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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Should You Take a Cheating Spouse/Partner Back?

Disclosure/Disclaimer: Right off rip I say that I am not a licensed psychotherapist or marriage counselor.  So, regard this blog post as mere babble rather than advice on how to handle your situation. 

There isn’t a simple yes or no response to this question.  The answer comes down to personal preference and individual circumstances.  There are so many different variables in involved in each individual’s life that need to be carefully considered in order to make the right decision.  Some things that I would take into consideration are whether the couple is married, length of time together, etc.  When there are children involved and marriage it makes the situation much more complicated.   Couples with children need to be very mindful of how divorce or separation can affect their children.  Sometimes, children internalize their parents' relationship problems and then blame themselves when divorce or separation takes place.  

I don't tend to forgive or continue relationships with known cheaters.  This is especially true when the person has a history of repeated infidelity with multiple partners.  Someone with these behavior patterns will probably continue to cheat when they realize that there aren't any real repercussions for their behavior. 

I am probably one of the loyalist women that a man could ever hope for.  I am not saying that I am perfect by any means or that I don’t make mistakes.  It’s just not my nature to cheat and I have never been sexually promiscuous.  I am also very afraid of all the sexually transmitted diseases out there.  If I ever did get burned by someone whom I am sexually active with, then I will know with 100% certainty who put the crotch on fire.  If I become pregnant then I will know who the father is.  You'll never catch me on Maury begging for a paternity test and putting my personal business out there on Front Street. Once I am emotionally invested in a committed relationship, that’s it.  I just settle down and focus on being with that one person. 

I have been approached and propositioned by men while already involved in relationships.  I made it clear to them what my relationship status was but they don’t care.  Some men and women have no respect for marriages and committed relationships.  They have no moral code or boundaries.  They will have sexual relations with anything that walks, breathes and has a dick or moist hole.  So, if I am willing to emotionally commit, forgo sexual encounters with others and be exclusive with one man, then I expect the same from him in return. Contrary to what some people seem to think, men have will power and control over their loins. 

My definition of cheating is having sexual and romantic emotional intimacy with another person.  By my definition, if you’re going on private dates with another person, having private phone conversations or sending sexual/ romantic text messages and e-mails to someone else, then you are cheating.  There is no justification for cheating.  And two wrongs don’t make a right.  If your partner cheats on you, don’t go out and cheat on them just to get revenge.  It won’t make you feel any better or esteemed.  You’ll have to make a decision whether continue the relationship and try to work things out or break up.  

If you decide to continue the relationship then it is very important that you forgive and forget. Don't use that indiscretion as a chance to throw it up in the cheating partners face whenever there is a disagreement.  Some people need marriage and psychological counseling in order to work through their feelings of betrayal.  Counseling can be very helpful to rebuild trust in the relationship.  

Another important thing to look at is the reason behind the unfaithful behaviors.  It could be caused by other underlying relationship problems that were never addressed.  Maybe the cheating spouse is seeking some sort of attention, sexual activity and/or reassurance that they weren't getting in the relationship. Perhaps, the cheating partner has a sexual addiction which requires treatment and counseling.  

Some people believe in this ideal of staying together "for the sake of the children".  It may work for some people if they can come to a place of forgiveness and leaving the past behind.  If you’re one of those types of people who hold on to grudges, then it might not work out so well.  Some sort of counseling may be needed to encourage the cheating partner to acknowledge and correct with their behavior. Above all else, he or she should be fully committed to the process of change and salvaging the relationship. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Why I Don’t Go to Church IV: Hypocrisy and Sexual Sins

There are probably more people going to church looking for a date or sex partner than any other place on the planet.  The church is where you can find some of the most hypocritical and ratchet people.  And that’s considering both the congregation and the church leadership.  There are many members amongst the congregation who compete for the attention and good graces of the pastor.  They’ll do anything to please the pastor, even if it means digging up some dirt on other people and spreading lies and rumors. 

Some churchgoers are the biggest backbiters and hypocrites known to man.  They turn up at the club on Friday night and then show up to church on Sunday morning, like this somehow washes away their sins.  Then, they’ll denounce other people for making mistakes, knowing full well that they have skeletons and cobwebs in their closets.  Some of them go to Sunday school and then drive the church van to the casinos to gamble.

Pastors and deacons are sometimes self-righteous and they appear as outwardly wholesome but in the dark they sin just like rest of the heathens.  One of my relatives told me of an unfortunate event that happened to her when she was a little girl.  She started to go through puberty early, at around age 9.   By about 11, she looked like a developed woman. 

Well, she says that one of the influential church deacons at her home church tried to seduce her and touch her inappropriately.  The fact that she was physically developed doesn’t make his actions excusable.  She was a child and he knew it.  He thought that he could use his position to influence and take advantage of her.

She told her parents and they cursed and threatened him.  I would have done more than that to him if he’d done that to my child. But that’s another story.  Can you imagine how many child abuses and molestation that goes on unreported in the church?  Just look at the rampant abuses that have occurred in the Roman Catholic Church and priesthood. 

I thought I found a good church home

At around 2005 I found out about this great church in the local area.  It is called Calvary Chapel and it is considered a Mega-church and possibly the largest church in South Florida.  It is a non-denominational church located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  I don’t know what it is that initially attracted me to the church but I was very happy that I found it.  The former head pastor and co-founder of the church was Bob Coy, who is very down to Earth, from his dress in the pulpit to his personality and preaching style.

He knows exactly how to preach the word in a non-pretentious way.  He didn’t distract us by hooting and hollering during the sermons. Most of the teachings of the church come from the New King James Version bible, which is in more modern English.  He would frequently encourage the congregation to follow along with him in the bible as he quoted verses. Pastor Bob was not into that Prosperity Gospel, that I abhor.  He is more of a straight shooter, focusing on helping people to get their spiritual life together. 

The other thing that I like so much about the church is that they don’t pressure and beg for money.  They don’t need to.  They get millions of dollars in donations and offerings coming in without the need to pimp out the members.  They have these boxes throughout the church facilities where people can just put money in envelopes and drop them inside the boxes.   They don’t try and psychologically guilt trip people for not keeping up with their tithes. 

