Category Archives: Uncategorized

INVENTING DARLA/Life is not a fairy tale

Maybe I’m missing something.

Would somebody help me to connect the dots? What is this obsession with the “Royal Wedding?” Why are folks making such a fuss over fluff? I want to scream: Get a life! The media manipulation is maddening. Can’t turn on a channel or pick up a magazine without seeing or hearing about the “Royal Wedding.” Can anyone tell me why this is important?

Maybe I’m from another planet but it seems to me that people put too much emphasis on the wrong things. If we put the same effort into marriages that we do weddings there would be fewer divorces. Now that’s a royal thought. If we put the time and work into our own affairs as we do other folks we’d have more productive lives.

Maybe I’m a rebel. I just can’t allow myself to get caught up into mass collectivism, which is a brainwashing of the masses by a government or system to maintain control. You can take Americans out of Britain, but you can’t take Britain out of Americans? We need another revolution; but unlike the “Royal Wedding” this one won’t be televised. Free us from ‘groupthink.’

We see it as people stroll down the red carpet before awards shows. A reporter inevitably places a mic in someone’s face and asks one of the dumbest questions I’ve ever heard: “Who are you wearing?” Yes, there are dumb questions. I wish someone would have the nerve to ask me. I’d tell them, what difference does it make? Why is there a need to elevate the person in order to celebrate the work? I can look just as good in a dress made by Aunt Mabel with matching accessories than I can in a dress by a famous designer. Don’t get me wrong. I like to look nice. But spare me of all the hype and hoopla of a made-up best dressed list.

As for me, I won’t be watching the “Royal Wedding.” I will be celebrating my sister’s birthday and running around putting finishing touches on my daughter’s baby shower. In between, I’ll call my older son to see how he did on his finals and make sure the younger son gets to where he needs to go after school. My husband and I will go over our pre-marital lesson for a couple we’re counseling. It’s about having the right tools to go the distance. Post marital counseling works, too.

Life is not a fairy tale.

INVENTING DARLA/GOOD NEWS ON GOOD FRIDAY!

On this ‘Good Friday’ I have a question: What is “good success?”

Is it measured by our bank accounts or the square footage of our homes? Is it in achieving the ego-pleasures of life? Is it the number of people we know or the number of people who know us? Is it when one achieves iconic or idol status? Is it winning the Mega-Millions lottery?

I watch people as they chase what some refer to as the American Dream. Many sacrifice their families, their health and their relationships striving to obtain the “good life.” We live in a “super-sized” society that promotes excess. We overeat, overwork and overspend trying to satisfy the human appetite that craves for more. The flesh is never satisfied.

We need a paradigm shift.

Hollywood director Tom Shadyac said in an interview with Oprah, that “our culture’s definition of success is a lie.” When he said that “Nothing in nature takes more than it needs other than mankind,” the bell went off. It’s the same principle that results from putting coins in a soda machine that’s “out-of-order.” It doesn’t matter how many coins you put in the machine, it won’t work. It’s ludicrous to think that we can break fundamental laws of nature and expect “good results.”

Shadyac’s formula for “good success” is found in the fundamental principle that says: “Take only what you need.” He further states that for the healing to begin, “We must lose this cancerous idea that we have to take everything we can.”

I love the promise of “good success” found in Joshua 1:8 that says: This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

That’s good news!

INVENTING DARLA/SIXTEEN CANDLES

Where did the time go?

My baby will be turning 16 this week. His birthday is exactly one week before mine. My husband says Nigel and I are strong-willed and have a lot of similar characteristics. What you talking ’bout Willis?

I hear Khalil Gibran speaking in my ear to remind me that my children are not my children. “They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts. For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.”

As a parent of a soon-to-be 16-year-old young man who is coming into himself, it is quite fascinating and unnerving at times to watch his development. What’s really a trip is when I call home and my youngest son answers the phone sounding like his father. What in the world?

Where did the time go? Yesterday, I was pushing him in his stroller. Today, he drives me around in my car. At one point, I was carrying him; now his muscular frame can carry me. My, how the tables turn!

I don’t know what my son’s wish will be as he blows out his birthday candles, but my prayer remains the same for each one of our children: “Lord, help us to model what a Godly man and woman looks like to our children, so they may mature into spiritual giants that embrace their assignments with passion and purpose to win souls for you, not by what they say but by what they do.”

Happy Birthday Nigel!

INVENTING DARLA/Smile and the whole world smiles!

I was taught that one is not fully dressed until you put on a smile. It is true that when you smile, the whole world smiles with you. Something as simple as a smile can brighten an entire room, lift a burdened spirit and can improve one’s health. It’s one of those natural drugs that makes you feel and look like a million dollars. It’s infectious, too!

