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Archive for the ‘Self-Improvement’ Category

Excuses, Explanations & The Thin Line Between Them

In Self-Improvement, Society on January 10, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Whenever something happens where the outcome is less than desirable or completely different than what was expected, there no doubt is always a reason as to why, an explanation.  Something outside your control, an unforeseen circumstance, someone else flipped the script – it happens.   We fix it & move on.  Those explanations are usually one & done, the situation is corrected & the outcome is as close to desirable as possible.  Now when a person continues to fall short of expectations, the outcomes are continuously weak or the “dog ate my homework”, well then those become excuses.  We all know those to whom there is ALWAYS a reason why things do not go as planned, expectations are not met or their situations are always dire.  Those, my people, are full of excuses – whom  try to camouflage them as explanations.  “I am just explaining to you why I couldn’t do this” or “It was not my fault, all these things happened…”  When this becomes a chronic situation, either at work or in your personal life, then guess what – they are excuses!  I am so very tired of people always making excuses as to why their situations don’t improve or why they keep doing the same things; of them passing the buck onto others or outside forces.  It is much easier for these folks to pass the blame, then to really look in the mirror, into their psyche and realize they are the common denominator.  They are quick to keep telling you what they can’t or couldn’t do, while rarely, if ever, telling you what they CAN do; never providing internal solutions  to remedy the specific situation or chronic behavior or outcomes.  When brought to their attention, they get very defensive, usually just shutting down, too busy thinking of more excuses to make their point and less listening to possible solutions or different ways of handling future instances that may help provide a different outcome.   Character flaw?  Maybe, but it doesn’t mean it can not improve or slowly begin to tip to a more productive side of you.  There is a fine line between them for sure.  We can all justify why something did not get completed or why we can not achieve certain things.  There will always be outside forces making things challenging.  It’s when we decide not to let these things sabotage our goals, or find ways around them, with concrete plans and outside the box thinking, that we begin to turn those excuses into non factors.  If left to its own devices, these continued excuses will continue to derail people from their ultimate wishes.  It’s a correctable problem, but before it can change, it must be acknowledged.  So for those of you this speaks too, raise your hands and admit “Yes, I am an excuse maker!”

“Open your eyes & that will quiet your voice.”

-Willie Mays

A Hiatus, Reflection & The Rebirth of a Voice

In Self-Improvement on January 2, 2016 at 11:08 pm

I know, it’s been a while.  Took some time off from writing to focus on other things.  My lil sunshine has kept me quite busy & work is non-stop.  I expect big things in 2016 – I hope.  But mostly, I took time to step back & reflect some.  2015 seemed to fly by & I lost that want to write, to verbalize my thoughts.  Things happened, some good, some bad & often I would think of commenting, but never had the will to sit & cement my opinions for all to see.  I began to wonder who the hell cared about what I thought or had to say anyway, even though many would ask when I would write again.  Although I appreciated the inquiry, the urge seemed to have gone.  Recently however, that want returned; that will to communicate my thoughts – a release if you will.  I sat back & re-read some of my older stuff & felt some kind of way.  I keep thinking of my lil sunshine, who just turned 2 yesterday, and figured if something was to happen to me, this can be a way for her to someday read my writings & get a deeper understanding of who her daddy was, what he was about.  As for my other kids, it still gives me a way to reach them; to touch them “silently” with my words.  Hopefully, as they continue to navigate through this world, it can provide them some food for thought, some guidance.  Mostly tho, I decided to do it for me – as a way to quiet my mind; put some thoughts out there while releasing the bottleneck of ideas and opinions that infiltrate my dome.  A way to express my joys and frustrations, my victories and defeats, my happiness and pain.  I exercise to work my body; this will help work my mind.  It’s also a way for me to look back as well through the upcoming years and gauge my hopefully continued growth.  Did my thoughts change?  Did I see the world through an evolving prism?  Did I become wiser?  I am positive somethings will never change with me.  My code is my code, which I am proud of, but I am sure some opinions may change or evolve; how I might begin to see things from a different set of eyes.  The trick is to remain true to self, to your core & then blossom around it.  Therefore, I am gonna let my voice go and throw caution to the wind. So the hiatus is over; the reflections are ongoing, and the voice….ahhh the voice is back!

