Thursday, August 15, 2019

Perfect Attendance

Growing up I've always heard the term 'Experience is the best teacher.'  During those years, I didn't take that quote to heart.  When I surmised ‘teaching’ I automatically referenced it to school or books.  Sure, relatively teaching is about school and in my family we were really focused on education.  School was mandatory! I remember how we would compete to see who could achieve the most perfect attendance awards. But in this statement, the subject matter is ‘experience.’ It is the teacher in the school of life.

Those who knew me then recognized that I had a joyous, happy, and excitable attitude about everything. I was dubbed Miss Positive. I saw the glass half full, instead of half empty.  Some seemed to think that I didn’t have a worry in the world. Maybe it was because I was always there for the other person. You know the type you can count on for a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, and a sounding board. And to boot, I was trustworthy and a confidante. Sounds amazing, right? That was and still is my character, but “oh the experiences” I’ve endured.  Visibly I was the pillar of strength.  Deep down I HID. But, I had an escape!

Let me give you a peek into my upbringing.
I had a STRONG single mom who took care of all six of her children. From the outside, you didn’t see the struggle. Her statement to us was “Never let’em see you sweat! Be steadfast and stand tall in what you believe.”  I understood that completely and carried it into my adulthood and family. Yes, just like the next person, I had problems but just didn’t show it. I didn’t carry everything on my sleeves. I didn't have a permanent print of a frown on my forehead. It seemed I always wanted to portray a zest for life, renowned strength, and the epitome of positivity. That was the person I wanted to exude-- to be visible to my peers.

But, deep inside
But, hidden within
But, to only my best friend
But, my bad experiences
But, to the only One
whom I can depend
But God
The key that unlocks the door
to my escape-
He is my refuge

I said all of that to relay this message. As our children and grandchildren return to school and classroom settings, we know that peer pressure will be very impactful. But keep in mind that even the bad experiences will help to mold and make them into who they will someday become. Of utmost importance is endurance and how they handle the pressure. Admit it. Life as some of us knew it, is quite different now. And like us, they must and will go through things we cannot shield them from or put a band-aid on. Yes, school and perfect attendance are important, but life experiences will be the ultimate lessons. So teach them something they cannot grasp at school. Teach them Jesus! He has perfect attendance. 

Blessings,
PJ Payne

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

How?



Who do you depend on when it seems everything you touch and do goes wrong? What do you do to keep yourself motivated? When do you realize you need help or a backup plan? Where do you find hope and inspiration? Why would you say enough is enough-- I can’t do this anymore?  I GIVE UP!

Some of you may remember the five W’s in school … Who, What, When, Where, Why and then there is How. Usually, they apply to writing and journalism. We were taught that they are the research and building materials to getting answers to a story. But this application can also be about life’s story!

In many aspects of our lives, at some point, we hit brick walls, get knocked off our feet, dumbfound and have no obvious explanation or answer for the dilemma in which we find ourselves. Is that when we throw our hands up in despair? “Uh, yea, we’re human”.  But just when you think you have no answer and you’ve hit rock bottom, you relinquish, release, and let go. Then you find the ‘HOW’ of your story.  

HE is the 'how' in your life! He knows how to relieve the pain. He knows how to give you strength. He knows how to take your burdens. He knows how to put the right words in your mouth when you don’t know what to say. He is your answer when you’re faced with what you consider unanswerable questions.

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I remove ‘self’ out of the way as I seek answers, my path is so much clearer. My daily walk reminds me of how sweet it is to know that ‘God can’.

God can pick you up when you’re lower than low.
God can fight your battles in struggles against the foe.
God can renew that hope when the little you had diminishes.
God can complete the order and flow of things, from start to finish.
God can allow you to exhale when you can’t breathe and exhaustion overtakes you.
He can mend the pieces when disappointment tears apart and breaks you.
He replenishes and renews your spirit, when you’ve fallen and cannot stand.
All this brings back to remembrance and it’s good to know God can.

We literally live ‘who, what, when, where and why.’ But when we truly let Him write our story, we need not ask, ‘How’?

Blessings,
PJ Payne

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Leave Your Mark!


