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Posted in Goals, Inspiration, renew, self reflection

What’s Your Mantra?

Expressed by: Cassandra Dennis

What’s your mantra: your hymn, your incantation, your psalm, your SHOUT? You know the repetitive chant or poem or quote or song  or combination of them all, that keeps you inspired, motivated and keeps you in forward motion on your journey? For NIKE it’s #justdoit, they also promote Kevin Durant’s #risegrindshineagain.

Come on you have one, SHOUT IT OUT, except if you are in the library or church, then just whisper it.  You know the mantra that keeps you focused, that reminds you that strategic action is required to accomplish your goals and to move from one stage and level of life to the next.

I have several depending on what I need to persevere that day, but my main mantra is, “Life:Own it Don’t Blame it.”  See my life is my own.  No matter what decisions I make, good or bad; no matter what has been done to me or what I allowed or what I have done to others, my life is mine and only I can shape it to truly be what I want it to be.  At the end of the day no matter what I portray on social media, does my life truly represent the words I speak?  For me, yes and no, because I’m consistently striving to be the best me.  Although, I live a life of transparency, there are some aspects of my life, where I am faking it until I make it.  Yep, I wear a mask sometimes, not to hide my weaknesses but to hide the ugliness of an intimate part of my journey.  It is during this time that I may be purging and layers of the old me are being peeled away so that the revived, creative, reborn me can press in on the path I am traveling.  It is definitely during these times that I rely on my mantra or a song or my favorite poem to empower me through the challenge, strengthen my resolve, and learn my lesson(s) for the next level of my life.   After all in the words of Oscar Wilde, “I must be myself, everyone else is already taken.”

If you don’t have a mantra, what are you using to empower yourself on those days where you want to give up?  What or Who reminds you not to be easily distracted or encourages you to stare fear in the face and steam-roll that devil.

If you are at a point in your life where you are spinning your wheels, revamp your plan, set a path and commit to it; no matter the costs or sacrifices.  If it’s what you truly desire then the costs and sacrifices will be worth it; and the experiences along the way will be priceless.  Sooooooo, what’s your mantra?  Share it in the comments below.  You never know; your transparency may help someone else.

The song that’s pumping me up for what I need to accomplish today is, “We Livin”, by Tina Campbell.   I’M PUMPED!!! WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Posted in Goals, Inspiration

Hold Your Head Up…

Expressed by:  Cassandra Dennis

Hold your head up, know your worth, pursue your dreams.

Hold your head up, know your worth, pursue your dreams, in spite of fear.

Hold your head up, know your worth, pursue your dreams, without the support of others.

Hold your head up, know your worth, pursue your dreams, regardless of resources.

Hold your head up, know your worth, pursue your dreams, there is never a perfect time.

Hold your head up, know your worth, pursue your dreams because…

  • as you walk out your dream you will steam roll fear;
  • as you gain and apply knowledge, the naysayers will become your followers or your clients;
  • as you formulate, negotiate and barter to manifest your dream it strengthens & reveals the resources already available within you;
  • as your dream manifests you realize the missteps were not lessons in perfect timing, but in learning that opportunities avail at the point of preparation.

For these reasons, don’t allow your current circumstance distract you from the bigger picture.  After all it is temporary, that is if you decide to make it temporary.

So Hold your head up > Establish your worth > pursue, accomplish, manifest your dreams.

You got this.  Life: Own it, Don’t Blame it.

Posted in Unity

That’s Right Neighborly of You

Expressed by: Cassandra Dennis

What was right neighborly?

  • Taking our laundry off the clothes line before it rained?
  • Mowing my lawn because my mower is kaput?
  • Walking my kids home from school because I was running late?
  • Cooking a meal for my family because we were ill or had death in the family?
  • Inviting my sons to play ball with you and your sons?
  • Asking me to carpool with you so we both save money?
  • Stopping by to check on me?
  • Checking our mail while we were on vacation?
  • Bringing us a Welcome to the Neighborhood basket?
  • Helping us pack and load the truck when we moved? Well this might have been because you were glad to see us go. Smile with a wink

This is how I grew up; with neighbors who became friends, then became family.

Do you remember the neighborhood block parties?  When we lived in the city limits our house was the block party house.  My Parents invited the neighbors over for food, good old school music and plenty of board games or outdoor sport activities.  We all got to know each other, which made it easier for us to check on one another.

If there was bullying, the parents addressed it with each another, then with the kids and stopped it in its tracks.  Communication was key.  We were not afraid to talk to, laugh with or even disagree with each other.  It seems this is a distant memory.  Is “neighbor” a bad word now?  Seriously, is it?

I know things have changed, but I believe the heart of communities is still the love neighbors have for one another.  Help me disprove this fleeting thought of mine by sharing your BEST NEIGHBOR story in the comments below.

