|Posted on August 4, 2018 at 12:10 AM||comments (0)|
When we break, we break- Ced the Entertainer
Whoa! I’m back from my social media fast. Did you miss me? I sure hope so, because I've missed you! Without warning, I fasted from all things social media for 30 whole days. God knows I am a self-professed selfie social media queen. Since coming back from my Myspace hiatus in 2011, I’ve spent countless hours uploading, checking in, and updating my statuses sharing the good, the better and the best parts of my life. (Never the ugly) Being on this fast gave me a revelation though. If you’re not careful, social media can be a parasite that will eat away at your insecurities. It can make you question your self-worth, your marriage, and your complete existence in life if you get caught up in noise.
Time is of the essence…
Social media can be full of superficial appearances. We greet each morning with a scroll instead of a prayer and nod off each night looking at the display screen. We live by it, like it, share it, quote it like it’s the Bible, screen shot it and send it to friends to get a reaction. Here’s my reality. I wake up daily at 5:30 AM but struggle to get anywhere on time. Why? I had to come to grips with my truth. My phone and I made passionate love every morning before my feet struck the ground. Before I knew it, a 5 minute quick check lasted longer than 30 minutes. Precious time wasted that I’ll will never see again. Now, I’m rushing to get to work, doing my make up in the car, hollering at my son and mad at traffic on the freeway because it’s not moving fast enough. Yeah, yeah, yeah! I know you get it. That's been my narrative for a few months. Something had to change. I had to put the phone down and focus on what matters.
On July 1, my pastor made the announcement at the end of service after a soul stirring sermon. This fast was a part of a congregational commitment. He challenged us to be more Christ like and centered with our lives. I sat there in a daze of confusion as I scanned the audience. Surely, I couldn’t have been the only one feeling like “What the hell” in church. I looked at members of the congregation, my social media friends, who I knew loved social media just as much as I did. They too wore the haze of confusion on their face. At first, I didn’t want to participate because I was worried about my brand. Then I remembered, obedience is greater than sacrifice. Fasting helps us realize just how fragile we are and how much we depend on things beyond ourselves. 30 days was not going to kill me and needed to do this for myself. How things were unfolding in my life I really needed God to bless me in a mighty and miraculous way. More often than not, we subject ourselves to “look” happy when we are broken with the weight of the world on our shoulders. Truth be told, I wasn’t happy. Life was kicking my ass. I struggled to keep my head up. I needed a break that included some personal and spiritual growth.
Too much of anything is never good for you…
Fasting is a religious exercise that requires you to abstain from something that you love. It’s a meaningful gesture of self-denial out of your love of God. Never in my wildest dream did I think that I was going to partake in a fast of this magnitude. Food fast, I’ve tried and failed. No radio fast, tried and failed. No alcohol, tried and failed. No sex until I am married, tried and failed. This fast seemed simple enough to commit to. I’m not going to lie, the first few days were a challenge. I didn’t realize how much time and energy I spent on social media. As hours turned into days, I craved that 4 by 7 display screen in my hand that connected me to the inside scoop of my favorite celebrities, friends and family. My scroll game grew weak as I disconnected from the world. No Twitter, Facebook, IG, or Snapchat. Instead, I busied myself with my life. I put my face in books and articles, chatted with my friends over dinner and drinks, spent quality time with my son, snapped pictures and videos thus creating new memories that I will laugh at for weeks to come.
The last of the real ones…
There were some lessons in the break. Sometimes we think that our lives cannot fully function without the help of social media. Then, I remembered I was a 1980s kid where the essence of the human spirit was alive and well. There were no cell phones (unless you could afford air time) so you called and checked on your friends instead of liking their status, everybody didn’t have computers to Skype so you actually communicated and engaged with people in person or by letter, and your pictures weren’t shared until you had them developed at Eckerd’s. (Remember that!)
Here’s some powerful points that has changed my life in the last 30 days.
