Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Beggar In The Brand New Car

As I was leaving the highway to go home, movement near a shiny black car caught my attention. The gentleman exiting the Forerunner had a cardboard sign in his hand. I said to my husband, "He must be getting ready to put a for sale sign on his car."

My husband said, "Ah uh," shaking his head. Before he could explain, a voice from a car to my right exploded and shot through my windshield and out the other said, at the man with the sign. Then I realized what was happening.

The young woman to my right was very angry. I could not catch the exchange of words between this young African American woman and the "homeless" caucasian man with his need-money-for -food sign that was stepping away from his spit shined brand new black Toyota Forerunner.

We had to cross a small intersection and then we were stopped by another light. The African American woman pulled up next to us. She was on the telephone. I wasn't eaves dropping because she was talking so loudly, that she drowned out my radio and my conversation with my husband. So, we listened to her conversation.

"I am so tired of this sh#^", she shouted into her phone. Here it is I feel guilty because these people are asking for money, for a dollar, and he steps his a@@ out of a brand new car. Every Sunday I see this. It doesn't make any f-ing sense..." She continued. "It is Sunday and I am supposed to be going to church and here I am cussing folks out." By the way, at the first light at which were stopped, she held up traffic, stopped her car and did cuss that man out. I was witness to that so she wasn't lying to the unknown person on the other end of her cell phone connection.

Then she put her friend on hold, by pulling away from the speaker, and looked at my husband and I and said, "Can you believe he is out here begging and he's stepping out of a car that looks way better than mine? That doesn't make any sense."

My husband had said seconds before she spoke to us,"See that's why I don't give people money. I give my money to people directly, who I believe need it."

I looked at her and said, "It is not worth it to get your blood pressure up because of that man. Stop cussin' and go on to church like you said you were going to do." She just smiled and continued her tirade with the other person on the other side of the telephone conversation. The light turned green and we went our separate ways: the beggar, the young woman and my husband and I. The only thing that was stationary was the shiny black Forerunner that stood at attention, like a silent gleaming beacon that wanted to tell the world that it was forced to carry around a beggar in a brand new car.

I thought what that man was doing was foul. But I have no control over him or over any person. When we start saying what people should be doing, those are setting expectations. Having expectations of other people will disappoint you every time.

Sure, you want to give folks the benefit of the doubt, but when you start expecting them to say certain things and act a certain way, then you are projecting what you feel and what you believe onto someone else. In this lady's case, she was setting an expectation, and was angered that this stranger, a stranger, did not meet her expectations. He should have been honest and in real need as opposed to begging when he was driving around in a shiny new ride.

You have no control over other people or what they do. You do have control over yourself. It does no good to you to get angry when someone does not live up to what you expect. Recognize those are YOUR expectations, not theirs. Live your life. Don't waste your precious, priceless time being angered by what someone else is doing, especially if YOU cannot change it.

What you can change is yourself. Who you can set expectations for is YOU. When you know this, you know yourself. Knowing who you are is a wonderful beauty elixer. It stops wrinkles before they start, it stops ulcers before they bleed and it stops strokes before they can strike.

Of course, this is not for sure. The one thing that is for sure is that you and only you can set expectations for yourself, and meet those expectations. Focus on what you can change and what you can support. That would be yourself. When you focus on yourself, and provide the care and nurturing you need, you strengthen yourself to help carry the load of the community. Leverage your effort and your focus where it matters: on that which you can control. When you do, you will certainly see a shift in your world. Bit by bit you can make a difference, and do so beautifully.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Do Not Touch Me: Unless Prior Permission Granted

I have read or maybe have seen written somewhere that Oprah Winfrey said that women are intimidated by two service providers in their lives: their hair stylists and their doctors.

I don't have issues with my hair stylist because I communicate my needs. I let the person know what I want or don't want. I watch the person like a hawk in the mirror and I stop her before it looks like she is about to "do me" permanent damage - like she has the scissors too high up on my hair - for a 'trim' or when she tries to leave a styling implement on my hair, until smoke is emitted from the iron teeth of that mechanical monster called the flat iron or marcel curler. Now doctors...well that's a different and sad story. Well, it used to be...

Have you ever seen a threatened or cornered a raccoon? It is frightening. Raccoons are dangerous when they are cornered. Prior to having an epiphany, I used to act just like one of those things at the doctor's office: vicious.

