Holiday Spending

So, I’m chatting with a new friend last night and he is a financial planner. Although we did not go deep in to investment portfolios, planning, options, and bonds, we did share a few meaningful moments discussing finance. Here is what I have learned….

If you had a million dollars, to spend frivolously, you probably shouldn’t. While it takes billionaires a long time to realize that they have a million dollars that they can afford to spend however they like, they usually don’t. When they do spend, in that way, they give charitable donations. This is also a way to save themselves money later on.

As I head out to the malls to buy my family a few trinkets, I will keep in mind that it is not important how much I spend. It is, however, the thought that counts.

Slowly…Surely

Working on the novel edits…lamenting my incomplete dissertation…raising two active little Gents…wishing I knew how to cut and hang crown molding….wishing I had the patience to paint these walls…

Just because we say that we want to do something does not mean that we don’t have the capacity to do it. The only limits we have are those we place on ourselves.

Will the novel be finished by the first of the year? YES…I have two weeks of vacation time to sift through the 75,000 words of this thing and get it to the editor.

Will I finish my dissertation and become Dr. Arenas this year? Hopefully. I don’t want to count my chickens before they have hatched but my financial future looks promising and I will be able to pay my tuition out-of-pocket. I will not and I can not take out another loan for my educational needs. This was a valuable lesson for me. I am now better able to motivate my son to seek out scholarships and find alternate sources to pay for his education. Student loans are not the way!!! While I am thankful for the opportunity to get an education; I can do without the debt.

Will I continue to raise two active little boys??? Of course, YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!! They are not going backwards they are moving forward. They are growing; getting bigger; getting smarter; getting stronger; making more demands of my time, energy, and resources. They may not be listed first, but they are my first priority.

Crown molding and paint…maybe I can teach my Gents to do that!

Dreams Crushed? Not really…

Have your dreams been crushed? Don’t look at it that way. Your perception is your reality. The way that you perceive things to be is the way they are. Visualize your dream as being your reality and it will be so. Visualize failure, disappointment, deceit, abandonment, and disloyalty; and it will materialize. The people with whom you interact project their energy on to you. Stay away from dream killers.

If you believe that you possess positive energy, good. Let that be what you attract. It is not your job to change others into positive individuals. You may find that their negative energy will attach to you and further attract negative experiences into your life. Subtract yourself from those types. Eliminate them from your daily life. Allow people to seek for themselves the benefit of positivity. Negativity is something you truly don’t want or need in your life. Negative spiritual energy is real. Haters ARE REAL. When haters insinuate themselves into your life; you must increase your belief and trust in something greater than yourself. You must ask for intervention from that spirit greater than yourself to act on your behalf. Ask for what you cannot discern to be made clear to you and it will. Let God be God.

Spend time with the people who make you feel worthy, who are excited about who you are, what you have to offer, who multiply and add to your life. Avoid people who behave as if you cannot be trusted, that they are doing you a favor by being your “friend”, who seek-out your flaws in an effort to magnify them to others, who degrade you (“jokingly”), who divide and subtract from your life. Sounds obvious, right? You would be surprised. I have many conversations with friends and family members, my age and older, who still experience this dysfunction in inter-personal relationships. These experiences do not end in middle school!

If you are fortunate enough to have lived a positive life and are “smart” enough to surround yourself with “good” people. Congratulations…keep living. There is a season for everything in everyone’s life. For those who have seen the other side of the coin, have been in situations that have caused this type of self-analysis, who had the difficult task of discerning another person’s energy; I hope that you take these tips to heart. Approach all of your dreams with God’s love attached.

Raising Warriors

I am a single mother of two boys. They say, only a man can teach a boy to be a man. Well, I am not a man, and we must do what we must.

I will teach my boys to be men as best as I can. I will be conscious about the type of men I expose them to. Their grandfather is an excellent role model who is more than willing to “STAND IN THE PAINT” . In the absence of a physical man that is present in our lives on the daily basis, we have a spiritual father who consistently, willingly, and lovingly provides…always…every day…without fail
🙂

World AIDS Day 2010

By, Ascellia M. Arenas

12/1/10

  
I have seen the face of AIDS. I lived with it. I was forced to move in with my sister’s good friend when I was a freshman in college. I got into an altercation with my roommates/friends and my choices were to pack my bags and go home, or move in with Chaz. Chaz had full blown AIDS. It was 1992 and the developmental research and drug therapy available then was not as progressive as it is today in 2010. He had to take a long list of pharmaceuticals to keep him alive. He had baby fine hair (much like a Cancer patient’s new-growth after chemotherapy), sallow looking skin with breakouts of Kaposi’s sarcoma, and other bruising and scars all over him. He was rail thin, a walking skeleton with skin. He was, however, kind enough to open his home to me when “friends” turned their backs. I will never forget him for that. I was 17 years old, a freshman in college, and had never been away from home for longer than a few days. Needless to say I was afraid. I thought…could I catch AIDS if I drank from a glass he drank from? Would I catch AIDS because I live under the same roof with him? The obvious answers to those questions are no. Because of him, I started getting tested back then and today I am still HIV negative.

