Always Ask Questions

I have long been interested in learning – in truth!  I have always asked questions.  It is just a part of my nature.  My father, my biological father, whom I have been getting to know for the last 7 years, I met for the second time in my life when I was 34.  The first time I recall, was around I think 9 years of age.  I can so tell you some stories, but dirty laundry is not to be aired, but we all have skeletons, issues – histories!  But “God is still Good!”  Everything that happens in our lives happens for a reason. 

But, I digress, this father of mine said something to me that I hold quite valuable.   He said to me, in a deep, thoughtful, and proper tone, “Derek, you were just a thinking child; you were always asking questions…you always asked questions!”  He said it in a way like he could see my asking questions as if it were yesterday.  Now, you have to recall, I only recall seeing my biological father once around 9 years of age and the second time when I was 34 years old.  Can you see why that piece of information I hold so dear?  It gives me insight into who I was as a child and/or the talents that the creator (you can call Him God if you like…) instilled in me.  I have ALWAYS asked questions.   As a paralegal, that is a talent that I find foundational in the legal field.  The more questions and the better the question, the more knowledge and perspective one gains. 

I have a question, “What does it mean to you have a certain “lifestyle”?  The question could relate socially, economically, culturally – you just think about the question?  Now, as you ponder the question, I would like for you to think of something, “How your white skin, black skin, brown skin, sex, sexuality, economic status, your BMW or Volkswagen, your mother, the father – the family that you have?”   And let’s pretend I say to you – “that whatever your answers are responses are…they are all WRONG!”  That your skin color is wrong, that your mother shouldn’t be so tall or short…your father shouldn’t be cross-eyed, your sister should not have been a prostitute, your brother died of aids and that is a reflection on you!  I want you to really think about the question of “lifestyle” and does your family, your job, your car have an effect on your Lifestyle?  If you’d like, then share your thoughts.   But in the meantime, always remember to Ask Questions, the better the question, the better the response and you therefore gain in knowledge and perspective – Period, Case-Closed.

FTC v. ICR Services (settlement)

I am jumping right into this blog….. I came across some information regarding a lawsuit that I want to share with you. I am not saying that the company is bad or good – right now.  However, I’ll most probably develop my opinion after I’ve more time to read more on the case – therefore, stay tuned. This lawsuit was filed by the FTC, Federal Trade Commission, a consumer protection agency, against a Credit Repair Organization, named ICR Services, Inc.   ICR was also known by the names National Credit Education and Review (NCER) and National Credit Repair (NCR). If you paid any monies, I think back then it was $400, to this organization and/or knows of someone who paid any monies to this entity, you should immediately contact the FTC at 1-888-287-5251 to determine whether or not you are entitled to a refund.  You may also go to the FTC’s website and become more familiar with the case at www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/08/nationwide.shtm.  The basis of this lawsuit was that the FTC alleged that ICR falsely claimed that they could remove derogatory information from your credit report, even if that information was correct.  ICR has agreed to a monetary settlement of over $1 million.  You should contact the FTC at the previously-mentioned number to see if you are eligible.  Make sure you share this information and/or direct others to Period, Case-Closed for future comments on this issue.  It’s wonderful seeing our government actually work at getting at these bad boys and girls in corporate America.  The victory, although small, I am appreciative.  Stay tuned for more updates.  Be sure to share your comments and forward the information to your circle of friends and family.  You may never know whom you may help by adding your “two-cents” – Period, Case-Closed!

Ch2: “Life Talks To You”

“Life talks to you!”

That is something that I would hear Aunt Francis say so many times throughout the years.  Aunt Francis is a mixture of the characters Florence Johnston and Sandra Clark from the sitcoms “the Jeffersons” and “227”.   Recall that Florence was the sassy maid on the Jeffersons and Sandra was the sassy neighbor on 227.  Aunt Francis was quick-tongued and had so many sayings that oftentimes made me think.  I remember, one summer, long ago, Aunt Francis, Uncle Mike, my mother and my stepfather took  all of their kids (maybe 12 or so altogether at that time) to Galveston to the beach.  It may have been our first trip to the beach, I don’t recall, but after playing with my siblings and my cousins after what seems to have been a moment when time stood still we were having such great fun – that Aunt Francis called for us to go into our tents and change into dry clothing so that we may eat. Well, she’d said that to me and the other kids about twice more and she said, in her proper tone that she was so known for “…go into your tents and get out of those wet clothes before you catch yourselves a chill”. Well, I, being the eldest, felt like my clothes would dry in time, and I really wanted to go back out to the water after we ate.  So, I didn’t change into dry clothing right then.   And I didn’t get back in the water that evening because I did indeed “…catch a chill”.  It was then that I changed into dry clothing.  And although I was in dry clothing and wrapped in a towel, I couldn’t seem to warm-up for nothing!   My teeth rattled uncontrollably like a bag of marbles.  Aunt Francis, simply smiled and said matter of factly, “…I told you to get out of those wet clothes….life is talking to you aint it?”  I just sat there near the fire, all 60 or 70 pounds of me, trembling.  It seemed as if I would never warm up.  I was oh, so cold.

