Son Don’t Let these Streets Get You (A letter to my boy)

The seduction of tight-ass bitches twerking under bright lights as you make it rain hundreds can make any lil homie have a desire for the streets. Dope cars, dope chains, dope clothes, and swag like no other. The Hip Hop music is on fleek! Fast life as you cruise down the street bumping the hottest beats.

Yeah, it’s enticing, but it ain’t worth it son.

My love for you won’t allow me to let you stray into an environment that will make you a statistic. I won’t be responsible for your slide into a life full of risk with only quick rewards. I know you may not understand at this time but please trust me when I tell you. My father said the same thing to me as I’m saying to you “Don’t hang with street-walkers cause nothing good comes from that.”

I realize my conservative life style may not appear as sexy or fly or whether I have swag but I still know best. I only know best because I’ve seen many things in all my years on this earth. Therefore, I want to impart this wisdom onto you so you do not have to experience all of the pitfalls life will throw at you. Make a choice to avoid them. Life can and should be beautiful – all of the parts coming together like a well-played symphony.

The allure of the almighty dollar will not allow me to see you fall to the streets. I’d rather be a poor son-of-a-bitch with a lifetime of non-material riches than to die young or live an empty existence. Or to have my life interrupted by a prison system that is unfavorable to people like us.

I pray that you hear my voice as I make this public plea to you at an age where you may not quite understand all of the pressures you will face down the road. We live in a different era these days and it may not be the kindest to you.

I get it… I’m not ignorant of what is out there and how you might believe you are doing what you have to do as you might struggle with the balance act of being a stand-up guy but not looking like a punk. I hear the music and agree that we have very good music these days that has evolved over time. But do know we are living in an over-sexed period and it may have longer term detriments than advantages. Resisting these temptations is what will mold the man I want you to become.

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One day it will all make sense – what I am spouting off to you. I need to lay the ground work today so that you will have a future tomorrow. It is my role and obligation as your father to enlighten you. We should always be learning from one generation to the other. My lesson for today is to show you how much I love you by exposing you to the harsh truths of life.

I look forward to our time together in the years to come. I look forward to sitting with you and having a beer with you and listening to you as you spout off knowledge from your own experiences. And God willing, we’ll make it to that day together.

Go well and with love good peeps…

You Are Valued

Words or phrases like self-worth, value, confidence, or “knowing thy self” all kind of relate in a similar way. These words or phrases are the cornerstone of our being and drive us to become what we become in life. They take us to higher planes of emotional aptitude and give us a light that others recognize and value.

But what if you have lost your way and feel you have no value?

What if a boss is terrorizing you and chopping you down every chance they get? Or a boyfriend or girlfriend that doesn’t see your value in the relationship and they begin to treat you like dirt? Or you’ve become “dead weight” to your family because of broken promises or instabilities that got the best of you?

Well I’m here to tell you none of that really matters. None whatsoever and it should not keep you from sleeping at night.

In the words of NWA – F* them muthaf*ers!

Value is found everywhere on God’s green Earth. Value can be found from the sands of Lake Michigan to the shores of the Ivory Coast. A mosquito buzzing through a Louisiana swamp has value. A grain of grass deep in the Everglades of Florida has value. A cloud floating overhead on a warm summer day has value. And all people have value. Life is worth living.

It may not feel like your life has some value during difficult times – we’ve all been there. But it does and it usually takes a life-shaking moment to wake some of us up again in believing we are worthy. I truly hate hearing someone declare another that they are worthless. And I, too, have been on this side of the equation – not feeling someone had any worth to me. Unfortunately anger and resentment can cause us to feel a certain way and needlessly or uncharacteristically lash out at others. The recent Baltimore riots are indicative of this devaluing of self. And we need to stop!

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Most often a value of an object is merely man deciding the object has value, thereby raising the object to a level of subjectivity based on the popularity of the object. But I declare the object had value before man came along to provide his stamp of approval. The trick to recognizing our value in life is to cut out the noise of the haters and know that our self-worth is not based on how many Facebook or Instagram “likes” we receive.

So many relationships lose value because the individuals have decided there is no value. A decision that can damage the psyche of one or both parties involved in the split. Unfortunately, it may take some time to repair the psyche from a broken relationship; however, I say again, neither person lost any value for which they have. Their decision to claim the relationship no longer had any meaning was an affront to stop trying.

