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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Standing Alone...


So many people are afraid to stand alone. They are afraid of being different, standing out, going against the grain and not fitting in. Why is it that we are comfortable in a culture of just “fitting in?” What is it about our personalities that make us go left when you really want to go right and why do you feel that in order to gain approval and acceptance, you must stand with the crowd instead of stand alone? Perhaps it’s loneliness, a feeling of exclusion or not wanting to be viewed as that person who rocks the boat? I’m just guessing but I suspect that it has to do with courage; or the lack thereof. I’ve never been afraid to stand alone. I’ve never been afraid to use my voice and use it loudly. I’ve never been afraid to raise my hand and exert my perfect self-expression and I don’t think much about what others think when I do.

For a very long time, there was this “thing” within me that was just dying to get out. I don’t know what else to call it so I will call it “thing.” She was bold and she made noise. I tried to squash that “thing” but she always managed to bust out as if to say, “I am who I am so let me just be.” In my attempt to put her in a box, that “thing” would break lose. It was too big for my box and it was too big for yours. She didn’t belong there and no matter how I tried to stuff it, it just didn’t fit.

What I realized is that this “thing” within me was never meant to be squashed, pressed down, stuffed or molded in such a way as to make YOU feel good. It was my “thing” and as a result of failing to acquiesce or going along with the crowd; often times, I would stand alone. Standing alone, I would watch the faces of those who told a story of discomfort. I would watch the behaviors of those who would “go along just to get along.” Those poor, poor people… who knew they were never meant to assimilate with the crowd, but whose voices were so weak, so afraid and so fearful that they did it anyway.
What a pity it is to stand with a crowd yet still be so isolated, so lonely, so ignored and so disregarded. We all got that “thing” in us. Yours is dying to come out too. You just gotta stop being so afraid of what people will think. They are JUST people… and by the way imperfect people at that. Stand up and stand-alone if you must. Just STAND!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

She remembered my name...



In life, there are a multitude of things that make us feel significant. A mother feels significant when her child tells her that he/she loves her. A wife feels significant when her husband cooks dinner for the evening. A co-worker feels significant when they are awarded a promotion out of the blue and a child feels significant when they get that long awaited toy for Christmas. But what about when a complete stranger makes us feel significant?

I was in San Juan, PR at the airport in August 2013 waiting for my connecting flight to Philadelphia. I had just landed there after spending 7 wonderful days in St. Thomas. While waiting for my flight to take me home, there was a group of women who took seats near me. As I people watched, I became mentally engaged in the behaviors of those around me. Some energized me, others made me laugh and still, others disgusted me because they were extremely loud and was acting as if they had never traveled before.

I don’t apologize for staring at people. I can’t help it at times, although I do try to remain aware of my super long stares if it makes someone uncomfortable. It’s just so amazing how much we learn from people simply by observing and listening. One of the women from this small crowd took a seat next to me. A few moments later, her friend appeared. This friend spoke very softly but had quite an edge to her. I could already tell that she didn’t take “no stuff” and for this reason alone, along with her eclectic look, I paid special attention to her.

As it turns out, she took a seat on the other side of me. We smiled at each other and then began to have a conversation. I learned that she had just come off of a cruise and she was taking her flight from San Juan back to Philadelphia. She asked about me too and that is when I informed her that I was coming from St. Thomas after 7 days there and that my 2 hour layover was in San Juan, PR. We shared our vacation stories and talked about our hometown ~ Philadelphia.

This woman was approximately 65-70 years old but had the energy of a 40 year old, looks of a 50 year old and the friendly spirit of an innocent child---still, she had a way that I cannot effectively describe that demonstrated that she didn’t take “stuff” from anyone, yet she had a genuine interest in me.

It’s now time to board our flight back to the City of Brotherly Love. My San Juan friend was a Platinum Card Member, so she got to board first. As she stood in line, she looked over at me and smiled a few times. The very last time she looked, she said, “have a safe flight Tori” and followed the line ahead of her to board. She remembered my name. It seemed to be hours before my section was called, but nonetheless; finally, I could board.

I didn’t see this woman again during the flight or after we landed. Four hours had passed and we’re now back in Philadelphia. I’m outside waiting for my ride to pick me up and take me on my hour long car ride back home. I was tired, semi-depressed because I had to leave beautiful St. Thomas and my friends, but at the same time, ready to see what was waiting for me.

A car pulled up in front of where I was standing. Out of nowhere, the woman I met in San Juan and her friends appeared. They were quickly placing their luggage in the trunk of the car and taking their seats. As the driver began to pull out he had to maneuver around shuttle busses, taxi cabs and other awaiting vehicles. I was so focused on his driving skills that I never noticed my San Juan friend who rolled down the window and yelled, “Good-bye Tori, it was nice meeting you!” She remembered my name. I’m not certain if I made that great of an an impression on this woman that she would remember my name, or if my name is so unusual that she couldn’t forget it, or perhaps, maybe she just had a good memory ~ all I know is…she remembered my name.

