thinking too much, it’s alright not to know the answers. They will come to you when you least expect it. – When we over think we have a tendency to cycle into a tailspin of doubt and depression, because we seem to always find and focus on the imperfections versus the beauty we hold.
5. No one is in charge of your happiness, except you, so start living your life like that is true. – Begin owning your own life.
6. Smile. You don’t own all the problems in the world. – Give yourself a break. Punishing ourselves will not solve the problems either.
7. Remember that man/woman who gave up? Neither does anyone else. – Never quit, someone is counting on you to make it, so they can hear your story or prevailing.
Take a little time to ponder these points and begin to apply them daily where they fit. I believe you will experience the difference versus doing nothing at all. In addition, remember that none of us are perfect. Some fail miserably many times before they finally arrive at place of maturity, and although there may be a trail of broken hearts in your wake, I pray that you seek/sought counsel and authentically see the poor decisions for what they are and learn from them.
Feeling guilty will never take the pain away, only enhance your own, so make your future bright by allowing your personal pain instigate a new path. A path that declares it will not be recognized for who you were, but who you are becoming. A new creation that is not defined by your past and lives unashamedly.
“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway” – Emory Austin
I simply love when my favorite songs comes on the radio. As a child, my parents introduced me to R&B, jazz and a few other genres. One thing I will never forget, is how it made me feel. Listening to music is absolutely one of my most favorite things to do. I can no longer say what my favorite genre is because I listen to so many different types now. It probably depends more on what I’m doing. If I’m running or hitting the weights it is most definitely rap or something with a very fast tempo. It has a way of keeping me focused when I want to end my workout prematurely. As I sit to write my weekly post it tends to be “Zero 7 Radio” on Pandora. My “go to” will always be gospel or inspirational music, just because of the sheer message it conveys to my spirit. But one thing is certain no matter what I am doing or facing, music plays an important part of my life. It truly does soothe the savage beast in me or better yet, calms my spirit when the time calls for it. Whether we find ourselves raising our hands up in the air when our favorite jams comes on, commencing to engage in some form of line or group dance, singing our favorite song in the shower or car, or perhaps we’re just completely making a fool of ourselves with our on version of the “Running Man”, sometimes allowing the music to do what it does to our soul is just what the doctor ordered.
I believe this is why music resonates with me so much. It’s the being free part that I have often struggled with during the course of my life that my favorite song tends to allow and encourage. No fault to anyone else, but my own propensity to be rigid, too analytical and often over thinking with any given situation. Music has helped me to learn, welcome and appreciate the beauty of a good song and how it relaxes me, inspires me and takes me to a place that often liberates my cluttered brain. The sound of one of my favorite songs playing has the similar impact as the smell of fresh-baked bread. It brings good thoughts, pleasant memories which usually leads to a smile or good thought.
In these times when our lives are often complicated, full of stress and inundated with various types of pressures, I feel it is essential to have a song in your heart. The complexities of life’s pressures will drown us if we allow them to. There will always be something to do; a deadline to meet, a hard conversation to have and a bill to pay, but how do you spell relief? For those old enough to remember, it’s not R-O-L-A-I-D-S. Even the Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8 to ponder on things that are pure, honest and just. In other words reflect on things that don’t perpetuate confusion or turmoil. It’s not always easy to do, but a good song with a positive message or simply a good instrumental can certainly help to foster the environment essential to maintaining peace in our lives. So maybe the melody is the sound of the ocean or the wind blowing across your ears. It really doesn’t matter as long as you understand what it is and become more intentional about the importance of maintaining your peace and how to achieve it.
Music will always be a significant part of my life and as I am reminded of my childhood and the positive impact that my mediocre listening devices had back then, I will never forget the powerful impact of what came through the speakers. It was indeed magical, edifying, stimulating and uplifting. It was like a miracle was happening right before me. I could take the worst situation and detach from it temporarily. I never realize the power in that until I got older, and today it is simply a part of my daily life.
Often my best thoughts come intertwined with a song. It can feel like everything in the moment or perhaps just a nice beat, melody or combination of instruments. Whatever the case, let us never take for granted the miracle of music. We don’t need to fully understand why it impacts us, just know that it does, and when you allow yourself to connect to that favorite song, enjoy it, the moment, and how it inspires you.