They aren’t really too much into getting into people’s personal business, either.  The main sanctuary is so huge that if you come early enough, you can sit almost anywhere that you want.  I find that people tend to just mind their own business.   If you want to participate, volunteer and get involved in one of their ministries, it is optional and no pressure.  
There is no fashion show going on there.  You can attend services dressed up if you wish, or you can wear jeans and a T-shirt.  Sometimes, people show up in their work attire. I just love the overall vibe of the organization. 

But, here’s where the founding pastor messed up:  A few years, ago.  Pastor Bob stepped down from the church because it was alleged that he was having an extramarital affair.  The scandal actually made national news. I feel so sorry for his wife and children.  It was big embarrassment to his own family and himself.  I think that he did the right thing in stepping down. 

I felt very disappointed in his actions.  But, at the same time I realize that he is human.  It doesn’t let him off the hook for his actions, as he an example as a church leader and head of his family.  But, he is still a human being.  His alleged affair is more of a private matter between him, his family and God. He is not Jesus Christ and I don’t worship him.  The church is still a good church but I feel put off with going there. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tell Me This Ish Ain’t Ratchet

I was visiting a friend a few months ago .  The friend whom I was visiting does hair on the side.  So, she was doing this young woman’s hair.  The girl was about 18 or 19 years-old and she was just there yapping off at the mouth about some nonsense.  She wasn’t really saying anything of substance. 

One of her arms was covered with a sleeve of tattoos and she was holding one young arm baby and had a baby on the way in her belly.   She blurted out that she wanted 10 kids if that’s what her boyfriend will allow.  Maybe she was just kidding.  I mean, what man in his right mind is going to father 10 children that he can’t financially support?  He’d be jammed up with child support and legal problems.

But, I asked her if she had a job and she said “No”.  I then asked her how she is going to take care of 10 children with no job (and probably no education).  She responded by saying  “You know the government gives you checks for that, right?”  I nodded and was thinking “okaaaay”. She obviously is not familiar with the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton.  It is much more difficult for women to game the government, essentially by becoming baby making machines.

I responded, “Well, how would you survive if the government decided that it can’t afford to continue supporting poor people?  What if they eliminate welfare and food stamps? What would you do if your boyfriend decided that he didn’t want to take care of you and your children?”  She then said that she will just go to Walmart and shoplift shit.  She already does it and she’s good. WTF???  Now, that is a straight ghetto hood rat mentality

Then, a few minutes later she was on the subject of cosmetic surgery and C-Sections.  She said that there was no way that she would let the doctor cut her for a C-section to deliver her baby.  Then, a few seconds later she stated that she would be willing to get breast implants, vaginal rejuvenation, and a tummy tuck so that her body would be on point in case she wants to be a stripper.  

*SMH*  Hmmm... So, she would be willing to take on the unnecessary risks of infection and anesthesia to undergo cosmetic surgery but she won’t have a C-section to deliver her baby?  There are risks involved with both procedures but her thought process seems flawed to me.

Her thinking is screwed up on so many levels.  I don’t know her but from the way that she speaks, I can tell that her mentality is generational.  Apparently, she does not know any better. Somewhere along the way, she learned from adult role models that it is okay to live her life being dependent on the government for everything.   She must think that she has no responsibility, when it comes to bringing children into the world and caring for them. 

Welfare and food stamps are meant to be temporary.  They aren’t meant to be abused and turned into a life-long career aspiration.  In my opinion, they are okay to help people in need get on their feet for a few months or years until they can get some vocational training and a job.  I don’t believe that people should make it their ultimate aspiration.  People who are on welfare and who don’t have a plan, usually get stuck in perpetual poverty.  They may not ever accomplish anything or have anything if they don’t intend to.  And, that’s no way to live.  

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Some people should not be having children.  They think like children their damned selves.   All they are doing is bringing children into the world who will probably end up with miserable lives (unless something is done to break the cycle).  That’s some degenerate and ratchet shit. 

The woman who I talked about is a young and able-bodied person who does not want to work or take responsibility to improve the state of her life.  She thinks that Uncle Sam is going to have her back indefinitely.  I feel sorry for people with this type of mindset. They think that they are entitled to receive, something that they didn’t earn in the first place. Truth be told, the government, on a collective level, does not care much about the poor and middle-class. When the chickens come home to roost, these are the first ones that get the rug pulled out from underneath them. 

Why I Don't Go to Church Part III- Prosperity Pimp Preachers

Prosperity pimp preachers basically use their position of trust to exploit others.  Just watch a few programs on TBN or The Preachers of L.A. Reality show and you’ll see exactly what I am talking about.  If you still don’t know what I am talking about then Google “Creflo Dollar” who asked his congregation to buy a $65 million jet for his personal use.  Or, look up Ephron Taylor.  He swindled many churches out of millions in fraudulent Ponzi scheme investments. 

Most of those people are false prophets and they are carnally minded rather than spiritually minded.  And, they are constantly pushing their Prosperity Gospel doctrine down their congregation’s throat. They live in multi-million dollars homes in exclusive communities, while the bulk of their congregation live average middle-class to poor lives.  They have no problems with flexing and flossing their wealth before their flock of followers.

They try and guilt trip people who can’t afford to pay tithes, making them feel like they are robbing God and the church.  They try and make people feel that blessings come through the pastor, when blessings actually come from God.  How dare they exploit people’s trust and religion for their own selfish means!

They use bible books like Malachi and passages like the story of the prophet Elijah and the widow to justify taking money and material things from the congregation.  Most of them are self-appointed men of God.  They are no more anointed by God than you and I are. 

Many “prosperity preachers” have specially blessed and prayed over point of contacts such as green “prosperity prayer cloths” or “money anointing oils”.  To me they are really props and psychological placebos of sorts.  They work if you believe that they will work.  Heck, you could probably create your own prayer cloths or prayer rugs if you really put your heart and faith into it.  You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars for a pastor to do something that you can do for yourself. Blessings and prayer aren’t merchandise for sale. 

The funny thing is that Jesus and many of the prophets of the bible lived like nomads and vagabonds.  They weren’t rich.  Yet, these false prophets try to sell people on the lie that they too can be rich if they sow seeds of faith.

