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Choices…Choices…Choices.

For many Americans, especially those over the grand age of 60 years, many of who are on a fixed income, there are some really difficult choices that must be made each month. Not that I know about this personally, yet, but I have heard such a thing from a friend of a friend…

Whether to pay the utility bill and buy food, or buy food and get prescriptions filled. Should new tires be purchased or let the car sit parked in the driveway and catch public transportation.

At a time when people of the 60 years club should be able to relax and enjoy the spoils of their working years…many have very little to show for the many years of their lives that they gave to an employer/business/vocation. With the life expectancy expanding now well into another decade or two, how can one do anything but subsist in an environment that only sees the young as valuable?

Many of us have had some major life changes since the Great Recession of 2008, and are still not quite back to where we were before the economic floor gave way beneath us. Who has the energy to get back into the job force and rebuild again? Social security payments will not even house and feed a healthy, single person, let alone someone whom might have some varied health challenges.

The closer I get to this new 60 year threshold, the more I see it as one that came all too quickly. And I had made some plans…yet; I still could not walk away from my businesses and live comfortably. Nope. I will be in the marketplace for at least another 8 years…until my daughter is well into her college program.

America would do well to create a platform for her wizened-by-life Baby-Boomers who don’t have that bulging nest-egg that is advertised on too many late-night cable programs. We still have a long time left and many lessons to share before we are done. In the mean time, I will keep my lights on and my cupboards filled.

Here’s an article that might provide some insight: read more

Peace.

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The Fool on The Hill…

In listening to a local jazz radio station today, I hear them announce that Sergio Mendes, a noted Brazilian musician and songwriter, was coming to the Bay Area in January. I was glad to hear that he was still alive and working…and am considering purchasing tickets to see him play in person. I was reflecting upon his song, The Fool On The Hill, even as the radio personality shared a number of his hits, but nothing touched me as much as the one that I remembered as a child.

It has such an easy melody, and simple lyrics. So refreshingly different from the computerized and mechanical sound being created today. It caused me to feel nostalgic. Reflecting upon a time, when life seemed so much simpler.

This weekend in the United States has seen the largest protests since the civil rights era of the early 1960’s and the Vietnam protests of the late 1960’s. The lack of indictments of police officers who have killed innocent, and unarmed Black men is at a crisis level.

The civil-rights protests of my childhood were successful because people from all ages and ethnic groups banded together to force the US government to recognize the humanity of its African-American citizens.

And the anti-war protests, seen as unpatriotic by many, were fueled by young, White and, often privileged, youth who had no desire to follow in their father’s footsteps of serving in a military that had been exposed as less-than-honest in it’s justification of America’s presence in SouthEast Asia.

So, I sit and listen to the song now, approaching a life milestone of 60 Years, and I wonder will I see the next level of change take place in America? Before I die? Or will I be like the subject of that song by Sergio Mendes, and know that this world of ours will keep spinning round…even as we make the changes to treat each man and woman with the dignity inherent by their Godly birthright. Will I be seen and not heard?

I will continue to climb up the mountain…so as to get a better view of this life. I pray that the view only gets better from higher ground and hope that someone is listening to the voices of those of us who have weathered a life storm or two to get to this place…

EnJoy the song: The Fool on The Hill

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“Embrace the Faith…”

In the approach to my 60th birthday I am thinking of how many things have changed since I was a child. Funny, how this is now something I am cognizant of, recalling a few conversations with some of the elders who have been a part of my life journey, who also shared with me how things had been different in their early years.

Consider this short list of things that we all now take for granted:

Current: …… Before:

Cell phones …… Pay phones on the corner

Voice message service …… Answering machine

Text messaging …… Having a real phone conversation

Power windows in automobile …… Manual crank windows

Automatic transmission in car …… Manual transmission with clutch

Digital/memory card cameras …… Film loaded cameras

Automatic dishwasher at home …… Washing dishes by hand

Most stores open on Holidays …… All stores closed on Holidays

With change comes growth, or so I hope. In observing this past Thanksgiving, and seeing how many people actually had to work in retail jobs, I am mindful that much of the change that takes place is economically driven. Business owners seeking to make more money…and consumers thinking they are benefitting from the “deals” offered on these new “Black Friday and Cyber Monday” offerings. Really? Maybe that is why the words, In God We Trust, are printed on the paper currency we use in America.

