Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Crab in the Barrel

Apparently, I had the concept of the crab in the barrel a little misinterpreted and it took until Dec. 18th of my 30th year (2012) to actually get the meaning. Not that I feel that my interpretation probably wouldn't work in my case, but I was under the impression that being a crab in the barrel meant "stepping over people to get to the top." Growing up, the meaning of the saying was never explained to me, so I interpreted my own meaning and figured that I did a pretty good job deciphering a logic behind it. But then, I came across this video about leadership and a speaker by the name of Craig Valentine speaking about negativity explained how when crabs are in a barrel and one crab is clamoring to get out over the top, the other crabs grabs and pulls it back in. It is as if it is saying, "hey, where are you going?" He went on to say that this is how negative people are. They always end up finding a way to bring you back in the barrel if you allow them to.

As a society, we are groomed to see things from a negative, pessimistic outlook. We all have it in us (self included). What ends up happening is that our negative organs seem to outsize our positive organs and becomes poisonous not only in our own lives but in the lives of other people that we interact with.

Negativity can happen overtly or covertly, but the end result has the potential to end detrimentally. Oftentimes, the most dangerous form of negativity is negativity in disguise. It is doctored up in makeup, and all the fixings that makes it seem appealing, then "BOOM!" the bomb drops.

I've been in the midst of negativity all of my life, from outside factors to my own negative inputs; and I have been a witness to the ill effects that it has had through my family, in my relationship, with my friends, and between total strangers. So, I've been choosing to change my outlook, and see promise, purpose and positivity in all that I do and all that is around me. It is hard but it is possible, because there is one additional thing that I learned yesterday, and it is that "negative people would rather change who you are instead of changing who they are." I know it all starts with me, and it also begins with you.

Dont be the crab in the barrel!

God Bless

Monday, November 5, 2012

We Have a Vision for America Too

In the wake of one of the most important presidential elections of our lifetimes, we bare witness to last minute blitzes from both parties' presidential hopefuls in efforts to attract or persuade the few undecided voters in key battleground states. The pitch- their visions for America. From campaign ads to the coveted "get out the vote" ground games, the fight for who has the best vision for America is in action.

But let's forget about the presidential campaign for a moment. We have a vision for America too. I, myself, have a vision for this great country as well. We all want better not only for our own lives, but for the strength, longevity, and the integrity of our country.

When I wake up every morning, I wonder what I can do to improve upon not just my life but the lives of others. I wonder what is the perfect vision for America. What I have come to realize is that my vision alone, or anyone for that matter is the perfect solution for our country when contrived separately. But collectively, as a unit, side by side, hand in hand, our vision for whats best for our country, our people, and our future poses as the best solution.

The problem that is faced is that many of our visions for what is best for the country is predicated solely on what is best for us- individually. We must learn to work collaboratively to share and mesh our visions, not just from a political party standpoint, but also as a community, city, and national collective. We, too, have a vision for America. Let us not just leave it in the hands of one person (or the few representing us).

Go Vote tomorrow!!!!

God Bless

Monday, October 22, 2012


Recently, I was asked the question in regards to purpose; it was stated in terms of how can we articulate purpose in a way to where it doesn't come off as too vague of an answer, especially when posed to children. It brought me back to a time when I would hear my baseball coaches tell me to "stay balanced" or "stay back" in teaching me how to hit. I would have conversations with friends about what does it really mean when we say "stay back"; or better yet, how do we really show these young athletes what we mean from our baseball philosophies? We concluded that a lot of coaches themselves didn't understand how to explain certain philosophies, though they exerted confidence in verbalizing them.

So, when we talk about purpose, how would I articulate it? First off, I believe there are two forms of purpose, the unknown and the known. The unknown is the Divine; the purpose set out by our Creator (that even though we question, we will never know or understand). The known is the one we have control over; the one we set in place.

In the search of finding purpose in our lives, we tend to ask the why and what; and oftentimes these questions are posed looking upwards. But, in dealing with the known, these questions must be asked inwardly. Why do I do what I do? What do I want my life to mean? Afterall, isn't that what we want in our lives? Meaning.

Personally, I would ask myself why do I do the things that I do, and I concluded that it is because I want to impact lives and change the world; so, I center my life and activities around many things that give me reason to keep pushing in that area. It becomes a motivating factor. After answering that question, I defined my purpose whereas my why, then, became my what, and that became what I wanted my life to mean- IMPACT. So, ultimately, it ends up becoming something that keeps you pushing no matter what, because when something has meaning, it gives you reason to persevere.

