Friday, October 31, 2008

Come As You Are(n't?)

The following post is not one that I wrote for the Sierra effect. It's actually a response that I wrote to an email I received a few months ago, in which, an old classmate (who happened to be African American himself) stated that he always thought I was an "Oreo." Although his words were very derogatory in nature and meant as somewhat of an insult to me, I was not angry. I was, however, sad....for him.
I was teased on countless occasions by my Black counterparts as a child for "talking White" or "acting White," whatever that was supposed to mean. As a young child, it hurt to be laughed at by people that I wanted to accept and befriend me. I attempted to dress, speak and behave in the way that my antagonists did, in hopes that I would receive the stamp of approval for my Blackness. It would be years before I came to know and embrace who I was...years of pain and emptiness that came from trying to be something other than Sierra.
I thought Halloween, a day when everyone goes out as something they aren't, would be a great day to declare that I celebrate all that makes me who I am. It's a little lengthy, but I promise you, it's from my heart. As always, your comments are welcome:

Racism is ignorance at its highest. You would think that after centuries of oppression and persecution of our people by other races, we would at least have evolved beyond the point of holding such ridiculous stereotypes and biases against one another. It's sad to see that even after we struggled for the freedom to be accepted for who we are for so long, many Black people's minds still haven't progressed from the slave mentality. You should really read the Miseducation of the might help you move past that point. It explains how slave owners conditioned our minds to believe that we had to live up to the inferior standards of who they told us we had to be. It also states that once you've become conditioned to that slave mentality, after awhile you won't even have to be told that that's what you are, you just accept it and begin to live that way.

"When you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his 'proper place' and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary."

In your case, and others whose minds haven't been able to progress beyond slavery times, you still believe that we have to speak, think and behave a certain way in order to "be Black." I'm sure this isn't the first time you have heard these famous words, but maybe now you will actually think about them. They are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who devoted his entire life (and even died), to eliminate the very ignorance and bias that you, in 2008, are perpetuating.

"I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream -- a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality."

We're angry enough to shoot when we feel that we have been mistreated on the basis of our race, yet we freely condemn one another on the basis of ridiculous opinions of what it means to be Black. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in the 1860's...when will we get the memo that we are free? Not just physically...mentally...break the chains, dude! Seriously, oreo? Are we still there? Black people...WE HAVE TO DO BETTER! We've become so progressive in so many other ways...we drive cars so advanced that they can literally tell us when something's wrong with them...our cell phones can give us turn by turn directions to where we want to go, but yet we can't wrap our minds around the concept that just because someone speaks differently (like pronouncing the vowels in words) and has expanded their mind beyond the constraints of "hip-hop culture" that somehow their allegiance to the Black race is to be questioned or that they are. in effect, less Black or "wanna be White."

I love who I am and am proud to be a Black woman. I have worked very hard to get to where I am and refuse to mask or dumb-down any part of who I am in order to satisfy anyone's idea of what I should be. You know, I couldn't even be angry with you for your statement...nope, not angry at all. It actually makes me's this type of antiquated, reactionary thinking that's a slap in the face to all those who have lived and died in the struggle for equality. I feel sorry for those who haven't gotten the news yet...we are free...Black people, White people, Asian people...ALL PEOPLE: WE HAVE TO DO BETTER.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
- Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss:)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Say What?

Another quote to hopefully inspire and uplift you.

"The wisest mind has something yet to learn."

-George Santayana

What Goes Around...

