Wednesday, December 3, 2014

10 Days of Gratitude - Day 10 by Imani Evans

Originally my plan for the 10 Days of Gratitude was to write about how my so-called character defects are actually utilized to propel my life forward. Then came the no bill indictment in the Michael Brown case and my plans changed. Instead I chose to write about the gratitude I embody for my very survival. It is abundantly clear to me that a culture rooted in racism, heterosexism, classism and misogyny has no investment in my emotional and spiritual sustainability as a Black lesbian, who is living out loud. 

As an artist and creative sometimes my rage is too big for normal sentences. In those cases only prose and poetry can loosen the noose of anger choking me and disallowing the passage of reason. It is then that I feel compelled to take pen to paper and speak my mind to free my heart. Sometimes the creativity is plentiful and other times it is just enough to shift me back into compassion. 

As our world has transformed from the industrial age to the information age, I often feel bombarded by ignorance and hatred. It is everywhere: Twitter, FaceBook, Google+ and it even seeps into my text messages. It is a laborious task to keep from spewing venom back into the mouth of the snake, with no care of its carnage. Then just as I am destined to succumb to the cycle of viciousness, I am reminded of grace, true strength, dignity and compassion. In those moments...I am saved by my art. So I write.

Today I am grateful for my very existence, despite their efforts to kill me. See, they have been trying to kill me since ancient times. 

They have been trying to kill me since my name was Sekhmet, Oshun, Saarjie Baartman, Amarinta Ross, or Audre Lorde. 

They have been trying to kill me because my voice is that of a light-bringer, a consciousness-shifter and world-changer. But I am still here. Maybe I won't be in 20 years, maybe I won't be a year from now, or even tomorrow. am still here. 

The "they" that I speak of are the dark ones, the negative forces, the racists, the oppressers, the despots, the ones whose ignorance and fear serves as a guide for their actions and supersedes their logic. Them...they...those ones who know exactly who they are, despite their ever-present denial to my face. I will defy you...

I will defy you with my sheer determination to stand upright and straight-backed in the face of brokenness.

I will defy you with my ingenuity to create nations out of nothing and morph magnificence out of malevolence.

I will defy you by holding hands with my beloved on the streets of the elite and shattering your unrighteous laws with my joy.

I will defy you by reincarnating with perpetual greatness and evolving beyond your recognition.

See you cannot kill me for my Earthly existence is an illusion. And when your hatred seeks my destruction...I will defy you with my very existence and my will to be all that I am called here to be...
for whatever time that I be.

Shem Em Hetep!
Imani Evans, MA, CLC
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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

10 Days of Gratitude: Day 9 - Gratitude Video by Onyx Keeshaa

First and foremost I thank you! I am truly honored to be a part of Create Love "10 days of Gratitude series". As a filmmaker I decided to make a video. I decided to do the video bare without makeup and as transparent as possible, for me that is what gratitude is all about. Being bare, open, transparent and THANKFUL for all of you without any fluff. Please enjoy the video.

Below are links to some of my work. Once again thank you so much! 

CHURCH HURT TRAILER (my next project)

Never Forget Part 1 and Part 2

Shattered Serenity

Monday, December 1, 2014

10 Days of Gratitude: Day 8 - Be Grateful by C.C. Carter

Sometimes we forget.   Forget to see gratefulness in the details of the everyday and everything. 

We forget that breathing today means we get to recreate the life we want again. Second by second, moment by moment we get to start again and as a result we should be grateful for that.

We get stuck. Stuck on the situation we are in now, the financial debts we have acquired again, the loved ones we have lost once more.  We get stuck in the loss, the pain, the suffering and we forget that in this second of awareness we once had a gain before the loss, a joy before the pain, we had living before the suffering. We forget that we should have been grateful when we had them and we punish ourselves because we recognize we should have been more present in those moments, with those people, in those experiences.  For as the gospel song states, it is never too late to…

Be grateful.
Be grateful.

God has not promised me sunshine,
That's not the way it's going to be;
But a little rain mixed with God's sunshine,
A little pain makes me appreciate the good times. 
Be grateful, be grateful.
For it will be alright... (Kurt Carr)

We forget to learn from the lessons of the past so we can be truly grateful of moments of clarity, of moving through, of persevering on, in spite of.   We forget to be grateful that guess what? I’m still here.  We forget to not get stuck in the “why” something is happening or the reason I’m going through this or went through that”.  We forget to be present in the moment and ask the real question, “What have I learned or am learning as a result of the experience.”  For when you can truly answer those questions, you can move on to being present in the now.