1. Everybody doesn’t need to know your every move- Everybody business is no body's business. (Let that statement marinate.) I’ve traveled, fallen in love, met Cynthia Bailey, and attended events without sharing my every move. Not being able to upload and share did not take away from my experience. I was present in the moment and enjoyed every minute of it. Sometimes we can share too much and give people an invitation to ridicule and judge our lives. Save some for yourself and let others wonder what’s going on with you. Move in silence and make announcements later.
2. Comparison is the thief of joy - The overused sentence that irks me the most on social media, “My husband/bestie/Momma is better than yours.” Guess what! They should be. That’s your connection and if your connection is not electrifying you, that’s a problem. Social media has tainted our views on what our lives should look like. Perfect has started to be the new normal. So much so, it has clouded our view on what our reality is. We wake up flawless and everybody is the perfect size with the perfect family. NOT! It’s all stunts and shows. You will find yourself comparing your life to others if you are not careful and that’s unhealthy.
3. Time is valuable- Time is the most expensive treasure that we cannot afford to lose. How many times have you said when deadline was near, “I wish there were more hours in the day.” Do not waste your time worrying about somebody who is not worried about you. Get the job done and play later. My goal from now is to get on and get off. I am reclaiming my time! I have better things to do.
4. Likes doesn’t validate you and your friendship- “You didn’t like my picture.” Friendships have a different meaning now. Sad to say, our life is now being defined by likes. Because I didn’t like your post, doesn’t mean I’m not your friend. Listen up when I say this… Friendships don’t trend. Trending on social media doesn't make you popular it means your picture was cute. The truth of the matter is, I didn’t like your picture because I probably didn’t see it. The more “friends” you have on social media the more people show up on your newsfeed. Social media runs on analytics not friendships.
5. My productivity level increased- I have planned my 40th birthday party, someone else’s 40th, booked travel, designed a new brand, cleaned up, and uncluttered my life. Being off social media freed up some time. An extra hour in the morning and evening made a difference.
6. Obedience is sacrifice- It gets greater later. Right now, I desire a spiritual breakthrough. Our spirit and soul experiences joy because of fasting. It’s a decision to momentarily die to our flesh to fulfill the greater things of a mighty God who seeks us. When we deny our carnal nature in order to fulfill the desires of God, he is pleased. What He wills for our lives can be found through fasting and prayer.
7. Very busy but are you a blessing- When is the last time you blessed someone’s life and didn’t want anything in return. We are so busy looking the part but not playing the part. I cleaned out my closet, gave bags of clothes and food to the homeless, and helped friends in need without making an announcement. Talk without action is merely nothing. Be a blessing instead of a scroll troll. Your time and service is needed.
8. Be in the moment- We barely want to talk to each other anymore. Learn to be present mentally and physically. Put your phone down and interact instead of scrolling. Ask your children or significant other “How was their day,” to begin a meaningful and engaging conversation. People want to know that you really care. We scroll to pass the time or because we feel bored. Ask yourself this, “Why go and if you can think of better things to do?” If you can think of better things to do, then do that. Don’t waste their time or yours.
9. Use social media for what it intended for- There are benefits of using social media. You can connect, network, engage, and build a brand. Social media allows us the ability to communicate with each other on the level that I never foresaw. You literally can run your life from the comfort of your home, video chat with friends and family in far places and have friends all over the world. The connection can be powerful if it is utilized properly.
10. It’s all in our mind- It’s truly mind over matter. What I thought was impossible turned into possibility. You can do whatever you want to do. It’s all in your mind. Turn down the noise and find your center.
Guess what! I survived. All because someone is silent, doesn’t mean that they are asleep. Even though the fast is over, I will continue to monitor what I feed my soul. (I discovered a new love for podcast too.) I am adopting a healthier lifestyle for my mental state. I want to feed my body content of substance that will allow me to grow and develop into the person I desire to be. We all want emotional and mental well-being. But are we practicing conscious mental consumption? Don’t get caught feeding your mind with junk food that has no nutritional value. We have a choice about how we take care of our mind—we can feed it junk food or wholesome fuel. Wholesome food fuels our mind with positivity while junk food feeds our mind with limiting thoughts and behavior and we are so much better than that.
