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20 Lessons from Death, An Easter Sunday Reflection

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After my son Cole was stillborn, six months later, his twin sister Madison was diagnosed with a rare kidney cancer.  She later died from complications associated with the disease.   Though it was one of the most devastating times in my life, I learned a great deal about death that I carry with me even now.  I no longer feel the way most people do when others die.  No matter how young or old.  I do not see the tragedy. Instead, I hear their life speaking to me. 

I look at the broader picture and see the purpose of their life.  I question their death and its relevance to us all. The lessons and questions their lives and deaths bring to me to answer, I ponder over.  After all, if we say we believe that we never die, and our spirits continue after the flesh journey ends, then the sadness is not about the person, but about us.  It is about those of us left to redefine and build a life in the absence of someone we loved enough to classify ourselves by their existence. And if we are all one spirit vibrating in individual accords, when one harmony stops singing, we should all look up to recognize the change of the melody.  How has the beat of our walk been interrupted?  What is the new song we are singing in their absence?  What value did the person have that we have not considered?

In my conscious undertaking of this subject, I concluded that death is purposeful and nothing to be feared.  It is as natural as breathing and ever-present as air. It is never out of timing.  Despite how we feel when it visits our door.  It does not come earlier or later than scheduled.  I know it sounds strange.  As we have conditioned ourselves to feel bad for those that have experienced loss or those that die before the age we expect life to end.   However, there is nothing more natural than the succession of death after life. 

I chose to talk about this because it is Easter Sunday.  Death and resurrection is the focus of this weekend.  So many prescribe this powerful moment in time to just one person, Christ.  I think we do the story an injustice not seeing how it’s powerful message and lessons have continued to vibrate through the ages.  Including right now.

 When my daughter died, overcome with grief and the desire for death to take me as well, I lay on the hospital floor and heard a voice speak to me while in the completeness of my pain.  It stated that my daughter was one of my angels that chose to manifest herself in this manner, a child dealing with cancer, to awaken me into my own path.  I would not have opened myself to spiritual experiences, questions, and contemplations without this experience.  I would not have died to all that I thought I knew to open myself to new revelations.  That she, my daughter, chose to live this short life so that I would receive perfect healing of my mind and spirit.  I would gain the power and motivation to act with boldness in accordance with who I am on my long journey of life.  That I was to accept the wisdom and knowledge I had received and no longer live in a box established by tradition, history or religion.  I was called to live outside the box in the unlimited possibility of self in the reflection of my Creator.  The voice stated that I was to write about my experience and tell the story of an omnipotent child that died. Not the miracle everyone seeks.  I was to tell the story of death and its purpose to shift, stir, develop and initiate those that are still present on earth into their own divine purpose.  Yes, death brings life.

The voice whispered that so many are looking for some miracle that has nothing to do with the process of life or purpose. I have found this to be true.  Miraculous things do happen.   I have seen many myself.  But the consumption of them has become precarious at times. 

We search for miracles regularly in hopes that we will somehow be worthy of the same outcomes we have been told.  That is also the issue. The idea that worthiness equates miraculous is a misnomer.  It has caused us to revere those unworthy of worship.  Lifting people high as if more special than the rest and disregard those that experience natural progression toward death.  Both are equally as important.  Both are speaking to us.  The idea that both exist and do not happen to those we the people have entitled to receive such outcomes should dispel myths and override ill gained belief systems.  There are things that are common to man that will and must happen to us all.  We are not to avoid life’s happenings; they are part of the experience.  Including and especially death.  Everyone will or has experienced death, yet consciously blind themselves to this end.

Despite this small whisper in my spirit comforting me, I was racked with hate, anger, and devastation. Stuck questioning the worthiness idea.  Obsessed with the what could I have done different question.  Thinking about what I could have said differently.  So many questions and confusion as I tried to make sense of things in accordance with the box tradition, religion, and life set for me. 

I was not at peace until the voice helped to destroy the box and conveyed this story to me.  It said “Beloved; you know the story of my son that also believed I had forsaken him.  As he hung on the cross, he too called out to me in bewilderment that his purpose, his story, and his greatness would end in humiliation, pain, suffering, loss and ultimate natural death.  How could he be great and die a natural man’s death?  Criminalized, lied on, judged, betrayed – all the things man experience and no miracle to save him.  But death has a power of transformation that life cannot manifest.  Life shifts when one leaves.  A redefining occurs that cannot happen without transitioning and sacrifice.  This is only a part of the journey; it is not an end.  It is a new beginning. There are no ends.  There are only new beginnings.  For Madison knew as I knew that you would only come this far to discover yourself with her assistance in this manner.  Now her time is finished.  Just as he, my son, stated, you must also, so that what is for you on the other side of this will manifest.  Let go and repeat that it is finished.  This is not your end; this is your new beginning”.

