It doesn't come along everyday

(Taken from my 365 Day Challenge Post)
22. Support GOOD musicians by purchasing their albums. Bootleg is for busters! You'd want people to buy your work, wouldn't you?

It's easier said than done to find GOOD music. You definitely won't hear it on the radio. Well...every now and again you might, but I haven't found much that I want to spend money on.

However, in my search I came across these Cats who go by the name, MOJOE. Their album, Classic.Ghetto.Soul came out in 2006, but the music doesn't sound dated at all. They mix Soul/Jazz/Hip-Hop into their style. I think you will like them. I provided a sample below and you can also find them on Amazon.

[click "play" (the arrow button) to watch]


Free Your Mind Friday

Friday's are all about freeing yourself of whatever is hindering your spiritual growth. I'm setting the table and my partner, Kim Possible is serving up the meal. So, without further ado, we present to you:

Keep Running – In and out of his life.

RICH said:

Barring my youthful rebellion of anything “un-cool”, I would say the biggest factor in people avoiding, opposing or otherwise denouncing God is that all too often we make decisions about how we are going to serve God based on how others have misrepresented His character and goodness. So my view on the subject is: “Don’t let what other people do affect your relationship with God.”


In and Out of His Life Take One: I can honestly say that I have been on “the run” in my relationship with God before. I grew up in a single parent home. I watched my mother struggle to raise two children by working three jobs at a time. I had to grow up fast. My mother loved us and wanted the absolute best for my brother and me. However, because she worked all the time, we basically had to raise ourselves. She had a “Things to Do” list on the table for us everyday along with a schedule of what we should be doing the moment we woke up until it was time for us to go to bed.

My mother found God when I was in elementary school and she exposed me to prayer because I would walk in on her conversations with God all of the time. She also made sure my brother and I were in church every Sunday. It became a tug-of-war between my grandparents since one went to a Baptist church and the other went to a Methodist. Go figure? So, we had to swap churches each Sunday. Well, this went on for quite some time. Every Sunday after church my grandfather would take my cousins and me for ice cream after we ate dinner. I noticed that every Sunday on the way back to grandma’s house from the ice cream store that we would ride past a motel. I would always see my grandfather’s Pastor get out of the car with another woman as he was walking into the motel. I would look in the rear view mirror at my grandfather from the back seat and my eyes would then follow his Pastor inside the motel. It was almost as if my grandfather would pass that motel every Sunday just to let his Pastor know he saw him. One Sunday, I couldn’t take it anymore. When we got back to grandmother’s house, I asked my grandfather in front of everyone “Grandpa, why is Pastor _________ always going in the motel with another lady and not Mrs. _____________?” The room became silent and my grandfather’s face was frozen. My grandmother blurted out “Go ahead and tell her. Tell her that your Pastor is sleeping with another woman. And while you are at it, tell her that those deacons steal money from the church every Sunday.” So, he sat me down and began to tell me that sometimes people don’t practice what they preach etc. When I got back home to my mother’s house I told her that I no longer wanted to go back to church because Pastor ______________ was a hypocrite and I didn’t like that. She said I didn’t have an option not to go to church.

In and Out of His Life Take Two: So, I did go back to church, I just went to my grandmother’s church. However, that experience put a bad taste in my mouth for church and God. But, I was always spiritually aware even as a little girl. So, my mother started going to a non-denominational church and the Youth Ministry was a little more modern and that was a catch for me. I went to Youth Church and was happy to see that the youth dressed like normal people. I was 16 at the time and I was beginning to “smell” myself. I developed an anger and a hatred for my father and his absence in my life. I blamed my mother for my not having a normal childhood. For some reason I held her responsible for being the odd one out. All of my friends had both parents and I didn’t like the fact that my dad was lame. I began to have sex, go to parties, listen to music (I LOVED MUSIC), and I would have my fair share of wine coolers. My mother would always tell me that I couldn’t serve two gods. Of course, I was like whatever and I told her that my generation was different from her generation.

The Pastors daughter came to my house to spend the weekend and would you believe that “trick” told me that I was not living right because I was listening to secular music. I brushed her off and was like whatever “church girl!” I left her in my room while I was on the phone with my boyfriend and when I came back in my room that chick had taken ALL of my poster’s down. She ripped my Michael Jackson poster down, you know the one where Mike had on a yellow vest and some white pants?

