I have no idea why I am up at 1:44 a.m. on Christmas morn. Other than I can’t sleep, I have no reason to be up. I’m not doing it big this year. Actually, I’m not doing anything at all. My budget allows for no gifts this year, so I’m just sharing and spreading love, peace and thankfulness for life, grace and mercy with my physical presence and loving attentiveness.
Actually, I’ve been up all day, completing job profiles in hopes that I can land some contract or freelance writing assignments for the new year. And then it dawned on me, that everything has just stopped, so why am I up in the middle of the night looking for work on Christmas Eve/Morn. Hiring managers are with their families, enjoying down time, exchanging gifts, engaged in old traditions or creating new holiday memories. No one is going to look at a resume or job board until the new year, let alone call someone for an interview. But then I visited Craigslist, and I noticed that people were still posting resumes, offering business services, and basically some practically begging in need of work and cash money before the new year. I wasn’t getting the impression that people want money to buy gifts, but they are trying to survive in preparation for January to pay their mortgage or rent, utilities, and groceries. But it’s Craigslist and you don’t really know what’s legitimate and what’s not.
But here’s what I do know…the activity on the site was very telling in that time continually moves forward even if a very large population has stopped for a few hours to relax, spread goodwill and celebrate for Christmas. There are people in need; people still on the grind. It never really stops for some, does it?
Of course the answer is no, but sometimes you have to make it stop to get off, gain perspective and create new clarity on what’s really important. And that’s what this time of year does for many people. It allows them to connect to what really matters in life amidst successes, failures, and uncertainty because no matter what is going on, time is constant and is always moving forward, never backwards, never waiting on anyone.
So, as I sign off the computer for the night (or morn), I’m intentionally and consciously stopping my search for freelance projects and refocusing my attention to family. I’m also wishing everyone a Merry Christmas or Happy Whatever Brings You Peace and Joy right in this very moment. I will see you back on the grind soon, maybe as early as December 26. Peace…
Sometimes we have to accept that everything in life is not supposed to happen as quickly as taking a Selfie and instantly posting it to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, or better yet, doing a Google Search on “finding easy ways to forgive.” Just ask anyone still reeling from some type of betrayal; forgiveness can often be much more complicated.
Nonetheless, in a recent Huffington Post article on eight reasons forgiveness is good for your health, the author clearly outlined the spiritual, mental and relational reasons that forgiveness is good for overall wellbeing. And I must admit, the reality is, the very act of forgiveness IS a good thing because it really is about YOU and not the other person. Why? Because it allows for forward movement in one’s life rather than being stuck in a place and time of pain and hurt.
Forgiving can hurt, too
But the problem often with articles on forgiveness is that it appears that the act should occur immediately suggesting that it’s not okay to feel the sting of betrayal or anger from a wrong. Unless we are talking about some minor trivial infractions, the real truth is the severity of the situation can often dictate the forgiveness factor, and it can just take time, and that IS okay. After all, truly forgiving someone is a psychological and emotional process that is, described by the American Psychological Association, voluntary or intentional, and involves working through emotions such as feelings of betrayal, anger, sadness, hurt, pain, and just simply grieving. To suggest otherwise is challenging a person’s right to experience their own emotional complexities and denying their personal rite of passage into the dark side of real life human nature.
So just when is the right time?
There is no “right” time; no one wants to be or stay mad, angry or hurt. But the best time may be when the individual has the willingness to work through the process. A lot of forgiveness deals with holding on to the actual act of feeling wronged and not wanting to give a pass to the person. Ask any psychologist or therapist and they can share how painstakingly prevalent this belief system exists within one’s psyche. However, another Huffington Post author makes an argument against forgiveness and suggests saving it for those who have earned your forgiveness. And that could work, too, if emotionally not forgiving someone doesn’t keep you stuck. We are all different so there is no magical one size fits all approach through life’s interesting journeys.
How About self-forgiveness instead?
