Star Jones

Star Jones
Have you met Miss Jones?

Thursday

Ending 2009...in Reflection



On this last day of the year my morning has been spent in meditation; and I'm sure like most of you...is being used as a time for reflection.

I don't know about you, but 2009 has been an amazing year filled with tremendous highs and even some minor lows. Members of my family & several friends have faced serious health issues that could have either debilitated them or killed them; yet they have been healed!  That in and of itself is a reason to shout.

On the professional front, work...although not perfect...was exhilarating, lucrative and plentiful enough for me not to miss a meal or fail to pay my bills...and 2010 is already looking good with new possibilities and new avenues to pursue.

In 2009, I have grown as a person, a woman, a friend, a partner in a loving relationship & most of all, as a Child of God!  My faith has been unshaken, my spirit has been renewed and my resolve has been fortified.  God has plans for me in 2010.

So if you're feeling me on this...join today's Morning Meditation: "Take time to reflect on everything that is lovely." It comes from Philippians 4:8...

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. 
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. 
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

The WORD in Philippians is a powerful instruction from God.  He wants us to find the things in OUR lives that allow US to give HIM praise.

And all you have to do is watch the blessings flow...

Sunday

Simply Blessed Sunday: Going Places

Life might alter the path we want to take 
but that doesn't mean 
we can't still get to where we want to go!
whichpath.jpg
This "word" is for all who have had to deal with change and faced ups, downs, sideways and noways.  I believe that every challenge is a God sent "speed bump" that is the Lord's way of forcing us to slow down and allow him to work a miracle in our lives.


Go to the WORD for verification and edification! 


Isaiah 58:11

The Lord will guide you continually,
      giving you water when you are dry
      and restoring your strength.
   You will be like a well-watered garden,
      like an ever-flowing spring.

Monday

BET "Heart of the City...Dying to Eat in Jackson"




To watch "Heart of the City
...Dying to Eat in Jackson," 
click HERE


To watch more of the 
Roundtable discussion, 
click HERE

Sunday

Loving YOURSELF enough to be healthy...by ANY means necessary!


I love myself.  I love my brain, my heart, my smile, my candor, my inquisitiveness, my interest in others, my confidence, my ability to forgive and show love.  I love the law.  I love that I know God...and he knows me.  I love that I'm smart, strong, confident, courageous, honest and trustworthy.  I love ME!  This is not a recent revelation; it is a lifelong reality.

But for a long time it was incomplete; for you see...even with all that I loved about myself ...I didn't love myself enough to be a healthy weight.  

I didn't use that famous strength, confidence, honesty and courage in the one area that matters above all:  taking care of my health.

When it came to my weight...I was weak, shy, sneaky, conniving, secretive, ashamed and emotionally cripple.  I defined myself partially through carrying those extra pounds.  I liked being the smart "chubby" girl in the room without having to compete with the vapid "pretty"ones.  I could be "one of the girls" because they never saw me a competition and I could be "one of the boys" because they never saw me as potential.  I thought I had it made...

That was until I found myself unable to sleep through the night, unable to breathe without sounding like I was having an asthma attack, unable to walk without being winded, developing pulmonary and heart issues and on the cusp of diabetes; that I realized I didn't love myself at all.  All those things I loved about me would be gone and forgotten if I died because I was too scared, lazy, undisciplined and proud to get help with the greatest health challenge I had ever faced.  I was morbidly obese and slowly killing myself.  

It wasn't like I didn't know I was overweight.

Sadly, I'm not the only one.  Everyone I know or have talked to over the last six years since I had weight loss surgery and began this journey has said the same thing to me..."It's not like I didn't know I was fat."  300 pounds is pretty hard to hide.  But honestly, it all became real to me when I stopped using words like "heavy" "full-figured" "plus-sized"& "phat" & start saying "obese" "morbidly obese" "unhealthy" and "dying" instead.  


Harsh words for a harsh reality.  I could smile at the world in public...like anyone else; but when you find yourself alone in your bathtub and you're too big to stretch your arm across the tub to adjust the water temperature...no one needs to point out that you are too damn big.  But it took instances like that to make me decide to step out on faith for ME.

As most people now know, after serious consultation with my doctors, I decided to have Gastric Bypass Surgery.  It wasn't the "easy way out."  It was the "necessary way in" for me.  

It is important for me to convey with all sincerity that my path is not necessarily your path to healthy weight loss. Only you and your doctor can design a plan that will work in the long-term for you.  Weight Loss Surgery is a major life altering change and I had great insurance, financial  resources, tremendous support & no obligations other than me. This doesn't make me "special"...just really blessed and I don't for a minute take it for granted.  However, let me say this, having Weight Loss Surgery started me on a healthy path, but changing my lifestyle habits, portion control, exercise and discipline has kept me on that path. Six years after surgery...I have stayed within 5 pounds of my target goal weight for FOUR straight years. It is truly the greatest accomplishment of my life.

