Marine turned MTSU football player Steven Rhodes and His Family on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes
JoinLiving Your Best Lifeas we celebrate our military heroes’ journeys before and after their service to our country. Hear from men and women who are sons and daughters; husbands and wives; fathers and mothers; grandparents; siblings; and loyal friends. Hear members of the Marines, Army, Air Force, and Navy share personal stories and highlights from their military careers. All have roles that made them the “first” in many endeavors throughout their lives and in the military. We will hear about their rarely discussed acts of courage and sacrifice that embody servant leadership that will empower, inspire, and motivate listeners.
On Saturday, August 24, 2013, join me to hear the inspiring story of Marine Veteran, Steven Rhodes, who became a football player at Middle Tennessee State University after initially being ruled ineligible to play because of NCAA rules. Hear Rhodes’ share how his faith and his family helped shaped him long before he began wearing the Raiders’ jersey. The Rhodes Family will share about their life before the spotlight and their thoughts on the last week.
Wife Adrienne Rhodes, AO3 Rhodes E-4. Stationed in San Diego.
Rhodes will also discuss his service in the Marines Corps and the challenges of balancing family, college, and football. We will also share how veterans around the country are taking a second look at attending college since the story broke on Sunday in the Daily News Journal and was picked up national media outlets around the country.
This show is guaranteed to empower, inspire, and motivate you to live your BEST life and not let others “no” determine your destiny in life!
Tune into 760AM in the Middle Tennessee Region, on Tune In, on streaming live online at UStream.TV, and on military bases on Saturdays from 9:00-10:00am CST.
MTSU Named Military Friendly School!
MTSU was recently named a 'Military Friendly School' for the third year by G.I. Jobs. This honor is given to only the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools who actively promote resources and services to veterans looking to return to school. MTSU has been working with many campus partners to ensure that our veterans’ transition to MTSU is successful by providing veteran focused programs, support and guidance.
VetSuccess On Campus Information
Photo Credits: MTSU and Steven Rhodes Behind the scenes of story breaking by Subtle Sparky Blog post can be found here. Special Thanks: Jimmy Hart, Russell Luna, USMC, and The Rhodes Family
PTSD, sometimes undiagnosed, can carry an array of chronic, otherwise-invisible symptoms that flare momentarily or take root for a time: nervousness, hyper-emotionality, an inability to sleep, and an overreaction to seemingly humdrum, daily moments. These feelings are unleashed from deep in the memory, hardwired back to real, horrible events that occurred just once or many times during battle such as IED detonations, mortar bursts and gunfire. Visual or auditory reminders – or both – commonly set off such symptoms for veterans. Typically, those with PTSD are bothered more by:
*The fireworks that veer off slightly
* Fireworks that are shot off in the middle of the night,
* Those that are randomly set off days before or after the actual holiday
That conditioned response can set a PTSD sufferer on edge for hours, or trigger memories that lead to depression that will last well past the Independence Day and other holidays accompanied by fireworks.
1. On Memorial Day or 4th of July it may be best for many of our servicemen, women, and veterans wrestling with PTSD to head to quiet places.
2. In situations where environmental stimuli are beyond the control of the PTSD suffer, don headphones and listen to soothing music.
3. Encourage your family and friends to consider quieter, calmer ways to celebrate our country’s independence.
USAF Rick DelaHaya on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes
JoinLiving Your Best Lifeas we celebrate our military heroes’ journeys before and after their service to our country. Hear from men and women who are sons and daughters; husbands and wives; fathers and mothers; grandparents; siblings; and loyal friends. Hear members of the Marines, Army, Air Force, and Navy share personal stories and highlights from their military careers. All have roles that made them the “first” in many endeavors throughout their lives and in the military. We will hear about their rarely discussed acts of courage and sacrifice that embody servant leadership that will empower, inspire, and motivate listeners.
On Saturday, June 22, 2013, tune in to hear from Rick DelaHaya, a USAF’s “scope dope” who was the first enlisted controller to ever conduct an intercept over Russian airspace while simultaneously coordinating with air surveillance aircraft and ground control units. Listen as DelaHaya share highlights from working with two Commanders-in-Chiefs, President Clinton and President Bush. Hear him give us behind the scene details of coordinating communications on 9/11 with President Bush and the White House Press Corps from Barksdale AFB.
Rick will discuss life after being in the Air Force for over twenty years and how adjusting can be difficult if one is not focused and have support from family and community. Rick will share about his career options as a veteran and will give advice that is applicable to civilians and career military in transition. Rick also surprises us with his imitation of the Presidents he served.
Rick DelaHaya enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1983 as an aerospace control and warnings systems operator. He had assignments in New Mexico, Honduras, Iceland, Saudi Arabia, Alaska, Florida, and Louisiana. In 1991, he cross trained into Air Weapons Control where he was responsible for the flight control and intercepts of aircraft, including F-15, S1-16, F-117 fighter aircraft, B-2 and B-52 bombers, and KC-10 and KC-135 tanker aircraft. He was the first enlisted controller to ever conduct an intercept over Russian airspace while simultaneously coordinating with air surveillance aircraft and ground control units.
After 13 years as a “scope dope,” he cross trained into Public Affairs and had assignments at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, and the 8th Air Force Headquarters in Bossier City, Louisiana. He has interviewed two presidents, the Secretary of the Air Force and numerous Senators during his Air Force career. Some of the news events he has covered and been a part of include the E-3 Sentry crash in Anchorage, Alaska; the return of forces from Bosnia; and the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia and its recovery efforts. One of the most memorable was the devastating attack against the United States on September 11, 2001, when then President George Bush landed at Barksdale AFB and he delivered the president’s message to the world along with the White House Press Corps.
Rick retired in 2003, attaining the rank of Master Sergeant. He has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Combat Readiness Medal with oak leaf cluster, Good Conduct Medal with five oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal with one Bronze Star, Air Force Longevity Award with 4 oak leaf clusters, and Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Award with one bronze star.
After retirement, he held several Public Relations jobs with Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, Fort George G. Meade in Baltimore, Maryland, and Chimp Haven, the national chimpanzee sanctuary. Prior to his current position with Tennessee State University as Director of Media Relations, he served as the Marketing and Communications Director for Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport, Louisiana, a position he held for more than four years.
Rick received his Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University, majoring in Political Science and minoring in sociology. He has been married for more than 25 years to his wife Terrie, who is also an Air Force retiree. They have three children; Tim, a 5th grade teacher in Louisiana; Sara, a junior at Louisiana State University; and Sam, who will be starting his freshman year at Station Camp High School.
Photo credits: John Cross, Genma Holmes, Rick DelaHaya, and USAF
Phi Beta Sigma's International President Jimmy Hammock on Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes
Join Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes as we profile organizations and leaders who lead by example. With extraordinary acts of kindness and charitable giving that help countless lives daily, these organizations and leaders embody “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Hear from Greek fraternities and sororities and their national presidents who are global change agents. We will also hear from CEOs of social enterprise businesses who are changing communities and college educators who are taking their students out of the classroom and into surrounding neighborhoods for real world life lessons and to serve others.
On Saturday, June 15, 2013, join us to hear from the International President of Phi Beta Sigma, the Honorable Jimmy Hammock. Mr. Hammock will share the rich history of the soon to be a century old fraternity and how the fraternity focuses on brotherhood, scholarship, and service . Listen as he reflects on his personal stories as a Sigma Man and his tenure at the helm of the Phi Beta Sigma. He will discuss his recent trip to Africa and how “the trip was a long time coming but right on time”.
Africa is not the only trip Mr. Hammock discusses. Hear about his recent trip to Mississippi to receive Alcorn State University’s Honorarii Alcornite Societatis Award, his thoughts on Alcorn State University leadership, the people the university attracts to campus, and his conversation with my mother, Dr. Stringer. He also talks about President Clinton’s acceptance into Phi Beta Sigma and his commencement remarks at Howard University where he emphasized service to others, a cornerstone of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Continuing on our “HBCU radio tour”, we both discuss Mr. Sylvester Davis, Tennessee State University’s Hall of Famer, whose numerous acts of kindness have impacted countless lives around the nation. (“Mr. Sylvester” as I called him publicly holds a special place in the lives of the Holmes Family.) Listen as Mr. Hammock share “Sly”s legacy with Phi Beta Sigma, his strong belief in mentoring, and how he lead in the fraternity by serving others first.
We did not leave out the numerous initiatives that have become synonymous with Sigma Men and giving back to the community; American Cancer Society, Living Well Brother To Brother, March of Dimes, Project Seed, Project Vote, Anti Hazing, and Sigma Wellness.
This special Father’s Day interview will keep you smiling long after the show is over. Living Your Best Life Radio, radio that empowers, inspires, and motivates you to live your BEST life can be heard on 760AM in the Middle Tennessee Region, on Tune In Radio, streamed live on the web at UStream.TV and on military bases on Saturdays from 9:00-10am CST.
More Honorable Jimmy Hammock
“Culture For Service and Service For Humanity”Nearly 100 years ago, three visionary student leaders, on the campus of Howard University, ushered in a new wave of thought on giving back to their community. This new wave significantly altered the course of fraternities and sororities of African decent. Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. was founded on January 9, 1914, in Washington, DC. Since its formation, our brotherhood has grown from our three honorable founders to an international membership of over 150,000 college-educated men, operating in 675 chapters around the globe.
