CHANGE

It has been said that the only constant in life is change. And boy have we all experienced it in the last 2 years. I remember praying for the return of normalcy, only to be presented with new challenges. It is truly inevitable.

I think part of our tendency to avoid or fight change is the feeling that we are losing control. It might be overly philosophical to question if we ever truly had control in the first place, especially when we see daily evidence that seemingly supports the notion that we do have control. Take for instance your decision to get out of bed, brush your teeth, and go to work every day. While some might agree that there could be a higher power that woke you up in the first place, you did have to make a decision at will to commence your day. It is not as if there are magnets underground dragging you to your intended destination each day. Or are there?

I would like to believe that we do control a good portion of our lives by what we say and how we think. A few years ago, I made a (daily) commitment to write down my goals for the year every day in a notebook. As the year progressed I found myself actually checking off items from that list. By the end of the year, all of those goals had been achieved. Writing it down and seeing it every day changed something in my psyche and in the world around me. It was as if everything in the universe was working towards propelling me towards that goal.

I am sure we have all encountered individuals or groups that did the exact opposite. You may have told them your goals or expressed a certain vision that they could not see or appreciate. Rather than encouraging you or helping you find resources to make those goals a reality, they researched all the ways your plans would fail and made sure to expedite their doubts and negative energy to you as often as they could. This world is full of energy that is constantly looking for balance. How many times were you successful in environments like that? Places where you felt you were stupid for dreaming? Places where “reality” was shoved down your throat in the name of “being honest” or “support”?

If you are in the aforementioned situation, I urge you to leave IMMEDIATELY. This world is already too grim to have the flames of your dreams extinguished by those who do not share the same winner’s mentality. You have to surround yourself with people who get it. People who understand that just because you do not have it now, does not mean that you never will or are not supposed to.

This concept reminds me of the times that I would try to get a job in retail as a teenager. Every job I went to wanted me to have prior experience in the same field. But I had never worked a day in my life-where was I supposed to start if they all wanted a pro at the cash register or doing store inventory?

The same applies to your dreams. Obviously they have not come true for you (yet), but those without vision will explain to you that since you are not experienced in having this dream become reality, that you should stop dreaming. Or if they simply cannot imagine this dream coming true, they will dissuade you from pursuing it. Do you want to know why it is called YOUR dream or YOUR vision? Because it is YOURS to understand and YOURS to fulfill.

So to close, I will leave you with a playful anecdote about the little engine that could (SPOILER ALERT). A small engine train was sent on a mission to pull another, larger train that had broken down over a mountain. Now I am sure that the bystanders were looking at the train like “Are you serious? You think a train as small as you can accomplish this daunting task? We had better get a bigger train in here to fulfill this mission.” Sorry to spoil the ending to this children’s story for you if you have never heard it, but the little engine train accomplished the task. And do you want to know what the driving force (no pun intended) was for this train? The little train repeated the phrase “I think I can” over and over again until she made it to the other side.

I THINK, THEREFORE I AM.

Remember the power of positive thinking, positive affirmations, and a positive environment to nourish your desires. I promise you, the formula is that simple! All it takes is will power.

Music

Me trying out a Fender Stratocaster at Guitar Center.

I woke up with Coldplay’s “In My Place” stuck in my head. Next I played “Dreams” by The Cranberries. Can I tell you how much music has saved the day? It fills a sonic void. Literally. More importantly, it always finds a way to enter the soul and mend the pieces that don’t make sense. Then it moves to the tongue and becomes a language of unification that transcends age, gender, cultural backgrounds.

I love the way that music just IS. It has been super therapeutic; these past few months, especially. 
I don’t know what it is, but 2020 has given me the audacity to dream harder. Not only do I dream harder, but I also go more fervently after what I want. I am re-claiming my destiny with a force that I can feel growing each day. A flame of resolve to get it done. A mindset that is a cranked-up version of my prior spontaneity. 


And I am grateful that God blessed me with a love of music. Where would I be without it? I remember one day during clinicals, a classmate of mine told my attending that I used to sing the national anthem for the school’s white coat ceremony. He then asked if I would like to sing for my colleagues in the break room of the hospital. 


