Friday, September 30, 2011

Life & Lyrics, Part II

Ain't no city in the world like this/if you ask how I know, I gots to plead the fifth...
Miami, Will Smith

This year, my birthday present to myself was five days and four nights in the paradise known as Miami. I'm not going to lie: at first, I was scared to death. I have never been anywhere by myself, especially a place as hip and metropolitan as Miami. I even considered exchanging my ticket for a much safer North Dakota.

Something in my spirit told me I needed to take this trip, and I'm glad I did. Here's what I learned while I was 1500 miles from home:

1. Nobody cares about your imperfections.
The first day I went to the beach, I had on my typical swimming ensemble: bathing suit, long-sleeve coverup, shorts and flip-flops. When my feet touched the sand and I looked around, I realized I was severely overdressed.

No one was checking to see who had hail damage on their thighs or a less than perfect stomach; everyone was just soaking up the sunshine and splashing in the waves. How could I fully explain the way the ocean feels unless I let it touch every part of me?

So, I did it. I took off everything but my swimsuit and jumped in.

Scratch that: jumped in would imply that there was a time when I was fully submerged in the water. I waded in. Sorry, but I've seen too many movies about sharks and people who can't swim well.

2. Silence is golden.
I was in my hotel room, getting ready to hit the city. I bent over to put lotion on my toes when it happened: my beloved Crackberry jumped out of my pocket and straight into the toilet.

I got weak in the knees and had to sit down before I passed out. This phone was my lifeline! How in the world could I survive without my precious phone?

Well, I could and I did. For the next twelve hours, I was forced to live in the moment. I couldn't hide behind a text or a Facebook message when I felt nervous or insecure; I just had to deal with those emotions. I stepped out of my comfort zone and took that time to really talk to people....and enjoy life without constant vibrations.

A few weeks ago, I asked my FB friends how long they could survive without a cell phone. Now, I know I can make it at least half a day. After that, I'm scouring the city for the nearest T-Mobile store.

3. When you're nice, people will be nice to you.
When I arrived at my hotel, there were three travelers in front of me. Every one of them went out of their way to be rude to the front desk clerk; demanding special privileges, interrupting her conversations, raising their voices for the most minor inconveniences. I was tired and ready to take a shower, but I just sat on my suitcase and patiently waited. After all, she was doing the best job she could do.

When it was my turn, I smiled. She apologized for the wait; I told her that I understood this was a busy time and I was in no hurry. She asked me if I had any special requests; I told her it didn't matter to me. She smiled and said I was the easiest customer she'd had all day, so she was going to hook me up. I shrugged it off....I mean, it wasn't exactly the Ritz-Carlton, so what could she really do?

She hooked me UP.

When I got to my room, my jaw dropped as I looked out of the window and realized I had the most perfect view of the ocean in the entire hotel. During my stay, she made sure I had everything I needed, from a taxi to a new toothbrush (did I mention THAT fell in the toilet too)?

Just by showing a little kindness, my whole experience went from decent to amazing. Remember that the next time you want to take out your frustrations on the next person. Choose wisely.

4. EVERYBODY has ties to Oklahoma.

On Sunday, I decided to take a tour. The guide asked everyone where they were from, and I told her Oklahoma. Her face lit up, and she spent the next ten minutes explaining how her daughter lived in Norman and she had just come back from visiting her. I also ran into a woman on the beach who told me the most hilarious story about spending Christmas at the prison in McAlester.

You know, maybe I don't give this place enough credit. A lot of people got their start right here in the Sooner State, and I can appreciate that.

Still, the first opportunity I get....I'm outta here!

5. Missed chances...

Errrrrr....I don't think I'm ready to write about that one yet. Moving on!

6. When necessary, I can run in a halter dress and sandals.

I'm no Flo-Jo, but I can get out of harm's way.

7. Traveling is my new coping mechanism.

Before I left, I spent some time talking to my dad about the grieving process. Even though I have been through it before, something about this time seems so foreign and brand-new. He told me that I need to think about how I coped with previous losses and try to implement those same strategies in my current situation.

I thought about it. The truth of the matter is, the way I coped in the past was not healthy at all. I used food, alcohol and even affection to help me escape from the harsh realities of life; in this season, I could not allow myself to go back to such destructive behaviors. This time, I needed something different.

When I booked this trip at the end of August, I had no idea how tumultuous the next few weeks would become. Only God Himself could have known just how much I needed to get away, relax and rest. My first night in Florida was the first night in a month that I slept for more than four hours. As I stared at the water for as far as my eyes could see, I literally felt the stress and frustration leaving my body. I needed that.