The Executive team for 2009-2013 has embraced as its theme: “Changing Lives Through Service.” In order for our brotherhood to remain relevant to our nation’s communities, I strongly believe the quality of our giving must make significant impact on the lives we have been entrusted to serve. I further believe that what you do speaks volumes about who you are.
Sigma Wellness has become the Fraternity’s over-arching banner, combining our three-pronged programmatic thrusts of Bigger & Better Business, Education and Social Action, with the intention of providing a holistic outreach program to the communities in which we live and serve. Our aim is to enhance our specialized service efforts in collaboration with our corporate service partners. By responding to the critical issues affecting those less fortunate, disenfranchised and under-represented, we believe our purpose for existence will be fulfilled.
Join us as we prepare to fulfill the mission of rendering service to America’s communities going into our Centennial year, and for the next 100 years. We celebrate decades of achievement in our glorious past, as we set our sights on a promising future. Honorable Jimmy Hammock Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. International President
Personal note: I am thankful for so many who were inspirational in helping make this interview possible. Special thanks to TSU, Howard University, Alcorn State University, College Crib,Mocha Market, Ebony, Earl Flippen, Professor Walker, Anthony Crawford, GSH Media, Dr. Stringer (Zeta Phi Beta), the Sigma man in my life-my son, Franz Stringer Holmes, Mr. Sylvester and his family, and of course Mr. Jimmy Hammock and his sweet wife, Miss Vickie.
2013 Guide to Jewish Nashville is Hot Off the Press
Two years ago, I was given a copy of the Jewish Observer by a friend who read an article I had written in the another media outlet. Being a lover of diversity, the newspaper became one of my favorite papers to read.
I became so fond of the Jewish Observer that I decided I would advertise my companies in their publications. Beginning in June, my ads will run in every issue of the paper and next year’s Guide to Jewish Nashville.
In the meantime, grab the current issue of the 2013 Guide to Jewish Nashville. Featured stories includes the works of artists Kaaren Kirschwith Engle, Kim Phillips, and Zev Goering, who embrace their Jewish heritage. You also find an intriguing story about a dresser that helps solves a 60 year old family mystery.
Interiors by Zev The Jewish Guide is filled with a comprehensive listing of congregations, organizations, and educational opportunities. It can serve as a handy reference all year long. The Jewish Observer, the only Jewish newspaper covering Middle Tennessee. It is published by the Jewish Federation of Nashville twice a month.
Look for the Holmes Pest Control ad in the paper and Living Your Best Life ad on the website.
For nearly a year, I worked tirelessly to finish a book trilogy. Along the way, I lost stem several times. In January, I was inspired to finish because of an interview with a respected surgeon turned author, Dr. Paul D. Parson. Paul D.Parson has written a series of books base on the Zulu beads given by Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boys Scouts, to the original Scout Masters. With historical events as the back drop, Parson takes readers on a fictional journey to locate the Baden-Powell’s beads. Paul shared with me he wrote the entire series before he released the first book. I was inspired after hearing his story and marketing strategies. So inspired, that I decided I would follow in his footsteps.
As a writer, my interest in authoring books was encouraged by many but Derrick Miles of Milestone Motivation Group was persistent in reminding to write books. Two years ago, I was a contributing author to Super-Human Performance. Derrick, known as the encourager, would say often, “Genma, you must put your stories in a book.” I shared with him on several occasions about my desire to finish a book I had started that could be written as a series. After much encouragement from him (and many others) along with Paul’s story, I said, “yes” to making it happen. For inspiration, I began reading through twenty-six years of journals that chronicled my every thought.
As I read my journals, I had forgotten how much they held. I put everything in my journals; the good, the bad, and the ugly. At times, I wondered out loud if my writings were from a woman going mad! Some years, I probably was. Many pages captured cherished moments from the lives of family and friends and my spiritual victories of hard fought battles. I rejoiced at seeing growth from one journal to another, laughed hysterically at trying to balance social commentary with social politics, lamented over the painful years of trying to raise teens, and was reminded how much has been accomplished over the years despite years of struggling. My journals were the perfect antidote to get me going. Along with years of blogging and writing for many publications, I had an abundance of material.
When I embarked on completing the series, I did not realize I would be pitted against will and might. Suddenly, it appeared as if the universe began to work against me all at once. Alex, the grand prince, became ill and spent weeks back and forth to hospitals. After getting him well, I was plagued with health issues from out of nowhere, while business accounts that were once solid were on shaky grounds. With illnesses taking front seat to life, invoicing got behind. Sending invoices is essential to getting paid. Very few folks voluntary pay a company.
What in the world was happening, I wondered often? The more I pushed through the more pressure mounted that sapped my energy daily. Pressure, anxiety, stress, and tension, entered my body, mind, and spirit. Not to mention, I had isolated myself to finish the book. Can wanting to finish a book bring strife in your life? I was seriously beginning to believe some evil force was hounding me. However, in spite of the hellish last several months, the final sentence was written.
How did it happen? My firm belief in praying daily was my foundation for staying strong. Add that to pure determination and inspiration found from a wooden sign also empowered me to complete what I had started. A wooden sign? Yes, prayer, determination, and my beautiful wooden sign!
At Christmastime, I bought a gift for myself from Mom’s Sign Company. Mom’s Sign Company is a Franklin, TN based company owned by Margaret Ziegler that specializes in hand painted wooden signs with heartfelt words for any occasion. I had ordered signs for gifts from Mom’s Sign Company before but never for myself. After browsing the site one night around midnight, I saw a sign that read “Home is where your story begins…” immediately my heart skipped a beat. I felt as if God was giving me the “okay” to share my heart and stories from the place that influenced me the most, home. My home, after years of starts and stops, had become an Oasis in my life.
After I received my sign, I nailed it to my wall above my office desk. This was the first time in a very long time that I actually bought a gift for ME! My office is where I work but it is also where I retreat to write for pleasure. Nailing my sign to the wall felt as if I planted the flag on the moon! I did not realize at the time how my sign would be such a powerful motivator over the next several months
When I entered into my writing zone, my words flowed freely for several weeks. But as weeks turned into months, unforeseen circumstances invaded my life. Illnesses hit my family, from my grandmother to my Grand Prince, like the plague of centuries ago and kept me distracted. There were many days spent wondering if Grand Prince Alex would be okay. I would glance at my sign as I passed by my office door and read it boldly after praying for his recovery. When I became ill and wondered if I was going to see the next day, I repeated the words from my sign along with every prayer committed to memory. When I was discouraged, depressed, drained, and done, the words on my sign would inspire me to keep going. “Write a few words today,” it seemed to whisper. “Keep at it” it would remind me at times. “Do not give up,” it would yell often. And each day, no matter what, I added words to my story that started at home.
Last week, I met with several editors who looked at me as if they were seeing a ghost. I could read their thoughts, “She has been sick, when did she find time to finish?” I smiled to myself knowing that at home my secret weapon, my sign, helped me accomplish what many would have said was unthinkable. A believer in the power of words, my sign kept me motivated through tough times and was a constant reminder of the beauty of where your story begins.
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I grew up in a community that is now known as one of the poorest counties in Mississippi. When I return home for family visits, poverty is on every corner. Buildings that were once housed prosperous family businesses are now boarded up or burned down. Most residents work out of town or are unemployed. Whenever I ask my mother, a lifelong educator, about the stark contrast from the town that was part of my childhood, she replies in a sad voice, “Education, education, education. We stopped teaching children to read for the love of reading. We stopped teaching children to dream big dreams. This is what you get.” To my mother, education and economics are inseparable. She often told me, “Without an education, options are few. An educated community is crucial to its survival. Part of that survival is teaching children to learn to enjoy learning”. One of my mother’s core beliefs is to teach children to love to learn and they will become big dreamers. Big dreamers invest in their communities.
My mother taught me to love to read. My reading led me to becoming a dreamer. Dreaming taught me to face life without fear or hesitation. Reading was also my escape from country life. I grew up in household with very little extras but I had an abundance of everything. I was surrounded by educators, professionals, and kinfolks who showed me how things were done by allowing me to see them in their career settings. I also saw them with books in their hands at every turn.
I read books before I started school. My earliest memory of reading was to my grandfather. He would sit in his Lazy Boy chair rocking back and forth while I read to him from my small chair. Because he was hard of hearing, I read at the top of my voice. He had the patient of Job as I read one story after another. Reading to my grandfather was a routine I continued to end of his life. As an adult, my return visits to my grandparents always included stacks of magazines and newspaper from other cities. I would eagerly share with him who I met and where I have been while I read to him articles from places he never got to visit. He would smile and grin and give commentary on the politics and economics of municipalities as if he lived in each one.
When my grandfather became ill, I returned to Mississippi until he passed. Every evening, I read stories to him. Every evening. Often, I wondered if he heard me but I read to him anyway as I did as a child. Loudly. Bible passages, novels, news stories, even some of my favorite childhood books was read to him until he took his last breath.
My love of reading to my grandfather has transitioned to reading to school age children in area schools. I realized that my interactions with the many children I see during the holidays as Ms. Santa must go beyond giving them toys with a temporary shelf life. Catherine Ramsey, a lifelong educator and fellow book club member, taught me by her actions at Christmas. As a gift to her, she only wanted book club members to give books to young girls. She wanted to plant seeds of loving to read while they were young. Catherine Ramsey has never met my family but their philosophies about life and education are exactly the same.