Think about it! What have you done or what is it that you do that impacts another person’s life or even his or her day?
Some years back, I worked in an environment in which the air was so thick with negativity, you couldn’t cut it with a knife. Even my coffee-breaks were ‘broken!’
I am a happy go lucky person, 90% of the time. I LOVE TO LAUGH!  Now a lot of it may have a li’l bit to do with my coffee habits, but I am a Very positive person. Kinda 'outta the box!'
One day I walked in to work and spoke in my cheerful manner. I gleefully said “Good Morning!” Nothing’s wrong with that, right? Well, of the 5 to 7 individuals who were in ear reach, only two reacted. I think every bit of energy I had in my body was immediately drained from me.  I felt as though I needed to check my breath. I was positive I bruised my teeth, even ‘after’ my morning coffee. And then my second cup of coffee had no immediate effect on my demeanor. For at least an hour, I was very quiet.
I understand that we ALL have ‘stuff’ going on in our lives—some unimaginable. And it stands to reason as to why ones persona may cast bits of quietness, anger or sadness. But NOT all the time!
That day I had had enough! I wanted my actions to ‘make them’ and not let them ‘make me!’ I could not and would not work in that type of environment for the rest of the week. It was at that time, I resolved for the rest of the day that I would find something positive to say to, or about each individual that I personally encountered. Not only that, I would throw an irresistible infectious smile. LOL.
Needless to say, my efforts were received very positively. I was even asked in which department I worked. It made me feel better about myself also.
So to all of you, do this for me. Take time for the rest of the day, or even begin on tomorrow, to say or do a positive deed…  There’s no better feeling when you've made a positive mark.

Be distinctive,
make your mark
no matter what
others say
They can't see 
your vision
don't know your thoughts
or your way

You're set apart
from a rigid format
the natural scheme
of things
Unique, relative
but not the same

You're
'Outta Tha Box' 
When you
Leave Your Mark!


Blessings,
PJ Payne

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Fix Me, Coffee


Seems like the faster I go, the further behind I get!  There are Never enough hours in the day; enough days in the week; or enough weeks in the month. “A schedule? What's that?"
I used to pride myself on being organized. Yeah, I was the one who had all of the organizational skills that were down to the ‘T’. My kids can vouch for the fact that they had duties each day.  There was a time for this and a time for that... I even scheduled 'play times!’ Needless to say,  I was the organizational guru!!
Our lives were full of paste-it notes and sticky-notes.
I think it all derives from the fact that I was brought up in a mid to large size family. And we did have organization because my mom worked outside the house as well as at home when she was home…  
At that time, people didn’t have a title for a person who basically did what it took to make ends meet. it was just
‘survival’ for a single mother with 6 children.  Now we call ourselves ‘Multi-taskers or Entrepreneurs. 
But do you realize that coffee has been around forever, as the ‘Fix It’ drink?  It was, even then, the Go To drink. But as I can recall, mostly the older folks drank it. They wouldn’t give it to the kids- saying we couldn’t have any. LOL. I chuckle now as I think back to those days.
Yes, they really thought of it as an ‘adult drink!’
Let me recount their reasoning—

You are too young.
Coffee is gonna make you nervous.
You can’t drink that! Git outta ‘grown folk’s business.
Coffee drinkers smoke cigarettes too, so you don’t need to smoke.
People drink coffee to sober up.
Black coffee is a Man’s drink.
Coffee is gonna stain your teeth.
You can’t drink coffee. It will keep you up ALL night!
It’s only for us (adults). It’s too expensive.
Coffee will burn you.
Coffee will make your breath stink.
Boys (men) don’t like girls (women) who drink coffee.” They’re fast!”

The list can go on….
My how times have changed! Now we LIVE for this ‘drink of choice!’ And it is ageless, literally, from teenagers to adults. It comes in all types of strengths, flavors, caffeinated or decaf, crystalized—any way you can think of, with a million and one uses. You can do ‘shots’! Shoot, people even use it as cures and remedies.
I definitely need it to fix me in every aspect of my life! Had a bad day? I indulge in a cup of my brew. Can't do without it;  mornings, noonday, or evening, The day just goes better when you've had your fix! Is that why parents didn't want children to 'drink of the bitter cup' so to speak?  I guess the age-old secret was 'it was the FIX,' even back then!
And now... Coffee Has Arrived!

So, “Fix Me, Coffee and Jesus!” Not necessarily in that order.

Blessings,
PJ Payne


Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Simple Things


We never know from one day to the next what type of day we will wake up and see. Questionable still is if we will wake up at all. Nothing is in our control, yet we take for granted the little things we enjoy without the tiniest bit of effort on our part. But today miraculously came anyway. What did you do to make it happen? We know the answer to that question… nothing whatsoever.
I speak of ‘hands-off’ blessings we are awarded because we need to wake up and smell the roses. Some of us are very fortunate to sail through the storms in our lives unscathed; others are not. A prime example is the fact that we have been inundated with rain- physically evident storms. Some people were not affected as others encountered having to be rescued, losing vehicles, and even homes flooded.
Metaphorically speaking, we all sometimes wake up to the rain in our lives. Whatever you are going through, someone else is going through something greater. “Concentrate on the rainbow after the storm.” This was my awakening one afternoon ‘after the rain.’

