Our History, Our Sorrow!

March 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

Can I tell you my worst nightmare?

So we think we live in the best and most civilized society.

But, in fact, if we dig deeply we can see lots of inequities.

And we have different celebrations to make us feel better about what ails us.

Women have been the underclass that’s caged by society and they (we) break down barriers, glass ceilings, barbed wire fences and anything that dares to keep us stuck.

Yeah.

We keep on stepping.

History does not lie. We are survivors. We rise, and we thrive!

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And yet, every March, when we celebrate Women’s History Month, we are plagued, inundated, besieged with all the inequities that still exist in, not only these United States of America, but around the world.

It’s brought to our attention how many babies are being fucked by men old enough to be their grand fathers!

I’m calling it what it is, and I don’t care about culture in this instance.

The thought of an innocent little girl being defiled by her “husband” her father, her brother, her uncle, or anyone who does not recognize her body as sacred, pisses me off!

You too, should be pissed off! If you’re not..why not?

It’s only when we get mad enough that we can generate that anger into something worthwhile. Into a force that can rise up, raise hell and make a difference.

Right now I am using my fingers, and you will see the images of the letters on a page.

Stop and pretend it’s your baby that’s been defiled.

How does that make you feel? Stay with it and feel the anger rising up from your gut. If you are not angry at the image, you really need to check yourself.

The World Health Organization estimates there will be more than one hundred and forty million girls under the age of 15 who will be married between now and 2020.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network indicates that one in six women in America will be the victim of sexual assault. They further indicate that 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under 12.

Human trafficking has a figure of over 27 million worldwide, and most of those are women and children. The only reason for this is the financial gains.

The unintended consequences of these abuse are drug abuse and addiction, psychological, mental and physical trauma, incarceration, low self esteem, self hatred, depression, attempted suicide and the ultimate – suicide.

This is simply a miniscule smidge about the improprieties and unjust treatment of women the world over.

I bring it to the fore so if even one person chooses to do their research and do something about it, our girls can grow up to be well adjusted women, make their mark in the world and make a difference.

My worst nightmare is that any of my three grand-daughters would be subjected to any abuse of this kind. I want to protect them, and I also want to protect every little girl. I want them to have their childhood, their innocence, and be free, and safe.

As we celebrate this month of Women’s history, let us make an effort to educate ourselves about these injustices, and get mad enough to do something about it.

I invite our upstanding men who are teaching their daughters and their sons, to also show their outrage in stamping out these abuses.

We are, after all, women, and men. We are outraged, and we want to give hope to our youngsters. We are phenomenal. Let’s prove our might by taking action.  Spread the word!

Here are some useful websites:

www.ChildrenoftheNight, 24-hour hotline, (800)-551-1300

www.rainn.org, 24 hour hotline (800-656-4673 (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

www.who.int (World Health Organization)

http://www.thehotline.org/ Domestic Violence, 24 hour hotline (800) 799 7233

 

 

You’re A Parent. You’re A Leader

July 3, 2014 in Article

You’re a Parent. You’re A Leader.

When I thought of leadership in the past, and today to some extent, I think of its three primary forms.  Power, authority and influence.  Power is the ability to make things go the way you want them to go, regardless of what anyone else has to say.  It really only exists in a brief moment, because after a time followers begin to recognize that they can go against you should they want a different path.  Authority is legitimized power.  Essentially, the group or followers gives up some of their power to a leader, willingly, so that the leader can guide the group as a whole.  Democratic societies are a good example of this.  But the strongest form of leadership and the form that we often times don’t fully recognize is influence.  Leadership by influence is when the leader thinks, acts and behaves in a way that others find value in and then begin to govern themselves off of the leaders example.  Based on this definition we all can begin to see and recognize the myriad of leaders we have had in our own lives.  But also, we can see ways we may not have even recognized that we were leaders.  And greatest of all of these examples is our leadership as a parent.

