Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Know I've Been Changed

That's an old Negro spiritual for those of you who don't know. The new skoolers can click here to check it out on YouTube while the old schoolers hum along with me:

I-I-I-I-Iiiiiiii know I been changed
I-I-I-I-Iiiiiiii know I been changed
Good Lardie, I-I-I-I-Iiiiiiii know I been changed
Angels in Heaven done signed my name!

Right about now, that's more than a song to me. That's my sho' nuff testimony! I know I've been changed because somebody did something to me recently, and if they had pulled that stunt 20 years ago, whew Jesus! All I can say is: I-I-I-I-Iiiiiiii know I been changed...

What had happened was my son brought a stack of mail to me and said, "Hey! You've got a letter from So-and-So." That was strange because the only time I talk to this particular person is when somebody dies. We don't call one another to chit chat, we're not on each others' Christmas card mailing list, my grandkids don't know their grandkids, etc. The few times we do communicate is via text messaging. I don't even think I have their email address.

So when the letter arrived, I naturally thought it strange. I hurried up and opened the envelope, expecting it to contain an invitation to a special celebration of some sort. When I commenced to reading that letter, my hair stood up like Don King!

This person ripped me a new one! Apparently they have been angry at me for taking their spouse's side in a divorce -- 30 YEARS AGO! I had no idea that they have been holding a grudge all this time. But check this out: when I first learned about the couples' decision to divorce (30 years ago), I tried to talk them out of it because our kids played together, we socialized together, and our lives intersected several times a week.

I tried without success to convince the couple to remain married. But it didn't take long for me to realize that all my reasons for wanting them to stay together were rooted in selfishness. So I did the only thing I could do at the time: I respected the couples' decision and backed on up out of their business. And now, 30 YEARS LATER, I find out that my silence was interpreted as taking the ex's side.

The funniest thing about this story is that about five or six years after the divorce, the other spouse admitted to me that their feelings were hurt because they had erroneously assumed that I took the other one's side -- but like I said above, I was trying to stay out of their business.

It amazes me now to know that they both walked away from their marriage upset with me about (1) something I didn't even do, and (2) something of which I was not even aware. That's another newsletter right there -- holding grudges against people who ain't thinking about you.

I had to read that letter several more times in disbelief because, in all honesty, over the last 30 years I haven't been thinking about either one of them! I called my sister Gail and read the letter to her. Essentially she suggested that I bless them and keep it moving. I-I-I-I-I-Iiiii know she been changed too!!!

Two weeks prior to the letter's arrival, I was in Daddy's kitchen and out of the blue my best friend named Something told me to remove that person's number from my cell phone. At first I didn't do it because I would have no way to contact them the next time somebody dies. But I did it anyway. And as I read through that letter one more time, all I could say was, "They'd better be glad Something told me to delete their number from my phone."

I-I-I-I-Iiiiiiii know I been changed... Yes indeed. Let me tell you the truth and shame that ol' snaggle toothed devil. Had this occurred 20 years ago and I didn't have their number, I would have hopped in my car, put the pedal to the metal, driven seven hours nonstop, knocked on their front door and cussed them out in 14 different languages. Good Lardie, I-I-I-I-Iiiiiiii know I been changed...

Wait a minute! That's not true. Twenty years ago my feelings would have been crushed. I probably would have been in tears for weeks. But glory be to God, I've been delivered from people. Hallelujah for really real! Thank You Jesus! Glory to Your Name! Hey, hey, hey! Hiyayaya! Nanabosha! Cookapotofgumbo!

By now you should be anxious to read what I did. Are you ready? Here goes: absolutely nothing. At least not at the time. I waited until I had total peace (which took a few days because initially I was hotter than fish grease). The cooling off process was accelerated after I learned that three other people had received the identical letter! Yes, you read that correctly. Obviously this person has waaaay too much time on their hands. That's some mess right there, huh. The only difference in the letters was the addressee on the outside of the envelope. At that point I realized none of this was about me ... this person just needed to vent and as most of us do when angry, we lash out at others instead of dealing with the true cause of our frustration (which is usually something we did or something we failed to do).

Oh, I forgot the best part -- after telling me off, they had the nerve to end the letter with these five words: "I will always love you." Yeah, right... A few weeks later my best friend named Something told me it was time to respond with five words of my own: "And I love you too." I signed it "Yogi", sealed the envelope, stuck on a forever stamp, left it on the front porch for the mail carrier, and decided to add this story to my next book entitled: "Kiss Me Where the Sun Don't Shine."