I visited this one church where the preacher was actually visiting and he was standing in for the head pastor of the church.  He was a White, man in his early thirties and he had a wife who was like nineteen or twenty.  In my opinion they were dressed sort of odd.  The service was held at around 11 in the morning and they were both dressed as if they were going out to dancing later on.  The pastor was dressed really flamboyantly with a suit and some expensive ornate sunglasses.  His hair was slicked back with gel and his beard trimmed really neatly.  His wife was wearing a long, strapless evening gown, with sequins made of a satin-like material.  I started to feel like the congregation was being mocked.  The only thing that was missing was his hat with a feather on top.

When the pastor started to give his sermon he started off with that Prosperity Gospel message.  That was the bulk of the sermon.  The pastor bragged about how he became a rich business man at a young man. Very little preaching was done from the Bible.  Very little focus was placed on Christian virtues like “humility” and “kindness’.  Nothing was ever mentioned about "salvation" or “redemption”.  I was like “Here we go, again!” 

At the end of the sermon he asked for offering and started off telling people how much they should give.  There wasn’t many people present, so not many people offered to give anything.  Some people actually started to walk out after he began to hint that it was time to give an offering or sow a seed.  One member of the congregation said that people were having a hard time financially (this was in the middle of the Great Recession).  And, that some of them took a chance with the last bit of gas in their car to get there and receive a hopeful message or a miracle. Then, he had the nerve to tell people that the devil was stopping them from receiving their blessings because they weren’t being obedient by giving him an offering. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why I Don’t Go to Church Part II: The Prosperity Gospel

In a previous blog post I mentioned “The Prosperity Gospel”, which is linked to the Word of Faith and New Thought movements.  I admit that there are some tenets of New Thought and Word of Faith which I actually subscribe to, because when properly applied, they DO work.  Several famous books were born out of these movements like “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale and “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Murphy. 

I am a firm believer that human beings have a God-given power to use their brains in the right manner to create their own miracles and make things happen.  Some things are beyond our control as humans.  However, there is a direct correlation between people’s conscious beliefs and subconscious belief systems and the outcomes in people’s lives.  So, I can’t and won’t throw the baby out with the bath water. 

When it comes to the giving of my monies to people who are obviously trying to get over, that’s that point at which some of my opinions diverge.  I believe in giving to others in need, with a few stipulations. I believe in giving to organizations that will do something for the greater good of many people, rather than for the greater benefit of a select few people.   I want to see a positive return on my investment as well.  How is the money going to be used to benefit the congregation or people in the community?

The resources of the church should be used to help the people and not be used for the personal gratification and enrichment of pastors and church leaders.  There are churches that provide for the hungry both in the United States and abroad.  Some churches have programs that assist people who can’t pay their rent, utilities or buy food.  Some religious organizations are working on building schools to teach children values and counteract the debauchery in mainstream secular society.

I also believe that you get more when you give from the heart, for the sake of giving, and when you are not looking for a direct recompense.  In my experience, it is much more effective as opposed to giving out of desperation and hoping to get something in return.

This seems to be the hook and crux (no pun intended) behind The Prosperity Gospel:  If you bless the men and women of God (pastors, preachers, bishops, prophets, etc.) and sow seeds of faith, then God will bless you with good health, material riches and prosperity in return.  If you are sick, then God will heal you of all your physical ailments and afflictions if you have faith and sow those seeds.

It’s actually quite ridiculous as God doesn’t need our man-made money.  How does money benefit Him?  I even heard a few prosperity preachers encouraging their congregation to give their rent money or mortgage money to the church as a seed of faith.  In return, the faithful and generous will receive a seven-fold (or whatever arbitrary number they come up with) blessing and return on their money.  LOL!  If you believe that, I have a fine piece of real estate in Brooklyn that I’d like to talk to you about.

The proof is actually in the pudding:  Oftentimes, the bulk of the congregation attending these Mega Churches (where the leaders are prosperity preachers) are poor and middle-class folk.  No matter how much they give, they can’t seem to get ahead financially.  This is in spite of their faith. 

The reason why they aren’t getting ahead is simple.  They are giving their wealth, resources, time and attentions to their pastors.  If there were any truth and validity behind The Prosperity Gospel, then there wouldn’t be so many parishioners struggling and suffering.  Unfortunately, there will always be people who will be poor for their entire lives.  Some people will get sick and die without any healing and comfort, in spite of how many Bible verses they know by heart.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Demon wearing Her Sunday Best

I sometimes reflect on my youth.  There was this one particular day when I was about 17 years-old and still in high school.  I used to catch two county transit buses in order to leave school and get to my job at a fast food joint.  Work usually lasted from about 5 or 6 until about 8:30 or 9:00 p.m.  After work, I would leave enough time to allow me to get to the bus terminal across the street at the mall. Back then, it took about two buses for me to get close to home.  I use the term home very loosely in this case.  For at this time, I was a ward of the state and temporarily resided in a foster home. 

I am still a little surprised that DCF allowed me to keep my job.  It’s because DCF (or HRS as it was called back then) had some problems with children running away from foster homes and shelters when they had the opportunity.  Maybe they figured that they could keep tabs on me better if I didn’t have a job.  My social worker/ counselor tried to push me to quit my job but I was pretty stubborn and refused. After a few months he stopped trying to persuade me. He was a nice fellow and probably saw that it would benefit me to keep the job.

Like I said, it took two buses for me to reach my foster home in the evenings.  I’d get off that second bus at a stop along a major highway and walk about 7 or 8 blocks to get to the foster home.  This home wasn’t in the greatest of neighborhoods, either.  There was obviously crime and drug-related activities going down in the area.  Sometimes, grown men would attempt to entice and cat-call me but I ignored them. 

Thankfully, no one ever attacked me or anything like that.  I think God was protecting me, because anything could have happened to me.  I did however, have some problems with a few stray, bad ass dogs that would roam the area at night.  One of them came very close to running up on me and biting me a few times.  So, I had to find an alternate route to avoid the bad dogs.

I thought that I had found the perfect short cut one day.  It was a church parking lot and it would help me get home much faster without facing those bad dogs.  The first few times that I used the parking lot, there was a woman standing in the parking lot like a sentinel.  I am assuming that she was a member of the church posted there to keep people from trespassing or causing problems. She and I would speak to each other and I just kept going.

