Monday, December 22, 2014

Real Women, What Ya'll Gon Do?

For those of you who know me and how I roll, this blog should come as no surprise. I wrote a blog week before last entitled 'Real Men, Where Ya'll At'? Being true to who I am, this is the sequel...'Real Women, What Ya'll Gon Do'?

Genesis 2:18 in the King James version of the Bible reads, 'And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him'. For me that statement implies that a real man cannot be of maximum benefit to others by himself. He needs a real woman who can meet them where he is. Not where she thinks he should be, or where she feels he's capable of being, but exactly where he is.

You see, most of us men are initially and primarily drawn to a woman by her physical attributes. Most women look at us from the perspective of what they feel we are capable of becoming. Not to say, in  either case, that other components don't factor in, but to point out that we approach our potential mate from different perspectives. Neither manner should be considered right or wrong. However ladies, if we're to 'meet' on common ground, you must take how we roll into consideration before expecting more from us than we’re capable of delivering. 

Now once  a woman sees a prospective mate, sizes him up, and makes a decision as to whether or not she willing to give him a chance, all this in a matter of seconds, the real challenge comes when she or the brother makes the move. In order for her to meet him where he's at, she must understand that to bat her eyes, hike her skirt, or put a little more wiggle in her walk is no longer necessary because he's already been enticed by her appearance. The key now is to allow her modesty to take charge, which does not mean playing hard to get but enabling him to see that not just anybody can get with her.

Later on, after some discretionary dating and some meaningful conversations, both of you are at a place where  things are getting serious. You haven't met the momma yet, but you're not sweating him, because you understand that he just ain't ready right now. You, as a woman, intuitively feel that the time is right. However, we men want to be sure that our willingness to commit is in conjunction with our mother believing that you're the one we should be committed to. Should we be so concerned with how our mother sees you? Maybe not, but after spending our childhood years with the woman who demonstrated an “I'm in charge because I know more about life than you do” attitude, we want to be able to prove to that woman (our mother) that we're right this time, so we don't want to make our move too soon.

So now, months later, the two of you have become an 'item', and a potentially life long commitment is on the horizon. The precarious question "Who you with?" needs an answer. If you've proactively researched and responded to his behavior, you should know now whether or not you're with a 'real man'. You should always keep in mind however, that what he does from time to time might not reflect that 'real man' status. His overall character might not transform, but at times your initial  concept of his potential might be substantially altered. Don't be alarmed however, because change is the only constant that exists. It's going to occur in him and in you, no matter what. So remain aware that your future happiness is contingent on how well you both adjust to the changes that will inevitably come about.

Being a 'real woman', you've already set the parameters for yourself that are conducive to  your mutual growth. You're still going to remain the modest and understanding woman he met for the very first time. You've committed to meeting him where he is, no matter where that might be, and you're humble and courageous enough to accept that what ever occurs between the two of you is not a matter of right or wrong, it's an opportunity to reassess who you both have become, and an opportune time for the reaching of a consensus on "Where do we go from here"? Always remember that being real mandates rigorous honesty, and if meeting him where he is, is not where you're willing to stay...let him know that, and give him ample time to change before you make a decision to go elsewhere.

Being real ain't easy, but it's simple. We complicate it by trying to please somebody else, in the hopes of making them all that we know they can be. That’s working from  a position of expectations that might not be met ya'll, and the more than likely result will be a big mess. Just do your best to be you, allow him the opportunity to be the best that he can be right now, and be willing to lend a hand when he falls short. The 'real men' are here somewhere 'real women'...what ya'll gon do when you either find them or realize you already have?

I'll holla... 


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Monday, December 15, 2014

KNOWING PEACE

About 10 years ago I saw the caption 'No God...No Peace on the front of a tee shirt , and 'Know God...Know Peace' on the back. This past Saturday I was invited to the 'Peace Summit of the Americas', held at a community center in Carson, CA, and sponsored by The Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light. A Korean War veteran  and religious leader, Mr. Man-hee Lee, founded the organization in 2009, in the hopes of uniting the people of the world, in spite of their differences, for the purpose of establishing planetary peace.


At the summit, Mr. Lee, through an interpreter, asserted that wars are caused by religious differences, and proposed that religious leaders come together to reread and reassess  their respective scriptures, then find and focus on the common thread that exists in them all, rather than the differences that bring about denominational conflicts. Because of the difficulty inherent in translating words verbatim from one language to another, I'm not going to discuss whether or not wars are caused by religious differences, but I will say that religions are used to justify them. In terms of religious leaders coming together, I totally agree and am grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of that first discussion to be held at a later date.. 

