Friday, November 29, 2013

You are the Ultimate Determiner of Your Joy & Your Pain

It probably seems as if the pages of summer and fall have turned so quickly, that you haven’t had time to regroup. And now the holiday season is upon you. Whatever your traditions, whatever your cultural values and rituals, when it comes to the holiday season, it’s always a celebration!

For many of you, the holiday season, along with the associated external trappings (gifts, relationships, & material things), determine your joy and your excitement. And on the other hand, for many others, the holiday season, along with the external trappings, bring sadness and disappointment.  However, it is important to realize that no matter what the season, you are the ultimate determiner of your joy, your sadness, your excitement, and your disappointment. 

If your emotional state is dependent on the holiday season, along with the gifts you receive or don’t receive, as well as who you are in a relationship with, not with, or whether you are not in a relationship at all; where you are, or believe you should be in life or geographically, you will probably be disappointed…not only during this holiday season, but throughout your life. And if this is the case, the holidays have nothing to do with your emotional state.  It is time to realize that your joy starts with you, not with the holidays!

Too often, a state of aloneness during the holiday season is a trigger for loneliness and sadness.  It is important to recognize that until you are able to be alone with yourself without falling into the pit of loneliness and sadness, you will not be able to experience joy in your life.  As a matter of fact, if your joy is predicated on that man or woman in your life, or the one you don’t have in your life, especially during the holidays, you might find yourself lonely and sad three hundred sixty-five days of the year, with or without him or her.

Your expectations of being with that special someone should not be predicated on the holiday season. What happens when the holidays are over? You will ultimately find yourself alone and lonely again. However, if you seek and maintain a healthy and positive relationship with that special someone throughout the year, you won’t have to worry about your relationship going south during the holidays. And if your relationship tends to wane or no longer exist, it probably was not a relationship in the first place!

At some point in your life, you must come to decide whether you want joy or pain in your life; whether you want a healthy and lasting relationship; or if you desire to continue to perpetrate a fraud by remaining in situations going nowhere, with people who don’t want to be with you, or people you know you don’t need to be with! And you wonder why you have no joy in your life?!!

As so eloquently sang by Frankie Beverly and Mays, “Joy and pain are like sunshine and rain.” You are the ultimate determiner of your sunshine, as well as your rain. You are also the determiner of the person or persons you invite into your life or whose invitation you accept and take on their life, in order for you to continue on your journey of joy or pain.

If you choose to have joy in your life on a daily basis, there are certain characteristics that you must instill within your life on a daily basis. One of the fist and foremost characteristics is forgiving. It is imperative that you forgive yourself and forgive others. The more you carry old hurt, old misery, and old mess which no longer fits in your current realm of life, you will stay connected to and flow in the currents of pain.

As you allow your humanness to come forward, you will allow yourself and others to make mistakes. Beating yourself or others over the head for the atrocities of the past, only breed angst, animosity, bitterness, and pain. These aspects of unforgiveness are not only detrimental to you, they are detrimental your joy.

You cannot and will not experience complete and total joy until you are willing to step outside yourself to recognize that it’s not all about you!  Your situation is not the only one taking place in life. As you are complaining about not having any shoes, walk a little further and you will find someone without feet; and as you continue on your journey, you will discover someone without legs. Sharing with others and caring about others are essential attributes you must engage in on a daily basis.

Sharing with others is more than the sharing of material things; it is sharing of your time, your talents, and sometimes just sharing a smile. As a matter of fact, you are much richer when you share with others.  Actually, in doing so, you plant seeds for later harvests, greater than you can ever imagine!

Much of your pain has much to do with you not being yourself, living above and/or outside your means, perpetrating frauds, trying to be someone you aren’t, living somewhere you don’t belong, and driving something that you can’t afford. In other words, stop trying to keep up with the Joneses!  They are probably in an even greater economic and financial transition than you! And they are also probably engaging in an even greater perpetration of life!

Trying to take on the identity of someone who looks as if they are doing extremely well can add to your stress and keep you in a pool of mess. Get over it and be yourself; what is for you is for you and no one can take it from you! You will have more joy and rid yourself of the pain associated with faking it until you make it!

Ultimately, in order for you to fully experience your joy, and rid yourself of pain, you must let go of the mess, and let go of the stress! Oil and water don’t mix; joy and pain CAN’T mix! It is time for you to close the doors of negativity.  Instead of holding onto the stumbling blocks of life, begin to move to and walk on the steppingstones of life.

Let go of the mess and the stress! Take the “S” off your chest (Superwoman, Superman, and Stress).  Take it and leave it in a trash receptacle. Once you have placed it there, turn your back on it, and DO NOT look back or pick it up or again!! As long as you hold doors of misery and pain open, you won’t allow doors of pleasantry and joy open. As a matter of fact, not only do you miss your joy, you miss your blessings!!!

When you realize that your joy, you excitement, your sadness, and your disappointment are internally derived, you will no longer look to external celebrations, situations, or people to determine and dictate your joy.  Your joy is already right inside of you!!! Grab it and hold onto it! No one gave you your joy; do not let anyone or anything take it away!!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

What the ‘Bleep’ Is Going On With Our Children & Our Families?!