I couldn't figure out why every single doctor I encountered irked me. Then it hit me.

One day, I had symptoms that seemed to indicate that I had a very serious illness. My family doctor sent me to a specialist that he said, "Every body just loves her." My worst outbreak ever happened with her. I acted UP in there with the doctor that everyone just loved - except me of course!

First, I was scared. I was afraid of what the prognosis might be. She kept saying things like, "Hmmm..hmmm", without saying why she was making that hmm sound.

Then before I realized what was going on, she sprayed some numbing medicine in my nose and shoved a tube into my nostrils and down my throat.

Then she had the nerve to say,"'s okay... I know..," as if she were soothing some naive little child who didn't know what was best for her. It was ON from there. Before she could pull that tube out all the way from my nose, the raccoon in me was UNLEASHED!

I slapped that tube and her hand away from me and swiped my nose with the back of my hand as if I had a furry paw and little claws to match. There was nothing lady like about it. It was a reflex. I later apologized to her. She acted like it wasn't a problem. Later I found out that she notated on my chart that I was aggressive. I found this out when I had her refer me to yet another doctor.

That woman enraged me. I believe that it was fueled by fear; my fear. I also felt humiliated and helpless. But so what, it was irrational and I had to get control. I was ashamed of my behavior. When I was calm, I sat down and meditated on it a bit and that's when I made my discovery.

It was my fault!

I had not asked for what I needed. I hadn't known what I needed. It was a situation not unlike one might experience with a stylist. I realized that I needed two things from my doctor.

  • First, it was imperative that the doctor explain to me what he or she was going to do BEFORE they did it.

  • Second, I wanted to be asked to be touched. Don't just reach out and put your hands on me. I wasn't a mute newborn or a pet at the vet. Ask to touch me.

I wondered if I was being unreasonable. But I learned long ago, it is important to acknowledge how you feel, no matter how illogical it may seem. So I tried it out...with the doctor to whom the "nose tube shover" had referred me.

The doctor looked at me and said, "It says here that you got aggressive with the last doctor." I was taken aback that it had been placed on my PERMANENT records. I explained to the doctor what happened.

Then, with my heart beating, risking that I would look and sound like A. Fool I said what I had to say.

"That woman disrespected me. She shoved something down my nose without telling me she was going to do it. Nor did she ask me if it were alright for her to do it. That is why I shoved her hands away. I just require two things from you. Please ask me for my permission before you touch me, and please explain to me what you are going to do before you do it."

He looked at me and began to explain what he was going to do and why, in great detail. Before he began his examination, he asked me, "Is it alright if I place my hands here and put this tube down your nose?"

What was I going to say, "Naw man, back up off me?!" Of course not. That would be silly for me to go to a doctor and not want them to touch me.

Do you know he did the EXACT same procedure as that woman doctor? I sat just as still as a mummy and did not swing out or get angry. Why? Because I felt that he treated me with dignity and respect. I realized what I needed and asked for what I needed. The visit was wonderful for me.

Know what is important for you. Ask for what you need. Never assume that people know what your boundaries are. Establish those personal boundaries for yourself. Know yourself.

A doctor is a person just like you. A credential does not give them the right to treat you however they want. Just like a stylist, they provide a service TO YOU. It is your responsibility to get what YOU need from that service. Do not be afraid. Speak up. If you value and honor yourself, you will speak up for you! When it comes to your physical body and your health, it is dangerous to rely upon expectations, those being that the doctor will do and say what he or she SHOULD do or say.

To serve you is an honor and privilege. It is not an entitlement or a right of theirs. It is you who are entitled to be treated in a way that you deem is with dignity and respect. Otherwise, like me, it will be your own fault. The raccoon has finally left the building, or the doctor's office, forever I hope.

A woman who knows herself is powerful. A powerful woman is a beautiful woman. Beautify yourselves bit by bit. Ask for what you need. You may not get it, but atleast you asked.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Beautiful but Bitter... There is no such thing!

No matter how flawless your skin, or how perfect your features or how fabulous your body, if there is any trace of bitterness, there is no way that you can ever be truly beautiful. Beauty emanates from within to without. Bitterness is not a visage contorted and distorted by rage that everyone can see. That is so obvious, most of us could work with that. Bitterness is far more insidious, treacherous, deceitful.

