Don’t Count Me Out

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What song(s) can you think of that conveys the theme of “Don’t Count Me Out!” These can be songs we have grown up with or new songs that we have heard on the radio, vocal or instrumental.

I would love to hear from you. And if you are brave enough,  write a couple of sentences of how that song falls under our “Don’t Count Me Out” theme as a reply to this entry.

Here is an example of what I’m looking for:

“Aint to Proud to Beg” by The Temptations

Why? Because the man in that song has humbled himself to recognize what he has in his lady, don’t count a man out who is “ain’t to proud to beg.”

Much Luv

Lee Clark Allen

Now that I’m 28…

So…back in high school I use to write a lot of poetry because of my anger issues. It was a way of expressing myself instead of acting out. At the age of 18 I wrote a poem called “Now that I’m 18.” Which was about me finally graduating high school and being able to move out of my parents house. As a teenager I bumped heads with my mom like most teens do and at the time I was ready to get out of the house and go to college. At the time I did not feel wanted nor did I think my mom really cared about me. I was in my feelings about the lack of support at basketball games, when most of my teammates moms would be in attendance for every game. I was tired of her nagging and bickering about every little thing I did, it all seemed like I could do no right, and the poem I wrote expressed all of my that and more.

Now that I am a father and have my own family, I have come to realize that what I though could not have been further from the truth. Here is something to my mother entitled “Now that I’m 28″…

Now that I’m 28 and a father I realized the everyday struggle you dealt with raising me.

The constant visits to my school when I would get in trouble and the non stop butt whippings I seemed to get weekly.

Now that I’m 28 I understand how you could wake up every morning at 4:30 a.m. work until 3:30 p.m. come home cook for and clean up behind 3 kids and not be able to make it to my game because you are so exhausted.

Now that I’m 28 I understand why you were so hard on me about every little thing,  you were just preparing me for manhood because as a black man in today’s world there is no room for error. I learned that being in your household because you did not let anything slide.

Now that I’m 28 with kids I understand that sometimes your kids do get on your nerves and every parents’ patience runs out but the love that you give your children should always be unconditional and I learned that from you.

Now that I’m 28 I understand why everything happened the way it did. The moral is, teenagers, you may not under why your parents do what they do,but know and trust that they have your best interest at heart. It might be 5-10 years before you realize it but they are just trying to mold you into something better than themselves.

I love you mom and I appreciate her guidance.

Toni Phroze


Conundrum of Desire

I will begin with two poems I wrote. Enjoy and much luv!

Conundrum of Need

How can I

Ever blame you

Legitimately for not helping   for forsaking me?

Please consider, “How could you ever trust me when I have withheld desires?”

Conundrum of Connection

Harry loves Mary, and she’s aware

Emotionally he is fragile as fresh loose leaf–

Lethal when it leaves someone with a

Paper cut.

Meditate on Harry and Mary.

Everyone, how risky is it to be aware?

If this post speaks to you, please know that you are not alone. Do you face difficulty in expressing desire for help? “Yes,” the choir sings! Have you gauged what the difficulty is that is preventing you from using a helping hand this time? Some people go through the litany of responses, like “No, but yes, but you won’t understand, no I can’t just put my finger on it, yes the scalpel can curve it out but then something would be exposed.” Commonly as surgeons of our identity and fate, we have become skilled at dancing around the questions that make us the most vulnerable. Ultimately, your age, gender, race, religion, occupation, work experience, intelligence, etc. does not exempt you from needing a helping hand or responding to the question that sparks vulnerability, “Can I assist you with anything?”

Receiving a helping hand is similar to how our lungs cooperate with air. Though the quality of air matters tremendously, our lungs appreciate the ability to function and thrive on the opportunity to be functional , like how kids desire a gift at Christmas and how people strive to be wanted and needed by others. And fortunately, our lungs are wise; we can trust that they will communicate whether they are inhaling blessings or instant destruction for their entire body. Similar to how lungs aid us to breathe, a helping hand has the function of allowing a living organism to fulfill its Earthly and spiritual obligations, which are to be alive and work. Does this train of thought aid an individual in becoming a little more receptive to a helping hand? I am not sure, but it is the effort that counts. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, is it understood how the quality of the helping hand has a tremendous impact on the quality of life and productivity we are capable of demonstrating as we move forward? It may be totally understood, yet still ignored. And that is okay though. As a crawling infant completes his or her rites of passage in becoming a walker, people will become more inclined in completing the rites of passage of seeking and latching onto the helping hand.  An important component of the rites of passage of seeking and latching on to help is the vulnerability piece. If infants can get through their bumps and bruises as fragile and vulnerable as they are, so can we.

