Posted on Leave a comment

I Am Everything Because of Love

It was just an ordinary afternoon, a time when bank employees continue to service their customers with their account-related issues. That afternoon, tragedy struck at a SunTrust Bank where at least five died: four employees and one customer. As of now, law enforcement does know the reason behind this atrocity.

When my husband texted to tell me about the bank shooting, I was beside myself. “Are you okay? Is everybody okay? Can I call you?”

I did not wait for an answer, I called him right away to learn that it was not his bank, but one that was about forty-five minutes away from him, in Sebring, Florida. I am relieved and thankful that the shooting did not take place at his branch, but my heart continues to hurt for his colleagues and their families.

This is yet another shooting eating away our sense of safety. These shootings are hitting closer and closer to home. Last year, one shooting took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where my stepdaughter’s senior year was devastated with the loss of seventeen lives. The SunTrust shooter is just twenty-one years old and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooter was nineteen years old at the time of the shooting.

What drove these young people to commit such crimes? Does a lack of love have anything to do with it?

I am everything because of love. The love of God, the love of my husband, the love of my children, and the love of my extended family make life worth living. The thought of losing them in any tragedy troubles my heart.

But, by now I know that there is absolutely nothing I can do to protect them from such tragedy. How can you protect people who are doing what they are supposed to do? Shouldn’t they be safe at work? Should they be safe at school? Shouldn’t they be safe at church?

What I know for sure is that only God can protect them. I surrender them to him. I also know that loving them with all my heart and with with both my hands is the only way I can reinvest in them. Love covers all. Love cures everything.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Comparison Trap

Your neighbor is driving the car of your dreams. Your friends are always conveniently sharing the latest restaurants they have dined in. Your coworker is yet again taking a week vacation to visit the next island on her bucket list. Wow! These pictures of these beautiful people on social media looking so fabulous and ecstatic in their relationships can leave you dissatisfied with your own reality.

You do not care for facts, that has been proven with countless research, but you have to realize that the perceived social media reality: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumbler, you name it…social media… is conveying distinctly one’s hallucinations about who she wants to portray to her circle of influence and the world. There is no way you can account for the truth in these portrayals. Nor should you care.

Why You Compare

What is it with you…feeling better about yourself and your situation only when you can find those who are doing worse than you. Take this, real estate professionals suggest that people seek an expensive community and buy the smallest house there because it will appreciate tremendously faster than the biggest house on the block. But, that does not make people feel good, so, they buy the biggest house in a less expensive and downward neighborhood because it makes them feel good and happy.

You like to compare down because you want to feel as if you are doing something right. When you compare up with someone who you think is doing better than you or looking at a more upscale community than your own, you tend to feel unhappy and dissatisfied. You might believe that these people who seem better than you are keeping a secret from you. How come they have more money than you. Why do they wear better clothes? How can they afford this or that? You work harder than they do.

Unrealized Goals

You compare yourself with others because what they remind you of the unrealized goals in your life. You had a plan three years ago to upgrade from renting an apartment to buying a house. Life happens, so you are still renting while all your friends seem to be buying beautiful houses right before your eyes. So, you may think that the universe is on their sides and not yours. Perhaps, they have better jobs and more money than you. You let these things get you down not understanding that your are projecting…you are overestimating what people may have and underestimating what you can do to realize your goals.

Flawed Perception

Another reason why comparing yourself with others is not positively productive is because you have a flawed perception. You assume too much. You assume that your neighbor can afford your dream car because he has more more money than you. He may be eating can beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to be able to afford the payments for that car. Maybe his car is the only thing in his life that makes him feel significant for the moment. So, keep in mind that all of these things you assume about the person who might be doing better than you is a concoction of your imagination to justify why you are not in a better situation or have more expensive things. Know this, your assumption is not the truth.