When I decided to have Gastric Bypass, I knew I'd take some criticism.  I honestly didn't know it would be as intense as it was...and I didn't help by trying to be slick and telling only what I wanted to tell about what I was going through.  I didn't lie about it...not once...to ANYONE.  I just didn't talk about it in public because, I wasn't ready to talk about it.  No apologies, no further explanations...just straight talk. 

It has taken me years of therapy to get to this point because I was used to evaluating my self worth through the eyes of others, but the day I stopped worrying what others thought about what I did to take care of me...was the day I REALLY got healthy.  So let me put this issue to bed once and for all as bluntly as I can:  I didn't get healthy for YOU...I got healthy for ME...so I talked about it when I could handle it.  I talked about it when I figured it out.  I talked about it when I was no longer afraid that I would go back to my old habits.  I talked about it when I had something to say.

And I'm saying something in "Heart of the City...Dying to Eat in Jackson," a documentary for BET that addresses the obesity epidemic in the African American community.  We as a community are slowly killing ourselves with Diabetes, Heart Disease, Stroke and High Blood Pressure; and the weapon of choice is food.  That is not a slogan...it is a fact.  

The statistics are staggering.  Every single state in the US (except for Colorado) has obesity rates in excess of 20%.  The poorest states have obesity rates of 30% or more and Mississippi has the highest obesity rate in the land at nearly 1/3 of all residents being obese or morbidly obese.  When you isolate the African-American community, in nearly every state we are at a 35-45% obesity rate and some statistics suggest that black women are particularly at risk...in many states, nearly 50% fall into the obese category.  When I saw the obesity trends among children (black girls ages 12-19 are almost at 30%...double the rate of caucasian girls!)  I started to cry...

That's when I decided it was time for me to say something.

I'm one of the few public people in news, entertainment, philanthropy and law who can or will say that I know what it feels like to weigh 300 pounds, to lose more than I now weigh and to maintain that weight loss for significant period of time.  God has given me an amazing public platform to share my thoughts, ideas, opinions, knowledge and expertise. It would be unfair and tremendously selfish of me if I didn't use it for the good of my people and my community.  


There are resources out there.  But the first step starts with loving yourself enough to be healthy...by any means necessary!


My BET "Heart of the City" documentary on Obesity premieres Sunday, November 15th at 10pm/9c on BET.  Click here for a sneak peek.



Note:  All of the highlighted links connect you to further information on this vital topic!


Thank you to the people of Jackson, Mississippi who welcomed me, BET and our cameras into their lives.  Your stories and your struggle with save lives.

Saturday

FAKER ALERT! I AM NOT ON FACEBOOK



PRETENDING TO BE THAT WHICH YOU AREN'T 
PREVENTS YOU FROM BECOMING THAT WHICH YOU COULD BE!
~Star Jones

Now you've done it.  My sister Sheila is pissed!  She just found out that someone is impersonating me on FACEBOOK.  How did she find out?  We were talking about social networking and how much I enjoy my "Twitter" family and she asked why I hadn't "updated my Facebook page."  When I told her that I didn't have a Facebook page...I thought her head was going to spin off her neck!  You see my sister, four of my cousins, my aunt and countless other longtime friends and associates have been "friends" to this person for months thinking it was me.  All I can say is Damn.


To all the people who have "befriended" this person; please know that I have NEVER been on Facebook and this page is not my page or anyone affiliated with me.


Do not correspond with this account thinking that you are interacting with me...


Now...on the real... impersonating someone on a social networking site is pathetic on so many levels, it boggles the mind.  First of all, my life isn't that interesting.  I'm just as real as the girl sitting next to you in the hair salon.  If you really knew me...you'd know that.  Second, the people who join as friends don't deserve to be put in a trick bag of fakery because of a silly obsession.  There might be legitimate questions or issues that these "Facebook Friends" are dealing with and to waste their time is cruel and mean-spirited.  Not to mention pitiful.


Yes, I will be having it taken down, because the REAL Star Jones can do that; but my best advice to the person who set this silliness in motion is to  focus on what is real in YOUR life so you don't have to reside in MINE.


Oh...and by the way...if you really want to be me; I got some bills you can pay.  Just tell me where to send them!

Rihanna & Chris...What I should have learned at Eight


After watching Rihanna discuss Chris Brown on ABC for the last two days I felt compelled to comment because the issue of domestic violence is important and deserves discussion. Most times when a major issue is in the news, I take to my laptop and the words just flow freely and quickly and it is like a bomb explodes in me and everything inside of me must come out.  


I must confess that this time it was different. I honestly found myself trying to walk a "fine line" around the issue; so as to see "both sides."  Huh? What the hell was I thinking searching for words that would comfort that which is uncomfortable, explain the unexplainable and defend the indefensible.  I'm still figuring out why...even as I type...