I-I-I-I-Iiiiiiii know I been changed... It has taken 53 long years for me to realize that I don't have to fight every battle -- not because I'm super saved, not because I'm sanctified, not because I'm filled with the holy ghost (and that with fire), not because I've been running for Jesus a long time and I'm not tired yet, and not because I'm striving to be all I can be. The reason I don't fight every battle is because every battle just ain't worth fighting.

I'm going back to my song:
If you don't believe that I've been redeemed ...
Angels in heaven done signed my name...
You need to follow me down to the Jordan stream ...
Angels in Heaven done signed my name...
I stepped in the water, and the water was cold ...
Angels in Heaven done signed my name...
It chilled my body but not my soul
...Angels in Heaven done signed my name...
I-I-I-I-Iiiiiiii know I been changed...
The angels in Heaven done signed my name!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thin Line Between Failure and Success

Your perception of failure might not be too far removed
from the average person’s idea of success.
J.K. Rowling

Before you leave this world, go to YouTube and watch J.K. Rowling’s commencement address at Harvard University. Joanne Rowling (affectionately known to me as “JoRo”) makes a good point as shown above: the things we perceive to be failure just might be another’s idea of success. I know people who lost their dream homes and feel as though they are a failure. While they sadly packed all their belongings in cardboard boxes, it probably never occurred to them that some people live in cardboard boxes.

JoRo found herself with a failed marriage, a failed career and what she perceived to be a failed life. But, she said at Harvard, “had I really succeeded at anything else, I might not have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I felt I truly belonged.” What was that area, you might ask? Writing. JoRo wrote her first book at age six. She even asked her mom if she could publish the book. JoRo’s parents grew up poor and, fearing their daughter could not find success as a writer, they encouraged her to pursue a more lucrative career. Yet at the age of six she had The Vision of being a published author!

JoRo describes failure as ‘the stripping away of the unessential.’ Her greatest fear had been realized and to her surprise, she was still alive and she still had her daughter whom she adored. The only other thing she had was an old typewriter and a big idea. And the rest, as they say, is history. Before you get too happy, allow me to ask two questions. What would have happened had she sat on her idea? What will happen if you sit on your idea?

JoRo explained to the graduating class: “Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all — in which case you fail by default.” Fear of failing will keep you in a place of mediocrity. This is the reason our comfort zone has to become uncomfortable; otherwise we might never move. That’s exactly where I was on April 5, 2002. My husband emailed me at work to say, “God just told me to quit my job.” I hit the reply key and responded, “That just witnessed with my spirit.” As soon as the reply was sent something on my inside said, “Now you go give your resignation too.” I said to myself, “The devil is a lie!!!!” I had faith for him to leave his job because I made enough money to hold down the household. But if we both walked away from our jobs, how could I maintain my lifestyle? Chances are I’d become a failure! And I refused to take that chance.

My comfort zone quickly got very uncomfortable, and in less than six months I was more than ready to make a move. When I think of my accomplishments from 2002 until the present, JoRo’s words ring true. I had determined to live my life so cautiously that I might as well not have lived at all. I was about to exchange my appointment with destiny for a twice monthly automatic deposit. I wanted The Vision but I also wanted the paycheck. I couldn’t have it both ways. It is clear now that my job was stifling My Vision. In addition to having a very good job making even better money, I had done well at other ventures in life, all of which never seemed to last. But had I succeeded at any of those things, I too, might not have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged: that is, doing whatever needed to be done so that my life might intersect with yours at this point in time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Recycling Your Past

I grew up in a household that recycled long before anyone ever heard of going green. Jelly and mayonnaise jars were used as drinking glasses. The week's leftovers became a pot of soup on the weekend. We wore hand-me-down clothes, which were passed down to younger siblings, and from them on to younger relatives. Recycling is a good thing when it comes to bottles, clothes, soda cans, oatmeal boxes, batteries, newspapers, and food. But I want to talk about another form of recycling, i.e., continuing a cycle.

