You Bring Me Joy

Wow…did reading that blog post title take any of you back with me to Anita Baker’s 1986 smash hit off of her Rapture album? It sure did for me. As a matter of fact, hold one moment while I reflect on that serendipitous memory… (oh, chile!)

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Okay, I’m back.

So what brings you joy? So many times in life it’s easier or more familiar to look at the things which cause grief, and not focus on the beautiful blessings which bring us joy. That’s certainly so in this day and age where the news and newsfeeds are flooded with things which evoke the saddest, most gut-wrenching and often times fear-inducing stories. But then there’s joy!

Be it time with family, stolen, special moments with friends, music which speaks to the soul, celebrating milestones, exercises of our faith, valuing each day of life here on earth with eyes fixed on Heaven, devouring delicious food, decorating or creating, serving others, reading captivating books, watching the sunrise and sunset, accomplishing goals, or any and everything in between, joy is one of the purest, most God-sent gifts we have.

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So whatever it is which brings you joy I’d suggest you grab it by the horns and hold on for dear life knowing that joy is yours for the taking and the keeping.

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@AngelaMMoore316

Hold on to the Vine, My Friends

Recently I was in Publix and saw a beautiful bundle of red grapes. Not only were these little, morsels of fruity plumpness pretty, but they were on sale. Boom! If you’re like me, on a budget and have recognized that the cost of grapes has escalated, you can only imagine how happy I was to hurry home with my California grape goodness.

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By the second or third day of having the bagged grapes I noticed that there were some which had fallen down to the bottom of the bag. The others, still ripe for the picking, were, well, ripe for the picking. The ones at the bottom were brown, mushy, wrinkly, and in my mind smelled like they were on the fast track to turning into an intoxicating beverage. Needless to say, the seedless fruit still on the vine were the ones I went for. The others went in the trash.

As I was thinking about today’s #bloglikecrazy theme of Friendship I thought about those grapes. We’re all connected to one another for whatever reason God saw fit to bring us together. Sometimes, for various reasons, friends fall off, like those mushy, stinky grapes, and that’s unfortunate. Now don’t get me wrong. Not every friend who starts in your life deserves or is destined to stay there. However, there are some who are, but it’s usually little prickly situations like immaturity, unresolved internal struggles, lack of communication, failure to adapt and envy which cause those who did belong all along to disconnect. That, like those grapes I had to toss out, is unfortunate.

If you’re blessed to have real, good friends who are there for you, encourage you, support you, love you, bring out the best in you and allow you to do the same then hold on to the vine. Yes, they might work your nerves like a grave yard shift job. Yes, their quirky ways might aggravate the stew out of you. Yes, your friendship might have to change as life’s situations change. Yes, you might even have to press pause and pump the breaks for a moment, but whatever you do for those whom you call friend hold on to the vine. You’re connected for a reason.

@AngelaMMoore316

 

Hey Girl, What’s Your Secret?

Have you ever seen something of another woman’s and wondered how she does it? Have you ever wanted to desperately find out more about it whether it be her outfit, how she keeps her house clean, how she’s stayed married, how she landed her career, what she does to stay fit, how she made it through her tragedy, how she reared successful children and stayed sane, how she manages her time, how she forgave, how she keeps both her marriage and her meals hot and fresh, or how she manages to slick down her hair ever-so-gently over the partial weave she rocks?

Have you ever wanted to ask her, “Hey Girl, what’s your secret?” but didn’t ask because of reasons deemed rational, but which are likely irrational? I know I’m not the only one who’s thought if I inquire I’ll come across as comparing, coveting, nosey, or even worse, trying to “bite” her style.

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Next time you’re faced with a desire to know more about someone you admire just ask. Simple and plain. Ask. We are here as each others guides through this wild ride called life. No sense in going it alone when someone has the secret which can help make our journey more delightful.

