Word Problems Are Trash

Do you like word problems?

In all of my test taking experiences I have haaaated word problems with the passion of Black Twitter.

Whoever writes word problems always puts stupid, extraneous information in them to distract you, too.

I’d be in the testing room, like: “Excuse me exam proctor person, I think I was given the wrong test. Is this a math exam or a psychological fitness exam? Damn!”

The question would be like:

Jack is a new employee at ACME Company, and needs to find a seat. There are 1,234,567 available seats at ACME Company. Jack only needs one seat. Jack is 5’11’’ and wears men’s Uggs even in the summer months. Jack is a very affable guy. He lives alone, but sometimes rents out his second bedroom on AirBnB to be social. Jack also likes cats. Jack only needs one seat. How many seats does jack need from the working hours of 0900-1700? Last night, Jack watched the final season of Orange Is The New Black on Netflix. Jack cried when the screen faded to black. Jack is an emotional guy. Jack is happy to be an employee of ACME Corporation. Jack only needs one seat. Lately, Jack has been going to medical appointments on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1100-1200, lunch at 12:30, and then making a brief stop by his house to walk his cat, Heathcliff before returning to work. Jack’s boss got tired of Jack missing so much time at work. Jack was let go. Jack needs zero seats. How many seats does Jack need?

If you didn’t read until the end of the paragraph, you likely would have answered one seat.

Wrong!

Jack is unemployed!

Pissssssssssssssss!

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Black Men, It's Okay to Smile

Looking back, it’s disturbing how as a young black boy growing up in the hood, you couldn’t just be yourself without being accosted by those that looked just like you.

Childhood experiences were poker-faced and oftentimes unsmiling. You were allowed to be an unsullied boy inside your parent’s house, for the most part, but outside that semi-safe space, you were not.

Any behavior you exhibited that fell outside of the bounds of the accepted and respected social norms echoed in the wind like a dog whistle, and was dialed in on, ridiculed, shamed, and attacked.

Something as simple and benign as a laugh or smile at the wrong place and at the wrong time could incite a fight.

“Oh, you one of them clown-ass n*ggas, huh? Always laughing. What’s so f****** funny? Ain’t nothing funny around here, n*gga.”

So, like Langston Hughes, those black boys deferred their dreams and abbreviated their happiness. Those black boys hid their smiles. And those same black boys grew into the shells of black men who forgot how to smile and how to express any emotion other than anger.

Their questions, their angst, their worries, their weaknesses, their concerns, their feelings of inadequacy, their cries, and their frustrations were all internalized all because they were not allowed to smile, and to be someone different than who their environment, for the sake of their survival, forced them to be.

I empathize with those boys.

I empathize with those men, too.

I was once that boy.

I was once that man, too.

But now I’m free and I’m glad I’m me.

 

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The Wages of Fear

In the aftermath of the heinous killings in El Paso, TX, I couldn’t help but to ponder that, sadly, mass killings are no longer isolated incidents, and we all need to seriously consider donning “full battle rattle” before we step outside of our safe and protected zones to do what we’ve always done while wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flips or sandals, like, grab a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk from the local grocery store.

We used to be shook of drive-by shootings in and on the streets and sidewalks so we did our best to maintain a heightened awareness and protective posture of situational awareness, and steered clear of the socioeconomically pressurized, instaneously flammable areas of America’s inner cities as best as we reasonably could.

Times have changed.

Now, the experience of walking through the aisles of a grocery store or the hallways of a shopping mall, to some, will be remembered to be no different than navigating through a battlefield.

The goal of terrorism has been and is to invoke and instill fear within the hearts and minds of a group of people to the extent that it affects and alters their way of life in a way that supports the terrorist’s ultimate goal.

The active ingredient of terrorism under the auspices of white supremacy is white fear.

White people have been staying up all night clutching their pearls, peeking through the blinds, calling 911, cleaning their guns, disrupting cookouts and pool parties, denying equal justice and access to opportunity, inserting themselves in Black folk business, and gnashing their teeth ever since Black and Brown people were enslaved—then emancipated over 400 years later—by the direct-to-DVD racism of white men, white women, white politics, a bastardized version of Christianity, and a white economy who were and are the immediate benefactors of an insidious domestic terrorist regime that hides in plain sight, feigns ignorance, and strikes strategically and haphazardly with impunity.

At the feverish pitch America is accelerating without consequence, it is going to implode. The gap between the rich and the poor is not sustainable. The hate that festers in the hearts and minds of white people is unacceptable. And the love that we can’t seem to collectively cultivate within ourselves is calcifying us from the inside out.

