Moving Forward, Conversations about Justice, Remembering #PhilandoCastile Post 4 of 4

July 14th, 2016 the line and wait was long to get into the doors at the Cathedral of St. Paul before the funeral of Philando Castile that day.  There are no words for what it was like to go in and walk past the body of this man we watched take his last breaths in real time on the internet.

Laying someone to rest does not make the pain go away. Over the past couple of years, we continue to hear crowds chanting; “No Justice, No Peace.” But what is justice? What is it supposed to look like? If we examine the synonyms for the word, it seems to lead lead to more questions.

  • Is there anything fair about what happened here? No
  • Was impartiality exercised in any part of this situation? Most would say no
  • Did it feel like the way this played out was done objectively? Many would say no
  • What about principles regarding the distinction between right and wrong,  or good and bad behavior?
  • Where is the morality in all of it?
  • Are the voices of the people crying out about continued injustice we witness in our communities being heard? Most would say no

It is too much repetition and people are tired. But we have to press forward. I am passionate about service and community. My regular readers see me bring it into my writing consistently. Each one of us has a part to play. One person at a time, one conversation at a time. The dialogue has to carry on and be renewed and we need each other in order to do that. The killing of Philando Castile was one of many experiences that led to the Women’s March last February, when women all over the world came together in what could be considered the greatest movement in the history of the world to speak out about treating ALL people fairly, including:

  • Refugees
  • The rights of undocumented workers
  • People of all faiths
  • The GLBT community
  • Women’s rights
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Building bridges, not walls

It can’t and won’t stop there. We have to use our voices because we need to keep building community, one person at a time, one conversation at a time. That is how we begin the to heal. There will be dialogue where we can agree to disagree without ranting. But we are better when we ask someone to tell us more about their perspective. Seek to understand, because that builds bridges.

A year ago, I wrote a post called; A Prayer and a Poem for #PhilandoCastile & Family: Look Up: What Was Entrusted To You? Pay Attention

Commit: Please, as a tribute, share it with others. Read it out loud to them. Ask them what they think about it. Use it as a tool to continue the dialogue as we continue to lift the Castile Family and others like his up in prayer.

Thank you for visiting my blog, please feel free to leave a comment below, or, if you prefer to ask some questions confidentially, let me know and I will be happy to respect your privacy and respond one to one.

Advertisements

No Justice. No Peace. Just Us. Remembering #PhilandoCastile Post #3 of 4

July 9th, 2016, the event, a few days after the tragic death of #PhilandoCastile, was planned and carried out with peaceful intention and collaboration with law enforcement. A collage of people with varying skin colors, religious values, ethnicities and nationalities would exercise their 2nd amendment right to peacefully gather and protest in public. Only few in the crowd knew where they were headed when they left the Governors Mansion. What wasn’t in the news that day was that for about ten hours leading up to the time of the event in the photos, the area near 94 and Dale Street in St. Paul was actively being canvased by police to ensure public safety.

Why wasn’t it announced? Because there was no desire to attract troublemakers. Complexity arises when issues that are deemed controversial converge with those who are ignorant or jump to conclusions about intent and then become blended with others who are thrill seekers. Only so much can be controlled in public, so naturally, when problems initially erupted, many (including the media) jumped to conclusions based on hearsay by stating that it was protesters who incited violence. That was not the case.

So what really happened? Those who marched from the Governors Mansion were unified and peaceful. Some in the local neighborhoods near the freeway saw what was happening live or on TV and near their homes, thought it would be “cool” to underhandedly sneak onto the road and incite violence. They were NOT part of the movement, but had every intention of causing trouble. And they did.

So what has occurred since then? The NRA was criticized for speaking up on behalf of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, yet said nothing to defend Philando’s rights until recently.

Officer Yanez was acquitted by a jury of peers, received a severance package and parted ways with the St. Anthony Police Department.

Falcon Heights, the city where Philando was killed, stepped away from being patroled by The St. Anthony Police department.

A beautiful Memorial Service was held to honor his memory, a police training plan was funded in his name, his former classmates established a scholarship in his name and the Castile family received a settlement from the St. Anthony Police Department.

So have we made progress? Perhaps.

But even then, it still isn’t good enough. It wont bring back Mr. Castile and we will continue to see the same issue repeated in different versions across the country. Friends, we still have more work to do and we can’t do it alone. What action will you take to be a servant leader about these issues?

