New Year, New You? NO! A BETTER You!

At the end of every year people look back at their progress for the year and looking ahead for the new person they plan to be when the clock strikes midnight. New Year means a new ME! Right?

nothowthisworksIt NEVER works that way.

We don’t wake up as NEW people. We wake up with a desire to be a BETTER person. If that’s true why do so many people proclaim to be a new person for a new year?

It’s easy to claim what is impossible. No one is going to hold you accountable if you didn’t transform into this new person. What’s the criteria for determining if you’ve transformed into the NEW YOU? Trying to morph into a brand new person in just 12 months is a pretty big feat and setting criteria to determine if you’ve gotten there is even more overwhelming.
What to do?
Start small. In this case size isn’t everything and starting small is the best way to lead toward long-term sustained change. Pick 3 to 5 things you’d like to do better or stop doing at all in the new year. Making that list is just the beginning because you’ll also need a plan to make the change. You can’t win if you ┬áhaven’t planned to!
For example, what if you want to cook breakfast more often at home instead of buying it out. Start out with a plan to cook breakfast at least 3 days a week. Over time increase the frequency and before you know it you’re fixing your own breakfast 5 out of the 7 days a week. This doesn’t mean it will be easy but it IS possible.
So here’s to a Happy New Year and to the start of a piece of a new you.

Top 5 FREE Things To Do With Kids This Summer!

summer-fun-listThe end of the school year fast approaching and with the weather improving day by day, it won’t be long before the kids are expecting some REAL fun. Having fun every day comes at a cost but the good thing is there are so many options out there that have zero cost but are full of fun.

1. The local zoo.

I have the advantage of living in the DMV where the National Zoo is located. Entry is absolutely FREE! That entry allows you to see various animals including awesome activities like watching the elephants feed, lions enjoy lunch, animal training and keeper talks. If you’re unsure of a free zoo in your area just perform a Google search to locate one close to you.

2. The beach.

One of the best things about summer is you can visit the beach as much as you want! The beach can provide hours of fun in the sun and water and by the time the kids are done they are so exhausted they will be sleep before you get home. One of my favorite beaches to visit is Virginia Beach. So beautiful and the local shops are adorable and there is great entertainment as well. Pack up the car and go!

3. The park.

Every city and state has parks that are operated by the local government and have more than your standard playground. One of our local playgrounds also has a carousel, fishing, mini-golf, and huge fields for football, baseball, soccer and more. If you’re not sure where to find good parks in your area check your local parks and recreation website for listings.

4. Local farms.

A visit to a local farm gives kids an opportunity to interact with farm animals and see how food is grown. Many farms include other activities such as hayrides, animal feedings and educational opportunities about farm life. Checkout this great example of a local farm. Do a Google search to find local free farms in your area.

5. Make it a learning day and visit a museum.

Another one of the great benefits of living in the DMV is the large amount of free museums. Museums are a great way to provide an interactive learning environment that only requires plenty of water and great walking shoes. Many museums also include interactive demonstrations such as feeding spiders or hologram-themed demonstrations. If you’re not sure where to find local free museums trust Google to lead the way!

Whatever activity you choose remember it doesn’t have to cost a thing to have FUN!

Lessons from a Mother

Mother. Mom. Ma. Mum.

Whatever you call her she was the first important woman in your life. Actually she was THE most important person in your life from the very moment you became to exist. She’s seen you at your worst and at your best. No matter the circumstance she’s always THERE.

My mom taught me a lot of valuable lessons both directly and indirectly but I certainly wouldn’t have accomplished as much as I have in life if not for those lessons. The best lessons were those that have continued to stick with me today.

1. Trust yourself first.

Always trust yourself first even if you trust yourself to make the wrong decision. Sometimes we make decisions that lead to great things and other times we make decisions that lead to trouble. Know the difference and be prepared to trust yourself to not make dumb decisions by acknowledging your weaknesses and getting the necessary guidance to avoid being stupid.

2. It’s not enough to be good you MUST be great.

Good is average and being average doesn’t make you great. No matter your occupation be GREAT at it. Why settle for average when you can create a narrative of your greatness that is much better than the alternative? Once you set the bar high it becomes a fight against yourself because average will no longer be good enough for you and you’ll never settle for anything less than great.

