President’s Day in Wakanda

Let’s imagine President’s Day in Wakanda. Yes, I know Wakanda is a kingdom with a King and not an elected President. T’Challa becomes King because his father was King and then he wins the challenge from M’Baku. But … since this week in the US we are honoring our US Presidents (except of course the current occupant of the oval office because he is an agent of Russia and hasn’t shown competence to be President nor does he protect the country like a real President would do), I just got to thinking what it would be like if we were honoring our President of Wakanda this week. Go with me on this and let’s imagine celebrating President’s Day or King’s Day in Wakanda.

So, hail to T’Challa for keeping his country safe. That’s what a President does. T’Challa has a clear love of his people and he acted selflessly. He sought protection for the ideals and traditions of Wakanda. He even questioned why his father had left behind his cousin instead of bringing him to the safety of the lands of Wakanda. T’Challa did what a King, a President should do.

A New York Times article is very appropriate in its description of the movie, Black Panther: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/09/movies/black-panther-african-american-fans.html saying that the movie brings hope, hype and pride. We want a President to act in a way that makes us feel proud.

The actor who plays M’Baku, Winston Duke, was being interviewed on MSNBC and he spoke of how Wakanda shows what it means to be a citizen, what it means to be a King of a country and really want to protect it and ensure your country is not invaded or destroyed by outsiders.

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T’Challa adored his mother and treated the women of his country with respect. The Generals / Warriors that protected him were largely women, under the leadership of Okoye. The farmers who plant and cultivate the important vibranium are mostly women. The scientific and technological brain behind the advances utilized by T’Challa and his army is his sister, Shuri.

This is a link to an article on the women of Wakanda that is worth reading:  http://www.espn.com/espnw/culture/feature/article/22443520/powerful-heroines-shine-black-panther

My President T’Challa treats his romantic love, Nakia, with admiration and respect for her choices to be involved in helping others. He does not ask Nakia to give up her desire / dream of doing all that she can to help people outside of Wakanda. Instead, he identifies a way for her to pursue her dreams while still partnering with him. Nakia is to be with him, by his side, not taking a role subservient to him or giving up her dreams.

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Wow, that’s a President I would love to have running my country … a President who believes women are equals and deserve equal pay, equal opportunity and equal treatment.

Much will be said of Black Panther’s visual presentation as a cinematographic force and its historical success in the box office. More will be said of the role this film will play with respect to representation in terms of both race and gender

We had a President like that, Barack Obama. We clearly have a void now. But, as Ta-Nehesi Coates say, we were eight years in power. On the occasion of President’s Day, this book is a good read. It’s a series of essays that reflect on the era of President Obama, relates it to historical times and connects how his election may have resulted in the backlash that caused the current 45th occupant of the oval office.

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But, I digress. Let me get back to King / President of Wakanda. From an article written by Howard University Professor Greg Carr, he compares T’Challa to the President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere:

With advanced degrees in physics, engineering and economics, T’Challa’s intelligence rivals the smartest people in the Marvel universe and, like Batman, he has mastered pretty much every martial art on the planet.

In his Wakandan homeland, however, the Black Panther selflessly rules a staunchly independent, hidden nation that’s based entirely on African tradition and culture.

Carr said. “Nyerere believed African culture had the answer to solve Africa’s political problems. He tried to make that real in a country. He was incorruptible. That’s the reason he was universally beloved.”

The full article compares each of the main characters to a real-life person and provides some interesting analysis:  https://mic.com/articles/187702/black-panther-is-fiction-but-its-characters-have-a-lot-in-common-with-these-real-life-people#.ibvcSGFL5

In any case, President T’Challa is smart and has an appreciation for science and technology. I can’t help but be pleased with how his breadth of intelligence was utilized for good. In the movie, he was portrayed as wanting to be protective of his country and having to be convinced to use their resources for those in need in other countries. I am told that the Marvel comics version actually showed the opposite. In the comic books, the King of Wakanda actively allowed the resources of the country for the betterment of other countries. At the end of the movie, King T’Challa proudly stood before the United Nations and announced that Wakanda would be a force for good. That’s a President I would be proud of.