The greatest understanding of what it means to be a parent/leader I gained, from all places, was when I worked in a juvenile lockup facility.  One of my jobs that I have had in my career was that of a juvenile supervision officer in a juvenile detention facility when I was in my mid to late twenties.  Worded differently:  I was a correctional officer for kids jail.  Now working in that environment we where always cautioned and held accountable for what we would say and do by our supervisors.  I never questioned this rule, but I did assume it was for our safety and that of our clients.  But one day while working in a unit with a colleague with far more experience, he asked why I believed we were trained to be so careful with our actions around detainees.  I gave him the standard answer of “safety & security.”  He agreed, but said that it was more than that.  He explained that a lot of our kids came from environments that didn’t raise up their self worth and encourage them to be all that they could possibly be.  And when they came to our facility, for whatever reason,  what did they have to do all day?  He paused.  I waited.  Then he said, “All they have to do all day is watch you.  They know things about you and your habits that you aren’t even aware of.  They are learning lessons from your behavior that you aren’t even intending to teach.”  Wow!  What did I get from that.  Be impeccable with your word and honest, open and deliberate with your behavior.

So if these teenagers were getting this from me when I was with them for only eight hours a day,  five days a week, what leadership lessons are my children getting from me?  They are with me, pretty much, always.  So what are some of the keys to being a leader of influence with your kids in your own home?

1.  Remember that you are the parent and they are the child.  Sounds easy enough to remember, but there is a piece that we often forget or do not know.  Your child’s brain development is not complete until they are about 25-27 years old.  And the part of the brain that is last to develop to maturity is the pre-frontal cortex.  This is the part of the brain that makes executive decisions and where moral reasoning takes place.  What does the pre-frontal cortex manage and control?  Well…

  • Organization of multiple tasks
  • Impulse inhibition
  • Self control
  • Setting goals and priorities
  • Empathizing with others
  • Initiating appropriate behavior
  • Making sound judgments
  • Forming Strategies
  • Planning ahead
  • Adjusting behavior when situations change
  • Stopping an activity upon completion
  • Insight


So when I say that they are not “grown up yet”,  all I am saying is that they are not grown up yet.  The patience you showed your two year old also needs to be extended to you young adult.  Sure the circumstances are different and their ability to interact with you looks more adult that child-like, but the truth is the ability to self-regulate and make moral and ethical decisions is still developing.

2.  It’s all about deeds not words.  Children, tweens, teens, young adults do not pay attention to what you say.  They pay attention to what you do and model themselves after it.  When your deeds and words matchup,  the next go around they may be a bit more likely to take you at your word.  But only if you have been true to it in the past.  Remember, all they do when around you is observe your behavior.

3.  Hold yourself accountable, but also be gentle with yourself.  When you say you are going to do something, if you are invested in it, do it.  Follow through.  If you blow off a commitment or fall short, hold yourself accountable.  Figure out how you fell short, ways you can improve and if you want to, take on that challenge again.  Once you have done that, no more scolding or beating up on yourself.  Acknowledge you did the best you were able to do in that moment and move on.  Be gentle with yourself.  There are more than enough people in the world who will be harsh with you over a mistake or misstep.  This tip is important because you are able to show your resilience and love that you have for yourself.  Model it and you will begin to see your child being just as tender and caring of themselves as you are to yourself.  Remember, your the leader and they are modeling themselves after your behaviors.  You may tell them to be good to themselves after an unintended mistake, but if they see you beating yourself up over a mistake, that is where they take their cues.

3.  Hold yourself accountable, but also be gentle with yourself.  When you say you are going to do something, if you are invested in it, do it.  Follow through.  If you blow off a commitment or fall short, hold yourself accountable.  Figure out how you fell short, ways you can improve and if you want to, take on that challenge again.  Once you have done that, no more scolding or beating up on yourself.  Acknowledge you did the best you were able to do in that moment and move on.  Be gentle with yourself.  There are more than enough people in the world who will be harsh with you over a mistake or misstep.  This tip is important because you are able to show your resilience and love that you have for yourself.  Model it and you will begin to see your child being just as tender and caring of themselves as you are to yourself.  Remember, your the leader and they are modeling themselves after your behaviors.  You may tell them to be good to themselves after an unintended mistake, but if they see you beating yourself up over a mistake, that is where they take their cues.

