Today Was My 26th Birthday..And On This 90 Degree Day, I Had The Deepest Chills…

I watched a man get murdered.

 

Had just finished having a small celebration in the office with my coworkers for my special day. Dessert goodies, a few extra moments off from work.. an overall decent day. I had seen Alton’s face in the paper that I hastily stuffed into my bag as I ran to catch the train this morning, forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the day.

I was eating birthday cake.. and scrolling through my news feed during these spare free moments, when I ran across a video that auto-played upon scrolling. I absentmindedly clicked it, just in time to see him tackled to the ground.. Just in time to hear the gunshots. The screaming.

As the day progressed, my timeline warped into a funeral song. The prayers and tears of those affected dripping down the pages. The anger, the confusion plastered over so many people’s walls, while the same anger and confusion hung murals the size of burial grounds on my soul.

 

We are dying.

 

We are complying, and dying. We are resisting, and dying. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

 

I turned 26 today. On one of the hottest days of the summer so far… and I was chilled to my bones.

 

…But there’s a fire burning.

 

A fire that won’t easily be put out.

 

#RIPAltonSterling

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C: Challenges

The last six months of my life have been an intense roller coaster. I’ve experienced some of the most “grown-up” scenarios of my adult life, made a few life-changing decisions, and reached a fewย huge milestones along the way. Through these trials, I’ve learned to be my biggest cheerleader. If I don’t have faith in me, who else will? I thought to myself. In these last few weeks, I have learned to be grateful for the challenges life has thrown at me.

Yep, you heard me right. Me, not-so-bright-side Sam, has been learning how to look at the bright side. All. The. Time. Soo many people when I say that this doesn’t come second nature to me. I promise you, just trust me on this one. This part of the gratitude journey has been my biggest hurdle. I slip up every single day. Seriously. The whole day will go by with me prospering. And then…

SMH. Yes. Just like that. Boom. Something happens–smacks me right in the face and I become the world’s best amateur break-dancer. Lol. But every day, I remind myself that even though I trip up, I can still make the choice to keep moving. I can refine my moves, practicing every day until my muscles remember what to do. Gratitude, like life, is a marathon, not a sprint. Some days are easier than others, but nothing lasts forever. I’m learning to dance it out like my favorite Grey’s Anatomy characters and love all parts of myself, well-behaved or not. ๐Ÿ™‚

Three:Thirty Thursdays | Episode Twenty Seven – It’s That Time Again

It’s 3:30pm. On a Thursday. ‘Nuff said. (Just casually dismiss my 1 year hiatus, thankyouplease). LOL. As you may or may not know, the April A to Z Challenge will officially kick off this Friday, April 1, 2016, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.ย  It’s time to get our topics and pre-posting schedules in order, time to put those keys to work, and spill our guts for the blogger world to see.

ย For this year’s A to Z challenge, I’ve decided to write about my journey towards living a more grateful life. Too often, it’s easy to forget about what we have and focus on what we think might be missing… I can admit that I would do it more times than not. I went to happy hour with a friend that I hadn’t seen in months back in January, and after washing ourselves in nostalgia and airing out a few issues, we got to talking about life and all its bullcrap. Now if you know me, you know that pessimism, awkwardness, and I have tea parties on a daily basis.

I remember saying to her, “I’m awkward. I know I’m awkward. That’s why I’m not a people person–because they make me feel even more awkward than I already do. People that allow me to be awkward in my own space without making me feel any more awkward are awesome, like you. You’re awesome.” LOL ๐Ÿ™‚

And it’s true, I am awkward. Usually, when I say that to people, they look at me strange for a second or two, think about it, and then something clicks. The “Ah-ha!” moment appears. They suddenly get it, and I appreciate their friendship even more. Because I can be awkward. And it’s okay.

But for this friend of mine, it wasn’t okay. “Bullshit,” she said. “I call bullshit. There’s not an awkward bone in your body.” I laughed. Of course I’m not that awkward on the outside, I’d feel even more awkward about how I felt on the inside because of everyone’s awkward reaction to my awkwardness. What can I say?

We went back and forth for a little while, and after listening to me, she stopped and smiled. “I know what you need,” she said. She told me a story about a woman she had met while sitting at a bar. She was in her early 20s with tattoos everywhere. She started telling my friend about her life, how she used to be an addict, how she cleaned up and started over and is working hard to be better. My friend was shocked. She never would have guessed that this young woman’s past would be so dark. The person sitting before her seemed so polar opposite.

“What changed?” she asked. The girl looked at her and simply said, “Gratitude.”

Now, if you know me, I know what you’re thinking: Self help book? You? I’m more of the vampire, fairy, dungeons and dragons, Game of Thrones, alien type when it comes to my lit selection. But I decided, what the hayyyy! I had a Dubai trip coming up in a few weeks, and that life-changing trip could taste pretty yummy with a life-changing journey, recipe provided by Janice Kaplan in The Gratitude Diaries. So immediately after our conversation, I clicked onto my Kindle app and downloaded this bad boy. My expectations were very low, but I’ve been surprised so far. This A to Z Challenge, I’ll fill you guys in on what’s been happening in the past year, my own gratitude diary, our epic Dubai trip, and all the other adventures I’ve found myself on while on this path towards living a more grateful life. See you tomorrow! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Three:Thirty Thursdays | Episode Twenty Five – The Temptations

It’s time for another episode of Three:Thirty Thursdays! For those of you who are new to my blog, I post a new “episode” every Thursday… at 3:30pm, hence the name ๐Ÿ™‚

For today’s episode, I’ve decided to take it wayyyyy back. I remember being young and hearing the oldies being played in my house, both old school reggae music and R&B floated through the house. Every time I hear this kind of mysic, I immediately enter reminiscing mode. One of my favorite classic groups is The Temptations. If I was alive during that time, I would want to besties with them since they were so smooth. Lol. I remember learning how to play “My Girl” for jazz band on the flute and later “Stand By Me” on the piano. Music has always been a part of my life, and I’m glad to have the chance to share with you guys ๐Ÿ™‚

(In)Justice For All

I’m pretty sure most of you are at least acutely aware of what has been going on with the protests all around the country/world in response to the recent not guilty verdicts from our beloved Grand Jury. I usually keep my opinions on these subjects either to myself or a few close friends/family members who I can have healthy, productive conversations with. Lately, however, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts and comments that have literally left me speechless. I’ve finally decided to dedicate one of my rambles to this touchy subject.