On this President’s Day, it’s an opportunity for us to think of those who held the office of President that served the country well. Of course for many of my friends, family and colleagues, we have a very recent example to look to for someone who served admirably – President Barack Obama. T’Challa makes me as proud as Obama made me feel. And even more so, the pride I have in all that I saw in Wakanda gave me the beautiful feelings of hope that I had during many moments of those Obama eight years. An article in Buzzfeed touches on the beauty of what so many I know would feel with a President T’Challa:  https://www.buzzfeed.com/koviebiakolo/black-panther-is-for-everybody-black?utm_term=.yxDjjp30jp#.xqxJJM72JM

In the conclusion of the film, affected by his experience with Killmonger, T’Challa goes to Oakland and sets up a foundation, headed by Shuri, for the community Killmonger’s father had hoped to help, decades earlier. In the final scene, Wakanda is represented by T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia in the United Nations headquarters, ready to open itself up to the world to share its resources and information. The influence of Killmonger’s black American experience caused the Black Panther to not only change how Wakanda interacts with the world, but how he later saw his relationship to other people who looked like him.

My President T’Challa says, “The wise build bridges, the foolish build barriers.” I say to all of the little T’Challa in each of us just as his father said to him in the movie, ” Stand up, you are King.” That’s what a role model President does.

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When No means On

Is there a connection between Black History Month and the MeToo / TimesUp Movement and the word “No”? Seems like a provocative proposition. What in the world could that be? Does No mean No and when does it mean On?

There seems to be an issue where people are confused with the meaning of the word “no.” I thought it was fairly simple. No means no. As in, no that is not happening. No, the answer is to not proceed. No, you may not do what you asked. No, that which you seek is not for you. But for some people no seems to be the other way around, it appears to be the reverse: “on.” For others, it apparently means let’s go on with what I want to do even if someone thought that I wasn’t supposed to. It somehow gave someone the thought that they proceed with doing what they desired instead of what the other person requested.

I am seeing where No being turned in to On can be a good thing or a bad thing. I’ve been thinking of it in two ways over the past several days. One way is within the context of Black History Month and the other way is within the context of the #MeToo Movement.

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At the core of #MeToo and #TimesUp is respecting the boundaries of the word No. Of course it’s also about taking advantage of power over others too, but it does come down to lack of respect for boundaries and an unwillingness to accept the meaning of No.

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Domestic violence is in the news with the White House on the wrong side of the issue. There is nothing that has been done or said by anyone in the White House so far that appropriately defends No Means No. In fact, they have excused a grown man with a degree from an Ivy League university who served in the military with a boss who served in the military, whose boss is in the role of president of the country. And they have essentially said No doesn’t mean anything to them. They’ve said No means someone can still do whatever they want if they have a position of power and access. And the staff of the White House, with the full approval of the occupant of the oval office, has condoned that No doesn’t mean No and we can lie about if we want to.

Bravo to one of the ex-wives who wrote an article that said she will not be shut up. She will speak out and will not be silenced. Jennie Willoughby says she will not be diminished, a link to her article is here and it is worth reading: http://time.com/5143589/rob-porter-ex-wife-trump-domestic-violence/

Fortunately, we still have freedom of the press and for them No means On. The press and journalism have kept the lights on during the past 14 or so months to let us know that boundaries were being crossed and truth was being covered up. Journalists have taken “On” the responsibility of digging through the stories and finding out what the politicians aren’t telling us, exposing the truths, asking the hard questions and not taking No for an answer. When something doesn’t look right and the data doesn’t add up, they keep pushing and finding out why. Journalists have found out that “No” just might mean “On” so they pressed on and because of them we found out about Rob Porter’s violence against his ex-wives and he is now no longer working in the White House. This time “On” worked.

