The Power Walk

“I have a trail I want to show you. Will you go walking with me?”

Admittedly I’ve put on a few pounds. The thought of walking didn’t sound as appealing as drinks and appetizers. However, my mother is a ridiculously busy person and we never get to spend time together so I accepted her invitation. She’s one of those people who “have it together.” The reliable conservative type.

“Maybe if I walk with her, her sense of order will rub off on me because I definitely didn’t get it genetically.”

When I got home from work, I informed my husband I was going for a power walk with my mom. I know him. He probably immediately envisioned old ladies at the mall with pink dumbbells in their hands with walkmans and black Sony headphones. He’s a runner. He runs at least 6 miles a day so walking makes no sense to him. When I came out the bathroom in my hot pink Miami souvenir t-shirt and my psychedelic Hot Soxx and tights, he gave me a quizzical look. “You’re not going to burn any calories. Why are you dressed like that?” I smiled, kissed him and the kids and left.

The truth? I was genuinely excited. I needed a break. Just a moment to decompress. An hour to reassess the tasks on my mental “to do” list. I have colleagues who “unplug” weekly. They do not tend to their phones, social media or personal email for a day or two. An old friend of mine has a rule that neither she nor her spouse can answer their cellular phones after 9pm. When the kids are asleep and it’s just the two of them it becomes time to unplug from everyone else and recharge their union. It sounds corny but there is validity to it.

“When I came here before, all these trees had no leaves. Some of the flowers looked dead like they’d never bloom again. Now they’re all green.”

The power walk was a physical reminder that life is just a meandering trail that we haven’t seen before. We don’t know what comes next. We can fret over bugs. Or maybe at night someone will jump out of the darkness and attack us. A tree branch may break and fall on your head. No matter what happens there is also a strong possibility it will be scenic, pedagogical and best of all you may find company so you don’t have to walk alone.

The older I get, the more I value the friend that will pray with you. It’s like singing your favorite song and someone just jumping on the hook and harmonizing with you. That’s powerful!

The trail may be unique to you but someone else has already walked it. Seek counsel from wise elders, mentors, or even blog communities. There are people who have been through what you’ve been through or they are going through it right now with class and ease. They’re making it look easy!! While you’re panicking, they’re strategizing and preparing for the next blow.

After the walk we went to Wendy’s (I did get a salad at least) but regardless of what I ate I felt lighter. I shed some stress. I was a little more content with the lack of control that humanity sometimes requires. It really was a power walk.

By Shaun Liriano

Don’t Call Me

I will it. May the universe hear it.
Don’t call me.
Receive it…receive it…receive it.
Don’t call me.
You specifically.
Not with negativity and incincerity.
Not with the petty, the snotty, snooty, or regularity of absent class.
Not with ghetto antics and foul language.

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Not with bitterness and hatred.
Not with immaturity.
Not with dread.
Not for show.
Not for tell.
Not for optics.
Don’t call me with deep sighs wallowing at the bosom of your breath.
Don’t call me if your ability to be intelligent is paralyzed by my success.
Don’t call me.
Don’t call me neglecting your responsibilities.
Don’t call me parading and pretending in your bubble and rolling around in your dark dungeon of delusion.
Don’t call me without engaging in cognitive self actualization.
Don’t call me if you’ve been a therapy absentee.
Don’t call me…
…pretending the problem is me.

By Shaun Nickens

#peace

Perfect (Cold Sweat Series)

I like fushia skies
I like old couples fussing at one another and smacking each other’s asses.
I like short walks that have more quality than long ones
I like flowers
I like cheese
I like the fact that Jimi Hendrix couldn’t even read music.
I like people from your past that don’t bore you with small talk. They just nod and smile.
I like sleep
I like the full disclosure of children
I like when doctors heal, restore, repair and do it masterfully
I like working hard but I despise not being recognized for it.
I love being a mom.
I like 3am, the stillness, the moonlight and the freedom.
I like the kind of breeze that feels like a touch from an angel.
I like surprises but I hate waiting.
I like life
And living
But I love being alive.

By:Shaun Nickens

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On the Couch (Literary therapy)

So don’t tell anyone but sometimes I interview myself. I do not interview myself as myself but as someone else. You may call it borderline schizophrenia. However, I am not being a different version of me but I act as if I’m Oprah, Tyra, Tyler or Asha. I imagine what their questions would be.  I imagine what they would want to know about the history of my life, my success so to speak.  They ask me (well I ask me) how I feel about my process.  They tell me about my net worth. I tell them about coinstar machines, bottle returns, Ramen noodles and Wal-Mart shopping sprees. They ask me which one of my luxury cars is my favorite. I tell them that the Maserati Gran Cabrio Sport is my “A to B” “run around car.”
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I really miss my first car.

It was a 1980 Pontiac Grand Prix.  My mom got it for me. She paid $1000 cash for it.  It was from a neighbor who only drove it from time to time.

They’ll ask me if my heart has ever been broken and I’ll tell them, “too many times to mention.”

but since I mentioned it …

I never appreciated shorty who broke up with me by forcing me to break up with myself.   Although it was very clever.  It was…

Well I guess that wasn’t heartbreak.  That was just stupidity. Sorry scratch that.

Next question please.

They’ll ask me if there is anyone I want to attribute my success to.  I’ll want to be unique but I have to say God.  Then I’ll say, “There’s way too many to mention.”  So I’ll thank Love, Failure, Resilience, Ego, and Reparation.

Then I’ll thank all the human manifestations of those named and if they’re smart (and I know they are), then they’ll know who they are.

