It's Billy Dee!

Fast forward to about the 1:18 mark.

"Pride!? You know I despise that word Martin. Pride is like a toxic chemical in the garden of love, & Gina is your flower in the garden Martin. If you nurture her, cherish her, she'll return that love with the full glory of the blossoming of her fragrance. But if you choke her with that weed called pride Martin, both your love & hers will wither & die."

This has to be one of the episodes of Martin I remember better because Martin went literally from the bottom and fought his way back to the top to get Gina back. He did any and everything til the last thing he had left was to make a fool out of himself. But the main reason I love this episode is because of that OG advice that is missing from today's world. I cherish my elders who have matured and tell me stories and give me advice off their past mistakes and life moments. They literally saw it all and they don't mind sharing faults and failures with the younger people when they messed up.

If you go back to my old post "A Conversation With My Elder" you see I received some similar on a subject matter the same. Well I was eating some dinner and watching some episodes and this happened to come on. From the moment he sat down til the moment Martin ran out that door, Billy Dee schooled Martin the way only real men can. That's something the television is missing these days, those moments when you can sit and apply situations to real life moments. But none the less, that statement holds true for a lot of situations for a lot of men.

But none the less, I just had to get a quick post out there on one of my favorite scenes from one of the classic television shows out there.

Change Gon' Come

Today I decided to make a change.

It's not even on the lowest keys of change either. Usually what I do when I feel stagnant or stuck, is basically do something drastic and a complete left. I have this unique ability, maybe one could even call it a quality, to able to just up and move somewhere without and kind of hesitation, doubt or worry in my mind. I mean sure I get nervous here or there but in the grand scheme of it all, I'm pretty excited about something new. I say about the three year mark of being somewhere, that's when I get tired of being in that place and want a new change of pace.

Long ago, not too long after my freshman year at Shaw University, I put made a plan in my head to move back up to Washington D.C. after I graduated. That plan came about because that's where my family is from, well rather parts of Maryland and Virginia mostly. So logically speaking, that move would make sense in terms of me being around family that I didn't get to see a lot like that. Well you know things happen in life for a reason, and plans get put on hold and sometimes forgotten. But since 2014 has been labeled the year of restoration, I've decided to come back full circle within myself, this is one of the major things that need to come back.

Therapy really has taken a hold of me in terms of pushing my attitude, dreams, goals and primarily my way of thinking to the edge. My therapist constantly tests my mental prowess every single time I go in there. She always hits me with that one question that always makes me go, "well, I didn't look at it like that". Like I said a couple weeks ago, she beat me down, tore me apart, and just destroyed me the first couple of months I was in there. Now I'm in the rebuilding phase as she likes to call it. This week she asked me one fairly simple question:

"What are you holding onto, why are you so afraid to be who you are?"

Now that seemed like a loaded question to me at the time. My replying being the typical "I don't know" statement. She then hit me with the question again, a little different this time around:

"What is there not to know about what you're holding onto? Is it really hard to not know why you're afraid to be who you are? You're not a horrible person, you're not the weakest person in terms of emotional stability. You have a sense of being able to make rational decisions under pressure when it doesn't involve you. You typically do things that others wouldn't do when it comes down to making sure something happens. You like adventure, and being able to say you did something that other people were too afraid to do themselves. So I ask you one more time; "what are you holding onto, why are you so afraid to be who you are?"

When the question was posed to me like that, it made more sense to me. I told her that I realize the older I become, the less appealing it is to me to keep moving around from state to state. I don't want to be in my late 30's still bouncing around like a nomad until I'm forced to. I'd rather pick somewhere now and work on settling down there, rather than doing route mentioned earlier. The one thing that I want in life is a family, I think now are the years that count when in terms of starting to build towards that so I'm not working all crazy in my latter years trying to support them, I can enjoy them. Then she did something different. First I have to let you know that my therapist isn't a therapist in the conventional sense. We don't sit on couches and talk, then I leave. Oh no, we talk outside when it's sunny, and sit in front of a window when it's raining, she says the weather can help a person think when their eyes are open. So with that being said, we're talking outside and she proceeds to walk me to the fountain. This is what she said:

"Take a look at what you see. You see yourself right? You see a man who is tired, stressed, fed up, annoyed, angry, sad, depressed, homesick, and any other verbs used to describe unhappiness. Now while you're not anywhere close to the level you were on when you came here, you are undoubtedly still not to the level where you can go around smiling without being worried. Take this fountain for instance, you see yourself, calm and  just flowing with whatever right now. But as I drop this stone in the water you see what happens, you become wavy like, ripples all across your face. That's your life, that's what it signals how you live. You're not the type to just stop and make plans for yourself, you ride the waves of life. Who ever said that was a bad thing? That's who YOU are, not anyone else, but you. You've spent most of your life doing what you have to do, yes I know you're tired of doing that, but you don't realize that when you do that, you get where YOU want to be. So instead of making less ripples in the water and trying to be calm with no breeze, start making waves because you're the surfer here, looking for the biggest one to catch. Until you get that through your head, you'll always be out there on your surfboard, waiting on the waters to change."

I'll just say that I'm lucky to have older people give me such great advice. I don't look at her in terms of being just a therapist, she's an older African American female who genuinely cares and wants to see me do good for myself. This is the second time I've had a very in depth conversations with a person I consider my elder, and it's really starting to sink in. There are a number of reasons as to why I want to be here, but none of those reasons are concrete enough for me to stay. People always say to me "oh why do you just want to up and move, you don't want to be around your friends anymore?" and that's not even remotely close to the truth. I love my friends to death, but this isn't about them, it's about me. It's about me being happy and doing things that make me happy, because if I didn't, then am I really being the best friend I can be when I'm not personally happy with myself? No I'm not, and who's to say that I will move, I might find a nice job here and just up and travel, who knows for sure. But one thing that I do know for sure as of today, change is coming, and it's going to come sooner rather than later.

Ain't Nothin Like An HBCU Homecoming!

That time of the year has come and gone & I'm currently paying for it.

There are stats that I could throw out about HBCU's and there are other cool tidbits I could post from other blogs about how much money HBCU homecoming's like GHOE, SpelHouse and FAMU bring in. But the truth of the matter is, those are the least interesting facts. I mean yea it's cool to see celebs come and party it up with you, you get to tailgate with great food and drinks. But the real fact of the matter is, an HBCU homecoming is more so about being a big family. It's where the young and the old come together and put together the perfect blend of cooking out and partying, coupled with taking care of our own.

Of course you'll have those people that will find any and everything to complain about when it comes to the parties or other events. For me, seeing all the faces you started out with freshman year, and other people who eventually came to the school throughout your time there is what it's all about. This year I saw a lot of people that I haven't seen in years, due to their personal life, or mine. It was so great seeing so many people out there, and just being able to kick it with them and shoot up the old days.

Two errors on my part being one, I didn't attend enough events where people where out and about at, and two, not taking enough pictures. I'm really not big on the picture taking scene but I'm going to learn how to be for next year. Plus I'll have my phone fully charged for the event because there are so many people that I will want to take a picture with. Next year marks the 150th anniversary of Shaw University, I know homecoming will be bigger and better than it has ever been to date, all the old heads are already planning cookouts and tailgates as we speak lol. So I'm going to add those to my plans for 2015 and start saving and thinking of ways to increase the fun.

My one beef are these venues for the parties, and that's mainly only the city. I actually want to be in a club where it's a club and not a restaurant or bar that's over packed and no one can move. There' pretty much only one club here that's a real club, Solas. I don't know what it would take to get a party hosted there for homecoming, but whatever that may be, I need someone to look into it. Well the venue and the time the party shuts down. I think 3 is way too early to tell everyone to leave, it's homecoming, let people live it up a little bit we want to do things til the break of dawn if all the chips fall into the right places. The prices for the parties aren't bad at all either, if you get your tickets in a timely manner, and everyone can agree on which party to attend.

I actually have another beef too. I want the presidents of these schools here in North Carolina, and strategically plan these homecomings. Like to have three homecomings that could make money potentially for three different cities at the same time isn't cool at all. Plus I would love to go to GHOE and get me a fish plate at the game and some other free food and catch up with people I know who went to school there, and the millions of other folk like myself that I know who travels up there. Communication between HBCU's about this is important because it can bring a lot of revenue in for the schools and make them money.