I, like Mary and so many mothers and families experiencing the loss of a loved one full of potential and love, held the body of my loved one.  I sat waiting for a resurrection of the promise of her greatness and my faith in life. Bewildered that merit does not equate miracle.  That life itself is a miracle that holds messages in all aspects of it.  Including this one, in which my child’s light no longer filled my days.  This moment that calls into question everything I knew.  Where hope died a little but would not let me go.  Where I was called to look within myself for the resurrection and promise.  For the shift and transition had occurred. 

We often disregard its occurrence.  It is hard to see through the tears of our anger, confusion, and pain.  I have been there.  Now I see.  Not that moment, but later as I moved forward.  I realized that death not only brings new life, one we are most likely not interested in because so much change must occur, but a new consciousness.  The knowledge, the questions, the recognition and the dying of old thoughts and ways also come. 

Many of us do not conversate with death to ask it questions or delve through the answers our spirits bring in this raw and open stage.  We try to feed death and the moment rhetoric that has been passed down to us as a way to cope, but none of it brings healing or relief.  Only more questions.  Usually — Why?  We often do not wait to hear the answer to that why.

When I listen to the news, I hear the outcry of so many associated with police shootings, community violence, war and the like.  And like death itself, I am not spent on merit questions.  Instead, I seek questions of self.  Who are we?  What are we going to do?  What is our purpose and what is the message in this?

I must say that I feel that our entire society fails at answering these questions.  Instead, pointing fingers and disqualifying one another of our inherent value.  In the end, we will all lose playing this unwinnable game.  Which is why the lessons and questions continue to sit at our doors and in our communities. 

We are not losing people of African and Hispanic descent and children in schools to gun violence.  We are not losing young girls to sexual violence.  We are not losing poor Americans of all races to drug addictions of all forms.  We are losing angels that sacrifice their long lives for short ones so that we are given the opportunity to rise to our greatest possibility.  We are losing the opportunity for communities to ask hard questions and address real systemic patterns and redefine who we are.  We have become numb to death and turned our ears to its questions, in hopes that someone will be powerful enough to make a change.  We are that someone hiding our lights and ideas in fear of being another angel sacrificed in the war to silence and maintain status quo.

Every death conveys a shift and awareness, for all of us still here, to respond to.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President John F. Kennedy, Emmett Till, Malcolm X, Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi, Harvey Milk, Trayvon Martin, Marielle Franco, Stephon Clark, parents, friends, community leaders and others that have transitioned, touched us as they passed through.  Each one of these deaths created a vibration and shift in the world, even though many of us did not respond to the realignment that occurred. The resurrection that was meant in our lives still waits for us to pick up the mantle.

Christ, Martin and so many others were not appreciated until the death that was meant to still their message, actually prospered it beyond the limits of their flesh.  Seeing their African heritage, their Jewish lineage, their Indian culture, their Afro-Brazilian ancestry, their religion, their sexuality, their age, their maleness or femaleness, all clouded our abilities as a world to see them.  Systemic prevention in quieting their voices from being heard was utilized.  The voices and messages informed by their God-given purpose to wake us.  When the flesh was removed, the message was finally hearkened, and the fight lessened.  A pang of sadness should haunt us for this action. 

If we are sincere that we fail to see angels because of the flesh they are clothed in, we can stop missing the message in life, we can only receive in death.  We are complicit in erecting and hanging our fellow spirits on crosses and overlooking their significance. Many of these angels I named are revered today, but in their time, they were agitators, criminals, noncompliant, and the like.  We did that and are not absolved, because we continue to erect crosses and nail hands and feet, while spewing hateful rhetoric and cheering for death in illogical self-preservation.  Their lives and their deaths pulling back the blankets of hypocrisy and humanities decline.  Same stories, different times.  The same waiting for resurrection and recompense.  Still, the universe waits for us to arise.

I end here to reiterate what death has taught me and will help you on this Easter Resurrection Sunday:

1.     Death calls to action. 

2.     Death awakens. 

3.     Death promotes. 

4.     Death encourages. 

5.     Death removes to make room for new. 

6.     Death is fuel that cannot be explained or contained. 

7.     Death is driven and intentional. 

8.     Despite the tears and emptiness, death also produces.

9.     There are questions and realizations only I can answer when death is finished with its visit. 

10.  There are no ends; there are only new beginnings.

11.  Everything and everyone has a purpose.

12.  There is a question I must answer about myself – Who am I? 

13.  We all have a responsibility to seek the messages and respond.

14.  I am one with the universe, and my purpose is important enough to be awakened, even with the punch of death.

15.  Angels come disguised in many ways.

16.  I must remove my preconceived ideas about worthiness and miracles to be awake enough to receive messages for me and my
world.

