hafacenturyncounting

Motivated by a lack of material.

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

Picture This

We took up no less than 7  hours of the waiters time, but we made it worth his while.  How many of you have friends that you are separate from. There aren’t enough hours in the day, you are too far away, but when you get together well it is amazing. When you sit across from someone who you have know since they were the age of the little one in the picture who now calls them grandma, it can be sobering as well as wonderful. We probably could have talked until nightfall but you know the time is coming to a close when the PHONES come out and everyone needs someone (waitstaff earns the tip here as well as earlier) to take the pictures to be accessible immediately to all.

We are so fortunate to have access to people we love and care about instantly, yet there is nothing like that face-to-face. I have some very beautiful friends and I mean outwardly as well as inwardly. I grew up in Southern California, I don’t know that any other place boasts of beauty and generally demonstrates it like Southern Cal does. I have to give my Georgia friends their “props”  on beauty though, transplants and the ONE native alike.

In my youth I attended the bridal shower of one of my  very pretty friends at a restaurant in Marina Del Rey. Everyone was dressed beautifully, but it looked like a magazine shoot for VOGUE, not because of the outfits but the ladies in the outfits.  The all-girl group Klymaxx’s song ” The Men All Paused” would have been appropriate, with slight rewording “everyone paused”. It was  absolutely amazing and it was fun. 20 women immersed in the celebration of an upcoming wedding, relatively oblivious to the fact people were watching them for no other reason than they were breathtaking. Cameras clicked and flashed, yes back then that is what a camera would do to let you know a photo was being taken, recording the memories for another time. Depending on who had the camera, you may or may not see those pictures for years. If you didn’t want to lug around a camera, that was the risk you took.

A  decade later a smaller group of us got together, for no reason other than we wanted to be together. Babies, work, relocation, life changed the outward appearance a little “more to love” on several  levels, yet the beauty was still there. A graceful aging process taking place, but the energy and positive vibe was breathtaking.  The waiter’s final duty take that picture.

Now we have grandchildren, retirement, some health challenges that are a part of our everyday lives. However each time we get together  the photographs we take  not only capture the current image but the memory of those 20 something beauties that are still alive and kicking. The inner beauty never changed therefore the outward appearance seems as though it has been air brushed and retouched just like VOGUE. I am so blessed to have ALL of you in my life, for so many years, coast to coast, and to be able to call you friends. You are always in my heart, my thoughts and looking forward to the next “half of a day” brunch.

Final thought for my readers; cherish your friendships and take lots of pictures!

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God Is Answering Your Prayers

Maybe the times are trying for you. You have no where to turn.” Look up”, I say and you will find peace. The answers may not come like you want or expect, but the answers are there.

Have you ever strayed away from your faith? Maybe nothing overt; it starts by missing church because something “urgent” came up, then you over slept, finally “you just aren’t feeling it” besides it’s 3rd Sunday nothing new goes on 3rd Sunday.  Pretty soon 3rd Sunday turns into a year and you wonder where the time went. You reflect, “Well it has been a hectic year, things have been going wrong..” you just haven’t had the time. How about you have a disappointment or major hurt in your life, then you blame God. You figure if He truly was there for you “this” would not have happened, so you turn your back on Him.

Faith the size of a mustard seed comes to mind, well I certainly have that much faith I can proclaim with absolute confidence. While you may say,” well that is not very much”,  remember God can move mountains with that amount of faith. I offer this perhaps I underestimated the amount of faith I truly have, maybe I thought if I set my standards low then the expectation would be low and disappointment not so severe.  How about you, have you been in this place? Once again taking care of things for God. Once again placing human/limited guideline on the One who created humans. The Creator needs my help. I prayed, I put a problem in His hands and because He didn’t move like I thought He should I said, “You are probably too busy with the UNIVERSE, or let me take care of this cause it needs to be done now…. Really??

We hear other peoples stories of their experiences and we say, “See that is what I need something astounding, something great in order for me to… ” In order for you to what; believe, trust, have faith? Do you realize you do actually have faith, do you really know what faith is. God is not on our clock, He does not travel the same way that we do and He is privy to information that we cannot begin to fathom.

