Category Archives: Motivational Minute

The Unplanned Fast

(Written August 18, 2014)

I was so amped up about getting to work today! I got up extra early (in spite of going to bed late). I actually did a “before-shower-workout” – about five minutes of exercise before you shower – that I had been meaning to start doing for months now. And I cooked lunch. I usually bring my lunch to work. Today, though, I had to prepare something to go with my eggplant parmesan. After cooking I packed my lunch bag early. I got ready in record time. And I was ready to leave the house early! On the way to work I had a long talk with God. This talk was longer than usual, perhaps because I was early and didn’t have the regular drive-time pressure. As I spoke to HIM, thanking HIM for his blessings and praising HIM for blessings to come, my heart filled with gratitude.

I pulled up at work, all chipper. Then I realized that I forgot my lunch bag at home. I was so upset. The strange thing is that when I’m rushing, I never forget my lunch bag. I started thinking. I knew that I’d be too busy to leave campus today. And I said to myself that maybe I should fast (abstain from food) for the day. But I was joking. With only some green tea in my stomach, I was already hungry. And although I was on good time, leaving to buy breakfast and lunch would only put me back. So I hot-stepped into the office – ready for the day.

At my desk, I decided that I would fast. That I would try to continue the connection I had earlier with God – despite the busy day I knew was ahead. I’ve been fasting on and off for many years. I haven’t been too routine within the last 4 years, as I had in the past. I usually fast for spiritual reasons. For me it’s sacrificing the physical, for connection with the spiritual. So I like to prepare myself physically in advance. Today however, gave me no preparation. Interestingly, just a few days ago, a colleague told me that she was fasting as part of an observance of a Catholic holy day. That gave me even more encouragement for today.

Later as I drank some cold water, it tasted so good. It was like the best thing I’ve ever consumed! I thought about how important water was to me since it was the only thing that I had. I thought about all the people around the world who didn’t have clean drinking water. And I silently prayed….

Because fasting is spiritual, I rarely speak about it. Scripture tells us to “appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy father which is in secret.” (HB Matthew 6, 16-18) But I wondered how common fasting was now and personal rituals around it. I’m quite aware of the Muslim holy season of Ramadan. I also know that some Christians fast during Lent. But I wondered about less structured forms of fasting done by individuals and families.

Do you fast? Do you encourage everyone in your family to fast? At what age do you allow your children to fast? Do you fast with groups? Or is fasting for you individual thing? How does fasting work for spouses who are of different religions or faiths? In what other ways do you connect with God? Let me know. I want to hear from you!

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I Enjoyed Taking People’s Things; and Having Mine Taken

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I really hate wearing clothes. So I wear as little as possible, until I really need to – like when I must leave the house. The other night while looking for something comfortable to make a store-run, I came across a black yoga pants I took from my cousin Shoija. Returning from Europe this summer I had a layover in Atlanta and stayed with her. Rather than unpack all of my stuff looking for something to wear, most of which needed to wash, I asked her loan me something comfortable for the night. (FYI, I had lots of clean underwear. I usually overpack those.) She brought me a whole stack of clothes. I chose a yoga pants and t-shirt. Remember now, I hate clothes. And I hate long pants. But after a transatlantic flight wearing jeans, that yoga pants felt good! So good that I told Shoija I’m keeping it. She gave me a look as if to say, “aren’t you going to ask first.” But I didn’t.
So I chuckled to myself the other night, at the memory. Not so long ago, when we were children, we took each other’s stuff all the time. I remember cousins taking my clothes, shoes, hair accessories…. I took things from them too. And it was never a problem. Actually, if I had something that one of my family members liked more than I did, I would usually give it to them before they had a chance to take it. And vice versa. That was the norm for us cousins who were around the same age. Some things were off limits though, like gifts and expensive jewelry. Heaven forbid I took something that one of my cousins’ boyfriends gave them.
We saw this among our parents. My mother and her sisters always took each other’s stuff – and it was never a problem. The adults also always gave us something to take whenever we visited – be it food, groceries, a new bra, a head-tie, money. My Aunt Keturah once gave me an engagement ring that she had found! Once we left with their homes with something, they felt good.
One time in high school I tried to explain to a good friend why I didn’t have a particular accessory. A cousin had “gone with it,” I told her. She couldn’t understand how someone could “go with” something that was mine without asking, even after I explained that my family did that all the time.
I think that it was outside influences over a period of time that caused things to change. As we became older, we became more possessive. We started saying things to each other like, “if you want something, next time ask.” Soon it seemed like we started valuing things more than each other. Like we preferred to have something safely tucked away in our closets, never to be used, while someone else needed it. We allowed the ways of the world to be the ways of our lives.
Things are just that – things. The only value they have, is the value we give them. The Bible says “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6, 21) Where is your treasure? Is it among the earthly things that we know will soon rot or fade away? Are we so caught up in what society tells us is valuable, that we prefer to store them up rather than put them to good use or give them to someone who can put them to good use?
That night in Atlanta with Shoija reminded me of how we were as children, when things mattered less and people mattered more. Matter of fact, she stared offering me more clothes to take – all the while trying to convince me to change my morning flight so that I could spend an extra day with her and the family.
I’ll probably hardly ever wear that yoga pants. But the memory of how I took it from my cousin, like we did when we were children, will always bring g a smile to my face.