This should be easy for me...the ex-prosecutor.  For these are the facts:


  • Battering on women is the most under reported crime in America.
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States; more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
  • Three to four million women in the United States are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands, ex-husbands, or male lovers. 
  • One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States. 
  • About 1 out of 4 women are likely to be abused by a partner in her lifetime. 
  • Approximately 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women. 
  • Police report that between 40% and 60% of the calls they receive, especially on the night shift, are domestic violence disputes. 
  • Battering occurs among people of all races, ages, socio-economic classes, religious affiliations, occupations, and educational backgrounds.
  • Domestic violence is not only physical and sexual violence but also psychological.
  • A battering incident is rarely an isolated event.
  • Battering tends to increase and become more violent over time.
  • Many batterers learned violent behavior growing up in an abusive family.


Then it hit me...even knowing what I know to be fact on the issue of Domestic Violence, I was trying to find a way to justify not put Chris Brown "on blast" for his behavior.  I was looking for an excuse for him "going off" in such a violent way.  I was searching for a way to justify his behavior because of his youth, immaturity, background, fame and temper or  her youth, immaturity, background, fame and temper.  I was also annoyed that this young couple had become the poster children for domestic violence when it happens every day to many more people who are not famous and who don't get the attention.  I was pissed that other people seem to get a "pass" for bad behavior.  I was disheartened that "sisters" were so critical of Rihanna and questioned her motives.  I was having trouble formulating my comments; because I was focused on the big picture of this issue.

And then my nephew Tyson flashed in my head.

About two years ago, Chris Brown was on tour and my then seven-year-old nephew Tyson desperately wanted to see him in concert.  When I tell you this kid loved him some Chris Brown...I don't exaggerate.  He danced like him, sang all his songs, had him on his IPOD...the whole nine yards.  Tyson doesn't ask me for a lot...so when "Auntie Star" gets a specific request...I jump through hoops to get it done.  So I pulled some strings and got some VIP passes for Tyson and the little girl from his class he adored "Cierra" (who he described as having eyes like "snowflakes"...yeah, I know...the kid is deep) and off they went (chaperoned by my sister and brother-in-law) for a night on the town in Richmond Virginia.  They had a great time and Chris didn't disappoint.  Tyson clearly because a junior stud in the eyes of Cierra...and "Auntie Star" was again "Fairy Godmother."

Fast forward about a year later to February 2009 Tyson now eight years old and all over the news is Chris Brown.  This time not for a cool new concert, but for beating up his then girlfriend Rihanna.  Now, as much  Tyson loved Chris Brown the performer, he could take Rihanna or leave her; but this wasn't about Chris' music today.  My Dad said Tyson purposefully sat with him and watched the news,  Entertainment Tonight, etc. about the "incident." He saw Rihanna's badly bruised face, he heard the 911 tape and then he very deliberately asked for a trash bag.  Eight year old Tyson got up from the sofa, gathered every CD, tee shirt and poster of Chris Brown he had and put it in the bag and gave it to his grandfather.  He said "here, I don't want it anymore."  My Dad (I adore this man so much...) then told Tyson he might want to wait to hear all sides of the story before jumping to conclusions.  And according to my father, Tyson asked one question:  "Did he hit her?"  Dad said, "it looks that way."  Tyson then brought it all home with one phrase:  "Pop Pop, boys don't hit girls."

Tyson didn't need a law degree, facts and figures, a 20/20 interview or a Larry King confession.  He knew a universal truth that he learned at an early age that gave him all the information he needed.  "Boys don't hit girls."  Period.


There is no question that Rihanna was brutally beaten by Chris Brown.  I'm not sure if she initiated, instigated, ignited or provoked the situation that lead to the altercation...and I really don't care.  Bottom line is Chris Brown repeatedly hit Rihanna in the face so hard that it left her bloodied, bruised and beaten...and that is unacceptable on any level.  Any man who would do so deserves to be prosecuted and punished and any woman who is the victim of it needs to run...not walk as fast as she can away from the situation because that relationship is toxic and dangerous.

There, I said it.  Thank you Tyson...


I wish no ill will towards Chris Brown, I'm proud that he took responsibility for his actions and took his punishment like a man.  I hope he gets the help he needs to control his anger, deal with the history of violence in his family and grows into the man he knows he can be.  Chris Brown deserves the chance to change, to grow and to prove himself to be worth of the adulation of his fans.  Those are my hopes for Chris...but my prayers are with Rihanna that she finds the strength and the courage to love herself enough not to ever accept that a volatile and violent relationship is love.

Love is kind, love is passionate, love is pleasurable...there is no hitting in love.

Sunday

Innocence: Badly Beaten...and Bruised


October must be the month for school dances in California.
  
Three weeks ago, I flew out to Los Angeles to help my 15 year old god-daughter prepare for her first one.  I think I was more excited than she was at one point in the evening when she let me do her makeup and hair, help her pick out jewelry and once we figured out she was wearing open toed shoes...I even painted her toenails; 'cause that's what "Aunties" do!  She and her 5 girlfriends had chipped in for a limo for the evening and I cried as the baby I held in the front of a church 15 years earlier standing next to her parents...left for her first school dance.  I was so filled with joy for what this would mean in her memory bank.  The jokes they would tell, the stories they would have, the boys they would giggle about.  Oh, to be 15 on this night...I wouldn't want it again...but I sure as heck wanted the experience for her.