Just riding along one day, singing our little song
My grandson exclaimed, "Look a rainbow! It is sooo long!"
I glanced up to the sky, as I drove against the wind
"Let's follow it, he exclaimed, and see where it ends!"
Of course, I looked at him and said
"I don't think so, my son.
The end of a rainbow? Sweetie, there is none!"
Then the beauty of its colors
made curiosity get the best of me
As we drove I took pictures
and really wanted to see
Just where this rainbow might end
And of course, I knew we’d never find it
But the excitement on his face
made me feel adventurous, yet dumbfounded
To think- a child has this type of curiosity
And I've seen rainbows, many times over
I took its grandeur for granted
Never thought twice about it
Then I reminisced the childhood song
'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'
I knew it all was only fantasy
But my goodness, who knows?
Just where does this rainbow end?
So I told him about 'the pot of gold'
But that just made him even more excited
And said, "Let's go, let's go, let’s go!"
Through all of this, I was laughing
and delighted to know, as we sang
That this little escapade was our adventure
Free at will... The Simple Things

Blessings,
PJ Payne

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Test

We go through tests each and every day of our lives.  Whether hard or easy, life teaches us. When things get really hard or stressful, don't wonder or feel you are all alone. He's unseen but speaks loudly! Listen and look for the signs!
When you are going through
something hard and wonder where is
God, 
...remember the teacher is
always quiet during a test.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Wake-up Call


Do you sometimes wonder why things are happening to you and you don't have any answers? But then after everything happens you look back and say, “But God.” I did not realize that storms that I’ve been going through were going to allow me to help someone else.
Without any notification, I found myself having car issues that I was NOT ready for.  After a recent accident, which I won’t elaborate on ‘whose fault it was, I found myself becoming complacent. You know when things are going great for you and you settle your mind, your spirit—just get comfortable in your own little world.  Well, my little piece of ‘Heaven on earth’ got infiltrated by a few disruptions.
A warning light had been coming on in my vehicle. I initially ignored it, but it became progressively worse and began to interfere with different functions such as the speed dropping as I drove.  After trying to brainstorm it with my ‘mechanically inclined’ son, we were able to reset it. To say the least, that did not FIX the problem and I had to do what I dreaded doing… take it to be serviced. You know how we are always trying to get around the obvious; not wanting to disrupt ‘routine.’

So I finally had it towed in and found myself having to Uber to get around. Well, poor, poor li
l ole me, right? Through all of this, I had to get off of my ‘high horse’ or ‘majestic throne,’ and deal with others… My world was NOT my own, because I needed to be patient and depend on someone else for something as simple- to me, at least to me, like a ride to a grocery store...
To say the least, for the past few days I have been an ear for people who have been going through some issues. From a semi-homeless family to a father who JUST found he had a daughter, after 33 years, who had been put up for adoption. And I must also add the young gentleman whose wife had kidney failure and doctors pronounced her dead after she blacked out. His fervent prayer and pushing the medical team to revive her was miraculous. After revival, they said she would not function because her brain was without oxygen too long… she is now out of the coma but during that time he found she had been cheating for a year and a half.
When I look at their situation I think to myself I am not going through anything in comparison. I thank God for where I am now because I don't know if I would have the strength to endure what they are having to endure. And guess what they just needed a listening ear. But, their issues and problems have given me an eye-opening experience. This is not about me or them this is about God working in all of our lives. The Uber drivers, the wrecker towing person, they all had horrific stories. And mine may not have been what theirs was, but God was allowing me to see that what I'm going through somebody else is going through much, much worse.
MY question. To whom do we trust? When was the last time you had a wake-up call?

