Choices

Aboredbabys I was exploring the 300 channels these satellite stations love to brag so much about…again…I could find nothing to watch. I finally gave up and left it on Flashpoint, a drama series following officers handling crises. This one episode focused on the challenges encountered by two brothers residing in an urban setting.troubled-teens

The older son was a former gang member that transforms his life by attending college to become a nurse and works long hours to support his brother. The younger son is an adolescent about fourteen years of age battling the negative influences of their neighborhood, his mother’s brutal passing, and misconception of manhood. In this episode, the younger brother witnesses a murder by a fellow gang member and has been marked for death. The older brother and the task force come to his aid by capturing the individuals who try to assassinate him. To make a long story short, these brothers must confront the perils of life to have inner peace and face the demons of their past.ss084buddha-peace-posters

Immediately this show made me ponder choices and how it influences our lives. Choices is a word that is used frequently in human vernacular but I think we rarely recognize the power it holds. What if the older son would have remained in the gang? What if the police would not have helped these young men? WHAT IF??!!

choicesA common phrase I heard growing up is, “It’s not where you start but where you end.” While this is a true statement in the context it was use; it is important to assess how we began our journey and how our choices governed our lives. Often, when I observe various situations in people’s lives; I wonder “what landed you here?” As people begin to tell their story you are able to piece together the puzzle that gives you the whole view.

Experience has taught me that choices do not only stem from individuals but from their backgrounds, beliefs, and current gang memorialcircumstance. When I was watching a special on gangs, it was very disheartening to hear youth state they joined gangs for protection or to feel loved. It is evident that these choices would lead these young people down a turbulent road filled with chaos and dismay; but they felt like they had no choice. Many people have died from choices they have made just like others have created a legacy. Where have your choices landed you?

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The Great Divide

“Religion is the opium of the masses”.—Karl Marx

Marx_oldSociological Theory was the first time I heard this paraphrased statement from renowned German economist Karl Marx. This quote was a very perplexing concept that I had a hard time grasping and intense emotions around. How could someone have the audacity to equate religion to opium? Isn’t opium a substance that people use to get “high”? Through life experience I was taught that religion and God were interconnected and should be treated sacredly. I knew some people that considered placing the bible on the floor as a sign of disrespect to God. Some may have even considered not attending church as an unpardonable abomination. Despite these taught beliefs, I began to question its validity when I strolled unto the diverse communities and cultures of UNF. It was here, that I began to form friendships with people in the LGBTQ community and get deeper insight.

I felt incredibly torn. How could these people be an abomination to God? They were people with feelings, families, and desiresreligion to be loved just like me. They were my friends. When I began my quest for knowledge it was then that I realized, that religion and god, are not one in the same. Fellow bloggers, Dr. Diva Verdun and Emily’s sentiments , discuss the significant differentials of the two.
jim jonesThere have been previous cases where religion was used as a tool to control people. However, it is not my intention to perverse the term religion but provide an open dialogue on the topic. In my experiences, religion has come with too many do’s and don’ts that seem to stifle the human spirit and yield unrealistic expectations. Spirituality provides a gateway for people to be who they are as well as decide the fate of their own existence. A common statement I heard as a child, was “Man was created in the image of God.” Now. Who are we to decide who is worthy of this resemblance?

We come to understand that GOD has Everything in hand and that we don’t have to fix other people for God or any other purpose because we are now to busy fixing ourselves. —Dr. Diva Verdun

Conversation to the Younger ME

Another restless night. Earlier in the evening, I had fallen asleep watching some melodrama “reality” show of people indulging entirely too much: in profanity, alcohol, and absurdity. Understanding how addictions and life can take control of us. I digress. As I laid in bed, I turned over and noted that it was 3 am and sighed heavily, because I had to get up in 3 hours to battle the unforeseen events of the day.  However, I have found that most of my deepest insight and life revelations have come from these early morning sessions. A discussion with a colleague was still at the forefront of my mind and kept replaying like a broken record. Our conversation entailed things you wish you would’ve known about getting older?  What would you have told your younger self to make life a bit easier?  My mind took me on a journey through past and current experiences that I have been through.  I decided upon these takeaways to gift myself.gift

