The Art of Solitude – Finding Your Creative Space

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Credit: Pixabay Images

 

Can we create something meaningful and enduring from chaos?  In today’s social media hyped world – viral yes, enduring no. I find it easier to start outside then dive into the center and create from that space. That means finding the environment, the space, a ritual, an object that inspires, a scent, music that sets the atmosphere. Ease into that inner place then linger, you’ll be surprised by who shows up.

Maya Angelou was known for her eccentric writing habits. Every month, she books a local hotel room. No decorations or pictures on the wall. Her blank canvas. Locked away from 6.30am  to about 2pm with a Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, and the King James Bible. She wears a head tie to keep from twisting her hair (one husband hated the twists).
Since the little mind needs to be occupied so the big mind can think deeply, she replaced the twisting with crossword puzzles and a deck of cards. She told the Daily Beast in an interview, “Will I write a sentence that will just float off the page? Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

Thomas Kinkade the controversial painter of light, also creates from what he calls  – an inner space that begins first thing in the morning, interacts with the world then returns to that nurturing centered solitude.  Meaning he wakes up, stays in bed meditating on a simple verse – The Lord is my shepherd…this is the day the Lord had made – then he goes to his private sun deck overlooking the foothills of Monte Sereno CA, where he has a wooden stand for his Bible, a notebook for ideas,  sketching tools and holds a “divine meeting.”

http://pixabay.com/en/bridge-japanese-garden-arch-53769/

Pixabay Images: Japanese Garden Arch

If you prefer to kick up your metabolism before your cerebral faculties, then go out in nature –  enjoy the sweet morning breeze, the melody of chirping birds, the scent and beauty of flowers during a quick run, a jog on the beach, sunrise gardening or even walking the dog. All excellent ways to get your creative juices flowing and clear your mind.

Ernest Hemingway, the master of dialog noted in his documents to the Wisdom Foundation in California, published in Playboy Jan. 1963, “I do most of my work in my head. I never begin to write until my ideas are in order. Frequently I recite passages of dialogue as it is being written; the ear is a good censor. I never set down a sentence on paper until I have it so expressed that it will be clear to anyone.” Hemingway called his style the Iceberg Theory: the facts float above water; the supporting structure and symbolism work out of sight. A concept  also called the Theory of Omission.

Roseanne Barr in judging a contestant in Last Comic Standing (NBC) after a bland routine, advised him to go “smoke something.” Writers, artists and even those listed here, have used alcohol in varying degrees, but that beast takes more than it gives. All I need is the sight of a mountain range. When I go to the library, I pick a seat looking out the windows. Good thing I live in a valley.

I’m drawn to those seemingly insurmountable peaks till I’m one with them, then I rise above. Because I know the answer to my mantra:
I will lift up my eyes to the hills,
where does my help come from?

 

 

Missing Nigerian Girls Abducted by Boko Haram Islamic Militants

Credit Pixabay - African Girl

Credit Pixabay – African Girl

#BringBackOurGirls.

You don’t mess with babies and innocent children. The days of Boko Haram are numbered. Fanatics and maniacs always overplay their hand. To Nigerians, our collective indolence has allowed this septic and cancerous sect of Islāmic militants to fester for five years. Five years! They are operating on a “scale and ferocity that underscores how far Nigerian security forces are from protecting civilians” (Reuters). Only Nigerians will guffaw at this statement. Security forces ko? Nigeria Police ni?

The Police Force Chief and senior officers should be indicted for gross incompetence, bribery and arrant negligence which has enabled these Boko Haram fanatics even exist, unleash their religious fervor on a secular country and acquire a formidable cache of high-powered arms and ammunition. The money for hand, back for ground attitude has made Nigeria a country without a system or conscious law enforcement culture, a breeding pool for injustice, corruption and criminality. Everyone asks, “why bother, when justice is sold to the highest bidder?”

In 2012, The New York Time published an extensive article on Boko Haram’s reign of fear in Kano, which is the organization’s stronghold, stirring both hatred and sympathy from the locals:

Credit- PointBlankNews

Credit- PointBlankNews

“The Nigerian state is typically the enemy, and many analysts see the nation’s enduring poverty as one reason…Boko Haram’s stronghold, about 75 percent of the population is considered poor…aware of the glaring contrast between his or her own life and those of the elite.        Since 2009, the group has killed well over 900 people, Human Rights Watch says… Crowds quickly gather around to voice their heated discontent, not with Boko Haram, but with what they describe as a shared enemy: the Nigerian state, seen by the poor here as a purveyor of inequality.”

International attention is mounting pressure on the government to show it is working to protect civilians. How inept is the  government? Our girls were taken away last month. Daughters didn’t come home at night, parents lived in bushes, yet the government and rest of us snuggled and slept soundly.  My sincere apologies… Nigeria is simply living up to it’s name “The sleeping giant of Africa.”

