It’s Time for a Friendventory

There’s something about growing older and wiser in life and living that make things fall into perspective, whether you want them to or not. In preparation for the amazing rest of my year ahead, I’ve decided to do a Friendventory. What’s a Friendventory? I’m glad you asked.

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Just like an inventory one would do at a store or business, a Friendventory is an opportunity to examine the value of, and investment in our relationships. It’s our chance to appreciate some things, shake some things up, move some things around, be rid of some things and count up the costs. A Friendventory is a chance to check ourselves and check our connections. Unlike the growing trend in society (social media to be exact) where people pride themselves of getting rid of others, this inventory is not geared toward that. And unlike times when it’s easier to focus on whether my friends deserve to be in my life I’m focusing first on making sure I am who I should be for them.

Here’s what I’m checking:

  • PURPOSE-Why are we connected? What’s the real deal? Are we on the same page with each other? Are all parties full participants? For what purpose did we really meet when we met?
  • PRIORITY-Where does the relationship fit in my life?  Is this a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly association and are all parties involved okay either way? Are there some restructures which might need to be made as we might have entered into new seasons in life? Do I need them and do they need me more or less than before?
  • PROVISION-What am I supposed to give to the other party in the relationship? It’s an exchange.
  • PROFIT-What am I supposed to gain from the other party in the relationship? It’s an exchange.
  • PENALTY-What’s the cost of a bad connection? And do I really want to pay the price? And on the flip side, what’s the cost of not making the most of a good connection? And do I really want to pay the price?

So there you have it…my Friendventory inventory “to-do” list. As I get ready for the blessings of this year and the presents that come along with it, there’s no better time than the present for me to check my connections and make the most out of the beautiful friends I’ve been blessed to have and those even, who are on the way.

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@AngelaMMoore316

Put It All On the Table

Leave it to Beaver, Family Ties, Alf, The Cosby Show, Soul Food, The Klumps, even the cult classic Talladega Nights (a.k.a. Ricky Bobby) all have something in common…time around the dinner table is an unforgettable feature.

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There’s something about what happens at a dinner table that makes the plight of being family or friends worth it. Breakfast, lunch and/or dinner together is the perfect time to “chat and chew” (not at the same time of course), catch up on life, hear what’s on each other’s hearts, handle serious decisions, tackle tough issues, laugh, pray, plan and participate in the world of others dear to you.

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I can vividly remember growing up eating meals with my parents and siblings at our circular, wood table debating over Caprisuns vs Tang, discussing the “we’re on a serious budget and don’t have much money so we’ll take a vacation in the city” plans, watching Soul Train or Little House on the Prairie on a 13inch black and white TV, fussing over who would do dishes, talking about Jesus, finances, disagreements, homework, peer pressure or simply getting to know each other. I value those moments and believe more of them would help transform our society for the better. I treasure the new memories made now with friends and family around football games, holidays, or simple Sunday dinners.

There are few places and purposes that all persons in a family share. We all sleep, but not together (Thank God!). We all work or go to school, but not together. We have other functions we all do, but certainly not together (Thank God, again!). Eating, however, is one of those things we can strategically take time to do together as often as possible and as often as needed.

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Bring back the days of carving turkey and carving out time together under one roof and at one table. Clear the table after a meal and break out the cards for Spades, Monopoly or Uno. Schedule family dinner date nights where a casserole and conversation are the order of the day. Plan a girls or guys night out around your favorite table at your favorite restaurant. I’d say, “put it all on the table” and remember, what happens at the table doesn’t have to stay there. The best part about any good table, with good guests, good conversation or good fun is when what’s there is so special, and so plenteous and so filling that there’s enough to share.

@AngelaMMoore316

Leave Those Beans Alone

A quiet, Friday dinner turned into quite a laugh and a lesson learned about baked beans and time-honored traditions.

I’d like to recognize myself as the Baked Bean Princess in my family, falling short only to other far-superior chefs like my mother and some of my aunts. One day I’ll reign with them as a Baked Bean Queen, but for now I know I have a long way to go. For years though, I’ve perfected the art of creating a mouth-watering, delicacy from a can of vegetarian Bush’s baked beans, ground turkey, turkey sausage crumbles and a few cleverly, selected ingredients. I’d gotten my baked bean making down to a science and could whip up a batch like nobody’s business. And then something went horribly wrong.

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On a daycation to Nashville I ran into a husband and wife selling Watkin’s products at a wonderful Christmas bazaar. If you’re like me and grew up in the 70s or 80s you remember the Watkin’s man and you know the quality of their goods. This lovely couple talked my sister and me into buying lots of stuff. One of those purchases included root beer flavoring that was “sure to take my baked beans to another level.” I’d heard of using the sweetness of a Coca-Cola in beans, so I thought this might truly be the next big thing. Being a pending “Baked Bean Queen” I waited until just the right time to try my Root Beer Baked Beans on my special guinea pig.

