No Whining Wednesday – Never Judge Clarity on How Others Respond

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No Whining Wednesdays are back!!

It’s been awhile so let’s do a quick recap.

What is No Whining Wednesday?

Coined by Iyanla Vanzant, NWW is a segment I added to this blog a couple of years ago to help us stay motivated for the remainder of the week. You can look at it as the extra push to get over the hump on “hump day.” For the entire day on Wednesdays, you cannot whine, complain, or criticize.

No Whining Wednesday is not only a fun exercise but a gratitude practice. To keep from complaining, you have to remind yourself of all the things you are grateful for.

The hope is we can lessen the complaints we have not only on Wednesdays but every day.

Here are some definitions:

To Whine – give or make a long, high-pitched complaining cry or sound; to grumble, murmur or complain in a feeble way.

To Complain – express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event; state that one is suffering from; state of grievance.

To Criticize – indicate the faults of (someone or something) in a disapproving way; to condemn, attack, discourage.

If you are new to this blog please visit the NWW page here for past episodes.

Today’s inspiring word to help get through your day comes from Vanzant herself.

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Though I am a black movie buff and can probably quote the lines to every black movie ever made, I don’t watch much TV during the day. Most of my TV watching is in the evenings and on the weekend. If I find I am finished with work early, I am reading or listening to a YouTube video in the background while doing laundry or something. While listening to an inspirational compilation of Iyanla Vanzant’s speeches, I came across this quote.

“Never judge your clarity on how others respond.”

I am sure we can all draw our own meaning from this. For me, it means having the courage to stick with what you know is right in your heart. It means if you’ve been given divine instruction to do something, don’t change your mind because someone else rejects the idea or doesn’t understand it. It means if you’ve been given absolute clarity on something, don’t let others plant the seed of doubt in your heart despite how good their intentions. It means to hold on tight to your integrity.

Clarity – the quality of being coherent and intelligible. Clearness or lucidity as to perception or understanding; freedom from indistinctness or ambiguity.

It was hard for me to delete my email list at first because I was worried about how other people would respond. I didn’t want anyone to take it personally. Look at me, worried about how somebody else will feel about something I am absolutely clear about doing. Ain’t that crazy?

It was only when I listened and did what I knew needed to be done that I could see the freedom in the decision.

Since restarting my list, I have far fewer subscribers but more engagement. My open rate went from 30-70% because the people on my list want to be there. I am absolutely clear about that.

Your turn!

What does this quote mean to you?

Have you ever changed your mind about something you were clear about because of how someone else responded?

How do you plan to lessen your number of complaints today?

 

The Enemy of Poetry

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I am not at all surprised I am enjoying Cicely Tyson’s memoir, Just as I am. While I am not an actor,* I try to learn as much as I can from others. Even if it’s reading a book, I want to know what brought us together and what purpose I might piece together that we are intended to serve to each other.

I have had this post sitting in my drafts since the beginning of May. It wasn’t until I read this chapter last night I could finish it and feel comfortable publishing it.

In Chapter Ten, Center Stage, Miss Cicely is recounting her training with Vinnette Carroll playwright, actress, theater director, and the first black woman to direct on Broadway, with her 1972 production of the musical Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope

In discussing art, Miss Cicely (I like saying that) explains in just a few short sentences everything I want to convey in this post. 

“Vinnette taught me to learn technique and then to forget it–and to resurrect it only if it served my portrayal. Technique is important, to the extent that it is undergirded by emotion. I once knew an actress who was a brilliant technician, but her portrayal fell flat. She could create a moment and bring it to fruition, yet it was apparent she wasn’t feeling anything, and as a result, neither was her audience.”

Cicely Tyson, Just as I am, Chapter Ten, pg. 156-57

“Technique is important, to the extent that it is undergirded by emotion.”

I never consider myself an expert on anything. I will say what I have come to know in my experience, both as a writer and listener of poetry, is to watch out for intellect. By intellect, I mean the need to be so fancy you confuse the reader. It is, in my opinion, similar to using technique and forgetting emotion.

That is why I often feel that intellect, if not used in balance with emotion, passion, and heart, is the enemy of sound poetry.

“Watch out for intellect,
because it knows so much it knows nothing
and leaves you hanging upside down,
mouthing knowledge as your heart
falls out of your mouth.”

Anne Sexton, The Complete Poems

I have read poetry so over my head I could not possibly relate to it. Metaphors and similes were so puzzling I am not even sure Maya Angelou could decipher what the poet meant if she were alive. I once read a poem that ended with the author saying he or she had eaten a bird. I do not know who or what the bird symbolized. All I know is a bird at the beginning that ended up eaten by the end of the poem.

Poor bird.