Without ever conducting a formal lesson, my grandfather taught me how to treat people. Today at age 94, he spends most of his time at home or with family. But for years, he was a respected businessman here in Houston. Along with his father and brother he ran our family's business (a funeral home) for most of my lifetime. It wasn't so much the things he said to me about how to treat people, but it was the way he lived his life. He was always patient and always kind, even in stressful situations. He dealt with clients in the way that he would want to be treated. Many times free services were rendered when the customer could not pay....not with a promise to pay or I.O.U. involved, just because he believed in helping people. My grandfather passed on a legacy of compassion and kindness that will be with me forever.
I've been trying to look for opportunities to perform random acts of kindness and have come up with one way to affect someone's day and perhaps even beyond that, by simply celebrating the good in people. How often have we encountered rude or grumpy staff at restaurants or stores? We've all had bad or no customer service and an overall negative experience before at establishments where we, ironically go to spend money that helps keep these people employed. My point is that there's no shortage of these bad experiences.
On the contrary, its rare to come across someone who loves their job and is more than happy to go above and beyond to make sure that your experience in their establishment is a good one. You know the type: knowledgeable and friendly in a way that exudes sincerity and is undeniably from the heart. I decided that positivity is something to be celebrated and so I have pledged to do just that. Anytime I go anywhere and come in contact with someone who is kind and takes the time out to really be a helping hand, I will acknowledge and celebrate that.
I recently went to a book store in my neighborhood and came across one such positive person. I left the store feeling better than when I came in and decided that this guy deserved to be the recipient of my first random act of kindness. So I called the store a little later that day and asked for a manager. Apparently this struck panic amongst the staff there, thinking that something surely must be wrong. So the manager comes to the phone all ready to diffuse my anger and solve whatever problem I might have. "There's no problem, sir. I was just calling because I was in your store earlier today and the guy who helped me was really great so I just wanted to call to let you know that he's doing an awesome job." All that he could say was "really?" It was in that high-pitched-no-way tone and then he started laughing. "Please come back to the store," he says, "and ask for me when you get here, I'd like to shake your hand." The next day I get to the bookstore and meet the manager and he wanted to know why I did what I did. I explained to him that there's enough that's wrong with the world and its smeared all over the news and its in the way people treat one another and so I've resolved to celebrate what's good and pure and positive in the world. He looked at me and said "you really have no idea what you've done." Apparently when I called that day before, the manager was doing an employment review for the guy that helped me. When I called, he was just signing it and then got paged to the phone. After our conversation, he went back and added notes and it pushed the guy's review way into the 'we-are-SO-keeping-you' category.
More often than not, we don't get to see the full karma circle, you know, the 'what goes around, comes around' deal. We know that we should treat people kindly because it could come back around and so we do our part and are nice and polite. I was blessed to be able to witness it all come back full circle. Within 24 hours, I saw how that bookstore clerk going the extra mile to help me gave him a full return on his investment of good into the world. What if we all decided to be kind to everyone we meet? What if we all became carriers of positivity, peace and joy? Not just because we believe that its going to come back to us, but because all human beings have value and worth. And because you never know what that other person is going through and what kind of an impact your interaction will have on their day, and possibly even their life.
My grandfather will be 95 years old in December of this year and, if nothing else, he has left me a wealth of wisdom and a beautiful example of how to live and love. In the famous words of Winston Churchill, "we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
I am determined to continue my mission to be a better me, despite any negative obstacles I might encounter. I will accentuate the positive and continue to celebrate the endangered good in people. The way I see it, my mission has succeeded if I can touch even one person's life. I hope that person is you. Have a great Tuesday!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Broken Promises

Uh-oh....still no new post....bear with me please....the work week is over and my hands will be freed up to type and write and all that jazz......

In the meantime, you can catch up on your reading with all of my previous posts and drop me a line or two at

Paz y amor.......................

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hang On

Yesterday was very full and fast-paced. Please stay tuned....there will be a new post up later this evening....peace and blessings. I apologize for being tardy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Small Steps to Big Dreams

I've been tracking my calories lately in my own little food journal. It's actually kind of hard to be that honest and to see it in black and white. It's helping me alot though. I think twice about my choices because I know I'll have to face it later when I write it down, complete with the guilt and regrets. So now, I find that I'm just avoiding the foods that would be no-no's. It feels really good. I know it may seem to be a very small step, but I decided to celebrate every accomplishment on the way to my goal. A friend suggested that I join one of the web-based fitness programs through I checked it out and I decided to sign up for the 8 lb. weight loss program. I'm determined to get healthy and complete....that is what I want for myself.

"Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things." -Denis Diderot.

