“As Far As I Can Throw You”

Photography by Shaun Liriano

He threw her.  Just threw her with full force like you chuck a football through a field. He threw her. She flew through the air.

I always knew I could fly, she said.

For the first time there was someone he could trust with his life and he wanted to show her that he cared.  He wanted to show her that she was special.  He wanted to show her that he’d be “mush” without her.

I trust you about as far as I can throw you, he said.

Then he threw her.  He hurled her body and watched it spiral through the air. His love poured out of the sweat that beaded on her forehead.  His faith sprouted wings in her back.  His hope stripped her naked and replaced her bland clothing with an aerodynamic super suit colorful enough to match her vibrant personality.

At first, she was afraid. Fretfully, she gathered herself and tried to get her bearings.  She tried to get used to being in the company of birds, high branches, and jet planes approaching their landings. She screamed in excitement.  No one seemed alarmed that she was up there.  They expected her to be in the sky.  It was as if she didn’t belong on the ground and everyone knew it.

He didn’t look at her though. Once he threw her he didn’t wonder if she could take flight.  He BELIEVED she could. So he obliviously kicked a ball through a field and watched it roll on. He read an article from time to time. He viewed television shows at leisure. He felt the warmth of an onlookers admiring glance. He chugged along knowing she was soaring through the sky for the first time.

Isn’t he wondering if I am okay?  How does he know a larger creature hasn’t consumed me?  Hasn’t he thought about my loneliness? Sometimes it’s cold up here.  I don’t know anyone up here.  Sometimes I’m scared.  I’ve never flown before.  I’ve never been thrown before.  At first it was fun but where is he?  What is he doing?

Her fear ignited a fire so fierce it singed her beautiful wings. It incinerated her custom costume.  It sent her flailing through the sky clumsily…falling.

She landed in a bed of roses.  The thorns, long and sharp, pierced her skin and her blood mixed with the crimson red of the rose petals.  Her body naked and covered in ashes and blood writhed in pain.

She screamed out in horror, “My love! Where are you?  Why didn’t you fly with me?  Why did you leave me all alone?”

Silence.  She waited in the cold.  Naked. Vulnerable.

All the while, he returned to the field of her original launch every day after breakfast.  He wondered why she never returned. He assumed she must be enjoying the clean air, the ascension.

Why didn’t she ever try to throw me?

He felt her absence but he also felt her presence.

-By: Shaun Liriano

*Dedicated to my muse.

My life is part humor, part roses, part thorns.

~Bret Michaels

 

 

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Down There

This is a Part II to the following post: https://shutyamouthandcallmeugly.com/2015/07/10/nachos-and-cheese-cold-sweat-series/
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I walked in and I heard music. It was loud and intrusive. It thumped through your chest and it rattled your soul. I thought to myself, “How does anyone have a conversation in here?” As if reading my mind, he appeared and said, “Words complicate things.” The music always muted when he spoke. Everyone was always suspended in the air. There were no floors. It wasn’t frightening though. There was no place below. There was no place further to fall.
He was tall. He wasn’t a large man. You could tell he was strong, though. There was something about his posture and the tone of his voice. He was aware of his power. His reputation and the fear his presence induced fed his power. He was wearing a black A-Shirt and a pair of black sweat pants and some tan construction Timberland boots. He grabbed my arm and his touch burned my skin. I jumped back in shock and grabbed my wound. He said, “You’re not one of mine. What are you doing down here?” I said, “Well Mr. ..” I had no idea what to call him. Do I call him Satan, Lucifer, The Dark One?
He said, “Chill, titles mean nothing down here. They all know who is in charge and they rarely have anything to say. That’s why I play the music so loud. It drowns out the unnecessary. I always liked music. They loved my stuff up there. Most people should have said what they needed to say when it mattered. Down here it doesn’t matter. I’m not listening. If you’re down here, no one cares about what you say or what you think or what you feel. If you’re down here, you missed out on being with the One who cared about those things. If you’re down here, you may have been someone who didn’t care about those things when someone needed you to.”
I looked at him and explained I was “up there” and JC and I had a conversation that went left. I hoped it was just a misunderstanding because I didn’t want to stay in darkness. I had questions and I’d always thought JC would be so nice and angelic about his expanations.
He looked at me and said, “You think they explained anything to me when they sent me down here?” “I was like a shooting fallen star! It was like being shot out of a damn cannon. Sometimes you can challenge too much. You can ask too many questions. You can rebel too much. Goodness is inherent. Kindness can be forced but if you do not like it here then you need to force it. You need to think about others. You need to think about yourself too. There are people down here who neglected themselves physically, spiritually and emotionally.”
As he spoke, I started to realize JC sent me down there because He knew my questions would be answered and that was the point. I wasn’t supposed to have so many inquiries. I was supposed to have FAITH. I was supposed to trust that He knew what he was doing. I was supposed to fufill my purpose.

My father always called me a rebel without a cause.

