Machine Mom

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Off work at 2am. In bed at 3am. Up with the kids at 6am. I don’t even bother with coffee anymore. Thank God my household is run by a team effort. My fiancée is very active as a parent. We push ourselves and each other. The question still remains: What did you do for yourself today??? #30dayselfesteemchallenge

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While the kids were at school, I ran to Denny’s and had some tea with lemon and honey (I have this irritating cough.) Sitting there I thought about the waiters and the waitresses. What landed them here? Are they budding entrepreneurs? Is this step one or level one to this great designer plan of their lives? Maybe one of them or all of them wanted this. Maybe they want to serve, to smile for a living,  to provide people with sustenance. Maybe it feels good to calm my cough. Maybe it feels good to sit beside the elderly and assist them in reading the small print on the menu. Maybe this is it. Maybe that’s okay.

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Respect the Process

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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:

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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? 

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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:

For Pete’s Sake…Lick the Bowl!

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I made this crumb cake on Wednesday!

When I was young my mother would bake from time to time.  Sometimes I would get so excited. She would give me the bowl to lick the batter while I waited for the cake to bake.  I would sit contentedly with my finger and my spoon in and out of the Tupperware.  I’d be wrapped in a pink comforter, watching a good movie,  with my bowl. Oftentimes,  by the time the cake was ready I didn’t want it anymore.  I was content with what I already received. 

The treat that was given to hold me over became better than what I anticipated.  I started to anticipate the batter and the bowl.  I started to look forward to the process more than the finished product. 
When did you stop enjoying the process? When did you become addicted to instant gratification? Don’t shake your head with that “no, not me” look. Yes, you! Why do you want the glorious rewards of your future TODAY?

What about dinner?  What about finishing the meal God has prepared to sustain you and make you stronger, before you dive into desert?  Thank Him for giving you a bowl to lick. Be thankful for the patience the process will instill in you.

Lick the bowl and enjoy it! The struggle is yours and specifically designed to give you the tasty tomorrow you are craving. 

Bless!

By:Shaun Nickens

I Woke Up Like This (shout out to Bey)

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I woke up worried about the zit on my cheek
I woke up thinking about the texture of my hair (never quite looks like the commercials)
Eyes not chinky, just swollen from crying

I woke up like this
Desiring to be
Flawless
But perfection is unattainable and quite unnatural
I woke up like this
Wanting wider hips and a smaller waist
With my mind churning louder than a ’98 corolla

I woke up like this
Exhausted from mommy duties the night before
Hands with calluses from making a dollar out of 15 cents

Barren uncharted land of passion and beauty within me
My tears irrigate it
I woke up like this
Unique and unmatched
Honest and exposed
Filled to the brim with flaws
Brilliantly authentically

Flawless

By SMN

Girl, Thats Not Your Booty, That’s Your Hip!!! (Challenging Accepted American Media Images of Women of Color)

I don’t care what she tells you.  I don’t care if she looks you right in the eye when she says it.  If she says she doesn’t check her butt out in the mirror before she leaves the house, she’s lying!  We’re all guilty of it.  Hair, skin, nails and booty.  At this point, I don’t even know what I’m looking for!  I’m 27 and I’m aware nothing back there is going to change.  I’m not genetically configured in a way that constitutes a big ol’ Nicki Minaj backside.  Shoot…it wasn’t in her genetic make up either!!!!  I can’t afford the shots and I heard the serum can leak into another  body part and you’ll get a fat knee or belly button or something. Ewww!  So at some point you have to be happy with what you have and be confident and innately sexy.  When was it determined that booty makes a woman sexy?

I remember sitting in an auditorium at Stony Brook University and listening to an informative speech about the story of Sarah Baartman  AKA “The Hottentot Venus.”  I was so moved I decided to do a feature on it with a youth group I worked with at a local dance studio.  We inserted a tribute to her in our annual black history show.  If you don’t know her story I’ll give you the edited version.  She was one of the Khoi people of South Africa.  She was a slave under British rule and she was sent to London in 1810 as a “performer” for “exhibition.”  She was exhibited because of her alluring aesthetic appeal in comparison to European women of that time and her physical features were considered bizarre.  She was the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not of her time.  After she died (allegedly of smallpox) her genitalia was displayed in a Parisian museum.  I was so hurt.  How could a human being objectify another human being like that?

I examine where we are present day.  I think about the images forced upon us by main stream media.  We are surrounded by booty!  Turn on the radio…what do you hear?  Rihanna’s “Cake”, Big Sean singing “ass ass ass ass ass ass ass ass…”, or how about the contemporary version of the 80’s babies party anthem by Luke “I Wanna Rock”.  I’m showing my age but remember that song by 2 Live Crew “Pop That Coochie”?  We all know Sir-Mix-A-Lot “I like big butts.”  This has been going on for years!  We’ve been brainwashed by booty.  In a way I support it because there was also a time where curves weren’t accepted at all and we were sending the wrong messages with pencil thin chain-smoking models on our television screens.  However, there has to be a definitive line drawn.  This line has to be thick enough and bold enough to honor our heritage.  This line has to be thin enough and bright enough to be able to laugh at ourselves in certain circumstances.  Who doesn’t love the Thugnificent song from animated series “The Boondocks” entitled , “Booty Butt Cheeks?”

This line has to be transparent enough that we can step over it and around it when people of other ethnicities and cultures attempt to comment on the subjects that we think are exclusive to our own colored community.  Let me be clear…there is no topic that can be our own little secret.  So if it would offend you if your Caucasian brother or sister mentions a black woman’s rear end…maybe it shouldn’t be a topic of conversation for you either.  I need us to be able to recognize when things have gone too far.  I can’t shop for my 13-year-old sister anymore!  The shirts look like bras!  The shorts look like panties!  There’s writing on the back of the pants.  I’m alarmed as a sibling, let alone a parent.  I’m going to learn how to sew so she can wear clothes that actually cover and protect her body!

I was describing an outfit to a co-worker the other day.  I was telling her how I couldn’t wait to wear it because it accentuated my “curves.”  She said, “What curves?  You have no booty.”  I’m used to comments like this so I stood up and I did my best booty pose with an award-winning provocative smile.  She simply responded, “You’re so cute. Girl, that ain’t booty, that’s your hip!”  We all cracked up and then attempted to resume working with tears in our eyes.  As women we have to accept all forms of beauty and appeal,  we have to love ourselves because media will never give us accurate perceptions of what attracts a man to a woman.  We think in different ways, our feelings vary, and our self-expression will always be similar but never identical.  To any woman who struggles with body image and consciousness…love yourself (I don’t care how cliché it sounds)…or ShutYaMouthAndCallMeUgly 😉

-By Shaun Nickens