Aunt Francis passed away two weeks ago. She was a matriarch.  And although I am still adjusting to her “transition”, she said something to me, as she has said numerous times over the past several years. I went to visit her on Halloween weekend, this past October as it was earlier in that week that I had received news about the cancer.  She said, “You have a calling on your life!”  She may have said it with the same pitch and tone as she’d done in the past.  However, isn’t it funny that we take so much for granted and just when we are convinced that life “as we know it” will always be “as we know it”, my Aunt Francis or yours purchase their tickets on that train?   Well, this time Aunt Francis I heard you loud and clear.  Yes, “…there is a calling on my life…” and “Life does talk to me”.   And I’ll forever hear you talking throughout the remainder of my life until it is my turn to purchase my ticket on that train.   Thanks for visiting Jada after the funeral.  See, I attempted to comfort many by saying  “…this is not the end”.  In other words  “…it is not good-bye…it is, see you later!” See,  “Life really does talk to you!Period, Case-closed!

Perceived Complications

Recently, I read the following “…we don’t need to complicate all the reasons behind our emotions…it’s much simpler than that, there are only two categories, good feelings and bad feelings.” Now, think about that for a second. There are only good feelings and bad feelings.  You and I could easily come up with more, but ask yourself this one question, “Have I ever felt good and bad  – At The Same Time?”  No, you have not.  Now, the writer above said to keep it simple and really, I understand this need to complicate things more so than what we need to.  Nevertheless, life on many levels really is that simple.  You can not feel bad and good at the same time!  And that extensive list of emotions that we are sure to develop is sure to fall within the range of  “Good Feelings” or “Bad Feelings”.  Whatever you are dealing with, a problem, a decision, a job, family, a married man or woman or both, (Oh, yes, I did go there, don’t make me blog “Perceived Complications Part 2”)…try to determine exactly what it is that you are feeling.  If it is bad, then you’ve some work to do. But then, if the feelings are good, you still may have some work to do, right?  I mean, look at it this way…She is still married!  He is still married!  I don’t care how he or she makes you feel…they are still married.  There is nothing complicated about that.  So quit playing!  Make up your mind to be at peace.  Remember, we have visited this topic of peace before.  Good feelings sometimes come with a price, but is it a fair trade-off to your self-respect or peace of mind?   There are no complications, Period, Case-Closed!

Turning Inward

“Silence is a quiet space within where dialogue between the self and the soul happens.” from the book, Mediation Within, by Laura Ward Holliday.

I am learning more and more how to take the above statement literally.  Some may call it prayer, others may call it meditation, still others may call it quiet time, my time, me time, etc, etc.  Call it what you will, but would you agree with me that today, seemingly more than ever we need that “quiet time” to become certain about that which is uncertain to us, to embrace the idea of clarity over confusion and/or truth over the lies?  If you’ve not had the opportunity lately to just “be”…then, keep living, and should you become overwhelmed with the lower realities of life, then recall this conversation about “turning inward”.  Yes, Laura, therein all the answers lie…Period, Case-Closed!

Keep My Love As a Gift

Ok, I thought I was finished for today, but then, I was compelled to pull out this lovely book once again.  I opened it, flipped a few pages and this is what I read.

I gave into love, I gave into pain, I gave into you.  I gave away everything I had, everything I am.  I even stepped outside of myself in a desperate attempt to prove my love and exposed myself to more disappointment than my tolerance of pain.  When the price of love is yourself – the cost is too high, so I’m taking me back.  Keep My Love As A Gift To You.  Do this for the remembrance of me.  Now – Please, pardon me while I be myself!  — from the book, “Pardon Me While I Be Myself”, by Doris Colona Travis

I think we all can benefit from that statement, whether its a job, that significant other, a child, husband or wife, friendship – bills, discontentment, disappointments…take yourself back, excuse yourselves from the situation, Pardon yourself and Be Yourself, Period, Case-Closed.

Tyler Perry’s, “I Can…All By Myself”

Last evening, I went with a couple of friends to see Tyler Perry’s new movie, “I Can Do Bad All By Myself”. In all honesty, the movie was great.  It was inspirational and motivational.  And in an economy like ours, in fact, the world, and with all the madness…and bad news…the movie is just what so many people need in terms of getting a little motivation and inspiration.  The music was wonderful. It was a good mix of secular and gospel.  I did enjoy the music and I did get the message.   If Tyler’s intent was to minister to the audience, certainly on a spiritual level, and socially, he succeeded.  The movie made several statements, one of the biggest of which was after the wedding at the end of the movie.  There was a wedding reception and block party…and I noticed people of all races, religions, gay, straight, young, old – I don’t think that was by accident.  In fact, I loved the church scenes.  The church scene was an audience of mixed races where the great Marvin Winans was starred as the minister.  And his message was universal.  He was in his element…and the message was real.  And for those who do not know, Marvin Winans is actually a gospel artist and minister – I think today, he may carry the title of Bishop.  Marvin is the eldest of a clan of singers who I have heard coined as “gospel royalty”.   The Winans and I go way back.  Well, at least I and their cassette tapes (remember those?).