I think on maybe my fifth or fourth time using the church parking lot as a short cut things changed.  The woman was there again but she refused to allow me to pass.  I told her that I was trying to avoid some bad dogs on the next block over.  It didn’t make a difference to her and she still wouldn’t let me pass. 

The reason being:  I was wearing short pants.  No, I wasn’t wearing Daisy Dukes or coochie cutters.  I was wearing shorts that stopped just above my knees.  She said, “You’re not coming through here wearing those shorts!”  I told her that the shorts were part of my work attire.  Which should have been fairly obvious to her because of the company cap and T-shirt I wore.  She didn’t care.

I tried to go around her but every time I tried going around her, she just moved in front of me with her arms extended to block me.  And, she called some big guy over to stop me.  At that point I knew that could have gotten into trouble for trespassing.  I had no choice but to turn around and leave.

It was a complete mind-fuck for me that someone who was supposedly Christian would pass judgment on me due to my modest attire.  The first few times that I used the church parking lot, I was wearing long black pants.  But, it still doesn’t justify the way that she treated me.  Did she think I was a whore because I was wearing shorts?  I don’t know.  And sometimes, older women have a way of getting jealous of younger women. Regardless, she was stuck on some old-fashioned superficial shit. The bible even says, ‘Judge not lest, ye be judged”.  

Now you know the reason behind the metaphor used in the title. That woman was wearing a long skirt and blouse. It wasn’t not even Sunday when this happened.  I still liken her to a demon wearing her Sunday best.  I was a virgin and was probably more virtuous than her. She looked dapper outwardly, but I can tell she is an ugly bitch in her spirit.  But, some people take their religion to a whole other level with their lunacy, minutiae and idiosyncrasies.  I never want to be that kind of Christian pedant. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Why I Don’t Go To Church: Part I

I have a relative who is very religious and each time that I speak to her, she uses our time together to proselytize and preach the Gospel.  She is always inviting me to her church and I usually come up with an excuse for why I can’t go.  I’ve even told her flat out of the many reasons that I don’t attend church services.  She remains persistent in her quest to recruit  new members.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with someone being deeply passionate about Christ or their religion.  Everyone is free to worship, believe or not believe in whatever they choose to.  I was actually raised up in the Christian faith and respect people’s right to worship.  At the same, I don’t see myself as very religious and I rarely go to religious services, and am rather reluctant to call myself a Christian.  I am not against the idea of settling into a church home and attending regular services.  However, at the present time I choose to read my Bible and pray in private, rather than having fellowship with other so-called Christians. 

There are a few main reasons why I have chosen this path.  The first being that most churches that I have visited seem to have the greater agenda of raising money over saving souls and spreading the Gospel.  The other major reason is that there is so much hypocrisy and foolishness within the Christian church, that it makes fellowship nearly unbearable.  The last reason has more to do with the actual conflicts and things that don’t make sense in the written text of the Holy Bible.

Now, let me get into a little detail on my thoughts about the money aspect of the church, more specifically the Black church in America.  Most Black churches in America seem to have a common thread, which is the commercialization of Christianity.  Now, I am certain that there are White run churches that engage in the same activities (just watch some of the programming on TBN) but I can only speak more to what goes on in some Black churches.  By the way, I am NOT saying that all churches or Black churches are like this- just some of the ones that I’ve encountered.

It is a widespread and common tactic for many pastors of Black run churches to implement the “Prosperity Gospel” for their own financial gain.  What they do is interpret the words of the Bible in such a way to manipulate the feeble and vulnerable minds of people who can‘t use their brains in a logical manner.  These types of preachers/ false prophets appeal to people’s emotions when they are up there in the pulpit shouting the words from the scripture and do it in a very theatrical manner. 

Many people catch the Holy Ghost, start falling out, dancing, doing cartwheels and running all over the church like they’ve lost their cotton-picking minds.  The music, the setting, the hand clapping (mostly in those “charismatic” and “evangelical” churches) have the effect of putting the congregation into a hypnotic state.  Some of the stuff is real.  And there are documented cases of people getting healed in church.  But, sometimes it is a big farce.

Before you know it, you’re all teary-eyed, feeling like the Holy Ghost is in the house and you’re reaching for your wallet or check book.  Hey, if you fell for those deceptions, don’t be down on yourself.  It has happened to the best of us.

I can recount many occasions where I have gone to different churches and the pastor of the church solicited money several times during the course one service.  I have been to quite a number of revivals where the pastor stated that God told him or her (liar!) that there were a certain number of people who could sow a faith seed of specific amounts of money.  Now, they have things planned down to an art where they actually have envelopes pre-made up with the dollar amounts written on them (for example, $50, $100, $1000, $5,000 denominations).  Many of these churches have their systems setup to where they not only accept cash and checks but also debit and credit cards.  I find this particularly disturbing because it encourages people to go into debt in order to support the church and receive “their blessing“. 

Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me make something very clear:  There is absolutely nothing wrong with a church collecting donations in order to maintain the church and pay its administrative expenses.  Some people disagree but depending on how the money is allocated, I don’t see anything wrong with parishioners paying tithes, either.  I don’t pay tithes to a church, since I am not a regular member of a church.  If people feel that paying tithes is biblically correct, then that is their business. 

There is nothing wrong with a pastor and church employees taking a modest salary for their work.  If they are devoting their entire lives to spreading the Gospel and don’t have a job, then they need a way to support their families. I definitely don’t see anything wrong with the pastor of a church being wealthy, provided that his wealth came from business outside of the church itself. 

There is something very wrong with a church accepting money from the public without making a full accounting of what the funds are being used for.  There is definitely something remiss about funds being used for unnecessary, lofty building renovations and pomp, while there are people in the local community whom are suffering both spiritually and economically.   It is very sick and twisted for a Christian to even want to exploit and take from someone who needs it the most, only for their own financial gain.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Toxic Relationships- She Needs to Let Go

Several months ago, I was talking to a young lady who I met.  I don’t know her all that well but apparently she felt really comfortable relating some of her personal problems me.  One day, she was so distressed that she mentioned that she had a recent falling out with her boyfriend. 