Overall I missed a lot of the people that I saw for the first time in a long time, and it felt great to just shoot the breeze with them and hear how they missed the old days of all the fun we use to have and then proceed to have fun by just being out at parties and kicking it. Realizing that a lot of those people are just like family and we've been rocking it for almost 10 years is just part of the reason going to an HBCU homecoming is so dope. Well that and the fact that there was an over abundance of food and beer everywhere to drink. Next year will be even bigger just with all the people that are actually planning to be there and on the yard.

2014 Shaw University Homecoming was pretty good by my standards, definitely better than 2013, nowhere close to 2012. The excitement of 2015 has officially started. I also know that I better hit the weight room because I wasn't ready for all the running jumping hugs this year, I have bad knees to work on lol.

Patience, My Friend.

Today I had a moment.

I haven't had a moment in so long. When I felt it coming and I fixed my mouth to say something, I cut myself short. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, said thank you, and left. I proceeded to walk outside, sat on the nearest bench, put my phone on airplane mode, and just closed my eyes. I left the sun shine on me, the wind breeze by my face.

I just took in nature for the moment. For that brief moment, I surrendered myself to the nice day.

When I opened my eyes, the sun seemed a little brighter, the wind felt a little bit cooler, and the day didn't seem bad at all. That's the biggest thing that I've learned in the past year, when things aren't going your way, just take some time to yourself and just calm down & realize that life isn't bad at all. Sitting outside in the nice weather is what calms me down, because I love being outside in sunshine and cool weather. Soon as I did that, my thoughts became clear.

I know this is a short post, but that's pretty much the gist of it, when you're feeling that overwhelming feeling that something or nothing is going your way, just take some time to yourself, do something that makes you calm, whether it be playing video games, talking to someone, or drinking your favorite drink. Take that little time to reload, trust me, nothing that you have to do during the day is more important than your personal sanity and well being.

Not too much more to say on this beyond that.

Finally, I'm Scared Again.

What I find really interesting is to try and mix it up,
to push myself and try different things.
I don't want to stay in my comfort zone.
I want to take risks and keep myself scared.
- Michael Fassbender

As I sit and think about all the major things that I've done in my life, there has always been that time when I doubted myself repeatedly and thought that maybe I shouldn't be doing it, regardless what it was. What set me apart from a lot of people was my ability to actually step out and just do it. I don't really know where I got that from, but I've always been the one to just go out and do something new and unknown despite the implications it could have on my life. Thinking back, whenever I did that, it always had positive returns because I usually went in with the expectations of trying to do my best, or better than everyone else. I've always heard that the most successful people are the ones who do the things that no one else is willing to do, better than expected. Then I heard somewhere that if you volunteer to do the unexpected then anything that you do after that is victory because you've already proven yourself fearless and courageous to go against the status quo.

But what happens when you regress?

It's a tad bit different for a person who has been there and seen what the fruits of labor can be versus a person who has never been there and probably never will be because they lack the effort of the gumption to do something different. With the man who has been there and has regressed for various reasons, he kind of goes through a period of self doubt, being unsure, and whole bunch of laziness. Now typically a man who has a great support system, and an even better will, can pull himself up out of that hole. He just has to get past the pity part to see that everything isn't as bad as he thought it was. Actually when thinking about it as I wrote that, nothing is too much different besides the fact that he doesn't have that "go for it" mentality at the moment. That one character trait sets the dreamers apart from the doers. So once he regains that, he regains the power to do anything.

That's exactly where I am at the moment.

For so long I didn't have the character trait that set me apart from so many of my peers for so long. I was just blending into the crowd, being like everyone else. There were many reasons for that, but the biggest one had to be laziness. I became too comfortable in my ways after getting out of the Army that I forgot what it meant to get out and get what I want, however that may have come. One day I sat down and had a long talk with myself about what it is that I want out of life. I realized that everything that I want requires work and dedication now, so I can enjoy them later. Now once I sat down and set goals for myself and then mapped out how to get them, I just sat back and thought to myself. How? When? Where will it come? Then I started thinking to myself, "what if it never comes, what if I never get it right"? Then in that moment I realized that I was back because my initial answer to all those questions was:

"Well if I don't get what I want, then I'm going down in a blaze of glory because I refuse to say I didn't try".

