Archive for December, 2013

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Will Your Circle Be Unbroken

“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”

These words were spoken by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, who is an African-American Historian and Musician.  She’s known for her rendition of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” and her legendary career with Sweet Honey in the Rock.

I chose to start this blog with her quote because it rings true in the ears of so many people that I know; including myself.  Sometimes, breaking circles are a good thing, if you are breaking them for the right reasons.  Let’s find out if this is true for you.

I think that I know myself pretty well but, at times I find it difficult to tell myself that life is hard.  I am challenged on many levels everyday and I have to choose to either succumb to those challenges or try to rise above them and learn from them in order to avoid them and not have to deal with the issues again.  In a perfect world that would be easy but, this is our very imperfect world.

You know the term, “If you don’t know your history, you’re doomed to repeat it.” Then why do so many of us fall into the same traps that we’ve already overcome?

Debt. Bad relationships. Poor health.

Many of us have experienced at least one or all of these and from them, lessons were learned.  Why is it also likely that you’ve gone through these over and over again?  Do we enjoy the feelings that we feel when we are faced with failure?  Of course not, then why do we continuously do the same things over and over again that put us right back in the pickle jar?  Inquiring minds want to know.

I do not like failure or struggle.  One of my favorite quotes by Frederick Douglass is, “Without struggle, there is no progress.”  I totally get it and I love you Fred but, can a brother get a break?  I’m tired of struggling, tired of living check to check and bill to bill.  The debt carry over in our lives from one month to the next month is alarmingly high.  I’m not just speaking about myself am I?  This could also apply to you or someone you know, someone you love or someone you hate.  We all have experienced financial challenges in our lives that we’ve overcome but, went right back into it.

Ouch.

Ouch.

Now, I’m no financial planner but, I plan to better my financial situation.  I’ve read books about people that have money and how they earn it manage it and use it and I have to say, it’s a very painless formula to follow, I’ll share that with you at the end of this blog.

Let’s not make this blog about only financial challenges.  There are other challenges in life that are way more exciting and equally painful than discussing our dividends; love, life, family and our health.

Dieting sucks! I’ll scream that right off the bat…No Thank You to diets.  Nonetheless, we say we are on a diet when we realize that there are a couple of extra pounds in places where they shouldn’t be.  A lot of people think that losing weight is a quick fix or a trendy thing; trust me, it’s hard work!  Lifestyle changes are typically harder than most of us expect but, with realistic expectation and a desire to accomplish your goals and face the challenges of changing your life, you can be very successful without going under the knife; now that’s cheating.  Don’t cheat yourself!

Healthy-Lifestyle-slow-down-shutterstock_115814104-e1378881461624-610x300

“The only thing preventing you from achieving your goals is YOU.” ~ Michelle Cook, Fitness Trainer

As a non-custodial parent, I find that one of the biggest challenges for me is to deal with being a non-custodial parent.  Typically, that means that holidays and privileges are mandated to certain days or times by prickly agreements between parents or a sentence from a judge.  In my case, a little bit of both.  Not seeing your children when you want to see them is hard; especially if they live far away.  Not many men would admit it but, it hurts and we cry and we stomp our feet but, no one sees us.  We’re MEN, we are creators not caretakers…is that right?  Am I off base?

I’m way off.  There are lots of MEN out there that take care of their children with little to no fanfare or recognition.  Many of us don’t do it for accolades or handclaps or for anything more than the mothers of our children would deserve.

Always kiss your children goodnight, even if they’re already asleep. ~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I dream of an opportunity to one day kiss my children goodnight, every night and send them off to school, pick them up, make dinner and just be the Father I’ve always wanted to be but, didn’t have the chance to.  It’s not easy to live like this but, I persevere.  I look the challenges in the face; make the long drives, deal with teen frustration and deal with the limited amounts of time I have with them. There are a lot of domestic-men that fit into the role of all around dad, I used to feel that I could be that all-around go-to-guy that could do anything I wanted to with and for my children but, again falling into the trap of neglecting responsibility, has led me to a sad and difficult place.

Challenges Road Sign

Level: Easy

Speaking of difficulties, how about the workplace?  It’s a challenge to get up every day and put your feet on the cold morning floor, shower, dress, and drive and end up at a destination where there’s no spiritual compensation.  Of course, we can make lots of money, quickly advance up the corporate ladder; we may even get to see the world.  However, what percentages of us truly have these opportunities?  It’s reserved for a select few…Why not you?