We have no control over the ultimate plan, but we have an input in our own walk. Though we may ask for meaning upwardly, we can define meaning inwardly; and if it is in accordance to His plan it will feel right.

God Bless

Monday, October 1, 2012

No fan of Propaganda

I am not a big fan of propaganda, period. Yet, we are bombarded with it everyday single day; and in the wake of this years presidential elections it is more evident than it has possibly ever been with the advent of social media and other sources that channels such information to us. I personally believe that the objective is to make zombies out of the people, and the brainwashing (better yet lobotomy) seems to work, because oftentimes we choose sides without having a true understanding of what we truly stand for, let alone our candidates.

I listen to all the conservative and liberal mumbo jumbo and can honestly conclude that many Americans stand in the middle. In some cases, conservatives can very much be confused as liberal, and liberals can be seen as being conservative. Sometimes, it is just a matter of what team you grew up rooting for.

Anyways, October 3, 2012, marks the first time the President and the Republican presidential nominee will appear on the stage together where we can get a direct comparison for what each other stands for. For some, it may be hard to be objective however there will be an opportunity for many to see who and what they are voting for.

These debates is not about rooting for sides. It about you. It about how your future and your children's future will be impacted. We are the accountable ones, because we are the ones who make the choice. So be informed.

Ultimately, I am for the people. I am for our actions. It all begins with us. A vote is not just a vote. It is not just a choice of candidacy; it is a choice of action. It is us saying that this is my first step to make a difference in not only my life, but the life of others. However, it doesn't stop with the vote. It continues with the feet to keep marching on. It continues with the voice to keep speaking up. It continues with the hands to keep reaching out. Propaganda can't do this because it cuts off half of you, it gives you one side (pun intended).

And please do not forget to vote!!!! If anything it is you saying that you are willing to take action.

God Bless

Monday, August 20, 2012

Difficult to climb, easy to fall

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to climb a mountain but how easy it is to fall? Mountain/rock climbing is one of the most grueling, if not dangerous, hobbies/activities/sports in the world. I hiked up a mountain trail in South Africa and that within itself was a task, so I can only imagine how it is to physically climb. It takes a lot of grit, determination, sweat, and maybe even a few tears to reach the top.  It requires stamina, focus, and a little touch of good fortune. These climbers face many obstacles and setbacks inch-by-inch ranging from inclimate weather to small crevices used to wedge their fingers in for grip. It is an arduous task that they go through to reach the apex of their journey. Who can imagine the muscle fatigue and strain that they must feel? All these obstacles that come against them from nature all the way down to their own weary minds can imagineably seem weight-bearing. Everything becomes an obstacle; and many factors arise that ironically seems placed in the way to prevent them from pushing forward.

But what happens, if someone loses grip and fall? Nothing is there to stop him. Just air, space, and ultimately the ground. See how easy it is to fall, when it takes all the work in the world to climb.

I was reminded today, and am a firm believer that when you are on the cusp of greatness, negativity will always find a way to appear and distract you. It is hard to succeed, but easy to fall. When you are on the top of your game, people aim to bring you back down.

Success fights against gravity, a force that pulls you down. Nothing in life that is worth anything comes easily which is why overcoming struggle feels rewarding.

Remember that what may takes years to build could come crumbling down in a heart beat. So, it is important to make sure that the foundation is solid and steady to be able to withstand the quake.

The mountain is symbolic of greatness, and to meet with greatness requires to go through a little struggle, fatigue, and pain. However, the grip must be strong otherwise there is nothing stopping you from hitting the ground.

God Bless

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Why I do what I do...

I always try to find a purpose for why I do the things I do in my life. I understand that I will not live the perfect life, but I will continue to strive to live a purposeful life. In the beginning of my personal mission I state my first objective as determining purpose. What is my purpose for my life? God already has THE ultimate purpose for me, but my purpose is that my works are in accordance to His.

So why do I do what I do?

The reason is that we live in a world where many people can use a helping hand, an open ear, or a word of encouragement. We live in a society where people are hurting emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I believe that if ever I had the opportunity to intercede in someone's life, it should and, hopefully, would be to the benefit of their well being and personal success.

