Self-discipline Under the Influence of a Woman

When most people hear of or think of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the myriad of women who were victimized by men come to mind. 

When I hear of or think of those two unfortunately necessary yet important movements founded by women, I, too, think of and have empathy and compassion for the women targeted and abused, but what also sits at the forefront of my mind are the names and faces of men who lacked self-discipline and disrespected, disrupted, damaged, and staged coups on the innocence and sovereignty of those women. 

Men, if we are not keenly aware of who we are we, will attempt to rob women of who they are. Moreover, if we do not harness our sexual desire, our lack of self-discipline will be our ultimate undoing. 

In the seminal book, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, chapter eleven is titled, “The Mystery of Sex Transmutation”. The super-summarized and paraphrased gist of what he asserts is that sexual desire is the most powerful desire in the human being yet we have the ability to harness it for our creative good. We have the ability to transform “mediocrity into genius”. Besides, we can’t have sex all day, and contrary to what is displayed on screen in pornographic films, it is nothing but fantasy, and the average man can’t have sex for hours on end. However, the average man can tap into his creative desire and create something that can add value to himself and the world.

Notable excerpts from the chapter: 

1.          “The men of greatest achievement are men with highly developed sex natures, men who have learned the art of sex transmutation.”

2.          “The men who have accumulated great fortunes and achieved outstanding recognition in literature, art, industry, architecture, and the professions were motivated by the influence of a woman.”

It’s just something to think about.

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Self-made? Nah. Grace-made.

“So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly.” Matthew 6:33 (TPT)

What if the thing you desire is lacking because your focus is on yourself and not on God? What if the next level you’ve wanted to ascend to for so long keeps slipping from your grasp because you are relying on your own resources, your own connections, your own mental and physical strength? And what if the followers you desire to grow your audience and make a valuable impact on, and ultimately change their lives and yours are missing because you continue to screen and silence the call on your life?

In society today, the expression “self-made” is used heavily. But how arrogant is that? You didn’t make yourself, God did. And, yeah, I get the premise of the expression, but, still, it’s incorrect. You might have followed through on an idea, but guess who gave you that idea? You might have persevered, but guess who inspired (breathed life into you) to persevere? Yup. God.

I dare you to give God the credit for your life and in your life as you go throughout your day. You don’t have to be weird about it, either. You don’t need to nor should you beat yourself or other people over the head with the Bible. That’s not cool and Black women, especially, don’t want you touching their hair. You don’t even need to post about Him on your social media platforms 24/7/365 because that likely off-putting and renders you alienated you from the very people you desire to connect with. Remember, intentions don’t absolve us from effects. Simply be your authentic self and share your story. In fact, that’s all I do.

I’m still Chris. Flawed, but enhanced by God’s grace.

If this encourages you, please share it with your friends.  

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Relationship Goals Won't Achieve Themselves

I wonder why so many of us—men and women—want and expect just-add-water relationships. It’s like we expect to apply a filter and then voilà.

Truth be told, I met my partner when I was unemployed. It’s something that we reminisce on and laugh about at times. I exaggerate and tell her that I upgraded her from the slums of Frederick, Maryland (She didn’t live in a slum. It can’t be a slum with a Wegman’s close by.) and she is quick to remind me that she “downgraded” to come live with me in my apartment in Northern Virginia. Whatever, yo.

I’m not naïve to think that social media “got the dating (relationship/smash-ship/I-don’t-know-our-status) game all f’d up” either because the responsibility does not fall at the feet of insentient technology. Social media didn’t create relationships and it, by itself, won’t upend them. The onus is on us. Before social media existed, we harbored the same selfishness and fear that we see propagated on the average social feed and that is “Yass’d” in social circles of women over brunch and glad-handed by men among other men wherever we do that sort of thing.

“My next man gotta make more money than me”.

“I only like ____ chicks (body type)”.

“I don’t want no broke n*gga”.

“She can’t have no kids”.

“He gotta be just like my Daddy”.

“His credit score gotta be 700+”.

“Her feet gotta be cute”.

“Marriage sucks”.

“I need variety”.

“She gotta cook and clean just like my Momma used to do”.

Why, though? Whatever happened to building together? You know, helping one another. We can take turns cooking and cleaning. We both can exercise together. We can worship God and pray together. We can read books together. We can save money together. We can even take continuing education classes together, too, if that’s what’s necessary to achieve our goals. Just imagine the net worth that two people with a shared vision and who are committed to becoming the best version of themselves can create together. Everybody has relationship goals, but many of us have little to no relationship work ethic. Contrary to foolish belief, relationships take work. Show me a relationship that “woke up like this” and I’ll show you one that went to bed ashy.

Life in and of itself has a built-in ebb and flow. It just is what it is. However, life (real life) is beautiful.

I admire people--young and old--who’ve been in committed, healthy relationships that span decades regardless of the number of zeros in their bank account, the zip code they live in, the number of stamps in their passport book, or the way they look physically.

Our relationship has its idiosyncrasies. We’ve been through growing pains and at one point we considered moving on, even. It was because of me, not her. Yet we remain committed to our agreement which we renew daily. I’m simply grateful for God’s grace, mercy, and my partner’s love.