The story begins with my daughter's co-worker, a 52-year old man who spent the last five decades waiting and wishing to hear his macho father say the words, "I love you." His mother died when he was a toddler and the father raised the three children. In 52 years the son never received any affection from his father - not an "I'm proud of you" or "Way to go" or "Great job son!" There were no hugs, no pats on the back, no bodily contact other than a handshake. And as the father lies on a death bed, the son wants nothing more than to hear his dad say, "I love you." Sadly he has been holding on to all the pain, fear and rejection since childhood, thereby repeating the cycle of, "You'd better not let a tear drop from that eye." So during the son's Easter visit with his dad, he built up the strength to say these four words to his father: DAD, I LOVE YOU. And guess which four words his dad said back: I LOVE YOU, TOO. On Monday he announced to my daughter, "I am healed." Now, instead of this man continuing to carry past decades of pain and resentment into his future, he has taken the first step toward transforming that cycle into something bigger, better, and more powerful. Imagine what he can do with that new mindset!!

Too many of us wait on others to do what we should be doing. Somewhere in the Bible we are instructed to give the very thing we want. (I don't know where to find the chapter and verse but it's on one of the pages between Genesis and Revelation.) That is the law of the universe. We must sow before we can reap anything. Sadly, our nature is to wait for someone to fill our empty spaces, especially in relationships. But it doesn't work that way. We must do as the son in this story and be willing to give what we want -- with no preconceived notions of what we expect in return.

Change begins with the man or woman in our mirror. That's where it starts...with each one of us. We can't wait for someone else to step up to the plate, but that's exactly what we do. Would we, could we have the courage to make an effort to initiate change in our lives? As with recycling, by each of us doing a little it will equal all of us together making a big difference. Recycling is all about using what we have to create a change -- not so much for our generation, but for the benefit of generations to come.

Remember, no matter what you have experienced in life, even the most disgusting things can be recycled and made into something beautiful. Food is transformed into compost which is used to make fertilizer. Although fertilizer stinks, it helps to grow some amazing things. So whatever kind of trash you have accumulated in your life, stop doing the same old thing with it. It's time to make fertilizer out of our mess so that our offspring can benefit and become something beautiful.

Be all you can be!

YoBo & Shelley B.

(310) 528-5115




Thursday, March 24, 2011


We are living in trying times. People are losing their jobs, losing their homes, losing their livelihood, losing their cars, losing on their investments, losing their hope, and some are even losing their minds. Few things are more heartbreaking than working hard to build a dream, and then losing it all through no fault of your own.

But as I turn on the television and watch the devastation in Japan caused by a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, I see people who have no jobs, no homes, no cars, no money - and if they do have a few coins there is nothing left to buy. Each survivor shares a similar story:
** I held on to my wife's hand as long as I could, but she was washed away...
** I was washed away but I hung on to a floating tree that came my way. I was circling around some houses. My daughter was washed away; I still don't know where she is...
** I believe my mother is buried in the rubble of the house. I held my father above water, but the force of the tsunami was too strong. I couldn't hold on to him...
** Frightening beyond belief. I have no words. My mother and uncle are missing. They were both home...
** I thought Japan would disappear under water...
** My wife, my children, my four grandchildren -- they are all gone...
The last quote is one I shall never forget. Having lost his entire family, the man was serving as a volunteer firefighter. If anyone deserved to sit at home with head in hand having a good ol' pity party, he'd be the one. But that is not what he chose to do. In the midst of a personal loss, the man was out trying to help somebody else.

Japan has the world's third largest economy; therefore, their day-to-day lives are much like our own. They live in nice homes, drive nice cars, have nice jobs. But in this moment of massive loss, I have yet to see a survivor search for their home, or their car, or their ATM card. The point I'm trying to make is this: all the stuff that matters so much to us -- you know, stuff like nice jobs and nice homes and nice cars really have no value when compared to the things which can't be replaced -- you know, things like family and friends.

For as far back as I can remember, seismologists have warned that The Big One will hit the west coast on any given day. It is a blessing to wake up on solid ground, even if it's a place we don't want to be. As a society, we have desired and acquired so much stuff until we have forgotten to be thankful for the many irreplaceable things we possess. I remember when gratitude was a way of life. And the funny part is we didn't have much. Maybe it was our upbringing because the old folks sho' used to say, "It don't cost nothing to say 'thank ya.'"

