No Whining Wednesday: Gratitude and Faith

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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.

I don’t have much to write to you today, but I want to share this quote with you. I hope it will inspire you as it did me.

Gratitude and faith are such a great balance to me. One requires that we appreciate all we have, and the other challenges us to believe that what we do not yet have is on the way. We can be both content and consistently striving for better at the same time. This contentment does not become complacency, and this striving does not diminish our humility and appreciation for what is.

When waking up with gratitude and laying down with faith, what is there to complain about?

No Whining Wednesday – You Are Inherently Worthy

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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.

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How other people view you is not a measurement of your worthiness. Both online and off, good decision or bad decision, right or wrong, your value does not change.

A Quick Story.

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When I first moved to Georgia in 2017, I enrolled in Argosy University, Atlanta. This was before Covid, so I had on and offline classes. In one of my campus classes, we always did these exercises. In one activity, we were talking about hot personality, cold personality, and warm. We had to say which one we thought we were and why. A few of my classmates mentioned I was cold. This perplexed me because we had not known each other that long. When they said it, most of the class agreed.

I went home feeling down. Their words had seeped into my soul, and I questioned what made them think I was a cold-hearted person. Had I done something to them? Did I offend anyone? Had they heard something about me?

Then, I thought back to my childhood and realized this wasn’t anything new. I remember being told my twin would be a bride for Halloween and that I would be the devil. As a kid, I remembered thinking, “the devil?”

I laugh at it now, but it affected my self-esteem and how I thought of myself back then. This was not the only time, someone had also decided I would be a witch years prior. “A witch?” I remembered thinking. It was weird to me because my sister was some kind of animal. If we are twins, why am I a witch and she’s a cute kitten?

I was always referred to as “the mean twin,” and it affected how I felt about myself.

Going home after that class made me think of all these things, and I questioned if I was a good person.

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What I’ve realized since then is how we tend to tie our self-worth to other people. We look at the way others perceive us, and we measure ourselves up to that image. That person doesn’t like me, so I am not a good person, or that person admires me, so I am a good person. This is especially true in the age of social media. This person I admire didn’t like my post, so I guess it wasn’t a good post, or this person did like it, so I guess it was good.

All of this is a lie.

The same worthiness you have when people think highly of you, or when you are winning and making the right choices, and being the best version of yourself is the same worthiness you still have when people think of you in a negative light, when you make mistakes, or when you are not your best self.

There is one truth, and it is the only truth that matters:

You are inherently worthy.

This worth does not need to be earned or won or acknowledged to exist. You have value and purpose the moment you enter this world. As the scripture says, “before I formed you in your mother’s belly I knew you, and I did set you apart.” (Jer. 1:5)

How other people perceive this set-apartness does not determine if it exists. It is there and was there from the very beginning.

No Whining Wednesday – We Are Each Other’s Harvest

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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.

This week, I kept thinking about teamwork, network, and community. As such, I was inspired by the following quote from Gwendolyn Brooks.

IMG-4242I did something different this week. I asked my audience on Instagram what the quote meant to them. This was part of my quest for us to be each other’s harvest. As a result, I got a lot of good feedback, and I want to share some of it with you.

But first, a little history:

Gwendolyn Brooks poem from which this quote derives is about the Black singer, and activist Paul Robeson. In fact, the poem is called Paul Robeson.

“The poem from which the text ‘we are each other’s is drawn is one example of Brooks’s commitment to civil rightsa poem she wrote in testament to Paul Robeson. Robeson was a Black actor and activist, a famous baritone who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era for his political commitments. Brooks celebrates his leadership at his death writing, “That time, we all heard it…The major Voice. The adult Voice…warning, in music-words devout and large that we are each other’s harvest: we are each other’s business: we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”  – Interfaith Youth Core

Gwendolyn Brooks was a poet whose family moved from Topeka, Kansas, to Chicago during the Great Migration, the massive movement of Blacks from the south to northern cities. Brooks loved Chicago, as I do, and she drew on her experiences in the city to tell the stories of Black urban communities. Brooks called Chicago her “Home Base.”

“We are each other’s
harvest:
we are each other’s
business:
we are each other’s magnitude and bond.”

Gwendolyn Brooks lived these words, becoming the first Black Pulitzer prize winner, the Poet Laureate of Illinois, the Poet Laureate Consultant for the Library of Congress, and the first African American woman to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts. She also dedicated time to teaching the next generation of artists in Chicago.

We Are Each Other’s Harvest

In farming, a harvest is a season for gathering crops. (Come on, Queen Sugar fans) One of the reasons I felt this was such a powerfully timely quote is because Fall is harvest season:

“Harvesting is the process of gathering ripe crops, or animals and fish, to eat. While not all crops are ready for harvest in the Fall, apples, winter squashes like pumpkins and acorn squash, and potatoes are!”