1. Why do I Play? I continue to play baseball because I began to remove myself solely from personal gratification which was less fulfilling. When it was just for me, it became less fun because I carried all of the pressures of trying to get the big contract. So, I lost the drive and almost quit. Then, I saw a little child smile, and noticed the  fans cheers and enjoyment; and hearing them say that they enjoy watching me play, made me realize that it is bigger than me. I was helping to brighten someones day.

2. Why do I write? I write because I have a story to tell. I have a message that if kept inside may prevent someone from receiving a blessing in their own lives. I write to inspire. I write to uplift. I write to empower.

3. Why do I smile? I smile because everyone needs a smile. A simple smile can change somebody's day, week, or life. I smile because it uplifts me, and because it lifts others. I smile because I'd rather not frown.

4. Why do I give? I give because much was given to me. I give because though I like to receive, seeing others benefit from my hand is more fulfilling. I give because what God provides  is not mine to keep.

5. Why the foundation? The foundation exists because hopelessness exists; children in need exists; poverty exists. I founded the foundation, because I want children to develop into leaders, not only in their communities but in their own lives.

In my life, purpose is followed by passion and validated through integrity. Hence, my mission is to determine purpose, pursue passions and demonstrate integrity. This is what makes doing what i do easy and rewarding.

We all should ask ourselves, 'why do we do what we do?' in order to recognize purpose in our lives, and to allow us to remain relevant.

God Bless

Friday, July 13, 2012

How do we remain relevant

With the emergence of Facebook and Twitter and the multitude of advances in technology that seems to keep people connected at levels unforeseen, the problem tends to remain in the relevance of our nature, our actions, and our words. So, the question becomes in the market which resembles "spam media," how do we become or remain relevant?

I believe relevance, first and always, begins with purpose. Before we can become relevant in the eyes of people, we must first know what the purpose is in what we say and do. Purpose is important because it adds weight and direction behind what is said. Purpose is like an arrow aimed at a desired target.

Next, I believe intent is definitely important in determining relevance. Is it for personal gain or is the plan for a bigger goal? Justifiably, it feels good to have self-gratification in knowing that we did something good or said something profound, but too much self-gratification from a selfish standpoint can turn many people away. Our intent should always be genuine.

Impact then becomes the next important contributor . How is what I say or do impactful to the lives of others? The affects of our words or actions are extremely important in being relevant because it is this key element that contributes to how we are judged. We are a results driven society and we are judged in our performances and how people are impacted. So, in order to remain relevant we must determine how impactful  we are going to be.

It is easy nowadays to get lost in the 'hoopla' where our very existence seems to go unnoticed. But that's what goes into the main point that I am trying to convey in determining your relevance. Relevant people do not get lost in the masses or blend in. They stand out and people hold on to the words and actions of these people.

Make sure you are relevant. Make sure your existence holds weight.

God Bless

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What Independence Day means for me

Happy birthday America! We just finished celebrating another Independence Day. So, what does this mean to me. Well, it means a lot not just for the obvious but for the less than obvious, as well.

Around the middle of last year, I wanted to give myself a little project to do. In the spirit of reading, I decided that I would begin to read the biographies of each President of the United States of America, in order. Currently, I am reading Thomas Jefferson, Passionate Pilgrim: The Presidency, the Founding of the University, and the Private Battle. What is very interesting to note is that John Adams (2nd Pres.) and Thomas Jefferson (3rd Pres.), two key members (and notably friends) in the fight for independence against the British and signers of the Declaration of Independence, died on the very day in which they spent their lives fighting for- July 4th. Such readings as those like Common Sense and The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine illustrated the urgency and need for our great land to obtain its freedoms by loosening the grips of British's reign.

In another point in history -an event even more closely tied to me- America experienced another independence; the independence from an immoral past that has enslaved hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Africans when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that declared slaves free, and from passage of the 13th Amendment, by Congress, that outlawed slavery everywhere in the United States.

Personally, Independence Day, also allows me to reflect on my own life. First and foremost, it forces me to look in the mirror and ask myself  "Am I taking advantage of the freedoms allotted to me decades earlier?" This is a key question I ask because it is my concern for all Americans (and people). Are we independent? Are our lives free from our own captivity? Is our independence capitulating to our fears? Independence Day for me means that I am free to be successful. It means that I am free to have purpose. It means that I can be great and help make others great. It means that I am free to do whatever I can to continue to make America great.