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Black History Month is about celebrating the many, many people who turned “No” into “On”. So, here’s the good context of looking at the way the word No can be turned completely around. These people of color were the pioneers, the martyrs of the civil rights movement, and the inventors who weren’t given credit for their patents. These are the ones who had obstacles and road blocks and defeats and doors shut in their faces and flat out “no” given to them many times along the way. They reversed the “No” and pressed “On”.

Some of the heroes, women and men, of Black History are named and some aren’t. Some are controversial and some are praised universally. All deserve our gratitude because their footsteps left imprints for us to walk in. Their shoulders have shouldered burdens of fights and struggles that we may never be able to understand how heavy they were. I know that many articles are written and many stories are re-told about the people we could spotlight during this month. And, this indeed should be a year-round commemoration, not just one month. Many of the people we might think of under the auspices of Black History Month actually were integral to the development of this country, so they should not be relegated merely to Black History Month.

There is a wonderful quick blog post on the website of the National Museum of African American History & Culture that portrays the American story, a people’s journey, through the lens of African Americans: https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/peoples-journey-nations-story. It is a beautiful pictorial from Harriet Tubman through Black Lives Matter, bringing you up to 2018. It’s joyful to watch. One of the best ways I can think of to turn “No” into “On” is to not accept no for an answer. One of the best examples to see how that happened in countless ways by countless people, is to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It is an experience everyone should set aside a date to do. You will find many people who showed the meaning of “No” being “On”.

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Resiliency … when up is down and down is up, what’s abnormal is normalized and what was normal is nonexistent.

Have you ever had days when things just don’t feel right? That can happen after the death of a loved one or after a trauma or dramatic event. It can happen from a personal tragedy or a public tragedy. When it feels like what used to be up is down and what used to be down is up? We go through periods when what used to be normal feels strangely abnormal and what used to be abnormal becomes so normal that it makes you even question whether there was even a time when it was abnormal. Resiliency is a way to cope.

I’ve asked myself about this several times over the past year but actually before that. It might seem odd to say this but I remember when my mother died and things that used to be so normal for me, like calling her up to ask about something or expecting to hear from her when a certain event occurred … those things that were normal then, no longer were existent. I am pondering this within the context of a few scenarios.

When life changes, even though the changes are instantaneous, as humans we often need some time to adjust to the changes. This occurs with births and deaths. The baby is born and as parents and families, we need to figure out how to take care of the child whether we had prior experience or not. Ya gotta get with it. When a loved one is gone, they’re gone and our lives continue so we have to figure out how to move on. Ya gotta get with it. What we used to think was normal is now abnormal and we must go on. Sadness or gladness, birth or death, whether being turned up or down when we thought it was supposed to be the other way around, we have to figure out how to keep going. Resiliency.

resiliency quote by elizabeth edwards

Whether the evolution of the changes are good or bad, it still takes time. I have seen organizations that I am in have new leadership with less than good intentions or at least less than good leadership. While those within the organization may not immediately realize the extent of the bad, as it becomes known people have to adjust to a new normal while not normalizing the abnormal so that the good is preserved. They have to figure out what to do to go forward.

The destruction of the norms of our democracy in the US right now certainly are an example of what used to be normal is no longer. The abnormalities of what has been done by the current administration are so bad, but frankly so prevalent now that things that happen from one day to the next don’t cause the shock and awe that they once did a year ago. I have lost the art of shaking my head in despair and had to control my emotions to keep from sinking further. And yet, I must speak out, call Congress, get out to rallies and do what I can to scream that this is not normal. Resiliency.

The world feels upside down. Things that used to be up are down and what used to be down is up. Something is very wrong and we can’t get used to this as the new normal. If we do, we’ve lost. So, pull forward with resiliency.

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Ezra Klein says that the current occupant of the oval office is winning because the rest of us are caught up reacting to the disruption of the abnormalities. A new column of his speaks to this:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/29/16900646/trump-administration-tweets-media-polarization

Such a massive side show has been created and the potus benefits from even the effort to gawk at the abnormalities: “His rule, his realization, is that you want as much coverage as possible, full stop. If it’s positive coverage, great. If it’s negative coverage, so be it. The point is that it’s coverage — that you’re the story, that you’re squeezing out your competitors, that you’re on people’s minds.” 

