Tag Archives: life

Poverty is More than a Mind Thing!

While doing research on building my business recently, I came across something that may help the masses of people, especially those of the African American experience who have been dumbed down, discouraged, depressed, despondent, and disappointed in trying to fulfill their potential. This is a short phrase from a business family, but mighty powerful:

“If you want to go fast, go alone… if you want to go far, go together” (Joel & Julie Landi of The Performance Group)

I was raised by a very determined woman. She had a husband, but sometimes things just don’t work out, and a woman has to do what a woman has to do.

Not many people around gave me much of a chance. I was smaller than many boys around me; had a speech impediment (stuttered and stammered); was made fun of; developed a very low self-esteem (whatever that is!); and began growing into a very angry young man on the inside while I tried to smile on the outside.  There is quite a story behind why I smile so often now, and have dedicated my life to help others.

By the time I was 11, my mother had become one of those very dedicated Christians. She was the daughter of a church planter and minister, but negative circumstances had affected her desire to be really serious about becoming a committed Christian. Coupled with her own personal powerhouse of determination to succeed, she constantly brought sunshine into what I thought was a strong poverty life. One day, she grew weary of my negative and “Woe is me!” attitude.  I had made the word “can’t” my daily diet.  I used to smile as a baby and young child, but over time, hurts from family members, school acquaintances, and being laughed at by others had crushed me—my smile left and I was a depressed sight.  I had said “I can’t” once too often that day.  My mom glared at me with those sharp black eyes surrounded by her long black hair sat atop a very diminutive body.  “That’s it!” she cried.  I had heard her sharp tongue much of my life, but this was different.  It was as if God himself was thundering at me.

“The word ‘can’t’ will no longer be used in this house!” she continued.  “You CAN read better!  You CAN speak better.  You CAN do better!” she thundered.  “I don’t ever want you to use the word ‘can’t again.  Do you hear me!”  Her thundering voice was so strong I was sure the entire neighborhood heard from our basement living conditions.  “Beginning today, you WILL smile!  Beginning today, you WILL believe in yourself!  Beginning today, you WILL read to me out loud and speak better!”

My mom spoke with such force, I was convinced that she and God must have become very connected!  My eyes opened wide; fear gripped my soul.  However, that day was a turning point in my life of thinking we would always be in poverty.  Of course, my mom NEVER considered us poor, even when we had to share an outhouse with the local pimps, prostitutes, drunks and others in a place where we used to live. She often worked two jobs, and even found time to take me to work in the agricultural fields wherever we lived.  We were seldom broke.  She would wash twice or more times a week to keep my few clothes cleaned and pressed.  And, we seldom missed a meal.  But, I would look at others and what they had, and often despised what my mom worked hard to provide for the two of us.

That very day of the thundering, my mom began me reading out loud to her.  Every morning she would check to see if I was smiling.  If not, I had to quickly put on a smile!  I went to church with her, became active in local and church youth programs, and slowly began to grow beyond my mind of poverty-thinking.

My speaking gradually improved.  I began to dream again.  Against odds, I finished college with several degrees, and was blessed to have had a wife who has stayed with me since 1965.  We have five grown children successful in their own right, 14 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.  I am NOT rich—yet, but I have had the experience of working and learning from over 19 different industries!  This experience has helped me to become a consultant to politicians, ministers, business people, and to community organizations, helping others to dream, and find their niche in life.  Now, I wake up every morning with a smile on my face and looking forward to helping someone else, or making a positive difference in some organization or community.

This entire journey of mine could not have been as successful as it has been if I would have had to walk my journey alone.  Preachers, pastors, teachers, street people, business people, family members, and associates have helped me come this far in life—by being willing to go on the journey together—with others.

 

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Thinking About Some of America’s History

Over the years, many Reconstructionist historians, atheists, and others have bashed Christopher Columbus, the Pilgrims, the Puritans, the nation’s founders, European and other early entrepreneurs to America, explorers in America, slave owners, and Christians for their part in destroying Native culture, and expanding the free enterprise system.  They remind me of women who have been abused in relationships, and blame all men for everything wrong around them!

But, just like ALL men are NOT responsible for the abuse done to women, neither can we blame those above for the abuse done to Native Peoples, African slaves, or to the environment.  Yes, some of those with the above labels have done wrong—they just happen to be human, or greedy, or even evil.  But to blame entire groups is not accurate.  Let’s take Thanksgiving for example.

