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Each of us travels through life at a different pace, in different steps, and in different directions. Just as pansies bloom in the spring, marigolds bloom in the summer, mums bloom in the autumn, and primroses bloom in the winter, so each of us gives forth our most profuse blossoms during different seasons of our lives. Most important, and as much as possible, it is best when we journey through life guided by our own life’s force and purpose, nurtured by our source-connection and on universal time.

We have to do what we have to do, to enable us to do what we want to do.

Civility is a state of mind. At its core is a basic decency built on mindfulness, gratitude, concern, integrity, empathy, equality, inclusion, and respect for others. Civility extends far beyond politely uttering “good morning,” “good afternoon,” “hello,” “excuse me,” “pardon,” “please, “and “thank you.” When we live in a state of civility, we take nothing for granted. We are grateful for the smallest gestures, realizing deeply that they are often more gratifying than the bigger things in life. Small annoyances, which may be irritants to others, are just not a part of our day. We just don’t sweat the small stuff or take it on.

Bearing an attitude of “good enough,” “make do,” “I’m okay,” and “strive to do my best” are responses that develop gratitude, encourage ingenuity and creativity to work with what we have to achieve what is possible.

I will bathe in my source-connection despite the countless negative, disparaging, insulting and racist remarks or unpleasant deeds that are thrown at me. These create a toxic situation and a sense of unworthiness and self-doubt, and I feel ugly. When necessary, I will visualize a plastic or plexiglass shield against that negativity, message, or antagonism to protect my self-worth and source-connection. I will not tolerate any recurring negativity to permeate me and my spirit. I will remain the positive person that I am becoming, want to be, and am meant to be.

Everyone has the right to freedom of religion. What they don’t have is the right to interfere in my secular life.

I strongly believe that we don’t truly face a situation or take it on until we are ready to deal with it. Please recognize that some abusive patterns are so ingrained that we have normalized them. Until we stop and analyze them, we unknowingly continue to abuse others.

We often hear people say, “Why don’t you go back to where you came from?” With the exception of that type of question posed to a person who appears to possibly be a descendant of the African Diaspora, let me suggest the following heartfelt response: “I came to America for similar reasons that your family did.”

When individuals communicate harshly or act unkindly and we are reactive and respond in the same manner, we allow their negative feelings to permeate and fuel our response. We become what is so distasteful or abhorrent to us. When we are reactive, start playing to the lowest common denominator, and begin mudslinging, the mud may come back and hit us at some unexpected point. In the process, we demean, disappoint, and dishonor ourselves, our loved ones, and others. We would not automatically turn over our car keys for another individual to drive away with our car, so why would we automatically turn over the control of our integrity or our power to others?

I have sensed enslavement in your voices, I have heard it in your words, I have seen it in your eyes, I have read it in your stories, I have experienced it in my loved ones’ expressions and halted responses, and I have felt your piercing pain in my heart. You, just like everyone else, are far, far greater than any one horrific experience or history. You and I, and those not yet born, and every other human being on this earth, past and present, came from the same vast, rich, beautiful, historical ancestry, the cradle of civilization in the Rift Valley of that ancient, abundantly endowed continent named Africa. I plead with everything that I have within that you rip off any yoke that stifles you, and that you and every person who remain captured and bound by a condition with which they were born, developed, or that family or society thrust on them, please break free.

During the latest slew of killings of human beings of African heritage in the U.S.A., I empathized with U.S. friends the deep pain we shared and my realization. I visualized a chain-link fence with a gate to safety that I can pass, but they are denied. I also realized that although I can feel with and for my dear ones, I cannot pass through the hovering and painful and gate to discrimination or possible death.

Glance at the sky that encapsulates our planet, which at some instant most can view. As you breathe in the air whose molecules have circled the planet, wonder how many other human beings have and will inhale and exhale those exact molecules. Perhaps you, along with every other person who has breathed and will breathe those molecules, added an invisible and undetectable molecule to it, and every other person until eternity will repeat adding their one and only minuscule “breathspeck” as well.

I have been incredibly blessed and gratified from the bountiful experiences I’ve gained from working with hundreds of people from a host of cultures, living among the Nevisian people for more than fifteen years, interacting with family members, dear friends and colleagues from a variety of cultures, and touring on my world travels. This rich tapestry of diversity has deeply touched and enlightened me to celebrate with others’ ideas, traditions, resolutions, and well-being, especially their values of cohesion, family, friends, and community. Collectively, these relationships uplifted my outlook and guide how I live each day in deep gratitude. The chapter on “Embracing Diversity” is dedicated to all the people of differing cultures whom I met along my life’s journey. I have laughed with them in play, smiled with them in joy, consoled and cried with them in sorrow, and felt their pain in my heart.