If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree

When I was a teenager, my cousins joked that I had discovered the cure for AIDS. It was their way of saying I was smart because I read a lot.

I even overheard my mother telling my aunt I was special. I got offended because I thought she meant special as in slow.

That’s because when I was a kid, I thought I was stupid.

In grammar school, I was a terrible student. I got straight Fs in the early years. And when we had to take the IOWA Test, I started to get held back. I can remember going to summer school as early as third grade, and I failed sixth grade twice. I failed seventh grade too, but someone had mercy on me enough to add my name to the eighth-grade roster, and that is how I entered the eighth grade.

I honestly cannot tell you what happened. I never learned the details. As far as I was concerned, it was a miracle.

Once in the eighth grade, they routinely removed me from class to go with the Special Ed teacher. My specific area of difficulty was math.

Whenever that teacher came to the door, all five of us would get up and walk out, and everyone knew what for. It was embarrassing, and I felt ashamed.

If I was so terrible at school, how did I graduate with honors with an armful of Creative Writing awards? And how did I end up in ILCA?

ILCA is short for International Language Career Academy. It was a program at my high school where students had to take four years of language instead of two, and all their courses were advanced except for the electives.

By my junior year of High School, I was not only enrolled in all honors classes, but I was also taking courses at Robert Morris College in downtown Chicago.

I would go to school during the day and then hop on the Green Line and go to college at night.

At the time, I was a member of the UMOJA Spoken Word Poetry club, trying out for track, and the only member of the yearbook team.

My schedule was crazy.

I was also on the drama team, where we wrote and performed plays at school assemblies.

At one of these plays, I recited my poem, “Black Beauty.” It was the first time I had ever shared my poetry with the public.

But let me back up just a bit.

I never explained how I went from Special Ed for math to taking advanced math classes…and passing.

Writing.

My eighth-grade teacher discovered I knew how to write, so they built my assignments around writing.

I excelled.

I excelled so much that I passed math, graduated with honors, and was placed in an advanced High School Program.

There’s an old saying, usually attributed to Einstein, that goes something like:

I was this fish. I used to think I was stupid.

Something in my brain just did not click. I didn’t even learn to ride a bike until I was nine years old.

At the time, The Robert Taylor Projects were considered the poorest urban community in the United States, second only to Cabrini Green. We did not ride bikes. We made tents out of dirty bedsheets, seesaws out of bed railings, and rollercoasters out of shopping carts.

Ain’t nobody have money for bikes.

And even though I’m a full adult now, I still get anxious about math and count slower than most.

People think I’m book smart, but the truth is it wasn’t until I focused on what I was good at (my purpose) that I started to do well.

It was never about being smart, but I was also not stupid. I just needed to find what worked for me, even if that meant I had to work harder than others.

The Point

Passion is connected to purpose. Those things you love to do (with or without payment), has a lot to do with what you are called to do.

Some of you are struggling with something, and it’s not because you are stupid or slow or incapable.

It could just be because you are a fish, trying to climb trees because that’s what everyone else is doing.

Find you some water.


I am Soul is 99cents through February. If you have read this book, be sure to leave an honest review on Amazon!

Hope Like Water

I must admit

I don’t know much about you

The first ocean in which I’ve ever swam

You were there in my mother’s womb

And every other home in which I’ve ever lived

I drink you

And you consume me

I cook with you

From pieces of your soul

I feed my children

And we bathe in your arms

Watching as you carry us

Water

Invisible

Yet nurturing

I know not what you are

Not exactly

I think you’re spiritual

Because you left your DNA in my skin

Your truth dripping as it clung onto my bones

Like breath of life escaping my lips

A misty cloud

A forehead kiss

Or a mother’s smile

And the world is yours to conquer

When she winks her eye

And you know you got this

You’re there to fulfill all our needs

A spiritual fluid

That man has not fully understood

Like heaven right here on Earth

Miracles

In the desert

If I could bottle hope

I imagine it’ll look something like you

If I could taste on my lips expectation

I imagine paradise would taste

Something like you

If truth could be wrapped up in one word

If hope could manifest itself

So we know what it looks like

I’d sum it up using one word

The only word with the power to both nourish

and destroy

To hurricane wrath

And to quench thirst

If I could touch the substance

of this expectation

I imagine it is hope

Like

Water.