God Bless

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A stone is not just a stone (turn it over)

Have you ever seen a stone that has just been sitting in a place for some time, undisturbed? Did you ever decide that one day you will turn the stone over and discover what lies beneath it? What did you find? I know as a child I would turn over many stones, logs, etc, that seemed to be implanted in to the soil. What I discovered was amazing. Upon lifting the stone from the earth, I noticed that there was a whole other world beneath it. I saw different species of bugs scattering in search of protection from the sun and moreso, myself or any other potential predator. I saw the roots of grass criss-crossing the surface like Los Angeles' freeways. I noticed a sustained moisture, and a seemingly rich in nutrients soil that emcompassed the "little world," all while wondering how the weight of the stone didn't crush it. It was its own little ecosystem, rich with sustenance, and abundant with life.

If you ever had this experience, remember how interesting it was to know that there was something more to the stone than just an object in a stagnant state. There was vibrance. In life, we leave many stones unturned. Life is filled with many opportunities, that if recognized and taken advantage of can potentially leave us in a vibrant, flourishing state.

More importantly, we must recognize the abundance in our own lives. We must realize that under the stone we are filled with excellence, greatness, and fruitfulness. We can also see that same potential in others as well. Beneath the surface there are gems. In darkness there is light. We have the right environmental necessities inside to fulfill greatness if we nourish them and allow them to work symbiotically.

In others, a stone is more than a stone. In ourselves, a stone is more than a stone. Though dormant, a stone is filled with life.

God Bless

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Don't Leave it in Someone Else's Hands

I was watching the Manny Pacquiao versus Timothy Bradley fight last night and was pretty surprised by the outcome of the fight. It seemed that throughout the fight Pacquiao was in complete control yet when the decision was rendered it came to favor Bradley. This may go down as one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history and the consequences of such a decision could not only have damaged any chance of a possible blockbuster match between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather but could have also left a irreparable scar on a sport already riddled by accusations of corruption.

Though the decision is arguable, Pacquiao had several opportunities where he could have taken the fight into his own hands and ended it. He had Bradley hurt and on the verge being knocked down (and possibly knocked out) on a few occassions but was unable to capitalize on the opportunities. Instead, the fight ended up being left in the hands of the judges who happened to see a totally different fight.

I bring this fight up to say that in life it is imperative to begin to start taking matters in our own hands in terms of certain outcomes we want to achieve. Too many times do we choose to leave the well-being of our lives, and our successes, in the hands of other people to determine. When we hand over our lives to other people, we sometimes lose the authority to direct the lives that we want to lead. We miss out on opportunities because we are waiting on someone else to propell us to the next level, and sometimes when that doesn't happen we are left disappointed.

Going back to a previous blog entry, I will reiterate that our circumstances may have some effect on our position in life but ultimately it is the choices we make that have the final say. If Pacquiao would've knocked him out the judges wouldn't have mattered. When we take life into our own hands sometimes it doesn't matter what the other person's actions are and our dependency level on them diminishes.

It is time to take over our money problems, our career setbacks, our relationship worries, our spiritual deficiencies, etc. It is time to say, "Hey, I am not leaving this one to the judge's scorecard."

God Bless

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Outsourcing our Lives

In America, one of the biggest issues that we've  faced in terms of job losses and creation over the years (if not couple of decades), has been the simple fact that  many of America's jobs have been shipped overseas, or outsourced. Whether liked or not, it is a part of business.

Oftentimes, we put our daily lives and routines in the hands of many outside factors. We continue to relegate the power we have within to other entities, thus losing the power to fully take control of our  own lives. In turn, we are outsourcing ourselves to many social, financial, moral, and  physical elements or barriers that prevents us from being who and what we want ourselves to be. This can be a depressing fact to consider because in many instances it brings us to realization that we are like puppets on a string. We lose control of our movements, and like a ventriloquist with a dummy doll, we lose control of our words.

The point I want to make is that we can't own ourselves if we keep outsourcing ourselves. We can't take control of our lives, if we keep giving our lives away. This blog was prompted by an article I read about Tiger Woods  for GOLF Magazine, and here is an excerpt, "By outsourcing his swing so readily -- he’s done it three times as a pro, five times overall, or six if you count the late Earl Woods as a coach -- Woods may be getting further away from owning his swing, not closer to it." I am not going to comment on Woods' swing because he has done more in golf than I would ever do (lol, I have many glitches in my swing if you wanna call it that). However, the meaning that I do get from that line is that the more you keep giving yourself away (outsourcing yourself to others), the further away you are from owning yourself.