In ancient times, Babylon fell and so did Rome.

America, the world’s dominant superpower, is next if she doesn’t let go of her ego to make room to receive the collective healing she desperately needs in lump sum instead of a long, protracted installment plan that could be distupted by the whims of the “enemy” of this world.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” - Matthew 22:39

Credit: UC Berkeley

Credit: UC Berkeley

You Can’t Binge Watch Your Health

Our overall health and wellbeing is not something that we can neglect and then expect to make up for in one weekend. Nah. That’s not how it works.

It has to be so important to us that we conscientiously commit to doing what is necessary every day to ensure that we not only continue to live, but, more importantly, thrive.

Lately, Mental Health has had a very prominent seat at the table, if you will, with a spotlight and a microscope on it, and for good reason, too.

For far too long many of us have suffered in silence, shamed because of our emotions and feelings, but today our voices are increasingly being heard, and we are daring greatly to seek out the forms of care that we need in order to heal and be nurtured back to wholeness. I celebrate that.

That said, let’s continue to do the daily work that is necessary, not focusing on the next person, but focusing on ourselves.

Our paths are different. Your path is different than mine and mine is different than yours.

Still, we are all connected to love.

I believe in you. ✊🏾♥️💪🏾🧠💯





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The Foggy Bottom

I believe GOD leads me to foggy places so that I continue to walk by faith and not by sight.

Many times, I get too comfortable and I am able to blindly “do things in my sleep”. I go from living and thriving to simply exisiting without being consciously aware that I am doing it or even experiencing it. That said, I sometimes take what I have and where I am for granted, ensnared by the fallacies and spiritually-suffocating traps of trending social psychology e.g. “self-made” and “I can do it on my own.”

So, I’m grateful for having to negotiate the unnerving foggy places and journeying through the uncertainty of the “wilderness” where the unknown casts scary shadows on my wall while I lie in bed at night, and the waking-known that, at times, steals away my security and leaves me to think and feel that I’m in a personal ‘Twilight Zone’ suffering from a state of “Where am I and WTF is going on?”

I’m honestly grateful for the experiences that leave me falling to my knees and asking earnestly for help. I’m also grateful for God’s silence when I am expecting immediate gratification because it forces me to grow my patience and simply learn how to wait.

I am reminded of a young shepherd in the Bible named David, when he said in the 23rd Psalm:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul.

He leads me in paths of righteousness

for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

for you are with me;

your rod and your staff,

they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;

you anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me

all the days of my life,

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

forever.

Truly, God has kept me during the past 40 days and nights. I’d say that He has restored my soul, but anytime ‘re’ is prefixed to a word it means, in essence, to return to an original or former state of being. So while my interpretation of the biblical context of restoration is a reconnection of the mind or the resyncing of my mind with the divinity (spirit/Jesus/God living with me) that lives within me, I still prefer the term, transformation. Because I did not and do not want to return to my former state of being; it wasn’t working for me.

God creates new things; He always has and always does create substance out of emptiness and He has given me the inner peace that no external person, place, or thing can even attempt to provide. He has revealed to me more of who I am and who I am not. He has shielded me from the intentions of evil, and has continued to host me, nourish me, and bless me in its presence.

I am grateful.

Amen.

March 26, 2018

I have a problem.

With my mouth (words) I say that I love myself, but my actions don’t always reflect that.

I’m fluent in speaking coded language, when in reality I’m in plain-text pain.

Crying in the dark turns into filtered photos, abbreviated stories, and updates of inauthentic behavior, you know, the behavior that is acceptable and palatable in our sociopolitically-correct spheres of influence.

I’m adepth at authoring allegories of emotional camouflage just so that I’m mindful of others, but, now, I ask myself, am I being mindful of myself? And if I’m not, what is it costing me and how am I paying for it?

Does hidden trauma and unhealed pain metastasize in the form of hate, isolation, jealousy, anger, depression, anxiety, addiction? I believe so.

There are many days when I involuntarily reminisce on painful experiences, and my mind flails away in its own mental moshpit of passive inertia leaving me exhausted and throttled.

That said, I’m doing my best to be kind to myself and respond compassionately to ALL of my experiences, and to absolutely refrain from numbing via compulsive behavior.

Maybe there is purpose even in pain. Maybe there is sun shining through the closed blinds of suffering. I don’t know.

What I do know is that what I don’t reveal will never heal.

I don’t want my recovery delivered via a deferred installment plan with convoluted terms, I want it sooner rather than later, and with clarity.

If reading this added value to you, please share.

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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