Thursday, October 27, 2011

"High School: A fitting place for Halloween"

It's been awhile since I've graced the halls of Wade Hampton High; yes, I said graced. I was a model student. I was very active in student government, a senior class officer, a tennis player, a band member (Marching and Concert), and I took a couple of AP and Honors classes as well. Beyond the classroom, I worked at Bi-Lo, and J. Crew to earn enough income to buy my clothes and school supplies. I also worked at my uncle and aunt's "nickel and dime" store washing cars and running the cash register with my three cousins in tow. As you can see, I was a pretty responsible kid. I even managed to graduate with a pretty good ranking although my home life was CRAZY! But I did it and managed to emerge with my sanity in place.

For the past four years, I have been substituting in my towns high schools and middle schools, and let me just say, I am scared. I have seen some great students, and I also have seen some horrible students. Though the great students reassure me and create positive thoughts about their generation's handling of the future, the bad students scare me. I'm not running for my life, but I have serious concerns for my children.

Some of them have already picked their lot in life. They are happy to do nothing, and leave everything for others to do. They try their best to do as little as possible to simply "get by", and that's unacceptable. I have heard the most disrespectful things come from them, and I have seen horrible behaviors. I just can't imagined that I ever acted in this manner. I remember much of my high school years with very clear detail, and I can honestly say I was never "out of line". But these students, these adolescent prodigies are simply beyond taming in some cases, and yes, many of them will see the inside of a jail cell several times, if they have not already.

As I was reading my plans from the period, I overheard a black female student tell other black female students that she is not into dating black boys. She stated this as she called over the brightest student in the class, a black boy, for assistance. She then went on to state that she doesn't want her house to be "shot up". "What an indictment", I thought to myself as I stared at her in disbelief for several minutes to digest what I witnessed. I know that their brains are still developing, and trying to stabilize. I know that they are emotionally insane; however, I just can not get past their "over the top" behavior, and reactions to things.

Whether they follow Lady Gaga or not, these little monsters will be home soon. As I passed them in the halls, and passed them in the parking lot, I could attest to the effectiveness of their masks and costumes. They have done their jobs because I am scared out of my mind. I think to myself then, "these crazy emotional unstable beings are driving 2 ton vehicles down the highway right past me, and sometimes in multiples?" It's just the 27th of October, and Halloween came early this year. Unfortunately, this Halloween will never lose it's fright, or ghoully appeal.

Monday, July 4, 2011

"Discovering Your Wealth"

I apologize for the time lapse between this article and my last. It's been a whirlwind for me so far this summer. Between a trip to Disney for the kids, working, and supporting my wife's efforts at a local park helping low achieving children, I've had no time to think about anything I deem creative or enjoyable. Even though I enjoyed doing the above, there is something to be said about feeding your own passions in life.

Sunday morning, July 3, 2011 found me jogging in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. It was an awesome morning. The sun was shining bright, and forced me to confront moss tree shadows as I caravaned by harnessed ringed time. The cool air felt great as I passed row house after row house littered with rocking chairs, and second story balconies covered with tables adorned with beer bottles, and spent ashes telling Saturday night stories. I felt like a young boy growing up in Varnville, South Carolina again as I railed by elders making their way to the churches that sured up Rutledge Avenue on every other block. Some were active still, and others were already abandoned by concrete. Yet, somehow, I got a rise as I past; I was stirred by the history and the spirit of this place. I jogged on but thought to myself, what faith could have held a people through slavery to freedom? What hope and assurances encouraged them to build homes and businesses in a place that for so long didn't even acknowledge their existence?

When the House of Prayer was long sensed in my rear view, I had settled into my first mile at the park in front of The Citadel, and I smiled. I was having the best time of my life doing something I loved, running. I felt confident, free, and loved. I was apparently late for the party; the dance of the runner had began without me. I passed families, couples, girlfriends, old friends, and lovers running together. I enjoyed the hesitation in my stride as I said hello to everyone I encountered on the track. I felt connected to these strangers, if only through our communal smiles and salutations. My passions were awaken, and for those 3 1/2 miles, for that moment in the middle of Charleston's breath, I didn't want to be anywhere else. Life's burdens, obligations, and stumbling blocks were removed, and I was one with the universe. I was indeed free.

