Stand free 

Stand free they say from their Ivory Tower. 

Speak louder, 

but not too loud. 

We will tell you what volume is acceptable. 

Do you speak Mexican? 

Your skirt is so short, you must want some attention? 

Words spoken from a plantation mansion, 

still echo in the current White House it seems. 

Ignorance and privilege wrapped in a navy blue business suit. 

Knowing what is best for people who are different from their bland white bread. 

And yet never tasting the flavors of chipotle, 

saffron 

and cumin. 

Just salt and pepper please, 

but really, 

just salt. 

Why are you raising your voice? 

Does my intelligence upset you? 

Will you educate, placate, dominate and subjucate until I’m too weary to stand? 

No. 

You won’t. 

Why? 

Because I am a woman, 

a mother, 

an ally 

and a friend. 

While you are golfing, I am reading. 

While your wine chills, we are organizing. 

While you are playing the stock market, 

we are  lifting up difference – 

because it is beautiful. 

So, no thank you for your patriarchal oppression, 

your judgement and your hate. 

Your cages no longer apply to me, 

because I am a woman. 

A loud, 

educated, 

cooking with all of the spices, 

mama, 

and I am standing free. 

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I am a different person

oak-trees-18Sometimes we have to crash face first over the bicycle rails to see things clearly. Metaphorically, I did that recently. It wasn’t fun. But then, I picked myself up and said to myself, I am starting a new life. I life lived in balance and in love.

I am brave.

I am in charge of my life. The schedule or the kids needs do not control me.

I am raising three kids by myself. And that hurts and it’s hard. But I am not going to run myself into the ground any more to avoid the pain. I am going to sit with it and let it move through me, like waves on the beach. And I will rise, perhaps a little drenched but free.

I am doing my best. I have recently learned that I was going way too fast (hence the crash). Now that I know better, I can do different.

It won’t be easy, this new habit and lifestyle of slowing down enough to feel. And yet, I am ok with that. Because, this, right here, is the messy, beauty of life.

I will not hide from the wind as it rushes, past bringing stories of old and fears on its tails. I will stand, like the mighty oak tree and let it blow through my branches. Yes, the leaves with rustle, yes the rain will wash down my smooth bark and still, I will stand.

I will stand, rooted in life, love, God and the knowing that I am a different person than I was before.

 

Little Red Hiding Hood

I’ve been praying for answers to a few questions for sometime now. Today, I woke up with a new and helpful realization. 

We all have parts of ourselves that work well, and other patterns or habits that are more challenging. In my world, I have worked with the challenges and blessings of being a sensitive empathic human being. This means I feel things deeply, including world issues, the feelings of my children, family, coworkers, etc. It’s the reason I have dedicated my work time to nonprofit service and helping anyway I can to make sure everyone has opportunities to fulfill their potential.

As it turns out, it’s also the reason I reach for chocolate in stressful situations or hide, unintentionally behind those extra 20 pounds that never seem to come off. 

My realization this morning was, if we are here to be a blessing and shine our unique sparkle, how is hiding behind something helping fulfill my life mission. 

Did God put us on this earth to hide our sparkle? I don’t think so. 

There are lots of reasons for us all to put on our little red “hiding” hoods and run from the big bad wolf. There are a lot of big bad wolves out there these days. But running doesn’t help. It doesn’t work. Perhaps you think it’s the answer in the moment but truthfully, the only thing you are doing by hiding from your fears (through whatever your unhealthy coping mechanism is) is hurting yourself. 

I guess I have known that for awhile but the new learning for each is this: I’m all about empowerment, shining your sparkle and sharing love with the world. I do this all day, everyday. And… deep down if I have a belief that to be safe I have to hide part of myself from the big bad wolf, that doesn’t work very well. 

This feels like a big balloon filled with love that has the tiniest hole. Over time, the balloon will deflate unless the hole is patched. It’s a small hole but a really important one to deal with. 

The first part of healing any issue is becoming aware of the problem. Next, sitting with that and honoring what is. So that’s me today, honoring this unconscious part of me that wants to hide. God bless that part, I sure understand and have compassion for that feeling and yet, now I know that hiding from scary things isn’t the only option. 

The real work is in being brave and vulnerable. Of opening our hearts so we can feel the fullness of life and continue to develop the tools for when times get tough. And giving ourselves the grace to stay in bed and read a book, or say no to another fundraiser, volunteer opportunity or chocolate chip cookie. 

By being proactive and aware of our need for balance in this high paced society, we can get ahead of the desire to stress eat or hide because the world feels too much sometimes. 

Today, is a day for realization and self compassion. It’s for forgiving myself for not knowing earlier and moving forward with a peaceful and open heart, into the beauty of today. 

Go, be brave, the world needs your love. 

Where do you want to go? 

It’s a regular Tuesday morning, time to get up and bustle kids to school. 

Facebook says the United States is still in a mess of arrogant power and injustice, with a side of hope by a growing group of truth speakers. People are protesting, marching and speaking up for truth. 

All of this can be discouraging today the least.

The question in my mind today is, “where do you want to go?” In this day, in life, on a walk. 

It can be so easy to feel stuck or just stop moving forward when outside concerns feel out of our control. 