 

Posted in Humanity, Unity

Gratitude

Expressed by: Cassandra Dennis

Each year as we get closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas, our hearts soften, and we become aware of how grateful we should be.  However, throughout these past couple of years I’ve noticed how we have encouraged one another, provided a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand, finances, a story, a smile, a hug, our homes, our vehicles, donated our blood, shared a laugh and so much more all while going through our own challenges.  We’ve shown we don’t need to wait for the last 2 months of each year to look beyond our own circumstances and provide support and strength to our fellow human being.

Our world continues to show how we are . . .

Grateful for our journey, the good and bad experiences which fray and mend many areas of our lives,

Recognize our similarities, and

Appreciate our differences.  We are

Thankful for the little things in life, as well as

Identify the sometimes valley flowing emotions that

Transcends the core of our being.  We yield to

Understanding, compassion, love, laughter, generosity and forgiveness; as we

Discover the

Enjoyment of being the hands and feet for our neighbors, when in need.

 

 

 

Posted in #relationships, Evaluate, Goals, Humanity, self reflection, Transparency

“A hard head makes a soft…”

 

Expressed by: Cassandra Dennis

I see the smirk on my Mom’s face and her index finger on her right hand wagging at me as she exclaims, “Oh, you gone learn, oh you gone learn, because a hard head makes a soft behind, Cassandra!”  Of course, I had this deer in headlights expression on my face like, “What? Me? What did I do now?”  If my acting game was on par, then I might even drop an innocent tear or two to sell my case.  But, my Mother never fell for the okie doke.

The expression, A hard head makes a soft behind refers to a person who insists on learning things the hard way or prefers to make their own mistakes, instead of adhering to the advice of someone who has overcome what they are experiencing.

So, why is that?  Why do we choose the hard ways of life, instead of listening to the wisdom of others?  I know I would have avoided many pitfalls when I was younger if I had stopped trying to be Miss Know-It-All or Miss I’m Grown-You Can’t Tell Me Anything.  There are times we don’t realize our poor decisions also affects those around us.  I know my decisions affected my family and my children, who I brought into the world at the age of 17.

One decision from 30 years ago still lingers with me.  I’ll share a brief snapshot.

After catching 3 buses and 2 rail lines to get home from work, I walked to the babysitter’s apartment who kept my 18-month-old sons from 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm, after the daycare center closed (and before you comment, yes, I researched her before I allowed her to keep my sons, spoke with other parents whose children she kept and made sure she didn’t have any record for abusing her own children).  I walked in to see one of my sons had scratch marks all over his face and upon further inspection I found whip marks on his back and legs. I was confused, angry, hurt and devastated.  I asked the neighbor coming home from work to call the police and my roommate called my parents.  I know sometimes things happen beyond our control, but let’s follow this thread of my decision back to the beginning.

  1. I made an adult decision at 17 to have unprotected sex.
  2. I made the decision to bring my sons into this world, care for and protect them, even though I only had $3k in the bank and at the time of their premature birth, no job.
  3. I made the decision to place my sons in the care of that babysitter.

My sons don’t remember this occurrence but it resonates with me because I failed to protect them both from experiencing the physical and psychological abuse.  Sometimes, we make decisions without knowing or understanding the full scope of what that decision entails.

My parents made the decision that they would care for my sons from that point forward when I needed them to.   As I worked 2 jobs and attended my college courses, my parents took my sons on family vacations with them, along with my two sisters.  My parents helped me nurse my sons when they were extremely ill, all while they continued to work as well.  My sons and my family experienced the growing pains of me maturing and learning how to be a mother, a provider and protector.

Our world is full of hard heads with soft behinds, but unfortunately, many of the behinds have gotten numb to the hard lessons of life.  It is my prayer that we all observe and learn from the experiences of others, and seek advice from those who gained wisdom from their experience.  This is one of the ways for us to empower each other to live a more productive and purpose driven life.

This journey called life continues to teach each of us, we are never to old to learn something new or to receive wisdom.   It is a fool who ignores wisdom, to erroneously justify that their age quantifies them as an adult that knows everything.

What have my life experiences taught me thus far?

  1.  Don’t allow my pride to keep me from obtaining wisdom from others.
  2. Don’t allow my mouth to write a check my behind can’t cash.  (Another good ole saying)!!  In other words, it’s easy to make a decision, but am I able to survive or live with the consequences of my decision.
  3. My support tribe (safety nets) don’t abandon me, but I can wear out my safety nets by abusing them.
  4. My Life is mine, so I choose to own it and not blame it away.
Posted in Evaluate, Goals, Humanity, renew, self reflection, Transparency

Living inside my mind

Painting: A Bug Free Mind

Expressed by:  Cassandra Dennis

Living inside my mind can be exhilarating and dangerous.

