Guest Author: Ryan Gray
I’ll obviously never know the miracle of motherhood from the physical sense. But, in looking with Mother’s Day now in the past at least for 12 more months, I was reminded that motherhood is more than just the act of giving birth to and of nurturing and of loving one’s child. Being a mother is state of mind, and men can certainly display motherhood traits when they want. I’m experiencing the latter as my partner and I prepare for the arrival of our daughter.
My girlfriend likes to poke fun at the fact that I can wear my emotions on my sleeve. It’s not a rare occurrence for a tear or 12 to dot my eyes when watching a heart-gripping movie, for example. But as we have gotten closer to our baby’s arrival, I’ve especially grown emotional at the thought of holding my precious girl in my arms and embarking on the life-changing event of fatherhood.
Pregnancy has not been without its moments here and there, from the occasional bout with heartburn accompanying acid reflux, to a colorful variety of hormones. All in all, we have been blessed in that there has been no morning sickness and zero complications (knock on wood) to speak of. What have been dramatic, however, are unforeseen and perplexing dealings with the envy of certain people in my life, namely some members of my family.
Being a guy, I don’t always understand women and how they think or react. So it came as little surprise that a few women we encountered while announcing our pregnancy did not meet the news with the same enthusiasm we had.
Perhaps it was because we chose not to marry, yet anyway. But as I am over 40 and my girlfriend is nearing the age, we felt we were beyond the social expectation that a couple should be married before they bring a child into the world. It is the 21st Century, after all, and we’re not the conservative, religious type.
More so, we found that certain women who themselves are “baby crazy” can have a hard time seeing others bring a new life into the world, when that joy is the one thing they want in the world but have yet to experience. Medical complications aren’t at play with these particular women I’m referring to, it’s more a matter of timing. In most, if not, all cases my girlfriend and I have waited a heck of a lot longer. Regardless, it all comes down to envy, plain and simple. The envy is quite obvious too and honestly, it’s hard not to take it personally. I’ve seen the same thing happen with other people’s wives and their friends, acquaintances and even their own families.
Like so many others, I come from a divorced home and am the only son of my mother. Also similar to many families of my and subsequent generations, mine also consists of my father and his wife, who married when I was about 5 years old, her immediate family and my two half brothers. The eldest brother is now married, so add to the mix his wife.
The relationship between my stepmother and me has always been tenuous at best as well as outright awkward. Keep in mind I was barely a kindergartner when I met her, and that I could not comprehend the word “divorce” much less the fact that my dad didn’t live with my mom and me anymore.
Hating a child that’s not your own is an understatement. My stepmother’s jealousy and hate was transparent, as I recall how she’d regularly yell, scold, bully, and constantly condescend. I never felt love from her and I could do little right. As a result, I became more introverted and timid and anxiety-riddled with each weekend visit to dad’s house. I even recall the late night shouting matches between my dad and stepmother, later learning that at least some of them were about me.
One might think that children forget or are not affected by situations or individuals they’re forced to have a relationship with. On the contrary, it’s rather amazing what sticks with you throughout your adult years.
My father knew she was overly hard on me, but did nothing about it. Later he would claim that he “almost” left her several times because of how she treated me. But he never did, and I was always stuck in the middle as a result. The more she bullied, the more withdrawn I became. I even went through a phase of nervous head ticks that the doctors originally diagnosed as epilepsy. I was prescribed hard-core, anti-seizure medication to combat the effects of my apparent brain scarring, which the doctors found via CAT Scan. Then, if as by a miracle, the headshakes stopped a few years later, and my doctors proclaimed that I wasn’t epileptic after all. Instead, they posited that the tremors were how I had subconsciously dealt with stress and anxiety but that I had simply outgrown the need to demonstrate in this way.
I look back today and wonder if this was perhaps a cry for help or at the least how I dealt with my stepmom when I didn’t have the voice to confront her. As people get older, you hope childish adults finally “grow up.” Unfortunately, in most cases people rarely change, and I found this out after we announced that were having our little girl. I had no idea that the news would make my half brother and his wife envious because they wanted to be the ones to deliver the first granddaughter (we have no girls on our side of the family.) Perhaps my stepmother was upset that her “real” son didn’t do it first.
Our news was met with aggressive as well as passive aggressive behavior. Her snide comments about what we needed to do or weren’t doing properly included inappropriate graphic descriptions of miscarriages and horrible complications she suffered throughout her pregnancies prior to my brothers being born. We thought it was common sense that one shouldn’t say such things to a pregnant woman, one who is approaching 40 nonetheless, or to first time parents. But we were reminded that common sense isn’t common.
Our child wasn’t even born yet, and we saw my stepmother already starting the cycle of abuse with her demanding, rude attitude, from telling us how to discipline our little dogs to what to do with our unborn child. When she wasn’t doing this, she was nominating herself as in charge of our baby shower, though she never once asked us what we want to eat or do or ask us for any sort of input and approval. Isn’t the baby shower supposed to be about the soon-to-be mom and baby? Doesn’t the input of the parents count for anything?
Once again, the baby shower became about her being in control rather than about us celebrating the arrival of a new little person. We finally had enough. I called my dad out – we’d been complaining about the behavior for months prior but things only became worse – and we decided to do our own baby shower as a result, at a favorite local Italian restaurant, with my real mom as host.
My stepmother evidently grew jealous following my mother’s and my Facebook posts about the event, especially after we both received so many positive responses and “likes.” My stepmother threw her usual tantrum and responded by blocking and deleting us both. Wow. It’s like dealing with a 5-year-old child rather than a retired woman in her 60s. But thanks for doing us the favor of showing to the world how childish you really are!
