Finding Perspective In the Midst of Chaos.

I’m trying to regain that positive perspective. I’m trying to get myself back to the place where I am driven and motivated by a purpose. Honestly,  I am trying to get back to that placeof just functioning, being productive, without being distracted with the constant negativity. the easiest way I know to do that is to start a gratitude list.

  • I am TRULY GRATEFUL that my reality is not that of my predecessors. 
  • I’m grateful I don’t have to fear being raped, murdered or lynched for some imaginable offense.  That I can own a home, eat where I want, love and marry who I want, get an education even though I had no ability to pay for one.
  • I’m grateful that if a person of any color, race, religion, or gender works hard and smart they can achieve the American dream.  They can reach heights like running for and be elected to the highest office of our country. That they can like Maya Angelou, Ben Carson, The Obamas, and so many others that aren’t in the spotlight use their voices to effect change.
  •   I’m grateful that I can plan a vacation (mostly) where I want without signs like “WHITES ONLY”, that I have never experienced segregation. I’m grateful that a child who shares my black blood can be in honors classes, and not automatically assumed to be special needs. 
  • I’m thankful that those who would do me harm based solely on my skin color are very very few and that they are the ones that are looked at as the FREAKS. 
  • I’m thankful that I can buy and read any books I choose to expand my mind and teach me about the experiences of others, and that am not relegated to a section of hardly useable garbage that was considered appropriate only for “coloreds” back in the day. 
a colored school, one room classroom, where they kids where given castoffs of white children . There is an excellent description in the book Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor.
  • I’m thankful for choices and opportunities that ARE available regardless of who is in office.  I’m grateful there are programs to acquire student and small business  loans, internships, and interest based education. 
  •       I’m thankful that I can go to a theater and not have to sit in the balcony (although I love theater balconies). That I can shop where I want and mostly not be followed. 
  • Mostly, I am thankful that it is better! While society is not perfect, There has been SO MUCH PROGRESS MADE and I’m more grateful than I could possibly express to have had an opportunity to have lived so many years that way. I have enjoyed my freedoms because of the choices I made. 

That last paragraph is written in past tense because I don’t really feel those freedoms right know. I feel the pressure as many do of being labeled. That’s something I’ve worked so hard to get ahead of, I have had to EARN dignity, and while perhaps thats not fair, it is hard won and something to be proud of. SOMETHING THAT MAKES ME STRONG.

It is quite frankly PAINFUL  that something that  MARTIN LUTHER KING and his constituents begged for fought and died for is being pushed aside.

MLK advocated for non-violence not because he was weak, but because he understood that being “morally above reproach” made a clear line between the oppressed and oppressor. There was pride in that. That pride is something that many people of color “black folks” carry with them, a sense of overcoming and when you  lump  together with people who have not overcome but instead made poor and especially criminal choices that most good people of any race  (if they are honest) shun, you negate all our hard work!

You negate those who have climbed from the ghettos to become teachers, police officers, ministers, lawyers and CEO’s. You negate those who still struggle but  do menial jobs when selling drugs would be more lucrative. You the negate parents who teach their children (girls and boys) to be respectful to authority. Not scream hate in the faces of their teachers, their neighbors, the elderly. The parents who instill in their children principals that prioritize education,  who stand with honor their children become the first or fifth generation to go to college. And you turn us all into people to be pitied. When you do this you negate all of our accomplishments. 

MLK Famously dreamed that his children (and I believe he would have meant ALL people) would  be seen FOR THE CONTENT OF THEIR CHARACTER, but we as a society  aren’t really doing that right now.  In fact arguably we are doing the exact  opposite. We seem more divided at this point, , than I can personally remember.  This idea that you are standing up for your minority brothers and sisters, is in actuality shining a huge light on how much YOU still in fact see us as different. 

Warning Hard Truths Ahead:

I have many (in fact most of my) extremely liberal friends. I truly love and appreciate you for many reasons that don’t include politics. But I’m going to blunt here, and I hope I never have to talk about race again. (because it is really awkward)  In the current efforts to prove how racist you aren’t, many of you are proving the opposite.   My sincere hope is that you will see this in the spirit is intended to educate rather than offend. 

