Cheyenne Walker: It’s Your Life, Start Living It (Part 2)

Cheyenne picks up where she left off in her guest blog post for August. Check it out!
 Silence the Noise
Stop listening to other people. This is your journey and yours alone. You can’t share everything with everybody! Are you unsure who these folks may be? ANYONE who tells you “You’re too old!”  If a person is comfortable with just existing or is constantly negative…WRONG PERSON!  Not just anyone can be an objective partner with you on this journey. Tune out the noise and tune into your inner being. Pay attention to how you feel when performing certain activities. Listen keenly to your heart and spirit.
 Explore
If you have the desire to do something, do it! It’s the only way to actually figure out what you like or what you’re not drawn to. A couple years ago, I planned a trip to Europe. I had no idea what experiences I would have but I was open to receive them. That experience opened my mind to the possibilities and I have not turned back. I love travelling and experiencing other cultures.  Another way to explore is becoming a volunteer. Volunteering your time allows you to discover your interests and your passion!
 Accept Help
Find a mentor or a life coach; someone you can talk to who will be objective, encouraging, and realistic. If you can’t get one physically, the libraries and bookstores are filled with books written by successful people.  

 

Act

Once you’ve discovered the one or many things that you are truly passionate about, get to work! Figure out how you can use your talents and gifts to assist others. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Then…go forth and conquer! 

 

 

August Guest Blogger: Cheyenne Walker

It’s my pleasure to introduce to you a former colleague and rising star in the field of academic and professional coaching/counseling.  Cheyenne is a multi-talented individual with a gift for helping other achieve their quest for success.  You’ll want to take notes on this one! Enjoy!!!

– Dr. Kim

It’s Your Life:  START LIVING IT!

How many times have you heard someone say, “I wish I would’ve” or “I’ll do it next month?” I was in church and the pastor said if you haven’t made any strides toward what you’ve said you were going to do, most likely you’re not going to do it!  So, my question is:  What will you do today that will help you achieve the life you want tomorrow?

BabyUCanDoItWe are born into this world with two plans. One plan our parents map out for us and then there’s the one God intends for us. Our parents enroll us in dancing school and karate classes; tell us which major we can choose because their dollars are sending us to college; and, strongly give us their opinions on what we should wear and how we should govern ourselves.  However, at the end of the day each person has to live with their decisions about their lives. Now, don’t get me wrong; I do believe that parents should be our guides by instilling character, morals, discipline, and great judgment.  But, as we age, there comes a time that we must make our own decisions and our own mistakes. It’s the only way we will truly come into living our own lives!

Unfortunately, many people are still living their parent’s goals and dreams. I was watching an episode of Chopped and during the introductory portion, one chef said his mom cut him off for years because all of his siblings were in the medical field.  She wanted the same for him but he decided to pursue cooking – his passion.  After hearing his story, I didn’t care if he won Chopped or not!  I was so excited to see someone who opened the door to his purpose.

When I was in my twenties, I was always envious of young people who lived life boldly and unapologetically. I was always a follow-the-rules kind of girl, speaking properly and dressing conservatively.  I believed in the words of Kelly Clarkson’s song entitled, Because of You (Hear it here https://youtu.be/Ra-Om7UMSJc):

Afraid2JumpBecause of you I never stray too far from the sidewalk

because of you I’ve learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt.

Because of you I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me.

Because of you I am afraid.

Even though deep down I was still a rule-follower,  I was passionate about life. It took awhile, but guess what?  I managed to step outside of the box and start living! Although this song speaks about Clarkson’s emotional distress caused by her parents divorce, the lyrics suggest that our parents may unconsciously instill their fears in us, causing us to live at 70% instead of the 100% God intends for us.

HomeDepotDancingHow long are you going to allow your parents fears to affect your life? How long will you let your family or friend’s opinions hold you back from your true calling? Life is about taking chances. It’s about failing and getting back up to try again and again and again until the goal is achieved. It’s about swinging as high as you can and jumping off the swing set. It’s about running in the rain and dancing in Home Depot because your jam came on the loudspeaker.

(Let me put this disclaimer out right now,: don’t jump off the swing set if you are not set up to do that…LOL.)