Next time you are walking down the street and eye that homeless person remember they too have value. Or if you spy that angry kid that is always getting in trouble take a moment to help him or her see the value in themselves. Also, know that your dick of a boss might be going through something because they are not feeling valued. Let them know they are valued.

If we all felt valued every day think what kind of world we would build. We could build a utopian society indeed.

Go well and with love good peeps.

End of the World Series: Chivalry Just Died

And now, for something completely different…did you hear about the old lady that couldn’t open the door and the young man who walked in before her? Yep, neither did I because the old lady is still waiting by the door.

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And so it begins the dismantling of our civilization.

A recent study (Chivalry is dead) claims to prove that acts of chivalry are nothing more than sexism in wolf’s clothing.

WTF?? Wayaminute. Hold up. Wacha’ talkin’ bout Willis?

Before I completely crushed this report I thought I should take a moment and understand where it was coming from. And frankly, the good doctor might be onto something (or on something). And it does seem to be a lost art in terms of the acts of Chivalry.

In today’s competitive landscape, the denigration of social norms, and explosion of divorce our society is taking a turn for the worse when it comes to holding onto antiquated traditions. Equality is something to strive for but where do we draw the line to separate the grey when good manner’s stray into manipulative behavior? Or is there any way to distinguish the two?

I have been an old school individual for all my life. I enjoy opening doors, paying for dates, fixing light bulbs, etc. But I recognize the conundrum created because of these acts. What if a woman thinks I’m only opening the door to “check her out?” What if I expect the woman to pay for her own meal while on a date? Why can’t a woman change her own tire? These are the things that can take this conversation from kindness to sexist in mere seconds.

If women want to be equal – and again they should be – then they should experience partaking in those small dilemmas that are mostly attributed to men. And if women want to be equal then they should pay for a date occasionally or propose to a man. Is there really anything wrong with forcing our women’s hands to get dirty by doing the dirty work?

But I am a fairly kind individual and I still believe in kindness and chivalry. I feel good when I can be of good service for a woman. It makes me feel valuable at times when I fix a tire of a damsel in distress. (Yes, I know that sounds sexist.) I appreciate a woman that can cook like my mother. Apparently, these gestures I do are making me out to a benevolent sexist according to the report. Should I accept this behavior as such or refute it?

Conversations such as these make me long for the days when I was a child. My toughest decisions were deciding on which park to play in or whether to use my bat and ball or my friend’s for the cross-neighborhood baseball game. I only worried about getting home as the street lights came on and wondered what mama cooked for dinner. I was afraid of catching cooties from the cutie next door but I recognized how butterflies grew in my stomach as I spoke to her. There was no thought of sexism, racism, hatrism, or any other ism. My thoughts felt pure and life felt grand.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Relax and Let it Flow

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Some days you just want to sit somewhere in silence. You merely want to observe the beauty around you and absorb it like a sponge. You allow your mind to relax your and allow thoughts to enter. Thoughts about anything and everything. Your problems. Your solutions. Your desires. Your needs. Your loves.

And once you allow these thoughts to overtake your emotions you may cry. You might laugh at the thought of your child’s crazy antics. You may feel saddened by the loss of a loved one. Or perhaps you are overwhelmed with a high pressure job. But you can’t help that the thoughts overtake you. And you find yourself letting out emotions that grew like weeds in the crevices of your most inner thoughts as they consumed your psyche over a period of time. It happens. Let it happen.

Then you bring your mind back to the current moment. You let out a big sigh of relief. It is this moment the healing can begin. Life is going to hand us challenges, how we manage those challenges is up to us but it is always best to exercise your mind so that you might become stronger as you deal with life’s challenges. Finding the right place where you can allow the magic to occur is key.

I have found my place now go find yours.

Go well and with love good peeps.

I’m In Love with the Coco!

Imagine hearing your young kids, gleefully, energetically and with gusto singing a Hip-Hop song with the title above. Imagine them laughing innocently to the parody YouTube videos showing people drinking cocoa, snorting cocoa, or doing other things with cocoa. Now think about how catchy the tune might be and how it might stick in your mind. Shortly you might find yourself humming and singing, “I’m in love wit da coco!” while you are be-bopping your head like Jay-Z. [Coco Video]

And then you realize what the song is about. And the light-bulb goes on.

Now you think, “Uh-oh.”

This happened to me. However, before I impulsively jumped on the hypocrite bandwagon declaring that all Hip-Hop and Rap music is from the Devil and that our young people are doomed, I caught myself thinking back to my youth recalling songs where drugs were either explicitly or implicitly cited. And lo and behold a number of songs came flooding back into my memory without me having to Google the subject.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll…and Hip-Hop…and Country…etc.

