31 March 2008

"I am not my hair"

Lyrics: "I am not my hair, I am not this skin, I am not your expectations, no..." - India.Arie

My brother Kevin first hipped me to this song a few years ago. I heard it one time and immediately downloaded the tune (and the video) to my iPod! If you ever listen to the lyrics of the song, I'm telling you, India.Arie lived in my skin. We have the same "hair history". (hahaha)

Five years ago in November, 2002, I began the journey of locking my hair. And let me tell you, calling it a "journey" is not a joke. Let's start at the beginning - I was a bald-headed baby...and I mean, BALD! No fuzzy down, no cute single curl, call me "cue ball" and keep moving. In fact, there is a family myth/story that has been passed down through the generations about my mother calling my grandparents to say, "I finally got a bow in her hair!", only for them to drive from Connecticut to Illinois to discover that my mother had TAPED THE BOW TO MY SCALP!!! In her defense, she said she was tired of explaining that the "cute little boy" in the buggy was a girl.

Fast forward to age 6/7/8 - my mother reveled in the fact that I had hair down my back and she could put it up in Shirley Temple curls or three ponytails (women: you remember, two in the front, one in the back) or any myriad of hairstyles she could think of - but, I was tender headed and with all the thick hair I was "blessed" with, it was always an ordeal to get my hair "fried, dyed and laid to the side"....remember that blue Afro Sheen grease that our mommas would use to "straighten" our hair? I still cringe at the sizzle at the back of my neck and my momma saying (after she burned me), "well, if you hadn't flinched, you wouldn't have gotten burned!" Man, I tell you child services could have had a field day back in the late 60s and early 70s with Black mommas...and their daughters' hair.

Age 12: For whatever reason, my mother decided to stop fighting with me and my hair and gave me "control" of my hair. So what did I do? CUT IT OFF! (Of course, damage from relaxers may have helped with my quest, but my love of shorter hair was born.) You mean, I can still look cute and not have all the hassles of dealing with hair? Oh, the freedom! And so began a cycle that lasted until my mid-30s of growing it out (usually for some man who said "I really love long hair on women") to cutting it off (usually when I got mad at that same man!). Until one evening, I had an appointment at the hairdresser. Now, at this time, my hair was pretty short and I wore a texturizer in it - so, we are talking 30 mins top to shampoo, "relax" and style my hair....yet, it took over 3 hours! And this was with an appointment! To make matters worse, I live in "HotLanta" and it was humid and rainy...3 hours later, $80 bucks poorer and an hour ride home and my hair had reverted back to its natural state. I was so angry, I went to the barber shop the next day and cut it all off! For three years, I had a standing appointment at Tony's Barber Shop in downtown Atlanta - every Thursday morning at 8:00a, he'd shape up my "fade" and I would head to work.

Somewhere in the midst of this, I embraced the idea that I wanted to "lock" my hair. However, I'd just started a job at a new law firm - one where I was definitely among the minority, if you get my drift. I decided that in order not to "rock the boat", I need to wait a minute before coming into the office with such a drastically different hairstyle. So, for two years, I bid my time until November 2002, when I started the journey of locs. (Sidebar: And I firmly call them "locs", not dreads, not dreadlocks - just locs. Personal preference) I was AMAZED at people's reactions - from my mother who would not say ANYTHING unless someone else denouncing them said something and then she would chime in. (Although, that all turned around when they started getting longer and once again, I could pull off all kinds of different hairstyles and hairdos and once again, her daughter had "hair on her head".); to friends and acquaintances from the islands who wanted to declare to me the history of locking and why I needed to "cut that mess" out of my head right now; to the random stranger in the bank who told me "you should never cover your locs so that you can embrace the sun and the spirits and..."; and my favorite, my good friend at church (he knows who he is) who every Sabbath threatens to cut my hair in the lobby of our church because I am unwittingly being a bad example to the young people in our church...WHATEVER! It's just hair, people! - and, "I am not my hair..." (hahaha)

All that to say, aren't you glad that God looks at our hearts and not our "outward appearance"? (1 Samuel 16:7) Yes, we should always be nice and neat and modest in our appearance, but the most important thing to Him (and should be to us) is our hearts...and how we treat one another. Just something to think about...

Be blessed!