Concerning the quality of the helping hand, I find it wise to select helping hands that are driven by agape love rather than hidden agendas. It is my desire that we recognize that there are helping hands waiting for us to latch on to. Please note that even your own hands qualify as helping hands for yourself. By waking up and loving yourself until you find more support is an act of giving yourself a helping hand. For those who are rightfully cynical, I have considered your rationale. Addressing complacency and conformity concerning this matter is needed. Here are statements I have heard from some cynics: “My daddy, my mother, my uncle, my aunt, etc did not make it an habit to ask for help, so this explains…”; or “There are so many odds stacked up against me that prevent me seeking help or anyone helping me, therefore why make the effort.” In the first example, it reminds me of a verse that sounds like this, “People perish, without a vision.” Due to some individuals’ internal and external factors, specifically their personality or their household/community, they excuse themselves because of handling being vulnerable well. As mentioned earlier, although “people [can] perish without a vision,” some people should just be tired of being a statistic that does not represent him/herself or their community well. Concerning the second example, I am reminded of the times where my own problems have distracted me from doing anything about them. In both cases presented, here are my two nuggets that can keep you from becoming another statistic: First, please realize that “We do not have to conform to the choices of our relatives or be chained to their free will and not our own;” and second, please accept that “The world guarantees people two things: 1.) an individual will always have enemies; and 2.) despite his or her enemies, this same individual will always have someone who loves them even if they have not met these people of support yet. Using a comic book and American pol culture reference, the infamous Batman is known for having his fan club. Even his counterpart, Joker the Nemesis of The Dark Knight, J-Man has his bestowed crew as well. In accepting that Help, at times, is only delayed, but always in the same stratosphere we dwell in, that leaves us with hope.

As I close, if you are not feeling a spiritual reference, I excuse you from the conversation at this point. I do not want spirituality to be a stumbling block from pondering how the previous information could possibly impact your life positively. In love, thank you for tuning in as I construct a narrative that I, one day, can return to for guidance and hope. Lovely people, live well! When a helping hand is presented to you, take it so that you can get back to functioning effectively so that others may be blessed by you.

For individuals who have remained, this whole writing experience and subject matter have reminded me of how God gave Eve my rib and what that means to me as it pertains to this message. When pondering the whole process of getting an individual’s desire of help met, I have come to recognize how gut-wrenching it can be because of the vulnerability [openness], the risk, and of the gut wrenching courage needed to act. Every time I have expressed need, I have had to accept that I am giving a remnant of myself to the supporter, whether that remnant being a piece of my vulnerability, resources, or time and energy. Yet, reflecting on Adam and Eve, in rain and shine, they needed each other like yin and yang. Lungs need air. Most humans need sex. All humans need connections. All currency needs objects in which it can purchase. With all of these pairs existing in our universe, can we be a little more receptive that even in our prime time, we need helping hands. Likewise, even in our darkest hour, we need helping hands. Therefore, brothers and sisters, live well because you may be the helping hand someone near you may need. Lovely people, live well! When a helping hand is presented to you, take it so that you can get back to functioning effectively so that others may be blessed by you. Do not be the “holier than thou” individual; but instead, be and remain a “child of God.” When has a child ever refused help, when they have humbled themselves and noticed their need?

Time and Self-Reflection

Here lately, I have been reading and listening to highly successful people. Each come from different backgrounds, have obtained different levels of education, and are successful (both financially and professionally). Each have spoken about the importance of time, how critical it is to manage your time effectively. Time is important in many facets of life. For example, timing in relationships is critical. Doesn’t matter if the relationship is intimate, friendly, or professional, for the relationship to be beneficial, the timing must be right.

So how do you spend your time? Now I know this may vary for you depending on your commitments. Whether it is family (spouse, significant other, kids), job, church or religious affiliation, community organization, or just trying to remain sane in America. I challenge everyone to make time for self-reflection. I believe self-reflection is important for many reasons. I think it is important to see how far we have come. When we self-reflect, it keeps us focus and allows us to concentrate on what really matters in life. Not material things, but the things that are important to you (i.e. goals, values, beliefs, etc.).