Charles Blow, columnist for the New York Times did a column last week about the Soul of the Nation which references some of these same undertones, “What we control is our collective commitment to morality and ethics. When that is lost, so are we.”: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/25/opinion/trump-russia-investigation-mueller.html

But even more relevant was a column that Blow did in September 2017 after the Charlottesville KKK rally that really pointedly said, these happenings are not normal.

We are talking about the basic concept of whether our government, and by extension our country, advances unity or division, love or hate.

We are talking about an assault on our democracy by a hostile foreign power, the contours and scope of that assault coming into greater clarity every passing day.

How can any of us, if we are true patriots, be expected to simply calm down and suck it up when the Russians are bragging that the “president” of this country isn’t ours but theirs?

How can we be expected to sit idly by while the fabric of this country is unwoven by maleficent hands, whatever their size?

None of this is normal or right

But I know well, and am comforted by the fact, that I am not alone. Millions of Americans see this travesty for what it is and share my disgust and indignation.

Good people of good conscience are seeking to do what Trump only gave lip service to, and in his way bastardized. We, patriots, will not stop resisting this destruction. It is we who will Make America Great Again by trying to limit the damage Trump can do to us until he feels the reckoning of the damage he has done to himself.

Life throws us curves. We dip and dive and bob and weave. Hopefully, we learn to adjust and in fact do adjust. Resiliency is a needed skill in current times so we can bounce back from the hits that life throws at us. In addition to resiliency, another needed skill is being able to still know the difference – discernment – between normal and abnormal when a barrage of abnormal hits so often that it becomes blurry. There’s still a difference. We may not be able to bring back a loved one who has died, that is a new normal that we will have to adjust to. But there are other abnormalities in life that we shouldn’t get used to. So, how to cope? Discernment and resiliency. They are important right now when up is down and down is up.

Resiliency

 

Actions do speak louder than words

You know the old saying, talk is cheap. Well, some folks were wondering what would happen after the Women’s March of 2017 and if anything would happen afterwards. Wonder no more, actions do speak louder than words. Did you hear about The Resistance throughout 2017? Did you hear about the calls to Congress in the spring of 2017 to turn back the votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act? Did you hear about the special elections in the fall of 2017? Did you hear about the November 2017 election results in Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia and all over the country? Did you hear about the special election of a Democrat Senator in Alabama? Well, don’t doubt that actions did speak louder than words. The Women’s March & Rally of 2018 was as tremendous in its impact as 2017. People wondered what would happen after January 21st, 2017 and month after month throughout 2017 we saw the momentum keep going. It was amazing and strong.

My blog today provides some voices of women who marched this year on January 20th, 2018. They were part of The Resistance during 2017 and stood up to start 2018 with renewed messaging to say we are appalled by the unfitness of the occupant of the oval office, the complicity of this Congress, that enough is enough. We are energized about protecting women’s rights, immigrants rights, pay equity, health care for all, better education and tax equity. We are enthusiastic about women running for office and getting elected so that they are at the table when important decisions are made. I am excited for you to hear from them directly about their experience.

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From Shelley Douglas Slachowitz in Fayetteville, Arkansas:

“I was proud and excited to attend the Women’s March in my area, and VERY proud that my 15 yr old daughter was excited about going. She needs to see there are people fighting for and with her.  As a black woman it is critical I pass onto her the tools for her to be successful- especially the tool that is her VOICE!

For a small town march (~500 people) it was a good Women’s March with good speakers. From local activists, professors from the University of Arkansas, to local elected officials – the program was solid. We heard inspiration from women from all walks of life. Immigrant to LGBT, disabled to single Mom, Native American to Hispanic to African American. Each story helped us all understand the struggle & the “size of the prize” in front of us.