Never one to back down from an opportunity to sing, I put down my clipboard and sang the first verse of Mariah Carey’s “Hero”. It felt odd amidst of the gray walls and beeping medical appliances that are native to the hospital setting. But after singing, I could feel some color creeping out from my mouth and flowing into the room in which we stood. It was HEALING, to say the least.
I miss singing in church and having people tell me that they had been in a rough place but my voice helped them have hope. And while it’s as easy as uploading a video online, it just doesn’t feel the same. The atmosphere, the echo of your voice hitting the walls of a church that was built over a century ago. Playing with volume and singing over sore throats during the winter.

I probably could sing before I could talk. And I went on to do choir, musicals, talent shows. I really miss singing Handel’s “The Messiah” and “O Holy Night” during Christmas concerts at school. Blending my soprano with the altos, tenors and basses. I always love a good harmony, even though I was always required to do melody or descant.


I want to re-capture that essence, so I am making it a point to not only let my voice be heard more, but also to come up with creative ways to do so during these times. I can’t wait to see what results from this! In addition, I picked up the acoustic guitar and thinking of electric all during this pandemic. My mind is on Jimmi Hendrix but my fingers are still catching up 😂 In due time!


I say this to say that if you have a passion that has been shelved, dust it off and rekindle that flame. Don’t worry about timing or having everything you think should be in place. You can’t start until you get started. All it takes is that first step of action. You never know who might need to hear it. Maybe it’s you. 

Something Amazing Out of the Abyss

Rittenhouse Square Park, Philadelphia, PA. Photo taken by Doctor Beauty using iPhone.

It appears we blinked and it was mid-November. Where did the time go? They say time flies when you’re having fun, but 2020 (for many) has been anything but. You know what 2020 primarily did for me (thus far)? It sent me into somewhat of a survival mode. Living below my means in many ways. Being okay with not having the things I previously called necessities, like fresh nails and eyebrows 24/7. It was more of a response to the circumstances at hand than a premeditated choice. The naileries and beauty supplies were closed for months. Everyone would see each other outside, men looking scruffier than usual, women with outgrown acrylic nails. But real recognized real. We each recognized “the struggle” in our eyes, even though we could not see the expressions of each other’s mouths past the mandatory masks. 

I became far more than self-sufficient or resourceful. I became adaptive to a degree unknown to myself. And I reached a point where my creativity became a gateway to what was previously impossible. I opened doors that were once closed and embarked on journey’s I had wanted to start years ago. Imagine me, at 29, thinking it made sense to start playing acoustic guitar? Or submitting my poem to a pediatric medical publication for the first time? I stepped outside of my comfort zone the way a shadow leaves our bodies in the sun. 

But I was not the only one who embraced this new call to self-reinvention. I noticed this attribute in so many, especially in the online community I became a part of during the pandemic. I was so impressed that I decided to give them a platform to voice their life journeys via my new interview series “Testimony Tuesdays”. It’s something I had planned on executing as a podcast years ago. In retrospect, it seems I have used my creativity to make something amazing out of the abyss that was a somewhat murky 2020.

So here I am, pretty much reflecting on a year that is not quite over but just about, typing through the odd sensation of the calluses I have developed over the past few weeks from practicing guitar. The road to 2021 does not appear to be around the corner, over the river and through the woods, or along some winding path. It feels as though it is just down the street but in an updated version of technicolor. And I think that is pretty exciting!

Waves

Star Island, Miami

This past Sunday, I took some much-needed alone time to go on a boat tour of the Miami islands. It was my second time; the first was back in 2017. I love being on the water with just my thoughts, the breeze, and of course the tour guide’s voice occasionally interrupting my train of thought.


I looked out at the mansions and the residents on their jet skis, the abyss extending out for miles, and took note of how carefree they were. Meanwhile I had a million things on my mind! Wondering where I’d be living for the next few years, thinking about my petty anger towards people who had wronged me but wouldn’t give a care in the world if I told them so. And how much I’d love to just RELAX without a care in the world like the people I was observing. That is my ultimate goal. To literally relax without a care in the world. Not worrying about getting up at 4:30 am to get somewhere on time, or so much about the consequences to my actions, just being free.


