Ponder of the Moment-Why is it Important to Choose Company Wisely?

Why is it important to choose your company wisely? And I am not talking about any superficial labels of “good” or “bad” but making the proper choice for yourself.  It is important because those individuals and arrangement of experiences encourage you to be more yourself….
especially when you forget and we all in fact suffer from temporary amnesia in which who or what we are goes missing or is kidnapped.
Shanta Lee

Difficult Isn’t Impossible -Taking on the Dare of Impossibility

5c9a6bd28b9edf0ad2f739ca1201d861Mohammed Ali, a well-known former Professional American Boxer talked about impossible as a state of mind and being.    In his opinion, whatever was described as impossible was temporary.

Hip-Hop star Jay-Z once included a lyric in a remix to the Kanye West song Diamonds Are Forever stating “Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week…”

Whatever your musical tastes are and/or your views about boxing, there is some wisdom to this concept of what we view as possible and what we designate as impossible.  What are you doing or not doing because you have categorized certain things as impossible and out of your grasp?

Perhaps there are unopened invitations through people and circumstances for you to travel to a new place and risk getting lost,
explore a new project and risk not knowing where the end result will lead you,
embrace a new talent that you’ve not formally studied….but you view these as “tasks” “daunting” or perhaps you said you can’t.

Last month it occurred to me that perhaps it isn’t the concept of impossible but that fact that we are using difficult and impossible as interchangeable terms.  I had to call an organization and ask about one of their upcoming deadlines for securing a license for something as I was warned “But the deadline is this coming Friday.”  As I started to ask a series of questions, I couldn’t help but to ask “Is it difficult or impossible?”  My specific inquiry encouraged laughter with an answer “Difficult, not impossible.”  After the short banter I hung up the phone still laughing but pinpointing the difference that most of us forget–difficult is not impossible but just means that there are a few hurdles.  And in fact, difficult is an invitation to a challenge.

So ditch the can’t and break up with impossible and dare yourself to go do something today, this week, this month, or this year that expands beyond the realm of what you thought was not possible.   Dare yourself to be and do the impossible.

*A re-print of an article shared on WildlyCreative.World on June 25, 2015, “Do You Dare to Do the Impossible?”*  Some changes have been made for this feature on this site.

Don’t Settle Because the Dust Doesn’t Even Do Such A Thing

If for no other reason than for the maintaining our intellectual agility, it is key to question or challenge the things we hear or repeat often.  Personally, I always appreciate revisiting or challenging clichés and other various uses of language.  During a recent phone call on an ordinary day, the opportunity to revisit my feelings about our various uses of the words/phrase “settle down” as it relates to ourselves and relationship presented itself.

imagesIt was a Tuesday afternoon and I was on the phone in an unpaved parking lot.  After a few minutes of being on this particular phone call, a truck came speeding through kicking up  small rocks and a pile of dust.  Somehow, the dust it aroused from its rest was more interesting than my present conversation.  I started to hurry the conversation along so that I could observe the unsettled dust.  Long after truck left the parking lot, the dust stayed floating in the air-not for seconds but minutes.  Each particle found its place as it separated from the cloud or the gang we refer to as dust.  But it did this in its own way as the once thick cloud dissipated as each particle of dirt chose not to just settle but find a place.  Even then, the idea of rest of just temporary as other vehicles entered the parking lot to disrupt the so-called settled dirt.

indexI share this short vignette because I always had trouble with the phrase we use about settling down as if to imply a fixed permanent point or the ending of movement/shifting/growth.  Yet, I found some comfort on this particular day by observing something both simple and common-dust repeatedly awakened and never becoming fully “settled” as it was disrupted by each passing vehicle.  It was within the most unlikeliest of places (an unpaved parking lot) that I was reminded of all of us.  Individual, dynamic, colorful and resilient specs of dirt constantly becoming and unbecoming a part of some bigger whole through disruption.

Though not always welcome and sometimes painful, the constant state of being awakened and unsettled presents an opportunity that we don’t always see unless we get a moment to notice the new reconfiguration caused by the unsettled state.  As I returned to my to-do list of the day, I wondered if we could allow ourselves to remember what it is like to be that dust surrendering to the various tires, foot-traffic, or other things that unsettled it.  I  continue to hope that we all  could adopt a piece of that gracefulness of becoming and unbecoming within the whole that inevitably happens in life and relationship.

And if you get a chance, watch dust become unsettled repeatedly.  It might inspire you to rethink the illusion of settling.

The Road Between Need and Want

“Everyone may be well acquainted with that Rolling Stones song with the lyrics “You can’t always get what you want…..you get what you need.” There is a rough road between what you think you want and what you truly need. And if you are lucky,
you happen upon blessed souls who nurture and guide you in your confusion of these two things & your perceived loss of your want as you navigate toward that ocean…..
the ocean of need.”