One of my favorite scriptures is 1 Corinthians 13:11. The text states, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things”. Growing up in a black church, I heard this text over and over and over…..and over again. But I can honestly say it did not hit home until here recently as I began to think about old mentalities, behavior, and mistakes I have made. With time comes development, with development comes growth, and with growth comes maturity. Each are important in becoming the best you, you can be.

Before this year is over, spend sometime reflecting on the following: (a) how good God has been to you, friends, and family; (b) the blessings and positive things that occurred this year; (c) areas in your life that you want to improve; and (d) how you can contribute and meet your future goals (i.e. spiritual, personal, , financial, professional, etc.) in 2017. Just like its a best practice to get your oil changed periodically throughout the year, we must examine and reflect not only on our past but more importantly where we are going in the future.

Those Little Angels Called ‘Comparison’

Want to feel better about the situation you are currently in?  Compare yourself to someone ‘doing worse’…

Want to feel worse about that same situation you are in?  Compare yourself to someone that is ‘doing better’…

This entry will not be long; it may be the shortest I ever post.  But the message (I pray) speaks to someone in a BOLD fashion.  Comparing yourself to those around you is the most unsettling thing you could ever do to gain peace in your life.  Your serenity and joy can disappear in a second, just by sight or sound.    Sure, there’s a 50% chance that the comparison could work in your favor; and somehow give you gratification at someone else’s struggle (hmmmm).  But there’s also that 50% chance that comparison could be your arch enemy; leaving you with more sleepless nights and a weary soul.  But your chances of being happy with who  you are, where you are, what you do, or even how you do it go up significantly if you can alleviate the white noise in your life; or even trying to capture the fairy-tale endings that some other author produced.  I know this is easier said than done (it seems like everything we see on a daily bases FORCES us to do so).  But I challenge you all today to author your very own fairy tale.  After all, no one likes to see the same movie over-and-over, right?  Happy discoveries family; peace.


Glory to Glory

Words of the great Frederick Douglass

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

Lee Clark Allen’s reflection of Douglass’s words as it pertains to his life and aspirations:

To work is to breathe. To work well is to breathe easily.

Because I am aware of these truths, I work harder, think critically, learn willingly, pray harder, celebrate others so that I may be comfortable in celebrating myself, love forever, and forever ask for help.

To struggle, do not distract me too much so that I could miss God and his Son standing beside me in the mist in affirmation. Agitation, help me build character and patience so that I lack none. To the plow and the callouses on my hand, help me leave tracks of a true pioneer so that I cultivate another individual’s faith in the process. To the hard ground that yields resources, help me cultivate and expand my own faith that hard things can yield the Earth’s greatest blessings and resources. To thunder and lightning, help me lessen my flinch in the face of adversity and help me cast the light you cast, lightning, as I am planted in my city on a hill. To salt, don’t let me get dehydrated! To the awful roar of any situation that can be vexing, train me to welcome you in, but still have total authority over my actions. Because if there is no struggle, there is no progress.

Closing with Langston Hughes’s “Harlem,” he pens, “What happens to a dream deferred?” The blessing is that, despite the struggle, the dream is still present. Accept the struggle and acquire the dream! Happy Holidays everyone, and much love!

Lost ones…..

Cancer is something that has effected 39% of men and women in the world. Cancer does not just effect the infected, it also has a direct effect on the loved ones of the people infected with the disease. Yesterday the sports world lost a very iconic figure in Craig Sager to his battle with cancer. He touched the lives of so many people nationwide and will truly be missed.  Families around the world are dealing with these same types of losses everyday. So I challenge you to join the fight! I challenge you to donate to cancer research foundations. I challenge you to volunteer your services however you you see fit. Something has to be done and those efforts start with us. We can not continue to stand by and let this disease continue to claim the lives of innocent people. Step up and make your efforts known! Will you accept the challenge?

Lyrics to “Fragile Garden” performed by Lee Clark Allen; written by Patrick Lee Clark

“Fragile Garden” performed by Lee Clark Allen; written by Patrick Lee Clark

(The melody is sung with a slow to moderate groove, where its musical accompaniment is a church organ/Rhodes piano)

Old man old man/ will always have something to say

Young man young man/ already thinks he knows the game/ (he knows the game?)

Old man old man/will always have plenty of change

Young man young man/ already claims he’s rich in fame/ (rich in fame?)

