There is not much to say that has not already been said. I am angry. I am hurting. I am confused. I am tired. I have been riding such a wave of emotions We have all picked sides. We have decided that, no matter who … Continue reading Life Is Not Complicated, what are you doing to change things?
I have been hesitant about addressing the Adrian Peterson “child abuse” charges. Note the quotes. This may be an indication of where I stand.
This story has been unfolding so rapidly and some of the conversations surrounding the issue have been so downright confrontational, accusatory and judgmental that I needed to take a step back and make sure my thoughts on this situation were sensible and above all presented in an educated, useful, and hopefully informative way. This is another good opportunity to try to understand what makes people different and drive home the fact there are billions of people in the world and guess what: Some of those people were raised a whole lot differently than others. What works for some, probably would not appeal to others. What some consider harsh means of discipline others will hail as the ONLY way to make sure a young child does not become an adult menace. However, in no way should personal opinions earn any man or woman the labels coon, sell-out, monster, slave-mentality, stupid, barbaric, Uncle Tom (or any of the absolutely ignorant names that have been thrown into the debate simply because you don’t agree with a person’s opinion). That helps nothing and it adds very little to the conversation. I just wanted to get that out of the way.
I was born and raised in East Texas. Many who read this either have met my Momma or have read about her in “Life Is Not Complicated, You Are”. That said, it will come as no surprise that this good O’l Boy from East Texas– where the BIBLE is our guide, GOD is the final word, liberal views on the way people live their lives are not accepted and the rod (the switch, the belt, the slipper, the extension cord, the mixing spoon and the hand) were NOT spared–got whooped by Alice Wallace on several occasions and I THANK GOD! Because I can assure you, without question or doubt I am the man I am today because my Momma not only disciplined me, she commanded my respect. And she demanded that this respect carry over into every aspect of my family (grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles) and beyond. And if she heard that I did not live up to that expectation or God forbid, found out that I (or any of my siblings) embarrassed our family name in any way…you better believe we got whupped! “Abuse” is allowing your children to get away with misbehaving and have them grow up thinking it’s okay to question authority. Abuse is not raising a child with an iron hand only to have them wear steel handcuffs later in life. Abuse is not letting a child know that there will be deep, dire consequences if you act the dam fool and when they go out into polite society they are harshly labeled, shunned and classified as having “no home training. I am not here to tell you whether being on the receiving end of that “switch” is right or wrong. Not my place. What you do in your home is your business. However, I can not tolerate any judgment that ultimately questions the values and principles that I hold dear and credit for my success. I take particular offense when that criticism comes from someone like Cris Carter, whose family I know for a fact incorporated the very same values and modes of discipline that he now calls abuse. It was the same lifestyle my friends and I sit around and reflect on because of how it helped so many of us stay on the straight and narrow, with some exceptions. In my opinion Cris is the exception, not the rule. He is an exception that obviously did not learn the lesson discipline was meant to instill, falling deep into drug addiction before turning his life around; an exception that did the unthinkable in his remarks about Adrian Peterson: he vilified his Momma in front of the world. A woman who in his own words “did the best she could” to raise 7 children. She was either “wrong” or did her best. One of them is a lie. We were taught to honor our mothers and fathers. Whuppings did not change that. My mother and father prepared us for life. I will never dishonor their memory by questioning their methods or audaciously vilify my parents for taking care of their children within the guidelines of their culture and upbringing. For the record, my Granddaddy (My Mom’s father) was a deacon and a Judge… and yes, he believed in whuppings.
I find it frustrating that an issue that should have been dealt with personally made it to the media. How is it a mother and father cannot have a discussion about the best way to raise a child? And what has happened to our society, especially with regard to family values, to make it so easy to air our issues so openly for the world to judge? I did not include pictures of the child in this blog for that very reason. Ironically, I have read reports the child’s mother is “outraged” these private photos were released to the public. But what did she expect? So now, when all this blows over and you expect and need this man to be a “Father to his children” (after you have completely destroyed his credibility as a leader and disciplinarian in his family by virtue of the fact that if he even raises his voice to loudly someone may call the cops out of fear he may become “abusive”) his hands are tied. And you know what happens in homes where children are allowed to make the rules? They become adults who are not capable of following the rules. What good is that to our society?
