No Whining Wednesday – Growth Isn’t Always What You Can See

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Welcome back to another episode of No Whining Wednesday! Today, you cannot whine, criticize, or complain.

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

Today’s inspiring word is about growth:

I’ve heard growth several times this week and the one message that stuck with me is this one.

“Growth isn’t always what you can see.”

While I love that people realize the importance of self-love these days, social media can make that look like a fairy tale. People start to make money and travel, and then they post pictures of themselves living their best life and caption it something about self-love. This can give the impression loving on yourself is only luxury. 

But self-love is not all glamorous. It is not manicures and pedicures and vacations to Ghana. That can be a form of self-care, but self-love includes:

  • Acknowledging your own crap
  • Setting Boundaries
  • Discipline
  • Forgiveness
  • Saying No
  • Speaking Up
  • Seeking therapy 
  • and more (add them here)

People have gone so far as to say they are not humble because “humility is thinking low of oneself.” A lot of this “self-love” on the internet is really just arrogance masquerading as growth.

What I have noticed is growth is being promoted as this outward, physical thing. Growth can be outward. We do not have the same bodies as adults we had as children because our bodies grow and expand as we age. 

But a twelve-year-old with a twenty-year-old body still has the mind of a twelve-year-old.

And a sixteen-year-old who reads and counts at the level of a ten-year-old would be considered for a learning disability.

These examples show growing outwardly is not enough. 

Outward growth is expansion. Inward growth is depth. 

Root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and beets don’t look like much outwardly because they grow underground. Peanuts also grow underground.

We can also see this by looking at the tree in general. Its branches stretch wide with leaves and fruit, and it’s beautiful.

But if that tree is not rooted in the soil, it will be blown away by the weakest storm.

No matter how beautiful the tree has expanded on the outside, the tree doesn’t stand a chance if its roots have not grown deep below.

Just because you do not physically see the growth does not mean it’s not happening.

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?

 

Unfinished

Photo by Carlos Quintero on Unsplash

Would you still love me

If I told you instead of making mistakes, I made choices

that clawed its way into my conscious

Would it frighten you

to know being hit by a car isn’t my only accident

and a surgical staple isn’t the only thing

I’ve been shot with

Would it shock you

if I said, I am not always acting like a queen

Could I be honest

about the weight of this crown

What if I confessed my sins in ink

washed my hands of transgression on paper

Is it okay if I sacrifice my body to this poem?

Purify my mind and kill my pride

by lynching my secrets to this tree

transform this test into a testimony

take this trial and morph it into some kind of triumph

some kind of victory like the overcoming of flesh

forged in a fire for the overcoming of death

Would you still admire me

If you knew about the parts of me that aren’t admirable

Add me

to your list of humans humble enough to admit

we encounter defeat

but strong enough not to be defeated

We are not diminished

Maybe just a little

unfinished


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It’s Okay to Begin Again

I have not been as active on this blog as I need to, but know if you see me less, that’s because I’m doing more!

Although I have not published much, I have a bit I am working on, including a new potential author client preparing to release her book (throws invisible confetti), part two to #TWWBE (Yep. Surprise), the anthology for Black History Fun Fact Friday, and tons of articles sitting in my drafts, waiting to be picked to go next.

Poor babies. Mommy has not forgotten you. I hope to get part two of Signs You Are Not Ready to Self-Publish out this week, time permitting.

Today, I want to give you an update remixed with a lesson I’ve learned in the process.

I am starting over with my email list, and I am deleting my Business Facebook page at the close of this year.

I have had the same author email list since 2015, and hard as it was for me to accept, I don’t have the same audience. Much has changed between then and now.

I received good email opens but very little engagement. It started to feel like people were watching me, although they were no longer interested in what I had to offer. I got little feedback which made drafting and sending emails less fun. I was also getting a lot of spam sign-ups. That’s when I knew it was time for a change.