Do you remember the radio and TV commercial, which aired every night at 11:00pm many years ago? The commercial made a simple statement and asked a simple but important question. ‘It is now 11:000pm; do you know where your child is?’ Yeah; I know…that was a long time ago and this is a new day!  It is truly a new day, but when it comes to your child and your family, most of you don’t seem to have new ideas about how to deal with the new and increasingly negative behaviors that are plaguing your children and your families.

The problem is that not only do many of you not know where your children are at 11:00pm; too many of you don’t know where your children are at any time!  You don’t know where they are; you don’t know what they are doing, who they are doing whatever they are doing it with, and when they are doing what they are doing…even in your own home. And you ask the questions, ‘what’s going on with your children and what’s wrong with your children?’  The greater questions should be, ‘what’s going on with the families of your children,’ and ‘what’s wrong with the families of your children?’

This is not an attempt to blame or blast you, but it is an attempt to help you to begin to deal with the truth that is so grossly staring you in the face.  And if you feel you are being put on blast…good! I hope the blast is loud enough for you to hear it and do something about it!

Who is/are the adult(s) in your home? Who pays the bills in your home? It most certainly is not your child. And if your children are not the adults and they don’t pay any bills, what keeps you from providing the guidance and direction that they need in order to become positive and productive citizens in society?

Civil Rights Activist Marcus Garvey once stated, “hurt the nose and the eye cries.” Children and teens do not exist in isolation. No matter what happens to or with your child, young or old, others are affected by their actions; especially you as a parent, their family, and society as a whole.

But hold up! All children and teens are not engaged in aberrant and illegal behaviors; there are still many children and teens engaging in positive and goal-directed behaviors! What makes these children and teens different from those who engage in negative behaviors? It is because of their foundation, their base, and their roots! They have clear and consistent rules, roles, regulations, and responsibilities!

The problem is that there are far too many children and teens going in the wrong direction. There are too many of our children and teens dying unnecessarily at an early age. The average child and the average teen yearn for guidance, direction, and the love of family. That family doesn’t have to have two parents, a dog, and a white picket fence.  However, that family does have to have love, moral and spiritual guidance, direction, discipline, protection, and understanding.

If you are a single mother, single father, grandparent, aunt, uncle, older sister, older brother, guardian, foster parent, or mentor, when you took on the role of parenting, you became a family.  You are the foundation, the base, and the root of your child or teen. Your family is filter through which your child or teen will determine how he/she sees him/herself. Families are essential! To whom much is given, much is required!  Parenting and holding a family together are tough jobs! There is no magic formula and no book that tells you how to do it the ‘right’ way!

You must also recognize that in 2013, it is even tougher to be a child or a teen! Our children and teens are under a lot of pressure to fit and to follow. There fore, it is imperative for them to have guidance and learn to be accountable for their actions and their behaviors. The negative actions and negative behaviors of your child or teen not only adversely impacting their lives, but they also impact the lives of others—especially families.

How many more school shootings will you endure? How much more black on black crime will you endure before you, as a part of your community, as a part of a nation…as a matter of fact, as a parent, and a member of your family, decide that you will no longer put up with the negative behaviors of your child or your teen?  When will you decide to stop ignoring the negative signs of your troubled child or troubled teen and ask for help?

It is time for you to uphold your definition of family, whether it is one or two parents, biological or surrogate. If you are a single parent doing your level best to rear your child in a Godly manner and you are doing your level best to espouse the characteristics previously mentioned, you must continue the fight! Recognize that there are households with two parents, but many of these households are so unhealthy and spiritually bankrupt, and they do not constitute a healthy family; they are convenient setups for one or both of the adults, at the expense of the children. With all the fighting, cussing, and fussing, name-calling, anger, hatred, and other maladies, these unhealthy families tend to foster unhealthy children and unhealthy teens. Again, it’s not so much what the ‘bleep’ is going on with your child, as it is, what the ‘bleep’ is going on with your family??’
I know it is hard to ask for help when you have taken on the burdens of being the ‘perfect’ parent, within a ‘perfect’ family. I hate to burst the bubble you have been living in, but it is time for you to stop perpetrating a fraud. There are no perfect parents and there are no perfect families!

You might have stopped speaking to your mother, your father, or siblings, and you don’t want to ask them for help. It is important for you to ask for help from someone, even if it is not your biological family! Family is defined by love, not just by blood.  And it DOES take a village to raise your child. You can’t do it by yourself. Stop shutting those out of your life and the life of your child who can possibly make a positive difference in the life of your child and your family. At the same time, rid yourself of the negative people in your life who are detrimental to your life, your child’s life and the life of your family. Discern who are liabilities and who are assets. If they are not assets, let them go!
Not speaking to your relatives over a small situation is one of the issues you must deal with at some point, in order for you to begin to heal yourself, heal your family, and thus model for your child what a true family is all about.  You must also model for your child or teen what true forgiveness is, and engage in teaching them about the positive and freeing impact forgiveness can and will have on their current and future life.

