Friday, April 27, 2012

Love Note - Friday 4/27/12

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If the Church Were Christian: a Review and Recommendation

I just finished a book that I deeply disagree with—but highly recommend.

In If the Church Were Christian, Phillip Gulley makes some very strong claims about the divinity of Christ. I deeply disagree with these claims—yet, he makes even stronger claims about the nature of what the Christian Church has become—and I completely agree with them.

Gulley is a Quaker pastor and theologian. He has written extensively about matters of Biblical exegesis and theological interpretation, but his greatest contribution to the Christian church may be this short, little book that is an incisive critique of postmodern Christianity.

I, like Gulley, am concerned about the state of Christianity in America. My concern, however, extends specifically to the black Christian community. When I attend many black churches, I feel like I am watching a production. Actors seem to be onstage performing their parts. The choir is pitch perfect; the preacher is upbeat and powerful, but often times people leave unchanged—but highly entertained.

In light of this, Gulley asks a simple question: is the Church Christian? That is to say: Would Jesus do things this way?

Gulley does not think so—and I agree. Jesus was a pretty radical guy. Luke Chapter 6 is full of this radicalism. Jesus says things that are remarkably counter intuitive: lend and expect not to receive it; judge not; love your enemies—and this is just the beginning. Truth be told, if we took Jesus seriously, Christianity would look much different. Gulley does an excellent job of pointing this out with clarity and power.

A final word: I once visited a church that had exclusive seating for its ‘special parishioners.’ These are people who gave extraordinarily to the church monetarily. When I showed up, they knew who I was (an assistant pastor at a large church and a professor of theology and philosophy at a major university), so they escorted me to the front. I noticed, however, that other people were standing outside waiting in line to get a seat. This troubled me deeply. I asked the usher when the people outside would be allowed to be seated; he said: after the VIPs are seated.

I left. I didn’t think that church was very Christian.

- Lawrence Ware
(To read Lawrence's bio, click here.)

*image credit

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Monday, April 23, 2012

The Most Important Key to Your Happiness and Success


"Present yourself always
As who you would be,
And that is the person
The world will see."

You know me as GG.  Mom, blogger, writer, hair enthusiast.  Lover of pretty things and positive words.  Always ready to point out the lesson and the silver lining. 

If you know me in real life, then you know that I'm a serial smiler and a peacemaker.  You might even know about the weird things I do with my hands when I talk or how I behave when I've had too much to drink.  My quirks.  My skeletons.  All of the things that make me self-conscious at times, but also make me who I am.

I know that I'm a good person, but I don't feel that I always live up to my own expectations.  I'm sure you know how that is.  I also know that I'm talented and smart, but sometimes when I'm trying to create or produce, this truth escapes me.  I'm intimidated by my own growth.  Tracee Ellis Ross captured it perfectly when she said, "I'm learning everyday to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me."

Do you ever feel like a walking contradiction?  Simultaneously pleased with yourself and yet conscious-stricken for no specific or valid reason?  Don't allow this duality to discourage you.   

The key to your happiness and success is directly tied to your ability to approve of yourself.  I know it can be difficult to stay detached from the opinions of others, but it's necessary.   And really, it's the only way to be free.

Don't think that you have to play small or sell yourself short in order to be gracious.  Let go of your judgements and worries about how you're perceived.  The most enlightening thing in the world is to learn to be kind to yourself and accept all that you are.
"At this very moment, you may be saying to yourself that you have any number of admirable qualities. You are a loyal friend, a caring person, someone who is smart, dependable, fun to be around. That's wonderful, and I'm happy for you, but let me ask you this: are you being any of those things to yourself?"
Please share with me in the comments why you are a self-loving, self-approved woman.  I really want to know and writing it out will surely give you a boost. 

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Pretty Things: 5 Beauty & Style Tips to Make Motherhood Look Easy

And here I am.  NOT making it look easy.
I've got everyone fooled. Well, really I don't. But I like to think that I've fooled everyone into thinking that I have it all together and I've got this motherhood/career thing totally figured out. It's all a hoax, actually.

