Choices

Aboredbabys I was exploring the 300 channels these satellite stations love to brag so much about…again…I could find nothing to watch. I finally gave up and left it on Flashpoint, a drama series following officers handling crises. This one episode focused on the challenges encountered by two brothers residing in an urban setting.troubled-teens

The older son was a former gang member that transforms his life by attending college to become a nurse and works long hours to support his brother. The younger son is an adolescent about fourteen years of age battling the negative influences of their neighborhood, his mother’s brutal passing, and misconception of manhood. In this episode, the younger brother witnesses a murder by a fellow gang member and has been marked for death. The older brother and the task force come to his aid by capturing the individuals who try to assassinate him. To make a long story short, these brothers must confront the perils of life to have inner peace and face the demons of their past.ss084buddha-peace-posters

Immediately this show made me ponder choices and how it influences our lives. Choices is a word that is used frequently in human vernacular but I think we rarely recognize the power it holds. What if the older son would have remained in the gang? What if the police would not have helped these young men? WHAT IF??!!

choicesA common phrase I heard growing up is, “It’s not where you start but where you end.” While this is a true statement in the context it was use; it is important to assess how we began our journey and how our choices governed our lives. Often, when I observe various situations in people’s lives; I wonder “what landed you here?” As people begin to tell their story you are able to piece together the puzzle that gives you the whole view.

Experience has taught me that choices do not only stem from individuals but from their backgrounds, beliefs, and current gang memorialcircumstance. When I was watching a special on gangs, it was very disheartening to hear youth state they joined gangs for protection or to feel loved. It is evident that these choices would lead these young people down a turbulent road filled with chaos and dismay; but they felt like they had no choice. Many people have died from choices they have made just like others have created a legacy. Where have your choices landed you?

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The Application of Listening

stop and friskSocial Media has afforded us the opportunity to bear witness to events occurring locally, regionally, and internationally. For instance, the  Stop-and-Frisk phenomena happening in New York City, enabled us to see the injustices afflicted on disenfranchised persons. Also, the high profile case of Trayvon Martin, kept millions all over the world glued to the story, the outcome, and the impact of rooted racism. These cases move us because they pigeon-hold certain individuals from achieving the American Dream. Therefore, we begin to see marches and campaigns for justice. However, one must consider the first step before action can take place and that is to listen. Trayvon-Martin-Rally

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. “ — Epictetus

life-coaching-listenListening is not only an auditory function that the body is able to perform but connects us to the outside world. When we begin to listen we become more informed by our surroundings, gain knowledge, and perhaps effect change. Kivi Miller offers us 17 tips to do with the things we hear, that can enhance organizations as well as personal growth. All her suggestions are beneficial and provide food for thought. I believe her most important point was to BETTER UNDERSTAND THE PEOPLE THAT MATTER THE MOST.

Constituents within non-profit organizations should be the most valued and sought after resource when constructing goals for agencies. Yet, this has been proven to be the opposite. It is no secret that non-profits are in competition for resources and depend upon sponsors to keep them afloat. Consequently, these precarious circumstances leave clients unheard, ignored, and invisible to the very organization they seek help from. Goodconversationgoodlistening

Roger Chapman, puts an interesting twist on how listening impacts blogging. Similar to Kivi Miller’s understanding your audience, he highlights how learning styles may influence public perception. He defines each learning style, commonly used phrases of each style, and what techniques better impact these learning styles. It is very imperative that we remain relevant and aware of the audience we are trying to reach. Listening will be our gateway into breaking barriers.

The Great Divide

“Religion is the opium of the masses”.—Karl Marx

Marx_oldSociological Theory was the first time I heard this paraphrased statement from renowned German economist Karl Marx. This quote was a very perplexing concept that I had a hard time grasping and intense emotions around. How could someone have the audacity to equate religion to opium? Isn’t opium a substance that people use to get “high”? Through life experience I was taught that religion and God were interconnected and should be treated sacredly. I knew some people that considered placing the bible on the floor as a sign of disrespect to God. Some may have even considered not attending church as an unpardonable abomination. Despite these taught beliefs, I began to question its validity when I strolled unto the diverse communities and cultures of UNF. It was here, that I began to form friendships with people in the LGBTQ community and get deeper insight.

I felt incredibly torn. How could these people be an abomination to God? They were people with feelings, families, and desiresreligion to be loved just like me. They were my friends. When I began my quest for knowledge it was then that I realized, that religion and god, are not one in the same. Fellow bloggers, Dr. Diva Verdun and Emily’s sentiments , discuss the significant differentials of the two.
jim jonesThere have been previous cases where religion was used as a tool to control people. However, it is not my intention to perverse the term religion but provide an open dialogue on the topic. In my experiences, religion has come with too many do’s and don’ts that seem to stifle the human spirit and yield unrealistic expectations. Spirituality provides a gateway for people to be who they are as well as decide the fate of their own existence. A common statement I heard as a child, was “Man was created in the image of God.” Now. Who are we to decide who is worthy of this resemblance?