However, if a person is really struggling with the when, why, where and how of forgiveness, maybe, just maybe, instead of the focus being on forgiving the other person, try forgiving yourself. In a 2005 research study by Hall and Fincham, the authors describe aspects of self-forgiveness in a social science context as a show of self-love and respect, and from a psychological perspective as a set of motivational changes to decreasingly avoid feelings toward the offense and retaliate against self, while instead acting benevolently towards self). Now, major aspects of this study suggest that self-forgiveness is cloaked in a self-perpetuated wrong-doing, but this is not always the case when someone feels legitimately wronged.
Even when you didn’t deserve the wrong treatment, forgive yourself for being blindsided by the other person’s behavior. While it never feels good, “ish” just happens sometimes to us. When you forgive yourself, you own your emotions and decisions, and that allows you to determine when and how you move on from that moment in time. Self forgiveness is also cathartic and self empowering because it shows courage and strength of one’s character, as Mahatma Ghandi eloquently quoted when he said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”
As in any process, self forgiveness will take time, too. But allow yourself that time because as you forgive yourself you also derive equal healthy benefits that enrich your life’s emotional and physical well-being as in forgiving someone else, only without the guilt and resentment of giving someone else a free pass. You will feel better about yourself, your decision making, and gain the confidence needed to stay in the moment for making the choices that best define your life experiences. And that, my dear, is always the right time.
Someone recently texted me a quote from one of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho, that reads “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream.” The text came at a very bad time for me but immediately brightened my spirit.
Coelho is an excellent writer and gifted storyteller. I first learned of him when I read The Alchemist and I became an instant fan. The Alchemist is described as a “modern classic, universally admired” book that resonates with individuals seeking their own personal legend (what you have always wanted to accomplish in life). This is always a timely message because most of us function in rote societal behavior like robots and never truly experience a fulfilled joy of living one’s life dreams because it’s not mainstream or acceptable. Coelho’s books are considered inspiring because he always infuses a larger spiritual message. Amazon describes him as “one of the most influential authors of our times” citing that his books have sold more than 150 million copies worldwide, released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages. If you don’t read any other book he has written, at least read The Alchemist, or share it with someone who may be struggling with finding direction in their life.
His newest book, Adultery: A Novel, was published this past August, and I plan to pick up a copy today. Now some may be turned off by the title and storyline because I am somewhat skeptical, but Coelho always has an enlightening message that is rooted in identifying with one’s personal legend. Sometimes we can’t have meaningful dialogue on deeply personal subjects when we are closed-minded and unfortunately adultery happens way too often for us not to at least understand the nuances behind people’s motivation. Personally, I think adultery is wrong, but I also think it’s wrong that people remain in loveless marriages and create personal misery for one another. I’m not quite sure that it’s meant for people to live in hopeless despair and if one person is miserable in a relationship, then both people are going to be miserable. If you watch just one episode of the popular television drama, Scandal, and you can’t deny the intriguing nuances of why people commit adultery. While many people say they tune in for the plot lines, which are pretty good, there are millions of “Gladiators” rooting for Fitz and Olivia’s relationship. And if you’ve watched the popular Netflix drama, House of Cards, the main character Frank Underwood and his wife, Claire, engage in adulterous affairs very matter of factly. And of course, we all know that television and movies are imitations of real life behaviors.
Hey Good People. It’s been a few weeks since I last posted but it wasn’t because I didn’t think about it. A few interesting things caught my attention but got busy with life, and well, you know how that goes.
I did read an interesting article the other day about a study that says that child birth is not as painful as women claim. Being a mother myself who remembers that pain over 23 years ago, the headline caught my attention. Well, isn’t that the purpose of headlines, lol, lol. After reading the article, I learned that the purpose of the study was to see if epidurals were helpful. The study asked 320 moms two days after birth and then two months after birth about their pain threshold. Now birth pain is not something that any women will ever forget. If nothing else, she remembers that it was intense. But once you get through that part and you have your baby home with you, the focus shifts from the pain you experienced to the joy you feel as a mother or at a minimum, the overwhelming feeling of being responsible for a little person (if you are a first time mom). Also, pain is relative for different women because some women can experience a certain level of pain intensity more so than another woman. It’s just unfair, to me, to attempt to do a study about pain intensity and use it to benchmark the effectiveness of an epidural. I’m just saying.