– American Farm Bureau for Agriculture

If we are each other’s harvest, we nurture one another. In that spirit of collaboration, we can illustrate the lyrics of this poem by supplying one another with the strength we gather from the positive words of others.

That’s what No Whining Wednesday is about, working together to cut down on our complaints and criticisms by adopting a spirit of gratitude and thankfulness.

Here are some of my favorites from the post, and I would love to hear what you think of the quote as well!

Take it away, guys!

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No Whining Wednesday – Struggles and Strength

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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.

Our poets are preparing for their interviews, so we have time to squeeze in an NWW. Today’s inspiring word comes from yours truly:

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Chicago, Summer, 1997

EC is ten years old, and that dollar she got for having a good report card is burning a hole in her pocket. She really wanna get ice cream from the ice cream truck singing down the street. But first, she’ll have to get rid of these toys. You see, EC and her twin had a habit of bringing all their barbies outside so they could play with their friends down the street. As the sky grew darker and the street lights came on, EC thought she’d run across the street, buy the ice cream and be back before mama started yelling. It was the perfect plan.

“Hold my toys.”

“But mama said it’s time to come in the house,” her twin whined.

EC rolled her eyes. “Girl, just hold my stuff.”

But EC never made it to that ice cream truck. She was hit by a car just seconds after dashing across the street.

The good news is she lived, which is how she’s writing this right now. But her seemingly simple act of rebellion would have a lifetime impact.

Back to 2021

Last week, I got caught in the rain, and I mean, I got soaked.

I went home, made dinner, and all was well until later that night when my leg started to ache. It wasn’t a big deal to me because I am used to it. Plus, I expected to feel some pain in my thigh because of the rain.

When the car hit me, it broke the bone in my thigh. It was not repairable and in its place is a steel plate I’ll live with for the rest of my life. But what’s this got to do with the rain?

Metal in the body can irritate a nearby tendon or other soft tissues or cause minor to severe pain related to weather changes, especially when many years have gone by and the metal is infused with the body. This is because metal implants transfer heat and cold better than human tissue.

“In other words, while joint conditions may not physically worsen, the pain can seem more intense. Occasionally there is some aching around the scar, which can become worse in cold weather…this is more common with patients who have a metal implant.”

Dr. Tuvi Mendel of Quad City-based Orthopedic Specialist

People with metal implants might feel the cold more in the implant area during lower temperatures. Some people are also affected by the rain.

“Most often, weather-related pain occurs in injured joints or at the site of a previously broken bone. While scientists aren’t entirely sure exactly what causes pain when it rains, it is known to be related to barometric pressure. The barometric pressure drops when storms are rolling in, and somehow, the body detects this change, causing swelling of soft tissue or expansion of the joint fluid. These changes in the collection are what ultimately lead to pain.”

https://aica.com/why-do-past-injuries-hurt-when-it-rains/

The most common way we know how struggle strengthens us is when exercising and how our muscles respond to growing challenges. But what’s less obvious is how this same principle applies to the mind. We pray for strength, but we don’t always realize that we are also asking for a struggle.

Stay with me.

Strength does not fall out of the sky. It is the result of overcoming something difficult. Anytime those struggles arrive in our lives, we can activate the willpower to overcome, which builds mental strength.

Every painful experience offers us a chance to develop emotional fortitude.

That summer, I couldn’t go outside unless someone carried me or I used my walker. You might be wondering about a wheelchair. I couldn’t use that because they used surgical staples that went from just about my knee until the end of my thigh.

Because of this, I did not wear a cast but a self-adhering wrap was wrapped around my entire right leg, from my thigh, where the staples were down to my feet. I was blessed not to have to endure the itchiness of the cast, and my skin could breathe when we changed the wrap, but I also could not bend my leg for weeks.

This is exactly how my wrap looked.

When I say we think it’s our wins that make us stronger, but it’s really our struggles, I mean that challenges and struggles are an opportunity to become wiser. We all need encouragement, and it feels good to be acknowledged for our accomplishments. Praise has its place, but it’s the struggle that grows us.

If everything is always easy, you won’t know how to function when things fall apart. As the saying goes, “the man who falls seven times and stands up eight is stronger than the person who has never fallen.”

Consider the standing in the grocery line longer than expected example. This is an opportunity to be patient. Who knows the next time you will need this skill? These abilities are developed the more they are used.

I always hated math as a kid, but I like that it challenged me mentally. The very fact that it was “hard” is why I needed to do more of it.