That's my thought process for everything that I've ever done in my lifetime. Basically when I wanted to do something, I just said to myself, "fuck it, why not"? That's the thought process I think everyone should have after initially feeling that unsure or scared thought in their head. Because when you go out and you either obtain or failed, you can at least say that you tried and that you learned what not to do, thus being able to adjust plans without feeling like you're doing something that is something like the second option. Being scared of doing something let's me know that I should be doing it. With that understanding, after feeling scared, then realizing that it's something that I need to do, I feel a rush of adrenaline, I feel a burst of energy. That's life right there. Without feeling scared I would've never went to various programs for education, I would've never went off to college, I would've never jumped out of the airplane, most importantly, I would've never found love.

So with all that being said, if you feel that hint of being scared and doubting yourself, then you should go ahead and just do it without second thought. There will always be people that will agree with the notion of you being scared and try to persuade you to not do something that you're thinking about doing, but that's what those people are suppose to do. Those are the same people who, when you do something they don't expect you to do, are envious of your results. That type of going out on a limb just creates all kinds of confidence, and an intelligent person because you learned from the experience

I found the little part of me that's scared again. I'm pretty happy that I did, because that adventurous go out on a limb part of me is back in full swing. And I'm ready to conquer my dreams with ease. I dare you to do the same.

A Conversation With My Elder

Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him,
and to let him know that you trust him.
- Booker T. Washington

I always find it odd that in this day and age people have no worries when talking to me, and when I say people, I mean complete strangers. I stand roughly at 6'1, 240lbs when I'm in public, so couple that with the fact that I'm an African American, I'm not the least bit welcoming in my eyes. But I may be wrong in that thinking because more times than none, older folks tend to stop and ask me questions or for help. One time this lady asked me to help load groceries into her car, another at Wal-Mart had a conversation about milk and the expiration dates and how she wouldn't need that much. I guess older folks can sense the gentleman in me and have no fear in asking me questions. I actually have no problem with that at all. From a young age I was always told to listen to my elders. Not just because it was the respectful thing to do, but they always have something to teach you, whether it be right or wrong. I've always had the good fortune to run into older folks who always wanted to teach me the right and wrongs of the world and I listened, majority of the time.

So it came as no surprise when an older gentleman started talking to me one day when I was eating lunch at the hospital outside, as I had to do some stuff regarding my own health. He asked me what I was there for and we went back and forth and traded our purposes and histories in the military. He asked me why I got out after such a short time and I told him it was because I felt that it was the best thing for me because I wanted to start a family, and being moved around all over the place, and away from home so often wasn't how I wanted to raise the children I wanted to have. He agreed and commended me on my decision and said that was one of his big regrets doing 20 years, was being away from home so much and not really seeing his kids grow up like he should have. He told me some tales of his kids while they were growing up, and I thoroughly enjoyed what he was telling me. He said now that he has grandkids, he feels lucky to be around to play with them and what not.

I asked him about his wife, pointing out that he didn't mention her much, and he complimented me on how well I was paying attention. But sadly she passed five years before after 44 years of marriage. I quickly apologized and he said it was quite alright. He said once you get to a certain point in life, death was all but guaranteed and you learned to accept it and not really be bothered with it when it comes. He said that he misses her everyday and that he knows one day that they will be reunited, but his duty was to let his children and grandchildren know how much he loves them while he's still here. That's the purpose of his life as the head of the family, is to make sure that the flow of love never stops and teach them the value of it. I commented on how that's my wish for my own family after seeing so many things with my own, he reassured me that a family is built by the man who wants to have one, and the day he decides to have one is the day that everyone will gravitate towards him and follow his lead.

He proceeded to ask me about my love life and if I was married, I gave a slight chuckle and replied with a simple no. He said he knows what that chuckle means, and said that there is a woman who I want to marry but things aren't right between us. I asked him how did he know that, and his reply was a funny one stating that "I didn't get to be this old with all these children and grandchildren without going through my own headaches". He explained how him and his wife actually dated for a little while and then broke up because she thought he was playing "fast and loose" with all the women in the neighborhood. He admitted that he was a young man who didn't really see the importance in settling down at the time. He said it wasn't til one day he sat back shortly after that he realized that life was more than what everyone around him wanted it to be for him. He said he made the conscience decision to go after is future wife again, but she wasn't having it. He said she drug him through the mud in the sense that she thought he was just trying to play her and get her like all the other women in the neighborhood. He said he literally had to get his life together in order to get her. He admitted it was hard breaking out of the mentality that he had for so long, but he knew what he wanted, and he wouldn't stop at it til he had her and everything he needed to take care of her.