Thank you for visiting my blog, please feel free to leave a comment below, or, if you prefer to ask some questions confidentially, let me know and I will be happy to respect your privacy and respond one to one.

People as Transition | Bridging Communities One Year Later #BlackLivesMatter Post #2 of 4

People, called to action because they saw no other option. It was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Who said; “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

So what can you do? We have a call to action that can not be ignored. How do we step up and encourage others to do the same? We must,  because in the end, where there is no justice, its ‘just us,” people coming together in a grass roots effort for a greater good, one person at a time.

Imagine all the possibilities if each of us did a few things to get involved. What can you do to play your part?

Call government representatives, volunteer for worthy organizations that promote peace in our communities, let people know you are available to answer questions they may have or view points they don’t understand, seek to discover perspective of those who may not, and more importantly, become a vehicle to provide a new paradigm for them. It could be a simple phrase, and even if it is simply one seed that plants a new thought process, then that counts for something.

No matter how big or small, these are the things we can do to collectively make a difference. That his how we bridge communities. It’s all about fellowship and remembering that we can’t do it alone. Let us forge ahead with these thoughts and  continue to lift the family of #PhilandoCastile and others like his, like ours, up in prayer.

Thank you for visiting my blog, please feel free to leave a comment below, or, if you prefer to ask some questions confidentially, let me know and I will be happy to respect your privacy and respond one to one.

No Justice. In the End, its “Just Us.” Remembering #PhilandoCastile One Year Later Post #1 of 4

….“equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air: we all have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of it.”   -Maya Angelou

A year ago my friend, Alberto Monserrate, was continuously posting a video that I could not ignore. She called him ‘Sir’‘ while her man, Philando Castile, was right there groaning and literally taking his last breaths. She could not console him, nor could she explain what was happening to her four year old daughter in the back seat. Even I could not process what I was seeing. right away. But I do remember how it felt and the questions spinning in my head.

  • How could this happen?
  • Why wasn’t someone coming to help?
  • Why was he pointing the gun in her direction?
  • Where was the compassion for this couple and their child?

He fired seven times. SEVEN. Where was the humanity that we assume should appear in a situation like this? No one was coming to his aid and I still can’t grasp it. I have written blog posts about unjust violence in the past. But this time, it happened close to  home, in my city and presented a view that directly has impact on me and my family in ways I can’t even begin to explain.  

BlackLivesMatterPhilandoCastile

To honor the memory of Philando Castile, my next few blog posts will have pictures I took during the two weeks following his death, where many came together to bridge the injustice that could not be ignored or understood. . People were called to action and realized that we have to step up because in the end, where there is no justice, there is ‘just us,” people coming together for a greater good, one person at a time. Imagine all of the possibilities if we each did a few things to contribute to making a difference.

Sometimes it may mean having conversations about things that have been historically un-discussable. While it may not feel normal at first, sometimes we have to practice things until they feel normal, which includes being open to controversy without being defensive.

At the end of the day, people want to feel seen and heard, regardless of their perspective. They want to know they have a voice and they matter.

Oddly, there is beauty when we agree to disagree without being combative. When different ideas come together, it creates new knowledge, understanding and provides possibilities for growth. Knowledge constantly evolves, so let’s come together to add to the continuum.

It starts with you. And me because community is at the core of how we come together. We can’t do it alone and we can’t forget that as we continue to lift our families and families of #PhilandoCastile and so many others who have faced injustice up in prayer. #BlackLivesMatter.

Thank you for visiting my blog, please feel free to leave a comment below, or, if you prefer to ask some questions confidentially, let me know and I will be happy to respect your privacy and respond one to one.

The Road….

Unconditional Love

There are people who will say Valentines Day is a novelty, but I think it’s an opportunity to reflect, create a memory or perform a random act of kindness, because sometimes even the smallest gesture can go a long way.

My mom never forgets a Valentines Day. Last night she came over with the tulips you see in the background of the picture, made dinner and then did some religion homework with my son.

She gave me the red heart ornament in the picture years ago on a February 14th. It says “Kakie” and on the back Love, Mom.  Time has worn the ink from changing the oil in the decanter.

The faded letters on the ornament and the flowers are both signals for me. One, a gentle reminder about being present, new life, spring and what lies ahead. The other is to pause, step back, appreciate those around me and celebrate the journey. We didn’t get here alone and couldn’t have accomplished all that has been without others. Look how far we’ve come. For many of us it can seem quite remarkable.