4.  Allow them to lead.  So as I said before, I am coming from the idea of leadership being influence.  So allow your child to see and experience that they influence you.  Let them see that they lead you.  In truth, they do this more often than they are aware.  As parents a large majority of our decisions are based on the direction we are leading are family.  But a lot of the deep thought and planning that goes on here typically takes place behind “closed doors”.  But when an opportunity arises to let you child lead you, allow them too.  You can allow them to choose where the family is going for dinner by encouraging them to not only choose the restaurant but by explaining their rationale.  Encourage them to come up with a plan of attack for the entire family on spring cleaning day or you may encourage them to come up with a family outing and work out the planning and responsibilities of the trip.  You be the one to give your child experiences where they can lead.  And the great thing about allowing them to lead their family is that should a mistake happen or plans go awry, they are with a loving and caring group who wants the best for them.

5.  Apologize when you are wrong.  One of the greatest gifts my parents ever gave to me (and there were many) was when they apologized to me when they made a mistake with me.  Each time it happened it blew my mind.  It wasn’t that they made any kind of large mistake.  It was that their apology acknowledged that they were human and not infallible.  And it acknowledged me as an important member of the team, our family.  It said that my worth and opinion of them was important to them.  It was important enough to them that they didn’t want to damage our relationship  by not acknowledging when they may have been wrong.  What that did for my self-esteem resonates to this day and it is a gift that I passed along to every child I have worked with professionally.  And most importantly, it is something that I do with my sons today.  It allows me to be fallible, make mistakes, carry-on and continue to lead them and myself forward in our lives.

Remember that leadership in its strongest form is influence.  And that when it comes to your child, your influence is the most powerful in their lives, bar none.  Model for them the example of living you want for them.  And then when they are grown adults with kids of their they just might thank you for it.  But even if they don’t you will know that you tried to give the best of you to them.

This article is reprinted with kind permission from Mr. Bill Mayes, a Parent/Family Coach. His website is: http://www.billmayeslifecoach.com/

Name Change – Game Change

January 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

When my daughter decided to change her name, many members of my family, my friends and contemporaries, heavily criticized her. I will not mention who she is, because this blog is not about her (I do respect her privacy). It is looking at the ability to make choices, the reason behind the choices and the personal, psychic, psychological and social ramifications.

It is never questioned when a woman marries, and chooses her husband’s name. I know of some same gender couples that’ve chosen one or the other spouse’s name. No one ever questions that.

I can speak to my personal feelings about her decisions to change from what was ostensibly an Anglo-sounding name (her words). She wanted a name that was more reflective of her African heritage.

Hers was a name that was chosen at the moment she entered this world. Her father saw her before I did. It has to do with the configuration of the body and the birthing process. He saw her, and in his words, she whispered her name to him. Sounds magical, huh!

There is magic in that phrase, especially as I now know that my daughter has never shared the names of her children with anyone, but her husband. It is then first whispered in the child’s ears, immediately after birth. After the skin to skin, heart to heart embrace with mother and baby. The process is anyone after that can be privy to that most noble handle we all hold so dear – our names.

In retrospect, she’s done something unique to her family, but the ritual came before. That ritual heralded her presence into this world.

She decided to have a name that befits her. The energy, the personality, the passion. Everything that says I am my own person!

I think I was somewhat disappointed when she made the decision to change her name. I rather liked the other name we had chosen for her. As a mother, I believed it suited her personality. Of course, the personality developed AFTER the naming. After the growing. After the becoming.

I often lapse into calling her by her “given” name, and when I catch myself, I recognize the disservice and the seeming disrespect to her.

As I reflect on the words of the eminent poet, philosopher and artist, Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) – “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”

Many people have changed their names. For example:

Mother Theresa was Agnes Bojaxhiu
Al Jolson was Asa Yoelson
Snoop Dogg was Calvin Broadus
Whoopi Goldberg was Caryn Johnson
Toni Morrison was Chloe Wofford
Queen Latifah was Dana Owens
Mos Def was Dante Smith
Billie Holiday was Eleanor Harris
Tyler Perry was Emmitt Perry
Jamie Foxx was Eric Bishop
Malcolm X was Malcolm Little

Each individual has a story. A reason. Does the new name change the personality? Does it inhibit or expand the person? Does the change happen at a cellular level, or is it more superficial?

