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…

How Do You Decide?

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Choices, choices and more choices surrounded by decisions, decisions, and more decisions amidst a complicated landscape of relationships. My mind is overwhelmed as my time is limited yet the thought of sharing and giving remains an innate part of my overall being. Thus, the desire to connect in some type of way (apparently I’m feeling some type of way) is continually vying for my attention and demanding I take action. All actions will result in reactions.

Therefore, how do I decide?

Relationships are a mutha; let alone our relationships with our kids, parents, siblings, friends, etc. Yet, our makeup as human beings relies heavily on our ability to create relationships and sustain them. When you think about it – it is a very selfish act. The intended result is to satisfy the bubbling need to connect which is within all of us. Of course, you are free to live a nomadic or reclusive life and rid yourself of any true human connection.

Most of us don’t want to be reclusive – or alone. Therefore, we find ways in which we connect through church, extracurricular activities, and other social functions. Upon connecting we develop and nurture a relationship with another individual hoping for great things to come. And ultimately we sustain a long lasting relationship in which we can look back over time and proudly reflect on the journey it took to achieve that pinnacle. I imagine a Gandhi like figure sitting atop the mountain overlooking a serene and beautiful valley while mind, body, and spirit are one with God.

But before I become so Gandhi-like, I still need to decide, make a choice; take action as it relates to engaging in a meaningful relationship.

So here’s where I become creative and design a process (I know, it’s so “business” talk).

  1. Be deliberate in my actions and desires. This method is very Neanderthal-like; I knock you on the head with my club, throw you over my shoulder, and wander off into the sunset heading for my cave. A bit outdated (and quite illegal) but the intended result is achieved.
  2. I sit back and wait for a line to form as women anticipate meeting me… (crickets, crickets) Yeah, this has a very low probability for success but nonetheless, it’s an option.
  3. I can always let the chips fall as they may. There is absolutely no control in this method and I leave it all to the “universe” to guide me. What happens if the universe says “No RELATIONSHIP for you!?” (In my Nazi Soup Kitchen voice.)
  4. I can devise a very scientific approach to understanding the landscape of choices and then act on those choices very methodically. Oh, wait, eHarmony and Match.com have the patent on this method.
  5. Pray my way into a relationship. Somehow, I see this as very similar to #3 above, but this “universe” is a true serving God. However, other complications can be debated with this method (religious beliefs, science, etc.)

Finally, as I sit back and think about these methods to become engaged in a relationship the fog clears from my head and I listen to the voice directing me – be still my child. I come to the realization that I can’t force the magic of a relationship but I should anticipate its ability to be present when I least expect it. During this time my focus becomes inward as I rid myself of the skeletons and complexities I’ve created to become a renewed man. This I can live with.

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.

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.

My Non-Bucket List (or Things I will Never Do In My Lifetime)

Ah, life, filled with such joys, mysteries, and pleasantries. I want to get out more and more these days and enjoy these moments as I have become wiser with age. My eyes have experienced many things, my ears have heard the essence of beautiful music, and my senses have been brought to life because of my surroundings; therefore, I thought it would be good for me to reflect on some things that I promise myself I will never do at this stage of life. You do with your life as you desire, as for me, these following things will never make it in my book of life upon its completion.

  1. Become the next RAP/Hip Hop sensation – I’m quite certain I missed my calling back when I owned my beatbox, 2 turntables and a microphone. Sad to know I sold them at my garage sale.
  2. Skydiving – naw, I’m good here. Even if I live to be the ripe old age of 100 I will not have any desire.
  3. Eating deep-fried grasshoppers – really?? Do I even need to explain?
  4. Visiting Liberia – well, unless I join the missionary.
  5. Discovering nano-nuclear energy – technically I can still do this, but I’m having too much fun avoiding school at this juncture.
  6. Shooting zombies – I think I would get great pleasure blasting some zombies but what if it was someone I knew, like the guy I’m friends with in Accounting? I hope it doesn’t come to that because I’m sure he’d still remember the screwed up financials I provided him. My bad dog.
  7. Bungee jump off a bridge in the Amazon jungle – see Skydiving explanation above.
  8. Become a Texan – not even sure how this could be remotely possible, albeit it this is one thing that COULD very well occur given my employment. I’m just not cut out for wearing cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, and a cotton shirt with a big ass Texas flag across the front. Oh brother.
  9. Time travel – I know many of us are waiting for Marty’s return to the future but I’m guessing most of my generation will not see time travel come to fruition. Besides, who wants to end up like Jeff Goldbloom in “The Fly?” That would suck.

