Take the Time and Use a Timeout

Timeout

“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.” Thomas Paine

Self- Evaluation

Self-Discovery

Self-Reflection

*yawns*

Are you one of those people who likes reading self-help books? Or the kind of person who takes hours during the week or month to stop and think about how you can do things better or become a better person?

Well, this article might not be for you.

There are people who don’t like to read self-help books, either by choice or because the busyness of life, they don’t stop and reflect (and by they, I really mean we, because I am guilty as charged) ….This post is for you.

For me, I am guilty of being a true energizer bunny, and my goal is to just keep going and going and going…. Rarely, do I stop and take breath or pause for a moment to reflect.

And you might ask, ‘Don’t you ever sit and think about what you are doing’… yeah, if I make a mistake and feel some type of pain or regret. But unless you’re in a constant flow of pain and regret, you can go weeks and months without looking back and thinking of how you are getting from A to B. This is me. To truly sit back and self-reflect on life, you have to be intentional, not only for yourself, but for those around you.

In the past, I was piling things onto my plate and  avoided this much needed self-reflection. But earlier this year, I found myself complaining and irritable, and I began to question whether I was really happy. I am naturally a glass half-full, extreme optimist, who LOVES Monday. So when it felt like every other sentence out of my mouth was negative, I began to see that it was affecting those around me. I knew something was wrong.  But, I didn’t quite know how to stop my normal way of life.

I was used to it. It was familiar. Unfamiliarity is not cool. Sort of.

But despite my resistance to this idea of changing my natural flow of life, I had enough people around me telling me that I wasn’t crazy, and that maybe a switch-up was exactly what I needed.

So 4 months ago, I significantly reduced my involvement in a lot of things which opened my life up.

More time to write. More time to sleep, and to be quite frank, more time to myself. At first, I didn’t use this time wisely at all. I was still a little reluctant and there was no reflection occurring. I filled it with other things, mindless things, so I thought I was making progress, but I knew that wasn’t my purpose. I quickly reminded myself that I needed to be intentional and do something different that was going to help me.

The purpose was to stop and reflect, and after about 3 months, I finally am getting the swing of more alone time, saying no, and developing new skills. As I began to reflect more, there were some things that I am surprised were going on in my life and others were exactly the way I thought they were.

The biggest area in my life that I needed to take a look at was leadership. And boy, am I learning a lot. I am a big proponent that leadership skills are innate, and that you can’t teach people how to be good leaders. But people can learn how to be better at leading and if they are willing to learn. I think I am natural born leader, but I probably haven’t learned anything new about leading. I needed to have a seat.

As of June 1st, 2016, I hold zero leadership positions for the first time in my life in over 15 years and I am loving every minute. I made this decision back in February when I realized, that for more than 15 years, I was in some capacity leading a group of of youth or adults in some way. I was like I have to stop. I was right, I am following, and learning so much more about being a leader than I have in the last two years.

It is important to learn that although you are capable of leading, allowing others to lead you and absorb their knowledge is a part of the process. If I didn’t stop to smell the roses, I would be missing out on some important nuggets that not only will make me a better leader, but ultimately a better person for those around me. I am learning a couple of other things along the way:

  • Patience – I need more of it
  • Discipline – I need more of it
  • Listening – I need to do more of it

The last point is clearly something that I was vastly aware of. I am always trying to talk less and listen, but taking the time to step back and see how I was behaving. I need to make this a reality, what’s the point of knowing you need to fix something and not improving it. Therefore, I am intentionally listening more.

I noticed that I needed more patience and discipline in almost every area of my life. I needed to build a little stamina in both of these areas to be a little better and a little more productive. Although a product of the millennial generation that is in love with instant gratification, this doesn’t change the fact that some things take time and you have to work hard to achieve your goals.