Life puts gifts at our feet which we don’t recognize at first. Sometimes we stumble over them or we get in our own way. It’s okay because we are all flawed and I think there is beauty in that. Somehow we always manage to get back up, brush ourselves off and move ahead.

We are exactly where we are meant to be at any given moment and we have all of the tools we need. Today, give yourself permission to slow down, take a deep breath, find gratitude and share it with someone.

I would love to hear stories about small gestures that meant a great deal to you  Share them below and thanks for stopping by. Happy Valentines Day.

Discussing Race and Tolerance : Black History Month

#Hoodiesup #Millionhoodies

February is Black History month and each year as a family, we look for historical documentaries to watch and seek out biographies of people who have played important roles in our evolution as a country. When I was young, information was limited and we didn’t learn much about it in school. I want to be sure we honor those who went before us because it is OUR history.

A few years back, instead of viewing the Super Bowl, we watched the movie “Boycott,” which is about the events which occurred in Montgomery Alabama after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the “Whites Only” section of the bus. Black Americans pulled together to demonstrate their economic power by refusing to use public transportation. The program is good and sends a compelling message about the impact peace and non-violence can have.

In the movie, there is a scene where the fire department sits across the street and watches the home of an African-American man burn to the ground. My son, who was eight years old, looked at me with puzzled eyes. He asked why the firemen were not helping put out the flames.  I explained what life for black and white people in America was like during that time. Then, he turned to me and asked;

“Mom, am I black?” Read more of this post

Learn, Unlearn, Rethink, Relearn, Innovate and Survive

Adult Learning Principles by Nicole Legault

 “Leadership should be born out of understanding the needs of those who would be affected by it.”

– Marian Anderson

In my roles as senior project manager, change consultant, marketing leader, coach and mentor, I use something called andragogy (adult learning theory) to manage and lead because I have seen its effectiveness. I thought it would be a great blog topic, so please, read on!

Throughout my professional life, I spent time designing various formats of training about topics that included marketing, identifying and adapting to social styles, emotional intelligence, repackaging a new improved client service model, how to ask for referrals, business and marketing planning, new customer acquisition, retention, social media and more.

The process of designing training modules is about working to ensure the content is engaging and adding value for the intended audience and providing them with what they need so they will adopt the new change program. When classes are written and created, the blended approaches are different for each medium. For example, content will be written differently for an e-learning self-study, vs. classroom or live web-ex conferencing.

The andragogy method leverages problem solving and collaboration and levels the playing field between learners and trainers. The six principles of adult learning theory asserts that adults are:

  • Internally motivated and self-directed
  • Experienced and bring our knowledge to the learning platform
  • Engaged when the information is relevant to our background
  • Goal oriented – motivated by intrinsic and extrinsic factors
  • Practical and need to know why they are learning the content
  • Learners who place value on being respected

For years I consulted and coached franchised business owners to help them adopt new behaviors into their practices. We did this using a structured yet flexible approach by installing repeatable and predictable processes into their businesses. Through coaching and the leadership development process, my clients learned about knowledge transfer through applying a process that looked something like this: Learn, unlearn, rethink, relearn, innovate and survive. I challenged them to step outside of old ways of thinking and to embrace unfamiliar territory. Success means we practice new behaviors until they feel normal and when we began working together, we would contract for what the behavior outcomes would look like.

While it sounds simple, it is a frightening concept because it is natural for people to resist change. It takes courage to embrace uncertainty by looking fear in the eye and pushing forward.  Coaching people through resistance management plans, I can say the greatest victories I have seen came when people chose to take a little risk that led to success and when that happened, we celebrated.

There is diversity in learning, we all discover and grab onto ideas and concepts differently. People absorb data in their own way, and when we take that diversity into account coupled with andragogy (adult learning theory), the results will lead to increased end-user adoption and better organizational change readiness, rewarding components for learners, trainers and leaders.

Thank you for visiting my blog. Please share what you think about using and applying this process into your leadership style?

This infographic was created by Nicole Legault, who has a blog called “Flirting with e-learning.

Read more of this post

Grandma’s Legacy and Acts of Love – Happy Holidays

GrandmasTreasureThese Christmas ornaments are my treasures. For over twenty years, Dode Jandric, my grandma, made at least one for each of her 23 grandchildren and no two adornments are alike.

