A Letter to Coretta (vol. 1)

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I woke up with a lot on my mind. Typically, when I wake up, I direct my thoughts to God and we begin our morning conversation. Today’s morning came with a twist. My mind drifted towards Coretta Scott King. 

See I was originally supposed to be named Demetrius by my mother Sherry. She sent my Father, Willie to handle the birth certificate details. Daddy used his first and last naming privileges to name me completely after Coretta-except my middle name is passed on from my mom. Of course, being from Georgia, everywhere I travel-I am frequently asked if I’m related to Martin. I reply, “sure, that’s my Uncle.” I am not related by blood/dna but I do believe Coretta and Martin to be kin in the spirit of the Lord. 

With that being said. The grief and heaviness on my heart warranted a letter to Coretta. Coretta Scott King has been gone from us for a while now, but it’s hard to believe. Yet, her legacy for equity is still rich with me and is the foundation in which I strive daily to bestow with the current generation at hand. But, if Auntie Coretta were near-here’s what I’d like to tell her.

Auntie Retta (this is what my niece and nephew reference me as), times are tough on this side. The list of Black children and young adults-shot dead in the streets is rising. Hearts are low and people are hanging on by threads. The law says no more 3/5ths human, but the newspaper and media reports advise otherwise. 

No more are Blacks water hosed, shackled, and lynched. Still shot, looked over, and oppressed. Epitheths of Black Power receive hateful rebuttals of white supremacy. All either side needs is an open mind and a conversation. A conversation in which, opposites do not have to agree but honor and respect. Opposites that need to see each other as human and not a generalization of a few bad instances. Opposites that have forgotten how to extend the same grace and mercy we all need to get by on this side of eternity. 

Auntie Retta there’s so much complacency. Every day that I put a toe on the ground is another that I reach for forgivness of :

  • The officers in Georgia that have racially profiled me.
  • The caucasian friend at 5 years old that called me n***** in Ft. Stewart in front of his mother and mine.
  • The half cocked-caucasian women that gawk and have assumed since I was 12 years old that all of my 3 sisters in tow were mine (I have no children).
  • The bold and ignorant caucasians that walk up and bestow me as a credit to my race to which I respectfully decline and correct.

But yet I leave vengeance to the Lord. I do not hold those instances against millions of individuals. Yet, the same cannot be said in return for the treatment of my race. I know there are millions of all races that turn the other cheek Auntie Retta as I have done time and time again. Yet, there are millions that do not and they spew the fiery hate that divides our country and kills our children and young adults in the street with no justice or due cause. 

Auntie Retta there is still hope. Just yesterday, a blogger wrote about her ‘privilege as a white mother.’ When I read her post, I knew that there was hope. I knew that there are people who are not willing to be spectators. This is a time to be human, vocal, and open. Her letter spoke volumes and is the much needed conversation that can help us stop the repeat work of ferguson, chicago, and more. Auntie Retta simply put, Blacks and African Americans want the power of respect. 

When you respect someone, you assume the best. When you respect someone, you operate in love. When you respect someone, you can slow down and hear what they have to say. When you respect someone, you see their humanity. You never lose sight of the fact that everyone deserves to be regarded as human. 

Follow the Light that Shines

One of my mission truths for the year is to become congruent with the woman I long to be. Simply put, living a life of congruence. Sometimes incongruence sneaks up on us especially when we are not ready for the truth to step into the light. Case and point. This past weekend, I had a moment in which I was supposed to meet up with a friend while visiting in South Atlanta. The friend I was visiting hopped aboard the journey at the last minute. My vibe kept changing that night and indecisiveness set in. I went from plan a to z three times. Understandably, I probably frustrated everyone involved but communication is key. 

The person I was supposed to connect with never showed or followed back up. I shrugged it off because the person has a habit of being flaky when convenient. Let’s back up to what I just said. If that’s my perspective then why would I bother with plans? Living without congruence. I had another run in later that night with someone I esteemed. This person has a habit of talk sideways without thinking. Let’s back it up. If it’s a habit then what were my expectations? Why am I entertaining this?

See I’m not writing these examples to throw shade. I’m writing these examples because they show I do not live in congruence. See I have others that are in my life that probably have not known me as long but they show me light. They provide consistent light. Yet, I gravitate to what’s familiar but not what I truly want. That means two things are at play. 

1) I’m not consistent in what I show others either. I cannot gravitate to substandard if I’m not putting substandard out as well. I can’t put my finger on it and it will be a journey to behold—but i’ve allowed people to remain in my life for long periods out of titles when there are people who don’t have titles in my life but supply the love, support, and consistency conducive for me to have healthy relationships.

2) I have to live out my priorities. If I long for healthy relationships, then I must open my eyes to behold where the illumination is coming from. A friend of mine name Chantal always talks about people’s spirits and being positive. I have come to realize in the past ten years that sometimes we give the small people who our associates, colleagues, or marginals in our life our spare time/energy. Meanwhile, we devote and drool over the relationships in our life that we have given ‘prize’ status but don’t always yield the healthiness or light we need or deserve. 