Maybe, you didn’t accept the challenge to work hard to achieve these ideal opportunities in the workplace.  Maybe you didn’t challenge yourself enough, doing the bare minimum to get by without being noticed or terminated.  A lot of folks self-sabotage themselves at the workplace.  Harvey MacKay said, “Find something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Most of us work jobs that we can’t stand and are unhappy from when we punch in til we punch out.  Most of us also know what truly make us happy but, fail to do anything about it.  We don’t accept the challenges to do what it takes to make ourselves happy.  Fear, Les Brown says, When you face your fear, most of the time you will discover that it was not really such a big threat after all. We all need some form of deeply rooted, powerful motivation — it empowers us to overcome obstacles so we can live our dreams.”

© Copyright 2012 CorbisCorporation / Blackdoctor.org

How important is living your dream to you?  One thing that I can attest to when I began in the non-profit world, I wanted to move fast and hard.  Big dreams meant BIG moves and my biggest moves were establishing who we were.  I started working on a logo right away, created a facebook page, created a website, created a twitter account, and started planning events and so on.  I was moving at a pace that I felt was needed and it paid off.  Not literally, as in monetary paid off but, my little organization after four years is still standing.  Sometimes we need a reason or a season to realize that, “It’s time!”  Time to work towards your goals and dreams and stop self-sabotaging your life.  Accept the challenge!

What about your personal relationships.  The one with yourself and the ones you have with others?  How’s your love life?  Do you love yourself enough to have and enjoy a love life?

Have you figured it out yet?

Have you figured it out yet?

I’ve known men and women that are unable to comfortably answer that question.  You would think that loving yourself would be an easy thing and most of us claim it but, don’t live up to it.  We do things, to again, sabotage our lives, our homes and even our jobs in order to be on the arms of someone that you really don’t care for or you give them too much and they give too little to you.  This is common in relationships but, it doesn’t have to be this way.  Many of us are afraid to walk away.  The fear of being alone outweighs everything else and we settle.  Complacency with partners with low standards, no ambition or any promise, is a plague all around the world and in your living room, the bedroom or the kitchen; that person you’re looking at is just as tired of you as you are of them and yet no one moves.  That type of set up screams fear and lack of understanding-self or an unwillingness to challenge yourself and say, “I deserve better, this is not where I want to be.” (Affirmation)

Challenge yourselves to do better by yourself.  Spend some time with yourself and try to understand that there is nothing wrong with waiting for and working for exactly what it is that you want.

So, will the circles of repetitiveness be broken? Yes.  Will we break out of the cycles that afflict us and cause the same problems again and again?  Yes!  You can do it and you will.  Affirm within yourself that you will make the necessary changes in your life to break this circle that needs to be broken and incorporate into your lives a new circle.  Make it one of progress and success, health and wellness, freedom and happiness.  If you don’t do it, no one else is going to do it for you.  Good luck!

Here I Come!

Here I Come!

Winding up this blog, I really wanted to get into more of a motivational speaker tone and I hope I did well.  Any feedback is greatly appreciated (and it lets me know people actually read what I write, lol) I completely understand that there will be those times when we just want to look the other way and take what’s coming at us and deal with it when we when we can.  Let’s try facing our difficulties and say, “Hey, I’m ready, I’m not going to let these issues sneak up on me and take me out.

I will put my best effort into doing whatever I have to do to overcome any struggle.” (Affirmation)

Be ready.
Be strong.
Be prepared
Be positive.
Be.

Here are the painless money saving tips that I promised at the beginning of this blog.  I hope that it helps you and gets you on the right track!

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/8-painless-ways-to-save-money

CT

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CASH FOR TRASH
Do you really know what you’re eating

CASH 4 TRASH

CASH 4 TRASH

SMH (Scratching My Head)  I saw a very disturbing and disgusting thing the other night at a local gas station.  As you can see from the image above, there is: McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Dunkin Donuts all in one oily overflowing trash heap.  Looking at this festering mountain of grease laden paper bags got me thinking about the health and wellness of the Black community.  Yes, the Black or African American community.  That’s where I was, that’s where I saw it and that’s where I’ll be talking about.

Seeing this sort of affirms why childhood and adult obesity cases are up in inner city communities, while suburban community obesity rates are dropping every year?  Is there too much access, are there not enough options, and is convenience the biggest downfall of African Americans?