Fast forward just two weeks later and I imagine another family doing something very similar in Richmond, California.  A 15 year-old and her mother or "Aunties" helped pick out a cute dress, some high-heeled shoes and decided on the hair do that would "set it all off" because the big dance at Richmond High School was that night.  I'll bet she met her girlfriends at the dance, they laughed and danced and pointed out the cute fellas.  Boy was she going to have stories when her dad picked her up from the dance.  At 15, she probably walked out of the gymnasium thinking...this is the best night of my life...


She couldn't have be more wrong.  At around 9:30pm, she walked out of her school and accepted an invitation to hang a little bit longer in a courtyard...literally yards from the school.


What she walked into was not a group that wanted to add to the joy of her night, but a group of about a dozen boys and young men already well into gallons of vodka. I don't know if it was peer pressure that made her drink with these guys or a desire to just extend the fun of the evening, but soon after a few drinks of brandy, the guys starting propositioning and pressuring her for sex.  Probably sensing the imminent danger she was now in, the girl said no.  But these men weren't taking no for an answer.
  
What ensued was 2 1/2 hours of vicious and horrific beatings and raping, at times with a foreign object. The scene attracted onlookers, some calling others over by cell phone, and eventually there were as many as 10 men or boys sexually assaulting the girl while another 20 looked on, laughing and snapping pictures.  After suffering a horror that cannot be adequately described or imagined, the police finally rescued this semi-conscious, beaten, bloodied and brutalized child.


She has a long road to recovery.  I've interviewed enough rape victims over the years to know that no woman ever "gets over" a rape...the best you can hope for is to "get through" the trauma and re-build your trust in humanity.  I send this child and her family prayers of strength as she starts that process.
  
Becoming "whole" again is her job with the help of her friends and family, but we, as a society have a job also.  First and foremost, we owe it to her to find each and every one of her attackers, and all those who induced, persuaded, convinced, prompted, encouraged, instigated, incited, urged, goaded, aided, assisted and facilitated this attack to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.


We in the media owe it to her to report this story and follow this investigation with the same fervor and attention that we would give the family of a six year old allegedly floating through the sky in a makeshift balloon.


Law Enforcement owes it to her to passionately pursue justice on her behalf as if she were a 15 year old blond middle class girl gang raped by a bunch of thugs outside a suburban homecoming dance. The community where the attack occurred may be minority, poor and notoriously violent, but justice should be blind to race, economics and culture. When violence happens to wealthy photogenic "good" girls we  take it on as a nationwide pain; well this child of a working class community deserves our collective pain as well. 


I refuse to believe that I live in a society that deems the life and pain of a less privileged woman less important.  But allow me to remind you that when Kanye West hijacked the microphone from Taylor Swift at the Video Music Awards, the collective outrage was palpable.  Society cared so much that Twitter crashed and everything from Facebook to the talking heads of every news network, blog, and radio station across the country was awash in calls for Kanye's head. I pray that we show this young woman who will need a "village" to help her heal from the wounds of this attack that we don't live in a culture in which oceans of humanity will speak up for a celebrity who hardly needs attention or help, but have no voice for a girl is brutalized behind a school by two dozen men and boys. 

My 15 year-old god-daughter came home from her school dance with a cadre of memories that will last a lifetime...so did this 15 year old and it breaks my heart.  I can't close my eyes now without thinking of what she endured...and survived.  And none of us should sleep soundly until justice is done.

Celebrate our Differences!

“Diversity is the one true thing we all have in common. 
Celebrate it every day.”

Saturday

Toxic Relationships


Toxic relationships are like broken glass.
It’s better to leave them broken...
than hurt yourself trying to fix it.

Sunday

Thought For The Day...Discovery

"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you,
they're supposed to help you discover who you are."

Thursday

Roman Polanski: Crazy never takes a day off...


Please, someone tell me what would possess any reasonably sane individual to rise in defense of a man who at 44 years old, admitted having sex with a 13-year-old child? Is my moral compass off so much that it is now acceptable to
admit to sexual acts with children? Should you be given a "pass" because you absconded from the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system 30 years ago because you thought you were going to have to go to jail?

I'm sorry Hollywood, I got my legal training in Texas and my practical experience in Brooklyn and where I come from, when a grown ass man has sexual intercourse with a 13 year old little girl, whether it's 3 days, 3 months or 30 yrs ago...it's called RAPE. Whether she was "experienced", a "virgin", or a victoria secret model in a g-string...it's called RAPE. Whether the victim forgives the assailant, doesn't want him to go to jail or saw his latest movie...it's called RAPE. Whether he is a school bus driver, a priest, a teacher or a world class director...people, it is called RAPE.

The fact that anyone has to explain this, argue this or even entertain the discussion is absolutely ludicrous. I know the victim has had to carry this burden for 30 years and wants the case dropped so she can put this whole sordid event behind her...but sorry, she isn't the only one a criminal case is about. She may have been satisfied with time and a civil settlement; but justice has not been served and society needs to know that this is wrong.

