Friday, January 14, 2011

Enjoy Every Moment

Enjoy Every Moment

Take a moment and tell me what part of this scenario doesn't quite fit.

I was watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and crying.

Yes, crying. You read this correctly.

Most of us know for an absolute fact that an episode from any of the The Real Housewives franchise means pettiness, craziness and drama, drama, drama. An emotional moment is not usually part of the equation.

My emotional outburst and tears surprised even me.

Yes, I am an emotional person. Yes, I cry at sappy movies. Yes, I will cry from watching the evening news. But not from watching The Real Housewives.

I was watching the episode, the one right before the season finale. This is the episode where Kyle's oldest child/oldest daughter, Farrah, graduates from college. There were several touching moments that spoke from somewhere deep within and tugged at my heartstrings because I could relate at a maternal level.

I have a daughter, Briana, who's fifteen years old. She is full of life, always has a smile and a hug to offer to those around her. She keeps our family full of laughter. Saying “I love you” is a part of her every day lingo. Kisses follow. Plain and simple, Briana is a happy child. She’s a mini me.

During the celebratory lunch in honor of Farrah, with family and friends surrounding her, Kyle makes an emotionally-laced speech. My tears started to flow. At that point I realized, no matter how rich or poor, no matter what race or ethnicity, country or culture, there is a bond between mother and daughter that is powerful stuff.

With tears and a shaky voice, Kyle speaks of her love for her daughter, and there is no denying that, and how she has been blessed from the day she was born. She is so proud at the way her daughter turned out and the person she has always been. Let me repeat that. . . always been. Kyle triumphantly proclaimed she had waited for this moment for twenty-one years. In that moment, Kyle and I connected because I knew exactly what she meant and the emotions she was experiencing.

More tears flowed, from me.

And, I know that my moment is just around the corner; the moment when my daughter will go off to make her place in the world. This same daughter who told me many years ago: “I’m so happy that out of all the mommies in the world, God chose you for me. I love you Mommy!”

It’s true. Daughters are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. My daughter is only fifteen years old, but she has been the joy of my life, along with her brother, Brandon. They have taught me the true meaning of love, unconditional love, and motherhood and sacrifice and a willingness to lay down my life for another person, if need be. I can be a fierce tigress when defending my precious clubs. When they hurt, I hurt. When they are happy, I bask in their joy. Their triumphs are my victories.

I pray for them. I pray for greatness from them.

I could not picture life without them. My children make me proud every moment of my life. And because of them, I am a better person. I have enough wonderful memories of them growing up to last a lifetime. I smile in reflection. My only regret is that my mother never had the opportunity to get to know the wonderful people they are. My gifts.

Children grow up so fast. I will never forget, years ago, a complete stranger approached us in a store, maybe Sears. Brandon and Briana were smaller then and my husband and I were carrying them in our arms. He had Brandon and I had Briana. The middle-aged white male smiled and told us to always kiss them, hold them tight, and enjoy every moment because after age twelve, the years zoom by, in the blink of an eye. How true he was.

Enjoy every moment.

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Friday, January 07, 2011

And I Want it Right Now

"Dear God, I pray for patience. And I want it right now!"

I'm impatient.
Impatient to a fault.

I want what I want when I want it. And I want it yesterday.

And you all know the world doesn't stop in mid-orbit to cater to my whims. So, lots of times, hell, many times, I find myself highly frustrated and spasming out because it takes everything in me to contain myself. Oh, I'm also a little bit spoiled.

That's not good.

But, I gave up kiddng myself that I would work on it years ago. Who was I kidding? I'll go to my grave with an air of impatience dangling in my midst. In fact, in death, I'll probably be wondering why it's taking my family so long to bury me ( or cremate, haven't decided which). And then I'll be complaining because it's taking the heavenly angels too long to open the pearly gates and let me enter.  Later, I'll spasm out because I'm tired of waiting in line to speak with God. Why can't my name be moved up the list to the VIP session? I would want express service. LOL.

