Monthly Archives: December 2014

So It’s a New Year Already….Let’s Do It!

Hello! It’s me, your favorite blogging commentator here with yet another end-of-2014-reflections post for you to read.

But really, this year for me has honestly shaped up to be a much different year than I expected. Overall I can say this year has been ‘safe’. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but it’s not terrible either.

I began this year with high hopes but life knocked me around a little. My businesses were revamped and my overworked immune system stopped me in my tracks. It was a struggle trying the find the balance between ‘hustle’ and ‘health’. It seemed as though the harder I worked to establish and launch my businesses, the more tired and worn down I became. It comes with the territory so I thought, but I learned the hard way that if you don’t slow down, your BODY will slow you down. Now it’s the close fo the year and I feel like there is so much I could’ve done that I didn’t. I feel more relaxed, but lazy at the same time. My desires in life are tweaking a bit and it’s not the most comfortable place to be in — honestly speaking.

That’s why I said I feel ‘safe’. I’m grateful for the safe place I’m in now. I have a stable job and the businesses that I actually want to make a living off of are growing. BUT I also feel that I’m playing life ‘safe’. I feel as though I haven’t taken enough risks…but who knows, maybe I need to sit my tail down somewhere ANYWAY! haha

I’ve accomplished plenty of the yearly goals I made for myself last year, and some I plan to carry over.

Well getting on to the new year that’s coming in a day, these are my goals for the year (in random order):

1. To lose 10 lbs and keep it off

2. To pick the keys back up. A lot of people don’t know this but I’ve played piano since I was like 7 or 10 years old. I just let it go once other interests took over. I need to give into my dad’s nagging and pick it back up.

3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle psychically, spiritually, and emotionally.

4. Date and travel the country. I’m still super happy in the single department and a little hesitant in entering the dating pool. We’ll see what happens. Prayers up!

5. Spend more time with God and my family.

6. Grow my businesses and step closer to my dreams (which prayerfully are God’s dreams)

7. Support friend more by actually physically being available. With my schedule up and down like it is, I need to spend more time hanging out with friends! Business will be there. As long as I have a comfortable roof over my head and healthy food to eat, I’ll be good.

8. Pry away from technology (I PROMISED myself I wasn’t gonna get sucked into the techie wave, but it got me. I’m digging my way out. I refuse to fall into the same, lonely, people-absent world these youngsters find themselves in.) #TeamHumanInteraction

9. Find a church home JUST FOR ME and not because it’s “comfortable”.

10. MOVE into a house or REALLY nice apartment! Not saying “just living in an apartment” isn’t nice, but I want to go the extra mile! That means I must SAVE SAVE SAVE!

11. Get healthier hair and skin. I’ve been fighting this battle since the TWEENage years. I’m gonna win though.

12. Be beautiful. I want to continue to be beautiful inside and outside. I want the joy of the Lord and the light of Christ to show through. I want to also take steps to make sure my outward body is presentable and healthy as well!

13. Give back to the community. (though I already do this on a smaller scale, I want to get into more).

14. Know what my career purpose is in life, get there, and be happy/fulfilled!

– FIN. Joc

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Who Can Our Black Kids Look Up To? A Thought Penned In The Moment.

Just a few minutes ago, I ran into a boy from my hometown and began to ask him about school and if he was excited for Christmas. Out of nowhere he started telling me that he “kinda” likes school but thinks the holidays and life in general would be better if he were white.

PAUSE.

Yeah, I heard him correctly. I pulled him out into the hall and asked him why he said what he said. His reply? “White people are nicer.”. By that time, his aunt overheard him on her way walking to where we were and chimed in as we BOTH assured him that black people are nice too! Normally, this would surprise me, but given his background and upbringing, I sadly understood how he could come to this conclusion.

Although he’s only in school, he’s had a tumultuously unstable upbringing in a dysfunctional home to parents (both African American) who were clearly not ready to bring a child into the world. He’s seen and experienced things GROWN MEN shouldn’t even experience, let alone a child! He’s extremely intelligent which actually works against him at times. He is smart enough to see through the “baby talk” many adults and teachers try to give him and knows that they really look at him as an unfortunate boy who gets on their nerves. He sees the news and hears adults talk about black boys being thugs or getting killed for just being black. He bears witness to the tangled web of what it is to be black in America and because of this, this little local boy has unknowingly learned to associate people of color with inferiority.