We come to understand that GOD has Everything in hand and that we don’t have to fix other people for God or any other purpose because we are now to busy fixing ourselves. —Dr. Diva Verdun

Are you at Risk?

THIS IS NOT A TEST!!!! I REPEAT. THIS IS NOT A TEST. There has been a virus running rampant all over the world. There appears to be a low survivor rate of non-users. Medical professionals and scientists have not been able to isolate this disease due to its astronomical rates worldwide. People affected by this virus may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

1.       Withdrawals when they are away from their phone or other technology

2.       Check Facebook before they get out of bed

3.       Talk in text terminology

If you display any of these symptoms you may already have….technomania. Crazy Facebook Dress 4

Clearly, technomania is a disorder I just created, so don’t go seeking medical advice from your physician or therapist about the symptoms listed above. Technology is an amazing resource that we have been provided. It has impacted many avenues of our lives for the better and worse. Social Media is a virtual method to communicate, share and participate with a larger audience. The question of the day is: How has social media changed our communication?

        1.       We have become a more fast-paced society. Due to the boundless access to information we are able to find information on any person or subject with one click. This is great!!! Let me provide you with a scenario:

 I’m invited to an event at the white house (only in my wildest dreams) and President Barack Obama says, “Monique, how did you like my speech in Kentucky the other day?” Now I could panic and run away…OR I could make an excuse to run to the restroom and watch it really quick. The choice is up to you.

                The down side to a fast-paced society is that it breeds impatience and a disregard for the smaller things in life. We no longer have the attention span to watch a video that is longer than five minutes without turning or speeding it up. Libraries have become a distant memory for children because of the internet. Consequently, these institutions encounter limited funding, less hours, or risk of closure.

 rationing-cell-phone-minutes1     2.       Do not call me. How many of us have been guilty of ignoring a phone call because we didn’t feel like talking? Texting is a popular form of communication between youth and young adults because it gives you an instant response without having to engage in proper phone etiquette. You know… “Hi. How was your day? Mines was great. And yours?”…even when you don’t care to know.

Texting is a non-personable medium to communication that has transferred into how we interact in society.  Texting terminology has been integrated into conversation, advertisements, and music. This causes us not to have interpersonal connections with others which leads to desensitization to human emotion. When we become so wrapped in technology that we are no longer able to talk to others or allow things to become an extension of ourselves, we need to reevaluate our lives.

The Art of Good Storytelling

storytelling“ENGAGE ME!!!”  This was bellowed by my English 101 professor the first semester of my undergraduate career. Everyone was startled and a bit out of sorts by his reaction. I was very nervous that this guy was mentally unstable and had somehow conned his way through a psych evaluation. Do professors take those? Although I was slightly nervous, I found myself just as intrigued. He was a medium built guy with cropped brown hair and deep eyes filled with excitement. “Now that I have your attention. Welcome to English 101.”

He proceeded to explain his expectations of us and how classes would be facilitated for the rest of the semester. “I yelled engage me in the beginning of class because your writing is your artistry. That is your voice when you are not in front of me. I want to be consumed by your words and feel like I am a part of the story. Take me on this journey with you.”

This encounter stuck with me always. It alerted me to the fact that people love a good story.  This is illustrated by the precedence of the halftime show and commercials played at the Super bowl.  Stories can be told in various ways, such as, traditional oracle storytelling or innovative ways to advertise. A good story keeps you actively involved that time seems to fly. teacher

Storytelling begins with defining the purpose of your message and how you want to engage your audience.  The old adage of “Art Imitating Life” is more than a saying. Stories develop from common themes that have been portrayed in life which creates relatability. That’s why we are able to empathize with the adolescent nervous about the first day of school or the person that dreamt more for their life. Good storytelling captures all these emotions and has us reflect on our own lives. What is good storytelling to you? or Even a story that moved you?

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Conversation to the Younger ME

Another restless night. Earlier in the evening, I had fallen asleep watching some melodrama “reality” show of people indulging entirely too much: in profanity, alcohol, and absurdity. Understanding how addictions and life can take control of us. I digress. As I laid in bed, I turned over and noted that it was 3 am and sighed heavily, because I had to get up in 3 hours to battle the unforeseen events of the day.  However, I have found that most of my deepest insight and life revelations have come from these early morning sessions. A discussion with a colleague was still at the forefront of my mind and kept replaying like a broken record. Our conversation entailed things you wish you would’ve known about getting older?  What would you have told your younger self to make life a bit easier?  My mind took me on a journey through past and current experiences that I have been through.  I decided upon these takeaways to gift myself.gift

