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Operation Not Forgotten: Saving Our Children

On August 27, U.S. Marshals director, Donald Washington, held a press conference that told the brief story of what he and his team had been working on; a mission to save and rescue missing and endangered children. When the news broke, we learned that “Operation Not Forgotten” recovered 39 missing and endangered children across metro-Atlanta. Children were recovered from Gwinnett, Forsyth, Clayton, and Fulton counties, just to name a few. There were 9 suspects arrested with charges ranging from parental kidnapping and custodial interference to sex trafficking and weapons violations, according to a Washington Post report. The age ranges of the children rescued varied with the oldest being 17 and the youngest being as young as 3 years old.

According to Crime News, the FBI reported in the US, there are 765,000 children that go missing every year. That is 1 child every 40 seconds. Questions arise every time that news of sex trafficking and pedophilia make headlines. The most important of these questions always becomes, how do we keep our children safe? I’ve been thinking long and hard on this question and the truth is, there is no one answer that will put an end to this issue.

On a day to day basis, we are hassled with news of a rising race war and the newest tweet storm from 45 (Donald Trump), but why is it so often that mainstream media passes over the safety of our children. We’ve witnessed on multiple occasions the way that news and media outlets seem to sweep aside the growing numbers of kidnapping and sex trafficking in our nations. “Roughly 300 young girls in the Atlanta area are lured into trafficking every month,” the words of U.S. Marshals director Donald Washington. It’s not like people are unaware of these horrific numbers, but it does often seem like they don’t much care.

In the first day after we learned of Operation Not Forgotten, I watched a twitter storm of people angry that it didn’t make national headlines. I asked people that live in the metro-Atlanta area if they heard the news segment on the bust; even some of the people that watch the news everyday said that they missed the story. In the press conference, Washington wanted a clear message to be sent to the victims, “we will never stop looking for you,” but too often, it seems that the general public is left out of these efforts unless the victim has some sort of elitism. Are we to blame for our own ignorance? Are we just not interested enough in efforts to find and save our children? Or is there a hand in media that reverts our attention to the same few topics that keep us divided?

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Starting Over… Again

Well, it’s definitely been a while since I’ve been on here. I’ve been trying to make modifications to the site and keep up with life outside of my laptop screen. In these months, I’ve embarked on some new adventures and epiphanies and just learning overall. I’ve invested more into myself and turning this from a blog to a business. There are a few key points that I’ve come across that I want to share though; things that I think everyone needs to hear at one point or another.

First things first, keep your priorities together. Things in my life are ordered: God, self, family, others. My faith is so important to me. I have suffered from my fair share of downs and lows, as is the way life works. I’ve allowed myself to be consumed in things that tested my faith and faithfulness. Being able to turn back to my relationship with God has saved me everyday. I’ve also learned that I can’t keep putting everyone ahead of myself. It’s okay to be selfless without putting yourself last. Keeping healthy relationships with the people in my life has also been critical to keeping peace with myself. I heard wise words once that said, “whether by blood or water, God puts certain people in your life to get you where you need to be.”

My next big point is don’t be consumed by your “plans”. I’m not at all saying that you shouldn’t have plans for your life, but I am saying that sometimes your “plans” constrain you and don’t allow you to reach your full potential. Be open to new things, sticks in the road, the longer way around sometimes. I planned a whole skew of things for my life. If I was on track with my original plan, I’d be on my way to med school, miserable! Being able to reevaluate your plans and make sure that they align and grow with you is so important. I’m happy where I am right now in life. I may not have the degree that I originally planned for, but I live on my own, I have a good job, I have a growing spiritual relationship, and I’m living my life. This is the part of my life where I’m smelling the roses; don’t forget to give your plans a chance to smell the roses.

Finally, and probably the most important thing I’ve come to terms with recently is it’s okay to start over. I used to think that starting over was a sign of failure and a sign that I was “behind”. The truth is actually the contrary. Starting over is supposed to happen; the key is to just start better. Every thing in life is a chance to learn and grow; start over with a new mindset, a new piece of information, a more elevated point of view, and watch how you get different results. Make sure that you apply what you learned the last time and be willing to keep starting over. Be wiling to learn a new trade, a new skill, a new opinion on things even. This is the third time I’ve started over on this blog alone and every time I’ve grown more in my knowledge, skill, and resilience. Be proud of starting over, own your mistakes and apply the lessons. Be intentional, be open, be faithful, and believe in yourself and your ability to succeed in due time.