But old man’s heart has fallen apart/ oh, how many lifetimes?

what does young man’s charm/ have on old man’s scars?

Old man says, “He won’t know everything in her heart”

Old man does know that each man plants seeds in her heart/

her fragile garden

Tell me how it feels/ to be loved/ by a queen

Tell me how it feels/ to plant a dream

Young man, don’t you wanna be loved?

Just plant a good dream

Young man, don’t you wanna be loved?

Just plant a good seed

in her heart, her fragile garden.


Just Do It

I see a real struggle y’all, and forgive me in advance if this post touches any in the wrong way (I’ve learned that people are touchy about their excuses).  Charge it to my observations, and not my knowledge.  That being said, maybe this post will motivate someone to “just do it”, and take the gear out of neutral.  You guys do realize that neutral is only as good as the factors surrounding its existence, right?  A car in neutral can go forward if it has the right push or pre-existing conditions (maybe a downward slope allows gravity to take effect).  That car could even go backwards with the same formula in reverse.  But you know what that car is doing while in neutral (for the most part)? NOTHING.  Yep: just WAITING for something to come along and give it another push.  It controls not one thing!  Its just an object of mass with no purpose and unrealized value.

I’ve been blessed with a select few friends my entire life; my brothers from another mother.  Out of those bonds, I inherited a grandfather that I’d never had: OG Mr. Wiley.  I didn’t recognize it then, but he had taught me something that makes the world of difference to me, even today.  Whenever I’d spend the night at my bro’s house, Mr. Wiley would always wake us up by saying “PUT YOUR FEET ON THE FLOOR”!  Mane used to irritate my soul!  He would literally stand there until we got our legs out the bed and onto the floor.  Ironically enough, I reflected on that same thing when I went away to college at Jackson State University in 2007.  I was having trouble with trying to develop concepts for an English paper.   I had all of these ideas, yet nothing to show for it.  Then I remembered how I used to feel being woken up by Mr. Wiley.  It was a synonomous feeling to what I was going through (all thought but little to show for it).  While the thoughts were everything pertaining to what I’d do that day when I was rudely awoken (lol), I was still being held hostage by that bed.  But it was something about that floor that created a little magic!  Once my feet hit that carpet, I was good to go!  Energized, abled, and ready!  So fast-forward back to college, and I get the idea to just put my pen to the paper and just, at least, start writing.  Write anything!  Next thing I know, within three hours I had completed an eight-page paper.  Not because I simply had the ideas: but because I took the step of putting my pen to the paper.  There are numerous moments I can recall in my life that were similar to thus; the key was always to simply ‘start’.

Moral to the story is this: we ALL have ideas of things we want to accomplish.  Visions that God has given us to proceed with.  Gifts that have been given to us that we haven’t explored.  But for the ‘most’ part, we all are being held hostage to the “neutral” state of mind and life.  We’re always waiting for the right opportunities or the right time, waiting for the stars to align perfectly; making procrastination our best friend any chance we get.  After all, procrastination is that friend that will never challenge you to do more, to see more, to BE more: procrastination truly loves you for just who you are everyday.  We’re allowed to be lazy and comfortable with such a great friend!  So my procrastination-loving KINGS & QUEENS, I challenge you to make a new friend in your life.  I challenge you to meet ‘ACTION’ with a firm handshake of commitment.  And theres only one thing that ‘ACTION’ requires to keep him happy: everyday, finding your “feet to the floor” moment.  Peace & Love y’all.


Think About it

For some of you who may not know I am a football coach in Pine Bluff. Yesterday afternoon we asked a police officer to come in and speak with our team (99% African American) about the proper procedures when you are pulled over by a police officer. While I do feel this talk was completely necessary for the safety of our boys, I had a bunch of mixed emotions around the situation. As the officer spoke about complying and being respectful my mind wandered and I thought of all the incidents that have occurred over the past few years. Numerous African American males have complied and their parents still were forced to bury them after their encounter with officers. What do we tell our children? Just comply and everything will be fine. Well society has proven that even this is not a fire proof way to make it home to your family. If I completely comply with the officers every request and demand but am still looked at as inferior to him or beneath him does it really matter if I comply or not? While I feel this talk was necessary, I pose a question to you. Do coaches at a predominately white school have to have a officer come in to have this same talk with his players? Think about it.