I mentally stepped away for a moment as the little boy continued to explain his reasoning and asked myself, “Why is he not believing me when I say every black person isn’t bad and every white person isn’t good?!” I snapped back into reality and it hit me once I heard the words, “that’s why my girlfriend is white”, escape from his tiny little mouth.

Everything (mostly media) he sees and has witnessed is his few years here on earth paints being African American as a negative trait. From the rachet reality shows, to the reports of black on black crimes, to the recent uproar in Ferguson, to “new age” hip hop and rap heavy hitters degrading themselves, to growing up in a home where black people didn’t have it together — this child has had it mentally seared into his psyche that “white people aren’t making fools of themselves.” “white people must hate blacks because they’re bad” “black people have gangs which are bad so that makes them all bad”.

This is a problem that I’m not sure will ever truly be cured. There will probably always be ways to disenfranchise the black culture and it’s members through media and through what we teach (or don’t teach) our black children at home. I don’t have a solution and this really isn’t much of a commentary, but my thoughts as they are coming to me in real time. I clearly see more than ever that if a 4-6 year old boy wishes he was white so he can be a ‘better person’….something is wrong.

We need a change. Will you help us change?

– Joc

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Don’t Let Fear of Singleness Rush You Into Marriage….

Last night, I was perusing Christian based motivational speaker Heather Lindsey’s Facebook page and saw this:

When you’re single.. you’re FREE to roam around, move wherever, do whatever, have huge sleepovers with 20 of your girlfriends, spend whatever, eat whatever, go wherever & you don’t have to accountable to anyone BUT God. But then when you get married and then you have kids.. you have NEW responsibilities. You can’t just up and go backpack around Europe for 90 days with kids at home! You have to talk to your spouse about the decisions that you make and make sure that they’re ok with them. Don’t get married and then COVET your single life because you wasted the entire thing complaining about being single. Get up & get BUSY about doing what the Lord told YOU to do.

I literally stood up and clapped my hands like I was somebody’s mama at their high school graduation. I have literally been expressing and living by this same sentiment for the past 4 years! After my last major breakup, I realized that I was dating the guy I was with out of loneliness. I felt like the “pool of potentials” where I lived wasn’t very deep (or accessible) and I wanted to be able to do all the fun activities other couples in my life took part in. But you know, that relationship never did mirror the ones my friends and wedding clients seemed to have. So I had to step away and really struggle — dig deep to find the joy in singleness. I was so wrapped up in “having someone” I wasn’t fully enjoying my season of singleness. After coming to this realization, I began to throw myself into exploring new creative outlets and even launched a new business. To ME, it appeared as though this was my way of dealing with the failed relationship; when in all actuality, it was God thumping me on the forehead like “See girl, you were so busy investing yourself into that God forsaken relationship, you neglected the time you could’ve spent building and establishing yourself and My kingdom. There are still some things you’ve got to get done while you’re single before you settle down and become someone’s wife and mother!” 

Boy was He right (but then again, He IS the creator of all existence).

Over time I said to myself, “Jocelyn….do you realize that if you want to up and go to Florida for a week, you can without having to worry about anyone else’s feelings?! If you feel sick and want to come straight home to sleep….you can because you don’t have any kids to take care of! If you want to go to a concert with one of your strictly guy friends…you can because you’re totally single! If you want to invest your money into a new business, by all means do…it’s not like you have a household of 5 to worry about providing for.” I’ve honestly come to be a SUPER happy single woman and I can tell you it feels AMAZING! I can spend all week at church or spend all night writing or editing photos if I so choose because I don’t have to take into account anyone else’s feelings or emotions but my own!

Now before someone interprets this as me heading towards a “I don’t need a man” rant — know that I KNOW I need a man. I believe in God’s divine family order. I WANT to grow into the woman that can be someone’s help meet. I WANT to share my life with an attractive, loving, faithful man who can lead my household in the godly, upright way. I do DESIRE to be married and have kids one day — but I know that there are still some things I need to launch and see and do before all of that can happen. To be honest, I think that’s why so many women are unhappy in relationships now (can’t really speak for the men because I’m…well a woman). They spend their entire lives (as I did) collecting bits and pieces from books, movies, media, and music; gluing them into a mental picture of the perfect life! They want to be married by this age…they want to have kids by that age……

What they fail to realize is that you should be mentally and spiritually READY for marriage and family before jumping into it. If you want your marriage to be fruitful and long lasting, if you want your kids to have an amazing childhood — you have to make sure you have learned from the lessons of your past and can successfully take that growth into the next chapter of your life. Yes, you will still do some growing after you are married with children…but some things you need to have a handle on before jumping into it all. I learned from trial-and-error that if you spend all of your time WISHING you were married or wishing you had a family; you’ll end up settling for a life with someone you know is not God’s best for you. If you don’t mature while you’re single, there’s a good chance you’ll enter marriage and family prematurely without fully being ready for all that comes with it.