3. Fearless people accomplish things.

My mom is a fearless individual and even when she does fear something she uses it as fuel to push through. Working through fear is still a process for me but I step out more on fear than I used to and the goal is to be as fearless than my mom. Fearless people get things done and push through the challenges to reach their goals.

Remember all of the lessons learned and sacrifices given for you on today. Show appreciation in that special way that only a child can do for their mom.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother's Day!

The ignorance of riots…where does the REAL change happen?

A few weeks ago on a street in Baltimore Freddie Gray had an interaction with the local police department that resulted in his spine almost being separated from his head. A mystery. At least to the Baltimore police department. But those that have been critical of extreme policing in certain communities, felt that the Gray injury, of which resulted in his death, was no accident.

The response from the local leadership was pretty lame. The mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, hasn’t been the textbook example of leadership in this situation. The media interviews and press conferences to the public were an attempt to explain away the mystery by trying to pacify the people with the chant of patience while offering no real details. The people waited.

And waited. And waited some more. Then things changed.

Today some of the people of Baltimore decided they weren’t going to wait any longer for answers and instead were going to force their voices on the city through their actions. Peaceful protests were held demanding answers but the citizens demand for answers were ignored and when people are ignored and full of emotion, its harder to keep positivity in the space.

Today the demands for answers turned to riots. RIOTS! How does a riot help you get answers? Instead of getting real answers you’ll get rubber bullets and a curfew. In the end NOTHING is resolved.

How far do you think Martin Luther King Jr. would have gotten tearing up his own community? Or ANY community? I hate to say it but REAL change happens when you can look your enemy in the face and no matter what they do to you, it does NOT break your spirit nor distract you from the goal. When the goal is ALWAYS the focus its much more likely to be reached.

Remember, while you’re burning cars and looting stores, the people that will need to hear your message will be too busy crafting lies to pacify you later! Keep MLK’s dream alive…change!

Spilling the tea? Better get a bigger pot.

I remember when cable first came about. We were fascinated by the concept that you could hear people say bad words on television and it stayed on longer than regular television channels. This was exciting to me in the summertime because I would go away to the South for the summer and when I would spend the night with cousins I could stay up as long as I wanted.

We would stay up all night and watch a little television (at this time even cable channels had a concept of going off air), play board games, tell stories, and even spill a few secrets. Back in the day there was this concept of a ‘secret’. A secret was something you told family and really really close friends. If someone you trusted broke your trust and spilled your secret, it didn’t spread beyond a handful of people and it certainly didn’t become NEWS. This was a time when girls could have a baby and the whole time you thought it was their cousin but was really their child. Shit was real.

Boom BoxTechnology kept improving and pushing to the next level and of course that has an influence on people. We went from carrying big boom boxes to portable cd players. During all of this time a secret being spilled was only the knowledge of those that were immediately available to the fly that spilled the beans.

Times have changed big time.

Technology these days allows us to be available to anyone at any time not just by voice but we can also share real-time video. There is no concept of not being apart of something just because you weren’t there physically because technology allows everyone to be almost anywhere at any time. A good thing is now used for bad things.

These days if a secret of a young person is revealed by either a jerk frantically typing up to 140 characters to blast it to their Twitter followers or a video was uploaded to YouTube because someone wants to be the next Stephanique Spielberg of the internet. The sharing of the secret these days isn’t just about exposing the secret of someone else but also display the amount of joy gained from putting someone on blast. Now the secret isn’t just reduced to a handful of people, if you go viral, no not sick but internet famous, we’re talking upward of hundreds of thousands of people. Not cool.

Watch your back!My advice to anyone and everyone is to be aware of who you surround yourself with and your surroundings in general. Today there are so many people that want to be known for something even if that something is destroying someone else.

Good thing I didn’t grow up in this age of share everything at any time. Who needs that kind of pressure when you’re trying to navigate your way through life?

I have enough pressure explaining to my mother just because I have a cell phone doesn’t mean I’m available to her at any time.

To Shake or Not to Shake…THAT is the Question!

I'm scared of people!

Get those hands away from me!