Read more:

God Bless

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Thank you veterans!!!!!!

Freedom is a God-given right that every man, woman and child should have a chance to experience throughout the world. However, such an assertion is not the reality that we wish for. Around the world, there are many places that are longing, struggling, and fighting to gain their freedom. Our country, the USA, is a country built on the foundation of freedom, and such freedoms are what make our country so great.

In exchange for such freedom, brave men and women have sacrificed their time, family and friends, and even their lives for us to be able to do some of the things that naturally we do not think twice about on a daily basis. The leisure walks in the park, the ability to worship, sun-tanning on the beach, protesting on Capitol Hill, obtaining higher education, etc. are a few of the many benefits that we experience daily that can be (and are) easily taken for granted.

My advisor, a US Marine, was deployed to Afghanistan for a full year to serve his country. The reality of the matter is that he had to leave is wife and five children behind. It was very hard for him because of how much he loved his family. When my older brother was born, my dad was stationed in Germany. He missed the birth of his first son. There are many stories like this across the country, and we should be truly thankful and feel blessed for those who are unselfishly sacrificing themselves for us.

Though this weekend celebrates those that made the ultimate sacrifice, I would like to express a most grateful thanks to all of those who put their lives on the line each and every day for the security and peace of our nation. I would also like to give thanks and send prayers to the families of those who have sons and daughters who are serving stateside or abroad and hope that soon you will be able to reunite with your loved ones. Prayers goes out to those who lost loved ones in the call of duty; may God provide you comfort and strength.

God Bless, God Bless America

Friday, May 18, 2012

Partly by Circumstance, Ultimately by Choice

There are many factors that play into the positioning that we are in in terms of life. Oftentimes, our  circumstances determine where we stand, what we do, how we think and what we say. It could be the hold of our jobs on our lives, the responsibility of providing for family, or the turmoil of life itself that has us sitting right where we do not want to be sitting. It is easy to point to the the underlying contributors and say "it is the fault of the neighborhood I grew up in," etc. etc., and such comments may be deemed as valid. Naturally, we seek validation from the sympathy of others or the realness of a situation. It is what we need to justify our inactivity. It acts as the notarized declaration that states that it is ok to remain in our states, because it is not our fault, anyway.

However, I am here to say that it is not ok. When I go through moments where I am explaining my plight, I sometimes feel guilty because deep down I know that I am dismissing some form of accountability on my end. But, why should I accept accountability when I have someone or something to push it off on? The answer is simple. It is because we are where we are in life partly by circumstance, but ultimately by choice. Excuses become the father of inactivity. The more we blame, the less we act.

I was watching my favorite show Shark Tank last week and there was one important message I took from the totality of the show. It was having accountabilty. It was during a discussion where an entrepreneur seeking funding told "the sharks" that his sells were down because he did not have the team to help take it to the next level and to get the word out there, and one of the sharks replied (paraphrasing) that he hates it when people say that they can't do this because of that. He was telling him that at some point he has to go out there and try to make it happen. The entrepreneur allowed his circumstance to influence a choice of not continuing to hustle.

Life is all about choices. Some circumstances are more dire than others, but then again we can't go anywhere if we do not start walking. If we allow our situations to determine the outcome of our choices that could in turn inhibit our progression, then it will determine the outcome of our lives.

God Bless

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Opportunity exists in the open space.  So, why are we continuing to fight for scraps in a congested and convoluted area. Riches aren't made in markets that are diluted. The gems are in the spaces of unknown  places. In the masses, there is no where to move or no where to look. In open areas, there is freedom to explore and discover. Understand why leaders are leaders. They are leaders because they stand alone. They do not occupy crowded arenas.

Comfort keeps people in occupied places. However, it takes a bit of vulnerability to extract change. It may take a little bit of uneasiness to make things happen. It may take finding a need to be met that separates you from needs being met.

Note that wherever ever you see failure there is opportunity for success.  Wherever there is wrong there is opportunity to make right. Wherever there is nothing there is opportunity for something. Follow the problems and discover the grand possibilities for success.

Let's not be claustrophic in our thoughts. Like an elevator that is crowded, open the door to our minds and recognize that the less traveled route is the least discovered.

Take advantage of your opportunities when they exist. Study the precedents of events and recognize what happens when you are too late. You miss out! 