East Texas, my Southern roots, my strict upbringing and yes, a whupping every now and then helped make me a productive, contributing member of society and allowed me to raise children who follow the same strict guidelines. When (if) you decide you no longer need to adhere to the foundation I set, you are more than free to begin building your own. However, I’m pretty confident, the tools I used to build mine are a whole lot sturdier, more reliable and will construct a foundation that will last a hell of a lot longer.
I just settled in at home (and finally my own bed) after a long business trip in Las Vegas. While I enjoy my role as a union delegate for SMART – Transportation Division (formerly United Transportation Union) and I get a great deal of satisfaction being an active part of the collective bargaining process, it can be exhausting. I know a lot of you can relate. The hectic daily lives we lead take a toll on our minds and body. And if you are like me, there is always SOMETHING to do. Phone calls, productions, management, promotions, relationship, fatherhood, mentoring…it never ends because the journey toward a fulfilling, successful life never ends (at least it shouldn’t in my opinion).
I stayed at Caesar’s Palace Casino Hotel in the heart of the Vegas strip. Walking back and forth through the casinos, dodging thousands (literally thousands) of people on the street to find a meal that would not cost me a month’s mortgage, breathing in second hand smoke and hearing the deafening bells, whistles, alarms of the slot machines all while surrounded by the tense faces of gamblers praying for the jackpot, that one big win that will change their lives…if it ever comes, I thought I would go crazy. I needed an escape!
I drove 22 miles. I left the above scenario in the rear view and made my way to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservative Area. As I approached the landmark site I felt the difference almost immediately! I paid the $7 to enter and began a 13 mile scenic drive that transformed my focus. For the price of a bagel on the strip, I was surrounded by God’s work! For the cost of a small Starbucks coffee I felt his presence in the most spectacular scenery! The rock formations, the amazing colors of the mountains, the massive landscape reminding me how big and how awesome God is! It was a much needed reality check and a reminder, the important things in life, the moments that have the most meaning and power do not cost much (If anything at all). Some folks are so busy trying to fill voids and insecurities with material possessions and trying to keep up with the Jones’ by wearing uncomfortable “Red Bottoms” and buying mansions and luxury cars they can barely afford, that they don’t even realize the feeling they get from these trophies” is temporary. Meantime, in one simple, inexpensive drive, I gained perspective, understanding, deepened my faith and most importantly gave my mind and body a much needed rest.
I’ll take all that over a momentary, materialistic fix any day. When you can wrap your brain around what truly matters in life, that is when you really begin to live a life that matters.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ~Declaration of Independence
Before you head out to the beach, the amusement parks or the neighbor’s bar-b-que (Still waiting on my invites by the way!), I just want to remind you to take a moment and appreciate Independence. Yes, I am fully aware that many of these “holidays” are derived from circumstances that were unfavorable to far too many. Rather than get all into the historical atrocities that preceded this day, I really want to focus on the outcome (for today). Freedom and Independence. Moral standards to which the United States should strive.
As a spokesperson for USA Cares Texas Region, I encounter many service men and women (active and retired). Their bravery and selflessness remind me every day that we live in a country, a great nation (that I was proud to fight for while serving in the Navy during Desert Storm) where we are free to speak and to act without the threat of censorship or punishment. We are all afforded the opportunity, by virtue of our Independence to seek out, work for and achieve an education, a job, a family, a role (or voice) in government and practice whatever religion we choose. Do you have the slightest understanding how fortunate we are? Right now, as we prepare to begin our day of rest and relaxation men and women are guarding our freedom on the front lines of battle. Our armed forces are putting their lives on the line to ensure that what we say, write, do and or believe are protected. Because as you are well aware, people have been killed for practicing the very liberties we sometimes take for granted.
I am the last person who will ever believe we should forget that our history is marred by inhumane injustices. And I know many of those injustices exist today to varying degrees. I share some of my own challenges in Life Is Not Complicated, so I have a personal perspective believe me! However, I refuse to let anyone make me a prisoner of the past. Ignorance is what holds us back. Independence gives us ALL the freedom to be great. To make a difference. To begin a pattern of progression our children and grand-children can emulate and build upon.