Shanta Lee

We Are Orphans Looking for Surrogate Mothers and Fathers: Our Difficulty with Bill Cosby

cosby-show-1024I was not going to comment about Bill Cosby.  In full honestly, I withheld my insights or thoughts due to a disbelief of what I was hearing in regards to the sexual assault allegations while cradling questions about how or why we placed Bill Cosby on such a pedestal.

My path of disbelief and disenchantment with Bill Cosby began many months ago as many of the victims started to speak out.  While buzz continued to question the credibility and validity these women,  my questions remained internal.  Occasionally, one of my questions would find its way into one of my phone conversations with a friend, “Do you believe what is coming out about Bill Cosby?”  Often my questions were met with a pause or a response “I don’t know…” as we had a short discussion about the fact that so many women were coming forward so it must be true.

indexThese questions co-mingled with fond fuzzy memories of The Cosby show.  Most weeknights for many years, my family and I planned our evenings around seeing Bill and Claire Huxtable with their children appear in their Brooklyn Brownstone on Primetime television.  The Huxtables were an upper middle class family allowing an ease and escape from my own family dysfunction as I fantasized myself into their lives.   I remained hopeful that perhaps they would one day extend a hand into our living room to invite me to be a part of their family.  Perhaps I could replace Rudy Huxtable or enjoy many of the perks of being one of the Cosby kids.  Despite the lack of reality and the smooth manner in which family issues were resolved within the record time of 30 minutes (as with most shows then), the life of the Huxtables was idyllic especially the role of Bill Cosby who was a gentle, firm, comical and lovable father.

What I longed for while gazing through a screen was the dynamic of family as presented by the Huxtables but Cosby was not necessarily a surrogate father figure.  In fact, my father was present in my home but that was not the situation for many of my peers.   For many in the black community, it was (and still is) key to see positive representations of black family especially favorable images of fathers. But our societal disenchantment with Bill Cosby extends beyond that. In his later years, the jokes stopped as he used his celebrity status to address some of the issues within the black community. Cosby refashioned himself from being one of America’s favorite dads/Jello-man to the tough love father who wanted better for his community.

Given the these nostalgic images, it is easy to see why we are all in shock.  We all seem to be undergoing a serious mourning of the image of the Bill Cosby we thought we knew and loved.  At the same time, I’ve previously written commentary on the fact that we have foolishly placed these celebrities upon unrealistic pedestals only to realize that they are human and fallible. But perhaps we are having such a hard time about Bill Cosby because so many of our fathers and mothers have physically and emotionally gone missing, especially in communities of color.  We have become orphans who’ve set out to look for replacements in the form of celebrities a.k.a. strangers who devastate us with as much ease as our familiar loved ones. And of course the only cure from such a thing comes from the wise advice of Eve Ensler in her recent article “Eve Ensler on Bill Cosby: Let the Mythical Daddy Die” it is time to stop infantilizing ourselves and break ties with our father figure fantasies.



Social Media–Perhaps Our Way of Handing Each Other Hope

Thumbs up, like button on white background.

In the past I’ve talked at length about our misuses and abuses of social media.  In one of my latest segments, I talked at length about the public shame game.  While I still feel that social media is in many ways allowing us to put on a show of somewhat manufactured lives, there are other other moments that I witness something a bit different about what social media offers.   I will share with a brief story.

Last week, I was scrolling through all of the pictures, status updates and announcements made by various acquaintances and friends on Facebook but one in particular caught my eye.  It was a relationship announcement in which my friend’s new beau gave her a shout-out that landed on her page for all of us to see.  The announcement was a collage of thoughtful words and visuals basically stating how filled with gratitude he was to stumble upon her.  I read the update, looked through the pictures and of course had to leave a comment of congratulations.

Mind you, this was not a close friend nor a regular tea partner.  Yet, that news, their smiling faces and what seemed to be their bliss was inspiring and it encouraged this post.  For many moments after seeing that particular post, I saw something a little more redeeming about the possibility of social media.  Perhaps in the middle of the chaos and the crazy of our lives, it is a way we can hand each other hope.  For many of us, maybe it is our desire or want to pierce the distance through a screen and touch another human being through a picture we post that might illustrate a smiling face or intimate moment of enjoyment with our loved ones;
through a kind word of encouragement, a short story, or some other many intended to brighten some known or unknown reader’s day;
though a goofy video, a joke, or a myriad of other seemingly innocuous gestures conveyed in a status update;
or through other ways conveying our need to connect, share, and feel like we are not the only ones riding a particular train.