Sometimes, we have a rare opportunity to learn a life lesson played out in a very public manner and with a very unlikely character. A life lesson came the other day, in the form of Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice. No one can tell me that wasn't God's intervention.

After sinking to his lowest since succumbing to issues dealing with drugs, alcohol and unemployment, Ted Williams had been homeless for over a decade . The unemployment came after losing the battle with the drugs and alcohol. Yet, people who have now been interviewed, remembering him from his days on the streets of Ohio, all say he is a kind and gentle man. . . with the gift of voice. Even with the harsh, daily reality of living on the streets and realizing how far he had sunk, Ted never lost his spirit nor his gift. Amazing.

Fast forward or maybe even play it forward, an angel in the form of a newspaper reporter, records and videos Ted speaking and millions of hits later on the Internet --- the rest is history. A viral success.

What is amazing is that through all Ted's struggles and challenges of making a life on the streets, God protected his voice until it was his time. If that isn't a testimony, then I don't know what is. We may go through up and downs in life --- because that is life. However, when it is our time, there is no one or any thing or any situation that can stop us from living up to God's greatness and special plan for us. No weapons formed against us, no naysayers, no haters, no dream dashers, no pessimist, no one can stop it. No one. It's all in divine time and divine order. Isn't that comforting to know?

Next time I complain about what hasn't happened in my life, in my time frame, I'll think of Ted Williams and the wonderful, supernatural miracles that can happen if we leave it up to God's timeline. God has our back.

It didn't escape my attention that even though Ted was homeless, that didn't stop him from telling anyone who would listen what gift God had bestowed upon him and if they allowed him, he showed them too in a rich, articulate, golden, perfect, flawless voice. Praise his name.

Skeptics are always saying that they haven't seen any miracles during our lifetimes.  Ain't no people being risen from the death or a few fish and loaves of bread transformed to feed many. I say, miracles are absolutely out there. We have to see them for what they are. We also have to open our eyes and our hearts. To go from homelessness, and three days later you are cruising the media circuit, inspiring people, moving people to tears and receiving multiple job offers and a house---that's a miracle. Just ask Ted Williams.

If that isn't a perfect example of God working supernatural goodness in someone's life than I don't know what is.

God is good.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Toast to a New Year!

Another year. A new beginning.

Happy New Year! It's 2011. Can you believe it? My, time does fly. . . For as long as I can remember, I've always loved celebrating the start of a new year. For me, a new year symbolizes starting over with a fresh, clean slate. . . another chance to make right the wrongs of the previous year. For me, a new year is like being given the gift of a new beginning.

I stopped making new year resolutions years ago because, for me, they were pointless. Caught up in the excitement and lure of a new year, I randomly chose three areas I needed or wanted to make improvements. Mind you, these were tossed out without a clear plan in place. Usually, I was doomed bfore I even finished writing the list and typically by three months into the new year, my resolutions were totally forgotten. Nothing accomplished.

Now, I use the start of each new year to reflect on the previous year, good and bad, and to focus on obtainable improvements the following year with a logical action plan. My goal is to always end the next year in a better place: emotionally, physically, spirtually and mentally.

I strive to constantly enlighten myself as to who and what I am as a person and my place in the world. Only then can I live up to my full potential and in living up to my full potential, only then am I at the greatest level to give back and serve the greatest good. You see, I strive to strengthen and utilize the power I possess inside.

New years come and go so quickly, blink and you'll miss living. Raising my glass, lets toast to another year.Here's to love, happiness, good health, joy and prosperity---more than you can stand. Lets toast to new beginnings.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Intimate Conversation With Electa Rome Parks

BPM: Tell us about your passion for writing. Why do you write? What impact do you want your book to make on the readers?