She tore down my Thriller poster,
my MC Lyte,

Doug E. Fresh,

and Public Enemy posters
and she took ALL of my tapes and broke them. I cursed that girl out and kicked her out of my house. I told her I needed her and her holier than thou attitude to hit the road. I was pissed at her and my mother was pissed at me. Whatever!

At this point in my life I hated going to church. Because even though the Youth Ministry kids seemed cool, they were very judgmental and did not come off the side of the tracks I came off. They were exposed to a whole lot more in life than I was. They went to great schools and lived in great neighborhoods. I lived in a good neighborhood too, but if you walked out of my house a couple of blocks down it wasn’t too far from “the hood!” I thought the kids in the youth ministry were straight crazy. They didn’t listen to music, they hadn’t had sex, they hadn’t had any drinks, they made me feel like I was the prodigal daughter with all their “You are going to hell, if you don’t do this or if you don’t do that!” So, they turned me off from God. I became very rebellious and I wanted to start doing things my way. Bump God, bump church, bump those lame, phony kids in youth ministry. So, I just went all out. I experienced a little more than I bargained for. The gentlemen I was dating for almost 3 years pulled a gun on me because I wanted to break up with him. In that moment I saw my entire life flash before my eyes. I knew that I could die because my boyfriend was probably one of the biggest drug dealers in my city at the time. I knew what he was capable of and in that moment I thought I would be part of a statistic. Long story short, God got me out of that situation alive and I became tired of living that way. I would go to parties and feel empty. I would hang out with my friends and drink and not be fulfilled. I would have sex and still be lonely.

I could remember going out to parties and coming back home and I would hear my mother praying for me. Her prayers would sound something like this “God, where ever she is, make her sick to her stomach. Do what ever you have to do to get her attention.” I was like OMG, how could she pray something like that. But, I went in my room and cried my eyes out. I knew that God was expecting more out of me in terms of my devotion to Him. I knew that I couldn’t just live anyway I wanted to. To whom much is given much is required. I prayed and told God “If you are who I just heard my mother praying to, make yourself real to me. I want to know you for myself.” As time progressed He made himself so real to me and I started cultivating a relationship with Him.

As I have matured over the years. I realize that we ALL fall in and out of his life. But he is the one consistent thing in our lives. He is such a gentlemen and he will never force himself on us. In my case I believe he allowed me to almost lose my life to get my attention. I was a hard nut to crack because I did not like phony Christians and I wanted my relationship to be genuine. Either I was going to go all the way in my relationship with him or I wasn’t going to have one with him at all. That was how I saw it. I think that we all have different seasons in our lives. At times we are more in tune with God and what He wants out of us and at other times we push him away and kind of do our own thing. What are the circumstances in your life that keep you going in and out of his life? Are you MIA in your relationship with God? That’s how I see it, how do you see it?


A Real Man

I asked the ladies to tell me what they looked for in a man, because so many guys say they are men, but not all are living up to the challenge. And I was asked to share what I thought being a man represented.

For me, MANHOOD is a challenge, that many males struggle to achieve because the mantle requires a life of selflessness and service to those around you.

Ever since I was a child, I had this idea of what a man was supposed to be. The thing that stuck out most was that a man was supposed to be present (protector) as well as a provider. This was my prevailing attitude for many years in large part because my father, while a part of the family, was not present as much as I liked (he was busy "running the streets") and he was not the provider that I could count on, my mom was. So, in many ways manhood has meant being responsible, it has meant being present for my wife and my kids, it has meant that you take care of your family by any means necessary. For me, there is no excuse for not stepping up, you can't blame "the man", the economy, nothing. I will take a job that most consider "beneath them" if it helps me provide for my family. That attitude, while it may appear great, led me to run after the money for a number of years. It also caused me to wear myself out trying to provide a lifestyle for my family that was foreign to me as a kid.

As I matured, I came into the knowledge that the man is also supposed to be the spiritual head of his house. I admit, I'm good at going to church and being a good guy, but I fall short on consistently reading the word and praying everyday. I just have never developed that type of regimen. I have tried many times over the years, but at best, I was consistent in my attendance at church and bible study. I have instituted Sunday morning family prayer (a practice I learned from my Grandfather) but other than that, I just try my best to live right. Being a good example does have it's challenges, since I do like music that some Christians deem secular, but my life works for me.

