Creating An Audiobook

 
audiobook earlina green

The process of creating an audiobook is rewarding and stressful. I spent the first few days preparing to record my first audiobook by making sure my closet did not produce an echo. I was determined to finish taping my book, The Beginner’s Guide To Finding Your Brave in a few weeks even though I heard the process could take months.

For a better part of the first few weeks, I was up to my eyeballs in clothing and hangers. I had to find a place for the laundry basket because it would be my mic stand. I also knew that I would be in the closet for hours so I had to have a place for snacks and my favorite scented candle. The scene was spectacular!

By the end of the day, my small closet was turned into a sound booth paradise.

On the first day, I sat hunched over on the floor to record. I later regretted the decision due to back pains from being in one position for so long.

The first week went by quickly. I imagined how Ta-Nehisi Coates might have felt recording In Between the World and Me or the way Brene Brown may have postured about as she taped Daring Greatly.

I made the decision up front to record the book how I spoke, meaning I talked in a conversational manner. I am from Texas so some of my words have a "southern-twang" to them. However, I was better off being myself than to put on an act and have to explain myself later when I was in front of people during book signings. The Introduction was the easy part. I wrote to the point, short sentences, and found my cadence.

The following weeks proved to be a lesson in willpower and perseverance. I made the crazy decision to edit on my laptop as I went. Which meant I would stop every few sentences to correct an “r” or entire phrase that did not communicate emotion.

It’s all in the voice inflection.

While working in the sales industry I would encourage my sales reps to smile when they spoke on the phone with prospects. The joke around the industry is to dial and smile. For me, smiling put me in a more confident mood to close.

By the end of the second month, I was tired but close to the finish line. The process took longer than I expected, but I was reminded that completing the audio version of my book would allow communities that struggle with literacy the opportunity to learn how to find their brave. That’s worth it.

You can check out the audiobook of my work The Beginner’s Guide to Finding Your Brave here. Thanks for listening. Let me know what you think (info@earlinagreen.com).

 

Life’s Absolutes

 Can these absolutes about life be challenged?  What is more true than that in any situation I find myself in am the “constant”? I am the thing that does not change.   Who can argue with the fact that we all have an expiration date? I am here for a “finite” amount of time.    Lastly, that the decisions we make are coming from a place of “fear” or a place of “love” ?  Then, with accepting all these things as truth, how can we not have the absolute power to change or own lives?    

Can these absolutes about life be challenged?

What is more true than that in any situation I find myself in am the “constant”? I am the thing that does not change. 

Who can argue with the fact that we all have an expiration date? I am here for a “finite” amount of time.  

Lastly, that the decisions we make are coming from a place of “fear” or a place of “love” ?

Then, with accepting all these things as truth, how can we not have the absolute power to change or own lives? 

 

A Chance To Begin Again

I left the sports world four years ago, and occasionally I am asked about my time in the industry and the goal I had of owning an NBA team. 

Check out my interview with Jason Vo.

Here is a snippet from the piece: 

Your writing very much involves a prominent theme around bravery. 

I talk so much about bravery because without it we live lives for other people, in fear of ourselves, and we limit our potential. I lacked so much  in my early 20s, it forced me to go on a journey. Every time I hit publish on a piece, I'm riddled with anxiety, it's what's left over from when I cared most about what others thought of me. I'm a work in progress. But when I feel that emotion, I know that I am headed in the right direction.

About Jason Vo

Previously founder and editor of The Modern Block, an interview-based publication wherein Jason set out to discover the intersection between entrepreneurship and creativity, he found detouring conversations — conversations around love, happiness, introspection, and behavior — to spark a much more meaningful interest in his life. Selected interviews from his days at The Modern Block, along with new (weekly) interviews now live on this site.

 

A Look At The “Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television” By Jerry Mander 

 photo by Jens Kreuter

photo by Jens Kreuter

I picked up the "Four Arguments for The Elimination of Television" by Jerry Mander last year at my favorite bookstore here in Dallas. I heard the book mentioned in passing on a podcast, bought it, and the book set on my bookshelf for over year. I skimmed through it then and found a few points relevant, but nothing stood out until today. 

