Archives for category: Culture

Hey you. Mrs. Know Everything and Mr. I’m Always Right. Have a seat. Let’s chat.

I get it. You’re awesome. You have a long list of accomplishments and accolades. You have more plaques than wall space. You have more degrees than a thermometer. You have more money in the bank than the average. I get it. Congratulations.

You worked hard. You earned it. You deserve it. That’s awesome! There is no problem with your success. The issue arises when you behave as if those accomplishments give you the authority to treat others less than. No, you don’t come out and say, “I’m better than you,” but your behavior speaks louder than any words you utter.

Here’s the truth:

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If you do not voluntarily humble yourself, life will do so. Events happen to everyone that knocks us off our proverbial pedestal and cause us to stumble. You won’t be “the big shot in high school” or the “popular girl in college” or the “smartest kid in the classroom” or the “prettiest girl in your circle” or the “CEO of a Fortune 500 Company” or “The holder of the most NFL/NBA rings” forever. If and when that happens, you will need people. Not money. Not degrees. Not awards. But people.

Your lack of humility will make you lose out on relationships and thus opportunities. If you are not humble, you will not recognize when you need help or accept help when offered. Even worse,  based on your prior treatment of them, others may not want to help you.

You have to be humble. You have to know that you are not always right. That you do not always make the best decisions. That you are not perfect.

There is always an “ER” in your life. Someone smartER, fastER, prettiER, strongER, etc. And that does not take away from you. You are amazing. You don’t have to puff yourself up like a blow fish and throw your weight around like a bull in a china shop. We get it. You’re awesome. Be humble. I promise, your light won’t shine any less.

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Definition from Merriam-Webster.com

Copyright 2014 by Morgan Smalls of mosmalls.wordpress.com. All rights reserved.

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Have you ever been excited about going to an event? You get dressed, look nice, smell nice and believe it will be a great experience. This event could be a concert, a church event, a forum, a movie, etc. You sit down to prepare yourself for the amazing moment at hand and then recognize your experience has been impeded. Why? Because the person you are sitting beside is one of the 4 people I am about to discuss. These people ruin events and I would like to ask that these types of people are designated to a particular spot in any venue.

1. Talkative Tammy/Thomas-

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This person does not know how to enjoy an event without talking. More specifically, he or she tries to converse with you. They tend to ask ridiculous questions such as, “Did you see that?” “What did he say?” “Oh, this reminds me of a time when….” “What’s the scripture?” “Where we at in the program?” Now, I will answer questions but I will not hold an entire conversation with you about the event or any other random tidbit you feel compelled to share. Stop it! Now, we both lost because I was listening to you instead of paying attention. I once was sitting by a friend and just blatantly ignored her throughout the event. I guess she assumed I couldn’t hear her, so she sent me a text message. And she was sitting less than a foot away from me. Um..no..

2. Eyeing Eunice/Ernest-

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This person has a serious eye problem. Or maybe they got the eye..I got the problem (Ya’ll remember that childhood saying) If we are in church and the pastor says turn to your neighbor, WHY am I the only one turning? Oh, that’s because you don’t have to turn because you have been staring all around the church and at my side profile the entire service. I’m going to need you to participate in the service. Look ahead. Look up. But don’t LOOOK at me the entire service. I want your head to swivel when the pastor asks you about turning to your neighbor.

3. Nosey Nancy/ Noah-

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Okay, I admit. I check my phone while I’m in church. Yeah, yeah, I know I shouldn’t. I should focus. But what we are not going to do is focus on that. Instead, let’s focus on the fact that you’re in my cell phone every time I check it. (red herring) I mean, you are not an usher, who walked up on my friend like a thug in church and told her, “Shut it down!” in reference to her cell phone… Excuse me, whet? Not what…whet? Now I may not have agreed with the usher’s tactics, but I understood the reasoning. Since you are not an usher (because if you were you would be standing beside the door, handing me a fan, passing me a tissue or something like that) why are you in my cell phone? Why are you not focusing on the service? Mind your business. Geez.