Lack of Gratitude

Dissatisfaction in life can be a good thing; it can help you get motivated to take action towards changing your life. It is an energy that can be utilized to create the life you want. It becomes negative energy when it is derived from comparing yourself with others. You have more than you can ever use in this life. Why don’t you count your blessings when you feel like taking a turn at comparison road. Say out loud what you are thankful for. Write a list of things that makes you smile. Keep a gratitude journal and record the things that keep you ground, happy, and joyful. These activities will help you focus on your blessedness not other people’s things.

Finally, research has shown acquiring things only keeps you happy for a moment, because once you achieve a goal, it no longer seems important. The next goal is just around the corner. That is why you should spend more time investing in your growth and development rather than on comparing yourself to others.

Posted on Leave a comment

The Urgency of Now

We are faced with many choices every day. The choices that matter most are the ones that help to make the world a better place and the ones that help to elevate our brothers and sisters.

Do not be fooled. Our lives and our needs are intricately connected that what we do on a personal level has the capacity to impact our entire world.

Now is the time to take action and to speak against all that is unjust and destroying our world. Let’s be encouraged by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who sacrificed his life for injustice, so we can live in more just world.

I am reminded of a quote I heard from watching the Green Book, a movie set in the 1960s about a genius African-American classical pianist who decides to leave the comfort of the North to go tour the segregated deep south.

GENIUS IS NOT ENOUGH,

IT TAKES COURAGE TO

CHANGE PEOPLE’S MINDS.

Green Book

Dr. Don Shirley, the main actor, was good enough to entertain White folks but could not have a meal with them, use the same hotel, or bathroom with them. It took courage for him to willingly put himself in dangerous situations in an effort to change how others perceive people of color.

How will you show courage today to ensure that your voice is heard? How are you stepping out of your comfort zone to combat injustice?

Posted on Leave a comment

3 Ways to Help Teachers Flourish in the Classroom

Year after year, we see teachers striking around the country – West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and now Los Angeles, where tens of thousands walked out of the classroom to protest their large class sizes, low salaries, and lack of supporting staff. Right here in Florida, there continues to be a teacher shortage impacting the quality and effectiveness of education students are receiving in the classroom.

No one challenges the point that teachers should get paid more, but no one is willing to act to make it so, no one is willing to put the “money where the mouth is– not the national, state, and local representatives. Yet, we want all students to succeed, not one to be left behind. How can this be, when teachers themselves are constantly left behind with limited power to influence their own professional growth and economic security? What quality of education do you think students will get when teachers cannot pay the bills at home? When they have to work second jobs?

Image result for teacher protest

So, teachers leave the field and too many classrooms have to settle for what they can get, a body in the classroom with hardly any experience on the subject, classroom management, lesson planning, and how students learn. On the national level, schools have lost over 100,000 teachers and supporting personnel while the number of students increased by over one million. Despite the lack of adequate compensation for what they do, teachers leave the classroom for other compounding reasons such as lack of personal growth opportunities, collaboration with other teachers, and the stressful classroom environment.

Image result for teacher protest

For teachers to flourish in the classroom, these things have to be addressed:

  1. Treat them with dignity and show them respect – I do not know when the teaching profession gained the negative perception that it now has. Perhaps, it has to do with all the teacher strikes over the years or the recent public classroom videos on teacher and student conflicts. It might also be the myriad of school shootings that took the lives of many students, teachers, and staff. Why do people automatically feel sorry for and pity a person who is a teacher? “Bless your heart,” “You poor soul,” or “I would not want to be in your shoes.” These are some of the most common ways people respond to a teacher. To help teachers flourish in the classroom and in the teaching profession, they must be treated with dignity and respect. Their work is a worthy one and it should be treated as such.
  2. Give them opportunities to grow professionally – teacher growth and the education system seems to be a great paradox. The science, English, math, social study, music, art, business teacher should study at the highest level. Teachers should be experts in their fields and when they are compensated for their expertise, that would revolutionize the education system. The education system must encourage teachers to be experts in their respective fields to increase the quality of education that students are receiving. What we see in the classroom oftentimes, are teachers who do not study the subject they teach and may take years on their own, if they are motivated to be an effective teacher. To flourish, teachers must have opportunities not only to participate in formal education but also non-formal education such as teacher collaborations, workshops and subject-specific conferences.
  3. Provide them a positive work environment – a negative, stressful, and conflicting work environment are at the core of why teachers leave the classroom. Yes, teachers deserve to get paid as well any doctor, but the reason they leave the classroom is not usually about salary. They leave because students are disrespectful and the classroom is often a war zone that even the school administration does not have an answer for. They leave because they teach too many classes and must take work home daily if assignments are to be graded. They leave because teaching is a stressful job that affects one’s overall health and what happens at home after work. For teachers to flourish, schools must provide a positive environment that supports the work they are doing in the classroom