If you travel outside of the city, say Newton, you will not find half of the crappy food joints you will find in say, Roxbury.  Roxbury is filled with fast food, check cashing places, liquor stores and churches.  In Newton, you will find, sports apparel stores, ski stores, fitness clubs, massage parlors, more fitness stores and yoga studios.  There are two McDonalds in Newton.  What does this say about the citizens of Newton?   It’s about controlling what you allow or don’t allow in your neighborhood.  That’s power, that’s control, that’s smart.

There’s no reason why Roxbury or Dorchester residents can’t raise their voices in opposition to allowing these eateries to run us down near our homes and schools with unhealthy chow.

Did you know that Burger King has a delivery service?  Just how much Nuclear Radiation do you think they put in the containers that guarantee that your meal will be “Hot & Fresh”?

Now You’ll Never Have To Leave Your Couch

We like to have what we want and what we like when we want it.

How’s that working for you?

Can’t be doing that well when African Americans are still dying at young ages due to heart attacks and strokes.  Black women lead the nation and all races in heart disease and illnesses related to stress.  Black people in general are at the bottom of the best health lists and at the top of the worst health lists.

How can we change these statistics?

First it involves, completely abandoning (boycotting) all fast foods and the establishments that carry them.  Convenience, is great but so is living; Healthy Living.  Of course it’s easier said than done and this blog by no means is a judgment of those people that frequent fast food restaurants, I’m only expressing my views with a little dash of salt-flavored truth.

Put that on your fish!

singing-fish-singing

WHAT!?

Here are some disturbing statistics.  Based on (American) spending.

In 1970, Americans spent about $6 billion on fast food; in 2000, they spent more than $110 billion. Americans now spend more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, videos, and recorded music – combined.

I’m sure that in 2013 it’s even higher.  One stat that is staggeringly upsetting is that the fast food industry in 2013 spent $4.6 billion to advertise and promote unhealthy processed products while only $116 million was spent to advertise fruits and vegetables.  What is wrong with this picture?

The majority of the “junk food marketing” was directed at children, teens and low income families.  As hard as I researched, I couldn’t find any particular stats that would show how much money from the Black community went into the $110 billion however, I’m sure it’s significant.

In urban areas, you can find: Burger King, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Crown Fried Chicken, dozens of Chinese Food places and variety stores or Bodegas.  These multi-purpose corner stores are where you can get your sugary snacks and a screwdriver, go figure but, they don’t always or never offer much of anything that can be considered healthy.  Yes, I know there may be a bunch of bananas by the “Take a Penny, Give a Penny” box but, it would be a lot more encouraging if local neighborhood stores sold fresher fruit and less processed fruits in candies and in drinks.

So, the question remains, what do we do about it?  How big is the issue?  I mean, kids are dying from obesity related illnesses at alarming rates.  Parents are allowing this and are suffering from it as well.  Fast life + Fast food = a Fast Death.  Short life spans are accepted in the Black Community and sadly many of us take it as, “We all gotta die someday”, which to me is morbid and self-defeating and it leaves room to make excuses for all of the unhealthy things we conscientiously do to ourselves.

We have to get back to gardening, urban farming, home cooking and balancing our diets with good foods.  We have to ask our single mothers and fathers to stop using McDonalds as meal replacements.  Yes, we understand you are busy and are tired but, is it worth the health of your children and of yourself.

Of course it’s easier said than done but, it all begins with a choice, do or do not, there is no trying to stop, it’s either you stop or you don’t and if you don’t, look at the consequences.

Imagine a world like this: Neighborhoods covered in trash – fast food wrappers from Burger King, Wendy’s, McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts.  The streets are never cleaned; and our homes become live-in junkyards because we are lazy.  We become too unhealthy to want to change our condition, to want to clean up the garbage.  We are no longer able bodied citizens in the communities; we are tired, lethargic and overweight.  Burger boxes blow down the streets like cardboard tumbleweeds.  Our kids no longer play; they sit around eating and complaining about how they feel.  We have become very nonproductive people and useless members of society and the only time you see us is when the new Air Jordans come out.

Consumerism aids and abets our bad food and life choices.

Consuming in excess can breed violent and irrational behavior in those that are cut off from consuming.  Take Air Jordan’s for example, deprived people claw and scratch and maim and kill for a pair of the $300-$500 shoe.  People sleep in the streets and crowd the sidewalks just to get their hands on the latest pairs.  If the stores run out – there’s a riot.  If someone cuts the line – there’s a fight.  These capitalists, fueled by corporate greed are banking on poor people to spend their small savings on their products.  Michael Jordan and Ronald McDonald don’t care that their products are getting people sick, hurt or killed.

