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.

The Wait is Over

I’ve been working on this collection of poetry since I released I am Soul three years ago. So much as happened in that time that most of this year feels like it happened years ago. It feels like Kobe Bryant died in 2019, but then I remember that tragedy happened earlier this year. I have to remind myself that Kobe’s death is how we opened the year!

It feels like I went to Spain for the first time last year, and then I realize that it was just this past February.

Sometimes, it feels like Friday, and then I remember it is only Tuesday. I find myself looking at the calendar more just to remind myself what day it is.

This is 2020.

The most significant change is the COVID-19 pandemic. Usually, we focus on our individual struggles, trials, and tribulations, so it’s funny to think about the world around us being just as chaotic as our internal struggles. As if a global, deadly virus isn’t enough, the rest of the world is just as upside down.

Black men and women continue to be gunned down in the streets. Historical monuments are being demolished as people awaken to the truth of its origin. The traditional school experience for our babies is all but gone. Sports games do not have an audience.

Oh, and we are all walking around wearing masks and shaming people for not being “productive,” enough during a pandemic.

*Queue George Orwell’s 1984*

We are eight months into 2020, and I sense we haven’t seen anything yet.

But there is always hope.

There is no better time than to release this collection amid such a revolutionary era. Revolution only means change, and while most of the changes we’ve seen have been negative, there is a lot of good happening too. The good is harder to see because hope doesn’t make the news, but like the wind, it is there. I had my first school visit this year, where I spoke to 15 ELA classes about writing. I also had my first keynote invite and welcome this year by the Queenz Circle of ATL Bookclub before the pandemic took away the freedom of face-to-face events.

A lot has happened this year not just for me but also for you, so here’s what I’ve learned.

I’ve learned nothing we go through is without a purpose. No pain we suffer and no trial we experience happens without reason. It all ministers to our education and the development of ourselves into the people Yah ordained us to be. It helps to cultivate in us a spirit of patience, faith, humility, and self-control.

I hope these poems are a reminder that in our darkest moments, there is still hope. And I hope this collection will invigorate and renew your soul.

I am excited to share this with you!

My Soul is a Witness ❤️

No Whining Wednesday – It is Easier to Walk When It’s Not Raining

Wow. It’s been sooo long since we’ve had a No Whining Wednesday episode! I have officially fallen off. But, I’m back. If you are new to this blog be sure to click here to learn more about what NWW is all about.

The No Whining Wednesday Badge

 

I don’t open up much on social media. Not that I am hiding anything. It is just that social media, with a few exceptions, is not real. It is virtual reality. A place people go to hide their flaws, criticize others, and pretend that their lives are great. This is annoying and I find myself not wanting to be involved except in sharing my writing. I log in, post up and log off. Sometimes (every other month), I deactivate my Facebook account completely. Social media is good for business but it is an energy exchange like everything else. I have to cut it off like I cut off toxic energy. I have limited my use to business-related posts only with some motivation thrown in there. Today, I will make an exception and let you in, briefly, on what has been going on with me. I call this, “It is Easier to Walk When It’s Not Raining.”

For a few months, I have not been feeling well. I do not mean physically. I mean emotionally. I have felt unmotivated and uninspired. I had no real reason to feel this way. No one spoke badly of me (not to my face anyway lbs) and I have had no shortage of work. Instead, more opportunities came my way, but it seemed the more events I attended and the more work I did, the less excited I felt. I did not feel unexcited completely. I was and am thankful for the opportunities that come to me. I was just not over the top and I know I should have been. I know I should be. So, what gives?

Part of this reason is the lack of support I have received. This is only a small part (I know it is much deeper than this), but it is a part. As I reflected on myself and my work, it seemed the more work I did, the less support I received. Despite these feelings, I continued to book work, plan for school and post up about my events. I continued to send emails and update my socials. I continued to do this not to deny my feelings. Nothing goes away just because you ignore it. We must address things. We must address feelings. Energy/Spirits/Vibes must be rebuked, removed, accessed. I continued because when the sun is shining (metaphorically and literally), and the birds are chirping and the sidewalk is clear of obstacles it is much easier to walk. You can circle the block while humming your favorite tune and walk at your own pace. But when it rains, everything changes.

Walking in the rain is easier if you are prepared. If you have an umbrella or raincoat, boots, and good windshield wipers. But your vision is still blurry compared to when it is not raining and you will still have to walk or drive slower than usual. There is also the fear of being struck by lightning, trees crashing into homes and cars, and other factors we must consider during a serious storm.

When we are going through our most difficult times, we want to stop. I have wanted to stop tons of times these past few months. But we shouldn’t stop because these are the most important times. These times, when things are not going well and we feel down, are the times when we are being strengthened. These are the times when we grow the most. Anyone can drive or walk when it’s nice outside and nothing is wrong but not everyone can navigate a storm.

(Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying you have to be “fake positive,” when you are not feeling it. I am more so talking about not giving up when you come in contact with a bad storm in your life).

If you notice something beautiful happens after a good rain. Everything blossoms. The grass is greener, the leaves on the trees are fuller, and if you planted something, watch out! That something will grow tremendously. Therefore, instead of stopping when things are bad we should just keep going. We are not falling apart. As painful as it is, we are growing.We are being prepared, positioned, aligned.

If you have ever felt how I have felt, please do not stop. Just keep at it. Keep doing what you are doing. Be patient with yourself and have faith that your purpose will be revealed in time. It is always easier to walk when it’s not raining. As the saying goes, “everyone solid until put in hot water,” (Unknown).

It is the storms that ultimately reveal our strengths. From our level of preparation to our discipline and resolve. It is the storms that cultivate something in us and that prepares us for the next level.

Don’t run from the rain. Let yourself grow.

A Time to Love

“Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learning—because that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he is at his lowest and can’t believe in himself. When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child. Measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valley’s he come through before he got to wherever he is.”

–          Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun

No Whining Wednesday – Control Your Thoughts

Welcome back to another edition of No Whining Wednesday where you do not get to whine, criticize, or complain for this entire day. If you are new to this blog or new to this segment, please go HERE to learn more about what this is all about.

 

The No Whining Wednesday Badge

It’s been a while since I’ve done an NWW so although I am traveling this week and preparing to release Renaissance (where did the time go?), I thought it would be nice if we can be reminded not to whine. OK, that’s not entirely true. I also need this! I want to whine about so much today that I decided that if I need a reminder, so do you for we rarely endure different struggles. In essence, we go through the same things, packaged differently. That said, I have the perfect quote for us. It’s something that has been on my mind a lot:

As those of you who have been following this blog for awhile already know (or my email list for that mater) I am big on discipline. I believe it is deeper than inspiration and motivation. I believe that it is deeper because inspiration only lasts a moment. It takes discipline to stretch it and to will ourselves to the next step. It takes discipline to forcefully pull ourselves up. Discipline begins in our thoughts and this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Not just thinking about but striving to put it into practice. How do I control the things I think about? How do we transform the ways in which we think? More so than the act of complaining is the act of thinking about complaining. If we can stop thinking about certain things, then we can stop stressing over certain things. The discipline to stop making temporary situations a permanent part of our lives by ceasing from making them a part of our thoughts. If we can’t control what we think about, then we can’t control what we do. Today, let us focus less on our actions and more on the thoughts that influence them.