Really, I needed everything: the adventures, the mishaps, the food, the laughter, the solitude, the companionship and the beach. ESPECIALLY the beach.

This is how I'm going to make it--by not limiting myself to the same surroundings and the same experiences. I am determined to see as much of the world as possible. And every time I get on a plane or put Appalonia on the highway, I'll think about how much my time in Florida changed me and I will expect the great during future trips. Above all, I'll reflect on the most important lesson I learned while in Miami:

The same God who keeps me on a cul-de-sac in Del City can keep me anywhere in the world.

Be Encouraged, y'all.


Life & Lyrics, Part I

HELLO, Faithful Blog Readers! It's been over a month since my last entry and so much has happened. Instead of going with my typical format, this entry will be set to the lyrics of some of my favorite songs. Music is life--my life. Be encouraged, y'all.

Seems like only yesterday/that your laughter filled the air/and whatever I was going through/you were always there...
--I'll See You Again, Richard Smallwood

Saying goodbye to Uncle Glenn is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. To refer him as my uncle does not adequately describe our relationship. To put it simply, he was my hero.

I'll never forget the story he told at my mother's funeral. He was driving along a highway when, out of the blue, rain started pouring down. This wasn't just any storm; it was the kind of storm where your windshield wipers are powerless against the sheets of rain. He had to make a decision: pull over to the side and wait for the storm to subside or keep driving. He chose to keep driving, and less than five minutes later, the clouds broke and the sun began to shine. Now, if he had chosen to pull over, he would have remained right in the eye of the storm. But, he didn't. He kept driving.

Today, so many of us find ourselves in that same predicament. The proverbial storms of life have us wondering whether we should pull over or keep driving. For me, the decision is easy. No matter what comes my way, I am determined to keep driving.

Thank you, Uncle Shorty.

Here I am/now looking at 30/and I've got so much to say....
--I Choose, India Arie

On Tuesday, I turned 29. In the words of Flava Flav: "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!" When I imagined life at 29, I pictured something completely different than my current situation. Yet, where I am right now happens to be far more perfect than anything my mind could have envisioned. Why? I'll be glad to tell you.

1. I look better now than I did in my early 20s.
Y'all know I'm telling the truth. Say I'm not fly!

2. I feel better now than I did in my early 20s.
Right now, my confidence is at an all-time high. I don't think I can do anything--I KNOW I can do anything. For the first time in my entire life, I am not bothered by other's opinions of me. I am letting go of my past and moving into a future that is surely filled with more love, laughter and promise than I can stand.

3. My failures have become my success.
Let's face it--I failed A LOT in my 20s. Not just little, private missteps....several times, I have fallen flat on my face in front of a live studio audience. However, every one of those mistakes/bad decisions/rejections made me the person I am today. There is a strength within me I never knew existed; my faith is secure and my vision is clear. I never would have known that if I had not been allowed to mess up every now and then.

God, thank you for allowing me to fall.

Thank you for picking me up every single time.

Count on me through thick and thin/a friendship that will never end...
--Count On Me, Whitney Houston and CeCe Winans

In the month of September, I was once again reminded of the value of true friendship. I just have to pause here and say thanks to some people who really had my back in the past thirty days. You all continue to prove that I can count my friends on more than one hand.

Bestie: Even though you suck at motivational speeches (LOL!!!!), I cannot thank you enough for how you've been there for me. No one in this world knows me like you do; sometimes, I think you know me better than I know myself! I love you and I am so glad I asked God to make me a best friend! *insider*

Biscuit, J-Stunna and Baby Sis: I still can't believe that what we started all those years ago in Lawton has evolved into so much more than a friendship. You are my sisters, and that will never change. I thank God for what He's doing for you and I pray that this is only the beginning.

The SWOSU Fab Four: Thank you so much for that awesome dinner and for making me laugh on a day when all I wanted to do was cry. That touched my heart more than you will ever know. Next up: Charlie Wilson! LOL!!!!

Putter: I'm glad that what we have extends far beyond the confines of the office. Thank you for always keeping my best interests at heart. Love you, girl....and I miss "Truck Talk!"

Mr. Big: You always come back into my life during the times when I need you the most. You inspire me; you encourage me; you make me laugh. You treat me the way a man should ALWAYS a treat a woman...with respect, which is absolutely mutual. I'm looking forward to reading the next chapter in our story.

And thank you to everyone who called, sent a text/BBM, prayed or kept me in your thoughts. Trust me, I'll always do the same for you.


I have a lot more to say, so I shall continue this in another entry. I had to break it up for those of you who have ADD.

Be Encouraged,