Getting back to the captions 'No God...No Peace /Know God...Know Peace', I must say that no truer words have ever been spoken in regard to our quest for harmony.  I also assert that God and Peace are one, and that their quest begins and subsists from within. We must first know God, not from someone else's interpretation, but from the one on one interaction we have with the ONE SUPREME BEING we choose to call______. Once we develop and live to maintain that relationship, peace is inevitable. From time to time we might lose our peace of mind, or that peaceful interaction we've had with others, but as long as we can re-establish our connection with the ONE... it's all good. Knowing however,  is not predicated on saying we know, it's based on and sustained by living like we do.

Christian ministers, Jewish rabbis, Islamic Imams and all manner of clergy must practice what we preach. If world peace is to become a reality, we cannot justify preaching from a 30 million dollar edifice, when we are not adamantly pursuing employment for our jobless parishioners. or not seeking equitable living conditions for inhabitants of the third world countries that Christian missionaries promised would experience peace on earth and good will toward men. We cannot condone supporting an Israeli government that is still doing to the Palestinians in Israel what second generation Americans did, and are still doing, to the native Americans in this country. There is no way we can accept that the Islamic belief in complete submission to God is being practiced, when the age-old atrocity of slave trading still exists among some who claim to be muslim. No matter what our denomination, we can claim to know God, but if we're not living like we know the One Who created us all, then we're only participating in a demonstration of the adage 'No God...no Peace'. 

What we gon do? In every war ever staged, the majority of the soldiers were the youth. Back in the day the leaders fought alongside them, but today they lead from secretive and secure 'war rooms' located as far away from the conflict as possible. I say we participate in this quest for harmonic co-existence from the participatory perspective of..."I'm not going to just tell you how it's done, I'm going to show you." We can start by not allowing our own material assets to outweigh our spiritual condition. We can then refuse to gauge the merit of someone's message by the number of people who listen and adhere to it, rather than by how we have personally questioned  the God of our understanding as to their validity, and heard the response 'That is my child, in whom I am well pleased"

None of us is perfect, but we will 'Know Peace' when we are honestly seeking progress from the process of trying to 'Know God'. Each of us has got to go inside ya'll. We can only find peace in that place where 'GOD IS'...and then...and only then can we share that peace unconditionally. Not only with ourselves mind you, but with all with whom we come in contact. 

I'll holla...

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Real Men...Where Ya'll At




He's my rock!! My superman (after God of course) He loves me unconditionally even when I don't deserve it...






It's been a minute that I've been intending to write something of this nature, and I just want to thank LaToya and Ricky (cited caption) for providing an example of what I want to talk about. My congrats to those of us like Ricky, who are serious about being 'real men', and are not necessarily trying to act in the way that we think other people say we should. Our every day struggle to be real is influenced by the mores and values of a society that depicts manhood as a hard, independent, no-nonsense state of being. For too long we have been afraid to display our emotions, admit our shortcomings, or give in to what we see as the demands of our significant other. And now, with the advent of an acceptable open gender society, we certainly don't want 'ot seem 'gay'. So strive we must, it seems, to be the man who might not be real, but is nevertheless the man we believe others want us to be.

What, you might ask, is a real man. We'll let's start with what he is not. A real man is not fearful of being 'found out', because most of his time is spent being honest with those around him, and especially with himself . He is not concerned with how others see him, because he is too busy trying to improve by giving more and expecting less. He is not displaying the fabricated images of who he wants us to think he can be, but he's sharing his gifts with us so that we will know exactly who he is. A real man is not dressing and finessing for the express intent of pleasing others, he's doing it because that's how he rolls.

What a real man is consists of responsibility and accountability, compassion and empathy. These traits are not predicated on what he's supposed to do, but are driven by the LOVE he has for others.
He takes care of his children because he wants to and not because his baby's momma is 'sweatin' him to do so. He discusses with rather than hollas at his significant other, because he cherishes her input and support, and is not overly concerned with her submission. A real man wants his loved ones to know where he's going, so they don't have to be shocked when learning from another where's he's been. He cares about how others feel, and thereby directs his conversations and actions from the perspective of treating another in the way he would like to be treated. A real man does what he does without expectations because as LaToya asserts about her man..."He loves me unconditionally...even when I don't deserve it."