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

-Nelson Mandela

Honor, Integrity & One’s Code

In Friendships, Relationships, Self-Improvement, Society, Spirituality on May 21, 2014 at 10:44 pm

Throughout my life I have struggled with many levels of betrayal from different folks. It didn’t always register with me, but I always felt a certain kind of way. It didn’t change how I treated or interacted with anyone, but it always left a bad feeling in my gut. Sometimes the betrayals were small in nature, while others were bigger. People would do or not do certain things, leaving me to question how or why. Sometimes, especially when younger, I would approach or call out some folks in an effort to understand their reasoning or inform them how it was not appreciated. As you can imagine, that did not always go over very well, so suffice it to say I had many battles. As I grew older, I would internalize it more and cope differently. Some of these instances, probably more than not, would be very minor to most folks, but to me – especially dealing with friends or family, always left an imprint. Even after these instances, I maintained solid relationships with most because of my sense of loyalty, attempt to accept or understand. But honestly it would chip away at me, sometimes manifesting in bitterness or distrust. I remember thinking one time if it was me? Was I just different? Why do these things bother me or why can I not be like everyone else and let stuff be? Now let me be clear, it wasn’t a difference of opinion or handling a situation correctly in a different way than I would-no; what I am trying to explain is when one of your “people”, who you have been there for whenever needed or helped or listened to or carried or supported, basically doesn’t reciprocate or even appreciate. Again to be clear, I never did anything with the intention of getting anything in return – never. It’s more a hey, we are “peoples” I got you; but I would be damned if others felt similarly. It wasn’t til I met a guy who became a sort of mentor to me, who after working with me for a few weeks, approached me with a smile while saying he understood me, claiming we were very similar. Surprised, I asked how so. He responded how I live by a code. A code he believes not everyone lives by. While humbled by his words, I gave it a little thought, but continued living. Recently I met another professional who after speaking with me a few times, reiterated the same exact thing. He also explained how I live by a certain code of honor & loyalty; a code of helping & thoughtfulness. How I am too hard on myself when things go awry. He mentioned selflessness and sincerity; passionate and thoroughness. To hear this again, it made me acknowledge how I do have a code I try to live by and how it can sometimes affect me when people portray a sense of loyalty or togetherness, but rarely act on it when it doesn’t benefit them or puts them out of their comfort zone. It’s like when you help your friend or cousin move, but when you need the help they are too busy. Or when you call your friends always asking bout their loved ones, but rarely is it initially asked of you. These are the minor ones, all which I am sure can be reasoned about or made excuses as to why, but ultimately it is a snapshot into who they are or what their code is. I understand people have different codes they live by, which is what makes this world interesting. But it’s when they are cingular in focus that give me pause. By no means does it make them all bad people, just different. Different can be great, but when it affects your code or moral fiber, then it may be time to loosen the cord or move on.

When someone shows you who they are you best believe them.

– Maya Angelou

Life’s Pain, Vulnerability & Re-Discovery

In Love, Relationships, Self-Improvement, Spirituality on January 20, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Life has a way of humbling you. When you think you have it figured out, it reminds you that you don’t know shit. We think we can control things, steer the outcome to how we want or need. However, what I keep learning, as shared by a good friend of mine, is that all we do is control the process, but not the outcome. We can try a plan for things, try to make things work, save, love, work hard, but ultimately we have no control over what happens. Too many variables can interfere with the ending. Real talk, I have gone through some rough emotional moments recently, culminating in a dark sad moment where I felt lost, alone & broken. Where I felt sorry for myself & asked why me? I thought I had done all I could, was a good man & deserved better. It has put me in a bad emotional place where I want to disappear, be alone & not hear about anything or anyone. When you invest yourself totally in something, someone or in everything you do, but it never seems enough, it gets rough. When you are shunned, ignored, disrespected or taken for granted, even though you know you have extended & exhausted every fiber of your being, only to result in failure, what do you do? How are you to feel? Recently, I have been unable to focus, to overcome this feeling of emptiness. It resulted in real tears. Yeah, those who know me may be surprised, but I cry too. Maybe it was the realization that in this world of billions, I felt alone. I have been trying to dig into my spirituality, to find some meaning, but have yet to come across the answer. I went to church in my search, but instead of contentment, it bought me an overwhelming sense of loneliness, of questions & of confusion. I lost it as an overwhelming feeling of sadness enveloped me. A recent loss suffered just overtook me & I broke down. I became embarrassed; how could I feel this way? Why do I? Life gets painful when you feel pulled in multiple directions, always there for everyone when they need you, but find what you need is never fulfilled. It’s painful when you realize you can’t find happiness where you want it most. I felt like I had nothing left inside, nothing more to give anyone. Like a piece of me was gone, taken & never to be regained. I became reflective, thinking of my experiences & failures, my triumphs & goals. I wondered what the good Lord’s plan was for me & why were my plans not good enough? I tried to suppress the oncoming feelings, but couldn’t. I hated the fact I had gotten to this point, had allowed myself to become vulnerable. I had always prided myself in the belief I could handle anything, but now I had reached a level of brokenness I could not contain any longer. I fashion myself a private person, strong minded & tough. But here I am sharing a piece of me with you, with the hopes of reducing some of the burden. It’s a hard thing when reality hits and you realize how regardless of your efforts, other factors influence outcomes. How what you think is right is wrong, and what you thought was wrong was right. How you can love completely, but still be left empty. How you can work tirelessly, yet be stunted. Somehow, someway we have to overcome this & solider on – never allowing these unexpected feelings to become permanent. I had reached my limit I suppose & just realized I had to keep being me. Stay true to self & maintain my dignity no matter the situation. I have to start thinking of me, living for me & doing me a little more often, while still being who I am, keeping my essence. By this I mean, not sacrificing my personhood to please everyone, thus leaving myself depleted. It might be a long road, but I have no choice. I have always been this way & it has lead me to this point. I have to move forward, learn & grow; accept, persevere & be strong. I am not sure if you all have experienced a moment like I described, but I can tell you it is a deep cleansing of the soul. A cleansing I hope leads to happiness, freedom & inner peace.