He asked me to explain my situation that I was in, and after hearing it, he grinned and said to me:

"That's nothing. Even though generations change, times change, the world changes, the one thing that doesn't is love. God is love, his love will never change. When you talk about two people loving each other, like really loving each other, there's nothing that can keep them apart. Today's generation gets so easily discouraged by something that is hard that they give up. We get called the golden age of love because we literally had to fight for our love because of racism and the lynching's and what not. But at the end of the day, it's the same regardless of what you hear out of a woman's mouth. If that woman knows you'll give every sing bit of yourself to make sure she's happy for the rest of her life, then nothing can repay that kind of love she'll give to you. But you as a man have to be completely ready for that, you have to mean that with all your soul because barring things like physical or mental illness, that woman will be there long enough for you to prove you love her. You can say all the words out of your mouth that you want til you're blue in the face, but until you put down tangible evidence as to why she should come back & know you can care for her like you need to, she won't. I went through the same situation with my wife of 44 years. We almost didn't make it a couple of times, most times I as the man had to will us through it. There were times when she held down the fort, but for the most part you have to lead her to happiness, her support will be there to give you motivation. That plus God kept us together. Love will be the hardest thing you do in life because it's the one thing you can't live without. You love that woman, she knows, you'll do anything for that woman, she knows. But you have to get off your ass and show her how much you love her & that's where you're at, and that's a better position to be in than the one where she doesn't love you at all."

I looked at him and told him that was one of the best piece of advice that I was ever given. He just nodded his head and smile and said, "I know". He also pointed out that there isn't many people around anymore that can give solid advice like that anymore, and that there isn't too many young people my age that will actually listen and digest the information being given. For all that was being said he commended me on actually listening and sharing versus acting tough and lying. He also gave me another great piece of advice saying; "watch who you take advice from, I'd rather take it from someone who admit they failed versus a person who pretends to be ok". "Not having to have it all together is a scary thing, I know, it always is. But if you're busting your ass, trying to make that way, then she'll be there, she'll always be there, because she sees that you're trying to do good things for yourself. That goes for anyone, friends, family, strangers. If people see that you're trying to do better, they will gravitate towards you and try to help you get there".

A nurse comes over to get him for his pre surgery screening, he shook my hand and told me that everything will work itself out, as long as I keep trying, and I keep working hard towards it. Because God won't let me fail at something that I'm willing to work everyday of my life for. Plus as an African American male, there's that inherited trait of being able to pull off far greater things that I never imagined through the hard work I put in. He shook my hand, and was wheeled off back into the building. I sat there for a little while, thankful for the chance to hear reaffirming words from someone willing to teach me a couple of things.

It's always great to talk to my elders.

Look At The Black Guy Rockin Out!

I’m the one that has to die when it’s time for me to die,
so let me live my life, the way I want to.
- Jimi Hendrix

I went to a bar alone, on a Wednesday night, mainly because I really needed the alone time. At that particular point in life I was really not feeling anything and became despondent towards a lot of people and situations, I basically just wanted to quit everything and disappear. Everyone feels like that every now and then. One of my main things that I went to the particular bar that I went to was because I know I had about a 90% chance of seeing someone I knew at the regular bars that I frequently visited around here. So I decided to switch the whole game up and go to a bar that can be described as being white. Now I've never been to this bar so I didn't really know to expect. Was there going to be an uncomfortable vibe because I'm black, are they racist, was it going to be weird and not like a regular bar scene. Thankfully none of those were the case when I went inside. When I walked in someone actually remarked, "look it's a black guy, this is going to be a great night, they know how to have fun!", you know how drunk people get lol.

As I was in there at the bar talking to the bartender, seeing as how it was still early for people to be in there, he told me tonight was karaoke night. So as I am looking for the karaoke machine he replies, "oh we don't do the machine, we have a live band", immediately my interest is peaked at this. I've never heard a live band playing for karaoke night. I asked if that band was that good to be able to play any kind of song and come to find out they were a tribute band that goes around playing hits for parties and other events. So I'm sitting there like this is going to be really cool. I see the band setting up, and I see that they actually have multiple guitars on the stage, which was a clear indication that the guitarist actually knew what the hell they were doing. 

