My Pride…A Breath of Fresh Air

My Pride

Time it is such a precious idea, we’re always rushing through it, not paying attention to it. Yet there are those moments when time seems to slow, and the world shines a little brighter.

This moment in time is now for me, in a place that all around the world want to be, the warm sun, the the ocean and the fun. I connect….with a family that people only see on TV or their dreams. Time it slows, if just for this moment, I want to soak in all of the love and energy.

Times…..like when I walk into the frosty arena…the smell of hockey….the lost memories of me…..the excitement in the air….and I walk in with my best friend….My brother….

As we walk in, I feel a sense of pride, he is everything a big brother could ever wish for his younger….An amazing father, a kind heart, a leader, a warm smile. He makes me proud, and I am blessed to walk in and coach with him. He is one of many in my families pride.

The leader of our pride high above on mountain top, the heavenly air flowing through his mane, chest high, head up, as he sees his young thriving and striving in his honor. There is a reason Lion families are called prides, and I believe…it’s moments like these, when PRIDE….is the only word to explain.

The Lioness of our pride, she is with us too, time again slows, just for these moments…she….she is the heart of our pride. Teaching her lions to be proud, to care for the world, seeing greatness in them both. She inspires her young to be the leaders of their pride. Its at this moment that I glance over and my momma lion is radiating happiness. She is with her pride and nothing makes her happier.

Our Pride is large, but our Pride is apart….tonight our Pride connects….with a part that was thought to be out there, but missing. She spent her early years with another Pride, gaining strength, loved and cared for, she felt the strength to search, with the support of her strong new pride she went out looking, needing to find her other home. Then she found us….a day that took our pride to another level.

For this Lion, I have to say it was a special connection. One that goes deep, talking for hours about life, about our trials and tribulations. Time, what a wonderful idea….especially in moments like these.

Her lioness joining her tonight, a cub coming into her own. She was my breathe of fresh air, a strong cub, not following the herd of sheep all around. Believing in the real, and not the digital world most prides are lost in. A smile that lights up ever room she walks into, a the power of her words…she reminds this Lion of himself….Pride!!!!!

Time…So precious….spend it wisely, for all to often our time spent is time lost to what? Emptiness, unhappiness, be wise, take pride. For this is my PRIDE:

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Our Broken Schools

 

Empty School

Expectations, meet the benchmarks, graduate, go to college, be successful, all things that we say to students from the inner cities to rural ones. Yet, as a nation we do not prepare our youth for tomorrow. Their education is a cookie cutter, the same for all, which makes no sense given that no human being is the same. We have not changed our ways of educating in over 100 years.

It is time we evolve, as a nation to prepare for our future, as every great nation in our worlds history has risen and eventually fallen. I believe that we are on that path down, no longer the greatest nation in the world. We may have the largest military, the most might, but without education, we will fall, and the decent has begun.

To change our educational institution does not mean, cutting funding for Public Education or diverting the money to charter and private schools. That mistake was made here in Michigan, and was lead by Mrs. DeVos, our schools here have suffered, going from top 10 to bottom third. The schools in the inner city have completely crumbled, causing neighborhoods to become ghost towns, Schools becoming empty buildings home to drugs and violence. Students having to find their way to school on streets that are unsafe, buses that are unreliable. Girls carrying weapons in their purses because they are fearful of men assaulting them. Neighborhoods filled with blight, creating fright, kids needs unmet, both at home and in school. Little water to drink, kids dehydrated, hungry, and in survival mode….

Teachers are frustrated, wanting to raise the bar, but the floor keeps falling. Kids are failing, kids are scrambling, and not learning. WHY? It must be the teachers, right? They are not taking care of business, they are not teaching and leading…right? Or maybe it is the administrators that create poor curriculums, are leading teachers, aren’t providing resources….right?

I am sorry for what I am about to say, but the bottom line is this is absolute BULL SHIT! There is a reason that as a nations our highest ranking in core subjects is 24th out of 71 industrialized countries. We are failing our youth and have been for some time now. Tick…Tick…Tick….the clock is running out! We need to make changes NOW!

As I stated in my blog post titled “Education MUST Change.” our Secondary system should be the focus of the change. Starting in 6th grade and running through 12th, so that when students leave High School they are college AND career ready. Schools that claim their kids are College AND Career ready are painfully off base. Students do not know how to create resumes, cover letters, they do not know how to find jobs, how to interview and worse yet, how to keep their jobs. Business language is not taught, Problem-solving is severely lacking in most schools, budgeting is absent all together. This is not even considering the emotional well being of our youth today. School Counselors and Social Workers are misused, their pushing paper rather than building stronger mindsets.