17.  Death is as natural as birth.  It is the only sure thing to bet.

18.  Question everything you know, because what you know may be hindering you from growing.

19.  Death is not an end; it is our new beginning.

20.  We are defined by those around us.  The hardest thing about grief is redefining yourself when your point of reference is no
longer tangible.

 

Arise and Shine, your time has come!

 

#rosethequestioner  

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Davidson Hotels and Resorts expands Portfolio with Hotel Zachary in Chicago

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Photo Courtesy of Hotel Zachary. Photo Credit: Dave Burk Photography (PRNewsfoto/Davidson Hotels & Resorts

Hotel Zachary has an exclusive blend, thoughtful amenities and artistic touches in every guestroom to locally-infused dining and signature cocktails from the City’s Top Chefs

 

Photo Courtesy of Hotel Zachary. Photo Credit: Dave Burk Photography (PRNewsfoto/Davidson Hotels & Resorts

This Week Davidson Hotel & Resorts – one of the nation’s leading hotel management companies for delivering hospitality and creating value – announced the addition of Zachary at Gallagher Way, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, to its highly curated Portfolio.

It’s owned by Hickory Street Capital, this exciting new hotel will be managed by Pivot Hotels & Resorts – Davidson’s Lifestyle and Luxury Division.

Hotel Zachary at Gallagher Way is a distinctive boutique hotel that brings history and style together to deliver an authentic Chicago neighborhood experience.

It’s situated in the heart of Chicago’s renowned Lakeview neighborhood.

Hotel Zachary at Gallagher Way is inspired by it’s namesake, famed Chicago architect, Zachary Taylor Davis, who designed the esteemed Wrigley Field in 1914.

Located in the heart of the city’s Lakeview neighborhood and adjacent to historic Wrigley Field, the 173-room hotel celebrates world-renowned Wrigley Field architect and Chicagoan Zachary Taylor Davis.

Hotel Zachary at Gallagher Way delivers a memorable guest experience to baseball fans, the curious traveler and locals in-the-know.

“My family and I are truly honored to bring the Hotel Zachary to Lakeview and the City of Chicago, “said Tom Ricketts, who is Chairman of Hickory Street Capital. “Hotel Zachary will pay homage to the neighborhood’s rich history and to Chicago’s architecture and design legacy. We’re excited to offer new chef driven restaurants and unique, year-round experiences for neighbors, families, fans and visitors.”

Hotel Zachary is situated within 238,000-sq-ft mixed-use development that also features some of Chicago’s best-known chefs and restaurants, including West Town Bakery & Tap, Big Star, Smoke Daddy, and Matthias Merges ‘new eatery, Mordecai. Hotel Zachary will deliver authentic local experiences on Chicago’s North Side, as a new in-town hub for city explorers, business travelers, visiting families and baseball enthusiasts to find entertainment, great dining and a distinctively personalized lodging experience.

For more information, please visit www.hotelzachary.com or follow along on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HotelZachary/ or Twitter http://twitter.com/hotelzachary

Source: Davidson Hotels & Resorts

Photo Courtesy of Hotel Zachary. Photo Credit: Dave Burk Photography (PRNewsfoto/Davidson Hotels & Resorts

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Messengers Among Us

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This week I have been amazed at the world around me. I am continually working toward self-actualization.  On this quest, I seek to manifest clarity of my beliefs for my well-being.  My work is to constantly detach from the world around me to find truth among the noise and chaos that consumes our lives and time. 

Think about that for a moment – the noise and chaos consuming.  Like a heterotrophic bacterium, eating and absorbing dead matter, the noise and chaos consume our lives and time in that same manner.  Look at your life and examine how much time social media, the news, entertainment, gossip, work politics and the like consume your mind and time.  It is as if your mind is constantly being pulled to the left and the right, jerking itself to keep up with one distraction after another. 

In moving so fast, we are also distracted from the beauty and perfection that is the foundation of all that is.  We miss the important things in life and instead become conformed to what we are consuming, noise and chaos. Chaos is disorder and confusion.  In life, it shows up as confusion of who we are, where we are and how we are.  Constantly out of order.  Not only in our minds, but in relationship to the universe itself.