Faith is not simply a word, it is a journey. Let’s be honest and real here; sometimes journeys can take unexpected turns, routes changed, arrivals can be delayed. Journeys can start off rocky and rough, smooth out to the extent that you don’t even remember the start or they can be the exact reverse, but if you really want to get somewhere you keep moving, go forward, and always Look Up.

Suicidal Tendencies

You hear these stories about folks who decide either by accident or intent life isn’t worth living anymore and therefore do something about it. Personally of all the flaws I have and will generally own up to being a coward. That has to be the headliner here.

Now some would argue that a person who commits suicide is just that, a COWARD. Yet the”coward” that I am kept me off drugs, brought me home on time, and didn’t allow me to talk to strangers. This same coward keeps me from ever considering the “final act”, for fear I may actually succeed.

Dealing from an opinion standpoint, I believe that people who attempt and ultimately go through with a suicide have a timing problem. Some underestimate an arrival of another factor that will cause them to re-think/re-consider or even stop them. I think it is obvious they all share a sadness and a feeling of hopeless that drives them to a point, that makes their only focal point on stopping the perceived misery as “they” know it.

In broader terms one might say “man” has these same tendencies, the feeling of doom and hopelessness. Who wants to live with those feelings dominating and hanging over them every single day?  It can be the simple explanation why one group that believes and worships one way would want to overtake and rid “their world of a group that believes and worships another way. It gives meaning to why a nation would without words, but through vicious acts, declare war on it’s very own population.Why else would someone feel as though they should carry around a gun that has the capability to not simply stop in individual be tear the individual to shreds. Just in case there are more who believe differently than me, just because there are more of them that look differently than me, just because someone may try to do something to me. None know when or if any of those scenarios will occur, but they are afraid it might AND they feel the best preparation is to be ready to destroy. That to me is that intense feeling of fear, fear of the unknown, and being realistic for most of us have NOT experienced most of the world; therefore most things to the average person is simply that, UNKNOWN. Yet the bold, the brave, the consummate explorer, MAN lives in fear and it is that very fear that will ultimately destroy him.

Looking at the world and the state of affairs, one might conclude we are doomed. Life has little or no value, even children are being sacrificed. From a religious standpoint one could conclude “the end is near”. Man will destroy himself , but it is also said, “No man will know the hour..” The individual and his individual fear that what he is experiencing, fear that it may go on, fear that tomorrow could bring worse. So he puts an end to it all, because he can at least control that, but wait right before he takes the final step, releases the trigger, swallows the last pill, or steps off the stool rope snug about his neck…. what if he’s wrong?

So if YOU are trying to prepare, to give yourself a”leg up”, here is yet another why and how for you. One cannot  really prepare for the unknown; the unknown is everywhere and preparation only exists, as far as the doubt in ones mind allows. Finally, what if we’re wrong?

Morning Glory And Jasmine

What was in the air yesterday. I felt a twinge of Autumn. YAY AUTUMN! It is rapidly approaching and I for one could not be happier. Yet it wasn’t as simple as that. Little tiny innuendos, fluttery feelings, and odd expressions.

The call came from out of the blue, the request was innocent, the offer was genuine, and the gesture was pure. What all of these things had in common was they originated from a source that was once connected to a love relationship. Four different love relationships whose only common ground was “Yours Truly” and in the sense I was made aware of each of these occurrences. I will not detail how or when, that is not important what is significant is the connection; the meaning of these two flowers(language of flowers) , what they represent in the legends, and this short piece.

Waiting for sunrise like the Morning Glory waits to bloom, as the scents of Jasmine lingers long after you have walked past them on the street, sometimes the affects of love stays with you. It resides somewhere safely and quietly. It has no ulterior motives or plans, and it will remain unnoticed. Then one day rummaging through papers, or a slight turn on the street, a song on the radio will jar that feeling, that memory. The next thing you know, there is a call or an email or a chance visit with no expectation, no requirements to meet, just an opportunity to briefly reconnect to a place of warm smiles and breathtaking emotions.  I am again reminded that there will always be room in my life for a romantic story and that there is no shortage of them. Thank God for that.