By the way, Firefox crashed after I wrote this. I had to wait like ten minutes for everything to start back up. The computer decided it would take its precious time, and I felt myself getting irritated. Then, it crashed again only the second time I was not as annoyed. Apparently, I need more patience.

No Whining Wednesday – The Power Within

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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 from Alice Walker.

 

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I used to try to save the world until I matured enough to understand I can only save myself. By realizing the power I have to make changes to my personal and spiritual well-being, I, therefore, had the power to impact everything and everyone else around me.

I no longer use my energy to force people to live and think and be a certain way. Instead, I am simply being and my being itself does the work for me. What freedom!

I am who I am, and I live as I live, and it inspires people without much effort. This is much more freeing than pointing fingers and dragging people to wells to drink water. Nowadays, people see me at the well, and they arrive on their own. 

What did you think it meant to let your light shine?

Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

We change the world by changing ourselves. Cliche as that may be, it is not always easy to put these words into practice. We spend a lot of time complaining and worrying about the lives of others to the extent that we don’t always see ourselves, which is where the power is.

In the words of Marianne Williamson, we have all at one point asked, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”

If we all worked toward being better people, the power of that collective energy could shift the earth. To add value to the lives of others, we must value others, but we cannot value others if we do not first value ourselves.

We cannot change the outer world with no revolution of self because while the outside can look good, you are still you inside. If the you inside is unhappy and nasty and corrupt, it will only leak out into the world. 

An African proverb says, “When there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do you no harm.”

When you refuse to allow self-limiting beliefs to live in your mind, the doubts and naysays from people outside of yourself won’t hinder you.

The question is, do you believe you are that powerful?

No Whining Wednesday – A Time to Speak and a Time Not to Speak

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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 comes from a powerful word from an amazing poet I follow on Instagram named Obbie West:

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I give these NWW’s a lot of thought, but I ain’t have it in me this week. I couldn’t discern what to write, and I decided I was not going to force it. I am just going to post an inspirational quote and remind everyone not to complain today. But then, I heard a poem with these words.

A common saying I’ve used is, “only speak when it improves on the silence.” I might have even put it in a poem. It means to speak when you have something of value to add to the conversation. I’ve used this saying as my personal barometer on whether I should say something or not for years, so when I heard West say, “speaking just to be accepted is the same as being silent,” it instantly resonated with me, and brought me back to the first quote. We can also say, “speaking just for the sake of speaking is the same as being silent.”

This quote also brought me back to writing. Writing is speaking, too, and I am not just talking about writing books or blog posts. Posting something to Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and Twitter is also speaking. This is where I think we take much for granted. When you post something on the internet, you talk just like you uttered the words out loud. Here is where we come back to the topic at hand: whining, criticizing, and complaining.

The ease of posting and instant gratification can make us think that what we have to say is important even when not. Everyone has an amen corner, and sometimes they be doing too much, and you have to be careful not to let the hype go to your head.

Confused about The Amen Corner? Come with me to Mt. Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church of Zion, of Mt. Calvary.

In the black Church, especially Baptists, there are always “mothers” huddled together on one side of the room. They are usually older women, mothers, and grandmothers, wearing white with larger-than-life hats in the front pew. They are the ones with the candy and gum, the shawl to throw over your shoulder, or the blanket to drape over your knees if your dress is too short. Chances are they grew up in said Church, know everyone’s business, were the secret originator of church gossip, and serve as the church elders. In short, they are not to be played with. Their facial expressions will kill you, resurrect you, and kill you again.

You can expect them to rock back and forth during the sermon, shake their heads, and wave fans in their faces as they grunt their agreements with the pastor. Every few minutes, you can hear them shout, “Amen!” This starts a trail of amens from the rest of the congregation.

But, after a while, it starts to get annoying because black baptists churches are an all-day affair. After the sweat has crawled its way down the pastor’s neck and he has finished his run down the aisle and lost his breath, he finally declares, “Hold on for a little bit longer. We almost there.” The sigh of relief in your heart brings a smile to your face. It’s finally over.

But not really.

At this moment, the amen corner says, “Take ya, time, pastor!” This is followed by a waving of the handkerchief or hand in the direction of the pulpit. Thanks to these mothers, we will be here for another two hours.

You see, the amen corner means well, and their support is appreciated, but they do too much.

Many people will cosign what you say even if it doesn’t make sense, primarily online. Because of this instant feedback, we complain a whole lot on this here innanet, and, to be clear, I am not saying complaints don’t have their place, but just because it’s on our mind doesn’t mean we should say it.

Social media is not your diary, journal, or therapist, and these people following you on these free apps are not your counselors. Most of them aren’t even your friends.

I find it sad I know people more by looking at their most recent Facebook post than I do in person because people seem to confide in social media in ways they don’t do offline. We don’t have time to get into that, but people just be talking to hear themselves talk, or as we say in the black community, “talking out the side of their neck.”