I broke down a while ago, picking up the pieces; memoirs of how the undefeated can feel depleted.

– Joe Budden

Time, Resolutions & New Beginnings

In Education, Friendships, Parenting, Relationships, Self-Improvement on January 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm

2012 was an interesting year with many ups & downs. It started with such promise, saw it’s share of turbulence & potential then ended with a thud. Once the new year rolls around we get reflective, thinking about what we can do the following year to improve upon our lives while making positive footprints in the lives of others. The problem with resolutions, noble & full of promise as they may be, is they are often short lived. One starts with such enthusiasm to accomplish it all, but inevitably it fizzles, causing us to fall back into our old baits & routines. It is hard for most people to sustain the energy to change everything they feel the need to change; it is why I suggest people take small gradual steps, toward reasonable attainable goals, to fulfill their souls. Focus on the most important goal or needed change in your life & gradually work your way to achieve it. Truthfully, we should not feel the need to wait for the new year to hold ourselves accountable. I guess the new year allows us to hit the reset button, to forget any transgressions and to build on the positive steps taken. Time can be our ally, allowing wounds to heal & resolutions to be reached. Everyday is a new beginning; an opportunity to grow, strive & accomplish. If the new year is when you decide enough is enough on anything, then be definitive. Stay the course, know what you want or need, then take the necessary steps to achieve. Everything that happened the preceding year had a purpose; learn from it. Embrace what was learned or gained, not what failed or was lost. What one considers failure others may see growth. I will share a few of my resolutions with you all to hold myself even more accountable. I hope to become more spiritual & patient. More understanding & compassionate. To read more & develop a long term life plan. But most important, the same resolution I hope for year after year, is to find freedom & inner peace. Being true to myself going forward is a great start.

Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought.