Of course there has to be a balance, but it’s nice to think about being on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum. And then I remembered something my reverend father said in church at the beginning of Lent. You can sacrifice everything tangible, but if your heart is not pure and light, and free of grudges, it will all be in vain. And I really had to check myself and ask if this was the case. What was I holding onto, out here in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? And why? 


I have gotten better at resetting, and telling myself to let go every now and then. It is not a constant flow of release, but the flow is there nonetheless. It just feels better not holding on to preconceived notions or expectations so tightly, and going with the flow. Just like the waves of the ocean.


What are you holding onto from your past? What elements of your future are you preoccupied with? Whatever it is, just know that you can find a space in this world to release that energy in a constructive way. Volunteer at a center for those in need. Donate items you no longer use that could help the next person. Patronize your friends with small businesses. Or simply take a day to bask in it all. Recognizing these anchors and being honest with yourself is the first step in living a more relaxed and fulfilled life. Sending peace and love out there to all who need it! And don’t forget to love yourself, too. 

You Don’t Always Get What You Want When You Want It

So what do you do when you do not get what you want when you want it? How does it make you feel? Does it make you believe that all your efforts were in vain? That you were not meant to succeed or be happy? Or does it fuel your quest to ensure that next time you get it? That maybe the timing was off and that in due time your goals will become tangible?

I think the first thing most people feel is frustration and disappointment. It is a bit unnatural to just accept in that moment. Accepting that you did not get your way sort of like a grieving process. You go from denying to bargaining, the whole nine yards until finally you accept your reality. But does your current reality represent your fate? The answer to that question separates everyone who endures this circumstance. The optimist is hopeful that this is just a temporary phase in their current reality rather than permanent defeat. The pesimist accepts their fate as permanent and will likely never try again.

Does this ideology work with everything you want? Sometimes we want positions of power. Other times we desire people. When is it time to go against the grain and try to force what appears to be unnatural to work in our favor? For some it has led to success. For others it has led to quite the contrary.

Is life easier when we just accept what comes to us? Just accept what flows? Possibly so (assuming what comes to us is good). But is ease necessarily good? Sometimes it is, sometimes it can be dangerous. Ease does not stimulate growth. We do need the tugging and pulling. The seeds that are planted underground and know darkness from birth might squint in discomfort when their first leaves see the sun. But they know it is good for them. It is necessary for their survival. The rain helps them grow, too, no matter how light or heavy it may be. Perhaps what you need supersedes what you want, and the ultimate goal is to want what you need. What you want might be fleeting. What you need is your power.

Where the Wild Things Are

Today I took a walk at a local park by my apartment complex. I had a lot on my mind, as I always do. Just random thoughts that needed solitude to sort out. This park has a lake with what seems like hundreds of ducks and storks. It gets to be so excessive that I actually have to park at a nearby church and walk over just to avoid being blocked in by the ducks (I learned my lesson after the first visit).

As I passed by the ducks, listening to Craig David’s latest album just because, a weird thought crossed my mind (and please don’t judge)-What do those ducks see when they look at me? What is their perception of space and time? In school we were always taught that the animals in nature acted according to the seasons. They would migrate to the south on the verge of winter. They would store their provisions in anticipation of the coming months of brutal cold. But what really happens in that community of life which we typically pay no mind to? Do they quarrel? Do they have dreams and aspirations of leaving home? Or are their actions just mechanic and synchronized with nature?

So I stopped and took some photos of them, as discretely as I could. And as I walked my path, I felt as though we (myself and the ducks) had some sort of agreement. I would stay out of their way, and they would stay out of mine. And we would exist in our respective microcosms of the world.

After thinking all too profoundly about this matter, I just ended up people-watching. Several children and their parents were present, the former wrapped up in some playground game that adults would not understand, the latter wrapped up in some conversation that children would not understand. And then there was me, just walking, with a purpose undefined, but a purpose nonetheless.