I Surrender…..All?

Arms raised in the air, a white flag being waved; you turn your very life over to the someone you don’t know, you face uncertainty and perceived bad results. After all surrender is an act that usually happens in the face of war, and warring people are generally enemies.

Surrender an act of submission and associated with, an individual who most likely means to do you harm. “I give up, I throw myself on the mercy of the court, do with me what you will.” You give power over you away, because you are tired, weary or see no way out.  Yet to the One who loves and cares for you, it is often a difficult task to do this very same thing. Why?

God wants our unconditional love and trust. Part of us want to comply but there is that other part that says, you cannot give up or give in. You are independent, you must be self-sustaining; then when trouble comes you call to God or you blame Him for not helping you like YOU think He should. What do we want? The answer is simple; WE WANT PERFECTION. However, the road to perfection is still one many of us are not willing to take. This is elementary; one road to the destination you desire, but you won’t travel that way/direction. Here’s a “spoiler” you aren’t gonna get there!

The wiser we are the more difficult it is for us to believe things WE cannot explain. As a child, I remember being taught Jesus is LOVE/God is LOVE. To a little one reciting this and really grasping a hold of what it means, isn’t nearly as important as the fact you are able to memorize the words. As you grow up in stature and experience, you learn of LOVE in an academic sense.  You LOVE your family, you LOVE your spouse or mate, you LOVE chocolate, you LOVE to draw.. is it all the same thing. No, of course not. We know LOVE is a strong feeling so we confuse what it means and give into it being an expression of intensity, ONLY. After it is all said and done LOVE is just a word or is it?

Sunday morning in class (my eldest son is teaching, unique experience a topic for later) we went back to the basics, the beginnings to Genesis “God created man in his own image.”  In God’s Own image so what does God look like? Is God short or tall, is He black or white or brown or multi-racial, is He so gorgeous you cannot take your eyes off Him, or is He just a plain looking fellow that you’d never even notice.  I know that was a question I had as a child. Then as I got older and I heard individual groups trying to justify why they He was depicted with certain characteristics,  it let me know my query was not one I alone had. Some of the fog lifted on my journey as our teacher simply stated the image of God is the image of LOVE. In so few words the clarity hit. With God LOVE becomes so much more than simply a word or feeling.

Being good is a simple enough concept, it is just a hard thing to practice. If we are not good then how can we have God’s LOVE and God’s approval. Well God is different from us, and His LOVE is not the same as ours.  We are capable of this kind of LOVE, though. We say unconditional and we may be able to pull that of for a period of time, but when the trouble comes we pull the LOVE back so we don’t get hurt. Maybe we never put the LOVE out there like we say. God does not pull the LOVE back and He does put it out there for us, all we have to do is give in, trust, allow Him to give us His LOVE. All we have to do is surrender.

Asking For What You Want And Getting It

“Ahh no thanks, Ima pass” was what I thought as I began this. Now that may be surprising but it has been something I thought on for awhile, and do not be mistaken because the piece began with “Ahh no thanks, Ima pass”, does not mean that was always MY starting point.

Have you ever read a book or seen a movie that starts at the end and then takes you backwards? Well this is how I am doing this particular post. Think you know exactly what you want, need, desire? I bet most if us would answer affirmatively to this question; yet be careful this is trip down an old familiar road with some unfamiliar turns.

Oftentimes when I write I listen to music and YouTube is my best friend in these endeavors, but one of my “sisters” started me on this by posting a video which featured a member of the both lovely and talented singing group Debarge.   James DeBarge to be exact. Now I am NOT being funny when I called them lovely, because in spite of the fact the majority of the group was male, they were some of the most beautiful young people you would want to lay eyes on and YES they could sing! When we saw them all we saw was beauty and heard the same. These amazing siblings rose like cream does to the top of milk. James married R&B royalty(Janet Jackson) in his youth. James was neither sounding or looking good in the video as he tried to employ the audience, of an obscure little club nestled in the Inland Empire on the outskirts of Los Angeles, to help him through one of the family hits. Nearly every member of the family has had a bout with drugs.