Wow! Where do I begin? There is no way to best describe it. I always jokingly state that I have a passionate love affair going on with reading and writing. Our torrid affair has consumed me for much of my life. Writing is in my blood and I can't imagine life without it. My very spirit would probably shrivel up and die if I couldn't write. Writing is my therapy. My Voice. My sincere expression of the world as seen through my eyes.

I don't write as a hustle. I write because I'm passionate about the power and beauty of words. As my children say, "That's real talk."

When I write, I am transported to another dimension. My soul feels free and at peace. Writing brings me serenity and peace like no other. When I write I feel powerful---after all, I'm creating life with the stroke of my pen or computer keys. My characters come alive on the pages of my books. And when my readers read my stories, they get to meet these incredible people, faults, imperfections and all.

What drives me? Life, the precious beauty of existing, the experience of learning something new each and every day. Joys, pains. Failures. Accomplishments. Life lessons. My children, my spouse. Observing people in their beauty and splendor and seeing the not so pretty side. Writing is my essence, my link with the world.

As far as an impact is concerned, I simply want my readers to be entertained and pulled into a world completely different, or maybe not, from their own. If a life lesson is learned during the process that makes the experience all the sweeter.

BPM: What are two major events taking place in True Confessions?

True Confessions starts off bringing the drama. Readers are introduced to Kennedy Logan in her most desperate and lowest moment in time. . . she is thinking her final thoughts after making the tragic decision to end her own life. Readers, hopefully, sense the level of despair she has reached, how low she has sunk to decide to go this route. As you read the excerpt below, you will see how painful life is for her.

Questions are immediately raised. Why? What so horrible could possibly have happened to this person?

As the story unfolds, readers have the opportunity to meet one of the major reasons life looked so bleak and hopeless to Kennedy. Enter Drake Collins, her love or ex love interest. It is soon apparent that what looks good and smells good and says the right words on the outside isn't necessarily so perfect on the inside. Drake is not as he presents himself and during the course of True Confessions, many secrets are revealed where Kennedy can say, "In hindsight the clues were all there. I just refused to see them. But love will make you do that sometimes."

BPM: What specific situation or revelation prompted you to write True Confessions?

True Confessions actually started out as a short story titled These Are My Confessions in the anthology These Are My Confessions (Harper Collins, 2007). So many readers emailed or excitedly asked me during signings about Kennedy and Drake and their back story that I decided to pen the novel length version. I've always believed in listening to my readers and taking their suggestions:).

Kennedy and Drake captured my imagination as well; they stayed with me long after the short story was published. I wanted to delve deeper into what made them "tick" and a short story didn't allow that.

As a writer, for me, it is always about what makes up the core essence of my characters. How did they become who they are? What event(s) shaped their lives? What brought them to this place in their lives when they are introduced to my readers? We are all products of our childhood and I adore piecing the puzzle together to create a likeable, sometimes not so likeable character(s) that has faults, imperfections, just like we all do.

BPM: Who do you want to reach with True Confessions and the message within?

I would like to reach the readers who have wisely figured out we are all works in progress. Can I get an amen? If we are truly honest, there are aspects of our lives that we can all work on during our journey of self exploration.

As with my previous titles (The Ties That Bind, Loose Ends, Almost Doesn't Count, Ladies' Night Out, These Are My Confessions and Diary of a Stalker), they have dealt with topical issues that are prevalent in our communities and society in general.

And True Confessions is no different. At first glance it appears to be a relationship gone bad type of storyline, but True Confessions is so much more than that. Issues of suicide, adoption, dysfunctional relationships, bond of a mother and daughter, father and daughter bonds, divorce and low self esteem issues are all addressed. Bottom line, if I had to encompass a general theme prevalent throughout the novel, all of Kennedy's problems and issues stem from feelings of low self esteem and unworthiness.

So. . . my underlying message is that just because someone appears to have it all together doesn't mean they actually do. Kennedy and Drake were prime examples each in their own way. Before we can receive love or give love, we have to love ourselves first. Kennedy and Drake didn't love themselves and it showed up in various aspects of their personalities and life.