I have always loved this song. And like so many of us, as a kid I had no idea what I was singing about, but the melody sure was nice. Now as an adult I can appreciate the words, along with the melody. I think of love, good and not so good relationships and how each one has uniquely impacted me. I ponder on what lessons I took away as the result of my divorce, my poor ability to truly communicate with my partner or our mutual agreement to part ways. I reflect on my mental and emotional state during that time? Did I feel broken, depressed or rejected? Did I own my feelings or attempt to pass them off as someone’s else’s fault? (I confess this was the case more often than not back then) However, with my personal desire to get better and to be better as my motivation, and my hope to experience real wholeness, along with much prayer, I challenged myself with several questions. These questions were often bounced off one or two close friends that were willing to tell me the truth in love, and sometimes even a trusted counselor. Most of my questions were actually statements that my friends would call me out on and cause me to look in the mirror. Painful, but ultimately very helpful. This was the process (my process) that inevitably helped me to grow. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing with the steps I took. I did indeed learn from them.
A friend that will swear to their own pain, is a true friend.
They say hindsight is 20-20, and if I knew 10% of what I know now about most things, my life would have taken a different course, at least I think so anyway. The million-dollar question is would my life be better having more knowledge without the experience or the wherewithal to know any better? Selah. I will say I believe our steps are perfectly ordered just as they are, poor decisions and all. That can be a hard pill to swallow when you consider all the jacked-up things that can happen in our lives, but I will qualify that statement with…you don’t know what you don’t know. Therefore, our choices are based on what we do know and what we attempt to understand through our faith, experiences, up bringing, etc., and even that does not guarantee we still won’t make poor choices, but we have to step out on something at some point.
When you reflect on the less memorable relationships you have been involved in, or after you have went through your own healing process, hopefully you can take away that all of it wasn’t in vain, additionally all of it wasn’t only your partner’s fault. Imagine that. Every bad relationship hopefully wasn’t COMPLETELY bad. Ultimately there should be something we can learn from the ugly stuff? If you say there is not, you are more likely to relive bad memories, even if you’re with a different person.
Life lessons must be learned or your past will indeed define your future.
Some of that which we wish to forget has equally and undeniably forged us and made us who we are today. It’s just a part of the cycle of life. Embrace what was meant for you to learn and move closer to the better you. If you don’t take responsibility at some point, you will live in a vicious cycle of pain, anger and regret, fruitlessly blaming others for your circumstances. From your parents to alleged soul-mates. I’m convinced we spend too much of our precious time studying, reflecting or listening to well-meaning friends on what we did wrong, who we did wrong or who wronged us. This is NOT the type of truth I have been referring to. There has to be balance with this. My point is get the lesson however you need to receive it, and move on! Otherwise become a professional recipient of pain, anger and regret. My counselor, Dr. Adams asked me a poignant question at the end of my sessions. He asked, “Henry what have you learned through all this? You can’t go through the amount of pain you did and not learn one thing that will prevent you from returning to my office for the same issue.” As much as he appreciated my business (as a paying customer), he was not seeking repeat clients, due to our perpetuation of the same problem. I was grateful for his therapeutic philosophy and followed suit, as I do today. My blog, as much as I enjoy writing, is a part of my continued therapy as well. It causes me to reflect on my thoughts regularly and keep them close as I share them with you. Additionally, it also helps me to remain accountable to them.
Another topic worth discussing is our negative thoughts and how they need no help getting inside our psyche. They find a way all their own to wake us up in the morning if we allow them to. They can flow off the lips of our best friends and haters with the greatest of ease. The question is how we choose to respond to them. It’s in those moments where, what we are and who we’re becoming falls in the balance. It’s no longer just about the strong words we declared, but the actions that follow these declarations. Will you get entangled in futile discussions about what you were or defy the naysayers with silence, and purposeful, authentic progression? The choice is truly ours.
My choice is to fly and rise above every negative thought!
So like the song states, let’s learn to fly again and ultimately soar like the eagle across the literal abyss of what held us down. The abyss of emotionally destructive decisions, self-perpetuated victimization, manipulative or controlling behaviors, impulsive attitudes, fear-laced thoughts and anger-infused decisions. Nothing positive has ever derived from these characteristics, actions or mindsets, only more pain. You can do more than you realize with broken wings, disappointment and even a broken heart. The great truth is you can heal from these when you choose a better path for yourself. You are more than the situation you are in. Figuratively (and possibly literally) you may have to walk with a limp for the rest of your life, in other words, some circumstances may have life long consequences, but don’t allow even that to become a crutch or an excuse to your progress. It’s always easier to quit, put forth no work and complain about why your life is so miserable. I’m sure you’re quite aware how that story ends and hopefully you are tired of those results.
Many years ago this song was just a set of words with a nice melody, but now as I have grown and matured, I get it. I will, “learn to fly again, learn to live so free”.