4. Critical Charlene/Charles-

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This is the person who always has something to say about the service. They tend to interrupt the flow of service with their mumbles, grumbles, and complaints. “Why they taking up 2 offerings?” “Why the pastor daughter up there singing? You know she can’t sing.” “Why does she have on that club outfit?” I don’t know the answer to any of those questions. I’m watching just like you are. So stop asking!

 

 

Have you had the pleasure of sitting by any of the four aforementioned people? Maybe you have sat by one person who has all of those personalities wrapped into one. If that is the case, may the force be with you and may you have the option to change your seat! What other personality types am I missing? Share your story with me.

With love,

M.S.

Feel free to share, post or comment.

So, I’m sure many of you are familiar with the new passive aggressive form of commenting on social media using Kermit The Frog’s face. Well if not, there has been a meme circulating that has Kermit drinking a liquid beverage, presumably tea (though some say it is liquor/milk/coffee). This meme is usually accompanied with a text of him saying something that may be truthful and partly comical but the underbelly is rude, disrespectful and sad. The meme ends with a statement under the guise “but that’s none of my business.” Kermit

 

Now, let’s be clear. I have nothing against Kermit the Frog. In fact, I hope him and Ms. Piggy have a great life together, but what concerns me is the passive aggressiveness that is being used by many to say things they would feel less compelled to say or post about others. Kermit is saying many things people want to say but have not or do not due to social etiquette or quite frankly because “it’s none of [their] business.” I believe some are posting these memes as a guise for their own feelings and a silent jab at others whom the post may be applicable.

 

I have seen some comments such as: “Some of y’all don’t look like your daddy at all…but that’s none of my business” “You posting naked pics for 100 likes but you afraid to read out loud in front of 20 ppl. But again, that’s none of my business.” “4 of my followers have the same boyfriend…but that’s none of my business” “Ya’ll liking the memes that’s talking about you…but that’s none of my business.” Now, the comments may be true, but have you ever heard the saying, “All truths don’t need to be told.” Truthfully, we all have memes that could be made about one aspect or another of our lives. images-2

 

So what if a person is rocking J’s and living with their Momma? So what if a person doesn’t pay child support but pops bottles in the club? What does that have to do with you? And a better questions is how can you help solve the problem?

In short, my motto: Don’t point out a problem if you can’t offer a solution.

Looking at it from a macro scale, maybe it is OUR business as a society. Maybe we need to discuss the single-parent homes, mismanagement of funds, misappropriation of government funding, and how some folks are just not so good parents, friends, coworkers, or people period.

Many may reason, well the memes are just for kicks, jokes, and giggles and that may be true; however, many jokes are grounded in truth…that’s what makes them relatable and funny. I urge you to go beyond the surface, dig deeper, and think of the message behind the memes. It is saying something. What? I’m not 100% sure. While some consider the memes hilarious, I believe it is pointing us toward some larger issues in society. Now that’s Somebody’s Business!

Food for thought.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. Also, share your kermit memes with me.

Feel free to share this via social media. With love, M.S.

Singer Brandy Norwood in September 16, 2010.

The Angry Black Female

Black Attack: BET’s “THE GAME

For the past four weeks I have been watching “The Game”; however, each episode left me somewhat confused and uncertain as to what the writers had in mind. The first episode made me feel as if I were on mental pop rocks. You know, the candies that kids put in the mouth and it starts popping, making your mouth feel like it is going in a million directions at once? That’s how I felt after watching the first, second, and third episode.

But, as a die-hard “The Game” fan (seriously, I watch YouTube episodes of the show in my spare time) I continued to watch the episodes and despite what I am about to post, I probably will continue to watch the show because there are few and far in between shows that have an all black cast and I’m trying to show my support for black actors.

 BUT, the play on stereotypes has to STOP or at least slow down a bit.