In earlier days of her ceramic ornament painting, Grandma Dode had the dexterity to write messages, bible verses, our names, her signature and the year each one was made.  As time went on, macular degeneration set in, her vision deteriorated and she became unable to continue.

I once heard Oprah Winfrey say that art can be a form of prayer and I think that is an interesting concept. The thing I love and appreciate most about the legacy of grandma’s ornaments is time and creativity she spent paying attention to detail, expressing her faith and love through art. She selected specific colors, styles and designs customized for each of us, painted them, then fired them up in the kiln so they were just right.

As I reflect on the holiday season and my family, I am proud to say I am a 4th  generation of oldest daughters. Grandma Dode was born on April 8, 1921 and had 9 children, which is almost seven years of being pregnant. Sometimes it is hard for me to fathom that by the time my mother was 14 years old, she had 8 younger brothers and sisters, all of whom she and the other oldest siblings nurtured and cared for because that was part of the norm. In large families, that is part of the bonding process for everyone.

Grandma Dode, now 91 and legally blind, her hearing and memory fading, yet her demeanor is sweet and gentle.

During our family Christmas party last year, I watched her place both of her hands on the cheeks of one great-grandchild.  She said in a thoughtful, kind manner; “I’m sorry dear, I can get a little confused, you will have to remind your name and whose you are.” Then after a response she followed up with; “Oh yes, of course that’s right. So how old are you now?” It makes me wonder; can we choose to age with grace if we think about it in advance? My family history is rich and filled with love and legacy. For that I am grateful.

May you have a holiday filled with peace, happiness and joy.

Stuck in Spin: Stopping the Glorification of ‘Busy’

There are times I find myself off in my own personal “never-never” land. It is a place I refer to as “stuck in spin” and it’s where many of us wander off to once in a while. The first time I came up with the name for it was when my son was in second grade. I had just picked him up from school and as I drove down the road my brain was in full self-chatter mode. Something brought me back into the moment when I realized that he was sharing the exciting things like what he learned in school, what they played in the gym, who made him laugh, etc. I thought:   Am I going to blink and miss my son’s childhood because I was not paying attention? This time is going so fast.  

I could say I wrote the book when it comes to being busy, but then again, couldn’t we all? Me: Full time Executive MBA Student in a one parent household who has been working as a contract project manager off and on for the past few years to diversify my resume. I have wondered about my future and this process of reinvention all while being the Cub Scout and soccer mom, Catechist, the blogger, MBA candidate, writer, author, speaker, job seeker and social media marketing consultant and strategist.

I recently found a quote on Pinterest that said; “Stop the Glorification of ‘Busy‘ ,” which came to me through Robyn Flach. Robyn is a person I know through the social media community here in the Twin Cities. The quote got me wondering how to get out of my “stuck in spin” space when it happens?

At the end of the day, we all have a lot going on as we create our futures. While that is exciting, what really counts is that we are of service to others and fully present for the people in our lives, including ourselves. I talked with a good friend about this and he shared something he pulled from storage in his garage. Notes from a seminar he attended with renowned psychologist, John Selby many years ago. I closed my eyes and my compadre read each statement below three times.

  1. I choose to enjoy this moment
  2. I feel the air flowing in and out of my nose
  3. I also feel the movement in my chest and belly as I breathe
  4. I am aware of my whole body at once, here, in this present moment

That’s it. I don’t have to say all four of them every time, but I can practice. All I have to do is 1. say it 2. do it. Any place, any time.  I can even do it with family and friends to model the behavior because when we teach, we learn. After completing this meditation, I felt centered, present and whole. It is a choice, but also takes practice. One of my favorite quotes of all time:

What we learn, we practice. What we practice, we become. What we become, has consequences.” -Earnie Larsen

Please share below, what helps you get grounded and in the moment? How do you work to stay fully present in the lives of those around you? Thanks for joining the conversation!

Imagination, Innovation, Knowledge and the Future

I remember elementary school days and the competitive nature of being the first to raise our hands, or be chosen to answer a question, push a button, stand in line, answer the phone. In our culture, kids are rewarded for having the correct answers and being right, which sets the stage for absolutes.

In the United States, the tendency for people to be monocratic stems from a justice system based off of win or lose causing many people to think about life in terms of being right vs being wrong. On one hand we have success, and on the other failure. We have different kinds of knowledge, which comes from numerous sources. For example, we have knowledge that comes from education, knowledge that comes from wisdom, knowledge that comes from doing, knowledge that comes from technology, knowledge of self, etc.  This world is so full of possibilities, there is no way we can comprehend all there is to know and understand. It makes me wonder; “what if every idea we have ever known, was wrong?” Even Einstein believed imagination is more important than knowledge.

