Star Jones

Star Jones
Have you met Miss Jones?


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.”


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 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.


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.


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 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


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.


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" 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 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!)

Celebrate Life this Labor Day!

Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold.

But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.

Thought For The Day...

People always show you who they is our job to believe them when they do.


Sisterhood Saturday: Girlfriends...A Reason, a Season or a Lifetime



Girlfriends come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.

When a woman friend enters your life for a REASON . . . It is usually to meet a need that you have expressed, revealed or communicated. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. At the time they come into your life...they may seem like a godsend, and they are! God sent them to be a part of your life for the reason you need them to be.

But here comes a warning, because, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this girlfriend will end up saying or doing something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand and "cancel" them. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, so their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered. They were in your life for a reason, that reason is over...and now it is time to move on.

Then there are the girlfriends that come into your life for a SEASON . . . because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. You may meet them on vacation. They may be a chick that one of your friends brings to the club one night. She may be another bridesmaid in the wedding you're participating in. These ladies bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh. They may teach you something that you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

Don't try to make these relationships into something they aren't. This fabulous girl isn't your new "best friend"...she's a girl you had a good time with for a limited amount of time. It doesn't mean that the experience you shared wasn't was just a wonderful "period" in your life for a season.

Then there are the LIFETIME girlfriend relationships that teach you lifetime lessons...things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

This is the girlfriend who doesn't always agree with you...but she always tells you the truth. She doesn't always take your side...but she always has your back. She doesn't always understand your plan, but she always gets your point. You know she is there for your lifetime, because you can't imagine a time in your life when she wasn't.

That's why it is said that love is blind...but friendship is clairvoyant.

This is dedicated to all the girlfriends who have entered my life...for whatever reason, season or lifetime of experiences that we have shared.

I read something similar to this a while ago...and wanted to make it my own, so I enhanced and gave it the "Star Treatment. Thanks to Michelle Ventor for the original inspiration.)


Healthcare...a matter of Life and Death

This has been a challenging couple of days for our family.

Over the past few months, my mom has been experiencing aches and pains that she and our family initially attributed to "old age." More recently, we started to notice how the pain began to really take its toll, compromise her quality of life and reducing her to almost being homebound. Although she has slowed down, this is a woman who takes cruises, dances with my father to "Me and Mrs. Jones" and can spend a sale day walking one of those long outlet malls only stopping to grab a bite to eat. Something was clearly wrong...

Mom is conscious of the changes in her body; but she is stubborn, so when she finally went to her regular doctor, he initially diagnosed her as having the onset of arthritis. A couple of months passed until the pain got to a point where she was reduced to walking with a cane and taking heavy duty pain medication just to get through the day. The phrase "pain management" became a part of her vocabulary and as you can imagine...this was not the answer we were looking for, nor was it an adequate diagnosis; and it didn't sit well with me and my family.

Our family, along with my mother's primary physician decided more extensive tests were necessary to find out the source of her pain. Last week, my mom had a MRI and on Friday, her primary physician referred her to an expert Orthopedic Surgeon to read the MRI which revealed that she had a serious problem with her spinal column. The prognosis was immediate spinal surgery or the eventual loss of her ability to walk.

Yesterday, she had top notch care before, during and after the surgery and it was a tremendous success! Her first question was when could she have something to eat followed immediately by "Did the girls (Venus & Serena) win their tennis matches?"

There are priorities!

I spent the night at the hospital with her, fully prepared to give everyone the full Shirley MacLaine, "give her something for the pain!" treatment; but alas it was not necessary...she slept through the night without incident and this morning we had grits, eggs and sausage together while she sat up without pain!

Today she is standing, sitting and giving orders...just the way we like her. Even though most people require several weeks of rehabilitation after such an extensive surgery, it looks like she is progressing so well, minimum rehab is all that will be necessary.

We are truly blessed.

Although this is personal "family business," I wanted to share all of this...because my mother's recovery is not due to celebrity or her affiliation with a daughter with "influence." I want to emphasize that without dedicated doctors, family advocates and adequate health insurance; my mother would be in a dire situation.

I know this is a debate that is raging throughout the country and I won't hesitate to give you my opinion: It is time for Universal Health Care for all!

Please take the time to find out more about the healthcare debate and your own healthcare situation should a major illness come to you or your family. In the meantime, if you find yourself of a family member facing a health are some things to remember:
  1. Be an advocate for your family member. If a hospital stay is necessary, set up a regular and consistent visiting schedule so that the doctors and nurses know that someone is there watching their every move.
  2. Ask questions and require adequate answers. When you go into your doctor's office, go with a prepared list of questions and require answers to each and every one. Do research on your symptoms beforehand so that you can anticipate the alternatives that will be presented.
  3. Don't take an initial diagnosis as "gospel" if it is not satisfactory. Remember, the doctor may be the expert; but you are the patient or the advocate (family member/friend) for the patient and if you aren't satisfied...go to anther doctor for another opinion.
  4. Please don't allow the prescription of medication to "mask" the actual cause of the illness. We as a country are relying on prescription drugs to solve far too many of our health concerns. Look for answers to your health care concern, rather than a way to just "feel better."
My mom is on the mind, so please be prayerful for our family...and for other families who face health challenges. Every family deserves this same access to health care...and this same blessed result.