Happenstance

I just had the sweetest little interaction while I was at Walgreens to pick up some envelopes. I was casually walking down the cards aisle on my way to the school section when an older lady stopped me and asked for help:

She said: Excuse me, sir, I’m having a bit of trouble. Can you help me pick out some cards?

I said: Sure, no problem; I’ll help you any way I can.

She goes on to say: I am adopted; I just found out that I have a biological sister. We have been talking, but we have never met and I want to bring her a card when I see her. I’m assuming you’ve shopped for cards before, how do you pick them?

I said: Well, what I try to do is picture the person that I am shopping for, think about what they mean to me and how I feel about them… Usually, after that, the card will reveal itself to me.

The lady pauses for a second and looks at me… almost to see if I was being serious. I give her a nod. She then closes her eyes for a few seconds, if I had to guess, it was about 10 seconds that she had them closed. She slowly opens them and starts looking at the cards again. She focuses in on one, picks it up, reads it and then holds it to her chest.

She says: I got it! This is what I was looking for… It worked!

I said: I’m glad!

She says: I have one more thing… I think I also want to write something inside it but I have a hard time expressing myself. Do you ever write in the cards; do you have any advice on that?

I said: Ohhhh, I think we all have a hard time expressing ourselves sometimes, me included. Try not to worry about that too much. If you do write something, as long as it comes from the heart, you should be ok.

She said: You’re probably right, but I’ll probably close my eyes again before I do it. Thank you so much, you just made my day.

I said: No, it was my pleasure…and you actually just made my day as well.

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Weirdo

I’m a weirdo

Be a weirdo

See as a weirdo

Walk and breathe as a weirdo

I need a weirdo

So I can breed a weirdo

Despite what you’ve heard

There’s power in the word

The world is better off with weirdos

Too many carbon copies

That’s a form

That’s not me

Striving to be the same

With no signs of stopping

I’d rather humbly stand out

Like a man whom prefers to work for it

Than accept a hand-out

Let my total vibe speak for itself

What’s your worth worth if

Your form of measure is

If you’re similar to or the same as someone else?

Now multiply that sentiment by the masses

With all their in common asses

And all you’re left with are millions of clones

Not as sentient as they were originally meant

Losing more mental resilience as they roam

There’s nothing like someone with high consciousness

A sense of self worth and self awareness

Mixed

With a full dish of beautiful UNcommon sense

A style, personality and

Light of their own…

Be a weirdo

See a weirdo

I’m a weirdo

In need of a weirdo

Princess M

The true spirit of any holiday is about family…

I didn’t know for sure at the time

When I first saw you

That I was actually expanding mine

You may not be able to remember this

But it was Christmas eve when I met you

You couldn’t have been a better December gift

You were pretty shy at first

And I was nervous

I was hoping so much that you’d like me

I already knew that I’d like you

Your mom spoke of you so proudly

Today has become a holiday for me

Because today is when you entered the world

You changed everything with your very existence

You’re definitely worth being acknowledged

And Celebrated

I will love you always

Always

Keep shining your light every place that you go

Happy Birthday, Princess!

Lansing

Seems I owe you an apology: so I apologize

Or is it, maybe, that I owe you two?

Recent memory might be serving me wrong and…

Really what I owe, is a few

Yeah… actually, come to think of it, that sounds about right

Some of the things I said

Out of anger

Really should not have been said… ever

Really… never, but especially not since it was during a fight

You live and learn from mistakes

I am not exempt from that

All the extra stuff that clouded the messaging

Man, I wish I could take that back…

Stolen Goods

Stole us from our homes

Stole our gold

Stole our babies while crying

Stole our blood, sweat and tears

Created the conflict

Stole the diamonds

Stole our culture

Stole our music

Stole our drums

Stole our voices

Stole our fun

Stole our choices

Stole our smile

Anything we created

Stole our style

Put our skin on trial

Jury of non-peers:

Color’s not worthwhile

See

We thought it was a trial

But it wasn’t really a trial

Stole the natural date of  death

Stole our loved ones

Stole their breath

Of all the things that were stole

You will never steal our soul

Thoughts After The Last Dance

Watching the last 2 episodes (7 & 8) of The Last Dance this evening touched me in a way I didn’t expect.  These episodes partly focused on how intense Michael Jordan was with the methods that he used to motivate others… It made me reflect on certain times in my life where I was similar.  Sometimes people can misunderstand that intensity.  When it comes to getting results, I have a more, “let’s get straight to the point” mentality.

The first memory I was visited with:  I previously was part of the coaching staff at a school in Detroit, MI called Burton International. I coached there for eight years total and coached both, girls & boys that were 7th & 8th graders (4 Division Championships, BTW). I had this one student during that time named, DC that came to me crying once. She said that she needed to talk to me and the first thing that she asked was why I was so hard on her. It seemed to her I was harder on her than anyone else.  The truth is, I didn’t know exactly why I was so hard on her at the time.  All that I knew is that I saw massive potential in her and I was trying to force that potential to the surface.  Luckily at the time, one of the senior coaches, Rev. JW, who always knows what to say, told her that I wouldn’t focus that type of energy on her if I didn’t really care… if I didn’t care about her and her being successful.