Before I knew it Youtube” was helping to guide me down memories of my teen and young adult years and some of the residents who will forever inhabited that place. The series Unsung became my springboard; The Sylvers, Shalamar, Klymaxx, Angela Bofill, before I knew what was happening it was 3 A.M.

This wordy introduction was to drive home the point of the title. You may have noticed my ending the list of singers with an individual rather than a group. Angela’s story tells it all. She spoke of riding high, doing what she wanted, dismissing things that were very important; these are not unique qualities of a young, successful artist, it is also reflective of many regular folks as well. Angela said at one point in her career she was exhausted. She had battled with weight issues all of her life, but she did not smoke, drink, do drugs. She was a person who “juiced” incessantly. She stated all she wanted to do and wished for was to be able to slow down, in 2006 she suffered a stroke and another massive one in 2007. Not taunting or making light of this situation; I am a fan on Angela Bofill her story merely allowed me to reflect.

What are our travels here on Earth about, if we cannot share and assist others in their ventures. We exist in a state of envy; we strive for more and greed has become a part of our culture. You don’t talk of instant gratification, it is a way of life. We see the beautiful people with the beautiful THINGS and think, “Wow what a beautiful life. Why did he commit suicide?Why is she on drugs? Why can’t they have a successful relationship?” Surely if YOU were given “their” opportunity, success, life you’d do it another way. Consider this “they” probably had the very same thought at one time.

If you have a favorite food  as I do, you may be able to use it as your road to understanding, and if need be change. Think about that favorite food, think of having more than enough of it placed before you, think of how you love and desire it, think of the first taste and then diving face first into it without the care or concern of someone watching you. How long could you continue eating it; is your answer until I got full or until I got sick? Then ask yourself would you actually push it to either of those limits. Think about long term repercussions; sometimes when you have too much of something it ruins it for you, you may never want it again, but then how sad is that because  you will recall you used to feel quite a bit different about that same food. On the other hand if you don’t become sickened by this same dish and you continue to go on you will lose appreciation for it. Any way you go, overdoing/ overindulging meets with a similar fate and disaster is generally a part of it.

Therefore appreciate and respect that which you have. Take the perks, rewards, luxuries in stride and spread them out over time. You may not get to them all but surely you will have time to sample them, and that may be enough. For life truly holds NO guarantees, exception being all will end.

“The Butler” A Review and Beyond

A couple of days ago, I saw The Butler. No matter how much one thinks they know about history, there will inevitably be something that rises to the surface to let you know you haven’t scratched it.

At first I did not pay close attention to the demographic of the people in the theater. However there was a delay due to technical difficulty, which gave me an opportunity to actually look around and see who was there.  My friend and I went to an mid-morning show; it was very balanced by gender and race, the age range was (in my opinion) across the board 50-somethings and you can imagine why.

Based on the life-story of Eugene Allen; the movie had all the intensity and impact of that which is genuine. It grabs you within the first five minutes and jars your soul, then it slowly brings you back with astounding and amazing experiences. You will be oblivious to the fact, this is not a real person. End credits and research afterwards brought this back into my recollection.

I tried to think as I watched the story unfold; overcome with emotion I abandoned any hope of connecting facts and information, the objective now was for me to allow myself to simply feel. How must one feel to be opinion-less in an environment of the opinionated, colorblind in a sea of color coded reality, silent and invisible all the while wanting to scream.

The movie began when the character Cecil was a child, the era when my own father was a child; my heart ached as I came to terms with what was probably my father’s reality during that period in America. I tried to escape my emotions as I watched the Presidents, I was aware of, and the events that were taking place during their terms in office. Civil Rights Movement, Assassinations, Vietnam War, Impeachment and “Reganomics”. I reflected on how these historic events touched my life and affected me. I could not fathom what it would have been like, right there at the pulse of these very same events and be stifled. Life does not allow spectators, you HAVE to be an active participant and there are no exceptions. The film did a great job of depicting the turmoil and challenges of an individual placed in a position that went against numerous natural and human reactions.

