Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our children’s education matters

A famous song (GreatestLove of All) rings out, “I believe the children are our future.  Treat them well and let them lead the way.  Show them all the beauty they possess inside.  Give them a sense of pride to make it easier.”

My wife and I went to see the newly released movie, ‘Won’t Back Down,’ starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis.  The film centered on the ParentTrigger Law which was passed in California and other states in 2010.  The law allows parents to enforce administrative overhaul and overrule administrators in under-performing public schools if petitioned.  If successful, petitions allow parents to direct changes which could lead to dismissal of staff and the potential conversion of a school to a charter school.

Keeping in mind that Hollywood does have a tendency to glamorize most issues, I found the film to be slightly watered down in regards to the children.  They were used as accessories to the story.  The entire film centered on the fight between two strong willed women and a stubborn self-serving union man along with his trusty sidekick, a burned out woman who was torn between being right and doing the right thing.

The film showed teachers caring more about their seniority and benefits than caring about educating the children.  It showed the teachers union as a bunch of jerks with the leader of the union stating kids weren’t important because they didn’t pay union dues.  One of the slimiest moments of the film was when the character played by Holly Hunter attempted to bribe one of the mothers.

Overall I believe this is a movie worth seeing so that the focus on quality….no make that….superior education remains as one of the foremost benefits we can provide our children.

Sometimes I wonder if the struggles of the past have been completely forgotten.  Does anyone remember Brown vs. Boardof Education?  How about James Meredith?   In North America—the land of the brave and free, there are adults that simply can’t read.  When an adult can’t read, is it lost on folks that they couldn’t do so as a child?

Education is not a game played for victory by school unions, teachers or well meaning parents as the movie depicted.  It is about the children!  And they certainly deserve better than they are getting from a lackluster school system or ridiculous measures that moves a child along because they were taught to the test (No child left behind Act).

Won’t back down should be a mantra cited by every one of us and we should add to that, ‘won’t turn our backs on our children.’  When kids must go through a metal detector to enter schools and are not able to enter a school library due to cutbacks there is indeed a serious problem.  How can kids have a future if adults are taking away their present?  For our kids sake…don’t back down!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Simple suggestions to answering the knock of opportunity

“Opportunities only knock once.”  How many times have you heard that one? But is it really true?  Does the statement really make sense?  I will stand on the side of boldness and say, “That’s hogwash.”

Every day brings forth a newness, therefore it would stand to reason that another opportunity will come knocking in some form or fashion.  The real question is this, “Will you recognize opportunity when it knocks and will you be prepared to take advantage of it?”

In North America not a single human being is denied the right to live free and able.  Even those that have chosen to live outside of the laws most of us follow have spoken out on the greatness of the chances available.  Take the notorious criminal Al Capone (Jan. 17, 1899 – Jan. 25, 1947) for an example when he was once quoted as saying, “This American system of ours…call it Americanism, call it capitalism, call it what you like, gives to each and every one of us a great opportunity if we only seize it with both hands and make the most of it.” Powerful insight from a crook, don’t you think?

Are you making the most out of opportunities that may come your way?  Are you currently preparing yourself for the possibilities of an opportunity?  Simply sitting around waiting for the phone to ring isn’t preparation.  There isn’t a better time to get started than today.

Listed below are some simple suggestions to assist in preparation to answer the knock:

Be open-minded:  Opportunities don’t always come wrapped in an identifiable way.

Embrace learning:  You are never too old, too young or too smart to learn something new.

Be aware of self-inflected limitations:  Don’t be afraid to give something a chance just because it may be something you haven’t ever considered. (I’m only talking about the legal, ethical and moral aspects of life—to be clear).

Embrace networking:  Step outside of circles or influences that may limit new opportunities.

Seek guidance:  Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance and pick the brains of folks making positive forward strides.

Volunteer or intern:  By exposing others to your talents and abilities you can open more doors in the future.

Continue or start to work on making yourself a better more rounded individual:  Read, read and then read some more.  Invest in books, CD’s or seminars as learning tools.

Let it be known:  If Dr. Whatshisname isn’t aware that you have an interest in pharmacy how can he assist you.

Life is full of opportunities and those that are able to take advantage of them have one thing in common – they were prepared.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Five suggestions for resurrecting love

The loss of a loved one can have a devastating effect.   It can be especially difficult to overcome when the loved one left voluntarily.  No it wasn’t a death or an illness that took them away.  It was the break-up, the end of a relationship whether it entailed marriage or a mutual agreement of being together as one.  Over time life became or appeared to become so complicated that you just couldn’t take anymore.  The many things that could bring forth a smile now annoys to the point of etching a permanent frown on the face.  The time where the thought of being without that person could bring you to tears has passed only to be replaced by the tears that come from being with that person. 