– Henri Bergson

Interactions, Meanings & The Power of Words

In Friendships, Relationships, Self-Improvement, Society on July 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Sticks & stones can break my bones, but words can never harm me. Hmmmmm – really? Whoever penned that phrase may have been delusional. Maybe it was their attempt to have people look at a person’s actions while disregarding some of their words? While that may hold firm on occasion, many times it doesn’t. Bones heal my friends, but sometimes words, especially how delivered, linger. I wonder, when someone professes their love & devotion to someone, how in the heat of a discussion, disagreement or argument, they would reach into that person’s soul & insult them in ways they wouldn’t do to anyone else. Say things they know will deeply affect their mate; things that can completely change things in a fateful instant. Are the things they spew what they really feel about that person deep inside? Are they intent on causing this person hurt to placate their need to remedy whatever wrong they feel they were subjected too? Discussions, disagreements or arguments, by nature usually imply a difference of opinions, some stronger than most. But why must it get to a point where the words become daggers & the vibe becomes tenuous? People may think the words used are just that “words”, but fail to realize the power these “words” can yield. How much hurt, resentment & eventual damage they can cause. It can cast doubt over all the positive words & actions they may have done in the past. We have all been guilty of saying things we have regretted, but we must learn from these instances if we want to make any relationship we choose to be in work. It’s hard for people to rip into someone for slights or perceived infractions they themselves do all the time. Blankety stating, “this is how I am”, doesn’t cut it if you want to be in a serious relationship with someone who has expressed some concern over certain reactions, especially if it causes the other person angst. Being in a relationship sometimes means doing & listening to things that one may not care to do at a particular time, but you do anyway because the person you profess to care for needs it. Folks, relationships are hard work, but should be the most rewarding interactions we have. Try to understand the lasting impression some words can have on someone. Is it a pride thing that causes you to lash out with such harsh, insulting words or phrases? Is it pride that causes you to pile on the insults once you see how those words were received instead of apologizing or trying to make right? Is it really worth ruining a wonderful thing over it? Or is it how you really feel & you just want to make sure the intended party knows it? If this is it, is there a better way? Now I understand how certain words can carry more weight with different people or different cultures, but if you are in a relationship and truly love your mate, don’t you owe it to them to understand better the impact your words may have? Think about these things the next time a discussion, disagreement or argument breaks out, it may help keep a good thing going.

Cursing the darkness only delays the dawn.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life, Lessons & The Power of Thought

In Self-Improvement on May 17, 2012 at 1:22 am

There are moments in our lives when an occurrence or thought cause our life to change. An experience that as time passes you look back and recall how at the moment of your epiphany you began to see things differently. Things looked clearer, your thought process changed & life seemed different. I had such a moment today. While on a long needed break, I was sitting on the beach looking out onto the Caribbean Sea mesmerized by its beauty, when a sort of calmness came upon me. My mind grew quiet and the world seemed to stand still. I saw a young boy, maybe 5 years old, running on the beach ahead of his mom, pure joy on his face. As he came to a stop, he turned, smiled & threw his hands into the air as his mom approached, in a sort of victory pose. I thought to myself, wow this kid gets it. I gazed back out to sea thinking about the blessings bestowed upon me. To my left was a beautiful tree, the gentle wind blowing its leaves in a rhythmic beat. A few feet away was a small bird looking regal as it stood perched on a nearby table. To my right was an older couple laying beside each other on beach chairs thoroughly enjoying each other’s company, obvious veterans in the relationship game. Sure I am spending a few days in a small paradise & maybe the locale made me a bit giddy, but it allowed me to ask myself why it takes getting away to quiet my mind & enjoy life’s simple pleasures? Why do people sometimes compromise who they are or what they want or believe in for someone or something else. Why do we struggle to accept life’s daily challenges, categorizing many instances in a negative light. I remember my younger years when life was much simpler; when things were always kept positive with very little worries. As the years have gone by, the youthful exuberance gave way to adult cynicism. We become more judgmental while focusing on why things don’t get done instead of on what we can do to make things happen. We begin to settle, be it at work or in our relationships, believing this is as good as it gets. We allow life’s roadblocks to derail our dreams. While sitting here, I think about the days past, both recent & some time ago, where I was not at my best. Where I allowed myself to give into the negative energy around me. I begin to think, what if we change how we approach things? What if we stop asking why me & instead ask why not me? Instead of asking why can’t this person understand? We should ask how can I help this person understand? Instead of why are they doing this to me? Ask what is causing them to react this way? When informed something you did was wrong, don’t be so quick to get defensive, instead ask yourself what can I do to improve? It’s about not allowing our perceived vulnerability to hinder our progress. It’s a simple mind shift, allowing us to see things in a positive light, learning each step of the way. While simple, this is not easy & can take sometime to master. The key is to catch yourself when the negative vibe begins to manifest. Quickly pivot & ask yourself how else can you look at this? We each have the power to make the choice to either go down Negative Boulevard or pivot onto Positive Way. There’s no script to follow; life is not a movie, but each and everyone of us has the power to choose how we view things & how we can keep improving. We have the power to think before reacting; to pivot when necessary. So as I sat there with the cool breeze blowing in from the beautiful blue sea, I counted all my blessings, while thinking – Yeah mon, life is good!

To choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance is to choose one’s own way.