In wrapping context around some of the broader concepts in writing my third book, Jerry Mander’s book stood out to me as I peered at my bookshelf while sipping a cup of tea. The title, ambitions, I thought, but the content could shed some light on why our brains remain so noisy, so cluttered. 

I opened the text to a portion of material Mander listed under “Television Is Sleep Teaching.” 

In the section, he covers psychologists Merrelyn and Fred Emery 1975 research. The researches of the Emery report acknowledge shortcomings in its findings and states “that it is tantamount to scandal that there has been so little research on the neurophysiology of television watching.” However, their findings still intrigued me: 

“The report explains that since television information is taking place where the viewer is not, it cannot be acted upon. The viewer must deliberately inhibit the neural pathways between visual and the autonomic nervous system, which stimulates movement and mental attention. The viewer is left in a passive but also frustrated state (207).” 

There goes my Netflix binge. Mander goes on to state: 

“Their [Merrelyn and Fred Emery] findings support the idea that television information enters unfiltered and whole, directly into the memory banks, but is not available for conscious analysis, understanding or learning. It is sleep teaching (207).”

 photo by jen shoots 

photo by jen shoots 

So because we are not “actors” in the mental stories we willing participate in through the television shows we watch we can become frustrated and passive robots who are being sleep taught by directors who may or may not have our best interest in mind. OK, what to do what that?  

If you are like me and seek enough mental space to create and imagine then the obvious answer is to be more selective with what we watch on television. It goes back to the idea that a small amount of discipline creates freedom or at least mental clarity. 

Radical Joy

 Photo by  Taylor Ann Wright  

Last week my husband and I received news that we were not prepared to hear.  Then came this revelation: 

When we cannot control a thing, we must decide to let go and choose happiness. 

We choose joy because it is our best way back to peace. We choose happiness because the said situation is as we mentioned – out of our control – so there is no point trying to control something that is uncontrollable. 

We choose happiness because if you take a broad inventory of your life, you realize that your days are shorter than expected and time has marched on without you giving much thought to it, like you one day awoke and could not believe today, or the year, the month had actually arrived. 

You choose joy because sadness does not only have an affect on you physically and mentally, but it affects your children, the people you work with, and the person you love the most. That pain is transferable, and if you allow it, if you let it, it will consume the best parts of your life. 

We choose happiness because it is a choice, like deciding what you have for dinner or if you will have tea or coffee. Happiness is a choice like choosing to smile at a stranger or over tip your waitress. It is a choice like deciding on dinner and a movie or a stroll in the park. It is a choice of your choosing. Choose well. 

The painful discovery, the missed recital, the unfortunate call has happened. You are allowed to mourn and grieve for what was lost. But that moment lives in the past, a past that you cannot alter and what is out of your control you must release. 

Joy is your only way forward. 

It is a radical act because another choice springs forth to meet you in your despair, that of the victim. But if you read the fine print, the victim role is a counterfeit and does not lead to happiness but discontent and further victimization. You end up giving away the same power and energy that is necessary for your freedom. The victim role was instant gratification and came with hugs and sympathy cards, but what really can these things do for you in your darkest hour? 

There is another way.  Choose joy. 

Your joy and story can offer others hope. Your happiness is a lantern of grace showing the way for those who may be lost in the depths of their sorrow. By choosing joy, you choose love over fear and a hope for a more desirable tomorrow.  

From Dallas to Greece

 small church in Oia, Santorini

small church in Oia, Santorini

When I suggested Greece for this year's out of country vacation, I had no clue what to expect. I remember seeing a photo of blue skies and white buildings and thought it would be fun wandering around a place with such a mystique. Stunning architecture gets me every time. 

What I was introduced to when we landed at Athens Airport was a familiar but distant way of life. The people, open. The food, Mediterranean. The weather, hot.

Here is a visual diary of our travels. 

