Things I Will Remember Regarding the Inauguration

President Barack Obama told a crowd at the National Mall that America's challenges are real.

* Michelle Obama was CLEAN!  She will definitely be a who’s who of setting a precedence for fashion at an affordable rate.  Her J-Crew outfit she wore the other evening on Letterman for instance says a lot about how a woman can look her finest without spending huge amounts of money.  (Are you paying attention Sarah Palin?)

* Both Rick Warren’s and Joseph Lowery’s prayers were special and timely for different reasons.  They were also heartfelt and sincere.

* Those armored protected Caddy’s were hot!  I would love to ride in one of those!

* The crowd!  OHHHHHH the crowd!  The American people were IN THE HOUSE!  Watching it on TV I could still feel the energy.  It was the most spectacular thing I have ever seen. 

* President Obama’s speech was awesome and truly inspiring.  He optimizes for me having the presence of walk softly while carrying a big stick.  Make no mistake about it he IS the president.  And he made it clear that there is a new direction.  But he did it in a way that embraces our friends, opens the door for new friends, while letting enemies know not to sleep on the United States.  In other words, to quote an old African proverb… “Don’t let the smooth taste fool ya.”

* The Obama girls are beautiful and it will be a pleasure to see them grow up. 

* It is no coincidence that President Obama was the first president to take office the day after Martin Luther King Day. 

* They got to be lying when they said that Dick Cheney hurt his back carrying boxes.  What the heck?  Dick Cheney moves his own boxes?  I just can’t wrap my brain around that.   

* “Air And Simple Gifts” is an awesomely beautiful piece.  And if they managed to actually play it in those temperatures with cold wooden instruments, that’s even more amazing.   Regardless I need a copy of that!

* The whole process of transferring power from one administration to the other is a most majestic thing.  Former President Bush was also a gracious host – it was a first class event and something I will never forget.

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Good For The Soul, Great For The World ~ Full Circle

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This week we talked about just a few things that are good for the soul and great for the world.  The phrase was coined as a way of saying that when something is done in justice and truth with the intent of blessing others, a blessing is also automatically generated for the person doing the deed. 

When the scriptures talk about how it is more blessed to give than to receive, I always figured that when one is supplying something, that means first he possesses something to provide.  (Which is a blessing already as opposed to needing something.)  But also just for the sake of seed sowing or karma, giving blessings also open doors for you to recieve your own when needed.

It is with this in mind that I want to remind us that we have to invest into ourselves as well.  By that I mean we can only give and bless to the degree that we are fulfilled and functional within.  If we are stressed, worried and angry it’s difficult not to reflect that energy back into the world.  Giving will only be so effective as there will be a level of resentment and hurt because of our own unfulfilled need for love and security.  If we are free and flowing with the universe as it pertains to our peace and purpose, the fruits will be that much sweeter as we extend benevolence to one another.

So inward investment is in order.  Charity (love) starts at home – so we must learn to love ourselves and appreciate what we have inside.  We must recognize and acknowledge the gifts and talents we posess and believe that they are a blessing to others.  We also have to learn to accept the gifts that are available from others and deem them necessary for our own development.

What am I saying?  Its time to invest in yourself!  That means taking an inventory of your life – seeing where you are and where you want to be.  What is it going to take to get you there?  What steps are necessary for you?  What books do you need to read?  What are the initial phases of change that need to happen?  Who are some people who can help you? 

Look inward and ackowledge who you really are on both the good and the not so good sides.  Decide what kind of person do you really want to be.  How much integrity do you REALLY want to live with?  How far are you willing to discipline yourself to reach that level?

All these questions need to be answered if you are going to live your best life.  Time is short and we don’t know how much of it we have left.  But we do have the moment and if we build those moments piece by piece, we can accomplish goals and be a witness to other people the a life of peace and success is possible. 

By success I don’t mean money – though there is money to be made.  Successful people are people who have worthy goals and plans and follow through on them.  Successful people are focused and directed – they make things happen for the good even if no one else can see the progress for the moment.  Most times when we see someone who is a success, we see the finished product, but were not around to see the price that was paid to get to that point.

There are no quick fixes, but investing in your own goals, peace, and happiness is a great way to start your life that is good for your soul, and great for your world.

Be good to yourself~

Grace & Peace

Good For The Soul, Great For The World ~ Fathers Stand Up!

This is a sensitive subject matter for me.  I am a father.  Heck, I am a grandfather.  I am also a mentor to young boys and girls.  Some of my interactions are of the casual hit and miss based on time and opportunity.  And some are more intimately detailed.  Regardless, I see all children as our most precious resource.  I know that today kids are smarter, quicker and more savvy than ever before.  They have more access to technology and the fast pace of the world seems to fit right in with their ability to absorb information and the flavor of their environment.

