The Heroin "Crisis": Where's the War on Drugs?

I googled two drugs this morning followed by “crisis.” One drug was crack and the other was heroin. There was something interesting that I noticed. Heroin was paired with crisis more frequently than crack. One of the first and only instances that I saw “crack crisis” was directly related to “Black America.” I’ve read several articles and interviews regarding the Heroin crisis. It seems that the crisis is affecting people of all ages. I’ve seen responses from professionals in an array of fields including the paramedics, law enforcement, and social services. Some states have declared the crisis as a state of emergency, providing funds to aid for treatment. Police officers have been said to guide those who overdose or are caught with paraphernalia to treatment centers as a diversion to arrests.

I’m reading the testimonies of families who were grieved to learn that their loved ones died from overdosing. There have been appeals to government officials and other authority entities to request treatment opposed to incarceration or other punitive actions. Drug addiction is an uphill battle that has taken numerous lives. I empathize with families who have watched their loved ones’ lives diminish before their eyes. However, I can’t shake the question: Where’s the war on drugs? Mandatory sentencing? The intentional negative connotations of Heroin use? There are none. The dominant culture, or as some call it “silent majority” is feeling the same shockwaves as those from the crack epidemic and all of a sudden society becomes wordsmiths while touching on addiction. We’ve seen it several times: refugees versus looters, riots versus protests, now epidemic versus crisis.

“Black America” has been handed duds since there was a so-called black America. There are still grandparents raising children of parents addicted to crack. There are still family members grieving the loss of their loved ones to crack. There are children in foster care as a direct link to the crack devastation. In fact, there are still prisoners incarcerated from the selling and distribution of crack. While there is treatment for this new crisis what will become of manufacturers and/or distributors of the drugs? What policies will be implemented to tackle this issue head on? And then there’s my most pressing question: where does “Black America” fall in all of this?

Peace,
Risha

Beauty for Ashes: 1 Year Later

I saw a facebook memory recently.  It was a post announcing that I would be releasing my first book.  My mind “timehopped” to how I felt when I posted the cover art for the project. I was literally nauseous. Not that I find one type of nausea more enjoyable than another but, this was a terrifying feeling. I posted the cover art as a form of accountability for myself to eliminate cold feet.  From there I continued the final writing stages and I spoke to God rather frequently regarding preparing my heart and the hearts of the readers. I wouldn’t dare try to front like there wasn’t any excitement in the mix because there was some of that too.

Even as I write there are so many memories flashing that it’s hard to decide which I should describe next. I’ll begin with the process. I was writing the book towards the end of 2015 but got distracted. Once the distraction was gone I put all of my energy and focus into finishing the book.  I was done with everything around April/ Mayish. After that, I submitted it to Ms. Green and we began to talk about book sizes, the number of pages, what I would need… the “logistics,” if you will.  A while later she sent me a screenshot of the anticipated delivery date and the countdown began.  I got home from work the evening they arrived and slid my box into the house. I sat the box in my thinking chair and walked the floor for a couple of seconds. I opened it and there they were: incarnations of my vision, dreams, nightmares, and testament. I was numb-in a good kind of way. It’s like a shock wave came over me. Once I collected my thoughts, I thanked the Most High, laid hands on the box, and prayed for the readers and path of those books.

I began working on getting the pre-orders out and pubbing online.  I think my first post regarding the book was something like… “so these came in the mail today.” Not long after that I had a book launch party. I joke with myself as I look back at the pictures from that event because that was the day I forgot I had a gap. And then life resumed. My indignation was tried and hard times revisited.  Ultimately I learned that convictions are great but they only really exist when we follow through with them. I saw times that I challenged women to know their worth and couldn’t calculate my own. I found that forgiving has challenges of it’s own; I realized the idolatry was more pressing for me in other forms that sleeping. The craziest thing I learned is that every wound seems healed until it’s pressed. I have more soft spots than I knew.