30 March 2008

Gossip v. Communication

I have a confession: I love being the facilitator of information...I love "being in the know" and passing on the news - whether it is information on a new restaurant I discovered, or a place I visited on my many vacations to locales exotic and new, or a movie/DVD I watched, or a new artist (whether musical or theatrical), or...well, you get the picture. I am signed up for (it seems like) hundreds of email blasts so I can always know what is going on where and when and how...and that usually is a good thing. My friends and co-workers and family often call upon me when they are trying to plan social events around town or making plans to travel to a new location. But there is a downside, I have found as well...

At what point does "sharing information" become gossip? When do you cross the line between the two? This is a question that I have been confronted with more than once this year. Sometimes I have shared information that I thought needed to be shared (for example, I was requesting prayers for a certain situation - and I was "reprimanded" for putting someone's "business" out without their permission...go figure!); or, at a recent gathering of friends, I was called out for the number of emails I sent out relaying information about a variety of things. Amazingly, those same people who chastised me in one instance have reached out to me in other situations to "pass the word along..." So, again, the question becomes when is it "gossip" and when is it "communication"? I don't know.

However, the Bible gives this admonition in Proverbs 16:28: "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends...", so I'm thinking - like with many spiritual things - it all comes down to motive. Since this is something that I have been struggling with since the start of the year, I have been very aware when my conversations, emails, writings have been "malicious" and when they have not been. It is funny - when you ask God to show you something about your character, you better be prepared to deal with whatever He shows you!

I am still going to be a facilitator of information - it is one of my talents. But I am also going to be very aware of what my underlying motives are whenever I am called upon for information.

Be blessed!

28 March 2008

Memorials and Tributes

Yesterday, I attended a retirement gathering for a co-worker of mine. As her attorneys and fellow secretaries lauded her for her achievements during her 21 year tenure at our firm, I wondered, "What will people say about me when I leave...or when I die?" I think we all go through this whenever we attend such events: retirement parties, funerals, or any other event where you are honoring a person. I know I often have this question whenever I go to a funeral and hear people praise the person who is now asleep in the Lord. I mean, no one ever gets up front and says, "(insert name here) was horrible...always mean, never smiled and I, for one, am glad that he / she is no longer here." No one ever says that!

But lately, I have been to a few events where people have talked about someone and I sat there thinking, "Wow! I really wish I had gotten to know that person before they died (or retired or whatever the event was...)" Or in the case of my friend and classmate, John Walker, who passed suddenly last October, I sat at his memorial service and thought, "Wow, I wish I had spent more time with him when I had the chance because I missed out on so many things." (like his cooking and hospitality).

So, where do I go from here? I think the only way that you can have people say nice things about you when you're gone is to do nice things while you are alive. And, I am blessed in that I get validation from people frequently about how something I did or said or wrote impacted their lives in a positive way (and praise God for that!). But I am sure that there are also people out there who could stand up and testify that I was not always the nicest person they've ever met either. And that makes me sad. I want the footprint that I leave in people's lives and souls to be a positive one.

It is my goal to shift the balance so that the majority of people will say positive things about me when I am "gone" from their lives...what about you?

Be blessed!

27 March 2008

Why I chose this name for my blog...

A few years ago, I started referring to myself as "God's Favorite Child". My family knows this. My co-workers know this. My church members know this. EVERYONE knows this. It all came about from a random conversation I had with a friend as we were driving back from lunch one day. We were talking about the goodness of God and how He blesses us with wonderful, marvelous things - in spite of ourselves. And I made the comment that His blessings were always specific to me and how I wished I had a t-shirt that said "I am my Heavenly Father's Favorite Child". That November, for my birthday, she presented me with my T-shirt - personalized with my name on the front! I took it and RAN with it!

Now, I know you are probably sitting there thinking, "Ok, she's crazy, because I am His favorite." You can think that, but do you have the T-shirt to prove it? Probably not. (hahaha)

But the wonderful thing about the God I know, love and strive to serve: we ALL are His favorites...He made us each individually for a specific, precise reason. And He blesses us in the specific ways that we need to be blessed. It is my desire that this blog will be a way for me to bring glory to Him - even as I vent about things that impact, affect, and trip me up.

And I'll try not to brag too much when He shows up and shows out for me (which He does often) because after all,...I am His favorite!

Be blessed!