Yes when you’re married and have kids you’ll gain companionship and love; but in order to be a good wife/husband, you need to be sensitive to your spouses feelings. You need to be there for your children (even when you don’t feel like it). You have to learn to compromise and let go of selfish motives — after all, you will no longer just be ( insert-name-here) — you will forever be _______ ‘s wife/husband and ________ ‘s mother/father.

Just think on it. Blessings,

– Jocelyn

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The Hidden Roots Of ‘Hunger Games” Hit Song? Murder Ballads, Civil Rights Hymns

The Hidden Roots Of ‘Hunger Games” Hit Song? Murder Ballads, Civil Rights Hymns

  • WRITTEN BYAmelia Mason
  • PUBLISHEDDecember 10, 2014 – http://artery.wbur.org/2014/12/10/hunger-games-mockingjay

Last week, “The Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence made headlines when “The Hanging Tree,” a song from the soundtrack to the latest edition to the movie series, “Mockingjay Part 1,” on which she is a featured vocalist, reached No. 2 on the iTunes songs chart. Much was made of this feat because Lawrence is not known as a singer—in an interview with David Letterman last month, she described herself as a “a tone-deaf Amy Winehouse.” But her vulnerable, understated performance struck a chord with fans, who have streamed the song more than 4.8 million times, pushing it to the top of Spotify’s “Viral 50: Global” playlist.

As much credit as Lawrence deserves, the song itself is arguably the real star. “The Hanging Tree,” which employs lyrics based on those written by “The Hunger Games” author Suzanne Collins, is set to an eerie tune penned by the folk-pop group The Lumineers and given extra dramatic heft by the unearthly orchestrations of composer James Newton Howard. Though the sing-songy melody feels more like a caricature of an Appalachian ballad than the real thing, it is nevertheless a recognizable riff on the genre. There is a satisfying aptness to the astounding popularity of “The Hanging Tree.” In a sense, folk songs were the original Top 40 hits.

The Appalachian inflections in “The Hanging Tree” are no accident. Lawrence’s character Katniss Everdeen hails from District 12, a coal-mining sector located in a post-apocalyptic Appalachia. And Collins’ lyrics, too, play with the tropes of the genre. “The Hanging Tree” is written from the perspective of a man accused of murder and hung as punishment. Appalachia’s songs are themselves descendents of ballads brought over by English and Scottish settlers, and hangings are a common occurrence in both traditions. Whether you owed a debt or had murdered your wife’s lover, hanging was a likely punishment in the ballad universe.

For Americans, murder by lynch mob—that tried-and-true act of citizen vigilantism by which white supremacists terrorized and dominated the black population in the aftermath of emancipation—is probably a more familiar context for hangings. And in the universe of “The Hunger Games,” in which the oppressed citizens of the fictional Panem live under the constant threat of execution by an exploitative upper class, that reference is all the more poignant.

In the novel, Katniss sings “The Hanging Tree” while out with a camera crew filming “propos,” the stories’ slang for propagandist television spots designed to promote the rebel cause. The song begins:

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Where they strung up a man they say murdered three.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met at midnight in the hanging tree.

The stanza repeats three more times, with the third line altered in each repetition: “Where the dead man called out for his love to flee;” “Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free;” and finally, “Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me.” In Collins’s book, Katniss puzzles over the narrator’s story:

You realize the singer of the song is the dead murderer. He’s still in the hanging tree. And even though he told his lover to flee, he keeps asking if she’s coming to meet him. The phrase “Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free” is the most troubling because at first you think he’s talking about when he told her to flee, presumably to safety. But then you wonder if he meant for her to run to him. To death. In the final stanza, it’s clear that that’s what he’s waiting for. His lover, with her rope necklace, hanging dead next to him in the tree.

