A Brief Introduction

Pardon me.  I invited you in weeks ago, but I never formally introduced myself.

I’m Monique Danielle, but most call me Mo-.  What I do for a living is not as important as who I am or what I stand for.

I’m proudly middle-aged and convinced that as long as I have a measure of good health, I can attempt the one or two or three things I should have done sooner. The question now is not about capability but whether I have the heart for the sacrifice.   Everything cost something.

I believe in love in all of its forms. I am strong enough to be a part of someone’s life and discerning enough to know when to leave. I care immensely and love intensely, but it is evil to infringe upon another person’s happiness, or allow them to interfere with mine.

I have three expectations of others:  (1) be who you truly are; (2) live up to the standards that you set; and, (3) demand the same from me.

I’m tolerant, even of things that I may disagree with.  I tend to go left when everyone is going right.  I’m exacting and demanding and sometimes my patience runs really short.  Empathy comes natural to me, shallowness bores me, and human connection drives me.

I strive for an “A” even when I know that my best is a “B.”  I’m innately curious and can never learn enough. In everyone and everything there is a lesson: even a broken clock is right twice a day. (Cliché, I know.)

My daily motto is: “I will judge nothing that occurs today.”  Each day I get better at living this out.

My spiritual journey is sacred and personal, so is yours.  The road you travel and how you arrive are not my concerns. Not because I lack interest, but because I hold in the highest regard your right to define you, your life and God.  I will never interfere with another’s journey, and neither will anyone impinge upon mine.

If you need to know what type of daughter, mother, grandmother, godmother, niece, cousin, friend or co-worker that I am, confer with someone who knows me well.

Have I done things that I thought I would never do, said things that I shouldn’t have said, made decisions that I wouldn’t make again, apologized when I didn’t mean it, refused to apologize when I should have, loved good people at bad times, left too soon, stayed too long, talked too much or didn’t speak enough?

Yes.  I lack perfection.

I am not etched in stone.  Neither is my life.  Who I am today is the sum of my experiences thus far.  But each day I seek out and thrive for moments that lead me to different places, new people, and purposeful events that could ultimately change it all.

Eventually I may have to reintroduce myself.   But for now, this is my snapshot.

Truly yours,

Mo—

P.S. – Feel free to introduce yourself.

Am I Crazy Enough?

The people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.  Apple ‘Think Different’ Commercial 1997

During the Great Migration my maternal grandparents left Smithfield, North Carolina and settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although Philadelphia did not promise African-Americans anything easy, nor was the playing field anywhere near level, it was still a city that offered possibilities to those who were crazy enough to believe in something better.

On October 25, 1954, my grandparents purchased their first home on a block where neighbors welcomed them by breaking their windows at whim. When a police officer was not standing guard, an extended family member was.  But my grandparents were crazy enough to believe that things would change.  So they stayed, and things did.

My grandfather, a mechanic, was foolish enough to consider owning his own business, while my grandmother followed suit convinced that a domestic worker, wife and mother of four could go to nursing school. He saved his money, and his auto shop did exceedingly well; she graduated at the top of her class.  By my grandmother’s untimely death at forty-five, their daring to be crazy enough had well paid off.  Undoubtedly, hard work and pure tenacity were major staples of their success.  But just as important was their unwavering belief that they had a right, even under extenuating circumstances, to pursue their visions of happiness.

It’s easy to be audacious when we are young.  We feel invincible and believe that time is on our side. Like my father.  At 18, with a one-way ticket, a hundred dollars, a pint of whiskey and all grit, he left his London home, hitched a ride to the Heathrow International Airport and boarded a flight to America. He worked hard, did well and forty-two years later he passed away on American soil an American citizen, of which he was very proud.

Often though, when age and major life responsibilities are upon us we forfeit crazy and pledge allegiance to smart. We defer the life that we truly desire until the children are grown, or enough money is saved, or a better plan is formulated.  After all, is that not what responsible adults do?

Not long ago I came to a crossroad.  I had two options, one choice:  be smart or be “crazy enough.”  As I inched closer to siding with “crazy enough” amplified thoughts of the consequences of failure and set backs sent me scurrying back to smart and responsible, safe but unfulfilled. Because I am, after all, a responsible adult.

Then two weeks ago my grandfather passed, and through death came new life.

When I reflect upon my grandparents’ courage and tenacity under dire circumstances, I am honored. As I revel in the intrepidness of my father, I am proud.  When I ponder each of their steadfast allegiance to their individual pursuits of happiness, I am vindicated. I am stronger.  I am able.

Maybe my grandparents and father did not change the world, but they were crazy enough to change their world.  Now, they have given me the courage to change mine.

Wish me well!

Very truly yours,

Mo –

P.S. – R.I.P. Pop-Pop, Grandmom and Daddy.  Thank you, and I love you all for life and beyond.

A Flash of Prose

Prelude to an Episode of Snapped

She sat through four hours of Snapped. That’s six episodes of woman after woman after woman who executed in some form the men they once claimed to love. It’s Sunday, and she briefly thinks, Should this be on today? But then she ponders something a little deeper, a little more profound, a little more introspective.

Could I?

She scrolls through her mental Rolodex and stops at his name.  It was 1992, and they were twenty-three.  They exchanged numbers in the checkout line at Acme, and during week one they talked daily and hung out twice. Both were first year grad students who respected Coltrane but loved Boney James, and although each had acquired a taste for cappuccino, she preferred mocha and he black coffee.  Week one turned into week four, and the more they talked, the more they laughed.  Together they seemed good.

Within months they consummated their new friendship, and for the next year they did dates, game nights and holidays. That made them official, although it was all circumstantial. But that was par the course.  Innuendos had long replaced formalities like the “Can you stand a chance? Circle yes or no” note.       