It is past time for you, as parents, as guardians, as mentors, as a member of your family, as well as concerned citizens in communities across this nation, to engage in the difficult, but necessary conversation about ‘What the ‘Bleep’ is Going On With Your Children and Your Families?!’

Further, it is past time for you to not only ask the question, it is also past time for you to take actions to fix the problem! It is time for you to rise up! Either you do something now, or you will pay dearly later! And if you have decided today that you are already paying too much as a result of the problems you are facing with your child or teen, as well as your family, decide today to cut your loses and say enough is enough! What do you have to lose?

It is time for you to take back your child, take back your teen, take back your home, and TAKE BACK YOUR FAMILY!

  • Start forming and speaking out in action groups…not just about the problems plaguing your child, your teen, and your family; but start developing group actions to eliminate the problems.
  • Start speaking out against guns in the hands of your child and your teen.
  •  Start spending QUALITY time on a daily basis with your child, your teen, and your family…no matter how many people constitute a family in your household
  • Eat at least one meal a day with your child, your teen, and your family. You say there is no time and your schedules are too busy…Make time!
  • Ask your child or teen the important questions, such as who are their friends. You need the full name of each friend; not just first names.
  • As you ask your child or teen questions, also listen; they really do have something to say.
  • Engage in regular ‘emotions’ check-ins with your child or teen. Simply ask, how are you feeling today. Help them to ascribe words to their feelings.
  • Get to know the parents of our child or teen’s friends.
  • Be the parent of and to your child or teen; not his/her friend.
  • Act your age and not your shoe size!
  • Get to know your child or teen’s likes, dislikes, favorite foods, and favorite colors. Share the same information about yourself with your child or teen.
  • Help your child, your teen, and family to establish clear, realistic and attainable goals.
  • Teach your child or teen the importance of forgiveness.
  • Learn to ‘tell your child or teen what he/she needs to do’; asking him/her what you need to get done gives him/her a choice…a choice to not do what is needed to be done. You tell your child and your teen what to do, and you ask adults to do what you would like for them to do.
  • Visit your child or your teen’s school and ask the pertinent questions about their behaviors, attitudes, and grades. Because your child is now a teen, it does not mean you stop parenting, especially when it comes to his/her education!
  •  Help your child or teen with homework. And if you don’t understand the assignment, get someone to help you!
  • Establish curfews for your teen and stick to them!
  • Have a say in how your child or teen dresses, including what he/she wears. You buy the clothes and they are stored in your house!
  • Don’t be afraid to ‘check up’ on your child or teen, including their rooms. They do not pay rent!
  • Engage in unannounced room, book bag, and cell phone checks of your child or your teen. 
  • Engage in regular outside activities with your child or teen.
  • Engage in regular outside activities with your family.
  • Model for your child or teen how you take care of yourself.
  • Let your ‘no’ mean ‘no,’ your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes,’ and not ‘maybe so.’ Stop being a wishy-washy parent!
  • Stop being afraid to discipline your child or teen. So what if he/she becomes angry? Anger is a natural part of life. It’s not so much that he/she gets angry, model for him/her how to channel that anger.
  • Teach your child or teen self respect, respect for you, respect for family, and respect for others. Expect and accept nothing less!
  • Stop trying to buy your child or teen with material things. Put your mouth and your actions where your money is!
  • Provide clear and consistent boundaries, rules, regulations, and discipline with consequences for your child, your teen, and your family.
  • Engage in regular spiritual rituals with your child, your teen, and your family. Engage in weekly worship services; go with your child or teen, and do not send them alone.
  • Laugh and love more than you curse or scream.
  • Touch your child, your teen, and your family members on a daily basis; a hug goes a long way.
  • Show affection with your child, your teen, and your family members.
  • Provide praise and positive recognition.
  • Only compare your child, your teen, and your family to themselves. When you accept your child, your teen, and your family, they will graciously accept themselves, accept you, and accept their family, making it more difficult for them to be bullied!
  • Don’t be afraid that your child or teen will stop loving you! They won’t ‘hate’ you for long…they need you! Who else is going to love and do for your child or teen as you do?  As a matter of fact, who else is willing to put up with them as you do???
  • Seek individual and family psychotherapy to help you with your problems, your child’s problems, your teen’s problems, your family’s problems, and stay the course, giving it time to work!

Yes, it was someone else’s child or teen in trouble yesterday, someone else’s child or teen who died in a hail of bullets, someone else’s child or teen who pulled the trigger or committed suicide, someone else’s child or teen who died of a drug overdose, someone else’s family at the cemetery, the jailhouse, or the courthouse; but it could be your child or your teen tomorrow!  You have a voice; now make the choice to change the negative direction and negative situations plaguing your child or your teen, your neighbor’s child or your neighbor’s teen, your family, and families across America!  You CAN have an impact and make a difference. Tomorrow just might be too late; do it today!