“You’re playing with fire.”

These are the words my friend Kiya told me. She said them as an omen, a warning to remind myself to make wise decisions.

She said this because I’m a pyro of sorts. I get enthralled in the flames of life and forget that the beauty of the flicker of the flame can turn into a forest fire. Quickly, it can get out of control.  Quickly, my emotions can get out of control. Quickly, my thoughts can get out of control and if not snuffed out it will burn quicker than I can build. If not suffocated, it has the power to destroy. That’s the interesting thing about fire. Fire can create beauty or a beautiful disaster.

I’m a pyro. I like to watch things burn.

It’s interesting when you want to hug fire. Miss the warmth that the flames provided, but don’t realize that this fire is all consuming. There is no way to stand by and get warmth, without getting scorched. You have a clear choice: you feel the flames or feel the cold. Neither is comfortable.

The absence of his presence. It lingers in your heart and in your mind much longer than you’d like to admit. The flame. The flame gets snuffed out. Eventually. You go through the fire and don’t smell like smoke.

Pyro of sorts

 

Started in April 2017. Finished in September 2017

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Ya’ll it’s April. I promise you, it was just January. April is the month of the Aries and the Taurus, but in my book, it is also my “ish just got real” month. You see, April is when the majority of my assignments are due and when I literally do not have time to waste. It’s the month where I have to “cut it, cut it, cut it, cut it. Them deadlines way too close, I need to cut it” (And yes, I sang that as I wrote it). So in an effort to be more productive, I have done an assessment on four ways in which I #wastemyowntime2017

  1. THE FACEBOOK. Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild will have me in the sunken place. It’s like a sensory overload and a lot of people on my timeline are hilarious and a simple quick trip on Facebook will have me waste AT LEAST 20-30 minutes cackling. I like to cackle aka laugh with my tongue out my mouth, so I get caught up laughing at random cat videos, petty posts, memes and videos. And since I don’t like to cackle on my own, I’ll send this posts to others so we all can cackle together. And before you know it, the jokes on me, as I have to stay up way later than I desire to finish an assignment. Recently, I was called “A Facebook Ambassador” and I CACKLED because it is true. I need help. I need to detox from the book cuz the book don’t pay no bill of mine. smh Facebook is like Target. A set up. A trick of the enemy. lol
  2. THE YOUTUBE. Man, let me tell you, mess around with YouTube if you want, and it will have you listening to a TD Jakes sermon, transition into Brandy’s “Never Say Never,” album, and close with a bootleg version of “Love Jones” (One of my favorite movies) all in one night. And don’t let me there be a good tv show on that I didn’t catch. Now, I’m on the TUBE searching for a review video where folks tell me about the show that I didn’t watch so I can catch up. And then, I’m all tired the next day, BUT I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED ON (insert your favorite TV show) THO!! That, my friends is the definition of hustling backwards. Does it really matter if She by Sheree is completed? No.  Does it matter if Kirk the Jerk had a baby while married to Rasheeda? No. Does it matter if Huck lives or dies or Scandal?  Do we care if Mary Jane stays with ole cutie with the light eyes… Yes we do. LOL  All I’m saying is I had to put myself on a TV quota.
  3. DAYDREAMING. I am not Mariah Carey. I do not have a single out titled “Dreamlover,” so why am I sitting in front of my computer singing songs or daydreaming about stuff that ain’t never happened. Maybe it’s the creative in me, but I literally write songs and books in my head…but sometimes, I’m too lazy to actually write them down. Still hustling backwards.
  4. PROCRASTINATION. I get a lot of things done in a day. It just tends to be stuff that could wait cuz I really don’t wanna do the things I should be doing. Now, don’t get me wrong, my deadlines are always met and my work is top quality, but I would like to know what it feels like to have something done a week or a few days in advance. You know, instead of praying to God for energy to keep me up and my mind activated to get the job done.

Ya’ll time is precious and we gotta do a better job of managing it. I just had a birthday in March and I ain’t got time to waste ya’ll. Actually none of us do. I need my sleep and my food and my Lord helps those who help themselves. So I guess this is the first step in admitting I have a problem. What are some ways that you waste time? Let’s discuss how we can move forward together in April with a little more pep in our step and time on our side.