As I made my way back to Cousin Joy's house on Rutledge, I realized that I wanted that type of freedom professionally; I needed that type of empowerment and freedom professionally. Then something whispered, you have it already. And it was right, I did have it, but it couldn't be recognized under my expectations. I realized that I may not make as much money as other people in my circle, but I always seem to be happier, and it's because I actually love what I do for a living. I've heard so many people say do what you love and the money will come. And I believe them; I, like some of you, have to exercise more faith on the matter.

Loving, or being passionate, about what you do is the key to discovering your true wealth. I spent a long time following other people's dreams and plans for my life. I spent a good portion of time trying to live up to their expectations before I learned to set my own. Life has taught me that you've got to carve out your own dreams to follow. Individually, we've got to set our own life's pace. Ultimately, our legacy, and our wealth will be established while we're striving and toiling to pursue our passions in life.

So if you're interviewing or applying for a job, or maybe deciding whether to pursue a professional opportunity, ask yourself this question, "If I could do anything in the world at this moment, what would it be?" Maybe it's a dream, or maybe it's a dream that is currently a hobby. If your answer is not related to the job you are applying for, or the opportunity you're pursuing, don't do it. Pursue that idea, or career that makes you feel alive. Go after what you are passionate about with all of your soul and spirit. You will be better for it in the end.

I'm speaking from experience because I was a job board, job site junkie. I always needed to find the next thing, or I needed to make more money. Money, money, money was constantly on my mind because I wanted to provide a nice comfortable living for my family, I needed a bigger house, and a newer car. Thank goodness passion, and faith reformed me. They helped me realize that I am comfortable and genuinely happy and excited about my future. My pursuit of the non-factors was making my life uncomfortable. I had to realize that the non-factors were imposed by others and adopted by me, not created by me. I didn't have any expectations about building my wealth when I started my Sunday morning run, and yet, when I was finished I was a wealthy man. Who knew so much would be revealed and confirmed in my life in such a short distance. My cool down began, and I was thankful for my revelation, thankful that God had caught me listening.

Monday, February 14, 2011

"Taking It On the Chin"

I try not to get too vested in any institution in the South because of its innate “good ol’boy” atmosphere; however, an article regarding cutting needed programs in schools for struggling students in South Carolina struck a chord. I am for effective, equitable, and fair education for every child, and equitable work environments for their teachers.

A couple of years ago, Jim Rex, former SC Superintendent of Education, stated he was asking the State’s teachers to “take it on the chin” because they would not get any raises due to the State’s budget, and they did as they have been doing for years. In some past news article, a couple of principals in South Carolina are quoted as stating “teachers need to be more enthusiastic”, “they will just have to do more with less, and that “teachers will have to pick up the slack”. Newsflash!!! Teachers have been doing the above for years to help students, and that’s pretty hard to do when, even to be a mediocre teacher, it requires that you have to spend at least $500 of your own money to properly equip your classroom for instruction. If you’re not in a district like Fort Mill (#1 District in SC), don’t count on parents being able to supply you with copy paper, etc., or volunteer hours. Teachers spend $500 of a salary that has been cut due to mandatory furlough days, no step raises (consistent), and, for many, competing student loan payments for their education. Teachers have been managing the impending financial crisis of their families due to the above cuts, and have been managing to teach our children with less money, less district support, and more demands and criticism from all angles.

“Teachers have to be more enthusiastic? Really? The principals quoted have long forgotten the drawbacks of the trade. Teachers get no maternity/paternity leave like the rest of the “modern world” to start their families. If they don’t have enough sick days banked, they don’t get paid. There is no tuition reimbursement for their education. They have no Union interrupting their salary cuts and step raising. Enthusiastic about what, even more work for less pay?

Not once did either principal quoted state, as recorded by the paper, that “we” need to be more enthusiastic, and that “we” all need to do more with less. It was all about what teachers needed to do. How is an overworked underpaid teacher going to be effective at helping any students when he or she is burnt out and shown no appreciation for the miracles (something from nothing) they perform year after year? Who will stand for the noblest among us, the teacher? If school districts were not so “top heavy”, there would be more money available for needed programs like the ones being cut. There are four Superintendents of Education in many SC counties, and not a plan exists between them to address the needs of “every” student. Maybe they should listen to the principals quoted in the article? They seem to have the answer, pile it all on the teachers! What convenient scapegoats for leadership that lacks vision and too inept to devise a plan. The train is leaving the station in South Carolina, and look, they just left 100 children behind, and without the weight, making good time!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"Unleavened Bread"

Lately, I've been stressed out about so many things. From my professional path to the future of my children, many aspects of my life have vexed my spirit because I have no control over them. My difficulty, however, truly comes from balancing my faith and my own abilities to affect change in my life regarding those areas. I wonder if I'm in the right business; am I doing the right thing, and doing right by all those I come in contact with?