BPM: What is your most valuable lesson about the publishing industry?

A few years ago I came into the industry with rose colored glasses. Lets just say, I no longer wear those glasses. A lot of my illusions have been lifted at this point in the game. However, my most valuable lesson about the publishing industry is that it is a business first and foremost. The bottom line, the dollar bill, still takes credence over talent and creativity. Even though I was a business major in college and realized this at some level, I naively thought considerations would be adhered to based on a level of talent.

Black Pearls Readers, to find out when and where Electa will be in your area, check out her website at

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True Confessions


My reality is surreal and happens in super, slow motion. A nervous giggle escapes my chapped, dry and parched lips. I lick them to restore moisture. Then, there is utter, deadly silence. If I listen closely, I can hear my heartbeat beating away at an accelerated pace. My senses are heightened and I marvel over the brilliant, bold colors of my bedroom as I inhale my favorite fragrances, from their spot on my antique dresser, colliding into one another with their potent allure. Even my sense of touch is different somehow. Everything is magnified to the nth degree. It’s like I’m looking down at myself from a huge movie screen with surround sound as I ready myself for the big finale---the final shot and then fade to black.

I’ve never been good at saying goodbye, even on short, weekend trips. I keep the handwritten note short and sweet and pray to God that mother will understand, and hopefully, one day, forgive me.

I don’t mean to hurt her or cause her any fresh pain. I sincerely don't. I hope she understands that this isn't her fault, that I love her with all my heart and being. No matter what, that fact will never change. I’m so thankful and forever grateful that she chose me to be her daughter out of all the orphaned babies in the world. She chose me. I told myself over and over again that that made me special. I needed to feel special instead of unwanted and discarded.

I’ll miss mother the most, but the hurt I feel inside is too unbearable and indescribable. It is too painful for me to continue, day in and day out, with just a hollow emptiness that erodes and corrupts any happiness that briefly surfaces. The dawn of each new day only brings me more heartache and renewed memories. Some memories are like leeches. They latch on for dear life and slowly, ever so slowly, suck and drain all the blood, all the living out of you. You are left with just a shell of the old you and that's no way to survive. Not for me, anyway.

When they find me, I want it to look like I’m sleeping, peacefully. Just like Sleeping Beauty who only needed a handsome prince to kiss her and awaken her from the darkness that engulfed her. However, for me, there won't be a handsome, charming prince to wake me, save me, and ride off into eternity. All my so-called princes were monsters in disguise with their own hidden agendas that attempted to crush and stamp out my self-esteem. Yes, just blessed sleep awaits me.

I chose pills. I couldn’t subject mother to a messy, bloody scene that comes with slitting one’s wrists or shooting one's self. I refuse to take my final breath with that heavy on my heart. I don't think my heart could handle anything else weighing against it. As it is, I feel like I have three hundred pounds weighing me down. Crushing the life out of me.

As I settle myself comfortably on my queen-size bed, slowly pull the red, satin comforter up to my chin and stare at the full bottle of prescription pills carefully nestled in my right hand, I can’t imagine not waking up in the morning.

What will it be like to not see the rising sun? To not hear my alarm clock going off announcing it’s time to get ready for another day of work? Not hitting snooze to give myself another fifteen minutes? Not rushing to finish my morning rituals before I dash out the door and into rush-hour traffic? What will that feel like?

More important to me now, though, is will it hurt? I hope not. I have never been able to tolerate too much pain, physical, mental or emotional. Yet, that’s what Drake has caused me for the last year of my life. Pain. Intolerable suffering.

I only wanted to love him and for him to love me in return. Simple enough. Was that asking too much? My part of the equation was accomplished, effortless. Drake claimed he loved me, but he really didn’t. Probably never could. Didn't know how to love or receive it. After what happened last week, I know he didn’t. Yet, I gave him everything: my heart, my body, my soul. Now, I have nothing left to give myself. I'm empty inside.