Nearly 1 year later, Beauty for Ashes has been published and I’m still making trades with God… still seeking healing, still seeking growth, and still seeking his redemption.  I’ve come to see that beauty for ashes is not just a one time thing in my life. The exchange of beauty for ashes is constant. It just happens at different times for different reasons. Making a spectacle of one’s self is not easy. Transparency has its risks. Submission to God is no cake walk. But I’m here for it.  

Peace,
Risha

Life Hacks for Depression

Depression is something else! It's something that many people have wrestled with at some point. Either past or present. There are some who are unaware that they are or have been depressed. There are others who are in denial. I’ve heard some argue that they don’t get Depressed. My interpretation of such is that they may not necessarily know what they've experienced; however, I believe everyone encounters Depression at some point in their life.  Depression tends to have a negative connotation within some cultures. Thus, some people are reluctant to share their experiences.

There are several signs of Depression. It can be an isolated incident or a recurrent one.  It can be for a short period of time or over an extended period. It ranges in severity. Some of the symptoms include: feelings of loss/emptiness/sadness/worthlessness/excessive guilt, loss of interest/motivation, a change in sleep pattern-either excessive sleeping or the lack thereof, a change in appetite-either overeating or no desire to, fatigue or loss of energy, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, continued thoughts of death of feeling that one would be “better off” dead. The symptoms can be experienced in a combination of ways.

The good news is Depression doesn’t have to be long-term or recurring. It’s a matter of thinking and will power. A person has to be willing to get past Depression and not be victim to it.  They also have to change their way of thinking. Negative thinking is a sure way of landing in the cesspool of Depression which, by the way, sometimes does not just stop at a "feeling." 

Take a look at a few life hacks for Depression:

  • Positive thinking-thought life is E V E R Y T H I N G! Thinking on the good things in life improves your mood and overall outlook

  • Positive expression-finding a way to communicate thoughts and feelings in a healthy manner; releasing feelings opposed to suppressing them (my favorite is art-written, visual, and audio)

  • A solid confidant- “one good person” you can talk to with confidence in their ability to keep secrecy (and possibly provide sound insight)

  • Guard your heart! Be leery of negativity and do not allow yourself to be around it.

These are just a few hacks. There are countless others. Find one (two, or three) that work(s) for you and start your process with kicking Depression!

 

Peace,

Marisha

My Truth about Small Beginnings

I saw a post on IG recently that read “every great artists started as an amateur.” This spoke volumes because I am notorious for focusing on final products.  I remember when I began writing spoken word, my brother told me that there was two keys to being a dope poet: “prayer and practice.” I secretly thought surely that could not be the foundation of his excellence; there had to be something else he was doing to produce the leaps and bounds in his art like he was.  Time has backed his claim and I have come to see it true in my own life.

I’m a vivid dreamer: night dreams, day dreams, or visions.  I dream big.  This is where my conflict comes in with small beginnings.  It can be discouraging to “see” yourself doing something grand, or expecting something grand and the results yield the opposite.  It has happened to me plenty of times: planning events and the turnout is not as big or aiming for fundraising and gaining small profits, anticipating mass support and landing with a faithful few.  I believe God is an artist: a visual artist, a writer, a poet, a musician, a designer, a sculptor, the list continues. There is nothing that I’ve seen from the foundation of the earth on its axis to the complexities of our creation that was not done in excellence.  Our projects should be the same. This is where it has become sticky for me in the past.

Because of my desire for excellence I have passed up projects because I did not have the resources.  I have later kicked myself because I despised small beginnings. Small beginnings, from a personal perspective, have caused me to be humble. More than likely, I would be feeling myself if everything always lined up the way I dreamed.  They have also caused me to appreciate the “come up” or, “progress,” if you will. They fuel hope, provide an opportunity to think clearly without being overwhelmed and open several doors for learning opportunities that I would not otherwise have had if  I walked directly into everything sitting in my lap.  Small beginnings have given me an opportunity to see God’s power, wisdom, and plans for my life. It amazes me when I think I know which direction God is coming from and he comes from somewhere I didn’t know existed PLUS some details that never crossed my mind.

n a nutshell, don’t be afraid to dream, don’t be afraid to step out, and don’t be afraid of small beginnings. Cultivate what you have from where you are and let God do the rest.