I read this quote the other day and I chuckled out loud: "Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only." I don't know about you, but I'll drink to that. If my appearance reflected everything going on in my mind at any given time, I'd probably be walking around looking like a circus clown.

I live by the doctrine that just because you have a lot going on in your life, doesn't mean you have to look like it.  Here are some ways to keep yourself looking graceful and polished as you work and carpool and change dirty diapers.

Stay Hydrated.  I really have to force myself to drink water, but I feel so much better when I do.  I have less stomach/digestion issues and I feel much more energetic.  It also keeps your mouth feeling fresher.  Let me tell you though, it's so annoying have to go the bathroom often when you're out all day with the kids!   The pros outweight the cons though. 

Keep Your Nails Short and Sweet.  I love nail polish, but my lifestyle right now does not allow me the time I need to maintain them.  If this is true for you too, keep your nails trimmed short and neatly filed.  If you have time for a coat of clear or a nude shade - even better.  Neat nails go a long way to make you feel and look polished.  Alternatively, have you seen these new press on nails?  Supposedly, "they are quick and easy to use, as you simply size your nail, peel off the adhesive and place on firmly.  The nails are flexible and durable so you can file and shape them to your preference, and they look completely natural."   You should totally try them and let me know what you think!

Get a Haircut.  I'm not saying to chop all your hair off, but if you have a good cut, you won't have to spend as much time on your hair.  If you've been thinking about the Big Chop, for example, I say go for it.  Can you imagine the time you would save?!  If that's too drastic for you, find a signature style that you can rely on when you don't have time to wrestle with your hair.  My signature style is the bun, of course.  Hats and scarves are a big help as well.

Minimize the Makeup.  I'm no makeup expert, and I certainly don't have perfect skin but I recommend that you keep your daily makeup routine simple.  Concealer for under eye circles, a light powder if necessary or tinted moisturizer, mascara and lip gloss.  I've recently started using blush as well and I love how it makes me look more awake and vibrant.  Makeup is very personal.  You may prefer to skimp somewhere else and dedicate more time to your daily makeup routine.  "Makeup is a personality. You never tell someone what they should do to make themselves feel beautiful." - Sam Fine.

You might find these tips from Sam Fine via Afrobella helpful if you're trying to find your makeup personality.

Invest in Cute Flats.  If you're like my bestie and co-author, you'd rather wear heels than flats any day.  But if you're like me and have an almost 2 year old to chase, you probably need some practical, cute flats to run around in.  Practical does not have to mean frumpy.  I love these that Kim picked up a couple weeks ago. 

So, what are your tips and tricks for keeping your pretty game up while taking care of home and business and everything else?!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Music Review: Ebony Anne Isaac "The Chase"

Last Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of clicking play on Ebony Anne Isaac's "The Chase". From the onset "The Chase" had me wanting to lace up my shell top Adidas, throw on my bamboo earrings, and don my Jordache jeans. It reminded me of the good ole days of hip hop, when being young was as innocent and free as writing a love note in class to get that girl’s attention; remember: “check yes or no, if you'd be my girlfriend”? Well that's just the feeling I got! "The Chase" features vocals from Ms. Isaac and a cute rap verse featuring her label mate, Snowflake Black. It describes the day to day of living, hoping, being ready to face the world and not knowing who might show up but thinking it could be that special someone...and it carries through to the feeling when you see him; you wink, smile, and instantly feel the "butterflies". It’s a good effort on her behalf to take music back to a time when we didn’t take things so seriously and when we definitely loved each other a whole lot more. "The Chase" is featured on SoundCloud. Check it out here.


Photo via SoundCloud
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Take a Moment to be Grateful for What You Have Right Now

The photo above is the view from my balcony. This is what I get to stare at as I sit outside, enjoying the warm air and writing this post. You can’t see them, but just to my left, and at the bottom of that hill are a family of deer, grazing busily—but glancing up at me occasionally to ensure I’m not going to interrupt their meal with any human silliness. This is my happy place; surrounded by nature and shrouded in quiet—save the sound of animal paws scurrying across the forest floor. It’s an easy to place to reflect, and to remember to be grateful.