Flowing from my heart
Are the issues of my heart
It’s gratefulness
(Hezekiah Walker)

No one is asking you to forget, no one is asking you to not be angry or hurt still. But what you should remind yourself is “From these experiences, I’ve learned ____________ and in this moment, this second…. inhale… I am grateful for… exhale… this moment of gratefulness”

C.C. CaCarla (C.C.) Carter, Ph.D. is a lifetime educator, having spent over 27 years as a teacher and administrator in junior high and high school settings. She is currently the curriculum and compliance specialist at Joshua Johnston Fine Arts and Design Charter School in Chicago.  She is the lead coordinator for the development of the Lorde-Rustin Social Justice Educational Program, to be opened in the Spring of 2015, which will serve 75 high school and older adult LGBTQ and allied students wishing to receive a diploma.  She is a Master Teacher Trainer in the areas of Brain-Based Learning, Multiple Intelligences and teaching to Diverse Learners.   In addition to her educational career, C.C. is an award-winning poet, has been published in over 15 anthologies and is a staple on the Women's Music Festival circuit including as a principle artist for Olivia Travel, a Lesbian travelling company. Her work as an activist for women and youth has earned her two places in the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. She recently earned her Doctorate of Divinity and a Ph.D. in Christian Education.rter
Executive Director, POW-WOW Inc773.592.3492

Sunday, November 30, 2014

10 Days of Gratitude: Day 7 - Return to Gratitude By TaMeicka L. Clear

When I think of gratitude, I think about how practicing gratitude positively affects my vibration. We hear about the practice of gratitude and about raising our vibration and how having a higher vibration can produce a happy life and even promote manifesting things in life that we want. Often I have found myself having to go back to the basics of the purpose of exercising gratitude and the many benefits it has on my life. For many of us that deal with depression and anxiety, it seems there is always something that can take us from exercising gratitude and being present to being worried and taken out of the present! When in the middle of living life to the fullest, we can get out of practice with the things that sustain us. And that’s ok, it happens to the most savvy, spiritual, and enlightened of us. The thing is to recognize it, own it, and not stay there. If you find yourself needing to get back to the basics of practicing gratitude, here are some tips on how to come back to center.

First, find your base level:
When it comes to everyday life, like interactions with your partner(s), your children, and co-workers; or the business of life, like who is going to cook dinner, or what time you need to leave work to make it to the kid’s game, or how long do you have to eat dinner before going to your second job; we can easily get caught up in the next task and find ourselves spiraling.  The next thing you know, it’s been 3 weeks since you thought about what being so busy means to you on a soul level and you might find yourself questioning if you even enjoy your life! In moments like this, stop and take a deep breath. No seriously, stop. Nudge yourself to remember why you are doing the things you are doing.  A base level is about being able to get to the point of it all. You might say “I’m rushing to class because I’m going to have a degree (or certificate or skills) that will assist me in some way that is meaningful. It won’t always be like this.”  Base levels are the reasons behind the task. When you can get back to this place, you can think about the task a little more present to its meaning and begin the path back to gratitude. You can then begin to say, “Wow, I’m juggling a lot. I’m pushing myself now so that I can reach my goal. It’s ok to have a hard time from time to time. I just have to keep in mind why I’m doing this and soon, I will be on to the next goal/task!” The base level takes you out of complaining, avoiding, or sulking. When you’ve reached a point where you have to connect to your base, that is the best time to just take it easy on yourself and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can. Base levels are about owning whats really going on and being gentle with yourself in the process.  Once you've done this you are already closer to your center and on your way to your gratitude practice.

Next, connect with your will:
In my study of chakras, energy centers through the body that help us balance our vibration and aura, I find the “will” to be very helpful in connecting with gratitude once I have been able to get connected to my base.  There are names for the energy centers of the body and the one at the center of our being, our core, is called the Will Chakra. It governs just what it says, our will. Your will sits at the center of your being and is connected to what many call “your gut”. It’s that often unexplained part of you that might say “I don’t know what it is but something seems off. I better not go that way today”. While it is good at protecting you, it is also good at helping you to do/perform task, to manifest, and to balance the amount of energy you give to a task. So say you have remembered why you are doing the things you are doing, you have found your base and you're  beginning to feel connected to your task again. Now you can connect to how much of your current actions are helping you reach your goal and if you need to do some self care or adjusting in any way.  This is about sitting with your inner self and working through if what you are doing is aiding you in your goal, distracting you from your goal, or if you need a break in routine, etc. Connecting to your will can be about asking yourself questions that get to the bottom of your intention for your task. Are you trying to do “too much”, too soon? Do you need to slow down or maybe even take a day off? Connecting to your will can help you get in touch with the things we have to DO in the world with much more intention to ensure that we are not just doing busy work and that we are busy doing work that matters! Your inner knowing will always work to protect you and keep you in alignment with you highest good. Getting in touch with you will by asking yourself some tough questions can really help you say in alignment with your highest self. So get in there and ask those tough questions to find the intention behind your task and adjust accordingly.