I found the music to be a good balance of inspiration as well as R&B.   But then, can’t a song be both?  Think about it!  Nevertheless, I can’t wait to buy the soundtrack.  You are going to love the song “Lord, I want you to help me”.  It is one of those old spirituals.  And then when Mary J. sang the song, “I can do bad all by myself”, which is the title track to the movie, I could have gave benediction.  She sang the song.  And my words to you are “Get ready, you are about to make some changes in your life.”  The movie was not too long nor was it too short.   There weren’t “too many things going on” as sometimes will happen in a movie when a writer is attempting to share too many problems about too many people in a very short period of time.  That isn’t to say, necessarily, that I have found this to be an issue of Tyler’s in the past, but it is refreshing to continue to see his finished work and say, “He’s done it again!”  There is so much more to discuss, but I will reserve further comment until I see the movie again – oh, yes, I will certainly see the movie again.

So, until then, go check it out.  You will be glad you did, Period, Case-Closed!

An Apology

We often feel the need to apologize to other people when we have done them an injustice, but we never extend the same courtesy to ourselves.  I OWE ME AN APOLOGY!  I owe me an apology for the emotional abuse I’ve allowed me to suffer.  I owe me an apology for believing in someone more than I did me.  I owe me an apology for not listening to me.  I owe me an apology for ignoring my needs.  I owe me an apology for hurting my feelings by sometimes not wanting to be me.  I owe me an apology for denying my body nourishment as I overwhelmed my mind with mental anguish.  I owe me an apology for the embarrassment I have caused myself.  I apologize for all these wrongs I have inflicted on me and ask myself to recognize my shortcomings.  To understand and forgive me for the long suffering and pain.  I never meant to let me hurt.  I APOLOGIZE. 

From the book, “Pardon Me While I Be Myself”, by Doris Colona Travis.  Now, please, go back, read this post again, this time with a greater sense of Conviction, Period, Case-Closed!

Oprah-Whitney Interview Pt2

Bravo!  Bravo!  Bravo!  That was a fantastic interview.  That was as good as it could get.  Whitney did a great job! Yes, of course she did not tell all, admittedly.  I give you that, but some things are just left unspoken.  Some things are just none of our business, right?  But to be spat in the face…what more needs to be told?  Well, I will tell you, I know what it feels like to be spat on.  Oh, yes.  Yes, I was spat on, right smack in the face.  And there were bricks and pipes and bottles – things that  could be used as weapons all around us.  My friends were standing there startled, not knowing what I would do.  And for a split second when that back was turned, in that split second I could have splattered…well, anywho, But for His Grace, I am telling you, But for the Grace of God, I would have taken that life into my own hands.  All behind drugs.  Drugs are a terrible, terrible thing.  It turns beautiful, ordinary, kind, gentle, talented men and women into monsters.  They do crazy things.  They become aliens to you and to themselves.   I am encouraged by Whitney’s story.  And it did not appear to me that she was Bobby-Bashing.   She admitted faults of her own.  Faults have been universal when it comes to drugs.  Drugs are drugs are drugs…they deceive and rob, every person that befriends it.  Drugs are so crafty…they paint a wonderful pictures through rose-colored glasses.  They are wicked.

How many times have you seen or heard the story, how many different ways have the story been told?  It has the same ending, careers destroyed, young and old.  Lives taken, young and old.  Lives destroyed, young and old.   Stories of pain, sleeping on the street, eating out of trash cans, the loneliness, and the embarrassment and all the while conscious of whom you are and where you are but could not make that change.  I will tell you, heretofore, I have never had a drug problem, but that’s a testimony in and of itself.  It’s certainly nothing to boast over, but do you mind if I say, “I am grateful…” because it certainly could have been me.  So, I appreciate Whitney’s testimony.  I appreciate her candidness.  It appears that she have released those demons and moved to another place.  And then she sings in the end, “I didn’t know my own strength”.    If she would have said another word or sang another syllable… swear I would have run straight up out of this house and down Memorial!  It was moving moment.  She said some heavy things straight from her soul.  I am encouraged.  See, when you have been so low, so dog – gone – low – low – down – down – low down low and there is no one else there, BUT God (you will have to excuse me…see I got to tell this thing).  I don’t care who you are or what you believe…but if you have never, never, not ever heretofore had to depend on God for anything…if you have never, ever, ever been in “that place” when all else and everyone else have failed you;  if you have never been so utterly disgusted with you and your life; you look around and there is no one else and you wanted to quit; you even gave up on yourself, BUT God Showed You Your Own Strength. I tell you, if you have never been in “that place”, Keep Living.  Life will visit you sooner or later.  And when it does, know that He Will Show You Your Own Strength! Oh, I know it is true.  I am feeling this thing.  I gotta go…

Period, Case-Closed!