I am identifying the problem, but I am also proposing ways to change. Point out our problems is not all that difficult, but I am solutions based, so here is what we need to do:

Middle School: See Article: “Education MUST Change”

Additions to Middle School Education:

  • Introduction to Problem Solving: 7th or 8th grade
  • Developing Coping Skills 7th and/or 8th grade
  • School cultures must incorporate building mindsets…building on students skill sets, and helping them expand those skills sets, not forcing one way on all.

High School:

  • Students enter High School with a strong academic and career plan based on their placement during their middle school years.
  • Each student would be placed in the skill set pathway (Working with People, things, ideas, or data)
  • 9th grade would have some cross over through pathways
  • 9th grade classes would focus more or theories, practical uses for core subjects as they relate relate to their pathway.
  • 10th grade – 12th grade Students would work collaboratively, starting Project Based Activities just as their do in the Working world. Pathways would overlap as they do in their given fields.
  • Students would be required to present their projects to the school and the community.
  • Businesses would sponsor their given pathways. Providing mentorship, Job Shadowing opportunities, and actual job experience in the summer time.
  • Students would be required to take Problem Solving as it relates to their pathway, as well as business communications and public speaking.
  • Health and Wellness classes would be provided, so students would learn to eat properly, learn how what we eat effects what we do.
  • Trauma care would be provided in every school, teaching students ways to cope with personal struggles. Giving them ways to build the emotional well-being, creating self sufficient young adults.

These are just a few of the proposed solutions I have for the educational system as a whole. My goal is to create my own 6-12 School system. Providing our youth with real opportunities and preparing them for a Global Economy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tick…Tick…Tick

Time in a blinkTick…Tick…Tick

Time passing us by…

Where does it go?

The sands of time slipping through my fingers,

and now it’s gone.

Tick…Tick…Tick

My time spent doing what?

Scrolling through an endless web of social…media…

Yet, Not having a….Social….life….

So focused on….what….?

Tick…Tick…Tick

The cost of time lost…

My happiness…My Pride….My Prime….

What am I doing, where am I going…

It’s almost time.

Tick…Tick…Tick

Time it’s closing in,

I scramble and cram,

I panic and blame.

Feelings of fear…Anger…frustration…

Surging through my soul.

Tick…Tick…Tick…

Fear of failure crashing down,

Pointing fingers all around,

looking to place blame…

Knowing it really lies in me,

Shame.

Tick…Tick…DING!!!!

What I could’ve,

What I should’ve,

What I didn’t.

Tick…Tick…Tick…

My time is not over,

I CAN…I WILL…I MUST….

Time…It keeps passing…Are YOU?

Pain….When will it end?

When will it end Pain

Each day I wake is a struggle to move without pain, I am tired, I am exhausted. I cannot remember the last time I felt no pain. Maybe 25 years ago? It was so long ago, I really have no idea what being pain free or even sore free is like.

As an Athlete I was always taught to fight through the pain, grind it out! So that is what I have done for the last 25 years, I can, I will, I must has been my mindset. That was until someone corrected me and said you cannot fight pain, you can’t stab it, or kill it. That really got thinking about  the way I need to approach this problem. Stop fighting it! Well damn that is easier said then done, as I have always been a warrior and now fighting may not be the best way. So how then? I know I cannot continue as I am now, the pain is constant, always more than a 5 out 10 and many times goes up to 7 or 8.

There are nights like tonight that I just feel like crying, but I don’t, and I really do not know why? I do not think that it is not manly, or a sign of weakness, I believe that shedding tears helps to deal with the traumas we experience, yet here I am, down, tired, frustrated, feeling an whelming sadness inside, and no tears, just pain.

Pain that runs through me from my neck to my toes. A cold, stabbing, searing pain that pulses down my spine. A grabbing and stabbing pain through my right leg, pulling me to the ground. Then there is the constant ache that never goes away, gnawing on me like a rat gnawing on a chicken bone. My lower back and my right leg down to about the knee is in a constant state of ache.

