Ngala-Najla

I Celebrate Myself…


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To Mama Maya Angelou, With Love

Image

I am not sure if I can articulate, in words, my emotions correctly today…but here goes:

 

This morning as I stood on the escalators of Broadway Junction, I looked down at my phone, which was just receiving reception. What flashed across the phone’s screen was a New York Times alert, ” Maya Angelou…dead at 86.” I gasped and looked around to see if anyone else knew. I wanted to share it with someone but others continued and their faces gave nothing away. When I got home after work, I lit a white candle (a suggestion by Iyanla Vazant that rang true for me) to bid Maya Angelou a safe transition…

I am not sure how I was introduced to the works of Maya Angelou. I would beg to say, she has been a part of my life for a very long time. Now reflecting on her life and what it means to be, like so many others are doing today, a few events are replaying in my mind:

1. Her poem, “Still I Rise” was recited in my voice at my church as a teenager. I told a friend today that I remember finding the poem and reading it for my church’s Black History Month celebration. In the middle of reciting the poem I forgot the words and sat down disappointed…moments after I went back up and told the MC that I wanted to finish the poem. To me it deserved that reverence. “I am the hope and the dream of the slave!” I proclaimed, feeling the power of those words but not really understanding it completely at that time.

2. I have never seen my mom connect to a book like she did to “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I would assumed that the words of the book spoke to her in a way she has never shared with me or my sister. She was the first person I called when I found out.

3. “Phenomenal Woman” I presented to my English class in college and as I read the words, they and I became one. I remember clasping the book in my hands and reading it and when I was finished I hugged the book, so proud of myself…. because I found words that really got me.

 

Maya Angelou gave me words that my spirit understood before my mind could comprehend their power. She has always been present for me and always will.

 


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The Universe is Unfolding as It Should…

One Saturday after a really bad week, I found myself walking in the park, then around my neighborhood and finally sat down to find that I was facing a poem (below) by Max Ehrmann. It was a part of a mural. (I am beginning to believe more and more each day that in life there are no coincidences.) As I sat facing the words on the wall, I read them over and over again. Nothing was more fitting to provide comfort to me.

Today I did not walk in the park, nor walked in my neighborhood. In fact I have completed a lot less than I thought that I would before I started my vacation last week. As I was beginning to beat myself up about what I didn’t do, this poem came to me just like it did some weeks ago. “Go placidly among the noise and haste.” Let go and open yourself up to something bigger than what is on a list.” Remember what peace there is in silence.” “Remember what peace there is in silence.”

Desiderata

    – Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.


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A Quiet Moment

 
My entries have been far apart from each other because my mind is often full of thoughts that I would not know where to begin to explain just what I am feeling. I came across this poem today after a coworker shared this poet’s work with me. It somehow quieted my mind for a moment.
 
EVERYTHING IS WAITING FOR YOU

                                              -David Whyte

                                                                    
Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone.  As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions.  To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings.  Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice.  You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
 
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation.  The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last.  All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves.  Everything is waiting for you.
 
 


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When You Can Endure

It is the day after Thanksgiving Day and although there hasn’t been anything that has jumped into my mind as to what I should be really, really thankful for, there is a list of things that I know for which I am grateful: life, a sound mind, shelter, family, etc. I do not take any of these things lightly. Some days I am less thankful than the others, but on days when I am in my “woe is me” stage, I am reminded (sometimes immediately, and sometimes eventually) about the many blessings that I have .

Lately, there are things that have happened that in a lot of ways are forcing me to be conscious of the simple things. Sometimes I get caught up and begin to act as if I am the only one going through emotional pain or challenges, but the reality is we are never alone, especially in our grief or pain. More importantly, we are never alone especially in our return to triumph and happiness.

I visited a bookstore in my neighborhood last week and went straight to the poetry section, I needed to read things from authors whose words soothed my soul and I came across a collection of Hafiz’s poems entitled, The Gift, and the first poem that I opened up to was:

                                       When You Can Endure

 

When the words stop
And you can endure the silence
That reveals your heart’s pain
of emptiness
Or that great wrenching-sweet longing,
That is the time to try and listen
To what the Beloved’s
Eyes
Most want
To
Say.

 

Need to say no more.


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Inward

“You can explore the universe, looking for somebody who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and you will not find that person anywhere.”
                                                                   – Buddha
 
Where have I been? It has been some time that I have typed words with the intention of turning them into complete sentences and paragraphs. The fall is here and winter is soon to be upon us.  Nature is slowing down and is soon to retreat. I guess I am doing some retreating of my own. I felt compelled to post that quote above by Buddha. No sure if it will connect to what I am writing about in the body of this post, but maybe it will.
 
I have spent some time trying to figure stuff out and trying to find extra meaning in things. The truth is we can only try our best. We have to learn, I have to learn that there are things that will be and forgiveness is necessary, acceptance is mandatory and change is constant. Being okay with uncertainty empowers one to stay grounded.
It  is November, to shed, to release, to withdraw in tempting. The desire to become anew is acknowledged.
 
Yesterday I listened to a great stanza from Leaves of Grass that I feel emdodies more of what I am trying to articulate. Here a man with a very robust voice reads. I hope it speaks to you in some way.
Be Well.


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How to Be Alone

One of the many positives to having a Facebook account, is every now and again, coming across something that totally makes your day due to a random post by a “friend.” Tanya Davis’ guide to being alone is so witty and true that I couln’t help but post it:


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First Clean…then Dream

I’m cleaning out my room filled with papers, and old magazines, clothes I do not wear, sample cds and other things that add to the clutter in my room… to my life.
There is something to be said about cleansing, whether a physical one like what I’m doing to my room, or what I did to my body some weeks ago. The obvious cliche is that it invites more of the goodness in…BUT it also feel damn good!

The funny thing is my parents are cleaning out the basement. They have caught the bug, too. They too are inviting the goodness in. My mom just handed me a home made card that a group of friends made for me when they surprised me with a graduation party in undergrad. The card, filled with well wishes, written by names of some people I have long forgotten ( I am not very good with names. Never forgets a face though), has a poem that reads:

“Dream Big”
–Author unknown

 
“If there were ever a time to dare,
To make a difference
To embark on something worth doing,

It is now.

Not for any grand cause, necessarily –
But for something that tugs at your hear
Something that is worth your aspiration,
Something that is your dream.

You owe it to yourself
To make your days count.

Have fun.  Dig deep. Stretch.

Dream big.

Know, though,
That things worth doing
Seldom come easym

There will be times when you want to turn around
Pack it up and call it quits

Those times tell you
That you are pushing yourself
And that you are not afraid to learn by trying.

Persist.

Because with an idea,
Determination and the right tools,
You can do great things.

Let your instincts, your intellect
And let your heart guide you.

Trust.

Believe in the incredible power
Of the human mind
Of doing something that makes a difference
Of working hard
Of laughing and hoping
Of lasting friends
Of all the things that will cross your path this year.
The start of something new
Brings the hope of something great.

Anything is possible
There is only one you
And you will pass this way but once.

Do it right.”

I am open.