Yes, I know my list is fairly exhaustive and of course anything can happen. I won’t necessarily count these things completely out but I am 99.99% sure they won’t happen; although, I can really see myself as a shining rap star – kind of a cross between Kanye and Jay-Z perhaps? Only time will tell but don’t hold your breath waiting for it.

The 2003 Cubs Collapse as a Microcosm of Life

I was thinking, as I always do and it usually lands me in hot water, about the 2003 Cubs and how the resulting Steve Bartman interference caused the impending doom of the team to reach the World Series. Everything unraveled in such a way that it was like watching a train wreck – you couldn’t take your eyes off of it and you knew the ending was not going to be pretty. And today is that infamous anniversary of this train wreck.

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However, the biggest issue surrounding this collapse was blaming Bartman for starting the butterfly effect. We’ll never know whether it was Bartman or not but humans are notorious for blaming (me included). And it is a very difficult task to overcome. To refresh your memory; Bartman reaches out for a foul ball as most baseball fans would’ve done – this causes fan interference – runs score and the Cubs lose the game – the next game the Cubs lose again – no World Series. This was further complicated as the Cubs were up 3 games to 2. So close and yet…

So what about life? If an action I take sets some mystical aura in motion that then has an impact on your life am I truly the conduit for the change / impact to your life or am I merely a part of the process? If we were predestined to follow the paths we do in life (unbeknownst to us) then is it really my fault for setting in motion those events that change your life? Or is it just life and your ability to deal with the changes?

Many of us will say it’s our inability to accept the changes that we are dealt and we should be stronger in doing so. Yet, we don’t truly believe this for ourselves because we continue to assert blame in various ways.

We blame the President for a bad economy although the motions for a bad economy were ever looming. Wives blame husbands for their discontent when it might be more to the matter. Children blame parents for the way in which they behave. Nations blame nations for tragic and unfortunate circumstances impacting their individual citizens.

In some cases the responsibility clearly lies with the firestarter – such as Hitler where we can all agree he was the culprit. Yet, life is full of choices. The choice to follow someone like a Hitler. Or another example is slavery. Many blacks were forced to come over on slave ships. And we all agree there is some blame for the African-American’s plight to overcome. Yet, many people feel that by now blacks should’ve already overcome. Take responsibility. Yet, there were so many other elements to add into the history and mix that make this almost an impossible scenario to accept the singularly responsible trigger.

So we stay hypocritical in aspects of life in which we can relate and we stand resolute on our beliefs in other circumstances where we do not comprehend. We are complex individuals no doubt, but ultimately it comes down to choice. And the choices we make can be deadly (to ourselves or families), might be wrong (Sarah Palin as a running mate), or cause more madness about us. But we do have to accept that our responsibility in all this does matter and has unseen consequences.

Are you willing to totally accept your own responsibility and the butterfly effect you have on life or are you still prone to think other individual’s actions are the reason you are where you are in life with mountaining barriers to overcome? The choice is yours, but choose you must. Good luck with that.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Greatness Abounds in All of Us

Derek Jeter’s recent act towards retirement ended in his game winning walk-off homerun. This was an amazing act almost to the script of his career. He will go down as one of the best shortstops in the history of Major League Baseball (MLB). All the while I thought to myself – that’s nice, but each of us has some greatness or great moment within us. Yes we do!