I was at a pharmacy the other day waiting on a prescription and an adorable baby girl caught my eye. I automatically smiled and her face lit up like a sunbeam. We played peek-a-boo for at least 30 minutes, smiling the whole time. I felt sorry for her Dad’s neck, which at some point became a pole as she would peek at me from side to side. I was tempted to yell out in the lobby, ‘Hey ya’ll, we’re giving out free medicine! Come get some of this!’ But I decided against it because I didn’t want to hear some smartaleck say: ‘If smiling is good for what ails you, then why are you at the pharmacy?’ It would be hard to smile and say, ‘None of your business!’ – which would have surely ruined my “Smilefest.” So I kept my thoughts inside instead.

While smiling is a natural drug, according to Dr. Mark Stibich, there are some serious side effects. Here’s a list:

• Smiling Makes Us Attractive
• Smiling Changes Our Mood
• Smiling Is Contagious
• Smiling Relieves Stress
• Smiling Boosts Your Immune System
• Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure
• Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin
• Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger

It is true that when you smile, the whole world smiles with you, whether you have teeth or not. There’s something about the raw power of a smile. When Moms Mabley took her teeth out and flashed that big smile, it was over!

The baby girl in the pharmacy had that same effect.

INVENTING DARLA: IT’S TIME TO PURIFY

I am going in for a colonoscopy this morning. All I can say is that the human body is amazing. The mind and spirit are equally as amazing. I’ve been on a spiritual fast for 30 days, and it kicked in big time last evening. They say the colonoscopy prep time is the toughest because you have to drink this nasty liquid laxative that keeps you moving, moving. My instructions were to not eat any solid foods the day before the procedure. So I went grocery shopping for broth, Jello, light juice and popsicles. One of my friends said I should get unsalted crackers and cranberry juice to take after the procedure, so I threw those in the cart as well. Yummy!

In my prayer time, I asked God to give me His strength in the process and peace to know that all is well. The liquid fast was really a blessing. As my body emptied itself of impurities, I began to think clearer. Each visit to the restroom was symbolic: a spring cleaning, a detoxification of the body, mind, emotions and spirit.

Colonoscopy prep lets us know that we need to release and let go of the waste. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s time to purify!

INVENTING DARLA/IT’S NOT NICE TO FOOL MOTHER NATURE!

What a difference a day makes. I look out today and see clear skies and sunshine. Yesterday was another story; and it happened suddenly. I should have known that lurking in those dark clouds was more than rain.

After my meeting, I thought I’d dash into Wal-Mart and do a little grocery shopping before heading back home. If a tornado hit, I would run into the stock room and crawl into a space next to the Charmin cartons. That was my emergency plan. I was not going to be caught off guard like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. With all the storm activity, I was thinking, “There is no place like home.”

If April Showers bring May flowers, then the hail, rain, snow, thunder and lightening that I experienced on my drive home, should produce a forest. It was the weirdest weather that I had ever seen; and I once lived in Michigan.

It was snowing, hailing, raining, lightening and thundering all at the same time. The highway was a mess. Who prepares for snow in April, in California of all places? Mother Nature was having a field day.

As I was slip-sliding through the slush, I couldn’t help but think about how man has engineered ways to alter the climate. Former Vice President Al Gore, in his film, “An Inconvenient Truth” challenged us to take a good hard look at the impending dangers of global warming. The handwriting is on the wall. I don’t need another scientific fact to let me know what I already know:

It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

INVENTING DARLA/TO COMMUTE, OR NOT TO COMMUTE?

I want to talk to all of the people who think commuting is a good idea.

While taking my daughter to the airport the other day, I got caught in the morning rush-hour commute. What should have been a 45-minute trip to San Francisco ended up as a 2-hour bumper-to-bumper traffic grind; and that was one way! I don’t see how folks do it every day. Commuting isn’t natural. We were not made to spend that much time in a car. No wonder there is road rage. My friend told me that it takes $80 a week to fill her tank just for work; not to mention parking fees, tolls and car maintenance.

Is commuting worth the headache?

My remedy is to work at home. It saves fuel, fumes and frustration.

I wish everybody could work from home or somewhere close in their communities. Bicycles and feet would take the place of cars and SUVs. Can you imagine the savings in gas alone? All of us could breathe easier because our planet would be less polluted by exhaust fumes. I think people would be a little nicer, too. They would have more time to live rather than commuting to make a living. To commute, or not to commute. That is the question.

Daniel Gilbert, a Harvard University psychologist, argues: “You can’t adapt to commuting because it’s entirely unpredictable. Driving in traffic is a different kind of hell every day.”