So, what does purpose have to do with living life? In my opinion, the pursuit of purpose creates our life’s journey to wholeness and true happiness. It is what we are put on this earth to do. Until you step out of the box and find your purpose, you’ll feel lost and your life will feel unfulfilled.  So, DARE TO START LIVING! There’s a swing set or a Home Depot aisle just waiting for you……

CheyenneWalker
Cheyenne Walker is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana.  She holds a Master of Arts in Public Relations from the University of Houston.  With experiences in the administrative, counseling, and teaching areas of higher education, Cheyenne has realized her purpose: encouraging and guiding young people as they pursue the academic and professional goals.

July Guest Blogger: Kelly Harris-DeBerry

I’m excited to introduce you to a New Orleans transplant…a woman with a powerfully soulful and thought-provoking message!  Kelly is a published poet, blogger, entrepreneur, and all around cool Sista!  She has mastered the art of keeping it real and raw with words that challenge your thinking while lifting your soul to new heights of awareness.  She really is THAT Sista!  Enjoy!!!

– Dr. Kim

If You’re Happy and You Know It

Those that don’t got it, can’t show it. Those that got it, can’t hide it.
-Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

My husband and I want our daughter, Naomi, to love reading. As often as I can, I take Naomi to storytime at the local library. We usually arrive on time to find a good seat on the activity carpet. It’s the perfect mid-day activity for stay-at-home parents/caregivers. Naomi enjoys the finger play, books, songs and nursery rhymes. She often sways in a circle, clapping and singing her enthusiasm. I give her freedom, but keep her close.

“She claps loud,” a parent whines. Naomi continues.

The beginning of the melody of If You’re Happy & You Know It plays and her enthusiasm grows. Now she is swaying, clapping and giggling in a circle, before the lyrics begin.

“She’s not doing it right!” whines a child seemingly two years older.

The parent assures the worried child that Naomi is indeed not clapping on time and with practice her claps will align with the song. “She’ll learn to clap with the song, honey.”

I am annoyed at the adult and child who feel sorry for Naomi clapping early.
Then it hits me.

Naomi is happy and she knows it.

KellyNaomiIf you’re happy, not only will your face show it, but your being, your essence, your spirit, how you engage others will reflect self-assuredness and inner bliss.
Naomi was not trying to showboat. Naomi laughs and dances each day with or without music or an audience. Clapping and singing are as natural to her as breathing.

When she cries, she often claps. Sometimes I have to ask her, “Are you happy or sad?”
She even watches The Jefferson’s reruns with her feet crossed — laughing at George and Weezy.

She’s just a happy baby—a happy Black baby— among a sea of white children.

Naomi was unaware of the stares and snarky comments. But as a parent, I wondered if this was an environment I should remove her from. But then again, this is a teachable moment:

Don’t change who you are to make others comfortable.

Unhappy people often want you to dim your light and happiness.

If you’re happy and you know it, you can clap and dance whenever you want.
I pulled Naomi close to me and kissed her.

“Don’t let anyone steal your joy,” I whispered.

She smiled and took off, twirling in the center of the crowd like no one was watching.

 

KellyHarrisDeBerry

Check out Kelly Harris-DeBerry – “Your homegirl in digital world ” – at Brassy Brown (http://www.brassybrown.com) where Women of Color are first in line!

 

Sweet Love

 There’s a lot of great folks doing a wonderful job with parental relationships, be they with a parent or child. However, I wonder why our love relationships are so fraught with ineffective, inauthentic communication and a lack of the kind of work it takes to have relational sustainability? It seems that parental relationships are perceived to be easier due to the inherent power differential. But, there seems to be a lack of will when it comes to working on ourselves so we can be accessible to, and accepting of, each other.

IMG_1774Maintaining a relationship where individuals become egalitarian partners  seems to be beyond the pale. It seems that we tend to compete instead of IMG_1773collaborate; become resistant rather than accepting the fact that there will most likely, only be about 80% of the person we like and 20% we don’t, but decide to accept. We’ve got a lot of work to do on ourselves in order to change this, and going back to the “way things used to be” isn’t the answer. I would posit that love for self will lead us to make effective relational choices. When I love myself, I can love someone else because I already have a standard by which to decide what is humane treatment and what is not. When I accept myself without judgement, I can do the same for my partner. I don’t look for anything near perfection in my partner because I know I don’t bring that unrealistic expectation to my own life.  