Manhood has also meant taking unpopular stances. This has been the hardest for me, at least in the last few years because it is extremely uncomfortable and lonely. Standing for what's right, led me to leave my church after years of attendance because I realized that creating a family legacy meant more to my Pastor than doing what was right in God's sight. As much as I love the man, I have to stand on the side of right and not support the manipulation that is taking place by his hands. Standing for what's right has also put me at odds with friends over the years. I will admit that in a couple of instances I let my anger get the best of me and I dogged some opposing parties out in the process. That wasn't right, and I have apologized and asked for forgiveness, but my original stance has always been based on standing for what is right. Standing for what is right is also problematic because I also struggle to do what's right at times. However, I have found that I can never do wrong, for long. Eventually, usually sooner than later, I will stand on the side of right, even if it means breaking codes and standing alone. So manhood has been about standing for right, even if I have to stand alone or in the face of ridicule, resentment and hatred.

Manhood has meant coming to terms with my feelings, releasing them and sharing them freely with my wife. Allowing myself to be transparent to my wife has been hard. I'm a strong person. I don't like to show weakness. I throw myself into my work whenever I'm going through something, so while that makes me effective at getting things accomplished it makes me horrible at developing intimacy in my relationship. I'm great a good sex, but intimacy is another matter altogether, but I'm working on it. The men around me didn't express themselves in loving manners. I didn't see love expressed openly. I saw sexual expressions of love (tapping on the behind, a hug here and there) but that is about it. I never heard a lot of "I love you's", but my wife is stretching me in that area. It's interesting, I have absolutely no problem smothering my children with affection, but I'm reserved with my wife. Not to the point that we don't have a loving relationship, but I hold back enough to know she wants more of me. So being a man has meant learning to love my woman tenderly while maintaining my strong demeanor for the rest of the world.

Being a man has meant learning to be comfortable with all eyes on me. Sometimes I feel like I can't do a thing without it being placed under a microscope. I have to represent at work, because I'm one of few black men in the IT department. I have to take my place of leadership in the community to stand in the gap for all the men who are MIA. As a mentor to other young men in my life I have to be careful of the image I reflect because I know they are looking for answers. I have to do what's right because I want my kids to see truth in me if in no one else. And most important, I don't want to let ME down, because I have always wanted to be the type of man other people love, respect, and come to hold in high regard. At times the mantle is heavy, but I realize that being a man is an honor. And for those reasons, I shall continue to remove the layers, because being a man requires me to do so.

That, is what being a man means to me.

So you think you're a man

There is no manual on manhood (at least not yet) but most dudes think they have what it takes just because they reach a certain age. Some think that if they can rock a woman between the legs, they are "the man". Some think it's about the money, cars, and flash, but what do you think? You, meaning, the ladies. What is it that you look for in a man. What is about a male child that makes you realize he has come of age and has reached manhood. We know you can spot when a guy is not a man, so tell me ladies, what makes a man, a man, in your opinion? Dig deep, give me the surface, but I want your subterranean features as well.

Oh, and don't give me any of that, "a real man wouldn't have to ask" stuff, because I'm all about evoking thought.


No Axe to Grind

This past weekend, I bypassed the plans I had -- writing -- to do something my wife wanted me to do -- hang drywall, all weekend long [frown]. I guess I am happy that she is happy, so it’s all good. Anyway, while working, I was watching/listening to the first season of “Good Times” on DVD and I realized that in many ways, we are fighting the same societal ills (high fuel prices, low wages, deficiencies in the education system, crooked political system, crooked preachers, etc.). So, that got me to thinking. Instead of my being in this mode of “fight, fight, fight”, I think I want to take a break and just be happy for a while. Be happy for what I have. Be happy for my family, be happy for my health, and be happy for just the sake of being happy. For a moment I’m going to take my eyes off “the man” (just a side note: if you really pay attention you will find that he has no color) and just enjoy life. I’m not saying I’m going to live in denial, I’m just going to live life from a position of gratitude. So, what are you thankful/happy for?



Join me and my special guest hostess, Kim Possible, as we present our very first collaboration

I hope you enjoy what we've cooked up.

Wonder twin powers ACTIVATE.
Form of words.
Shape of a blog.