Now I don’t know if it was a slow news day or if the outlet ran the news story to get women all riled up. But one thing is for sure that I’m pretty certain is that a woman did not conduct or sanction that study. So my parting thoughts are, why do men have an opinion about what women experience with their bodies, especially as it relates to our reproductive health? Is this an attempt by the insurance company to justify to cover or not to cover epidural as a procedure? Will there ever come a time in life when women run the world and we make the rules?
What do you think?
Love is a funny thing because there exists such a wide range of emotions to describe the concept yet what remains constant about love is that it is needed, actually, required for human life to survive and thrive. The example I present today is the wellspring of love radiating from the family of 13 year-old Jahi McMath, who continues to show the world what love, conscious resolve, and a lot of determination can do.
If you are not familiar with the story of Jahi, she is the young girl who was declared brain dead following complications from from a surgical procedure. The family disagreed with this and fought to have Jahi to remain on life support, which ultimately resulted in Jahi being moved from her home state of California to New Jersey. While a death certificate was issued in California, the family has recently released video of Jahi appearing to make movements with her feet and hands at the sound of her Mother’s voice. You can view videos here for yourself…
Now, when I watch this, I feel and experience a Mother’s love and determination that is incomparable to any other type of love. I don’t know or care what the medical textbooks may or may not say about Jahi’s condition because what I just witnessed was a young girl who can hear her Mom’s voice and she is responding to it. It reminds me of a few times when I was in a deep sleep but I guess partially asleep when I could hear people talking but I couldn’t wake up. I was fighting so hard in my sleep to wake up and it took a lot of work and energy. One time I was able to wake up and thought that experience was the weirdest thing but afraid to discuss it with anyone because surely I didn’t think they would believe me. Another time, I couldn’t wake myself up and remember falling back into sleep feeling defeated that I couldn’t wake myself up. Now, I am a healthy adult and know what that felt like and it was very scary to even be in that kind of state and actually witness it but not able to do anything about it. I can’t even imagine what is happening with Jahi and her hearing voices, no less, her Mom’s voice, and she is trying hard to respond. Now let me interject, I in know way am trying to compare my dream-state experience with what has tragically happened to Jahi, but my goal is to paint a picture of being in a place of helplessness and needing help but no one knows that you need help or even how to help.
In watching these videos, I profess that this is what real love looks like (to me). You never give up no matter what the odds are. While my goal for this post is not to stir up any debates about life support and the state of being brain dead, or quality of life, I would like to share the story of unconditional, uncompromising, steadfast love. We can talk about the different types of love and suggest that a parent’s love is different than the love of a man and woman. But is there really a difference? Say’s who? When real, genuine love exists in your heart, it is like a faucet that can’t be turned off. You respond to love in kind with love and it’s a force that can’t be stopped.
So my message is to never give up on love. The emotion may have to shift in intensity at times, and the timing and proper perspective should guide the intensity of love, but the power and resoluteness of love should never be questioned. It is definitely something that every human should unequivocally experience. Jahi is so blessed and fortunate to have that type of love that surrounds her, encourages her and keeps her elevated in a realm that we will never be able to understand. While truly none of us really knows what is going on with Jahi and should refrain from judgment and politicizing something very sensitive and real for her family, we cannot deny that love is truly a magnifier that reveals that all things are possible, and it’s okay to be believe in miracles.
While attitudes about online dating being an acceptable way to meet people has grown in popularity because of its ease and convenience, there are still some people who don’t like the trend. The good news is that’s not the only way to meet people in the 21st century. But everyone you know is talking about online dating, so what’s a poor lonely person to do if they choose not to participate in online dating, or peruse singles forums and chat rooms?
Get Social Being Social
Dating is really about being social and making connections that may possibly turn into a romance. The traditional face to face, in person meeting/introduction is still the best choice. So, you are going to have to disconnect from your cell phone, tablet and whatever other mobile device you are using and get out of the house and become social.
