You Are the Light a.k.a “What Are You Waiting For”

I began graduate school when “things” were good in U.S. society. Jobs were plentiful. Innovation was rampant. Grants and Research funding were flowing, I mean not overflowing, yet the stream was strong. Some questioned why I would continue into a doctoral program in a discipline that was so enigmatic. My masters degree and experience was a solid meal ticket.

A third of the way into my doc program, folks were running to graduate school. Various sectors of the economy were tanking. “Things” were bad everywhere, and for nearly everyone. Folks were applying to and matriculating into graduate school like it was the line for commodities at the community center.

Around this time I encountered a quote/saying that was quippy and made me giggle.

“Due to the recession the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off.”

As it turns out, things got THICK in my doctoral program and subsequently in my ENTIRE life shortly after this nugget was shared with me. Amazingly enough, this little quip helped me through the darkest of periods. It was somewhat of a mantra in the last legs of journey through graduate school.

However, tonight it died a miserable death.

Tonight while relaxing and enjoying a sporadic summer evening’s rain and a cool breeze, I sat rocking with my eyes closed and praying. As I concluded I breathed deeply and would normally have begun to hum softly. Instead I unintentionally found myself ear hustling a conversation that flipped my priceless gem completely. This little nugget that got me through by far the toughest process of my life was now shattered.  Something entirely different was revealed; something that is more valuable to me presently.

“As a leader, you are the light at the end of the tunnel. Find ways to be inspired, to chip away at the barriers ahead.” ~ Lincoln Stephens

My breath caught in my throat and my ear hustling game was discovered. Yet, since I wasn’t a part of the conversation I was luckily able to retreat back into my own lair of thoughts. I recalled a poem I wrote last winter just as my current season was beginning.

What You Are

You are life

You are love

You are a covenant

You are a promise

You are a commitment

You are a sacrifice

You are a protector

You are a cover

You are loving

You are sustaining

You are supportive

You are obedient

You are inspiring

You are tireless

There are no reinforcements

You are who your grandmothers prayed for

Due to the encouragement of one of my mentees, it also happens to be the first poem I ever performed in front of an audience.  I’ve shared it with you, because the sentiments of the quote, and the poem are so much more valuable than the original quip.

The original quote and it’s sentiments made me giggle. These words and thoughts bring me joy.

Peaces of Joy

As horrible of a speller as I am, many folks probably believe that title contains a legitimate error. However, it’s actually a play on words, describing the wonderful connection between joy and peace.

I’ve discovered in the past month that the frequency of my joy has a direct relationship to the intensity of the peace present in my life. Actually that’s slightly inaccurate. It isn’t the presence of peace in my life; it’s actually the presence of peace in me – in my soul.

All hell could break loose in your life and your heart can be sad, however if your soul is at peace…

Meaning…

Your soul is assured you acted with integrity.

Your soul is assured that you acted responsibly.

Your soul is assured that you acted in love.

Your soul is assured that you acted on your core values.

Then you will be in a constant state of peace and your ability to HAVE joy, SAVOR joy, BASK in joy, and SHARE joy will occur frequently. Your joy will be abundant and your peace will be unshakeable.

So be sure to honor your time, your body, your mind and your spirit in ways that cultivate and nurture peace. Set boundaries; take naps; eat healthy; take up a new hobby or exercise goal. Without these types of caring activities peace will be harder to grasp and the frequency of your joy becomes unpredictable…and that’s no fun at all.

How do you cultivate peace in your life? I’d love to gather new and creative strategies; follow me on twitter @busi_B to get some great ideas, or comment below to share your own.

Doubt…

Beginning my marriage was an exciting time for me. Knowing that my husband and I were embarking on a wonderful new journey together where his sense of humor and social nature would be combined with my sense of planning and nurturing made me excited to consider all the wonderful fun and good we would have taking on the world together.

It was also a time of fear and a tad bit of sadness. I had never really lived with someone for an extended period of time before as an adult. I was also moving to a place where I didn’t have any close friends. Everyone in the city I was moving to live with my husband was his friends or his family. Over the years I was in my doctoral program, I had made some friends of my own in Detroit. But they had all moved far out of the city or even out of the state by the time I began to settle in the area.

I was also leaving behind a close network of friends, supporters and colleagues. Lansing was a place I had lived in for more years than the town I lived in when I graduated from high schopl. I loved it and I loved the people that had come to love me there.