Lastly, come back to gratitude
Now that you have moved from the base, to the center, you can come back to gratitude with some clarity and receptiveness. You can begin to believe it when you say “I am grateful for my job” because you have worked yourself back to a place of meaning it rather than sort of reciting it out  of habit or reciting it in hopes that you'll mean it eventually. It’s not that we are ever not grateful for the things we have, the things we are able to do, or the people in our lives, but navigating life has a funny way of taking the focus off of that gratitude. We don’t become ungrateful, we get out of touch with our soul level wisdom. Things become task to get done and  move on to the next. You forget why you wanted it in the first place, or you get hit hard with a set back at work or financially and you focus there. Slowly, your vibration begins to drop until you no longer feel as connected to the things you are doing and thus not really able to practice gratitude or FEEL grateful. Once you move your vibration back to this point you can return to gratitude heart centered and honestly. When your emotions are in alignment with what you are saying they produce a much more powerful energy. This allows practicing gratitude to be that sustaining force that it is for so many. You can return to your gratitude journal, or gratitude morning ritual, or acts of gratitude  such as  giving a little extra to the server, or donating to a cause, or thank you notes to those you are grateful for.  All the ways that you express your gratitude can be potent and continue to produce the kind of energy that allows for expansion, joy, and fulfillment in life.

There are many that don't live with depression or anxiety and might still find that you need to figure out how to raise your vibration through gratitude. When living with depression and anxiety, you might find yourself having to do this work to get back to center often. But the work is worth it and soon, it won't take as long as it use to. We can live our lives with joy, contentment, faith, and possibility if we take it one day at a time, and allow ourselves to keep it real about where we are at and release any shame attached to it. I practice gratitude because it keeps me tapped into the beauty of this life and helps me vibrate at a level of appreciation and thankfulness that produces joy and excitement about life. I haven’t always been able to do that and I'm not always able to stay here. If you live with depression and/or anxiety, I encourage you to give this process a try. It has helped sustain me more often than I can count. I hope it helps you too!

TaMeicka L. Clear is a Spiritual and Emotional Wellness Coach, a Body Positive Coach, and Social Issues Educator. Meicka is an ordained minister, an Ifa practitioner, Reiki Level 1 practitioner, and studies numerology and tarot. She is an empath and intuitive healer that focuses on co-creating programs and healing spaces with people of color, women, and LGBTQIA people.

Visit her website at

Saturday, November 29, 2014

10 Days of Gratitude: Day 6 - I get it…I finally get it; this human experience By Sandra Valls

This human experience is hard, lovely, lonely, beautiful, painful, joyful, magnificent, breathtaking, devastating, challenging, healing, unpredictable, peaceful, chaotic, unfair, divine, scary, magical, wonderful, awful, frustrating, kind, sweet, enlightening, blissful, painful, amazing, happy…….

It’s trusting to be led and having the strength to lead.
It’s gathering the shards of your broken heart and mending it together again and again….and dammit really? …yet again. Then it’s being brave enough to gift it to that beautiful, worthy one with outstretched arms.

It’s attracting and welcoming kindness.
It’s letting fear and joy pour from your eyes.
It’s shedding the old and making room for new.
It’s purging dark and reveling in the light.
It’s learning to be open while still shielding yourself.
It’s scraping, crawling, walking, running, flying.
It’s embracing your calling.
It’s accepting yourself...learning to love yourself just as you are.
It’s touching, hearing, breathing, tasting.
It’s mastering balance.
It’s letting your soul speak through creativity.
It’s being vulnerable enough to feel….really feel.
It’s running through the woods, swimming in the ocean, dancing in the rain, curling in your bed.
It’s laughing from the gut.
It’s one day at a time.
It’s losing control to a piece of music.
It’s losing and finding yourself in a lover.
It’s letting someone see you. See. You.
It’s waiting for the one and then finding out it’s you all along.
It’s conquering your fears.
It’s proving yourself.
It’s all ages.
It’s all genders.
But through all this…it’s a shared experience. It’s a shared journey. We are here to heal each other, help each other, guide each other towards our growth…our mission in life. We are all beautiful and scared and lovable and WORTHY. Ase. And as I write, I’m lost in a piece of music…this piece of music that has followed me for over 20 years. A beautiful reminder. It has again escaped the speaker, danced through the air, penetrated my big, beautiful, fragile heart, and pushed out the fear that is now flowing freely down my cheeks.

And through it all, I am grateful. Grateful that I am alive to feel and live all of this. Grateful that I get to create more or less, sooner or later. Grateful that I chose to be born. Grateful for my mission. Most of all, Grateful for the awareness that I must be grateful. I am grateful for even the things some people take for granted. I say grace not just for a meal but for a cup of water…a cup of coffee…even a snack. There was a time in my life when I couldn’t afford even a little bag of chips. Maybe it took that for me to awaken to the ‘little’ things the Universe provides. I make it a point to stop, notice and thank the universe for any and everything. Thanking the most high with outstretched arms today for all my blessings…all of them. I want to feel all….I receive…everything my glorious life has to offer.  Bring it. I am ready. Ase.

Sandra Valls  is a brash, high energy, smart, outrageously funny, Latina comic… and then some! Voted by Latina Magazine as one of the Top 33 Bad Ass Comics with Latin Roots, Sandra performs to standing room only, sold out comedy shows all over the country. She’ll make you laugh till your face hurts with her frank, no holds barred comedic genius!

Sandra Valls is also an actor, singer (go to videos for a taste) and a published author. Pick up your copy of Out of the Edge:America’s Rebel Comics. A funny and illuminating piece about what it’s like to be a lesbian and a woman of color in the comedy world.