As we approach Christmas, I thought it would be fitting to add an extra post. I hope it encourages you.
As a child I remember going to a tree farm to cut our Christmas tree down every year until I was at least 10. I remember the tree was always tall and full. Once home we would usually set the tree outside overnight to make sure all the bugs and rodents were out of it. That next night we would decorate it together. I was in charge of lights. That meant I had to plug them in and make sure they were all in good working condition prior to placing them on the tree. Once the tree was all decorated I would sit on the couch and watch the lights flicker on and off. I could do this for hours. It was something magical for me as boy. I’m still not quite sure what it was, but I have always loved this time of year. Although I’m not visiting any tree farms these days, I do continue the tradition of selecting the tree as a family and decorating it together with my favorite Christmas music playing. I’ve even added making homemade hot chocolate as a new memory for my children to pass along to their children when they become parents one day.
As I reflect on my fond memories, it brings a smile to my face, but I can’t help but think about those many families who would rather sleep through this day. Their memories aren’t so joyous and fond. As many families celebrate the occasion, exchange gifts and enjoy one another’s company, there are still many that will be alone, forgotten and deeply saddened during this time. Today I ask that you say a prayer and reach out to give love to someone who is in true need. Not just a dollar, not just a smile but something that will bring joy to their heart. We all have those moments where we know someone in need and we can do something more about it.
Maybe it’s just that you make yourself available to listen to someone and hear their heart without adding your opinion.
Let’s not stand on the sidelines this year. There are those that are estranged from their families for various reasons and others that have experienced the loss of loved ones, and the holiday season only reminds them of the void that now exist in their lives. Then there are those that truly are alone. No family or close friends to speak of. Honestly I can’t imagine what this feels like, but my heart goes out to you that do know and live this reality daily.
Today, let us consider the broken-hearted, the lonely men afraid to share their feelings, the battered women, abused and neglected children, estranged families, the sick and feeble, the homeless, the impoverished and the depressed. Let’s be a light to them and if at all possible bring some joy into their world.
I pray that this day is better than last years and that it will continue to become better as time moves forward. I pray that any sadness you feel will subside and someone thoughtful, meaningful and with good intentions crosses your path and sheds a little light and love on you. I pray that you remember why you are alive and that you realize that your life is a blessing to someone else, no matter how bad things become. Like me, maybe add something new to your tradition or start some brand new ones.
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!
Sometimes I’ll watch my children from afar and pretend to not be listening to them. I’ll hear my youngest asking her older siblings a question or simply calling their names. Mind you, they are in ear-shot of her, but you would think they were on another planet by the amount of times she has to call them before they finally decide to answer, if they do at all. By that time I’m usually yelling at them to answer her. This scenario caused me to reflect on the times I have felt like my youngest, as an adult. Like no one is listening to me or my voice seems to not matter to those around me. As she feels discouraged from being ignored, so do I, so do we. How is that we can become so dismissive to people, especially to the ones that we love and in turn give our best to others that may barely know us? We’ve all been guilty of it. I can recall having a long day at work, then an equally long commute to get home. During the drive, any energy that remained in me was typically zapped away by the time I pulled into the driveway. If I did not make a conscious effort I would disengage and my family received the leftovers from my day.
The song attached to this post, (if you should choose to listen) by Gaelle, “Fade Away” captures a real place we can be in our lives at times. Sometimes we want to become that piece of wood that blends in with everything and impacts nothing. We want to hide, silence ourselves due to the circumstances we face or like my daughter we simply get tired of no one listening to us and ultimately we make the choice to “disappear and fade away” as the song states. After my first divorce I was so ashamed of the failure, that I didn’t want to speak to anyone. My voice was shut down (by my own means) and any words of wisdom I once had regarding relationships were kept inside out of sheer embarrassment, feelings of defeat and self-doubt. I had deduced no one wanted to hear me and my words had become worthless and it was best that I just remain quiet. Essentially go into my corner. I became my worse enemy.
What life situation has silenced you? What happen to those dreams you once had as a child or young adult that was placed abruptly on the shelf? I have seen some of the most important people in my life stop believing in the dreams and purposes for their lives. This was especially important to me because their purposes affected me significantly and when they stopped – something in me stopped as well. I am not saying that people should become our idols, but someone is believing in you and counting on you to do what you say you will do. Why have you stopped? Failure, you screwed up or let some one down that was important to you or did you simply get tired? We all have, I know I have in many ways. Did the failure teach you anything? This can be the key to your renewal, essentially getting you back on the saddle, but you have to make the choice to try again. You have to believe that you matter enough to yourself.