What will this world look like when I approach the next decade of 70 years? What will it be like when my daughter, Meisha, now 11, reaches 40? I pray that I can impart enough of my values to her, that have nothing to do with money, and thus keep alive those things that are timeless: self-love, respect, honesty, love for God and family, faith.

Here’s a video clip I hope you EnJoy: “Change”

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What’s Behind The Mask?

Moving closer each day to a new decade of living, I am mindful that there is much that I still have yet to understand. Over the past few months we have witnessed the hurt caused by the killing of unarmed Black youth. As one who was once a young man, sometimes seen as a militant, due to my very large and prominent Afro, I can understand how our youth feel today.

The choice to grow my hair long symbolized to the Establishment that I did not blindly follow their plan of decision-making. In high school it cost me the opportunity to play baseball, because a narrow-minded head coach said that I had to cut my hair in order to play baseball on HIS team…as I look back now it was the school team, and he was an employee. That coach lost out on having a handful of really good players, who had been groomed and coached by Ed “Porky” Brooks since we were 10 years of age, to be baseball players. Needless to say those high school teams, playing without so many of us, won very few games.

With that in mind, I now am challenging myself, and those of my age bracket, to see the youth of today through eyes that are open to their belief that what they see as the path of the “system” is broken, and they are intent on changing it. Yes, they have long hair, piercings and tattoos. But they are smart, funny and possessed of a worldview unknown to us years ago, because of the Internet. Just like those in my generation, they want to make changes to a narrow and privileged-based system.

I pray that I can be around long enough to see more change come to America and the world…

Now, let’s take off the masks…

EnJoy this EW&F song, The World is a Masquerade.

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“We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident…”

What can be more self-evident than taking daily responsibility for my choices? What to eat. Whom to contact each day personally or professionally. How to affect change in my family and community with my dollars.

On this Friday after Thanksgiving, which has somehow been dubbed Black Friday, I find it ironic that consumers have been so programmed that not even a civil unrest in many cities around the world, stemming from the non-indictment of Ferguson, Missouri police officer Wilson, will keep people from converging on the various shopping centers. Yet, here I sit this evening with no intention or desire to spend money…

To be self-evident, to me, means being aware and conscious in all of my endeavors. I have now lived in a society that places more value on stores being open on Thanksgiving evening, pulling people away from their families on the very day that used to embody consummate family time. So, the choice for me is easy…yet, I know of more than a few people who could not wait until dinner was finished in order to go shopping for the best deals ever.

So, in my daily walk toward 60 years of age, I seek to keep alive some of the values that my family, and our society, once held valuable.

“…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. “

I will create a legacy of family values for my heirs. Will you join me?

Closed-Thanksgiving

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Not A Little Girl Anymore

I had a funny moment with my youngest daughter, Meisha, yesterday. I had ducked into the nearest bathroom in my house, to wash my hands from the outside activities of the evening, and she needed to come in and “use it.”

I told her to come in. She waited outside, with arms folded, and said no Dad. I was like come in, I am your Dad. Her reply, priceless in it’s honesty and sincerity, was that she now has grown woman body parts. Huh? You’re 11 years old.

I teasingly mentioned something about having some hair strings under her arms, and she countered with having other hair in other places….Noooooo. Too much info and too soon for this Father.

Well, I knew that it was inevitable. That one day she will be my daughter, as always, but not a little girl anymore. Why couldn’t this have taken a slower path? One that would wind, and twist, and even crawl. Yet, here she is now, likely at the precipice of her becoming of child-bearing ability…and I smile. Yes, even though I now must be ever-vigilant to teach her about some stark realities of life, painful losses due to death, educational disappointments, BOYS…I am grateful to have this time with her.