In my discovery this week, I realized that my rush to reach goals, achieve heights and make the most of my time here on earth has caused me to miss out on what makes the journey beautiful.  I was missing out on the hands that push me along the way, the voice that draws my attention forward and the lights that guide my feet.  The little things that assure my safe travel and help to lift me above life’s heavy pull to complete the voyage.  These impressions I neglected.  I let them drown in the noise. 

In my haste, these hands and voices appeared to be talking trees.  An oddity that became normal to ignore.  After a few interviews this week and conversations with some amazingly insightful and determined individuals, I realized I was not walking past talking trees.  In my day to day, I was walking past individual spirits in human form with messages for me.  Their niceties, their conversations, their encounters, I shrugged off as part of happenings of life.  I forsook their importance and my importance in these moments.  I disregarded the work of the universe to perfect these moments.  I overlooked how important I must be for the universe to send a message to me in such an orchestrated manner.  I discounted how valuable the messenger must be to hold such information and maintain a life appointment neither was aware. 

I imagine that from the beginning of time, their life was formed, and their path perfected to be a messenger for me and me for them.  We for others.  Our meetings converted to a special remembrance to renew our lives and minds and assist in opening the eyes of others to messages all around them.

This week I became clear and grateful to the universe and the messengers for helping me to see what I had made myself blind to see.  Taking for granted the souls that surround me on any given day.  I became grateful for why I am pushed to help and connect with others. For, in the end, they actually help and connect me to me.  I am giving to no one; everyone is giving to me.  When I am giving to others, I give to myself and they to themselves.  My hand to them is a key that unlocks the message they hold for me.

I have a few stories I am writing that will be published in the coming weeks.  I wanted to use other people’s stories and messages to continue to have readers question themselves and their beliefs.  Have readers find hope, purpose, and well-being through the eyes and lives of others.  I wanted to put a spotlight on unique journeys and stories.  In actuality, I received light and answers to my questions.  I was sent their way to be fed.  Though their stories will be told, my story, in turn, has been enriched by their passage through my life.

This week I interviewed a blind man who had greater vision and clarity than those with eyes.   A man who helped me to see that my eyes are not for seeing at all.  They are for realizing and becoming aware of what I have already created.  A man that could walk you into your destiny, guided by his foresight within.  He caused me to see where I was blind.

I interviewed a woman whose personal path was destined by her ancestral past.  It was so intense, that when she did not listen to its call, it pulled her into death to ignite the gift and shift her mind.  It called her to death to give her a message and clear the confusion she walked in.  She returned to life with a power and message that only she specifically could hold.  Her life, her heritage, her persona perfectly orchestrated to be the messenger of this message.  Her gift and light gave me life.

I met a group of activist advocating for assisted suicide.  Their stories were informing me of points of view and processes that drew levels of compassion and questions of my belief system that I would never have challenged without their meeting.  I met groups of advocates for children, politicians and school leaders sharing hopes, dreams, limitations, and struggles.   These individuals were destroying biases and shifting my views.  They helped me release limiting thoughts and walk boldly into uncharted territories.  I offered my help, support, and conversation, not knowing that, in turn, I would be lifted. 

Though all of these individuals have different stories apprised from their life perspectives, I found them all speaking to me.  Their lives, their stories, their pains, their joys and gifts all held messages for me.  Some were whispers of Spirit leading or directing me.  Some held confirmations.  Others held fingers of light directing me toward a future I was unaware possible.  Their messages released doubts, strengthened, encouraged, empowered, opened doors of my mind and destroyed biases.

I learned through this experience to slow down and hear those speaking.  Stop rushing past so fast, that the voices become talking trees in the forest of my life. I will listen from now on.  I will see and connect to the messengers around me.  I will be grateful for them.  Because of them, I know I am never alone, and a message is always waiting for me to question, to answer my questions, to direct or inform me of me.

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Exposure Magazine Exclusive with The Mother of Black Hollywood Jenifer Lewis On News Stands

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Cedric Nettles-Exposure Magazine Entertainment Editor

Legendary actress and star of the hit sitcom Blackish sat down with Exposure Magazine to talk about her memoir The Mother of Black Hollywood. We had a VERY candid conversation about her bout with bi-polar disorder and sex addiction. When speaking with her you get one thing from her you expect…Strength and courage. We also talked about the life lessons that helped her cope with her condition. She had a very special message to former President Barack Obama and some rather hard hitting words for the current President. Get your copy  of her book

The Mother of Black Hollywood.

 

 

 

 

 

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