Category Archives: Culture

Let’s Go Crazy

I am certain that every living person suffers from mental health issues at some point on some level.  No human is immune to the psychosis of their environment and while I am no psychologist I have observed enough of human nature to know that we are all fucked up to some degree.  Self-awareness (or lack thereof ) dictates the extent to which our mental health issues are prevalent.  For example, I know I’m a fucking nutjob.  I am very self-aware of the little idiosyncrasies that exist in my defective personality.  I HAVE ISSUES.  I have parental issues, abandonment issues, high anxiety and occasionally I am a little OCD.

The levels to which we all exhibit our mental health can be based on various factors (again I am not accredited in psychology so my analysis is based on simple human observation).  Yes of, course there are professionally diagnosed mental illnesses and I consider those to be severe mental health issues  Some people are overtly self-aware of their mental status and simply don’t give a fuck.  There are some of us that are so painfully aware of it that we go to great lengths to conceal it because we crave “the approval of others” (which is, BTW, a trait of Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD), anxiety and depression). Face it, if every person in this country were forced to be mentally evaluated by a professional, we would all be labeled by something other than our exteriors.

You’re probably wondering how I even came to blog about this particular subject.  Well like I said I HAVE ISSUES and with the acknowledgement of those issues I’ve tried to identify the source and as I began to re-examine pivotal points in my life I was reminded of certain things.  Within those reminders, there were more than ample opportunities to point fingers and place blame.   I could call it genetic, environmental or simple in-definitive (as some shit just can’t be explained). Whatever the source, we can’t deny that we are all just a little fucked up and no, my analysis is not inclusive of serial killers, rapist, pedophiles, and murderers; that ‘s some next level fucked up.  Yes, I do believe there are some sins against humanity that are worse than others. For this post, however, I am referring to those who are deemed “socially functional everyday ordinary I am capable of stalking people on Facebook” kinda fucked up.  Harmless to others at best but self-afflicting in the most pathetic way.  Well, I am writing this simply to suggest that we own our imperfections and for those of you that already do… Kudos.

We are not above our own bullshit, believe that.   If you are reading this and telling yourself “I am not fucked up”, take a moment to examine your habits, your inconsistencies, your overcompensations, your lack of motivation or your vices.  And while it may seem that I am making light of mental health issues, I am not.  In fact, I feel more enlightened with the idea that we all are dealing with some inner shit and to stop taking other’s people fucked-up-ness personal unless that fucked-up-ness is directed towards me personally.

With that being said.  I also want to encourage someone who is self-aware and finds it to be a challenge handling all the FUN (Fucked Up Ness) to seek some support or assistance.  Seeking therapy does not make you weak nor is it against any religion to get unbiased input to better help you evolve.  Black women, I speak to you specifically because we have been stereotyped into the idea that we just “Let the Lord” handle it when we should be laying on a couch in someone’s office sorting through the deep shit we have buried in our bosoms.  Maybe “Dr. Feel Something” isn’t the route for you.  I personally use a series of tools to sort through my shit like Art, BLOGGING, sharing, meditation, therapy and a few more natural herbal remedies.  I want to believe that most people, after a certain level of life experience, become more self-enlightened.  It has been my personal encounters that indicate that is not the case. In fact, I have found that if a pre-existing mental health issue/condition is not addressed in a timely manner it becomes unresolved and a festering personality defect.

Your mental health can be more than the result of a hidden family genetic disease that no one ever speaks of because they fear it but it is also affected by your diet, your environment, and your overall physicality.  As we maintain access to endless information and become more enlightened, the plight of mental health will not be a phrase uttered with judgment and accusation but of acceptance and understanding.

If we all acknowledge our own FUN instead of someone else’s FUN, life, in general, would be a lot more fun.

So let’s go crazy.

Cherry Danish

Why I created the #5000BlessingBags2016 Challenge

The beginning of the summer months when the heat really embarks upon the Las Vegas desert, I decided early one Saturday morning that my husband, daughter and I would go hand out water to the homeless. It was spontaneous as is most of similar adventures.  So as we traveled down to Las Vegas’ version of skid row, we began to hand out water and ice.  Some recipients were very appreciative, while others simply took the water and continued with their day.  I wasn’t bothered by the lack of appreciation. Over the years of working with the homeless, is not a requirement or an expectation but it does feel nice when it occurs.