– Viktor Frankl (Author)

Effort, Success & “I Am Trying”

In Self-Improvement, Society on May 14, 2012 at 8:49 pm

“I am Trying”, I hear this all the time. I hear it at work, at home or at practice. I have realized, people – me included, really feel they are giving it their best in everything we do. But are we really? While at work are we team players? Do we work as hard as we say we do or can to maximize our work product? Do we do extra or just enough to get by? How bout in our relationships? Do we really try to listen to our partner? Do we try to make them as happy as we can? Do we do the little things they like – which in turn are not really little at all? Do we appreciate? I am currently coaching youth AAU boys basketball, 9th & 11th grade levels, both teams are pretty good, especially the younger group. The other day at the 11th grade practice, after a particularly tough tournament, we coaches called the team together to go over what went wrong that weekend. We gave each player an opportunity to dissect their play, discuss their roles within the team & what they can do to improve. I was floored when two or three members of the ten player team admitted to taking plays off. What!?! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Already at 16-17 years of age, here they were doing just enough to get by. The optimist in me reasoned that at least they were being honest, but the perfectionist in me was saddened. At work it’s the same type of thing, only worse as I am dealing with adults. I directly manage at least 10 people daily, plus another 20 indirectly. If I had a dollar every time I hear how this will be a great personal month,or how they will do better or improve their work product, I would be chillin’ on the French Riviera! After, repeating myself ad nauseam, I hear the dreaded “I’m trying”. After the 20th time hearing this, the hard head in me realizes this may be all they are willing to give – no not able to but only willing to. The sad thing is how most really believe they are giving it their best efforts. You see, I believe we all can give a little more to improve many aspects of our lives. It is what makes champions – well champions. We all have it in us to be champions if we truly realize how what we do or for the purposes of this blog entry, the effort we give, can influence our lives & improve our lot in life. I understand life is full of surprises and sometimes things do not play out how we envision, but if we give in, half step & just “get by”, selfishly not giving your partner or team 100%, ultimately you really only cheat yourself. You may lose a truly special someone in your life, a job, a client not only for you – but for your co-workers too or your teammates. Life isn’t always about only us. Our efforts or lack thereof can cause damage, change and heartache for others. For those who only think about how things affect themselves, it causes stagnation, putting limits on the heights we can reach. We should all try awaking each morning, looking at ourselves in the mirror while saying today we will be the best we can be; today we will love more & work harder; today will be a success!

Victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay its price.

– Sun Tzu

Society, Mediocrity & Acceptance

In Self-Improvement, Society, Spirituality on August 18, 2010 at 11:51 pm

I have been saying for years how we have become a society where mediocrity has become the norm.  Where being average has become cool and most individuals feel a sense of accomplishment when they just get by.   Want proof?  The passing grade at my kids high school is 60%.  Most people want a job, but none seem to want to work.  You hear people all the time complaining about what they can’t do, but never stating what they CAN do.  I have had individuals come to a job interview after being unemployed for months, some for over a year, and still do not hear or see the sense of urgency expected from some one who initially express a need for a job, but when presented with the work, they fold like wet noodles.  Its like they rather starve then put in an honest day’s worth of work.  And God forbid they have to work a little extra or put in a little extra time – you might as well as them for their first born.  When discussing this with people, I can sense the uneasiness in the air.  Some become agitated or personally offended, beginning to make excuses for why they do things the way they do & how it doesn’t mean they are mediocre.  Forget the fact I neither stated they were nor gave examples of mediocre behavior, but obviously a nerve was hit and they feel the need to defend themselves.  Colin Cowherd, a sports talk radio personality recently agreed, stating 70% of society is mediocre; however he bellowed that everyone should accept it and “move on”.  Why though?  Why should we accept this malaise?  I have always believed that once one becomes satisfied – one might as well die.  Life is about constant growth.  We should all continually strive to improve Mentally, Spiritually, Emotionally, Financially & Physically and then improve some more.  You see my people, life is in reality a struggle to reach the pinnacle of each of these existences simultaneously.  These five aspects of life are hard to attain individually, let alone in unison.  But that’s the point, everything worth obtaining takes effort and dedication.  Now we all come upon times in our lives where things don’t go as planned or we have moments of self doubt, where life seems to get the better of us, but it’s how we stand up after the fall that counts.  So pick up a book, hit the gym, work a little harder and you see how luck begins to favor the prepared.  So no Mr. Cowherd, I will not accept mediocrity as the norm.  I myself will continue to strive for the freedom I seek.  You all with me?

Winning isn’t everything; Wanting to win is.

– Catfish Hunter