FIRST STOP: ATHENS 

 streets of Athens, Greece 

streets of Athens, Greece 

DSC_0756.jpg
Photo Jun 12, 10 00 37 AM.jpg

Our Athens Airbnb was tucked away on a small street near several restaurants and a 15-minute walk to the Monastiraki Flea Market and the Acropolis. The newly renovated modern apartment had everything we needed for our short stay in Athens. 

The best advice I was given while touring the market, "watch your purse, there are magicians around here." 

 

NEXT STOP: MYKONOS

 The iconic Mykonos windmills

The iconic Mykonos windmills

We road to Mykonos Island on a ferry ride I could have done without. Two hours later we arrived at the port greeted by our new host Panos. He informed us about the small island, its beaches, restaurants, and the markets nearby our cabin-style dwelling. 

The significant part about Pano's property was a small private beach that could only be accessed from a rickety gate off the roadside. But once through the gate the homes and the views on this side of the island were spectacular. 

 I'm standing on top of the roof for this shot, you're welcome! 

I'm standing on top of the roof for this shot, you're welcome! 

 A path to the small private beach

A path to the small private beach

 a new friend 

a new friend 

NEXT STOP: SANTORINI 

 Oia, Santorini 

Oia, Santorini 

 Our Airbnb was everything! 

Our Airbnb was everything! 

 Daily visitors 

Daily visitors 

Go to Santorini for the steep cliffs, gravity defying architecture and Oia. Unfortunately, not the beaches if you want to keep your rental car in one piece

After saying goodbye to our Santorini host, we headed back to Athens for our return flight home. We had a few days to check out the Acropolis Museum, a rare Thai restaurant with a chef who studied in Thailand and picked up food and trinkets for the return trip back to Dallas. 

Seeing May Induce Believing

 google image of Earth 

google image of Earth 

"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot.

That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.

On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

– Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer 

 

Meghan Markle's Thoughts on Turning 33

There is no fairytale without a real story....

Borrowed from the thetigarchive. The Tig is Megan's former blog site were she shared her travels, fashion, love of food, and interviews with influencers.

Meghan's birthday post is a great reminder that what it means "to arrive" in this world is first coming to terms with yourself. 

Birthday post from Meghan
In 2014, she wrote:
I am 33 years old today. And I am happy. And I say that so plainly because, well...it
takes time. To be happy. To figure out how to be kind to yourself. To not just choose that
happiness, but to feel it. My 20s were brutal – a constant battle with myself, judging my
weight, my style, my desire to be as cool/as hip/as smart/as “whatever” as everyone
else. My teens were even worse – grappling with how to fit in, and what that even meant.
My high school had cliques: the black girls and white girls, the Filipino and the Latina
girls. Being biracial, I fell somewhere in between. So everyday during lunch, I busied
myself with meetings – French club, student body, whatever one could possibly do
between noon and 1pm- I was there. Not so that I was more involved, but so that I
wouldn’t have to eat alone.
I must have been about 24 when a casting director looked at me during an audition and
said “You need to know that you’re enough. Less makeup, more Meghan.”
You need to know that you’re enough. A mantra that has now engrained itself so deeply
within me that not a day goes by without hearing it chime in my head. That five pounds
lost won’t make you happier, that more makeup won’t make you prettier, that the now
iconic saying from Jerry Maguire -”You complete me” – frankly, isn’t true. You are
complete with or without a partner. You are enough just as you are.
So for my birthday, here’s what I would like as a gift: I want you to be kind to yourself. I
want you to challenge yourself. I want you to stop gossiping, to try a food that scares
you, to buy a coffee for someone just because, to tell someone you love them...and then
to tell yourself right back. I want you to find your happiness.
I did. And it’s never felt so good.
I am enough.