Paying teachers what they deserve would be a great start not only to keep the ones already in the classroom, but also to attract potentially great ones. There must also be opportunities for them to become better every day at what they do, alongside a positive work environment that supports them to help students succeed not only in the classroom, but also in their life experiences.

Posted on Leave a comment

There Will Never Be a Right Time

Image result for time

Right about now your new year’s resolutions are starting to look less interesting. It’s been two weeks and life is settling in as normal and that burst of energy you felt for change at the end of 2018 is slowing down.

One thing is for sure. Time is not slowing down. It stops for no one. Whether you feel like acting on improving your life is irrelevant to time. Time will continue to do what it does best…keep going.

Are you waiting for the right time to act on your goals? Are you waiting to be motivated to start taking action?

We have the tendency to act slowly when we must get something done. The problem is the longer we take to act, the likelihood of us doing it diminishes greatly.

Now is the time to start growing.

Image result for start growing yourself

We will never be ready in our minds to tackle life, so just do it and you will have a greater understanding of how to get better.

The truth is we are robbing ourselves of what life has to offer when we want to wait for the right time.

As a beginning real estate investor years ago, I paid dearly for neglecting to act when the market screamed financial crisis. Rental income greatly diminished, debt quickly accumulated, and instead of selling to recoup what I could, I held on to foreclosure.

I waited for the right time to sell and it never came. The dumbest decision of my real estate investing experience.

So, do not wait until the situation gets worst, start now.

Posted on Leave a comment

Do You Have a Growth Plan for Your Children?

This morning, my son and I had a heart-to-heart talk about the future.

As an eigth grader, he has a lot on his plate. He plays soccer for his middle school and the local competitive league. He made all-county, solo and ensemble program for playing trombone. He is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. All of these programs require after school practices. In addition, he is carrying a load of eight classes in which he is required to keep a “B” or better.

As a parent, I monitor all of these activities while keeping my eyes open for opportunities for his personal growth and development. One such opportunities is offered by his school district is the Cambridge program, where he can earn up to 45 college credits upon high school graduation. I was all over that opportunity and signed him up. This morning he had to get up at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday to go take the test.

We talked about why is it important to work on his future today instead of tomorrow. If he wants to have a successful future, he has to show up to class, work hard, and keep up his grades. He has to participate in school and community programs to help him become a well-rounded person. We talked about the stages, seasons of life, how being in grade school right now is an opportunity of a lifetime, which cannot present itself in the future. Therefore, he must learn what must be learned right now.

As my son and I stood in that line waiting for registration to start, I could not help noticing that the group was not a balanced one. Why wasn’t there a more diverse group of students testing for this free program? The Polk county school district is one of the poorest of the entire state. Was the information available to all parents? What measures were taken to ensure that all parents had access to this information?

Too many parents expect the school to do their jobs for them. As parents we have to remain informed about how we can prepare our children for the future. We must partner with our children, their schools, and the community to ensure that we are taking advantage of all opportunities to enhance their future. At this time, we should make it our business to know our children school websites like the back of our hands. The information, programs, and resources are available, but it is up to us to sign up, fill out the application, come of the informational meeting, follow through with the directions we are given.