To learn more about Sandra


Friday, November 28, 2014

10 Days of Gratitude: Day 5 - JOY! JOY! JOY! By Karen Williams, M.Ed

Tis the season to be...

Joyful? Just how am I supposed to do that? Or be that? What is joy anyway?

I have to admit that I am happy when I get the things I want; or get to be with someone with whom I want to share my time and energy. I feel rapture when I have a new love or get another car. (I've had 47 of them and I still get excited!) I can even feel ecstasy when more money mystically falls into my lap. But joy...that's an elusive one and I finally figured out why.

Because true joy has nothing to do with me and my wants and needs or desires. I get to experience joy when I do something for someone else without any expectation of something in return. It really is that simple. Yet giving without expecting to receive is challenging to our lesser ego, that part of ourselves that seeks validation and is crushed when we don't get it.

I was asked by a dear friend to accompany her to a church this Thanksgiving to serve meals. I did not know what to expect. However, I was very excited because I'd never done anything like that before. Tables were neatly arranged to seat six and were covered with colorful cloths with autumnal centerpieces featuring small pumpkins and gourds. Volunteers were assigned to teams of order takers, runners, and servers, with four tables given to each team. I decided to be a server, which gave me the opportunity to assist the order takers by getting plates of food and bringing them to the tables. I also got to meet and greet folks, and pay close attention to their needs.

Deeply touched by the generosity of spirit and love that permeated the dining room, I immersed myself in the environment...listening, sharing, encouraging, laughing. There was plenty of food and the server crew packed up bundles of take-away packages for those present and shut-ins who were unable to take part in the Thanksgiving meal. And what a delicious meal it was! Roasted turkey with all the fixings, green beans, beets, mashed and sweet potatoes, and a special dessert of pumpkin pie and whipped cream. One little fellow put so much whipped cream in his cup of hot chocolate that he could only manage a bite or two of dinner. Along with his packaged meal, I sent him home with an extra packet of cocoa. The big smile he gave me warmed my heart.

Although I was not with my biological family members for the holiday, I can honestly say that I felt like a part of a bigger family. It was as though I was serving at a fine restaurant with the warmest, kindest, most grateful clientele ever. When I looked around the room, I experienced deep stirrings of gratitude and joy, empathy and compassion.

"These people are me... I have felt alone or like no one cared about me. I've had hard times and somehow made it through." Although I'd thought that I was there to do something for someone, everyone in that room helped me feel a little more connected to them and to that universal spirit that connects all of us.

So the next time I want to feel JOY, I know what to do. I plan to step out of myself and do something for someone else, just because it feels so good! In fact, I know where I'll be on Christmas Eve!

Karen Williams, M.Ed, taught Stand-Up Comedy in the Dramatic Arts department of Cleveland State University; studied improv at Second City Chicago; and directed inaugural comedy classes at Second City in Cleveland.  Karen continues to perform comedy worldwide and star in television commercials while teaching acting and improvisational comedy at ProModel and Talent Management, training students to compete at IMTA (International Model and Talent Agency) Conventions in New York and Los Angeles.

Karen Williams, M.Ed
Founder / CEO
HaHA Institute
For the Best in Stand-Up Comedy, Humor Education and 
Motivational Speaking

Copyright 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

10 Days of Gratitude: Day 3 - There is No Shame in Fat, Only Hurt By Lisa D. Bowie

The truth is sometimes I don't sleep very well, and this night and early morning once again rendered sleeplessness. It started with a pain in one of my relatively “new” titanium knees, as I have recently found my way back to the gym and walking. Just to later find myself in an air cast as result of Achilles tendonitis. This, I’m sure due to my tenacity and overzealous spirit that won’t let me give up my battle against the bulge – a battle I will fight to the end no matter what may come my way. Funny thing is at 51 this fight feels so much more difficult than at 30 or even 40 for that matter. However, the desire to have good health and a visually accepting physical appearance remain the same regardless of my age. But it’s hard to deny I’ve grown weary and tired both literally and figuratively speaking; however I still no longer want to be included in that statistic that states that 80% of African-American women are considered to be obese. I hate that word!

Fortunately for me my strong sense of self and a Mount Everest sized self-esteem I have not been made to feel self-conscious about my weight. I seem to do a good job of that without any help. Although, I have had the occasional remark from family members – “you have such a beautiful face.” When translated means if you weren’t fat you would simply be beautiful by my standards. Or my personal favorite, “how are you ever going to get a husband if you don’t lose some weight?” So, I guess it’s a good thing I’m a lesbian, so I won’t ever have to feel the sting of a man’s rejection because of weight issues. Yet, while I have come through this type of ridicule for the most part unscathed, some of these remarks at times still hurt and have remained with me just as the childhood memories of only being able to fit plus-size tough skin jeans or the “chubette” (is that even a word) size dresses that I hated wearing in the first place.