I sincerely hope you all enjoy your day with friends and family. Whether you celebrate the birth of our nation or are just relieved you have a day off from work remember that both (our Independence and that job) are just some of the blessings that should not be taken for granted, ever. Be safe everyone!
At any given time I can be in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas and of course H-town. While I try to find enjoyment in every trip for the most part I am laying groundwork. Planting seeds. Networking. Closing deals. I do not waste any time. I don’t moan about all the work I have to do because I prayed to God to make my business successful. I don’t gripe about all the people I need to talk to because at one time in my life I asked God to open doors and put the right people in my path. I don’t hate going to work because as I recounted in Life Is Not Complicated You Are, after being unjustly fired, for 3 years I had to fight to be reinstated while doing everything in my power to support my family.
My point is, people forget. They forget what it was like to not have something they desired and how grateful they were when (after making all kinds of promises to God and anyone that would listen) they finally received the blessing. They forget that there was someone there (maybe one person, maybe a few), who sacrificed some time or effort to get them to the next level of their lives. Folks do not stop and think that nothing in this life is owed to anyone and neglect to appreciate that when we wake up God has granted us another day to do better, to be better. When some people get happy, they forget to stay humble.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating success. Some see it as bragging but those of us who understand that it does not come easily know acknowledging the good in our lives is perfectly acceptable. But we have to keep in mind all that good fortune comes with a lot of responsibility. As much as you may think so, it is not all about you. Last week, I received two important emails. Two of my mentees (who had been struggling with life decisions and personal issues and were tempted to give up until we discussed alternatives) wrote to let me know that because of my support and my advice and the faith I had in them, they overcame their challenges and are now on their way to realizing their goals. Meantime, during a conversation with someone I love dearly yesterday, I learned that the reason she is motivated and refuses to fail is because I refuse to let her waste her time (or mine LOL) on nonsense. I push her to be a successful comic and businessperson. And she in turn does the same for deserving people in her life. My VP’s each reached out to me, thanking me for opportunities I have given them to achieve their individual successes. Ironically, I am the one who is eternally grateful to be surrounded by and working with such tremendous talent.
Opportunity is yours for the taking. If you do not work hard for what you want do not blame others when you become a prisoner of your passivity. If you choose to pursue your dreams all I ask is, the next time you are down on your knees pleading for whatever it is you want and the Almighty eventually grants your wishes, remember that feeling. That’s what will keep you humble and grateful.
On May 28, 2014, people of all ages, genders, religion and socio-economic status lost a universal icon.
Before going on to glory, Dr. Maya Angelou touched the nation in ways too profound and too numerous to describe in a short blog. Attempting to do so would slight the memory of a woman whose contribution to society was larger than her magnificent life and as deep as the words she blessed us with through her poetry and her vivid narratives. The passing of the writer, civil rights activist, actress, dancer, director, academic and U.S Poet Laureate made national headlines as people across the U.S began sharing stories of how this remarkable woman inspired, encouraged and motivated them. Too bad it took her dying for social media to shift their attention away from the bizarre, foolish and mundane topics that dominate our consciousness every day.
I think it’s unfortunate that reports about Dr. Angelou’s health suggested that we were on borrowed time with this legend yet we did not duly honor her while she was here to enjoy it. It’s a sad sign of the times. I’m pretty sure that in the coming weeks her books and her poetry will fly off the shelves or be downloaded at a furious pace as if we are trying to make up for lost time having missed an opportunity to acknowledge one of God’s most perfect gifts while she walked among us. I am happy Dr. Angelou has gone on to a better place. Part of me believes deep down, she noted how shallow and distracted and numb to responsible thinking we have become; that she was all too happy to leave this foolishness behind. Inasmuch as she worked to make a difference, at her core she was always different; that is because she never settled to just be; she always strived to BECOME. Become smarter, greater, stronger, better.
