Forty One Years To Life ... Melzie

Good Times

The myth, the mystique…the big 4-0. As we slowly ascend to what many see as a peak of life, those ahead of us in years say there’s something different about this phase. That it’s the start of something so unique they often find it hard to describe, but try to reassure us it is the best time of their lives. Like any new stage of life, the months leading up are often shadowed by uncertainty and anxiety. It’s an age that pushes many to reach back to reclaim long forgotten dreams and relive carefree moments, only to embrace the fact that this shiny new crown carries an exciting level of maturity and insight. Admittedly, there's heaviness in the responsibility of knowing that from this point on some will look to you for wisdom and you will be sought out as one who has the ability to lend a hand to those following in your footsteps. Yet you feel equipped to handle everything that comes your way. Sure, the days seem to fly by and your time is invaluable, but your innate vision is crystal clear even though you may have to reach for a pair of spectacles every now and then :)

There’s an allure to complete important unfinished business that at one time drove your daydreams and goals for they have not perished but simply waited for the right time. There’s also a freedom in speaking your mind, revealing your heart and releasing the minutiae and people who no longer serve a purpose in your life. Throwing away the notion that the tangible things are all that we should strive for is an essential step, a layer that falls off on its own. Ultimately, you find the beauty and significance in the moments, experiences and awareness that drive your days and settle your nights. Undeniably, these are indeed the good times!

Wishing you infinite joy and abundance in the years ahead!

Your friend, Mel



Forty One Years To Life ... B. TramueL


Powerful & Disturbing, Jeremiah 32:18

You show love to thousands but bring the punishment for the father's sins into the laps of their children after them

It wasn’t until I sought clarity that caused my understanding of this verse to move from what I heard in hip-hop lyrics & barbershop philosophy to SHIFT. When I Am … selfish, when I Am … quick to anger, when I Am … sinful, I Am … not the only one my sins affect. We [Father’s] pass on these patterns, lay them in our children's laps & they carry them.

We receive an inheritance; more than a financial gift, the inheritance we receive from our environment and primarily our parents is the determining factor of why we are the way we are. It’s growing up with BIG mama teaching us to fold towels a very specific way & having that belief imprinted in our thinking allows us to be critical of anyone who doesn’t fold them the ‘correct’ way. Our inheritance is an assumption that our way of living, our way of thinking is right & secretly [or openly] we feel that others’ ways are wrong. Our parents, schools, culture and churches most times reinforce these beliefs. “I don’t care how your family folds towels, it is wrong! Our family will fold towels exactly like this.”  This selfish view and the convictions they are born from become part of the endowment we collect and pass along.

Inheritance flows into us, legacy flows out.

The tugging in my body & soul over this past year wasn’t the anxiety of turning another year older, it wasn’t the thought of any failures or regrets, it wasn’t about not being where I believe I should be but it IS about needing to make an impact, knowing that my existence matters. The desire in our heads & hearts to make an impact on the lives around us; inspire us, embolden us to focus on the legacy we leave behind. We can pass on selfishness, anger and sin with no effort, especially if we want to repeat the wounds of our inheritance, our father’s sins.

This year’s wish is for a conversion, a transformation, the guidance of my true Father’s hand upon my life to transform the legacy I will leave with others.

I Am … transforming my legacy.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday

Forty One Years To Life ... C. Black

“There's time enough, but none to spare.” Charles W. Chesnutt

I am getting close to the 42 mile marker in my journey and I feel like my trip has just begun. I get to reflect on the things that I have been blessed to have accomplished during my life so far, and I realize that I truly have been blessed. It took me a long time to be comfortable in my own skin and in many ways I spent a lot of time trying to be someone else. Though I have been a lifelong introvert I have found that one cannot hide from life. I have been guilty of procrastination in the past and because of this I have learned a few things. Planning is only effective if action immediately follows. The best way to live is to embrace every moment and use and enjoy each one. There is not a rewind button. The only aspect of time that is tangible and real is the present so living in the moment is paramount. Mistakes are inevitable but the experiences that come from the mistakes are invaluable. The only mistake that we can make that is valueless is the failure to live our lives to the fullest. Aging is a part of living but not something that should hinder our continued progress. Birthdays only mark the milestones of time spent on our journeys and I personally would like to continue my trip for as long as I possibly can.