Meanwhile, we withdrew from the unhealthy family dynamic that has negatively affected me my entire life and focused on the three of us. I lived with the negativity for the past 35 years of my life. But my girlfriend was caught in the middle during what was supposed to be a thrilling time in her life, perhaps the only time.
This entire experience forced me to analyze not only my relationship with my stepmother but also my dad, who failed to protect me growing up. He admits as much today, but is still paralyzed by fear of his wife. So I decided, no, I don’t have to live with this anymore. As I am now about to be a father, I am resolute in the fact that I will do everything in my power to protect my daughter from the emotional scars that I now have. I don’t want her having to go to therapy at age 40 to deal with stuff from her childhood, when both her mother and I were supposed to be shielding her from all the bad things. I don’t want her to suffer through with low self-esteem because she thought she was the cause of a familial breakup as well as the psychological abuse of a step-parent.
Being a father, I’ve begun to learn, is more than making sure there is food on the table and clothes in the closet. A father has to protect his child at all costs, and that includes shielding his child’s mother from harm during one of the most vulnerable times in her life. So I’ve taken steps to cut a certain cancer from my life and that of my daughter’s and her mother’s.
This is now my family, and I hold the key to nurturing the relationships and ensuring to the best of my ability a happy, well-adjusted life for my baby.
The Bottom Line:
We must celebrate mothers every day, every hour of the year, not just once a month in May. But at the same time, not everyone is cut out to be a mother, and the same goes for being a father. It’s important to recognize this fact. I hope that I’m a good father, and that job starts before my daughter is even born by putting her in the best possible situation to get ahead in life, absent the negativity, envy, jealousy and resentment that I have unfortunately dealt with. While my relationship with my real mother is very strong, I realize now I cannot allow the issues of others to affect me.
Being a father means channeling my inner mother by encouraging a nurturing atmosphere and doing everything in my power to protect my family. I will assertively deal with challenges head-on and remove myself from situations that can injure my family in any way.
As Mother’s Day approaches, I thought it fitting to explain the reasons behind a very personal decision to not write or discuss a huge moment in my life. For the past few months, I have kept this very huge life transition practically secret on Facebook, Twitter and the like, opting instead to share the news the old-fashioned way. In about a week and five days, my first child will be due. You’ve heard me correctly; I am 9 ½ months pregnant, 38 weeks to be exact. My daughter can come any day now, as I am full term.
I have discussed my education in some of my posts, but what you might not know is that I’ve always been a bit of a late bloomer. I didn’t graduate with my bachelor’s degree in film production until I was 29. This wasn’t by choice; I was working full-time and didn’t receive any help from family. Following graduation, I waited a few years before getting my project management certification, and then I opted to get my master’s degree after that. Somewhere in between, I wrote a couple of screenplays and a novel that I am attempting to publish after a few final touch ups and last-minute revisions. But, who hasn’t written a screenplay or a novel? Tons of bloggers have and they even write about their self-published or traditionally published books. It’s more common especially now days and especially in Los Angeles. Read the rest of this entry »
More times than not we place conditions on everything. This is especially true when it comes to love. I am not necessarily speaking of romantic love but the kind that you give to yourself. But, many of us continue to place conditions on ourselves as we do others.
There’s a quota we must all meet, and if this minimum is not satisfied, then we put up barriers and our love is constrained. Disappointment can equally set in and devastate our motivation when we haven’t lived up to our own expectations. FYI – beating up on yourself or others, whether physically or verbally, is not love. Read the rest of this entry »
If you’ve watched Limitless you’ll probably agree that the concept of taking one pill to make you brilliant, happy and invincible is not a new one. Like the “fountain of youth” we’re always looking for that magic elixir that will make us younger and more beautiful, or the best medically crafted and extensively researched pill that can make us not only exceptionally happy but also elevate our IQ to a level that provides us with solutions to all of life’s problems and removes from our mind all doubt in our abilities.
The popular trend heads more towards a culture obsessed with organic living, one that praises the holistic, go-green, recycle, anti-dairy, gluten-free, take-your-vitamins-and-herbs, and don’t-forget-to-consume-only-organic/non-pesticide-riddled-food. Others find a bit more comfort in modestly embracing the organic trend, realizing that not everything prescribed by our doctor or psychiatrist is necessarily horrible or evil. I believe in a customizable approach to life, where people ought to realize that they’re individuals and that not just one solution fits everyone. Read the rest of this entry »
I finally got around to watching “Big Hero 6” via Redbox and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the story as well as the moral behind it. In many ways the movie hits the mark in describing that inside all of our geeky, quirky, and oddball shells lies a soul longing to fight against dullness.
There’s a huge fascination for turning yourself from an ordinary human into someone with super powers: Hollywood, comic book creators and video game developers exploit this. Let’s also not forget sci-fi and fantasy writers. It’s nice to live vicariously through an avatar, one that is stronger, braver and smarter than you may ever be. Read the rest of this entry »
As a child I wasn’t diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, but I always new that I was different. As an adult, a doctor would later confirm my suspicions. I recall, childhood was laborious. My handwriting was extremely messy, I read slower than other students, and it was harder for me to get focused. I wasn’t the hyper kid bouncing off the walls, but I remember being a talker. The absolute most difficult thing in the world was taking tests.