#fastingandpraying #socialmediafast #charliemarcol #myrealtruth #myjourney
|Posted on August 31, 2017 at 12:25 AM||comments (7)|
Class is in session. The bell didn’t ring. We didn’t have recess, P.E. or lunch. There was nothing particular about this classroom. One teacher represented the faculty and staff. This wasn’t a traditional lesson with an engaging PowerPoint presentation and handout notes. It didn’t involve a pen, paper, textbooks or higher order thinking question stems accompanied with a read aloud. Instead, the curriculum called for interactive learning, faith, and your best judgment. There were no lesson plans because He was the lesson plan. One grade was given; Category 4. Our fate was in his hands.
Sometimes you learn valuable life lessons without stepping into an academic setting. A true learning experience should reform you and shape your perspective. Those encounters undoubtedly change us forever, never to return to our original way of thinking. God multiplied with Harvey equaled a lesson that I will never forget. He and his wrath earned my respect.
This storm was unfathomable. But I remembered that God is my present help in the time of trouble and boy were we in trouble. Our only option was to hunker down and ride it out. From Corpus to Houston, disastrous flooding, winds gusts and constant torrential rains left one to ask, “Will I come out of this alive?” I wish I could make you understand the magnitude of this storm and its aftermath. Houston, the 4th largest city in the country with a population over two million people was covered in water leaving it in a helpless estate. Both airports were closed, the start of school was postponed and the rain kept falling. Every street, outlet, shortcut and freeway was closed due to high water. With every news update and text alert, anxiety filled my body with tension and fear. All I could do is pray and hope for the best.
I made it through! Hallelujah.
As an educator, this Harvey encounter reminds me of the instructional 5 E model. The 5 E's describes a phase of learning, and each phase begins with the letter "E": Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. This experience drew off of my existing knowledge, beliefs, and skills. Here’s what I learned from Harvey.
1. Adhere to warnings- The National Weather Service warned us all week but many of us didn’t listen only doing the bare minimum. Warning comes before destruction. A warning requires immediate action. This means a weather hazard is imminent - it is either occurring (a hurricane in the Gulf) - or it is about to occur at any moment. During a weather warning, it is important to take action: grab the emergency kit you have prepared in advance and head to safety immediately. Both watches and warnings are important, but warnings are more urgent. Next time, I will have an evacuation plan.
2. Have a rainy day fund- The most basic purpose of a rainy day fund is to provide a source of funds when you find yourself in the middle of a financial thunderstorm. Having a rainy day fund can help reduce your financial-related stress, helping you get a better night's sleep because you're not concerned about the "what ifs" of life: if an emergency does arise, you have it covered. Harvey has affected many of our jobs and sources of income and for some of us that leaves us up the creek without a paddle.
3. Water is powerful- Water means life—it can kill you, but it can cleanse you. It is a preserving element that we need in order to survive. For without it, one will surely die. Many of us were baptized from the waters of Harvey by the renewing of our mind. For once, we cleansed ourselves from the negativity and hatred that we have embedded in our hearts about politics, the President and the social class of people. First responders, rescuers and volunteers didn’t care about color, creed or race. They wanted to save lives. That’s all that mattered. In this case, the flood waters united us in a weird but necessary way. A big shout out to the civilians that rolled up their sleeves, traveled from distant places and brought in their boats to help. You are the real MVP.
4. The sun is important- The sun didn’t shine for five days. FIVE! It was depressing to look out the window to see gray skies. Nothing is more important to us on Earth than the Sun. Without the Sun's heat and light, the Earth would be a lifeless ball of ice-coated rock. The Sun warms our seas, stirs our atmosphere, generates our weather patterns, and gives energy to the growing green plants that provide the food and oxygen for life on Earth. I was begging for the sun to make an appearance and looking for a dove with an olive branch in its beak. (Read the story of Noah and the Ark) When it peeked through the clouds, I smiled. I think it missed us as much as we missed it.