So I lie in bed, writing, listening to music, pondering ways to overcome this battle, can’t fight it, right? Can I out think it? I know our brains are incredibly powerful, capable of things seemingly unimaginable. Meditation? Hmm. I have tried it, but the wall I keep running into is that wall of pain. I hit it hard and have trouble staying focused on anything other than the pain. I take deep slow breathes, count to six breath in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6….Breathe out 1,2,3,4,5,6. Feel ing the air flow through my body, then letting the negative  leave my body. Then there is the jolting pain that pulls me back, takes me out of focus. I need to get better at mediating, but I also have to explore other possible solutions.

So Wednesday night I am seeing a therapist to help me deal with my pain, it is one avenue that I have not pursued much. We will be working with a new technique called brain spotting. It is a way for me to deal with the many traumas my body has gone through, with the culminating point being my accident, which I have really never addressed fully in therapy or really in any forum.

The more I learn about trauma and how it effects our bodies and minds, the more I see that I must deal with the accident, the surgeries, the pain, the loss of….well, a part of me. Stop fighting it, release it!

STOP FIGHTING PAIN….RELEASE THE TRAUMA….

 

They Say I Can’t….Are they right?

They say you can’t, they say you won’t. Do you listen, do you believe in what you are hearing? We are so powerful, our brains, our minds, the energy available to us in this universe, what is impossible?

That is the question, but the answer is not always as easy as “Just do it”!  There are a lot of factors that go into overcoming the negativity. The old addige “fake it till you make it”, works for some, but by no means does it work for all, maybe not even most. So what do you do when faking it doesn’t work?

You must step aside and understand that your perspective may not be enough, because you may not be able to see the root cause of your struggles. Asking for help is strength. Looking for guidance and differing perspectives is strength. If you want to over come the barrier which lies in front of you, put down your ego, and ask for help.

Much of why we do what we do lies in our past, from things we were taught, to traumas we went through. To bring these out it requires work on our part, a willingness to get guidance from a trained professional, not because we are “Broken”, but because we are “Human”. To grow, we must reflect, see ourselves from different perspectives, and to take  it all together and build on our existing foundation.

Building takes work, it takes a strong will to fight through the storm especially during the darkest times. This is when the story you tell yourself makes or breaks you. If you believe  what others have told you, that you can’t, then you won’t. During your work on the foundation, you should be rewriting your story, from I think I can, or maybe I can’t, to I know I can.

To overcome these barriers, you must fight the negative, check it, correct it and make your dream a reality. Get rid of words like, I’ll try, I think I can, maybe, never. They will all keep you from reaching your goals. It is a process and it takes work, but the way I look at life is sometimes I win….Sometimes I Learn….But I always grow!

To overcome barriers, you must make it a life style, not just a thing you say, but a way of life.

More to come on overcoming

 

Truth? In Search of….

Truth, what is it really? We as a human race are always in search of the truth, what is fact and what is fiction? It is defined (n) as the quality or state of being.  A fact or belief that is accepted as true. Yet, the question still has to be asked, the truth we know, is it really true? What is fact? I think that most can agree that basic math is seen as truth, 2 plus 2 will always be 4 right?

Think about Galileo and the beliefs that came before him, that the Earth was the center of the solar system (Geocentric model). He believed something completely different from their truth, he believed in the Heliocentric model, having the sun at the center of the solar system. His view was seen as foolish and absurd by the Roman Inquisition that was put in charge of investigating. After the investigation Galileo was tried by the Inquisition and found to be “vehemently suspect of heresy”. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest, because of truth?

There are many stories like this, where people questioned the masses and were later found to be correct…so again I ask, what is truth? I believe truth is what YOU believe it to be! What does this mean and how can understanding that truth is perception (in most cases) benefit us?

Think about every argument you’ve had in your life, were you right? Even when you won the argument were you right? My experience is that no one is ever right or wrong, most times they are both. Which means that if we change our thinking, open our minds and take down some of our defenses, we can grow, learn and have a much greater opportunity at finding what is closest to truth.

Ask yourself, “Is there a chance, no matter how small, that what I believe to be truth is not true?” “Could there be another way at looking at this situation?” If the answer is yes, then you owe it to yourself to listen and hear a different perspective. Not an easy thing to do, to stop your own thinking and question your perspective.

QUESTION EVERYTHING DIG DEEPER

 

ENERGY….Connected

This amazing universe is made of energy, from the farthest galaxies right down to the most basic element. Everything we see is….ENERGY…….the trees as they sway in the night breeze, the rain drops falling from the sky, you and I….