Living inside my mind intertwines you within my brilliant thoughts and stories or can envelope you in my perversion (altering something from its original course or meaning) and fears of the “what ifs” of life.

Living inside my mind exposes me; my strengths unrecognized, my weaknesses exploited, the untapped gifts I refuse to share because of fear.

Living inside my mind keeps the true me secluded, isolated, untransformed without a renewed mind.

Living inside my mind takes you on a ride that no roller coaster in this world could compare.

Living inside my mind – STOP! STOP living inside my mind!  I want it.  I want more than the pseudo life, the unclaimed life I have lived inside my mind.  The life of possibilities unrealized because there was no effort applied to make them a reality.

I peaked outside of my mind one day and saw a glimpse of my heart.  A vital organ created to supply my body with oxygen and nutrients was showing signs of failure because I filled my vessel with the toxins of deferred hope and untruths by existing in a state of laziness and fear in my mind.

My desire to actively participate in my journey began to grow again as I began to speak my truth, know my worth, expand my knowledge, gain understanding and live my experiences out loud instead of cowering behind them in silence.  I take steps daily toward living instead of existing.

Life, my life is to be lived in motion, not on canvas; and I’ve realized my smiles, tears and fears are to create a living story of my failures and successes, weaknesses and strengths, the empowerment to overcome fear even while struggling with it.  Renewing my mind and taking an intentional step daily allows me to live freely, to love and like me; and that my friend is liberating.

Posted in Evaluate, Goals

And we’re off…

Expressed by: Cassandra Dennis

We are 120 days into 2017 and many of us are off and running with our new year resolutions.  Many have started businesses, joined gyms, opened investment accounts, applied for a passport, working on being debt free, downloaded self-help books and so much more.

Or some of us have lost our motivation and given up or started and stopped so many times that we are disappointed with ourselves.  We must remember, this is not a race and we all proceed at our own pace.  The reasons for setting out to accomplish our goals this year must be personal to us; not because someone believes or feels we should do something.  Our motivation must come from within.

Go back to your goal or get it done list and do this for me:

  1. Review your list and decide is this something you want to accomplish or something someone else wanted you to accomplish, and strike through those goals that you know you will not put forth the effort to accomplish.
  2. For the goals left on your list write out to the side your reason for wanting to accomplish this goal, and write out empowering key words or quotes, build a musical play list or audio books or inspirational speeches to listen to when your’re running out of steam.
  3. Write out a mini plan for obtaining that goal.  Remember, without a plan you have already planned to fail.
  4. Place a picture next to each goal.  If it’s losing weight, put a leaner picture of you or a particular outfit you want to get into; if it’s a trip put a picture of that place and your passport next to it, now you get the picture.
  5. Each day refer to your “get it done list” and encourage yourself with what you have written and your visual aids.

Now, get moving we both have work to do.

Posted in Evaluate

But…

Expressed by:  Cassandra Dennis

My dreams are beyond images, because I’ve made them tangible.

My inventions are no longer day dreams, because I now hold the patents.

The characters in my head are no longer invisible playmates, because they are now vital roles in my books, plays, movies and television shows.

The rhythm in my head is now noted on paper and being expressed through various instruments.

The body movement and flow I see has danced its way out of my conscious and is now a choreographed number for a major musical.

The good I see in others I’ve now transformed into a movement of #humanitylovinghumanity.

I’m surrounded by so many who are living an imagery of dreams and success, but, yet we have one regret.  You see, we never actually filled the world with our dreams and ideas; but we had good reasons…

  • But I don’t have enough time.
  • But I don’t know how.
  • But I’m afraid.
  • But what if I fail.
  • But it costs too much.

Along the way, the events of life brought us together, and some of us had people to mourn us, but they mourned the wrong thing.  They mourned the loss of the physical body, instead they should have mourned what was loss long ago; dreams not fulfilled, paths not taken, voids we left, stories untold and journeys cut short.

We took time for granted, allowed fear, selfishness, laziness and lack of knowledge to stop us in our tracks, long before death did.  So, our message to you from our final resting place: “The end of your dream is already woven into a beautiful ending, but it can’t happen until you take a step and put in the work to obtain the result you envision. Don’t let that dash between your birth and death become a mournful “but” for those you leave behind.”

Posted in Humanity

Was it as exciting for you, as it was for me?

Expressed by: Cassandra Dennis

What an AMAZING and ENTERTAINING NIGHT!!

We learned so much about ourselves and received refreshing reminders about this journey called life.