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@AngelaMMoore316

Divorce 101: Get the Last Laugh

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Divorce is no laughing matter. Ask me how I know. But, what is funny are the little humorous nuggets which often come out of nowhere as one tends to deal with divorce, which often comes out of nowhere. I was talking to an old acquaintance recently about a rumor which must have been spread about my ex and me that I had no idea was floating around the mean streets of Birmingham. After all this time, I had no idea this was even one of the many things on the gossip radar. At first I was as hot as an outdoor fish fry in Arizona. After talking to some others about the “made up matter” I began to reflect on some of the hilarity which has ensued as a result of the repeal of an “I do”.  I even chuckled about the rumor and the absurdity of it all.

I remember a dear friend experienced her divorce a few years before mine. She was at her breaking point with the unwanted separation and actions of her ex and was about to go “Lifetime Made-for-TV-Movie” in a very public place. The repercussions would have been TMZ worthy I’m sure, but she was fed up and you know what R. Kelly said about a fed up woman. (There ain’t nothing you can do about it.) Thankfully, she called me on the phone as she was literally about to go all in. I did my best to talk her out of it.  Actually, I begged through her screams and tears, assuring her that one day she would look back at that day and laugh. She did. She eventually laughed hard, really hard. This was especially so when she sashayed all the way down the aisle with a great, new man a few years later.

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I shan’t go into the juicy deets, especially about the time a loved one had to be dragged out of the double doors of Best Buy when he/she saw my ex for the first time after he left or the time I drafted a five page letter to “tell on him” to the masses, (bless my heart). But let’s just say, there have been avoided incidents, initial reactions, and reconsidered actions, which are absolutely natural, but thank God, through his supernatural intervention were not to be so. Thank God. While, at the time of the pain they might not have seemed funny at all, they proved to become some of the most gut-wrenching, tear-jerking, snort-inducing, head-bobbing laughs of all. That’s the beauty of life. There are little gifts of unexpected goodness sprinkled in even the most difficult of packages if we only heal enough to make it through the process.

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So hang in there wherever you are. You will get the last laugh, even if it’s laughing at yourself.

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@AngelaMichele316

Classic Shots

The 74th Annual Magic City Classic has come and gone and already I’m looking forward to the BIG 75th gathering pitting Alabama State University against Alabama A&M University in Birmingham, Alabama for the largest HBCU football game in the United States. For those unfamiliar, the Classic, as it’s called, is more than football. It’s about food, concerts, syndicated morning shows, late night nights, high fashion, school colors, charity, half-time shows, long lines, even longer hugs, parades, vendors, tailgating spanning days, rivalries and reunions all in one. Both of my parents and several of my relatives are Alabama State University alums and have celebrated Classic for more than four decades. It’s a part of my DNA. It’s etched in my life’s story. It’s the Classic…an experience like none other.

Here’s a photographic snapshot of my Magic City Classic experience which started with the Rickey Smiley Morning Show dark and early on Friday morning and ended with the post-Classic family dinner on Sunday where my mother cooked enough food to feed a small British battalion. I hope you enjoy my instant trip down a not-too-distant memory lane.

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Until next year Magic City Classic…

@AngelaMMoore316

Are You My Now or My Later?

I’m a bit misty-eyed this morning after an exchange with a college friend who expressed regret for not appreciating an association in his life. After the brief conversation I was reminded, as I reminded him, that there should be no regret. All things happen for a reason, especially in our teens, 20s, 30s or whatever years come before our maturation does (let’s just be real.) I was able to share with him that God doesn’t waste His investment in us. He’s not going to allow any good seeds deposited into His good (flaws and all) children to go bad, even if it takes a while to see the fruit. His goal is life more abundantly and He never fails, even when we feel we have. His goal is to strategically use people, places and things to help get us what we need to get us to where we were meant to be, even if it seems like it’s taking us forever to get there, or even if we feel we’re okay where we are. Plain and simple, He knows what He’s doing especially when we don’t.

I was asked in an interview recently what my biggest regret was. Without hesitation I blurted out “not making the most of my relationships”. For a good little while I lived with the “I wish I would have” notion. I’ve learned to be grateful for who I am and where I am, but my mind would flirt with thoughts like “I wish I would have kept in touch with that person”, “I wish I would have joined that group”, “I wish I wouldn’t have spent so much time with those individuals”,  “I wish I would have taken that job, or never left this job”, “I wish I would have listened to my daddy’s advice about spare tires and football players in college”, “I wish I would have gotten to know him/her”, “I wish I would have followed up on that offer”, “I wish I would have been more sociable” and so on. My I wish list was as long as a premium bundle of Indi Remi found in your finest neighborhood hair shop. But why? What present or future purpose was wishing from the past producing for me? None.