There was one thing that was particularly disappointing to her about the break-up.  He had promised her some of his income tax refund money.  He was expecting a very sizable sum and she was really counting on that money. When he did actually receive the money, he reneged on that promise.  Instead, he got all of his personal belongings together and moved out.  In addition, he purchased a car and sent her a hostile “f%$k-you” type of texts after he left. 

Now, I don’t know this young man and we have never met.  So, I got all of my information from her.  According to her, this man:

  • Is unemployed
  • Has a drug problem 
  • Lived with her and her family for a good amount of time
  • Physically abused her in the past
  • Broke up with her before.  Then, she reunited with him.  

Sitting there and listening to all that she said, led me to believe that he is a pretty toxic person.    As mentioned before, I don’t know the woman well, so it is hard for me to even make a proper character assessment of her.   On one hand, I couldn’t comprehend why she had such a hard time coping with the fact that he left her.  Per her account, he is a pretty messed-up person.  I remember thinking that he must have had that “good-good”.

On the other hand, she could have her own psychological issues and character flaws.  There is always two or more sides to every story.  She is certainly not telling me of all the mistakes that she made in the relationship.  Sometimes, people have a tendency to get themselves into less than ideal situations and form unhealthy relationships with others. Perhaps, she attracted this toxic man into her life because she is a toxic person herself.  Or it could be that she has no idea how to choose a partner whom has positive attributes.  This is not meant in any way to pass judgment on her, though.  Everyone has their own issues that need to be dealt with before they can truly love someone else. 

With that said, if you’re going to be in a relationship, then be with someone who is doing something with their life.  Be with someone who will inspire and uplift you and help you to progress. Forming toxic relationships with a toxic person can literally destroy a person’s life and have them crazy all out doors. It can put you in such a state of confusion and emotional turmoil, that you won’t know whether you are coming or going. This may cause you to either be stuck or regressing in life. Nobody needs that!

Another thing is this:  Some people make the mistake of becoming overly attached and too comfortable with people before knowing them.  This is bad because it can cause us to put on the blinders and ignore obvious warning signs. Even when we know that someone is not good for us we, sometimes continue the relationship, hoping that someday the person will change for the better.  Some people are the enablers and they think that they can change someone in a relationship. The truth is that you can’t change someone unless they already seek to change.  

Okay, I’m getting back to this issue with the lady and her ex-boyfriend. Being that her ex-boyfriend allegedly has a drug-problem, he not going too far.  He doesn’t have a job and he will need money to support himself.  So, that money will be used up in no time.  He’ll probably try to come running back to her or find another easily manipulated woman to hook up with. 

I am much older than her.  I didn’t ask her age, but she looks to be in her mid-twenties.  I can definitely relate to some of the things that she was saying.  There were times that I cried myself to sleep at night over broken relationships.  Therefore, I can look at her situation and offer some objective advice, having ‘been there, and done that”. 

Frankly, I don’t even like to get involved in other people’s affairs.  However, she was really distraught.  To my surprise, she mentioned that in the past she felt suicidal. Therefore, I felt compelled to offer her some words of encouragement. The advice that I rendered was quite simple:  “Let his ass go!”  He basically told her what his intent was and that he didn’t need or want to be involved with her at the present time.  "I know that it hurts and the way that he treated you was wrong.  The fact that he left you without, you having to put him out, is a blessing.  Now you can move-on, heal, and get your life together.”  She responded by saying that her mother told her the same thing. 

Based on his track record, things could have ended in more negative way.  At least no one was hurt or ended up getting arrested.  And it is even better that she doesn’t have any children with this man.   Neither one of them seems mature enough to take on the responsibility of parenthood. I don’t know how this situation turned out, since I have not seen her in months.  Hopefully, she is doing well and I wish her and her ex the best.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Is This Workplace Racism?

Several years ago, I worked for a small family run manufacturing business, with less than 30 employees.  It was run by two college buddies, who were the president and vice-president of the company.  The company also employed the president’s son and daughter.  For the most part, the employees were respectful, cordial and we all usually got along. I am actually grateful to the company for hiring me straight out of vocational school and giving me an opportunity, with no related work experience.  However, there was this one unpleasant experience which never left my memory of that place, even after all these years.

While I was a new employee with the company, I was having lunch in the company break room one day.  The company vice-president walked in and sat at the table near me and we started to have this dialog. He was a White, Canadian guy in his late forties- early fifties.  The conversation went from the getting-to-know-you type of stuff, to him talking about his high school aged son going off to college.  He boasted about his son getting accepted into MIT but in the same breath, he expressed concerns about the costs of his son’s college tuition.  He further went on to say that he didn’t want to take out any student loans but that he may not have any other choice.  His son had not been awarded enough money in scholarships and grants to cover his full tuition.

Now, this is where the conversation took a strange turn.  He asked me what high school I went to and I told him.  Then, he stated something to the effect that he didn’t believe that anyone who graduated from that school could ever get accepted into MIT.  I was taken aback by that statement and it felt like he was simultaneously insulting me and making major generalizations about the student body of the school.  I am quite certain that he understood that this school was not a high standard public school.  I said as much in a previous post about public education.

But, then I feel that he was wrong for making a blanket statement and presuming that anyone graduating from that school is not smart enough or resourceful enough to attend an Ivy league or top-tier college or university.  Never mind the fact that there were exceptional, alumni who chose to go above and beyond with their curricula and normal course of studies.  And just completely ignore the fact that you can’t know where a person is going in their life just by examining their current circumstances and from whence they came (poverty, homelessness, etc.). 

I challenged this man, asking him what would make him think that.  He was silent for a few seconds and couldn’t come up with any logical reasons for his statements. He said some other stuff about Affirmative Action that exposed some of his political and social leanings as well. He talked about how he didn’t think that it was fair that poor people get free money to go to college. 

I suspect that what he really wanted to say was that he didn’t think it fair that so many Blacks and other “protected classes” of people were getting financial aid, while more “deserving” and “capable” White people are deprived of their opportunity to get an education.  That’s what he really thought but couldn’t be so blunt about it. 