I ended up making the Dean’s List Honor Roll that semester. I gained a powerful education, not only in human resiliency but in what it means to be someone’s friend.

Chaz has long since passed away. When he was HIV negative, he was a DJ, a dancer, an aspiring actor, and the life of the party. He did not know that his lifestyle would cause him to die an early death.

I know several people who have passed due to complications related to AIDS. I know several people who are LIVING with HIV/AIDS. They take therapeutic prescriptions that help to sustain their lives. They are survivors who know that life is precious. They are human vessels of knowledge and will share with you the secret to true happiness. People with HIV/AIDS are not the enemy: AIDS is the enemy. As of 2007 over 33 million people have been diagnosed with HIV, over 200 thousand children have died. Today’s demographics exceed those numbers significantly and are still growing. Is it sad? Yes. Is it preventable? Yes. Is it possible to live a happy and productive life with with HIV/AIDS? Yes. Do you know your status?

Thankful

Thanksgiving is here and I am reflective.
God has been good to me.
1. My family is amazing. I am fortunate to be a member of such a diverse group of talented and gifted people. Our culture is unique and everyone in my family is an artist. The older I get the more I realize how unique we are as a group. I use to feel self conscious about it. I believe most people think we are weird. I love the fact that people think we are weird. We all have special talents and are excited to share those gifts with the “normal” people! Ha-ha-haa!
2. My friends are beautiful spirits who have seen me in them as I see them in me. Friendship is essential to the soul. I am fortunate to have people in my life that love me unconditionally, encourage me to be myself, and remind me of who I am when I lose my way. The older I get the more I rely on my friends to continue to be extended members of my family. I am now better able to discern who my friends are. “Every smile ain’t your friend”, my grandmother use to say that often. I know what she means now. I can smile at all of you-friend or foe, and keep it moving.
3. My experiences have been blessings to me. The good things help me remember the goodness of God. The bad things remind me to rely solely on God.

I am happy this Thanksgiving. I hope you are too.

Getting it together

So, I’m editing and revising-revising and editing. The first eight chapters have been in existence for 7 years. These chapters have been sitting on ice for a very long time. I left them alone so that I could work on my degree. Could not finish that because I ran out of money and time. Hey, life throws you lemons. I am squeezing them to make some lemonade. I am marinating the meat in what is left of them. I also put the book on pause to finish dealing with a HELLISH divorce that lingered for three years!!! Thank God that is over; now, the book gets a chance to flourish. I’m happy about that.

The trouble with writing a novel is that you will never stop writing it as long as no one stops you. I keep going back and forth nibbling at it here and there like it is a piece of cheese. It is my cheese. My cheesy little novel that I love so dearly. My characters are fleshing out and maturing faster than my fingers can type. I guess I can not keep them under wraps forever.

I like writing about about people & events for work. I also enjoy my time with the characters from this book. Excerpt 2 will be up tomorrow…

Passionate Pursuit

I am inspired by a quote I read yesterday. Rev Run posted this as his Facebook status, “Ladies::U can always tell if some1 is passionate about u.. The proof of passion is pursuit”. We have been conditioned to believe that as modern women we must take an aggressive role in the courtship dance. It appears that popular culture instructs modern women to chase after the man they want! It is suggested that we must approach the man we want, ask him out on and pay for the date. Additionally, it seems we may have to accept that the man we have chosen to share our bodies with may be in two or three other physical relationships with other women (and possibly even men) simultaneously, and we must work harder to keep his interest if we don’t want to be alone. There is information that suggests that we should accept that men have many choices in regard to dating, they don’t necessarily take every date seriously, and we should not take dating seriously either-we should behave like “men”!

Today’s women are bombarded with blogs, self-help books, articles, television programs, church sermons, songs, videos, and conversations with friends and family about what we must do to catch and keep a mate. The suggestions are laughable. I have read where one woman has done scholarly research to conclude that some African-American churches prevent African-American women from being in healthy “pre-marital” relationships. I have read articles about the treacherous single black female who seeks partnership by stealing away some poor woman’s man. I have seen an episode of 20/20 where comedian, Steve Harvey, “enlightens” single black women about their behavior before, during, and after courtship. While these entries provide interesting perspectives, they are not the last word in what a woman must do, think, or feel when selecting a partner. I’m laughing!

