“don’t take it personally.”

Ever hear this piece of advice?:

“Don’t take it personally.”

It’s something I hear often because I do take things personally. And for some reason, I take that very phrase, “don’t take it personally”…personally. I think that’s just how I’m wired. I’m working on growing a thicker skin.

Today, after eating lunch solo, I was hurrying back to the rest of my afternoon plans. I passed by 3 volunteers soliciting people on the sidewalk — 1 male, 2 females in their late teens to mid-twenties. I told the guy, “Sorry, I normally do these things” as I walked swiftly past him. As I was walking away, he said out loud, “I don’t believe you.”

…excuse me. What?

I turned around with an obvious look of disappointment/scorn/disapproval, and one of the girls apologetically said, “it was a joke.” And the guy saw me again and with a smile on his face, he tried to wave me over. I said back to them, “I actually don’t like that comment,” and turned around.

I didn’t know what cause they were supporting. I fully recognize that they get ignored numerous times a day, but his comment really went under my skin. Don’t assume that I don’t do my part. It might have been a joke, but in my opinion, it was of poor taste.

I could just let it go. And I will. I won’t take it personally.

what to do with loneliness.

Listen to these lyrics. Read these lyrics. Sing these lyrics. Believe these lyrics.

Repeat.

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Saviour, makes me whole.

Refrain:
Hallelujah! what a Saviour!
Hallelujah, what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in him;
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my strength, my vict’ry wins. (Refrain)

Jesus! what a help in sorrow!
While the billows o’er me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my comfort, helps my soul. (Refrain)

Jesus! what a guide and keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night o’ertakes me,
He, my pilot, hears my cry. (Refrain)

Jesus! I do now receive him,
More than all in him I find,
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am his, and he is mine. (Refrain)

acknowledgements.

One of my hobbies is reading non-fiction, particularly memoirs. Whenever I finish a memoir, it’s just out of habit and curiosity to read the Thanks/Acknowledgements section. It’s not like I know the people that the author knows. But something about the Thanks section brings light to real people who brought a certain labor of love together. I just finished reading Yes, Chef, and Marcus Samuelsson does something that I rarely see: he thanked his family first rather than last. If I were to ever write a memoir, I know that’s how I would do it too. 

One of the primary narratives that drive his memoir is his burning desire to change the scope of Harlem by moving forward in new directions while involving its rich past. I haven’t traveled around the world for my career as much as he, but just as he’s found home in Harlem, I’ve found and planted my roots in Los Angeles. LA is home. It’s not sexy to all, or maybe too sexy for some. There is blatant poverty and homelessness. On the flip side, I had lunch in downtown LA today. What a real representation of who we are as a city. There are people in suits, and that is a world I’ve never wanted to enter. But taking the subway to downtown, you are amongst all types of people. And this is what I love: the clear diversity of people and stories. Downtown also shows the stark disparity between the rich and poor. Downtown is our thriving financial district…but one that doesn’t seem to trickle capital down to the people who actually live there. And how can they when one hour of parking in a garage cost my friend an exorbitant $28? There are people who have worked their way up the career ladder to clock in and out of downtown. Others are not so fortunate as they live on the bottom rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. It’s strange. I’m uncomfortable with that. But I also have this fierce love for this city that makes it lovely and beautiful to me. It’s filled with stories. I heard some of these stories while voluntering at PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) in Silver Lake last weekend. Homeless people who have the same aches and pains as those who have plenty. One homeless woman, T, offered me words of comfort, and that always blows my mind. It humbles me. 

It’s a day to be thankful. My acknowledgements today: thank YOU. For reading. And coming alongside me in my story and my journey.

this is how we do it.

It rained in Los Angeles yesterday and today. I think it’s amazing when there’s simultaneous sunshine and falling rain on our lovely streets. Even though I’m normally not a fan of rain, I was happy to see LA’s clean streets and just having a feeling of general cleansing overall. It was a funky week for me. Snow-capped mountains always leave me in awe, too. I guess it still is winter, even though Daylight Savings is sneaking up on us this weekend.

After I had my morning coffee, I was bumpin’ KDAY 93.5 in my car. Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” came on and I was rockin’ out to it — it’s one of my fave old school hip hop songs. While I was listening to it, I pulled up at a red light. On the corner was a homeless man, probably in his 30′s. I’ve been waiting to give out a $5 McDonald’s giftcard that I’ve been carrying around for a while in my purse. “What a perfect opportunity!” I thought. I rolled down my window and asked the man if I could give the giftcard to him. In the gentlest voice (I wasn’t expecting such a pleasant-sounding voice for some reason), he said thanks and “God bless you.” I said “God bless you” back. He waited until the light turned green and waved as I passed him.

I know we’re not supposed to brag about our giving. But this small moment of connection made my heart swell. It was a moment of acknowledgement. A moment of “I see you.”

This is how we do it. Maybe this is how we are to love.

old habits.

Old habits die hard.

I’m taking my first business class this semester at a different community college. We have textbook reading to get through weekly, so I’m currently at a local library in an attempt to get through 75 pages. In college, reading and term papers were my main assignments…and I always, always, always found ways to procrastinate. I’m doing it right now. By blogging. Dammit.

Albeit, I’m at a freaking loud library. Too many kiddies during the day. And the librarians don’t talk softly. Why…?

On a related note, I just finished reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. It goes through awesome and fascinating cases on habit building. I highly recommend it. Now to work on my bad habit of procrastinating….

where are you?

A la the words of my pastor in his sermon today:

To sum up the Bible in 3 words, it’s God calling us and asking us, “Where are you?”

In college, I had heard several pastors say that the Bible is best summed up in 4 words: “Love God, Love People.” And I love that. I do. I still think it’s true, but my pastor brought light to the fact that it’s God who rescues us daily and has already rescued us through Jesus. It’s God who first approaches us and asks us where we are. In our love and obedience and response to Him, we love Him and love others.

Mind. Blown.