Sunday, May 31, 2015

Explode or Implode: The Building is Still Coming Down #Stress

I visited New Orleans over an extended Memorial Day weekend and took so much from my four day stay.  Despite my 20 or 30-something visits to The Big Easy, for the first time I got to interact with the locals and see a side I've never seen before.  I had plenty of cajun/creole cooking, took a steamboat ride down the Mississippi River, enjoyed a Second Line band, and more.

However, one thing really stood out to me on my trip was a visit to a church on that Sunday morning.  The pastor's sermon fell in line with one of my recent blog posts called "The Burden of the Stress Catcher".  It was as if he was speaking directly to me.  Needless to say, I was very attentive and could identify with almost every point he was making.

He talked about how people who are relied upon the most are usually the last to receive help themselves.  I thought about how often I come to the aid of people for so many things.  Most of them are small contributions, but they're contributions all the same.  I do it for the "thank you's" because I really don't expect much else from people other than that.

Although those who know me well would probably jokingly disagree, I am human.  I have feelings.  I deal with problems and turmoil in life.  But I rarely feel like I'm able to express those feelings to anyone.  Most people in my life are so used to me being "the strong one" that they rarely notice (or care) that something is bothering me.  And even if they get an inclination that something is wrong, they may ask "what's wrong?", but if I say "nothing" because I'm uncomfortable discussing it at that time then the conversation pretty much ends there.

One thing that I do better than anyone that I know is read people.  I know what makes people tick and I use that to determine their moods.  Being able to see that someone is in need of something coupled with my willingness to help people almost compels me to step in and try to make things better when things are bad.  I always want to help fix the problem.  The downside is that I know that person won't be there for me in the same capacity or will let me down in an attempt to do so.  Yet I still put forth the effort to brighten their day.

7 days a week I've done this since as long as I can remember.  In work life or home life I'm making someone smile.  I'll see that someone appears to be down and I may compliment them to cheer them up.  I'll notice someone with a confused look and I'll ask questions to see if I can help.  You can't help everyone, but it's comforting to them to know that someone at least thought enough of them to try.

Someone once told me that is the reason I have no known enemies.  Because I've probably helped them, too, in some shape, form, or fashion.  Yet to express how I feel, blogging is the safest venue for me to vent.  It prevents me from potentially offending anyone, or having to listen to unsolicited advice, or avoid having someone try and one-up my problems with one of their own.  The latter I encounter regularly because I'm supposed to be "the strong one," right?  My problems don't matter.  Some people seem to think that I can deal with my problems on my own so they gloss over mine and present me theirs.

Despite all of my rantings, I'm not without loved ones.  There are people in my life who care for me and want to see me happy.  It's unfair of me to expect them to read my moods as easily as I read theirs.  You have to really be in tune with people to realize that something is off and my personality is  difficult to figure out.

I maintain a positive attitude because that is what keeps me going.  I can be extremely sad or mad and not always show it because I don't like for either of those emotions to dominate my life for long periods of time.  To not be that way is to rely on society to bail me out of my bad feelings and I can't take a chance on them accepting that challenge.  Even when I'm "not feeling myself" people would assume that I'm simply just tired before they would assume that I'm stressed.  And even if I did open up to someone, would they be unbiased or would they be judgmental?  I usually encounter one if not both when presenting problems to people.  That's why it's easier to keep certain things to myself and figure it out on my own.

But, the one thing the pastor said on Sunday that really resonated with me was this: "Regardless if it explodes or implodes, the building is still coming down.  Let it out."  He was referring to keeping stress pinned up inside of ourselves.  Either you can explode in anger or allow it to slowly kill you inside, but either way your temple will be destroyed.

I've got to work on preserving my temple.  Just a few weeks ago I posted about how I've embraced being people's"stress catcher" over the years and now I'm realizing that someone needs to catch mine now and then!

