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.

If you’re Sexy and You Know it Clap Your Hands

Yes, women have heard it time and time again. Many men have uttered it time and time again. And most everyone believes it to some degree – I’m just too sexy!

But can we be real for a moment? I mean, not ignore facts and truth? Okay, great, then here it goes…

YES, you are ALL SEXY!  (In your own right, anyway)

Therefore, I’d like to take a moment and describe sexy for me – feel free to create your own list if you’d like.

  1. I love your curves – big or small – curves is where it’s at. And if you don’t have curves don’t fret because the smallest of curves emanates sexy.
  2. I enjoy a good, sexy stare as if you are mesmerized by me. Yes, it might be to pump up my ego but I will walk to China and back for you.
  3. When you giggle I giggle. Like a child. And it melts me.
  4. When you talk slowly and directly but in a soft tone I could listen to you until the end of time. No lie, end of time.
  5. When you walk with confidence I love to stare and revel in your aura. There is nothing sexier than a well defined strut.
  6. Women that give speeches – it combines beauty and smarts and there is nothing sexier than when the two worlds collide. The ultimate in sex appeal is how God crafted a being in this manner. Am I talking about a unicorn? Of course not, you’re real!
  7. Touch me on my chin or cheek and I will be at your command. I’m not into massages or such but when a woman knows just how to touch a man the man forgets any discomfort he has with touching. I’d be ready to cuddle with you throughout the night.
  8. Give me a big, beautiful, genuine smile and I will be yours. Forever.

All Smiles

There is nothing wrong with being sexy and we should cherish what sexy really is. It isn’t how you dress, whether you’re good in bed, or how good you can twerk, but it is your attitude starting from within. As a man I can’t get enough of the beauty women are able to display and it inspires me to be on my “A” game as well. Thus, it isn’t about how hard you have to work to please me it is how your sex appeal ignites me.

And when I am on fire I love it.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Do You Still Give Pause to 9-11?

A day that will remain embedded in our minds until we die. A day when you remember exactly what you were doing, who you were with, and how you felt as life changed forever. Those of us old enough to remember what it meant to never have been attacked on American soil prior to 9-11 can distinctly remember how our minds changed after the attack. We remember how we understood that life would never be the same and that we should not take our safety for granted.

Thus, on this day I always give pause – 13 years later. And even when I don’t want to acknowledge the day because of the horrible act bestowed upon us I can’t help but recognize the frozen moment of time in my heart and mind.

Therefore I do give pause – and thanks – and I appreciate that our nation came together under the circumstances.

As for me, I was in Aruba on vacation and it was starting out to be a lovely day. I was there with my fiance and another couple. We had just walked into the room as we saw in real time the second plane. It was surreal. Sadness and anger fell upon us as we knew we would be at war.

What followed afterwards was how the Americans in Aruba came together to provide support for one another. We were from different parts of the country, some with family members directly impacted and some not. But we came together. And that feeling alone was worth a 1000 memories. To be one.

Take a moment and pause if you will for the lives lost since that day. Take a moment and reflect on what we gave up that day in pursuit of peace. Take a moment and give thanks for every day that we can remember and are able to still live our lives. Take a moment and recognize how we are one as a community – a community of humans.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Life’s Not so Black and White Moments

Over the course of the last number of months our society has seen its share of tense conversations. These conversations should not be taken lightly but many times we find ourselves on opposite ends as we discuss our thoughts and beliefs. Beliefs that may be contradictory to your own. And I don’t presume to judge what belief is right or wrong but merely point out our very diverse thinking. Our thinking is made up of our experiences, our upbringing, where we live, where we play, our character and other influences. At some point we all merely want to be understood. Not necessarily right, just understood. Because with understanding comes acceptance.

I sometimes try to recollect those events and polarizing stories that challenge us in ways beyond comprehension. Then I try to lay them out in a way determining the significance they have on society.

My thoughts in a list:

  1. OJ – The surreal Bronco chase and then trials. Unbelievable how this segregated race to a level never before seen in my lifetime.
  2. Rodney King – Was he illegally speeding? Yes. Did the cops need to beat the crap out of him? Debatable. Did it lead to major uprisings? Unfortunately yes.
  3. The Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction – Really at some point we have to face a profound truth in our desire to do what is right. We have to be honest with ourselves to recognize our proper motives. However, not everyone has proper motives.
  4. Unrest in Ferguson, Missouri – An unarmed teenager killed by cop. Now, I could add black teenager but that should not be the focus – however, based on our own life experiences the color of his skin and treatment of individuals in the area becomes relevant to the story.
  5. Gun Control – I personally don’t have much more to say then to say “look out.” There are scary individuals that jump on a variety of bandwagons and this is one of them.
  6. Police Brutality – In general, America seems to be headed toward a very strict Police State. The police are losing the title of “To Serve and Protect” and replacing it with “Beatdown when Necessary.”
  7. Corporations as humans – Much power is given to corporations or a group of rich folk as they become more engaged with human rights. We may complain about the separation of government and religion but we allow corporations more rights, albeit under the cover, than we tend to give our own citizens.
  8. The Decline of the American Family – Divorce, people marrying later, unwed pregnancies, etc. There is a plethora of blame but not much action of fixing.

