straight from the heart

Personal Instincts, Behavioral Modifications & The Struggle Within

In Self-Improvement, Society, Spirituality on September 15, 2018 at 6:14 pm

I readily admit, I am a walking contradiction. There are two of me – the heights me who took no shorts and regulated when necessary and the older me, a bit calmer, wiser and more tolerant. Growing up in the 80’s & early 90’s, I faced a lot of challenges. We grew up in my beloved Washington Heights section of Manhattan, right above Harlem. At the time, the streets were on fire. Everywhere you turned, there were temptations, strife & dangers. As a result, I developed some serious instincts that have guided me through the years. Those coupled with my genetic make up has made me the person I am today – not perfect by any stretch – but resilient. Back then I dealt fire with fire, handled my business with a swiftness & took on any and all challenges those streets tried bringing me. I protected my friends and our honor often – even when those jokers didn’t or wouldn’t understand. Although I was a little rough around the edges, my heart and motives were always in a good place. It took me 32+ years to start chipping away at those edges, refining my approach and handling challenges not always with fire. It remains a work in progress as I approach my 50th year on this Earth. Now I try to think a little more before I react, but I am here to tell you it is extremely hard sometimes, especially dealing in Corporate America. Dealing with individuals who are either hidden bigots, jealous or just plain jerk-offs and having to temper my responses and reactions is one of the hardest things I have had to learn. I continue to struggle with it. There are numerous occasions when something is said, done or insulated when I can feel my ire raise, causing me to want to react swiftly and decisively, but I know I cannot. I have to delve into my verbal judo mode, try to counteract, while leaving all in tact. My instincts yell for me to react differently, but my mind tells me to chill bro. I must be honest, there have been numerous times over the last 18-20 years, where after a situation like this, I retreat to a quiet place, look at myself and have not always been happy with what I see. I feel like I have cheated myself, who I am and most importantly what I am about. But there have been other times, when my reactions are more instinctual and forceful, when I also look at myself disappointingly and realize I could have done better. Why did I let that person or situation define me at that moment? You see folks, it’s a challenge. The problem is people sometimes try to bring the raw out of you, with their selfishness, their indignant behaviors. I have never done well with disrespect, perceived or otherwise. Sometimes I just want to snatch them up, look at them straight in their eyes and say you want to heights me or the newer me – pick quick and watch your mouth. People may read this and lie to themselves by saying disrespect is subjective. I say bullshit, disrespect is disrespect no matter where we are. People think, especially in the business world, that they can say and do whatever they want, because they are protected by the corporate ideologies. I always feel every action creates a reaction so be prepared. Some people will read this and not understand. They will accuse me of being hot tempered, violent or mean. This is not for them – that will never understand, as they are not cut from the same cloth. This is for my Real G’s who understand the struggle, even if theirs is not as pronounced. I think what makes my journey so hard, is because I care so much and am so passionate about everything I do and am. I give my all in everything and when it’s not reciprocated, it affects me. I am trying so hard to take a step back, review the landscape and react accordingly. I continue to be a work in progress. I’ll get there.

You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.

– Warren Buffett

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Work, Blessings & A Random Thought

In Family on December 21, 2016 at 9:03 am

As I sit on a plane heading to Atlanta for business,  I was just told to be prepared to give a speech to our staff at our Corporate event, outlining our company and its direction.  So I begin to think of the year that is passing & the year ahead, which led me to think of all the past, present and future hard work & obstacles I will have to undertake to get to where we as a company and I as an individual want to be.   In the midst of that, I began to focus on all the blessings I have had in my life, both personal and business oriented.  If I was to comment on all of them, I’d be writing a chapter as opposed to a blog post, so I will thank the good Lord now for all of them.  But I’d be remiss if I did not focus on my biggest blessing, my children and all the excitement of having them in my life, which would not be the same without them.  To honor them, I will try to use a few words to describe them:

Mariah – focused & compassionate. My eldest princess.  She is hard working and understanding; respectful and diligent. Non-judgemental. So proud of her!  No one has ever said a negative word bout her – except maybe her sisters. Lol. Future Leader!

Caresse – carefree & sweet. The next princess.  She lives life w/no worries. Always smiling with a calmness about her.  Has a way of making those around her smile. On her way!

Chelsea – thoughtful & social w/a flair about her, but tough. She’s my mini-me in many ways.  My next princess.  Very family oriented & sensitive. Caring & helpful. Full of spunk!

Jared – innocent & responsible. My only son.  Strong minded & loyal. Tougher than he looks, but shy.  All the kids love him.  Cautious, but figuring it out!

Cosette – classy & quiet. My next princess.  She’s dignified & intelligent with a world of potential. Studious & inquisitive w/compassion. The world at her fingertips!

Cambrie – rambunctious & independent. My littlest princess (about to be 3). My angel. Full of life, infectious personality. Loveable. Can’t wait to see her grow! 

So there it is. Thank you Lord for these beautiful children & allowing me to be a part of their lives. 

Now I gotta get back to the work part….

I’d rather be a man who has nothing but has it all, than a man who has it all but has nothing. 