We are all connected by this amazing energy, yet so unconnected to ourselves and the world around us. The energy is there, every where, can’t always see it, can’t always feel it, but it is there. Sometimes we stumble across this power, and it staggers us, it almost startles us, because it is so far from the norm.

We are taught that we are individuals and our American Society has abused that idea, we NEED one another, we need to love and care for each other, not try to win as individuals. When we are “One” we are unconnected, we are the lone wolf trying to survive without the pack.

I am not sure if this happens to anyone else, but when I talk to certain people, or Im in certain places, I can feel myself expanding exponentially, connecting with energy so untapped. It is an amazing feeling and one that is hard to explain.

It’s like when I am wading out into the dark Michigan Lake waters on a clear and starry night, I feel this connection to everything and everyone. It is like a swirling ball of energy surging through my nerves. I feel the energy in the water, the electricity pulsing through the cool summer breeze, it goes through me and keeps on going from one object to the next….I can feel it in my soul, feel each objects energy, its power, and its connection to me.

We are all connected this way, connected through this unseen highway of flowing warmth, of radiant essence, and never ending freedom. It is there right before us, if we would just open ourselves; the world we  see would shine in ecstasy.

I feel that energy as I write, connected through thousands of miles of energy, connected to a source more powerful than me, for I am not alone. I can feel your energy, your breeze, your summer warmth, the chill in the air on a cold winters morning. It all is running through me. I can feel the energy of people, the ones close and the ones far, as if they were here, as if they were one. I can feel those that have past, they are here, I can feel them, their infinite energy touching my soul.

Energy….Connected! WOW!

 

The Strong can show weakness

I have come to realize that no matter who you are, what you have been through, and how strong you may appear to be, we all have moments in time when we are not strong. It is so important to recognize this fact….People are strong, but we are allowed to be sad, to show cracks in our armor, to cry and feel vulnerable. ALL ARE OKAY! NECESSARY! No human is perfect, not even close, so when you see or listen to a professional speaker and they are all pumped, full of energy and talking the talk, there are also times when that same person is the one listening, watching or asking for motivation. They are down at times,  feel vulnerable, or scared, its normal and ok.

A quote by CS Lewis says it well, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny.” Everyone goes through hardships, everyone struggles, some more than others, but we all do, and it is not like if I went through them in my younger days Im done, nope! Once I solve one problem, there’s always many others I haven’t and new ones that present themselves. Some problems are easier to solve because we have experienced similar ones in the past and learned, but there are also new ones that come at us and knock us on our asses!

It’s  when we fall and struggle to rise that we begin to question our own strength. “I have always been strong, but I feel defeated now, I just don’t understand it. I do not know what to do, or even how to begin the process of rising again.” The bottom line is, we ALL do this, even the strongest of the strong, have moments of doubt, times of vulnerability. What separates people is what we do NOW!

If no action is taken to change the state we are in, we will continue in that state until something acts upon us, or we ACT! There is NO quick fix, everything takes time, everything takes effort on our part, we have to share and talk so others can help and support. Asking for help, talking to people that care is NOT a sign of weakness, but truly a sign of strength.

So if you are questioning yourself, “Am I really as strong as I thought?” The answer is YES!!!!!! Reach out, step up, and rise at your own pace, but rise and you WILL SHINE!

 

Working in Detroit Public Schools

I have been working at Osborn College Preparatory Academy for 3 years now and I have loved every moment! I have learned so much from this city, this school and the Osborn Students. I have watched these young people struggle through things that  most kids will not even have nightmares about, let alone experience. Yet, they come, they work, they survive!

That is the word I want to focus on right now, survival. Many of our students are in this mode all the time, they are struggling not because they are not smart, or because they do not care, but because they want to survive. I believe kids will do well if they can, and when they can’t something is blocking them. Many times for these kids it has to do with trauma, or unmet needs that are out of their control.

I know that test scores are important to the state and the federal governments, but the reality is our definition of what is causing the low test score is not correct! I do not believe it is about our teachers, I know, because the teachers in my building are excellent! There is no question that they are professionals, they care, and they challenge our students.

There are legitimate complaints though, about the conditions of the buildings and the lack of resources. Yet, these are not the root problem, they are a part of it, like a tree that is dying, and the bark is falling off. The problem does not lie in the bark, but under the grass and soil in the root of the tree. 