Some of the early settlers in America were looking for a place where they could practice their belief in the Creator without being abused by those with power.  When they found a measure of peace and survived harsh winters after burying many others, they were thankful to be in a new land.  They didn’t come to take over land from the Native People; they heard it was a New World, and that they could start a new life without powerful people controlling their lives.  They even tried to make peace with the Native Peoples, and find agreement to live together.  Some of the Native Peoples helped them survive in a weather to which they were unaccustomed.  Some of the Native Peoples welcomed them as new neighbors as there was plenty of land.  And, some of the Native Peoples taught them how to plant food, go after game, and survive in a land new to the new arrivals, but well-known by those who had long history in the land.

The Pilgrims gave thanks to the Creator for the help from the Native Peoples.  They gave thanks for those who had survived a cruel winter.  They gave thanks for the opportunity to start a fresh, and free, life in a land with so much potential.  Whether people were religious or not, the Pilgrims were religious, and thanked the Creator for all, for food, survival, and opportunity.  They had a time to sit down with the Wampanoag Native Americans at their thanksgiving table July, 1623 for three days, thankful for life, fellowship, the rain that saved the harvest, and good food as a result of the rain.  Unfortunately, this fellowship only lasted a few years as more people came to these shores, ignoring the ways of the local citizens, and turning to their god of Greed. Some historians say that celebrations in Florida, Texas, and Virginia happened before the gathering at Plymouth and came to be known as “Forefather’s Day.”

It was one of the Founding Fathers, President George Washington, who recognized the time and set the time aside to give thanks on a national day, October 3, 1789, even though there were those who opposed his religious inference.  However, he emphasized that the holiday would be inclusive for Americans of all faiths. Then, along came President Abraham Lincoln.  His desire was to keep the Union together perhaps more than to set the African American slaves free.  And, like President George Washington, he really didn’t want to arm ex-slaves and free African Americans to fight the English, or even to fight Anglo Americans in the South.  However, he was pushed to arm these men after considering the South was arming slaves to fight those from the North, and so many African Americans wanted to fight that he was forced to put them in uniform, and then forced to concede to some of the demands of the South if he wanted to bring healing to the nation.  So, he called the Nation to prayer during a time of Thanksgiving to ease the transition of the South into forming one country again.

Another President, Franklin Roosevelt, recognized Thanksgiving, but caused a firestorm by changing the date to fourth Thursday in November to allow more shopping days for Christmas, from the fifth Thursday, to which people were accustomed.  But, Thanksgiving survived and even grew when magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale, a widow and penniless, worked diligently to make Thanksgiving a national holiday for all Americans.  Later in the 1970s, Native People learned to hate Thanksgiving, Christopher Columbus, and all that stood for progress over them.  Many saw the time as a time of betrayal by the descendants of the early Pilgrims, Puritans, and settlers.  Instead of working with Native Americans and respecting their laws and customs, including their burial lands, late arriving immigrants and some greedy Americans began taking more land from the Native Peoples, continuing to kill and disrespect them, cheating them, and pushing more of them onto lands that were not suitable for the sustainability of their livelihood.  Native Peoples could not see any thanks for them during the season of Thanksgiving.  While others prospered, their way of life quickly diminished, and their wealth was taken away.  However, the o92nd Street Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in New York did manage to take the Thanksgiving season as an opportunity to do some good for those who were in need.  Just how much good has been done for the Native Peoples is still up for discussion.

Nevertheless, many Americans who honor Thanksgiving have become thankful for their prosperity; thankful for an opportunity to share with others; and thankful to be able to learn how to learn from different cultures, and thankful for their contributions.  Many Americans (including myself and my children) over the years leave their Thanksgiving dinners and serve in soup kitchens, help out in food banks, or do some acts of charity.  For some, it is very difficult to become thankful, walking past homeless people on sidewalks around Macy’s or other stores, or enjoying peace by watching the football games being interrupted by news of war overseas, girls caught up in human trafficking, crime in the inner cities, and high unemployment in this land of plenty.

So, in 2017, when you sit down to a fine meal of veggies only, or fish and rice, or turkey, cranberries, mash potatoes, gravy, green beans, varied salads, pie, cake, ice cream, and a drink (or several!), remember some of the words of Ben Franklin who expressed as only a pundit could regarding gratefulness for “…full Enjoyment of Liberty, civil and religious.”  However, since Native Peoples and many African Americans lack such “full enjoyment,” America still has some work to do to really honor the time of Thanksgiving in 2017, and each day in every way.  We can review the history of Thanksgiving and how those who came up with the phrase “thanksgiving,” can include prayer and worship as we move forward.  Of course, prayer and worship should include helping those less fortunate as an outward show of the outgrowth of prayer and worship.   This was illustrated by Representative Elias Boudinot to allow the citizens to do such after an arduous time of the ratification in 1877 of the Constitution.