Is it easy being a 'real man'? 'Hell to the naw'. You see when we interact with others we have to deal with their issues, in addition to our own, and all at the same time. Then we are so prone to living from the bogus whims of outside influences, and the incessant whimpering of a damaged ego, that we sometimes we start acting like emotionally charged children rather than God-Inspired men. Our conceptions of what a man is did not start when we reached 21, but began with our first exposure to misconstrued information and societal propaganda. A 12 year old male once asked me if I had ever killed a man. When I inquired as to why, he said with conviction..."Cause you ain't a real man until you do." He'd never heard the real definition of manhood ya'll, and he lived in a media-charged society that promoted and glamorized violence. It's hard being a real man when all you have to work with is false information appearing real, but it's definitely doable if we have genuine examples at our disposal. It is my contention that we must become real, if we aren't already, because our future depends on showing our progeny what it looks like.

There's a basic formula for acquiring and maintaining this 'real man' status, and it's simply doing our best to remain strong and sensitive. Be strong in your conviction to be real, by simply being sensitive and responsive to the needs of those around you. That's it that's all ya'll... and Ricky and myself welcome you to the club of those who are giving it our best shot.

I'll holla...

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Ferguson Missouri and Keepin Em Separated, U.S.A.

The outcome of the trial in Ferguson points out that we're still prone to reacting and are still not taking a proactive stance in addressing the inequity and disparity that continues to plague our collective well-being. In response to the anticipated reaction of the Ferguson residents, President Obama has expressed that they not throw bottles and smash car windows in retaliation to what some have deemed as an unfair verdict. My question is...Why not and/or what else can we do?

Everybody is responding in a way that is indicative of how they feel, and in most cases these feelings are race related. From Travon Martin, to OJ Simpson, and all the way back to the Emmett Till travesty, our judicial system concentrated on the racial aspect of  its findings and we responded to the outcome of those trials from an ethnic frame of reference. We are reacting to what comes across as a white vs black state of affairs, but what is really a world wide capitalistic endeavor to maintain the status quo. We should be formulating a means for correcting the economic disparity that is produced, promoted, and maintained by this money/power hungry faction, but instead our feelings are hurt and we are seeking recompense for the anxiety and stress we have experienced as a result of being involved, sometimes vicariously, in these seemingly race-based scenarios.

It's said that power corrupts, but even a semblance of power can destroy. The only real power is LOVE, and any power outside of that is a facade, facilitated by fear. We have given in to the illusionary power and succumbed to the underlying tactics of the so called powers that be, because we are reacting to the fear that stems from concepts that are not based on truth. The shared fear is one of not enough, and the dichotomous fears are on one side..."White folks don't want us to have nothing"... and on the other... "Black folks want to take what is ours." We thereby feed into and concentrate on this white vs black scenario, while unawaringly giving power to the entity that created it. The power of Love is thereby transmuted into a love for power fueled by the acquisition of more. We're focused on race and the ones we've given power to as a result, can concentrate on acquiring as much as they can as quickly as they can. The gradual eradication of righteousness, sadly enough, is the only inevitable outcome.

We must let the president know that we've heard his thoughts on what not to do, but we want answers to what he and our governmental representatives are going to do. We feel threatened and without power (LOVE), so what are ya'll administrative folk going to do with the power we've relinquished to you? We must all demonstrate our collective support, by communicating with each other and following through with an implementation of positive and proactive ideas into a collaborative reality. We must not allow our differences to override our commonality. We must stop looking at the small photograph depicting the fear of lack, and start observing and accepting, as real, the panoramic landscape of more than enough. Whatever is to be done, in order to be beneficial to all, must be done and accepted by all. That is the only way the Power (LOVE) can be shared by all the people, the result of which allows us to bask in its righteousness.

Idealistic as it may seem, keep in mind that we live in a world of limitless possibilities and we can still develop and implement a means for peaceful coexistence. As it stands, our only other choice is to continue to react and respond to situations that are designed to keep us apart. "What you gon do?"

I'll holla...

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Don't Knock Nuthin Till After You've Checked It Out

My plan is to do everything I want to...at least once. I don't want to live life based on what I heard, I want to live it based on what I know. Having been married to Nicole, an incredible jazz musician, for the past three years, my affinity for music has risen to a new level. Along with the short one year stint as a radio personality, and a new found desire to explore every genre of music and mode of communication, I felt that there was no other choice for Nicole and myself but to check out Thundercat and Flying Lotus at the Wiltern Theater in LA this past Friday. This same mindset took us to the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion on Saturday to check out our first two operas, Dido and Aeneas and Bluebeard's Castle.



Stephen Bruner, who is better known by his stage name Thundercat, is an electric bass player who has reportedly been influenced by the two renown fusion artists Stanley Clarke and George Duke. Stephen provided samples of jazz, R&B, funk, electronic, and other genres in his performance, and although the volume and timbre of his presentations were a bit overwhelming for my supposedly half deaf behind, I marveled at the uniqueness and creativity of each and every selection.