In the novel, the song never actually makes it into a propo and functions mainly as a window into Katniss’s past. But in the film, it transforms into a theme song for the rebellion. This is a shrewd choice on the part of the filmmakers. Whatever its literal meaning, “The Hanging Tree” has many possible subtexts. It expresses a yearning for freedom. It contains an invitation—to death, perhaps, or more specifically to martyrdom. As a cultural artifact co-opted and imbued with coded significance by the rebellion, it is a very plausible rallying cry. It has resonances, too, with African American spirituals: in his 1857 memoir “My Bondage And My Freedom,” the former slave Frederick Douglass described a similar phenomenon:

A keen observer might have detected in our repeated singing of “Oh Canaan, sweet Canaan,/ I am bound for the land of Canaan,” something more than a hope of reaching heaven. We meant the North—and the North was our Canaan.

Of course, in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1,” “The Hanging Tree” is far more than a vaguely subversive folk ballad. Though it bears little resemblance to the protest songs of the American civil rights era—those tended to be uplifting, rather than ominous—its genesis into a movement’s anthem invites comparisons to its protest brethren. Protest songs are, by design, made to move and motivate listeners, as is “The Hanging Tree” (at least in the film). The song contains a whiff of “Strange Fruit,” the anti-racist ballad popularized by Billie Holiday in which the bucolic image of a fruiting tree is shockingly transformed to evoke the horror of a lynching. And like “The Hanging Tree,” the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” originated in a folk song: the African American spiritual “I Shall Overcome,” the lyrics of which were tweaked to conjure a more universal sentiment, probably by white activists for whom the hymn was a tool rather than a birthright.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee does a bit of editing to “The Hanging Tree” himself to help the song better suit the cause of his rebel comrades. “That line was originally ‘a necklace of rope’ and I had it changed it to ‘necklace of hope,’” he tells President Coin, the leader of the rebellion, while they are watching the propo featuring “The Hanging Tree” in “Mockingjay: Part 1.”

The change itself is not significant; rather, it serves to underscore the fact that the rebels are, in essence, running a public relations campaign. That PR campaign might be necessary, but it is also comes across as deeply manipulative—of Katniss, and of its intended targets. And it reflects the film’s own manipulations: a plot twist designed to make us uneasy about the rebellion. Coin’s followers live in an immense underground bunker, wearing standard-issue jumpsuits, their movements tightly circumscribed. If they are free, they certainly don’t look it.

In its cinematic incarnation, “The Hanging Tree” becomes a flashpoint for one of the story’s central anxieties: the fear that even the purest cause may be irredeemably sullied by the compromises made in its service. In the quest to build a just society, is literally anything justifiable? When you consent to play the enemy’s game, can you not help but start to resemble the enemy?
There is a certain irony, too, in the massive commercial success of a song that owes its life and its meaning to a story that, by pitting a tyrannical and ostentatious upper class against an impoverished working class, displays more than a little discomfort with capitalism. But make no mistake: “The Hanging Tree” does exactly what it is designed to do, which is promote a movie, not a cause. “The Hanging Tree” may represent a win for the rebels, and even for Jennifer Lawrence, but with each successive iTunes download and every Spotify stream, the triumph of the “The Hunger Games” franchise only grows.

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No One Who Loves You Will Hide You

This morning I came across a photo of actor/photographer (AMAZING one at that) Lance Gross and girlfriend/baby mama BC Jefferson out for what appeared to be a day of shopping. The caption underneath the photo read, “No man that truly loves you and wants to be with you will hide you.”

My wheels began a’turnin….

I know some people may comment that when dealing social media there is such thing as sharing “too” much; but when thinking about significant others in general, I believe this statement to be true. You don’t even have to say ‘love‘ — you can substitute it with ‘values‘ or ‘likes‘ or ‘respects‘ or ‘is proud‘. It all reads the same.  If you are in a relationship with someone who doesn’t allow their feelings for you to be visible to others, you may want to rethink this situation you’re in.

Society has done it’s part in trampling over the euphoric glow that comes is supposed to come with being in a relationship by exalting images of side chick heroines, glorifying males for successfully juggling multiple women, and claiming that a real bad b**** sticks around for whatever. This is a big bowl of HOGWASH.  Men and women will NEVER have the solid relationship they desire if they settle for being an “option” instead of the end all be all choice.