Today is my mommy’s birthday. I must admit that I’ve never called her mommy. Usually, I call her “Ma” when I am calling her to come down the hall to turn off my light (just kidding) or “Rose” when I’m trying to get my point across and let her know who is the boss (I am in case ya’ll were wondering who runs the show). LOL

Today as I celebrate her life, I am grateful that she is here, healthy, and hopeful. I am grateful to have time. Time to learn together and grow together in the good and trying times. When it seems like so many people, young and not so young are leaving this realm of life, I do not take time for granted her little idiosyncrasies that I’ve grown accustomed to, such as:

The fact that she STILL wants me to call her when I get home from a late night at work (mind you, I’m grown) or if she hasn’t heard from me in a few days because I am swamped with deadlines, she will send a message asking to hear my voice (it sounds the same). Or if she knows I have an event coming up, she will specifically request that I send her pictures of myself at the event and she will comment on my outfit, hair, etc. as she usually does (I look the same).  In my teenage years, all of these things were aggravating, but I’ve grown accustomed to her checking in and when she doesn’t I send her a message like, “Hello. I am your daughter. I could have been dead. You would not know. Because you ain’t call me.” (Yeah, I’m that dramatic kid).

When I recently experienced an unexpected loss, unbeknownst to her, she was on the phone before and after doing her usual check-in. While giving her the basic details she listened intently and said, “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” I replied with a steady voice and eyes brimming with tears…hoping that the surety in my voice and the quickness of my response would assure her miles away that I was okay, even when I did not feel that way.

“No, you’re not,” she said. She didn’t explain to me why or how she knew. She didn’t offer words of encouragement. She didn’t ask me to talk about my feelings or ask more details. She didn’t tell me I shouldn’t feel that way. She didn’t try to interject logic into my emotions. She just sat on the phone. Quiet.

And I knew that she felt my pain. And disappointment. And sadness.

And I knew that if she could somehow remove any of those feelings, she would.

After our time on the phone, she sent me a few text messages. Messages of things that she has told me before.

Ones that encouraged me. Ones that reminded me that she is proud of me. That she admires my work ethic and organization. That she is in awe of my determination and follow-through. Ones that let me know that she was here and that all was not lost. And that God would see me through. For that, I am grateful.

In happy times or times that seem to knock the wind out of my sails, she is there. In silence. Or with words. With a phone call or with a text. In person with a hug or across the ocean with facetime (can’t tell her nothing now), she’s there. And I hope that this birthday brings with it a kind of peace that cannot be explained, prosperity that is not limited to money, and joy that bubbles up from her soul. I wish her laughter, love and answers to prayers that reside in her heart and may have never been voiced.

She’ll keep getting those text messages when I get in late, phone calls to hear my voice , and photos at events, because I love her and like Smokey said about Craig, “That’s my dawg!”

Happy Birthday, Rose 🙂

It’s 5 am on January 7, 2017.  I’ve been up for hours, unable to really go to sleep—tidying up, answering emails, doing things to keep my mind occupied. For the past 3 years, sleep typically evades me on this day.  I don’t plan it. It’s just difficult to fall asleep. So I write:

Today is my Grandma’s birthday.

Geez. 3 years. It has flown by! She would be 82. So much has changed.

I miss her voice and hugs and back pats/rubs. I miss talking to her—listening to her.

I miss her humor and her charm. I miss her food. I miss her smile.

These things I store in my heart and memory, yet I fear that as time passes these things will become a faint memory. I fear no longer hearing her voice in my head.  At this point, I still do when I make decisions or am stressed or need encouragement. I STILL hear her voice telling me “you’ll be alright.” In trying times, I’ve even had to say it to myself—like a mantra.

I also never realized how much I bring her up in conversation. Folks who never met her, feel like they know her based on the way I describe her.  Many have expressed how they wish they would have met her because they would love to sit at the feet of the lady who raised me. I was privileged in that way. I was her “hand baby” and from the cradle to adulthood, she played a vital role in my life.

My Grandmothers death has taught me two important lessons:

  1. Because of her, I know what it means to love.
  2. Because of her, I also know what it means to lose.

And I think that makes me a better person—not in the “you should cherish every moment like it’s your last” type person (though that ‘s good). Better in the sense that I know love. I cannot find the words to describe what love feels like. But I KNOW love. Comparable only to knowing God. She is my compass for selflessness, kindness, compassion, empathy; my road map to prayer, perseverance and patience. My guiding light for laughter and love.