Last night, I was disgusted by Chardonnay’s character (played by Brandy Norwood). Since her introduction to the show, Chardonnay has always been the stereotypical loud, ghetto, no holds barred black female, but this episode took it to another level. Here she is in a movie theatre and not only did she bring in her own food(which is not allowed) but when the movie begins she yells at the screen and seems to have no concern that she is ruining the movie for others. Her justification being (and I paraphrase) “I paid for this movie just like anybody else, so you shhhhhsh!”

Furthermore, let’s even talk about the name “Chardonnay”…really BET?  You couldn’t have given her a less stereotypical name.

I can’t take any more neck rolling, eye rolling, teeth sucking, finger snapping stereotypes of black women. Come on, Tasha Mack’s character (played by Wendy Raquel Robinson ) was enough for one show.

Instead of focusing on the colorism concept (which seems to be the overall theme for Chardonnay and Jason Pitts (played by Coby Bell ) relationship), it becomes diluted when there is a surplus of stereotypes from one character. The newfound understanding that Jason Pitts character has of his own culture becomes lost in the stereotypes. But it is not just that character. Melanie’s (played by Tia Mowry) comment of “I’m all for the ghetto. I buy barbecue once a month” (paraphrase) also irked my nerves, but I digress.

No, all black women are not angry.

No, all black women aren’t named after cars and liquor.

No, all black women don’t wear weave and pat their heads.

No, every black women does not regard Steve Harvey’s book, Act like a lady, think like a man as the gospel.

I know that these realities do exist, but in a world where the representation of black women has, at times, been less than par, having only these representations of black women can be disastrous.

For example, while interning abroad a woman was kind of rude with me over the phone. I told my coworker (a white male) what the woman had said to me and before I could continue the story, his immediate response was, “I know you got all ghetto on her didn’t you, sista girl…” as he snapped his finger and rolled his neck.

*pause*

CLEARLY, he had me confused and even if I wanted to “get all ghetto” it would not have been with the woman on the phone but with him for having the audacity to act in such a way that showed me his perception of not only me but my race.

Yes, I have my Chardonnay moments but don’t we all? Don’t we all get upset and angry at ceratin situations? And yes, I can take it there but to think that I do not have tact and know what is personally and professionally proper due to your stereotype of a certain race of women is downright rude.

I have been to several movie theatres domestically and internationally and never have I seen anyone act in that behavior—black or White or Spanish or Asian. Just saying.

For reasons that I’m sure are surface and subliminal, I was offended by the movie theatre scene of “The Game.” And although there was another scene of another black female with Jason Pitts’ character at the movie theatre and the women did not bring her own food or yell at the screen, for me, the damage had already been done.

Some people may think, but it’s just a tv show. You are taking it too seriously.

To that I say that the media in general not only reflects but impacts culture as well and sometimes, the tv representations are the only “real” interactions we have with people of a different race/ethnicity.

Some people may think, but other races are stereotyped as well. What about them?

I never said that was appropriate either, but in a world where the minorities are less represented in many forums (particularly media), it is necessary that the representations we do have are positive ones that show the many faces of black women.

Food for thought.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesdays with Morrie

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As I was sorting through files and slips of paper from abroad, I found a quote from a friend of mine. She has posted it on facebook and I  wrote it down because I felt that it was the perfect way to explain how I felt leaving England.

She wrote, “Now that my journey comes to an end..I feel so much that all this was just a dream-like illusion and I’m about to return to the real world.. to bid farewell to people I loved, to places whose beauty my imagination could never create. This was such a fast-paced, frenzy, creative way of living… Adrie, Katerina, Marina, Lorena, Kamal, I can’t think of England, or of a home, without you. “-Dikaia

Looking back as I returned to the fast-paced living of the states, I realize that I will miss the slower, at times,  boring days of no transportation, no television, no cell phone. I have not been back in the United States a month and I already have felt the stress of living—the hustle and bustle that becomes a passenger to success. I have pressing deadlines that won’t wait, bills that I must pay, jobs that I must work, things that I must do.  Back to just doing the hackneyed routine. However, what’s different is…ME.