  1. We learned to laugh at ourselves again.
  2. We realized perfection is overrated; it’s the love for what we are passionate about, love of people and perseverance that reflects a good part of our character.
  3. Wow, how the theme of the night flowed, U n i t y.  The theme spotlighted how it is our similarities AND our differences that bond us uniquely as one, one human race.  It is that bond that drives us to stand as ONE against division.
  4. We were reminded to appreciate the view from where we are sitting or standing in life, but know that we have the ability to change our view.
  5. We saw first-hand that no one knows our journey better than us, so it is up to us to share our matchless story through the eyes of our essential reality.
  6. And please let us not forget The Arts and Music is a common thread that unites us.  It is our commitment to express our journey and the journey of others that lead to well written stories, monologues, lyrics, layered and intertwined musical instruments and beats, fictional and biographical characters brought to life on stage or on the small and large screen.  It is this bond, which embraces collaborative efforts, because we never really walk alone.
    • It’s our collaborative movement that encourages us when we want to quit.
    • It’s our collaborative movement that sincerely appreciates the gifts and contributions of others.
    • It’s our collaborative movement that reminds us to stand tall on the shoulders of those who stood and sacrificed for us.
    • It’s our collaborative movement that empowers us to continue to strengthen and build upon those shoulders we stand on for our future generations.
    • It’s our collaborative movement that celebrates the amount of room there is for all of us to be shining stars.
    • It’s our collaborative movement that is always in forward motion to continue the journey of inclusiveness.
    • It’s our collaborative movement that creates and innovates all that’s relational and binds us to grace, mercy, forgiveness and love.  Our collaborative movement says we each are here to establish our portion of heaven on earth, that our Father has already predestined in our hearts.

Still haven’t caught on, okay, I will tell you, I’m talking about the Grammy Awards.  James Corden climbed, flipped and rolled onto the Grammy stage to begin an extraordinary night with powerful messages.  Watching the Grammy’s is big for me because I don’t normally watch award shows, but I felt compelled to watch last night’s show; and as you can see it left an impression beyond measure.  Change is brought about with humanity standing strong and being a consistent force against division and unjust actions.  I’ve realized what I’m passionate about and have to contribute to humanity, what about you?

 

Posted in Evaluate

Stay in Your Lane

Expressed by: Cassandra Dennis

Early one morning I approached a traffic light in Avondale Estates at about 6 am. I stopped at the red light as oncoming traffic with the right of way proceeded through the intersection.  Once the intersection was clear, before I turned right, I looked both ways and made sure there was no sign that said, No Turn On Red. I saw a bus in the short distance and I was trying to see if the bus was going to make another stop or if I could make my turn before the bus proceeded through the intersection.  While I was going through this process a car pulled up behind me and blew the horn.  It startled me a little and I almost pulled out into the intersection.  Instead, I looked in my rear view mirror and rolled my eyes.  At that time another car pulled around the bus coming through the intersection and swerved into the lane I would have been in if I had allowed the impatience of the car behind me to invoke me to move against my better judgement.  The car behind me wasn’t in a position to see the bus coming, and neither one of us saw the car behind the bus until it was in the intersection.

Sometimes life is just like that.  We are evaluating what is the better decision based upon our view, timing, finances, and taking into consideration the risks to ourselves and possibly others.  When someone else who does not have skin in the game, the same view as we do or who does not have all the information comes along and attempts to push their opinion or perspective upon us; not based upon any factual knowledge or even personal experience but only their opinion or feelings.  If we disregard our own perspective and act out of fear or upon the ill advice of a random person, we sometimes place ourselves and others in situations that could have been avoided.  If we had just been confident with the information we researched or wisdom we received from a mentor or our inner core relationships the outcome could have been different.

That early morning experience made me think beyond the intersection, it made me realize sometimes I act like the person in the car that was behind me.  I allow my impatience and emotions about another persons decision get me all riled up. Why am I upset over someone else’s decision?  I don’t know their back story, I am not standing in their shoes nor experiencing what they are experiencing or even see what they see.  Did THEIR decision even impact me?  Yet I want to comment or share my opinion about THEIR decision.

Comment: a verbal or written remark expressing an opinion or reaction.

Opinion: a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

I’m learning to evaluate my emotions prior to me verbalizing or acting upon them.

  1. Am I privy to factual information regarding that person, even if I am is it my place to share it?
  2. Since I’m not standing in their shoes, I am not privy to their view of the situation, nor am I privy to any information they may have which impacted their decision.
  3. Did their decision negatively impact me or close loved ones personally?
  4. Since I believe in God and His word is true, He uses me to bring light to darkness, He goes before us to make crooked paths straight, and His second great commandment  didn’t change, I still must love my neighbor as myself, no matter what decisions either of us make in life, sounds good, but it’s hard sometimes, at least for me. (Matthew 5:16, Isaiah 45:2, Matthew 22:39-40)

In this day of active social media blasts, we have access to the reality of other people’s lives in real-time.  However, with anything in life it has its pros and cons.  I believe we must be careful with our comments and evaluate why we are reacting to the decisions of others as though it is life ending or cannot be altered or in such as way that we would not want to be on the reciprocating end of our own judgement.