Sometimes I was sad about this, and sometimes I was angry. I often shared both emotions and the reasons for them with my husband, before and after we were married. It was never an option to not be together because of the move. In fact it wasn’t an option to not be together. Despite the fact that we both knew long distance and commuter couples, even some that were married. We knew that was not the type of marriage that we wanted.

In fact, when we talked about the kind of marriage that we wanted we realized that we wanted to break many of the rules. We wanted to build businesses and work for our living(s) together, spending much of our work and free time together and with our children (when we had them). We wanted to build our work around our lives rather than our lives around our work. For my parents in particular this had meant sacrificing a particular type of lifestyle. My husband and I dreamed of avoiding that type of sacrifice by making others.

One thing that I remember vividly about our conversations about marriage and sacrifice before we got married is that my husband would always reassure me that no matter what I decided to give up or trade in as we worked to build our life together, he’d be sure to give it back to me in some fashion AND promised that it would be better. At the time, I loved him saying that. It showed me something about his character and what he was willing to do and give for us. I did not believe him however.

It wasn’t that my husband had broken promises before, or that I didn’t trust him. I didn’t believe him because it seemed like the naïve type of poetic thing that was a part of song lyrics about love, rather than the truth about love and marriage.

You know the songs. The ones like the Eagle’s “Love Will Keep Us Alive” where they say,

 

Now I’ve found you

There’s no emptiness inside

When we’re hungry, Love will keep us alive… 

 

Or in “Ready or Not” by After 7 when Babyface’s brother croons,

I’ll give you the sun, the rain, the moon, the stars and the mountains.

I’ll give you the world and all that you wish for

And even more…

 

I mean come on, I’m hypoglycemic. I’ve got to eat; and often. Even if you’re only talking about a day lazing around the house cuddled up together love isn’t all you can keep in your cupboard. And, you can’t give me anything that isn’t yours and I do not believe that you and God worked out any type of payment plan for those awesome wonders of mother earth.

However, I was wrong. That’s right I said it, my husband was right and I should have known it. When he was whispering those sweet nothing, I’m glad that I didn’t say anything to indicate my doubt. It may have done irreparable damage to our relationship and his belief that I respect, love and trust him. He proved me wrong, AND he taught me a valuable lesson about simply being quiet. One that I hope I will always remember.

What do you do in situations of doubt? Have you ever been proven wrong in the most wonderful fashion? I’d love to hear your stories about doubt turning to joy. Be sure to leave a comments, or send me a message and click here to follow me @busi_B on twitter.

Sharing is Joy

I was reading a friend’s blog post the other day. His words reminded me of something that I’ve struggled with, yet I could never see that he was struggling with the same exact issue. My friend and I both suffered from a lack of sharing.

How can this be you ask? How can you be friends and not realize neither of you liked to share? Here’s how: We were good listeners, we were even entertaining conversationalists. Yet we asked more questions and gave more helpful advice than we shared of our own triumphs and trials. We rarely vented about our frustrations and seldom acknowledged our accomplishments.

My friend is a super talented artist, a superbly skilled photographer and poet. He’s one of the first folks who’s work really helped me understand the craft and skill of blogging. Yet similar to my own experiences as a result of various personal and public social interactions he practiced sharing of himself sparingly; in part to avoid seemingly like a braggart and in part to protect and insulate.

However, the result of not sharing is that just like on the playground or at preschool you end up feeling alone. Even though you are enjoying yourself and others around you are enjoying themselves you still feel alone. You wish you had the courage to ask them if they wanted to play, yet you worry that they will think you are boasting rather than inviting them to enjoy your new toy [or job, or baby, or TV] with you.

Or, as was sometimes the case, you worry that it will get broken; that possibly they won’t care for your prize the way that you do. That after you share that it will be tarnished and ruined forever, that maybe it isn’t such a big deal after all and they will let you know that. Or sometimes you even worry that they will take it from you or maybe even tell you that they have something better, once again poo-pooing on the parade you invited them to join.

Neither of us really know for sure when or how this frame of mind was created or developed, but we can pinpoint when it began to get out of hand. When we lost our original cheerleaders. For him it was a dear friend a few years ago, for me it was my mother more than a decade ago, for another friend I chatted with it was her grandfather about a year ago, and for you….well maybe your biggest fan is still around.

Now I’m not talking about people who always have compliments for you, or folks that always call to see what you are up to, or even folks that say they are proud of you, yet don’t know the details of what you did. Those folks may love you, or they may not. What I’m talking about is that person that knows you intimately, calls you out on your faults, yet sees the power of your potential.

