Respect the Process

image

I saw a good friend of mine a couple days ago. She had surgery on her knee recently and she is currently undergoing physical therapy. She’s on disability and recouping, getting back to normal. She’s getting stronger and she has her own signature walk that shows the confidence in her knee. It’s not a limp. It’s a walk that says I am in the process of being better. People ask, “What the hell happened to you?” She simply responds, “I had surgery but I’m okay.” She acknowledges her past, admits that she is still damaged, and claims her recovery.

I once heard a TD Jakes sermon when he said, no one would ever buy tickets to hear a musician play the scales. It’s not impressive. *People want to hear the finished product. The process is not alluring. There is no decadence in process and procedure and patience. It’s hard and annoying to perfect something or attempt to perfect something.

People like instant gratification.

One of my favorite quotes from Lauryn Hill Unplugged is:

image

I am a blogger and I am on Twitter mainly for the purpose of promoting the blog. Sometimes I can find writing competitions or some decent spoken word videos. YouTube is great for tutorials on EVERYTHING. Of course there are benefits to social media. However, I think there are a lot of downfalls to it as well. Children are bullied, ADULTS are bullied, and we are surrounded by people who only show/post/bulls*it the best parts of themselves and their lives. There was a time when you would meet someone in school, you’d graduate and never see them again. You’d meet someone at work, change jobs and never see that person again. You weren’t a bad person. They weren’t bad people. Life happened. Now with social media, people from your past post their new cars and titles and model children and filtered bodies every day. . .all day. Does that affect you? Does it make you feel inferior? 

image

Huffington post

I’ve been poisoned by socially acceptable standards of beauty predicated by celebrities. I find myself comparing and contrasting. It’s dumb because these people have teams and an entourage to maintain and enhance both their looks and their brand. I have aczone, blistex, shea butter, and some argan oil. Is that an excuse? Aren’t some of them just naturally drop dead gorgeous?

The obsession just inhibits my own process. As a writer and a poet, I have to be able to tap into the ugliness of people. I have to touch them in the places they try to hide. I have to expose that. I have to marvel in the unloved parts. Being obsessed with what society says I’m supposed to be is keeping me captive in mediocrity.

Get a signature walk. Strap on a brace of confidence. Deal with the ugly parts of yourself. Accept those things. Love them up. Decide what you want out of life and then decide when you’re going to get it, not how. Trust the way you would want to be trusted. Love the way you would want to be loved. Get stronger. Don’t limp but its okay to broadcast your process. Maybe people will be more compassionate. I like when kids stand for the pregnant lady on the train. I like when people open doors for the elderly. It proves they respect the process. Respect the processes of others. Respect your own process. See you in the winners circle.

By:Shaun Nickens

To hear the TD Jakes sermon please click the following link:

Advertisements

S#!t or Get Off the Pot

Happy New Year!

I got up this morning to a text alert from my bank. I get messages from my financial institution when any money is deducted from my checking account.  I can snooze my alarm but there is something magical about that quiet little “beep.”

“Who the hell is this? Paging me at 5:46 In the mornin’, crack of dawn an’
Now I’m yawnin’, wipe the cold out my eye
See who’s pagin’ me and why” – Notorious B.I.G “Warning”

So I check my account and it happened!  They jacked me again! I pay $15.00 a month for a gym membership that I haven’t used it 2 months! Ashamed but determined I jumped out of bed. I got my daughter’s bag packed, packed lunch, cleaned,  and then finally packed my hot pink Aeropostale gym bag. No excuses.

I also cancelled my subscription to American Greetings (no one appreciates internet cards), the mail in book club I have for the kids(I buy books all the time in stores), and my free credit report (no comment.) My grandfather used to say, “Either s#!t or get off the pot!”
Its a colorful and effective expression.  There’s no time to procrastinate. I’m also not doing a resolution. I’m not trying to lose weight.  I just want to be healthier and less stressed. 

image

What do you do for yourself? When im alone I listen to music loud.  I am scantily clad. I am honest.  Sometimes I just listen for the answers to my prayers in silence.  I used to be a gym rat.I’d stay in there at 3am and leave when the sun came up.  Its a good time to clear your head.
image

image

Before children,  relationships,  expectations, failures, and obligations. ..who were you? What did you do for yourself?  My mother made clothes and dreamed of being a pilot.  My father builds models and customizes them. A friend of mine is a fabulous makeup artist as a hobby. I was an 8 year old practicing my pushups,  weapons, and punching combinations for self defense class on Saturday. I was calm,  reflective,  meditative,  somewhat serene adolescent. Then as a young adult I revisited Muay Thai and personal training.  I may be far from that now but I will take some time for me every once in awhile.