I know too many students who graduate high school and have no clue what their next step is. If you are lucky to still have a student who still has time, get moving to make the most of it. Research technical schools, community colleges, and work opportunities with tuition reimbursement. You can start to help your children develop a growth plan at any time. Why not start now?

Posted on Leave a comment

My Dream Woke Me Up at 2:40 a.m.

Do you find yourself tossing and turning in bed every morning or maybe be every night?

Image result for tossing and turning gif

It never fails. At certain hours of the morning, I would repeatedly move from side-to-side, on my stomach, and on my back, unable to find a comfortable sleeping position.

Then, I would get up, go to the bathroom, and take a sip of water, just to repeat the cycle. With this pattern, I wasted thousands of hours over the years.

We all have different sleeping habits. I prefer to go to sleep late and get up late. However, over the years, my work did not allow that. So, I go to bed around 10:00 p.m. and wake at at 5:00 a.m.

That is the time programmed into my cellphone. Because waking up early has been a pattern over the years, I no longer need my cellphone. That’s a great thing because I am following Mel Robbins’ advice to keep the cellphone out of my bedroom.

When I had the cellphone in my bedroom, I checked the time every five minutes. It did not make me get up and do something, instead, I became preoccupied with finding different thoughts that could potentially drive me to catch another 15, 30, 45, or even 60 minutes of sleep.

This year, I decided to do something different.

I get out of bed when I am awake. When the tossing and turning pattern starts, I know that it is time to get up and do something productive. This morning, the stove clock read 2:40 a.m.

I count this as a great gift of time. I can do my morning devotion, review my goals, listen to my morning affirmations, exercise, write a blog post, read a chapter of a book, an article, or a blog post. I can do a load of laundry, clean an area in the house, or cook a healthy breakfast for the husband and children.

Truth be told, there is always a task in my mind that I know I need to be doing at that time, but usually I feel too tired, lazy, or unmotivated to do it. So, I would lay there hoping for sleep to rescue me.

Not this morning!

My goals and dreams for this year kept flashing in my mind. It was like watching a video. I got excited.

Since I did not have my cellphone by my bed to deter me from leaving my bed because it was too early, I got up from my bed and proceeded to do the things that mentioned above. This post being a by product of that decision.

It feels so amazing. With this little tweak to my morning routine, I am sure that my life will be unrecognizable by this time next year.

What would your life be like if you decided to get out of bed when your body has had enough sleep for the night?

What task can you get done? What goals can you work on? What dreams can you conjure up? What life can you create?

Posted on Leave a comment

Get to Know Yourself

Image result for get to know yourself quotes

What is your favorite color (s)? Why?

What kind of work do you enjoy doing? Why?

What’s your favorite smell? Why?

What is your dream car?

What kind of food do you enjoy?

Where would you prefer to live? Why? Describe your perfect home.

What are you good at doing? When and how did you discover it? How can you expand on your strengths to achieve your goals?

What is your personality like?

Sometimes answering the most simple questions can help you discover profound things about yourself.

What are some of the questions you ask to get a deeper sense of who you are?

Leave me a comment.

Posted on 1 Comment

Dump Your Baggage…to Move Forward

We all have baggage. They were given to us in our childhoods by parents, friends, and associates. Later on in life, our spouses and employers give us some more baggage.

Although baggage can be associated with good and bad things that happened to us, the word is mostly used to describe the effects of negative experiences and traumatic events throughout the different stages of life.

Low self-esteem, guilt, fear, pessimism, anger, and the desire to please others are some examples of baggage. We walk around heavily burdened because every choice and decision we make are filtered through our baggage.

The ongoing effect is that of insecurity in everything we do.

Therefore, we continuously behave in unproductive manners and sabotage the plan designed to move us forward.

If we are to have positive changes in our future, we must dump all unnecessary baggage because they will only serve as hurdles in our paths.