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Life is like a pack of candy, Now and Laters to be exact. I remember growing up enjoying those bite-sized pieces of “tear the silver filling out of your teeth” taffy goodness, and treasuring how long they lasted in chew and in leftover flavor. I guess that’s where the whole notion of eat some now, save some for later derived. Such is so with people. Some people are sent to impart and impact during the here and NOW. Their purpose for our lives is urgent and immediate and felt instantly like that first burst of sweet, fruity flavor once we broke through that thin paper wrapper which often sticks to portions of the taffy treat. Other people, by God’s great design, have an impact so lasting that their goodness is meant to be savored and seen LATER like that wee bit of sticky leftover candy often found stuck to said fillings later on in the day after ones Mama has yelled from the front porch to come home because the street lights are coming on. Both, as in all things in our lives, serve a purpose when needed. It doesn’t matter when, whether now or later. What matters most is that we become who we were created to be all along thanks to the help of the rich and colorful array of sweet people placed in our lives.

@AngelaMMoore316

Sometimes I Don’t Want to Be Nice!!! (The Diddy-style Remix)

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Sometimes I don’t want to be nice!!!

There I said it! There are days where my introversion tries to take over or the left over get-back-at-you girlhood remarks like “Child Please”, “Girl, Bye!” and “Honey Boom” try to creep up my esophagus and trickle out of my mouth like water from a flowing faucet. There are time I want to state my case to clear the air knowing clearing my air will dirty someone else’s. There are times where a sassy/snappy/witty comeback makes its way to my mind so fast I’m even astounded at the thought. There are times I want to take my more “vocal” friends up on their request to help me fight my battles but I can’t. I must be nice. Why?

  • Because the Bible tells me so.
  • Because my parents told me to.
  • Because I’m old enough at this point to know that it’s the right thing to do (especially when I don’t want to, and regardless of how it’s received.)
  • Because usually the people who I don’t want to be nice to are the ones who need it most.
  • Because I’m bigger than my emotions.
  • Because usually there’s a reason (pride, pain, hurt, frustration) behind every person’s personality that makes them the one that I don’t want to be nice to.
  • Because usually there’s also a reason (pride, pain, hurt, frustration) behind what’s in me that would make me not want to be nice.
  • Now this is extreme, but…Because orange is NOT my new black, boo. I can’t afford to spend any time behind anybody’s bars paying a price for not keeping my emotions in check. I’m far to prissy for prison. (Do you ever wonder what really happened to seemingly normal women and men who end up on those shows we shouldn’t be watching about how they ended up in jail and think, wow, what if they’d just decided to handle things a better way?)

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I’ll say it again. Sometimes I don’t want to be nice, but I have to muster up the maturity to be that and more. It becomes comical often, when I’m faced with certain situations where I want to react based off of another’s actions. I can tell when the enemy is trying to tempt me and when God is testing me to show the devil the return on God’s investment in me to be able to handle things like a big girl. When those situations arise or arrive, it’s like an internal alarm goes off alerting me that this is only a test, a test of my niceness. Some people are concerned with their “gansta” being tested. Nope, not me. Don’t test my niceness…LOL!

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I’m not saying being nice is at all easy. It’s not. It’s hard as the dickens! I’m not saying I always get being nice right. I don’t. I’m human. I’m not saying being nice always fixes the situation. It doesn’t. It fixes me. I’m not even saying I’m always nice even when I know I need to be. I’m not. But being nice is necessary so I must do what’s necessary to be nice, even and especially when I don’t want to.

@AngelaMMoore316

Are They Really Your Friends? Are You Really Theirs?