It was sometime right before year two, as she was in the midst of making plans for the next level of them, that she first got wind of an indiscretion.  Not one based on thoughts of whether she was worthy or pretty or good enough.  Concrete.  Her best friend had saw him embracing some woman a little too closely for a little too long according to her estimates.  “It’s nothing,” he had said, “I just ran into a friend.”

Cell phones and texting weren’t heavy then.  Just pagers and busy signals – that irritating beep beep beep you get when you call someone who is  usually talking to someone else. So when his pager setting went from audible to vibrate to silent, and when she heard one too many times, “I didn’t realize the phone was off the hook” or “You’re tripping,” she became anxious.   So anxious that she and her best friend – the same one that told her that antifreeze was sweet tasting and hard to detect – plotted a three-part covert operation.

First, they would decode his answering machine.  The second random sequence of numbers yielded five messages declaring love and confirming plans.  Next, they would tail him.  His movements had been pretty mundane until the Starbucks.  Finally, she would confront them. 

Message number three had determined the day and time that she would show up and show-out. Like Columbo, without the wrinkled raincoat though, she would have just a few questions for both.  Silence would not be optional, and any actions after that would be improvised.

As planned, she borrowed her brother’s car, sat shielded under a tree that was far away yet close enough, and waited.  Before long he exited his home, duffle bag in hand. She put her key in the ignition, prepared to follow and entrap when he entered a car that wasn’t his.  It was her.  It was them.  It was time.

But she just sat under that tree far away yet close enough.

When they pulled off, she just sat there.  When they circled and rode right past her brother’s car, she just sat there.  For seventeen whole minutes she sat under that tree, far away, yet close enough.

Finally, she pulled her car up beside his, retrieved the folded half-sheet of paper from her glove compartment and slid it behind his wiper blade.  It was the letter she had written in all capital letters in permanent black marker well before that day.  It was the letter that her best friend had called a cop-out, a simple letter with just two words: THE END.

*  *  * 

She thinks it’s mostly funny now, back then not so much. She had run into him a few years back.  He had married her and was doing well.  He fumbled through an explanation. Said that he was immature, should have handled things differently, didn’t mean to hurt her.

He apologized profusely.

She, not at all.

We Will Burn

About twenty-six minutes into Kanye West’s short video-movie for Runaway, Kanye and the mythical phoenix are discussing her impending departure.   He doesn’t want her to leave, but she must.  That’s her nature.  She represents rebirth or renewal and is fabled to live for centuries before she’s consumed by flames only to rise from the ashes.

If we live long enough, we will happen upon a time when the way that we live or think or spend or love will no longer benefit, nor satisfy, our being.  For some, the frustration will culminate into disastrous behavior. For others, it will be an instinctive volcanic desire for change.  Either way, in order to rise, we will have to eradicate some of the codes and conducts that defined us until that point.

It will be a difficult but necessary process.

There will be major upheaval.  Things that were once absolute may become uncertain.  Old wrongs may become new rights.  We will leave some people, and some will leave us.  Not because love no longer exists, but because our divergence may create incompatibility. But we must allow others to burn and revive, and we must demand the same allowance from them.

The phoenix tells Kanye that what she hates most about humans is that they always attempt to change or tear down anything that is different.  “You rip the wing off the phoenix, and it turns to stone,” she says.  Sadly, we do; and although we can attempt to rationalize why, can our reasons ever really justify causing broken spirits, deterred progress and mental, emotional or spiritual deaths?

When a cycle ends and it’s time to burn, let it happen.  Do not hold yourself hostage to a past that restricts your ability to rise. Refrain from judging and condemning others. Stand firm on what is right for you, allow others the freedom to do the same, and soar boldly from the ashes.

Until next time, I wish you peace, happiness and liberation.

                                                               Very truly yours,

                                                                        Mo —

I Welcome 2013!

Today is the first day of a brand new year, the day on which in the past I would commit to a list of resolutions that I fully intended to keep. While some of those resolutions were accomplished, many were carried into the following year with the same fervor as the year before.  I’m really going to do it this time, I would say.  At least forty-five percent of Americans can relate to me.

Resolutions are our personal commitments to change in order to become better, different, greater people. I undoubtedly want to evolve into my ultimate greatness, but I often vacillate between whether or not I am willing to accept and adapt to the unpredictability of the process of change – a process that can be relatively easy with low risks and immediate results.  Or, more often, a process that is dense and murky, exasperating and fearful. Even with the best intentions and well-thought out mental and/or inked blueprints, I still never really know which spectrum of the process I will end up on.  Most times I am willing to chance it; but at other times I out-think, out-plan or out-talk myself out of progress, ultimately deferring action to another day, another time, another year.

That stops today.  Right now.

Today I have just one resolution.  In theory it sounds relatively simple, but in application I am not quite sure.  However, I am determined and willing to find out.

I resolve to embrace each change and its process as it comes.

In doing so, I will prepare for those changes that can be anticipated by fortifying my resources and myself so that I will have the adequate strength to deal with the changes that I cannot control. I will set goals and establish guidelines, but I will not bind myself to stringent time restrictions that slowly strangle me and lead to failure.  I will control and redirect the thoughts that stymie me from acting promptly and moving boldly. I will reward each success, exercise patience upon each obstacle, solicit assistance when necessary, and forgive myself when I veer off track.

I enter 2013 faithful and faith-bound, enthusiastic and willing to face the unpredictability of the process of change courageously.  That is it.  That is my resolution.

Happy, Happy New Year!  Great successes abound!

Very truly yours,

Mo-

P.S. – What are your resolutions, if any?  Feel free to let me know.