The heart wants what it wants when and whom it may want—even if the one it wants no longer shares the emotion.  I don’t know if the organ can physically break in half, but it darn sure can feel like it has when pain enters its domain.  The sun doesn’t appear to shine as bright and the darkness of night isn’t welcome. 

Every love song being played on the radio or on the ever-present new wave listening device reminds you of lost times and the one that got away.  Your entire being screams, “What’s wrong with me?  Why couldn’t he/she love me for me?”  Answers don’t come with the questions and self-doubt creeps in like an uninvited guest that refuses to leave.  And the pain…oh my gosh…the pain.  No other word can aptly do it justice.  It can be explained in graphic detail, but in the end it all comes back to, pain. 

The ability to love can lead to the possibility of being hurt.  But even though there’s a probability of that fact, it shouldn’t make us run from love.  Life is full of the flip side of the coin.  Can we avoid or escape the negatives of life?  NO!  Can we take every encounter of life and learn and grow from them?  YES!
Life is love and love is life and all that comes with it.  Listed below are five suggestions for living a life of resurrected love:
1.    Seek to love yourself unconditionally: learn to accept that you are human and  capable of making mistakes.  Check yourself before trying to correct others.

2.    Seek to forgive yourself: once you make the inevitable mistakes, learn from them and move past them.  Be open to forgiving others.

3.    Seek to live with an open heart and mind: don’t block your blessings with self-imposed limitations.

4.    Seek to not settle for less than: don’t pick a mate based on your own shallowness, i.e. the car he/she drives or how good he/she may look.

5.    Seek to be honest with yourself at all times: the first partaker of a lie is the one speaking it.

 Remember we cannot make anyone love us, but we can certainly love ourselves.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Forgiveness is within

No matter our ethnicity, age, social bracket or even economic status, at some point in life all of us will seek to receive, give freely or even begrudgingly—forgiveness.  To err against another is as akin to mankind as stripes are to a zebra.  It may come in different patterns, but it’s still identifiable. When that happens we are faced with the challenge (and I do mean challenge) of choosing to forgive the transgressor or carry that transgression around as if it was a possession.

To forgive is to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake. How do men and women view forgiveness?  Are their thoughts on the matter universal?  In an attempt to answer those questions, I conducted an unscientific and random survey of 50 women and 50 men between the ages of 26 and 70.

Each individual was asked the following five questions. The questions were asked not for elaboration, but merely a yes or no answer and all parties involved consented to do so. The results were quite interesting and revealing despite its lack of science.

1.       Do you believe in forgiveness?

2.       Have you ever sincerely asked someone to forgive you?

3.       Do you consider yourself to be a forgiving person?

4.       Do you truly move past the incident once you have forgiven someone?

5.       Do you forgive yourself?

The findings were as follows:

1.       60% of the woman believed in forgiveness compared to 100% of the men.  

2.       Whereas 100% of women had sincerely asked for forgiveness, 20% of the men hadn’t.  

3.      While 100% of women considered themselves to be a forgiving person, only 60% of the men claimed likewise.  

4.      80% of the women surveyed said they do not move past the incident even though they claim to forgive.  Surprisingly 80% of the men stated they do move past the incident once forgiven. 

5.      The last question was indeed an eye opener.  When asked about forgiving oneself, each female surveyed responded quickly and without hesitation and 60% admitted to being capable of forgiving themselves.  When posed with the same question to a man each one paused and some even did so for over a minute or more before answering and 80% responded with a resounding no, they do not forgive themselves.

How would you answer the above listed five questions?  In all of us there is room for growth, improvement and change.  Let’s start with developing the ability to forgive and the first one that benefits from that should be—YOU.         

The English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744) once wrote and it is so apt, “To err is human, to forgive divine.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

Every failure brings forth a result

Ever since man first attempted to build fire he has encountered many obstacles, hindrance and delays in his effort to accomplish something new.   Imagine that conversation if you were able to decipher grunts.

“What you doin’?” asked the big ugly dude wearing a bear-skin loin cloth.
“Tryin’ to make fire.”  The little dude answered kneeling beside some dry twigs holding a rock in each hand.
“What is fire?”
“I don’t know.”
“How you learn of fire?”
“I heard the women folk speaking.  They say if they had fire they can make skunk taste like chicken.”
“Hurry up and make fire.”

One can only surmise that it took many attempts and many failures before an ember sparked into a flame.  It was through man’s steadfast continuance in doing something despite difficulty he achieved success.  Fire was born of man’s perseverance.  Not to mention some finger licking good skunk meat.

We will all encounter situations and times in our lives where we may feel as if we’re holding on by our fingertips.  In those times you just have to hold on.  Don’t let go and don’t give up. Keep applying the firmest grip possible to the edge.  Glory is at hand.