Forty One Years To Life ... Jay

AGE - A three letter word with so much meaning.To start things off, let me take a page of out Mr. TramueL’s book and share a few definitions of the word with you.

As a noun, AGE is defined as a period of human life, measured by years from birth, usually marked by a certain stage or degree of mental or physical development and involving legal responsibility and capacity.

As a verb, AGE means to bring to maturity.

Lastly, there is the idiom of AGE which refers to being old enough for full legal rights and responsibilities.

As you can see there are a number of different definitions for the word AGE. Personally, I believe the word revolves around the evolution and maturation of our being. It has everything to do with the steps we take and the moves we make. At the end of our lives it is the sum of all of our movements, decisions and choices; with each one stemming from the very moment that we were conceived. Now when I say conceived, I’m not referring to our natural conception. I’m referring to our conception in the mind and heart of GOD. It is my belief that in that moment the aging process began for each of us. In that moment, we were formed, created, given unique personalities and characteristics and filled with a LOVE like none other, by HIM. It is for that reason that I define age as GOD’S masterpiece of our life. It contains every element that HE used to create us and the minor additions that HE gave us the free will to include. That is why I think age is such a beautiful thing.

There are many people who go through life and they dread the aging process. All they can see is the negative and the limitations. Well, I want to tell everyone who reads this that aging is not a bad thing. Just the opposite, it is a marvelous thing. Yes, we may begin to look different and even lose the ability to do things that we once did with ease, but I believe it’s for a reason. GOD has a season and a purpose for everything, including our lives. There is a reason why our looks change and we can no longer do certain things. It’s because those things have already been added to our masterpieces. Think of it like a painting. A painter may begin using the color black and that color may be used to form and shape the image that is desired for that work of art, but at some point the painter is going to stop using the color black and begin using different colors. Do you know why? It’s because if the painter doesn’t stop using the color black, or even picks it back up after adding other colors, and continues painting the canvas black then eventually that will be the only color on that work of art. Nothing but black. No variety. No color. No clear image, picture or design. Just black. How appealing do you think that would be?

The same applies to GOD’S masterpiece of our lives. HE wants variety. HE wants color. HE wants beauty. HE also knows that HE is the creator and is in control of the way our masterpiece will look, but HE does allow us to add our own uniqueness to it every once in awhile. We can’t take the paintbrush from HIM. We can’t paint our masterpiece of our lives for HIM. This is what I think a lot of people have lost sight of. They believe they are in control of their lives. They believe they are the one holding the paintbrush and dictating what appears on the canvas. Well, they are sadly mistaken. It is GOD alone who is the creator. Think about it. I believe if it were left up to us, many of us would have black canvases. Also, I think many of us would have identical canvases. No variety. No uniqueness. We would likely do it our way or copy the way that someone else was doing it. GOD doesn’t want that for our lives. HE wants all of us to age differently, because HE wants each of us to have a unique and one of a kind piece of art.

So now it is time that you start looking at your aging as a wonderful thing. Enjoy the things that you can still do and be happy that you can no longer do the things you once did. Know that there is truly a reason for that. It’s time for you to love who you are and love GOD for creating you. Make the most out of each step you take, every word you say and all of the precious decisions and choices you make. They all have meaning behind them. They all define you. Most importantly, they all are being added to the masterpiece of your life that GOD is crafting.

Stay Blessed,




Forty One Years To Life ... Lisa

Does life begin at 40? Abso-friggin-lutely! 

I’m a planner by nature, but it’s totally by coincidence that my daughter would leave for college around the same time that I’m turning 40. I look at it as a time of rebirth for both of us. While she gets to create a new identity among people she’s never met, I have the chance to reintroduce myself to the me that slowly faded over time. Growing up, I was always Mary’s daughter or Jason’s sister. I had my daughter right after college and became Jordan’s mother. For 18 years, I’ve answered to that title proudly and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But for the first time since I left my college campus, I’m just Lisa again.