Maya Angelous’s death summons up a painful reality: we have lost sight of the people and the experiences that shape us. We have stopped focusing on what matters and traded our common sense for drama that has absolutely nothing to do with improving our lives. When did we as a society, as a people, just stop striving to make a difference? When did we give up on progression? When did we resign to simply be average, to just exist instead of live? Why do we rush home to watch reality TV but when Mom, Dad, or grandparents call, we send them to voice-mail because we “don’t have time right now”? When did “turning up” at the club begin trumping going to church and family dinners? When did we decide it was more important to be our children’s friends than it was to parent and raise adults who respect their elders and themselves?
Dr. Angleou stopped trending on social media days after her passing, yet 2 weeks after a noted couple said “I do” in Europe, I can’t escape the pictures and the “sightings” and the entertainment buzz surrounding nuptials you weren’t even invited to much less remotely affected by. Meantime, I spoke to friends who read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” so many times the pages of the book are worn and their lives are forever transformed by Dr. Angelou’s stories. Yet Dr. Angelou’s words are relegated to pithy status updates and memes that barely register amid the glare of nonsense.
I have lost the most important people in my life. I will never again have an opportunity to tell them how much they mean to me, how much they contributed to my life, how grateful I am that they love me and support me and teach me. Don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets. My loved ones knew how much I adored them. I just want to remind all of you, tomorrow is never promised. Ever. From a Dr. Angleou to a dear family member, God does not play favorites. When it’s time for Him to call them home, he will do so without hesitation. Don’t be caught off guard, with unspoken words and feelings, wishing for that one last time.
Aldine ISD police say a 16-year-old student at Nimitz High School was so upset with his substitute teacher for taking his phone, he pushed her onto the ground. My question is, what made this kid think that kind of horrible behavior was anywhere in the vicinity of okay?
My momma did not tolerate bad behavior; not from me, my siblings, her students or any other child within striking distance of her piercing gaze and tough reprimands. Parenting was non-negotiable. If she said “do it”, I answered “Yes mam”. Same with my Dad and my grandparents. It was about respect. It was about teaching me the principles and values that make me a productive, contributing, solid member of society.
From the moment I could even understand what “respect” was I knew it was not a choice but the ONLY option. I knew being a good kid did not make me corny or nerdy or a momma’s boy; it made me a good kid, period. That carried over into my teenage years and into adulthood. Discipline, preparedness and commitment to excellence was reinforced while I was in the military, however –bottom line- it began at home. It continues in every aspect of my life. I practice it in business and in my personal life. I learned early on that principles never change. People do.
The past few weeks, social media has been a slide show of prom and graduation pictures and videos as teenagers prepare for one of the most important stages of their lives. Some go off to college, others enter the military, and others still go right to work. For many, this will be their first opportunity to live without the constant supervision of parents, grandparents, extended family, teachers and even neighbors. Parents and caregivers, let’s prepare our kids to rise up to the responsibility by ensuring they use what we teach them at home, in society. Arm them with the principles, discipline and the pride they need to stand out, not act out and encourage them to always be at their best. That includes respecting authority without being passive, having ambition without being cut-throat, confidence without being arrogant, and pride without being an egoist. If we don’t teach our children how to deal with authority, adversity, challenges and yes, success, we set them up to be outcasts instead of standouts.
Congratulations to all the grads. You have every right to be proud of your achievements! However (parents and teens) as you take the time to pick out the perfect suit and gown, post pictures and videos… make sure you are celebrating a life that you have helped prepare to flourish long after the pomp and circumstance fades. It all begins at home.
My Dad used to tell me not to wish my life away by praying it was Friday, or wishing for a day that was a ways off. Great advice. So many of us don’t take the time to appreciate the moment, the day, the experience (good or bad). In “Life Is Not Complicated” I talk a great deal about not letting the challenges of life make you lose sight of the meaning of life. And I don’t just mean the major tragedies. Understandably, loss in any capacity, will shake you to the core. And neither I, nor anyone else has the right to tell you how to feel or how to cope. However, I’m also referring to the little annoyances that make us wish a day would just “end”. Bad work day, minor disagreements, kids misbehaving, unexpected expenses… I get it. Any and all of the above could have us wishing for the moment on Monday when we can say TGIF! Don’t lose sight of the blessing of the moment. No matter what, look to your friends, pastor, priest, even family to encourage and support you and let you know while it may seem insurmountable at the time…your life, your today, your moment still matters. One of my favorite quotes is, “What if you woke up today with only the things you gave thanks for yesterday?” It’s all about perspective.