This morning, I deleted everyone from the old list* except for the two people who emailed me a reply to say they are interested in being on the new list.

*This is not my poetry list, but my general author list. If you are subscribed to the poetry list, you are good!

I started to backtrack, though. Building an author email list isn’t easy, and neither was deleting over four hundred emails I’ve worked hard to accumulate over the years. I started to send one final email asking people to reply if they are interested in being added to the new list.

Then, I realized this was an excuse to hold on a bit longer.

The truth is the interested people had already told me as such, and I had to accept that.

It is also true quality will always be better than quantity.

In the end, it didn’t matter how many people were signed up. What mattered was who was engaging. How is it only two people replied to me? I decided this was unacceptable.

I also decided to change my strategy. It is not lost on me my part in this. I’ve struggled with my list for some time, and I hope to become better at it.

And instead of deleting my email list altogether, I am starting over. I still believe in the value of the author’s email list, especially in light of how many people have their social media pages deleted.

The lesson can be summed up in the following quote:

“You get to change your mind about things that are no longer aligned with or supportive of your growth.”

– Alex Elle

Simply put, it’s okay to begin again.


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Black History Fun Fact Friday – Juneteenth

Many Black Americans are replacing their fourth of July celebrations with Juneteenth. I don’t celebrate holidays, and as much as I love my people, this includes Kwanzaa and Juneteenth. But I think it’s important to talk about Juneteenth, and why it is celebrated. For some, this day is a celebration of freedom, but even after Juneteenth, many blacks were still enslaved and suffering.

According to the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, the proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

By rebellious states, it was referring to those states that had seceded or withdrawn from the United States, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also exempted parts of the Confederacy (the Southern secessionist states) that had already come under Northern control. The freedom it promised also depended upon United States military victory. In brief, emancipation only applied to those slaves who lived near Union lines.

Sound like a bunch of excuses to me.

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News of the supposed emancipation did not spread as quickly as the movies would have us to believe. Many slave-owners packed up their belongings and their slaves and moved to Texas in mass.

“Since the capture of New Orleans in 1862, slave owners in Mississippi, Louisiana and other points east had been migrating to Texas to escape the Union Army’s reach.” (Henry Louis Gates Jr.)

In a hurried re-enactment of the original Middle Passage, more than 150,000 enslaved people had made the trek west, according to historian Leon Litwack in his book Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of SlaveryAs one former slave recalled, “it looked like everybody in the world was going to Texas.” For the next two years, the enslaved would live removed from the updates of the war, and slavery would go on, business as usual.

And so, when General Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas, on June 19th to lead the Union occupation force, he had to deal with ongoing slavery in defiance of the Emancipation Proclamation. To fix this, he issued the following order:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Wait, what?

 “The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Idleness? Mmkay.

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I Just Want My 40 Acres

 

Long story short, this proclamation, specifying “all slaves were free,” is the foundation for Juneteenth’s celebration, combining June and the nineteenth when they issued the order, commemorating the freedom of the enslaved and allegedly ending slavery in the US.

But, this order did not free all enslaved persons.

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“There is much evidence to suggest that southern whites—especially Confederate parolees—perpetrated more acts of violence against newly freed bondspeople in Texas than in other states,” writes historian Elizabeth Hayes Turner in an essay titled “Juneteenth: Emancipation and Memory.”

“Between the Neches and Sabine rivers and north to Henderson,” she continues, “reports showed that blacks continued in a form of slavery, intimidated by former Confederate soldiers still in uniform and bearing arms.” Murder, lynching, and harassment were common. “You could see lots of Negroes hanging from trees in Sabine bottom right after freedom,” reported one freed slave, “They would catch them swimming across Sabine River and shoot them.”

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Blacks celebrated their freedom with the first official Juneteenth event in 1866, where they read the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and, oddly, praised Abraham Lincoln as the great liberator.