I made a conscious decision to move to a more diverse and active neighborhood back in May, one that fits who I really am when I’m not chauffeuring a kid around or making midnight runs to Wal-Mart for last minute supplies for a project. I’m free to go out for drinks after work on the spur of the moment or try the new recipe I saw in a magazine without worrying if someone else will like it. If I want to spend hours in the little bookstore down the street, I can. Wandering the halls of the history museum to check out the 1904 World’s Fair exhibit one more time or sitting in front of Monet’s Water Lilies for hours is no longer met with impatient glances. I’m not going to get all Jennifer Hudson on you and start singing about feeling good. I will say that whether it’s late nights or early mornings, my time is my own, and I’m cherishing every minute of it.


Forty One Years To Life ... S. Salter

Sunny’s Thoughts On Aging …

“Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”

~Author Unknown

I’m 28 years of age and I’m glad to have made it this far. So many friends I have lost early on, I’m privileged to see 28. I look forward to getting older… living past my 40’s is my goal as of right now.

My favorite birthday was last year; I spent it with close friends and family. Played cards and enjoyed the night. The age I felt most alive was 19, I had a baby girl who gave me a reason to keep things moving along. After facing death in the eye and making it this far I’m truly blessed.

My advice: Don’t trip over age; just remember those who you’ve lost that never got a chance to live to see that day in their lives.

S. Sarith

S. Sarith

Forty One Years To Life ... Citizen Ojo



I truly miss my undergraduate college years. Looking back on my life I believe those were my greatest years of potential. I know people will say "What about your life now? You have a lovely wife and a beautiful son. Shouldn't your life be great now"? I truly love my family and I am grateful for the life I have. But my college years were really great years. The problem was that I didn't know they were at the time. Those years were filled with so much promise and the future was wide open. Please don't get me wrong!! Everything was not picture perfect. I made a lot of missteps and missed a lot of opportunities. The college years were the beginning of adulthood. It was a time of reinvention and self exploration. I was coming into my own and was figuring out who I really was. My only regret was some of the decisions that I made. Because in my old age, I learned an important lesson. What you do in your past can effect your future.

Forty One Years To Life ... J. Francis

Coming of Age

To get older, to mature, to gain wisdom, to survive….With the passing of time many of these things and more can take place. I know for me they have. Some specific ages came with goals automatically attached to them. At 15 start working. My first job was a ride operator at Playland. At 16 legally drive. My first car was a Hyundai Excel 89’. At 18 I hit the stores to cop Philly blunts for the crew and at 21 I had legally purchased my $21 bottle of Bacardi Limon. It’s fun to think back on but in that jumble of young antics; by the grace of god I avoided other age associations. Incarcerated youth, High School Drop Out, “Baby Daddy”…..all those pitfalls of the American black man I avoided during my 20’s. And believe me I was hella close to a couple of those situations.

Now with age I see purpose, legacy, meaning in movement. What do I stand for? The truest values of life now run through my head as I navigate the current storm of change that is this nation. As time flies by we put more candles on the birthday cake. Perception changes every year, so what are you wishing for before you blow out your candles?

J. Francis

J. Francis

Forty One Years To Life ... W. Tisdale

It's amazing how time can teach you if you (the student) is willing and open. For example, when I was 19, I used to think 35 was OLD. Now at 41, I think Tina Turner and Sidney Poitier are awesome. I used to think if I earned $50,000 I'd be rich as hell, then I reached that milestone and the folks at Discover Card wouldn't leave me alone. Today when I think of all of who have left this earth too soon, I think of aging as a gift. To the high school dropout, I say aging is a gift that teaches if you are willing to learn. To the addict, I say aging is a helluva high that requires discipline. But to all who let life pass them by without truly enjoying the day, the hour, the moment, I say time never rewinds and aging well means you never have to.- Walker Tisdale