I have purposed in my heart to become the best Sierra that I can be. We all have dreams and goals that we let die down for whatever reason. But I know for a fact that the only time when you fail is when you give up. So if you want it (whatever your 'it' may be) go after it with all you have. YOU ARE WORTH IT. I don't want to live my life only to get to the end and still wonder what would have happened if I would have just pushed myself a little harder or if I hadn't let fear hold me back. Dream without reservation. Dream gigantic dreams....and then pursue them as if your life depends on it. Work as if it depends on you, but pray, knowing it depends on God.

Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. -Philippians 4:13

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Monday:)

It's the beginning of a new week....yay! I'm excited and expectant (no, I'm not having a child). I'm expectant in the sense that I expect great things this week. I am in search of opportunities to do good, not for selfish gain or notoriety, but so that the world can be a little brighter, we can smile a little (or alot) more and see the beauty in the smallest of things.
Two quotes to share today, here's the first:
"In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary." -Aaron Rose

I expect to be challenged. I expect to grow. I expect to learn. I will give more than I get. I will do what I can to live at peace with all men. I will try my best, and if I fail, I will dust myself off and try again. I expect to be more productive and more creative this week than I was last week. I expect to finish things that I have started and to find new ways to use what I have been given to help others. I expect this to be a great week....and it starts right now. Hey, look at that, the perfect moment for my next quote:
"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." -e.e. cummings

Positive energy is contagious......spread some. Smile, why don't ya? Go ahead, laugh a little. In the words of the late great Marvin Zindler, "have a good golf, good tennis or whatever makes you happy!" Just make it a good one.....peace and love:)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Say What?

I am a complete and total quote junkie. Feel free to submit them to me if you feel they are relevant in any way to my journey and I will post it and give you your propers:) In the meantime, enjoy this one submitted to the Sierra effect by Heather....thanks chica!

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." -Edward Everett Hale

Let it marinate, folks....

The 'S' Word

I'm conducting a little experiment/survey over the next week: how many times in a day to I hear people say they are stressed and how much of the time are the sources of that stress trivial or self-inflicted (or self-perpetuated), totally NOT meriting the 'S' word. I am guilty of subscribing to the stress epidemic all too often but I am sick and tired of it. I know that there are some situations in life that really and truly are stressful: a loved one being hospitalized for a life threatening illness, losing your job and not knowing how you will pay your bills. But I have found that for the most part, we stress over small "disasters", overloaded schedules, unhealthy relationships, body image issues... I may be stepping on a lot of toes by saying this, but I think a lot of stress could be alleviated if we would just learn better ways of dealing with the alleged causes of stress/distress.

Somewhere along the way we forgot how to relax. We forgot the importance of not taking everything personally. We also fail to set boundaries and end up getting our feelings stomped all over, our schedules overloaded and being outright overwhelmed. READ: There is nothing wrong with having time for air out, clear your mind, be still, quiet and alone.....pray, meditate or whatever you choose, sans the guilt-trips and smack-talk from others who seek to control your life because their misery is lonely.

It's almost like it suddenly became chic to be stressed. In many instances, we are socialized to believe that unless we have loaded our schedules to full capacity, virtually eliminate all boundaries and have been extended in multiple ways, we are not being as productive or responsible as we could or should be. I just don't agree. What's wrong with saying no when deep down inside you know that you're not comfortable with something or that it will be a strain on your time and hinder your other commitments? The word 'no' can be a simple, first line of defense in warding off the 'S' word. Say it with

This week I have eliminated some things in my life that were causing me way too much heartache and not benefiting my journey. I feel free, calmer...peaceful. I'm learning to look deeper inside to examine my motivations for my choices, so that I don't end up in these situations from the start. Life is full of ups and downs. Why add our own homemade stress when life is already going to serve us up a hearty helping of that which we can't control?

Oh yeah, T.G.I.F....woo-hoo!

Ciao for now...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

No Fear!