Would that existential crisis leave me in the darkness with the dark one with answers to questions that didn’t require answers?

I became antsy. I was hoping this was a little exercise the angels were putting me through. Maybe a test of character. I was hoping the darkness wouldn’t be my new permanent residence. It wasn’t hot. He wasn’t red. There were no flames but it was uncomfortable and it was loud. Suspended over nothing with nothing to look forward to.

I asked if any of my friends were there.

Some old associates appeared. I couldn’t remember all of their names but I remembered their faces. I wondered what they could have possibly done to merit that fate. I wondered what my fate would now be.

(To be continued )

-SMN

What Did I Miss?

A high school buddy of mine gave me the number and access code to a group prayer line. Her church started it to encourage its members and keep them on a spiritual journey throughout the week when they are away from the sanctuary. At the time, I myself needed an extra kick in the butt so I would call in occasionally.

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Normally, I would call in at noon. There is a 6am conference, noon and 6pm. At 6pm I am at the office so that doesn’t work. I remember thinking, ” I damn sure ain’t gettin’ up at 6am.” So noon was my only option.

Yet, when I call at noon I am getting myself ready for work. I am busy with the hustle of family. I am not focused. The TV is on in another room. I’m folding laundry or washing dishes. I’m doing everything but calming my mind and spirit to join the presence of God. Also, sometimes it would seem like the facilitator was busy too. Or maybe they were just praying routinely. No disrespect but it didn’t move me. I still called because I just needed to feel closer to God and his believers.

The other day, I got up at 6am. I was restless. My heart was disgruntled. I wasn’t dreaming so I wasn’t sleeping.

I got up and called the prayer line at 5:57 and waited with my phone muted. A male voice came on the line and began with verses for us to review at our leisure. He went over the meanings of the verses and how those scriptures are related to one another specifically to guide us. There was a theme and he led us in reverence and meditation for 15 minutes. I felt like I went to a church drive thru! It was like a microwaved sermon! I immediately felt a new energy and vigor and POSITIVITY that had been absent from me (or I was absent from it) for some time. My pastor calls that “Preaching and teaching!”

I say all that to say…

What are you missing out on because you are too lazy, unfocused, or undisciplined to attain? What blessings are you “sleeping on?” Sometimes you are experiencing an earthquake in your life because He has to force you to move out of the house of complacency. Your feet were planted there. You wouldn’t move unless he knocked down your glass menagerie and seemingly destroyed everything around you. Why don’t you see that he never destroyed YOU?

You …no WE have to get it together!  Do you eat right? Do you hydrate? Do you restore your temple by getting enough rest? Do you lay your clothes out in advance?  Is your car clean? I went to private school and my father was in the military. I had to be up at 6:30am, room spotless, uniform ironed,and shoes shined.  I ate Special K with a half of grapefruit, Farina or grits and eggs every day. What the hell happened to me?!

Life! Luxury! Laziness! Loss! No excuse for catching up instead of keeping up. Ask yourself what you aren’t disciplined enough to attain. Decide if you want abundance or a life of sleepless nights because He is trying to move you out of misery.

Please don’t wake up at 80 and say, “What did I miss?”

By: Shaun Melissa Nickens

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Vision Boards and What I Think of Them

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I have read “The Secret “and I’ve seen the documentary.* I have also read “The Power” by the same author. I’ve read multiple Napoleon Hill titles. I have also seen the motivational video featuring Oprah Winfrey where she discusses how she landed the role in “The Color Purple.”  All of these works center around one thing…

Law of Attraction.

I have often been torn by this concept. I was unsure of how I could implement it into a Christian lifestyle. Can these two beliefs exist at the same time? After many years, my answer is, yes.

The law of attraction is just what it states. It’s a law. Just like the law of gravity it can definitely co-exist with Christian beliefs. Yes, I believe in God and I believe he is the one who has drawn the blueprint for my life. I also believe that doubt, insecurities, distraction , destruction, and distortion can lead you away from the path God has created for you. Your lack of focus and your inability to believe in yourself can cause you to miss out on His gifts.

What is the law of attraction? My condensed oversimplified answer is:
What you believe and envision can and will manifest.

We know this!

Look:

Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…~Romans 12:2

In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.
~Dalai Lama

So what is a vision board? My condensed oversimplified answer is:
Its a map that leads to your own self discovery. It’s centered on you and your desires. It encapsulates your wants and your needs. By taking everything  out of your brain and heart and gluing them to a poster board you are forcing yourself  to focus. You’re at least glancing at this thing twice a day (morning and night.) For me, the images return to me throughout the day. So let’s say one photo on the board is “new car.” I find myself being more conscious of how I maintain the car I have. I downloaded a budget app on my phone to improve my credit. I pack lunch more often to put that money towards savings. That photo is a reminder that there is a goal in place. It also makes that goal feel more like an official agreement with myself. Also, seeing it makes it seem more attainable.