Are You Suffering from “Harden’ness”?

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As a child growing upon the Virgin Islands when we wouldn’t listen to and obey adults, we were accused of being “harden.'” The word was used often to describe defiant, disobedient children who would not take instructions from adults, no matter what. It was synonymous with unruly children. I think that all of my peers were told by an adult “yo too harden,'” at some point in our childhoods. Surely if adults called you “harden'” it was not a good thing. It wasn’t until, I got older that I really understood the word – which is actually hardened, with a “d” at the end (that we in the VI never pronounced). The real word – hardened – is an adjective that can be used to describe anyone, not only a child, who is so set in their ways that nothing can change them. While it’s not usual to hear the term used towards adults, it very well can be. As adults sometimes we make up our minds – and because we have declared a stance on a particular subject, or because we have always been doing things in a certain way – nothing can change us; we become hardened. It’s ok to change. It’s ok to change your opinion. It’s ok to change your lifestyle. It’s ok to change your plans. It’s ok to change your feelings. It’s ok. None of us should become so hardened that we are unwilling to change. But even worse, none of us should become so hardened that we do not listen to God. Lots of times the Most High shows us that we should do things differently. That we should behave differently. That we should think differently. That we should live differently. But we don’t; and we remain hardened. In reality we are no different from an unruly child who refuses counsel from someone wiser. The thing about hardenedness is that deep down we know that we should change. Sometimes everything and everyone in our lives show us that we should change. We know that we are being defiant for no reason, or that we are being defiant against good reason. Listen to your inside voice. Listen to God. Suffering from “harden’ness” is a choice. Let’s choose not to suffer.

Develop a Spiritual Relationship with the Creator

The most important relationship you’ll ever have is a spiritual relationship between yourself and a higher power. Relationships with other people are good, necessary even. But in our darkest hour our spouses, family or friends may not be there for us; not because they don’t want to, but often because they cannot. So we should take the time to develop and nurture our spiritual selves. Our mother can’t do it for us. Our father can’t do it for us. Our husband or wife can’t do it for us. This is work that we must do ourselves. In the end, it’s the most important.

I Surrender

Father God, Most High Creator, I surrender all to you. You created me and dwell within me. You know my heart’s desires; but even better you know my needs. I surrender all power and control to you, knowing through faith that you will direct my steps accordingly. The hardest part for me is letting go. Please allow me to let go- not just today, but always. As I follow your lead, help me to accept that there are things I may not understand. Help me to realize if there are things I don’t understand, it’s likely that my friends and family won’t understand either. Please God, don’t let outside chatter distract me from your path. My God, you have never failed me yet. Please help me to always remember that. Dear God, you have always given me what I’ve asked for. But often what I’ve asked for, and gotten, was not what I needed. Help me to remember that. I love you. I honor you. Help me to remember that I am not in control – you are. This is my prayer.

Don’t Give Haters Your Power

There has been a lot of talk about “haters” recently. “Haters” are people who always have something bad to say no matter the circumstance. Haters are overrated. We give them way too much power. Let’s see “hating” for what it is – a huge distraction that keeps us from achieving our purposes. If we can’t use our haters to motivate us, at the least we should ignore them. Think about it, when we allow anyone to distract us from our goals we become our own haters.

Today let’s be motivated to ignoring the distractions that may keep us from reaching our potential. A little motivation is all we need.

Forget Regret

Should of, could of, would of, but didn’t. At times we get stuck in the past, thinking of all our mistakes and missed opportunities. But the past is just that — past. There is nothing that we can do to go back in time and remedy what has already happened. What we must do is move forward from the past, taking the lessons learned ahead with us and leaving everything else behind. Someone once said regret is the cancer of life. It eats away at us.

Today let’s be motivated to forgetting our regrets as we work toward a glorious future. A little motivation is all we need!

Envy Not

It’s easy to look around and notice all the things that someone else may have, that we ourselves don’t have – things that we want or believe that we deserve.  To be jealous or envious of other people’s accomplishments or possessions is a direct insult to ourselves and our higher power.
Envy implies that we haven’t been blessed enough. Remember, the grass is not always greener on the other side, and even if it is you never know what someone has done to keep their grass green.

Today let’s be motivated to being grateful for the things that we do have. A little motivation is all we need.

We Deserve to be Happy

If we’re not happy where we are, we have the power to fix it. Sometimes we stay in a place or situation where we are utterly miserable simply because we are afraid of change. The fear, doubt and what-ifs creep into our heads and paralyze us. But only we have the power to change our situations. Life is meant to be enjoyed and we all deserve to be happy. If we are not at that place, it’s not too late.

Today let’s be motivated to making a conscious choice to reclaim our happiness. A little motivation is all we need.