Friday, January 23, 2015

The Hidden Message in Your Vision Board

It's no surprise that the start of a new year brings a host of new beginnings, commitments, and resolutions. A chance to hit the "start" or "re-start" button on a dream. An opportunity to leave behind the negative and extend oneself toward the positive. Be it taking out a gym membership or applying for a loan to start a business, that first step usually begins with a vision in one's mind. However, to better "see" the road map from vision to attainment, many have begun gathering glue guns and girlfriends (and wine), and creating the now ever-so-popular "vision board."

Being a fan of anything that promotes self-awareness, growth, and positive energy, I am no stranger to vision boards or their usefulness in charting one's course toward success. However, recently reading an Essence article on how to create a more effective one, reminded me of two things: 1) that I hadn't created one in a while, and 2) that the vision board actually brings about another opportunity for assessment that many are not even aware of. I discovered the latter when I recalled that my last vision board was...stuffed behind my bed. In the words of Kevin Hart, let me explain.

Years ago, I was in a relationship that was not serving either of us well (if both parties are honest), but hindsight revealed we were probably more committed to the commitment than we were committed to our own true happiness. I won't even go into detail about how difficult and dangerous that can be. However, in hoping to make a little more sense of my life at that time (read: avoiding the troubled relationship elephant in the room), I set out on creating a vision board. Cue the magazines, scissors, markers, glue, glitter, and all that fun stuff that makes the board "come alive." As a then newbie, I now realize some goals simply weren't streamlined well enough and others not even goals but instead those things that just sound good to say (like, win the lottery? Umm. Yeah.). But I digress.

After completing my masterpiece, I hung it proudly on my bedroom wall so that I could see it and draw the vision into my consciousness on a daily basis. However, whenever my significant other came over, I'd take the board down and hide it behind my bed. Now, I justified this behavior by telling myself a vision should be private and that no one needs to know your dreams. However, after I finally had the fortitude to end the relationship, I realized some time later that my actions were truly because the person was not really a part of any of my visions, and because I didn't want them to try and "compromise" any of my visions by seeing them. And THAT was a major wake up call.

Yes, visions are personal but they certainly do not need to be "secrets" hidden from anyone you're sharing your life with, be it friends, family, or a partner. In other words, if there is any anxiety about sharing your vision with anyone in your life for fear of judgment, criticism, coveting, etc., your first order of business in organizing your life is to ask yourself why you've kept such people IN your life. Our relationships regardless of what kind should be built on love, trust, understanding, and, support! When you begin to hide any parts of yourself in an effort to keep any of those relationships "harmonious": red flag! There is no growth without freedom, and there is no freedom in hiding. Many of our visions are ushered into fruition by the loving support (and, dare I say, connections) of others. Those that truly belong in--and are there to enhance and advance--your life will not only embrace your visions but can help you reach them as well.

If in planning your vision board party or going at one alone, you find yourself seriously vetting who you invite or share them with, there is no time like the beginning of a new year to do inventory on who you call your "circle"--or even your partner. Before any vision can be birthed, a solid foundation must be in place, and loving, supportive people should always be a part of that foundation--and your life.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Selma: A Journey Through Our Present

"At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man's unending search for freedom...."

When President Lyndon B. Johnson delivered these words to Congress in 1965 in a speech to generate support for the Voting Rights Act, ignited by the Dr. King-led march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, one couldn't imagine that those same words could be used to explain the genius that is "Selma": a cinematic powerhouse that takes an in-depth look at one moment in history that is perfectly aligned with the current state of race relations in our present day America. 

Led by a stellar cast of Black Hollywood notables from David Oyelowo as Dr. King and Carmen Ejogo as a quiet-strengthened Coretta, with Oprah Winfrey, Common, Wendell Pierce, Lorraine Toussaint, and newcomer Stephan James, who masterfully portrays a young John Lewis, as supporting cast, director Ana DuVernay mastered what should have been the impossible: allowing the spirit of Selma to play the leading role, even at times, overshadowing the essence of Oyelowo. Oyelowo, however, superbly plays the then 36-year old Dr. King, humanizing the civil rights leader in a way that has not always been present in biopics, where jokes and laughter flow as freely from his soul as his mature-beyond-his-years spirit towards advancing his people. Yet, Oeylowo plays the character with just enough subtlety to let the story itself be greater than the man whose name is without question synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement.

However, it can be argued that despite its outstanding directing, acting, and storytelling, the strength of "Selma"--and proposed box office success--might not have had the same impact if not for the current unrest playing out on our soil once again today. When the citizens of Selma march to the local courthouse and fall to their knees, we "see" the citizens of Ferguson march to Clayton; when Oyelowo delivers the speech over the body of a murdered young black man; we "hear" the words that were delivered over the body of Mike Brown; when the lights are deliberately shut off by city officials before protesters are beaten without witness and when tear gas is fired upon them as they attempt to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on what is now known as "Bloody Sunday," we remember what we all watched play out on our own television sets night after night as protesters stood in harm’s way in their pursuit for justice."

Even when unrest between the SNCC and the SCLC threatens to derail Dr. King's mission, we're reminded of our own quiet debates during the building of the #BlackLivesMatter movement when we questioned the approach of our more fiery, young leaders versus the more planned approaches of those who came before us. And when we discover the uniquely clever way Dr. King uses the media to advance his mission, we're reminded that when journalism is used responsibly, it can be a great conduit to ignite and transform the world.

All of these powerful and painful reminders are masterfully woven throughout "Selma," which reminds us that our yesterday is today; and today our tomorrow to create. It is a cinematic masterpiece that is both harrowing and heartbreaking. Harrowing as it reminds us that we can--and have--overcome;  heartbreaking as it beckons us to remember just how far we still have to go. "Selma" at this time and at this appointed place is calling us all to do what has been done before while trusting that we can--and must--do it again. That is, remember that though there may be leaders, a movement requires the people for there to be progress.

As we near the commemoration of Dr. King's birth, let us be reignited by his words that "Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." We are those individuals that can ignite change and "Selma" is calling us to answer that charge.