This has been a common theme with me that started with my younger brothers when the three of us were younger.  I was especially hard on my brother that is closest in age to me.  We didn’t grow up in the most favorable environment.  In that environment, I lived with a certain fear of not making it.  My fear wasn’t really of me leaving this earth… it was more, if I were to leave here, who would be here to protect my brothers?  So, in my mind, it was my job as the big brother to toughen them up enough where I knew they could protect themselves, each other and that they could also stand strong independently as individuals.  Mental and physical toughness was needed.  I’ve had the same best friend since I was in high school (CA).  If you were to ask him, he’d tell you, that’s the only thing that I worried about at that time.  There are no two people that I have talked about more than my two brothers.  The day that I knew that they would be OK is when we were out in the back having an intense game of basketball and I was being a little rough.  That game ended in my brother closest in age using a fighting move that I taught him and striking me above my right eye in retaliation for my roughness.  I was standing there leaking blood and needed to go to the hospital to get stitches. My brother thought I was going to kill him (figuratively). I’ll admit, I was more than a little angry that he used that move on me, but I was more proud than anything.  That’s when I knew.

I moved away from Detroit in 2005.  I ended up taking a job in Cincinnati, OH.  I actually had no intentions on coaching anymore and certainly didn’t think about mentoring, however, it fell in my lap anyway.  As I got to know people in the area from frequenting basketball courts, people started to ask me to work with high school kids in the area. I was very reluctant to do so since I had spent the previous eight years coaching at Burton International.  During that time, I felt that I needed to focus on me.  That never really happened.  I met a former Xavier University basketball star, BM, that was then studying to be a pastor and he asked me to check out this kid, GW, at a local high school, Roger Bacon.  BM and I went to a game to see this kid play; he then asked me to train, GW.  I initially said no. BM asked me to join him at a Men’s Night at his church and we really got to know each other, dropping the surface level pleasantries.  We had more in common than basketball. After BM heard my story, he stressed the importance of people like me wearing the mantle of a mentor. I told him, I only know how to do it one way… I push and push and push and then I push some more.

I started out Mentoring and training only GW.  Then his teammate, WF, became part of our group.  Shortly after that, a kid from Burton International that I had coached before, BJ, now in high school, called me up and said that Detroit was no longer the place for him and since we were from similar types of neighborhoods, I would be able to understand him, deal with him, and get him on a better path.  During the conversation with BJ’s parents, I was asked what my plan was to get him on the right track if he were to move in with me. I told them that I plan to treat him as he is one of my younger brothers and all that entails.  His parents didn’t necessarily completely understand what that meant, but BJ did.  To me, that’s all that mattered.  BJ knew that I would do everything in my power to make him a better person, whether he liked the method or not.  And just like that I had three teenagers that I accepted responsibility for.

I’ve had talks with all three of my Cincinnati guys as we grew to become a family. I’m sure though, if you were to talk to GW or WF initially, they would have sworn that I was a maniac.  BJ already knew how I operated from our time in Detroit together. He knew it was nothing but tough love.  He knew that I used my personal experiences and focused them into methods of motivation.  I was even trying to push them along in case I was no longer able to be there for them.  Not in the same manner I was worried about previously with my brothers as far as leaving this earth, it was more so just knowing that life happens… and if something happened where I could no longer mentor or coach, they would have gotten the best they could have gotten from me in the time that we shared.

Although my intensity has worked well in the mentoring arena.  I’ve also struck out with it at times.  Another memory that comes to mind is when I had been dating someone and she essentially told me that my tactics to motivate are very effective but sometimes not pleasing at all.  I can’t really disagree with her.  I am the type of person that will say what people are afraid to say and I’ll say exactly what you don’t want to hear if I think that will be what it takes to help you move in a better direction.  I am mostly like that with people I care about most.  Yes, it is something that I can work on.  It’s probably something that I should work on.  However, at the same time though, it’s hard to argue with results.

And I’m definitely known for getting results.  I am good at it.  I’m just not good at being soft about it.

My Only

I wake up in the mornin’

Fall asleep at night

Dream

It’s you I see

For the football team

Wayne State University

Only other time I took a knee

But that was different

Then I was told

Now it’s the warmth of your love moving me

My heart’s no longer cold

You are my only…

My one and only

My only baby

You’re my craving

The only one

And I crave you daily

When I see you

I think ultrasounds

A kid runnin’ ’round

You having my baby

Growing old in love

Old together

Babysitting our grand-babies

Telling our love story

Once upon a time

My girlfriend

Became my Old Lady