Self…It’s okay not knowing. I have always been a very precocious individual and observant of the things around me. I was so afraid to make mistakes that I wanted to be calculated in every aspect of my life. My life was set up like a detailed road map with each age having a milestone to reach. There was a limitless high when each goal was met as well as a relentless sense of failure when things didn’t go according to plan.  Tangible rewards (degrees, money, cars, prestige, etc.) became the foundation life was built on because it proved that catching up with the Jones’ could be a reality. Therefore, I conditioned myself on what success was and the steps taken to achieve this sought-after
goal.                                                                                                                        Success

When we deviate from this path of “success” or take a substantial amount of time to figure our life purpose, The Microwave Society, is unpleased with us and reminds us we are not meeting expectations. Artist Daley eloquently articulates the futile nature of planning and the warped speeds that govern our lives. “Slow, slow down…..nothing will happen before its time…because good things come to those who wait.”

The extreme highs and lows I felt as a result of my planning, manifested fear, doubt, anxiety, and instability in my life. Through life experiences I have gained insight on how to deal with these issues…understanding my journey, understanding myself and understanding self-love.

inner peace 2Self…Get to know you. There is no greater peace like knowing yourself. When you begin to dissect and get to the core of you, there is an indescribable joy. No longer are you holding on to the guilt’s of the past, living an existence filled with self-loathing and being controlled by minute people. Self…breakdowns will happen with a growing understanding from experience as you transition. Don’t be resistant (Thanks- you know who you are :)). Take these new pieces of data and create a NEW plan that YOU can control. Let go of embedded beliefs and discover your own truths. It is okay to challenge the powers that be even if they are your parents. You must decide what you believe.

I came across an excerpt of a video with Dr. Maya Angelou on an episode of Oprah’s Super soul Sunday about her revelation of life. This title alone grabbed my attention because I felt what incident could have been so significant to lay an imprint on this prophetic woman’s life? She said, it was knowing that a force that made everything–loved her. “God loves me and I am amazed at it. And grateful for it.”

 

Last but not least. Self…LOVE YOU.

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Professional vs. Personal

Technology has become the new means of communication within our society and is steadily taking over. No longer are we in the days of book reading, going to pay bills in person, or simply writing a letter. These modes have become outdated and just as extinct as the dinosaurs we hear about in our learning institutions. What has replaced these former interactions is technology that yield quicker tangible results and an overabundance of access. While these essential components have created a more productive society by creating awareness, helping organizations to thrive, and connect diverse populations; it is key to weigh the negative impacts of too much liberty.

Social sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram have become the top picks for displaying individual talents and achievements within our personal lives. However, these networks have left many in precarious situations that has led to possible unemployment and imprisonment. Being a student on the brink of the professional arena, I have taken certain precautions when using these sites:
1) Be cognizant of posts and pictures you put up
2) Place control settings that approves everything that is put on your page
3) Place privacy settings on your account

These techniques can be helpful when navigating social networks and limiting the access that many may have if you. Just remember….if you wouldn’t do it in front of a priest or your mother…it may not be a good idea to post it.

Whatever Happened to the Sunshine State?

Since the untimely death of Florida native, Trayvon Martin, there has been a lot of negative comments, press, and stereotypes associated with the state of Florida. From this verdict, it seems as if the media wanted to keep a watchful eye out looking for its next big break—and they did. Every other day was a story broadcasting a series of misfortunate events that “plagued” this trouble state; from police brutality, residents losing their homes to sinkholes, and murderous rampages in urban cities. Many people have solicited my opinions on these controversies in the media or my favorite, “Moe what’s going on with your home state?” There has been an overflow of questioning and accusatory statements that has led me to speak on the good Florida offers.

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What other place could you go where the weather is bright and sunny year round? I’m waiting…NO WHERE!! Florida is  home to numerous beaches and lakes that are frequented by natives and outer towners alike. Miami is a notorious getaway for vacationers because of its metropolitan lifestyle, beautiful skyline, walking strip mall, and exquisite boutiques. Florida is also composed of various cultures that have migrated all over the world to partake in the richness of the sunshine state. These dynamic flavors bring a very savory favor to the melting pot which is Florida. Let’s not forget about the amazing themes parks that inhabit Orlando under the guise of Walt Disney that taught children everywhere to dream. A little closer to my hometown (Homestead, FL) are the legendary keys where fishing and partying is at an all time.

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Media has been a very useful tool that has forwarded political battles and brought awareness to many issues (i.e. civil rights movement). However, society has been forced fed its “awareness” by producers, news anchors, and creators of local broadcasting stations. This is what aides us in making critical judgments about people, without leaving the comforts of our sofa at home. Instead of people saying, “What happened to the sunshine state?” Let’s think about “What has happened to the media?”

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