One goal in particular is becoming healthier. Waiting for pounds and inches to drop is the slowest process known to man. But what is the rush? I find myself trying to cheat or expedite the process, cut corners, only to my detriment. Not only did I realize I needed to improve this about myself, I couldn’t do it alone. I have felt discouraged and down on myself a number of times. The trainers have coached me, encouraged me, and loved on me a little bit, and I have stayed more committed to my health longer than ever before. When I noticed this was happening, I reflected on other areas in my life where I was lacking patience. I was able to connect some of my frustrations and identify one of the root causes to my increased complaining. This reflection has made a big impact my life in this short amount of time. So now I have opened my arms to the process on reflecting my behavior and plan to continue this self-evaluation, discovery and reflection with joy.

Why don’t you join me? Please share your experience with self-reflection.

M/P

Let’s Talk About Politics and Data

My Faithful readers,

Please check out my new blog post over on Silicon Jungle’s Website here.

It’s a good one!

Voting2

Being Unapologetic: How America Transferred this Privilege from the Presidency to the Candidacy

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“Never apologize, mister, it’s a sign of weakness.”  ― John Wayne

So have you heard about this thing… its called being “unapologetic” … it’s a new trend, a new hashtag… In 2015, it was considered the Top Beauty Trend… “ be Unapologetically you” …*rolls eyes*  and it’s definitely bled into 2016, and everyone is basically saying “be unapologetically [enter any word]”. So yeah, it’s definitely a thing. But it’s not really a new trend.

Despite the recent focus on it, being “unapologetically” anything is probably one of the hardest things to do. There are a few things that I do unapologetically, and because too much of anything can always turn into a negative.

One area I consider myself unapologetic is that I wear my heart on my sleeve and my passion on my chest.  At times, people find my openness disingenuous, and there always comes a time when someone thinks I am lying or not being “real” , that I’m just saying it when in fact they learn, oh, no, she’s serious, that’s how I really feel, and I am telling the truth. That’s just who I am.

And that’s what I want to talk about today.

When you’re living unapologetically sometimes people really never believe you. But if you prove that you are unapologetic, and your yes is yes, and your no is no, people are mesmerized. Because most people can’t do it.

We all know that as humans we are imperfect, so of course, we will make a mistakes at some point, and go off our path, and we will be remorseful and apologize. Although I think I am unapologetically open almost 100% of the time that would probably be a lie, realistically, I am probably at 95%, but I am okay with that.

But as I mentioned earlier, too much of one thing, brings about a negative. With this trend of being unapologetic all the time, another camp has also arisen, and in mainstream media, not to mention with the help of social media, the policing of ideals has happened. So you have:

  1. People who apologize for every action that isn’t socially acceptable
  2. People who stand behind their actions no matter what

I mean let’s take a step back and give a shout out to Ted Cruz who unapologetically got up on the GOP Convention stage, and did not endorse Trump. People thought he would cave in. And most people, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, enjoyed every moment of it. And to be honest, I don’t think Trump would’ve had it any other way. Do you think Trump would’ve endorsed anyone else if he hadn’t won the nomination?

No one likes the person always apologizing and caving into external pressure. (Ironic though that Hillary doesn’t cave in and people don’t like that, but I will give you one guess why it’s different for her – read more here) . It’s pretty clear, we don’t want an apologizer for President, but do we want that quality in our candidates? Before they take on the hardest job in America?

In this new state of Politics, we see Trump accept the Republican nomination being one of the most unapologetic persons running for a political office and people are eating it up.

In a Vox.com article called, “How Donald Trump Won” , the writers outline perfectly how the blunders of the Republican establishment have really contributed to the success of Donald Trump. If you look at their first reason in which Trump was able to open the door to his current candidacy it is the emergence of being unafraid to say whatever, no matter the facts.