Which brings me to tell the story of a young African American male presumably in his 20’s who emerged from a make shift tent on the side of the road.  As others crowded around the car waiting to get their water and ice.  He waited patiently for his turn while holding a small paper plate with a cherry danish on it.  When I was finally able to give him his water and ice, he offered my his danish.  I declined.  There was a look of disappointment that immediately emerged on his face so I felt obligated to explain that I in no way wanted to insult his offer, in fact, I was honestly moved to tears by his gesture.  I told him that it was incredibly generous of him to offer me his cherry danish but it was more important that he made sure he kept what food he had for himself. I wanted him to know that I was there for him.  He explained that he simply wanted to thank me.  The offer was thanks enough.  He asked if he could hug me and I was more than obliged.  It was the warmest sweetest embrace.

All the way home I kept thinking to myself how I was touched and humbled by this young man.  He was willing to give me what little he had just to thank me.  It sometimes seems that the ones who have nothing are always willing to give everything.    While those who have everything find no remorse in  doing nothing.  This is not to preach, judge or cast stones at any one but there are a numerous amount of homeless men, women, children and teens in our community who could use the smallest acts of kindness.  These members of our community are not always non-productive or lethargic people.  There are members of the homeless community that suffer from mental illnesses, domestic abuse and violence and even those rejected because of their sexual preferences.  I have had some of the most intelligent and informative  conversations with members of the homeless community.  I always feel like they have given me more than I could ever give them.

I am asking, in fact pleading with you.  If you or any one you may know would like to participate in the 5000 Blessing Bag Challenge it is so very simple.

5000 Blessing Bag Challenge.

Simply create your own version of a Blessing Bag.  I have decided to make some for both men and women. I know some that will make unisex bags.   Blessing Bags usually consist of a few hygiene items, snacks and water. Depending on the area you live in, you may want to include a pair of socks, mittens, hats or gloves to accomodate the winter season approaching.

I have posted a pic of one of the ones I have created below.  If you select not to created and distribute but would like to contribute, please donate to the GOFUNDME campaign 5000 Blessing Bags.  Share your experience by using thehashtag  #5000BlessingBags2016 


 

Prince Day ….

Prince Day….I almost feel like I need this day off with pay.  I damn sure need this day off.   I think from this day forward there should be parties where friends and family gather to exchange paisley related gifts and sing Prince songs.  We should exchange cards with quotes from his songs and by all means we must wear purple.  Maybe I’m going to far.. maybe not…I’m just saying if these things start to manifest remember you read it here first. 

In all seriousness (and yes I was totally serious about the other stuff too) or let me say on the heavier side of things, as I sit here listening to Prince A-Z stream from the Current out of St. Paul, MN., I ‘ve experienced a plethora of emotions.  I have laughed, cried, danced and cried again.  As I reflect on what this day will mean to me from now on.  I mean seriously it’s such a conflicting emotion to mourn someone I’ve never met and yet we had the most intimate relationship.  There was a time when he was the last voice I heard before I fell asleep and the first voice I heard in the morning.  Even when I thought I was straying  away from him with me love affair with hip hop… he didn’t try to lure me back he just went there with me.. You know PRN could spit bars… He nurtured my love for music  my love for poetry, my words. 

Prince Day ….. still can’t believe I am celebrating in memoriam… in my reflection of him I think  how he has brought so many people together.  I have encountered some of this most amazing people brought together by our admiration and  love for one man and his music… A real life purple pied piper of sorts.
I wanted to express so much more but as I peck at the keys on my tablet I can not help  being distracted by my natural body movement to “New Postion” playing in my ear buds.  So I am going to wrap this up… Have a funky evening.  I will be planning my purple party for next Prince Day and you’re inv ited..

Toni Racell

Bread Pudding – My First Short Novel

So I woke up this morning and thought to myself “Holy Shit” I did it.  I published my first book.  It’s a little surreal.  My first book titled “Bread Pudding” follows a family in turmoil. Plagued with lies, deception and secrets. As seen through the eyes of one young woman who finds herself at a cross roads when she must decide to as to whether she can look past the drama and pain her family has caused her.  Want to know more? You will have to buy the book.  This first book was a serious passion project.  Started a story and just had to finish it.

When I  decided I would publish it, I wasn’t sure of the reception it would receive.  Still not sure since I have only sold one copy but to be honest I didn’t do it for the accolades.  I didn’t do it for money.  It’s hard to believe that any writer would write a book for the money.  I have a great imagination that I wanted to put to use for me.   Writing is a very selfish/selfless act.   I know the terms are contradictory but it’s true.  It is selfish in the sense that a writer is truly writing for their self.  A writer is simply putting their thoughts, ideas and fantasy on to paper for preservation.  It is selfless in the sense that sharing it with the world is the way of reaching others be engaging and entertaining them.

So I wrote this book out of the depth of my imagination and believe me it is just the first of many. Stay tuned for “Knew  A Little Girl Named Nikki” an urban romance.