5. Stop taking little things for granted- It is human nature to complain. We want a bigger house, the traffic is horrible, our children are unruly, the humidity is messing up our hair and our families get on our last nerve. We are all so much more fortunate than we give ourselves credit for. We constantly preoccupy ourselves with thoughts of things we don't have and experiences we are missing out on. We need to learn to be appreciative and grateful for everything we have and everything we are going to receive. If we all stopped for a moment and looked around us, we would find endless things we have that others are not as fortunate to have. Kiss your children, say I’m sorry and love your family, even when they get on every nerve in your body. Harvey helped me realize how fast you can lose everything in a second. Count your blessings and be thankful instead of complaining.
6. There is no perfect plan in life- You can never prepare for uncertainty. No matter how you prepare yourself in every possible way imaginable. However, if you live in a coastal region create an emergency kit just in case. (Especially during hurricane season) A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
- Water -one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food - at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
- A Ziploc bag with essential documents
7. You need a village- the African proverb tells us it takes a village. I would like to elaborate and say, “It takes a village to survive.” When social media is being utilize properly it can bring awareness to dire situations. The village came through calling, texting, sharing, forwarding, and DM’ing information for others to be rescued while others checked on your well-being. Their tenacity and willingness to help, helped others in their desperate time of need. The power of connection is real and it showed. No one could have navigated this ordeal alone. We must learn how to depend on each other.
8. What’s in a name- Harvey means “Blazing.” This storm was given the perfect name. Harvey came out the Gulf taking names with guns blazing. He is one of two Category 4 hurricanes on record that have made landfall in the Texas Coastal Bend region with destructive winds that reached 130 miles per hour. He dumped 49.76 of rain at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport within two days. Harvey left a lasting impression on Texas for years to come.
9. Even when things are out of control, God is in control- Let go and know that God is in control. I like to be in total control of every aspect of my life. Not so much this time. God showed me the true definition of sovereignty. Once I wrapped my mind around what was happening, He became my refugee and protected me from the storm.
10. Get acquainted with you- CABIN FEVER! Not me. There was a time in my life where I felt like I needed people to entertain me or I had to be doing something. We do that because we are afraid to be alone. At the end of the day, you have to be alright with you. I enjoyed the quiet space with limited interruptions, aside from the alerts, wind and rain. I learned some more about myself during this period of stillness. I learned I don’t have to be tough and strong, especially during the storm. I don't know if it was the weather, or the aftermath that followed but nonetheless, I had a good soul releasing cry that was long overdue. That was such a powerful cathartic moment for me. I cried for those affected, the city and those that were blessed to make it through without any damage or loss.
There are so many words to express how I feel at this very moment. I am still processing it all. Although the storm is over, we have only just begun. Houston has a long way to go. We will rebuild, even stronger than before. That’s what I love about this city. Just continue to pray for us & with us.
In everything that you go through, don’t forget to learn the lesson. If not your experience will be pointless. Class is dismissed.
Thank you to all my friends and family (my village near and far) that prayed and checked on me daily during the storm. I am grateful for you and your loving kindness toward me. YOU ROCK!
With the devastation of our city, let’s make a conscious effort to give back. Please know that I will be reaching out to you for your help and support for donations and volunteers to address the immediate needs of those that were affected by Harvey. If you or anyone you know were affected, please let me know. I want to help. Details will follow.