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Peripheral


I saw this today…
A man on a corner
The man had a sign
The sign said, ‘Need Help,
Please Help!’
Tattered clothing
Raggedy boots; no strings
A dirty cup
Unkempt hair
A slothful walk
A seemingly dampened spirit
Broken
Many passers-by
Stares
Yet, he couldn’t reach some folks
A dismal outlook…

And as I slowly drove, I eventually got a closer look.  But it seems the closer I came, like those who were ahead of me, I didn’t want to have any eye contact with him. You see, probably like my ‘forerunners’, I felt that if I would look at him in his eyes, I would feel obligated to respond in some form or fashion. His appearance was a directive of the mindset society has attached to individuals on street corners. There are preconceived notions that they are all cons, thieves, druggies, and any other belittling label that can be an assessment of their character.
So for a minute, I stared straight ahead. My characterization was stoic; immobile. I continued to drive, but as I began to pass him by, from the ‘corner of my eye’, I saw his eyes.  I then turned and looked at him. Our eyes met.  I saw something deeper than his outer appearance.  Without realizing my actions, I pulled all of the change from my ashtray and a few dollars, from my purse.  I rolled my window down, as he turned and limped towards my car.  I dropped the money into his cup. He said “thank you ma-am.”
And then I saw…
A gracious nod
A toothless grin
Stark-white, bright eyes
A rigid, tall frame
A resilient stride
A glimmer of hope

My question to you all is what would you have done? How would you have reacted? Would you have followed suit and drove past him, as so many others had done? Would you have stopped and questioned him? Maybe you have already encountered someone like him. What did you do?
As for me, the very moment our eyes met, I knew it was not my place to judge him. My spirit would not allow me to pass him by with no thought of the fact that he really could be homeless, someone’s father, brother or uncle. Better still – I saw a child of God.
In its simplicity, “I thank God for Peripheral Vision!”

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Distinction


Comparisons-
In life, there comes a time when an individual has to just STAND out and stand alone! Life has given man so many 'lemons' and not everyone knows how or has the strength to 'Make Lemonade,' as the common adage goes.
Instead, there are comparisons made, like Apples to Oranges. We are a comparative generation! But when I think about it, we have been compared throughout our lives from birth... "Oh, she is sooo cute," to "Ummm, isn't he a little short for his age...?"  Judgment and comparison go on throughout adulthood. What about the distinction.

Why can't people just let well enough alone and let one just 'BE'? Well, my answer to that is, man has not been able, from the beginning of time, to naturally be proactive. As humans, we need an extra push, motivation, fuel injection, because a lot of us are not self-starters. We are basically on automatic pilot, so we need a  GPS from time to time. That's what comparisons, like apples to oranges is all about, so it is not ALL bad.

"Think about it." Pick one and see. Look for the difference or likeness; firm or soft, tart or sweet, small or large, green, red, yellow or golden... not measured by seed but weight and texture, indeed... Apples to oranges, comparatively; Apples and oranges' diversities. Apples and oranges are distinctively different.

No matter how much someone is told they are like someone else, they must choose to embrace individuality comfortably. What the 'apple to oranges' - comparison of two people or things that are irreconcilably or fundamentally different does for one is make Him/Her STAND out... No bad apples. Just distinctive, even if they carry the same name.

Be Blessed,
PJ Payne

Thursday, March 7, 2019

In Deeds

Have you ever wondered how it would feel to have someone do something for you ‘out of the blue...' just for no reason? No strings attached? Well, I have.
In today’s society, with all of the wrongdoers, making the headlines and outshining the ‘do righters,' it stands to reason why morale is so low and negativity prevails and is up in most cases.
And then out of nowhere comes a ray of hope that all is not as bad as it seems...
A few days ago, I was in a McDonald’s line seeking my ‘afternoon fix’ of coffee. When I don’t have my own ‘Coffee Fix” available, Mickey D is my go-to alternative. So there I was in this looong line and I would guess, this was rush hour, as a high school across the way, was just dismissing students. I had a long frustrating day, so my attitude displayed such. I thought I could get ahead of the barrage of thirst-quenching seekers, but no such luck.
It wasn’t a very cold day but to a coffee lover, does that matter?  So I crept along, contemplating getting out of the line. Only because of the two lanes, of course, I chose the slowest lane. And then I knew when I would finally place my order, I’d be the only coffee request at 3:30 pm.  So I pulled up to the kiosk and placed my order, requesting ALL of the bells and whistles of condiments I HAD to have, ‘inside’ my coffee.  And on top of that, I made sure they knew I wanted it FRESHLY brewed.  I thought to myself, the clerk would probably give me an irritated ‘worse customer I ever had look,’ when I got to the window to pay.  That expectant attitude, showed on my face as I drove up to pay. I was about to hand him my cash and he said, “It’s already paid for Ma’am.” Imagine the shock as well as total embarrassment on my face.  All I could respond with was WOW!
I can never adequately explain the emotional impact the gesture of unselfishness generosity from my anonymous ‘drive-thru’ buddy, did for me. I believe my whole demeanor changed.  My drive home was with a smile on my face. The bumper-to-bumper traffic had no bearing on me.  I had peace with my perfect brew. Thank you, God, for sending me what I needed, when I needed it. Revelations.  
I was in such disbelief of the generosity of that individual, I didn’t think to do the same- at the time.  The next afternoon, my ‘Pay It Forward’ felt liberating.