Bitterness comes under the guise of many things.

It's the response we have to a loved one who was taken from us, ravaged mercilessly by disease that we could do nothing about but stand and watch.

It's the response we have when we have given our love, and entrusted it to a significant other, to only have that person cheat, or not appreciate us, disrespect us.

It's the response we have when we have worked so hard for that promotion only to be overlooked and have to watch the opportunity pass to someone that you could run circles around.

It's the response we have when we've extended ourselves to help someone, and inconvenienced ourselves, because we knew it was the right thing to do, to only have others not be available or just not care, in our time of need.

Being hurt and sad and having these kinds of feelings well up inside, initially, is natural. We are human, not perfect. But wait, wait, wait!

Yet and still, you are not excused. You are accountable and responsible for what you think and what you do and how you live. It is so hard to get past those hurts and pains sometimes, but you must.

At first, it is comforting to harbor them and hold onto them. We feel justified and safe, cushioned and enveloped by them. Don't stay there too long. What is comforting today, can easily entomb you and suffocate you, tomorrow.

Everyday, try to release those little hurts. The nasty tone or words of a stranger in the street. The tossing of your package by the disgruntled office worker. The seemingly insensitive remark of a loved one.

All of these things, have absolutely nothing to do with you. They really have no bearing upon who you are. You just happened to be that or whom upon which these people and things acted. No more, no less.

It is important to be vigilant and to guard the core of who you are. Never let another's action, or the events of plain ol' L-I-F-E, the real one, not the game, no matter how unjustified it may seem, change who you are on the inside.

"I'm going to get him back. I'm not going to waste my time on folks anymore. No one helped me when I needed it. I'm not giving up my space. I hope she fails, I had to learn the hard way. Nobody gave me anything..."
and on and on it goes - the chorus of Bitterness.

You have no control over the acts of others, but you definitely have control over what you do, what you think and how you feel and live. Don't pass on bitterness like the contagion that it is.

Just like we strengthen our immune systems, so must we strengthen ourselves. Learn to cope with the good and the bad. Better yet, learn to not deem or call something or idenitify it as being either good or bad.

It just is. Accept it as such.

Pull back, make an assessment of the situation, ensure that YOU have what you need and keep moving.You see, you can never be truly beautiful if you are bitter. Bitterness takes up space and vacuums out the glow of your Soul. It leeches away the heart of the very core of your being.

The next time you want to lift that finger and point and say, "It's because of him, or her or because of it," stop and pause and take a real deep breath. Know that it is because of you and what you have decided to do and how you have decided to REACT.

Shed the bitterness, daily, bit by bit. Before you know it or realize it, it has built up. Conceit is not beauty. Haughtiness is not beauty. Arrogance is not beauty. Insensitivity to others and their needs is not beauty. These are some of the many ways that we choose to protect our very tender, vulnerable Souls and selves. But be careful, it is a disguise. They are all components of bitterness, reactions to what has happened or been done to you.

You are bigger than that. Do some dumping every day. Sit down and breath and count your blessings. Instead of cataloguing all the hurts, catalogue all that for which you are grateful.

Never subject yourselves to having your beauty qualified, "She's beautiful, but..." Instead, take the high road whenever and as best as you can. It is never easy. Often, the reward for being who we are and doing so, may escape us at the time that we do it.

Never mind the not -so -nice- person who seems to be succeeding at the expense of others. You never know what goes on behind closed doors, in their home, in their hearts and in their heads. It's not for you to know or worry about anyway.

It is time to step into the full mantle of your glorious beauty. You can't do it with the tentacles of bitterness hanging, dangling onto your coattails, though.

Don't be fooled about what bitterness is or how it should look. Every day it swipes at you, hooking its vicious claws into your tender skin. It will burrow down, just like a tick, if you are not aware. It is easiest to remove when it is just a mere spot on the surface of who you are. But once it burrows, and digs deep and festers, it is so hard to address and completely remove.

I hope that you are over here because you have committed to being beautiful, bit by bit. Release any bitterness that you may be harboring. Start today. Bitterness not only leaves a nasty taste in your mouth, it marks your face far worse than any physical scar ever will. Leave it behind today, for a more beautiful you tomorrow!