Vision boards are also a lot of fun!! It was fun finding the photos. It was nice to take an hour out to be creative in a different way. I have secretly always wished I could draw. I still can’t draw but I was able to produce something visually stimulating (well at least it stimulated me.)

Try it! Let me know how it works out. Do you already have one? Do you think it can help your quality of life?  Do you think they’re silly?

I’m excited about my future. If you asked me last year if my life would be this abundantly blessed this year, I would have laughed. God has smiled on me and I owe it to Him to run a more disciplined race. See you at the winner’s circle.

By:Shaun Nickens

*The Secret is by Rhonda Byrne

Double Negative

Not never will I forget what it feels like to be alone
To be forgotten
To feel small
To be an option

Not never will I forget when I had nothing
Not a dollar
Not an eighth of gasoline
Not a bite to eat

Not never will I forget feeling unloved and unnatural
Feeling afraid
Seeing a 20 year marriage fail
And seeing what it does to the human heart

Not never will I forget the sound of death
And the whisper of promise of a new life
And the lesson of Gods plan and His “mysterious ways.”

Not never will I ever compare myself again
Because I know my resilience is unmatched
I know my strength is unparalleled

I am a wishing well of hope and I am open to pennies of prayers being planted in my optimism.

Never will I ever give up
Or sit down
Or back away
Deterrents are my comic relief

Not never will I forget I am a fighter
My flaws are grotesquely beautiful

My courage is my camouflage

Can I fail?
Yes
And I don’t care.
And I don’t care if you laugh
Or if you say you told me so
Or if you call me naive

Not never will I have not one regret. 

I am here
And with every intentional breath
My purpose grows

And you better never forget that.

By:Shaun Nickens

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What’s In Your Wallet?

Sunday night I watched a movie called, “The Grey” with Liam Neeson on Netflix.  I watched the film with my mother, grandmother, grandfather, and my mother’s boyfriend.  We aren’t the stereotypical Black American family but we do try to make a habit out of Sunday dinner. Sunday dinner isn’t like the movie, “Soul Food.” We don’t eat artery clogging food and gossip. We’re too uppity for that. We eat whatever health conscious yummy meal my grandmother makes and then we watch a movie on Netflix. Most of the time we ad lib through the whole film so it’s necessary to put the subtitle feature on just so we don’t piss anyone off. We jumped and gasped through the whole film. While this is going on, the neighborhood hustle man is outside washing every car in the household inside and out for about $5 a pop.  Can’t beat that price! So whoever has seen this film knows there’s a part where the main character collects the wallets of the each man as he gets murdered. His intention is to bring them back to the deceased mens families. In one very dramatic scene he’s lookIng through the photos in the mens wallets. My mother interjected and said, ” That’s not realistic. No one keeps pictures in their wallets anymore! You would have to go through their cell phones. They’d probably have a lock on the phone. Or a password on the gallery. ” I ignored her but she persisted. She asked her gentle-spirited ultra-romantic boyfriend who must have given her some sweet reply. He’s so soft-spoken that no one heard him but her. He probably said something clever like,” Your face is painted on my soul so I don’t need your photograph.” Anyway, she asked me and I told her (while simultaneously trying to watch the movie) I have an infant photo of my 9 yr old god-daughter. I have a couple photo of a high school friend who’s now married that I don’t even speak to anymore. I have a group photo with some college buddies from queens day at Roy Wilkins park 3 summers ago. So my wallet is in no way a reflection of my immediate family. To support my mothers case…Wolf- killing hunter survivor sad man would have to find my cell phone!  Of course for some men…they’ll probably have a shot of Kim K as their cell phone wallpapers—->  The moment that touched me was when my mother asked my grandfather. My grandfather can be very serious due to his military background and Caribbean descent. Yet he is mostly known for telling some inappropriate joke at inopportune moments. This time, he reflected on the question. He looked away from the television. He stared at my grandmother intently and said ,”I think I only have a picture of Shaun.” I don’t know how everyone else in the room felt but that sure was special to me. His cell phone wallpaper is a picture of my sister and I. This would still leave my mother, grandmother, and uncle out. My whole life my grandfather has been diligently playing the lotto. Once an entrepreneur and now a retired sanitation worker, he’s always obsessed about money. I don’t expect anything to be in his wallet but cash and lotto tickets. But I’m in there.

If my grandfather was in that depressing dramatic and dreadful movie, the camera would scale over a shot of his wallet and I would be there. From a cinematic point of view, it would seem as though I mean a lot to him. Maybe it was time for us all to redecorate our wallets. Or buy new ones (because every man had a genuine leather  brown wallet).

The movie was also about fear and faith. It was about coming to terms with your accomplishments (or lack thereof). If you could replace your fear with faith and move forward, you’d either live or make peace with your death. Then those faces in those brown leather wallets would have fond memories and someone to be proud of.

What’s in your wallet?

Tell me whats in your wallet in my comments section.  Add us on twitter @shutyamouthnow.