As tears slowly flood my weary eyes and blur my vision, I look around my cozy bedroom for the last time. Ever. It used to be one of my favorite rooms in my small two bedroom, one bath apartment. There was nothing better than lighting several fragrant candles, drinking a little white wine and cozying up with a good romance novel. Yes, that was heaven. Simple things excite me. Always have. Watching a sunrise or sunset, waking up to birds chirping in the treetops, walking hand in hand through the park with the one I love, all these things brought me great joy.

Mother will have to understand. I left her a note, propped up on the nightstand, in full view, that explains how much I love her and daddy. What will she think when she can’t reach me tonight? I would love to hear her soothing, loving voice one last time. Yet, I know I wouldn’t be able to go through with my plan if I did. I’d give away my intentions over the phone or mother would pick up on my foul mood and that would be that. I’d wake up another day with this aching, dull pain inside, tearing me apart, bit-by-bit. Pain that dulls and diminishes every ounce of my strength, all the way down to my pores.

Drake Collins. His name leaves a bitter taste on my tongue. Just the thought of him brings bile to the back of my throat. I will forever regret the day I met that man. If I could turn back the hands of time, do it all over again, I would have called in sick that day or run for the hills. I was just fine with my life the way it was. Sure, it wasn’t exciting or glamorous, but it was enough for me. Drake came with the charm, movie star looks, glitz and high drama and reeled me right in like a bass caught at sea. I gladly jumped into his net.

I say a silent prayer of forgiveness as I place one, then two colorful pills on my tongue and swallow dry. I didn't think of getting a glass of water. I can't think. The lump in my throat quickly diminishes. There’s no turning back now. Just like there was no turning back when Drake turned me out. The countdown begins. Ten, nine, eight. . . I've lived a happy life. I have tons of good memories. I've treated others the way I wanted to be treated.

I hope this happens quickly. I steadfastly place three, four pills on my tongue and swallow again. Hot tears start to spill forth and stream down my cheeks as I realize the final result of my actions. Seven, six, five. . . It’s for the best. I need to stop the pain. Will he even miss me? Or will he just move on to his next victim? Will all this be in vain?

I guess I’ll never have that family now. The one I used to daydream and write about in my journal. The family with the almost perfect mommy and daddy and two kids, a boy and girl. The boy would be the oldest, and he'd look out for and protect his younger sister. They'd have cute, adorable names and they'd know they were wanted and loved and cherished by their parents. They'd never feel unwanted.

Four, three. . . I swallow a handful of pills this time. I've lost count as to how many I've digested. As spittle escapes from my mouth, I gag. I wipe the overflow away with the back of my hand and keep right on shoving pills in my mouth until the orange-brown medicine bottle is empty. I look inside, in awe, shake the bottle, and can’t believe the pills are gone so quickly. Just like the illusion of love. If you blink, you'll miss it.

I wonder if Drake even realizes how much I loved him? Now, I wait for blessed relief and peace to take away my hurt and pain. I’m so tired. Tired of loving the wrong men. Tired of giving my all, coming up empty, and getting absolutely nothing back in return. Good sex isn’t the end all to everything. Drake taught me that lesson.

Two, one. . . It won’t be long now. I faintly smile and lay back against my down pillow. I welcome peace. In my mind, I start silently repeating Psalms 23. I shall walk through the valley of death; I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me. I’m so sleepy. I can barely keep my eyes open. I can feel myself giving in to the fog that slowly invades my mind. Maybe if I close my eyes for a few moments. Yeah, just rest them for a few minutes without seeing Drake’s face behind my heavy eyelids.

Suddenly, I feel lightheaded, like I’m floating on a big, fluffy white cloud, bouncing up and down, giddy with not a care in the world. This is a different sensation that I literally reach out my right hand to embrace and never let go of. Not a care in the world. Nothing matters but blessed, uneventful sleep. I close my tired, weary eyes as the countdown ends. Fade to black.

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