For a few years now I have been trying my best to counter the damage of our culture with regards to size, and at times age - one of two characteristics I have struggled to embrace the better part of my life, as I have always been a “thick” sistah. The other is a completely new struggle altogether - my own quiet-held fear and at times self-hate that can be suffocating. Everywhere I turn I am constantly reminded of what I’m not – White, blonde and blue-eyed. Coming to terms with this brutal scrutiny of myself I now understand the time to counter these self-destructive thoughts and beliefs must begin immediately with the attempt to love myself as I once did, but now feels like so many years ago. I recognize it is time to claim every roll of fat, mark, scar and far from-perfect inch of my own body – a body that has been called "too fat" by me more than anyone else. Me, a person who understands the importance and purpose of loving oneself, but still finding it difficult to even like the bare naked truth of me in front of a mirror.

Until recently I had been totally oblivious to the viciousness of my own words that have been self-inflicted. Words that hurt most when spoken silently, subconsciously and continuously while internalizing them deep within me. I realize I would NEVER diminish myself in this way for anyone else, so I must stop the diminishing of me by me. While I am long from seeing my body in a beautiful light, I know I must continue to work hard to find, shape and see the beauty in it as it is now, just as I see the beauty of my mind and heart.

“Fat Shaming” can be one of the most humiliating things to ever experience, but “fat shaming” can be the most spirit-crushing and life-threatening at the hands of self. And I want to live a shame-free life. – By Lisa D. Bowie

Lisa is a scholar in training residing in Atlanta, Ga. She has been writing career-related articles since 2009, poetry and editorial opinions since 2010. Her articles have appeared on,, and By trade, she is a human resources professional and possesses more than 20 years of experience, as well as an Assistant Professor. Lisa holds a Master of Arts degree in Humanities and Masters in Education, both from Tiffin University. Last, but not least Lisa loves her wife.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

10 Days of Gratitude: Day 1 - I Am Grateful by SharRon Jamison

November is the time of the year when many of us are feeling a bit fatigued. Even if it has been a year filled with celebration and success, somewhere in our spirits we are craving renewal, rejuvenation, restoration and relaxation. We have worked hard, studied hard, labored hard and loved hard and in many ways we have reached a crescendo. We need a release because we are full, pregnant with accumulated experiences, and our minds, spirits and bodies need a break, a respite. We need to emotionally, spiritually and physically exhale to release the residue of our transitions, losses, challenges, disappointments, changes and pain. We also need to exhale to release the residue of our growth, development and success because even though positive, those experiences required much of us and also required much from us. We desire, and in some ways, our spirits beg for rest.

But it is in those quiet nights when I am tossing and turning when my mind won’t rest and my body won’t relax, that I list my blessings. I enumerate how God has orchestrated my pains and my gains, a little bit of good and a little bit of bad, the simple and the complex, and the ups and the downs to get me where I am today. And God is so amazing that many times I just sit and wonder.  Because it is in those midnight hours that I see how my experiences fit like pieces of an intricate puzzle. And in those reflective moments, I realize how each piece, some smooth and some jagged, was used to develop me, equip me and strengthen me. And it is at those moments when I am all alone, sometimes crying in desperation and sometimes crying in celebration, that I am the most grateful.
Sometimes I am grateful that things are going well and sometimes I am grateful that things are not as bad as they could be. But nestled in my spirit is a song, an old hymn of the church, called “It Is Well With My Soul”. I sing that song or I just dwell on the meaning of the song and thankfully peace finds me. I don’t feel peaceful immediately, but that song slowly penetrates my soul and reaches those hidden, vulnerable crevices of my spirit to remind me that indeed “It Is Well With My Soul”.  It is at those quiet meditative moments when I feel most grateful.
So, what am I am most grateful for in 2014? I am grateful for agitation. This year I have been pestered, provoked, pushed, pulled and pursued. I have worried more than I should have even though I didn’t realize at the time that I was worrying at all. Unfortunately, my body knew and it protested vigorously.
But it has been at those times when I felt the most aggravated that I really experienced my full potential as a mother, daughter, minister, business owner, professional and person. It was at those most emotionally demanding times that I was able to use frustration as fuel to create new options, develop innovative approaches, generate new revenue, form strategic alliances, seek wiser counsel and most importantly, pray. It was at those times when I was at my most vulnerable places that I reached out, reached in and reached up for strength to handle situations and circumstances that were painful, complicated, baffling and life-threatening.  It was hard, God knows it was hard, and some issues have yet to be resolved.  But I am so grateful that I was agitated, and frequently so, because it forced me to see my potential, nurture my resilience, forgive others, forgive myself and to love differently, not always more deeply, but differently.
I am grateful that God used agitation as a catalyst and clarifier in my life. I am grateful that God shook the proverbial nest and forced me to fly, albeit sometimes reluctantly. I grateful that I was forced out my comfort zone and into my genius zone which allowed  me to get a glimpse of what God could do if I would open my head, my heart and my hand  to new possibilities and to new options. I am grateful that I was agitated and fired up to be the best SharRon I could be. I am grateful!
I am grateful for inspiration. In 2014, I have been inspired to try things that I never tried before and inspired to imagine possibilities than I never imagined before. I wasn’t good at everything I tried, but trying identified and confirmed my strengths, talents and abilities which convinced me that I was not performing up to my full potential or capacity. And so, I am grateful for succeeding at some things and failing at some things because I now have new data to propel me forward. I now have information that will help me better direct, maximize and focus my efforts in my personal and professional lives. I am ready for growth, expansion, new horizons, new ideas and new opportunities.  I now have a clearer vision for my life. I am grateful!
I am also grateful for the inspiration that God sent me through other amazing people. God is so God that God always sent me encouragement just when I needed it most. God sent me the right song at the right time to soothe me. God sent me the right friends at the right time to encourage and me. God lead people to send cards, letters, text messages and email messages that supported me. Even during the tough times, and there were many, I was encouraged, motivated, calmed, comforted, fortified and urged to do, to be, to go, to say and to try. I was blessed by poems, pictures, proverbs, pasta and pats on the back. All acts of kindness were instrumental in healing my heart when it was broken, lifting my spirit when it was low, filling my stomach when it was empty and strengthening my soul when it was weak.  I was blessed!  Thank you. I am grateful!
I am grateful for affirmation. Let’s face it – it is a wonderful feeling when people affirm you, your gifts, your calling and your vision because we all desire to be noticed, appreciated and valued even if we don’t admit it.  And even though public affirmation is not the “be-all, in-all”, it does feel good. It feels good to be affirmed by your peers, family members, colleagues and co-laborers. It feels amazing to have your talent respected, lauded and applauded. It feels good when people take the time to express respect for what you do and for who you are. It is feels good because affirmation is more than a compliment. It is one of the highest expressions of gratitude because it is a way of telling people thank you for just being you, thank you for your contributions, thank you for sharing yourself with the world, thank you for your inner beauty and thank you for walking in your purpose. Affirmations are powerful and life-giving; they are salve for the human soul.
I am grateful for all of you who have affirmed my work and affirmed my very existence. You have encouraged me to step more out on faith, to speak more of my truth, to celebrate more of who I am and to live authentically as I can – flaws, failures, faults and all. You created, supported and fortified a space where I can be vulnerable, transparent, wrong and silly without judgment and ridicule. This adage is so true for me: only free people can free people. You were free and you allowed me to be free. Thank you! I am grateful!
Agitation, inspiration and affirmation!!!   I am grateful that all three have aided in my transformation, edification, preparation and propelled me toward my divine destination. I am grateful for these three wonderful gifts that have helped me become a better me. Thank you! I appreciate all of you so much and I am not only grateful, but I am hopeful because the best ME is yet to come. Blessings!
SharRon Jamison 