Peace,
Marisha

 

Seasons and Cyles, Cycles and Seasons

2016 has been an interesting year for me.  It was far better than the other few years before.  It was full of untapped potential. That is probably the most annoyingly noteworthy thought about 2016: the amount of greatness afforded to me that I did not use. Even though there have been moments of frustration and wasted chances-as well as wasted resources, (time, energy, mental space, and money), there have also been milestones and life changing events to take place. I’m grateful for that.

This year I learned a lot about myself as well as a lot of lessons.  I took writing in my journal to another level and the results were amazing.  I noticed weaknesses that I did not know that I had.  I realized how some of my weaknesses were related.  I was revisited by “giants” in my life that I had not previously beheaded.  I evaluated and reevaluated friendship, kinship, and love. I developed a new theory: the reason the devil doesn’t show you a way out of his traps is because he knows God warned against it in the first place. Yet, the biggest lesson that I learned was how seasons and cycles are not synonyms.  

Sure, seasons are a part  of a cycle but they in and of themselves are not cycles. A season has its time of activity before there is a transition into another time of new activity. A season begins changing and preparing the moment it begins.  A cycle can occur during different seasons but that does not make it a season.   There were things in my life like repeated [failed] tests or self-inflicted opposition that I misinterpreted as seasons.  These were cycles because I was not putting things to death; I rocked them to sleep until I wanted them re-awakened. How foolish! Because I am officially hip to what I’ve been doing wrong. Some things have to change.

I never wanted to be the “new year, new me” type, but…follow me. December 31, 1862 the slaves were on edge.  The next matter of hours and moments were monumental for them.  Every thing that they knew about their lives would be changing. I’m sure it was exciting but what about the other emotions they may have been feeling? Nervous. Perhaps, scared. Curious. Grateful. Skeptical. Maybe a few were in disbelief. This countdown was not just a joyful invitation into a New Year.  It was a countdown to freedom. Freedom to liberties like reading, travel, the right to choices-even the right to say “no,” freedom from beatings and breeding, and a slew of other things.  

That is what this countdown to 2017 is like for me. A joyful invitation to freedom from cycles and a launch into seasons with progress. Similar to how I suppose the slaves must have felt, I am nervous, sometimes scared or skeptical, curious, and excited.  Truthfully, fear and skepticism, would have me stay where I am.  There are things that I can point out and say well at least on this plantation I know I have this or that, but there’s land and rights for miles and miles past my limited vision. I choose freedom. Join me.

Peace,

Marisha

[From] The Mind of a Savage Woman

I’m going to do my best to approach this unbiasedly.  As a wordsmith I pay close attention to words: trends, wordplay, context, things that are said without being said, etc. I remember when something was said to be bad, it was supposed to be interpreted as good. (Ie. “Girl those shoes are bad.”) A person that is “dope” is awesome, when in the dominant culture, drugs are referred to as “dope” with negative connotation. “The B word” was once offensive but now  comes in the form of a double negative “Bad B*tch.”  That’s a woman that has it all together and is especially attractive.  The saying “times are changing” is everlasting. The role and characteristics of women has changed throughout the centuries and as of now it has become agreeable and respected for women to be “savages.”

A savage is a woman that overcomes heartbreak and becomes a heartbreaker.  She may be manipulative, a player, “sexually liberated,” a user, so-on, so-forth.  She’s the embodiment of Steven Harvey’s concept “think like a man, act like a woman.”  It’s disturbing that women have to use these types of mindsets as guards for the heart.  A savage is a woman that can enter a relationship or relationships without emotional commitment and return the favor to the stereotypical cheating man.  While on the surface, a woman who can engage with a man without emotional ties seems praiseworthy, it should be alarming.  The “savage” women is actually a bitter one.