Author and radio host, Michael Baisden, discusses frequently as a topic on his daily show;that black women are not the only women who are having difficulty selecting and keeping mates. White and Latina women are struggling as well. There is a preponderance of sexist selfishness that is evidenced in modern dating. The roles of men and women have been reversed, skewed, and blurred by economic factors. When asked, some men are quite vocal about their availability of options and what those women are willing to do to keep them. Some men relish the idea of having women fawn over them, approach them, pamper them with gifts and baubles, pay their bills for them, and basically treat them as a dependent, not as a partner. That brings me great pause. Regardless if a woman makes more money than a man, owns property, has significant savings, and/or is self-sufficient; she still deserves to be respected and treated like a woman. The same is true for a woman on public assistance. A woman, wealthy or economically disadvantaged, should not be excluded from the practice of proper passionate pursuit.

Men, wealthy or economically disadvantaged, know what they like and what they want. It is in a man’s nature to hunt and gather. A man will pursue, with vigor anything that he truly desires because he wants to be able to present his prize to the world. Hence, moose heads hanging on a wall and a stuffed grizzly bear mounted and standing in the living room.

I have witnessed and experienced the behavior of a truly interested man in pursuit of what he wants. The behaviors are as follows:

1. He calls you (not texts) to ask you on a date.
2. He wants you to believe he is worth YOUR time.
3. He will offer to pick you up and is genuinely concerned about your safety.
4. He would like to expose you to new things and nice places.
5. He wants to be seen in public with you and wants the world to know he won time with you.
6. He wants to pay for a movie, dinner, a concert ticket, a vacation, or whatever your heart desires because, after all, you are his prize.
7. If he still considers you to be a prize, he will continue to call you and ask you to be seen in public with him.
8. He will be respectful and appreciative of your time.
9. His intentions will be clear.
10. He will want the world to see that he is capable of maintaining a relationship with a prize of a woman such as yourself.

Finally, ladies (of all racial and ethnic backgrounds) stop falling for the sexist propaganda that suggests that as a woman, who is financially solvent, educated, and still single that you are unworthy of proper passionate pursuit. If he is not putting forth the effort to make you feel like you are the woman that he wants then do not waste your precious time.

Domestic Violence: More than Just an Incident

In the news today there was a story about a single mother of two. She lives not too far away from me. Our neighborhood reflects a community of hardworking people; the affluent, business owners, athletes, doctors, nurses, lawyers. The domestic violence that we usually see in the news, “just does not happen” out here. Sadly, attitudes like that force women in to silence. An act of domestic violence does not begin and end with one incident. It is a cyclical chain of events that begins as a little secret then explodes in to a traumatizing display of pain, anguish, and despair. We spend so much time instructing our youth about bullies that they may or may not encounter at school; but, what about the bullies that live under their own roof?

The story involves a mother and her boyfriend. They were involved in an disagreement. The end result was that they both died. Apparently, police gunfire was also involved but not specified in the reports; it is still under investigation. When I heard the news, while I was driving down the very street where the incident occurred, I could not hold back the tears. This mother would not ever have another chance to kiss or hug her children again. This mother will never get another chance to see her children perform or achieve great things again. This mother will never get the chance to meet her grandchildren, or see them grow. This mother was stripped of her life because one man felt that he had ultimate control over her life and permission to take it away from her.

If you think that domestic violence begins and ends with one incident, you are mistaken. Domestic violence begins with the systematic breaking down of the victim’s self-esteem. It seems innocent or maybe even constructive at first but it has the intent of future manipulation, mental degradation, and physical domination. The aggressor may begin by picking at his/her victim, degrading the way that she (or he) looks, acts, speaks, walks. Also, the aggressor attacks the victim’s interests,friends, family. The aggressor will minimize the importance of or negatively criticize things that the victim does well. The aggressor seeks to isolate the victim from friends and family in an effort to obtain physical and mental control. The victim is unaware that the aggressor has the intent of exerting mental and physical dominance because she (or he) is in “love”. This is what the aggressor wants the victim to believe. Once the victim has fallen in to the trap of lies the manipulation begins: the yelling, the fighting, the shoving, and then the hitting. Often times, the victim blames herself (or himself). They will try to rationalize what role they played in the abuse, try to excuse it, or deny that it even happened. Unfortunately, the woman in the story from the news, was held in a full-nelson choke hold and shot in her head.

I am concerned that when a woman calls the police to report domestic violence [DV] (shouting, shoving, fighting, possession of personal items/having those items withheld) they ask the victim if she is bleeding? Are they not aware that those manipulative events are the precursor to more abusive acts? I am also concerned that some women feel that people will perceive them as being weak when they get up and take a stand. I believe that this is why so many women go inside of themselves and never tell anyone. They don’t believe that anyone will care or try to help them because they were careless enough to attach themselves to an abusive partner.