My son, my only child, my baby—he turned 13 this past weekend. To celebrate, I took him on a surprise trip to NYC to eat, shop and hang out for the day. He had a blast, and his excitement and level of gratitude were priceless. I know the time is coming when he might not want to hang out with me, so I cherish these moments when we’re still buddies and I’m still one of the cool people. I remember when he was just a chubby little munchkin with a head full of curly hair, who loved to curl up and snuggle my neck. And I hope that I relished those moments enough while I had them, because it seems now that they went by before I could blink.

I encourage you to be present in your life—with your children, in your relationships and in your careers, or with whatever is most important to you—because things can and will change in an instant. As much as you muttered “I can’t wait until the kids grow up” or “I’m so ready to take this courtship to the next level” or “I want this promotion”—you’ll miss the sweetness of the moments when your children still needed you, the excitement of when you were newly dating, or the lack of stress that preceded your promotion.

While change is inevitable, if we take a moment to be still, be quiet, and be grateful, it will be much easier to enjoy where we are right now. A great exercise to help us to get to where we are going is reflecting on where we’ve been.

Happy Monday. I hope you take a moment this week to acknowledge all the things you have to be grateful for.
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Love Note - Friday 4/13/12

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Inner Pretty: How Not to be One of Those Obnoxious People Bothering Others

I think GG really hit the nail on the head with her recent post, Misery Business: How to Stop Letting Obnoxious People Bother You. We can all relate to how annoying it is to be the target—or even caught in the crossfire--of someone else’s misery spreading spree.

But just important to be aware of, is the kind of energy we are spreading; and how we can avoid being one of those negative, complaining, obnoxious people that make others want to run in the other direction. Sometimes, we are so wrapped up in own issues that we forget to be cognizant of others around us.

"If you don't have anything nice to say to someone, then don't say it." This is the best rule of thumb. No matter how helpful you think you’re being, keep in mind that you may not have all the information about the situation you’re judging. And even if you do—it’s usually better to be quietly empathetic, than loudly judgmental. If the situation was reversed, wouldn’t you want a little compassion?

It can be so so difficult at times—especially when you’re in a situation where you have others with whom to commiserate (like at work)—but don’t complain. The more attention and energy you give a negative situation, the more it grows. You’re feeding it and giving it life. Walk away from it. Breathe through it. Meditate through it. Chant your favorite mantra. Use your self-talk to turn those negatives in your situation into positives. Create the silver lining. And you’ll find, that the fewer opportunities you give people to draw you into a cloud of complaining, the less they’ll come to you to talk about things that bring you down.

Be so focused on yourself and whatever you’re trying to achieve, that you don’t have time to worry about what anyone else has got going on (in other words, mind your business). Focus is an amazing thing—it will go wherever you lead it! Channel your energy into taking positive steps towards creating the life/career/family you want, instead of on what others could be doing for themselves. You’ve got your journey; they’ve got theirs. And that’s how it’s supposed to be.

photo via Pinterest
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Misery Business: How to Stop Letting Obnoxious People Bother You


Maybe I'm too sensitive. But I pretty much live by the standard that "If you don't have anything nice to say to someone, then don't say it." I prefer to just let people be who they are and do what they do unless it directly impacts me or mine in some way. I don't like when people give me unsolicited opinions about how I live my life, how I raise my children, how I dress, how I wear my hair. I suppose there's something to the whole "it's not what you say, it's how you say it" thing, but really no matter how you say it, if it's none of your business, it's just none of your business.

I don't understand it. Apparently, this is just how some folks operate. They must get some kind of satisfaction from hearing themselves talk. Or maybe they feel powerful when they think that they have successfully made someone else feel defensive or uncomfortable.  You know the type.

It's toxic. We all have things we could complain or rant on about, right? But it's a slippery slope. I'm not saying that I never complain, but I always feel worse when I do. And when I'm around people who are always grumbling and speaking negativity into every situation they can (especially at work!), I want to run in the other direction.

Miserable people feed off the energy of others, and they'll take any kind of attention they can get. Once you become conscious of this, you become much less susceptible to it. If they are judging you, it's sure thing that they are down on themselves in some way. And if they find something unpleasant to say about everything, then this is not the right person for you to open yourself up to. 

