If you see something, please say something

One morning in 1993, I came downstairs to see my mother frantically pleading over the phone.  I asked her who it was and she said it was my sister.  She was suicidal and threatening harm in front of her 4-year-old son.  This caused me to immediately flash back to my childhood when I used to observe the same type of behavior from her when our parents would leave us home alone.  Something snapped in me.  “Not this time”, I said to myself. I grabbed my keys, hopped in my car and sped down the road.

3651344537_ca1f1e70c1As I pulled into the driveway of my grandparent’s home, I was terrified and hoping that I got there fast enough to prevent a tragedy.  I ran in the house asking for the phone.  My grandfather asked why and I explained the situation.  To my surprise, he told me I could not use the phone to call 911 on my sister. “We don’t do that”, he said.  “We don’t put our business out in the street.”

I couldn’t believe it!  Did he even hear what I said? My sister was threatening bodily harm in front of her son.  Rather than stand there and argue, I hopped back in my car, drove to a local store and used the payphone to call 911.  The police arrived, diffused the situation and told my sister she either had to go to jail or go get help.  She chose help and was taken to a local mental institution that day.  That started her down the path of being able to ultimately getting the proper diagnosis and treatment for her condition.

That night was a horrible night because no one in my family supported my decision.  I was labeled a trouble maker and scolded for doing what I knew was right.  In hindsight, I wouldn’t change a thing because my sister is still here with me and to me that is the most important thing.

I share this story because I have lived through mental health crisis as a family member.  I share this because I know the positive that can happen when you say something if you see something is off.  Sadly, we all know what happens when you don’t say something if you see something.  It’s all over the news and continues to make headlines more often than not.

It’s not okay to look away when someone is struggling.  It’s not okay to make it someone else’s problem.  It’s not okay to hush people for fear of what others will say.  Who cares if your family business is on the street because you choose to get your loved one help?  You have ability to choose the headline.  If you don’t circumstance might just choose it for you.

Educate yourself.  Please visit the  Campaign to Change Direction to learn 5 signs that someone you know and love may be suffering from emotional distress.

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“When”sday

When I turn XX I am going to….. When I save $$ I plan to….. When I find Mr. Right I know I will…. When my kids get older I’ll finally be able to….. When I find out he is acting up I will… When my boss calls me in to her office I will… When I get back from vacation I will… When Monday get’s here I will…

WhenEverything is “when” as if there is some perfect moment to make a move, make change and be better. Like we must continue to cope with, put up with, deal with other people’s mess, fears, let downs limitations, expectations and make them our own. As if tomorrow presents a more favorable season than today.

Why not make today “When”sday???? ‪#‎perspectiveiseverything‬

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Why?

You’re in full swing, extra motivated as you travel this journey to a new and improved you.  You know what you want to accomplish, whether it’s to lose a few pounds, inches, tone some trouble areas, eat better or learn how to work out consistently.  It’s great you have set those goals for yourself but what’s most important is the why.  Not the “I want to fit into a bathing suit or a new pair of shorts” why but the “deep down, sentimental, heart wrenching” why.

I’m going to share mine.  It was November 2005 and I was at the peak of life.  My daughters were growing older and needed me less.  I had just finished my B.S. in Legal Studies the year before and had a promising career in a corporate legal office.  I was driven and knew I had so much more to offer so I decided I would take the LSAT (law school entrance exam) and go to law school. WhyI had it all mapped out.  And I did it.  I sat for the test, received my scores and by February of 2006, I decided to apply to a local law school.  Then came 10 pounds.

In March of 2006, I noticed I was overly tired for no reason.  My usual anal retentive self started to be less organized and driven.  Housework and chores started to slip.  I just wanted to sleep.  Then came 10 more pounds.  In April I had my yearly gyn appointment and my doctor suggested I see a specialist about my ever growing thyroid. In my mind I was like “here we go again.”  I had blood work done repeatedly and it always came back the same – normal. I told her I would think about.

In May, I received a new opportunity at another company with a 50% salary increase so I took it.  While shopping for new clothes for my prestigious new role, another 10 pounds came.  Wait…what is going on here????  Then I thought back to my conversation with my doctor and decided to move on her suggestion.  I set up an appointment at a world-class teaching hospital but had to wait months to be seen.  “No big deal” I thought.  It’s nothing serious.

Fast forward to September – first visit with the endocrinologist.  First the student examined me.  Then the real professional came in.  “Swallow” he said.  “Hmph”, was his reply.  Then he said he needed me to go for an ultrasound right away.  He explained that he felt four nodules throughout my thyroid and that he needed to rule out something serious.

Now, I am a “cup half full” kind of girl so I sashayed my way to the radiology department to set up the appointment. A week later, I was laid flat on a table with a technician and radiologist looking at the pictures on the screen, making funny noises and talking about my nodules.  It was all but confirmed that I had thyroid cancer but I would need to come back for a biopsy.  Wait, what???