While this may be a “small” thing to many, it had a “big” impact on me. It proves that to our very core, one of the things we really want is for someone to remember our names.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Carol and Cheryl...FREE TO BE…AND THEY LOVE ME FOR ME…


Few of us have people in our lives who we can call friends. I’m constantly hit over the head with the fact that I’ve got some good people in my life who accept, love, understand and will take my good, my bad and my ugly without judgment or condemnation… I’m a fortunate woman. We come from different walks of life, different, educational, spiritual and marital backgrounds, but the one thing I can say that we all have in common is a true love for each other and for life.

We can sit around and not say a thing but still be on the same page, yet we can be out of our minds with randomness and it all makes sense. Carol and Cheryl are a healthy dose of truth minus the attempt to be the most profound, the loudest or the most holy. Pretentious, they are not. Phony or trying to win a popularity contest with people…not their style. They are free to be who they are around me because they expect nothing less.

Few of us have people in our lives who we can call friends. I call Carol and Cheryl (a.k.a. Sweet Neck Bone – you had to be there…LOL) friends! They really are FREE TO JUST BE and THEY LOVE ME FOR ME. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve them, but it must have been good!
The understanding of our unique purpose depends on how we answer this question: What on Earth Am I Here For?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My friend, St. Thomas


I’ve got a friend and his name is St. Thomas. Whenever I visit, my friend requires that I take advantage of the numerous white beaches, calm blue water and bask in his warn sunshine. He requires that I relax in a simple pair of flip-flops and comfy clothes--- not those Caribbean dresses that we all think is appropriate and that will make us fit in with them. He’s schooled me on the lesson that “they laugh at us because they don’t dress this way.”

My friend also requires that I talk with the locals. Because of their wisdom they can educate me and dispel what we are accustomed to believing on television. He has groomed me to say, “good morning,” good afternoon” or “good evening” as simply saying “hello” or “hi” is considered rude and uncustomary. He wants to make sure that I enjoy the food of their land and their perfectly hand-made items…not the touristy stuff that most tourists purchase. My friend has one other requirement and that is to leave all of my stress where it belongs--- OUT OF THEIR LAND. He wants me to fit in.

I’ve got a friend and his name is St. Thomas. He’s a good friend and one that I hope to have for years to come...

What’s underneath there?



So many people think that it was the top of the iceberg alone that sank the titanic. No, that isn’t true and while we may never know the exact size, early reports indicate that the height and length of the iceberg was approximated at 50 to 100 feet high and 200 to 400 feet long. What sank the Titanic was underneath the water.

When I think about the destruction, devastation and traumatic series of events that sank such a large vessel, I am also reminded of what is beneath “our own surface” that can net the same results as this boat. We only allow people to see the surface of us. You know what I am talking about…. The smiles, new hair styles, fine clothes, and only promote what’s above water.

But, LAWD, LAWD, LAWD, what’s underneath there? Hmmm, let me guess. I suspect for many people, they are weighed down by hurt, anger, fear, frustration, resentment, envy, jealousy, hatred, bitterness and rebellion. Wait…. I’m not finished. I also suspect self-hatred, perfection, and lack of identity, low self-esteem, guilt, shame, addictions, and pity. Do you think I’m finished? I’m not, there’s a ton more and yet with all of this weight, we only choose to show “YOU” what shines brightly and what looks so perfect on the surface. NEWSFLASH…. Those paying close attention already know that beneath your surface, there is corrosion..

Eventually, this corrosion will not only take you down, but it will take others who are in your path down. You were never created to carry this kind of weight, but because of “pride,” and the refusal to do the hard work of being free, you just kind of float on out there… waiting for the first innocent bystander to accidentally bump up against you before you take them down--- like the Titanic.

It requires work to rid yourself of all of these sinful violations. It requires getting to the end of yourself. It requires not giving a damn about what people think or what they have to say and being dangerously bold and brave enough to admit that underneath... there was a stench that violated all man-kind. It doesn’t happen overnight and for some, it may take years, but you can be free and you don’t have to hide the totality of who you are underneath by selectively choosing to give us the part that you “believe” is your best.

NEWSFLASH AGAIN….. Your best part is the part that shows us who you are beneath the surface. Your best part is the part that reflects who you were authentically created to be. Instead of sinking ships with your corrosion, choose instead to sink into the loving arms of a God who can rescue you from yourself.

About vicTORIous

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I am a free spirit and an extreme realist. With God, I've encountered strength that I never knew was possible.