The woman, from my neighborhood, who has two children, died because of DV. The effects of DV linger and become a part of the psyche of the person who has endured it. It also effects the lives of other people; it has venom that poisons the lives of future generations as well. The effects of this case will linger in the minds of her two children for the rest of their lives. Domestic violence is clearly more than just one isolated incident.

Mama and The Beach

Mama and The Beach

By, Celli Sandz

The beach is a very special place for me. It is where I go to connect with God and nature. There is no greater gift than the ocean, sun, sand, and surf. I was raised on the beach. My mother believed in taking us to the water to celebrate, to feel better when ill, to have family picnics, or just because we needed to calm down and become one with God. That is where God lives. When you look at the water and see that it connects to the sky; that lets you know of His infinite connection to the world and His intimate connection to you.

On a trip to the beach I was being contemplative, thinking about love (as usual) and life (as usual), positivity, spirituality, subconscious connectivity to the flesh world. Then all of a sudden, while playing in the surf with the boys it hit me like a ton of bricks-an epiphany!!!! I had the youngest near the shore with me while the oldest was testing his manhood out in the riptides. I explained to the baby what would happen if a riptide caught you. I said, mind you this was on Saturday and it was choppy out there too, “…stay close to me because the planet earth is 70% water and the seas have more strength than you know. You may think that you are in control but a wave will carry you out in to the sea and you could get caught in the undertow. Mommy is an excellent swimmer, but not even I can save you from the ocean if it wants to get you!”

Needless to say he looked at me like I was crazy, didn’t bother me much, I get that a lot. It was the oldest that worried me. I kept calling for him to come back, there were riptides, the undertow could drown him. He needed to heed my warnings. He like most male children felt his own strength and decided that I couldn’t stop him. I bellowed out to him, “Ahman, get yo lil butt back over here or you gonna have to deal with me, to hell with what the ocean will do!” He obliged fearing the butt whipping that may ensue. Look folks, I rather beat my son’s butt today than have to bury him tomorrow. As usual the threat worked and he made his way back to shore where me and “shawty-do-wop” were singing songs and collecting sea shells.

I could tell at that moment that my baby boy was slipping away. He was challenging me and wanted to go out there on his own and experience life. He wants to fall down and be able to pick himself up. I respect that. I saw he was wanting to spread his wings so I said, “go on ahead boy but you stay in that sand bar right here where I can get to you if I need to!” And off he went karate chopping and flipping his way through the choppy surf. I sat on the shore with a watchful eye. I wouldn’t let him stray too far away…
Yes, of course I cross-referenced this epiphany,

There is a book titled: “Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be: Lessons on Change, Loss and Spiritual Transformation” by, Lama Surya Das…
I found these items to be interesting:

Instead of trying to alter the course of nature to avoid loss and setbacks, we can square off with them with wisdom and spirit…
“Like the Buddha, we want to find the lessons that lie buried in suffering and pain. Questioning is an essential part of the spiritual path: self-inquiry, introspection, philosophy — all involve genuine doubt and skepticism as propellants fueling the spiritual journey. We find meaning in the seeking itself.”
We suffer so much is that we are so attached to ideas, feelings, people, and things in this book Surya Das quotes poem from a a nursery school wall. It’s called “The Toddler’s Creed”:
“If I want it, it’s mine. ”
“If I give it to you and then change my mind, it’s mine. ”
“If I can take it away from you by force, it’s mine.”
“If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine. ”
“If we are playing with something together, then all the pieces are mine. ”
“If it looks like the one I used to own or have at home, it’s mine.”

“Letting go means learning to lighten up as well as enlightening up.”
Still a little difficult for me to grasp sometimes, especially if I am fond of something or someone however, he recommends using prayer to reaffirm our intention to keep our hearts open. He shares a prayer from his own journey:
“May my heart stay open and loving even when I’m feeling hurt and frayed.”
“May I learn always to include others in love’s vast embrace. ”
“May my heart remain pure and kind amid the painful details and muck of life. ”
“May virtue and serenity belong to all, even my competitors and adversaries.”
“May my brokenheartedness open my heart even further (like open-heart surgery) and bring forth love and open-hearted compassion.”
Broadway Books 08/03 Paperback $15.00
ISBN: 0767908740

My sons will be with me, under my wing of protection, for a short period of time. I will have to eventually accept that they are men and able to make their own choices. I will not be able to steer their paths as grown men. I will only be able to watch them from the shore. I will soon have to just have to let them go… flipping and karate chopping through the choppy surf. I am constantly praying that I give them enough positive, powerful instruction to swim with the currents of life. I believe that I am making them flexible enough to withstand the pressure they will surely face. I will never completely leave them. They can always come back and join me again, from time to time, where I’ll be… singing songs and collecting sea shells…

May 11, 2008
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