Thirty years ago, Roman Polanski pled guilty in open court to having had "unlawful sexual intercourse" with a girl who was not his wife that he "knew to be 13 years old" at the time; and that was the lowest level sex crime in the indictment. The original allegations and subsequent grand jury testimony of the young girl as to what happened is so graphic...it wasn't released to the public until years later. Not to obscure this debate with facts...but this young girl told the court and authorities that Polanski gave her champagne, drugs, took nude photos, got in the jacuzzi naked with her & performed oral, vaginal & anal sex on a 13-year-old.

If that is not "rape, rape", then I have sent a bunch of folk to jail in my former career as a prosecutor for a hell of a lot less.

Am I advocating that Roman Polanski be jailed or sent to prison for these crimes? Actually I'm not.

Subsequent information has come to light to suggest that his legal team has valid arguments for misconduct, abuse of process and serious grounds for dismissal of the original charges in the interest of justice. I'm in total favor of Polanski exposing the alleged misconduct of the judge & probably having the charges dismissed because of it. But he chose to live all these years as a fugitive and now that he has been caught, he must face the ramifications of all his actions...just like any other person.

Polanski is not above the law, the warrant is still valid, the case is still pending and there are legal procedures that should be followed. Bring him back to the US, allow him to make the arguments for dismissal and decide the case on the facts and the law.

Now "Hollywood" is coming out in support of Roman Polanski trying to apply pressure to the DA's office to drop the case. That is mind boggling to me especially given the comments Roman Polanski made in an interview soon after he left the US for France that were recently unearthed by another journalist. The Telegraph's Michael Deacon dug up an explosive interview that Polanski gave to the novelist Martin Amis in 1979, that included the following quote:

"If I had killed somebody, it wouldn't have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But … fucking, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to fuck young girls. Juries want to fuck young girls. Everyone wants to fuck young girls!" [Telegraph UK]

Let's give him another Oscar!

I recently read the story of a 12 year old little girl who is pregnant down in North Carolina, other than my utter sadness at the sentence I just had to write...if it comes out that her child was fathered by a 44 year old man who babysat her...will we be ok with that?

What about Jaycee Duggard. She was kidnapped at 11 years old & raped repeatedly over 18 years & now has children by her assailant...aren't we prosecuting him? Don't we want this pervert under the jail? Suppose Jaycee said, "it's ok...I love him now...I forgave him years ago"...How would society feel?

Don't we go after abusive priests years after molesting kids?

I'm just asking questions that should make us think about the ramifications of accepting & dismissing deviant behavior when it comes to the abuse of children. Honestly, there is an elite angle to this story that really bothers me. My friend, anthropologist and sociologist Dr. Marc Lamont Hill asked me "I wonder how long Spike Lee would've been allowed to chill in France on a charge like this." That actually made me laugh out loud because if Spike Lee has done some skullduggery like Polanski...no one would be rallying behind him...unless they had a rope!

Why, you ask, is my heart heavy about this case? Because I can't help but remember the story I covered of young Genarlow Wilson from Georgia who at 17 years old was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in state prison for having consensual sex with a 15 year old girl. Wilson was an honor student, a football star and his high school's homecoming king before his conviction. The young girl, her parents and the videotape of the incident all said it was consensual; but the law said it was a crime and the sentence for this felony charge in Georgia was 10 years...mandatory.

Something tells me that Genarlow too knew he was probably going to get screwed over by the justice system before, during and after the trial; but he didn't have a passport, a plane ticket or a European chalet to escape to.

The Georgia law was ultimately changed, but it was not made retroactive to include Genarlow Wilson and he had to serve more than two years of his sentence until the Georgia Supreme Court finally stepped in to right this true injustice. Genarlow was released from prison two years ago this month and is now a student in college...and doing very well.

Who knows...maybe after the famous movie director is finally returned to the US and confronted with American justice, he and his Hollywood friends might want to consider doing a film about Crime, Justice and the American Way...based on a true victim, Genarlow Wilson.





Saturday

Best Friends


Lot's of folk can claim to be your "best friend", but I can truly say that

“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”

Monday

Dealing with Disappointment


We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope

(Martin Luther King, Jr.)


Between Healthcare Reform and The US Open Tennis Tournament, this past week has taught me more lessons. The biggest one however is how to deal with disappointments. If there is one thing I know for sure; it is this: Try as you may...things don't always work out the way you'd like the to.


Such is the nature of life. We are destined to engage in a series of celebrations interspersed with a series of disappointments. How we deal with those disappointments is a matter of maturity, discipline and personal strength. I've been reading, writing and collecting again...so I've culled these suggestions from some of my favorites:


1. Adjust your expectations. Even champions lose. Remember disappointment lies not it what you get; but what you expected to get. Not every team wins the Super Bowl or Olympic gold. Not every applicant gets the job. Illness happens. Not every marriage soars. If your highest hope is in achievement, you will eventually be disappointed—success is transient. King Solomon wrote, "As I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless . . . like chasing the wind" (Ecclesiastes 2:11). On the other hand, if we're so afraid of disappointment that we lower our hopes, we can close ourselves off from what God may have in mind. The proper balance can be elusive. Of course you want to set a high bar for success; but when it depends on other facts (as everything in life does) understand that the win is in the trying even if you don't come out on top every time and when you do; it is a fabulous bonus on top of your winning fight!