Waking up with my breath smelling like “All my life I had to fight” and my abs looking like Krispy Kreme is alright with me because I know I have some Scope in the bathroom and I am still loved.

I mean, what do I have to complain about?

That’s relationship goals.

Being

I don’t ask for much; just to be better than I was before, and by before, I mean anytime before right now. More so than doing, I believe I’m BEING that person. My daily morning meditation practice has increased my capacity for stillness and it is teaching me how to anchor myself in the present, shielding me from the raucous ruminations of before that seek to hold me hostage from my higher self. I’m not deep, y’all, but surely I’m not shallow. I’m going into 2019 with no intent to necessarily change anything, but to be present in each moment for they themselves are always ministering to me.

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10 things to shutdown in 2018, but not like the Government

  1. The same tired-ass bathroom selfie while toothpaste spit bubbles are conspicuously chilling on the mirror. In fact, just stop taking pictures in the bathroom altogether. #windex
  2. Subliminal clapback posts, but according to you aren’t really clapbacks because you’re just “talking out loud” like Kevin Spacey. If you’re mad at the world and just wanna talk out loud, you might consider a journal. Yeah, they still make those, bruh. Otherwise, expect it to either go down in the comments section or the DM. Whichever one doesn’t get blocked first. Your choice. Smile.
  3. Duck lips. Look, those should have been stowed away in, like, what? 2015? But there are still a few stragglers. So, as they say or used to say in the Army when I served but really wanted to so desperately be a civilian again, “Police up your battle buddies.” If you see something, say something. Thank you.
  4. The Dab. In middle school, during arts and crafts class, my teacher would have me and my class use Elmer’s Glue to secure construction paper or paper maché together to complete whatever the hell project we were doing at the time. And if we were caught applying copious amounts of white adhesive, she would admonish us, saying, “A little dab will do you.” Here, in 2019, though, a little dab won’t do you because, no, we don’t know how to not over-do things. Because when older white people start doing the dab, it’s time to shut it down. We cannot have nice things so shut it down. But not like the government.
  5. Preaching, prophecying, or being a pest to me or anyone in the DM. Just so we are clear like white people with little to no melanin (no offense), I already have a personal relationship with God and it is personal hence why I’m using the word personal three times in this sentence. I don’t wanna type Amen if I love Jesus and I’m not going to. I’m also not going to forward some random message to “keep it going”. Why would I want to keep spam going? Nah. Nope. Nah uh. Block.
  6. Calling me on Facebook Messenger when you know good and well you have my phone number. What would you do if Facebook went away overnight? What would happen to our relationship? Hell, do we even have one anymore? I’m bout to BirdBox you and you don’t even know it.
  7. Tagging me when you don’t know me like that and even then, if you do know me like that, let the algorithm do its job.
  8. Liking all of my posts as soon as I accept your friend request, LIKE A STALKER. I don’t even like all of my posts, non-fam. Pace yourself. Run the marathon not the sprint.
  9. Commenting on an article before actually reading the article. I mean . . . 😫
  10. Finally, begging for attention, directly or indirectly. In all seriousness, social media should not be anyone’s vehicle for love, acceptance, self-worth, self-esteem, etc. Likes amd followers in and of themselves don’t mean anything. Don’t fall victim to the addictive nature of modern technology. But just take my word for it, read Dr. Adam Alter’s latest book, “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked. I’m coming off a 14-day social media detox, and everytime I complete one, it does wonders to my psyche and my spirit.

Wait. Before I go, 2019 just invaded my DM and told to tell you, “Don’t bring that sh*t in here”.

Now, you can type Amen if you love this message. Happy New Year!

Do You Hear Me?

The writer in me loves words. As such, I enjoy the employ of dialect, colloquial expression, figurative language, literary technique, and vernacular, just to name a few. I especially appreciate the cultural artifacts sewn into the lining of language. So when black women (some not all) punctuate their sentences with ‘DO 👏🏾YOU 👏🏾HEAR 👏🏾ME👏🏾?’ (Monosyllabicly-synchronized handclaps may or may not be sold separately) as they lean in and speak their truth and want to ensure that your state of our awareness is, at a minimum, woke-adjacent because something is about to happen, I pay attention.

To the unlettered, allow me to clue you in on something: ‘DO YOU HEAR ME?’ is really a rhetorical question because they know good and damn well that you hear them as you have two ears and you were just listening to mumble rap in your AirPods. They are simply giving you the benefit of the doubt.

Specifically, ‘DO YOU HEAR ME?’ is a warning; a courteous heads-up, if you will; a real-life read receipt; a not-so-subtle review before a pop quiz of ass whuppings; a yellow triangle conspicuously placed before a puddle of your future tears.

I’ve heard enough Do You Hear Me’s in my life that, even now as I write this, I shudder at phonetic memories of the enunciation of those ominous words.

So, yes, I hear you black woman. And you still have my undivided attention.