Blessings,
PJ Payne


Thursday, February 7, 2019

Rise Up!!

If you have followed my blog, then you realize that I'm an early riser.  I'm like that nosey kid at Christmas who wants to get a sneak peek at the gifts before his siblings get up! I'm like that about my mornings! I want that sneak peek. Consider me selfish, but I need my mornings ALL to myself! AND not without the boost of my fresh brew and the Word! I want to see the day breaking through my window; the sun coming up, just over the horizon; hear the hustle, bustle and the stir of life all around me; horns and whistles blowing from afar... and then I physically rise up, from my 'Me' time and start my daily do's.
This morning is no different, but as I physically arose from my coffee corner, I felt a bit sluggish and melancholy. Very tearful.  When I feel like this, 'I' try to figure out the reason why I'm having what I have dubbed 'emotional overcasts'. I don't want God to take these feelings away from me, just give clarity and show me how to endure.
I am very hard on myself sometimes. I feel there is a reason behind everything we experience. You see, as a whole, I'm a happy person.  I am pretty healthy for my 'numbers,' lol. I am not in financial straits, Praise God! My children are doing well. So what has me feeling this way? As a pattern, this familiar emotional overload shows itself at pivotal times of the year. I checked out today's date. February 7th. I realized it is one of my favorite niece's birthday! I MUST send her a Happy Birthday video or call. Sooo, what has me feeling so down? Think PJ, think!!
"Light Bulb!"
You see, having been married for many years, my late husband and I LOVED and cherished certain holidays. Valentine's Day was at the top of the list, right beside Christmas. I now realize that Valentine's day is right around the corner. Although conscientious is that most holidays are overrated and just money-making ploys. But when that time of the year comes around and you have had life-changing experiences, that void in your life is excruciating. You can never really duplicate it, no matter what! Memories are very hard to ignore. They become innately embedded. Bottom line is 'I AM HUMAN,' so what I'm going through is not at all foreign to many who have loved and lost in any capacity, whether a breakup, divorce, or death. Although many years have passed, time does not stop the heart from skipping a beat at the very thought of US.
My take on this is "To love and have loved someone with your heart and soul is immeasurable! But today, I must continue to move forward. So on this, and each beautiful morning God graces me with, "I Still Rise Up!"

Blessings,
PJ Payne


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Baffled?


We are more than halfway through the first month of this New Year and I realize as, in the past, time stands still for no one.  I revert back to a cliché I’ve heard most of my life, ‘Off with the old and on with the new.’ That should mean prioritize, right? New order; new beginnings.
Sooo, this means putting old things aside and starting fresh. Well, some people just don’t take heed easily. “Guilty!” I am beginning this year with the same BANG theory I have in the past, no matter what I vow NOT to do, or whatever my New Year’s resolution may be… (by the way,I have abolished over the past few years) I can’t follow through. That reminds me of that other old saying “Beginning is easy, continuing, hard.’
So here I am again, New Year old ways. A plate full with just so many hours in a day and these...

‘Feelings’

Ummm…
What is this?
What has me baffled?
What‘s in my head?
What is it there for?

I am living a life
Full of haste
So I thrive on
Keeping up the pace
Seem there’s so much
I can do
Seems there’s no way
To get through
I keep on searching
For the time
And keep on looking
For a sign
For what can and
What can’t be done
When one job’s finish
Another has begun

I seek with grace
Seek sublimity
Without a trace
Of obscenity
I can’t be still
I just can’t rest
Always searching
Trying to better my best
Seeking and striving
Tread roads intrepidly
Look to completion
But can’t let go indefinitely
Gotta keep moving
Keeping up the pace
Always a step ahead
No time to waste
Fulfilling wishes
Fulfilling needs
Feel it my duty
To intercede

When there’s always
A 'work' to be done
When I strive for success
My battle is won
There’s always another
Feat to be achieved
Never to finish
Always to cleave
Not endeavoring to
Defy or defeat
But encouraging me on
Cause I’m feeling
Incomplete


~PJ Payne