So here is my simple list of songs that came to mind for me:

  • Cocaine – Eric Clapton
  • Got to Get You Into My Life – The Beatles
  • Molly – Tyga
  • Flying High Again – Ozzy Ozbourne
  • Pusherman – Curtis Mayfield
  • White Lines – Grand Master Flash
  • White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
  • Purple Haze – Jimmy Hendrix

And a whole bunch from the Red Hot Chili Peppers!

I am not only familiar with these songs but I know most of them by heart. Some of the songs are older and others more current. There are a variety of genres and artists. And, of course, they are not all Hip-Hop. Drug songs.

Thus, it’s easy to look down on certain classes of people based on our own experiences, but this is one area where we don’t have to look any further than the mirror before we judge. And what is even more interesting is how musicians have been singing about drugs for a long time – even before Rock & Roll. We all have some accountability in this as we have bought the records, tapes (8 track or cassette), CDs, etc.

More importantly, as we get older and have the tendency to frown upon such songs (admit it, you do) and artist we find ourselves recalling the very same type of song from our own childhoods. The conundrum we find ourselves is perplexing – what example are we showing our youth?

In my case, fortunately my kids are still too young to understand what the song is about – although I’m sure someone will blurt it out at some point. I can either get ahead of this potential situation or I can be ready to address it after the fact. At some point I have to address it.

But right now I just enjoy the innocence in which they operate and I wish I could freeze the moment. Heaven knows what I will be dealing with after they realize the nature of the song. Sigh.

Now go have yourself a hot-cocoa and enjoy the music.

Go well and with love good peeps.

You See Red, I See Blue

Irreconable, irreconcievable, irrecon…IRRECONCILABLE!

That’s the word I was searching for! Yes, it is that moment when you can no longer relate to that other person in your life – be it a spouse, a friend, family member or whomever. It is coming to grips with a thought process that may have taken time to mature and eventually accept but you understand where it stems from. It comes from a place that has taken all of your personal experiences over your years of living with the attempt to mesh them with another human being’s experiences in which none of those thoughts are shared between you. It is the absolute discovery of relating – or not relating.

I love sports but you do not and therefore we just can’t have the conversations I have about sports.

It becomes obvious after a while that what we communicate about is entirely out of sync. Many times this is to no one’s fault it is simply how we are wired. I can’t help that I abhor fashion and completely hate shopping. I mean, seriously, how many pairs of shoes can one own? Or I see you are not interested in technology but I’m a geek.

There we are sitting quietly on opposite ends of the room with nothing to say and nothing in common. Our eyes barely gaze at one another because of these differences. We can’t muster up conversation and the air around us becomes tense. With an outburst one of us declares, “I can’t take this anymore! The silence is deafening.”

And so the road to irreconcilable differences begins.

But is it really so formulaic? If it is, is it preventable? Is this a giant snowball we can prevent from escalating merely by recognizing and dealing with the avalanche that occurred to create it?

Or is it merely the way we are wired? A life-long event of equipping us with our desires, turn-offs, our wants, politics, religion (or lack thereof) and needs that fashions us as to who we are? If this is the case we only would hang with those we have things in common with. We would find ourselves drifting to others like us. We would have the tendency to be among those most like us and those that can relate to who we are. Hmm, don’t we already do this and how’s it working out? Maybe we recognize that it isn’t merely searching out for others like us but that we are formed by others in their image.

How would we ever overcome this conundrum? A weird cycle of Catch-22 is initiated when the repetitive life-cycle is repeated generation after generation, time after time, never allowing evolution to take hold and catapult us to another level.

I say “Stop it then!” Don’t allow our differences and our comforts get the best of us. Don’t allow the negativity of irreconcilability seep into our psyche’s and mess up the most advantageous paths our lives can take. Don’t take away our life’s potential or our children’s lives potential with an inadequate substitute due to our challenges to communicate. We should be thinking positively before we step down these negative paths. We need to understand fully what the future might hold as we embrace this life of irreconcilability.

For now, I will like many others come to the conclusion that life may bring me to a dead end and there is no other alternative for reconciliation – therefore thrusting me into a different direction than previously thought. Hope is not lost but the path will change. I just hope this path has the potential as my previous path.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Deflate-Gate and the American Way

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It’s all good until you get busted. What harm is a lil white lie? What if I just bust Nancy on her kneecap taking her out of the Championship Skating routine? What harm is it if I drive at 60 in a 55?