Donald Trump was unapologetically focused on the authenticity of President Obama’s birth certificate. Despite all of the subsequent evidence and information that was revealed because of the stink Trump made, he never retreated, asked or forgiveness, nothing… he was truly unapologetic. Fast-forward 5 years and very few things have changed. Trump has to go back on very little such as not using anyone’s money for his campaign as he enters into the main election. But that’s understandable, right? Why use your own money, when you could use someone else’s? Makes sense to me. Except he’s been talking about self-funding as a main pillar in his speeches and that he can’t be controlled. But he unapologetically created a reason for the change:

“I mean, do I want to sell a couple of buildings and self-fund? I don’t know that I want to do that necessarily, but I really won’t be asking for money for myself, I’ll be asking money for the party.” (source) 

And his supporters are okay with it according to an Associated Press poll that determined “Trump Supporters Unfazed by Reversal on Self-Funding”.

Hook. Line. and Sinker.

Although, it would be unfair if I left out that it was released, that he did in fact self-fund his primary campaign. (source).  But he still changed his tune, but he didn’t miss a beat. For the most part, he continues to not ask for forgiveness even when he has contradicted himself, and he continues to speak from his mind and heart.

The reality is that we like this idea of being unapologetic. Even though it’s an unattainable goal, we, the American people, are slightly in awe, good or bad, with the notion of saying what you mean, feel, and sticking to it even if it’s changing along the way. I say this because I am learning that I know a lot more people who are Trump supporters than I would’ve ever imagined, and I am truly amazed by the people who are truly glossing over his racist and xenophobic remarks, as if you can separate those comments from who he is.

He’s unapologetic.

If you think about it, The President of the United States, in the past, didn’t publicly apologize. It’s almost Presidential to be unapologetic, it’s not a new trend for that role. However, our generation has seen President Obama and President George W. Bush admit mistakes and missteps sooner than any Presidents ever before, because our technology and media holds them to a different fire or standard, and I think that America has pushed back unconsciously to the point we yearn for candidates and politicians who are unapologetic.

With the exception of LBJ, who had to grapple with the realities of the Vietnam War in such a public way, Presidents have never been apologetic for their actions, they have to make tough decisions during terms of office, and none of us really envy that responsibility. Being seen as weak is not really a good look.

So I guess I wrote this piece to add a little blame across the country, Heavy is the head who wears the crown. But it continues to get heavier and heavier. I recently enjoyed discussing the secrecy that JFK was able to operate under with the Cuban Missile Crisis or the Bay of Pigs. That could never happen in this day and age it feels like.

To further this point, I personally never liked how everyone was mad at President Bush for continuing to read a book to kids when Hurricane Katrina hit just as much as people are STILL debating the true events surrounding the death of Osama Bin Laden. The insinuation that Obama waited until election time to allow it to happen is so interesting to me. I hope he never apologizes or admits to that, because we will have someone much worse than Trump making his way to the nomination.

Being unapologetic for tough decisions is something that Presidents must do when faced with a difficult decision for the nation, but it’s not cool to be unapologetic just for the heck of it. Presidential candidates should be concerned as they run for office about the hearts and minds of the entire country. There will come a day for each President to make a tough decision and be unapologetic, but it’s a privilege that shouldn’t be given too soon or to the wrong person.

The Vicious Cycle of Power: The Real Problem in America Right Now

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“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” – John Acton

The killing of innocent lives is never good, whether the lives are lost here or abroad and whoever the victims are, the loss of innocent lives is never good. The killing of innocent lives that distract from fixing the current problem with policing in our communities is even worse. The last thing that we needed to happen were more innocent black men killed and innocent policeman shot in cold blood, and most of America and the world, had to sit and watch. Some wept, some were confused, mystified, and others were mad. I couldn’t help but think about what the continual root cause of the problem.

Whose hands are truly stained with blood? I can give you a little hint, but it’s not just the Police, and it’s definitely not the innocent people who continue to die simply for the color of their skin.

It’s power. Power corrupts. The duty to protect and serve is a power, and if abused, can be a matter of life or death. Sometimes power corrupts a good police officer. Sometimes it makes a bad police officer worse, but this power is nothing compared to the truly powerful people who aren’t doing anything to fix a broken system. A system that has been broken for years, decades. In fact, it seems to me that they prefer to allow the viscous cycle of power to churn out the same story and it’s getting worse.