Now, I could be wrong but I had a very strong suspicion that he is a racist and/or bigot after that interaction. He never used any blatant racial slurs or derogatory statements towards racial and ethnic minorities.  However, a person doesn’t always have to be blunt or direct about their opinions on certain matters.  I am pretty good at reading between the lines.

This was not my first encounter with a person who has racist ideals but it further confirmed to me that some White people just don’t have very high expectations of ethnic minorities.  Some White people seem to think that they are culturally and intellectually superior by default.  A lot of racism and discrimination these days, is very subtle or covert and that is what makes it insidious and pernicious.

Another thing that I found bizarre, is that he complimented me on my English.  WTF?  Was he expecting for me to attempt to communicate with persons outside of my culture in Black English Vernacular?  I can visualize that scene right now on a meme with the caption:  White people be like…“Wow, a real live Black person speaking proper English!” And, then the guy kept trying to talk to me in French after I repeatedly told him that I am not Haitian and that I don’t speak French or Creole.  LOL!

Now, the company president’s son, daughter and others were in the break room while this exchange took place. I glanced over at these people as the vice-president spoke.  They either sighed in exasperation, rolled their eyes or shook their heads.  It was like they were non-verbally saying, “That guy is a real asshole!”

At that point in my career, I didn’t feel like I was in any position to further challenge him and call him out on his bullshit.  I was trying to keep my job and get past my probation period.  I was definitely in no position (financially) to tell him to go fuck himself. Later on that day, the president’s daughter, Kris pulled me to the side and told me to just ignore the vice-president because he’s an idiot.  I took her advice.

Ironically, there was a White male, Hill-Billy-looking employee who worked for that company, who was in fact a racist.  We didn’t know it at the time, though.  I just thought that he was a little weird because he would always stare at me funny.  Sometimes, I’d speak to him and he would either grunt or not respond.  So, I usually acted as if he didn’t exist.  Some of my co-workers gossiped about him saying that the man is racist.  I just sort of brushed it off, not giving it much thought.

Well, several months after the gossip spread, a co-worker (who happened to be White), showed up to work one day with a clipped newspaper article.  He said, “I told you guys he was racist!”.  The article detailed how the man had set his own yard on fire in protest to the amount African-Americans that were moving into the neighborhood.  When he purchased his home, the neighborhood was mostly White but years later, shifted towards a more mixed-neighborhood.  I actually lived in some condos just a few blocks from his home.  Funny how life plays out sometimes.

Every human has his or her own prejudices.  It’s not quite right, but it is part of the human condition. But, this whole racism thing is just so foreign to me and I don’t understand it. Most racism comes from a person’s upbringing and media propaganda.   I wasn’t raised to be a racist or bigot.  My godparents were White people and some of my father’s best friends were White people. When I was growing up, I never heard my parents express any hatred or malice towards a person of any other race or culture.  Mistrust- yes.  Hatred- never.  So it is just not in my blood.   

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Squandered Legacy

I was thinking about my great-grand mother's home in South Florida.  The home itself had a very storied past. My great-grandmother, was called Belle as a nickname.  She passed away from cancer, when I was about five or six years old, but I remember her faintly.  I have a few vague memories of going to church with her.  And, she didn't play and would put that switch on our asses in a heart-beat, when we acted a fool.  She was a definite character, being part Native-American and part Black.  Belle was a peculiar, tobacco-chewing woman, born and bred in Georgia. 
Belle got married and moved from Georgia to Florida, raising her sons, daughters, and one grandchild (my mother) here.  My great-grandmother, and her husband were raising my mother. This is because my mother's mom passed away shortly after giving birth to her at a young age. 
My great-grandmother's husband (my uncles' father) had died years before she did. My uncles' father actually died in that home after an extended illness.  When Belle died, she left the family home and other personal property to her children and my mother.  The beneficiaries of her estate quarreled so much about the property, that my mom and aunty relinquished their equity in the home.  One of my uncles was newly released from prison around that time. But for some strange reason he felt very entitled, as if he was king of the castle, in spite of spending so much time incarcerated.
During my early adolescence, my immediate family lived in that home for a few years, so I have some fond and bad memories of the place.  The house set up off the ground on top of some blocks.  There were several homes like it in the neighborhood.  I think it was a manufactured home moved from somewhere else.
There were many citrus and mango trees in the backyard, making it dark and dense like a jungle. There were lush cherry bushes surrounding the property.  Lizards and huge, colorful grasshoppers- the type that I never see anymore, were all over the place.  My mom says that when she was a kid, that her grandmother had a garden in the backyard.  She remembers bunny rabbits coming to eat up the vegetables that were growing back there.   I wonder what happened to the rabbits.
I used to go through some of my great-grandmother's stuff when I was about thirteen.  There was this back room in the home that was filled with boxes of her clothing, jewelry and photos.  Once in a while, when I was bored I would try on her jewelry and church hats. I even stumbled upon her obituary once. 
The home mortgage was completely paid off, so that we were able to live there, rent-free and mortgage free.  The only responsibility that my family had was to maintain the property, pay the water bill, the light bill, and the yearly property taxes levied by the county. 
Well, as I mentioned before my mother and us children lived in the home for a few years, after she separated from our father.  The first year was okay but afterwards we went through a dark period.  During the dark times, there was a lot of arguments amongst the adults of the household.
Do you think that any of the "adults" stepped up to the plate and made sure that the bills were consistently paid?  Some of my relatives had substance abuse and addiction problems.  They had no problems living in the home with no electricity and no running water.   They had jobs, but the strange thing was that, they hardly ever had any money to keep the bills paid for long.  None of the adults could agree on who would be responsible for paying the bills when they came due.  My parents managed to save up some money.  And, my mother and us kids moved out a little after it got to that point.  The conditions were just deplorable and the stench of the bathroom alone was unbearable.
There came a time when the county was threatening to foreclose on the property for overdue property taxes.  No one had any money to pay off the property taxes.  I heard that a long-time family friend actually stepped in and paid the overdue taxes and took ownership- a decision that they probably now regret. 
The home fell in dire need of repair.  It was infested with scorpions, cockroaches and rats, which were entering the home through openings in the floor. The foundation of the home was falling apart.  The roof was leaky. Even worse, the home became a neighborhood eyesore and crack house. The city eventually condemned the home as a safety hazard and put an orange sticker on the front door.  Therefore, my uncles and the other people who lived there had to find somewhere else to live.
It is a disgrace and shame that those, grown people allowed the home to fall to such disrepair.  My great-grandparents probably turned in their graves after their children lost the property and squandered their legacy.  After all, they had worked so hard to realize the American dream of home ownership. They weren't wealthy or educated people: Belle worked as a housekeeper cleaning the homes of well-to-do people and her husband ran a landscaping service.  They were also very prominent members of the community and church which they attended and helped to found. So, it is just horrible all around to see their legacy and hard work go to waste.  This is something that could have been preserved, kept in the family and handed down through generations. 
The home was demolished several years ago and the lot where the property once stood is now vacant except for shrubs and grass.  I believe that except for sentimental value, the property is not worth much, financially.  The property is now encumbered with several liens by several creditors.  Therefore, it can't be bought or sold without paying off those debts and clearing the liens. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Traction Alopecia Caused by Wigs and Weaves

