You Should Feel Special in My Presence

Another day I’ve awaken to the thought of my Myrna Ria Ross. The teacher who actually never taught me in a classroom, but taught me so much through the last nearly 30 years of life passed away on Saturday night. In the wake of her passing, my social media timelines have literally been flooded with words so stirring, soothing and comforting that I am again compelled to post following my previous post of If You Love Someone Say So.


Even though I call her “my” Myrna Ria, I’m smart enough to know that she was shared by thousands. It amazes me that one woman’s heart could be big enough to hold the secrets, pains, successes, journeys and joys of so many. It floors me that her head could carry the names of them all, with stories of old and new attached to each with an ease I now marvel over all the more. There was something about Myrna Ria that, if I am only able to borrow but an ounce of, I feel I’ll be on my way to living a more meaningful life.

In her presence she made every, single person feel special. I can remember my junior year in high school after the death of my first love. Returning to school the Monday after his Saturday night murder is somewhat a blur to me. I remember bits and pieces, thankfully, of things which matter most, one of which is the embrace she enveloped me with as I wailed from within depths of me that, at the tender age of 17, I had no idea existed. I remember the constant follow up she gave me making sure I was okay.  Fast-forward decades later, and the adult Angela, who’s never too old for “her” Myrna Ria would sit in her office and in an attempt to help her with whatever project or thought she was stirring up would relish the scriptures she would drop throughout our conversations, or the way she would look at me, almost through me, to make sure I was really okay following a few things which have happened in the last few years. I remember her confidence in me which, even at this older age, mattered so much, especially in times when I was questioning my position in life, next move, or if I still had it, particularly regarding some past career passions I was longing to resurrect.

Again, not to think too highly of myself, in all that she did for me in the few things of many I just shared, she also did the same things for so, so many more. She availed herself to everyone with such a welcoming spirit, which only comes from someone who desires to love as Christ loves. I would watch her talk to me in her office for hours, while also sincerely entertaining students, talking to fellow teachers, tending to all-important choir business, and still having an uncanny ability to give everyone and everything the attention desired making us all feel special. No one felt short-changed in her company. That’s what I want. Like Myrna Ria, I want to be able to be as she was, sharing undivided attention with such genuine finesse that it feels undivided even when it isn’t. I want a selfless spirit which invites others in to trust me with whatever portion of their lives my life is needed. I want to care enough to remember the things big and smaller about people, their lives and the people who matter in their lives. I want to be able to have Scriptures in reserve so plenteous that no matter the circumstance I have something to share with whomever needs it wherever I am…and let me tell you, she was so unapologetically bold about sharing the Word she would drop some Jesus on anyone, anytime, and anywhere. I want that. I want to be able to look someone in the eyes and see what’s in their heart then be there to help like she did. I want to take a page out of the music manual of Myrna Ria Ross and make each person feel special in my presence. That’s what life is about. The people we come in contact with are coming from places and situations we may never experience or understand but we owe it to them to make them feel special, because they are. That’s exactly what Myrna Ria Ross did and I’m grateful to be counted among the many who were able to experience it for myself.



I Spilled My Tea

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking to a group of students from Birmingham’s Woodlawn High School through a mentoring program/small group I host called Steps to Success. The two speakers I’d arranged to come and talk about Money Matters couldn’t make it for very important reasons which left me faced with figuring out in the 11th hour what I was going to talk to them about during the one hour after school I had their full attention. I sat down in front of them and explained the absence of our speakers and asked what they wanted to hear about. One of my more quiet young men hollered out, “You, we want to know more about you.” So that set the stage for me spilling my tea about me…the Ramsay High School Version, that is.


For a little over an hour, over the backdrop of pouring rain, whispers, giggles, and teens smacking on Little Ceasar’s pizza I told them about skipping school (and the subsequent interaction with a belt that followed), arguing with my parents about not letting me stay in a hotel for prom (and the subsequent interaction with a belt that followed), the battle with the curfew (and the subsequent interaction with a belt that followed), my high school boyfriend’s horrific murder, relying on the support of family, friends, medical professionals and the Lord to help me heal and deal, the importance of being involved in extra-curricular activities to meet new and exiting people and experiences, and so on and so on.


The things I shared with them were for them, but as I rehearsed my own words, I realize that even now, at my age, or any age they still apply to me, and so many. Here’s what I shared with them:

• If you love someone tell them.

• Use your words carefully for fear they will come to pass.

• Use your words boldly with confidence they will come to pass.

• The heart can heal.

• Choose your friends very, very wisely, recognizing that some may have to one day get off the bus (or be kicked off) because they’re no longer headed in your direction.

• One day you will be someone’s husband, wife, mother, father, leader, Pastor, CEO, teacher, etc. and who you are today can greatly affect that role one way or the other.

• Different is a great way to be.

• It’s okay to start over, and over, and over. Just don’t settle in your mistakes.

• Stay connected to teachers, mentors, and associates who are where you want to be, or can help you get there.

• Don’t rush to get old. Stay and enjoy the beauty of right where you are as long as you can.

• Somebody loves you, believes in you and will do their part for you to become who you are created to be…if you let them.

• Our elders got to be old for a reason. Usually they know of what they speak.

• And lastly…never, ever skip school following the Annual College Fair at the Civic Center to go to Ensley Park with friends and a boy with a name you now can not even remember. In the end, after that interaction with a belt you won’t remember his name, only the embarrassment from having to wear a black and white striped, mini-skirt ensemble from Parisian in Eastdale Mall in Montgomery the next day which gave gentle, glimpses of the interaction with the belt. Years after this bit of teenage tomfoolery, you’ll only be privy to enough of the pain from that interaction and sketchy details from the eating pizza in the park story to tell and gain many a gasp and lots of “Oh my gooooddddnneessss, Ms. Moore, I know you didn’t do something like that”, from a group of amazing kids. (And to the non-believers in the power of discipline. No, my parents did not in any way abuse me. They loved me enough to do their part to save me from a path of “Self-Destruction” as the old hip-hop hit went.)