All of these things just might be the flame that each of us are seeking on the other end of the screen amidst any level of darkness we are facing in our current lives.  While it is true that most may not have it in the ways we are seeing it, perhaps the amalgamation of words and faces is a way encouraging someone else to live that reality.

I Am a Northern Girl Who Grew Up with Images of the Confederate Flag

Let me explain.  Each week as a little girl I watched General Lee fly across my television screen in the famous television series Dukes of Hazzard.  For many years, all I recalled about General Lee (which was the bright orange 69’ Dodge Charger) were the drivers, Luke Duke (Tom Wopat) and Bo Duke (John Schneider).  As the familiar images of this show debuted in our living room each week, my mother would go on ad noseum (as she did with most television shows) about how handsome the main stars of the show were.  The main premise involved Bo and Luke maneuvering their way out of trouble with the local Sheriff and police.  Of course these episodes always included the famous  getaway chases  in which Bo and Luck successfully evaded the law.


So why am I taking a stroll down memory lane about a show that aired over 30 years ago?  It indeed is connected to the recent debates about the Confederate Flag.  Many feel that it represents a dark time in our history that upheld certain beliefs and values specifically around race relations.   Others argue that it is a representation of pride and heritage.  As I watched various news sources over the weekend report on the debate about the flag I piped up during one of these mornings exclaiming as if coming out of a fog, “I grew up with the Confederate Flag coming through my television set!  General Lee on Dukes of Hazzard had the flag stamped across its rooftop.”   My friend responded with a casual “Yeah” barely awake from his slumber as I went on to question aloud “Why didn’t anyone ever explain what the flag stood for?  That was a teachable moment?!”

My friend remained a bit placid despite the Kabuki Theatre that was taking place right before him on this particular morning.  He remained still on the floral couch as he continued to sip coffee from his mug while the warmth of my tea was disappearing into the air.  I sat in some puzzlement and astonishment while he remained calm as if the outburst never occurred equipped with a poker face.   We continued to watch the news while I intermittently interrupted asking him questions about his thoughts about the Confederate Flag, but I had many more questions that remained for my parents.

Please understand that even as I write this, I still grapple with the implications of banning a piece of the country’s ugly history.   The remnants of our history as a country no matter how gruesome, shaming, disturbing and many times ugly should continue to be a part of our narrative if it is the truth we wish to seek.  I am not saying that I want to grant people the right to fly that flag high in public space.  In fact, whenever I see the Confederate Flag waving on a vehicle (almost always a truck) unspoken fear wells up inside.  At the same time, I do question censorship, banning and hiding anything that is now out of the context/time/and space from its original meaning.  In other words, if we make it disappear, does this mean that we can pretend that it never existed?  Is the ban an attempt to retell our history and erase the existence of the flag?  Where are the lines of right to free speech and its affect and impact of the community or general public?  In fact these were some of the same questions posted by my friend that day as we watched the news.

I have no answers as my mind is still wrapping around the ongoing debates we have had about the Confederate Flag (this of course is certainly not the first time we are discussing this issue).  There are also are many times that I have often wondered about when or if we will ever have an honest discussion about the American flag and some of the challenges it still poses as a symbol of freedom.   While I sit with questions without easy answers, I have the bigger more personal piece I am un-peeling in all of this which involves deconstructing what I saw as a child and viewing the experience as an adult with the question of parental responsibility.  I am not sure what my parents would say now or how my mother would respond to my main question, why didn’t she explain or tell me about the emblem on top of the car?  Why did she choose to comment the appearance of the actors as opposed to taking this teachable moment to explain that symbol?  Was it because I did not ask?  Was the issue too complicated?  Was it not important because it was not a main part of the storyline?  In other words, would it have been different if Bo and Luke had the flag affixed to the outside of the car as opposed to it being painted upon the roof?

National debate about it continues on like a wildfire, yet I am still overwhelmed by memories of my family cheering and chanting for General Lee to escape the Sheriff.  As Youtube provides the ability for me to step back in time with an illustration of one of these well known Bo, Luke and General Lee/Police chases, I am asking if I should feel guilty for the way the image still inspires a want to chant for them to escape even as images of the Confederate Flag appears as big as day atop the airborne and famous getaway car?  For a short time there was also a Dukes of Hazzard cartoon that I watched from time to time as a child.

The fact still stands that images of the flag made regular appearances in my house with the help of our television which makes it one of many pieces of my dysfunctional childhood.  As a child, I thought of it as nothing more than a giant blue “X” across the roof as an embellishment more than anything else. As an adult, I have questions about the silence of my parents, my unconscious participation, and the overall pop culture celebration of this image.  I can’t believe that everyone else just thought of it as a random giant blue “X” with stars in its design.  But perhaps, maybe they really did.