University of North Texas Communication Studies Master's Hooding Ceremony

Transcript

INTRODUCTION – Thank You & Congratulations

I want first to thank Brian Richardson & and the entire Communication Studies faculty for asking me to come here and speak today. I want to thank my mother and best friend who took the long road to Denton to come out and support me. Construction has been going on here since I left, that’s amazing! (Do we have a completion date??) I also want to thank.  Dr. Allison, Dr. Karen Lain-Anderson, Dr. Brian Lain, Dr. Justin Tredau & Dr. Richardson, forgive me if I left out anyone. You all have a part in who I am today, thank you.  [PAUSE]  

CONGRATULATIONS to you 2018 graduates

Preparing for this speech, I wanted to keep in mind the task was given. I was asked to be upbeat and hopeful. Encourage & Inspire you, to tell you there is a glorious life waiting for you on the other side of your degree [PAUSE]. 

Because you all are not the middle schoolers and high schoolers I usually speak with; I've decided I am just going to give you the information, tell the truth, with a few stories of how, on the back of my degree, I designed, planned, and built the life I have today. 

The complex problem we find ourselves in today is celebrity is worshiped and rewarded. The outrageous is applauded. You all want to create real work in a world that no longer recognizes what is disciplined and profound. Social media pulls you away from study and deep work. Reality television challenges your notions of the real art form of acting and theatre. You will be forced to compete with nepotism and favors, but still, you must tell yourself the work will be worth it.


The Almighty Google says your future career options are these: Media planner, Multimedia specialist, Programme researcher, broadcasting/film/video, Public relations officer, Social media manager, Television producer, Web content manager, so on and so on. But I want to present another option. 

ARGUMENT: You must CREATE! The world will make room for the person you want to become, but you will have to create it. 

Three Points: Have a vision and Begin, Create, create, create; Master self-mastery

POINT ONE
#1 [Have a vision & BEGIN]
You must have a vision for your life even if you don't know the plan? You have to have a direction in which you wish to go.  from the philosopher - Oprah [PAUSE]

When I left college my dream was simple – I was going to be Cameron Diaz from the movie Any Given Sunday. My goal was to be first African American woman to own a basketball team because I believed the boys had way too much fun. In the movie, Diaz was strong and courageous. The dream, my dream was born out of that movie, a movie I saw when I was a teenager.  

I was presented with many challenges when I began my career in the sports industry, but one, in particular, stands out.  The first day of my internship we were told if we were going to succeed, land a job we had to sale and sale well. the only problem was, I knew nothing about sales or the sports industry. I just knew I wanted to own a sports team. I did not know where to start but knew I could talk to anyone. Challenge Accepted. I sold to everyone: my mother, her friends and everyone in between. And after the three-month internship ended, I was offered a position on the spot. 


[BEGIN] Begin with where you are and with what you have.

The charge I give you today, wait for NO ONE to do for you, what you are capable of doing for yourself. 

At this point, with your degree, and for some a masters degree at that! You are more than equipped to create the life you want for yourself. [PAUSE] If you don’t see a way into the job or industry you want, create it. If there is not a company that fits your philosophy build it. if you find yourself utterly unhappy at the way life has turned out, and those days will come, reimagine your life. 

No one gave me permission to enter the sports world or dream the dream I had. Nor to be a writer, I gave it to myself first and then I started. [PAUSE] I started writing right where I was. I started writing about the things I loved and cared about. I set a routine, I got up early, I planned out my success. I started living out the person I said I wanted to be and the world adjusted. It made room for me and is making room for the person I am becoming.  

It will do the same for you! 

I saw a video on Facebook earlier this week, a man used a piece of wring to tie the front in of a walking lawnmower, to the back of a golf cart. He hung dice from the top of his creation, and appeared to be having the time of his life. He just invented a riding lawnmower. Genius, I thought. Another thought I had was about us as humans, we are capable of inventing outrageous and workable solutions to our problems when we have had enough; Or like my mother used to say, while raising triplets, when she had enough of our foolishness, she was  “fed up,” My second charge to you all is to be “fed up” and create. Be “fed up” with the news media the outrageous behavior of our elected officials or the way the world asserts itself on you through continuous advertisements. 

POINT TWO
#2 - [CREATE] 
I believe You have what you create. Nothing more. Nothing Less.  

I was apart of the building two minor league NBA teams. Days were long and the nights were lonely. I had moved away from the man who is now my husband in pursuit of my dreams. The process was exhausting, but what I learned in the building process no one can take away from me the experience, all the lessons I had learned, the coaching, the teaching. 