For monetary donations:
HURRICANE HARVEY RELIEF FUND: Visit ghcf.org | Checks/Money Orders can be mailed to the address below:
Greater Houston Community Foundation
5120 Woodway Drive, Suite 6000
Houston, Texas 77056
#hurricaneharvey #thatstormthatwould #houstonstrong #thatwashouston
|Posted on September 15, 2015 at 6:50 AM||comments (0)|
Once in our lives we have the opportunity to encounter an out of body experience that we will never forget. If you are mature enough, that one experience changes your perspective. Sometimes the experience can be so powerful that it becomes rapidly clear through your emotional barriers or that one experience can sabotage you. Recently, I posted your troubles are a part of your training. Little did I know I would have a close brush with trouble sooner than later. I try to avoid trouble at all cost, yet it hunts me down like I am prey. I didn't see trouble coming. Boy, did it hit me like a car accident. It came out of nowhere and in a split second I was fighting for my life. We were looking for fun in the sun, but what I received was a supernatural ass whooping. God troubled the waters for a reason. I realized in the mist of this unforeseen circumstance, there was a valuable lesson to learn. God speaks clearly to me at the most inopportune times. He is the teacher and I am his student. I truly believe God does things to get our attention and that he did. As I rolled on the river like Ike and Tina, I had no choice but to reflect on the whole situation. This ordeal became a spiritual cleansing. TD Jakes once said, “Even a skillful swimmer can drown in shallow waters.” Spiritually, water represents revelation. Even though, I didn’t physically drown this experience had a purpose. The water was shallow but the knowledge that I gained fighting for my life was deep. Through this revelation he revealed his Devine wisdom that I had been wrestling with internally. This was a much needed awakening. At first what seemed like sure maddness, gave me enlightment for my journey.
1. Life is precious. We take life for granted thinking our next breath is our own. In a split second, my life flashed before my eyes. Do not ignore its value; do not squander it in trivial pursuits; do not let it slip away and leave you unprepared.
2. Get rid of your dead weight. Sometimes the load that we carry is too heavy that it pulls us down. We carry each other's burdens and stress when in the end it has nothing to do with us. Cut the strings and let it go. With dead weight you can't travel light.
3. Everybody can't go! We want to carry everyone on the journey, but it's not for everyone to experience or see.
4. Follow your gut instinct. It will never lead you wrong. Other people think they know what's best for you when they don't. They are operating from their vantage point and not your reality. Trust yourself and nobody else.
5. Panic leads to paranoia. Paranoia is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically leads to a pandemonium. It's hard to find solace in this state of mind.
6. You can never prepare for uncertainty. No matter how you prepare yourself in every possible way imaginable, God is in control.
7. Continue to fight even when it seem like the end is near. Easy goals don’t exist. Easy dreams don’t exist. Easy relationships don’t exist. A goal is a point of achievement that requires effort and sacrifice. Fight for your dreams. Anything worth having is worth working for.
|Posted on June 9, 2015 at 11:10 AM||comments (1)|
Friends... How many of us have them. Loyal. True. Honest. Confidant are just a few character traits that I can use to describe a real friendship. When it comes to friends, some of us are more in tune in that department than others. When we were younger, friendships were easier to come by. As a child you were my friend if you wanted to "play" with me, shared your Oreos on the black top and wore cute clothes. (Shallow... I know right. Hey, I was in elementary school) As I mature, friendship has taken on a different meaning for me. There comes a time in your life where you should evaluate your inner circle of acquaintances. Who's riding and who's lying. Yes, lying! Side note: Why do we say ride or die. Are you willing to lay down your life for me or is that just lip service? I only know of one man who did that freely. But I digress.
The Bible tells us that a man that has friends must show thyself friendly. At some point, you can't help but to notice your circle of friends because your friends are a true reflection of you. Friends should add value to your life and not bleed you dry, talk about you to others or pass judgment as if they are the "invisible" one. We take the word so lightly when friends have a major impact in our lives. We tell our dirty secrets to our friends, share and bear each other's burdens, celebrate as well as sympathize but more importantly our friends are adopted members of our families. That's the beauty in having a true blue friend.
We’ve all heard the saying "one bad apple spoils the whole bunch," and have probably seen instances where it applies to people. Every now and again, an apple falls into the barrel that wasn't ready to reap the benefits of harvest. It is spoiled, no good and infested. After awhile it will contaminate other fruit it is stored with. Now, do you really believe I'm talking about apples? Not hardly. I'm talking about that friend that doesn't know he/she is spoiled. That friend whose intentions are good, but can't identify the maturity of the friendship. We keep them around because they may be a good person at their core, but during their growth process something happened that caused them to get infected. What kind of friend am I speaking of? Let me introduced you to the "High maintenance acquaintance." As I progress in life, I am learning that I can live without the "The high maintenance acquaintance," because they add no value. I steer clear like a ten car pile up on the freeway. The high maintenance acquaintance have standards and expectations so high that no one can meet them. The sad thing is, if you were to turn and demand those same expectations they will fall short every time. Be aware. The high maintenance acquaintance can be deceiving as if they want the best for you but honestly their opinion and views are very distorted.