America has come a long way in honoring the holiday of Thanksgiving, now with the Macy’s Parade, football all day, feasting, and sometimes, helping others.  Perhaps in 2017, we will remember the pain of the Native People during this holiday, understanding that not all of them own a share of a casino or smoke shop, many have become addicted to some form of drug, causing them to bring abuse on family members, and that many STILL don’t feel respected in the land that was formerly owned by their ancestors.  Perhaps, instead of feeding a homeless person or giving a blanket, each of us can adopt a Native family, adopt a homeless family, adopt an African American family, or adopt a newly-arrived immigrant from a war-torn country, and help them develop their talents into providing them with a real Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  [Adapted in part from Melanie Kirkpatrick’s book: Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience]

Save Some Green in 2017!

Yep!  That’s right!

In 2016, a lot of people paid a lot of money unnecessarily just because they didn’t have the proper information.  Some overpaid in purchasing automobiles.  Some overpaid in signing contracts that they should not have signed.  Some overpaid in getting credit cards that were so plentiful.  And, many overpaid in getting child custody, child support, or in getting a divorce.

Well, 2017 can be the year where many can save some green!  There is a report that I can send to anyone who will send me their email address.  This report shows that everyone can now have access to legal advice even when they didn’t know that they could have such access by getting the proper information. Here is some of the information from that study:

A national probability sample of males and females aged 18 to 64 was drawn from American Consumer Opinion® Online, Decision Analyst’s worldwide panel of over eight million consumers. The sample was balanced by geography and selected demographics such as gender, age, ethnicity, and household income. Panelists were invited by email to the screening survey, and those employed full-time were invited to Decision Analyst’s DAISurvey™ website to participate in the study.

Decision Analyst is one of the largest marketing research and analytical consulting firms in North America, and serves an array of Fortune 500 companies around the world. The firm specializes in strategy research, product testing, advertising testing, and marketing optimization using advanced simulation techniques. The firm is headquartered in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Legal Needs Of American Families Study (Legal Needs Study) shows that working Americans and their families face a myriad of legal issues on almost a daily basis. The study shows that 57 million full-time working Americans experienced at least one significant legal event in the past 12 months, but only 60% of those who experienced such an event actually sought out the services of a lawyer to help them.

For the full study sent to you by email, request it by email, and it will be sent to you right away.  After reading the study if you have questions, email me your questions and I will be glad to give you answers to your questions.  In the meantime, plan to save some green in 2017!

 

 

UNEXPECTED DEATH

Death is sometimes welcomed, especially if an individual is tired of the pain, the long-suffering, and looking for relief.  Death is also sometimes welcomed by the family care-giver who has not gotten much rest, due to caring for a loved one.

When death came to my mother earlier last month, I was glad that she was out of pain.  Last Thanksgiving (2014), she had confided to my wife and I that she was tired, and since the decision to live or die was in her hands, she was ready to go.  As long as I have been in the world, and before I was in the world, my mother has been suffering from one affliction or another.

My mom overheard the doctor tell her father  that she would not live long, due to the challenges to her health.  Mom was about eight years old.  When her father emerged from the meeting with the doctor, he tried to hide his teary eyes.  However, mom smiled and told him, “I overheard what the doctor said.”  Her father almost burst out in very audible sobs when mom stopped him.  She said, “Since I am going to die young, I am going to outwork everyone I can every day.  And, when I get to Heaven, I am going to tell God to help you in your ministry!”  Her dad was a farmer, and a young developing minister.  He had been a somewhat hard-drinking man due to family issues and challenging racism in Texas and Oklahoma; mom had told him about hearing the voice of God when she was five.  She was told to tell His (God’s) people to get right.  When her dad came in from a hard day of working, and a hard night of drinking, she told him what God had said.  After crying and asking God for forgiveness, this man took his family to church, and was soon on his way to becoming a minister.