But before you do that, be strategic about your approach to finding a date using technology and social media as your people connector. Here’s how:
1) Use your social media network to find out about local events and activities, including free festivals and outdoor park concerts. If you are on social media, you are following either friends, friends of friends, people you admire, people within a common community, or people you want to get to know. Someone is talking about an event and as summer is winding down, there are still many outdoor activities still to get in, like day parties, which seem to have grown in popularity. Then there is the sports scene. Whether sports is your thing or not (because some men, and especially a lot of women are not into sports like that) there’s nothing wrong with checking out the atmosphere for lunch and a drink. There are many upscale bar environments that offer a wide menu selection and a great atmosphere to interact and be social. Men and women, alike, go to sports bars not just to watch the games, but for the social atmosphere. Or how about trying free salsa lessons and check out the scenery while learning to dance the rumba or merengue.
2) What’s trending in your industry on Twitter? If you are a career person, then you are more than likely digitally connected either through a professional membership organization or follow someone in the industry. More than likely, they use social media to promote events, conferences, or social opportunities to connect with like-minded people. As you are staying in the know for business purposes, always look out for social opportunities to meet new and exciting people.
3) While we’re on Twitter, you can use this tool to professionally connect with someone who follows you or who you follow. Now this can be tricky because you don’t want to come across as a stalker. But let’s say they tweet information that is helpful. You can tweet back or direct message them saying the information was helpful and thank them for sharing. I wouldn’t use this technique too often but you never know how a person will respond and it could possibly lead to a longer tweet conversation. Or not, but at least you are keeping your options open on other ways to meet people.
4) The longstanding dating belief is that friends are good sources to meet people, so use your handy apps to find out where your friends are hanging out and ask to join them. This may require thinking outside the box. Let’s say a group of friends is at the bowling alley but you don’t bowl. Doesn’t mean you can’t join them and cheer them on while exposing yourself to a new opportunity and new people. You don’t drink but your friend is hosting a wine and cheese tasting for a worthy cause. I’m pretty sure they will have more than wine there to drink, so stop in for an hour because again, you never know who may be present.
Leveraging your Social Media ROI
While these suggestions are just spins on traditional dating advice, consider a different perspective. This is about leveraging your return on investment of time spent on social media activity to create opportunities for finding dates in a way that may be more natural to navigate than online dating. The bottom line is that there are options for meeting people who could be potential dates so don’t force yourself to jump into the sea of online dating profiles and your heart is not into it. Finding real love is about timing and creating the right opportunities to connect with people.
Yelp: Live at Tabernacle (Atlanta) was held a week ago on Saturday, August 9, and even in spite of the bad thunderstorms that may have deterred some guests, it was an active social scene for singles and couples who came out in droves to sample products, hear live music, network and just have FUN! Just a few of my favorites from the night were henna tattoos by Miracle Beauty Salon (beautiful artistic hand designs); onli sparkling flavored water, Zico chocolate coconut water, Honest Tea (refreshingly delicious, natural and healthy drinks); Hokulia shaved Hawaiian ice (mouthwatering); Caja Popcorn (tantalizing); NaanStop Indian Cuisine and Chai Pani (OMG), RA Sushi (the best); and Kind Healthy Snacks (amazing; have to try the honey smoked bbq almond protein bar).
Besides the food sampling, I enjoyed music by a band I had not heard before, Che’Zee, an R&B acoustic duo, and was impressed with their sound and vibe. I attended the event with a few good friends, but I met some interesting people, too, like Blu.J. She is an intuitive life coach and owns Tarot Bound. Her focus is on empowering people to use their intuition to guide them in creating wealth, attracting meaningful relationships, and generally, create the life they want to have.
“There is nothing mystical about intuition,” Blu.J says. “We all have intuition, you know that feeling that we have deep down inside that we often ignore. I help people to process their problems and guide them to the truth that already exists but buried deep down in their subconscious. This approach empowers them to make choices with the right information.”
I engaged her so much (well I asked her too many questions) that she told me she would offer free readings for those who email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and place in the subject line “Diva Nina Writes.” She emailed me the video that I’ve shared below. Blu.J says the tarot never lies and the proof will be in her readings and the transformation that people experience in their lives. So, I want proof, so go email her, please.
Wow, is all I can say. I saw and learned so much and definitely got more from the Yelp event than hanging out with some good friends, which was my only the plan. But now I hope to attend future Yelp events because this was an enjoyable and great experience.
If you attended Yelp: Live at the Tabernacle (Atlanta) and want to share your experience, please do so in the comments below.