Being mother to a strong, independent, determined woman, allows me many opportunities to learn, let go, grow, reflect, cherish, honor the authentic being that she is. With all the strength and bravado, there’s vulnerability. Our greatest assets can often be our ability to be vulnerable, and then rise!

I wonder how the name change has impacted all these people? Have they become “more?” I could ask my daughter, but, like I said, this is not her story.

I believe we grow to fit our names. The name I bear has been with me for longer than my given name at birth, or should I say my father’s name. Though I am no longer attached to the man whose name I use, it feels right for me. It has, or I have become interconnected with it. It feels like me. It is I. It is the name by which I’m known. It’s a glove that fits well.

What are your thoughts? Will your game change without your name?

HOW PRECIOUS ARE YOU?

October 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

One of the things I do a few times every week is to spend time with a very delightful young man.

Owen is 6 years old, and he has the most beautiful and arresting smile. His nature is kind. He is boisterous, outspoken, inquisitive, jovial and very much a boy. I take much delight in being in his presence.

His parents leave for work at 6 a.m., and so it is my responsibility to awaken him – although he is always awake by the time I arrive at his house. I must also add that he is NEVER in a bad mood!!

I fix him breakfast and take him to school.

Our mornings invariably consist of coloring, playing with some of his wondrous and amazing toys, listening to music, dancing, reading – he and I, coloring, and always talking about whatever happens to be on our minds at the time.

This is a relationship that is very special to me, and I treasure it (the relationship) and he (the young man).

On this particular day on our trip to school, we were coming up with random letters, and I would create words, sometimes a complete sentence, based on the letters. One such letter was a P.

Not for Pauline. Not for Petulant. Not for Powerful. Not for Practice, but I chose Precious. He wanted to know what that meant. I replied, special, rare, beautiful, a jewel – like you. He beamed his special smile.

He might have forgotten the conversation by the time we arrived at his classroom. It was, after all, show and tell day, and he was pretty jazzed about sharing the poster of Tim Lincecum, the starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants.

Owen is a die-hard Giants fan, and they have just won the World Series.

When I got home, his smile was still with me, and I started thinking about what is precious to me. I consulted my trusty mini Oxford Dictionary, and this is their definition:
Of great value. Beloved. Affectedly refined. Valuable. Treasured. Prized. Priceless. Rare.

I relished the thought of having injected those thoughts, ideas in the mind of one so young, on a gray autumn day in Sacramento. He might forget the conversation, but it certainly stirred something in me. The look of joy and pure delight was worth savoring!

My mind wondered to something much bigger than this conversation, and it occurred to me that people everywhere must feel strongly that they are precious. That life itself is mostly precious.

In the unfoldment of our lives – our precious lives – we are so much more than our possessions. No matter how precious those possessions may be! We are more than our degrees. We are more than our zip codes. We are more than our bank accounts and our investments.
The busy-ness of our daily lives distracts us from what’s important.

Right now we are caught up in the energy of the upcoming elections. The candidates. The personalities. The issues. The lies. The truths. The half-truths. The innuendos. The blaming. The disrespect. We are so intent on pontificating and wishing to seem informed, important, relevant, that the precious parts of our selves can go unnoticed. Unacknowledged. The outer war seem to have taken the place of inner peace.

The complexities of our modern world demand much of us. And we, in turn, give much.

All things in our world hold some degree of relevance. Of importance.

How do we measure that relevance?

If today were your very last day on earth, would it matter who won the election?

Would it matter if YOU won or lost in whatever game you are involved in?

How would you categorize your PRECIOUS life?

Are you content in the choices you make?

In the words you use?

In the connections you make?

You are always at choice, and there is power behind your choices. The respect and reverence you bring to your daily activities can enhance the quality of your life, which is inherently precious! Reflect on your unique preciousness every day. And remember words can be magic.