(click on the link)


Stronger than Pride

Sometimes we look at people and we view their life through unforgiving eyes. We get overconfident and say things like "that could never happen to me". We go to church or read the word or just build up this pride about ourselves like we are untouchable and that we are above some of the people around us. We take confidence in our wealth, our homes, our jobs, our existence and we can get caught up in this whole class outlook on life. But Pride is a dangerous thing. Pride, the word says, comes before a fall. So, I would admonish you to take a close look at yourself and see if you have the proper outlook, an outlook of love. Below, I put together a simple poem on how Pride can play out in a life. It deals with a common theme – sexual relationships – something most people can relate to. I remember thinking that women who got involved with married men were stupid until a woman I respected became the “other” woman. I used to have this perception that men who cheated were just weak until someone I admired admitted to falling to temptation. This awareness made me realize that I was too full of pride and that because of the word, if I wasn’t careful, I was a prime candidate for a fall of my own. Then my thoughts took another direction. What is the proper response for someone who has fallen? When people fall, do we shun them and encourage them to find solace in more dark behavior or do we love them and forgive them drawing them back to the light? Is there someone in your life you need to open your arms to and show some love? As I think about this, I’m reminded of a popular acronym from a few years back -- WWJD. I know what he would do, but what about you?

Stronger than Pride

They fell
I won’t fall
I’m stronger than those cats

Bound in chains
Tricked the same
Check out my new threads
The shackles of shame

Woke up in sin
Bowed the knee
Brush it off
Repent, take three…

Here comes the evil laugh
How could I be so stupid
Will this feeling ever pass

Never trust a fond look and a smile
Those who fall
Stretch further than a mile
So, in your ear, Let me put this bug
In the spirit of Rick James
“Sex is a helluva drug”

No one is strong on his own
That’s the thinking that leads you wrong

Throw it out the window
Lay it to the side
Is it Sade’ or the Savior singing

“I do really, really love you___ Love is Stronger than Pride.”

tuesdays with Morrie

My man C-Mack, who from time to time drops a bit of knowledge in this spot, recommended this book to me a few years back. Well, I was finally led to purchase it and read it and you should too.

My thoughts about tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (author of The Five People You Meet in Heaven - another good book.)

An insightful story about the truly important things in life. A book everyone should read at least TWICE. In it you will find wisdom that can be applied for a lifetime.


Are they any good?

Now that I'm back into my groove of reading again, it's hard for me to imagine that I stopped reading for a number of years -- well not exactly – For nearly a decade I only read “millionaire” books or any other book related to getting paid. Unfortunately, none of it has caused an overflowing of wealth to come upon me, but now that I have the “chase” out of my system, I am happier. I’m doing more of the things that make me happy as opposed to trying to find it external of whom I really am; which brings me to my topic today - reading.

When I picked writing back up, I found I didn’t have a choice but to read other writers. Not because I was lacking ideas or to fulfill any selfish motivations but mainly because reading is a part of the writing creative process. It helps you to see what works and what doesn’t and if you are reading beyond your talent, it gives you something to strive for. So, in the case of writers, reading is fundamental. It seems however, not everyone received that memo. Since my exodus from reading fiction there has been a plethora of writers to come on the scene and I wish I could say that all of them are good, but I can’t. In fact, it seems like someone plastered posters throughout the hood that read “Get Rich Quick, Write a Book.”

Everywhere you look now, people are writing books. The erotica and urban books have just taken on a world of their own. I don’t have a problem with that until I spend my money and realize the person really can’t write. Not that I’m asking them to exhibit the talent of Toni Morrison or anything, but it would be nice to read pages that move beyond the simple. The problem, I find is that some people write, like they talk. I’m not talking about creating a character that has a certain dialect, but what I am talking about is just plain bad sentence structure. Keep in mind, I’m not professing to be the next great literary King, but I do strive to get better each time I take pen to paper. I feel I owe that much to myself as well as the reader. I’ve found that is not the norm. What I’ve found is that writers have sold the craft out in order to make a few dollars and that is sad. One would hope that we as artists have more pride than that.

So, why does this bother me? For several reasons. For one, bad writing further erodes the educational foundation of the reader. Take some of the erotica that is out here – heck, let’s use Zane since she sparked much of what we see today. There are people who actually believe “that” is good writing. I will admit that it’s marketable writing, but it’s far from good. I wish I had some examples to share as to what I mean, but I only stumbled upon her writing because my nephew was reading her. If you were to meet my nephew you would agree that he’s a sweet kid, but eventually you’d realize that he’s not the brightest chap -- but I love him just the same. I’m sure he was reading her for entertainment purposes only. Be that as it may, I wanted to see what all the hype was about. I couldn’t believe the grade level of her writing. I mean my 11 year old reads more complex writing than what she offers her readers, but maybe it just comes with the subject matter. I don't really mean that, I'm just offering her an out. The other reason bad writing bothers me is because we as a people are forever associated with those stories. Twenty years from now, people will look back and find that the popular literature of our community was erotica and hood stories -- poorly written I might add. What a sad state of affairs. But it’s our fault.