Yesterday I had an opportunity to do what I love most doing on Mondays. I spent the afternoon with some amazing high school students from Birmingham’s Woodlawn High School during my Steps to Success Small Group through Church of the Highlands. During our short hour together each week I bring in professionals (mostly friends and family of mine who attend Highlands and/or love God and have something to say about life and careers.) Yesterday was no ordinary day, as three presenters joined my co-leader and me in sharing their testimonies of how they ended up in their careers in banking and media. The conversations wrapped a bit earlier than normal, but not before us all having the opportunity to spill some tea (as in tell our business of mistakes made in college and earlier in life) and drop some knowledge (as in tell our business of what it took to overcome mistakes made in college and earlier in life). My prayer is that the students left empowered. Not too oddly enough, I also left encouraged. One underlying and overriding theme of what each presenter said was the importance of having a good circle of friends. We each shared something about wisely choosing our friends for now and later. This principle applies to those younger and those of us not as young.

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Friend is a word which gets tossed around more often than the buffalo sauce on a pile of hot wings during football season in the south. To me it’s inappropriately overused. My parents would often say, and I believe today that “everyone isn’t your friend”. I’m no “Friendologist”, but I believe there are many different facets to platonic relationships which often go misdiagnosed because friend is the easy word to say. I often wonder if words like associate, colleague, confidant, classmate, co-worker, acquaintance, ally, mentor, supporter, and other words get jealous of the word friend for being used in places which rightfully belong to them.

So what is a good friend? I’m glad you asked. Do you have good friends for yourself? Are you one of them for others?

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  • A good friend exposes you to purpose, and ushers out your best.
  • A good friend covers you in prayer.
  • A good friend genuinely celebrates your blessings.
  • A good friend helps carry your burdens…and not to the ears of others who don’t need to hear.
  • A good friend loves you where you are, as you are and helps you get to where you’re going.
  • A good friend asks before assuming.
  • A good friend is someone you purposely seek to see the best in and believe the best about.
  • A good friend is someone you trust with your heart and don’t hold hostage for the mistakes of other no-good-friends from the past.
  • A good friend can make you cry from laughter and wipe tears from pain…and sometimes at the same time.
  • A good friend will pick up the phone before picking sides.
  • A good friend is worth an “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” as often as needed
  • A good friend doesn’t have to be just like you to like you.
  • A good friend can love you without liking the choices you make or things you do.
  • A good friend should have the liberty to correct and direct you in love, as often as needed.
  • A good friend is someone you can see your older/growner/wiser self continuing to grow older/growner/wiser with through thick and thin.
  • A good friend isn’t always the one you’ve known the longest, see more frequently, or talk to most often. Sometimes it’s one who’s there on an ANB…As Needed Basis.
  • A good friend is someone who doesn’t make your face squinch up (homemade word alert) like you ate a rotten Meyer lemon when you see them or read their name on your caller ID, IM, DM or email.

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@AngelaMMoore316

It’s Okay to Say You’re Not Okay

It’s okay to say you’re not okay. Yep, it’s true. Despite how society or our sanity might encourage us to think otherwise, not being “okay” is a fact of life we all have to face, embrace and express in order to really, truly be “okay”.

How many times has someone asked “how are you” and your response was “I’m great”, I’m good”, “I’m fine”, or “I’m okay” when deep down (possibly not too deep actually) you were anything but?

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Why is it that the need to show strength in times of weakness is a need, when in our times of weakness we most need to show that we’re weak so we can be strengthened? (Repeat that sentence aloud five times. I dare you.) Now, I’m a proponent of faith, hope and positivity. I believe the Bible to be true and that we should speak those things that are not as though they are. I look for the brighter side of life in most things, and try really, really hard to see it in those things not so easily seen. In fact, I’m certain that behind my back a few people call me Polly Positive and other cute alliterative phrases that I appreciate. But I’m human. We’re all human, and by that mere fact alone that means that at times we’re not going to be okay.

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We all need people who can be trusted to hear the words, “I’m not okay.” Before I go any further, this post is not particular to me. While this hasn’t always been my life’s story, at this juncture I absolutely am okay. I’m better than okay. I’m good. My times of me not being “okay” left me with no other choice than to know that God would do a Romans 8:28 on my “not okay” making it and me all good. I’m so grateful to God for the ability to rise above any attempts to attack my “all good”.