              – Sugar Ray Leonard

Sadness, Anger & A Message To Our Young Brothers

In Racism, Society on July 8, 2016 at 12:19 pm

I am both sad and angry today.  As most of you have probably read and seen, there have been “at least” two more murders of Black males at the hands of law enforcement.  As result of that and the feeling of hopelessness and unfulfilled justice, vigilantes then struck in Dallas, killing at least five law enforcement officers at a protest rally.  I have said this for many years, if the mistreatment, harassment and unjustified killings of people of color continued – a new civil war would erupt or as wifey recently stated – more like a revolution would commence.  Now, I know a lot of police officers, my dear brother being one, and I can understand their stresses; I can even see how some of these things happen in certain cases and how the general population wrongly jump to conclusions right away, but real talk, I am done!  I don’t want to hear any more excuses as to why this keeps happening.  This has been happening much too often to ignore or brush off as just training issues.  Police killed at least 102 unarmed black people in 2015, nearly twice each week. That’s nuts.  Only 10 of the 102 cases in 2015 where an unarmed black person was killed by police resulted in officer(s) being charged with a crime, and only 2 of these deaths (Matthew Ajibade and Eric Harris) resulted in convictions of officers involved. Only 1 of 2 officers convicted for their involvement in Matthew Ajibade’s death received jail time. He was sentenced to 1 year in jail and allowed to serve this time exclusively on weekends. WTF?!?!? The post reported that “Unarmed black men are seven times more likely than whites to die by police gunfire.”  Now why in the hell is that?  Really?  Is it that we are more menacing looking?  Intimidating? One of the killings was a 12 y/o black male youth in Ohio who was playing w/a toy gun in the park w/his 14 y/o sister.  A cop pulls up & begins shooting!  Kills the boy dead – no questions asked.  I get shivers thinking of that.  Shivers of anger and confusion.  How bout Mr. Walter Scott in Charleston, SC, shot in the back as he ran away  and then seeing as the cop tried to plant a gun near him.  What also angered me with this one was seeing a black female cop arrive on the scene and do absolutely nothing, but stand guard of the dead man!  And now these two latest murders – cause let’s face it, they are murders – of Alton Sterling and the incomprehensible murder of Philando Castile in Minneapolis after being stopped for a broken taillight with his girlfriend and her 4 y/o daughter in the car – even after he told the cop he had a gun on him in which he was licensed to carry.  The cop asked for his license and registration then shot him as he went to get it!  Did I mention there was a 4 y/o child in the car!!!  Shooting with a child present??  Mr. Castile had his seatbelt on the whole time, thus restricting his movement somewhat.  Where you that afraid Mr. Officer that you not only murder an innocent man, but put a 4 y/o child in harms way?? These are just some we know about because they made national news.  In 2015, an unarmed mentally ill man in Texas was killed while holding a fucking soup spoon!  As a person of color who grew up in a rough environment during the drug craze of the 80’s, this shit hits home.  There were several times in my youth where this easily could have been me.  Some of you reading this know quite well the hell I am talking bout.  I have been accosted, detained, pushed & even “pulled on” twice for no reason other then for “looking the part” or having the audacity to question their actions.  I sighed as I wrote that, a tear nearly dropping, as I remember those times and continue to believe it was my brother blood who was looking out for me from above.   Let’s analyze this for a minute.  Is it the lyrics to our songs that get them nervous or afraid?  Is it how we dress, walk, talk or carry ourselves.  They root for our athletes, our entertainers and visit our doctors, but they shoot our children dead in the street.  I plead with all our youth, please check yourselves.  Give them no reason – even tho recently that doesn’t seem to matter.  When you get stopped, and I DO MEAN WHEN NOT IF, you get stopped, chill and do what is requested; answer politely while holding in your frustrations.  Take the ego loss – it’s a situation you/we can not win.   Never reach for anything & always keep you hands visible.  Pull up your damn pants and button your shirts.  Stop all this colors shit, talking shit bout what you gonna do or not do….real gangsters move in silence anyway.  Respect yourselves and your fellow brothers….don’t you see what can happen?  What risk you put us all in??  You get pulled over, shut your mouth & just follow instructions.  What’s the point of flexing?  Now I am not saying its anyone’s fault.  Shit these law enforcement entities need to better train their officers, realize they are scared, prejudiced, bigots or incapable of “protecting and serving” us.  I know some cops who have no business being on the job!  Down-low criminals  – for real.  To all you brothers who are in law enforcement – DO SOMETHING DAMN IT!!  No way you guys can not see what the fuck is happening & not feel some kind of way.  I could have gone into law enforcement – had several opportunities – but was turned off by the arrogance and bullshit I saw.  God knows what he does for sure, cause God knows I would have not stood for this shit in my house.  I would have been a Serpico (look it up) type and probably would have had some major issues with some of these bastards.  How could any of you just stand there and allow this to keep happening to your fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and friends.  Yes it seems no one of color is immune.  Right now it’s hard for me to look at some of these dudes and not feel angry; not question them in my mind as I walk by – what type of cop are you??  I do not like that feeling.  I thought I left those thoughts alone years ago.  Yet here we go, 2016, and has there really been much change??  And where the hell are all the big time athletes & entertainers??  Where is our generations Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabbar & Mohammed Ali??  Some make little comments, some may wear a T-shirt, but where is the outreach?  The boycotts?  The real dialogue that can help bring change & awareness???  Instead you rather maximize your advertising dollars and not make any waves.  Well in the immortal words of Tupac Shakur – “Fuck All Y’all!”  Stand the fuck up and be accounted for.  For whatever reason, God has blessed all of you with some power – power of $$, power of a fan based, power from your skill sets – something – use it then!  Use it to help those that need it right about now.  I don’t want to hear people like Jordan, Barkley or Woods say it’s not their jobs to be role models or to get involved.  Yes the fuck it is!!  You are in the spotlight, for whatever reason people listen to ya’ll and care bout what you have to say – for whatever dumb reason, so use it man.  Be a man, a black man at that, and lend a hand.  Shit, maybe one day it will be one of your own laying in the street.

 “Where’s our part of the American dream?!”

                            – Malcom X (1961)