Could there have been more marchers? Yes. Could there have been a better PA system to hear the speakers? Yes. Could there have been more high profile leaders from the area to show support? Yes.

NW Arkansas is home to Walmart, JB Hunt & Tyson Foods. But yet, we didn’t see their presence at the March, supporting women’s equality & rights.

This was only Year 2 of the NW Arkansas event, so there is still time to see these companies take a lead and show their support for the women who lead their workforces and purchase their products.

I left the Women’s March with hope. There were strong women there who won’t give up. There were husbands, fathers & sons there supporting the women in their lives. And if each one of them can influence someone and create the change needed, we will succeed!”

Involving our young girls in the Women’s March is such an important thing to do. For girls and young women to see their mothers participating in these initiatives shows them that they matter, that their rights to grow up and make their own decisions about their bodies matter, and their capacity to be a leader is on full display. I love that Shelley involved her daughter in the Women’s March.

Renee Allain Stockton marched in 2017 and again in 2018.

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January 21, 2017

 

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January 20, 2018

Renee is the mother of two daughters in their twenties. She is active in her community and in contacting her Senators and Congressional Representatives regularly. She believes in a woman’s right to choose, in health care for all, and in voting rights for all. She recounts her experience:

“It was so encouraging and hopeful to see just as many women (plus men) participating in the Women’s Rally on Raleigh this year as the Women’s March last year! I was worried that people might be fatigued after so many stupid and embarrassing comments and decisions made by the current administration. However, I’m cautiously optimistic that we will not be silent, voice our concerns with our Congressional Representatives and take action to vote those out of office who do not represent our best interests.”

Dawn Steele Halbert marched in Chicago on January 20th, 2018. She had marched in 2017 also. She recounts her experience:

“The Women’s March in Chicago was amazing.  I also attended last year when the projected number of attendees was 25,000 and 250,000 women showed up.  This year the number was closer to 300,000, though only 35,000 actually registered for the March online.
I rejoined my two girlfriends Karen and Deb, that I marched with last year.  I got the usual send-off from my husband, which was “don’t get arrested”.  The first time he gave this advice was a few years ago when I attended a Black Greek organized “Die-in” in front of the Chicago Water Tower Shopping Mall on Michigan Avenue.
Anyway, yesterday my friends and I started out by attending a brunch sponsored by the Illinois Democrat Gubernatorial hopeful, JB Pritzker.  He has picked Juliana Stratton, a sister, as his running mate as Lt. Governor.  The theme that started there resonated for most of the day, which was all of this is for naught if we don’t get out and vote our interests, and more importantly, elect more women and people of color into positions of power.  Dori McWhorter, the CEO of the Chicago Metro YWCA expressed her frustration that in 2018 we have to march at all for basic human rights, but we must, so our daughters won’t have to.
I was really encouraged by the multitude of people that showed up this year in Grant Park.  Just like last year, white women were the majority of attendees, but there were a lot more Black and brown women and men that showed up as well.  The speakers included local celebrities, politicians, activist, unions representatives and religious leaders both Christian and Muslim.  Lots of kudos were given to the Black female voters of Alabama and an emphasis again that we need more women and people of color in office.  We also got an impromptu performance by the Chicago cast of Hamilton.  The challenge was given to the crowd to get involved in politics and to even consider running for office.  While my feet were cold, the warmth of the crowd was energizing.  It was great reading the signs and having conversations with like-minded strangers as we marched over to Federal Plaza across town.  It was a strange mixture of anger, disgust, resolve, and hope.
Oh, and my favorite signs are the ones that were cleverly displayed on the port-o-potties, which said “This Shi*t hole is brought to you by Donald Trump’s Mouth.”
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Dawn, Karen and Deb in 2018
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Dawn with Karen & Deb at 2017 March

The New York Times did a good summary article on the Women’s March, as did many other newspapers, you can read about them and view video via this link:  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/20/us/womens-march.html?smid=fb-share.

