Living Your Life Out Loud (The Move part 5)

Michelle Obama Farewell Speech with Oprah was on my list of shows to watch in the new year. As I sat watching the interview on YouTube, I knew that I would be inspired. There was no way that inspiration would bypass me while sitting watching two of the most powerful and influential women in the world. But I wanted to be more than inspired to watch and feel hopeful, I wanted to be inspired enough to change. Inspired enough to live my life in a way that would evoke change in others.

This statement from the First Lady moved me.

“Let me live my life out loud so that people can then see and then judge for themselves. Live it out loud. Don’t dial it back. Don’t dilute it. Don’t apologize for it.”

So how do I “live my life out loud”? How do I say exactly what needs to be said? How do I take advantage of those special teachable moments without actually saying a word? My actions are speaking with such authority my lips need not move. My life is speaking out loud with…no dialing back…no diluting…no apologizing. All without losing the effectiveness of the message I am trying to convey. The answer sadly is “I do not know”. I am learning.

I began to think…Can this be done with an assertiveness that makes people watch and listen? A way that does not offend but creates a desire to look within. A way that will impact the people that I see every day. Or even a couple times a month.

This historical area is ever changing but hurting. Buildings and homes are being renovated. New businesses are moving in. People are coming into town to enjoy the eclectic venues, good food, and spirits. But, in between all of this, we have a group of people that are lost. Consumed with the use of drugs, the selling of drugs, prostitution, panhandling, disease, and hunger. It is not only my responsibility to live in a way that provokes hope but to also provoke a different way of thinking and living.

Yes. I know sometimes the way I talk you would think I moved to an entirely different country rather than just a different city less than an hour away. Although the distance is not so great, the world that I have been divinely appointed to be a part of is quite different than that I have lived for my forty plus years. Some days I pray with a vengeance that it is divine and not of my own will, because if not, this may go horribly wrong.

Since the temperature in Atlanta was well below freezing the last couple of days, we had quite a few homeless people that continued to come in and out of the store trying to stay warm. This calls for heightened security, awareness, a special level of sympathy and a whole lot of patience. So often I struggle to balance business and outreach. But in order for me to be effective; I need to be able to present and represent my business goals and my limits of outreach. I believe the most effective and successful people can do this unapologetically, without dialing it back, without diluting their life down to a “message” that appeals to everyone but impacts no one.

I know this can be very difficult to comprehend. But I think if we all take some time to really think about whether we are “living out loud” and living an impactful life, we would start making some changes. That statement made by the First Lady probably meant something totally different for her just as it will mean something totally different to me and you but we all can decide to live in a way that will positively impact our individual “worlds”.

Please feel free to share.

-TanyaG

Crossing the Bridge Into a New Year (The Move part 4)

The Move (Blog – Part 3)

The Move (Blog – Part 2)

The Move (Blog)

© 2017 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.

Just One Picture of Homelessness

What is your picture of homelessness?

(Picture of homelessness) The walls of my house are made of the many shades of yellow and green. My clothes are not neatly folded or hung in a closet but thrown about my room that has an airy but eerie bright view into the world that encircles me. I have many tiny acquaintances that visit me night and day. Never waiting to be invited but gladly crawling into my space. They live in my walls and other neighboring homes. They do not look like me but they are unique in their own right. Just as I am unique to the well-dressed people who stroll by as I lay in my shabby although beautifully colored home.

As I lift my hand to block the bright sunlight from my famished eyes, I notice the well-dressed people are staring at me again. 

Then I remembered…I remembered… I didn’t always have this special home.

Now I remember. The illiteracy.  The shame and disappointment but a plan put in place. The adventures of living well came with such excitement but faded so quickly. Where was the confidence, the drive, the ambition? The late night studies of 1st and 2nd-grade vocabulary. Why couldn’t I comprehend? Some said it was dyslexia. Some said it was stupidity. Some said I was mental. 

How difficult could it be? It proved to be overwhelming but feeling nothing was impossible. Keep pressing on I say and do. I try and I try. Only to be destitute…living in this special place with the well-dressed people staring at me. 

What is your picture of homelessness?

© 2016 All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.