When she died, it did not feel real. I received the phone call from my mom and all she could say was “Ma’s gone.” I knew it happened, but there is a cognitive dissonance that occurred when I heard the words uttered. I was struggling with my will being trumped by God’s. I struggled with the idea of being hours away when she passed—somehow thinking that my presence could have encouraged her to evade death one more time. I had seen her do it before. I had seen God answer my prayers for healing. I knew God could do it, but when He didn’t I realized I had lost. I wasn’t used to God not answering my prayers. Granted, before then, I had never prayed for anything as significant but I felt a sense of disappointment in a God that I served—and loved, who decided that He couldn’t just do it for me. I was selfish and wanted her here for me. Because if she wasn’t, then where did that leave me?

After all of the typical festivities of funeral arrangements, I returned to work weeks later to looks of sympathy, statements of condolences and cards of kind words. And my first day back, I went to the bathroom and cried. Like that ugly cry. That get yourself together cry. That your eyes will be red and puffy cry. Why? Because it was too much. Because everyone knew. Everyone knew what I had lost and their attempts to comfort me only reminded me of a lost I wanted to forget. I would have preferred that they act “normal”– no cards, no looks, no statements…just treat me “normal”– whatever that means. To this day, I still don’t know what I wanted from others during that time.

Since then, a new normal is being crafted. New memories. New moments. New experiences. Often I want to share them with her, but I can’t– and I am okay with that reality.  Instead, I honor her daily, in my living, giving, and the way I treat others. Trust me, my Grandma continues to save folks from my verbal paws…on a regular. You’re welcome. LOL

But, my Grandmother’s death has not been all bad.

Her dying left space. Space for my personal and professional development. Space for my mom to enter in ways that were just impossible with my Grandma around. It helped me to appreciate my mom in a whole new way. Why?  Because I had to step outside of my pain to realize that I was not the only one who lost someone. I lost my Grandmother. She lost her mother. I still have my mother. She still has me. God still has us– our entire family, actually. Maybe that’s what it means when my Grandma’s favorite song says “nobody told me the road would be easy and I don’t believe He brought me this far to leave me.”

Love conquers the grave. I know it to be true. Because this happens daily, when I think, speak or write about you. Happy Birthday, Grandma. The Realist There Ever Was. The Answer To Prayers I Never Voiced.  The “isimo” of my life.

So, I’m going to bed now, but before I do:

This my prayer for anyone dealing with a loss. Not necessarily death, but the end of a relationship, job, friendship, etc. Don’t let my brevity take away from my sincerity.

I pray that you know love. Deeply. Unapologetically. Fully.

I pray that love creates a desire for you to be better, do better.

I pray that God reminds you of his infinite love and limitless potential for what He can do in your life.

I pray that you see the space and fill it with positive people, opportunities, and experiences 🙂

With love,

Ms. Maude’s Granddaughter

Ya’ll wanna hear my ratchet dating story… well I’mma tell ya anyway.

So I was out in these streets being courted. (yeah, that’s a better word for going on a date…and it actually is way better than a date, but I digress) and we were in the car, in a state, headed to an undisclosed location (mind ya business, don’t be too nosey). I was given control of the music that we would listen to. (I know right, such a major responsibility)…but let me back up…

I love all kinds of music: country, gospel, hip-hop, rhythm and blues, etc. I haven’t been home in months and I really missed the 843 (area code of my hometown), and had been specifically missing MY music.  So when I got the control of DA MUSIC, I decided I was going to play some of my Chucktown get-down songs (mind you the person I am on a date with has probably never been around the 843 or exposed to this music, so I’m basically representing the dirty South right now). So out of all the songs I could have selected,  I play…..wait for it.

“If ya babymamma real she will tell ya dat she love me” and “Last call for alcohol” and “Clappery.”

I know ya’ll are like, really?! You played that? Yes, I did. I did. But…it gets worse.

Ya’ll I was getting it too— jigging all in the passenger seat. I forgot where I was, started reminiscing  and ya’ll couldn’t tell me I wasn’t in the hole in the wall at 11pm with my mama texting my phone telling me to get my behind home cuz I’m not grown and that If I am  not home within 30 minutes, she is gonna tell my Grandma on me….. so when I come down off my ratchet high I realized it was real quiet. Like all you hear is the hum of the car quiet.

I thought, I shoulda just played some Alicia Keys or Lauryn Hill. You know something woke but not too crazy. When folks hear that, they tend of think you are a certain kind of Black folk. (Clutches my imaginary pearls, puts prayer cloth over my lap, and insert other things that mid-upper class Black folks supposedly do). In my mind, I’m like: I just exposed my ratchet. This person is probably like what in the world just happened. So, I was over the silence,  panicked and said, “My bad. I know you’re not used to that music.”