Bitterness presents itself in many forms: grudges, vindication, anger, Depression, pettiness, [covert] fear, jealousy-the list is extensive.  One of the more saddening facts about the bitter or savage woman is how she seems to fail to see the damaged condition she’s in.  Woman was created for the pleasure of a man; not because a woman is a second-class human, but because the man was created first. God is a God of love. I honestly believe that humanity was created to love because man took on attributes of God.  I further believe, it is our makeup as women to love and be loved, nurture, and wallow in the strength of a man.  Unfortunately, the greater representation of men do not always present character that would make a woman comfortable in falling back into the words (or “promises” of a man).  My point: we as women were not created to be savages.  It is unnatural.  We are literally not built for it.  Although the savage mindset is one that seems to be easier and is widely accepted these days, it’s unhealthy and devastating to emotional growth.  All in all, I don’t think there is one savage that can step forward and truthfully express happiness in her state of fragment.  Why is fragment even mentioned? Because a bitter woman is a broken one.  A woman that gives her body but not her heart is only giving a piece of herself.  A woman that gives her time but not her attention is giving a piece of herself.  A woman that offers portions of herself to someone but keeps other portions to herself cannot fully experience love and that’s what the savage woman wants; to control how deep things go and walk away victimizing without being victimized herself. Why? Because the savage woman is a bitter woman with patchwork and self-medicated wounds.

My theory: The newer generations are doing too much. No one wants to show their cards or be hurt.  Former hurts are released because forgiving and forgetting is seen as weak.  Commitment is taboo. Standards are despised. Love is misused and and altogether misrepresented. Relationship goals are based on social media posts and reality shows. People have recreated a facet of God that was here before we ever existed (love). Relationships have been manufactured based on trends.  Pride fuels heartbreak and revenge. However, I can assure the savage woman that life will be much more beautiful when you heal and and move forward with full knowledge of true love and a willingness to embrace it.  I really want to “take it there” and mention the role of the irresponsible man in a bitter woman’s life but I’ll save that for “another day.”  Ladies don’t be afraid to love and be loved.

Peace,

Risha

My Two Cents: The Christian Citizen and Politics

My post wouldn’t follow the pattern if I did not lace it with transparency.  I am greatly disturbed by the election as well as the results. It’s not so much that I am concerned with the violence and “racism” that may occur as some predict.  If we allow truth to further prevail there has always been an uncanny way about our government and politics.  I honestly don’t want to make this a “race thing” but let’s skip down our country’s timeline: there was slavery, American-based concentration camps, Jim Crow, the infiltration and destruction of Black leaders, terrorist groups trained by the US government, school-to-prison pipelines, the list continues.  Television has a way of distorting reality; it makes us believe that what we see “live” is real time when there are some conspiracies and actions that were in the makings behind the scenes before the media is ever involved.  Our government has some mess with them. Do I want to “go back to Africa?” Heck no; but let’s face the facts.    
 
My concern with politics and Christianity is the fine line and sole shades of black and white.  I have found myself at crossroads in every election because I have pondered questions such as “who would Jesus vote for?” “Would God agree with the morals of this person or that?”  I have written names in because I did not want to find myself choosing between the lesser of two evils.  I don’t know it all, nor do I proclaim to be “woke” but I have learned a couple of things about voting. While prayer is a fundament of the Christian life there has to also be action.  This concept is true on many levels. First, let’s consider this: what does not voting do?  How does not choosing a candidate help the cause other than help clear the “Christian conscience” of not putting an “evil” representative in office?  While we walk away (myself included) with a clear conscience the election continues and a candidate is chosen.   I understand why it is acceptable to choose a person that reflects Christian values.  I am pro-life and I do not condone same-sex marriages or transgender bathrooms.  I have found myself riddled when a candidate matches my beliefs ONLY in those areas;  I am a social worker by trade so I understand public assistance systems very well.  I have worked with all populations ranging from children to geriatric so I have seen the needs that exist.  I realize that “welfare” has a negative connotation.  I also realize that it is abused but I have concerns with politicians who want to “do away” with them or minimize them.  There are people in our society with dire needs; some children go to school to eat the only meals they will have for the day. Some people seek medical attention with benefits they would not have without the welfare system. I believe it is a disservice to the elderly population when they work all of their lives to live in a nursing home that requires they eliminate all of their resources for health care and $50 a month.   

