“I knew you when!”

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My grandmother was practically a walking proverb!  She could always say something that would perfectly punctuate a situation and would eventually ring in my ears for years to come. So now that she is deceased, she never truly feels gone.

When someone became too judgmental of others, she would curtly say, “Well, I knew you when!” This meant that she knew that person when they were struggling; she knew them when they were low; she knew them when they had the same behavior that they were now judging.

It is amazing and fantastic when we decided that we want to be better people and elevate our experience on this earth.  However, as we get comfortable with our new paths and proudly acknowledge how far we have come, it becomes easier and easier to start saying things like, “If I can do it, anyone can do it!”  That’s not the truth!  While, yes, anyone is capable of a metamorphosis, no one will make those changes in exactly the same way.  It’s easy to forget that there are many factors that affect why and how people implement a change.  Resources, history, and support systems strongly influence the rate at which people alter their lives. We want people to meet us where we are and live our enlighten, zen, kick-butt life, but the truth is if you love someone you may need to be quiet and let them figure out their own journey.

I encourage you (myself included) to remember when.  Remember when you didn’t have all the answers and you needed someone to be patient with you. Remember the pain of growth and how there were times that you wanted to give-up. Remember when all you could do was hang your head and cry, because you knew there was something great in you dying to get out, but you didn’t know how to let it shine.  And remember you may have to tuck and roll; it’s a long way down from your high horse!


I saw America get on the Bus


I know it’s been a while since I posted last and this post is also late as it was meant as my Fourth of July post, but here it is!

This is a poem I wrote after riding a bus in New York City several years ago.  I was intrigued and humbled by how the bus (or subway for that matter) levels the playing field.  Every kind of person from every kind of background gets on the bus to get where they are going.  People are not judging each other or trying to be better than the person next to them; they are simply trying to get to their destination in life, but they are doing it together.  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we treated our personal journeys  that way?  Just a thought…


I saw America get on the Bus©

By Vernée Smith-Isbell

I saw America get on the bus today

Shoulder to shoulder, packed tight shades of

Carmel, mocha, vanilla,

Bittersweet, latté, honey

Cinnamon, sugar, chai

Coffee with and without cream

Buildings rush by

So many suits and ties

Folks on the corner stand in line

I saw America get on the bus today

And they all talk the same; they speak

Lingo, slang, jargon

Colloquial, vernacular, patois

Dialect, idiolect, and lingua franca

She’s twenty minutes late

He has a lunch date

And it’s all very quaint

I saw America get on the bus today

CD, MP3, radio and cell

Each echo their own soundtrack

Latin jazz, classic rap, doo wop swing

Reggae blues, soul country, techno punk

Rhythm & rock, hip opera, disco pop

A baby cries

People start to rise

And I just close my eyes

The Music

    The People

The Voices

They blend together like harmonies

Each completely different,

But each compliments the next in perfect composition

I saw America get on the bus today

And I smiled.