Overall, I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m not always a good judge of character or light. But, I’m also realizing I have met some incredible people who focus on the positive, who are empowering, who have spontaneity, who love living, and who deserve a bigger spot in my life. For the rest of 2014, I’m going to try to get better at absorbing the light from where it flows versus chasing the familiar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MDLCbjbJdA

When a Caged Bird Sings

caged bird retta

I absolutely adore this necklace. My youngest sister, Ashley selected this accessory some time ago late Spring when I was looking for an interview wardrobe. The timing is so dear to me with the passing of our beloved, Angelou. I decided today that this was just the right ornamentation for me as my spirit soared in a new direction that allowed my inner spirit to find its own song of freedom this morning.

I am currently in between transitions so to speak. I in the past month, stepped down from a position that I adored to find rest, rejuvenation, and much needed time with my family in Georgia. I like to think of myself as a go-getter and one of the things I’ve grown to detest is stopping. However, aging over the years has brought a wealth of wisdom. Some of that wisdom inspires me to take my own pulse and detect when I’m engaging in ‘busybodyness’-avoiding self or when I am committed to multiple needs. 

Just the other day, I was on the track walking with a friend and I had to stop. Boy, this was an act of bravery for me because I never stop. I believe in finishing my race and sticking things out no matter what. I’m not a quitter and I believe that I am always afforded the grace and sufficiency by my Lord to finish what’s laid out before me. Funny thing. I was able to take in the sun and  the beauty of the park when I decided to stretch my legs some more. That moment was so angelic to me as the grass had a little bit of dew left and the breeze refreshed all the walkers/joggers nearby. See, I would have missed that moment-had I forged on in pride with hopes of ignoring my body. I actually felt quite accomplished. I began chatting with the Lord and felt obligated to do a better job putting my health’s needs first instead of forcing something to be.

That brings me to some powerful words bestowed upon me from a mentor early this summer. My beloved Tisha told me about a colleague that offered he would never make himself ‘obligated’ to something he didn’t need or believe. This particular colleague had taken a course or two and then stopped matriculating at a college. He only needed those few classes and refused to labor with a degree that was unnecessary for his path. 

Remarkable I thought. I have committed to much and given favors out of obligation only to sacrifice my truth. Just last night, I had to be reminded of such a thing. See when you can begin to stand back and re-evaluate what you do and the truth behind it-you gain a new song. I believe when a bird finds a new song, it can also find a new path or direction to seek. Last night, I stalked the streets of Atlanta not realizing I was chasing the high/glory of my younger days. I reveled with a friend about how things used to be and how it used to feel. By the close of the night, I released two dear people to travel in the direction best fit for their songs. In the past, I would have held tight, fought, argued, and entertained nonsense. I simply no longer feel obligated. My truth is “to thine own self be true”. I love those individuals dearly but we’re no longer flying in the same direction. So, I set them free and began singing my new song. I have a new path to explore with a song to provide me direction. It doesn’t make me right or wrong. It makes me obligated to releasing a caged bird, it obligates me to remain free. 

Get Off Base

Get off Base. That simple. All of us have a ‘next step’ to take whether it be short term, intermediary, or long term.  But when we find ourselves stalling for whatever reason (lethargy, fear, anger, resentment, comfort, etc) others are short changed. Think about baseball. If the runs (hits instead of outs) are coming in and someone does not move off the base-the play cannot be finished. You cannot win a game without scoring. 

By now, you are shrugging your shoulders saying Retta-we get it, we know it.

Okay, so let me run a list of things we have not taking our next steps on:

  1. Becoming active
  2. Making time for others
  3. Apologizing
  4. Mending a broken relationship
  5. Letting go of toxic partners, friends, jobs, or relatives
  6. That vacation spot you talk up all the time
  7. The hobby you envy others for doing
  8. Counseling (self or group/family/couples)
  9. Volunteering
  10. Mentoring
  11. Home repairs
  12. Investing
  13. Saving
  14. Cleaning up (you fill in the blank)
  15. Speaking up for self

Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list but it covers enough items that we put off or delay.

Look over this list or yet-get bold and create your own list.

Now, write down the REAL reason you have not done it. I mean small steps. What would it look like to start. What mentally, emotionally, and physically stops you from starting, maintaining, or completing any task or step you have not made thus far. When you get honest (ie don’t lie to yourself) about what is really holding you back-you can begin to reclaim your mojo. I am currently working on this especially when it comes to relationships. I’m learning how to address without blame. Find my words without shame. It’s tough. It’s easy to pout, throw tantrums, point fingers, and run away from the pain. It’s tough apologizing even when you’re right. It’s hard to swallow commentary for the sake of getting to the root of an issue. But it’s also rewarding reconciling or finding peace with letting go if there’s nothing left you can do-once you have found the cohounas to get off base and take your next steps.

I leave it to you all to dig deep this week. Find an accountability person/partner. List 1 or 2 things you really want to see through-and get off the base.

Living life out loud on purpose

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