So in essence what I’m saying is, it’s great that there are candidates that reflect Christian morals but what happens to morals when it’s time to better society and help one another?  On the other extreme, we have candidates that reflect Godless morals but help the people [more] than the other.  So what is a Christian to do?   Ultimately, I believe that we do have a responsibility to vote, and to do so responsibly but if the only time that we speak up about the [despicable] laws of the land is when it’s time to hit the polls, then there was a problem as a Christian citizen before any candidate ever took the podium. I’m still patting my way through this but I’m simply not satisfied with laws enforced while my way of life is negatively impacted because the rich are richer and poor poorer in efforts to make America great again.

One thing I’m certain of: “Donald Trump” has become “President Trump” and we are to pray for those in authority. #AddHimToYourPrayerList
Peace,
Risha

Writing to Heal

I’ve always been better at expressing myself in written form.  I’ve also always found comfort in writing my feelings; while my primary purpose is to encourage readers to consider the power of writing I have to throw a couple of things out there as there is a “pro” and “con” to nearly everything.  The biggest “con” to keeping a journal is the possibility of a breach in confidentiality; as a child I cringed at the thought of someone reading “my diary” with the mini padlock that anyone could pick with a hairpin.  I still cringe at the thought as an adult.  There is freedom when one can express their innermost thoughts and feelings without any inhibition; in fact, I don’t believe journaling can be 100% effective without “the nitty gritty.”  It’s in these types of lines and writing that we are able to remove masks and lie back in honesty. Otherwise, we may as well continue walking around in hiding.

A journal helps keep a timeline for one’s life’s experiences (if it’s kept up). I can go back through my journals and recall where I was in my life at the time that I was writing.  It shows me how God brought me through adversity.  I am able to notice cycles and habits in my life-good or bad. I am able to share revelation from God with myself in my journal too. My journals have served as mirrors in my life: they have shown me the wicked crevices in my heart, they have shown me my struggles, they have also shown me some good things about myself.  I can process my thoughts. It clears up “static...” unclear areas that, sometimes, I did not know were even there. It’s similar to connecting the dots.

The healing that comes from [honest/transparent] writing is phenomenal. It provides a source of closure.  It allows the release of feelings that would otherwise be trapped inside. The healing is thought-provoking and can lead to healing that a person may not know that they needed.  For those that are into therapy and mental health services, it is a positive coping skill.  All that is needed is consistency and transparency.  Write the good, bad, and ugly, and watch how things begin to unfold.

Why #NoLivesMatter

I believe it’s human nature to gravitate towards people we identify with. It’s not always physical characteristics; it can be beliefs, political parties, tax brackets, age groups, and etc.  This is what has prompted me to consider #NoLivesMatter closely.  Some may hate the very thought of such a concept but the issues that we are seeing today present all the facts.  Based on my observation, everyone wants to be acknowledged.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting acknowledgement.  It becomes problematic when one group (or person) cannot allow another group (or person) to “be great.”   There is a growing controversy between #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter.  In the wake of cries for justice some believe that identifying the significance of black lives is an attempt to omit the importance of other lives.  The very fact that lives matter has to be mentioned should raise concerns.  Our society is self-centered.  It seems that no life can matter without being interpreted as a threat towards another. The problem with “lives mattering” is the absence of balance and consideration for others. As long as humanity continues in self-centered perspectives and actions, no lives will ever matter with the exception of an individual’s own.  We were prepackaged to love and be loved.  Here’s my take:

 

-EACH AND EVERY PERSON MATTERS. When a person says “black lives matter” it does not mean that black lives are solely important.  It expresses the sentiment that some of the injustices we’ve seen were or are racially biased.  Additionally, while we communicate black lives matter, we as African Americans should ensure that we do not focus solely on “black lives” because social injustice is occurring across the board.