This is merely food for thought. No responses needed. No LIKEs desired. Just food for thought. Lost in all of this nonsense is our future generations. The well being of our children should be what drives us to do better.

I like to believe in humanity and that we all want what is best for the good of all of us, however, I am just a dreamer. And this dream that I dream may not come to fruition in my lifetime. But I do hold out hope.

Go well and with love good peeps.

 

Every Life Does Matter

The list…

Iraq

South and West Sides of Chicago

Ferguson, Missouri

Sandy Hook

Cairo, Egypt

Ukraine

Sanford, Florida

Syria

Gaza

and it goes on and on and on…

The life of a child matters – especially one caught up in the middle of conflicts, stereotypes, hatred and life’s pressures. Why then must we look any differently at the conflicts that surround us and arbitrarily assign blame to the victim based on our own prejudices? How do the innocent become the villains in this strange world in which we live?

When I think about all the turmoil around us I think about how do I engage God in a very divided world and I am left with no good answers. Religious conflicts, spiritual conflicts, ethnic conflicts, class conflicts, environmental conflicts.

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Where are we replacing madness with human decency and kindness? What happened to putting our children first? Where is your practice of your religion that says to love thy enemy? Or help thy neighbor?

Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Pope John Paul II….we need you.

Our souls cry for compassionate leadership. We long for days of peace and tranquility. We are all lost in this world of chaos and every now and again we are reminded of just how lost we are. Most of us only desire a world in which we can laugh, play, and enjoy the companionship of family and friends. It is a beautiful thing.

But WE CAN stop the madness. Just…Stop. Simple. Just stop it. One person at a time. Let’s remember the love Christ had for the people and believe that we can overcome – anything.

Michael Jackson sang it best “Man in the Mirror.”

Go well and with love good peeps.

Always Savannah Liebster’d Me!

Savannah’s When Nothing Goes Write questions for me:

1. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Why?  I’m aware this is two questions.

The egg clearly came first. There was this big bang and…well never mind!

2. What is the favorite blog post you have written and why?

My Day of Positivity Starts…Now!”  Any time I write with the backdrop of my kid’s images it makes me feel great. They are my most important muses and they are what keep me strong during my times of weakness. It may sound cliché but it’s true. I love my little meeces to pieces!

3. What is your favorite blog post of mine and why?

The Struggle is Real – I enjoy almost all of Savannah’s posts and they seem to put a smile on my face. I often envision having conversations about our blogs in some coffee shop in some college town. The blogs remind me of how awesome life was when I was younger and how it still can be as I have matured. Besides, that’s one helluva title!

4. What celebrity would you most like to bang?

Uh, lot’s of ’em. Am I a pig for saying that? For sure Halle Berry and Salma Hayek top my list – although Halley would be a handful in a long-term deal. But we’re only talking banging, right?

5. What is your favorite sad song?

One of my favorite sad song’s is Amarillo Sky by Jason Aldean. Yeah, I’m a black man who can appreciate a little C&W but his song really speaks to me about the struggles one goes through in life and how we continue to persevere. My life has been full of challenges thus the song speaks to me.

6. What is your job, career, or hobby?

My job is in IT – a geek of sorts, although I am a project manager. I manage projects. I make sure people do what they’re supposed to do. And then I report it. To someone. Anyone that cares.

7. If you could be anyone besides yourself, who would it be and why?

Colin Powell. Without the Republican affiliation. He is a very respectable man, seems to be very smart, and he’s even debonaire. If not Colin Powell I’d be James Bond. He gets all the chicks.

8. What is your biggest regret?

Not having kids when I was younger. I have enjoyed my offspring so much I am somewhat sad that I messed around and didn’t have them 15 years earlier. However, I am more than grateful for my kids.

9. If you could go back and change #8, how would you do it?

Nope, never, it was meant to be. If I can’t guarantee that God would provide me the two same Angels into my life at 28 I would wait till I received the same 2 Angels in my life.