However, the objective blogger in me can’t lay all the blame on the corporations.  People need to stop with the foolishness.  We don’t have to buy the sneakers, we don’t have to eat fast food, and we can fight the urges to fit into the collective norm, where superficial judgment is more important than internal health and happiness.  I’m sure that some shrink somewhere recognizes this as a social disorder that can diagnosed and in some form compared to excessive fast food consumption and the insensible desires to fill our stomachs and our children’s stomachs with quick and fast fare in order to save time.

In closing, eat better, live better, BE BETTER!

CT

I have to say, 2013 has been a great year for me in terms of being able to enjoy QUALITY, LOCAL music. Went to a great show the other night to see and support Toussaint the Liberator, who put on a fantastic show at The Haven, in Jamaica Plain. The Haven seems to be a pretty popular JP neighborhood favorite. It’s quaint and very rustic Scottish, a small back-to-the-walkway bar, muted lighting, vintage spritzer bottles, signature drinks and Sean Connery.

The entertainment space was very narrow but still gave a great view of the performance area. Prior to me knowing it was a Scottish bar, I requested a Guinness and was abruptly told, “This is a Scots bar, and we have Bell New Haven Stout, which is better than Guinness.” I could feel my face tighten up as I grimaced at his blasphemous allegation. I accepted the challenge, it sipped well and I was pleased but, I’m certainly not giving up my 1759 Club Card.

Anyway, back to the music.

I was so amped up after the event it reminded me of when I see my Brother A.M.B. (African Man Born) perform and how I see him put in work and he works hard to be the best. Every time I see or hear him perform, I learn something. On this night, Toussaint was the teacher who liberated our minds from the confines of the times.

“The Gaza Strip is underwater!” Who knew? I haven’t read it in a paper or seen it on the news. The less coverage there is the less investigation will go into the “flood gates” that have been opened on the already poor people of Palestine.

There is so much potential to learn from conscious artists, be it Poetry, Hip Hop or Reggae Soul, if you can learn something from it, you should support it. With Hip Hop artists like AMB and OFats, poets like VCR and Art Collins, the multi-talented Toussaint the Liberator and the other gifted performers in and around this City, there’s absolutely no need to tune in to the mainstream minstrels that pollute the radio waves.

picdudes

I have a very diverse artistic taste but, I am more than happy to support the artists, photographers, musicians, poets and anyone who pushes positive, educational and thought provoking vibrations into the world and into my head!

CT

“The coontocracy of assimilationist corporate Negroes is in full effect, riding for patriarchal capitalist agendas and having us believe that somehow Bey’s success is a step toward some dystopic vision of progress for Black women.”

Real Colored Girls

Beyhive Booty

In Pimp Theory, a “bottom bitch” is the one in the whores’ hierarchy who rides hardest for her man. She’s the rock of every hustler economy and her primary occupation is keeping other ho’s in check and gettin’ that money. She isn’t trying to elevate the status of her sister ho’s. She isn’t looking to transform pimp culture. The bottom bitch is a token who is allowed symbolic power, which she uses to discipline, advocate for, represent and advance the domain of the stable.  In pop culture, she represents the trope of the chosen black female, loyal to her man and complicit in her own commodification.

In hip hop vernacular she has emerged as the “Boss Bitch” or “Bawse”, titles you’ll hear used liberally across urban/pop discourses – from the streets to rappers to the hip hop, basketball and ATL housewives.  What she represents is an appearance of power within…

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DUCKHUNTDUTY

I was hiking down memory lane, having a conversation about an old video game called, “Duck Hunt.”

A friend of mine mentioned how she still had the game, but no console. We laughed about that and the annoying dog that was at one moment your friend and the next your most annoying antagonist; laughing at you because you failed to kill any of the “digital-ducks” flapping across the screen.

I was reminded of the small B&W TV we had in the kitchen, where I was allowed to hook the Nintendo up. I wasn’t able to hook it up to the floor model color TV; it was the “community” TV for my mom and sis and the only color one in the house. The time-worn connectors on the back of that CRT crypt were already being used by the twisted antenna that brought our makeshift living room some televised clarity. I just remember sitting in the worn down orange and yellow kitchen chair, pointing that plastic gun at the screen, shooting at the black and gray ducks, engaging in the first virtual experience that connected the real world to the video game world. It was fun, it was innocent and it was innovative, creative and a big leap from the bleeps and blips of Colecovision and Atari.