I’ve learned that deadlines will always be there, bills will always be there, a job will always be there…but I won’t always be here. I won’t always be alive. And because of that, a restructuring of my priorities is much-needed. I will miss living in the moment or better yet, creating the moment in which I want to live while abroad. So, although, I have left England, I have brought the life lessons I have learned the 7,000 plus miles back with me.

In the book, Tuesdays with Morrie, the author notes how Morrie, a dying professor, stated “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in” (pg.52).Although I am unsure if that is the most important thing in life, I do believe it is an important thing. We all need love, in some shape, form or fashion. 2012 will be my year to do just that, love, not just in words, but in actions.

When I left, my Grandmother was in better health and, at times, spirits than she is now. To think, a few days ago she turned 77 and had to be reminded that it was her birthday. That’s scary. My Grandmother’s memory hardly ever fails her, but with old age, I am seeing how things change. She needs help doing things that once were easy for her. Walking, in itself, has become a challenge. Cooking, one of her favorite things to do in the world, has also slowed down tremendously. So with that being said, I am learning how to invest in people and invest in memories. Why?

Because at the end of the day, deadlines, papers, jobs, etc. Will always be here, but those who supported me and encouraged me to meet the deadline, write the paper, or apply for the job may not….A sobering thought. No matter the age, gender, race, demographic, etc. We all are destined to leave this world at sometime. But when I do (hopefully, when I’m well over 100 years old) I’ll be able to say that I invested in people and reaped the reward of joy, happiness, and love…a fulfilling life.

I urge you to do the same.

With love,

M.S.

Friendship, Göteborg, Sweden

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I am not a fan of packing. I don’t like it. It is the part of traveling that I like the least (although it is one of the most important parts). Thankfully, one of my flatmates has agreed to help me in the process. By help, I mean, I am sitting down writing this as she does some sort of rolling technique to my clothing to save space. Either way, I know I will have to pay the price (literally) for my luggage to return home. I am so grateful that she would help me move out and I have had several friends volunteer to drive me to the airport or pay for my taxi (not a cheap ride) to the airport. What can I say? They are AMAZING!

In fact, while I was saying goodbye to my friend who lives next door to me, I surprisingly got emotional. She was talking about how it’s so sad to say “goodbye” because you honestly don’t know if you will ever see the friends you have made here again. With the economy, life, school and everything else going on, who knows if we will ever see each other or Manchester again.

The reality of her words set in as I sat across from her with a table between us.

This could be the last time. Wow, she is such a sweet and genuine person. I’ll really miss her.

As tears well up in my eyes, one manages to escape as it slides down my cheek in an unguided way.

Don’t you do this! Don’t you cry. This is ridiculous.

But, is it really ridiculous to show emotions? To show sadness? To show appreciation for friendship via tears?

No, it’s not.

So I won’t be ashamed for crying as I say “goodbye” to a friend that I literally may never ever have the opportunity to sit across from in a room, with the only thing separating us is a table. Way may not be in the same continent, country, time zone, etc ever again. I think that says a lot.

Since I’m leaving tomorrow morning, I have been bombarded with hugs and well wishes and gifts from the kind and beautiful people (inside and out) I have met here. I do not like saying “goodbyes.” In fact, I contemplated just leaving without saying anything, but if our friendships ever meant anything to me, I owe them that. I owe them a proper goodbye, full of hugs and smiles and maybe even a few tears.

So as we exchange well wishes and double cheeked kisses, they’ll know that our friendship was real and that even if I never see them again, they have affected my life in immeasurable ways.

For that I am forever grateful for the opportunity to live in Manchester and to meet many wonderful people along the journey.

Until Next Time,

M.S.