The truth is, You are a bit racist if you have ever said to me or someone else, “im doing this for you” if you’ve ever expressed concern for my or another person of colors well being or mental health for not supporting  a black president, or if you were so “excited to vote for the first Black president (Who was actually bi-racial) YOU are the one who was consumed with race. Also if you think a person of poor character, a criminal a thief a drug dealer etc. should be excused for any offense just because they are black…yup you are a bit racist. You have lower expectations for people based on skin color. 

This past few weeks have shown us, just how many people are still consumed by skin color. If you feel in your soul that you have work to do than do it, it’s like what various religious texts teach about prayer say:  go into a secret place, don’t be a hypocrite.  I know…Harsh. But it’s no more harsh than the crazy amount of people confessing their “privledge” when i just want to watch nextflix. Yes white people as a race have had it easier, arguable every race has had it easier than blacks, who are in my cultures considere thave premortally committed some great sin in order to be so cursed. But that is your work to do it. Its gross.  and i’d rather not take part. 

This current movement is not the same as the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s.

My  grandparents, never asked for free rent, or a lifetime supply of welfare. They asked for doors to be open. They aked for opportunities to prove themselves. There was a time when very smart people of color could not reach their full potential. There was a time when honor and dignity got you nowhere if you were a black person.  There was a time when opportunities, even to educate themselves were denied to black people. There was a time when men and women didn’t dare speak their truth in fear of very real repercussions. 

I use my voice in honor of those people. Though we are in a time when it is dangerous to go against the current narrative when business and people are threatened for having a different view, at least we are in a country and a time where we are allowed to SPEAK. I can’t help but wonder if current events and even people would be squashed were we not to live here? 

For all of the cries in the name of “PROGRESS” I feel like identity politics puts us in reverse.  You have your rights to believe whatever you want, but in pushing this division these groups seperated by a myriad of criteia, you are widening a gap that my forefathers worked so hard to bridge.  There is no way to argue that we have made massive progress, that many people who were given ridiculous challenges in life have been able to overcome, that there are systems in place that go unused, many of them already meeting the demands we are currently insisting be created.  

I think that there is a need and a benefit to returning to a place of gratitude. I doubt many of us could have withstood the trials of our fathers. 

That is not to say that we can’t improve. Its not to say that lives can’t be made better or even that racism doesn’t exist. If you want to not be racist, I applaud that whole heartedly! If you feel you have some deepseated mistrust or hatred of a particular people based on….well anything.. and want to improve that, than please do!  If you feel in your soul that you have work to do than do it. It’s like what various religious texts teach about prayer say:  go into a secret place, don’t be a hypocrite!  I know…Harsh! But is it any more harsh than the crazy amount of white people confessing their “privledge” when I just want to watch nextflix?! Yes white people as a race have had it easier, arguable every race has had it easier than blacks, who are in my cultures considered thave premortally committed some great sin in order to be so cursed but that is your work to do it. Its gross.  And I’d rather not take part!

I have received many messages from people on my facebook page apologizing for things they have never done. Asking me to explain racism I’m not an expert and only speaking from my own experiencen but from my own laymans perspective, if you question if you worry that you are, you probably aren’t! For those of you i know personally,  In my experience you are just lovely genuine people who care about others and are doing the best you can, If You have never treated me poorly for looking different, (and no I don’t believe that thoughts count, because it’s actions that have the effect, and if I’m honest, I believe we all have our “isms”.) If you have trusted me to bring some joy to your children in my very chaotic and creative way, and never thought anything except She’s chaotic and creative, you are probably not racist. If you look at situations even ones that are ugly and unpleasant and complicated And care about the details and truth, instead of dividing it up by COLOR. You are probably not racist. 

I’m glad and so very very grateful that there are more of you in the world than not! 