Deep seeded and interwoven into my soul, there's a constant tug towards greatness in something. For the past three months, I've had this peace in the mist of my rocky climb. I've been given an oasis of clear thought and expression in the desert of my journey to realize my greatness. I have a need to help people, and educate people to help them change their positions in life. It is what I truly believe I am meant to do; however, how do I align my passion, a perceived calling, financial obligations, family, and ministry?

Now, I know what you must be thinking. And yes, the above is a handful to reconcile. However, I truly believe my greatness in paired with this reconciliation. How I'm going to accomplish it, I don't know. I do know that as I continue to strive for answers and mediate my internal strife, I will continue to draw closer to the power source of life and the expectancy that it holds. I will continue to raise the bar on what's acceptable in my life. The more I am able to remove those things that make my life rise with pseudo conflicts, obstacles, and pitfalls, I will be able to see all things with a very flat and static sight which lends itself to dynamic interpretation. Like unleavened bread, life should be free of any agents giving rise to air pockets, or false priorities that may distort, or give a false sense of sustenance because of the appearance of fullness.

Life is a beautiful stroll on a rainy day filled with puddles that seek to intimidate our walk, and heavy showers that seek to cloud of vision. But the human spirit aligned with a higher power infused with the love of God is resilient. It provides shelter for our thoughts, and gives us spiritual depth perception so that we are able to step in puddles that are deep in appearance only. It allows us to continue walking without breaking our stride because of a down pour fore we know that storms break and give way to sunshine "after while".

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Your Best Self"

Hello everyone! It's been awhile since I've blogged. Yeah, I know, you excuses right, but I do have one, life. Life started really happening. I had some professional certifications coming up that I had to start studying for months in advance, and then I started studying for the LSAT. Most on now trying to discourage me for venturing into Law School as the rating for job placement has been exposed as false. In any event, I struggling to create and evolve the "best me".

I've done many things in my young life. An experience that's been molded by grandparents, parents, and other extended family whose backs and shoulders I stand on. As I reflect on my life, and meditate on "The Dream" a day after the MLK Holiday, I realize how blessed I am. I have a beautiful family, and friends who love me for me, no pretenses put forth or allowed. They are my inner circle; I trust them to tell me when I am right or wrong. Knowing that whatever accomplishment I obtain my core will keep me grounded, I strive to be my best self, bold, passionate, and interrupted.

This desire has my really wanting to enlighten and teach old things from a new perspective. It's made me want to share more, and reach out to those I don't know. It's making me kinder, and more gentle. I listened to Piers Morgan's interview of Oprah Winfrey this morning, and she said something that pierced my spirit (no pone intended). She stated that money and fame had afforded her the platform to strive towards making people their best yourselves. She want on to say that if she had a brand, it would be "Love", the "Love Brand". I thought that was fitting, and on point when I think about her life and what she has done for others up to this point with her empire.

I hear so many people complain about things in life that they can effect if they became involved in the community around them. I'm so painfully saturated by poignant words of hate regarding our president through the comments section of articles that I quit reading for months anything remotely connected to politics. To paraphrase Dr. King, an injustice anywhere, is an injustice everywhere. We are all connected, and we have a vested interest in the success of our brothers and sisters. When was the last time you helped someone do something? When was the last time your given thought to someone outside of your family, or core circle? If you're still thinking, you've got some work to do.

I'm at my best spiritually, emotionally, and physically when I'm helping make the world a better place. When I'm plugged into a higher purpose other than myself, I am the epitome of filled and satisfied. It gives me a sense of community, and a sense of my purpose in life. I've noticed in church lately, I've been weeping revelation tears. An enlightenment has come over me that I have to share and talk about almost daily. And though I'm not there yet, I continue to strive to be my "best self". I continue to hold my destination at heart, and most importantly, I've learned to enjoy the cadence of the journey.