From the time I was in elementary school all the way up until I got my master’s degree, test taking was never ever my forte. Only during special situations and classes that really interested me did my brain seem to memorize the material photographically. I recall one of my favorite classes was cultural anthropology at a community college. I don’t know why I enjoyed it so much, maybe because it explored a variety of cultures, societies, lifestyles, religions, and all with such an educated, yet open-minded objectivity. I found exploring cultures so fascinating, and I still do. Read the rest of this entry »
I recently found myself consumed with tasks that take up a good portion of my mental and physical energy, hence the lag in updating this blog. I had been meaning to post one or more articles daily, or at the very least, on a weekly basis. It’s amazing that, when push comes to shove, some things must really be put on the back burner while life takes priority. Everyone will tell you until it almost becomes an exhausted cliché, that “Oh, just write down a list of what your priorities are and what aren’t.”
But often it’s true the best way to decide what needs to be tackled is to just make it brutally simple for yourself and tackle what needs to be done right this second and let the rest wait until later. But, what if all the tasks on your list hold equal importance in your eyes? I think it’s important to understand the way our minds work in these instances. Read the rest of this entry »
It sounds like a generic interview question, but what is the one adjective that best describes you? Do you consider yourself hardworking, motivated, conscientious, methodical, a team player, honest, reliable, confident, ambitious, or punctual?
There’s not a soul that doesn’t have their own best intention in mind, and certainly for a job interview we all want to ensure we put our best foot forward. The same goes for cover letters and resumes but also for online profiles, in-person networking opportunities, the first time meeting your partner’s parents — nearly everyone wants to present him or herself in the best possible light. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s been almost two years since I discovered my love for orchids. Ever since, through trial and error, I have learned that orchids can be simple, yet fickle, even sensitive indoor plants to grow. For in everything in life we can glean similar lessons from nature, if only we truly pay attention to the subtle way it speaks to us.
In June, I wrote about my initial experience with repotting orchids. I learned that when you don’t repot an orchid in a proper pot, the chances of the flower surviving long-term is slim. And just like in real life, if we don’t decide to spread our wings we become stunted. We can’t grow by confining our roots. Back in June, two out of my three orchids died mainly because I didn’t repot them in time. I replaced them and assumed I knew the “orchid trick” to keep them living a long time. Upon getting two more orchids to replace the deceased ones I immediately learned my lesson and bought orchid pots. Read the rest of this entry »
Our mind, body and spirit are truly connected. This is why if you stop feeding what lifts your spirit, no matter how physically fit or mentally sharp you might be, there remains an imbalance in your life. The same can be said about our body.
You might work really hard to keep your spirit afloat; in fact, that’s all you live for is to do what ever it is you do. Your work and your title can make you feel on top of this world. However, if you’re too busy working, especially with a high paying, high demand job, then your body might be totally out of shape or stress might be preventing you from getting a decent night’s sleep. Your blood pressure might be through the roof, and your cardiologist might warn that if you don’t slow down and get healthy you’ll be on the brink of a heart attack. That’s if you haven’t already had one. Read the rest of this entry »
We’re never quite ready for what we’re about to face in life when it involves two ingredients: unpredictability and pain. I’m one of those who thrive off of solid plans; I work best with some sort of structure, and knowing where I stand makes me feel secure. If you asked me, surprises are overrated. I’m not big on them.
However, I don’t care if you claim to be the world’s leading psychic — no one can completely be prepared for tragedy to strike. As I described in my last post, an unexpected tragedy struck one woman whose life would be forever altered. On Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006, 26 year-old Claudia Salley drove her husband and her four-month-old son Levi westbound on Interstate 20 in Shreveport, Louisiana. While Claudia slowed her family’s white Lincoln due to road construction, the 18-wheeler behind her didn’t. Read the rest of this entry »
I can’t begin to tell you how often I have played this game. You know, “the happiness game” where I become fixated on this “major” situation that may or may not be so serious. But it is to me at the time, and if only I can accomplish the goal or avoid the calamity then I’ll be sooo happy.
Have you ever had a “major” thing, be it a goal, desire or wish that you fantasized and dreamed about daily, even to the point of obsession?
I bet that with enough sweat, hard work and tenacity you reached that major goal just like I have. Maybe you bathed in euphoria afterward, but how long did the high last?
According to psychological research, there’s a name to the drop off in happiness after having achieved or reached your coveted goal. The phenomenon is called hedonic adaptation and it’s essentially when we adapt to whatever it is we’ve achieved regardless of how grand the result. In fact, the idea is you return back to the same emotional state before your big reward. Read the rest of this entry »
I need to keep busy and often. If I have too much time on my hands, then I feel like something is wrong and my day feels wasted. For many of us, what we don’t realize is that we’re filled with distractions, ones that can mostly be blamed on ourselves. We usually create distractions for ourselves because often times it’s better than facing what the silence might reveal to us.
For a very long time I needed to keep so busy that working 65-75 hours a week was not only tolerable, but eventually became the norm and the only thing that made me feel satisfied. Once you set a really high bar for yourself and you’re able to somewhat clear it, then nothing below this extraordinarily high standard computes to success. Why is it wrong to have out-of-this-world, ridiculous standards for yourself? Because it not only affects you, it becomes the standard you place on everyone else. It’s not always obvious that you are actually projecting your impossible standards on others because you’re doing so subconsciously. If you’re reflective enough you might catch yourself doing it, or if your fortunate enough a good friend will pull you aside to explain what you can’t see. Read the rest of this entry »
Did you know that scientific research found that the brain doesn’t fully develop – especially your prefrontal cortex, the problem solving part of your brain – until your mid-20s?