Humility, acceptance and trust seem to be more attractive aspects rather than tight abs and a bangin’ body! Of course, all of these issues need to be addressed BEFORE we make a commitment. But then, that would require an entire paradigmatic shift in the way we approach potential romantic relationships. Maybe she’s NOT a potential partner because she’s “drop dead gorgeous?” Maybe he’s NOT a potential partner because he’s attained an above average economic status? Dr. Phil is correct:

“The success of a relationship is a function of the extent to which it meets the needs of two people,”

This statement begs the question: Whose needs do you want to meet? THAT’S the person you should BE with romantically. THAT’S your potential romantic partner. Life is so short. Relationships really can be sweet. Seems pretty simple to me……. #LoveIsEverything

 

PEACE! – Dr. Kim

My New Brothers 

  

These are my new brothers: Damon and Kemic Smothers. They recently adopted me (no adoption certificate was needed). One kisses me on the forehead and the other tells me S.Y.A.D. (sit yo azz down) when I’m overworking. We found each other in our 40s. As an incest survivor (and exSuperwoman) I’ve often spent my life looking for the brother I missed. I certainly didn’t think I’d find him this late in the game. But, that’s how life seeks to bring you its most benevolent blessings. My quest for one brother-connection – even when I didn’t know I was looking for it – produced TWO Brothers from another mother! That’s just what love graciously gives us if we are fully open on this journey called life. God will place brothers in your life that will provide you with the kind of steadfast support, listening ear, and genuine love that transcends the legitimacy established through a biological blood line. Yes, women and men can be more than friends by sharing the kind of familial love that makes us free to experience a fuller range of our humanity. There’s just nothing like a Brother’s love! So, it gives me overwhelming pleasure to honor these renaissance gentlemen who are unashamedly Black and unapologetically strong: my Smothers Brothas! #FathersDay2015 #BlackMenRock #BrothaLove #SistaLove

This is My Dad 

  

This is my Dad: Rev. Bernard Leonard (B. L.) Chandler. He has 2 children, 3 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren. He’ll be 72 years old in August. He cooks most days of the week, calls me to let me know his schedule for the day, and still keeps a home office even though he’s a retired pastor. He started teaching me to swim at 9 months old. As a little girl, he used to let me be in the pulpit with him and greet all of the people after church. As a kid, we’d ride around town, looking at the architecture of different churches and he could name all of the distinctive characteristics. From young childhood through high school graduation, I was his “road dawg” growing up. We traveled around the state and the country, going to various Baptist conventions, revivals, and other meetings. I’d never see other pastors with their kids, so I thought they just didn’t have any! My dad always told me that education is something nobody can ever take from me. When I was going through the worst time in my life with depression and serious personal crises, my Dad would drive back and forth from Tennessee to Louisiana – 8 hours each way – to go with me, whether it was to the psychologist or to pick up things from my office so I could go home with he and Mom in order to take a semester off on mental health medical leave. My Dad never told me I couldn’t do things because I was Black and a girl. He showed me Black manhood through his service to God, commitment to the community, dedication to his churches, and 50 year partnership with my Mom. My Dad has been through quadruple bypass surgery, prostate cancer, lung cancer, hospital stays too numerous to mention, but still gets in the pulpit to preach and teach the gospel whenever called to do so. This is my Dad. If you ever wondered what a REAL father looks like…look no further! #HappyFathersDay #MyDadRocks #ThanksDad

June Guest Blogger: Idrissa N. Snider

Let me introduce you to an inspiring woman with a unique and empowering message!  Idrissa is completing her PhD from my alma mater, Wayne State University. When we were eIntroduced (we met by email), I was impressed with her passion!  I know you will feel the same way when reading her work.  Enjoy!!!

– Dr. Kim

OUR FACE AS MOTHERS…AND PARENTS!

BlackFamilyDinnerWhen I think of my role as a parent I am often cognizant of how my own mother chose to raise me. While I have certainly adopted some of the traditional styles of parenting that I witnessed as a child growing up in the south, I also find myself making a concerted effort to critique them. The image of black mothers here in America is reflected from one extreme to the next. Toya Graham, a single mother of six, recently received national media attention for feverishly smacking her son upside the head when she caught him throwing rocks at police officers during a rally in Baltimore, MD. While her reaction seemed normal to many of us, others thought it was particularly noteworthy. I, too, can say that I am most grateful for many similar incidents when my parents had to grab me by my shirt collar to keep me in line.