W. Tisdale

W. Tisdale

Forty One Years To Life ... W. Stylez

Forty One Years To Life ... T. NG

I constantly think about aging as I get closer to the big 3-0. Am I where I had hoped to be? Did I do all the things that my “little girl” had hoped we'd do? How far am I to achieving those goals and getting those 'things" that I had always wanted. I consult with my inner child on the daily, perhaps it's because I am childless, a little on the crazy side or simply because aging to me is really about connecting the dots, than it is about wrinkled skin. When the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button came out I dragged my little sister to go see it. Enthralled by the movie's juxtaposed story line of aging and maturity, I had never related to a movie like that before. I was a child who spent a lot of time praying for adulthood and a way out. I was timid, quiet and mischievous. My self-esteem was comparable to tarnished silverware on the bottom of the titanic and I never felt comfortable being me.As I age I feel myself getting younger and care free, just Like Benjamin. I laugh off criticism lost souls share with me and forget about it the next day. I hug and give well wishes to enemies and I love playing even more than when I was a little girl. I love getting my hair wet in the rain, singing love songs and not worrying about being perfect. I’m excited about thirty because I’m going in as a woman who loves works and plays hard. You are always more blessed and beautiful than you think you are.



Forty One Years To Life ... Ms.Nikks



Live It Up

Aging, that is a terrifying word to many people, I never considered myself one of those people. I’ve always looked forward to aging, but that changed when I past 25. I remember a weekend of watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and I was left feeling extremely sad and paranoid. It didn’t help that immediately after that viewing I decided to watch for the first time Driving Miss Daisy, what a weekend!

I thought what’s the point of living if all you do is become shriveled up and delusional in the end? My mind completely blocked out all the good things, the adventures, the marriages, the births, the joy, laughter, love affairs, loving, all the living the characters did in those movies. I had to check myself before I wrecked myself, I allowed myself to remember that there’s so much in-between birth and death. So much living to be done and I got back to the place I was before turning 25. People like your mother, Ms. Nona, and her thoughts and feelings towards aging is a big comfort to me. I no longer have a fear of what’s going to happen to me. Spoiler die, but there’s a lot of living in-between, so here's to you with lots of e-doration B. Tram!

“Oh live it up

We can go crazy

Live it up

You and me baby

Live it up, live it up, live it up”

-J. Legend “Live It Up”

Forty One Years To Life ... Cynt.

Young Cyn'

The older I get, the more aware I am of the inevitability of death. Or....the value of life. When I was younger, I had this romanticized notion of death. Of dying of old age, surrounded by generations of loved ones. Of having achieved every goal and dream and dying simply because there was nothing left to do. And everyone died this way. Now, of course, I wish I paid more attention to the lives around me, and the reality that death is. My grandparents are all gone, as well as my mother and several others. I would give anything to have just one good conversation with any of them. I have always been interested in listening to other's life stories, but lately, have been asking more questions, and being more open to sharing my own experiences. This happiness/pain/love/loss/success/ that we all have is to be shared with each other. This is how we achieve that sense of immortality. We share with others, and they remember us and hopefully, share with others. The older I get, the more I realize that there will come a point where I... we.. will age no more. But we can still live on.

Forty One Years To Life ... L. Delli Santi

“If these years have taught me anything it is this: you can never run away. Not ever. The only way out is in. And that’s what I guess these stories are about”

Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

My thoughts on birthdays is that, as a society, we tend to categorize and mark our lives in milestones of ten year increments, each passing year a stepping stone to the next big hurdle, which will then denote who we are because of the number attached to our being. What is really important, and often overlooked in the grand scheme, is that your past and the obstacles that were hurdled will always be a beautiful part of you. The experiences you have had make you the person you are and the person you hope to be in the future. So when things are bad, you are learning and growing. When things are good, you have put your knowledge into play. Life is cyclical; every moment is just as important as the next.  You cannot run away from your past, or who you are/have become.  Life is a collection of stories that represent a time and place that we can never go back to.

L. Delli-Santi

L. Delli-Santi