I've got to stop allowing my happiness to be dictated by other people's happiness.  I have to find more people I trust enough to ask for help when I need someone to listen to me.  I've got to stop getting the short end of the stick and focus on myself before "my building" starts to crumble.  Because although I'm looking out for others, others aren't always looking out for me.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Do You Even Know Why Blacks are Angry?

(This is based on a statement given on my radio show a few weeks ago..)

As of late, the country has been focused on the city of Baltimore. However, very few are talking about how a man died and the police's role, if any, in his death. Instead we are pounded with video and photos of rioting. I've stated on my show numerous times before that I'm against rioting. I said that I didn't agree with rioters tearing up their own cities.

That was back during the Trayvon Martin trial. Since then we've seen the following:

Victor White III, 22, Iberia Parish, La.—March 22, 2014 The coroner says he shot himself while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser.

Eric Garner, 43, New York, N.Y.—July 17, 2014 Choked to death by a cop while being restrained by other officers.  Famously known as the "I can't breathe" killing.

John Crawford III, 22, Beavercreek, Ohio—August 5, 2014 Crawford was fatally shot while carrying a pellet gun in a Wal-Mart. The gun was unsold merchandise and out of its package. A man named Ronald Ritchie told 911 that he looked like he was pointing it at people, but a month later he admitted that Crawford was not pointing the gun at people. Aftermath: No indictment.

Michael Brown, 18, Ferguson, Mo.—August 9, 2014 By now my line of thinking is swaying a bit. I said on the air that I don't condone rioting, but I would understand it more if people rioted in the communities of the oppressors instead of their own communities. 

Ezell Ford, 25, Los Angeles, Calif.—August 12, 2014 Ford was shot by police who were conducting "an investigative stop." " A struggle ensued," read the LAPD's news release. Ford's family members say he was lying down when shot. Aftermath: The LAPD, which hasn't closed the investigation into Ford's death, put an indefinite "investigative hold" on the coroner's autopsy report to prevent witness testimony from being tainted.

Tamir Rice, 12, Cleveland, Ohio—Nov. 22, 2014 Officer Tim Loehmann shot and killed Rice, who was holding a BB gun, seconds after spotting him at a park. This is after a 911 caller told dispatch that they believed that the kid was carrying a toy gun and not a real one.

Rumain Brisbon, 34, Phoenix, Ariz.—Dec. 2, 2014 Brisbon, an unarmed black father of four, was shot to death in when a police officer apparently mistook his bottle of pills for a gun. Aftermath: Pending.

Baltimore, MD then hits the scene with a man who died from serious injuries sustained during an arrest. My stance: I still do not condone rioting. But, for the first time, I understand it. I understand that people have reached a boiling point. Too many unarmed black people are dying at the hands of cops without investigations that make you feel the slightest bit of confidence in the justice system.

Do unarmed white people get shot by police? I'm sure that they do. They probably get shot more than black people because there are a lot more white people than black people in this country. The odds favor that. However, does the media report it when it happens? Absolutely not. It's not going to get the reaction and ratings as much as an unarmed black person being shot.

Those who know me know that I'm not one to complain unless I have a solution. Did everyone that I named above either commit a crime, tried to run from the police, or tried to resist arrest? Just about all of them did at least one if not all of those things. That still doesn't give the police the right to shoot them like dogs in the streets though.  However, for those who did either one of those three things, they do have some responsibility in what happened. Now, I'm not talking about the wrong place/wrong time victims. I'm talking about the people who had opportunities to comply and chose not to do so.

My plea to those black men out there now who may get stopped by police: if you comply then you may get a chance to live. You may not be doing anything wrong, but try to stay alive first and save the arguing for the courts.  Ice Cube once rapped that he would rather be "judged by 12 than carried by 6."  In other words, let a jury decide your fate rather than take matters in your own hands and later be carried by pall bearers.  There's no sense in being right if you're dead right.