I won’t belabor the rest of the details but a week later I found out I had malignant papillary thyroid carcinoma and two weeks after that I had my thyroid removed.  During the course of that ordeal, I had to stop and ask myself how I got to that point in my life.  I reflected on all the things I may miss in my kids lives if it I couldn’t be treated.  It was then that I slowly started to realize my why.  Accepting it has been a struggle but I am finally at a place of sharing it and working with it.  So here is my why:

Because I know what it feels like to waste precious moments not knowing if you will get any more chances to make memories and to leave a lasting impact on this world.  My ability to help others feel good about themselves starts with me feeling good about myself.

So there you have it…that’s my why. It’s not flashy or over complicated but is meaningful to me.  What’s yours?

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Somebody

Somebody’s been lying to you.

They told you that you were different,

And that you’re different made you less,

And that you’re less made you a useless mess.

Somebody’s been lying to you.

They told you no one could love you.

That everyone else is normal and above you.

Which led to you undervaluing you.

Somebody’s been lying to you.

They told you to apologize for who you are,

Because who you are isn’t quite right enough.

And that maybe if you fight enough,

One day you might just be worthy of acceptance and validation.

Somebody’s been lying to you.

Making you feel like you don’t belong.

Making you feel like your life is all wrong.

Making you feel like you’re weak when you are obviously so strong.

Guess who’s been lying to you?

Who’s been making tears well up in your eyes?

And telling you all kinds of lies?

About the value you bring to this life?

YOU have been lying to you.

You tried lying to me to.

But I’m not buying what you’re selling.

In fact from the rooftops I’m yelling…

“YOU IS KIND.

YOU IS SMART

YOU IS IMPORTANT.”

So stop lying to you

Because no matter how often you do.

The lies you tell yourself…

WILL NEVER BE TRUE!

I Can’t…

I can’t understand why you find it hard to believe that someone like me could be better than you.

I can’t understand why you think the kink of my hair means it’s impossible for someone like me to do the job that you do.

I can’t understand how you think it’s okay to snicker, point fingers and jeer as I walk by.

I can’t understand why you can’t understand that your ignorance doesn’t make me moan, groan or sigh.

You can’t understand how I could love myself – strong, black and beautiful as can be.

You can’t understand that instead of poking fun you should be trying to surround yourself with people like me.

You can’t understand the breadth of my knowledge, the depth of my heart and the span of my will.

You can’t understand why you can’t break me down and why my dreams you will never be able to kill.

I can’t understand why you waste your time making me to center point of your disdain.

I can’t understand why you have yet to learn that you don’t phase me and you’re wasting time all in vain.

I can’t entertain your level of thought and  your ignorance is something I cannot reduce myself to understand.

You can’t understand how I rise above, continue to climb all while living authentically.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t understand it because I can.

Believing in Your Own Hype

25727109780_1b1f1f4609That’s not true because…hmph.  A strange but true concept.  My inner pessimist is weighing heavy on my outer optimist.  An internal war of sorts and negativity has been winning.  But not anymore. It all stops today.  Well, maybe tomorrow. Actually, I don’t know if it will ever stop but I’ll keep telling myself it will.

One day I logged in to my company’s intranet site and saw a blog post by our CEO.  It was thought provoking to say the least.  The question he posed was “have you found what
matter?”  What bothered me the most about the questions was I couldn’t immediately answer.  I managed to craft a nice response in which I made reference to our values.  But after hitting send I realized two things: (1) I didn’t answer the questions; and (2) I didn’t answer it because I didn’t believe in my own hype.

“Hype” is a fascinating term.  It can take on various meanings.  It can mean to be full of it.  Or it can mean to boost something or someone up.  My use of the term takes on the later meaning.  I love to hype those around me.  I hate the thought of someone being down when I know I am capable of picking them up.  Knowing just what to say is a gift of sorts.  A gift I can always seem to give everyone but myself.  I can “fix” others around me even if only temporarily but I cannot seem to avoid staying broken.

I know I am not the only “me” out there.  I know there are others who are great at being someone else’s “hype” man and who fail miserably at hyping themselves.  So I decided to share my journey to becoming my own hype man in hopes of helping others.  My hope is to help others do a few things:

(1) Acknowledge that it is okay to have these feelings;

(2) Get out of your own emotional way; and

(3) Find small ways to be your own hype man so you can feel as great about yourself as you make others feel about themselves.

It’s that simple.  Not rocket science.  No PhD required.  Just an open mind and open heart.  Follow me with this in mind and I promise to do the same as I put “pen” to paper.

Next up…”How I Got Into the Hype Business”….

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True Definition of Success

As I look back on my career, there have been many peaks and valleys.  I choose to focus not on what has been achieved but what it took to achieve it.  For the lessons that come out of those battles and struggles have taught me more than the momentary celebrations ever will.  I believe you are only as great as the obstacles you have to overcome.
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