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Getting Back Into the Swing

This past few months have been for the books. I took a break from writing as I was settling into new routines and new endeavors. One would think that all this newness would’ve inspired me to write more, but I’ve had the worst case of writer’s block. There has been so much going on, in both the world and my life, that the empath in me has just been absorbing it all. I’ve been trying to separate what is mine and what is the world’s so much recently. Current events and politics have definitely had a huge impact on my mental state, as I expect that it has on many people. Things recently have just been so draining. I’ve learned so much in these months though. I decided that now, at the start of a new month, would be a great time to share all these things that have shown face to me.

First, and I believe the most important lesson for me has been to observe and not absorb. My last post was written at the peak of an emotional outburst for not just myself, but my fellow black community. In the days prior to that post and the days that followed, we were flooded with information about crimes of injustice and brutality committed against our people. The news and major media outlets were constantly twisting the stories and mostly publicizing the wrong things about the movement that had found new wind. The first 10 or so days of protest were being constantly labeled as riots and as the military got involved, things continuously escalated. We witnessed war crimes against our citizens by our own government. Although things haven’t stopped or even slowed down in the slightest, it’s been important to stay informed without allowing the news to become a weight on my shoulders.

The next lesson has been to find new outlets and activities. As we are only in the beginning stages of wave two of the coronavirus, it is definitely imperative to come to terms with this new way of life. Things don’t seem to be going back to the ways of the world pre-pandemic, so it’s time to find new permanent ways of doing things. Pre-pandemic, one of my favorite things to do was go sit alone at the bar. I also used to love going shopping and out with my friends. Since the start of this chaos, I’ve had to improvise as I’m sure we all have. I’ve found more joy in cooking and spending time with my family now that we all have so much free time. I’ve also started investing in a new reading library with a compilation of things from self-help books to fiction and non-fiction and even some sci-fi here and there.

We’ve all had to make major adjustments but this was honestly the pause on life that I needed. I go back to work in a few days and I’m actually looking forward to it. I have found that my need for a successful daily routine sits somewhere in the fact that I need the discipline that comes with things as simple as getting up to go to work on time everyday. Until I have the workload and discipline to do that on my own with my writing, I believe I need the schedule and consistency of my regular day job to get me more involved in my writing. I need the constant change of scenery (outside of my own home) to keep my mind fresh and my writing original.

I have made the most of this time in my life and that’s the final lesson that I’ve taken; make the most of every minute you get. I have come to understand that every minute doesn’t have to be productive to be full. There should be moments of rest and moments of luxury and moments of emotion along with moments of productivity. This “work til you die” thing is absurd. Being able to take a step back and indulge in things that aren’t work/money related is so critical to keeping a healthy balance in life. Immerse yourself in things that make your heart happy, things that please all of your senses and be content with knowing that the activities that bring you pleasure don’t have to be things that bring pleasure to everyone else. Live your life, enjoy it; we all got the same final destination, but how full will you make your journey?

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On My Platform, Black Lives Matter

It has been such a hectic life for my fellow black people. Everyday it’s something else, there’s always more of the foolery for us. We fight these stereotypes and stigmas so hard. Literally from the day we are born we are a threat. We can’t ever just be a beautiful black baby in peace; can never be a beautiful black family, a beautiful black individual. Why does it have to be so hard? Why does our road always have to be so traumatic, filled with so much ugly?

I grew up in what started out as an upper middle class suburb. I went to private school in my primary years, and even though I was surrounded by white people, the only friends I really had were the black kids. I remember so distinctly how we used to get bullied by the other kids. I remember little kids telling me how ugly my skin was, how my hair must have been fake or permed when my mom finally straightened it. I remember watching loving white children slowly be taught racism as they changed their views on how I was once so beautiful and then suddenly an ugly monkey.

I get so frustrated these days. How is it that everything that these people love and fetish the most is black art and black culture and then they hate the black people that make it? Why are my cornrows and my bamboo earrings and my lips full of lip gloss and my long nails ghetto?? But let Karen and Suzie do it and it’s fashion; it’s innovative, it’s creative. I get so tired of watching my people be a muse for everything beautiful and lifelike and also be a punching bag and a shadow for target practice.

I’m tired of being black and harassed. I’m tired of being black and “a threat.” I’m tired of being black and less than human. I’m not tired of being black though, I want to be black; black and every beautiful thing that blackness encompasses. I’m tired of having a weary heart and a defensive mannerism about myself from fear. I’m tired of watching my people literally having their necks stepped on to keep us down! I can’t say RIP enough for every one of my people that has been faulted by the Injustice System of these United States.