Secrets of Love 01

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Let me begin this by stating that I am not one of those people who believe in love at first sight or first date or first kiss or anything like that. However, I do believe that sometimes we meet people that we are interested in learning more about and certain circumstances impede that process. For example, my friend interested in someone and she think he is a really cool person. However, along with me, she leaves in a few days.

As she discussed how she was smitten with him and keen to get to know him better and go on a few more dates, it inspired a poem. I do know of people who have traveled abroad and met the love of their life and did not return home and have lived “happily ever after.” Or they fought their feelings and returned home and shortly afterwards, returned back to the country they visited to be with their love. In fact,  I met one girl who is actually getting married in a few days before returning home to get the rest of her stuff and move back to be with her husband.

Crazy? Maybe

Spontaneous? Definitely

Exciting? Yes

Is she is love? I don’t know.

But, I have come to the conclusion that even if her marriage does not work out or if others who have done the same do not stay with that person forever, I think it is brave to be led by your heart.

After all, the heart wants what it wants.

If we all want to be loved and we find that love thousands of miles away from our homeland and at that moment, we decide to put caution to the wind and move forward and follow love.

Then so be it.

You only live once.

Love.

Love hard.

Love often.

Love without regret.

But if it does not work out, then take the experience for what it was.

And move on.

And love again.

With the same fervor.

It takes boldness to do that and a person has to be brave to do that. I’m not. I’m too much of a skeptic. But for those who don’t mind truly living with the notion of “carpe diem,” by all means, do you. Porque que sera, sera. (What will be, will be)

Below is the poem written as I question the love at first sight notion.

I fell in love

Many times

In the same night

With the same person

Over and Over Again

His gaze

His conversation

His rhythm

I fell in love

Wondering

What if?

What would it be like?

What would happen?

If…

I fell in love

With him

Over and Over again

Many times

In my lifetime

If

This moment

Was the only moment

This moment

Was the definitive moment

Of my life

If

I fell in love

Here is a song talking about the idea of falling in love at the first sight by Mary J. Blige.

Kylie Minogue also has a song titled “Love At First Sight

International Federation of Medical Students' ...

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So, I am leaving soon (3 days) and I must admit, I am having mixed feelings about leaving. On one hand, I am excited about going home to see my friends and family back home. On the other hand, I will really miss my classmates and friends that I have made here. In general, everyone was so nice and helpful and helped make my time here a wonderful experience. Even though I am leaving soon, a good bit of my classmates and friends have made time to meet with me and hang out before leaving. That meant a lot to me as they took time out of their schedules to hang with me before I left. They tend to say, “Don’t leave. Stay with us.” I feel bad that I have to go after making some positive connections with them, but I have no other choice. I must graduate. lol

I’m not good at goodbye’s. It’s not my favorite part about leaving. In fact, I’m kind of awkward when it comes to showing certain emotions, but I believe each of my friends know that I am very much appreciative of the love and support and advice they have given me both personally and professionally.

When I needed to complain about an assignment or discuss family issues, they were each there to listen when I needed them to be. I really didn’t think I would meet people who I would get along with so well, but I did. That was a blessing in itself. I have lived abroad before and this experience exceeded my expectations. I’ve learned. I’ve had fun. I’ve traveled. I’ve had a blast.

It’s sad to say goodbye to everyone. And as many of my friends and classmates go in their own direction (Russia, Ireland, Poland, Korea, Lithuania, Spain, Greece) to name a few, I feel extremely blessed to have met them and I am certain that some of our paths will cross again in the near or far future.

I wish all of them the best of luck in all their endeavors and I promise to not be a stranger.

Love you guys and girls.

Mo

After reading my uncle’s email, I decided to read Matthew 6 and respond. The beauty about reading the word of God for yourself is that in the same passage, there are many different interpretations based on how the word touches your heart. Below, at that time, is what the passage spoke to me.

My email response to my uncle was:

 “Hey, Let me find out you acting like a Pastor’s child and delivering sermons via email. lol

Seriously, I am familiar with the text you mentioned about the boat and the storm. The application of that story in our own lives, particularly Matthew 6: 45-50 which discusses how Jesus sent the disciplines ahead and saw them battling the storm can be helpful in all times, not just stormy seasons.