10 Days of Gratitude: Day 2 - Creating Magic By April VanMansfeld

When I was very little, sometime between ages 2 – 4, my absolute FAVORITE thing to do was to curl up with my Mama on her bed, lay my head on her stomach and listen to it because it always sounded like the Okefenokee Swamp to my little ears and imagination…

In keeping with our Western tradition of appropriation, we’ve taken religious and philosophical ideals of mindfulness and intention from other cultures flipped them inside out, turned them all akimbo and warped them to somehow mirror and further justify our instant gratification existence to the point of turning an entire range of emotions and states of being into something to be avoided or rushed through at all costs. Anger, fear, loneliness, despair, heartache, worry, discomfort, hopelessness… All of them are relegated to the realm of things one is to leapfrog over as soon as the feelings first appear. Some would go so far as to claim that acknowledging these feelings is tantamount to being ungrateful for all that is going right in one’s life or calling more “negativity” into one’s life.

But wait a minute. If everything we experience is of and from the divine, then so too are all those “negative” emotions. Each is an indicator that something in our realm of reality is no longer fitting our needs or serving our personhood. Sometimes you have a modicum of control over those circumstances. You can quickly and easily remove yourself from the cause of your angst. In those moments, take the leap and be done with it. Other times, it’s not so easy. Life happens to all of us, at any given moment, with no warning and with no concern for our demographics or our lot in life. It just happens. It’s at those times that we find out just how little control we have over the other people and entities in our world. We can’t wish the issue away. We can’t miraculously shift the paradigm by virtue of our force of will. Pushing ourselves through our very real, very appropriate emotional reactions can actually cause the very long-term damage that we think we’re avoiding by jumping ahead to “fine”. Unexercised loneliness, hopelessness and heartache become bitterness. Unexpressed anger, fear and despair become rage. Unprocessed bitterness and rage become disease. Denial is NOT dealing with it. And dealing with it isn’t flailing aimlessly in an abyss you can’t come back from.

Learning to be with yourself in the midst of your discomfort, in the pit of your “what in the hot and holy is THIS new bag of Hell”, is a skill set that will always serve your highest good. The next time it all falls apart or hits the fan or leaves you chipped cracked broken decimated… The next time life hands you a box of lemons, which upon opening you discover are also rotten… I challenge you to dig deep and find it within yourself to give yourself permission to just BE. Sit with your heartache, your loneliness, your disappointment, your fear. Pull it out and look at it. What shape is it? What color and hue? What size is it? How does it smell? How does it taste? What texture does it have? What’s the viscosity? Is it hot or cold? Where do you feel it in your body? Is it pain or pressure? Sharp? Dull? Constant or in waves? Static or pulsating? How does it sound? How does it move? Is it an old wound reopened or is it fresh and new? Where does it come from? What does it want? No, really. Try it. Try to see your feelings as of and from you, but not part of you.