I wrote this to use my platform to speak up, to say that I won’t take it anymore; to say that we won’t take it anymore! We deserve better than what this country is offering. We are the kings and queens and inventors and scientists and dreamers and believers of this world and we always will be. We asked for 2020 vision this year, and this is the year that we not only see clearly, but we react. It is time to react. It is time to protest, to speak up and to speak out. It is time to do more than complain; it’s time to make demands and watch them be given unto us.

So RIP to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin and Philano Castile and Alton Sterling and Lonnie Flemming and Sandra Bland and every other person that has lost their lives for being black people. I am a sister and a daughter and an auntie and a friend and a lover and a mourner of my black people; and I am sick for them, I am scared for them, I am praying for them, I am praying for us; because this is the start of a war for my black people and I will stand with them, I will stand for them, and I will speak on behalf of the people that I love.

I am not sad today, I am not upset, I am not an angry black woman today. Today I am disgusted, I am infuriated, I am PISSED THE HELL OFF; and I am a black woman too. Today, tomorrow and forever our lives matter, Black Lives Matter!

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Kicking Off the Summer

This is the weekend that marks the beginning of the summer and most of us are still doing the same thing… quarantining. Every year, we all look forward to the summer months; the food, the festivities, the weather, the fun. This year however, we don’t have as much free access to all of our favorite things. Still battling corona, we are very much faced with how to make the most of this summer while staying safe. I’ve come up with a few ideas.

One thing I notice every time I go to Walmart is that all of the art suppliers are usually gone; shelves that people used to walk past without a glance are completely empty. It’s like everybody has picked up on the fun of painting and other art. That’s not an entirely bad thing though. Everyone obviously loves a good paint and sip. So this summer, try to go to a park, bring your art supplies and your friends, and engage in a good time. It’s a great way to get some fresh air and see some fresh faces and still have fun enjoying this season.

Another thing that is gaining some popularity again is the drive in movies. You can bring your own food, sit in your own car, and still get theater like experiences. One thing that I did growing up was getting to the movie before the sun went down. Not only is it a good way to get a decent spot, but it’s also a chance to socialize with other patrons or friends, eat your food, or even play outdoor games like catch and hopscotch. This is a great summer to get back in touch with our inner children.

Speaking of inner children, this may be a good time to get to know your neighbors. Everybody is at home and it’s usually easier to be festive when your neighbors aren’t complaining. Now is a great time to get creative and do activities that are inclusive of those closest to you. For example, if you stay in a house, it may be a great idea to get all the neighbors on your block together for an outdoor block party; it gives space to social distance and a chance for everyone to be involved. If you live in an apartment or townhouse, you may be able to get a neighborhood function together; maybe one person with a projector and one person with a screen, or use the wall of the buildings and set up a drive in right outside your building.

There are plenty of things to do and stay safe. My favorites include picnics, nature walks/trails followed by food, and movies. This summer will be a memorable one regardless of what we do with it, why not fill it with intimate memories other than just the ones that’ll go down in history due to this pandemic. We’re living through times that are unprecedented for us, but that doesn’t mean that we have to let the virus take control of our lives and experiences. Let’s make summer 2020 exactly what we expected it to be: AMAZING!

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Are You Still Making Your Bed?

We’ve made it all the way to the middle of the first month of the rest of our lives. May was a month for refocusing, realigning, and rededicating ourselves to our lives and our goals. Me personally, I can say I have been slacking in certain areas. Some days I get so consumed with writing that I forget to work out, or I just don’t have the energy for it. This past week, I’ve been so caught up on the new projects that I’ve started, I’ve been neglecting my blog. I still have a lot to work on, but the motivation is still there.

It’s so easy to get distracted or brought down right now. The life we’re currently living is unprecedented and living through history can definitely be overwhelming for us. Things in the world seem to be getting worse before they get better. We’ve been looking down a dark hole for our country. Watching revolving issues reach pinnacle points, even this month on its own has unraveled a mass of upheaval.

The death of multiple innocent black citizens has caused more uproar across the nation, the unfair treatment towards hostile white while they protest the coronavirus regulations, and the states opening back up as cases are still at an influx has definitely been a whirlwind for the month of May. The thing is though, planning for the rest of your own life requires you to be able to stay knowledgeable of the things going on in the world and still keep up with the things you need to do to better your life.