All to be accepted, verified, or gain the approval of the amen corner.

“Speaking just to be accepted is the same as being silent.”

Obbie West

People often say I have this joyous energy, but I am not always joyful or motivational. I show up excited because I genuinely enjoy what I do. It wakes me up in the morning and gets my blood pumping. I complain and criticize like the rest of us humans. I try not to let it spill out into the public without a purpose.

What I practice is typing things into the notepad of my phone. When sporadic thoughts come, I type them in that notepad to get it down. It may be beneficial later on, or I may delete it. I know myself enough to know I should not post everything that’s on my mind.

I also journal when I feel sad, depressed, angry, or just in deep thought, meditative space. I write a lot of poems this way, by hand in my journal. These things help me to cut down on complaining publicly in ways that aren’t always healthy. When I do complain online, it’s to serve a purpose or bring attention to a situation.

I understand the power of words and choose to use them carefully. I am not a small talk kind of person. I don’t even like to talk on the phone. I speak much more passionately when the conversation serves a purpose. Otherwise, I find it best to keep silent.

Speaking / Writing is a responsibility. Let’s use it wisely.


Update: Missed this? Check out the replay @writepath247 on Instagram.

No Whining Wednesday – The Way You Carry It

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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 comes from a powerful word from Lena Horne:

When you think about physically carrying something, you know that how you carry it makes a big difference. The proper way to lift heavy items is to bend your hips and knees to squat down, keep them close to your body, and straighten your legs to lift. If you do this wrong, you could hurt your back. It is also recommended never to lift a heavy object above shoulder level and avoid turning or twisting your body while lifting or holding a heavy object.

“Lift with your legs, not with your back.” That old saying is true for a reason: “The muscles in the legs and buttocks are bigger and more power­ful than the tiny back muscles,” notes Clare Safran-Norton, clinical supervisor of rehabilitation services at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.”

-https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/boost-your-ability-to-lift-and-carry-heavy-loads

You also have to determine what it is you are lifting. Is it a box with liquid in it? Is it fragile? Can you even carry it by yourself? And even if you have people to help you, is it better to use a vehicle or crane or something to help carry it?

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever tried to balance something on your head like the women in Africa?

The women carry large loads on their heads. Although it looks strenuous, “a study found that African women can carry up to 20% of their body weight on their heads without increasing their rate of energy consumption.” (LA Times)

“In Ghana, women glide through Accra’s central market with such improbable burdens on their heads as a cage full of live chickens, a card table piled with glassware, a 100-pair-high stack of blue jeans. In southern Sudan, Dinka women walk for miles with only a ring of palm fronds padding their shaved skulls from the weight of 80-pound clay pots brimming with sorghum beer. Here in Nairobi, girls skip home from school, holding hands with each other, bundles of books on their heads.”

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1986-12-07-mn-1243-story.html

Now, let’s remove the physical aspect of carrying large loads and think of it mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Because no one can see the heaviness we carry, we sometimes overestimate the importance of asking for help or putting the burden down (letting go). Sometimes, we might even need to break a situation down into parts we can manage.

A quick story.

Detergent in the storage closet of my basement

I am always doing laundry. I don’t know what it is, but clothes seem to come out of nowhere. Mind you, there are only two people in this house. Because I wash a lot, I purchase detergent in bulk. It comes in these giant buckets (see image) from a black-owned general store in Marietta, Georgia. This place is better than the dollar tree. Anytime I need something in bulk, I go there first, from paper plates to detergent, and it’s very affordable.

The smaller containers we use

Because the buckets are so heavy, we pour the detergent into the smaller containers we have left over. I don’t usually do this because even to pour it into the containers requires lifting the bucket, so this is hubby’s job. Until one day, I tried to be a superwoman…

Chile, it was a mess. I ended up wasting detergent everywhere. I got the job done, but it would have been so much easier to ask for help. All I had to do was walk upstairs and ask the man to pour more detergent, but I wanted to do it myself.

Ya’ll see where I’m going with this, right? Of course, you do.

Another quick story

Several months ago we got a new TV for the basement. The thing was huge and could not fit into the car. Ya’ll, people were literally laughing at us trying to figure out how to make it work in that Walmart parking lot. We turned it every which way, took it out of the box, everything. What in the world were we thinking of getting a TV that big without a truck? A mess. Thankfully, a friend of my husband’s walked up, and guess what he was driving? A truck.

Sometimes what we are carrying is not the problem; it’s how we carry it that breaks us down. Occasionally, we don’t have to carry it at all.

“Bag lady you goin’ hurt yo back
Draggin all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold on to
Is you, is you, is you.” – Erykah Badu