Private, public, charter schools, and daycares have all called me to visit their schools to read. I have donned my famous Ms. Santa suit for the Girl Scouts. I have been the Queen of Hearts for Valentine Day and I have dressed as a Leprechaun to cheer on test scores in March for Buena Vista Enhanced Option School. I have been Spiderwoman at Grace Eaton and a Reading Princess at Hull-Jackson Montessori. Name a holiday or occasion and I have a costume to help incorporate into a story. My visits may seem outlandish to the casual observer but many educators encourage me to come often. My visits also bring community into the classroom and introduce children to professionals who not only work but serve. I have managed to recruit other entrepreneurs to join me. Why should I have all the fun?
My visits with the school children are not limited to the classroom. Escorting several classes, community groups, and families to the Frist Center helps incorporate the arts into story telling that is meant to encourage loving to learn. The visits to the Frist Center at the beginning of the school year have helped several students along with their families to become museum regulars. I have been told by parents and teachers alike that they have seen improvements in test scores and attention spans. The students come to the Frist Center to create their masterpieces inspired by their favorite books they have read at school.
No matter where a child attends school, all villagers must be active participants in helping create environments where loving to learn is at the forefront. We must all look for ways to make learning engaging and exciting to equip the next generation to help keep our communities vibrant and economically strong. Loving to learn produces big dreamers. And big dreamers invest in their villages and communities.
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Most large family gatherings have the normal family disagreements. But if you ever want to ruin a “good argument” during the holidays, just mention charter schools around the educators in my family. At the dinner table sit female educators who are teachers, principals, and college professors who will send the turkey and dressing running for cover at the very mention of charter schools. The topic of charter schools is hotly disputed between my mother and my aunts who believe “the devil is in the details”. Asking these fervently experienced Titans of education to explain why they love or loath the idea of charter schools minus the passion has left me, occasionally, looking for the turkey and dressing’s hiding place.
In Tennessee, Governor Haslam has lifted the ban on the number of charter schools statewide to allow more charter schools to form. The reasons for allowing more charter schools are as numerous as the stars above but it is important to review some of the pros and cons of charter schools. *
Pro: Charter schools provide families with public school choice options. Parents will have the ability to choose the school best suited for their child.
Con: Charter schools, due to their small size and limited numbers, will provide only some families with public school choice options, thereby raising issues of fairness and equity.
Pro: Charter schools can act as laboratories of reform, identifying successful practices that could be replicated by traditional district public schools. Also, by waiving regulations in a limited number of schools, the most prohibitive policies can be identified and eliminated for all schools.
Con: Successful reform models such as New American Schools and Core Knowledge have already been identified. Why not attempt these reforms in existing schools? If rules and regulations are so burdensome, they should be waived for all public schools.
Pro: Through school choice, competition within the public school system is created, pressuring school districts to reassess their educational practices.
Con: Charter schools have an unfair advantage when competing against district public schools since they tend to be smaller and free from regulations. Charter schools have access to federal funds and other revenue sources.
Pro: Charters will lead to overall systemic reform through the pressure and competition of the choice mechanism.
Con: Charters are too limited in scope to adequately pressure the entire public school system.
Pro: Charter schools, unlike traditional public schools are held accountable. If charters do not perform, they are not renewed.
Con: Charters are not accountable as they are freed from rules and regulations intended to ensure quality in public education.
The pros and cons listed above should be studied and weighed very seriously. What works in one community may not work in another. What I have founded more fascinating than debating the pros and cons of charter schools is what is often overlooked; the role state legislators play with the expansion of charter schools. The majority of charter school arguments take place in legislative sessions (not at family dinner tables) since the programs that enable choice in public education are legislative enactments. Who you vote for (or don’t) determines what educational programs are received in your community. Too often, the communities that need the most educational options have residents who are least likely to vote.
One can have the best ideas and plans on how to educate your communities but how public dollars are allocated is determined by an elected official not the school and the families that make up that school. In order to help change the crisis in education, families must become more informed of educational choices and involved in school district issues. Parents must also be engaged politically by voting for individuals that have their family’s best interest at stake.
A child’s education, whether charter or public, is dependent on the family foundation, the skills of the teachers he or she encounters daily, the leadership of the principals, the effectiveness of the school district, community engagement and who write the laws in state legislatures. In order to have more positive outcomes surrounding the education of children, parents must do their homework on issues and make sure they are investing in their child’s future by voting in every election.
In 2012, the survival of public education will be determined by who is elected to the highest office in the land. But locals must give as much priority to state and county elections. They are equally important especially when it comes to education.
Stacey McBride-Irby on Living Your Best Life Radio with Genma Holmes
Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”
Join Living Your Best Life with Genma Holmes along with Mocha Market Magazine as we celebrate women who are redefining power and influence. From celebrities to authors to leaders to educators to mom-next-door, hear from women who are impacting the world around them while empowering others to do the same.
Tune in on Saturday, March 10, 2012’s for an interview that has been a year in the making! Hear from internationally renown creator of Mattel’s So In Style Dolls, Stacey McBride-Irby. Stacey designed the most diverse cultural line of dolls ever created for the world’s most premiere toy company. During her fifteen years at Mattel, Stacey also designed numerous fashions for the Disney Princess Collection and for the iconic Barbie line.
In addition to designing for Mattel’s Disney Princess Collection and the Barbie, Stacey designed the highly sought after AKA Doll in celebration of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Centennial in 2008.
Stacey will share about her new business venture with the One World Dolls Project and how her partnership with Trent Daniels will give her an opportunity to use the power of play and collector dolls to reflect genuine diversity and not limit her creativity to one group of people or organization.
Living Your Best Life, a radio show that empowers, inspires, and motivates us to live our BEST life, is heard on 760AM The Gospel in the Middle-TN area, Inspirational Networks, military bases and on Ustream.TV worldwide from 9:00-10:00am CST.
For more info on the One World Doll Project click here. To Purchase Limited Edition Obama 2012 Dolls click here.
I am an entreprenur, writer, and now a radio host . I believe in living your dreams, being passionate about life and serving others with grace and humility. I work for, write about, and speak to things that are dear to my heart. My wonderful children and the challenges of motherhood. My business ventures from owning Holmes Pest Control to writing and publishing to continuing to work in the fashion industry and my radio show. My love of the environment and my work with non-profits that help young people be the leaders of tomorrow. And of course, my love of my grandfather’s legacy…politics and social activism that will help change how we see the world we live in. Join me on my journey.
An Encounter with a Homeless Woman Changed My Life
A year ago, I volunteered to help with a project for women cancer survivors. I have participated in several events over the years that were geared to help restore or uplift the spirits of cancer survivors through pampering, empowerment or patient advocacy. Diving in heart first, I was excited to volunteer to help stamp out the stigma of cancer. At this event, I met women from diverse backgrounds on various stages of their journey with their cancer diagnosis. Some of the women had recently completed their treatments and some of them were a few years down the road. Some were well known in the community and supported by family and friends. A few were still in treatment but only one was homeless.
Enter Wanda.Wanda was in a battle for life with no place to call her own. She was referred by her oncologists who knew about the special event. When Wanda entered my makeshift dressing room, she was a bit nervous as she gave me a once over and checked out the surroundings packed with designer clothes and jewelry on loan to me from personal friends from around the country. As I introduced myself, I promised her we were going to have a fantastic time as I pulled my “stylist” title out of the box for her makeover and photo session. I shared with her about my grandfather who was the motivation for me volunteering that day. Wanda countered my icebreaker conversation with words of her own as she told me how she wanted to look. “Not shy, this one”, I thought to myself with a smile. After our intro, Wanda tried on clothes while preparing for her photo shoot. During that time together, we shared about each other lives. Wanda did not hold back her thoughts and gave me quite a few old school zingers about her observations about life from a street perspective. Her words were honesty on steroids. She shared her thoughts about “people wanting to help others when their own lives are messed up.” Hearing her priceless commentary had me roaring with laughter and deep in thought. Wanda talked about her cancer diagnosis and her chemo treatments that seemed endless. She did not hold back about the physical and mental pain. She expressed her gratefulness for the Madison Church of Christ congregation that befriended her and took her under their wings. The more I inquired about how she was taking care of herself, the more she shared about her life and background. “Cancer was the last thing on my mind,” she said softly at one point. She had seen many trials before cancer, I was told. But those trials produced one of the most courageous women I have ever met. When she was photographed, her inner strength and beauty, that I saw firsthand, filled the camera lens. Wanda was radiant and proud. My tears flowed uncontrollably as the photographer kept telling her how stunning she was as he was encouraging her to give him her best smile for the camera. By the end of the shoot, Wanda was ready to sign with the Ford Modeling agency!As we were calling the day a wrap, I introduced Wanda to my friend, Daphne, who was volunteering also. I told Wanda that Daphne was a dentist. With all the frankness that only Wanda can deliver, she pulled off her well-coiffed wig that was used in her beauty transformation and said, “A dentist! How come you did not introduce her to me first? I really need to visit her!” With a jerk of a wig, Wanda gave me a dose of reality. Just like that, Wanda told us in her own way, what her real needs were!A homeless woman taught me to make sure “my good works” met the needs of those I am trying to serve. Giving a winter coat to a man who lives in the desert is an exercise in futility. A homeless woman showed me that true compassion and a willingness to listen to those who need to be heard should be at the heart of volunteering. A homeless woman had me reevaluating if my volunteer hours were making any difference. A homeless woman had me questioning if my “good deeds” were actually meeting real needs. It might be a city flooded or hit by a tornado or a cancer patient who has no place to lay their head: in the end, we all need each other. Listening to Wanda, I learned the importance of knowing the true need of those who I am trying to serve. Wanda taught me to listen for the real answer when I ask, “How can I help?”I stayed in touch with Wanda and her church members. They became her adopted family and friends. They all have endless stories about the goodness of Wanda. She is well. They say she has an apartment of her own and is finishing school. Everyone that knows her tell me exactly the same thing, “Wanda changed my life!” Wanda changed my life too. Because of Wanda, I have learned nothing in life is without purpose or meaning, even an encounter with a homeless person.