I know quite a few people that gave me reviews on the post “May Starts a New Day”. Most people did say that they took word to my advice about baby steps and had originally committed to making their beds everyday. I do have to say that even though I’ve been lacking on other things, I am still making my bed. I use that as the way to start my day, to remind myself to be productive and keep good energy. Making my bed used to be a thing that I really didn’t care much about. Back when I had no real responsibilities and when I had no plan and no big picture, it was easy to get up and leave my bed unmade. Now that I have a bigger picture to look at though, I can’t go a whole day without making my bed. Even if I sit in my bed all day to do my work, it still has to be made up when I first wake up in the morning.

That’s the thing about taking steps though, you may not know exactly how you’re going to reach your endgame, but if you can make a habit out of something simple, then you can train and discipline yourself to be prepared when the bigger things start coming along. So yes, there have been many distractions to arise this month. Yes, life happens and doesn’t stop happening just because we finally decide to try to take the reigns. Yes, there are days that don’t go as we wish, but the point is to keep managing the things we have control over. I’m writing almost everyday; I’m working out as I remember to make time for it; I wash my dishes without letting them pile too high in the sink; I fold my clothes as soon as I take them out the dryer.

I’m still working on things; I’m still trying to become consistent in everything. One thing is for sure though, everyday I get up, I’m still making my bed. Are you?

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May Starts a New Day

Here we are on the second day of May 2020. With everything going on in the world, it’s so easy to forget the things that come with beginnings. I love beginnings, even the ones that aren’t so great. The thing is though, even if you start off rough, you still get a chance to see it out to the end.

May is the start of new things for me. I’m working on new business, getting in shape, reading and meditating more often, and keeping a calendar starting this month. There was something I remember reading a while ago that said it takes 30 days to form a habit. So this month, I am committing to forming new habits.

With the help of my support system, I have an amazing friend that has got me on a workout plan. Another friend that has agreed to help me learn how to draw properly so that I can indulge in more art (which I found a great love for last month). I have someone helping me organize and time manage everything I have planned. I even have a mentor helping me find what route to take so I can get my book published.

I’m genuinely so excited about starting new things, and picking up old things that never got finished. The month of May is really the start of the rest of my life. That’s how I’ve titled this month. Between my previous post, “Ever Been in a Rut”, and this one, I’ve really dedicated myself to taking baby steps and being proud of my little accomplishments. I’ve started making my bed everyday, I wash the dishes every night before I go to sleep, and I go outside either for a walk or run at least once everyday as the weather permits. If you know me, you know that all these little things are HUGE for me.

I’ve really made it a point to allow myself to be proud of such little acts. It really is a great way to push through my days. Just being able to walk in my room and my bed is made and there’s no dishes in my kitchen sink, really big for me. I think this is a great way to build confidence in my other endeavors. Just being content with getting out of my bed on my hard days is truly rewarding for me as my confidence has always lacked in my ability to perform in the areas I wish to excel. I always feel so far behind the curve, but this new routine I’ve gotten into has definitely gotten me on a great track.

I have plans, not just for May, but far beyond it. This is the start to something new, May 2 is day 2 of the rest of my life. What will you do with this fresh start?

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Ever Been in a Rut?

I would legitimately hate to be a person that doesn’t have the kind of friends I have in my life. In the event that your friends are the absolute best variety of people, I can just tell you about mine.

I’ve been in a rut. Starting things that I’m not finishing, losing interest in everything, waking up in the middle of the night and sleeping until the middle of the day, I just haven’t been the most productive person lately. The thing is though, this is just kind of how my condition works for me. Sometimes I’m really inspired and on top of my game. I can be productive and come up with piece after piece after piece for a while; a couple days usually, but one time I made it through a full month. I was happy that month; life was kicking my ass, but love kept me happy.

The issue is my bad days though. Everybody has them, but nobody ever really talks about them. My bad days come and sweep me off my feet. They’re days that get so bad that I don’t want to get out of the bed, I don’t want to talk and I don’t want to be bothered. Some days, I call out of work, there are days that I don’t get out of the bed and I forget to eat because I don’t have an appetite. When I have bad days, they’re not just bad, they are horrible. Horrible days make for horrible work ethic and horribly produced work.

The thing is though, runts don’t last. I have a support system that doesn’t know everything going on, but they’re always there. They love me and push me and worry about me even when I forget to do it myself. I have a support system, and I try not to reach out too often, but they’re there. I’ve learned that other people don’t have that. I couldn’t imagine not having that.

I have a friend that I can call for motivation and someone I can call for crazy and someone I can call when I just need to laugh; but I have a variety of people. I do understand that I don’t necessarily have a very large audience right now, but I know I can’t be the only person that has these tendencies the way that I have them. I know I’m not the only person that needs some external motivation when things get bad. So for anyone that may need it, here it is.