However, a neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College, London explained in a 2010 PhysOrg.com article that the brain continues to change shape well into your 30s and 40s. In fact, the prefrontal cortex of our brain takes the longest to develop and is the key area in charge of high cognitive functions: planning, decision making, social behavior, social awareness, emotional intelligence, and various personality traits.
So, when we are told to “grow up” and “get with the program” or “stop being so immature,” technically we can blame it on our brain development or lack there of. What does this have to do with the direction of our lives, especially now that we’re in the New Year and everyone is claiming 2015 as a better year for them? Everything. Read the rest of this entry »
Surrender seems like an ethereal concept, one that takes more than power of will to remove the ego and to just let go. When stubbornness gets in the way of true change, we find that we’re stuck with old software uploaded into the most complex computer on earth — our brains.
We desire to improve but are often in the way of our own progress because unconsciously we continue to trigger emotions that reinforce negative childhood experiences, hold onto outdated beliefs and recreate negative behaviors, those of which we were taught long ago. We haven’t found a way to uninstall the old software and reprogram our brain with new, improved and healthier software that we’ve personally designed. It is not based upon forced ideals from circumstances, environment or society.
If we could only comprehend how much power we have over the results we wish to see in our lives, we’d stop doubting our capabilities and value the power we hold within us. It goes way beyond the overused concept of “self-esteem” and having “self confidence.” Plenty of successful people have confidence, but they lack the capability to expand outside of their box and welcome change regardless of how flawless their lives appear to be or what they’ve gained externally and the versions of themselves that they flaunt. Everyone today can create a social media profile, one that allows for a perfectly catered exterior and tastefully chosen posts in order to boast and throw up the illusion of an unblemished life. Read the rest of this entry »
Merry Christmas, Ramadan, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Tet, Festivus…in otherwords HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
I just discovered this YouTube video Can we make jingle bells and thought it was not only fun, but fitting. I hope everyone enjoys this holiday with loved ones regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof.
Do you have a gimmick? That’s how a lot of bloggers get noticed today. They choose their narrative voice and then they decide that perhaps sensationalism is the right approach. And judging by responses from other bloggers, I guess it works. I don’t know how big I am on writing with a gimmick in mind. Sensationalism is a good way to catch someone’s attention— I’ll give you that. I mean, some people are willing to let it all hang out.
I will at times be extremely frank or honest while commenting on a post, and recently I opened up my more “opinionated side” on my newest site, tvshowjunky.com. I mean it’s really new, as I only have three posts so far. Anyway, I suppose that particular site is written using more of an “in your face” approach. It might even be considered gimmicky to some folks, it’s not my intention but it very well can be perceived that way. Read the rest of this entry »
When you begin designing a site, you need to consider how much time you want to invest and how technical you’d like to get. Those who use a WordPress platform for personal blog, portfolio or professional site have probably heard that there are differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
Honestly, I kind of kicked myself for not first building lilpickmeup.com in WordPress.org. But if you move over a WordPress.com site you will likely lose your followers as well as links, and even more complications can arise. One of the things that I dislike about WordPress.com is that you don’t have that much control or flexibility over the template you choose. Similarly, WordPress.org lacks some flexibility. This is why if you truly want to build something totally your way, you should consider a web designer who can build it from scratch. However, for blogs some of us like to make things as easy on ourselves as possible. I am no expert at either, but WordPress.com makes it super easy for anyone to erect a quick blog. But, if you eventually want to start making money as a blogger, WordPress.com makes that virtually impossible. Well, at least extremely difficult. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Tis the season to be…frugal? While the holidays can bring up so many wonderful emotions it can equally be stressful on the wallet as well on the willpower.
According to recent stats from CardHub.com, consumers racked up $28.8 billion on their cards during the second quarter. That was after the same people had finished paying off $32.5 billion in credit card debt during the first quarter. Even if you are using self-restraint and decide to leave the credit cards at home or do something really throwback and bring cash instead, you should still heed overzealous cashiers. Credit.com conducted a recent survey and found that many retail stores are pushing their own store credit card on to consumers. And approximately 49 percent of consumers who caved into a store credit card after qualifying grew to regret the decision. Meanwhile, three out of 10 Americans admitted they actually felt bullied by various store employees who overtly promote store-issued credit cards by promising such deals as another 30% off the sales price.
Hey, the tactic works, but is that what holidays are all about? Of course not, as most people admit that it’s about spending time with family. But a Daily Mail article in the UK also found that families are now spending slightly a little more than a half an hour of quality time together per day — 36 minutes to be exact. That equates to parents and their children spending a total of eight hours together during the week and two hours on the weekend. The article went on to point out that more than half of surveyed adults (56 percent) stated that the only real time they spend with their family is during a holiday vacation. Read the rest of this entry »
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According to a Huffington Post article, 55 percent of American women polled by PayPal explained that they are entrepreneurs because they seek a healthier work-life balance. Meanwhile, 47 percent of women said that passion for their career was their strongest motivation. For me, both passion and obtaining a work-life balance (quality family time) is extremely important. This is why I strive to keep an open mind when it comes to expanding my self-employment opportunities.
Risk is risk no matter the career. But it’s especially risky as competition increases, such as in a creative field, and takes even more guts. I had an exciting opportunity to work with a friend from undergraduate film school. She was at a transitional period in her career when, after getting sick, she took time off. In doing so, she found the time to pursue another creative venture. The next thing she knew, a hobby turned into a new business – her own fashion line.