I woke up this morning and I gave thanks for my life, despite the emptiness I feel at the absence of my parents and grandparents. Despite the fact that in the last month I have lost dear loved ones, and in the past three weeks I have had some issues with my publishing company which have resulted in the delay of hundreds of books reaching eager buyers. I have my obstacles and my moments too. That is one of- if not the most- important message I will ever convey about this book. I am not perfect. My upbringing was not perfect, my life was (and is) certainly not perfect. I would never try to portray myself as some foremost authority on life or facing challenges. However, through my personal experiences, growth, relationships and desire not to let my life become meaningless or a drag, I developed a coping method that works for me. I can attest to the fact that overcoming is indeed possible; standing strong, possible; persevering possible; becoming better no matter what your circumstance or the opinions of others, possible.
Nothing in life is promised. Each day is a valuable opportunity to play an important role in this world. Treat each moment like it’s the performance of a lifetime; approach every show like it’s your first, respect it as if you’ve invested years, appreciate it like it’s your last. ~Life Is Not Complicated, You Are
I won’t stand on a soap box and pontificate about how I choose to think positively and take on my days like a Gladiator, wielding swords at my challenges, waiting on the Universe to decide: “thumbs up”, let challenge live; “thumbs done”, finish them”! No. … Continue reading Life Is Not Complicated, you always have options…
One morning, I was reading some of the feedback left on my “Life Is Not Complicated, You Are” page on Facebook. I have never been one to rest on laurels, and while I am gratified with the positive feedback so far, I want to stay connected with my readers, and address the positive reactios, as well as any issues or concerns they may have. While scrolling down the page, one post caught my attention. Stopped me, dead in my tracks. It read simply, “Depression, is real…”. I was so moved by this statement, I had to log off for a few hours, just to get my bearings and refocus.
Deliverance, the chapter in LINC that addresses depression and the stigma and fears attached to this debilitating illness, was one of the most difficult chapters to write. As I explain in the book, I too had my misconceptions (and admittedly, some misgivings) about depression. Honestly, up until the moment I realized one of my best friends was battling that monster, I had not met a single person (that I know of) who struggled under the weight of this mental oppression. Once I had been introduced to depression, I realized if I wanted to help my friend and preserve our friendship, I needed to understand what the illness was all about. So I read, I researched, I asked questions…I asked a lot of questions. I learned that there were people around me who I never would have imagined were depressed. People who contemplated hurting themselves, people who retreated from “life” for days; anything to stop the suffering. I made it a priority to educate myself so that I could support my friend, and others who simply need to BELIEVE there is hope. I am not an authority on depression, nor do I purport to have all the answers. But I do know, that people very close to me sometimes live in darkness. Sometimes I feel helpless, but I remind them… they are not alone. That darkness is not permanent. However, they have to want to “turn the light on”. They have to want to pick themselves up, and find a reason to live for. Seek out the things that matter, and realize that if they disappear, others will hurt. Kids, spouses, parents, friends. One of the greatest, most valuable lessons my mom taught me, and that I discuss throughout Life Is Not Complicated is, I matter. No matter my circumstance, no matter the opinion of others, no matter my struggle and quite frankly, no matter how successful I become, nothing should define more than my own opinion of me. We need to know our worth, our value. We need to realize we deserve happiness, love, understanding. These things mean so much more when it comes from us first!
Yes, depression is painful, and oppressive, and frightening and draining. But YOU are strong, and worthy, and valuable and necessary. This affirmation should be your light in the darkness. So I ask anyone who is drifting off, and tempted to retreat into mental despair…turn your light in. Find your way back. People who love you, are waiting. People who understand are waiting. Don’t discount what your support system can do. Turn your light on.