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The term “epic fail” is wayyyyyyyyyyyyy overused in my book, but when it came to those beans, baby, that’s exactly what it was. How do I describe those beans? I struggle to. I’m speechless, and with each bite was a bit tickled. Let’s just say those Root Beer Baked Beans made me want to throw on a leather jacket and wait for Fonzie, Richie and Ralph to come out and sing the Happy Days theme song. I didn’t know whether to spit them out (which I did end up eating them:)) or grab a straw to slurp them up. The power of that pungent flavor had my mind and mouth confused. All I could taste was root beer.  That little, bitty drop of faux root beer took over my beans, and in the worse possible way.

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So I’ve learned a lesson through my less than tasty dish.

  • Some things are truly better left alone.
  • “Simple and plain” should be the order of the day, especially with things that have proven to be just fine as is.
  • All it takes is a drop to do a lot of damage.
  • “New, now and next best” can literally turn out to be a mess!
  • “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. And if you’re fixin’ baked beans beware of root beer.:)

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-Two Dining Daughters

Get Your Soul Food

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“Come and Get Your Soul Food, Good, Old-Fashioned Soul Food”…

Those simple lyrics to a popular, old school hip-hop song by ATL’s own Goodie Mob have been fluttering through my spirit for a while. There’s something about food…spirital food, natural food and of course, soul food that does a body good.

Being a Christian under constant renovation, spiritual food and I have really gotten to know each other so much better over the last decade or so. I love spiritual food. I believe in Jesus. I read the Bible, pray, go to church and even in my daily failure, try to be aware of, and live in a way pleasing to God.

Being a blossoming “foodie”, I’ve taken a sincere affection to many things edible. Natural food and I are friends. I like cooking food, watching food being cooked and eating food. I spend time learning about food, visiting restaurants, challenging my palate and seeking new recipes.

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Being a human, that’s subject to the pains of being human, I’ve come to appreciate the value of soul food now, more than ever. I’m not talking about fried chicken, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, pound cake or potato salad. I’m talking about the kind of food that feeds your soul when it’s starved, deprived or despondent, or feeds it to keep if from any of the aforementioned. Spiritual food and natural food are often easier to receive and much easier to recognize. Our soul is so important. It houses our will, intellect, morals and emotions. Soul food is a must! And strategically enough, what happens with the natural food and spiritual food we intake also affects our soul. But what do we do about finding food for our soul?

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  • Get appropriate rest and ample relaxation.
  • Take breaks to enjoy life and be refreshed.
  • Seek help for what hurts you.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Be honest with yourself about your struggles.
  • Hear the wisdom of others as they lovingly point out areas of opportunity in your life.
  • Don’t be afraid to do how you “do you” differently if it’s going to help you, especially if you’ve seen it negatively affect you or those you love.
  • Surround yourself with proof in the areas in which you struggle. Don’t be the juiciest grape in your bunch.
  • De-clutter your mind. Rid yourself of things which rid you of the right things to think upon.
  • Plan your day on purpose.
  • Stay organized.
  • Deal with tragedy quickly and as often as needed.
  • Foster techniques to stay calm or be calmed. Count to ten. Say a quick prayer. Spin around on your head five times or whatever is needed to keep your inner peace.
  • Think before you speak, type, respond or react.
  • Fill your eyes and ears with good things, staying away from sights and sounds that will infect you rather than positively affect you.

@AngelaMMoore316

It’s Time We Grow Up and Go On About Our Business

At times in my life some people have labeled me names that simply don’t fit. A documented introvert that’s also naturally very shy, I’ve been misread as stuck up, bougie, and even mean. Now, I’m not saying I haven’t had some “I can’t believe I treated that person that way” moments growing up like we all have. However, in my past, some have written me off, yet never met me. A few close friends have later admitted they didn’t like me before we met! I’ve even had “friends” to stop being my “friend” and to this day I still don’t know why. It used to HURT, but now I know either at the time I wasn’t being myself, or they didn’t really know…Me.
 
With so much true trouble in the world it’s past time for us to learn to look past our own vision to see the beauty of who people are… faults, flaws and flubs. You know, the notion of us being wrong about a person is not so far-fetched. I will be the first to admit that I have misjudged and prejudged people too. Some of those very people have come to be the biggest blessings in my life. Whatever our notions might have been we’re supposed to live, learn and leave childlike ways behind. It’s time we grow up and go on about our business. Even if a person has made an error, we owe them the love of the Lord. We might not like it, but we have to love them! You may not become bestfriends, but you can give them a break!
 
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The very ones we’re leaving out could be the ones meant to be a part of our legacy. The weather changes. Styles change. Time changes and people change too. It takes a truly mature person to recognize and run with that notion. We don’t know who or what we might be missing out on messing with misinformation.
-Angela Moore

The Madness: The Problem Didn’t Start with Railroad. It Started with Relationships.

(I apologize in advance for the length of this blog, but this is heavy on my heart.)