Once you have a deeper understanding of the cause and affects of your emotions, once you own them, once you accept what’s so, you regain your power. You are no longer at the mercy of your feelings or circumstances. You are in alignment with what is so in your reality. This is not a one size fits all quick fix. You won’t float through the rest of your experience, day, week, year, life… You will most definitely repeat the process countless times throughout your life. You will most definitely get caught off guard, side-swiped by life, and go spiraling back to that leapfrog to alright instant gratification pill we were all encouraged to swallow. That’s fine. As stated above, there are occasions when the circumstances warrant it. There are also those life altering moments when the only way out is through. When you will simply have to BE horrified terrified lonely unsure and aching. Moments when you will have to let go of the ledge and fall back into the abyss of nothingness.

It is while you are in that nothingness that the divine, the universe, your highest self, whomever you rely on, will throw you the lifeline you are most needing to get you back on the path to understanding, the freeing truth in acceptance and the leap to gratitude for all of it.

This past Saturday was the cherry on top of a few successive weeks of hell, which is just the latest in half a year of hits to my little fiefdom. Running late to get to my Mom, a no win no end in sight fight with my wife, a “this is what the doctors won’t tell you about your Mom’s condition” conversation with a trusted medical professional & friend of the family, and 20 minutes of sobbing as I sat in her driveway. I then got myself together, mustered up a smile and took myself in her house. Fast forward through a quick unhealthy dinner, and I find myself following my Mama back to her room. She’s only gotten out of bed when absolutely necessary for the past week, which only makes my heart that much heavier. She climbs her little self into bed and fluffs her pillows, making space for me to sit at the foot of her bed. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but after several trips to the kitchen for her, I find myself sitting next to her and then curling up on the pillows by her side, watching tv. Forty years later our roles have reversed. She is now the smaller of the two of us and I am lying on the outside of the bed as if to keep her protected. It’s my stomach making swamp noises. And it is this moment, as I lay there being in my loneliness, my sadness, my helplessness and my despair that the divine gives me a sense of peace and grace. With my little world crumbling around me, in spite of being in all of my “negative” feelings, my goddess granted me moments I haven’t experienced in 40 years and thought I’d never experience again. By accepting what is so in my life instead of ignoring it or hoping it’d all miraculously go away because I willed it to, I rearranged my life to fit this heartbreaking lonely place in my journey. And by doing that, I got my miracle. In the depth of my sorrow, curled up next to my Mama, I got that feeling of total love and acceptance and security I haven’t had since I was 4. In her acceptance of her reality, my Mama let herself need me as much as and at the same time as I needed her. And we, with the help of the divine, found and held each other in the midst of our void, each bringing the other back to face the fire one more day, one step at a time. There is power in being with one’s deepest most painful feelings. It is in those spaces that we hear and receive our most beautiful gifts to and from ourselves, others and the divine.

The next time you’re tempted to soar past your angst, remember how close you are to creating magic. Sit with it, be with it. And get ready to make some magic.


April VanMansfeld
TigerWolf, Inc.
EarthMuther Inc

10 Days of Gratitude: Day 4 - Gratitude By Yvette D. Bennett


G”rateful for all of the people on my journey who have loved me, left me, taught me, hurt me, healed me, lifted me up, woke me up, showed up AND cut up when needed; past, present and those yet to come in my future.

R”adiating the joy and happiness that I experience in my life daily; hoping that it is infectious enough to make a positive impact in the lives of anyone that I come in contact with, directly or indirectly.

A”ccepting each day as it challenges me to become a better person; to love, be honest, forgiving, honor authenticity, to grow, be vulnerable, live with passion, pay it forward and “live” my life on purpose, with purpose.

T”ransforming my life, the lives that I touch and the lives that touch me by allowing myself to be open to the universal process of giving and receiving positive love, light and energy in every form. Knowing that I am a constant work in progress, constantly evolving, ever changing, and will continue to learn and grow with each coming day.

I”nner peace is always my ultimate goal; never allowing the outer distractions of the world to take control of my mind, body and spirit. Daily Meditation is a part of my process. I positively changed my thoughts, I changed my words, I changed my actions, so I changed my life.

T”hankful for the ability to remain humble and I’m blessed to have those around me who are humble, human and real; allowing me to live in my truth as they live in theirs. 

U”nderstanding that everything in my life happens for a reason and to teach me a lesson. Understanding that some of the souls that come along the way are not meant to stay. They come to teach me something that I may not have gotten without them. It is my duty, OUR duty to “get” the lessons along our journey, learn from them and continue to grow from and with love.

D”iscovery of self is never ending. The people that come into my life and the experiences that I encounter today will shape and mold me into who I am to become next week, next month, next year, and for the remainder of my days on earth; learning things about myself that I have not yet realized, truly growing even more into my MOST authentic self.