Guard yourself.   Don't allow this transfer of energy to occur. While you can't control what others say or do, you can control what you internalize. Keep your heart and mind clear of other people's trash. Know yourself, protect your peace of mind, and don't let them see you sweat.

How do you handle negative people?  In the work place? Family members? Perhaps these things don't bother you at all!   Do share.
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Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Truth About Getting What You Want

It's all fun and games and positive affirmations when you're trying to accomplish something. But how about when you actually get the gig and you’re like “Oh Sh*t!”, what do I do now? How will I have time for this and everything else on my plate? What if I don’t live up to expectations?

This is it. This is what you’ve prayed about, visualized, and spoke into existence. And now that it’s here in your lap, you’re freaking out.

Maybe I shouldn’t speak for you. You’re probably poised and capable at all times. Not a hair or a mission statement out of place. That’s okay. I see you. And one of these days I’ll be like you.

But for now, I freak out. I question myself and I worry. All the while, there’s a calm place inside of me that knows without a shadow of doubt that doors will open, growth will occur, and amazing things are ahead. I try to live from that place as much as possible and let its enduring calm reign over my thoughts and my perception of things.

While on the subject of thoughts, I haven’t achieved supreme mastery over my thoughts just yet. Wouldn’t that be lovely? I feel like I’d be a zen rock star if I had complete control over my many musings.

No mean thoughts. No bad memories resurfacing. No paranoia.

But even with my wanderlust of a mind, I do know how to redirect my thoughts when they turn disturbia. First, you can’t dwell on things that bring you down. Second, no overthinking. Finally, no player hating or cock blocking. Even the mental kind. Those things cause inertia. Inertia keeps you from getting what you really want.

We know that getting what we want can be scary, so let’s all take a moment and make a list of what we are so afraid of. Let’s call the monsters out! Having a dream fulfilled is supposed to be a triumphant moment, so what are the drawbacks (whether real or bogus) that cause us to get cold feet when opportunity knocks? I’ll go first!

I worry that…

…my children, relationship, family and friends will not receive enough attention and support from me if I’m so occupied with my career and personal projects

…I won’t have the creative capacity to keep coming up with fetching ideas, thus my work will get boring

…people won’t “get” me/won't receive me well

…my income won’t be reliable or sustainable an introvert, I'll struggle with networking and other ghastly things that I don't enjoy but are necessary

...I'll quit when things get tough.

What else?  Share your little thought monsters with me below.  I bet they'll seem small and unreasonable when you see them written down.
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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Music Review: Liv Warfield

In this PLPT post our music reviewer, Mugure Crawford, sings the praises of Liv Warfield's soulful singles.

Last week I had the pleasure of experiencing Liv Warfield's brand of fresh, live soulful grooves from her two songs "Embrace Me” and “Waiting". The music was featured during her February 2012 performance at the Alberta Rose Theater in Portland, Oregon. And though I didn’t have the honor of being there in person, the recording didn’t disappoint. It was a live set of R&B and funk, with a sprinkle of rock n’ roll; "Alternative Soul" is what we like to call it.

Her melody and lyrics are full of emotion, allowing the listener to develop a deep connection with her message. I know I felt all warm and tingly as I embraced each beat, each vocal and that bass that is sure to leave your head bobbin’ too. During the song "Embrace Me" which is also the title track to her album, she belts confidently, "Can a woman get a little of your lovin", lyrics that would encourage anyone to make that first move in the pursuit of her King. "Waiting", the second song she performed at the Oregon show continues to speak to a woman with a connection to love...a woman who is seeking and envisioning her man in her dreams. It almost seems as if Ms Warfield is not waiting for him to just fall into her lap, but singing him into existence—waiting for the right opportunity to make her move and tell him how she feels--about her needs, her wants and her deepest desires. Wheww! I felt her spirit! In fact, I can't wait to hear more! And if you can't either, check out her tracks, Embrace Me and Waiting, right here! I can guarantee she'll help you with envisioning and singing your song to the man you’re dreaming up too.


photo: source

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