The violent headlines lately have read like the script to one of my favorite Law and Order franchises. It’s a mess! Most recently, the life of a 15-year-old Birmingham boy was tragically taken in the wide-open public at our city’s beautiful Railroad Park. That should not be! And the fact that no witness has come forward is heartbreaking.

I grew up in the 80’s. Surely I’m not the only one who remembers what it was like with the list of gang names too long to name, senseless murders, people making dime bags at night and As and Bs in class during the day, girls fighting over boys or being fought by boys, teen pregnancy, girls devaluing themselves and their bodies, and so on. What’s happening now is nothing new, people! And none of these problems started in Railroad Park, Chi-town, your town or my town. It started with failed relationships. Somewhere down the line, someone didn’t get or accept what he/she needed to make better choices, believe there was a better way or dare to be different in a better way.

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I’m a firm believer that, even in the midst of this madness, there is something we can do to help. In the middle of the marches, vigils, plans and petitions I propose we build better relationships with our youth by:

  • Sharing our worlds.-When was the last time you helped a troubled teen in need, picked them up for church, scheduled a recurring day to mentor them while doing something fun, checked in on them at school, asked who their best friends were, sincerely asked how they were doing, invited them to your home or treated them to a “chat and chew” session at O’Charley’s or Applebee’s? You’d be surprised how freely people will share their dreams and fears, or what’s on their hearts and hurting them if you just allow them a space and safe, consistent place to do so. You’d be surprised the impact we all could make if we simply took the time to pour into them now rather than having to post bail, post about their troubles on Facebook or pray over their dead bodies later. Sometimes all they need is someone to hear and care.
  • Speaking our words.Let us be real! All of us used to be someone we (hopefully) are no longer. Stop sitting on your past struggles and tell it to a child (or childish adult for that matter) that needs to hear that you haven’t always had it together, but through trial or testimony you were able to become who you are now. A lot of teens feel they can’t relate to us because we don’t let them relate to us…all of us…the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t come at them as if you woke up on the sin-free side of the bed. Be real about your present successes, but be even more clear about your past struggles and show them a better way. If you know you used to sell drugs and you got kicked out of school, landed in jail, had to live in fear or lost friends in the “game” then tell that to someone who needs to hear it to help him/her. If you know you used to fight like you were getting paid by Don King in the 80’s and it caused you pain, your family pain and other people’s family’s pain then tell that to someone who needs to hear it to help him/her. If sex outside of marriage left you with an (initially) unwanted child, an “I never imagined having to deal with you for the rest of my life” baby’s mother or baby’s father, caused you to drop out, left you with years of chaos, or chlamydia then tell that to someone who needs to hear it to help him/her.  If you know peer pressure got the best of you, or if you know you were the peer pressurer then tell that to someone who needs to hear it to help him/her. If your mama gave you your last and worst whipping at the age of 17 for skipping school with some friends (who weren’t really your friends) and then made you wear a black and white striped, mini-skirt from Parisian to school the next day so people could see how she left your mark then tell that to someone who needs to hear it to help him/her.

Those are just my simple suggestions, and are in NO WAY an excuse for the horrible decisions made by others.  But there’s something we all can do to at least try to help. If we just start by making a difference in one person’s life, that one person could be the one person that helps other people. We’re created to be relational. Everyone wants to belong. Why not use your world and your words to give our children today something better to belong to and believe for?

-Angela Moore

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Relationships: The Remix

There’s nothing like a good relationship remix. You know the ones that started out one way and ended up another, or ended up one way and started over again? I’m not just speaking of romantic involvement, but good, old fashioned family and friends.

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The best relationship remixes are the ones I couldn’t see coming even if I had Superman’s x-ray vision. I’ve had best friends that turned out to be boyfriends and ended up as true friends. I’ve had church members that ended up as close as family members. I’ve had club sisters that I now value as much as blood sisters. I’ve had critics that developed into cheerleaders. I’ve even had friends that morphed into frienemies and moved right back into friends again.

Recently I had an opportunity to catch up with a friend from college. We’d not talked in-depth in about two years, but during this latest conversation we laughed, reminisced and marveled at our maturity as if we were still at the Capstone (Roll Tide) chatting it up about who the other was dating at the time. Life (and a bit of juvenile tomfoolery) had taken our association into many different places, and intervals of breaks were a must. That good talk with this now better friend reminded me of a few things. God allows all relationships for a reason, and some He allows to take on many different incarnations in order to form a better appreciation of the mutual party involved. (Plus, He’s so good at knowing when to grant space for growth and bring together for even more growth.) That’s the beauty of any kind of relationship. Any person worth the investment of time carries some value. The payoff may be immediate. The return might be delayed. The maturation of the investment might even go up and down like the stock market, but God-ordained relationships are just that…ordained. Sometimes we never know the total intention of the association until the remix.  Now don’t be fooled. Some associations are simply not for us. Be done with those, count up the cost and keep it moving. However, in some relationships, sometimes the first go-round isn’t the last go-round or the only occurrence. Often, it’s just an introduction to something more beautiful, purposeful and meaningful to come.

@AngelaMMoore316