You can purchase “Bread Pudding” HERE

Loving our Black Men….PT 1

Okay I am going to try to keep this post brief. I don’t want to dwell on it but I felt it was something I needed to address.  So I was compelled to write on this particular subject matter prior to the recent transgressions displayed against our brothers in Louisiana and Minnesota but I got a little distracted.

So, I was chatting with a friend about her new boo.  I was excited that she mentioned she was dating someone new but as she begin to tell me about him I noticed she had nothing to say nice about him.  Everything she stated was derogatory and negative.  My initial response was to ask “Why the hell are messing with dude if he was all these things but instead I replied “well I am sure there must be something about him you like.”   Anyway as the conversation continued I realized that this dude, perfect stranger to me, someone I had never met, was simple someone I had no interest in meeting.  If I were to recognize him from the pictures she had shown me, I probably would not be the most friendly or the most welcoming to him all based on what his girlfriend told me.     And then I asked myself is that what our black men deal with on  daily?  Their images are so tainted both internally and externally that the are fighting an uphill battle below sea level.

Now I am not saying the brothers are perfect. I’ve dated a few assholes and have suffered from “relationship remorse” but that is my internal situation.  I don’t go bashing the last brother so that he is ruined for the next because let’s be real, what may not be good for you maybe exactly what the next women may need and vice versa.

I know, I know, you’re probably shaking your head and saying “some of these dudes are just trifling and need to be put on blast” and you are probably right AND there are extreme cases where abuse (physical, mental, emotional and sometimes even spiritual) is involved that you may need to tell someone about.   However, if abuse is the case, then maybe you should be discussing your own issues and as to why you choose to continue an abusive relationship.

What I am getting at, is if you are with a man that is showing some genuine effort to be attentive, caring, supportive, etc and yet you find nothing good to say about him to others then why are you with him.  No relationship is perfect but your relationship issues are just that YOUR relationship issues.

Now this should apply to all relationships but I find that in the case of LOVING OUR BLACK MEN we need to exercise a little more compassion with our words, a little more understanding of his burdens because society and it’s actions has shown no compassion or understanding for him.   The same way we love our black sons even at their worst behavior we don’t systematically insult them or shame them to others. We need  to apply that same logic to the men we are involved with, they are someone’s son too.

I wanted to elaborate a little more on this but I promised to keep it short.   So stay tuned on a series of corresponding posts on this subject matter.

Next time I want to discuss “Baby Daddy/Mama Drama”

Our black men are targets let’s not be the one’s pointing out the bull’s eye.

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Deliver Our Daughters

For years I wanted to created a program to help young woman develop more positive self images and encourage them to make more positive decisions for themselves.  I wanted to create a rites of passage program that would conclude with a gifting ceremony from family members and friends.  I have researched and followed a variety of different programs that I felt best represented my potential program goals.

I purchased the website, did some ads, created my logo and created the initial format of the program but I did not garner very much support.  There was also the factor that I too needed to deal with some personal issues.  I had seen this program through my own adolescent eyes as a young lady who could have greatly benefited from such an experience.  That was my mistake.  I should have been viewing this project as a women who could help others benefit from the experience.

This would require me to re-evaluate my own emotional, mental and spiritual needs.  I was able to share my journey and teach a class at a local homeless shelter.  It indeed was one of the most powerful experiences in my life.  It is because of that experience that I feel that I am equipped to handle the task of making my program “Deliver Our Daughters” a success.

However I still, at one, point felt the timing was off and I did not diligently pursue reestablishing the program until my daughter was recently expelled two days from school for public display of affection now it’s time.   I have raised two adult sons who live on their own and have relationships of their own, my daughter however is 11 and is a completely new experience when it comes to this pubescent stage in life.   Times have changed since I was an 11-year-old girl and the amount of exposure our children encounter can not often be controlled or prevented.  My daughter does not watch programs that promote promiscuous behavior (not saying she has exhibited any) but I was concerned by the choice she made.  Obviously I can not control human nature but I did feel that had I given her better tools in her decision-making ability this incident could have been prevented.

My husband has a very traditional viewpoint when it comes to his only daughter growing up and experience this natural development in life and it is simply “NO” – no boys, no kissing, no growing up period.  LOL.  Not very realistic of course but probably the sentiments of every loving and caring father.  So when my daughter told the little boy, who liked her, that her dad said she could NOT have a boyfriend, he in turn encouraged her to lie and keep it a secret.  I know it seems like something a boy would coerce a girl to do but at 11 he is already setting a pattern and I don’t want her to fall into an unhealthy pattern of her own.   I explained to her that a friend (be it boy or girl) does not encourage you to do things that will cause you harm or trouble and that a good friend would encourage her to do what is right and expected of her; however, I also had to scold her for the fact that it was ultimately a decision she made and there were consequences to her actions.