I wondered what went on in the hearts and minds of an overall unjust people, in the presence of the people their group actively oppressed and harmed. I questioned if they had any idea about what risks they took, entrusting their very lives and lives of their loved ones, with people who had nothing but  overwhelming reason to want to destroy their very being.  I thought,” what a sad, sick society we live(d) in.” Then I related to the “two faces” one must display(and generally does) in the presence of the group in power.

I wondered what the audience in the theater with me thought of the film. All of my friends and family who have seen “The Butler“heralded it wonderful, in short. It is a box office smash, therefore it can be deemed a success. The movie made a tremendous mark upon me and I only hope it has the same effect on all who see it. If that happens it then can be said, “mission accomplished”.

Casualties

When you think of a casualty what is the first thing that comes to mind? This writer connects it to war and loss. Well there are many types of wars and even more types of loss.

As we age our relationships and connections change, they evolve at an astounding rate. Perhaps we notice the changes more so because of what we are preoccupied with, CHANGE. I was reviewing photos and articles surrounding the March on Washington and came across  something that “blew my mind”.  There is so much amazing and rich history surrounding that event that one should not be surprised at what they see, but fifty years ago I was not quite 4 years old. Alive but not aware of the world outside the protective walls of my home and the arms of my parents.

There in the midst of my scrolling through pages I came across a shot of James Baldwin, he was flanked by what was considered “Hollywood Royalty” . I sighed and wished that people cared about one another again. I wished that we could look outside our own personal needs. Then I symbolically shook myself; I had to go back to that photo when I realized who I saw in that same photo and I had to confirm it. There he was James Baldwin small, in stature only, with Marlon Brando on one side and Charleton Heston on the other.  Gun toting, “they can pry it from my cold dead hand” , NRA poster boy, Charleton Heston! Now I grew up with Charleton Heston attached to the image of Moses; surely you cannot play a good man, a man of God like Charleton Heston did, and not be “good”.  However in adult life I saw another side of Mr. Heston, and I didn’t like it or HIM anymore. After learning of his politics and affiliations with the NRA and his stance on guns, as much as I LOVED ” The Ten Commandment” I could never quite view the film the same.

I asked myself what happened to the man who was pictured attending and participating in an event that screamed to the United States of America and alerted world JUSTICE, EQUALITY, and FREEDOM must be for all or none truly possess it. The first thing that came to mind was he got old, a casualty of age. He was not unique for if we are fortunate enough to continue living, age will take prisoners of us all from one aspect or another. Yet we eliminate or overlook the positive aspect of aging, we look on and fear loss of the familiar.

You see it all around; in politics it is especially clear, we put these people in office because they “SAY” they understand us and know what we want and need. Adamantly insisting “THEY” will deliver. “THEY” lie, practically(I am being generous here) all of “THEM”. Once they have secured their position they go about and pursue their own agenda and at the top of that list is to make sure “THEY” have all “THEY”want need and desire… and we look on with shock and anger.

I wanted to be amazed by Charleton Heston, but then I realized I actually knew about him and the March on Washington. I had chosen to have selective amnesia, I could pull it off because I am becoming a part of the group I refer to as “older”. There it was my built in excuse.  My conscious would not allow me to overlook the fact things that I exuberantly sought out in my 20’s have now somehow lessened on my priority list in my 50’s.

Today I want to challenge you to think beyond yourself; think of your children and grandchildren, remember being younger having hopes and dreams. Think of what or who came into your young life and tried to bash the gifts of your youth for no apparent reason. Gather those thoughts and look at them closely; recall (and admit to it) thinking “old bastard” and know now someone sees that in you when you get ugly especially.  On the flip side to the younger folks who read this, if you are fortunate, your day is coming; the next gray haired individual you cut off in traffic, chose to use offensive language in the presence of with NO regard, the very image/representation of your parent or grandparent today, WILL be you tomorrow. Keep having hopes and dreams of something beyond YOU. Resist becoming a casualty.