Self…It’s okay not knowing. I have always been a very precocious individual and observant of the things around me. I was so afraid to make mistakes that I wanted to be calculated in every aspect of my life. My life was set up like a detailed road map with each age having a milestone to reach. There was a limitless high when each goal was met as well as a relentless sense of failure when things didn’t go according to plan.  Tangible rewards (degrees, money, cars, prestige, etc.) became the foundation life was built on because it proved that catching up with the Jones’ could be a reality. Therefore, I conditioned myself on what success was and the steps taken to achieve this sought-after
goal.                                                                                                                        Success

When we deviate from this path of “success” or take a substantial amount of time to figure our life purpose, The Microwave Society, is unpleased with us and reminds us we are not meeting expectations. Artist Daley eloquently articulates the futile nature of planning and the warped speeds that govern our lives. “Slow, slow down…..nothing will happen before its time…because good things come to those who wait.”

The extreme highs and lows I felt as a result of my planning, manifested fear, doubt, anxiety, and instability in my life. Through life experiences I have gained insight on how to deal with these issues…understanding my journey, understanding myself and understanding self-love.

inner peace 2Self…Get to know you. There is no greater peace like knowing yourself. When you begin to dissect and get to the core of you, there is an indescribable joy. No longer are you holding on to the guilt’s of the past, living an existence filled with self-loathing and being controlled by minute people. Self…breakdowns will happen with a growing understanding from experience as you transition. Don’t be resistant (Thanks- you know who you are :)). Take these new pieces of data and create a NEW plan that YOU can control. Let go of embedded beliefs and discover your own truths. It is okay to challenge the powers that be even if they are your parents. You must decide what you believe.

I came across an excerpt of a video with Dr. Maya Angelou on an episode of Oprah’s Super soul Sunday about her revelation of life. This title alone grabbed my attention because I felt what incident could have been so significant to lay an imprint on this prophetic woman’s life? She said, it was knowing that a force that made everything–loved her. “God loves me and I am amazed at it. And grateful for it.”

 

Last but not least. Self…LOVE YOU.

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Whatever Happened to the Sunshine State?

Since the untimely death of Florida native, Trayvon Martin, there has been a lot of negative comments, press, and stereotypes associated with the state of Florida. From this verdict, it seems as if the media wanted to keep a watchful eye out looking for its next big break—and they did. Every other day was a story broadcasting a series of misfortunate events that “plagued” this trouble state; from police brutality, residents losing their homes to sinkholes, and murderous rampages in urban cities. Many people have solicited my opinions on these controversies in the media or my favorite, “Moe what’s going on with your home state?” There has been an overflow of questioning and accusatory statements that has led me to speak on the good Florida offers.

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What other place could you go where the weather is bright and sunny year round? I’m waiting…NO WHERE!! Florida is  home to numerous beaches and lakes that are frequented by natives and outer towners alike. Miami is a notorious getaway for vacationers because of its metropolitan lifestyle, beautiful skyline, walking strip mall, and exquisite boutiques. Florida is also composed of various cultures that have migrated all over the world to partake in the richness of the sunshine state. These dynamic flavors bring a very savory favor to the melting pot which is Florida. Let’s not forget about the amazing themes parks that inhabit Orlando under the guise of Walt Disney that taught children everywhere to dream. A little closer to my hometown (Homestead, FL) are the legendary keys where fishing and partying is at an all time.

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Media has been a very useful tool that has forwarded political battles and brought awareness to many issues (i.e. civil rights movement). However, society has been forced fed its “awareness” by producers, news anchors, and creators of local broadcasting stations. This is what aides us in making critical judgments about people, without leaving the comforts of our sofa at home. Instead of people saying, “What happened to the sunshine state?” Let’s think about “What has happened to the media?”

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