I’m talking about the folks that pray for your dreams to come true AND, when they can, pay for your dreams to come true – whether it’s in time or money.

We need these kinds of folks in our life. The Cheerleaders. The Exhorters. The folks who would run your fan club if you had one. The folks that want your dreams for yourself to come true as much as they want their own to come true. They are hard to come by it seems. Or maybe we’d find them more easily if we weren’t so intent on not sharing.

Stop judging yourself. You are who you are, and your friends are your friends, and they already know who you are – they look you dead on even when you are avoiding mirrors.

So share your dreams and excitements, just like with a snack or a toy, when you share it increases your joy.

I’d love to hear the good news in your life; a dream or recent accomplishment that you’re excited about. Leave a comment and let us know, we’ll celebrate with you; and click here to follow me @busi_B on twitter.

B! in the Moment: Mindfulness – Smriti

“When I think about everything we planned for that won’t happen, I hurt & sob. Yet when I look at what’s happening around me & where we REALLY are, I am filled with joy & awesome wonder at the precision & love of God.” ~ Baranda Jahel Fermin

So I am constantly making plans. No, let me make sure you get it. I am constantly making plans to the point that it’s a possible OCD manifestation very close to something diagnosable in the DSM IV. I’m the black staples rewards card carrying, real simple magazine & products, learnvest, post-it note, Google tasks type of gurl. Although not ALL my planning, or all folks who plan, is based in grief I know fundamentally that virtually all of my planning comes from a place of hurt and avoidance.

As a child I was constantly barraged by feelings that either I had disappointed someone or that someone was disappointing me. I was brought up in a household where if someone called your name, or peeked in a room you were in, you better B! doing SOMETHING (translation: anything that looked or when yelled across the house sounded instantly productive). Otherwise, you’d hear, “You bored? I can find you something to do.” I quickly learned that if a piece of paper and pencil were in hand, and it looked like a list in some stage of organization or thought was being produced, then you could escape wrath or the random assignment of unwanted labor.  So I became a constant and ardent planner. Most kids daydreamed; yet the culminating forces of my first-born, second-generation-immigrant, Capricorn, type-D personality and “don’t look bored” family home, meant that getting caught staring blankly was out of the question. Plus staring is RUDE!!!!

I was always making a plan, working a plan, and or creating back-up plans. My journals were like those adolescent choose your own adventure novels of the early nineties. B!-ing the word-based-bible-thumping family that we were, writing the vision was NEVER lost on me. AND as soon as it looked like my plans would be foiled, I would simply get to write alternate plans. Planning allowed me to escape the present and convince myself that I have some semblance of control, when I felt out of control. However, it also created something to grieve.

When I attached myself to a plan and it didn’t come to fruition there was an intense amount of grief that emerged…and self-flagellation ensued. I thought I knew what I was doing! I wasted so much time! I wanted it so badly! I told everyone what I was doing! …sigh, I could go on and on…Recently, I had to change course once again in my life. Once the decision was made, I felt liberated. I felt peace. I went about the day walking in the order of my steps because I had NOT planned for this, yet I knew it was the best thing. Then the sunset and it was time to get ready for the next day.  I couldn’t let my mind go to what it wanted to do the next day, because I kept fixating on what we had said we were going to do. How wonderful what we said we were going to do would be. The picture was stayed in my heart’s eye of what tomorrow would look like. I cried myself to sleep.

I got up the next morning and felt lost; this day was nothing like I thought it would be. I got into child’s pose, did as many sun salutes as my body would allow. I put on the kettle for tea. I checked my twitter & facebook. Switched on the Rickey Smiley morning Show & took a shower; one of those showers where you can just stand under the water, because you aren’t dog tired AND you don’t have somewhere to be at any time. Then I put on comfy sweats and curled up in the bed with the puppers and my journal. I felt overwhelmed and was beginning to sob for all the things I thought would be happening- had planned on being possible at this moment.

Then I focused my prana, and became mindful of what my mind, heart and soul were ACTUALLY feeling. I realized that just a week ago I would have killed for a day like this. And ACTUALLY today, I was thankful for a day like this. I picked up my pen and wrote in my journal, “When I think about everything we planned for that won’t happen, I hurt & sob. Yet when I look at what’s happening around me & where we REALLY are, I am filled with joy & awesome wonder at the precision & love of God.”  I had everything I could ever desire, from the safety and respect of my loved-ones to my favorite comforter and cute, silly puppy.