During the month of March and April, I travel heavily speaking at various events around the country. This year, I am booked for twenty two engagements. March is Women History Month and April is National Pest Control Month. This post comes to you from the road. Being a woman of color in the pest control industry keeps me talking about glass ceiling issues. There is no glass ceiling over my head but this topic seems to be associated with women who work in non-traditional fields. I give groups what they want with clarification of how I view the glass ceiling.I originally planned to blog about women in business figures but I was side tracked with my original thoughts with my travel adventures that started at the Nashville Airport. When you are a frequent traveler, you learn to just be a trooper and get to your destination. Everything else will work itself out, I tell myself to keep me pumped. I usually fly Southwest Airlines who are by far the best deal for my traveling budget. When speaking at conferences, they usually have a conference sponsored airline. I have learned to work my way out of them if all possible if I can get Southwest as an option.Last week, I flew Delta. I felt trepidation early on and could not shake my thoughts that the next week of traveling was going to be awful. That emotion hung over me and my feelings of dread was birthed into reality. After preparing for weeks for life on the road in twenty two cities, I left Tuesday headed to the airport to catch my five o’clock flight to New York. I got there an hour ahead since I did not fly Delta regularly. “A quick trip to New York and back”, I thought to myself. A piece of cake, right? Wrong. My smugness came to an abrupt halt before my trip even got started.
The gentleman at Delta’s curbside check-in took about twenty minutes with two women ahead of me. I waited patiently by spending my time tweeting and fidgeting with anything that was not really something. When my turn came to check in, he pulled out a red tarp and started to lock down his stand. Stunned, I started tripping over my words trying to ask a question as if English was my second language. “What’s going on,” I managed to ask without sounding too alarmed. Without hesitation he said, “My shift is done.” Just like that, he walked away. In total disbelief, I checked my watch and rushed inside and that is when things went from awful to downright disastrous. Enter Richard W. (That was the name on the badge that is burned into my memory.)Richard W. started with a “You are not going to make your flight.” No, “now let’s see what we can do for you” or a “wait let’s call the gate”. Not even a status check of the flight. He started with a no and he never left that mindset. It was “no” from the beginning and he was running the show. I tried not to sound too agitated but I asked, “Could you check to make sure the flight is on time?” Skeptically, he looked at me and then at my mink coat in my hand, insulted that I asked him a question and said, “That’s not fair to have others waiting on you.” Damn, I should have left the mink coat at home. Richard W. was not feeling me or my mink in Nashville with the bright sun shining. I brought my coat because my New York weather reports were forecasting snow.
I wishfully glanced down at the Southwest counter and wondered if Shirley was on duty but my ticket was booked by my agent and I needed to get on the flight so I stayed put. Richard W. sensing my pondering using another airline started searching flights. He mumbled a few words every few minutes and had to check with his supervisor several times because something was “not working”. I stood quietly knowing that if I showed out with this guy who was showing a lack patient with his own equipment, my butt would be sitting in Nashville another night. Stick with me; I am getting to a point.As Richard W. went through several Delta employees for help, he bumped heads with a “Nigerian fellow” behind the counter who was not as patience as I was trying to be. The Nigerian sent over his supervisor to straighten out Richard W. She asked Richard W. if he could have handled whatever occurred between the Nigerian and Richard W. three kiosks down better. Richard W. was not having any of that check your attitude talk. Right in front of me, Richard W. gave his thoughts about his co-worker. His thoughts were very ugly.Yep, Richard W. was ready for a strait jacket after an hour of banging on his computer keyboard. No doubt about; his issues kept coming. His printer did not work. He had no change and he did not know what to do about putting me on a flight that would not put me in first class. My mink would have clashed with the folks in first class, I assumed from Richard’s demeanor. Richard W. was a piece of work for sure. Two hours and $75 later, I was rerouted to tour the US’s other 49 states. What was supposed to be a night of prepping me for my media blitz with my agent was spent on one flight after another one. Thank you, Richard W.I made it to my New York hotel at one in the morning. By the time I was able to catch my breath, emails for a story I had promised a publisher once I landed in New York was being sent with my epithet attached. Jennifer, a graphic designer, who was covering for me about my delayed story was wondering how long she was going to keep making up excuses for me. As for those waiting for me in New York, their concern prompted two phone calls home that sent everyone into frenzy. I am very adamant about checking in when traveling alone. I also missed two radio interviews. Ooy. Loving that Richard W., huh?So what’s my point, you are wondering? We are living in crazy times. I don’t know what was going on with Richard W. but something was definitely out of sync with him. One person’s bad day can have a ripple effect. And when you are in the business of traveling as part of your living, you are always at tipping point. I kept reminding myself not to become drawn into the negative energy that was swirling around me at every turn at the counter. I thought about how many people who are in need of jobs right now who would have sold an arm to stand behind the counter at Delta. I thought about all the protests happening in the Middle East and the number of people in our country that were protesting to hold on to their jobs and livelihoods and the last thing I wanted to do was to add toxic fuel to the energy that is permeating the air globally. Instead, I found myself trying really hard to focus on why I needed to be grateful. Being able to travel to share about things I am passionate about in life is manna from heaven. Meeting people from around the world and being able to sit at the table with others who care about the little things that go unnoticed but are important to how we perceive the world we live in is a blessing to me. Looking for the good and not allowing someone else’s really, really, really bad day pull me down is growth for me that I recognized immediately while standing captive at Delta’s counter. I could visualize me in days gone by throwing a hissy fit few years ago and taking the toxic energy from one airline counter to another one.I took to twitter on Wednesday morning, to share with others about my eventful day with Richard W. that left others laughing and sharing their travel experiences. I hope next week is not as eventful and my decision to not participate with Richard W. in his moments of madness gave me time to think about the energy that we send out to others. On my way return trip home, I encountered Janet Soto at the Delta counter at LaGuardia. Her day was just as bad as Richard W. By the time I made it back to Nashville, I had written several thank you notes to Southwest Airlines. I really, really, really love Southwest Airlines.
Photo Credits: Southwest Airlines Collen C. Barrett - President Emeritus and Gary Kelly, CEOAuthor note: This story was originally published in The Tennessee Tribune Newspaper P.S. I have read every book written about Southwest Airlines published and I believe Ms. Barrett is the ultimate case study for Women in Business!
Dr. Portia Holmes Shields is officially at helm of Tennessee State University. Dr. Shields reminds every one of her favorite song when she addresses concerns about Big Blue; “Change is Gonna Come.” The first female president of the 99-year-old university was named interim president in mid-December and officially began her duties on January 2. Dr. Shields has 18 months on the job and is not wasting a moment. She is determined to turn things around.At a recent general assembly meeting attended by more than 400 faculty and staff members, Dr. Portia Shields gave updates to the campus on a number of upcoming changes, including more visitor parking, a reduction in force, the installation of a SACS Leadership Team, implementing Saturday make up classes, community engagement, inference from individuals regarding reaffirmation and security issues. Shields also announced the appointment of Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Assessment, Dr. Pamela Burch-Sims, as the University’s liaison to SACS.
Shields called the meeting to order and asked members of her cabinet to provide updates on a number of upcoming changes that would affect the campus. Cynthia Brooks, vice president for business and finance, announced a reduction in force (RIF) and explained how the RIF would be conducted. Dr. Dennis Gendron, vice president of communications and information technologies, gave an overview of how the newly adopted Tennessee Complete College Act would effect performance funding dollars. Finally, Dr. Michael A. Freeman, vice president of Student Affairs, gave an update on how reserved parking would be eliminated in favor of increased visitor parking.Shields also introduced the installation of a SACS Leadership Team, headed by Burch-Sims, who has been appointed the University’s liaison to the SACS Commission on Colleges. The other members of the SACS Leadership include Dr. Peter Nwosu, special assistant to the President for institutional planning, and Dr. Timothy Quain, a faculty member in the Department of Language, Literature, and Philosophy. The trio delivered a plan and timeline for the report the University has to submit for reaffirmation.Change is coming. Get ready.
Mary Harvey, Making Black History by Starting to Act Like A Man
This is the first week of Black folks’ holiest time of the year, Black History Month. As Civil Rights heroes’ sacrifices are remembered, Blacks and white folks are at their best and unified. The finest and brightest are trotted out for twenty eight days before mayhem resumes March 1. White folks give Blacks all the air time they are going to get for the year in February. I was going to blog about the many local unsung heroes that work tirelessly every day of the year to honor the past, deal with present day challenges, and help prepare young people for the future who often hidden in the community. My thoughts were thrown out after l heard Tom Joyner tell Mary Harvey that her ex-hubby, radio host Steve Harvey, was “doing good in the community”. The ugly history of Steve and Mary Harvey’s marriage that has spilled over to You Tube, Twitter, blogs, and now morning drive time is history of sorts that reveals much about the community of color.