I apologize in advance for the lengthy post

It’s crazy how much you think you know a person until sticky situations are presented. I’ve seen so many true colors over the past few weeks, it’s honestly disturbing. From the night that the Ferguson verdict was announced, to the night the verdict for Eric Garner was announced, up until even now, I have had to do a lot of cleaning up of my cell phone contacts as well as my friends lists and followers on social media. The amount of racism I witnessed was appalling and disgusting, from white AND black “friends”. I refuse to entertain it, so I deleted it. I think it’s safe to say that many who got the axe were not all that thrilled about it.

Sorry, not sorry.

This next sentence will ruffle a few feathers, but I think this is something that needs to be said. These issues that have been occurring transcend the issue of race. There. I said it. Let the criticism commence. I welcome it, because you–like me–have freedom of speech. I did the little bold within the italics to make sure those who have a slightly more difficult time with paying attention to what is really being said have a guide to what is key here. Please note that I didn’t say that race has nothing to do with it, I have just simply stated that the issue goes way beyond that. Now, moving on…

What happened to Mike Brown & Eric Garner was tragic. It was upsetting. Hell, I was mad my damn self, but not for the same reason that most others were. What upset me was the fact that a life was senselessly snuffed out by someone who is meant to protect, not destroy. I do not feel that either men deserved to die, no matter what reason law enforcement wants to feed us. In both cases, I personally don’t believe that self defense is a valid explanation. I didn’t except it then, I won’t accept it now as I write this.

What irks me, though, is the fact that this entire issue has been centered around race. From the moment the verdicts were given, the majority of headlines that I saw covering the stories made sure to highlight and point out that a BLACK man was killed by a WHITE officer. Every news article, every Facebook post, every headline on the news channels. Of course, naturally, there is an automatic uproar for justice, compensation, and even blood (yes… those comments came from the few that I had to delete for obvious reasons). It’s honestly upsetting to see how well we are being played.

The biggest problem here is that cops who are being paid to protect and serve are pretty much able to live ABOVE the law. No matter what color your skin is, a cop can kill you and call it justified. I know a lot of you don’t want to hear or accept that, but tell me this…

Isn’t it peculiar that you barely ever, if even at all, hear about a white cop unjustly killing a white person? Or a Spanish cop killing an Asian person? Or even a black cop killing a person of any race? Even our disabled citizens are at risk. Since we can’t be everywhere at all times to see what is going on in the world, we have to rely on the media to provide us with information. Most of this information is one-sided. The media builds and fuels the fires that we see happening around us.

We don’t hear about these things because then it would be hard to keep us distracted from what’s really going on. Our (in)justice system would rather keep the wool over our eyes so they can continue business as usual. In the past few days, I’ve been seeing and reading all of these different articles about brutality against people of all races. I’ve heard the argument that “it’s not the same thing”, but I find the contrary to be true. Police brutality is very REAL and all people are affected by it, whether it be directly or indirectly. Most people can’t see it this way because the media has already placed the race-card in the middle of the table as they play us all with it. The shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice has barely gotten any shine on the news at all! Let’s face it… Only a heartless bastard would agree with the shooting of an innocent child. We’d all rise together (regardless of color) in a heartbeat over this, so there is little to no coverage.

How awesome would it be for all of us to come together as one people to stand against the injustices we ALL face at the hands of police officers? We’d be unstoppable. Things would have to change. The system, once again, has outsmarted us, however, and has pitted us against one another. The potential power we could have as a unit falls away when we battle against each other over race.

When asked why I haven’t been outside with signs, or inside protesting along with everyone else, my answer is simple: We’re not focused on the same thing. I’m not going to act like I support the claim of racism for all of these situations. My stand is against police brutality. My stand is against the unspoken fact that an officer can kill me, my white friend, my black cousin, my Asian classmate, and my Spanish coworker with barely a slap on the wrist.

My stand is against the ignorance of those who shout against racism, but then turn around and say that they themselves are racist against white people. Hypocrisy is a deadly disease. My stand is against those who can read about someone of ANY color being unjustly killed, but turn their heads and say “Oh well” yet want everyone to sympathize with the black struggle. IT GOES BOTH WAYS! I will always and forever continue to counter the hastag #BlackLivesMatter with #AllLivesMatter until people wake up and see the bigger picture here.

I am so glad that my parents raised me to see people as people. Sure there will always be stereotypes. Sure racism still exists in society,ย  but it’s all about your personal decisions. I decide to love my Caucasian, Indian, Spanish, Middle Eastern, African, etc friends all the same. I embrace our differences and enjoy the challenges of getting to know others. I make the personal decision to not allow the poison of racism to live through me. I look progressively to the future. As much as the media, the system, or whatever other power there is out there would like for me to hang on to past hurts and situations, I make the personal decision to rise ABOVE that and see the issues for what they really are….

But let me get back to sipping this bomb.dot.com tea though…