Fathers, insist upon being in your daughter’s life. She needs a man’s perspective, a Dad’s ignorance of things only girls understand, and a strong voice to protect her in the night. We must give them all that we have while we have the chance. The days and years sweep through all too quickly. EnJoy the ride.

And hurry out of the bathroom…she’s gotta go without You.

Peace.

Waiting outside Bathroom

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“…with Liberty and Justice For ALL.”

On this morning after the non-verdict was delivered that another unarmed, young Black man’s murderer is not indicted for ANY crime, I am at a loss as to the believability of the words paraphrased above.

In what we have been spoon-fed to believe as living in the greatest country in the world, I wonder how can the young people of color feel anything else but disdain and disregard for this system. We see once again a miscarriage of justice…and ask our children to go to school, get good grades, get a good job…and spend your money on Black Friday.

In my daily trek toward 60 years of living…this morning, I wonder what? What can I do to help my children to survive in this racist society? How can I foster a sense of hope to the young men and women in my community…when many days they are subject to a “pre-judged” mindset that they are second-class citizens?

Will our leaders stand up? Step up? Boycott?

Or, just walk away shaking their heads once more in defeat?

Take a few minutes to read this blog post from Tim Wise, and tell me what you think we must do to pursue justice in Ferguson Missouri and throughout America.

Let us tirelessly strive to make the words of our Pledge of Allegiance real and meaningful to EVERY person in America.

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Ask and it Shall be Given…

Funny how this piece of scripture is so well known, yet, at least for too much of my 59 years, too little utilized.

As I review a number of experiences in my life journey, it is apparent that I have been reluctant to incorporate this into my everyday living. Missed opportunities, people not known, all because I did not have the courage to ask…and possibly risk rejection. Funny, how our minds play such games on us.

So, here and now, in this ramp-up to 60 Years, I am so over that. I can walk up to complete strangers, compliment them on something that I genuinely like, and then engage in a conversation. Or, I can call someone and ask of him or her something that I truly require. Never worrying about their rejections…because, I now get it.

ASK…and it SHALL be GIVEN.

What do you really want to ASK the Creator for?

Do it today…

Peace.

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Truth or Consequences

Many of us who were born before 1960 can remember the very popular game show, Truth or Consequences, hosted by Bob Barker. In retrospect we can now see that the show was a precursor to another popular game show that is still alive today, Let’s Make A Deal. Proving that some things can be copied and even improved upon…

The ending of the show always had Mr. Barker saying, “Make it a habit. Bob Barker saying goodbye hoping all your consequences are happy.”

On this beautiful Sunday morning in Northern California, I am reflecting on the choices I have made and, with very few regrets, am grateful that I have done pretty well in this life-journey. Now granted, I would have preferred to have more money and fewer marriages, if I had it to do over again. Yet, the lessons learned through each life experience have made me a better man today.

And isn’t that one of the most important achievements one must accomplish in life? The ability to love ourselves and learn the lessons that only consequential choices made provides?

So, as I get closer to the threshold of 60 Years, I am smiling more remembering the good times and friends made, than feeling bad for seeing that darn surprise that popped out of the box due to a choice that went awry.

I pray that you, too, will find more reasons to smile and laugh going forward.

Let’s make it a habit. I hope all your consequences are happy.

Peace.

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Find The JOY!

A couple of years ago I saw the movie “The Bucket List” with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. It had a powerful storyline, and more than a few funny lines. One of those was the comment about not passing up a bathroom…for men of our age need to go pee more frequently than ever before. Our ego is supplanted by a weak bladder…or facing the possibility of having an embarrassing accident.

However, there is one scene in the movie that stuck with me…and I find it worthy to share with you all today:

http://youtu.be/iioBwO6vnEs

As I march toward the 60-year celebration of my life, I want to daily remember to find the Joy in my life. Take a few minutes to contemplate what you have that brings JOY….

Peace.

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