All the above is what we do to gain an advantage or to discredit another. Ultimately it’s all about us. Therefore, the little lies and cheating we do on a daily basis all in the name of self-preservation are acceptable, right?

Yes, of course they are justified. We all can’t be Mother Theresa.

The truth is, whether the New England Patriots altered the air in the footballs or the footballs were sabotaged, many of us try to push the envelope of honesty and integrity. We all try to find ways to gain a competitive edge in what we do whether it be work, sports, or other things. Most of the time we hope many of these, ahem, questionable practices go unnoticed. We definitely hope not to go to jail or be fined for our discretion. Yet, we continue to do it.

You can’t handle the truth!

Probably not. If there are Aliens walking among us I’m not sure I want to know that truth. Or if I dated a she that used to be a he then I’d rather go to my grave not knowing. But if our actions are purely self-preservation then I think the truth has a more relevant place in our lives than not.

I attempt to carry myself in a way that I can be proud. I have always been wired this way. I try not to judge someone who does not but it remains a challenge. Ultimately, if you are unethical or somewhat dishonest in the decisions you make then you should own up to those things. I do drive over the speed limit. I understand the risk by doing this and I accept it. That does not make it right either. Therefore, shame on me.

Own up to those questionable instances where you are not as forthcoming. Or is this just human nature and we cannot overcome these things unless we lived in a Utopian society? If this is the case then it does sound like a cop-out. And if it is a cop-out who do we have to blame? And who decides what white lies are acceptable?

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Our dilemma as a society is we live in a world where people are less willing to take responsibility, people are constantly pushing the limits to fairness and equality, and many of us are driven by doing things that can be interpreted as ethically questionable. However we choose to live our lives we only have to accept the truth – and that’s how we each decide to live out our own lives. Only God will judge us.

But make sure you just don’t get caught.

Go well and with love good peeps.

I Have No More Campaigns to Run…

(heckling in the background)…”I know ‘cause I won both of ‘em.”

You’re damn straight Mr. President! Now hopefully you can just focus on your job and add to the successes you are already laying in place.

It continues to amaze me how hypocritical people can be. We are told as kids to obey the authorities yet hecklers in Congress have the audacity to attempt to belittle the most powerful man on the planet – the POTUS.

I guess he told them to just STFU. Well isn’t that special? (Spoken in my Church Lady voice)

I can’t remember in my lifetime how a sitting president was heckled and ridiculed by the masses so much. President Ford comes to mind but it was more for his clumsiness than his politics (which I hear were just as clumsy).

Allow me to get on my political soapbox once again to stir the pot of positivity for the job our POTUS has done over the past six years. Lest I remind you and take you back to that dark time six years ago as markets crashed, housing crashed, jobs were lost, war raged, and profits fell. Those dark times as America fell on hard times as the public became wary of the future and other countries began to question our leadership.

World markets collapsed, we in America were experiencing one of the largest recessions since the Great Depression of the 1920’s, and nobody seemed to have a clear vision on how were going to get out of this mess.

Then along came a message of HOPE.

Yes, it seemed cliché at the time and may have even been a bit politicized. However, there was a true hopefulness in the air as we witnessed history as America elected its first non-White leader. While race should not be the only thing to hang our hats, and best believe if you believe it was with this president you are fooling yourself, but the idea that we all can have a chance at success.

Selling belief and hope – that’s what we were buying six years ago.

Here we are today. We can’t help but witness some facts and numbers about the success of President Obama’s tenure and how we have overcome those dark days of 2008. We can ignore or interpret these facts all we want but the truth is out there – as Agent Mulder would say.

The bottom line is this:

  1. The POTUS has taken more abuse than any other president in history – especially with the help of technology and Social Media.
  2. The POTUS is still seen as a Black man – even though he is of mixed race.
  3. The POTUS has had to jump through hoops to prove his value.
  4. The POTUS is a “bad mutha…”

I do hope we get beyond the name calling, disrespect, and general hate aimed toward the president or anyone that looks like him. I pray that our country ultimately comes together in support of the direction the president is taking us. And I still remain hopeful that his legacy will be recognized upon his exit from office. He, like others, has made mistakes but know that he has a different set of challenges facing him unlike any other past president – and it is because the color of his skin.