God Bless

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Name of the Game: Protect your Vision

Chess is arguably the ultimate game of strategy. Likened to battle, its concepts are commonly intertwined with those of war. It is a game of tactic and maneuverability. More so than being able to read the opposition, one must be able to see multiple steps ahead while also being prepared to act upon the opposition’s counters. The objective is to protect the most sovereign piece on the board- the king. Though it may not be your most powerful piece, it is the most integral because its presence and positioning determines the strategy. Essentially, the king is the general. He is facilitating commands throughout the board in order to protect his kingdom while expanding his reign.

            When studying the styles of different chess players and dissecting the game of chess, it can be seen that this game is truly a game of vision. Those who can see further ahead are the most successful. By taking a satellite view of the chess board, one can appreciate all the possibilities that exist. A multitude of game plans can be extracted to achieve a particular goal. By moving your sights to the ground view, the possibilities don’t change but the perception does.

            Incarnate yourself into the piece of the king, and see yourself as the ruler of the kingdom. As ruler, you have many people who seek you for guidance and leadership. With such responsibility bestowed upon you, vision must be present. In respect to this   incarnation, a new concept can be applied to chess as it also applies to life. This new concept is to protect the vision.

            In many ways, chess is like life and at any moment one move can profoundly affect, not only your goals, but your vision. The first move made in chess, begins before a single piece is even touched. It is the recognition of the pieces around the king and their roles in respect to their positioning. Thus is the same in life, where as, you must have a keen awareness of those in your camp and the roles they play in respect to their relationship to you. The importance of this is crucial because these ties play a key part into the manifestation or demise of your vision.

            The next step is to be familiar with your landscape. It is of extreme importance to know your terrain, and to recognize your strong and weak points on the board. Familiarity in this sense allows you to attack and maneuver effectively and efficiently. To maintain vision you must know your surroundings- the physical and nonphysical. In all aspects of life, it is imperative that potential roadblocks and pitfalls are identified, and that opportunities are taken advantage of. With vision comes a sense of awareness that allows to you to understand that all that is visual may not be what it seems. Life is filled with metaphorical terrains, such as nature having its peaks and valleys, oceans and rivers; but having the ability to envision success on the other side (just as you can see the same across the chess board) allows for the appropriate path of getting there to unfold.

            As with anything in life you will be faced with opposition. Common physics asserts that every action has a reaction, and that any force placed on an object will exert an opposing force. The same applies in chess in which one move will, in response, result in an opposing move. From the offensive viewpoint, the opposition’s goal is to attack and impede progress. It blocks paths, marches inward, and takes prisoners all the while weakening the camp of its rival. The opposition obscures vision, and it destroys dreams. It prevents movement and it counters actions. Whether dealing with people or feat, your opponent possess the power of deceit and illusion that can stray you away from your goal, if you are not prepared and well-equipped.

            Even on the offensive front, the strategy is crucial. Each move opens up paths of maneuverability akin to lines of sight. Key pieces clear the way for success, and key people aide the growth of your vision. They encourage, support, and extend help to the success of your cause. To the contrary, there are pieces that are positioned in such a way that prohibits movement and traps you. They allow for the opposition to surround you.  There are people in your life that pose the same threat. They reside in your camp as friends and families but their actions and words inflict harm to your vision. They pull on you and prevent forward progression. They lack insight and bring forth no positive input. They deceive and place guilt upon you. However, in chess, pieces are sacrificed for the overall success of the game, and in life the same sacrifices are necessary for manifesting the vision.

            Ultimately, the objective of chess is to checkmate the king; meaning the king is captured and has no other move. When a king is in check, he is in direct line of danger, but has escape routes. He is threatened but not destroyed. With vision, there are people and obstacles that put you in check. They obscure your vision. They tell you that you can’t; you believe you can’t. Tasks become more difficult than they seem, but like the game of chess there are escape moves and it is up to you to prevent your vision from being destroyed or “checkmated.”

God Bless

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How We See Ourselves

As I was responding to an email, I noticed that the profile picture to whom I was replying was that of a house cat staring into a mirror. It's a cute picture but a powerful illustration because what the cat sees as a reflection of himself is the image of a lion.

I also watched a talk on where Brene Brown (Listening to Shame) discusses the topic of shame and vulnerability. Here, she asked how many people in the audience view vulnerability as a weakness. A large majority raised their hand. She later asked how many people who saw vulnerability on the stage viewed it as courageous. A large group rose their hands. My assumption is that the display of vulnerability when viewed as a weakness is most likely associated to self, and seen as courageous when associated to others.