Kiplinger a has an article called; The Top 10 Jobs That Didn’t Exist 10 Years ago. Imagine for a moment what the world will be like 10-15 years from now. What new jobs, technologies and lifestyles will be created? Consider what kind of challenges/opportunities that will present. How could that impact your future? There are complicated issues we will need to address. Some examples could include:

  • Making the internet safe to use, while keeping it open so people can innovate
  • How we communicate with people
  • Ways government will capture taxes and solve crime
  • How we connect with things
  • Potential E-commerce and marketing dilemmas
  • New consumer and employment markets
  • Moving economies
  • We will need longer IP addresses (more people)

Recently in one of my classes, we had a conversation about this concept of our culture, the idea of random variables and the evolution of knowledge. I took notes as the professor spoke. He said;

Knowledge can be explained as independent variables that exist between two things and how they relate. It has been defined from perspectives that have been brought to the table. Intervening variables create unintended outcomes, creating more knowledge. Being right is not as important as realizing or admitting what we do not know because all knowledge is subject to doubt. We have to acknowledge there is unlimited uncertainty no matter how much we know.

-Dr. Heino A. Beckman

In leadership, some of the best people I have worked have been open to possibilities. What do you think, about knowledge coupled with innovation? Please share below.

Never Forget – A Letter Written to My Son on September 11, 2001

“That’s what it takes to be a hero, a little gem of innocence inside you that makes you want to believe that there still exists a right and wrong. That decency will somehow triumph in the end.  -Lisa Hand

 At the time, we had no idea how the events of that day would change our lives forever. I worked at American Express Financial Advisors downtown Minneapolis, and the corporate headquarters of American Express was right across the plaza from the towers in New York. We lost 11 employees that day. For weeks the company had internal message boards, where workers could go to read and write their accounts of what they witnessed on that day. Those of us who worked in other locations could share our condolences.  The company put up a memorial in their honor called “Eleven Tears‘.

Since my son was a baby I have kept journals where I write letters to him. Below is my note from September 11, 2001.

 09-11-01 “Today was a day that will change how we do things in America. I was on a conference call at work with some field leaders who work in the Carolinas and one of them told me what happened. I could hardly believe it and went to CNN.com to see what I could find. The World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon had been attacked by some people who were not nice at all. My employer told us if we didn’t feel safe we should go home and we all left. 

People began evacuating downtown Minneapolis and it was so crazy we could not even get a taxi out of the city and the whole nation is stunned.  They closed down businesses, the stock exchange, the airlines, etc., all across the country for the first time in history. Locally they reported prayer vigils at churches all over the Twin Cities and the globe. It was an emotional day for everyone.

When I finally did get home, we spent the day together with the television and non-stop special reports all day as everyone was trying to make sense of the chaos. I remember sitting on the rocking chair in the living room watching the news in disbelief as your little ten month old body was sleeping so peacefully on my chest and I was praying as the tears fell quietly down my face. I felt so numb I could barely speak today. 

Son, the message I want you to take from all of this is that freedom is not something we take lightly. Those who went before us fought and died for our freedom and there are people now still doing the same thing. We need to never forget what happened and to remember those people and their families in our thoughts daily. The opposite of love is fear and the opposite of hate is compassion.  May you always walk in love and compassion. ILY – Mom

Please share your comments below, thoughts and experiences below.

Day 17: Multiple Paths and Convergence of Knowledge

In Buddhism, the tradition of chanting is a method for preparing the mind to meditate. A few months back we toured The Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Singapore and as we heard this chanting in the background we gathered around our tour guide. “Now we are going to walk now into the hall of the creator of my future The Buddha,” she said. I thought that her words were such a fascinating way to explain a power greater than ourselves.

We proceeded to the garden on the roof where she explained the core principles of the faith and that in Buddhism there is not belief in one supreme-being, but that the universe is The Supreme Being. It is not male or female, good or bad because there is no name that can explain that kind of omnipotence. It’s essence is everywhere. We walked clockwise around the prayer wheel three times, expressing thanks and asking for special intentions. While exiting the prayer wheel she went on to say;

“It’s the destination it’s not the road. Religions are just roads that lead us to the destination so whichever road you take it still leads you there it doesn’t matter what you believe in. The path is not constant or persistent so that which is the way which can be described as not the true way” -Lim Lin

In our Executive MBA program, the concept of consilience is brought up often. One of my professors explains it as different ideas jumping around together to form a comprehensive theory based on facts. This concept demonstrates there are multiple ways to come to the same answer and as leaders we strive for consilient thinking. It isn’t about being right or wrong, but rather being open to possibilities because often, there are many.