We are afraid to tell the truth. We think we’ll hurt a person’s feelings if we are honest. I think we do the person an injustice by not being honest. If you have friends that write tell them the truth. You can find a way to say, hey, “You aren’t ready yet.” Telling them the truth makes them get back in there and work out their deficiencies. I’m not saying they have to be perfect, but no one likes to eat an entire half baked cake. If I wanted dough, I would have licked the bowl. That’s why I like blogging. Bloggers will defer leaving a comment as opposed to lying and telling you your stuff is good. I can appreciate that.

I said all of that as a prelude to the following. Next year I’m going to buy a lot of these self published authors that I’ve run across in blog land and on Shelfari and I’m going to give honest commentary regarding their book. So that it’s not too subjective, I will even use examples to support my comments. My commentary will also be tastefully done, but I will not run from telling the truth, so if I recommend someone it won’t be just some passing recommendation. I'm also going to try and come up with a fair grading system, so that I point out both strengths and weaknesses. Until that time...tell me, what’s your take on today’s writers?


Uphill Battle

On Wednesday, I spoke of a video by Dr. Shelby Steele on his book about Barack Obama. The find the clip, take this link - Barack Book

Feel free to leave comments.

Forty Friday

I turned 40 on Tuesday and as one would suspect I have been reflective most of this year. My wife thinks I went through a mini mid-life crisis since I have been doing all this blogging, book writing and because I was somewhat adamant about getting the brand car I've been wanting for years when I purchased my first Benz back in September. Anyway, this has been a year of learning for me. Blogging has been a blessing and often quite cathartic. So to continue in that vain here is what I've learned over the years, in no particular order. Some of this I learned, just this year. And by the way, if you decide to slide on any of these as "your shoes", be grown enough to wear them. I know the pen is mightier than the sword, but I'm not into spreading hate, I'm too old for that shit (I'm tired of saying -ish).

For the record, it's not midnight yet in the STL (you know who I'm talking to).

1. If you have three close friends, consider yourself lucky, because most folks only say they have your back.

2. Don't just talk about it, be about it. The years roll by really fast.

3. Live with both eyes open. Pretending things are what they aren't only prolongs the pain.

4. Communicate whatever issues you have with your mate. You probably aren't seeing eye to eye because of an un-communicated misunderstanding.

5. A real Man With Balls doesn't hide behind skirts.

6. You should always be man/woman enough to handle issues like adults. (There are a lot of grown ass kids in this world)

7. The blogosphere can sometimes be a virtual high school environment. Don't take this stuff so personal.

8. Be your own man. Stop letting other people make decisions for you.

9. Own it!

10. Success is inconvenient.

11. Just because the comments aren't closed doesn't mean people want your opinion.

12. You can work to do everything right and still be wrong.

13. Spiritual warfare is real. I'm not in a fight against people, just Satan. He uses people because he is a punk, but it's really not about the people as much as it is about me doing the right thing (see #12)

14. Don't be so enamored with someone that you don't see them for who they really are. The signs are always there.

15. You don't get over childhood hurts simply through the process of getting older.

16. Do your due diligence, don't simply accept something because it sounds good.

17. Money can't be chased, it must be attracted.

18. Learn from your mistakes. You won't move forward until you do.

19. Don't be so needy that you accept anyone as a friend (see # 1)

20. Temptation is sent to distract you from that which God has predestined you.

21. You play how you practice.

22. Positive change starts with accepting the truth about why you are where you are.

23. When things go wrong. Look for the lesson.

24. Religious traditions have given Christianity a bad name.

25. Get you some theme music, because life is a movie starring you.

I ain't no ordinary brotha, look around...this ain't what ordinary get ya...

[click "play" (the arrow button) to watch]


Bound Man

I saw the most interesting commentary regarding Barack Obama and wanted to share it, but I couldn't find it on youtube. It was a news interview of Dr. Shelby Steele, author of a book entitled Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win. Nevertheless, I found an equally interesting video of a presentation done by the good doctor. Listen to the entire video clip and share your thoughts. The brother makes some interest points.

[click "play" (the arrow button) to watch]