We used to have "testimony service" in the old-school pentecostal church. All my childhood years I was forced to listen to the old folks saying the same ol' tired thing week in and week out. And for some reason they would get "happy" during their boring testimony. But the older I get, the more sense I find in their repetitive words. Now that I think about it, when you got in an old-school prayer line, it was for one of two things: (1) to get saved, and/or (2) to get filled with the holy ghost. That was it! There was no such thing as praying for a hosue or a car or a husband or to be delivered from depression. They were always thankful and welcomed the opportunity to rejoice and be appreciative. So as I sit safe and sound in a home that is still standing, full of every kind of techy device available, and closets full of clothes, and shelves full of food, and a full tank of gas in my car, I invite you to journey back five decades with me to a little church in Los Angeles called Greater Circle Mission on the corner of 107th and Normandie. Every Sunday night, every Wednesday night and every Friday night the church folks would stand up one behind the other and say:

"Giving honor to God, and to the pastor, and to all of the saints of the Most High God, I wanna thank and praise God for His goodness toward me. I could have been dead, sleeping in my grave, but the Lord saw fit to keep me in the land of the living with the use and activity of my limbs, and a portion of good health and strength. I wanna thank and praise God that I am yet saved and sanctified and filled with his precious holy ghost. I wanna thank and praise God for keeping me in my right mind. I wanna thank and praise God for keeping me safe from all hurt, harm and danger, and for building a fence of protection around my loved ones. I wanna thank and praise God because He's brought me from a mighty long way. I wanna thank and praise God for giving me a desire to go all the way to see what the end is gonna be. I wanna thank and praise God for you and you and you. Pray my strength in the Lord."

Hallelujah, for real! That old-timey testimony has me all stirred up to where I'm getting "happy" too! In fact, I feel my own testimony coming on: "Giving honor to God, and to all of the readers of Be All You Can Be ~ the Newsletter, I wanna thank and praise God for finally learning that things can change in a moment. So in spite of my own personal drama going on at this moment, I just wanna thank and praise God!"

Be all you can be!

Yolanda Wright Bozant
(310) 528-5115

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Oprah and Iyanla Showdown!

Hey there! YoBo here. Let me ask you a question .... Have you ever had someone dog you out for no reason? It happens to me quite often. At the same time I have been wrongly accused of dogging folks out when Lord knows that was never my intention! I recently had the opportunity to see the remnants of a disintegrated relationship - and both parties swear they meant no ill will to the other. I'm making reference to Oprah Winfrey and Iyanla Vanzant.

Every other Tuesday used to be my favorite day because I would get to see Iyanla do her thing on the Oprah show. Iyanla is my girl. Plus our names are so similar: Yolanda Bozant ... Iyanla Vanzant. Back in 1998 Iyanla found me in the Valley of O.P.P.: Other People's Problems. After reading "The Value In The Valley," I was forced to admit a truth about myself: I deliberately chose to interject myself into Other People's Problems so that I wouldn't have to work on my own issues. That admission began the process of re-creating my life in alignment with my destiny.

Then one day I was all ready for some Tuesday TV and my girl was gone. Just like that ... gone! The next thing I knew The Iyanla Vanzant Show was coming on head-to-head with Oprah. I thought to myself, "I know my girl ain't crazy enough to think that she can compete with Oprah!" I never knew what really happened ... until last Wednesday when the two ladies had a no-holds barred conversation.

As I watched Oprah and Iyanla re-hash the details of their last conversation from 11 years ago, all I could say was, "Ooooh to the weeee!" It was amazing to see how two intelligent, articulate and professional women could have a conversation with each other, and yet walk away with two different understandings. There was a lot of, "I thought you meant..." and "No, what I said was..." and "Why didn't you just come out and tell me that..." and "I did say that..." and "No, that's not what I heard...."

Suddenly I thought about an incident from a few months ago which involved a lot of 'he saids' and 'she saids'. What had happened was a good friend heard through the grapevine that Frank and I got divorced. He did the man-to-man thing and went to Frank. Our friend said he was confused because he had spoken to both of us separately and things seemed to be okay, yet somebody kept calling his house to say we were divorcing. He wouldn't reveal the gossiper because we know them through religious affiliations. When Frank told me the story, I wondered who in the sam hill was dumb enough to waste their precious time placing phone calls to gossip about me. Seriously y'all, I live a VERY BORING LIFE. Don't let the smooth taste fool you. So I made a FaceBook post: "I wonder about the saints at times. Someone just called hubby to check on us because they were told we had divorced. I asked, 'Did they call to gossip or to pray?'" Our friend's wife read my post and took offense. She immediately sent me a message to say that they were only concerned about us and she was offended that I would accuse them of being gossips.

Lord have mercy Jesus! What had started out innocently had somehow gone horribly wrong. My post was not directed at her or her husband but when I went back and re-read what I had written, I saw exactly how she came to that understanding. Based on my post, it did seem as though I was pointing the finger at them. Rather than write anything else that could potentially be misconstrued, I asked her to call me. She did and within a few minutes all was well. But what if she had decided not to reach out to me immediately? What if she assumed that my message was directed toward her and never told me? What if she chose to remain silent and wonder why I dogged her out for no reason? She and I would have been in the same boat as Oprah and Iyanla. Eleven years could have possibly passed with me not knowing I had offended my friend.