Several months ago, I noticed that my hair was getting a little bit thin at my hairline.  The thinning is mostly around the edges of my face and forehead.  My hair is actually natural and seldom wear my hair in natural hairstyles, (Afro, braids, etc).  However, most of the times I have worn wigs.  I guess I am pretty addicted to the versatility of wigs ( I loves myself a bob). 

I believe that the hair loss is due to wearing stocking caps almost every day underneath a wig, for many years.   I went and did some research and discovered that it is possible that I suffer from traction alopecia.  Typically, the disorder results in thinning around the edges and nape of the head.  Sometimes there are patches and hair loss at other places on the scalp.

It comes from continuous tension or pulling on the hair and hair follicles.  The tension may be due to wearing tight braids, weaves, wigs, caps, tightly drawn pony tails, glues, etc.   The first signs of traction alopecia are irritation and bumps on the scalp at the affected area.  If ignored, the disorder may lead to permanent hair loss.  

Many years ago, I did suffer from hair loss due to wearing a weave.  When you get a sew-in type weave, the stylist will braid up your hair and then sew the wefts of weave onto the braid tracks.  Well, if the braids are done too tightly, then it can result is hair breakage and hair loss. 

I went to a hair salon about 10 years, ago to get a sew-in by my stylist.  During the process, I kept telling the hair stylist that she was braiding my hair way too tight.  I mean, it was really painful. At first she made excuses, like the weave is not going to last long, etc.  Then, she said “Okay” and let up some.  But, the end result was that the damage was already done.   I looked Asian after this woman finished the hair style.  I couldn’t lay down to sleep without feeling that tension and pain on my scalp.  And, I had too much pride to go and remove the style after spending so much time and money in the salon (Ah... foolish pride).

Eventually, the crown of my head scalp became really itchy.  The edges around my hairline became itchy and some white tiny bumps started to develop.  Then, slowly the hair around the edges and the crown of my head fell out.  The hair loss was so bad that it looked like someone took a clipper to the top of my head and trimmed a perfect circle.  

Every time I looked at my hair in the mirror, I whimpered like a kid! That experience made me swear off getting weaves and cornrows. Thankfully, the hair loss was not permanent and the hair grew back.

Now that I took note of the more recent hair loss, I am not wearing wigs as much.   I allow my hair to breathe more and usually wear an Afro or cover my hair with a loose cap or head scarf.  I been doing this for about three months and I am beginning to see the difference.  I see some hair regrowth but the process seems kind of slow.

The hair loss doesn't look as bad as other people's because I caught it early on.  Glad I don't look like Norman Osbourne or George Jefferson. My hairline used to be straight across, with no jig jags. 

I am hoping that there is not permanent hair loss.  I been doing some research on products that help with this problem and stumble upon some info on Jamaican Black Castor Oil and other essential oils.  Some people are giving positive testimonials on it.  Perhaps, one day I will give these products a try if my hair growth continues to be slow. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Uncontrolled Diabetes and High Blood Pressure can Destroy the Kidneys

The kidneys are vital organs in the human body.  They filter the blood of metabolic waste products, excess electrolytes, fluids and toxins like, urea. There are millions of microscopic filters in the kidneys called glomeruli which cleanse the blood through oncotic pressure.  There is an exchange of ions such as sodium and potassium in the filtering process, also.  Ions which are needed are reabsorbed back into the bloodstream.  The ions that aren’t needed are excreted in the urine along with toxins and waste products.  These are just a few of the many functions of the kidneys.

Someone who I know is suffering from renal failure resulting from uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure.  The dialysis patient requires hemodialysis at least 3 times per week.  It is a very exhausting process and the dialysis patient is connected for hours to a machine that cycles and cleans the patient’s blood.  The machine essentially does the job that a pair of healthy kidneys would do. 

Dialysis is not a pleasant process, either.  The patient has a couple of shunts inserted in one arm and in the neck artery.  It is like a catheter embedded into the vein to facilitate the process.  The process of inserting and removing the needles is painful and leaves ugly scars, especially keloids. 

The patient complains about severe cramping during and after the procedure.  Then, they go home and spend the day resting after the exhausting procedure.  Not to mention that they are required to maintain a special diet and are on several medications.  They are not able to work and declared disabled.  The patient is currently waiting for the chance to get on the kidney transplant list.

How Uncontrolled Diabetes Affects the Kidneys

Conditions like uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure are very damaging to the glomeruli in the kidneys.  Type II diabetics, with uncontrolled blood glucose and insulin levels are at increased risk of kidney damage.  Persons suffering from type II diabetes either don’t produce enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t function to properly metabolize sugars.  When there isn't enough insulin in the blood to breakdown sugars, a diabetic's body can't use the excess glucose for energy.  So, fats are utilized for energy, instead of glucose.  This can lead to increased levels of ketones in the blood. 

The ketones are the metabolic by products of fat breakdown. They are really toxic to the blood and kidneys.  But, it is the job of the kidneys to filter this waste out of the blood and into the urine. This dangerous cycle is called diabetic ketoacidosis.  It occurs when people with Type II Diabetes have high blood insulin levels. The ketones build up in the kidneys and blood can lead to glomerulonephritis (inflammation and destruction of the glomeruli), kidney failure, coma and even death.