Without going into great detail I have been having these very random conversations with my daughter as they come to me and I realized that there are so many things we assume our children already know but in reality they have no idea.  I knew she was not alone in her feelings nor in her experience.  Again I felt this would be a perfect time to resurrect Deliver Our Daughters.

My hope is to gather with my daughter and a group of her peers as we participate in a variety of activities that will help promote healthy and positive self images that will encourage them to make more sound and responsible decisions.   I am sharing this because I hope that it will encourage others to share and support my dream as well as challenge me to make it the success that I know it can be.

If you feel that you can contribute or assist in any way to the success of this program, I implore you to leave me feedback in the comment section of this post.

Thank you.

WWPD (What Would Prince Do?)

Let me start by saying that in writing this post I am in no way trying to be sacrilegious or disrespectful to anyone’s religious preference I am just sorting through my own feelings and wanted to share them.

It has almost been a month since Prince’s passing and like many of my peers and his fans, I am still in a state of disbelief bordering on denial. Sadly, no matter how much I try to deny it, his death has been confirmed everyday since it was reported and there is nothing we can do about it.

I have never experienced this sort of mourning and I have to admit I was a little confused by it maybe even a little uncomfortable with it.  I have mourned the passing of celebrities before (some I even knew personally) but it was nothing like this.   Then I realized I had never had this sort of affinity for anyone as I had for Prince.  I mean, I knew as much about him as any of his fans possibly even less and yet as little as I knew about the man, I knew his music (which was in essence his heart) and that was all I needed to know.   So when he died I felt a little lost, as I’ve said in previous posts, he was one of the few consistent beings in my life.

As I struggle with my thoughts and these words, I appreciate your patience in reading this post.  I hope I don’t start to ramble.  Let me continue

As I watched his fans unite over social media and pilgrimage to Paisley Park just to honor his memories, I started to think “his death is like a religious experience.”  I am not trying to compare him to Jesus but only that his presence in the lives of so many people seemed life changing in the wake of his death.  For me personally, music just doesn’t seem the same to me anymore, to be honest nothing seems quite the same to me anymore.

As I scrolled through my social media feeds I saw the comfort and I ALSO saw the conflict.   In this POST-Prince world I find myself responding differently to the conflict and accordingly to the comfort by asking myself “What Would Prince Do?”   He wouldn’t judge, he probably wouldn’t even respond and if he did it would be with such humor and candor it would be hard to get offended.  Yes, indeed that’s what he would do.

Prince was as enigmatic as he was explicit.   He was uncompromising as much as he was cooperative. He was charitable, he was humble, he was a Prince among Kings. I find it more than a coincidence that his name was Prince.  I think it was divinely planned that way. I think it’s more than a trend that he has impacted that lives of so many in this experience that he called life.  I don’t find it strange that in the wake of his death it was so easy to forget all the ill goings on in the world and focus on supporting and comforting the many soldiers in his Purple Army.  We embraced his disciples as if they were our own family not wanting anything more than to provide the support they need to keep his life as impactful today as it was when he was alive.  When I say disciples I mean the people he mentored and helped to define so that in his absence they would continue to share (spread) his love.   I can’t begin to  share the number of posts I’ve seen in all of their hopes, Paisley worshippers cried for his resurrection, prayed for a misunderstanding or pleaded for his return.  It was as heartbreaking as it was touching.

As I struggle with my own acceptance of his death, I reflect upon the many life lessons I’ve learned by virtue of one of his many compositions.   My reflection of him illuminated my energy and allowed my to attract those with the same purple light.   He taught me about spirituality in the course of his own religious growth.  He never asked that we follow him but he simply lead by example and for that we became a group of loyal believers.

People of all ages, backgrounds, religions, sexual preferences, social backgrounds and genders gathered at his musical revivals across the globe.  As we watched him display every human emotion and urge known to man we still found him unworldly in his essence resulting in devout members to his alliance.

I know it may seem that I am about to cross a line but I promise that is not my intent but it wouldn’t surprise me that in some coming generation that they will be reading from the book of “Musicology”, pilgrimages to Paisley Park and purifying themselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka while wearing purple gel bracelets with the symbolic acronym of WWPD (What Would Prince Do?) I mean how many men do you know that walked this earth and are recognized by a symbol. (hmmm, I see your wheels turning).  Again let me clarify that I am not trying to compare Prince to any religious figure past or present but I am saying that his angelic presence and his impact on this culture are very similar by certain aspects.  There is no denying that he truly was a son of God.

I have probably asked myself WWPD subconconsiously for years just based on my musical taste, fashion sense and humanitarian efforts but now I will probably make a more conscious effort into adopting characteristics that made him the celestial being he was to so many people.

Peace and be Funky…

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