Three steps to perseverance:

1.    Be committed:  
Have an “all in” mentality.  Go for it so you can make it happen.  Take a shot on yourself. The late Senator Robert Kennedy once said, “Only those that dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly.”

2.    Be steadfast:
Be firm in your belief and determination.  Did you know that Van Gogh only sold one painting during his life, but that didn’t stop him from completing over 800 paintings?  In 1990 one of his paintings sold for $82.5 million.

3.    Stay focused:  
Keep your eye on the prize.  No matter the number of setbacks, chalk it up as a result. Remember Thomas Edison claimed failure 1000 times before successfully inventing the light bulb.

Oftentimes we may turn back in the darkness when light is merely steps ahead.  After not winning a golf tournament in two years Ernie Els could have simply rested on past glory, but the Big E proved that he was a true champion of perseverance when he won the British Open on July 22, 2012.  He wasn’t merely an underdog; he wasn’t even considered a contender.  Not only did he show up, he showed out and beat some of the best golfers in the world.

Be like Ernie.  Don’t allow the losses of the past to prevent you from winning in the future. Adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.  Victory is at hand; all you must do is—persevere.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Three simple steps to resolution

With a collective “Amen” how many of us made a resolution at the beginning of the year that we have yet to accomplish? Well don’t get discouraged; ever since the Gregorian calendar was created folks get so excited about the possibilities associated with a fresh start. Then something happens. Life tends to get in the way of living. All of a sudden those resolutions don’t seem as important and the possibilities have morphed into improbabilities.

Now another year fast approaches as the new one has become old. Still waters may run deep but uncertainty merely floats on the surface. Days continue to shoot by as if shot from a cannon and all in all they blend together and share one commonality - they all end in ‘y’. This raises a question some may have, “Why am I in the same place, doing the same thing and wishing for change and it all stays the same?”

Here’s a tool to apply that might just fix that stagnation problem. It may not be anything new and it’s certainly not mystical or magical. It’s called, “Examination of Determination.” This is a way of examining ones’ life and determining where you are and where you desire to be. To benefit from the utilization of this tool, complete and utmost honesty is required.

How to proceed:

First Step:
Write down whatever date you decide to do this exercise. Example: August 9, 2012.
Under the date write down where you are at this time in your life. Write whatever comes to mind, such as lifestyle, habits (good and bad), living conditions, job, income, etc. The purpose is to fully examine your life.

Second Step:
Write down the same month and date but change the year to the previous one. 

Example: August 9, 2011.

Under the date write down where you saw yourself at that time. The purpose is to illustrate how far you may have come or if you are indeed in a stagnant state. You want to see what
changes or growth have occurred over the year.

Third Step:
Under the date write the same month and date, with the year being five years ahead of the first date. Example: August 9, 2017.

Under the date write down how you envision your life to be at that time. The purpose is to visualize yourself living the life you truly desire.

This simple exercise enables one to focus on what’s important as well as illuminating the fact there’s always work to do in order to get better, be better and live better.

Simplistic as this may be, keep in mind; the first step on the ladder of success starts with a step up.

Monday, July 9, 2012

From the State to the Pen

On June 22, 2012, 68 year old Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on 45 counts of child sexual abuse. Despite being investigated, charged, arrested and judged for his actions by a jury of his peers, Sandusky claims he is innocent and remains determined to clear his name.

It’s widely believed that Sandusky used his former position as a longtime defensive coordinator for the powerhouse Penn State University’s football team and his own charity Second Mile which he founded in 1977 as a hunting ground to prey on unsuspecting boys. He had faced 48 counts of abuse against 10 boys over a fifteen year period.

33 year old adopted son, Matt Sandusky has also accused Sandusky of molestation.

This horrific news story must serve greater notice that child sexual abuse isn’t a dirty little secret that only happens to someone else’s kid.   According to the American HumaneAssociation 9.3% of helpless children are sexually abused.  Even more staggering is the fact the percentage of maltreatment suffered by children exceeds 100 percent based on some children being subjected to more than one type.  That is both an eye opening and heart breaking statistic.  Reportedly both sexes of child are just as likely to experience maltreatment.

It may take a village to raise a child, but just one to protect one.  Children need to be loved and nurtured and not become victims of sadistic predators seeking fulfillment of their perverted desires on the least helpless of society.  Sexual abuse is wrong on any level and definitely an abomination when it happens to an innocent child.

Child abuse must be eradicated.  Become an advocate for the overall well being of children everywhere. To learn more about this dreadful plight, please visit:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Choices: The birthright of life

No matter how much you succeed in life or who you are, you can still fall prey to temptation, lust, greed, and have your faith and beliefs shaken ­— if not completely stirred.  But before the final chapter is written, keep in mind that you possess free will to make your own choices.  In facing the reflected truth as you gaze in the mirror of self-revelations, you must admit that no one can make you do anything you don’t really wish to do, especially if you have the faith in yourself to persevere in even the most arduous endeavors you face.