E”mpowered daily by everything and everyone around me; good, bad or indifferent. Seeing the light in the midst of darkness, seeing the sunshine in the midst of a storm, seeing the love and joy in the midst of pain. Living, laughing and loving every day, with everyone, in every way, throughout this wonderful gift of a life that I have been blessed with, because it truly is a GIFT.


Yvette D. Bennett-Writer/Director

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Finding the One: Part Two

Other people may come to you prior to The One to help you clarify who she is and who she is not.

A term that many people use these days to describe the overanxious, sometimes desperate behavior of womyn wanting to be in a relationship is “thirsty”.  In my dating experience, I’ve experienced thirst. And I’ll make another analogy and say I experienced “hunger”. After being in a three year relationship that was emotionally flat, void of open communication and sexually dead I was starved for stimulation, adoration and touch. So I was easily enticed and fed on “empty calorie, junk food” relationships.

As a recovering foodie, I know I have to be careful of dishes that may look appetizing, smell good and taste good but that are not good for me. Or even if they won’t hurt me, they are just not on my food plan. I can get full, but not satisfied on such foods. Or, I may eat it, but it had no real sustenance or health benefits. And because there are certain foods that I really like (I am a potato chip connoisseur), I refuse to eat the light or diet version. Baked really isn’t the same as lightly fried and salted.

On our journey to connect with The One, a lot of womyn will come into our lives and perhaps appeal to our appetite for love and relationship. And some of them will be close to the qualities of the womyn we are best suited for and who is a match for us.

Researchers have concluded that this phenomenon of connecting with someone who is a faux match may be based in our inner emotional and social compass that is calibrated by unconscious and subconscious needs.

One theory that speaks to this is Imago theory, developed by Dr. Harville Hendrix.  Imago means: 'the inner unconscious image of the opposite sex' or what you're looking for in a partner but aren't aware of."

The “Imago” is a composite image in the unconscious of the significant character traits and behaviors of childhood primary caretakers. An individual who is like our caretakers in emotionally significant ways — our unconscious drives us to re-create our childhood psychological dynamics in an attempt to heal the central wounds we carry.

The notion is that were born whole and complete individuals. We became wounded in relationships during the early nurturing and socialization stages of development by our primary caretakers (usually inadvertently, in relationships with parents who were doing their best).We developed a composite image of all the positive and negative traits of our primary caretakers deep in our unconscious mind. This is our “Imago.” It becomes a blueprint of the one we will be consider our perfect match.

So in essence, we develop partnerships for the purpose of healing and repairing the unfinished business of childhood. Since we were wounded in relationship we need to repair in a relationship. Romantic love makes the selection and is nature’s way of connecting us with the perfect partner for our eventual healing.

The challenge is, when we aren’t clear, conscious and calm when we are seeking love, we attract someone who is matches the “blueprint”, but who isn’t willing or capable of helping us heal our wounds. And remember, she is acting out her own imago story. The limiting beliefs that hinder our best selection of a partner could be summarized in the messages and experiences based on our internal compass:
  • ‘I can’t do better’: One of the most common reasons for relationship dissatisfaction is choosing a partner that you don’t really like because of believing that you can’t do better. Settling is like buying a cheap imitation because you think that’s all you deserve even though you can afford the real thing.
  • Having past unfinished business: It’s a self-esteem boost if we managed to attract someone who resembles a person who rejected us in the past. But attracting people who resemble abusers may result in one being abused again.
  • Being too eager to find love: As humans we all need to be taken care of but when this need lets you chose someone who is bad for you then know that it became an unhealthy desire instead of a healthy need. Not feeling loved or nurtured creates vulnerability to accept those who give them attention with disregard to their real compatibility.
  • Being enamored with the idea of a relationship or “in love with love: Many people hate being single and long for the day they will be with someone. This intense desire might make a person blind when choosing a partner.
So check your internal compass before you actively seek The One. Is it directed by your broken spirit or wounded heart?  Do you need to examine your childhood experiences more closely to see how they influence your grown up relationships?  Is the person you have high passion with actually a composite of the chaos of your past?  Finding The One requires savvy “shopping”. Some womyn will be close to the real deal. But I’ve learned that cubic zirconium isn’t a diamond, it won’t cut glass. Plus Fool’s Gold looks good, but it can’t buy anything. The One isn’t a cheap imitation nor a nice “knockoff”.

Related Article:
Finding The One Part I: I Am One

Gwen Thomas is the author of The S.H.E. Experience, a woman’s perspective on self-actualization. She is also the President and CEO of The C.A.S.T. Company, which provides training, consulting and professional coaching to individuals and organizations. As speaker and consultant, she presents various professional development and personal growth topics. She has provided training and motivational speaking throughout the United States, in the Caribbean; a total of 7 countries on three continents.

She has experience and expertise in leadership and organizational development, communication skills and women’s professional and personal growth. She has spent the majority of her professional life motivating and teaching others in workplace settings and in spiritual environments.

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