This violent Islamist quasi-army  is deeply embedded with the locals of the large, impoverished and dusty metropolis of Kano who live with uncertainty, terror and threat of retribution if they give any information to the authorities. So with bravado, Boko Haram strikes forcefully, repeatedly mostly against the authorities unleashing mayhem and death.

Credit: BBC.CO.UK

Credit: BBC.CO.UK

Finally, their cries are heard all around the world, their captors required them to kowtow. But their inner strength, produced the wails, not in surrender, but in defiance. Boko Haram cannot break our daughters’ will to be free.

Our girls are strong-minded. They’ll survive this. I only pray they hold their heads  up and remember to extend forgiveness, and not become enslaved to their experience.

African diaspora which started as slavery, characterized by inhumane treatment, shipment of human cargo and savagely torn dreams and families, produced a mutated class of Africans, who have the ocean winds and slave ships as unstable foundations. They remain homeless, without mores, lost in America and Europe. But Alex Haley and others like him, have sought their roots, not that it can offer them anything more than solid dirt soil from which their ancestors were cruelly uprooted.

Credit: Pixabay - Dandelion

Credit: Pixabay – Dandelion Parachutes

Africans spared the cattle prods, the scourging whips, the hangman’s noose and the humiliation of our race, have instead signed up for voluntary exodus. We are dispersed like dandelion plant parachutes, dreaming of a better life anywhere in the world but home, while most of our egocentric and mercenary leaders turn our nations into their personal piggy banks and strip its dignity. Hoping for change, our hearts quiver…longing for home.

Home? It’s tempting to be sympathetic, considering the anguish, frustration and abject poverty that drives anyone to associate with a group like Boko Haram. Nigerians have prayed for a revolution against the blatant corruption and injustice in the government, but is this the answer?

Led by a grungy, lice-plagued religious fanatic and his brain-washed acolytes who, call the abduction of our girls…over 200 of them from exam halls at Chibok village, the massacre of over 125 innocent citizens at Gamburu, the car bombs that killed over 94 people at Abuja recently…revolution and worship. Worship to Allah!? What in this religion condones the subjugation of women and massacre of fellow citizens impaired by the burden of poverty?

Violence or Jihad isn’t an effective recruiting strategy or solution to Nigeria’s deeply rooted corruption —  An Islāmic State or Sharia Law, where the rate of amputation as punishment is alarming isn’t either.  Obviously, people prefer to keep their limbs and religious freedom, but blinded by hatred these maniacal militants persist. We need another way to fight the institutionalized monsters of inequality, poverty, nepotism, despair and hopelessness in Nigeria.

Credit: NIMASA Seafarers

Credit: NIMASA Seafarers

Malala Yousafzai, the world’s most famous advocate for girls’ right to education, a survivor of an assassination attempt by the Pakistani Taliban in her native country in 2002, has decried this abduction of the Nigerian girls, in her interview with CNN’s Christian Amanpour saying, “Girls in Nigeria are my sisters.”

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has threatened in a video to sell the girls abducted on April 14 from a secondary school in Chibok “on the market” according to Reuters. These Boko Haram group and others like them are an abject apology to manhood, masking their neurosis and sexism under the cloak of religion.

Reuter also reports that President Goodluck Jonathan welcomed the U.S. offer to send an American team to Nigeria to support the government’s efforts to find the girls. Finally!  U.S. President Barack Obama has said the kidnappings “may be the event that helps to mobilize the entire international community to finally do something against this horrendous organization that’s perpetrated such a terrible crime”.

I agree. It’s about time. But this will not be the last of such organizations,  if Nigerian leaders continue the pillage of our nation’s treasury and their disdain of its citizens. I pray for the safe return of our girls, daughters and sisters. These are our daughters.

 

 

News Sources:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/05/us-nigeria-bokoharam-idUSBREA440BJ20140505
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/06/us-nigeria-girls-idUSBREA450IO20140506
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/26/world/africa/in-northern-nigeria-boko-haram-stirs-fear-and-sympathy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/07/world/africa/malala-nigeria-boko-haram/

Unsightly Edges – A Poem

Unsightly Edges – A Poem
By Ama Danesi

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There’s a knock, a hesitant rap on my nape
from pain that’s testing, peering over
my delicate collar-bone for a crack
in my steely resolve.
My need for more is a palmed heat.
I’m done with squatters. He can still smell me
in his nostrils. He lingers, a familiar high –

Every pain has a home, a coach, an itch
my arteries make poor hallways – C’est le vie
Inside me there’s a chisel, a hammer
and a chipping away.
Sandpaper the hurting, unclog the
bleeding, I pretend he feels the same – till I can’t
He’ll remain a lump, holding on to unsightly edges.

A Rude Awakening to Gratitude.

Credit: Pixabay Commons

Credit: Pixabay Commons

At 6.25 am today, between trying to hitch a ride to the library from an old friend who turned out to be a snitch and trying to catch the giant baby, Beyoncé dropped on its head, I was rudely awakened by the after-shock of the 4.4 magnitude earthquake that hit Westwood CA  and  sent shock waves through San Fernando Valley, Orange county and Santa Barbara.