Police officers are given a certain of lever of power in their jobs, because they are asked to enforce the law. Crime and violence does occur in many urban communities across the country, and the law needs to be enforced. But power corrupts. We all see this in any workplace where bad managers and directors mistreat employees simply because they can.

Often times, people of color experience this “power” of the law by the hand of police, when police are simply doing their job. Whether it’s because they are getting evicted, parents are being arrested for petty or serious crimes or kids are being removed from their home because of abuse or neglect. Other times they experience this “power” so unjustly by being racially profiled for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Rarely are any of these interactions positive.

So if Police are given the power to monitor communities, and are often above reproach, what about the ones who are corrupted by power? That is why we see police brutality. Daniel Holtzclaw, the Oklahoma City police officer, who was sentenced to 263 years in prison for raping women of color abused the power of his badge.

I am saying the blame on the police and the violence/crime in these communities of color, at times, is unfair, because the system has been built to create vulnerable citizens, first, who then have to live and die by the hands of ill-trained and sometimes underfunded police departments.

The famous quote by Thomas Moore says it best:

“For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.”

The lack of good education, the inability to make a decent wage or to find gainful employment (convicted felons), you cannot help but expect some people to turn to crime. These actions stem from the difficulty to reach the “American Dream”. We then ask police officers to enforce laws against those who have been rejected and hurt by the system.  And now, many police departments have lowered their standards for police officers to ensure that they have enough officers on the force. Thus creating a problem of police officers who are too young and ill-trained. Seems to me that the police and the people in the communities of color are stuck in a deadly hamster reel.

The logical next step is to think who gives the power of the law. The police do not give this power to themselves. And more over, who has the power to improve the minimum wage, improve our educational system or the justice system and to create better programs for our convicted felons.

Politicians. Elected officials. “Leaders”.

America has stacked the cards against the most vulnerable, and asked police officers to enforce the laws against them, no matter the cost. We know that the prison system in this country is a billion dollar industry. This is not a conspiracy. This is the reality of the cycle of power that we have allowed to take place. When they talk about making America “great” again, we will never be able to move forward as nation, if we continue down this road.

So what can be done? Pay attention to what’s going on in your community, and not just the Presidential election. Who are your local politicians, what’s going on in state and local politics, who serves on your school boards and are you paying attention to where the money is going? We must hold them accountable. Like actually, pay attention and hold them accountable. People with the time and/or the aptitude to do something, must act. We cannot expect our most vulnerable to have the time or the capacity to fight.

So am I saying it is our responsibility to do something?

Yes I am.

We are not talking about giving handouts or throwing money at a problem. I am talking about making sure our laws are just, and the people that we elect into our offices have our best interests in mind. People like to joke that the Founding Fathers were slave owners among other things, but there are positive legacies that they left behind. They created a system of laws and separation of powers, and a place for people to be heard. But we are not using our voices effectively. Especially those who are in a position to do more. Because we must remember, the difference between ourselves and the most vulnerable, is that we were just dealt different cards. We should be thankful, and make a difference in their lives.

M/P

Being a Woman in a Man’s World: My Thoughts on Hillary with a Pinch of Pat Summitt

Mans World - Hillary and Pat Summit

“The man’s world must become a man’s and a woman’s world. What are we afraid of?” – M. Carey Thomas

I have been working on this piece for quite some time. I rarely shop out my ideas, discuss in detail, but something wasn’t quite right with my thoughts. Maybe, I felt that my thoughts were a little controversial or maybe, writing a post that was (kind of) in favor of Hillary, a person I am not fond of, was actually quite difficult.