Next, the police. The ones who are sworn to "protect and serve." I know that you all are scared. If you're scared then quit. Policing is not for you. It's just that simple. Learn how to take subjects down without your gun being a first resort. There are too many weapons from rubber bullets and salt pellets to pepper spray and tasers that you can use to take people down. Even if someone runs from you or even swings on you, you don't have a right to kill them. They may even deserve to be roughed up and society may even be better off to be rid of them. But, that's not up to you as a cop. That's up to a jury. You're not Judge Dredd.

And lastly, the media. You took a city of 400,000 black people in Baltimore and painted the picture that every last one of them is burning the city down. Let's be honest: out of those 400,000 black people there may have been 500 or so rioting? To be generous let's say there were a thousand rioting. 

Don't act like .0025 of the black population is representing all black people. Especially you, FOX News! 

There are a lot of people trying to peacefully protest yet they always seem to escape your cameras. There are Twitter photos taken by white people of white people looting convenience stores, but those photos don't represent what the media wants conveyed to the public.

As long as black people are portrayed as the boogeyman the more a cop would prefer to shoot one rather than take a chance to see what his real intent is. We've spent days watching videos of cops vs. Black Baltimore. People are criticizing the rioters. People are criticizing those who are criticizing the rioters.

No one is asking the question: why are they so mad? Why are cops so scared? Why is Freddie Gray dead?

I'm guessing a some of you didn't even know his name.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Thank God for Mothers

I lost my mom on June 5th, 2012. She was 69 years old. I remember leaving the hospital room with an empty feeling. I didn't know what to do. I felt as if I should accompany the body to the morgue because I didn't want to leave her alone.  I remember how distraught that I was at the funeral and how it hit me that I would never hear her call my name again.

But, like most things in life, you get stronger as time passes. Now almost three years later I don't have the same outlook on her passing. I smile with pride every time I hear any mention of her because I know that I was lucky to have her as a mother. A majority of us should feel the same way. 

Fortunately enough for me I had the opportunity to enjoy my mom for 40 years before she was called home. That's a lot more than some people can say. For that I am thankful. There are a lot of people who didn't get much time with their mom for whatever reason and I realize that.

I thank God every night for my mom because of her influence in making me who I am today. She did what any good parent should do: taught me right from wrong and she taught me how to be a leader and not a follower.

I miss going over to my parents house on Mother's Day to give her a card.  I miss taking her to breakfast the Saturday before Mother's Day.  I miss giving her a hug when I walked in her kitchen.  She's gone, but she's definitely not forgotten.

To all of you who still have your mothers, remember that you only get one.  Maximize the time that you have with her and hug her as often as you can.

"There is nothing more special in life than someone who can give it." -Q

Thursday, May 7, 2015

7 Ways to Improve Your #Sex Life... Guaranteed!

I'm going to keep this simple because relationships aren't as complex as we make it out to be. They only become complicated when one person doesn't put forth an effort to please the other one. It only takes one person to ruin a couple, right?

Here's a list of things you can do to spice up your sex life:

1. Cook. 'Nuff said.

2. Clean. Who wants to come home to a messy house and have to worry about cleaning it up?

3. (If applicable) Make sure that the kids are accommodated. Check homework, give them a bath, set up play date, etc.

4. Shut up and give your mate some quiet time. Don't bombard them with constant chatter. That's what your friends are for.

5. Be interested in what he/she has to say. Stop thinking that your stories are important and no one else's is.

6. Gifts, gifts, gifts. The amount of the gifts aren't important.

7. (If you live together) Pay your share of the bills in a timely fashion. Don't have them wondering if something is going to be disconnected because of your lack of responsibility.

How do all of these things improve your sex life? All of them are stress relievers! Doing any combination of at least six things on that list means that your mate has less on his/her plate in which to be concerned. And what do all of us get in the mood for when we have no worries in life? You're welcome!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Weekend Report Card #MayPac #KentuckyDerby #Avengers #NFLDraft

This has been one of the greatest weekends in quite some time. So much has happened since Friday night and now that the weekend is almost over, I'm just as tired as if I worked all week. I've been sitting around trying to think of a more active weekend then May 1st - 3rd of 2015 and I just can't bring anything to mind. Why was this weekend so great?