He paused and responded, “I liked it. Yeah, I liked the baby mama real song. I’m glad to know you were comfortable enough to be yourself.” Bahahahahahahaha all I’m saying is the Chucktown just gained another loyal customer of the music. I’m about to make him a Charleston mixtape… and if you don’t like my music, step. Go listen to Bach and jazz and quartet music with someone else. My roadtrip music is always something crunk. I gotta stay up.

Moral of the story: Be You. We’re not one dimensional, folks and if a person can’t appreciate all sides of you, then he or she ain’t the one.

Now, go be great because I said so.

Love,

Mo

I really wanted a dog. I had been researching it– taking dog quizzes to figure out which breed would fit my lifestyle and personality, visiting dog shelters to find potential pets, completing dog adoption papers, budgeting dog supplies, getting advice from pet owners,  etc.  I was going through the motions of obtaining a dog but it never seemed to work out. Months passed– still no dog. I couldn’t seem to figure out why.

It wasn’t until months later I realized I wanted a dog for all the wrong reasons. I wanted it to play dress up and for photo ops. I wanted it to be there for the fun moments. The convenient times.  I wanted it to greet and play with me on the days I had time to spare (I travel often), but I didn’t want to clean up poop, or vomit, or have him/her tear up my furniture, or potty train or teach commands. Despite traveling often, not wanting to clean up after another being or be responsible for the welfare of another mammal, I wanted a dog. Sounds crazy, right?

I loved the idea of a dog, but not the reality of owning a dog. And I do not think I am alone…

For some of us it’s a dog. For others it could be the idea of a serious relationship or marriage, kids, having a six pack of abs, position/promotion at work, etc . We’re in love with the fantasy versus the reality of it. When the truth is, all of those things require effort– effort to obtain and effort to maintain. We would love to have those things but are not willing to put in the work for them right now. And that is okay.

In my quest to find a dog, I realized there is nothing wrong with admitting I liked the idea but not the reality. Truth is, I say I want some things and to a certain extent, may even believe it when I say it. But the reality is… I’m just not ready for it. So I thank God for not giving me the things I wanted when I thought I wanted them (dog included).

I’m better off without those things/relationships for now, except the abs. I really want those. Wonder if I can buy it out of Walmart. 🙂

P.S- if there are certain things you really want and can’t see yourself without, then you have to put in the work. Be like Nike- Just. Do. It. If not, maybe it is a sign that you don’t need it right now or at all.

Be Blessed.

MS

As a life long learner, I thrive in the academic environment. However, I am aware that many of my most valuable lessons came outside of the classroom, in what many would deem “the real world.” I argue that the moment you are birthed, you are a citizen of “the real world,” but I digress.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, I went with my best friend and extended family to Hershey’s Park in Philadelphia. Now, I am not a big fan of amusement parks or rides (I just like the food) but I figured since I was there, I would take advantage. 

IMG953781 IMG_20140705_122631_434

It was a group of about 20 of us. We would collectively decide which roller coaster we wanted to ride and some people would look at the ride and opt out from the beginning. Others would wait in the line for 30 minutes and then decide not to go when it was their turn. However, for those of us who went in the line, waited, and rode the rollercoasters, we all fought our fear and enjoyed the experience. 

I went on EVERY ride that I could. Was I scared? Yep. Did my heart feel like it would beat out of my chest? Yep. Did I second guess my decision? Yep. I found it interesting that those who went with me on the rides such as the SooperDooperLooper, or Skyrush felt the same way. The feeling that we were all in this together and we would encounter the loops, twirls, dips, and flips together made the ride that much bearable. It made us not feel alone.

In life, we will have many roller coasters. Some of us will see a challenge ahead and opt out. Others of us will begin but let fear overtake us and quit. A few will stick it out, meet the challenge face first, and ride through that challenge, and gain strength and courage to go on the next one. And although it may feel that each of us are going on our own personal roller coaster, we are never alone.

It’s up to us to use each moment and each day as an opportunity to learn. To build upon a skill or learn a new one, to complete a task or to chip away at a long term goal.

What are you waiting for? You are the oldest you have even been and the youngest you will ever be. In this moment. Right here. Right now. Go For It! What do you have to lose? 

Satisfaction is a goal, but complacency is never an option. So when given the option to take the plunge, will you?


 

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

 

Under normal circumstances, we each have 24 hours in a day and with that the liberty to do what we choose with those hours. Work, Sleep, Exercise, Eat, Watch TV, etc. Whatever we do, we choose.