But as I talked with several people about the public relationship between Bill and Hillary and how it has shaped America’s view of her, and consequently caused the American people not to see her in a positive light. I was met with the same resounding response that points to a simple fact for most people:

“I just wish she had made it here (the Presidency) based on her own merits”

“I think Bill being President has everything to do with her getting close to becoming President”

“She wouldn’t even be the nominee if it wasn’t for Bill”

And so on. Each person I asked was a Democrat. Their responses perplexed me. As humans in this vast and complex world, we are unable to write our own story. Who is to say had Bill not become President that Hillary wouldn’t have risen to the Presidency, to be successful in politics, or affecting change in this country. For this we do not know, but I find that most people think, Hillary is here solely based on her husband.

It’s not even a matter if people think she’s a liar, corrupt, or made mistakes as Secretary of State – it is because, if she makes it to the White House, it will be on the coat tails of her husband.

But I think it’s more than that.

It could be her desire for her own fame and success that has fueled her to the Presidency or it could be her commitment to serve this country. But you know what, if she was a man, it wouldn’t matter.

Hillary is being unfairly judged, because she is a woman. I know people have made this point over and over, but I, an outsider, wanted to make this point again. Because, despite my strong dislike of her, I am flabbergasted by the disrespect Hillary receives from members in her own party.  People still have more respect for her [enter all the bad adjectives you can think of] husband.

How many Presidents of the United States of America made it, because they were white males, from an affluent family, and they just so happened to end up in the White House. There are few Presidents, who earned the spot every step of the way. In general, there are far more people who were given a little help to get where they are today, so why are we holding Hillary Clinton to a different standard? Why do we as women give men a break, but don’t quite do the same thing for women? Is it because we have to be better? Or would we prefer to just work double time and allow men to work half of the time? Not to mention…. infidelity and cheating in marriage sometimes seems so commonplace in America because of the over sexualization in this country. How many of you, who’ve experienced betrayal in your life or in your family, could imagine experiencing infidelity in the public eye at the highest office in America, and for the world to see, not just America, and bounce back from it? How many of you after being completely embarrassed and disrespected, could then decide to run for a public office in the state of New York, one of the most media hungry places in America? How many of you all could face that kind of fire and win, and continue on.

Yeah, her hunger and need for the spotlight might fuel it, and I don’t really care, because to me, that is a tough thing to do and she should deserve a little more respect for her tenacity. Respect that we would easily be given to her if she was a man.

Now to preference who should be respecting, if you have ideological differences with Hilary (as do I), then by all means, you are free to disagree/dislike/hate her and make claims along those lines. But there are women, young and old, black, white, blue and green, who furiously supported Barack Obama, that struggle to support Hilary or diss her for no good reason in my opinion.

I would like to just make note, that Obama’s rise to the Presidency, although historical in its own right, the differences between overcoming the obstacles of race versus gender are actually drastically different. As a black woman, I can tell you the preference and deference black men with less abilities get over me time and time again from women is not only maddening, but sad. The blunt truth is that it’s happening simply because they are men. The long and short of it, women want to support men. It might be biblical. I get it. But we represent over 50% of the population and continue to allow men to make decisions that affect our lives and bodies, and yet, we struggle to view women in a positive light for being strong, dominant, and unafraid.

And I must pause here, because Pat Summit passed away last week, one of my favorite sports hero and I believe she was one of the few women, in the public eye, who was strong, dominant, and unafraid – and she had our respect completely. There is no question that her success and rise to popularity were forged with her own blood, sweat, and tears to be successful as a coach in women’s college basketball and to win Olympic gold. But she was the best of the best in a woman’s world. Many wanted her to cross over to coach men, whether in college or professional sports. But as I write about Hillary, I wonder if not crossing over was one of her best decisions.

One reporter shared:

“More than once, Tennessee’s athletic bigwigs considered asking Summitt to coach the men instead. With each crash-and-burn, it became more obvious that men couldn’t handle this particular job and that Summitt would be the safest hire available. She considered it but kept turning it down.

I think women should help women,” Summit said. A good reason, but there was a better one.

I wouldn’t want people to think I looked at the men’s game as a step up.”