Service to Others

“Plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit”. - Unknown

The statement above is about selfless sacrifice; service to others. I was raised in a family of service providers. My parents served in the military. My mom for less than 10 years. My dad, 22 years and some change. Since then, they’ve also served as laypersons and members of the clergy in various churches around the US and even overseas. That said, service is in my DNA. Hell, it’s in all of ours, but, surely, it’s in mine. I’ve seen the highs and lows of service, too. The early mornings and late nights. The scorching summers and the Alpine winters. The missed birthdays and holidays. The culture shock from living comfortably in America to an interrupted, involuntary existence overseas. Not to mention, the pomp and the parades when everything was going right as well as the crushing, lonely losses that are enough for one to question their faith. Still, service is not about the person as much as it is about the people. A phrase that I like to say, one that I gleaned from a local personal development circle of mine, is “It’s not about you.” And though that statement might be a painful pill to swallow given how counterculture it is, it can be done. In fact, to calm my gag reflexes, in my kitchen on a white dry-erase board are three simple questions written in black marker: Who can I serve? What can I give? Who can I celebrate? I am humbled every time I read them, too, though I don’t always answer them. I guess it’s partly because I don’t always have the answers in the moment and, at other times, if I’m being honest, I allow my selfish ego to override my heart. However, truly, those three questions keep me grounded in my humanity and in yours. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve”.

An Open Letter to God: When Will Justice Be Served?

God,

I thank you for your compassionate comprehension of our humanity, so much that you don’t condemn us, but console us with concern and caution rooted in unconditional love.

As you are fully aware, in America and even abroad, we live in a climate of deep-seated intolerance and a seemingly unrivaled disregard for human life. A life that you inspired out of nothing so that we all would be, not just something, but someone purposed by your design.

Scripture says that vengeance is yours, but, to speak freely, I sometimes question the timing of your judgment and your system of justice as a whole because Black people are still experiencing vestigial suffering precipitated by hundreds of years of slavery in addition to the slave codes and Jim Crow laws that proceeded them.

Contrary to the gospel song, “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired”, rooted in Black Church culture and sung at various times in Black churches, WE ARE TIRED. We’re hurting—physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and financially.

Scripture also says that you don’t put more on us than we can bear, but we’re not superheroes and this isn’t Wakanda. So, I have to ask you: When will we receive a reprieve? When will the pain be eliminated at the root and not just numbed on the surface so that we can sleep through the night? When will we be extended the benefit of the doubt? When will we be compensated for our losses and reconciled with the financial capital that our ancestors created through the toil of sweat-saturated soil in the killing fields of Antebellum America and now through slavery by another name and that name being the prison industrial complex? When will we be fully enfranchised as American citizens not just on paper, but on community sidewalks, playgrounds, and professional sports fields, at our places of employment whether we are being paid pennies or millions of dollars, at community pools, in city streets, shopping centers, neighborhood parks, rental properties, and more recently, in the privacy of our own homes? When, God? When will justice be served for Black people?

I ask that you brood over us, especially those who are passionately committed to their cognitive dissonance and remind us all expeditiously that we are one and the same. That we are created in your image which reflects only light and love. That if we kill another we have, in essence, killed an aspect of ourselves because we are intrinsically connected and the universe that you created adjudicates karmic consequences with no respect of personality or person effective in this lifetime and the next.

Thank you in advance.

Amen,

A Rebel With A Pen

Rape Culture Must Die

By now, it is clear that we all can hear the deafening sirens of rape culture blaring through our neighborhoods, communities, sidewalks, and city streets, spilling over into our local schools, college campuses, corporations, and even churches. Yet, sadly, women, who are statistically more apt than men to be sexually assaulted, are dismissed as if they “asked for it” like some bizarre, rape-fantasy coin-operated provocateur or ignored altogether as if their emotionally and physically traumatic stories are annoying late night informercials appealing to our emotions and pockets, but offering nothing of consequence.

What does it say about a society that is more reactive than proactive? What kind of future are we leaving for our progeny if we are only willing to stand up for the rights of women when all other preemptive options are exhausted, and when we are then forced to reluctantly save face or continue to lose millions of dollars of revenue?

Is that our only recourse? Do we not have any more respect for women than that?

A few days after Aretha Franklin’s highly publicized funeral, I’m still reeling from what, based on Ariana Grande’s body language and awkward laugh, had to be one the most unnerving experiences for her as she stood in front of a mega church while being held, what I like to characterize as, captive. All because a man felt the need to clutch her body close to his body and then proceed to crack a joke that really no one should ever say especially in light of the flames turned wildfires of xenophobia being fanned by intolerant bigots and fear mongers.

Men, we can do better than this. We have to do better then this. I’ve told my fiancé, a beautiful Latina and Black woman, before and often remind her, not because she doesn’t know this already, but more so because I want her to know exactly how I feel about her, that she is a sovereign human being who has full power of her being, her body, her mind, her spirit, her beauty, her sexuality, her voice, her everything. Just because we’re in a relationship, it doesn’t mean I own her. Nope. All it means is that we’ve verbalized agreements to one another, agreements that are, in essence, renewed daily barring any termination of said agreements whether directly or indirectly.

I am a man and a feminist in the sense that I believe that all women should be treated equally and equitably as men.

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