I have often shared with individuals that greatest influences in my life were my grandparents. I was raised by country people who believed strongly that what is said and done in their house, stayed in their house. But living in Nashville has taught me that my grandparents thinking come with a price. Interacting with individuals with bottled emotions from yesteryear has led to a subgroup of folks who can come unglued socially because they have unresolved wounds and hurts. Black folks DONOT embrace counseling; they are told by church leaders to pray about it. So many go to church and shout. Steve and Mary Harvey’s very public feud is a byproduct of many issues that face the community that is glossed over by Essence cover stories.
Before I go any further, let me confess, Steve Harvey is an unimpressive comic to me and his wife shows a martyr’s loyalty- till-I- die mentality that I loathe. With that out of the way, let’s move on to the viral video “he said, she said” saga that has gone mainstream.
On January 31, Mary Harvey sat in Tom Joyner’s studio to tell him why she has gone public with her private family drama. Tom is Steve Harvey’s morning show competitor and friend. Tom waded into family counseling waters by declaring:
“I did not invite you on the show to continue talking about your personal business. There are more things that are of paramount importance to our community. We want to deal with this and move on.”
He stressed how important Steve was to the community and the community did not need to be distracted by their public spectacle. Hmm. Aren’t you glad Tom does not have a counseling degree? Anyway, Tom said, “I just hate mess”. Never mind the fact that Tom discusses mess everyday on the show except his closes friends’ mess. “Oh, oh, oh, that is how it is on the Tom Joyner Morning Show”. I love Tom even when I do not agree with him. Mary Harvey stood her ground with Tom and replied,
“It took a long time for me to get to this point. The reason I’ve been silent this entire time was because I did take into consideration what it would do to both of our families, what it would do to the community. Keeping quiet hasn’t served me physically. It hasn’t served our son. I have suffered physically because of it. I’m not in good health right now.”
Tom offered to broker a truce with her and Steve.
Mary Harvey said her speaking out was not about receiving another settlement, “This is not about money,” she repeated several times. She wants an apology. She went on to say,
“I think the apology should be given to the women who have been deceived into buying the books and who have perceived him as being a pillar of the community.”
(I would want a refund if I bought one of his books but that’s me). She went on to say that Steve’s treatment of her was equivalent to rape. I don’t know if she has been raped but that was her comparison.
Steve and Mary were divorced in 2005. They were together for 16 years, married for ten of those years. They have a 13 year old son who lives with Steve full time and is not in contact with his mother. Steve is married to his third wife, Marjorie, who Mary said was his mistress when they were married. Mary claims she suffered mental and physical abuse from Steve. After reaching her breaking point, she left the marriage. She also states Steve’s lawyer cheated her in settlement from the divorce. They used the same family lawyer.(That was dumb). She mentioned the number of pills she was taking because of numerous health and mental issues. What was not said on the TJMS was why Mary decided to go the You Tube exposure route and posted videos that millions can’t stop viewing. Steve and his third wife posed for January Essence cover and in the article he miscalculated Mary’s silence. Here is Mary statement about the cover story.
My name was in that article. The article said in Steve’s words that ‘I’m finally happy and that I haven’t been this happy since 2005 and I was in the company of the wrong person.’ My name mentioned in any way was offensive to me; why mention me at all? I would think that he and Marjorie have plenty to talk about, as opposed to bringing me into an article that has nothing to do with me.
Steve Harvey is a household name, makes millions from his clothing line and two bestselling books, TV and church appearances, has a pending deal with Oprah, a radio show in 60 markets and God knows what other revenue streams. Steve has a team of lawyers and staff to do his bidding but he could not resist making a dig about his ex-wife. Hell has no fury like a woman that has been belittled in Essence! Mary decided to show the world the other side of Steve Harvey. The future mogul, author, radio host, family man and relationship guru family issues did not stay in the house. Penniless and broke, Mary sat before a two dollar camera and posted three You Tube videos. That was how she came to everyone’s attention including Steve Harvey’s legal team. Because of the videos, Steve Harvey is now suing Mary to regain his Essence cover story image back. Sounds like Mary has started to think like a man. She has no lawyers advising her or agents booking her but she is making the rounds and is in high demand. When I heard her in January, I was reminded of the power of a dam’s broken levee. Rarely can someone out swim a dam overflowing it banks. The ugliness of Harveys’ union and divorce is out there. Their real life mayhem gives us a peep into Black culture issues that usually get swept under the rug. So what does all of this have to do with us? Nothing. But there is much to learn from this sad epic.
Nothing is wrong with highlighting success. But as a people, we idolize individuals quickly and will label an idiot a community leader without hesitation. We are a forgiving group that will overlook obvious character flaws for the sake of a feel good moment. Folks will shut down Black women who are traditionally the backbone of the family and the laborers in the community if one dares to challenge Black folks’ leadership identification system while Black women have been trained subconsciously to be the sacrificial lambs for the family, the community or a man’s reputation. Remember how folks turned on the women who were underage girls at the time over R. Kelly? Or the very recent Bishop Long’s scandal that started with muscle shirt texts? The cries from the saints were deafening. R. Kelly is back performing and folks are still packing the pews at New Birth. R. Kelly is supposedly writing a book. Folks ignore the fact that he has publicly admitted he is illiterate.
Maybe history can be made by looking at the criteria for what “doing good in the community” means. An honest examination of our value system is long overdue. There are ways to bring up community leaders without creating monsters. Every group has hero worshipitis but when it happens with color people, the backlash is felt by all. No one is perfect but we must quit playing crazy when it comes to dealing with real issues that we face daily. As we honor the heroes of past, let’s study more about their characters that made them the men and women that we should celebrate 365 days a year. Hopefully, next Black History Month, we can celebrate by using You tube to talk about soaring graduation rates among Black males, decrease in teen pregnancies, an increase in folks being hired in our community and more entrepreneurs living their dreams . Now that would be news worthy of being highlighted and truly honor the proud heritage of those who have broken so many barriers regarding race relations in our country throughout the year.
The Harvey’s photo credit: I don’t know but I couldn’t find very many of her smiling
The story of Ted Williams captivated the hearts and imaginations of millions this month. This is a rags to riches story of a homeless veteran with a golden voice that took him off the street corner begging for change to the sets of the Today Show, The Tonight Show, The Early Show, Inside Edition, Entertainment Tonight, and Dr. Phil. He had a tearful on-air reunion with his mother, and a public talk show inspired meeting with his children.
Lucrative voiceover contracts with Kraft, MSNBC and others were given to him within days of his story going viral. The video of him being interviewed by a local reporter has been seen by fifteen million viewers and counting. His rise to stardom in less than two weeks was remarkable. The glare of the spotlight showed us his talents but it also showed us his demons, which made the media, who took him to the high heavens in one swoop, quickly throw him back to earth with a crashing thud.
There are several lessons that can be learned from the Ted Williams story. Most comeback stories are filled with ups and downs. There are many Ted Williamses in Nashville and cities around the country waiting to be discovered, looking for an opportunity to prove they can earn a living and leave the life of the streets behind. They may not have a golden voice, but many have skills and abilities that have been buried under the hardships of homelessness.
Homelessness affects a person physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Many are looking for a second or even a third chance to correct the mistakes of the past. For every Ted Williams who needs a break, a Pat Waggoner is equally important for guidance, support and long-term stability.
In Nashville, Pat Waggoner is known as a quiet and gentle man who loves his family, his church, and his community. He volunteers at the Criminal Justice Center and is the go-to guy for the local men’s baseball and basketball teams. He teaches fifth and sixth grade boys on Wednesday nights. In the world of real estate, Pat Waggoner is known as the realtor who sold Donald Trump the Trump Towers.
In a community where generosity and serving others are part of our DNA, Pat Waggoner serves with a human touch. When I first read about Ted Williams, I immediately wondered if he had a support system in place that would go beyond the splashy media headlines. I prayed that Ted Williams had a Pat Waggoner in his life, more so than an agent. Pat helps many who have fallen on economic hard times by helping with housing needs, serving meals, and keeping extra clothing in his sales office “just in case.”
Known for housing, feeding, and clothing the homeless, he also helps find them jobs so they can become independent and self-sufficient. Pat is a strong advocate for rehabilitation to make sure that individuals stay drug and alcohol free after they leave the streets. He keeps a list of individuals he knows from his real estate transactions, various networking and civic groups, and church members who aid him in his passion for helping others.
Pat initiates help with such deeds, but he makes sure that for long-term well being, he mentors men and families about financial literacy, and makes sure they have someone to call when stressful situations occur that can push a person over the edge. He encourages group therapy and spiritual counseling and believes strongly that counseling is one of the greatest keys to personal growth. No, Pat Waggoner is not Superman, but he is dedicated to deflating homelessness one person at a time. That takes dedication, and the understanding that getting a Ted Williams off the streets does not stop the struggles instantly. Unlike our culture’s demand for instant gratification, Pat is patient and believes that with faith, perseverance, and hard work, lives can change for the better.