While well intended, this notion of “black parenting” is sometimes restrictive. There are studies and testimonies that would corroborate the fact that spankings can be used as an effective measure of discipline. Nonetheless, too often I hear black parents referring solely to their disciplinary roles. Trust me, my children are the best-behaved little gentlemen you’d ever meet. However, I have come to the realization that my role as a parent is more fulfilling and enjoyable because I am their educator also. I love introducing these fresh new minds to travel and culture! Also, I want to make sure that they know how to have fun. Children who have balanced lives are more likely to be balanced adults.  Being centered is vital!

For Memorial Day, my husband and I took our sons to a local waterpark. As I laid back on the beach chair with my hat cocked to the BlackFamilyRollerCoasterside and shades perfectly perched on my nose, I thought to myself, “I’m blessed!” My family is healthy, happy, and thriving. However, for some unknown reason I started wondering about all the little black children who don’t have parents who take them out or make sure that their kids get a chance to experience activities. The children I thought about weren’t poor kids from a foreign nation or distant land. These were the children of neighbors, family members or acquaintances that I’d met throughout my life. I am referring to kids with able-bodied working parents who take great care of themselves, but not of their little ones. As I sat there, the names of these beautiful girls and boys touched my heart.

As you read this, I’m sure there are names of children like these who come to your mind. Some of them have been disregarded because they come from a previous relationship.  Others find themselves in the way of parents who are simply just too busy and selfish to BlackFamilyBikingsacrifice their own enjoyment. I would never suggest that mistreatment happens only to black children; that statement is far from any truth. That’s simply not the point. Instead, I am trying to emphasize the fact that as a stay-at-home mother, my sons are often the only black children in attendance at many activities I frequent. Also, I know far too many people who were misplaced from house to house or foster care because they were “too bad” or “didn’t mind.” In opposition to what you might assume, they were disciplined, spanked, and often told what not to do.

In my adolescent years, my parents faced many challenges rearing me and my siblings. My father suffered from drug addiction (which impacted us all in very hurtful/negative ways). Yet and still, he provided for us and was extremely supportive in making sure that we were exposed to more than he had been exposed to in his life. My mother was also a stay-at-home mom. I know that she loved her four girls dearly. However, despite the ills we were exposed to, our parents made sure we had a good time. Perhaps they wanted to “make-up” for the fighting, dysfunction, or whatever. But, what that taught me was that creativity is needed in parenting.BlackFamilyGolfing

My mother passed unexpectedly when she was 33 years old. I often wonder what type of grave impact her passing would have had on me if I had only experienced just disciplining, or even just the troubles we faced. Instead, just as I have memories of our struggles, I also have the fondest memories of her making and teaching me how to cook everything from collard greens to stuffed mushrooms. I can also recall taking dance, piano, flute, and cello lessons (none of which I do today). Still, my point is that these sacrifices helped to cultivate expanded interests and also provided me with creative outlets. Trust me, these activities were major sacrifices coming from a family on a stringent budget.  For example, one memory that stands out most prominently is when she took me to an audition for a performing arts school. She was so excited to help me showcase my 30 pieces of art work! That school changed my life and exposed me to more possibilities.

So, my point is that while culturally, blacks (and other cultures) are typically labeled as disciplinarians, I think we should add to the image – to the face – of what it means to be parents. Yes, we stand proudly in the fact that our children don’t “cut up in public” or curse at us. But, when I think about the many conversations and encounters I have had with black mothers and fathers, while I hear the love…it saddens me that there seems to be a lack of joy in parenting due to the disciplinary responsibilities. Yes, parents should hold one another accountable for how we treat our children. But, we also need to reach out to children who have limited access when it comes to experiencing life’s pleasures. It takes a village to raise a child; but, what is to come of our children – our families – if the village remains silent on these issues.  Let’s not raise a generation of children who never get to be children.  Let’s change OUR face as mothers…AND parents!

IdrissaSnider

Idrissa N. Snider, born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, always had a love for the arts. Her creative passions as a painter ignited her career in broadcasting and television for nearly a decade. Snider’s proudest accomplishment is her family. She wed her childhood sweetheart in 2001 and is a proud mother of 2. Idrissa believes that her purpose in life is to inspire and educate others. She is currently pursuing a PhD at Wayne State University in Rhetorical Criticism: Media, Society, & Identity. Snider also travels the country as an author and inspirational speaker.