The Bottom Line:
I enjoyed the opportunity to film and edit this video. Working in the creative field isn’t easy but can also be extremely rewarding. As I stated in a previous article, you have to think outside of the box and produce your own opportunity in a creative world. It’s great if you have contacts, connections and “peeps” to open doors for you. If you’re applying for jobs, that’s great. Keep at it. But in the meantime, if the doors aren’t opening immediately, then why rely on others to give you the opportunity that you can otherwise create for yourself?
The Bottom Line
Let’s try to be thankful for all that we do have and not just because of this one day a year where we fill up on enough turkey to put us to sleep. You don’t have to look too far to find something to complain about or something you don’t have. It’s easy to see what we lack and harder to count our blessings. And the blessings worth treasuring are not monetary, but the loved ones that are in our life whether they are family or close friends. There’s a lot to be grateful for and it usually begins at home.
Some people insist that you never want to burn a bridge, especially in professional settings. But, what if there is mismanagement, miscommunications, terrible leadership, indecisiveness, and “too many chiefs, but not enough Indians?” How about a football team. Can a football team work effectively if everyone insists on being the quarterback and the team is unable to work together because everyone wants to be the alpha? Can a marriage or relationship work if both parties refuse to communicate with each other and set clear expectations? Ever date someone who could not communicate what they want and how long did that relationship last? Ever work with clients or in an environment where everything a company leader should not do, that person decided to do?
What about respect? Have you ever had to cut ties with a self-centered friend where everything was always about them? What about dating someone who couldn’t trust anything you did because of their own insecurities? And what if you had to work with people who refuse to respect or trust your abilities because it’s more about their ego and their need to be in charge? If people flat-out refuse to respect your expertise or trust what you are capable of then, I don’t believe that you should desire to salvage that relationship. Period. If there are big egos and entitled behavior where mismanagement is so bad, communication is so terrible then what choice do you have? I do not believe in the type of diplomacy where I must sacrifice my own self-worth and integrity. I do not agree that one must be a martyr in personal or professional situations where one must continuously turn the other cheek only for a repeated slap to eventually turn into a punch.
How many hits do you have to take before you take a stand and say that you deserve better?
The Bottom Line:
I am rather positive on this site. However, I am a firm believer in being an honest writer. Being brutally honest might not feel comfortable or sound like an Anthony Robbins self-help talk. Not that I don’t love that sort of thing, but it’s imperative to not ignore or dismiss fundamental problems especially when working with either dysfunctional professional situations or individuals in your personal life where you should take a stand.
If leadership is lacking it’s usually indicative of a larger issue that stems from the person who’s been given the keys to the company. It’s the same with how a child’s behavior is a reflection on parenting skills. If you’ve got a friend or a relationship that leaves you feeling like you’ve been taken advantage of or where there is a lack of reciprocity, team work, respect and you’ve noticed this to be a repeated pattern. Then you have to ask yourself how much do you love and respect yourself? If you’re around incompetent “decision makers” that continuously make horrible decisions, ones that can potentially cost the company additional funds, not to mention added chaos. A bridge should only be available and cared for if indeed it’s worth it. If you respect and honor yourself you’ll know that you deserve better.
Sometimes the only solution is to take a lighter fluid, ignite the match and burn that bridge down.
I would think that if Darren Wilson were to be indicted then he would have been arrested by now. In paraphrasing, that’s basically what CNN news anchor Don Lemon explained based upon a couple of interviews conducted just minutes before the grand jury announcement, and it definitely made sense. This racially charged tragedy has definitely stirred a deep feeling of injustice and not only for those in Ferguson, Missouri. When it comes to race, things can often become complicated, especially for those of us who are mixed ethnicities. Some of us American mutts face more peculiar looks and questions than others who look more like one obvious ethnicity.
Justice is supposed to surpass race. It’s not just an ethical issue but also one that questions our moral integrity as a society. I believe the grand jury’s decision is unfair and I am not remotely comfortable with it. At the very least, as one who is unable to check just one racial box, it’s undeniably frustrating. I am often asked to pick between the options of “two or more races – not Hispanic,” “Hispanic” or Asian — but where’s the choice for Asian and Hispanic? How can it be in the U.S. melting pot that there isn’t a box for “two or more race including Hispanic?” And why does Hispanic even need to be specified? Some job applications allow for a “two or more races” box to be checked and leave out the “not Hispanic” part. For the most part, most job applications expect individuals to choose one ethnicity. If you are more than one race, you must choose one over another.
I am not sure how my ethnicity qualifies or disqualifies me from having the necessary skill set, education, and experience required to do a job. But, this is just one minor personal annoyance when having to deal with this touchy topic. People just hate talking about race.
The Bottom Line:
Officer Darren Wilson killed unarmed Michael Brown, shooting him six times. If Michael Brown was intimidating as Darren Wilson claims and was acting out or not cooperating with instructions. Why wasn’t a stun gun or other non-deadly methods used instead? Especially for someone who was unarmed? Prosecutor Robert McCulloch (who has been rumored to be extremely pro-law enforcement) made the bizarre, long and drawn out announcement. Where he proceeded to sound as if he was trying to justify how the verdict was decided. If this were a case involving two random individuals, someone would have been arrested by now. But, since it involves someone with a badge, it looks like the “evidence” shows that Officer Darren Wilson will get to go back to his job and his everyday life. Meanwhile, a grieving family and a community suffers through the loss of an innocent life gunned down.