The family had moved to California during “The Grapes of Wrath” episodes in the late 1920’s, which saw many poor farmers, and those looking for a better way of life, working their way from the Southwest to the Golden State of California.  It was here, the father heard the sad news from the doctor.  Mom learned how to outwork everyone as a farm laborer in California.  When her father became a labor contractor, she served as his bookkeeper.  However, her father kept wondering when she would die. Other doctors said that she wouldn’t live past 18.  When she passed that death sentence and married and had a son (me!), she was told that she would die by the time she was 30.  Later, other doctors said she wouldn’t see 40.  By this time, mom told the doctors to stop telling her when she was going to die as they were not God!

As long as I can remember, Death always seemed to be lurking around mom.  Sometimes, one eye would not work; then, it was an ear that couldn’t hear.  When it was very cold, arthritis stiffen her up, forcing her to sometimes work in the fields or do hair with only one hand working.  Sometimes, she had to take to the bed, especially when she became paralyzed on one side.  But, she still managed to outwork most people.  She felt like if she was going to have an appointment with death, Death would find her working so hard that Death would just have to take a seat, and wait a little longer!

Thanks to mom’s spiritual growth, and connection with God and seriously godly people, mom’s vision came back into that eye.  Later, her ear popped open.  Then, she worked so hard, or prayed so hard, or believed so intently that arthritis even had to take a seat and admire her fast-moving, working self, sometimes holding down two jobs.  When my step-father came on the scene, he worked hard so mom could be free to help people that she felt God wanted her to help.  This included a lot of abused women and children, young people who didn’t have loving family relationships, and others who felt like they had been served the raw side of life.  Even in loving and reaching out to others, mom would put her disabilities on hold, feeling like since she had been blessed to outlive some of her doctors, there was a joy as she gave her life helping others.  Once, she gave a beautiful home with a huge yard to a family of 13 who could not afford a house.  Books could be written by people she fed, housed, clothed, prayed for, loved on, and turned their lives around.  I am one of those people, but that story will wait for another day.

I had planned to go and visit my mom this past Thanksgiving.  With me in Texas, recovering from some of my own health challenges, and her in Northern California, I wasn’t able to visit mom often, but we talked a lot by phone.  When so many people she loved came to her 90th birthday two years ago, she was overjoyed at what each had accomplished, whether they had become backup singers in Hollywood, opened a business, raised their children alone, become famous in their own right, or just had managed to survive without giving up hope.  Congratulatory letters came from local, state, and national politicians from both sides of the aisle.  Even a mayor of her city came to honor her.

Last year, mom had my wife and I help her plan her transition to Heaven, and not keep Death waiting any longer.  Since we thought we had a few more years, we didn’t complete everything.  I would see her the following Thanksgiving, and we would be able to put everything in place.  Alas, while I was making plans, my son, her most recent, and longest, care-giver, sent word to others (since my phone was on vibrate) that my mom had just passed away.

I should have known something was up when my wife solemnly walked down the hallway and told me to turn off the television.  I was paying more attention to my work on the computer than on the television, so I protested that I wasn’t really watching television.  Then, she raised her voice a little and told me to please turn off the television.  After I had complied, she looked me in the eye and said, “Your mom just died!”

I can’t explain the feeling I had when I heard those words on a Sunday evening.  There was so much to do.  As the oldest child, much of the burden would fall on me.  However, one of my sisters, an attorney, was very resourceful.  Plus, my son, mom’s care-giver, was very helpful.  And, then there were my grown children, and others, who jumped in and made sure the planning, and homegoing arrangements were carried out with professional excellence.  I think I was pretty numb during the preparations before I arrived where mom stayed, while carrying out my duties with the funeral home and the insurance companies, and so many other details that must be done when someone in a family dies.  In fact, as I write this, I am still pretty numb.

Death.  Death became a pleasant friend at last for my mom.  For the first time in her life, she would not have any more pain.  At such a thought, I somewhat thanked Death, but I still wanted to visit my alive mother just one more time.  There were so many things I wanted to discuss with her about her family, more about her history, and just hug her just one more time.  I had no idea last Thanksgiving as she asked me to feed her from my plate with the one fork that this would be the last thing I would do for mom.  Death.  Death is often not welcomed when one is robust and things are going great.  Death is really not welcomed when family members and friends hadn’t finished their planned time with their loved one.

Death will come to us all.  Regardless of race, religion, no religion, gender, or whatever one may believe about life ending here, or life extended into a different dimension, Death will visit all of us.  The only questions that remains is: Will you be ready to meet Death?  Will you have all of your affairs in order?  Will you go with Death quietly, or will you go with Death screaming and clutching on to what you have?  If you are reading this, you have a chance to prepare to meet Death, so stay ready, as Death is always checking the appointment book!