As some of you know (and, as some of you are finding out for the very first time right this moment), I am planning what is probably one of my biggest life changes yet: I am moving to San Francisco in September of 2009. I'm excited and scared all at once, but my happiness far outweighs my fears. It's going to be the greatest distance I have ever been from my family and friends and everything that I have known my entire life. For those of you who may be taking steps into a brave new world as well, I want to share these inspiring words:

"Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it." -Oprah Winfrey

#1: Pay More Attention to My Little Brother

He's 18 years old and going through growing pains. I can remember what it's like to feel grown and feel like you have all the answers, but people still treat you like a child. Let's face it, 18 really is still young and no, you don't have all the answers at that age. In the past couple of years, there have been some times where things have felt impossible with him....trying to get him to listen at home and focus at school. But despite all that, what he needs is love, love and more love. So I am resolving to pay more attention to him. Not to the things he has done or ways he's messed up, but to him. What he's says and thinks and feels...and maybe, just maybe, validation as a human being will be the beginning of his breakthrough. I don't know of this will work, I don't know what type of results this will yield, but I'm willing to try it out.

I've invited him to come spend the weekend at my house. Just to get away from it all for a arguing, no punishments, no chores, nothing. Just some time to air out and relax. I don't know what to do to ease his pain that he keeps bottled up inside or to motivate him to go all the way with his education, but I'm taking my lead from the Dalai Lama on this one: "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." There are many ways to hurt, far beyond the physical. I know that I have had a sharp tongue in the past and my words have hurt people close to me, including my little brother. So I have stepped back from trying to discipline him.....I always felt like I had to do so. But I was hurting more than I was helping.

My goal, is to simply show him love and forgiveness and to let him know that he can always come to me anytime he needs a shoulder to cry on, shelter from the rain, or just some space to air out.

I hope that through peace, love, patience and tolerance we can all be drawn closer to our loved ones whom we may have previously written off. Family is the most valuable natural resource....treasure it, preserve it at all costs.

The List

I am going to begin writing about the list of ways to improve myself (mentioned in my first post). Some posts will still be about other topics or articles I find on websites that I feel are relevant to my journey.

I think of things to add to the list at the most random times, therefore the numbers assigned to the topics do not reflect any order of importance...I just decided to number them as a way to keep track of what I'm doing.

I welcome your comments and questions and invite you to forward this blog to any and everyone that you think may find it helpful.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

(Un) Healthy Food

My list of ways to improve myself spans many categories....mental, physical, spiritual, etc. On the physical note, I think it's important that I whip my body into shape. NOTE: I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO DESIRE TO BE SKINNY. This is about being healthy and liking what I see when I look in the mirror...being comfortable in my skin. With that being said, I wanted to share this article that I came across on Yahoo! Health:

Also, I recommend that anyone with skin and bones read Micahel Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. Check out his site for more info: and he did a really dope interview on one of my favorite radio shows, Democracy Now! which you can check out here:

Bon appetit!

Negative Nellies (and Neds)

"Your circumstances may be uncongenial, but they shall not remain so if you only perceive an ideal and strive to reach it. You cannot travel within and stand still without."
- James Allen

My day started off on a positive note....I woke up all happy and ready to face the day. Then, I went to a meeting that I expected to be really productive and a huge step towards my future, only to encounter a big giant naysayer who stomped on my dreams. I allowed this person's negativity to sink into my spirit for a little while, but in the light of my new mission, I decided to refocus my energy. Instead of letting this morning get me down, I realized that life truly is what you make of it, not what someone tells you it HAS to be based on their personal experiences and failures. So I resolved to only work that much harder to have a great day and to continue working towards my goals and dreams no matter what.

I am traveling within....seeking to elevate my mind and focus on things that are uplifting and that help me move forward, rather than keeping me in a stagnant place. No matter what anyone says to you or tries to do to sew seeds of negativity into your life, remember that you have the final say. Don't allow anyone to pollute your consciousness with their poisonous attitude. You can go as far as you have purposed within your heart to's not how much money you have to put behind a project or about any material thing. It's about how badly you want it.... As for me, I want it so badly I can't sit still...

We all face challenges and obstacles along the way, that's all a part of life (cue The Lion King "Circle of Life" music), but it's how you choose to deal with those necessary negatives that defines you as a chump or a champion. Today, I am seeking to show my obstacles who's boss. They are gonna come, but I'm gonna get my Carl Lewis on and jump those hurdles like a true champ....who's with me?