The root of the tree as it pertains to the youth of Detroit, are the traumas they have been through, as well as the the physiological, safety and love and belonging needs going unmet more times than not. This relates to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and the 3 brain model, when needs go unmet or a student has suffered through childhood trauma’s their ability to learn and produce are severely compromised. The bottom line is a majority of students that I work with are going through one or both of the aforementioned. Learning is secondary for them, not because it is not important, but because survival is more important.

What I see, What I experience while working with these youth, is power, strength, resilience, and a grit that is needed in our country today. They are extremely intelligent and capable of achieving great things in this world, but our educational system and our societies oppress these youth and I am tired of watching greatness slip through the cracks because of ignorance or lack of defining the true problem.

It is my belief, that if we were to address the real issue, focusing on mental health, healing trauma, providing the same resources of water, shelter, safety, love and belonging to these students, the change would be significant. We would see higher test scores, higher graduation rates, more students moving on to a post-secondary education, and would be productive members of society. Behaviors would improve, suspensions and expulsions would decrease, and the  City would rise on the backs of our youth.

One plan that we are working on through Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates and the University of Michigan Dearborn is to create a Trauma Induced Care School, where we build a strong foundation for the youth. Teaching, educating and dealing with the traumas in their lives. We will bring in counselors, social workers, and mentors to build a community of support. 

The second tier, will be tutors, mentors, and businesses to help build our students academically. To help truly make them college and career ready. The hope is that the students will be working throughout the year on understanding and building a strong self, in combination with academic support and career exploration through career pathways.

The third tier being career exploration, where students will begin to look at careers, colleges, and scholarship opportunities that will guide them towards their goals. We will encourage students to aim high,expect great things and work!

The Day I Died

It was a cold December Morning, I was coming out of my last class of the semester and I was living on a cloud. I had just received my grades and I had achieved a 3.75 G.P.A., I had done it! You have to understand that throughout my high school career grades were not my thing, in fact, I believed “I was dumb as a sack of rocks”,  and my grades proved it; graduating with a whopping 1.8 GPA overall.

So my friend and I walked out of that building with an amazing sense of pride and accomplishment! He looked at me and said, let’s go celebrate! Those were the last words I spoke to anyone, before that fateful moment….

BOOOOOOMMMMMM – searing pain, and coldness is all I felt. My car had been hit nearly head on by a fully loaded car transport carrying a full load of pick-up trucks traveling well above the posted speed of 45mph. Witnesses said the truck was probably traveling 60-70mph trying to make the light.

The driver of the van which I landed on, recalled the event, saying he had a feeling I was going to turn. He saw the car in front of me (my friend) go and cut it close, my car followed and was not so lucky. He said he remember the sound and then saw the bottom of my car coming towards him. He ducked and my car crushed the middle-front section of the van and slid off.

I was thrown through the windshield, the engine crushing my right leg keeping me in the car. I laid there in a pool of my own blood, slowly slipping away into darkness. People said there was this man that came onto the scene, he said he was an off duty EMT, they said he spoke to me, kept me somewhat conscious and alive. When police and fire arrived he disappeared. I believe this was my guardian angel, my Grandfather that past away when I was 2.

The next 30 minutes alterer my thinking forever! While in the ambulance I coded once and the paramedics were able to revive me. The next time I coded, I was in the hospital waiting outside the operating room…I remember floating above my body, looking down and seeing tubes, and nurses around me, I remember hearing voices, but not being able to make out the words. My face was was shredded, like a bear had swung it’s giant claws across my face, the skin that was visible was flat white, with a grayish tint. I felt a pull and then it was dark……

What happened next is very hard to explain, hard to put into words that make sense, I was in this pathway with my life on one side and knowledge of life on the other. (Again, this is hard to explain) The story I was seeing was so far from what I had been taught as a Christian.

I was seeing levels and levels of life, the best way to explain what I was seeing is to say that our spirits go through schooling, just  like us, and this life we are in is just a grade for our soul or spirit to learn from and grow. To truly know something we must experience it ourselves.

What I saw next was breathe taking, it was a ball of energy, bluish in color with rays of energy emanating from every part of the ball. I believe this ballot energy was God and all of the rays were individual lives. It was at this point I felt the pull, it was not my time, I had to return…but I did not want to, the feeling was too powerful, too free, there was no pain, no worries. I felt like what I imagine an eagle feels as it glides through the air on a beautiful sunny summer day over Lake Michigan. Freedom, peace, alive!!!!

Then Darkness once again…..8 days later I would wake, in pain, in fear and uncertain of anything…..It would take time for me to process what I had been through during my death and the above is part of what I went through…..