I began to think about how far video games have come and being the consummate thinker I am, I began to compare that seemingly guiltless bird-hunting-gun-gallery, to the ultra-violent games that are available to our kids now. I went to the couch and began to psychoanalyze humanity.

However, as possible as it may be to tie-in the crayon animated carnage that millions of us were exposed to – there is no way that it has imbedded its dreadful degree into who we’ve become as adults. I don’t think the NES Zapper, was designed for the purpose of facilitating youth into a life of fighting and murder. You would think that it would have turned out legions of young eager hunters instead.

We as a society, particularly males are fascinated with guns from childhood. We see cowboys and Indians and how the almighty cowboys bang- bang-bang down Indian savagery. We see john Wayne, lead armies into war with Hollywood guns blazing and victory guaranteed by at least the hour and a half mark. We see Officer Friendly toting his gun in our neighborhoods, keeping the burglars and villains at bay and reminding us that “Crime doesn’t pay…unless you get caught.”
They usually leave that last part out.

Anyway, American males are addicted to guns and the noises they make. We love to hear or see a big explosion on TV or hear the bone-rattling thunderclap from a 50 Cal sniper rifle. Does this make us crazy, fanatical or maniacal? In some instances it does and we started off with just Duck Hunt.
Fast forward to today! Our kids are growing up playing video games that are realistic, use real weapons, digitized blood, gore and death, which is certainly a far cry from being stuck with 3 bullets and a Dog that was the biggest a-hole in video game history as your hunting buddy.

Now our young men can team up on-line from Boston to Budapest. Gamers can come together to blow shit up. Creating a giant virtual World War III, IV and V! Our young people play these games and even think that because they know the names of the weapons they’re playing with, think they miraculously become experts in tactical and survival skills. Many of them joining or dreaming of joining the Army or Marines, fueled by the exhilarating dopamine-high they get from simulated bloodshed. I’ve even heard that new US Soldiers go through training seminars with games similar to Call of Duty, to give them a very small taste of what to expect on the field of battle.

Pilots train in flight simulators.
Astronauts have extra-vehicular activity training.
Firemen go through training with burning buildings.

Are they training us and our kids for something?

Not to be a conspirator (I’ll save that for another blog) but, is there a grand plan to get us ready for war in case it happens and happens to take place in regular neighborhoods? Who knows? What I do know is that, if there is a problem with men and particularly violence from men that came from the Nintendo Era, what can be said about our young men that are playing these games now? What kind of men will they be in the future? The PlayStations and the Xboxes, enable these fellas to disconnect from reality and link them to a mental world war that could lead to a marginal form of PTSD, which would then lead to cognitive behavioral therapy.

As parents and guardians, we have to make sure that we don’t let our children and teenagers make bad life-decisions based on how bad-ass they may be in multiplayer mode. Sadly, our boys aren’t given much or anything else to be in life. Many of us neglect our young males and “set them off” to find out what life is like on their own. Or, we saturate them with Sex, Violence, War and Death and that’s all they see and it’s all they know. Young girls aspire to be pretty or sexy or smart and important. Our boys think they will be important by being remembered; perhaps if they die doing something that in their eyes is worth dying for. A disturbing infatuation with post-mortem accolades. Why is that? Are we raising our boys to become video game soldiers, only to send them off into real war? It seems like we are. We leave them to their own vices and not pay enough attention to them to show them other things in life. Will we have to live in a society where headlines like “Driven to Kill by Call of Duty” become a societal norm? Are we such a desperate society, of over medicated spoiled brats that trans-mutate our simulated-wraithlike military fantasies into real tangible deaths?

These are questions that should be asked and should be answered. Who do we go to for the answers? The video game companies, the retailers, the programmers? Our young males, across all races and across the country are mentally-disenfranchised. There are reports published by the so-called smart people that say boys are rapidly falling behind girls in education and in jobs.  They call it “Feminisms Greatest Victory.” Feminists have lobbied for a societal transformation where the rights and talents of women are fully recognized and men are subjugated to a minority, beginning with the calculated destruction of boys.  If you think about it, over the years, there has been an attack on boyhood, masculinity and manhood.

Don’t react, just think on that.

So in closing, the digital divide between reality and false reality, is somewhat like The Matrix. Our young men are plugged into the systems (video games) and are seeing residual self-images of themselves (soldiers) or Black Operatives, on the Battlefields, blowing stuff up and saving the world but, as I’ve said before, in this life, there’s no continue button and you only get 1 life to lose.

duck-hunt-dog

And although they keep trying…..

The Revolution Will Not Be Digitized

CT