What made the grand jury decide to believe some witnesses and discount others? Perhaps it’s true that those in law enforcement really do serve and protect their own. No, I do not agree with the riots, looting, and violence taking place that’s burning down the Ferguson community. However, I personally have family in law enforcement in New York and regardless I still honestly believe that justice was not served.
Having a peace that surpasses human understanding is a challenge in almost any situation. There are natural human emotions that course through our bodies in response to professional or personal experiences. But, if you are unable to find peace, then you must examine the feelings inside you and decide for yourself what lesson you will learn.
On a personal level, we all hope that we are able to elevate ourselves above negativity. Instead, we strive to bring into our lives everything that’s good, that we know that we are abundant in every department, which makes up our universe and we lack no resources. While some of us exist with that deep knowledge within us, the reality might be to the contrary. In our professional lives we might have all the skills necessary to prove our competency, but one cannot force respect from others. Respect is “earned,” as some might say, yet even if it’s earned we still live in a world full of stubborn people who sometimes aren’t willing to respect you. It stops becoming about whether or not you “earned” respect and it starts becoming about someone else’s ignorance.
Especially in professional circles, I have found that some people will refuse to show any sort of respect for education, skills and competency regardless of what you do or how much you prove. The greatest lesson I have learned in how and why people treat you the way they do is that their behavior very rarely has anything to do with you. A person’s arrogance, entitlement and egoism — and let’s not forget the natural chip on one’s shoulder — is a reflection of whatever unresolved baggage they still lug around. Read the rest of this entry »
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There are sure paths that some take, ones that are not riddled with uncertainty. Plenty of people choose a stable career. There isn’t any ambiguity. You go to medical school, you get out and do your residency, and then you’re a doctor.
It’s not so cut and dry for those that have chosen the arts, however. For some it’s not a decision that they woke up one day and thought they’d like to do. It’s more of a calling.
The Bottom Line:
There are some risks in life that are worth taking. Regardless if your path might not be the conventional or safe one, the world needs all kinds of people. What would the world be like without art, without music, without films, without books, without dance, without opera? We would all be shells devoid of creativity, the life force of spirit.
Maybe you live in a world where everyone cheers you on, where everyone is on your side and no one wants to rain on your parade. If so, then I’d love to visit your universe because, in reality, where good exists so does the bad. And if you grew up being told all your life that everything you did was great, that you could do no wrong, then your first sign of rejection probably turned your world upside down.
While it’s fine to get a trophy just for participating, the blow of a loss, rejection, a letdown, and, yes, failure can be just as much of a prize. It might not sound logical at first but understanding how to take a hit is just as valuable, if not, more so than all the gooshy flattering words of affirmation one can spew on another.
Who doesn’t love positive words to affirm our value, self-worth, and give us meaning where we might otherwise feel void of purpose? Who doesn’t want to be reminded of our greatness, to be told we can do anything and everything? When in reality we might hate exercise, for example, so becoming an Olympic athlete might be out of the question. Read the rest of this entry »
According to recent 2014 statistics, here are the top 10 New Year’s resolutions: lose weight; get organized; save more money; enjoy life more; stay fit; learn something new; quit smoking; help others; fall in love; and spend more time with family.
However, out of the 45 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolution, 24 percent fail and only 8 percent actually succeed.
Many people also have a bucket list of what they’d like to achieve before they leave this earth. Running a marathon happens to be one of the most popular. In 1976 there were approximately 25,000 marathon finishers, a small number compared to the record high of 541,000 determined runners that completed marathons in 2013. This is despite the Boston marathon bombing on April 15, 2013. Rather than deterring Americans, the tragedy perhaps inspired more runners to put on their running shoes. Read the rest of this entry »
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Halloween was influenced by Celtic harvest festivals with a purpose to confront the power of death with humor and ridicule. Devout religious folk might blame paganism, but it was Western Christianity that initially celebrated All Hallow’s Eve. This was the day that Christians went to church and lit candles on graves in remembrance of the dead. Rather than costumes or candy, Western Christians refrained from eating meat on All Hallow’s Eve. Though, in the 19th century costumes would be revived and made popular by Scottish and Irish immigrants.
The Bottom Line:
As you dress your little ones and enjoy ‘trick or treating’ with family or friends at a costume party, enjoy the many influences that helped Halloween evolve into the fun celebration it is today.
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There have been six fatal school shootings during which innocent victims were killed in the past six months within the United States. However, there have been a total of 15 school shootings in as many months. Of these documented incidents since May, nine of the shootings lead to injuries and no deaths. One of the 15 shooting was death by suicide (a bullied 14 year-old Lamar Hawkins killed himself in a middle school restroom). Since January 2014 there have been a total of 39 school or university related shootings, as a result of which some combination of injury, death or both was reported. Not all are student related. One incident involved a knife-wielding man who was shot and killed on the San Jose University campus. Two of the 39 documented shootings since January were fatal marital spats. One man murdered his wife in a school parking lot and then later turned the gun on himself. 33 year-old Michelle Wilcox also suffered the same fate as she was shot and killed by husband Antonio Wilcox behind a Miami preschool. One other student, Zachary Leyes, like Lamar Hawkins decided to take his own life.
No other country experiences this type of violence amongst its youth. This seems to be unique to the United States. Why? Is it the deterioration of family values? Could it be as simple as a desire to commit copy-cat murder? Perhaps.