Verse 48 says, “And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.” I like this verse because God is so caring that similar to putting flesh on his only son and sending him to the earth, while on earth, Jesus cared enough to get in the “boat” with us and help us deal with our storms of life.

 The boat is representative of life and the storm is representative of the woes/misfortunes of this world. Similar to how Jesus could have passed the disciples in the boat, he thought enough of them to stop by and help them in their situation.

One reason for this could be because they followed his direction. He told them to go in the first place and where God leads his people, he will keep them. This verse is evidence to that fact. Similar to how Jesus was on the shore watching the disciplines in the storm (vs 47-48), he too watches us while we are in our own storm. And when he feels we have had enough, he will tell us “Be of good cheer: it is I, be not afraid.” That, for me, is comforting to know.

Like Grandma says, “Trouble don’t last always. This too shall pass.” I don’t know about you but I’d rather be in storm with Jesus, than out of a storm without Him.

Be encouraged, for Jesus has risen that we might have a right to the tree of life and that we might have it more abundantly.

Happy Thanksgiving. Give a little more, love a little harder, and smile a little harder.”

I’m sure if I read that same passage again, I may come up with another insight into how this story applies to my life. How about you? Have you ever faced a storm in life?

Thanksgiving was definitely different. Instead of my day being filled with food, fun, and family, I spent my day in classes and ate a sandwich for dinner. But, I won’t complain. Thanksgiving is an American holiday and I’m not in America, so that was expected (though I really could have used a good meal from home). I also miss eating sunday dinners at my Grandma’s house. Just thinking about the food makes me mouth water. Literally.

Today, I woke up too late to go to church on time, so I watched an on-line sermon again. There are definitely benefits to being able to watch sermons on-line, in the comfort of your own home, on your own time schedule, but I digress. I found it quite interesting that the Pastor spoke from the same passage from the Bible that my Uncle had sent to me a few days before Thanksgiving. Is it a coincidence? Some may believe so.

 In the email my uncle addresses me and his other siblings who have email. (6 out of the 10) I would like to share our email conversation: Hopefully, it blesses you like it blessed me.

 He wrote, “Good morning, I want to let you all of you know that I’m so proud of each of you. Having all of you in my life has made my life better than I could ever imagine. We are so blessed to have a loving Mom that raised all of us. Please during this thanksgiving let’s all remember and be so thankful we still have a loving mother that loves us all so dearly. All of us know she did the best with what she had for us. I can only say each of us still should continue to follow Jesus.

In the book of Mark, chapter six, we read that the disciples got into a boat, at night, and took out across the sea. In their obedience to Jesus, the disciples ran directly into a storm. Their obedience literally took them into the nucleus of a disaster. I wish I could tell you that following Jesus means you will never have to face any storms.

 I wish I could tell you that following Jesus means that the waters of life will always be calm. I wish I could tell you that following Jesus means life will be rosy and all of your days sweet. But I can’t. These disciples were following Jesus, and they ran right into rough-seas. The disciples discovered, as many of us have also discovered, that you can be both in the center of God’s will, and still in a storm.

There is a lot of preaching today as well as many Christian books that tell you that if you follow Jesus, than you will never have to face any challenges in life. That wasn’t true for Jesus, or for anyone else I know who has followed Him. Following Jesus doesn’t offer immunity from troubles. What it does give is the opportunity to experience Him in the midst of the trouble. Life comes with troubles, regardless of whether or not you follow Jesus. You get to choose if you want Him to join you in your troubles, or if you’d rather go through them alone.

(Sometimes God doesn’t give you what you think you want, not because you don’t deserve it, but because you deserve so much more.)”

 Even though I was away from my family this Thanksgiving and I was unable to partake in any of the dishes on that day, I was still fed spiritually, which is more than meat or raiment.