Since watching the no-holds barred conversation between Oprah and Iyanla (part one), I have spent the last week re-examining incidents where, in my opinion, people dogged me out for no reason. If you have ever been dogged out, take a moment to give it some thought. I know it won't be easy but let's have our own no-holds barred conversation. Were we really dogged out or was it possibly a misunderstanding? Did we misinterpret anything that was said or done? Could we have immediately reached out to clear the air?

People hear the same conversation differently. What comes out of our mouth is filtered through our own frames of reference (which are based upon individual experiences and beliefs). Our words are then filtered through the listener/reader's frames of reference. Depending upon that person's individual experiences and beliefs, the most innocent statement/action can have a totally different meaning. That's exactly what happened between me and my friend. Nobody was right and nobody was wrong. It was just a misunderstanding that fortunately got resolved quickly.

The whole world has just witnessed Oprah and Iyanla reconnect after an 11-year separation, all because of a misunderstanding. If such a thing can happen to these two dynamic women, what makes you think it won't happen to us? I am so glad that two of my favorite people chose to embrace peace in the midst of their broken pieces. God has made that same peace available to each and every one of us. And this is one time that I will go churchy and say, "You can have it - just reach up and grab it!"

Be All You Can Be!

(310) 528-5115

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Two Things People Hate

Hey yall! I'm writing to share some great news. At my November 2010 doctor visit, I was placed on meds to regulate my blood pressure. Granted my numbers were only 138/90 (and half the folks I know over age 40 would kill for those digits) but it has been steadily rising over the last three years. After five days of taking meds and dealing with the side effects, I decided to do something different so I could stop taking those drugs. At my February 2011 doctor visit, my blood pressure had dropped to 117/74 -- lower than three years ago.

How did I get my numbers to decrease? Well, before I tell you what I did, let me first tell you what I did not do. I did not get in a prayer line. I did not jump three times and get slain in the spirit. I did not have anointed hands laid on me. I did not have blessed oil dabbed on me. I did not take a victory lap around the sanctuary. I did not say hecomininahonda or tiemybowtie or eatamosquito. I did not rebuke the high blood pressure demon. I did not sing, 'I can have it, just reach up and grab it.' What did I do? I quit eating the stuff that made my blood pressure rise and the next thing I knew, I had myself a miracle! Look at God!

See, what had happened was my friend's church was doing a 21-day fast: the "Daniel" fast. I could eat everything except meat, dairy, processed foods, and white foods (white rice, white bread, white pasta, white sugar, white frosting, white ice cream, etc). In other words, all the stuff I like! Initially it sounded as though there was very little I could eat but my creativity kicked in quickly. I did my fair share of cheating but overall I hung in there. The only reason I participated in the fast was to provide emotional support for my friend who had never fasted. Needless to say, I was more than pleased by the way my innards responded to the dietary change.

Which brings us to my point. People either want change but they don't want to change, or they want everything around them to change while they stay the same. (Did I just say the same thing twice?) Take myself for instance -- I want to lose 50 pounds but I don't want to keep my feet out of Ken's Ice Cream Parlor. I want to get close to the Lord but I'm usually too tired or too busy or too lazy to attend Bible study. I want to do like the Good Book says and bless those that curse me, but when I try to say 'bless you' guess what that ol' devil makes come out my mouth instead? (FYI: People who refuse to change are very good at playing the blame game.)

I wrote this message a week ago but it remained unsent because I couldn't come up with an ending ... until this morning when my fasting buddy called to share her pastor's sermon from Sunday. I made her repeat everything because it provided the perfect closing. Pastor Diego posed questions to his congregation: "Why do you wait until you are threatened before you decide to change? Why is it that you have to be served divorce papers before you decide to change? Why do you have to go to the doctor and let him tell you all the things wrong before you decide to change? Why do you wait until you are pushed up against the wall instead of doing things right from the beginning? ... There will never be resolution until confrontation takes place.... What needs to change in your life? That's what you need to answer."

If you can't say "amen", then just say "ouch." That brings to mind a quote by Pastor Harun Giles at my church: "There are two things people hate: (1) change, and (2) the way things are. Holla if you hear who? ME!

Be All You Can Be!

Read more at www.BeAllYouCanBeMag.com