But in today’s incident, the school shooter was reportedly NOT bullied by peers. However it is rumored that popular freshman Jaylen Fryberg might have been publicly taunted via social media regarding his relationship, or lack thereof, with a female love interest. Regardless, what is unanimously reported is that Jaylen was a popular, well-liked, football player and had been recently crowned “Homecoming Prince.” It has been revealed that he just came off school suspension after fighting with another student. Now, older tweets by students are surfacing and various news sources and student witnesses claim that Fryberg apparently asked the girl out but she basically rejected him. As a result, he shot and killed her, wounded four other students and ultimately took his own life. Perhaps, Jaylen Fryberg had difficulty dealing with rejection and humiliation.
1.) October 24, 2014,
Four injured, one dead not including the killer (Jaylen Fryberg) who shot himself.
2.) October 3, 2014,
One dead (18 year-old Eric Dana Johnson Jr. was arrested alive).
3.) September 10, 2014
Lake Mary, FL
One dead (14 year-old Lamar Hawkins shot himself in the school bathroom).
3.) June 10, 2014
One teacher injured, one student dead not including (15 year-old Jared Michael Padgett) who shot himself.
5.) June 5, 2014
Two injured, one dead. 26-year-old Aaron Ybarra is currently being held at King County Jail.
6.) May 23, 2014,
Six injured, six dead not including the killer (Elliot Rodgers) who shot himself.
Are kids so fragile in the 21st century that they can’t deal with bullying, not being liked, being unpopular, or a relationship break-up or rejection? No matter how “well adjusted” youth or kids today might appear? Fryberg was NOT the typical isolated, bullied, 14 year-old with a history of mental illness. Was he mentally unstable? Well, to do what he did I would say so. However, no one expected this from a popular kid. Though, he was overly excited when his parents decided to buy him a GUN for his birthday, one that he was rather proud of, as he gloated with a picture via Instagram. Perhaps parents ought not to buy their kids guns, and guns should not be so readily accessible to our youth today. Above all else, we need to seriously consider MANDATORY parenting classes in hopes to instruct parents, as well as educators on how to teach healthy coping skills to vulnerable/fragile/mentally unstable teens and young adults.
Is it truly necessary to continue to spend hundreds, if not, thousands of marketing dollars for a pricey commercial spot during prime time? For major billion dollar companies, it’s a no brainer. They can afford to have a rather lofty budget set aside for an all inspiring cinematic commercial shot at some exotic location. Hey, whatever it takes to get you into that brand new 2015 vehicle.
It’s frightening for many of us to realize that many youth today will never know a time before the Internet. Truth be told, most of us can admit that regardless of what generation we’ve been born into, we now can’t image doing without the Internet.
Back in 1992, the Internet was limited to large companies such as the European Organization for Nuclear Research that launched CERN, which will go down in our history books as the very first website launched. Now days, anyone can create their own website. Simple template-based tools such as Wix and WordPress.com allow anyone with browser access to create a professional site without needing to know a lick of code. Read the rest of this entry »
There is strong speculation that there are numerous ways love is demonstrated and expressed. There are also varying definitions for what love is based upon the individual, because love can often be very subjective.
According to the well-known self-help book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, love can be expressed through words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. However, from my perspective all of these can be grouped into one simple category: action.
My experience in dealing with a dysfunctional, cold and emotionless family and the ups and downs of personal and romantic relationship tells me that everyone to some degree can relate to either giving too much love or not receiving enough. Don’t get me wrong, Dr. Chapman is correct that there are various ways you can express love, but the best way is through action.
Read the rest of this entry »
According to an article from Harvard Business Review, Four Mistakes Leaders Keep Making, a common behavioral trap to fall into is the failure to set proper expectations. While the article is geared toward working professionals in various fields, setting expectations is imperative in your personal life as well.
Lack of communication can cause the smallest conflict to erupt into World War III. While there is an art to every craft, there are different types of genius. Muhammad Ali couldn’t develop the theory of relativity because he wasn’t a physicist. Albert Einstein, meanwhile, wasn’t trained to win 56 out of 61 boxing bouts, 37 of those victories by way of knock out.
No matter how brilliant Ali was in the ring or Einstein was at science, neither completed a musical composition at the age of 5 like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart did. Read the rest of this entry »
I will make this short and sweet today. Most of us yearn to share what is on our mind. Most of us don’t always feel heard and that’s what makes some of us turn to writing. Be warned of what you write, because your words hold immense amount of power.
I recently wrote about the major pitfalls of obtaining your own health insurance. To this day, I still haven’t received my health insurance card. I am still waiting until Monday to call HealthNet back to ask them if they “found” my check. Yes, I mailed the check via online banking the way most folks in the 21st Century pay bills. So, to give you a little background before I dive into the power of the Internet, I wanted to share what had initially prompted me to write the article in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »
I try to stay positive on this site, but my recent health care fiasco left me struggling to take deep breaths to calm down, attempting not to scream as a result of my frustration.
I recently transitioned from working full time for an employer to becoming my own boss. It’s had its ups and downs for sure. The work, at least initially, can be sporadic, so it’s difficult to determine specifically how much you’ll actually make monthly much less annually. The first year of self-employment is not as steady as the second year, I’m told. I certainly hope so.
I found that I make too much money to qualify for Medi-Cal, which is not a bad problem to have. Yet, because there is still three months remaining in the year, and having just started my freelance practice, I cannot accurately predict how much I stand to make. So, I’ve been searching for a health plan that fits my wallet, and I wanted to be reasonably conservative.