The celebrations continued until coming to a halt with the institution of Black Codes and, eventually, Jim Crow. These laws essentially put Blacks back into a form of slavery where they were fully disenfranchised. After the Civil War and the end of slavery, Southern states, which had amassed great wealth from slavery, found their economy in shambles. They had to figure out how to keep a slave-like system going.

Black Codes and Pig Laws unfairly penalized poor African Americans for crimes such as stealing a pig. It was also a crime to be unemployed.

So that’s what they meant by “they will not be supported in idleness.”

These laws could be imposed on Black men easily, sending them to jail, and thus, former slave owners turned “entrepreneurs” could lease them to various companies that would work them to death and treat them like they were slaves. This made the states tons of money.

In 1883, about ten percent of Alabama’s total revenue was derived from convict leasing. In 1898, nearly 73 percent of total revenue came from this same source. Death rates among leased convicts were approximately ten times higher than the death rates of prisoners in non-lease states. In 1873, for example, 25 percent of all black leased convicts died.

The laws passed in Texas were similar to those passed in every other Confederate state. Modern-day politicians often make comparisons to Jim Crow as one of the worst periods in African American life. Jim Crow didn’t have shit on the Black Codes, which was the South’s attempt to recreate enslavement and go back to business as usual. Mass incarceration isn’t a recent invention; during the Black Codes, Black people could do little without running afoul of the law with the penalty being sent back to the fields if they weren’t already there.

William Spivey, Why Celebrate Juneteenth and What Did It Accomplish

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Texas Juneteenth Day Celebration, 1900 (Austin History Center, Austin Public Library)

Juneteenth didn’t make a full resurgence until The Civil Rights Movement, when Blacks began to celebrate it in full again. And while many Blacks have celebrated it for centuries, it still did not become an official Holiday until 1980, when it was made a Texas State Holiday. Still, it wasn’t until 1997 that Congress recognized June 19 as “Juneteenth Independence Day,” after pressure from a collection of groups like the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage and the National Juneteenth Celebration Foundation.

UPDATE:

This post was originally published three years ago, in June of 2018. As of today, June of 2021, Juneteenth is now being turned into a National Federal Holiday.

But the question remains, what exactly did Juneteenth accomplish for the black man, woman, and child? What freedom did it bring about? Some sum it up this way:

“Today Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long over due. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.” – https://juneteenth.com/

But, Spivey brings out another good point worth considering:

“Texas after Juneteenth wasn’t an anomaly. Slavery continued to go on in states in the South, North, and West. In some cases, for several years. Slavery still existed in other parts of the United States and did so until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865, and beyond.

Slavery still existed in Delaware and Kentucky, which resisted all Union attempts to end slavery and refused to ratify the 13th Amendment. In California, slavery was sort of outlawed in 1850 as a condition for statehood. The exception was slaves who had been brought to California and where the possibility they might return one day to their original home existed, even if that state had voted to ratify the 13th Amendment.

New Jersey had as many as 400 people remain slaves long after Juneteenth. Oregon’s provisional government banned slavery in 1844 but forbade free black people from settling in the territory. Settlers continued to bring slaves with them. General Joseph Lane, a former territorial governor, kept at least one slave on his farm until 1878, 13 years after the passage of the 13th Amendment.”

It is true Blacks were not free on July 4, 1776. But it is also true many Blacks were not free on June 19, 1865, either.

As many African Americans celebrate and reflect this weekend on what this day means to them, there is certainly much to think about.


Click HERE for more Black History Fun Facts!

Speaking of Freedom, this is a great time to dive into The Stella Trilogy if you have not already! Below is the link to book one. Enjoy!

About.

In book one, Cynthia McNair and her boyfriend, Alex, express some racists’ feelings toward blacks. They visit Cynthia’s Grandmother Sidney McNair, who recounts the story of her ancestor, a slave named Stella Mae. Cynthia has no idea of her African ancestry or how deep this rabbit hole goes.