It wasn’t. But it remains a concrete ceiling. If it were glass, a woman could at least see the path to coaching a men’s team. Imagine the fun, if Summitt had decided to burst through it. ” (Source)

And maybe we should take a lesson from Pat’s book.

  1. Women should be helping women.
  2. Let’s stop acting like their “world” is a step-up.

I must say this article is really less about Hillary, but my views on how women should go about supporting each other. Let’s try to hold each other to the right standard and support them in the same way we support men. Let’s stop holding ourselves to a higher and more unrealistic standard, and stop burdening ourselves for no apparent reason. We make mistakes, we are human. If we aren’t forgiving our fellow women then we probably aren’t forgiving ourselves. And trust me, men are not thinking twice about it, and moving on to the next thing.

M/P

Looking Through Her Lens (My Thoughts on LEMONADE)

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“In the perspective of every person lies a lens through which we may better understand ourselves”- Ellen Langer

So I know that you have already read a number of articles about Beyoncé and Lemonade and I am sorry to add to your list, but I guess I am sorry not sorry. Because I will tell you… it wasn’t easy to decide what to write about, there were several angles to come at this piece. I read several articles about this and that, about infidelity and Jay-Z, Black women empowerment, feminism and even that Beyoncé is no role model based on her lyrics (and there were some questionable lyrics), but I am sure they had some purpose, for HER. And this makes sense, as with a movie, a good book, or album, people can watch, read or listen to the exact same thing and walk away with a complete different interpretation. But let’s be clear the whole album is for Beyoncé, and certain parts are for our enjoyment.

I believe this is true for any real artist, and I am sure there are people who think Beyoncé is a manufactured robot whose sole purpose in life is to brainwash and make millions. But for the purpose of this post and my  satisfaction, I am writing from the viewpoint that Beyoncé is an artist and she paid top dollar for her writers to construct the lyrics to match her visual masterpiece that is LEMONADE. (I would say it’s not a masterpiece musically because just listening to the tracks it is not her best, but we can debate that at a later time.)

So as I sat down, I was trying to be polite with my thoughts, but I felt pretty strong about some comments and critiques such as the following, as tweeted by Azealia Bank’s herself.

Exhibit A – “You keep crying over a man and perpetuating that sad black female sufferance and it’s not good for what we’re trying to accomplish here”

Exhibit B – “You been singing about this n****a for years and he still playing you. That’s not strength, that’s stupidity”

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Just stop.

Azealia’s tweets are coupled with several comments of sarcasm that I heard from others, such as “poor ole Beyoncé singing the blues”, “oh, her life must be so hard” –

Seriously?

Okay, look, no one is saying that Beyoncé’s life is hard, but does that mean she can’t talk about the issues that she is having with Jay-Z. Azealia’s tweets and those comments completely miss the complexity of the role of women in the 21st century. When you have to balance a husband, kids and a career. The reason more women, of all races and ages, loved it, is that Beyoncé struggled (and is struggling) with the same shit as we all do and she is the “baddest bitch in the game”. But her being the baddest doesn’t change the fact that a man can (and probably will) betray your trust whether it is infidelity or something monetary or when something equally intimate is taken for granted. There are so many ways to be betrayed.

The reality is that our families, especially our significant others or our companions, deeply influence our everyday life and it’s hard. So to invalidate her feminism “cred” because she opens up about her struggles with a lying (maybe cheating) husband is like the opposite of feminism.

We, as group of people, who support the political, social, and economic equality of women, cannot be upset or frustrated that Beyoncé felt betrayed and felt the need to make music about it. For centuries, women have had to fight with decision of staying or leaving, heck, probably a few millennia! I mean who could forget how Adam was quick to throw shade in the Garden of Eden because Eve gave him the piece of fruit that caused him to sin:

Then the man said, “The woman whom YOU gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” – Gensis 3:12

See, men have been making excuses since the beginning of time. That isn’t changing.

