I am blessed to share my birthday with the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, who would have been 89 years-old today. I’ve always felt a kinship with Dr. King because of our shared birthdays, and have strived to emulate him in word and deed my whole life. This isn’t always easy to do, because unlike my best friend who shares a birthday with Hitler, my birthday has some pretty big shoes to fill.
Sometime ago, after the shiny of turning another year older wore off, (right around age 21), I began to evaluate my life, and thought hard about what I was giving back to the world. I looked to my birthday-mate and wondered how he might have spent the past year I was gifted to have. That’s when I came up with the MLK Challenge.
Every year, beginning on my birthday, I promise myself that I will spend the new year performing an act of kindness, patience, tolerance or forgiveness for every year I’ve spent on earth. Some acts carry more weight than others, (kindness is especially easier than forgiveness), but I still strive for one act per one year of life.
I am 46 years-old today.
The challenge sounds easy enough in January. I have a whole year to help people with their groceries or reassure new mothers when their babies wail in restaurants. But by the time October comes, I begin looking everywhere for little old ladies to help cross the street. Mindfulness is a lot of work, so by the end of 2017 I had some very big challenges that remained undone. Here are the last three of the year:
OCTOBER: I challenged myself to be the bigger person when I decided to leave my job. The woman I worked for has very few redeemable qualities and is wholly unfit to run a company, so instead of the constant head-butting and blow-ups, I decided to simply part ways. My challenge wasn’t in leaving, but in not dragging this person’s name through the mud when asked by co-workers what happened, co-workers who I knew felt the same way toward her as I did. I was challenged not to disparage her to the companies she still had to work with who I knew favored me. I bit my tongue, gave professional reasons for leaving that did not call out her epic stupidity, and politely moved on. This woman did not do me the same service, and has since blasted me to anyone who will listen. It’s during those moments when I call on two of my favorite quotes for strength:
“Live your life so that when others speak badly of you, no one will believe it.”
“Have patience. In time, all truths will be revealed.”
I am not sure if my effort to be the bigger person falls under kindness, patience, tolerance or forgiveness. Maybe it’s all four. But when I think about Dr. King, and how he endured with dignity and grace so much more than an ignorant woman making him mad, I am both humbled and amazed.
NOVEMBER: This challenge of forgiveness was one I had never expected to attempt. My former step-mother was guilty of a lot of emotional abuse toward me growing up, and to say I despised her would be an understatement. She had attempted to friend me on Facebook over the years, and I dismissed her each time. I decided to step up to the challenge and forced myself to look at my childhood from her point of view. I examined her marriage to my father and her relationship to her own abusive mother. I began to have sympathy for all she had been forced to endure during her own childhood, and decided that forgiveness would be a gift I could give her. I do not anticipate an active friendship, but the hateful way I viewed her has now been replaced with understanding. I did not expect to find peace in this act, but I have.
DECEMBER: I hadn’t had any contact with my father for almost eight years. There was no abrupt fight, no particular action or statement that precipitated our estrangement, it just sort of happened. I had a lot of hurt feelings over my childhood, and put the blame almost entirely on him.
An amazing thing happens when you raise a teenage daughter who is eerily like yourself; you begin to feel bad for all you put your parents through growing up. I cannot count how many times I’ve called my mother to apologize for being belligerent as a teenager. I cringe when I think about it. I decided that this year would be the year I would offer that same apology to my father. I am so very glad I did.
It turns out he has not been well physically, and I very nearly lost him for good last year. He expressed regret and remorse for my childhood, and accepted blame for the past eight years apart. He never contacted me because he thought I hated him and didn’t blame me for the disconnect. That one hurt.
It frightens me to think that he might have died, not knowing that I had forgiven him some time ago, and that my inability or unwillingness to break the silence all these years could have been avoided with a single email; an email I am so very glad I challenged myself to send.
Now that 2018 is here, my first act is to challenge all of you to do the same. Not every challenge will bring you satisfaction, but you may just find a peace you hadn’t expected or a chance at a renewed relationship. And just like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, you will have left the world a better place than you found it.
The merch in question is an infinity scarf, covered in my novella, REAPERS WITH ISSUES. This amazing Christmas gift is from a longtime friend, worn by my short-time Kiddo.
I have heard of companies that make this particular type of product but have never seen it in real life. For someone who has been struggling to write lately, this gift came just in time. Reading my words has re-energized me, and hopefully my writing as well.
I was lucky to have a friend in my corner when I really needed it. Our friend The Hook could use some kind words today as well. Stop in to visit and offer some of your own.
Most days I keep my boredom at bay by adding cartoon characters or celebrities I’ve never met to my phone’s contact list, or by pranking unsuspecting people who happen to incorrectly dial my cellphone number. Then there are days when the boredom is too much and I share my pain by sending random and nonsensical texts to the poor souls who happen to know me.
Featured here are the best responses to the inane chatter that escapes my head on a daily basis: (more…)
What’s the slushpile, you ask? The slushpile, my friends, is the virtual trash bin where your manuscript lands the moment a prospective agent determines it is not yet ready for publication. Believe me, after all your hard work this is no place you want to be.
So how do you avoid the slushpile? Read widely? Write often? Find yourself a solid writers’ group?
Hell no! You do it by following my advice, of course! I’ve spent the past year creating a collection of books designed to help would-be authors navigate their way through the jungle that is the publishing world. Choose from the following: (more…)
For Valentine’s Day I thought it only appropriate to interview the most wanted man, uh…boy in the world. I’m talking about the one, the only….CUPID.
CUPID – Pleasure to be here. Despite this being my busy time of year, I can always find time for you H.E., you helped my blog become what it is today and for that my heart is ever at your service…..You know, if you wanted I could set you up with somebody? I still feel bad about your last relationship. In my defense though, you were the one who fucked that up. Cupid’s arrow is rarely wrong and sometimes you got to give a little to get a little if you know what I mean….
***** So tell the readers, what is the hardest part being the God of Desire?
CUPID – The hardest part? My cock. (more…)
Here’s the concept (shamelessly stolen from Rants’ Blog): A weekly picture is posted, and the writer is challenged to produce one-hundred (more or less) words of some sort of fiction with a complete plot (beginning, middle and end). I’m calling out my girl Megan to give this one a try. Now, on with the frivolities!
THE THIRD WISH
Bob Geldof caught a glimpse of his reflection in the glass and realized he was Gary Oldman. Or was he Ewan Mcgregor? No matter. His first two wishes; a London flat and cash to go with it were executed perfectly. He didn’t mind the Leprechaun taking license with the third. There were many handsome Brits to choose from as a model for his new body. He had been lonely long enough.
Girlish giggles preceded the knock on the door and he rushed to answer shouting, “Just a minute.” The sound of Annie Lennox’s voice leaving his throat stopped him cold.