I am a firm believer that people do what they want.this-relationship-is-doomed1

With that being said, don’t make excuses for a person’s bad behavior. For example:

The guy that ONLY texts you late at night when he wants to slide through to spend some “quality time” with you. Any other time, he is A.W.O.L. Ma’am, that’s a person that wants you to be a booty call. 

That guy you have been dating forever, but when you bring up marriage it’s like you have ebola.  Ma’am he wants to continue doing whatever ya’ll been doing- playing house. 

The girl you have been wining and dining who always seem to get in relationships– but it’s never with you. But, she will take that free meal. Sir, that’s called she don’t want you and she’s stringing you along. 

The person who says they are drama free and don’t want negativity around them, yet they are always stirring the pot. Chile, that’s called messiness. 

Stop lying to yourself and live in your truth. Don’t make excuse for people. Watch their actions, not just what they say. 

I know this may seem harsh, but we have to live in reality and stop building up our hope for things that may not come to pass. I’ve learned that it’s best to be honest with yourself and stop making excuses for a person’s poor treatment of you. You deserve better.

Tell the truth. The whole truth. Nothing but the truth.

And more importantly, stop making excuses.

 *Image from globalyoungpeople.org*


 

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

As a speaker, teacher, and learner, it is imperative that I stay *audience centered* when delivering a message. This means that when conveying an idea, I focus on the receiver more than myself. After all, the goal of a message is to be understood by the receiver and that can only be successfully accomplished if the receiver does, in fact, comprehend the message.

From my understanding, there are several types of learners. Of course there are subcategories of each, but I have categorized the ones I plan to discuss below:

Auditory Learners – Learn through hearing and speaking.
Kinesthetic Learners – Learn through the sense of touch, feeling.
Visual Learners- Learn through seeing.

Teachers are instructed to teach material using all learning styles, so not to isolate or hinder a student’s ability to digest the material. Speakers are advised to keep the audience imgresin mind throughout the entire speech-making process. Learners are encouraged to know what method of instruction they receive the best and ask for that form of instruction.

I had a math course and I just could not grasp the new concept. The teacher said it to me, showed it to me, and I even attempted to watch her and duplicate it myself. She tried to dissect the information to me in various ways. After several attempts, my teacher told me, “I don’t know how to teach it any other way.”

After leaving her classroom, I went home and read back through the material. As I was able to reflect on what she had shown or said to me, as well as my textbook and notes, it finally clicked. I had to combine what I saw, heard, and attempted to do to understand the material.

Many times, God is the teacher trying to get us to learn new material. I am a firm believer that if you do not grasp the concept the first time around, God will continue to try to show you the same thing in various ways. He may be telling us the way, showing us the way, or even guiding us on the way. The issue occurs when we are not teachable. When we get upset when we do not understand the lesson the first time. When we get discouraged because we have to keep trying over and over again until we finally get the lesson.

In comparing this to the word of God, I wonder is your learning style hindering your progress?

If you have to see what God has promised you to believe, then you can only reach for what has been done. In his Word, God often makes promises that are nowhere near being fulfilled and it takes faith to believe it despite the circumstances.

If you have to literally hear a pastor, preacher or prophet to believe the Word of God, then you will falter when others don’t affirm what you hear God telling you. Oftentimes, you hear the voice of God in your spirit, not with your ears. God uses people often to speak to you, but let us not forget that he can take it to the source–you.

If you have to literally work on your blessing with your hands to believe it, you won’t begin. What if God gave you a vision to create something that has never been made? You have to start from nothing so you have no blueprint or example to follow. Many times the work is not physical labor but it begins with our minds and a change of heart.

Occasionally it takes us going off on our own, reading the Word of God, applying all that we have heard about God, seeing Him work our lives or in the lives of others, or feeling the experience of his presence in our lives for us to get it. For it to click.

Visionaries go beyond the borders of learning styles to grasp what God has for them to learn.Unlike my teacher, God is not limited in his teaching ability and never says, “I don’t know how to teach it any other way.” He speaks your language and he can break down anything you need to learn and give it to you on your level of comprehension.

Don’t let your learning style block your blessing.

With Love,

MS

*I was introduced to the term “audience centered”  in  The Public Speaking Handbook by Steven A. Beebe and Susan J. Beebe.


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

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:

TAOLife-C_S_-Lewis-Humility-is-not-thinking-less-of-yourself-but-thinking-of-yourself-less_

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.