Being around Pat is contagious. You become an advocate for the homeless without realizing it. He recruits you with one story at a time about individuals he has met over the years. He shares the goodness of men and women who just needed a break. His stories are filled with hope, compassion, and hurdles that were overcome in order to stay sober or drug free.
Not every story ends on a high note, but he does not allow disappointment to deter him from reaching out to others. All too often when a very public rags to glad story falls short of our expectations, it has a chilling effect on us, and cynicism can creep into our giving and serving others. Pat’s actions can teach us to give to those in need and step out on faith and build relationships with individuals who may stumble and fall on the road to recovery. Leaving a life on the streets can happen with just one fateful encounter, but the emotional scars can follow one into one’s new dwellings or lifestyle. We must not allow national scrutiny of one person’s circumstances to affect the work we do in a city like Nashville (known for its generosity), or anywhere. If you come across a Ted Williams today, help him find a Pat Waggoner before he finds an agent. A life can be changed for good.
First published in the Nashville Contributor, A Newspaper that addresses Homelessness in Nashville.
The tragic shootings in Tuscan, Arizona have left our country shaken to the core. I sat glued to my television on Saturday afternoon, flipping channels as I soaked up the coverage. Representative Gabby Giffords was originally pronounced dead by several media outlets but she miraculously survived a gunshot to the head by gunman Jared Lee Loughner. Representative Giffords was holding her regular “Congress on Corner “ with her constituents at a Safeway grocery store. Six were killed and 13 wounded on Saturday.
The dead identified by the Pima County sheriff’s office are: U.S. District Judge John Roll, 63; Dorthy Murray, 76; Dorwin Stoddard, 76; Christina Greene, 9; Phyllis Scheck, 79; Gabe Zimmerman, 30. Ironically, 9 year old Christina Greene was born on September 11, 2001. She was excited about the political process since the election of President Obama. Christina was newly elected to her school’s student council. She went with her neighbor to meet Rep Giffords’ to learn more about the political process. Along with Rep. Giffords, 12 others are still hospitalized.
The attempted assignation of the Representative Giffords is very similar to the Fort Hood, Texasmass shooting that took place on November 5, 2009. A gunman, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, killed 13 people and wounded 30 others. Both shooters were struggling with mental issues. Automatic weapons were used to shoot innocent individuals. Both men were loners and many stated they acted weird and express anti-government sentiments. Thankfully, Jared Lee Loughner was denied acceptance into the Army because of drug use and Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, was becoming increasing agitated by an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
Both men committed unthinkable acts but one glaring difference between the two is the how the media has depicted both men. Major Nidal Malik Hasan was called a terrorist from day one. Terrorist experts and military talking heads saturated the networks discussing Hasan minutes after the shootings were reported at Fort Hood. Jared Lee Loughner has been painted as a “troubled youth” who did not get the mental health he needed. Every mental health care professional and parents of mental patients have discussed mental healthcare issues while the media has pondered what could have added to his “stressful” life. Not one cable talking head has called him what he is; a deranged terrorist.
According to the United States Law Code, terrorism is “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.” New evidence alleges that Loughner possibly planned for years to assassinate Gifford. But a whole host of major media outlets seem to disagree.
Cord Jefferson helps us take a look at what other media outlets are reporting and the language that is noticeable absent.
The Wall Street Journal stated Loughner “raged against the government” and “discussed terrorism,” which, when you actually think about it, is a vague, nearly meaningless sentence. (Since 9/11, everyone has talked about terrorism.) In the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the main story is that Loughner was denied entry into the military because he failed a drug test, while the only talk of terrorism comes in a confusing quote from a blog posting from Loughner himself: “If you call me a terrorist then the argument to call me a terrorist is ad hominem.” And, in the Los Angeles Times’ lead story on Loughner on Tuesday, the word “terror” doesn’t appear once.
Compare this nebulous coverage to that on Nidal malik Hasan in November 2009. Hasan is Muslim, a fact every news outlet would not let you forget while speculating about his terrorist ties.
Four days after the attack on Fort Hood, the Wall Street Journal published two stories suggesting that Hasan was a terrorist, one of which included the assertion that it was a terrorist act because Hasan spoke Arabic while he shot. The Los Angeles Times spoke to counter-terrorism experts for an article on Hasan. And, in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, blogger Kyle Wingfield actually gave credence to a Forbes argument claiming that Hasan “went Muslim.”
Some will argue that Hasan’s terrorist intentions were proved by communications he had with radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki, but, in fact, experts who reviewed the pair’s e-mail exchange deemed it totally innocuous.
It should be noted that the FBI Director Robert Mueller has said he’s not ruling out terrorism charges against Loughner, but nothing’s certain yet. In Dubai, Hillary Clinton called Loughner an “extremist,” though, like the media, she stopped short of calling him a terrorist. From the sidelines, the message this sends is pretty obvious and very insidious: When a white man executes a political attack, he’s likely crazy. If he’s black, he’s a dropout from a single mom home with an incarcerated father. When it’s a Muslim doing the shooting, he’s a terrorist.
Folks must call the Arizona shootings exactly what they are; acts of terrorism. Whether the shooter is white, black, or brown equal scrutiny should be given to a person who commits crimes of this nature. A person’s religion and the length of his name should not determine how the crime is reported. A terrorist is a terrorist. Because many allow the media to shape their thoughts and drive the conversation, the media helps facilitate racial flames at its leisure. The political pundits are carefully picked for their skills at stroking the audiences depending on what outlet you watch. Dumb pundits are chosen to play down a point and hateful pundits are picked to create more intolerance. They play us like puppets. People of color must not allow the media to soft ball crimes contributed by white terrorists. White people must see that Jared Lee Loughner is what he is, a terrorist, and should be discussed just like Nidal Malik Hasan or Nene’s son who robbed the corner liquor store. As a country, we should take a serious look at the actions of the media and the political atmosphere that they profit from that may have fueled the actions of a crazed man’s terrorist acts.
Mattie Bates: A Cancer Survivor and Community Role Model
Nashville is a city of community leaders in action. Most of those leaders are women on divinely inspired missions. They are determined to fight for causes that impact not only our city and region but our country. One of those leaders is Mattie Bates. Mrs. Bates has been a warrior on the battle field in the fight against cancer. In the Nashville community, she teaches women to take charge of their health and to be strong advocates for cancer awareness. Ms. Bates uses her personal battle with cancer as a catalyst for her mission to educate women to be survivors by early detection.Mattie is a ten year breast cancer survivor. She retired from BellSouth after 34 years of service and now describes herself as “semi-retired.” She is the coordinator of Davidson County’s Witness Project, the first in Tennessee. The Witness Project® is a culturally sensitive breast and cervical cancer outreach effort presented by cancer survivors and lay health advisors to increase awareness, knowledge, and access to screening and early detection among the African American population in an effort to reduce cancer incidence and mortality. Mrs. Bates work with the Witness Project® programs are presented in churches and community organizations by Witness Role Models (WRMs) and Lay Health Advisors (LHAs). Witness Role Models are African American women who are breast or cervical cancer survivors. Their presence as survivors is seen as a blessing and proof that cancer is not a death sentence. Lay Health Advisors are not cancer survivors themselves, but are women who want to work with the project to organize and publish programs, network with community people, give facts about breast and cervical cancer and available resources, teach breast self-examinations (BSEs) and encourage preventive services (mammograms, clinical breast exams (CBEs), pelvic exams, Pap tests and breast self-exams (BSE). During a program session, the WRMs witness by talking about their experience with cancer, stressing the importance of early detection and answering questions about their personal experiences, fears and concerns. The educational session addresses the fears and beliefs many women hold about cancer, demonstrates that the diagnosis of cancer is neither a death sentence nor a punishment. Following a session, LHAs teach BSE using breast models.Mrs. Bates work does not stop with advocacy in churches and the faith base community. She is seen often at major cancer walks and events, health initiatives, cancer awareness seminars, and survivor celebrations promoting women health. The cancer community is a very close nit community in Nashville and Mrs. Bates’ work, heart and determination are known throughout every corner of Davidson County. In addition to her work with the Witness Project, Mrs. Bates is also a member of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s Cancer Queens. The Cancer Queens are a group professional educators and cancer survivors who perform A Cancer Prevention Musical Revue. The shows are 45 minutes of skits and song and dance routines set to popular music with new educational lyrics that are consistent with the educational messages of the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and the National Cancer Institute.The performances inspire women to treat themselves like queens and take care of their health. Audience members laugh and tap their toes while they learn about the importance of breast and cervical cancer screenings and the healthy lifestyle habits that can help reduce the risk of developing certain cancers as well as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Since October 2008 debut, the Cancer Queens have entertained and educated more than 3000 women of all ages in Tennessee and delivered 15,000 individual cancer prevention and risk reduction messages. Often attendees leave asking about upcoming dates to bring back family and friends. The impactful performances have sold out quickly. Many come to see Mrs. Bates become her stage persona ‘Miss Patty’! Mrs. Bates said, ”Since joining the Witness Project and the Cancer Queens, it has been an interesting journey and I feel that I have embarked on another career—sharing my story to let others know you can be a survivor if cancer is detected early. Being part of the Cancer Queens allows me to share that message.” Mrs. Bates aka “Miss Patty” biggest fans are her husband and her son and daughter. They are usually on the front row cheering her on!Mrs. Bates work through The Witness Project® is made available through a grant from the Greater Nashville Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to promote breast cancer screening. The Witness Project® in collaboration with the Bridges to Care program provides mammograms to clients who do not meet the criteria of the Tennessee Breast and Cervical Screening Program through the Tennessee Department of Health, who are uninsured. Specifically, the program will target 150 Davidson County women age forty to sixty-four that are asymptomatic. The Cancer Queens! A Cancer Musical Revue is funded by Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center. For more information about volunteering as team member or to schedule a program with the Witness Project, Mrs. Mattie Bates can be reached at (615) 340-5680. To schedule a performance with Vanderbilt’s Cancer Queens you can contact Jennifer Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cancerqueens.net or www.facebook.com/cancerqueensPhoto Credits: Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center and Mrs. Mattie Bates. Cancer Queens Mattie Bates in the community Genma Holmes, Mattie Bates, and Navinta Gunter