10. If you could have one super power, what would it be?

Mind control. I’m not really sure why it just seems like it’d be cool. I’d pull that Jedi-mind-trick often.

11 Random Facts About Myself:

I was born in a foreign country but I’m still an American.

I am a military brat.

I had an article published in the Chicago Sun Times back in the day.

I have a third nipple. It’s very small, like a wart, but confirmed by docs. Maybe I should get it pierced.

My kids and I almost appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live – we were 1 of 4 finalists.

I had very good English teachers that pushed me to write well and express myself.

Although I seem to be an extrovert I am an introvert at heart.

I believed I would be living the American Dream at this time in my life – however, dreams are not always meant to be realized.

One night back in college I saved someone’s life. The woman didn’t realize she was about to get hit by a train as she stood too close to the tracks. I grabbed her at the last-minute, pulled her off the end of the railroad tie, she turned to me and started crying, and then I calmly walked away as the train sped by. I hope this experience left meaningful impression on her life.

I purposely gave my daughter a name that began with the initial of one of my best friends. Therefore, her initials match mine and my best friend’s last names.

I own the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer series on DVDs. I really dig Sarah Michelle Gellar. Is this weird?

Cultural Differences or Systematic Divides

I found myself stranded downtown Chicago a measly, yet, 1.5 miles away from my automobile. I was celebrating with friends having drinks and singing karaoke, and before I knew it time had flown past. Dagnabit I thought to myself, now I have to walk my ass to my car and I wasn’t looking forward to it; although it was a very pleasant August evening. I was too cheap to grab a cab and too annoyed to walk. And when I looked around at my surroundings deciding my course of action I noticed the blue and white sparkling Divvy® bike rack awaiting me. Light bulb moment, “hey, I’ll take a bike!”

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This blog is not an advertisement for Divvy® or its sponsoring company. This blog is not meant to increase ridership of the bikes or to claim how health conscious I am (which I am not). Nor is it an exploration of how these bikes became so popular in my fair city or in a neighborhood near you. Incidentally, are these bikes as popular in other parts of the country and world? Feel free to educate me.

What I noticed about these bikes is there are not as many blacks or Hispanics casually riding these bikes between convenient locations throughout the city during their hectic days. As a matter of fact, this was my first time riding the bike. And it dawned on me that I was the only African-American on a bike riding through downtown Chicago to my destination; granted it was later in the evening but there were plenty of others out on a beautiful summer night.

I was thankful for this mode of transportation when I needed it. It was easy to use and it saved me a few bucks from taking a cab. Now I can use these bikes throughout the city and make my stops and get in shape at the same time. However, there is one problem – certain neighborhoods do not have the bikes. So what gives?

Maybe the bikes wouldn’t stand a chance from theft in these not-so-desirable locations. Or maybe the citizens in these areas don’t have aspirations to ride the bikes. The bikes are cheaper than cabs but they do cost and I am talking about areas where many folks do not have much disposable income. Maybe the company isn’t marketing the bikes in these locations because of preconceived ideas (judging) about what the people in these markets want. It is a sad commentary on how our cultures differ on something as innocent as bike riding.

I do know some African-Americans and Hispanics that ride the bikes all the time. I’m sure some of my readers and friends will vehemently disagree with me, stating, “Hey I’m black and I ride the bikes!” However, most of these individual riders are in neighborhoods where bikes are located. It is very obvious when riding through the city where holes exist in providing bikes.

I hope to teach my kids that this is a nice transportation alternative. I expect others will continue to migrate towards this decent way of travel. I recognize there are some cultural differences in acceptance of the communal bikes. I hope certain communities can positively influence good ideas to other communities and allow folks to take advantage of these opportunities. It was an exhilarating feeling to ride my Divvy® bike through the city with the wind blowing in my face on a wonderful mid-summer night. Everyone should have the chance to experience this feeling.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Why You Wanna Irk Me So?

I admit I’m more of a Speed Racer type when it comes to putting the pedal-to-the-metal; therefore my blabbing may irk you as I was irked by another. But I’m going to press forward and say what I gotta say anyway!

When you see me coming up on you like a well-tuned Formula 1 semi-rocket move outta the way and let me drive! Is it really so hard to let go of that control? You know you like what you see and admire my swag, but no, you wanna play games with me…tease me…control me, and you know it’s gonna irk me because you see the way I approach you. And as soon as I see you slip and you give me a lane you wanna go and block me again. This is not a game! You’re gonna make me scream “Jesus take the wheel” lest I do something I regret, like take another path. But hey, I should expect this cat-n-mouse foreplay because it is what happens during courtship.