I challenged my sales reps to design the life they wanted in the future and start here, laying the foundation for their future careers with this infant organization we were growing. Most of my sales reps were recent graduates, from the city or wealthier areas in upstate New York. That did not matter in our sales office because they needed to learn how to sale. They are necessary to build a client base in the area we operated in. So, I challenged them by who they say they wanted to become. Whether it was a General Manager, Sales Director, Head Coach. I would also remind them, “This is who you SAID want to be, let's create it!”


Be committed. Be willing. Be without fear or hesitation to do the work of creating. In the end, the work and what you produce from your mind, your hands, is all that matters. And it is what you have for yourself. Its what you get to keep for yourself in a world that is changing quickly. 


Post-rationalize - realize as it pertains to your work, there are no mistakes, create, put it out there. If a project makes no makes no noise or does not garner the results you expected, great, go back to the lab and create again. 

When I look out at the world and at what has happened to our political system, the indifference shown towards minorities, the popularity of the Kardashians [PAUSE] I see a world that is different than me, a world that values things that I don't value, a world that is changing, heading in a direction I don’t want to go, I, at times, feel alone, as I am sure some of you do. However, in the early mornings and sometimes late at night, when my phone is down and the television is off, I am reminded the strength that comes in creating.

The responsibility that falls on each of us as individuals with free will to create something. I am reminded as a mentor used to say, “If its to be. it's up to me, and you.” 

POINT THREE
#3 [Commit to Self Mastery]
Socrates demonstrated long ago, that the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his self-mastery.

I realized a few years ago that I would not own a sports team. That dream, that vision had carried me as far as it could take me. I had lived my early 20-something dreams of moving to New York. I met people this culture labels as famous and celebrities, I traveled to Johannesburg Africa, to help with basketball camps and to work with other organizations to build homes and visit orphanages for children with AIDS. I watched my home team win the NBA Championship in 2011. I left no dream unturned. 

But I wanted something more, 

Principle of Priority, states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is essential, and (b) you must do what's important first.

Writing and talking with young people is my heritage. It’s in my roots. My mother did this work, as a Dallas police officer for over 30 years. 

Leaving the confines of these walls a plethora of choices await you. In the creation process, this can go for or against you. 

 Why? because out of your mind, you can create paths for yourself that you never imagined. 

Allow your LIFE to unfold. Allow yourself to risk, to cry, to laugh, to live. 

But remember, Newton's third law of motion is always in effect: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

What you put out you will get back. Master self. Decide what is important to you and do that.

You probably have asked or will ask yourself the big question: What do I want? Who do I want to be? Don't fear these questions. Ask them of yourself often. 

Build a plan for disruption, decide today
A few of borrowed guidelines in my plan: do not at any cost try to fit in, question the status quo, be kind, envision an alternative, be willing to create what you critique. 

As Communication Studies graduates you all are in a distinctive position to explain and communicate the world as it is today in unique ways.


Embrace the opportunity to shape AND tell the story. 


CLOSING
8 years after my graduation the things I know to be true --- service is the only way you secure a life worth living, the game of popularity is unwinnable and even those who excel at it have to give pieces of themselves away, you have what you create, and if you don’t remember anything, remember, love and humility covers all your bases, so live brave. love people. 

Thank you

 

Women Are Left Behind Because They Do Not Ask With Expectation

 
IMAGE BY WE WORK

Could it be true? Could women be left behind in pay and opportunity because they do not ask with expectation? In a different time, I would say no way. Women ask for precisely what they want. I like to think my great, great grandmother asserted herself to survival and here I am. 

But do we as a whole ask expecting to get what we want? Do we generally expect to get the jobs we go for? I heard Paula Scher discuss this topic on Hurry Slowly, a podcast curated by a Jocelyn Giel. Paula is a legendary graphic designer with her own "BIG BOOK" and hundreds of community, public, and private design projects under her belt. 