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Oh well, in three more years we might be welcoming the first female president of the United States. Stranger things have happened in my lifetime. #HillaryClinton

Go well and with love good peeps…

The Struggles within Our Black Boxes

Recently a friend of mine relayed to others about the black box we all possess – our brains. And the fact that this black box does not see the day of light, does not smell or hear sounds, and is reliant on the rest of our bodies to maintain our entire being – it controls all we do. The brain receives information from all of our senses and helps to interpret the cold and cruel world around us. So what happens when our minds cannot function properly because it is mired in confusion, depression, and sadness? It can drive us to tragedy.

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Who knows what’s going on inside our black box – no one, unless we are willing to share what is occurring. We all know of the struggles that might occur and we continue to turn a blind eye for those in need. Children might cry out in pain and we are quick to dismiss their feelings by saying “toughen up.” We make excuses about bad decisions and expect others to absorb these decisions without hesitation – this creates a backlog of pent-up aggression or depression.

Our minds are so powerful yet so vulnerable. An idle mind is the Devil’s playground as believed by those within the Christian faith.

And maybe it is.

And maybe an active mind is also the Devil’s playground – instilling terrible thoughts that lead us to a path of destruction. The inputs of broken marriages, promises, dreams, etc., contribute to the challenges we all face. And some individuals are better equipped to deal with these challenges compared to others.

“So why does that matter to me” you might ask?

It should matter – as a member of this planet.

It should matter as a human being. We should all take some responsibility to help assist others in need. We should work to recognize the subtle signals people in need might be telegraphing. We should act on these impulses to ensure others are afforded the same care and guidance we can possibly provide.

We should care for one another. Period.

I for one strive to do better, be better, act better, and provide better. Not because it gives me a first place in line at the pearly gates of Heaven but because it is the right thing to do.

I challenge all of you to do that which is right. I challenge you to live a life caring for one another. And I challenge each of you to reach out to others in need. In the long run it can only make this planet a better place to live and you never know who you might help.

Go well and with love good peeps.

National Institute of Mental Health 

My 2014 Year in Review…

I survived.

That’s pretty much it. I made it through. I didn’t croak, end up on America’s Most Wanted or beaten down by a rogue cop.

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I survived.

As you become older and presumably wiser you actually look at longevity as the ultimate measure of success. No more of the foolish thoughts that I will live forever, take caution to the wind or let the chips fall as they may. Clearly life doesn’t care about my longevity or yours – death does not discriminate (although being rich has its perks in minimizing this risk I’m sure).

I survived.

As some of my brethren’s lives were snuffed out at the hands of evil individuals perpetrating as police officers I continued to live my life. As loved ones fell to disease and other ailments I found myself looking to make life changes, however, not timely enough to escape the constant hurdles of health life threw along my path. I was acutely aware of these challenges and I thought to myself, “I survived.”

I witnessed by way of CNN the peculiar disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, the capsizing of a South Korean ship claiming the lives of hundreds, the emergence of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and their terroristic ways, and the continued antics of North Korea. There was also the quiet killing of thousands along the Gaza strip as well as the collapse of the Ukrainian government.

However, I continued to survive.

I saw where we landed a probe on a comet with the joint efforts of the European Space Agency [ESA]. Meanwhile, while the country was in an uproar over domestic violence and child abuse Bill Cosby was about to be crucified for past indiscretions (rightfully so). The world kept an eye on America’s racial divide as an NBA [National Basketball Association] owner was booted out of that exclusive club. The Ebola virus was on the verge of kicking off a real live (or Walking Dead) Apocalyptic future – thank God it did not come to fruition.

Yet, I still managed to survive.

Germany was out winning the World Cup after a long absence and celebrations ensued across the globe. Sochi’s Winter Olympics proved climate changes are real as experts continued to warn of global warming albeit to pessimistic minds. The popularity of the 2014 Super Bowl continued to thrive as the world watched Bruno Mars croon his way across the stage. My thoughts drifted to an upcoming baseball season proving to be a farewell tour for DerekJeter.

And I was still surviving.

Same sex marriages prevailed across the land. Pot smokers rejoiced as prohibitions for recreational uses were lifted in two states. People came and went in and out of my life. I endured challenges of health and wellness while the Affordable Care Act and the State Exchanges became operational. I had the pleasure of watching my kids grow another year and I laughed and cried with family and friends. I sat back and reflected on 2014 and through this I thought…

I made it. I survived yet again and for that I am thankful.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Check out CNN’s Year End Review for further information.