The College Trust Fund Will Host Fundraiser for Nashville Area HBCUs
The United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) President and CEO, Dr. Michael L. Lomax, will speak at the MILLENNIUM MAXWELL HOUSE on historic Rosa L Parks Blvd., January 14, at 7:00 pm for the College Trust Fund. The College Trust Fund is celebrating its 29th year raising funds for Nashville’s four Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Meharry Medical School and American Baptist College.Since 2004, Dr. Lomax has been President and CEO of UNCF, the nation’s largest private provider of scholarships and other educational support to minority and low income students. Prior to UNCF, Lomax served as President of UNCF-member institution Dillard University in New Orleans and was a noted literature professor at UNCF member institutions Morehouse and Spelman Colleges. Dr. Lomax was also the first African American elected to serve as chairman of the Fulton County Commission in Atlanta.Throughout his career, Lomax has worked to provide educational opportunities for underrepresented Americans. As UNCF’s leader, he oversees UNCF’s 400 scholarship programs, including the UNCF Gates Millennium Scholars Program, a 20-year, $1.6 billion program whose 14,000 low-income minority recipients have a 90 percent college graduation rate. He also launched the UNCF Institute for Capacity Building, which helps UNCF’s 39 member HBCUs become stronger, more effective and more self-sustaining in such critical areas as fund-raising and building strong academic programs that prepare their students for careers in the global economy.A leading advocate for the importance of cradle-through-college education for all Americans, Dr. Lomax is co-chair of the Education Equality Project, a member of the Aspen Institute’s Commission on No Child Left Behind and a member of the governing board of Teach for America, the KIPP Foundation and the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools. Dr. Lomax also serves on the boards of the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of African American History and Culture and the Studio Museum of Harlem. He is the founded the National Black Arts Festival.In addition to his numerous board duties, Dr. Lomax is also a published author and educational columnist. He is the author of the widely read, The Morehouse Man and he contributes frequently to the National Journal’s Education Experts blog.The College Trust Fund has raised nearly a million dollars since its inception for Nashville’s youth. Your attendance and donation would be greatly appreciated. Monetary donations are accepted year round to support this worthwhile endeavor.THE COLLEGE TRUST FUND BOARD OF DIRECTORS The Reverend Marcel Kellar, Chairman Bishop George W. Price, Jr., Secretary The Reverend Dr. Norman Reed, Treasurer The Reverend Dr. John G. Corry, General Counsel, Mrs. Rosetta Miller-Perry, Dr. Sheila Peter Mr. Robert S. Poole, The Reverend Edward L. Thompson, Dr. Jayme Coleman-Williams. RECEPTION: 6:30 P.M. BANQUET PROGRAM: 7:00 P.M. ATTIRE: BUSINESS$75.00 Tickets can be purchased from College Trust Office Tennessee Tribune Bldg. 1501 Jefferson Street, Suite 103 615 321 3268
A New Year Bring Challenges and Opportunities in Tennessee
2011 will bring new challenges and opportunities for many. All too often, the challenges are emphasized and the opportunities are minimized when we view circumstances through old lenses. Past missteps should be revisited only to learn from them while embracing the future with a positive attitude. Many have expressed concerns about what is next for Black folks with several new leadership roles all beginning at the same time; a new Governor, a new Chancellor for the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and an Interim President for Tennessee State University (TSU). All of the new leaders will have a profound effect on Tennessee, especially the state’s community of color.
Governor Bill Haslam has to govern all of Tennessee not just the folks that voted for him. By all assessments, Haslam ran a good campaign with very little competition. This past election cycle, the Democrats placated the fringe elements of voters and alienated their base. At the same time, Black folks played crazy and did not even show up to the polls to vote. Out of habit, color folks have often elected Democrats that are afraid to deal with them, let alone shake hands without sanitizer in their pockets. Those days are vaporizing. More voters are voting their interests and not party lines. To Haslam’s credit, he did not repeat psycho talking points from Arizona and feed into the dread and doom headlines that shaped many campaigns across the country. Most Tennessee voting Blacks voted for Haslam. (Quit pretending like folks did not). Governor Haslam was a successful businessman prior to public office. There is a natural assumption that he will run the state like a business. Haslam stated often on the campaign trail that he would make a “thousand small cuts” to the state’s budget while overhauling the state’s procurement process and wasteful spending. This should give more Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs opportunities to do business with the state. The previous administration embraced trips to China to do business overseas but had a hard time paying an invoice to a business owner on Jefferson Street five blocks from the state capitol. Folks need to get over their fear of a Republican Governor and visit the newly renovated Governor’s mansion that the Democrats left behind. Governor Haslam will shake your hands. Hopefully, his appointments as Governor will be as diverse as his Knoxville’s administration. TBR, Tennessee’s higher education governing body, new Chancellor, John Morgan, came to office with mess and mayhem in tow. He is a gift from Bredesen and he is not going anywhere anytime soon. Behind closed doors, many admit that the hiring process WAS ugly but Morgan knows what Morgan knows. It may be challenging to overlook how he got the job but with new found wisdom to the games that were played under Chancellor Manning’s leadership, Morgan appears determined to tackle higher education deficiencies that need attention desperately. Hearings and headlines have educated folks about the role of TBR and Mr. Morgan must be willing to offensively engage the public about our colleges and universities. At the state senate’s education committee hearings, several Regents stated their role on the board was to show up to a few meetings a few times a year. Mr. Morgan may need more heart and soul from the Regents. A lot more. TBR is one of our most powerful boards in the state that is responsible for billions of dollars as well as thousands of students’ educational endeavors. That responsibility should not be taken lightly. After Tennessee won half a billion dollars in Race to the Top Funds, critical lenses have now turn to review how Tennessee educate students. All of our students, at every school. Everyone must invest in efforts to make education one of our top priorities in our state. Those investments will pay off by attracting more commerce to Tennessee because of a highly trained and educated workforce. College graduation rates are declining statewide not just at one or two schools. TBR should use private school marketing skills to promote Tennessee public higher education schools. TBR can no longer be viewed as a political appointment door mat. Regents attending college graduations would be a small effort to show that TBR is a partner not an enemy in educating students. Mr. Morgan is not only a new administrator for TBR but the new Cheerleader-in-Chief for higher education in Tennessee.
One of those schools he must cheer for is my boys’ beloved Tennessee State University. TSU’s new interim President, Dr. Portia Shields, has her work cut out for her. The school is accredited but was denied reaffirmation. In 12 months, TSU must resubmit ongoing compliance and institutional effectiveness to SACSCOC. All the foolish diversions during the last few years have distracted the school from doing its main job, educating students. The students should be the focus and purpose. Recruiting the best and the brightest to attend and graduate from TSU and giving those who would not be given an opportunity elsewhere, the chance to get an education should be front and center. No matter who is at the helm at TSU, everyone need to be reminded that students are the beginning and the end of the road. Madame President is now leading the students. The TSU community needs to support that mission without distractions and commotions. Sometimes, Nashville’s social groups, clubs, and church folks can hinder leaders with a specific mission. In Nashville, social groups can take a simple assignment to help others and turn it into happy hour. Little ladies in clubs colors can behave as if they are the Crips and Bloods. And church folks will pull voodoo dolls out of their purses if you do not agree with them while quoting scripture. (Only speaking truth folks). Dr. Shields represents an opportunity to bring fresh thinking to the business of educating our students while honoring TSU’s heritage of excellence in education. The focus should be what is best for the students who want to be educated at TSU. Governor Haslam, Chancellor Morgan, and the TSU community are all stake holders in the success of TSU educating students now and in the future. Let us look for ways to emphasize the excellent opportunities before us and begin 2011 with a new pair of lenses.
Georgial O'keefe's Gift Guardian Angel: Carol Crestwell-Betsch
Ellen Pryor making sure her dear friend is flawless on the day of the shoot!
Now that the world knows what I knew back then, I can blog about it! Tennessee’s attorney general, Bob Cooper, announced on Friday, October 22, 2010 that Fisk Alumna, Dr. Carol Creswell-Betsch, stepped forward with funds to keep the Stieglitz collection at Fisk University. To the shouts of many on the outside of the Fisk bubble, a Fisk alumnus was doing what alumni around the country do daily, support their school.