Steven Ellison, of the stage name Flying Lotus, is a music producer, rapper, and electronic musician with a strong penchant for multi genre experimentation. There was a bit of excessiveness in terms of my comfortability with the flashing lights and incessant sounds, but the wizardly appearance of him behind a sheer three dimensional curtain, the amazing backdrop of perpetual video imagery, and the constant and varied influx of musical accompaniment gave uncontested credibility to his creative brilliance. 

The joint was packed ya'll, and the participatory response, of the dominant 20 to 35 aged- old audience, reminded me of my avid appreciation for the Jimi Hendrix, and Funkadelic concerts I attended back in the day. I'm certainly glad I went to see Thundercat and Flying Lotus, because I now know first hand that some of our young artists are still working to preserve, cultivate and proliferate the innovative creativity that has made all types of music available to us, and has allowed countless artists to both find their place in the sun and to remain in our hearts. I'll just have to remember, if I go to another concert of that sort, to bring some ear plugs and dark glasses.

As for the first operatic offering entitled 'Dido and Aeneas' on Saturday, the program guide touted the simplicity of the stage setting. I was not convinced however, that economic restraints did not play a major role in limiting the props to a white park bench that spanned the width of the stage. The movement and vocal renditions of the twenty six performers, confined to this single bleacher, left me feeling a bit deprived in relation to the glamorous hoopla that I had expected, but their obvious exuberance along with my willingness to fully grasp the overall artistic intent, gave me a sense of having acquired a bit of insight, into the complexities that accompany transforming a story into operatic form.


The second presentation, entitled Bluebeard's Castle, was a bit more restrained because the only setting was the stage itself, and albeit very large and very white, along with a revolving trajectory, I could not comfortably grasp why there were a total of eight performers and only two of them contributed an audible rendition of the music being played. Not wanting to be undaunted, I was grateful that my appreciation for their concerted efforts overrode my expectations for a visual and vocal extravaganza. Let me point out however, that the orchestra was totally on point and poppin throughout both operas. So much so that I leaned forward a few times, to see who was playing the tuba, oboe, or any other instruments whose resounding tones both sparked my interest and captured my attention


As was the case in Friday's musical performances, the Saturday audience's appreciative exuberance, demonstrated by their resounding applause, let me know that opera is here to stay.The fact that the majority of patrons were between 40 and 70 years of age, and the same color as the stage, left me wondering if this mode of entertainment was limited to a select group of people, and if perhaps my cultural and/or aesthetic make up hindered me from seeing what everyone else saw. Nonetheless, the experience left me with a satisfactory sense of 'been there ...done that', and the understanding that I should read the reviews or talk to someone who knows the details of a particular performance, before I attend another opera.

We say we don't don't go to certain places or do certain things because we don't have the time or the money. We say we don't like certain people or things because we don't like the way they look. I agree with the adage that "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation", and I implore all of you do try looking at stuff the way me and Nicole did this past weekend ..."Do whatever it is, within reason, that you want to do, and don't knock nuthin till after you've checked it out". 

I'll holla... 


To comment or respond please click on the word comments at the bottom of this page, or email me at grace.calvin187@gmail.com



Friday, November 14, 2014

I STILL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM

In 1986,  after having shot dope for 18 years, I started eating Haagen Dazs ice cream almost every night until 2007, when I was informed that dairy products highly contributed to the mucous build up and ensuing colds that were occurring in my life, on a regular basis. Not realizing that the sugar content was also a major threat to my well being, I switched to a soy-based frozen dessert. Then I saw a documentary addressing the Monsanto monopoly on genetically modified soy beans, and substituted the soy variety for an almond-based product. In the meantime I had developed a chronic itching, the cause of which was not ascertained until I was diagnosed with cancer in January of this year, i.e. 2014. Mind you my figurative screaming for a frosty dessert every night was still strong, but I abstained from this frozen frenzy until my chemo treatments ended this past May. Since then I've indulged in a coconut based frozen dessert, probably about twice a month, and as I sit here having finished a pint of Almond Mocha Fudge...I'm feeling no remorse simply reflecting on the realization that I have an addictive behavior which stems from a fervent desire to feel good. What's ironic about all of this, is that I'm experiencing a significant degree of pleasure by sharing my situation with you.