2. Learn from your defeats. Disappointment and failure build character and patience, when allowed to do so. They can teach you to win and lose with grace, an increasingly lost art these days. Romans 5:3-4 says it like this: "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character . . . " Inner spiritual strength, the kind resulting from sincere faith in God, helps cultivate that attitude.


3. Build friendships. God often ministers to our hurts through other people. It can be tempting to put up walls when you're feeling especially vulnerable, but if you shut out friends, you could be sealing off healing and hope. Friends will help you realize that you're not alone and that others have overcome similar problems. And speaking of friends, don't disappoint them and chances are they'll never disappoint you, but if they do, forgive them, for how can someone hurt you if you forgive them? If you appeal to the best side of your friends, the chances are you won't be disappointed.


4. Go deeper with God. Friends are essential, but humans can let us down and err in judgment. I had earlier discovered that God would never desert me. He said, "I will never fail you. I will never forsake you" ( Hebrews 13:5). His friendship had sustained me over the years amidst criticism from friends and adversaries, financial challenges, educational disappointment, and broken relationships. God had a good track record; it made sense to trust Him. The apostle Paul found strength and hope through his friendship with God. He wrote, "If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?" (Romans 8:31-32) Paul was convinced nothing could separate him from Christ's love: "Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away" (v. 38). The more we stake our security in God's enduring love, the less power disappointments will have to undermine our hope.


5. Focus on ultimate hope. During those dark times in life, let me remind you of what Paul said in this same letter: "God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God" (v. 28). While we sometimes get stuck focusing on the here and now, our present situation isn't the end of the story.


Finally, cultivate patience, for as Joseph Addison (1672 ~ 1719) wrote, "Our real blessings often appear to us in the shape of pains, losses and disappointments; but let us have patience and we soon shall see them in their proper figures." Expect nothing more from life than what it offers and you will never be let down. Welcome the opportunities it provides by making the most of the cards you're dealt.

Friday

Honoring the Victims of the 9/11 Attacks...with Acts of Service




The tragic events of the 9/11 attacks left America raw with pain, but filled with a collective sense of community. We remember the thousands that lost their lives that day and their families who continue to suffer the loss. We also remember the tens of thousands who volunteered to help with the recovery and clean up of the World Trade Center site and continue to suffer physical and emotional challenges in the aftermath oftentimes without assistance or acknowledgment.

One thing is certain: we were all attacked on that fateful day. Our way of life was attacked. Our sense of security was attacked. But as a nation, our FAITH survived. The Bible in James 2:17 says that "faith without works is dead;" and there is no better way to show our faith, than by giving service to others.

President Obama has proclaimed September 11, 2009 a "National Day of Service" in honor of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. As we remember our collective loss; let's join together on this day in collective assistance, help, aid and kindness to others.

Thursday

Congressman Joe Wilson...Be Gone!

My mouth literally fell open last night during President Obama's Healthcare speech to the United States Congress and the american people.

In the middle of one of the most serious and morally imperative issues to face our country; providing affordable healthcare to all...a heckler yelled out to the President.

I had to rewind the DVR! I immediately thought that someone had breached security and got into the House chamber...and then I saw Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's face...and I knew.

It wasn't a random idiot, it was an elected idiot.

It was Representative Joe Wilson, a Republican member of Congress from South Carolina who actually yelled out "you lie" to the President of the United States in the most formal setting there could be; an address to Congress...in the Capital!

You could have knocked me over with a feather. After the initial shock...I got mad.

Enough with accepting ill mannered and rude behavior from people who fail to at least show RESPECT to the Office of The President of the United States.

I have been honored to meet every living president as well as late presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford and regardless of my political leanings...I spoke to them with reverence and respect. One of the greatest moments of my life was having the honor of speaking on a panel with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; and you know I don't agree with anything he has ever said or done when it comes to the law. I treated him with reverence and respect even though I disagreed with his position and his point of view. Let me state emphatically that I did not agree with 99% of the policies of President George W. Bush, but the thought of yelling out at him while he was speaking to Congress and the nation would never even cross my mind; or the mind of anyone not raised by wolves.

We in America have free speech, but we should also have the common sense to use our speech to change, influence and transform not to inflame, insult and offend.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle immediately called for Congressman Wilson to apologize; and he did. Apparently the White House has accepted the apology, good for them...but that is not good enough for me.

The Congressman didn't just insult the President...he insulted the Presidency; and that belongs to me. That is my institution and I don't accept the apology. Republican Congressman Joe Wilson (2nd District of South Carolina) needs to go. In the words of the fictional character Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada: "That's All."