Sometimes when you talk to little children, they amaze us as they seem to have the spirits of adults.  This is no doubt of God’s potential placed in them as they seem to be ready for most any challenge.  Still I know children carry way too much responsibility and stress these days as they are often left to fend for themselves as single mothers struggle to hold things together. Or oftentimes young parents may be too much into themselves seeking to live their glorious days and nights at the expense of their young.   

I’d be the first to tell you.  There is no manual to this thing.  Parenting is a huge challenge.  Still I believe that we have to stop and take notice of the young people around us.  In their eyes there is a hope, an anticipation, a longing to first find the love from their base.  (the parents)  There is a need for physical and emotional security from the base especially as they branch out to intermingle with other children.  There is a demand for direction and structure, so that they understand respect and boundaries.  There is a need for vision, for someone to recognize their gifts, talents and abilities and to teach and encourage them to pursue those and not just follow the crowd. 

As precious as our mothers and sisters are, I believe there is a need for strong men to provide a lot of the structure needed to help our young people succeed.  Images are important.  And the state of a man in a child’s life tends to determine many a fate of our children.  If  a strong and committed man is present and active, kids tend to stabilize.  If he is absent or out of place, it complicates and destabilizes.  This is not some sexist statement minimizing the abilities or contributions of women and mothers.  To the contrary, I am saying that they can’t do it by themselves and they have done far too much as it is trying to hold down both sides of the bar. 

Men and specifically fathers need to step up and dedicate their lives towards investing into their children.  Period!  That means financially as well as with their presence.  By presence I mean time, but I also mean making the best of that time.   There has been occasion for instance where I spent time with my youngest daughter.  And because of the schedule I hold working three jobs including writing, that I would pick her up and take her someplace, but my mind would be in rest mode or all over the place scattered as I answered calls and took care of business or arranged appointments while we rode to some place we’d go to.  But my spirit made me recognize that I was cheating my daughter out of my full attention.  I need to hear how her day or her week was.  I needed to listen as she talked about her relationships at school and the new accessory for her DS game.  I got with the program quick!  She gets my full attention at all times now.  We talk, we laugh, and we hug many times over.  She knows she has a daddy that will lead, love, and respect her as she makes her way through adolescence and beyond. 

I’m old school.  I believe in respect when it comes to kids and adults.  I still say, “Yes ma’am,” and “No sir,” even if the person is younger than me.  So I don’t tolerate any disrespect at all from young people.  However, I also know that I need to make a connection with them.  I need to look into their eyes, and likewise respect their gifts, talents, and the seriousness with which their issues mean to them.  It’s a two way street.

When men start to step into our places and take responsibility for our children, and then also to a smaller degree the other children we come into contact with, we will be setting the course for a better tomorrow for our families, our communities and our nation. 

Men, fathers, take your places!  It’s good for the soul, and great for the world!

Good For The Soul, Great For The World ~ Mentorship

Point blank – there is no such thing as a “self-made man or woman.”   The world is comprised of the hook up  in some form or the other.  When I was laid off of my job of 11 years in July of 2007, I participated in a program that helped newly unemployed people with resume’ writing, interviewing skills and other essential items to help a person get back on his/her feet career wise.  One of the most astounding things I heard out of the several days of training, was the statistic that 85% of all jobs are given by reference or word of mouth.  In other words, only 15% of people are hired by way of having an outstanding or attractive resume’.  It only mattered 15% of the time how qualified I was per a job description.  Realistically it’s even lower than that because how silly would I be to assume that of the thousands of applicants that apply to any given position, that I would be the only or the most qualified?  Of the hundreds of jobs that I applied for in the first few months alone, how many recruiters actually saw my resume’?  And job fairs… they are really a joke to be honest about it.  But I digress.

The point is the world goes around via nepotism.  That is something we all should understand.  Everyday someone is playing golf, and one guy says to the other on the back 9, “Hey, so and so is graduating from college in a couple months, or is looking to leave his firm.  What can you do for him?”  Then BAM!  It’s done.  To a lower degree its like being a “made man” in the mafia.  None of that budget stuff matters.  Folks make room where they want, and deal with the how and why later.  This is very natural to human nature.  People like to be around folk they are comfortable with – and they hire on the basis thereof.

This is why we all need to take an active role in mentoring someone.  Those of us who have been around a little bit, have valuable experience to lend to the generation that is behind us.  And if you are blessed to be making a living, or living at least a portion of the life that you desire, no doubt you have received some help and favor along the way.  Somewhere someone liked you, said something good about you, pointed you in the right direction, or simply threw you a bone to get started.  It happens more than you know if you just take a look to count your blessings.

