Things My Dad Never Did

Recently I experienced some venom targeted my way and luckily I dodged it by my wit. It was nothing major, just the same ole “people-only-know-you-by-what-you-post” kind of nonsense. While some of what we post reveals a little about our personalities it is necessary to take a deeper dive into our lives to truly understand who we are as individuals…and as a society.

Thus, I started thinking about who I am and compared it to how I was raised. However, parents for people of my generation, especially our fathers, did not have the same things to contend with during their days of parenting. Society has changed so much that the norms of today may appear foreign for an entire generation. God only knows what the norms will be a generation from now.

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And so I decided to write some notes to capture the spirit of my thoughts. These notes detail some of the things my father never dealt with as he and my mother (in the same household no less) raised me and my siblings:

  1. Texting – the closest thing to my dad having used a text message back in the day was…NOTHING! I guess you can’t really call smoke-signals coming from his angry head as texting but that was pretty close. Usually his voice could carry across the neighborhood to grab my attention. While texting is very useful these days it doesn’t give much in the way of tone UNLESS I TYPE IN CAPS or use Emoticons. (When did this become a word? When it showed up in Wikipedia?)
  2. Working from Home – Many of today’s businesses are allowing folks to WFH. Keep in mind, it might appear to be for the benefit of the employee but not-so-fast…I’m using up my electricity with the air blasting, I don’t engage in water cooler conversations (unless it’s FB beef – see # 6 below), and I have to make my own lunch. Argh, the struggles I endure.
  3. Be a Stay at Home Dad – There were only a few men who actually admitted to being stay-at-home-dads back in the day. It’s commendable so don’t get it twisted, it just wasn’t practiced nor was it embraced. I do welcome the time I am allowed to hang with my kids while they struggle in the comforts of luxury and modern technology. #privilegedlivesthesedays
  4. Take a Selfie – Colin Powell admitted he was the first to take a self-proclaimed-selfie with a Polaroid (see picture above) and I can’t even imagine my dad (or other dads) doing such an act. The times have changed – and I’m certain the egos have not.
  5. Deal with petty shit – Did I ever see my father deal with petty shit? Not to my knowledge. Usually he would say something grumpy or down right indignant and leave it there. No room for pettiness in the old world. #pettypatty #politicalcorrectness
  6. Get into an internet (or public) IG, FB, TWITTER, beef – There were probably some good brawls that I was never privy to as a kid. But I can respect a good ass kicking every so often, up to a certain age. But nowadays you get into sissy-like confrontations hiding behind a GUI screen while in the security of your home. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
  7. Get divorced – Granted, marriage ain’t for everyone, nor can every couple stand the test of time. My parents have been married for a gazillion years and they’ve made the best of it. Right, wrong, bad, or indifferent they committed like many others did and they worked through their differences. Nice job parental units. Good luck with this to my Gay and Lesbian fellow human beings.

These are just a few things that come to mind about how my life differs from my dad. Not saying it’s better or worse, it’s just…different.

Now ‘scuse me while I get into a beef about Hillary vs Trump. It’s funner this way.

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Go well and with love good peeps.

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.

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.