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Whether you had your great moment when you were a teen or you are 80 greatness must be available for everyone. God wouldn’t have it any other way.

I can’t imagine there is no one on this Earth that presumes they don’t have it in them. I would challenge each and every one of us whether this to be true.

I don’t write this just to instill positivity in your day, which is easy to do when you are pumping up individuals concerning greatness, but it is the truth. I want my kids to understand their ability to be great. I want my nieces and nephews to know that they are great. I want my cousins and friends to realize the greatness in them.

Greatness is not reserved just for the likes of Derek Jeter. It is available and recognized for all.

And when you build on that great moment as Jeter has his entire career you come away with greatness beyond measure. A beautiful thing when you are paving your own road of life. But you don’t stop at one moment of greatness, although it is nice to reflect, but you catapult yourself to the next. Then to the next moment, and so on and so on until you look back and you smile at all of the great things you have accomplished. There is nothing wrong with admiring the road you traveled. It was YOUR road and YOU deserve to reflect on how you made. Some might even say, “Glory to God!” for the path they took.

Do not sell yourself short of your greatness. Do not boast about your ability to be great. Do not expect greatness to just appear in your life. You…just do it. (Sorry Nike, the phrase fit well.)

Greatness will follow the hard work you put in. It will show up at your doorsteps when you least expect it. It will follow you in life if you dedicate yourself to doing what is right.

And now, as I prepare my kids for school and life I am reminded of their opportunities for greatness. I am only here to clear the paths and allow them to be. They have already done some great things at their young ages, thus, we can all look back and tie these moments together creating a collective string of greatness. In the end they will appreciate their accomplishments and will hopefully continue to build on them.

Therefore, take this as encouragement for yourself – even if you don’t need it – but go out and be great.

Go well and with love good peeps.

BFFs For Real!

Best Friends Forever – or something like that. Regardless, the truth of the matter is the meaning of true friends.

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When I recently met with an old friend (of course we are both young at heart) I could not imagine the feelings I would have as we shared in conversation. We talked and laughed and both had a general appreciation for our friendship. Our conversations picked up just where we had left them almost two years ago since last seeing one another face to face. Having a connection such as ours is special especially in this microwave age in which we live.

Therefore, it made me think and appreciate those BFFs in my life. I can imagine we all have those “ride-or-die” types that will be there regardless of where we are in our life’s journey. Think about what makes that friend special; it can be the simplest of things or actions to the more complex.

  • As for me, those moments of understanding come into play. Having an understanding of one another and how we have gone through life and the journey we each faced.
  • Providing some level of support always makes a great friend. When you turn around and there is no one else to turn to there is that friend who is willing and capable to provide support when all else seems lost.
  • A friend is a person showing a genuine level of appreciation for who you are. While we all have our hang-ups and bizarre nuances it is a treasure when we can connect with another person that still appreciates our personality and quirks. It is not always the easiest thing to do thus we should cherish this effort when we recognize it.
  • Living life to the fullest can include having fun. When you connect with a good friend you have a ton of fun – however fun is defined for you – but usually you all share a similar definition of fun that is recognized and appreciated by both. It is a welcoming experience.
  • Our desire to connect is strong outweighing the highs and lulls of life. Whether we experience down time from friends as life’s activities dictate (family, career, schooling, etc.) we can always find our ways back to common ground as we reconnect. Reconnecting is the great part. This is what brings value to our lives.

Living in this age of social mediums and instant communications we have a tendency to take our friendships for granted. We don’t purposely do this we just develop a sense of instant response and gratification – but we don’t put as much value on the long term emotional connection created with our friends as we should. I for one recognize this with my friends and I routinely attempt to call myself out to show my appreciation and support. I may not be the most together person at times but I can honestly say my heart is genuine. And I am happy that my BFFs recognize this within me and continue to call me BFF.

Go well and with love good peeps.