Not too many things are uglier in life than to see someone who received help, only to reach a certain level and act as if he/she made it on their own.  All of a sudden this person is not compassionate and doesn’t have time to give someone a break.  We all have made mistakes.  Every last one of us working any job have at some point done something to deserve getting fired.  Everyone of us who has a business have done something that could have put that business in jeopardy.  Rules and laws only matter in the whole scheme of things at the discretion of those enforcing them.  Sometimes our actions have caused us to suffer the consequences.  And sometimes we have received some grace that allowed us to move past a potentially costly indiscretion. 

So take the time to be a blessing to someone.  Grant an opportunity.  Give an apprenticeshipof some sort.  Take someone under your wing.  There are people who I know will look out for me.  And will dial me up if there are certain opportunities to be had.  In turn there are also others I look out for.  I let them know to ask me any questions or come to me at any time with concerns.  I hold nothing back.  There is enough out here for everyone to survive and even thrive when we are truly wise enough to understand the laws of nepotism and are unselfish enough to give as much as we receive on an ongoing basis.

Mentoring and giving back are good for the soul, and great for the world.

Good For The Soul, Great for the World ~ Volunteerism

  

 

Some of my regular readers know I am a Missouri State Basketball Official.  It’s a job I really love to do and at times it helps to make ends meet too. 

I had the opportunity to do some officiating this weekend, volunteer style with a Boys Scouts troop close to Kimmswick, MO.  ( I am not talking about volunteer work that some tournament directors try to make you do when they won’t pay you when they are supposed to – where you have to threaten to go Jazmine Sullivan on them and Bust The Windows Out Your Gym)  I mean real volunteer work where you know up front you won’t get a check.

Anyway, it was my first time in the Kimmswick area, and I remember it most from the Great Flood of 1993 when most of the town was under water.  It’s a small and quite rual area in Jefferson County.  I took my daughter with me and she watched as the troops most of whom don’t play the game on a regular basis run back and forth across the court trying to make a basket.  Of course some kids showed more skill than others.  And there was one who looked just like Lou Ferrigno of the Incredible Hulk television series of the 70s.  I mean he was a good 6’4, built like he could enter and win a strong man’s contest, and could really shoot the rock.  I laughed as he shot three’s, scored easy basket after basket, blocked shots and then finally dunked…. all without smiling one bit except for the jokes I kept shooting at him every time he made another troop mate look bad.

I never joined the boy scouts as a youth.  But I did notice that even as I volunteered on the court, that most of the adults in the building were also volunteers who worked so closely with all of these kids over the years.  The scorekeeper with his scout gear had to be at least 75 years old.  The atmosphere was fantastic and it was a lot of fun.  The unity and spirit of the event was a beautiful thing.

You just can’t put value on taking time out of your busy schedule to volunteer for something worth while.  It’s a good and meaningful thing to give of your time and invest your knowledge into someones life.  People never forget when they are invested in.  And it’s good for your own soul as well to set aside time to give of your expertise without having to receive a monetary reward for it. 

So I encourage you to find something you can do for someone else.  It doesn’t have to be the Boys Scouts, or any other organization though there are many to choose from where the fruit of collective efforts already exist.  It can be something as simple as going grocery shopping for someone whom you know can’t get around as well.  If you are good with your hands, perhaps you can fix something for someone who can’t afford to pay for that kind of service.  Believe me, there are an abundance of opportunities for meeting needs within the community.

To help America be all she has promised, it’s up to us to give of our time and talents to those who need it.  When people are not invested in, we have to pick it up on the back end through detention, jail, or simply a mediocre standard of living.  An investment early into the lives of people will reap a long lasting dividend for all involved. 

Finally, those of us who receive help, (and we all do at times) must make sure we give back and pay it forward.

This will go a long way in helping to make America better!

Good For The Soul~Great For The World

For all the negative things happening in the world today, there is certainly much to talk about and report.  This blog makes a habit of pointing out the news that people should know, offering critique where needed and encouragement where hope is evident. 

Even as we ready ourselves for the new president whom we hope will add some fresh and innovative ideas that will help our nation progress, I can’t help but think that his job and responsibilities are big enough as it is.  We would be doing him and most of all ourselves a disservice if we don’t do some things differently to help make our world a better place. 

And it’s great to have ideas.  But I think we have the idea that we are better than we are.  Because we have such quick access to information and analysis we sometimes forget that we have to put in the good ole fashion work.  Things aren’t going to get better simply because we analyze it with such ferocity and scholarship. 

For the next several days we will talk about some things that will help us accomplish just that.  As critical as I can be of what challenges us, I honestly do still believe in the power of what we can do locally to make a difference if we just make our minds up to do it.  We can still be a great nation if we decide to be great from the inside out.

Stay Tuned