So as a 30 year old woman with friends at different stages of their romantic life: single, married for years, newlyweds, divorcees, and even windows, regardless of whether they are successful professionally, or kick ass mothers, their relationships are a priority, so why would it be different for Beyoncé? Not for one second, would I agree with the critiques about HOW anti-feministic it is that she is whining and crying about her husband cheating. I mean I guess she could be quiet, and be damned nonetheless like Hillary Clinton, who stayed extremely quiet about Bill’s infidelity and her struggles until recently during her campaign and people have always talked about her silence. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

The reality is not about whether Beyoncé is weak or not, but we are actually uncomfortable with the honestly of Beyoncé’s album. Even for people who liked and admired it. It makes us all a little uncomfortable, in this male dominated world, that Beyoncé felt that she:

  • could openly critique a man directly, who is as equally successful;
  • felt betrayed and stay; AND
  • told the world all about it.

I didn’t walk away from Beyoncé ‘s album with a sad black suffrage vibe, did you?  I kind of felt like it was more  along these lines:

Life is hard.

Love is hard.

Money, fame, and beauty doesn’t make life easier.

That is really what she is trying to say in between her anger. The first thing I really thought about when I finished the album, was whether it was therapeutic for her? Was it part of her healing and recovery? Not to mention a lyrical guide for all the other women who are dealing with similar issues in their marriages, maybe Beyoncé wanted to bring them some comfort to her struggles. To be silent no more, and talk about how crazy she felt about her situation.

But in reality, we just saw misery, the heartache was so appetizing, especially when it’s not our own, and let it be a celebrity. We were less concerned what it meant for Beyoncé and the fact that we should be happy that we got to witness it.

So you can think she has nothing to complain about, but I think it doesn’t matter how perfect we want life to be, it will never be, and when life is falling apart, you find out –  some people will revel in it, shame you for your life falling apart, and only  a few will support you in it. But you will have to walk through that journey step by step nevertheless. No one can escape it including Beyoncé .

In closing, if Beyoncé can’t talk about Feminism and she can’t talk about Black Lives Matter, what makes her unfit to talk about relationships? To often she is seen and not heard, and when she decided to share her voice candidly about her man, in a male-dominated world, it wasn’t just the men who had a problem. It was women speaking much louder as if we all don’t struggle with feeling appreciated, loved, and supported. Even the BEST man will let you down at least once. Because we are human, and no one is perfect. So stop acting like you didn’t see a little of yourself through Beyoncé’s lens.

Stop trying to brush the shame under the rug. Embrace it, and move on.

M/P

It’s Never Too Late To Decide How You Will Live

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“Like wildflowers, you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would” – E.V.

So this is the last week I will live in my 20’s and I am very excited about it. I never thought I’d feel this way at this stage in my life. From a very early age, people talk at length about not really enjoy getting older past 30, but I have no plans on turning 30 for the next ten years. I have learned so many good lessons, even the ones that make me cry when I think of how stupid I was or rather hard-headed, because I am sure someone gave me the perfect advice and I just didn’t want to follow it. It’s something special to learn from mistakes, maybe I am wrong, but I have always been a fan of learning. So going into my 30’s, I kind of feel like it’s the first day of school, and as I’ve mentioned before, I was excited about every single first day of school. There was no exception. For three simple reasons:

Something new…

                                                       Something unknown…

                                                                                               Something unexpected…

was going to happen. This is how I view the future, it’s still exciting and I am just a little more equipped. As I get older, life might not be easier, but if you allow life lessons to teach you, you get smarter or that’s the goal.

But I am not going to lie, all of this reflection comes at the same time as a couple of my favorite athletes and  I subconsciously feel as if we’re doing this together. My favorite football player retired this year, and it was announced that my favorite basketball player will be inducted into the Hall of Fame later this year. Yes, I am referring to Peyton Manning and Allen Iverson and there is definitely a connection here.  Trust me.