Key to moving forward in 2018 is the ballot box as well as keeping the heat on Congress. 2017 was successful after the Women’s March because things didn’t stop after the Women’s March. I don’t think things will stop in 2018 after this year’s March either. Women are already being trained for candidacies all over the country. Voter registration drives are planned and in fact were taking place during the Women’s March rallies. Women know their power. MeToo, Enough is Enough, Time’s Up, The Resistance and other movements are alive and well. They are all showing that actions do speak louder than words. The midterm elections are another chance to show action. Let’s do it.

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Is it style or substance?

As much as we now see Dr. King as beloved and a role model, during his life his fight for justice was conflicted and rocky. Were the disagreements with him over style or substance? There’s an interesting dialogue going on now regarding being a racist, having racist views, or being ignorant on racism. So, again the same question could apply, is it style or substance?

This is the week we celebrate the birth and the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For most of us, we have heard a lot about Dr. King’s life. We understand that he fought for human rights, civil rights, voting rights, and equality in many areas of life for people of color, for poor people, for the underrepresented and for women. There are people who disagreed with him and thought that his style wasn’t what we needed at the time. Some didn’t think the approach of nonviolence was the most effective and some were impatient with what they saw as slow progress. Some people didn’t think Dr. King should sit down and meet with President Lyndon B. Johnson to negotiate.  Not everyone was on board, black and white. So, was it style or substance they disagreed with?

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At the time of the mid 1960s, a debate raged about Malcolm X versus Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and their different styles. The approach and style and Malcolm X evolved and it was much closer to Dr. King’s -at the end of Malcolm’s life that some would give credit. They both had their points of effectiveness. A drill-down of their substance instead of their style probably reflects an alignment that benefit the larger community in significant ways.

In fact, there’s a theory that the assassination of Malcolm X was instigated because he had moved on the continuum, leaning much more in substance toward the approach of Dr. King … I’m not trying to purport a conspiracy theory but just mentioning it. And, while the “cliff-notes” version of what we hear about Dr. King has become abbreviated over the years, he was actually leaning in substance toward the approach of Malcolm X. I encourage you to read this article from Teen Vogue on Dr. King that reminds us of how radical his views were considered at the time: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/mlk-more-radical-than-we-remember. 

What is seen by some as “radical” in the taking-a-knee NFL movement would likely be very much aligned with both Dr. King and Malcolm X.  The New Yorker magazine’s issue for this week captured the connectivity between today’s protest by NFL players to Dr. King. I think he would be okay with this depiction.

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Sometimes we have to get away from the style and look at the substance. I think we can say both Malcolm X and Dr. King were substantively significant in making the country wake up to its ills and move toward a prescription for change. So too are many of today’s current actions. Stay woke, women’s march, me-too, the resistance, take-a-knee … they aren’t radical. They are substance. They are relevant and demand our attention and a response from the nation.

Also this week of January, we see the anniversaries of the founding of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Sigma Gamma Rho was founded in the month of November. These are predominantly black collegiate sororities with longevity way beyond the college years.

There have been dialogues about black sororities and fraternities through the prism of substance versus style. If anyone thinks these organizations are only about style, they would be wrong. The substance of what they accomplish in their communities is huge. Collectively they represent about 800,000 women and touch the lives of tens of millions people every year globally through their community service programs. That is substance over style. Developing women for leadership in careers that span every profession, that is substance over style.

Founders day logo  Delta Sigma Theta Zetas SGRho_Since_1922_Patch

I won’t spend time trying the case here for those who don’t get it. Civic and community service organizations do so much good in this country and around the world. These four NGOs are just in the elite that I get to network with.

These four sororities in conjunction with the five predominantly black fraternities, have made the lives better for many millions of people via the community service rendered by their organizations. They don’t just talk the talk, they walk it and do it.

I am convinced that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a member of one of these five fraternities and Coretta Scott King, a member of one of these four sororities, were indeed full of style in how they modeled a way of life in the 1960s. But they certainly were not just style. Their lives were about the substance of making life better. Their lives were about not accepting mediocrity where equality is absent. Style or substance? Don’t bother to take time on the question, instead be about what needs to be done and the answer will be obvious.