Going cheap definitely has its pitfalls. I was asked how often I go to the doctor, but the plan that was the most attractive in terms of cost only gave me the option (and hope) to visit one up to two times within one calendar year. The insurance plans that are most affordable to healthy young adults include incredibly high deductibles. In other words, you basically don’t really have insurance. Often times you are required to pay $2,000 or more out of pocket within the year before your benefit finally kicks in. Say What?! Read the rest of this entry »
There are some positions in life that cannot be replaced. One of those is the job of being an older sister. I don’t talk to all of my family, but I definitely appreciate the way one sister in particular who always has my back.
Maria is my oldest sister who I always have been able to talk to, someone who withholds judgment and, most importantly, is down to Earth. That is a big plus for me. She has never made me feel like there was any sort of sibling rivalry between us. Read the rest of this entry »
Healthy competition exists in every industry. However, some fields are much more competitive than others. This is especially true for the entertainment industry and most, if not all, creative fields.
If you don’t want the stress of not knowing how or when you will break into the industry, then entertainment is certainly not for you. There are many people who choose a career in medicine, law, engineering, technology, and computer science because these are fields that, while not without stiff competition, tend to be more stable. That is a healthy goal to have, especially when you start building a family.
For those of us who have a desire to not simply work but to thrive in a particular creative field, then we have to be prepared to think outside of the box. Creativity after all is a prerequisite for us to get work in the first place, and it should also be used for how we make our career plans. Read the rest of this entry »
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Let’s find out who this guy is, it’s been going around Facebook. Very deep. Worth watching.
I am thoroughly amused by the plethora of topics at our disposal via peculiar sites on the web. I Google “pet peeves” just for fun and came across dumb.com, getannoyed.com, and a variety of articles ranging from college humor to Vibe’s article on the 20 most common pet peeves.
Do you have a pet peeve? Most certainly you do, and probably several. No matter how nice you might be or if you have all the patience in the world there will always be someone or something that gets under your skin like no one or nothing else.
Just like bizarre fetishes, there are common and not so common pet peeves that drive people bonkers. I once dated a guy who hated lip balm. You might be thinking, “huh?” Yeah, I felt the same way too. Here’s what happened.
He worked with someone who obsessively applied the stuff. Apparently, this particularly annoying co-worker re-applied lip balm every other minute regardless of the fact that his lips weren’t even chapped. This left his lips in a permanent state of not just over-gloss but also made him look like he just devoured a lit candle. He clearly was addicted to the lip balm, feeling he needed to slather himself with it when in reality he only needed it in especially sunny, dry, cold or windy conditions.
Everyone has at least one pet peeve. I don’t care who you are. The late Mother Teresa had to have had at least one thing that others disliked about her, even if that was only the fact she loved everyone unconditionally. That has to piss someone off, right?
Unfortunately, people can tell you to not let “it” (whatever that it may be) get to you, but we’re all human. Sometimes you don’t even know you’ve got a pet peeve until it rears its head. What gets to me, to the extent that it has affected my mood and has sparked episodes of depression, is dealing with a person who feels the need to one-up me. I understand that there are competitive people out there, but I do not believe that being overly competitive, rude even, equals success. In fact, I find some highly competitive people to be toxic. Read the rest of this entry »
Those of us who were used to buying software licenses off the shelf were a little thrown off by Adobe’s announcement on May 6, 2013 that the company would no longer release new versions of Creative Suite, at least not in the manner we had grown accustomed to.
No longer could users of Photoshop, Premier or Illustrator purchase software updates, install a DVD and run an executable to load the latest updates. Adobe was taking its suite into the cloud, where the company could more easily make updates across platforms and ostensibly save millions of dollars not only on support but product packaging.
But it was Amazon.com in 2006 that truly popularized the term “the cloud” when it released its Elastic Compute Cloud to allow scalable deployment of applications via a Web service. Read the rest of this entry »
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there remains speculation over which McGuire (or is it Maguire?) is to credit for the start of Labor Day. New evidence suggests it was Matthew Maguire, though many still believe it was Peter McGuire.
While Matthew Maguire was the secretary of the New York Labor Union in 1882 and led a strike in 1870 with the intended goal of making union leaders aware of the harsh long work hours, most historians say Labor Day was the idea of Peter McGuire. He was the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, and is said to have first suggested a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” Read the rest of this entry »
Being self-employed has definite benefits and drawbacks. Owning your own business or working for yourself can sound like a dream come true, but is it really? It’s all up to you and how you prepare yourself and your blossoming business for success.
The positive side to working from home is that you can set your own hours. The down side is that you work from home and set your own hours. It’s very easy to deviate from the hours you plan on working when you are your own boss. Good ideas can come to you in the middle of the night, while cooking dinner or even playing with your children. When you work at home, you’re almost always at work. Think about it. Is that what you really want?
Most self-employed small business owners and freelancers tend to not deviate from their schedules. In other words they are workaholics. They don’t know the meaning of an eight-hour day. In fact, if they don’t work a 12 or 13-hour day they feel like a slacker. At least that’s how I feel. Read the rest of this entry »
Imagine a type of fatigue that numbs you head to toe and scrambles your thoughts until you are engulfed in an incoherent fog. You might be so overcome with exhaustion that you literally cannot see straight. You are drained not by an intense workout at the gym or a long day spent in the sun but by a lack of sleep. But, no matter how tired you are you are unable to rest.
You’re brain will not shut off. Thoughts continue to race around your head as each minute and hour that ticks by makes you more and more frustrated. Insomnia, especially chronic insomnia, can be caused by a numerous factors. Regardless of general causes, studies show that insomnia to be one of the key signs of clinical depression. Read the rest of this entry »