During the interview, Paula states: 

"Men expect to get all the opportunities they go after. The reason why women don't go after opportunities or equal pay is that they lack the confidence." 

That word "expectation" rings loudly in my ears. Google Dictionary defines expectation as a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.  

How then are we asking for better-paying jobs and advancement in our workplaces if not with expectation? The thought gives me chills imagining a woman, my sister from another mother, stumbling into her bosses office meagerly asking for what is rightfully hers. The counter image is a bold and beautiful boss lady deciding its time for a raise or a new job and going after it with the expectancy and urgency of a toddler going after ice cream. 

Now, of course we all know the cliche life is not fair. But we could help life out by asking with the confidence of a warrior and the expectation of our male counterparts. 

Paula also argues that we should take jobs that we are not qualified for. She may be onto something with this one too. 

Take a listen to Jocelyn and Paula's interview on the Hurry Slowly podcast

 

How To Get Less of What You Don’t Want

 
 PHOTO BY PIM CHU

PHOTO BY PIM CHU

Inversion is a way of thinking, in which you consider the opposite of what you want. 

The Stoics, a group of philosophers who lived centuries ago, had a way of reimaging their lives through a principle called inversion. They considered the opposite. To apply the technique, Instead of focusing on only success and great outcomes you invert or turn over, weighing the opposite to determine where your pitfalls, missteps, and obstacles lie. 

The philosophers believed that by imagining the worst case scenario ahead of time, they could overcome their fears of negative experiences and make plans to prevent them. 

Most of the time when I think about my future, I think about a remarkable encounter where my present-self meets my future-self in all her glory. The daydream is always me on a couch discussing big ideas with Larry King or Oprah. It ends the same way, “You’ve written a brilliant book here that has the potential to shift minds.” I nod graciously, button my Hugo Boss custom blazer, jump in a black SUV to my next interview.

And scene. 

I never get around to reversing that picture. My mom raised my sisters and me on the idea, “as a man thinketh, than so he is,” so I saw no reason to imagine a counter to my well-planned out future. 

But the Stoics may be onto to something. What do I think about when I think about failure? How do I react? How do I perceive failure? How do I prevent failure from happening by thinking of it ahead of time? Now, I’ve experienced my fair share of disappointment, jobs that did not work out as planned, relationships that went bad, and my first and even second book were not exactly New York Times bestsellers. If I had imagined each of this situations at the beginning with a possible adverse outcome, I could have rebounded faster or responded differently. 

Today, when I imagine my goals, I consider all sides and remember just because I can perceive my demise it does not mean I have to let it scare me from proceeding forward anyway. 

If you enjoyed this 'motivation' check out my newsletter Brave Living. Brave Living is a bi-weekly dose of what it means to chase courage and live inspired.

A Life Philosophy

 Photo by Joe Mort

Photo by Joe Mort

I was recently asked about my view and overall thoughts on the world, what I think about today's polarized social climate, what I think about the future, applying my past and present, and did I have a life philosophy to counter the negativity? 

A life philosophy as defined by Merriam-Webster is an overall vision of or attitude toward life and the purpose of life.

For context, my mother, a single parent from the time my sisters and I were four, raised a total of five kids on her own. She was a police detective and highly active in the community. My father, a man who lived by his ideals, was an activist. He protested in the day and drove the city bus at night. I graduated from college with a degree in Communications. I've traveled around the world, to places like Japan, South Africa, London, and Paris. I've created opportunities for myself and have been given some as well. 

My life philosophy is we are all CREATORS. We are creating our lives by the way we think, speak, and move through the world; any self-help coach will tell you that. The application of this is much more transformative. The application that follows this belief has the power to unhinge a life of habits and traditions. This deep-seated belief has transformed the way I see my past, my upbringing, and my future. 

I believe that humans should live and exist in the present allowing the past to be a vehicle for correction and insight, learning from experience and disregarding what does not serve the now. Dismissing what does not help your present desires brings goals and dreams to realization. But ultimately I believe we are CREATORS, that if you or I don't like something we have the power to change it. 