They’ll ask me if there is anything I want to change about myself and I’ll say there’s

“Way too many things to mention.”

The biggest thing…the biggest thing that I want to change is the fact that there is anything that I would change at all. Then they kind of look at me like I said something profound.

Then the awkward part comes because they cut to a commercial or if it’s a written publication they writer just describes the scenery or my mannerisms and artistically wraps up the interview.  They try to wrap it up.  That is something I have always struggled with.  I’m clear on the beginning.  I worry or ponder about the middle but the ending always just lingers on…

By: Shaun Nickens

3 Reasons I Love Being a Parent

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1. I took my 1 year old to a mommy and me “Babies Music and Play” class yesterday morning.  I don’t have her in a traditional daycare so I proactively look for opportunities for her to socialize with other children.  The kids all went into the meeting room and immediately began playing with one another.  When it was time to sing songs, my kid was singing at the top of her lungs. She showed the other children how to play with the toys. She stood in front of the play kitchen and had a full length conversation on the “phone.” She was showing off her vocabulary “Papi”,”mommy”, “hi”, “I’m okay”, “What you doing?” I was so proud! The other mother’s started asking me questions about her age and activities.  I felt instantly privileged to be her mom.

2. Sometimes I’m exhausted.  No, like borderline dead/comatose exhausted.  Like putting your phone in the freezer and your eggs in the bathtub exhausted!   Like putting your window all the way down and your music all the way up so you can drive home safe exhausted.  Yet, I will jump up at any time day or night if I am responsible for doing something for my children.  There is something wonderful about being needed and wanted at the same time. There is something awesome about tiny fingers holding your head and looking into your eyes lovingly and curiously. 

3. Children are raw, open, honest and unapologetic.  They have so many questions.  I love the responsibility of being one of the first people they go to for their answers.  Your four year old wants to know:
“Why do you go to work? ”
“Why do you have to make money? ”
“Why do you have to pay bills?”
“Why do we need heat?”
“Why is it cold?”

You better come up with some great answers for them and for yourself!  Children help you reassess, edit, and improve your life. My sister is 15 years old. She plays music at the highest decibel and dances with the girls until they are all out of breath and she is their she-ro! Kids are simple. They just want attention and uninhibited honest fun and unconditional love. They want you to be yourself which is the opposite of the facade we normally have to display.  Parenting gives you at least one safe place to be yourself.

By: Shaun Nickens

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*Day 10 of the 30 day writing challenge! Tell me why you LOVE being a parent.  Follow us on Twitter @shutyamouthnow
Bless!!

Have A Seat. Let’s Talk. I’m Listening

Dexter walked in the hospital with no urgency. With his cane in hand, he took his time going in. He had been warned, his friend suffered a stroke and may have dementia. He adjusted the cap on his head and entered the room. He hoped his friend would remember him. He hoped his friend would be okay.

Bill looked up at the door as Dexter entered. His eyes were fixed at the top of Dexter’s head. 
That ruby red Kangol hat.

“Hey”, Bill said. “Isn’t that the hat I gave you a few years ago? Yup! Sharp as a tack! I think it was Christmas 2011?”

Dexter’s eyes lit up with surprise.

“Hot dog! Aw man you’re alright! You ain’t dying!” Dexter’s voice oozed with both humor and relief.

“Nah,  I’m hanging in there so my kids can’t spend all my hard earned money.  Greedy tricksters are probably picking out my headstone already! ” Dexter and Bill roared with laughter.  They talked about the moments when they thought time would stand still for them. Hard working hustlers. They talked about the plans they had when they were young men. Dexter did a lot of listening that day. The Master forced him to be still and be attentive and be grateful.
_______________________________________ When I started this blog in 2012 I said it would never be an advice type of forum.  I am not a life coach! Who qualifies you for that type of position?  Too much pressure! What would you do if you found out your therapist is a Looney Tune? Like a bonafied nut! Would that discredit him? To be a life coach would my life have to be perfect?
There’s a very popular woman. I will leave her nameless.  She has books about women being their best and being extraordinary.  She has a YouTube stream.  She runs bootcamps from her brownstone. She gives women advice about attracting and keeping a man too. I remember reading the online backlash from women who “discovered” she doesn’t have a man and she isn’t married. Whoa! They went nuts! The ring she wears is because she is committed to herself!  I cracked up laughing.  So what?! All of a sudden she doesn’t know what she’s talking about???! Did she help you? Who certifies good advice?

Doesn’t perseverance through imperfections and the ability to analyze such experiences give you some credibility? 

When you call a friend and tell them about your relationship or your career (or lack thereof), do you ask for their counseling license?  No. You just appreciate them listening. In most cases they are just reaffirming your views. You need someone to listen because you are tired of talking to yourself.  The act of listening is an act of love. Supporting a friend probably makes most people feel good. Do you hesitate because you are afraid of the reaction you will get? Or do you just give your time and your talents?

Sometimes it is hard to balance everything.  You are still adjusting to your new or appointed roles in life. You are trying your best to wear your many hats. Then it happens. Someone you love is hospitalized,  a baby is born,  a friend calls in crisis and you are forced to slow down. You are forced to use your emotional eye. 

Sit down and listen before life, time and God force you to. Don’t take communication for granted.  Don’t take anything for granted.  Dear Kettle,  take it from the pot, YOU CAN manage your time better.  YOU CAN show your loved ones they matter.  YOU CAN be a finisher or you can ShutYaMouthAndCallMeUgly.

By:Shaun Nickens
Featured Illustrator: Jose Rodriguez
http://josevrodriguez.squarespace.com/