I did feel sorry for the bird to this poet’s credit, so I was not without emotion completely. It is not lost on me that readers can discover their own meanings and interpretations of poems, which is part of the fun. We learn what the author intended for the poem to communicate and what we got from it based on our personal experiences and feelings. I love hearing how a poem I’ve written resonated with readers, even if what they got from it was different from what I thought as I wrote it.

But, I like to think reading and writing is a partnership. While the first person our writing serves is ourselves, I would hope there is something to be gained by the reader too. I don’t want to get so wrapped up in the beauty of language that there is no substance, just pretty words. I expressed this in the poem Give Me Life.

To me, this would be similar to the woman Tyson references, who was a brilliant technician when acting but could not move her audience.

If you know anything about me by now, you know I am a Black Movie Buff. It’s like Justice said in Poetic Justice about having something deep to say, about having a voice.

Lucky: “What you write about in that notebook?”

Justice: “That’s my poetry.”

Lucky: “You trying to say my cousin’s shit ain’t poetry?”

Justice: “It ain’t if he ain’t got nothing deep to say. Gotta have a voice. A perspective.”

Intellect can be a strength or it can be a weakness.

If there is an easier way to say something, write it plainly, and it will reveal its own depth. I like to write the poem as it comes to me and then come back later to dress it up. Ain’t nothing wrong with a little icing once you have the cake.

Here is another quote I picked up from the quote of the day from author and editor Shayla Raquel’s newsletter, which I also just read yesterday.

“Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.” 

— Meg Rosof

*I said at the beginning of this post I was not an actor. I should say I am not a professional actor, as I do have some experience with it. In High School, I was part of a special program to write and perform plays. I cannot remember the program’s name or what the aim was, but this was my first official summer job. I did this for the summer of my Sophomore and Junior year, taking an official drama class my senior year, where I would also perform my poetry live for the first time as a monologue. In 2015, I was featured in a stage play at the DuSable Museum.

But as I reflect, fun as it was, I prefer to write the screenplay. Ya’ll can do the acting.


Yecheilyah's 4th Annual Poetry Contest

Have you entered this year’s poetry contest? I hope I gave you some inspiration! Take your time but keep your eyes on the clock. June will be here before you know it.

Submit your love poem on or before June 1st.

CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

Note: I have not read any of the poems submitted yet! I don’t read any of the poems until the contest has ended and everything is in.

No Whining Wednesday – Laugh

Welcome back to No Whining Wednesday, the only day of the week where you do not get to whine, criticize, or complain. Today, we focus on not complaining for a 24-hour period. If you are new to this blog or this segment, please go HERE for our first post for a more detailed description of what this segment is all about.

The No Whining Wednesday Badge

Now I really wanted to share a good one today. There are many quotes and pieces of wisdom we can gain based on how important it is to laugh. But I wanted to find one that really spoke to the nature of this segment and will give us something to think about. It took some digging and there are some really good ones but the one I found that stuck out was this one:

“Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.”

–Bob Newhart

In the first draft of this post, I mistakenly used wine instead of whine so that it read: “…you do not get to wine, criticize, or complain….

Lol

Good thing I went back over this. That was close. (Phew)

Laughter is everything and I believe that if you are too serious to laugh then you are too serious and your life is probably real boring. The next time you find yourself in a sour mood, try to find the humor in the situation. Of course, depending on the situation this will be harder for some than for others but if you concentrate on the positive then you will find it. It may take awhile, but you will find it.

I’m at a point in my life where I’ve come to appreciate positive affirmations and the high vibrations the universe puts out when we focus on the good instead of the negative. According to an article in Laughter is the Best Medicine, laughing really is good for your health:

Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Laughter burns calories. OK, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes a day can burn about 40 calories—which could be enough to lose three or four pounds over the course of a year.

This next one speaks to our quote:

Laughter lightens anger’s heavy load. Nothing diffuses anger and conflict faster than a shared laugh. Looking at the funny side can put problems into perspective and enable you to move on from confrontations without holding onto bitterness or resentment.

Laughter may even help you to live longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.

I believe that hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.

–Robert Fulghum 

No Whining Wednesday – Edit Your Life

Welcome back you Non-Whiners! Ya’ll know how we do this, if you’re new to this segment or this blog, please read the first post HERE. Our goal is not to whine, complain, or criticize on Wednesdays.

The No Whining Wednesday Badge
The No Whining Wednesday Badge

So far, we’ve pretty much covered complaining and whining but No Whining Wednesday also means no criticizing.

Criticize – indicate the faults of (someone or something) in a disapproving way.

One thing about this is that it’s easy to see the faults in others. Even in writing it is difficult to see your own errors (i.e. the need of editors). Sometimes we need to apply this to life in general, that is, edit your life. “Your” being the key word here.