I don't know what you do to feel good, and only you can determine if you do too much of it, but of one thing I am sure...moderation is the key for me when it comes to balancing the amount of pleasure I can experience without risking the onset of subsequential pain. There are many avenues available for meetng our desires to feel good, and food, sex, television,  the internet, alcohol, significant others, religion, exercise, money, school, jobs, cigarettes,  drugs (legal and otherwise), gambling, shopping for clothes, people pleasing, and acquiring attention  and fame, are just a few.  They are all potentially addictive pursuits however, that can ultimately lead us to possibly precarious positions. An overconsumption of heroin and sugar has significantly altered my physical condition, and has had a yet undocumented bearing on my mental and spiritual well- being. There are also a number of other addictive possibilities that I have indulged in, and that are still calling for my attention. I am aware however, that half the struggle in abstaining from, or moderating my participation in what I do, is the unconditional acceptance of my being prone to over-doing it.

Life is a wonderfully enlightening experience, and the understanding that we can take a disheartening situation, and alter it into a beneficial opportunity, is part and parcel of what makes the world go round. Constantly reminding ourselves that we can take life's lemons and make lemonade, will enhance our capabilities for turning the bitter into the sweet. It goes without saying that we have all over indulged in one thing or another, and that we continue to do so on a regular basis. It's also quite obvious that many of us know we are about to involve ourselves in something that is going to cause us harm, yet we do it anyway. Comments like..."Yea, I know I'm diabetic..but", or "My blood pressure ain't that high today...so", or "My money's funny but... ", or even "They're haters and just don't want me to..." These are all feeble attempts to justify doing what we know is going to cause us harm, and all the time we are aware that the end result is going to be accompanied by intense feelings of guilt and remorse. The upside however, is that we can objectively share our problematic outcomes with someone else, ask them how they address similar situations, and collaboratively devise a means for altering or moderating our behavior.

I've overdosed on heroin a few times and by the Grace of God, I'm still here. I've inadvertently abused my mind and body through other means, and have consequently been told that I had a maximum of six months to live if I didn't get a minimum of six chemotherapy treatments. I was then told, after having not received the sixth treatment, that I could have died had I done so. God's Grace has kept me here, and it is by this same Grace that I am able to channel some of my addictive behavior into hosting a radio show and writing these blogs for you. Granted, I'm still doing stuff that isn't always in my best interest, but the more I focus on doing stuff for others, the better I feel about me. The pleasure I selfishly sought for myself, is exponentially intensified by seeking it for someone else. That's where I am right now ya'll..still screaming but not so loud.

I'll holla...

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

RIGHT OR RIGHTEOUS...THAT'S THE QUESTION

“ I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” I want to thank Lois 'Tootie' Brown for exposing me to the foregoing statement. The very act of her doing so speaks volumes for the importance of hearing everything that's said, and storing it on the shelf if you don't comprehend it at the time. It was about 40 years ago that I read the foregoing statement, on a relatively large, formica cube, ironically located in Mrs. Brown's home on a kitchen shelf , and because I didn't understand it at the time, I shelved it. I just took it down the other day, to plead my case for the paramount importance of truly understanding one another.

In our conversations with each other, we spend such an unwarranted amount of time trying to be 'right', that we don't always get the true gist of what the other person is trying to convey. We so urgently desire for what we're talking about to be understood, that while the other person is speakng we're thinking about what we're going to say next to validate and substantiate what we've already said. Subsequently, our primary objective becomes less about collaborative comprehension, and more about an individualistic pursuit of conversational conquests. 

True understanding comes from 'feeling' rather than 'thinking'. It is by doing so that we are able to gain insight into what is being said, because we have vicariously become the person who's saying it. Where has this person been, where is he/she going, and how can I relate my own life experiences to where this particular individual is right now. These are the sensibilities we have begun to focus on, and have thereby allowed the concepts of empathy, compassion, and genuine concern to become the objectives that are an integral part of our interactions. Then and only then can the question "...Ya feel me?"  be answered in the affirmative.

It's not necessary for us to disregard and forego all of our own thoughts and remarks to listen to another, but the communicative process would be greatly enhanced if our unbiased unconditional attention were given to the person doing the talking. Universal law is based on the premise that we get back what we put out, and we can rest assured that the consideration we give to another, shall be returned to us when it comes time to convey our own  concepts and comments.

That's where I am right now ya'll, working more on righteous understanding and less on being rightly understood. The hope that the things I say are being comprehended is still of major importance, however I want to be able to walk away from every conversation feeling that what I heard the other person say is truly what they meant. You see being right is not nearly as important as being decent and upright, because when you're demonstrating those two attributes of true righteousness... everybody wins. 

You understand what I'm saying? If not, please put it on the shelf for later on.

I'll Holla...


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