Let me break this down for you.
1. Burger King syndrome- The High Maintenance Acquaintance loves to have things their way. They love to outshine, compete and be the center of attention. The demands are borderline narcissistic because it's all about what they want, how they want it and when. This narcissistic mindset is often the result of failing to learn as children and young adults that we are not so special, and other people don't merely exist to serve our needs and wants.
2. You will do things out of obligation and not out of love for the High Maintenance Acquaintance for fear of the backlash or ridicule. Compassion is an after thought and never in the forefront.
3. Their advice reigns supreme- The High Maintenance Acquaintance believes they are very knowledgable in every facet of life. They have advice for everything, even things they have not experienced. Hello! What worked for someone else may not work for others. Listen, advice is always great but you have to consider the source. I don't like to listen to advice from people that I will not trade places with. Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
4. They can't recognize their problem- The High Maintenance Acquaintance loves to point the finger and place the blame on others. It's hard to look at self in the mirror at times. Being in a reflection state is scary. In their eyes, they are perfect and hardly wrong. Others opinions, lives, situations never matter because it's all about them. Which brings me to point #5.
5. It's all about me- No one ever listens to me. Me! Me! And me some more. The High Maintenance Acquaintance goes silent almost into hiding when "me" didn't get their way. They won"t call you for days, weeks or months on end because they are mad with you for standing up to them. Crazy huh? A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (That's the word)
6. They never let sleeping dogs die- It's ok to talk things over, but the high maintenance acquaintance loves to go on and on and on and on. They must get their point across and will not stop until it's heard. Their comments have to be validated and or justified. They never take in consideration your feelings or thoughts. The best way to shut down a High Maintenance Acquaintance is soft answers. Soft answers turns away wrath. During a quarrel go completely silent without responding. After they have stated their claim to win the war, say this. "Are you done." Watch how that sends their rocket into orbit. Arguing adds fuel to the fire and many of them feed on that behavior.
7. They don't adapt well to change- No matter how they may stress I'm "easy breezy" underneath it all, they still want things their way. A sudden change in plans, new friends to the crew, or heaven forbid if your opinion is different from theirs automatically leads to disputes. Any change causes them to stress and has a major impact on their life. I think it is the fear of the unknown. The High Maintenance Acquaintance is be a bit of a control freak.
8. Insert vs Assert- The High Maintenance Acquaintance can not distinguish the difference between insert and assert. Being assertive can be seen as a bit bossy at times. By all means, that should be saved for professional relationships never with your friendships unless the friend is causing eminent danger to themselves or others. But when you are a positive ray of light, people will insert you in their lives. You don't have to be assertive when people want to be around you. You bring goodness, cheerfulness, and being around you is a sure delight.
9. Entitlement- The High Maintenance Acquaintance has a sense of entitlement in your life. They believe they should be on the front row in your life's audience. How dare you put someone else before them. Entitlement, or sense that we have the right to have something, can be a dangerous expectation. However that same sense of entitlement is never deemed necessary when the shoe is on the other foot. For example, they want to be invited everywhere with you, but they never offer or invite you anywhere in return. They are borderline offended when the invitation is not extended. But as the good book states, "And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."
10. Judge and the juror- The High Maintenance Acquaintance can be very judgmental. People need to learn the difference between criticism and critique. One is done with love and the other one is laced with malice. Encouragement is the key. The Word tells us, "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."
At the end of the day, we love our friends, but are you really entitled to keep friends around that drain you and vex your spirit. As I can round my age to the next perfect number, I have to evaluate my circle of friends. My life is enriched and my friendships should be as well. It's just a thought and something to ponder. These ah-ha moments that I am having are so real, but refreshing.