Criticism is sneaky and can roll off the tongue so easily. It can be done in many ways and even more so today than before since technology conceals much and through emojis and semicolons people roll their eyes and smack their lips. Speaking negatively under their breath while they throw up a smiley face.

If we really thought about it, we’d probably discover that we spend most of our day criticizing others.  We criticize the woman taking too long in the grocery line in front of us. We criticize the woman whose pants are too tight or shirt that exposes her breasts. We turn our lips up at the homeless man or the drunkard stumbling down the street. In our own thoughts, we do more criticizing than we’d admit outwardly and let’s not talk about writing! There’s a load of judgment here. The truth is that we can often see the splinter in the eyes of others but not the plank in our own. While we are pointing fingers, we tend to be far worse than the people we’re judging.

“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

– Dale Carnegie

When I was in High School, there was the perception that the person who was the loudest and the most critical was the toughest and they often became the most popular. This perception could not have been any further from the truth. The person who talks a lot knows nothing. Likewise, the person who is so quick to judge others is a fool. Be not mistaken, it takes a strong person to be kind, gentle and forgiving in a hateful world. Seeking vengeance and refusing to forgive is just as cocky and critical as condemning someone for what they wear.

Today, focus on editing your own life before you point out so much as a missing hair from someone else’s.

Don’t BeStressed, #BeWoW – My BeWoW Post

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My submission for this week
episode of Ron’s BeWoW Blogshare is on mental strength and stability.
We often attempt to plan every second of our lives. As a result, our
minds are clouded by a conglomerate of possible and maybes that did not
turn out the way we intended. While preparation is good, over analyzing
and planning increases stress. You cannot relax long enough for things
to work themselves out smoothly because you’re too busy planning ahead.
You have no time for the present moment because you’re always thinking
about the next. Time then passes you by and before you know it today is a
memory. The question is now: what did we make of it? It is important to
work hard, and to fill each day with some kind of task but do not
forget to breathe. Don’t forget to smile. Don’t forget to hug the person
next to you or do something for someone else for a change. Let things
run their course as they were intended to. I understand this is easier
said than done and it may even require you to give up certain pleasures
for the sake of peace in your mind. This is important because the mind
is where it all begins, it is higher than the physical and where the
spiritual dwells. A lot of times we think we are weak in certain areas
when we’re not. The weakness instead is in the mind. It is clouded by
unnecessary burdens we place on ourselves. Plan, organize, and structure,
but go with the flow too. Don’t continue to allow yourself to
BeStressed because life is too short. Instead, clear your mind. It may
be hard to find, but try to discover the reasons why and let things
happen as they will without factoring your genius in the equation.

**************

And that’s my BeWoW for today. Yall be great.

– EC

#Ronovan #Writes #BeWoW Prompt – Family

Welcome back to another episode of Ronovan Writes Be Wonderful on Wednesday. As I thought about this prompt, I was led to an older post of mine. As I read it, I could not help but see the family connection. I decided then to incorporate portions of that post into this week’s prompt because it is fitting:

be-wow-bloggerFamily…

My nephew has my birthmark on his chest. My face has my mother’s nose, and my smile is etched with my father’s teeth. I interact with the world as if on my own. It never occurs to me that I swing my arms like my Aunt. Or that the decisions I make may have already been made before. After all, they say there is nothing new under the sun. I cannot swim. But maybe that’s because the Great Flood has traumatized me, for I can still taste salt water seas on my tongue. Have you ever thought about the make-up of a blood line? The reality that maybe you inherited these ways only to gift them to someone else one day. I smile at the thought. What would a little girl look like with my eyes, my words and my hands on her hips? How do I know my favorite tree in which to rest my exhausted spirit from the soles of the Earth did not bleed with the stench of my ancestors? And have I ever fathomed why Hurricanes take the exact same route as the slave ships? Can it be that suicides still burn like melted ash upon the ocean floor? Its smoke intermingled with the wind as if to intercourse themselves into one before marching out to the beat of Negro Spirituals I could have sworn I just heard on the radio last night. Or maybe that’s just the Harriet in me. Family. We bond deeper than flesh and thicker than blood. A connection of bodies strung together, we thread ourselves into mixed fabric. Family does not relegate itself to kin, but it surpasses genetics and is reflective in a close friend, a loyal co-worker, a longtime lover. Family is the strength of struggle, reaching down to scrape me off the floor, or build me up when need be. I could Webster dictionary Family, but it is of no use. A dictionary cannot page itself into the substance of what it means to treat others as you yourself would like to be treated, or ponder the reasons why deception never really could separate close friends. Among its many words a dictionary will never fully articulate the experience embodied simply by way of a bloodline. So I suppose I could seek to decipher the definitions behind the syllables but they will not fill me. How could Webster ever fathom the depth of someone who is willing to die for you? This is family.