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.

Announcing the Winners of Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021: 2-4

Introducing the winners of Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021: 2-4

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Before we introduce winners two through four, I want to send a BIG thank you to everyone who participated in our fourth annual poetry contest, either by submitting a poem or showing support via social media.

I judged this year’s entries based partly on how well they exemplified the entry requirements and partly on the willingness of the poets to dig deep in creative and unique ways. Each winning poet brought something different to the table while staying on topic.

CONGRATULATIONS Y’ALL!

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Jasmina Jammison

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I am from Savannah, Ga. I’ve written poetry since the beginning of my college career. Poetry has become a therapy for me over the years. It has been great healing for me.

Instagram: @JillRxse
Twitter: @_Dezdez
Facebook: Jasmina Jammison

Dondi A. Springer

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My name is Dondi A Springer, from Florida. Beyond being a husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and blue-collar worker, I am a writer, poet, and modern-day jack of all trades. I love to inspire, motivate, and let people know it’s not too late to elevate in life.
 
Instagram: @napalmjax / Mr. Runthatback
Twitter: Mr. Dondi A. Springer
Facebook @DSpringer76

Zerahyah Ysrayl

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My name is ZerahYah Ysrayl. Native New Yorker and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey. When I was younger, my best friend’s mother used to make us read the dictionary. That gave birth to my love of words, along with being raised in the hip-hop era. I learned to convey my feelings through the rhyme and rhythm of words. Whatever was going on around me or in me, I learned to put it in writing. Words and poetry help me to make sense of it all. Poetry is the most beautiful form of expression, and I’m honored to share my gift as a piece of my struggles, pains, and triumphs. Each one reaches one, bringing healing to one through poetic form.

Instagram: @shining_of_yah
Facebook: Zerahyah Ysrayl
 

We aren’t revealing our number one winner until Monday, 9/6 so be sure to stick around!

Over the next few weeks we’ll be spotlighting each of these poets individually here on the blog and social media. We’ll get to dig deeper into what inspired their poems and their writing process in general.

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

No Whining Wednesday – There is Movement in Stillness

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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 came to me earlier this week:

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Often when we are seeking clarity on something, we are looking for something we need to do. Rarely does it occur to us that maybe not moving is the “move” we need to make. I know it’s hard to realize from a social media point of view, but you don’t always have to be “doing” something.

Have you ever truly sat in silence? No TV, no music, no talking, just quiet. Do you know what your own heartbeat sounds like? Have you ever took the time to listen to your own breath?

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Every year my husband and I grow tomatoes, lettuce, bell peppers, and several herbs in our garden, including basil, oregano, and rosemary. There is a time between sowing and reaping where you don’t have to do anything. It is not time to sow, and it is not time to reap. It is time to be still and allow what was planted to flourish. And yes, there is such a thing as overwatering your plants.

The story of the Chinese Bamboo tree is my favorite.

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It takes this tree five years to grow, and it doesn’t break through the ground until the fifth year. What happens is it looks like you are wasting your time watering the ground because nothing materializes. But once it does break through, it grows ninety feet tall.

“Like any plant, growth of the Chinese Bamboo Tree requires nurturing – water, fertile soil, sunshine. In its first year, we see no visible signs of activity. In the second year, again, no growth above the soil. The third, the fourth, still nothing. Our patience is tested, and we begin to wonder if our efforts (caring, water, etc.) will ever be rewarded. And finally, in the fifth year – behold, a miracle! We experience growth. And what growth it is! The Chinese Bamboo Tree grows 80 feet in just six weeks!”

-Matt Morris

The deep thing about this is not that it grows so tall. The deep thing is although it does not seem like anything is happening, there is movement the whole time. The tree did not grow tall overnight. It was growing all along:

“Did the Chinese Bamboo Tree lie dormant for four years only to grow exponentially in the fifth? Or, was the little tree growing underground, developing a root system strong enough to support its potential for outward growth in the fifth year and beyond?”

Stop trying to force things to happen by looking for stuff to do. It is wise to know when to move, but it is also wise to know when not to move. Ya’ll know the word. There’s a time to gather and a time not to gather. The consequence of acting when you should have been still (like talking when you should be silent) is stunting your own growth:

“Had the Chinese Bamboo Tree farmer dug up his little seed every year to see if it was growing, he would have stunted the Chinese Bamboo tree’s growth as surely as a caterpillar is doomed to a life on the ground if it is freed from its struggle inside a cocoon prematurely. The struggle in the cocoon is what gives the future butterfly the wing power to fly.”

There is movement in stillness.

No Whining Wednesday – Live Not for the Praise of Men

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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 praise and criticism. There are many variations of this quote, and challenging to track down the first person who said it. The one I found most fitting for this feature is this one:

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Another variation is this one:

“If you live off a man’s compliments, you’ll die from his criticism.”—Cornelius Lindsey.”

There are many reasons we whine and complain. One of them is because we are not getting enough attention. Some of us have no real issues in our lives except we want to be seen, acknowledged, and praised. This is not entirely a bad thing, but it could be if we are dependent on it.

Sometimes when we are frustrated, we want to vent to others. This can be a good thing and feel like a warm hug from that one trustworthy friend, much like a child who falls and hurts themselves and gets a kiss on the boo-boo from mom. But, too many kisses from mom will have the child purposely hurting themselves to get that validation.

I am no psychologist, and I am certainly not your therapist, but in my thirty-four years on this earth, I’ve learned we do this as adults too. We might not run to our mothers for hugs and kisses, but we run to other people for validation when we do not recognize our own potential or when we want to be coddled. The danger in this is we end up living off the praises of men and dying from their criticisms.

And how do we die?

We cannot function without praise, and we do not understand how to discern negative feedback.

We have invested so much of ourselves into what other people think and how other people feel, and what other people think we should do with our lives that we become like little children who cannot be told no. If you don’t have the support of the group, you are out here throwing temper tantrums. You’ve become an ‘energy vampire’ who desperately needs to feed.

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No matter how good of a person you are, you are still the villain in someone’s story because you simply cannot please everyone. Once you stop caring what people think of your decisions and whether or not they like you, you step into your most authentic self.

Problems need solutions, and complaining to others can be good when we need to be heard or are looking for answers. After all, it is wise to listen to advice, especially when coming from people who have been where we want to go or experienced the troubles we are currently experiencing.

Giving and receiving genuine praise and compliments is a good thing, and we all need it, but balance is necessary. Without balance, we depend on the feedback from others more than on our own souls. We open ourselves up to everyone else’s input and everyone else’s solutions despite our own intuition, and we seek to be validated because we do not recognize our own value.

Not only do we want to cut down on complaining, but we also want to cut down on letting other people’s complaints negatively influence us.

You matter, and your presence is necessary to the world—the end.