I have put my money where my mouth is by already sending my contribution to his opponent, Rob Miller. To quote the President, "the time for bickering is over...the time for games has passed." Healthcare reform is far too important to allow the "silly season" to derail the debate.

If we were living in the land of "Twitter," he'd be BLOCKED. This is the next best thing until we can figure out how to do that in real life.

Knowing the Truth

Those that care and pray for me, not to worry...I'm still on program..."insiders" notwithstanding!

Here is what I've learned:
  1. I know what is true
  2. I know that others may not believe what is true regardless of what I say
  3. I know that some people may know what the truth is and still spread a lie because they don't care
  4. I know that none of that matters because I know what is true

Wednesday

Joy for a New Life!


Congratulations to Duane Martin and Tisha Campbell-Martin on the birth of their new son, Ezekiel! And big kiss to big brother Xen.

“From this day forward,
he shall not walk alone.
Your heart will be his shelter,
And your arms will be his home.”


Healthcare Reform 101...a Personal Primer

President Obama is "going to the mattresses" tonight when he addresses Congress on behalf of Healthcare Reform. What is contained in Healthcare Reform? Let's make it simple:


  • Requirement that all Americans have insurance and provide government subsidies for those who cannot afford it. The only reason this is here is because otherwise people would apply only when they become sick. If insurance can't discriminate for health risk, then everyone needs to carry to be fair to everyone.
  • A bar to insurance companies from refusing coverage for pre-existing conditions; imposing lifetime caps on coverage; or dropping people when they get sick.
  • Health care providers have already agreed to lower costs, and drug companies will lower costs on prescription drugs for seniors.
  • No discrimination of health insurance prices except by family, geography and age. Allowed discrimination is limited.
  • No forced dropping of health insurance by insurance providers, unless there is proof of fraud. The current practice by companies is the first time a person becomes seriously ill the insurance company tried to find a minor oversight on the application and then drop the policy due to falsified information.
  • There are a set of hospital administration goals designed to prevent the insurance company from delaying and help the hospitals get payments easier and let the patient know the costs beforehand when possible.
  • A public insurance option. Basically a not for profit insurance that will keep other insurance companies from charging too much of a profit overhead via competition.
  • A health insurance exchange. Successful in other countries when presenting private insurance options to the public.
  • Health care council that will control the government programs and make recommendations for major changes directly to a secretary under the president.
  • Current reform discussions include requiring insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventative care—mammograms, colonoscopies, etc.—in order to avoid chronic illnesses or treat them early, which will save money for patients as well as insurance companies.
  • Insurance companies will also be forced to limit how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses.

One of the more controversial points in Healthcare reform is the government-sponsored insurance plan; the so-called "public option." The essence of the plan is to offer more affordable coverage for those who cannot afford the rates of major insurance providers. However, no one will be forced into such a plan. As President Obama stated, “…if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” And the government option would likely follow in the footsteps of and take on some of the positive aspects of Medicaid and Medicare, which are also government-sponsored programs that have worked sufficiently since their inceptions.


We need to pass Healthcare Reform.

It's really telling that the majority of those who oppose it already have access to healthcare and already have insurance or the financial resources that will pay for their healthcare needs. They just don't want everyone else to have access to what they take for granted.

In full disclosure, let me tell you right from the beginning...I'm biased.

I'm alive today because of good healthcare and the insurance to pay for it. I have had two major health challenges in my life and without access to extra tests, extra consultations, great doctor referrals and insurance that paid the bills; I would be dead.

At 19 years old, I had a tumor of the thymus gland that had wrapped itself around my esophagus, lay between my lungs and near my heart. Several doctors said it was "inoperable" and that I had 9 months to a year to live. That was 27 years ago last month. We found the best thoracic surgeon in Washington, DC, who put together the best medical team he needed and they not only successfully removed the tumor; my parents took me home a week later without having to pay ANYTHING because our insurance covered EVERYTHING.

6 years ago, as most people know I had weight-loss surgery because I had ballooned to a morbidly obese weight of over 300 pounds. The weight alone was taking years off my life, but the accompanying co-morbidity issues (diabetes, blood clots, pulmonary disease, heart failure) that were sure to follow was enough to convince me to take a chance on yet another life-saving medical procedure. Again, I had great doctors, excellent care, an amazing result and NO OUT OF POCKET expenses for the surgery and aftercare because I was completely covered by INSURANCE.

In the course of the last two weeks, my mother had to have emergency spinal surgery or risk the loss of the use of her leg. The surgery was performed by a top doctor at a world renowned hospital and in 6 days she was home, set up with her at home physical therapy routine. I spoke to her today and she's doing her exercises with her physical therapist with a new piece of machinery that her doctor ordered for her to use to speed her recovery along. Do you have any idea how much this kind of care would have cost without adequate insurance? Our family would be bankrupt...any family would.