In Taoism the word “way,” also means path or principle. The belief is “the way is not the true way” which is the idea that we don’t need to search outside of ourselves for truth or meaning because it is right in front of us and within us. It always has been.

Please share your thoughts below.

Three things I am grateful for:

  1. Freedom
  2.  Faith and spirituality
  3. This journey that helps me strive for consilient thinking

Day 13: Excercise Freedom of Expression Today: #Hoodiesup Movement

21 days to happiness: My story and 3 things I am thankful for:

Today the NAACP, Move-On.Org and Changeforcolor.Org have teamed up to declare social media #Millionhoodies #Hoodiesup day, an online demonstration to encourage people in to post a million pictures wearing a hoodie to honor  Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teen killed by a neighborhood watch man George Zimmerman, after he was told by a 911 operator, to stop following Trayvon.

The dialogue in the media and online is controversial. Some have mistakenly categorized Trayvon’s death as an issue about black and white, but I assure you it has to do with far more. This tragic event, for many people in this country, is about perception, bias, race, judgement, assumptions, our history as a country, a flawed legal system, the media and more.

In 1983, one of my best friends was brutally murdered and her killer served just 5 years. It left us all asking; “Why?” So  many years later I think of her regularly and the death of Trayvon Martin last month has stirred emotions for me as a result of that loss. But also because I am a parent of a kid just like Trayvon. Yes, I will repeat. I am a parent of a child just like Trayvon.

Think about that for a minute and let it soak in and then put yourself in my shoes for just ten seconds. I must have productive and honest conversations about the ugly realities of race and judgement with my son because of the color of his skin and I want him to embrace all facets of his multiculturalism.  I also think it is important he is aware that there are some people who are not color-blind and there are logical arguments that the best approach is to have dialogue about it. The sad and ugly truth is that in our country social and racial injustice happen every day.

Think about the sound of anxiety in your child’s voice when an issue about race suddenly becomes real for them. And then at another time, how would you respond when your child shares fear of getting shot because of their skin color and what they have seen in the media?

I reach out to communities who understand my reality. They provide insight about having these conversations regarding perception and judgement in teachable, healthy and productive ways. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t get angry, sad or frustrated sometimes. What we live, we teach, so I focus on what I can control, which are my responses and faith that integrity wins out every time. I try to keep the following speech front of mind, because it’s how I want to interact with every person I meet.

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

                                                                      -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are people who don’t know how to have complicated conversations like the one I am discussing. As you can see from an interview I gave a while back with my friend Amy Bowllan, a blogger at The School Library Journal in a series called; “Writers Against Racism,” there is a dysfunctional old school of thought that implies “If we don’t name it, it can’t exist.”  It is unjust, but it happens and every day the social undertones that go unspoken and are often misunderstood. As a parent and a compassionate human being, I am sad and shaken to the core about what happened to Trayvon.

We have had ongoing, complicated conversations in our family about the ugly realities of prejudice and racism. Through those discussions and having a strong support network, I emphasize that there is power in choices. We work towards being living examples of what is right and what is possible. The only way to plant seeds of hope and peace is to open conversation.

I believe that silence condones approval, which is what drove me to write this post. As part of this movement, they are asking we change our profile pictures on Twitter and Facebook using description  hashtags #hoodiesup and #millionhoodies (instructions below) so it can be tracked via social media monitoring tools. Here is how you can make a difference. 

  • Talk to kids about it to give them assurance and guidance. Use the Huffington Post article How To Talk To Your Child About Trayvon Martin’s Death to have productive dialogue
  • Join the conversation and tell me your thoughts and comments below.
  • Tweet, blog, comment on various social media forums using hashtags #hoodiesup and #millionhoodies
  • “Like” the Facebook Group A Million Hoodies For Trayvon Martin
  • Change your profile pictures on Twitter and Facebook using description  hashtags #hoodiesup and #millionhoodies so it can be tracked via social media monitoring tools.