Photo of Martin Luther King Jr

Are you riding in car you want to be in?

I was driving in the car this week and a commercial came on the radio that asked, if you could choose any car you wanted but it would be the last car you would ever own, what car would you choose? Are you driving in the car you want to be in? If not, what car would you choose if you could select any car at all, with the stipulation you have to stick with that car forever? A Rolls Royce, Lincoln, Ford, BMW, Lexus, Tesla, Buick Regal, Cadillac? And once you chose your car, since it’s going to be a car that you will have to keep forever, I would think you’re going to know that it has to be maintained well to really do what you need for the long haul. The point of the commercial was to draw an analogy with how we take care of ourselves, our bodies.

How much time do you actually devote to taking of your body, your vehicle / mode of transportation for getting through this life?

I see people who appear to have spent a lot of money on clothes, shoes, make-up, jewelry, expensive cars and houses but I wonder if they are devoting similar resources to their bodies. Do you take five minutes to meditate or have quiet times of prayer to keep your mental/emotional state of mind in tact before starting your day or at the end of the day to clear your mind? Do you take 30 minutes at least three or four times a week to physically work out your body to be in good physical shape? Are you eating too many carbs or drinking too much wine? Even as a pescatarian (veggies, fruit and seafood), I have to make sure I eat enough fruits and veggies rather than depending too much on starches.

Fruits and Vegetables (1)

Are you putting the right fuel in the tank of your body so it has the energy to carry you for the whole trip of life or have you set yourself up for a shortened route?

I recently was sick during the holidays and had to forego my daily walking / jogging routine for several days. I was very fortunate that our son and two of our daughters were home and I could spend time in bed fully resting while they brought me medicine, tea, and other fluids to stay hydrated. Then, the very cold snap / bomb cyclone hit and the temperatures were so bitterly cold that I didn’t venture outside and missed another few days of my walking / jogging. I felt like I was neglecting my body since I have a routine of walking / jogging every day. The good thing is that I had been on a good routine up to that point so this detour wasn’t a complete ruin, only a short setback.

Many years ago, Oprah gave a car out to everyone who was attending her show that particular day. I wonder how many of those people still have that car? I would be willing to bet that many of them don’t. While they received a brand new car, the maintenance of that car was key. So even for those that have the car given to them by Oprah, how many kept it in fine working condition? Something brand new will wear out if it is not kept up well. You can put some new paint on a car but if what’s under the hood isn’t tended to, the new paint won’t make the engine run. The same goes with our bodies, and our minds too. Fancy clothes, great looking shoes and flawless make-up are wonderful but if we haven’t put the effort into our bodies, the rest is really just camouflage.

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So, as you get rolling into 2018, set up your routine to invest in you. Choose to maintain your personal mode of transportation for the long haul. Read some good books each month, not just spend your time online with social media and on TV. Read a variety of books, some for fun, some for awareness, some for self-help and some for enriching others. Spend time in your community giving back … that will enrich you too and add to your community. The price of living on this earth is giving back to others. And, set time on your personal calendar to take care of your body.

Sleep well and get a good night of rest. There’s been a debate about whether an extra 30 minutes of sleep vs. 30 minutes of exercise. So first, you probably don’t even have to have that debate because you could spend 30 minutes less time online or 30 minutes less time watching TV. But, if you have to choose, I suggest 30 minutes of exercise. The 30 minutes of exercise will invigorate you and are a real investment in what your body can do for you for a long time to come.

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The exercise and 10 minutes or so of quiet time / meditation / prayer time are good habits. I have talked with fitness trainers a few times over the years and what they know for sure is that no matter what fitness program you do, no matter how much time you spend, they told me the general rule is 80/20. It’s 80% what you eat and 20% what you do. Our nutritional habits can cancel out even the best physical routines so moderate, moderate, moderate on eating. Of course there are celebrations and holidays but don’t eat that way every day. The 80/20 rule can be applied to eating habits too, 80% of the time is moderation and no more than 20% of the time is celebration with the stuff that isn’t so healthy.