Will you?

By SMN

Dreams- Realize Who You Are, When You Are

My aunt says she has a friend who proudly wears a t-shirt that reads ” If your dreams don’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough.” I love that. It made me realize my own ambitions may be dwarfed. 

In fourth grade I wanted to be a singer.  I would draw pictures of myself with sequin gowns on and a mic in my hand. By sixth grade, I wanted to be an attorney.  Ironically,  by high school I had already performed at Carnegie Hall and Westbury Music Fair. I sang for McDonald’s Gospel Fest and Pathmark Gospel Fest at Penn Station.  I represented my school at a debate at Fordham Law School. It seemed as though my dreams were being realized.  The problem was they weren’t my dreams anymore. 

I developed a passion for writing.  At first I didn’t know if I was any good but my teachers and my family were taking notice. So I submitted a few articles to New York Newsday and they published four! I remember getting the checks in the mail. You would think that would help me focus. Focus. Focus.

Focus. If I could write that word 15 more times and not lose the attention of the 60 followers I have (lol), I would. I think of where I would be if I realized who I was when I was. I’m starting to see that as convoluted as it may seem, YOUR AMBITIONS HAVE TO MATCH YOUR ABILITY AND CURRENT REALITY. The peers I have who explored their musical talents when we were young are making a living doing music. Some are producers or music instructors but they’ve succeeded.  The girls on my debate team are lawyers now (well one is a paralegal but you get it.) It’s all about timing.

So what are my dreams now? I literally dream about my family. I dream about being someone they know they can trust and rely on. I want to age gracefully.  I want to meet my great great grandchildren one day. I want them to see all the things I’ve accomplished through life because I couldn’t “focus” so I did it all! I’m going to prove to them that you can be a jack of all trades and a master of all! As corny as it sounds I dream of love. The kind I read about as an adolescent.  With the right partner, you can be motivated to accomplish ANYTHING.  Everyone guides their decisions with love or lack of it, whether they admit it or not. So I’m going to focus on everything because my REALITY is I’ve never failed at anything I’ve attempted to do. I just didn’t do it for long! The constant in my life has been my dedication to good and my commitment to the human spirit. That’s who I am. Hate it… love it or shutyamouthandcallmeugly.

-SMN

Mothers Morning Reflection

image

image

I’m laying in bed next to my 5 week old baby girl.  Sure I could have put her back in her crib after her last feeding and diaper change but I love being close to her. I’m still working on the detachment thing.

A mosquito bit me twice while I was burping her and I went into an immediate frenzy. Funny thing is I didn’t get upset because I got bit but because I was afraid the mosquito would bite my daughter. I hunted it and killed it. It now rests in peace on the sole of my Old Navy flip flop. Let us bow our heads…

I do at least 3 loads of laundry a day. It’s a never-ending cycle of filth. I’m  going grocery shopping in the am to get cake mix because I promised my two year old step daughter that we could bake this weekend. 

I eat only because I know I have to nurse and have some energy for my family. If I get to choose between rest or food…rest wins hands down.

I want to finish everything I’ve ever started. I want to be better than I’ve ever been.  I strive not for public acceptance but to be my daughters’ heroine.  I’ve become a woman who can be relied on. I’ve become a woman who can be trusted. I’ve become a woman who can be admired. I’ve become a woman who can be a loyal partner. I’ve become a woman who can provide.  I’ve become a woman…

If you are a mother in the ShutYaMouthAndCallMeUgly family,  stand up! Stand up in your t-shirt and panties, in your granny robe, nude, in your spit up stained pajamas,  in your nursing bra,  in your lingerie,  and take a bow. I salute you. I salute your sacrifices. I salute your class. I salute your maturity.  May you be encouraged this morning.