Over the years I’ve had plenty of friend girls who have worked my ever lasting nerve by choosing to stay in “whatever-ships” with low down, no good men who have had absolutely NO romantic interest in them at all! I’m not saying I expected the guys to buy hot air blimps with their pictures on it — but like I have told my friends, if the only place you’re able to “be somebody’s #1” is cooped up inside the house or around their immediate family, YOU DON’T MATTER TO THEM! There is no such thing as an “unspoken love” unless you’re in love with mas’sa and you’re slavin’ out in the fields! (somebody go run and get me a choir and some timber, cause I’m preaching here!) Oh and don’t think it’s just ladies, men can be “secret lovers” too! 

“But you don’t know how we roll. We’re taking our relationship at our own pace Joc.”

Well listen here lovelies, there are some key signs to tell if the person you’re into is actually ashamed of you, or has no intentions of creating a future with you….

#1 They don’t introduce you as their girlfriend/boyfriend. You can make up ALL the excuses in the world to soothe your conscience but it won’t change the fact that they just don’t look at you the same as you do them. Titles are important when it comes to feelings, and the term “my special friend” is only for people over the age 60. If you’re thinking you are in a monogamous relationship or heading towards one, and the person you THINK you’re with is still looking at you as a good time girl or a sugar daddy — something is wrong here. If they can’t introduce you properly to friends, family, colleagues….well shoot ANYBODY really…then you’re wasting your time because they’re obviously embarrassed of you.

#2 They act shady online. I KNOW I’ll get a lot of flack for this, but it has to be said. Years ago I used to think that social media was TOO intrusive, but I’ve come to realize that it’s part of life as we now know it. I’m not saying you have to put “in a relationship with ____” but doggone it, “in a relationship” should be up there! Some make the argument that people will cheat ANYWAY, but if you’re optimistic like I am and know that that’s a lie…wise up. If you think you are in a committed relationship with someone and it doesn’t reflect on social media — there may be reason to have a heart-to-heart or a bail out plan.

#3 (If you DO see the light of day together) they take you to hidden venues. If you take a honest look at your “relationship” with the person you’re into and you realize that the only public places you frequent together are drive-thrus, the social security office, the dry cleaner, the ice cream parlor, or worse…you car — then that person is clearly embarrassed of you and has NO intentions of letting the world know that they value you as a girlfriend/boyfriend. I don’t care HOW laid back or introverted a person is…they DO go out sometime! Shoot, even if it’s to a club or family dinner at the Olive Garden…if they make an excuse as to why you can’t come or don’t invite you AT ALL…it’s time to walk away boo. If you’ve JUST started dating someone, that’s another story because you’re feeling them out for the first time, but if months and years have passed and you’re STILL going to the same “out of sight out of mind” places, you need to reevaluate your situation.

#4 There is ZERO PDA going on. PDA can encompass a variety of affections — you don’t have to slob each other down in the Drop Zone line at Kings Dominion; but if you notice that you don’t hold hands, stare into each others’ eyes, kiss, hug, hold each other or anything like that in public, it may be a small red flag. The PDA level may vary depending on how far your “relationship” is in your eyes. If you feel that you’re newly dating, then a make out session may be #TeamTooMuch; but if you’re in a long term relationship, supposedly engaged, or married — there needs to be at least a hand hold or an eskimo kiss!

#5 They have an excuse as to why they aren’t willing to meet your friends. This is a HUGE RED FLAG! If you have good friends, they can pick up if someone is acting suspicious and the “apple of your eye” will know it! Of course you’ll have some bold folk who will lie right in your friends’ faces in addition to yours, but on average, they’ll try to convince you that “they’re not ready to meet your friends” or “they think your friends will judge them” or some other bologna. What they’re really saying is, “I don’t have any romantic interest in you, and since you’re not someone I’m serious about, I don’t want to waste time putting up with your friends.” Now before you jump all out of your skin and yell “BUT I’VE MET THEIR FRIENDS!” My response to you is…..SO?!?! To be honest, your guy/girl probably jokes with their friends ABOUT YOU behind your back. So they are in safe territory with you meeting their friends because their friends already know what the deal is. Love yourself and reevaluate what you want to do.

“No one that truly loves you and wants to be with you will hide you.”

If you read that statement and are truthful with yourself, you will know if the man/woman you’re tagging along with sees you as a disposable hobby or someone they can create a future with. Be wise. Tread carefully. But above all — be honest with yourself. I would hate to see you waste another second, or another day, or another year pouring yourself out, waiting to be desired as the lovable ‘you’ YOU are! ❤

– Joc

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