Is it bad that my first thought was about my laptop? Anyway, as the shaking continued, I mentally checked for noise from my son’s room, the pantry and prescription medication levels for the family because this is Northridge. Apartment managers, realtors and agents don’t advertise the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, which was a 6.7 magnitude with strong ground motion felt as far away as Las Vegas, Nevada, about 220 miles (360 km) from the epicenter of Reseda and had a death toll of 57, with more than 5,000 injured.

That earthquake-caused property damage estimated at over $20 billion, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history, affecting everything from television, movie, music productions, schools and universities, homes and hospitals and came with an outbreak of  coccidioidomycosis (Valley fever). In all my research before moving to Northridge, I totally missed this crucial piece of information or maybe it was hidden from me.

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Google Image: Northridge

Hidden, I believe because if I had known, I would not have moved to Northridge. But then I would have missed the blessings and special grace I have found in this city. The friends, the neighborhood, the Rite Aid pharmacy that gives us  advance medication when the insurance company is acting constipated, the Ralph’s Deli that’s a quick walk away, where every Tuesday, we line up for the freshly baked  sweet wheat & oat boule, a dark hearty loaf with a slightly sweet chewy crust and soft interior, rolled in oats…yum! What’s a neighborhood without Starbucks? Well, just around my street corner, we’ve got two!

In this neighborhood, my son’s education could not have been in better hands, he blossomed in Stagg St. Elementary and now is in Holmes M.S. one of the best middle schools in California. Everything I need, except a next-door-library (which explains the hitch-hike in my dream)  is close-by.

Here is a checklist of earthquake survival tips from the Red Cross.

  • Develop and practice your family disaster plan.
  • Stock up non-perishable goods and have an emergency preparedness kit.
  • Get someone in the family trained in First Aid and CPR/AED.
  • Most importantly, don’t forget to learn the Drop, Cover and Hold On technique.

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It’s been quiet in California and this earthquake was just a rude awakening, to appreciate what we have, a home, family and the promise of God’s care and protection. As my building did a little rumba this morning, I prayed, ” Jesus… please keep us save where You have planted us.”

I am thankful that no-one got hurt and I went about my day…deeply conscious of grace, knowing that in any moment,  life as we know it, can change.

…He has made from one blood, every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings. Act 17:26.

Activating The Domino Effect in Life

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The domino effect is a chain reaction that comes from a small change or action taken. The process of activating the domino effect in life starts by asking the right questions or by having the correct response to opportunities.

Isn’t it crazy how we never deal with one problem at a time? Domino tiles are also called bones and if anyone is surviving, bare-knuckled and holding on by desperate measures from one crisis situation to another, it’s time to check how many things we juggle and check the quality of our game tiles.  Beware of grasping at shadows and overcrowding.

Self knowledge is critical to ascertaining our path — For example, I struggle with team activities and I often wondered why, because I love people. So I went back an reviewed an extensive personality test I took years ago, it clearly stated that my strengths are with Activities and not People…AHA!

I try not to miss watching the Power for Living program by Bishop Dale Bronner and his precise and exceptional teaching . Here are his principles of the activating the domino effect:

1. You must have dominoes – (duh?!) be curious about what strategy you should be playing and don’t play with another person’s pieces.
2. Align them up properly – don’t get out of alignment of the common good. No cheating, crooked or twisted thinking.  As a man thinks, so is he.  A lack of character moves you out of alignment.
3. Push the first domino in the RIGHT direction.  A tile pushed in the wrong direction has no effect.
4. After the first domino falls, be READY for the rest of the tiles to fall…because they will.

“What’s Taking So Long? “What you’re waiting on is not following you, it is waiting for you in a place called obedience.” – Bishop Dale C. Bronner

If you have lived long enough and through some seasons, you’ve gathered a set of dominoes  – your interests or passion, education, temperament, life experiences, family, friends, your sensory vault, that song/movie that inspires you, that strange workshop you enrolled in on a whim, the book you bought at the airport that was clearly written for you, a clean record – even though you should have had a ticket or two (now you can tell I’m talking about me) and if you do not have a clean record, that’s also a piece of your game.

hand-36759_640 - Activating The Domino Effect

All things work together, no experience is ever wasted, but you want to minimize how many of your pieces fall sideways, wasting valuable time or delaying your arrival.  Like a fist, FOCUS as you align the pieces of your life, get them in sync with your calling, ready for that knockout punch to the first door and trigger your breakthrough!

Here are some domino effect activation prayers or questions suggested by Bishop Bronner to unleash the power of the ONE thing:
Lord, show me the one thing that I can do better this week to align my life for greatness / What is the one thing that can unlock all the other frustrating areas in my life ?/ What is the one thing I can do about my child/health/business etc.?

Join me in declaring an end to dead works and boldly ask for light to illuminate each right step. Fist bump…Game on!

All images Credit: Pixabay