If you haven’t read or listened to Peyton’s retirement speech, you should, it’s definitely one of the best sports speeches of all time, but clearly I am biased. But there is something that he said towards the very end of his speech that resonates very strongly within me:

“When I look back on my NFL career, I’ll know without a doubt that I gave everything I had to help my teams walk away with a win. There were other players who were more talented but there was no one who could out-prepare me and because of that I have no regrets.(source)

I am sure there are some people who would argue about his talent level, but it is very true that very few out-prepared him and because of this he had no regrets. I am sure there are things he wished hadn’t happened, but when you give it everything you got, and it doesn’t work out, you can’t help but not have regrets. And I would have to argue that is the way to live. There are definitely experiences that give me a little anxiety when I think of them, but I don’t regret them. How can I? Our experiences and mistakes make us unique, but as we get older it is harder to live this way, with no regrets. There are so many external factors, such as family and friends, society or the lack of money, status or power, telling us how to live or how we should live, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Forget the milestones you haven’t hit, who decided them in the first place.

Christians often talk about having a child-like faith, we can similarly take this approach towards the way we live with an adult perspective, and this is why I am excited about gething older. I want to approach life with the heart of a child but with the experience of an adult.

So moving onto A.I. a.k.a Allen Iverson. A few weeks ago when the NBA Hall of Fame induction was announced, Iverson did a number of press interviews and his quotes also resonated with me as I contemplated the end of my 20’s.

But before we go there, we must look at life through three phases.

Phase 1:  Budding (from the beginning – from birth, new idea or new experience)

Phase 2: Maturing (the largest part of our life – This is the part where we’re really living and the most growth happens)

Phase 3: Knowing (Experienced and the time to give back – a wise savant)

Often people think of the cycle of life, or the phases of life occur in one cycle. But to me, we go through this cycle of life a couple of times in every area of our life it seems. In some areas, I am still maturing and very far from being the wise savant that I want to be and others I have already done several cycles. This happens, because even though in some areas we have learned and grown, life knocks us back down on our feet and you have to learn something completely new about something you thought you knew a whole lot about (i.e. being laid off from a job, lost a loved one and learning to live without them, etc.)

I thought Allen Iverson described this best while fighting back tears about becoming a Hall of Famer:

“It’s hard to be a Hall of Famer, I had to fight, I fell, got back up,  fell, got back up, fell, got back up, it’s still going on in my life right now”  (source)

This is the cycle of life that is real. You fight. You fall, but you get back up. And at this point in life, I am very comfortable with living with this cliché. Because some cliques are just freaking true. More over, for those who are unfamiliar with Allen Iverson, he was known for one thing in particular, something I consider most important in life – heart.

Sports commentators we’re surprised when Allen Iverson, a mere 6’0” would compare himself to the likes of LeBron James and others in today’s league, but it was all about the heart:

“Their heart…and the way they compete… The fight in them. That’s why I would say LeBron. LeBron ain’t got none of my game, but his heart is all mine.” (source)

And LeBron only seconded what Iverson said, by stating that while he was not able to take any part of his game from Allen Iverson, he was inspired by his will:

“I watch Jordan more than anybody for sure. But I’ll watch tapes of A.I., too. I don’t take anything from A.I.. Well, I do — his will. They say he was 6 feet, but A.I. was like 5-10½. Do we even want to say 160? 170 [pounds]? Do we even want to give him that much weight? And he played like a 6-8 2-guard. He was one of the greatest finishers we’ve ever seen. You could never question his heart. Ever. He gave it his all.” (source)

So as I enter into the land of 30, I find myself with the same child-like feelings of giving it my all, even when the cards are stacked up against me, but at least in a more slightly thoughtful manner. This is why I am excited. I have learned to say no, one of the hardest parts of growing up for me, so that I can continue to be excited, and passionate for the things I love, to have time to lead with my heart. So more than anything, I want YOU to stop and think about whether you have decided to live the way you want to live or are you only living by how you think you should live. It’s never too late to decide to act differently…. don’t be afraid to fly.

M/P