I think this time maybe we should all be rooting for eachother!

C

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7 STEPS TO START IMPROVING YOUR LIFE TODAY.

Taking steps to improve your life can be difficult even during good times.

We as humans are prone to being complacent. We are often not really ok with where we are at but lack motivation to achieve more.When you are starting at rock bottom moving forward (and upwards) can seem insurmountable!

For as  long as I can remember I have wanted to live life better. It’s not that I’m some sort of social climber! I never wanted to be rich or famous. What I wanted was to leave the labels and stereotypes of being a foster kid behind. I was going to live my adult  life on my own terms. However, as soon as I Aged Out of foster care, I realized I was alone. I was scared, but thankfully not homeless because my college financial aid package. Despite my anxiety I was also excited. Having moved to a new town to start college,no  one knew me. It was a FRESH START and an opportunity to create the life I wanted. Here’s a list of the actions I took. All of these actions are still viable and effective for anyone wanting a fresh start today:

1.       Create a vision

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 As a 19 year old college freshman I saw the world of opportunities and out of all of my options I knew I knew I wanted to be both an actress, and a wife and mother. I knew loved theater down to my bones and through theatre I would live passionately. I also wanted a family that included a good marriage to a man who would love me as I never had never been loved before.

When you create a vision you have to think about everything you want in life. Your Endgame has to be always in sight. I do this literally with a vision board. But list journals and digital options can also be useful.

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2.       You need a plan

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“If you fail to plan, You are planning to fail”

-Benjamin Franklin

Think of your plan as GOOGLE MAPS. It’s a straight forward (mostly) accurate step by step guide to getting you where you need to be. But sometimes google isn’t up to date and misses things like detours or recently construction and you find yourself needing to take a detour — which may take you longer, or cause you to change plans. 

You MUST Develop Grit:

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Here is where you need resilience.  In her book, Grit, Dr Angela Lee Duckwork talks about how “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals,” In our journey grit is the ability to keep moving forward no matter what obstacles are placed in your way. Not an easy task but made doable by ….

Developing a Growth Mindset:

That in its most simple terms, is not letting things getting you down. Its adding “yet” to the negative things we tell ourselves. Example “I’m not  good at math” becomes “I’m not as good at math as I’d like to be, yet” In Carol Dweck’s book XX, and her subsequence Ted Talk (give date). She explains that the brain is a muscle and that it can grow and expand to increase intelligence. Dweck challenges the stereotype that “some people are smart and some are not.” We can expand our cognitive abilities! It’s kind of surprising to me that we didn’t figure this out sooner, considering some great minds like Albert Einstein and Mozart were once thought to be developmentally delayed. 

Education:

There are many ways to be educated that don’t include a formal degree. And if you were a foster child after the age of 13 there may even be options for university degrees. I am an “Autodidact ”. That’s a big word to say that I am self- taught. I continually homeschool myself in whatever I want or need to learn. There is a plethora FREE educational resources online (some even offer degrees). Even YouTube (when you can trust the speaker) can be extremely useful. If you do better in a class setting, many charities offer free classes.  I’ve taken some computer classes at my local Goodwill.

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Possibly the most important trait you must develop is character.

Now it goes without saying that many Important people are lacking this. But as a person RISING, You must develop DIGNITY. And that comes through having strong personal character. We have no parents or family name to vouch for us. When people give us a chance they often see it as taking a RISK, We must turn that risk into a reward. That means we must be honest in our dealings, whether that is with money or HOW we work. But beyond just honesty, we must be gracious, we must  be pleasant, and we must be likable. We must take the brick of anger that often often rides on our shoulders, that sense of unfairness–whether perceived or true– and turn that brick into a stepping stone. Use that stepping stone to lift you to where you want to be. 

This is a brief overview of the essential skills you NEED to have to start to improve your life today.

Over the next few months we’ll dig deeper into each of these topics in my blogs, podcasts, youtube channel. Subscribe so you won’t miss a thing!

Until next time, 

Keep Rising!

Carob