Friday night for me started with "Avengers: Age of Ultron." I grew up as a huge comic book fan and I've come to love their movies. I saw "Avengers" in 2012 and I've waited patiently for this sequel and it finally arrived. Unlike most sequels, I wasn't worried about being disappointed because every Marvel Comic movie has been done to perfection since "Iron Man" debuted in 2008. The original "Avengers" movie from 2012 became my all-time favorite movie after seeing it and let me say that the sequel is an extremely close second! An awesome movie that non-comic fans may not appreciate, but those who are familiar with the characters will enjoy.

Grade: A+

After sleeping until 9 AM, I spent Saturday morning cleaning for the most part. I did a lot of moving, discarding, and rearranging. Later that afternoon, I fired up the grill and started to throw down on some vittles. Chicken legs, turkey burgers, hot dogs, and pork chops made up the BBQ roster. As I prepared, I peeked inside at the TV from time-to-time to see if the 141st Kentucky Derby had started.
Dating back to my youth, the Kentucky Derby was always a big deal. I was around 6 years old the last time a horse won the Triple Crown in horse racing. So I'm always excited to see the first leg of the Triple Crown races to see who will be the horse to watch. The Kentucky Derby is generally one of the most exciting two minutes you'll ever see in a "spectator sport."

I would have liked to have seen more action towards the front of the pack, but the race basically came down to two horses. It was neck-and-neck down the stretch before American Pharoah pulled off the victory by a length. American Pharoah will be the horse to follow as they move on to the next leg of the Triple Crown in a few weeks.

Grade: A- 

The NFL Draft was going on throughout the day on Saturday. I didn't take the time to watch it, but I was elated when I found out that a friend of mine had a stepson get drafted by the New England Patriots. Congratulations to Matthew Wells, Mississippi State linebacker. I hope that the Patriots get good use out of your versatility.  I only hate that my Cowboys didn't see his potential, but I am happy with their draft.  Training camp is just around the corner and Preseason will be here in just a couple of months.  I can smell the tailgating in the air already!

Grade: Gotta give an A+ when someone you once saw play in high school makes it to the NFL. 

Lastly was the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight. "The Fight of the Century" as dubbed by the promoters. Well, the actual fight didn't live up to its name, but the hype surrounding it most definitely did. This was probably the most anticipated fight in the history of boxing. For six years people have asked for this fight and last night it finally happened. Here's my take on the fight: I enjoyed it. Many loyal boxing fans did. I saw a lot of negative comments on Facebook and Twitter about Mayweather "running" from Pacquiao.

Unfortunately, people watch too many mixed martial arts and Rocky movies and assume that every title fight is a war. That's not necessarily the case. You're not supposed to get hit in boxing. Muhammad Ali most famously said, "float like a butterfly and sting like a bee." Not "stand toe-to-toe and swing for the fences." And if it's good enough for Ali then it's good enough for me.

Mayweather dodged Pacquiao's punches, landed punches of his own, and got back out of Pacquiao's way. I can't blame the man for doing what boxing was based on: "make him miss then make him pay." Everyone knows Mayweather's style so I don't understand the complaining. It's like buying an ice cream cone in the summer and getting mad because it melted before you got home. You should have expected it. Was this fight worth the $99 I spent? Absolutely not. However, very few fights in the history of boxing would have been.

Grade: B+ 

As you can see, I had a very active Friday and Saturday. Today is my grandmother's 92nd birthday, so I will be going to see her to celebrate her being blessed with another year on this earth. My god daughter has a dance recital in a few hours, so if I'm lucky then I can get that in as well. This has really just been an awesome weekend.

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