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.

 

 

 

“A hard head makes a soft…”

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, …

 

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.

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.

And we’re off…

We must remember, this is not a race and we all proceed at our own pace.

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.

But…

You see, we never actually filled the world with our dreams and ideas;

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.”

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

He climbed, flipped and rolled…

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?

 

Getting beyond the surface..

We begin to easily judge and form an opinion…

Expressed by: Cassandra Dennis

https://getting2therootofit.wordpress.com

Root:  a base or support; a primary source; an origin; an essential part or element.

When we see a tree that’s been uprooted for whatever reason, the many roots that were securing the tree in the ground are exposed. The roots unlike the trunk, branches and foliage of the tree aren’t pretty or uniquely designed; they are caked with mud, soil, insects and even the roots or vines of other nearby trees may have intertwined with that tree, but they serve a great purpose.  It is the roots of a tree that invades nearby areas to create a strong foundation for the trunk of a tree that may grow to over 100 feet tall and support the weight of several branches and foliage.  The roots are also responsible for feeding the tree with the nutrients from the surrounding environment.

Our lives as humans are like the tree.  How we were raised, our environment as a child and our experiences are our roots.  It is those roots that feed how we perceive or understand the words or actions of another human being.  It is those roots that mold who we are, how we respond verbally, physically and emotionally.

Sometimes the many details and distractions of life overwhelm us to the point that we bluntly address the surface issues of ourselves and others. We begin to easily judge and form an opinion (we all have and socially share one these days) about the actions or words of others, because we don’t want to take the time or energy it requires to address what’s below the surface; the beautiful or beastly ideas, disjointed, intertwined, unsubstantiated information, traditions and fears that fuel our thoughts, decisions, words and actions.

At some point in order to bring about continuous healing, growth and a renewed mindset to humanity as a whole we must:

  • decide to be transparent with each other
  • refocus our words, time, energy and love to find out what’s feeding our behavior
  • expose and address the root of the behavior
  • ask questions that helps us to evaluate and redirect the unhealthy behavior to a more positive mindset that will lead to productive behavior.

What’s below your surface that may be hindering you from healthy, productive, joyful relationships or from obtaining the goals you seek each year?  Get to the root of it with productive help from others.

 

Truth and Transparency…

Man, I was a single parent with two boys to feed and clothe, I wasn’t trying to hear, “Cassandra, we’re going to have to let you go.”

 

Expressed by: Cassandra Dennis

Freedom…. free mindset, free thinking, freedom in the way I speak, free in how I raised my sons.  I even got fired a couple of times from a job, but I went back to work the next day like nothing happened.  Man, I was a single parent with two boys to feed and clothe, I wasn’t trying to hear, “Cassandra, we’re going to have to let you go.”  “Yeah, ok, see you tomorrow.”  I came and clocked in the next day and went on with my shift.  WOW, as I think back to the way I was in my early twenties and thirties, I have a longing for that younger me.  I was bold in my thinking, I lived in motion, there was no such thing as procrastination; if I thought it, I moved forward in accomplishing whatever “it” was.  Lack of sleep, lack of knowledge and lack of money did not hinder me in whatever I wanted to do. I didn’t dwell upon anyone’s opinion, nor did I seek it.  Why, because another persons opinion was irrelevant to the process of me accomplishing what was at hand.  Sooooo….. what happened?

Somewhere along the way my focus changed, I lost my way and I began seeking the opinion of others, and their opinions became the gospel for me.  Why?  At first I didn’t know.  However, as I began to reflect on my life during a period of several years I realized once my sons became young men and I had equipped them to seek God and care for themselves my focus and my drive was gone.  Everything I was previously doing I was doing for them.  So now the question I asked myself was, “Cassandra, who are you, what do you truly like, do you remember your dreams and do you have the unction to accomplish them for yourself?”  The answer was, “no!”

Even though I had not been married long, being married became a chore, so I made it into a project for me.  I began to mimic my parents marriage, tv show marriages and layered in the information from marriage ministry, where we served.  BIG BIG BIG mistake.  I taught myself to wear masks.  I sought the opinions of others and took their opinion of me and dissected myself down to a person I didn’t know and didn’t like.  So I created a walk-in closet of masks; and depending upon the occasion I wore the mask that allowed me to blend in and to become apart of the crowd. What a mess.

Well needless to say, my husband and I began having challenges in our marriage, infidelity, control issues, and so much more.  I spiraled into depression and fear became a big part of my life.  From that time up until this point, approximately 7 years, I’ve allowed fear to paralyze me from living in my purpose, including even seeking my purpose for living.  For the past three years I have slowly begun a sincere relationship with God and an honest relationship with myself.  I’ve gone through a purging of relationships, masks and emotional bondage, PAINFULLLL!!  But it is what it is, it’s life and life is a journey of good and bad experiences.  It’s how I decide to live out and share those experiences that allows me to empower others as I am empowered.

Is fear still there?  Of course, but I have made the decision to live a life of kinetic energy, in motion regardless what’s over the horizon.  This renewed me has new inspiration, bold dreams and the excitement to accomplish it all, with my husband and our family.  Keep your eyes open, some of what’s to be revealed may inspire you to inspire others.  PEACE…