In today’s society just about anyone can become famous or infamous within the flash of a camera.  Then quickly they become our idols and celebrities that embody the perfect lives that one can only dream about.  Strangely, when one of the elite makes a mistake, a sadistic glee rears up once the disappointment of feeling betrayed passes.  Often the supposition may be that somehow the fall of the mighty in some ways lifts us up.  Truth be told, it absolutely doesn’t.  It simply illustrates that elevation of our souls is within each of us and it begins with our process of making choices.

Choices are inextricably packaged with a person’s beliefs, paradigms, behaviors, and the ability to deal with the consequences of one’s action.  There exists within everyone an innate ability to make their own choices.  But with choice, there is also a measure of both accountability and responsibility.  Too often when one is faced with an unfavorable result (failure), there becomes a tendency to mask the result in excuses, rationalizations, or explanations rather than admit that it was an unwise choice that may have caused the end result.

Ironically the same mediums that elevate folk to celebrity status normally depict a storyline where adversity reveals the building of character.  In actuality, adversity doesn’t build character it reveals it. Character isn’t determined by how one conducts themselves when the choices are easy and comfortable, but rather how one conducts themselves when life is tough.

The mental process of thinking to determine a selection of multiple alternatives is one definition of choice.  While the media may showcase the flawed choices of the famous and others, instead of passing judgment and ganging up on those that fall due to unwise choices, it would be better served to learn a lesson that can be applied to one’s life.

In making those applications, ask yourself “How do I make choices in my life?”  Five simple steps may assist you:   
  1. Think it out. Ask the right questions. Is this the right thing to do? How will this affect me and others? Why am I doing this?
  2. Take ownership and be willing to deal with the consequences.  
  3. Accept responsibility for your actions.  
  4. Be accountable for your actions.
  5. Be honest with yourself.
The more you practice these five simple steps, the better you can become in making rational, intelligent choices that lead you forward—not standing in place, going backwards, or living a life full of regrets.  Give it a shot.  It’s your choice and it is a birthright.

Monday, January 9, 2012

From my heart to yours.

Let your light shine this year! Let your spirit run free!
Take the time to stand at the water’s edge and look out over the vastness and
the seemingly endless view and shout to the heavens, “As far as the eye can see
and beyond there exist endless possibilities and they start with my choices.”

Feel it, believe it, have faith and most
it! Yes, we are living in uncertain times, but if you review history, times
always appear to be uncertain in some form or fashion. That’s why I’m a big
proponent of living life until the end. I’ve become known for saying, “You
never know where life will take you, so just keep living.”

Where are you headed in your life this newly christened
year? Are you going go back to school? How about changing careers? Really
increase your exercise to help decrease your mid-section? Have better control
of your finances? Remove yourself from that unhealthy relationship? Or stop
overindulging in the liquid spirits or stop using street and prescribed drugs
as a way of coping with life’s challenges? I could go on and on.

It all starts with your choices. If you can (and I encourage
you to try) don’t complicate issues. Keep it simple. Simply give yourself permission
to live. Then do it! Take action where needed and attempt to remove, replace
and do away with as much self-inflicted negativity as possible.

I was privileged to meet an older wiser man named Henry
Walker during a down period of my life. The gentleman was a resident of a
nursing home. In my role as a volunteer, it was our responsibility to visit
certain institutions and report on findings of poor care, neglect, etc. One day
Mr. Walker asked me to read a letter to him he’d received from his daughter.
While we were interacting, he commented that I wasn’t my normal outgoing and
chipper self. That led to us having a conversation. During the talk I noticed
that Mr. Walker never stopped smiling. Then again over a two year period I had
the blessing of knowing him, I can’t remember him not having a smile on his
lips and a shine in his watery eyes. I can’t tell you how much his words meant
to me and how often I’ve put into action the advice he shared with me that day.
Little did I know that as he spoke to me and made it a point to lift me up, he
was actually dying. Even in what I considered—a dark hour—this man still took
the time to speak life into me. Mr. Walker died thirty minutes after I left his
room. I’m told that he died with a smile on his face.

When I met his daughter she told me that her father had a
tremendous passion for life and a great compassion for people. She said, “No
matter what, my Dad could always find the silver lining in the darkest of
clouds. He truly believed that each day was a new beginning.”

As I was leaving his room that day he spoke words that I
repeat and live by till this day, “You never know where life will take you, so
just keep living.”

I pray that contained in the above words there is food for
thought and nourishment for the soul.

Happy living in this New Year!