Out with the Old, In with the New

new-yearWith the New Year right around the corner, we take a moment to reflect on the good and the bad while resolving within ourselves to ensure that next year is better than ever. The year of 2016 proved to be a prosperous one for me personally, but it has been quite grim for many others. I’m reminded of the water crisis in Flint, MI; the Zika scare surrounding the Olympics; the terrorist attacks in European countries like France; the shocking deaths of icons like Prince and Muhammad Ali; the Pulse nightclub massacre; the unnerving (yet unending) documentation of police brutality; the destruction of hurricane Matthew; and so on. I can certainly understand why many are happy to bid 2016 farewell and good riddance. I in no way intend to diminish the real issues people are facing but am sending a lighthearted memo to 2017. Here are a few of the things (in no particular order) that need to be left behind in 2016.

  1. new-year-2Colored contacts. I thought these were a thing of the past until I saw one of my Facebook friends update her profile picture sporting a freakishly unrealistic pair.
  2. Group text messages especially around the holidays. I understand the convenience factor for the sender, but stop it. Receiving one of these is annoying for a couple of reasons: a) it’s impersonal, b) the recipient is left wondering who are all of these people, c) the reply doesn’t go to the sender but to the group. Notification overload.new-year-3
  3. Facebook Live. This new feature isn’t all bad, but it seems that the majority of the people using it shouldn’t be. I really don’t care about your shopping experience at Wal-Mart. Write a review instead.
  4. Bad posts. A social media post can be bad for a lot of reasons but my pet peeve is over sharing. I’m sorry you and Pooky aren’t getting along, but relationship problems don’t need to be broadcast. And the laundry you’re finally doing? No one cares about that either. #TMInew-year-4
  5. Bubble gum music. You know what I’m talking about…the song is catchy and sounds good, but the lyrics are either vulgar, lack substance, or both. Unfortunately, bubble gum music has taken over the airwaves of radio. Is a dope beat with a thoughtful message too much to ask?
  6. Remakes that no one asked for. Independence Day without Will Smith. Why? When Madea tops your numbers, you’re doing something wrong.
  7. new-year-5Deceptive Marketing. This includes not only the transformers ladies who look completely different with makeup but also ridiculous TV commercials. I remember when Pizza Hut came out with their flavored crusts. All of the choices were advertised as “free”. Of course it’s free. Or were you planning on giving me a pizza without crust?
  8. The misuse of GoFundMe accounts. These are not to be used for vacations or your rent money. You’re going to need a better financial plan in 2017 than this.
  9. Work meetings that should have been e-mails. Can I go back to my cubicle so I can look up jobs I might actually want on LinkedIn? #kiddingnotkidding
  10. Chain letters/memes. Please show me where it says in the Bible that I will receive an abundance of blessings in three days if I share your post with ten people?new-year-1

I could add much more to this list, but I’d be writing for several days into 2017. What are your thoughts? What do you not want to see in 2017?

Half Truths

all-thingsFor a long time I felt like a Jack of all trades master of none. Growing up, I participated in a lot of activities. I played the piano and the saxophone, ran track and field, played volleyball, sang in the church choir, and so on. I was good at all of these things but not great: not great enough to become a musician, a professional athlete, or a singer. That didn’t bother me though. What troubled me is that although I had the ability to do so many things, I never cared about any of them. I didn’t care enough to want to be great. Those things weren’t my passion. I didn’t know what my passion was and am still on a journey to find out what it is.

I’ve always had natural talents and things that came to me easily. I made decent grades in school but language arts is where I excelled. I liked to read and write. As an adult, reading and writing for leisure took a back seat. Due to my college studies (undergrad and grad) and work demands, reading and writing became a chore – something I had to do not necessarily something I wanted to. That changed a couple of months ago.

In September, I went to an open mic night. The house band consisted of a drummer, a keyboard player, and a violinist (electric). They rocked out with different vocalists who blessed the mic. There were some spoken word artists as well. I was both impressed and entertained at the level of local talent; however, not everyone attracted the right kind of attention. A few of the poems shared that night were elementary and far from exceptional. I thought to myself, “I can do better.” But then I had to ask myself, “Why? Why aren’t you doing better?”

Writing was one of those things that came naturally to me. I didn’t have to try very hard to match pen to paper. In fact, writing (text, letters, e-mail, etc.) is my preferred method of communication at times. I’m a very structured person and a planner. I think writing helps me to better express myself without feeling rushed. Somehow it’s easier, yet those same strengths of organization and planning prevented me from crafting my gifts. I don’t know exactly when, but a long time ago I said I wouldn’t do certain things like spoken word poetry because the end game was undesirable. I hate being the center of attention and death is more attractive than public speaking. What was the point of writing a poem that would never be shared?

I don’t know what it was about September’s open mic, but I felt like I belonged there. I wanted to join these people; not only as a spectator but as a participant, so I wrote a poem. I gave the poem the same title as one of my blog posts, ‘Bone, Scrubs, and Harmony.’ Both the poem and the post talk about the great efforts I went to to get my dog and the frustration of dating guys who give much less.Retro microphone on stage

I initially wrote the poem as a word document on my computer. I saved it and e-mailed it to myself so I could view it on my phone. The font was quite small, so I pulled it up on my son’s tablet where I could read it easier. I missed October’s open mic but shared my poem at November’s. The day of, my son’s tablet stopped working. It completely froze. The power button didn’t work, and I couldn’t access the battery. I didn’t have enough time to write my poem on paper, so I was forced to read it from my phone. My name was called from the list. As I approached the mic, my vision was blurred. I was wearing contacts per usual but my sight was somehow compromised as if I didn’t have them in. I read my poem unable to look up at the audience while doing so, but I READ MY POEM.

I think it was well received, and I finally got over my nerves and my own self. The next open mic is in less than 2 weeks. I purchased my ticket already and am working on the next poem I want to share. I haven’t figured out the subject matter yet, but I can’t help but wonder why I had such opposition to do it in the first place. Again, I do not know what my next poem or poems will be about.

1fjel1While I’m a Christian, I’ve never wanted to be a Christian poet. I feel inadequate somehow like maybe I don’t know enough or maybe my sin compromises my witness for Christ. In church we say it all the time, “The devil is a liar (lie).” I think for once that joker might have told the truth. He just might have told on himself. If he was making any attempt at all to prevent me from sharing my poem, my truth, what does he know that I don’t? What is he afraid of? What is he afraid of me to say? What is he afraid of me to write?ucant-stop-me