 

-There is a vicious cycle occurring.  Citizens become afraid of Police. Police get on edge or “leery” of citizens. Citizens distrust the justice system.  The system distrusts citizens. Does that justify the “trigger finger syndrome?” Absolutely not. But I believe that we should consider two things at minimum: (1) Not all cops are bad cops (2) when they hit the clock for their shifts they want to return home to their lives and families in one piece.

 

-We all have a role to play:
    Parents have responsibilities to teach their children how to respond to particular situations. This statement does not mean that teaching has not taken place.

    We have to know our rights.  There’s no time for assumptions or DIY responses from social media.

    We have to be consistent. What’s happening should not be dropped when the media drops it.

    We have to be informed.  Please understand that the media does its job well. Respond to facts. Let’s not get caught in race wars, hidden agendas, or fads.

    Lastly, although I know people don’t want to read this word: pray.  Pray for justice. Pray for wisdom in how to interact with others.  Pray for government officials to act with wisdom and integrity.  Pray for wisdom in how to promote and execute change.  Is prayer all that we need? Heavens no! But prayer should be in the forefront of our responses as it should be anywhere else (He will direct our paths in all of our ways if we acknowledge him).

Everyone is not going to acknowledge, accept, or agree that the bloodshed is senseless and inhumane.  That’s okay. Stay focused and play your part in bringing about change. Rise above division and fads. Make love and share it.

Why we Should Love Side Chicks

I do not condone infidelity in any way shape or form, but there are some things about side chicks that should be considered the next time we blast or glorify them.  Let's have an educational moment; a side chick is a woman who is "the other woman" in a relationship.  Here are a few names: Monica Lewinski, Olivia Pope, or "Barbara"-for those who need to go a little further back in references ("Woman to Woman").

Society has really distorted common principles.  Presently, it's acceptable and a form of bragging rights to be a "savage"or cold-hearted.  Love has been used as a means to manipulate, control, abuse, and other things so much that people claim to no longer want it.  Marriages are no longer sacred.  Monogamous relationships are no longer respected.  A man is respected for having more than one significant other.  Nowadays, women boast about "stealing" someone else's man or having their resources provided from another household.

There are two extremes to every point of view so let's take a moment and look at the other extreme.  Side chicks are typically frowned upon for being classless, home wreckers, or worse.  I believe we were created to love.  We all want love whether we are willing to admit it or not.  This includes the side chick. I do not have stats or surveys but somewhere down the line, the disdain for love has evolved from hurt or having an incorrect understanding of it.  Some women want it because they fear serious monogamous relationships of their own, some reek of misery and want to spread it to others, some have low self-esteem and look for validation in being pursued by a man. 

I'm not saying that side relationships should be accepted or encouraged.  I'm saying that we should consider that everyone needs love.  We as women should build each other up: point out beautiful attributes about each other, encourage each other, and share words of wisdom.  We should respect ourselves and each other.  Men (who also seem to seek a form of validation) should consider the emotions of both women involved and think of how their decisions impact others.

Case and point: there's nothing cute about having or being O.P.P.

There's a passage in Matthew 22 in which a lawyer tries Jesus (in a bad way) and asks which of the 10 commandments is greater.  Jesus tells him two commandments: to love God with our entire beings and to love others as we love ourselves.  When we love God with our entire beings and love others as we love ourselves, we won't violate any of the 10 commandments or do anything that would hurt ourselves or anyone else.  It's simple: The side chick should love herself because she deserves it.  Once she masters it, she can love others.  We as onlookers should love the side chick because she needs it.