Why Perms Are Afraid of Water

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If you don’t know about the health deficiencies of the relaxer by now, then you just don’t know. Perms and relaxers have been a long time favorite of many women, but this beauty regimen comes at a high price – hair breakage, scalp irritation, stunted hair growth, and even permanent hair loss.*

That’s because Sodium Hydroxide (the government name for the perm), is a dangerous chemical that eats away at any part of the body that it contacts, including hair. It is a very strong chemical that is also known as lye and caustic soda and is found in many industrial solvents and cleaners, including flooring stripping products, brick cleaners, cements, and many others. It can also be found in certain household products including:
• Drain cleaners
• Metal polishes
• Oven cleaners

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The interesting thing about the drain cleaner, is that the Sodium Hydroxide in it helps to clear away the hair often found corked at the bottom of bathtubs and sinks (eww right). That said, let’s get to the point here shall we? What does this have to do with the hair on our head? While it’ll take quite some time to explain all of the information concerning the side effects to the perm, let us just focus on the topic at hand, why are perms so afraid of water?

relaxed-hair

 

We’ve all been there. You just got your hair lyed, dyed, and laid to the side! What the beautician just did to your hair is nothing short of amazing. But you can’t get it wet. You can’t go swimming and heaven help you when it rains!

 

 

Your hair is made up of layers. The outer layer protects the hair shaft. When the layer of protection is damaged with the use of chemical relaxers, this causes the ends of your hair to split. This damage can travel up the hair shaft and cause hair breakage, resulting in damaged uneven hair. Some say just trim the ends, but the truth is that perms and relaxers are actually quite jealous of the hair’s natural state so it promotes split ends. They dry the ends of your hair and wear down the protective layer.

split_ends

As shown in the picture (below), relaxers in African American hair for example, works by allowing the chemicals to break the protein bonds in the hair in order to change its shape (we’ll speak more on the different shapes of the hair strands in tomorrow’s segment), and makes course hair straight. But by breaking the bonds that give hair its strength, the hair is left weak and vulnerable (poor hair). So when water hits the already weakened hair bonds, they become like useless limp strings (not a good look). It also weakens the hair follicle, making relaxed hair more susceptible to breakage.

307988-61011-30The hair has a particular wave pattern that is held by two sets of physical side bonds and a set of chemical side bonds. The physical side bonds are not as strong, but are more numerous, while the chemical side bonds are much stronger, but there are fewer of them. Because of this, it is recommended that someone with a fresh perm wait a few days before shampooing or wetting the hair as to allow the hair time to “normalize” and fully adjust to the new wave patterns.

Perms basically change the shape and texture of the hair by use of strong chemicals. Your Perm is afraid of water because it just had surgery and needs time to heal and adjust to the new pattern.

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*Fun Fact: Today’s modern relaxer was actually invented by an African American man named Garrett Morgan (same inventor of the gas mask and traffic signal), while trying to create a product for a sewing machine shop back in 1910. He wiped his hand on a wool cloth and found that the chemical gave the cloth a smooth appearance. This must have been some kind of strong chemical to turn a cloth into a different texture.

Don’t Regret the Rain

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No, this is not symbolism; I’m actually really talking about rain here. We’re always taught, directly or indirectly, to regret the rain. To mentally throw our fist into the air and shout invisible slurs into the ears of angels; to curse the very nutrients coming down from the heavens. I may be one of the few people to actually like the rain. There is something very calming about the atmosphere when fresh rain is poured onto the ground, very soothing. Whether you’re cuddling with a spouse, enjoying a warm cup of coffee / tea, or reading a good book, you can always depend on the rain to inspire much needed meditation. Not that it’s raining now though, it’s actually nice and warm out here in Shreveport. So your probably wondering why I’d even bring up rain, just call it a random thought.

 
Here are some benefits of rain for the next time you find yourself wallowing in self-pity and regret because it rained on your parade—literally.

 
1) It puts moisture in the air
2) It helps with droughts
3) It fills streams
4) It washes away dirt from plants
5) It provides a drink for every living thing
6) It cools the temperature if it’s hot
7) It washes cars for free
8) It continues with the beneficial water cycle
9) It aids the poor in collecting water
10) It saves money from buying bottled water
11) It causes a rainbow to show up
12) It cleans roads with oil marks
13) It assists worms to move around the soil which aerates the ground
14) It can erode soil to form mountains
15) It can make certain insects and animals come out of hiding, like a snail which provides food for birds