I’m what many people would call socially awkward. If I know you then you probably don’t even realize that I clam up around people I don’t know very well or at all. The moments I have to spend in a room with people I have no real relationship tend to be some of the toughest moments ever.

Why is it so hard to blend in with the group and make a connection? For me it always starts with my first interaction with someone…the handshake.

No not the hand!

Is that a…HAND?!

A hand. Seems simple and non-threatening BUT when you think about all of the things a hand touches in a day then a hand becomes one of the scariest things you’ve ever seen in your life. Interesting that hands touch more bare than a foot does ANY day yet people put their hands in their mouth or eat food without washing them. I have NO desire to taste your toes because you didn’t wash your hands before cooking.

While I am always weirded out by hands reaching out to me I haven’t figured out how to interact with someone for the first time without shaking hands and coming across as antisocial. I could do the traditional Japanese bow or even just say hello but never remove my hands from my pockets. Just not feasible.

Fist Bump

If HE can I can!

According to research I should just start bumping fists to avoid the germs all together and its pretty socially acceptable. If the President can extend a fist to start a dialogue, why can’t I?

Oh the Horror! OH YEAH!

I’ve always loved movies. All types of movies and any genre because I ultimately desire a good story. However, there is one specific drama that is a favorite of mine of which I hold a serious bias. Horror.

There is nothing like a good horror movie. Whether its some mysterious monster snatching people or a crazy maniac killer roaming a big city it’s always been a genre that’s my equivalent of curling up with a romantic date movie. Some say that’s creepy but to that I say they just don’t get it.

Good horror isn’t always about watching some slasher flick. While they do have their place in the horror genre most great horror movies have more to do with the thought of what could or might happen versus watching someone be hacked to pieces.

For example, one of my favorite horror films is The Entity. The Entity is about a woman that buys a home that’s possessed by a spirit that turns her life upside down. I saw this movie when I was around 12 years old and I remember being rocked by the notion that a home could have a mind of its own.

The being became more than its environment.Another favorite and classic to many of course is Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The thought of a simple trip with friends turning into a fight to live. The scariest part of that story wasn’t what was being acted out on screen but the notion that the movie was based on true events.

Based on true events is freaky!Reality is the real horror.

No matter what horror movie I watched, especially those based on true events, I always knew what I was seeing on screen wasn’t real and that everyone on film went home to their loved ones every night. I knew how to separate reality from Hollywood and it wasn’t a hard adjustment. Some kids today seem to have blurred the lines.

Out every horror movie I’ve ever seen the scariest thing I’ve ever seen is the reality of life. What people do to each other on worse than any monster Hollywood has ever attempted to create.

Watching a horror movie is never a bad thing to me but watching the news, I think that requires scheduled mental checkups in order to maintain sanity.

Give me your tired, your poor…WAIT! You’re not welcome here!

Even the statute of liberty is embarrassed by stupid Americans.

Even the statute of liberty is embarrassed by stupid Americans.

I made the assumption a long time ago that God has quite the sense of humor. He gave the ignorant and stupid the ability to have unwavering commitment to their beliefs even when commonsense is standing right in front of them. You can always count on them to speak the loudest but also have nothing to say.

A surge of undocumented children are being held because they tried to cross our borders illegally. Each of them has their own story about why they are coming to this country and an even more treacherous tale of their journey before they were caught on American soil undocumented.

And whose standing at the door to greet them? Stupid Americans.

Why not use these brain cells for GOOD?

Why not use these brain cells for GOOD?

‘Those people’ that believe that anything that doesn’t look like them is bad and everything they believe in is good. You know the people that can tell you how all minorities are on welfare, yet can’t spell independence. Those people.

At some point humanity has to ask itself, is there any segment of humanity that is void of criticism and hatred? In today’s political climate it appears that nothing is off limits, even children. We are to believe that children sat down and coordinated together to travel unsafe distances to cross our borders so we must treat them like adults. To that I say NO!

THIS is the time where America can show it isn’t just a country that works hard to exploit their poor, under-educated, minorities, etc. but also works hard to ensure we all have a shot at the dream. When your government works harder to keep people in poverty you have to wonder WHY.

This post isn’t meant to give excuses behind crossing the border illegally because we do have laws but is designed to make you remember these are CHILDREN. Let’s show them America is much better than hatred.