I had laughed, I had prayed, I had meditated, I had eaten. The puppy had even gone potty in his litter box AND not felt the need to dig/throw all the litter out afterward. I had practiced on beautiful hardwood floors and I was sitting in a comfortably firm bed writing with a fine-point no bleed sharpie pen, in my beautiful purple paisley print journal, looking out of a wall full of windows into a winter wonderland. RIGHT NOW was awesome! So why was I ruining it thinking about what I had planned, when God had “surprised” me with something that I knew was better. I had no idea if what I had planned would have felt as good as I wanted it to feel. Yet right now I KNEW that this moment was perfect. And the plans that didn’t come to fruition didn’t ruin my memories of the ACTUAL past. Even if my plans for them haven’t always been, ALL my nows have been perfect.

Ya’ll take care; and remember to Be Joyful Frequently!

Ways of B!~ing is a production of BJF, Inc. check us out at bejoyfulfrequently.com launching July 27, 2011.

Just Do What You’re Supposed to Do – NIA

Today I turn 31 and begin walking head-on into my 32nd year of life. I feel young. I feel vibrant. I have no hang-ups or qualms about aging and by no means do I consider 31 old or beyond my prime. I have earned these years; they are badges of honor. Thirty is NOT and will never “be the new 20” in my concept of the world. I have been 20 and frankly, comparatively… it sucked.

As a woman who lost her mother when both of us were too young for anyone to anticipate such an experience, I imagine several times each day what my mother was doing when she was my age. I try to remember, moments at whatever my present age is, what I remember of her at that age. I think on what I was there to witness of her life. I attempt to gather what I can of what she must have TRULY believed, felt and/or did in a situation as opposed to the fuzzy, sepia colored memory that exists in my minds eye. Now that I’m 32 years old I can understand viscerally what she must have been thinking that time when I was 13 (and she was 32) and she popped me in the mouth while driving – without batting an eye, nor holding her mouth open, or swerving the car in even the slightest. At the time I remember thinking only of myself and questioning her love for me, as 13 year olds will do. I also understand with such a peacefully overwhelming confidence what she meant by the phrase she uttered to me sooooooooo often in the 20 years I had her with me, “Baranda, you just do what you’re supposed to do.”

She had a million iterations of statements ending in “…you just do what your supposed to do.” No matter how or when she said it I remember vividly that it INFURUATED me! It felt so unfair!!!

Had she not just heard me tell her that the chick behind me in class was pulling my hair and taunting me and that’s why I was talking in class and got in trouble…”Baranda, what were YOU supposed to be doing? You just do what you’re supposed to do.”

Did she not hear me tell her that if I didn’t keep perfecting this paper I wouldn’t get an A in AP English and my father’s hatred of B’s and anything other than A’s would wreck havoc on my ability to please everyone all the time…”Baranda have you done the dishes or cleaned the bathroom yet? You know what you’re supposed to do.”

And at times when I was reading a book, or practicing hairstyles for the week or listening to music and writing the lyrics in my journal I’d hear her yell out… “Do you know what you’re supposed to be doing?”

The most dreaded times were when through the grapevine of dance mothers, or a mother that she ran into at the grocery or hair dresser she would hear of a friend or schoolmate getting in trouble for something. Whether it was failing an exam, losing their marching band spot, sneaking on the phone, talking to some boy/girl they had no business talking to, experimenting with drugs, getting pregnant, wrecking their parent’s car – anything – she’d hear (that’s how CrosbyBarrett Station works). She would come home and while I was helping her put away the groceries and separate the bulk meats, she would just say without any fanfare or prompting, “I ran into so-and-so today. I hope you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.”

As I look at my life, nearly 12 years after she left us on this side, I’m sure she may be wondering,  “Baranda, are you doing what you’re supposed to be doing?” As I think on my life and ALL that I’ve been through, not only can I “…dance all night…” but I can also say that in fact, I AM doing what I am supposed to be doing – spiritually, emotionally, physically, professionally, personally, communally, politically, & economically. Thanks to her and all of those that love me, want to love me and used to love me I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

I believe she already knows this already though.  I think she knew all along, all those years. She wasn’t asking me because she wanted me to confess something or she doubted me. She was asking me all those years so that I would ask myself, and ANSWER myself. I’ve never struggled with my purpose, nia. So despite the fact that it wasn’t my due date, my birth on the 5th day of Kwawnza, 1979, was by no means early – I was right on time…doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

Ya’ll take care; and remember to Be Joyful Frequently!

Ways of Being is a production of BJF, Inc. check us out at bejoyfulfrequently.com launching July 27, 2011.