By : Shaun M Nickens

Emotionally Unstable

I called my significant other and I asked him whether he thinks I’m emotionally unstable.
His reply was simple.
“We’re all emotionally unstable.”
Sometimes I wonder if I’m in more control than the average person because I dedicate so much time to introspection. I actually give a crud about my feelings. I embrace the very micro memories, disappointments, fears, failures, and daring ambitions that most people try to suppress.

I give a damn.

If I’m in love with you. I care about your dreams, what you ate for breakfast, what you always wanted for Christmas that you never received. 

If only you knew what goes through my head at 2am in the darkness of my one bedroom apartment. I check the doors to make sure they’re locked, even though I know I already have. I think if how I would kill the “bad guy” if someone tried to hurt my family. I pray for my loved ones and even my adversaries. I sing with confidence like im onstage somewhere and I’m going to accept an award after my performance. I feel exposed and vulnerable even if I am the only one in the room.

If it sounds overwhelming, it’s not. Recently, I’ve learned NOT to suppress these kinds of emotions with a glass (or two) of wine. I’ve learned that working 2-3 jobs to keep yourself busy and your mind cluttered doesn’t help either. At some point, your thoughts will intrude upon you like an uninvited guest. You may be embarrassed to mingle with them because you haven’t done the psychological housekeeping necessary to entertain those thoughts.

Emotionally unstable?

Child of divorced parents, private school education, mother, sister, significant other, Christian, college drop-out and drop-in, cynic and visionary. I’m an idealist. Eden and Utopia sound good to me. Scared and strong enough to admit it. Loved and courageous enough to submit to it. Analytical and arrogant enough to write this post.

Stop pretending to have it all figured out. Stop allowing people to place unrealistic expectations on you. Join me in my instability or ShutYaMouthAndCallMeUgly.

By:Shaun Nickens

Hope and Homeostasis

When I was young my father would take me to the park often. We would do all the fun things you do at the park but I distinctly remember him walking on fences. Kids would gather round to see my father walk on the fence surrounding the playground. I always felt so proud and cool because no one elses father could do that. My father was 6’2″ 180 lbs. Tall and lanky, walking casually across the fence like it was your everyday sidewalk. Everyone would stare and couldn’t help but smile.

When I think back to those times now, I think about the figurative artistry of that trick. My father spent his whole life doing a balancing act. My significant other told me today that he believes most men struggle between their innate basic desires and the need for family and companionship and stability. It’s an internal pull, a tug of war, spiritual warfare. It’s a psychological counsel deliberating over your future and your body just does what it’s sentenced to do.

My dad balanced. He was an ex military man. A Navy man. He’s the one who taught me how to iron my school uniform, how to turn corned beef hash into a meal and how to make a bed properly. He taught me how to re-seal and cement our front porch every summer and how to cut the lawn. He taught me to skate and ride a bike. How to maneuver a motor scooter and hang on to the back of his Triumph motorcycle.

My father struggled with everything else though. I know now that he could have been more connected and more mature as a husband, a son and a brother. He could have been more disciplined as an employee. He could have sacrificed a little bit more for the people in his life who believed in him and had sacrificed so much for him. He could have been more reliable. He tried to be a good father and to his credit, he still occasionally tries but it seems as though he was only good on that fence.

When your children grow older, they require the same maturity and selflessness as everyone else in your life. They require something better than balance. In my experience, love is involuntary. You may make a decision at some point to be with someone, or stay with someone, or to take care of a child. However, when you love someone in it’s true form, it’s uncontrollable. It escapes all logic. It takes over. Start by balancing. You must end with total submission. You don’t have to forget about who you are. Your identity can stay in tact. I believe that you must accept new aspects of who you are. Everyone has layers. Some layers you shed like an exoskeleton and you leave them behind.

What im suggesting is a balance beyond balance. I’m suggesting an ego-less equilibrium. Homeostasis of humility if you will. I am only suggesting this because I believe in the return. There are multiple moments when you must choose a side of the fence,stand on solid ground and dare to enjoy it. Everything in your life is a gift. I believe even struggle is a gift because it defines your determination and your ability not to be devoured by life.

My father taught me many things. Unfortunately, some of them were about the repercussions of weakness. Some lessons were learned through observation. Some of his actions taught me how not to be and what not to tolerate. No matter what…that fence trick was very impressive in it’s time. Ironically, my dad only fell when he was on the ground.

Happy belated fathers day. Learn how to balance your balance.

By:Shaun Nickens