The Effects of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure on The Kidneys

People with hypertension are at increased risk of stroke and heart attack.  Chronic hypertension can destroy the glomeruli in the kidneys by way of very high oncotic pressure.  So, this cause the kidneys to improperly filter out excess fluids and electrolytes.  The body becomes more prone to retaining salt and water.  It also starts a cycle of the kidneys having to work harder.

Some people have a genetic predisposition towards developing these chronic illnesses. Sometimes, people aren’t even aware that they suffer from these ailments until much damage has already been done to the body. Many forms of glomerulonephritis are irreversible. If at all possible, the proper measures must be taken to prevent these diseases from occurring. 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Regular physical exams are a good idea to detect any problems in the early stages.  Generally, when there is glucose and ketones found in the urine, along with high fasting glucose levels, it's an indication of diabetes. 

It is vitally important for diabetics to keep track of the blood glucose levels. That’s why diabetics prick themselves with a needle and check their blood insulin levels frequently though out the day.  They must make sure that they take their insulin as prescribed by their doctor and check their blood sugar levels.

It is also important for people with hypertension to monitor their blood pressure.  Inexpensive blood pressure cuffs and blood glucose monitors are available online and in pharmacies.  Free blood pressure check machines at most Publix and Walmart super centers. 

There are often opportunities to get blood glucose meters free by taking advantage of sales and using coupon match-ups.  However, you don’t need to run out and buy one of these unless you have been diagnosed as a diabetic by doctor.  Routine annual physical exams will uncover these diseases.

Get regular exercise and maintain a healthy weight; Obesity and poor diet are contributing factors in both diabetes and hypertension. 

DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a suggested diet for people with high blood pressure.  The most important thing to do is to eat a low-fat, low-sodium, balanced diet.  Spicy foods tend to raise the blood pressure.  I know several people who have high blood pressure that must go to the emergency room after eating really spicy foods.  And, drink plenty of fresh water to keep the body hydrated and flush the kidneys.  People with renal failure should drink the amount of fluids suggested by their physician.

Stress is a contributing factor in the onset of many chronic illnesses, especially hypertension.  Be sure to get enough rest and relaxation.  Yoga and meditation practice are good for reducing stress.

I hope that this post inspires more people to take better care of themselves.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Breville Juice Fountain Compact BJE200XL Review

The Breville Juice Fountain is one of the best juicers (if not the best) in its price range on the market.  These juice machines are available for under $100 through many retailers, including Amazon. 
The first experience that I had with juicers is with a very cheap Juiceman Jr., which I purchased in the 1990s.  That juicer was okay for a starter juicer but not as powerful as I would've liked.  So, I sold it after a few years. 
When I was ready to get back into juicing, I wanted something economical, sturdy and powerful enough to withstand the rigors of regular use.  I knew that an industrial grade juicer wasn't necessary.  The options were narrowed down between a Jack LaLanne Stainless Steel Juicer and a Breville Juicer.  On the one hand, the Jack LaLanne Juicer had a beautiful finish, but numerous lukewarm customer reviews.  On the other hand, the Breville Juicer was not as aesthetically appealing as the Jack LaLanne Juicer, but it is highly functional.  The wise choice for me was the Breville Juicer.

The Breville Juicer is powerful centrifugal juice machine with a, 700 watt motor, reaching speeds of up to 14,000 RPM. It does a great job of extracting juices from most fruits and vegetables, leaving behind fairly dry pulp.  I use it primarily to juice carrots, apples, pears, broccoli, celery, spinach, ginger root, kale, and citrus fruit.  Occasionally, a few chunks and bits slip through in the juicing process.  Most of the juiced ingredients, leave behind a dry pulp.  And, the fiber rich pulp doesn't have to go to waste.  Pulp can be used to prepare delicious and nutritious soups, pastries, and sauces.
I have used this juicer since 2012 and it is still performing quite well. It has never malfunctioned on me and has delivered on performance nearly every time.
It is compact and can be neatly tucked in a closet or under a cupboard. 
It’s easy to assemble and clean. The manufacturer includes a cleaning brush for the sieve, which also doubles as a spatula.
The Breville Juicer comes with a 1 year manufacturer's warranty. 

It is loud as heck, which can be disturbing to others.
I don't know what it is, but whenever I juice grapefruits, a small amount of juice seeps down on the side of the juicer.  I am not sure if there are others who have that experience.  I tried reseating the basket securely and still have the same thing occur.  The seeping juice is a really minute amount, though.  But, it is a bit annoying that I can't figure out where it is coming from.  It only happens when I juice grapefruit. 

I have used the Breville juicer to juice apples, carrots, broccoli, kale, spinach, ginger, cucumbers and all sorts of other stuff.  You can't use this juicer for grasses (wheat grass, barley grass) and seeds.  A masticating juicer is more effective at extracting juice from these ingredients.
I think that the plastic parts aren't as durable as I would like.  Be careful that you don't drop them, as they may be damaged.  The replacement parts aren't cheap, either.
I will upgrade to other types of juicers when the Breville juicer wears out.  For now, this juice machine suits my needs wonderfully well.

Why Juice? The Benefits of Juicing
The USDA recommends that adults consume between 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables into the daily diet.  Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which have wonderful properties, like boosting the immune system, slowing the aging process and fighting disease.  Let’s take a step back and look at reality:  Can you imagine sitting down and actually chewing up 6-8 to servings of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis?  That would become very challenging and tiresome within a few days.  It is also very time consuming.  The process of juicing foods makes getting your daily servings more convenient.
I recommend purchasing some organic fruits and vegetables for juicing.  You don’t want to ingest all of those dangerous pesticides and chemical used in traditional farming.  Organic produce is very expensive so it may not be an option for some people.  You can purchase some produce cleaning solution and a produce cleaning brush and scrub the produce before juicing it.  Or, you may substitute the produce cleaning solution with a homemade lemon-vinegar-baking soda solution, diluted in distilled water.
Overall, I am very happy with the Breville juicer and recommend it to anyone as a starter juicer.

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