I use to believe that never making a mistake was best, but now I believe that brokenness is. Brokenness is what has caused me to slow down, take deep breaths often and reflect on my choices regularly, even the simple ones. Brokenness has revealed the holes in my life, my heart and in my beliefs and ideas. It’s the one thing that has forced me to see myself authentically. That can be an alarming discovery if you have never truly stopped to reflect on you, and only you. This was a sobering season in my journey, but once I accepted who I truly was versus who I was portraying to be, it literally set me free, with my holes an all. So today I no longer look to disappear and fade away. I have a voice, a voice that speaks courageously, profoundly and with authentic truth.
Although it can become quite comfortable to remain living a life in the shadows, we have to force ourselves out. Figuratively speaking, we have to open the curtains of our hearts and minds and allow the sun to warm our souls and renew the vigor we once had, or perhaps for some, for the very first time. We have to find our voice again and choose to shout it at our mountain tops. One day at time we can begin to live vibrant lives that display all that we are, perfect and imperfect, no matter the circumstances. One thing I can learn from my youngest, is she never quits when her siblings ignore her. She will go to where they are and say, “did you hear me calling you”? She is relentless. That is a great characteristic to have. One that causes her to act with resilience and sometimes downright indignation. She will not be denied. She realizes that she matters. I realize that I matter as well. Do you?
Please take the time to leave a comment and share your thoughts on this topic. If not for you, maybe it’s for someone else. Thank you.
Although my Blog doesn’t officially launch until Monday, I felt compelled to share a thought today. With all the negative news in the world, specifically about the Michael Brown case, I wanted to offer a perspective that fosters hope and suggest alternative solutions to a tragic epidemic. Living a life with violence in the community, poverty and fathers missing in action (just to name a few) is not uncommon for a significant part of the world. I ask, “is there any hope”? I believe there is and for every negative story there are families, (mothers & fathers, sons & daughters, aunts & uncles, grandfathers & grandmothers, cousins & communities) overcoming tragic obstacles that they face daily. Today I want to emphasize this and ask you a question. What are you doing to rebuild Ferguson and the Ferguson’s around you? Can anyone lean on you, or count on you to come through with hope, love, finances or support of any kind? Do you see yourself as the catalyst that can make significant impacts in the lives of others? Can anyone lean on you? Are you offering hope through educating your children on how to live by the golden rule (treat others as you want to be treated)? Are you a single father that inspires and takes care of your children? Can anyone lean on you? Do you “own it” when you’re wrong and try to make it right by offering what is needed in real-time ? Can anyone lean on you? It’s easy to instigate negative emotions in this situation, but my message will be to offer hope in the midst of darkness. This does not exempt anyone from suffering from injustice, but it does suggests alternative ways on what we do with that energy, like the pictures I chose suggest. There is a quote in the Bible that says, “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. I deduce from that, that burning my community down will never make things better, selling drugs to my community does not make things better, perpetuating violence does not make things better, abandoning my children does not make things better, stripping my community of its natural beauty and resources does not make things better. Who can lean on you to do what is better for someone else, not just yourself ? When we become this person, (this people) we become a part of a greater community that offers good news to the down-trodden, water to the thirsty and hope to the defeated. Who can lean on you? Do they know they can? Click on the song and see the pictures below.
I hope it incites you to do some good for your family, your community, our world!
Listen to the words of this song. Can you dare say that you’ve had a love like this ? One that you dare to share on this forum? I’d love to hear about it.
What would I do without these people in my life ? I know ? Easily go crazy at times. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first person to go to my prayer closet alone and deal with life issues, but sometimes we need people, period! It’s just that simple. I’ve lived much of my life as a loner, yet I understand its much sweeter with really good friends and family. Love the people around you. Don’t abuse them or depend on them, simply enjoy the beauty they bring into your life when they bring it.
Enjoy this song by Julie Dexter, “How Sweet Life Is…”
See you soon.
What are you excited about these days ? What’s making you dance and sing in the car ? I have many things to be thankful for, but I must admit the anticipation of launching this site makes me smile inside. Not sure exactly what it is, well maybe I do. When your life meets a part of the destiny that you are supposed to live you can’t help but dance and sing.
Enjoy the song!
What causes you to get still, I mean really quiet within yourself ? So many of us are afraid to hear what’s inside. I dare you to listen to yourself in silence. What will you discover ? What will you hear in the silence ? Perhaps an answer lies in the distance. As we get closer to the launch date, this is a taste of what this site will be about.