My Plan Not My Purpose (part 4)

Just as I was about to settle into my new freedom another thorn stabbed me deeply. I awoke abruptly from my spell.

His actions affected me with the piercing pain of thorns from a “rose” bush. However, I did not see a beautiful rose flower in my presence. My mind drifted into hollowness. I began to hallucinate of beautiful roses that symbolized beauty and love. My nostrils inhaled pleasant scents that made me feel at peace. A spectrum of glowing colors burst in my optical senses. I was overwhelmed with such ecstasy and serenity. I took a deep breath.  I was feeling overjoyed that I was finally in my purpose. I could feel my body becoming lighter. My muscles relaxing. There were a crispness and clarity to my thinking.  God, I haven’t felt this feeling in a long time. If I had ever felt it at all.

Just as I was about to settle into my new freedom another thorn stabbed me deeply.

I awoke abruptly from my spell.

The room was filled with people. I had forgotten where I was. The thorns of lust were jabbing deep. Their eyes and body movements showed their attraction to each other. Her desire to be the attention of the false illusions that were inhabiting this space revealed itself each time she tried to look through me to him. She stood with a sensualness that I did not have the confidence to hold. She giggled like a mindless child playing with her favorite cousin at a sleepover. The smell of roses that occupied my nostrils during my hallucination was actually instigating from this girl that now challenged the entire room. Challenged the relationship that I ignorantly misunderstood was more important than my own sanity.

But I discerned my place in this space. I never was supposed to be here. I wasn’t supposed to be in his company. I wasn’t supposed to be in such a challenge because it was not part of my purpose. I wasn’t supposed to be holding this drink. Or in this room were these thorns of disrespect, disregard, and dishonesty was making me bleed from my soul.

I was disheartened. My plan, not my purpose had me bleeding. With each drop of blood, I felt myself losing control and my mind drifting back to that hollowness but this time my nostrils smelled the aroma of a stench. The disgusting odor of dreams dying because none of us would admit the plan that we wrote for ourselves was unbecoming of our purpose. The weeds disguising themselves as beautiful roses were suffocating me.

My plan, not my purpose was leading me to nowhere.

To be continued…

My Plan Not My Purpose (part 3)

My Plan Not My Purpose (part 2)

My Plan Not My Purpose

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

My Plan Not My Purpose (part 3)

As I walked each day to clear my head and shed the tears of regret, I begin to devise a way to say “I messed up. I am sorry. I am lost to my next step.”

Part 3

The streets are lit, busy and filled with litter. Not just the litter of empty bottles of Cisco, Alizé, MD 20/20, Malibu, Jack Daniels, Thunderbird, Colt 45, Old English, old cigarette butts, and fast food boxes from all the restaurants the lined the streets of this impoverished neighborhood… but deeply littered with lost souls with no direction. Souls like mine that were embarrassed and angry that their plan, not their purpose was taken them to nowhere. But unlike me, most did not know the difference between their plan and their purpose. They did not know the magnitude of their misdirection. 

Their days filled with drugs and alcohol showed on the young women with vanishing clothing, loose talk, and behaviors that mimicked the overgrown and wildly growing weeds that lined the streets. Pretending they did not need or want a man with purpose, drive, and ambition.

The boys trying to portray themselves as men but only successful at passing themselves a blunt. A blunt of idiocy that gave them a false illusion of control, dominance, power, confidence, achievement and success. Only to sit the next day in front of the little television that sits propped on the chair serving as entertainment that in a short period of time proved to be their distraction out of poverty.

Sadly, I knew it all to be a lie. And it haunted me with each waking day, with each step in the wrong direction, with each tear I shed. Each time I compromised my purpose to pretend that my plan was working just as I had planned in my undeveloped mind with lack of experience. How do I escape the position I placed myself? How do I say “My plan was full of childish decisions of false illusions of grandeur” that was supposed to be better than the couple of years of education I had completed at one of the best colleges in Georgia?

As I walked each day to clear my head and shed the tears of regret, I begin to devise a way to say “I messed up. I am sorry. I am lost to my next step” because my next step could lead me into drug addiction, prostitution, or even death. But this too proved to be as hard as the souls that walked with me. As hard as the souls that littered the streets of this impoverished neighborhood that was lined with empty bottles of false illusions and overgrown weeds disguising themselves as people.

My plan.

Not my purpose.

Was still taken me to nowhere. To be continued.

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

 

My Plan Not My Purpose (part 2)

My Plan Not My Purpose

 

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.

The Move (Blog – Part 2)

The shingles continue to hang from the roof and the pale yellow color of the house continues to fade in the hot sun, time does not stop. I finally finished a busy day at our convenience store which is just about 2 minutes away from our new residence. As I approach, I cannot help but continue to stare at the overgrown weeds that occupy a vacant lot that sits next door to our fixer-upper. On the other side of the vacant lot, a white family lives in a newly built home with a country style porch, a cute german shepherd, and a picket fence surrounding the home.

(I will be mentioning race, lifestyles, and beliefs throughout my post to show as I write that diversity in a neighborhood comes both positive and negative with many learning experiences.)

The overgrown weeds are reminding me that this neighborhood has been neglected. The people that once lived here and the few that still remain from the years past has in some circumstance…some thought process…in some spoken way  neglected the community.

The reasons for the lack of care are not always known although the excuses come both distressing and at times understandably reasonable.

the-move-part-2

Overgrown Lot of the Missing Owner (Photo by Tanya Graham)

As I move items from our car to the house, I notice a familiar face. A face that makes me uneasy. Here comes Paul (not sure if that is his real name or not) but that is what we call him at the store. That or either Preacher Man. He is a frequent store customer who has been homeless and an active addict for over twenty years and frankly he doesn’t care to change his living status. Paul is a slim black man maybe in his 70’s. He walks with a consistent odor; mix-match clothes; and sluggish walk of feet dragging. His unkempt  gray and black hair always lives under some type of hat at least 90% of the time. Nothing about him is shy or meek. He is outspoken and doesn’t care what he says at any time. His conversation has often embarrassed me as we take orders from customers visiting outside of the so-called “hood”.

My thoughts “Oh my God. He knows where I live!”

Paul’s first question while standing outside our house goes like this “Did ya’ll buy this house for me?!” He is yelling as if we are two blocks away instead of right in front of him. My husband and I looked at him with a slight grin of amusement and terror all mixed together.

paul

Our Friend Paul (Photo by Tanya Graham)

To read more about THE MOVE please follow my blog. Don’t forget to go back and read my first blog on THE MOVE.

The Move (Original Post)

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

 

Our Daughters

She is a beautiful vivid flower that requires blooming.

She stands out in the box of closed minds.

She withers in the presence of weeds that smother her roots and stunts her growth.

The soil that is to nurture her is filled with foreign unfamiliar objects that her young roots do not understand.

But she continues to struggle to survive in a world of strangely shaped weeds that impersonate flowers and introduces her to roads and travels, taking her to a place that dims her true potential.

She no longer has the covering that protected her as a seedling. As seedlings are very delicate and wrong conditions can ruin them.

She is stubborn to receive direction from the white haired elder that has been placed strategically beside her.

Sometimes she has trouble deciphering the elder with its peculiar appearance from the strangely shaped weeds. She finds this elder strange in voice and appearance. The elder does not look like the young flower so the elder’s words of wisdom go unheard.

The closed minded weeds are convincing and assertive. Their goal to drain the crimson color from her life so they can feel superior because now her glorious color has dimmed, and all living in the box look and act the same.

The white haired elder knows that time is running out so she does not give up reaching out to touch the very tip of this young flower fighting to be independent but different than the weeds that try to confine her.

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