Let me give you a few behind the scenes snippet of what I have permission to share. On Monday I discovered, after much thought and prayer, Dr. Carol Creswell-Betsch decided to establish a fund at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to help maintain the collection on the campus at the Carl Van Vechten Gallery. She did not announce it with a ticker tape parade or send press releases to shout it to mountain top. She did it Carol’s way that I have come to admire so deeply, with quiet elegance. After seeking counsel from others, she informed the Attorney General of her plans. I got a call from her to share with me her decision to establish the fund that would provide for the upkeep of the art at no cost to the school. She asked for my support which I gave immediately. I was flabbergasted that I was entrusted with such precious information. She was seeking input from others about her decision and building a pool of donors who believed in her mission. I thought the idea was extremely bold and courageous.
Dr. Carol Creswell-Betsch had thought long and hard about her convictions. She is deeply connected to the collection. Her mother, Pearl Creswell, was the first curator of the Stieglitz collection at Fisk University. Pear Creswell met and corresponded with Georgia O’Keeffe for many years. “This art has been a part of my life since I was young girl,” she told me once. Dr. Carol Creswell-Betsch is a 1955 graduate of Fisk University and she cares profoundly about the future of the school. Visit her home and it is evident that she has been raised around Fisk’s Art Collection which includes works by Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne, Marsden Hartley and Diego Rivera as well as O’Keeffe and her husband Alfred Stieglitz all her life. The influences are in every nook and cranny. As she points to what knots here and there, her sentences usually start with two enduring words, “My mother”. Her love for her mother and art is everywhere. Whenever I have come to “sit for spell”, I have been taken aback about the lessons in culture and life I have received on each visit. Her love of family and art is matched by her love of teaching even though she cries,” I am in retirement” often. My visits are lead by a teacher with much compassion and I am not allowed to leave until my teacher-friend has finished my life lessons for that day.
Our paths crossed through mutual groups, organizations and our passion for art. I am learning to temper my spirit as I read from her quiet grace filled book on diplomacy. When she senses I am ready to give a quick witted response to mayhem, I am given a stern look to behave or a reminder to keep my words to a minimal. This past summer, I asked her to be part of My Very Special Frist Center Adventures. She allowed me to pull her in various directions as I stumped the hallways of the Frist Center. We share a mutual love for the museum as well as volunteer at the Frist. She has volunteered for many years while I am still in my infancy stages by comparison. She graciously modeled for The Golden Age of Couture brochure that depicted clothing styles inspired by widely popular exhibit. She was excited to volunteer for the project,an idea I wanted to create for visitors and several media outlets. Her response when I asked her to be one of my “role” models was a simple, “Just tell me my time, I don’t need all the details,” was said with a smile. How refreshing! At one point during the day long shoot, she was surrounded by young women who also participated in the photo shoot along Joyce Searcy and Gloria McKissack. They were in awe as the camera captured the inner beauty of a woman who was made to be in front of the camera.
The time I have spent with her is always positive and encouraging. Our conversations stay with me long after we have departed. We have gone on quiet outings to hear Nashville’s Symphony together and we spent a day at Lipscomb last week soaking up the vision and wisdom of Dr. Norma Burgess long awaited Women’s Conference.
Her quite strength and determination to do what is right is at the heart of trying to keep the Georgia O’Keefe’s Gift, the Stieglitz Collection, to Fisk, Nashville and the South on Fisk’s campus. She lives a quite life enjoying her grandchildren and volunteering where she sees various needs in the community. Her only public statement regarding the collection is:
In an effort to support my belief that the Alfred Stieglitz Collection should remain on the campus at Fisk University continuing to be housed at the Carl Van Vechten Gallery I have formed the Pearl Creswell Fund for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection at Fisk University at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. This fund will provide for the care, upkeep and display for the gift of Georgia O’Keeffe as directed by the donor. The fund will allow Fisk University financial relief.
I am asking those who share my concerns, regarding this unique treasure and who respect its historic value to Fisk University, to join with me and others who have generously agreed to step forward and underwrite this endeavor. If and when you are able please join with us to preserve our heritage and make a contribution at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to the Pearl Creswell Fund for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection at Fisk University.
To my classmates, to Fiskites everywhere, and to friends of Fisk University thank you for your help and consideration. Thank you for listening to me and for your support in this heartfelt effort.
Don’t you love it when a guardian angel steps forward quietly? Knowing her personally has me cheering for her endeavors very loudly!
Photo credits www.aaroncrisler.com for the Frist Center For the Visual Arts Makeup Skot Williams Stylist Genma Holmes
Often, I share about my grandfather (Daddy) and the love he showed his grandchildren. He really was a good man. He was not perfect by any means but he did not waiver on things that were out of sync with doing what was right when no one was around to see. One of his favorite sayings was “fair is fair”. Those words were usually followed up by “ball or strike”. One day, I am going to write a book about his poetic sayings.
Once, I accompanied my grandfather to a meeting held at our community lodge. Watching Daddy on the front row, I thought I was going to hear one of his fiery speeches about doing what is right because it is the right thing to do. But on this particular night, things would not be normal . The tone in the room was not what I had expected. Even at the age of nine, I knew something was different about this crowd.
The crowd had gathered to debate a hotly contested ordinance being proposed. Some community leaders were urging folks to vote for a law that was not good legislation according to my grandfather. Daddy adamantly opposed the measure and did not hide his disdain for those supporting it. In this public hearing, Daddy’s critics never called him by name but there was no doubt that he was the object of their dissatisfaction. I watched for hours as one speaker after another took pot shots at my grandfather. He never said a word and a few times, I caught him smiling. I sat in disbelief wondering why Daddy was not speaking up for what he believed in or refusing to address the group to defend his point of view.
On the drive home, I asked Daddy about the meeting. With much confidence, Daddy responded, “Never bet against the truth; you must learn to pick your battles”. At nine, my lack of comprehension showed on my face so my grandfather served up this nugget of knowledge that I use often, “Never argue with a fool, they will either win the argument or kill you.” Later that week, several individuals met with my grandfather to thank him for not debating with the noise makers. His silence spoke volumes, they told him. That was the first of many meetings where I saw my grandfather win the battle of words by never uttering a sound. He was an old school passionate orator but from time to time, he would fall silent and allow his lack of verbal engagement diffuse a situation or get others to speak up instead of waiting on him to be the messenger.
Several weeks ago, I got to experience how my grandfather felt firsthand. I attended a meeting that left me wondering had I a missed a Prozac pill. I thought I was attending a meeting to discuss empowering others to be the best they can be and mobilizing individuals to be more educated about issues in the community. I was ready to soak up whatever knowledge that was going to be shared. I had my sleeves rolled up to learn new ways to tackle old issues with relevant goals and defined action plans. As with most folks and good intentions, you get what you get. Nothing in life is a guarantee.
Folks, I sat in a meeting, which I initially thought would be informative and motivating, dodging bullets and daggers. Damn! I did not get the memo to come dressed in amour. One speaker took great pleasure weaving belittling comments into a message about leadership. There was no hiding the fact-less infused lecture with its saccharine coated ugly tones, there was an issue with me. Before you ask, my name was never spoken. Are you surprised? Me either. As my amusement grew by the minute, I saw out the corner of my eye several individuals sitting stoned faced and showing signs of being uncomfortable with what was taking place for all to see and hear. I thought to myself, Daddy would have loved this meeting! I could visualize him twisting his Mason ring around on his finger while never looking away from the speaker. Channeling my grandfather, I twisted my diamond ring on my finger and found myself fascinated with counting the number of biting remarks that were meant to either hurt or humiliate.
At one point, I started taking notes because I would hate to leave this one out of my upcoming book. Not to get even but because I needed to record what was taking place within my spirit. I did not get upset or walk out. I pinched myself several times to make sure I had not dozed off or was having an out of body experience. I was actually listening quietly to words that were not having an effect on me. My grandfather words came rushing back to me, “pick your battles”. This was not a battle; this was a pissing match and I was not a bed wetter. I had nothing to prove. I had spoken truth to a few folks and the result of speaking up was this angry crazed tirade I was pinned in my seat hearing. Riveting. On the drive home, I found myself laughing as if I seen a comedy routine. Does personal growth and revelation come with bouts of laughter? Instead of fuming and ready to take folks to the shed, I was laughing at what I experienced. Prozac does not produce that kind of response.
By the time I made it home, calls apologizing for my experience were pouring in from many individuals that I respected. Each apology was heartfelt and genuine. Their phones calls made me respect them even more. Unbeknownst to me, several expressed their indignation at the meeting not being about serving others. I did not have to mention that the meeting was not as it was billed. Although my experience was meant to humiliate me, I witnessed folks willing to do the right thing even when no one was looking. I realized something had changed in me. Not one to hold my tongue when mayhem and foolishness rear their ugly heads, surprisingly, I was silent. By not engaging in petty words that faithful day, I took in what was said and made a decision to use my time building others up for the greater good of everyone, including myself.
Since the meeting, I taped the notes from that day near my calendar to remind me of the lesson from my grandfather that was revealed years later. It took courage for him to hold back. I cherish those actions from the lodge that I witnessed; his strength in his silence, the twisting of his ring and smiling while staring intently at a speaker hurling clandestine insults. He was showing me not every battle is worthy of my energy and to always leave foolish arguments for fools to debate. After a few days, I sent a note to the speaker expressing thanks for a presentation that had a positively profound effect on me. Growth is good. How was your week?