A couple of years ago, I went through my church's recovery ministry because addictions to people-please and pride do not make for a healthy life. Later, I went on to lead the groundwork phase of that ministry. What I know from months of weekly meetings with others who are struggling to find a solid footing in life is that we happen to ourselves. 

We are both the problem and the solution.  

If this is true, which I think it is, the next steps are obvious. My thoughts create my actions so my "thinker," my mind, needs a revolutionary shift. 

I am not discounting bad parents, bad marriages, traumatic childhoods and other misfortunes life hands out. It distributes them equally in one form or another. All I am saying is, "what now?" What will you do with what you have been given? You had a bad family, CREATE a good one. You received a subpar education, CREATE one that fits your aspirations, read, challenge your mind. My mom used to remind my sister and me – the scripture say – you are “transformed” by the "renewing" of your mind. 

It is our mind that needs constant tending to.  

If we should all live by a philosophy, mine is this, because we have such a short time here, a short time to make a difference, a short time to make an impact you and I must choose the way of the warrior. We must choose peace, we must choose happiness, we must choose self-discipline, we must choose love, and we must choose life. When the world wants you to choose violence over peace, victimhood over solutions, don’t. Choose better. Choose higher ground or be swallowed by the waves of noise.  

Another commonly quoted scripture of my childhood says, "whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

If you choose to focus on what is wrong with the world if you choose to focus on what has been done to you, that is a choice and as in life, what we focus on magnifies. That does not mean you are silent and absent in moments of great injustice or inequality; it just means that you are focused on and in the direction of solutions so that you can get back to creating a life worth living. 

Polytechnic High School

Last month, I spoke at Polytechnic High School for their Black History Month program. A few photos from the event. 

I Want Better Representation 

 

I want better representation not much for me because I am an adult. 

I want better representation for the kids coming behind me.

I want better representation for the world I have to step into.

I want better representation for the skin color I happen to be.

I want better representation so that when I travel to Italy, Spain,

or Belgium people don't ask me to rap or snap my fingers.

I want better representation because I am my brother's keeper.

I want better representation because my race does more than smoke, dance, and talk on money phones.

I want better representation because my husband is a smart and thoughtful human being

and I rarely see him represented in the culture.

I want better representation because I believe that progress can be delayed if we are all not on the same page.

 RAP GROUP MIGOS 

RAP GROUP MIGOS 

 

The Table Was Set For A Conversation On Race

 PHOTOGRAPH BY BROOKE LARK 

PHOTOGRAPH BY BROOKE LARK 

This past Monday I had the privilege to sit around a table with five other brave participants and discuss race and ethnicity in America. Dallas Dinner Table, an organization founded in 1999, holds annual dinners to bring together people who may not have found each other otherwise. We answered questions about where attitudes, perspectives, and understandings of race come from and how they limit or define our reality? The goal of the two and half hour gathering, in simpler terms, is to learn to drop assumptions. We should judge people on the merit of their character and not because they are white, woman, Mexican, male, rich, or poor. 

But can we? 

This question came to mind for me several times during the night. Can we drop all of our assumptions when seeing and watching people from a distance? Our forefathers, who were cave dwellers, made assumptions to move quickly, assess a situation in order not to starve, or worse, be killed. 

 Dallas Dinner Table Dallas Group 

Dallas Dinner Table Dallas Group 

I believe we make assumptions to shortcut real thinking; to bypass connection and relationship, making assumptions is more accessible and less convoluted. I think it speeds up the process in the short term and limits us in the long run because we miss out on engaging people and experiences. It’s people and our communication with them that give us our greatest lessons in life. But we only have so many hours in the day. We only have so many interactions that don’t involve our family and friends, so many hours to process our news feeds, our place in the world, and how we are perceived. Here in America, we live in an individualistic culture, where a majority of the time self-interest is placed above “the other.”

We make assumptions out of necessity. 

However, meetings like the Dallas Dinner Table allow us to step outside of our beliefs about other people for a moment. These occurrences enable us to see a different point of view and maybe even empathize if we are willing to go deep. These moments create space for us to be bigger than ourselves.