So around 11:30 the place has a fair amount of people and they are all in there drinking and laughing, meanwhile I'm still at the bar in the corner drinking and chit chatting with some people that made their way over to me. They said usually the band comes in and has hopes of playing but people are usually too nervous to get up there, so they end up playing around three or four songs the whole night. That was quite disheartening to hear because I really thought the concept was a cool one. Then one of the guys asked me did I know any rock songs, and I told him a few but not a lot. He then suggested that I go up there and try my luck, I told him I didn't know and felt a little comfortable seeing as how I was the only black person in there, he told me it wasn't that kind of place and that it would be cool to see.

Now usually I don't let people yank my chain like that because the situation seems a little iffy to me, but on the same page I'm that type of person that if people ask for volunteers and everyone is too nervous to speak up, I jump and do it. So as I'm sitting there, this one drunk girl gets up there and does the funniest rendition of Gwen Stefani's Holla Back Girl. The band looked kind of like, "yea we don't really want to play this song", but just like I thought, there were no more volunteers after that. Then the white guy just yells out, "this guy wants to try his luck!", putting me on the spot lol. I'm not a punk by any means so I took the rest of my drink to the head and made my way to the stage. The lead guitarist tells me they know a few rap songs and that it might be a little hard for them to play them. I told them I'm not here for rap tonight and told them I wanted to start with Incubus' Warning. They looked a little shock and surprised, they asked am I sure, I told them to back me up as best they could.

Now this is a song that I play all the time when I'm at home and I'm writing blogs, so I know all of the cues and all the breakdowns in the song. So as I'm going on and I'm feeling the song I just kind of close my eyes and drift off with the vibe. When the last chord was struck I looked up and and I saw everyone just sitting there staring at me, I didn't know if I messed it up or what, but then a guy just yelled out, "that shit was awesome!", then people started clapping. And someone yelled out "do another one!", and everyone started saying yea, and I looked back at the band and they were all smiles with the drummer saying "I did not see that coming at all, what else do you have in you"?

At this point I really can't believe what's going on because I've never been in this kind of situation before in my life. I mean I know I can't sing or anything, but I guess with the way I was feeling, the liquor and just my knowledge of the song, it all came together. So I told them let's do The Killer's Mr. Brightside, which happened to be one of  the other guitarist favorite songs. He backed me up on that song pretty heavy because I forgot a couple of spots here and there. At this point everyone is up and they're feeling me feel the songs, and they're just dancing. So after that I told them let's just go right ahead and into Blink-182's Stay Together For The Kids. Man that was my favorite part of the night when they kicked in and started singing Tom's part, and the drummer killed his part. I just love that song man, it hits home all too well.

But the last two songs that I did was Boston's More Than A Feeling & Imagine Dragons' It's My Time. Both great songs man, I didn't realize that I knew so many of the lyrics to those songs. With More Than A Feeling, it was more so about the band just getting down and the people in the bar just clapping and getting behind them. It sounded just like the song when I hear it. Then with It's My Time, I just got a little emotional. If you watch the video to Demon's and you see the end of the video with the dedication. I was just thinking at the time how life was good for me and that what I was going through was nothing compared to what someone else was going through.

I always find it funny when I hear people say to me when I'm listening to a Rock song, "how do you know that song"? I think good music knows no genre or boundaries. All genres has some bad selections but for the most part the truly great songs will get through and you will feel them. I personally like Rock because of the live instruments and what not. That's why I like a group like The Roots because that's who they are. But as for Rock, it's always been the type of music I listen to for certain purposes, just like when I listen to Rap / Hip-Hop, R&B and certain pop songs. So to come out and just sing my heart out at a time when I was going through it, it allowed me to get a lot off my chest. It was the equivalent to talking to someone and just letting it all out, but without actually having to say it.

So for being one of the greatest moments in life, that night was the night I came back into who I am as a person, as a man, I came back into Devon. The guy who can do anything, knows he can do anything, and will eventually do the things that he wants. I implore people to take more chances, more risks, step outside the box more, because you never know when things like this will happen.