No, thank you! I’ll stay in my pajamas and work from home. A good thing is that I don’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic or being late.

INVENTING DARLA/EATING TO LIVE

It’s official! I am on my way to becoming a vegan. I can’t remember the last time I ate chicken or turkey. I got rid of the red meat a long time ago.

Lately, I have been eating baked tilapia and salmon. This past week, I haven’t had any fish – only vegetables and fruit. On Sunday, I had meatless ribs, mashed potatoes (no dairy), peas and a salad. Almond milk and soy butter have become my friends. I know, it’s not good to make food your friend but healthy foods make good companions.

It’s been three months now since I last had my cholesterol checked. My doctor suggested that I take a cholesterol lowering drug. I suggested exercise, red yeast rice and a diet makeover; so far, so good.

At the end of the month, my doctor wants to re-check my levels. If the numbers are significantly lower than they were the beginning of the year, I can keep doing what I’m doing. If they have not changed, then fill in the blank.

How can my cholesterol levels not go down? I’ve eliminated all dairy products, fried foods, meat and bread; I’m drinking water and protein shakes; I’m exercising five days a week; and I’m fasting for 40 days. In two weeks, I will have a colonoscopy, making my insides clean as a whistle. My stomach should be flat after that—hello abs!

There’s nothing new under the sun. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote two books on the topic of “Eating to Live.” He asked, “Why put dead food in a living body?”

We know the answer. We know what to do. But the deeper question is: Why don’t we do what we know?

INVENTING DARLA/WAKE UP EVERYBODY!

Inspiration can come from anywhere. This morning it came from my neighborhood rooster who feels it’s his duty to wake everybody up at 6.a.m. By the time he gets to crowing, I’ve had my morning devotions, made my East Coast calls and have eaten breakfast.

This morning while he was doing his thing, I had a light bulb moment. I don’t know if it’s already been done or not, but wouldn’t it be great to have a rooster app on your phone to wake up to each morning? I know you’re thinking it would be rather annoying, but not if he crowed to the tune of Harold Melvin’s “Wake up Everybody, No More Sleeping in Bed.” That would be a wonderful way to greet each morning!

The other day when it was raining, another invention crossed my mind—Rainboats. I envisioned children playing in the rain with their bright colored boat galoshes and matching coats. I even called a few folks to share the idea. They weren’t excited. Then I Googled my invention, only to find that Crocs had beaten me to the punch. That’s okay. Great minds. And my mind is always thinking of new inventions and witty ideas!

The rooster and I have a lot in common. There is something inside of him that won’t let him stop crowing. There is something inside of me that won’t let me stop inventing. Truth be told, we each have that “something.”

Wake Up Everybody!

INVENTING DARLA/GO FOR THE GUSTO!

One of my favorite movies was “The Bucket List,” which starred Academy Award-winners Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It was a story about two men who decided to live life to the fullest after being diagnosed with terminal illnesses. The pair came up with a wish list of things to do before they died, then plotted an escape from a cancer ward to head off for a road trip.

It was one of the funniest movies I had ever seen; there were plenty of tears of joy and sadness. Their bucket list inspired me to write my own personal desires, which I’ve titled: 100 Things to Do on This Side of Glory. I’ll list 25:

1. Surprise my husband, mom and children with a lavish shopping spree
2. Play drums in a Patti Labelle concert
3. Travel the continent of Africa
4. Write an award-winning children’s book
5. Learn how to swim
6. Co-facilitate a women’s empowerment session with Oprah Winfrey
7. Become debt-free
8. Speak at the United Nations
9. Sell one million Niya dolls
10. Buy a white Bentley with cherry wine interior
11. Go to a White House dinner
12. Have a successful cartoon show on a major network
13. Buy a ranch to host spiritual retreats, gatherings, youth groups and “no-agenda” weekends
14. Produce a “Beyond the Music” documentary featuring Niya Cotton, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and India Ari.
15. Write a screenplay to be directed by Steven Spielberg
16. Pay off family and friends’ financial debt
17. Perform in a feature film
18. Travel to Paris
19. Coach a girls’ track team
20. Make more money than I can spend in a lifetime
21. Finance a Broadway production
22. Buy homes in Charlotte, The Hamptons, Dallas, Columbia, Michigan and Atlanta
23. Host my own television show
24. License the Niya and Friends intellectual property to global toy and media conglomerates
25. Provide employment for villagers in Ghana

Amazing things happen when we take the brakes off our minds, grab the bull by the horn and go for the gusto. We discover what Abraham Lincoln said: “It’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

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