Four things I am grateful for:

  1. In this country we have freedom of expression. I recently spent time in South East Asia where this is often not an option.
  2. Adversity pulls us together as communities and individuals. It takes one person to make a difference. Will you make yours today?
  3. We have access to tools and resources to facilitate conversation about challenging situations like this
  4.  Being a parent of a terrific kid

Day 12: Permission to Relax, Play, Have Fun and Trust

21 days to happiness: My story and 3 things I am thankful for: 

Life gets complicated and sometimes we need to give ourselves a break so recently I decided to saunter out to Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America for a day of family fun.  We were waiting in line to get on the bumper cars and my mind was wandering. As I stood there looking at my child, I was pulled into the present moment and thought about how life can pass us by so quickly because there is always so much to do.  I was flooded with memories about the childhood adrenaline that would rush through my body waiting in line for rides as a youngster myself.

When I was 11, a new amusement park opened up about 15 miles from our house and it was a one admission (probably $9-10 per person) and free rides all day kind of place.

There was a dad in the neighborhood, who planted seeds of work ethic, fun and pay-off by striking up a deal with all of us (10-15 kids who lived on the block.)  If we could save up enough money to pay admission price over the summer, he would take all of us to Valley Fair. We accepted and could not wait to go.

It was a group effort  and there was no “score-keeping’ about who raised parts of which money. From early spring to summer, we would babysit, collect aluminum cans for recycling (at a penny a can), sell our old toys and set up lemonade stands constantly. For a few years we consistently met our goals and had some extra spending money for food and games. It was a blast and in addition to teaching us some important values, the reminiscence helped me create the memory of that same kind of fun with my own kid at Nickelodeon Universe.

😉

So the point of this post is that more often than not, we need to not take ourselves too seriously. Give yourself permission to have fun. How are you going to relax, play, laugh and trust good things will come from it today?

Three things I am grateful for today:

  1. That I get to have fun, be spontaneous, reach into obscurity, grab hold of new ideas and discover something better
  2. The gift of parenthood, the insight it provides and that it makes me a better human being
  3. Mr. H, the lessons he taught and the gifts it gave us   

Day 9: Then is Now: Letting Go of Resentment

21 days to happiness: My story and 3 things I am thankful for: 

Years ago I attended personal growth and leadership seminars by Earnie Larsen, who used the analogy of “Who is driving your bus?” to illustrate how people hold on to resentments and that often, “then is now.” So let me give you an example of what he meant by that.

When Johnny was 7 years old, his parents were constantly at odds and one day, while they were fighting, he began screaming at them to stop, started sobbing and ran outside. No one came to console him, apologize or explain the argument was not about him.

It broke a part of his spirit and sample messages he could have carried from that might be “love hurts, nobody listens to me anyway, I will never allow others to be that much in control again,” etc.

Now, what if we put that seven-year old’s outdated lie in charge of driving his life (aka bus) for 50 years? Who is behind the wheel? That is an awful lot of years of pain and false data from which he establishes his viewpoint. The reality is, his parents were probably young and just trying to figure things out themselves, but that was not what he took from the experience.

Examples like this play out every day at home and at work. As leaders,we manage people with various backgrounds and social styles. Perhaps if we keep stories like the one above in mind, it can help us incorporate emotional intelligence and compassion into our professional environments in ways that are healthy. Intent, usually comes from the right place and situations are not always as they seem at first glance.

Hanging on to resentment is a painful form of abuse that prevents us from having self-compassion, but all too often, we may not even realize we are clinging to a given injustice. That resistance gets us emotionally jammed and a majority of people do not have any idea how to get unstuck.

One solution? “And acceptance is the answer to all of my problems today.”  Someone once told me there are four stages that shine in the face of love. They are:

  1. Allowing
  2. Acceptance
  3. Approval
  4. Appreciation

These four things are at the core of who we are when we are born. What if we made it our goal to live these principles in every aspect of our lives daily as a way to get back to our core being? Including loving all of our resentments and saying yes, accepting the things we can’t control. What if this was your personal growth homework? What have you got to lose? Try it for a few days and let me know how it works for you. Who is driving your bus today?

Three things I am grateful for today:

  1. The process of allowing, acceptance, approval and appreciation.
  2. The idea that “If you don’t give yourself any options, you don’t have any choices.” There is always another way, we get to seek the counsel of others to help us with that.
  3. That I have learned how to give myself permission to let go of old resentments and lies
%d bloggers like this: