Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Change Your Mind

It really doesn’t matter if you’ve thought that way all your life; whether you trained yourself to think that way or were indoctrinated by your family, friends, educators, church. It’s time to change your mind. Why? 

Because your old mind is not ready for your new life. 

Even if the way you used to do things worked. You had it right then. Got the desired results. Why ain’t it working now? Maybe the way you've always thought kept you on track, kept you sane, as it were. 

But if your thinking is starting to drive you crazy, it’s time to change your mind.

If you were taking a medication that used to work but wasn't as effective as before, wouldn’t you get to the doctor post haste? You have taken it every day as prescribed and have for years, but you just don’t get the results. You’ve tried to reason it away and say that it’s the weather, your eating habits, stress. But you know the stuff ain’t working. You need a new prescription. A change. You don’t really feel like going through the doctor’s checklist and follow up visits and the blood draws and the temporary adjustments until the prescription is just right again. But you did it before, gladly. Anything to be well.

Doesn’t your mind deserve the same…care? 

Granted, no tiny pill will help with a mind change, unless the problem is chemical-clinical. (Is it?) There will be some trial and error. It will take some discipline. It will take some accountability, to yourself (daily journaling?), or perhaps to a trustworthy someone else. And it will take some time. Some changes in behavior will also be in order. Maybe you need to put the word “no” back into your vocabulary. Or the word “yes”. It may mean speaking up instead of being quiet. Or being quiet when you're bursting at the seams. 

It may mean writing your new affirmation-declaration out and reciting it every single day to stop the voices in your head – the old ones – from dragging you down into the pit. 

Whatever it takes, it’s time for a change. 

Old thinking cannot create a new life.

Change your mind.

That goes for me, too,

Monday, August 18, 2014

Handle with Care

Dear Ferguson, Missouri:

Every news report draws from my heart to my lips a new prayer for you. Today all I could utter was “Lord, help.” 

As a mother, I understand the grief that justice will only begin to relieve. As a Black American, I know  racism at a cellular level. As a Boomer I remember how neighborhoods burned after Dr. King's assassination. I occasionally drive through some that have never recovered from that explosion-implosion. As a citizen of the world, I have been bullied and stolen from; I have fought back, run away, called the law. Most of the servant-protectors have treated me with great respect; others responded with an inordinate, palpable contempt even though I was not the perpetrator. I have been very grateful for and to the good ones and have prayed out loud to diffuse the provocation of those who were hell bent on using me to make their day. 

As a writer, I need to say my say, but my say is no revelation: the Ferguson PD's press conference was too many days late and multiplied dollars too short. Because it was, there is no quick-easy route to restoration, redemption. This thing has to play all the way out.  How I wish it was not so.

That said, I think I now know what to pray: that no more lives are lost in Ferguson; that wise, humble, honest, courageous and just leaders rise up and do the next right thing. And the next right thing. And the next right thing for as long as it takes to heal their land. I will pray for Michael Brown’s family, but especially for his mother, that she will be comforted in her mourning. I will pray that none who advocate for her forgets that hers is the greatest loss of all. And I will pray that she is not exploited by anyone else's agenda, but that she will be handled with care. With great, great care.  

Karen Stark

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dearly Loved

I asked if he would do something for me. His lightning-fast response was, “Yes”.  I think my head snapped back at his answer. Startled and chuckling, I murmured something about wishing I had asked for ten grand or a new car. He did not flinch. Just sat there smiling, waiting for my request. His response stayed with me all through the movie I later went to see, and all through dinner, and it was my first thought upon waking from a Sunday afternoon nap.

I racked my brain, but could not remember the last time I had asked someone for a favor and they responded in the affirmative before hearing the specifics. Most folks, including myself, present a caveat -- “if I can”, “depends on what it is” -- and understandably so. 

Why didn’t he?

Yes, he is family; spiritual family. I’d call him a nephew. He is also a colleague; we occasionally work together. We’ve watched each other grow and evolve and are acquainted with one another’s gifts and frailties. We have a good and real relationship, but not the kind that would make me expect such an unqualified response. He is a shrewd businessman and the type of husband who honors his wife in a tangible way. Really, you could cut it with a knife. I consider him a heavyweight and would not have been the least bit offended if he had asked for specifics before considering my request.

Why didn’t he?  

I was baffled by this gesture that made me feel so respected and so cared for and so valued and so beautiful and so necessary and so trusted and so honorable and, well…so loved that an unqualified yes was the answer he chose to give. And did not take back.

My request was by no means an unreasonable one; what I asked for would benefit someone else. But what that person will receive at my behest is not worthy to be compared to the great gift of love that was given to me with a simple, unconditional “Yes”.