And yet, we have the power to choose our own reaction to whatever life brings us. We can put one foot in front of the other and keep walking in the direction of our dreams.

Today, I choose to walk in the direction of love. I choose to bring peace with me into this day and pick up some joy and an extra helping of laughter along the way. 

I choose kindness and empowerment of my fellow walkers. I choose health for me, my family and the world. 

As I walk into this day, I am clear and focused on where I want to go. I will not be detoured or distracted by stress or injustice. I will stand in my power as a woman, daughter, and mother. I will walk with love. That is where I want to go today. 

Where do you want to go? 

My Hero 

Today I spent a moment, 

with my hero. 

Surrounded in pastel hues, 

this gentle spirit sat with me, 

for a few minutes. 

My day, 

full of complexities,

forgotten at the door. 

Radiance, 

like I have never seen, 

Warmth, 

that fills the room with light. 

Beauty, 

And Grace. 

Strength, and victory, 

are her middle names. 

She navigates life

guided by love. 

She has experienced challenges, 

Some small, 

Others larger.

And yet, 

in the midst of all this, 

she spreads love.

Everywhere.

The essence of rose pedals, 

floating behind her,

Wherever she goes. 

Her hair,

the most beautiful, 

Angel white, 

I have ever seen. 

She astonishes me, 

Everyday. 

This hero,

Is my mom.  

And I, 

am so honored, 

To be her daughter. 

Fire in my Belly

Do you ever feel like there is just something you were born to do? Some issue, or problem to solve and that you are the one who was meant work on it?

Well I do. I am fired up about making the world a better place, for everyone. About creating a world with equity for all that builds our communities up and brings people together.

I wake up in the morning with this fire in my belly and it burns all day long. I am passionate and committed. I am creating a revolution, a caring movement that will bring people together in solidarity and kindness as we navigate this world called life.

I get that some people can be electricians, bankers and doctors and that is their calling. My mission is that of revolutionary kindness, of hope, and strength.

This sense is so powerful and strong that it is hard to slow down and relax sometimes. I feel like there is a lot to do and no time to waste. How do people go see movies, or drink beer when there are 1.2 billion people without water, countless domestic violence acts each day, and families living out of their cars. How can we rest when our neighbors, our brothers and sisters are aching?

I have work to do, to make this world a better place. We all do, some feel more strongly about it than others. Me? I’m fired up. 

I will walk in strength, surround myself with powerful advocates and live true to my values. So that someday when long gray hair waves down my back and my grandkids ask me if I lived a good life and made a difference in the world I can say, “Absolutely. And you can too.”

What are you passionate about?

A Day to Shine, Commencement 2016 

The day approached. Garment bags, unused since last year, unzipped and dusted off.  Regalia placed on the shoulders of the leaders of the institution. Tassels and hoods to honor achievement in academic excellence arrive in a rainbow of colors. We, the teachers and administrators, gathered in our finery to reminisce about a long, yet successful academic year. Bubbles flew skyward, umbrellas shielded us from the liquid sunshine of the moment.   

And then, we saw them approaching. The 1,700 students who will be receiving degrees on this commencement day. The 1,700 reasons we all do this work. Royal blue from head to toe, with honors cords and diversity scarves they walk, a little taller today.  

The bagpipes begin, in two lines we process on the field, find our places to stand on either sides of the aisle, the welcoming group to the class of 2016.  Led by our Dean of Student Engagement, the students walk onto the field to take their rightful place as graduates after many a long journey to this place.    

We are seated as our College President takes the stage. He announced the important people and speakers and then he paused. The week before in Orlando there was a mass shooting of 50 Latinx people at a LGBTQ nightclub. The President, member of that community felt this pain deeply. He read a poem he wrote the night before entitled “Feel our Pulse”. There was not a dry eye among us. As he finished speaking and the Bagpipes began to play Amazing Grace to honor the lives lost in this tragedy, the sun shone through the clouds for the first time. In fact, the clouds started to dissapate, and a rainbow appeared. It did not rain another drop all evening. 

Next, our student speaker was invited to the stage. This remarkable young man started as a running start/high school student in spite of his high school counselor telling him he shouldn’t go to college, the military was the right choice for him. Once at SPSCC, he became a peer mentor to help other students, he started the Black Student Union and coordinated many service projects to help out community. This compassionate young man is going pre-med. He wants to be a doctor for two reasons, 1 to show other African American youth that you can succeed in the medical field. And 2, he has watched his mother struggle with health issues his whole life, and he wants to be the one to cure her incurable disease. He spoke words of strength and wisdom to the crowd, an inspiration to us all and a friend to so many, this young man is our future. 

After his speech, the announcement of degrees started. Dental, business, nursing, humanities, art, welding, automotive, culinary and the list goes on. We are a community college, women carried their babies across the stage, at one point I heard a little girl say, “that’s my Grampa graduating”. We are the goregous rainbow of society and today was a day to see us shine.

As the last student walked across the stage, the class of 2016 was announced. The graduates, families and friends rejoiced. Hugs and bouquets of flowers filled field. As I watched the celebrations, I thought to myself Congratulations class of 2016, this is your day, from this moment you can do anything, spread your wings and FLY