I’m driving a Buick right now. My hubby is driving a Lincoln. My next car might be a Tesla. I exercise just about every day. I love sweets but I try real hard to not indulge too much every day. I have to think long-term not short-term. I’ve got to think about what kind of body (car) I am going to be in for the next 50 years.

So, what kind of body (car) do you want to be in?

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This time you decide

When the calendar turns to a new year, we get the chance to start anew. We can let each day come as it does without making a change. We can start the year with a list of resolutions that are totally unrealistic which we expect won’t last more than a week or two. We can start the first week all energized with a new exercise plan and determined to lose those 20 or so pounds that we’ve been carrying around for the last decade. We can have a list of to-do items that we are going to tackle and start out strong. Or, we can take one day a time at time and see what comes. We can make resolutions or not. We can give in to the pressures that others around have placed on us or not. This time you decide.

This time you decide what 2018 will be. This time you decide what each day means to you.

This time you don’t have make a long list of resolutions. This time you don’t have to have a super fantastic and ambitious set of goals. Of course that would be super fantastic but is it for you. This time, you decide. If 2018 is going to be anything at all, let it be the year you do you.

I think being you is an awesome sequel to the year of The Resistance. We deserve to reclaim who we are and decide who we want our country to be and how we want to spend our time. We deserve to decide who our representatives will be in Congress, not the rich, fat cat lobbyists. What I learned in 2017 is that we truly have the power. What I learned is that the farewell address of President Obama in January of 2017 was right. The most important role in this country is citizen. That was proven in the streets at the Women’s March. That was proven in the phone calls to Congress in the spring & summer to say don’t take our health care. That was proven at the ballot box in Virginia, New Jersey, Georgia and Alabama. Those times, we decided. What I know for sure is that if we decide on November 6, 2018, we will have an awesome message sent. But, that’s just the political part.

On the personal front, 2018 is the year for me and you to decide on who we will be. I am all in for deciding on who I am and what I am. I am not willing to do that which does not serve me well. Life is precious and meant to be lived as well as it can be lived. I have decided that. I envision 2018 being totally fabulous. And why not. Do you think there is something you can’t achieve? There are many things that take more will power and tenacity than anything else. How often does a tree ask how tall it can grow or struggle through the process? Yeah, ok that is a simplistic example but my point is that we can sometimes overthink things instead of just going after what we want to do.

That isn’t to say that a task doesn’t require effort and know-how and even some frugal behavior to be about it in a careful way. But, yeah if you can conceive it then you can probably achieve it. You get to decide. Once you decide, then do like Harriet Tubman said, don’t let anything stop you … keep going for it.

“If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If there’s shouting after you, keep going.
Don’t ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
― Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

This time you decide.

What I know for sure in 2018 is this is the year for each of us to take personal responsibility for what happens to us. No more blaming anyone else or any circumstances. We actually have a lot of control, more than we give ourselves credit for. We can control what time we get up in the morning and whether we get up early enough to exercise before the rest of the day gets started. We can control what we eat, whether we take our lunch or snacks to work with us so we eat the right foods or not. We can control how much we spend on those clothes or cup of coffee (or not spend at all on that unnecessary cup that I could have made at home or the shoes that we don’t need). We actually can make a budget and stick to it or not. We are not powerless after all. This time you decide.

I have this written on a small piece of paper in my jewelry box that I read several years ago:

“You have more options than you generally see and more control than you tend to take.”

When we were younger, we may have been less likely to understand that we were the captains of our fate. The greatest two gifts that God has given us are unconditional love and free will. Free will means that we make decisions. Those decisions have consequences and even if we may not have understood or foreseen the consequences, we made the decisions that caused them. Here now is a year for owning it. Not just owning it but seizing it.

Women may have seized 2017 with The Resistance but in 2018, we can all be engaged to own what happens next. This time you decide.

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