It is not unreasonable to think that everyone deserves these kinds of blessed results when it comes to healthcare...and to not see it is selfish, short-sighted and shows a lack of caring and understanding.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating on this day: I believe that everyone is entitled to healthcare coverage, I believe that there should be fair competition between those who will provide it and I believe that providing healthcare to all is a fundamental need that is the moral imperative of this generation.

Listen to the President tonight, form your own opinion...but at least know the facts:
Today we are spending over $2 trillion a year on health care—almost 50 percent more per person than the next most costly nation. Yet, for all of this spending, more of our citizens are uninsured, the quality of our care is often lower, and we aren’t any healthier…healthcare is the single most important thing we can do for America and Americans. Those are the facts.

Monday

Obama's Radical Appeal to our Children

I still don't know what possessed me to read all the truly "wack-a-doodle" stuff the hand-wringing right-wingers were saying about the President's plan to address school children on Tuesday...I must be a glutton for punishment.


You would think the President was planning on using "Jedi Mind Tricks" to indoctrinate grade school children into a secret cult of 8-14 year old storm troopers rather than simply encourage academics and responsibility in the generation that will one day inherit this space we occupy.


It's hard not to agree with presidential spokesperson Robert Gibbs who said, "I think we've reached a little bit of the silly season when the president of the United States can't tell kids in school to study hard and stay in school."


Most of the silly comments by conservative commentators just annoyed me (to be fair... they usually do), but this bordered on the absurd. Good Lord, to think that our raised by a single mother, Harvard educated, African-American, happily married, father of two school age children President is actually trying to serve as an example of excellence and provide leadership to the next generation of kids who may look like him, come from families like his and might want to follow in his footsteps. Egads...we might as well impeach him now, because God knows what he'll do next. Try to balance the budget, restore our reputation in world, tackle racism, provide universal healthcare, focus on diplomacy as a viable solution to conflicts?


I can see why the anticipation of this speech was so scary.


Well if you want to judge the President's radical speech for the indoctrination of school children for yourself...the White House released it Monday for parents to review ahead of time and you can read it HERE.


"Set your own goals for your education"...OMG...how radical, how political, how dare he. Folk are ridiculous!


Both President Bush and Reagan addressed the nation's school children with a similar message during their administrations and there was no threats to pull kids out of school rather than allow the President to encourage kids to "ask questions", "work hard" and "spend time studying."


A lot of people are trying to figure out why all the animosity toward President Obama when it comes to his "audacity of hope" approach to things. Some attribute it to racism...but I think it is actually FEAR. Those who have always been at the top are afraid that a generation of those traditionally on the bottom will actually grow up with goals, dreams and aspirations...and a plan of action to make them realities of life.


Prior to the release of the actual address, a great deal was made out of the one of the announced aspects of the President's "lesson plan." An initial version of the plan recommended that students draft letters to themselves discussing "what they can do to help the president." The plan was for letters to "be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals." After pressure from conservatives, the White House said that the plan was not artfully worded, and distributed a revised version encouraging students to write letters about how they can "achieve their short-term and long-term education goals."


Let's cut to the chase. The plan was to ask the kids to think about how they can "help the President;" Well, give me my marching orders because I'd like to know that too. Why wouldn't we...or haven't we figured out yet that helping him, helps us!


Somebody tell me why, if Obama is "the President" & if he has a plan that is beneficial to the country...why shouldn't we want to help him achieve it?


Oh...maybe it is because OBAMA is "The President"... and helping him right the wrongs of previous administrations would really start a revolution of change.


I tweeted on this topic on Labor Day (when I should have been eating ribs and listening to Frankie Beverly and Maze...) and one of my "followers" asked me, as if there was a vast left-wing conspiracy brewing, "Now Star, what can a grade schooler do to help the President?"


Well, since you asked...how about we start with the simple stuff like stay in school, listen to their parents, do their homework & don't hit other kids. Basic stuff like that will lead LITTLE kids to be responsible BIG kids who then get decide to get their high school diplomas, stay away from using and selling drugs, and refrain from shooting people who tick them off.


And then God forbid these same little Obama-mite "cult members" become responsible adults who then go to college, get jobs, invest in the economy and raise another generation just like themselves!


Former First Lady Laura Bush, a former librarian and school teacher felt compelled to come out in support of the speech because of all the brouhaha. I've read the lesson plan and the full content of the speech if you can find anything at all wrong with the speech or the lesson plan, you just need to check yourself...because you are, in a word: tripping!


Here is the President's actual charge to the students:


"Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it."


Conservatives calm down the "scary brown man" isn't trying to steal little Johnny's brain cells...he's actually trying to activate them.


Ya'll work so hard at trying to go against everything this man is trying to do, you go after him on something that there should be no argument against. I swear, I have to agree with the writer who suggested "if President Obama reminded people to brush between meals, thousands of conservatives would rather allow their teeth to rot out of their heads!"


Admit it...brushing your teeth is a good thing...and so is motivating children to be all they can be through education.



(Note: If you want to watch the speech with your children and/or your school district isn't showing it, here is the link to watch it yourself!)