Everyday that you wake up, take baby steps. You have a dream, it may be as small as a dream to just get through that day, but whatever the dream is, take small steps. I have a dream that HUGE, I don’t know how to get to it, I just see myself there. So when I wake up in the morning, I brush my teeth, I let my dog out, I try to remember to make my bed everyday. I take each one of those things as a win, as a step forward. I’m so excited when I remember to eat more than once everyday. Before the end of the day, it’s been a success if I could muster up the will to wash the dishes. That’s how I get through the bad days, and the good. That is my advice. It’s advice that we all know and that we’ve all heard, but some of us need to hear it more often and from different sources.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you get through your days? Start by making your bed. And surround yourself by people that can remind you of these things when you don’t have the strength to remind yourself.

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I Need to Find a Niche

I’m in a tough space lately. I talked to a friend and really decided it’s time for me to get it together. I’ve started reading blogs and looking for books that I can read for self-development. I’ve found a lot of really great advice on the internet and I’m waiting on my books to come in. One thing that has been consistent though is the fact that every site and every article has mentioned needing a niche, needing a thing that I am passionate writing about.

The thing is, I just like to write. I like to write about everything. If someone gives me something to write about, I can write. I just really enjoy writing, so how do I decide on a single niche? I am passionate about talking points, things like politics and movies and other people’s writings. I really enjoy doing interviews and learning different perspectives, but I just don’t know how to choose a niche from those things.

I thought about trying to channel just one thing, but I just love everything! I literally can’t think of anything that I don’t like to read/write about. There are certain areas I am more critical of, things like sci-fi and biographies and even black film, but I’m always so open to finding the good stuff in the bad. 

 Maybe I should try to focus on reviews. In this quarantine, I’ve been watching a lot of television and I plan to indulge in quite a few books very soon. Maybe that’ll be my niche, reviews. Not necessarily in the light of being a “critic”, but more in, “this is what it was for me”.

I think that’s what I’m going to try to do. i’m just going to test out a bunch of different niches and see which one really resonates with me. The whole time though, I’ll keep up with writing reviews of everything that I get into and how I like each different thing. I’m going to start with Netflix though, just because I have it on and I’ve been having it on a lot. So I’ll be getting started soon, and I’ll keep updating.  

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It’s Been a While

I made this page over a year ago. I had every intention to keep up with it, but it always seems like my actions and intentions don’t add up. I intend to do the right thing, say the right thing, act the right way, and it seems like all the time I am faced with this issue of how to make sure the receiving end of my intentions gets the right message. I am right in the middle of a phone-less retreat. Mostly it’s just me, sitting in my house for 3 days with nothing except Netflix and writing.

I’m working on things, mental things. I’ve been dealing with things that have just been really stressing me out; stressed to the point that I’ve legitimately made myself sick of it. I’m currently not working because of corona, I’ve been out for a little less than a month. I’m trying to take this time to just channel my focus. I started painting, but the only writing I’ve been able to do has been the daily letters I send my girlfriend. Those have been pretty pathetic though; just been a lot of daily recaps and “I miss you.” There’s been a lot of space between me and everyone lately due to this corona and my current mental health state. I haven’t much wanted to be bothered or be a bother.

This is my re-commitment though. Even is this just becomes more of a journal than a blog at first. I do want to eventually get back to my plan. I still haven’t published that first book, I haven’t even gotten very far on the second one. I started a third that’s specifically dedicated to my girlfriend. It’s a compilation of everything I write to or about her; minus the letters that we’ve been sending lately. Truthfully, I’m behind on that one too; I started it and put it down like I do to everything.

That’s what I’ve really been working on lately; finishing the things I start. I have unfinished letters, unfinished poems, unfinished books, unfinished shows, unfinished business everywhere I turn. Everything I touch starts and doesn’t end. I’ve just been so tired. I always end up so tired. I get inspired and I get started and then I get uninterested and I get tired and I don’t want to do anything for a really long time. It’s like that for me; I want to for a while and then, for an even longer time than I originally wanted to, I just don’t want to anymore. I don’t want to anything, and so everything I do becomes things that I do out of choice. I start to do things, not because I really want to or because I have to, just because I know that if I was in a better mood, I would normally do it.

I try to stay in good spirits. I try to stay sane, but sometimes I just need a break. This is me taking a break. I just disappear, I pick up all my things, I turn off my phone, and I just disappear. Most people don’t even notice, they don’t even miss me, so it’s a pretty easy thing to just disappear. So that’s what I’m doing, I’m currently invisible, and I don’t think anyone has noticed.