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As for someone’s car antics, that irked me as well.

I sat in my car trying to progress at a reasonable rate and there he was purposely driving like Ms. Daisy. He would slow down to get under my skin knowing I was in a hurry. I said to myself “If I wasn’t a good Christian boy I’d pull you over and beat the freaking sh*t outta you and tear you a new a$$hole you S.O.B!” But I didn’t. And God forgive me for my rage.

But who is really in the wrong? Am I to blame because I can’t drive 55 or is he because he is purposely provoking me? And here in lies life’s crazy debate about balance and responsibilities.

Sure, I could have been driving a bit slower, maybe just a tad above the speed limit as I was in a hurry to not miss the cutoff for dropping off my kids to daycare. Or he could have moved over and let me pass as there were no obstacles preventing him from doing so. City driving causes road rage causing inexcusable behavior that might result in unfortunate circumstances. Who needs this?

Responsibility states we all share in creating a balanced and harmonic living environment for ourselves and the world. It ensures we behave in an unselfish manner prompting our brethren to relinquish control sometimes while other times becoming the beneficiary of a good act.

Either way, we must remember to take a moment and pause so we can compose ourselves and not make irrational or ignorant decisions purely based on selfish priorities.

As for my driving – I will still drive like Mario Andretti until I am no longer able to do so, but I typically share the road (and in this case the greater metaphor for road – life) with others so we all might travel harmoniously. Life should always be about the greater good, therefore, I submitted to being greater even though he was not.

Go well and with love good peeps.

I No Longer Value Your Opinion

I’m sure we have all been there at some point in our lives. We all have had to deal with a person in whom we once thought highly of and later they mean nothing to us. A friend, a coworker, an ex, your parents, or maybe even your own children have fallen into this category. And something happened along the way and your mind began a slow transformation in where you no longer valued their opinion. I get it.

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A number of thought factors help influence this paradigm shift:

  1. Our minds might become clouded with animosity and resentment. We always hear the phrase “do not let resentment settle into your heart” but it is easier stated than practiced. Hatred and resentment do not go well with living a healthy life.
  2. Stupidity as a measure. It really bothers me, especially in discussing politics and religion where people are unable to have decent conversations about tough subjects. These subjects are very emotional and pull at the heartstrings of who we are, thus, making it difficult to see any other side of an argument. The word that comes to mind is closed-minded. Therefore, we are quickly apt to label folks as stupid. And trust me, I believe as you believe there are some stupid people in this world.
  3. Indifference is that kick-in-the-ass word that really hurts. It says, “I don’t give two-shits about you enough to even think about your well-being let alone your opinion.” It is the idea that the person you project this feeling upon is less than human and does not deserve to be valued, whatsoever. Kind of like an amoeba – you don’t recognize it is there.
  4. Hurt, pain, unforgiving all lead into this scary hole in which we feel less and less inclined to be thoughtful of another human being. If you hurt me, cause me pain, I might find myself in a situation where I am unable to forgive you. If this occurs you no longer have any value to me in my life.
  5. Distrust – too many times people might find themselves on the verge of being distrusted by others. You can lose your job because of your inability to follow through; your marriage might crumble because of broken promises or infidelity; or you may have no substance in your words therefore creating an empty shell of a human being. Whatever the case might be these things lead to broken trust and open the door to devaluing any words that might come out of your mouth (or the mouth of the person you distrust).

Is there nothing we can do about these things? To the contrary we have the power, truly, to overcome anything!

I’m not saying we can change stupid people or we can continue to trust untrustworthy people, I am only admitting the fact that we can look at how we view these individuals through our own lens. It is in the power of our minds to shift our thinking. It is a practice we should all employ. It is helpful in the long run to try to think about individuals we put into these categories in a different way. It won’t be the easiest task to accomplish but it will make sense in the end. And who knows, it might even encourage a positive transformation in others.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Everything is AWESOME!

…when you’re living in a dream!

Yes, according to the fun kids movie Lego Land everything is awesome as long as you conform, keep life light, don’t focus on the hard stuff, and work as a team. Woo-hoo!

But seriously, life is awesome. It is full of beauty and magnificence. It is pleasurable and wonderful. I look around my wonderful city of Chicago everyday and I am reminded of these pleasures. Therefore, I enjoy taking a moment in my crazy world to acknowledge just how awesome life is.

Regardless of the trials we face and the pains we all feel – because they are real – we should always be reminded of how awesome life is. YOU are awesome! I AM awesome! WE are awesome together!

Now go tackle that day with all of your awesomeness!