On another TED talk, Sheryl Sandberg (Why we have too few women leaders), exclaimed that the difference between men and women is that men attribute their successes to themselves, and that women sort of downplay their successes and divert the credit. This was a very powerful talk.

I mention these three examples to talk about self-perception. How do we view ourselves opposed to how we want other people to perceive us? Do we really feel the excitement of life that we present on our facebook pictures, or is it what we want people to believe? Do we really feel beautiful when we dress up to go out on the town, or is that how we want to appear? When we tell people that we really have confidence in ourselves, is it mere words to deflect pity or is it the honest truth?

How do we really feel when the spotlight is on us? When our bosses critique our performance, do we still feel like the lion in the mirror?

Everyday, I struggle with how I perceive myself and maintaining that "lion" image. Somedays, I lose that battle; and some of those days are when things are going well. Everyday, life humbles me whether it is in my baseball career or my personal life. I begin to worry about how others are viewing me, but more importantly I begin to doubt if I am who I really say I am; or if I am as worthy as I believed I was.

I am learning everyday that it is ok to say that I am great. I don't have to wait on people to tell me that I am a lion.

It is ok to say you are great. It is perfectly fine to believe that you are beautiful. It is not the end of the world if everyone doesn't agree with you or if everyone doesn't like you. You can't be everything to everyone, but you can be everything to yourself! Everyone will never be pleased. Besides, though we are our most biased critics, we are our best critics. We know when we are lying to ourselves. We know how we really feel. We have the key to truly shape our perception, but also the decision to determine if we really believe what we are presenting.

God Bless

Friday, April 6, 2012

The World is My Stage

The world is my stage.  The sun and moon is my spotlight. This stage of mine I shall not fear, because I walk it every second of everyday. Everyday, I am presented with an audience that is eager to hear my message. Each day, I am expected to perform the greatest show, for my Greatest Spectator sits in the High box above. So, to You I clearly project my voice, present myself well, and display the utmost integrity. I will give the greatest performance as if it is my last, and I will embrace every cheer and jeer with my head held high.

God Bless

Monday, March 5, 2012

How Can We Dream When We Fear Nightmares?

How can we dream when we fear nightmares? How are we supposed to dream when we are afraid to sleep? In other words, how are we collectively to dream big when we fear the unknown to the point where it paralyzes us?

Avoiding the nightmare instead of facing the nightmare, most assuredly insures that the nightmare will become reality.

Michael Jordan always wanted the ball in the waning seconds when it mattered. The nightmare was him missing the shot and his team losing, but I would assume that he also figured that him not having the ball would result in an ensuing loss as well. Thus, he faced his nightmare to prevent a nightmare. Sometimes, it came true and sometimes it didn't, but he realized that at the end it was just a fear, and that regardless of the result, he had another day to dream again.

At the end of day, we must realize that nightmares are a figment of our imagination, and when we allow ourselves to sleep we give ourselves the ability to dream. When we dream, we encounter nightmares along the way, but one way to overcome them is by facing them.

Let us not let our nightmares inhibit our ability to dream...

God Bless

Saturday, March 3, 2012

If the Seas Could Talk -By Brian Barton

If the seas could talk

What would they say?

That they’ve seen the world throughout

And crashed the beaches of every continent,

Or that they’ve encountered the greatest of sailors,

Discoverers, merchants, and pirates of the sorts,

Would they speak of the grand treasures they possess?

Vastly more than the chests that has been sunken in its depths

If the seas could talk

What would they say?

Surely, they would speak of the many life forms they’ve seen

That dwells the land, swims the depths,

And that soars in the breeze

Would it speak of its wrath or its serenity?

From relaxation on the beach

To those lost at sea

If the seas could talk

What would they say?

Would they boast of their peaks and valleys

That would assuredly bring Mt. Everest and the Grand Canyon


Maybe, it would tell us the story of the lands and how it

 Sculpted the contours of it’s essence

If the seas could talk

What would they say?

Would they mention parted waters or

Flooded cities?

Or would they speak of Neptune the ruler of the 7 seas?

Would it speak of its waves rising to the moon

Like outstretched arms raised to the Almighty?

Maybe the seas are talking

But we are just not listening

From every crashing wave

To the voices of hollow shells

The seas are speaking

From the blinding reflection of the sun

To the glistening light of the moon

A story is being told

Even those worshipping waves,

Out stretched to the heavens

May be warning us

If the seas the could talk

What would they say?