“All-Out” Pregnancy

It’s not spring but it feels like a good time for this “Autumn Baby” to talk about having babies. While our group has long passed the age of reproducing or as only nature says and defines(i.e. menopause); we are still being affected by child birth and babies, mostly as grandparents. Two of my friends are expecting new grand-babies within a few months; one a seasoned veteran, the other a novice, but  the excitement, anticipation, shopping, party planning is evidence we are enjoying this role.

She walked into Kaiser’s pharmacy,  in between what appeared to be six to eight months “along”. She wore the morphed version of platform styled shoes with stiletto heels, figure hugging leggings, hair perfectly coiffed (weave and all), her top was well coordinated and showed off ever curve and bulge of her pregnancy. I tried not to stare, I am not certain I was successful. My initial reaction was reduced to internet lingo “SMH”, but my mind would not allow me to stop there.  As I studied this young woman and wondered was I feeling this disapproval because I am beyond the child bearing years and jealous(because my hormones make me crazy), am I out-of-touch, am I old and judgmental,  or was this mother-to-be just inappropriately dressed. I concluded that many of the prior cited thoughts, could very well be applicable.

I was researching my thoughts when I came across an article in The New Yorker from two years ago titled “Parents Of A Certain Age”. It was a remarkable piece, I was enlightened and amazed by it. Covering everything from the bliss of being first time parents at the half-century mark with financial stability, to the the possibilities of having a debilitating stroke during or right after giving birth. I kept going; now I was on a mission, looking up fashions and cultural aspect of pregnancy. Why was  this grandmother so intrigued and involved with this natural phenomenon? Be certain I was not trying to join the ranks of the older mothers from the New Yorker article.

I was seeking understanding. I wanted to know why this  redefining of pregnancy  was happening. Fashion was only one aspect of it, although it was taking a very interesting turn.  Now I am a mother, so I have been pregnant. I went though my childbearing years with Demi Moore”gracing” the cover of a magazine nude. Fashion’s cutting edge suggestions for the 1980’s was to use your husband’s dress shirts and a opened front vest, in opposed to a frilly, childish, or matronly top. We ever wore over-sized tee shirts designed to drape over the “baby bump“. Maternity fashions have historically been expensive and down right ugly; it is easy to see why women would look for alternatives, but pregnant women should look carefully.

Now you see painted bellies, outfits that accentuate(like that is needed) the bellies, and yes bare bellies many with protruding belly buttons. Celebrities are known for being out there, but we everyday people are supposed to know better. Seriously anyone, these days, three years old and above knows what that protruding abdomen means. Are young women so obsessed and pressured about their looks that they still need validation in pregnancy.  Whose attention are you trying to get?

When I read an excerpt from a fashion article  encouraging women to display their “baby bumps in form fitting materials is so sexy”, I thought I would scream(and vomit). Now we are turning the bellies into a fetish? Great, objectify a woman in a state that should ONLY be appealing to HER mate. Wait a minute this woman is not only unavailable she is not alone (i.e. with child???)! Please understand I am not saying pregnancy is sickening, embarrassing, or something to hide; I am saying modesty, health, and safety are things women in the condition should consider. You are having a baby, not prepping for a bikini photo shoot. Tight clothing can slow the digestive process causing heartburn, those beautiful high heels and your expanding out of balance body may have a propensity to stumbles, trips, and falls(which could be devastating in “flats” let alone 3 and 1/2 inch stiletto heels).

Expectant mothers are beautiful, glowing and full of new life. Realize your pregnancy is a personal experience, unique to YOU and your partner. As we weren’t audience to the beginnings of this impending blessed event, we should not be “knee deep” in this aspect of the event either. Therefore beautiful, proud, elated “mothers-to-be” take one more look in the mirror before you step outside; realize that precious cargo you carry within you, will be exposed to the world soon enough.

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