Now where was I? Oh yeah…We all need people who can be trusted to hear the words “I’m not okay.” I know I would not have made it to now without the support of those I desperately (I mean desperately) needed back then when I wasn’t okay. We owe it to ourselves to have healthy, loving, and supportive outlets to go to in times where okay seems like a joke, yet we still desire healing as our final destination.

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I’ve grown to know that it takes more courage to say “ouch” than to pretend that we’re not in pain. So if that’s you, and you know that you know that you’re not (yet) okay, say so. There are people who’ve been where you are. There are people with listening ears, and leanable shoulders. There are people who love and care for you. There are people who believe in the power of prayer with proof as an accompanier. There are people who can make you laugh if nothing more than to provide a brief reprieve from pain. There are people who can help cook, clean, keep the kids, pull you out bed, let some light in figuratively and literally if needed, lend a few dollars, review a resume, put in a call, offer some wisdom, take you to church, pray for that stubborn spouse, cover that child, sit in the hospital, direct you in love and redirect you with purpose, dry your tears, silence your screams, share their testimony, share their mistakes, or simply offer an escape for you as you work your way to better than okay. But you have to say so so they can do so. Okay? Okay.

@AngelaMichele316

Forgiveness 101: We Have Beef and I Have Sodas

I had the weirdest dream, you guys. I was at work working, and oddly enough, a not yet favorite person of mine for lack of a better phrase was in my office which is also odd because this person does not work with or near me, and is on a short list of last people on earth likely to visit me. Just as clearly as the words I’m typing, this said person was sitting just to the right of my leather office chair as my caramel-colored desk was covered with bags of food and several cups of soda random people were bringing in during the sequence of the dream.

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This “push me closer to Jesus” person was thirsty for something to drink and did not hesitate to let me know so. There was a sense of beggi-ness, or possibly humility that I’d not ever seen. Even through my dream, I could feel the story of Joseph and his brothers unfolding (Google it, or even better, read this awesome treasure of truth called the Bible), but then something happened that scared the hebedegeezes out of me. When “prayer pusher”, as I will from hence forth refer to this lovely human being, asked me for something to drink I didn’t do what I thought I would do. I didn’t offer one tiny sip of soda, or drinks for the road from my overflow. Instead, I started gulping those drinks down like a fish out of water who’d finally been cast back into the sea. I was so very disappointed in myself that I literally made myself wake up. Hopefully I was playing a mean, mean prank and was only going to drink a few sodas for GP (general principle) then gladly share what was left with “prayer pusher”, but it surely didn’t start out that way and I wasn’t going to sleep on to find out that it didn’t end up that way.

When I shared my dream with a certain loved one she said, “Girl, you should have swallowed ‘them’ sodas up like nobody’s business.” I was tickled because I know part of her was playing and the other part was slightly serious. However, I wanted to be like Joseph and be able to extend help to one who hurt me when most needed. More importantly I wanted to be like Jesus.

Now that I’ve somewhat digested the dream I see that there is still forgiveness left to offer from me. One thing I know about forgiving is that it’s like a delicate onion and often comes in layers, especially when the person is a repeat offender as people often are (because that’s just what we, as flawed people, do). Sure, there’s so much I’ve long ago let go of because those battles are over. That’s easy. But I will admit, I need to forgive “prayer pusher” and anyone else for things even as they ensue. That means as they happen I need to readily forgive. Why? Because God says so. (Don’t believe me…check out that Bible again.)

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Now, I’m not saying “prayer pusher” will ever be in a place of needing something desperately of me, and I certainly do not wish or want that, but I need to be ready to release whatever is needed should that need arises. In the meantime, I accept that I still have work to do internally because I don’t want anything or anyone holding me back from being who and how I’m supposed to be, even in my dreams. After all, in the words of Ms. Lauryn Hill, “How you gonna win when you ain’t right within?” And I will win… “prayer pusher” pushing me and all.

So yes, “prayer pusher”, we have beef and I have sodas…to share.

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@AngelaMMoore316