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Plight of African-Americans

Yesterday, during a long walk along the water of Campeche, Mexico, I took my thoughts back home to the United States; more so to the inner-cities of America. I, normally on accounts, am accustomed to taking such walks throughout neighborhoods so this one was no different.

            During the walk, I began to think about the plight of African-Americans in America. For years, spanning decades, America has experienced the strength of blacks. Blacks have been freeing other blacks from slavery and speaking against the injustices of such an institution for many years. We’ve fought in wars, orchestrated protests, revolutionized medicine, and captivated the entertainment world. But now as I look back on all of our accomplishments, I ask myself, “what now?”

            Black progression has come to a halt, and has leveled off, if not declined. I walk through these communities, and wonder such thoughts. I see hopefulness, but I also see content. I see potential, but I also see lack of motivation. I notice gentrification processes going on, yet no one seems to ponder how they are going to be affected.

            Through one lens, I reconcile with the effect that an unjust America has had and, in many cases, still have on African-Americans. Through another lens, I get the sense of a “they made us this way, so deal with it” feeling. This second lens sparks my concern, because the perception that it brings is that we do not aim to achieve more individually, or progressively as a people. Civil right movements and an era of pride did so much for African-Americans only to end up with contentment.

            I’m not writing as a “pull yourself by the bootstrap” republican or “wealth distributing” democrat. I am writing as a person who wants to see his people empowered. I am writing as someone who wants heads raised high instead of turned down. I am writing as a man who is exhausted from hearing his people make excuses instead of making things happen.

            Justifications can be made, never-endingly, as to the state we are in, but the real slavery is a result of the excuses we make. The real jail is the captive mentality we have. The real welfare is the lack of incentive and motivation we give ourselves. The real insight is in knowing that the inability to recognize, along with our inactivity, perpetuates our digression. Opposition will always strike, but offense should not halt.

            In a country where race matters more than any other place in the world, we also make race our own problem. Race is placed upon us, and we place race on ourselves. We allow race to keep us in the rat race. We allow race to keep us content. We let its affect spread to our kids. I recognize the power of race, but more importantly I recognize the strength of my people. Let us not stop trying; let us keep pushing.

            My friend discussed with me a forum she attended celebrating Malcolm X and the question was asked “What do you think Malcolm would think about where black people stand today? Would he be proud?” I think the real question is not whether our ancestors will be proud of us, but if our children and their children will have pride in us.

God Bless

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Happened to the Kids?

During a conversation with a good friend of mine, the topic of Christmas came up. We were talking about (and I sound old saying this though I am 29) the good ol' days when we couldn't wait to wake up and tear through the gift wrappings that sat beneath our trees. But even more anxiously, we were waiting for the moment to take our new toys, bikes, footballs, skateboards, etc. for a showing in the neighborhood. I remember the excitement of all the neighborhood kids, showing off their own Christmas joys, and the pride that came with who had the best toys. Most of all, the important part was just being outside.

As we were talking, the question was asked, "What happened to the kids on Christmas?" My friend responded that it was the video games. Nothing against video games, but the point was clearly made. Each year, as Christmas passes, I notice the trend of not seeing many children outside playing with their toys. This is also something I noticed throughout the year.

We live in a society now where technological innovation is succeeding to keep us inside. It is doing a great job in holding our attention, and preventing us from enjoying the world around us.

However, I also believe that what is just as important to recognize is the time that should be spent getting our youth outside, and interacting with the world.

How can we stop this?

First, through recognizing the impact of enclosure; but even more importantly, mental enclosure.
I believe that when a person is confined, the ability to interact is immensely affected such as adapting to societal changes, interacting with people, and communicating effectively.

I also believe in exposure. Exposing kids to different things by getting them outside of the confines of their homes and from in front of the computer or television is beneficial as well.

Most importantly, spending time as an adult outside with them is extremely crucial. Instead of buying inside gifts, purchase outside gifts that require getting some sun, some air and some exercise that encourage bond building.

Christmas doesn't feel the same, and my old neighborhood does not sound the same. I do not hear the sounds and laughter of the children anymore. Hopefully that can change!

God Bless

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Self-reflect Time

Seriously, ask yourself if you are happy with who you are and where you are in life.

Then, seriously act on it!

God Bless