Don’t Forget To Celebrate the Important ‘Firsts’!

It is important for us all to recognize and celebrate milestones or the “famous [and not-so famous] firsts” in our lifetime. Not only a baby’s first steps, your first car, or first job, but there are situations, circumstances and events that are bigger than that, because they are bigger than us. Celebrate, for our milestones can positively impact the world.

We must begin to keep a watchful eye- mindfulness on individual firsts as potential impetus for cultural change, be it progress or regress. It is when those firsts go unacknowledged that we may miss a major turning point in our lives.

For example, it is known that blacks in this country have a history of being subjected to discrimination and the strategic denial of important freedoms, access and opportunity, systematically and system-wide.  With this insight, we must all celebrate occasions such as the special focus of this post! Every American, every woman, every black person, everyone, everywhere!

Celebrate the acceptance of Dr. Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, as Johns Hopkins’ 1st black female neurosurgery resident!

This represents an occasion in which a ‘ceiling’ has been lifted or ‘shattered’ in this country. In March, 2017, a black woman, native of Ghana, has joined the most prestigious John’s Hopkins Hospital School of Medicine staff as a Neurosurgery Resident. That is phenomenal!

Posted on social media-LinkedIn- where I learned of this milestone event, I am flabbergasted that, since it was acknowledged as noteworthy by one professional on that forum, only 3 likes and 2 comments have been made thus far, as I write.

We champion the first person to attend or graduate college, and replies or comments number into the hundreds. That is certainly a proud day, and a monumental achievement for any family, and we should recognize every time another person becomes a first in the family to reach towards “greater” heights. This time, though, it is greater than just ‘a’ family unit; it is for a much bigger group-racial, gender-based, and a Johns Hopkins achievement!…3 LIKES ONLY?!!!

How are we not extremely impressed? Because this time it is a black female resident in NEUROSURGERY! She has already earned her medical degree. This appointment doesn’t happen everyday where I come from. That announcement is absolutely phenomenal, and it represents another pioneer upon whose shoulders will lift so many others to follow. More firsts in the family, and many more proud families. Not intending to sound biased, but if it were a female of another ethnicity, race, or anything along those ‘narrow-minded’ lines, would we all celebrate and exalt the announcement to its appropriate place?

“Lest we know our history, we are unfortunately doomed to repeat it!“(a paraphrase)

This is why the general K-12 Social Studies curriculum, and the ‘standard’-issue textbooks need revision, rewritten and reality-based. Well, folks, another door has been opened, and we weren’t fully aware! We are largely blind to these things because history is not vividly contextualized or inclusively taught in our nation’s schools. Therefore, black and white children, grow into adulthood, some feeling optimistic and entitled, no fault of their own. Others failed to see evidence that motivated them to reach for or realize their potential because they were not encouraged or affirmed due to poorly taught history. Too many windows and insufficient mirrors for children in a world of rich examples of both.

Some children grow up to possess implicit biases, unaffected and unencumbered by a bothersome awareness of subtle imposed restrictions placed before their counterparts, and others grow increasingly angry and resentful of those biases which will negatively impact the quality of their lived experiences….and no one seems to know why any of these feelings exist.

I feel safe to say that this is a significant reason why prejudice, bias and racism still lives in the hearts and minds of Americans and gets passed on through generations. When we know what our history looked like, felt like and what life was like-how things came to be, we may just say to ourselves, “It could’ve been me!” That should give us all pause, and there but for the grace of God go I. Wake up and celebrate those firsts! Teach about those firsts, which are to be celebrated. Empathy emerges from the acknowledged appreciation celebrations.

For LinkedIn, the social media site for professionals, we should  know better and do better! WE are the adults who are supposed to carry the torches and light fires under future leaders! It is up to us to recognize that there is always room for growth, and that we grow  by celebrating others; we enrich our lives. As our awareness expands, we are to pass along and share this awareness to further enrich the lives of people in our spheres. It is our duty. ‘Information worth sharing’, indeed!

I still love the collegial dialogue, experiential focus and the awesome spirit shared on this forum, but am a little disappointed by the limited numbers who have made public acknowledgement of this accomplishment. We live, we learn, and THEN each one, teach one! Congratulations, Dr. Nancy Abu-Bonsrah….Johns Hopkins’ 1st black female neurosurgery resident!

Here’s What You Can Do Today to Raise Your Self-Esteem

Things You Can Do Every Day to Raise Your Self-esteem

Pay attention to your own needs and wants. Listen to what your body, your mind, and your heart are telling you. For instance, if your body is telling you that you have been sitting down too long, stand up and stretch. If your heart is longing to spend more time with a special friend, do it. If your mind is telling you to clean up your basement, listen to your favorite music, or stop thinking bad thoughts about yourself, take those thoughts seriously.

Take very good care of yourself. As you were growing up you may not have learned how to take good care of yourself. In fact, much of your attention may have been on taking care of others, on just getting by, or on “behaving well.” Begin today to take good care of yourself. Treat yourself as a wonderful parent would treat a small child or as one very best friend might treat another. If you work at taking good care of yourself, you will find that you feel better about yourself. Here are some ways to take good care of yourself—

Eat healthy foods and avoid junk foods (foods containing a lot of sugar, salt, or fat). A healthy daily diet is usually: five or six servings of vegetables and fruit six servings of whole grain foods like bread, pasta, cereal, and rice two servings of protein foods like beef, chicken, fish, cheese, cottage cheese, or yogurt.

Exercise. Moving your body helps you to feel better and improves your self-esteem. Arrange a time every day or as often as possible when you can get some exercise, preferably outdoors. You can do many different things. Taking a walk is the most common. You could run, ride a bicycle, play a sport, climb up and down stairs several times, put on a tape, or play the radio and dance to the music–anything that feels good to you. If you have a health problem that may restrict your ability to exercise, check with your doctor before beginning or changing your exercise habits.

o Do personal hygiene tasks that make you feel better about yourself–things like taking a regular shower or bath, washing and styling your hair, trimming your nails, brushing and flossing your teeth.

o Have a physical examination every year to make sure you are in good health.

o Plan fun activities for yourself. Learn new things every day.

Take time to do things you enjoy. You may be so busy, or feel so badly about yourself, that you spend little or no time doing things you enjoy–things like playing a musical instrument, doing a craft project, flying a kite, or going fishing. Make a list of things you enjoy doing. Then do something from that list every day. Add to the list anything new that you discover you enjoy doing.

Get something done that you have been putting off. Clean out that drawer. Wash that window. Write that letter. Pay that bill.

Do things that make use of your own special talents and abilities. For instance, if you are good with your hands, then make things for yourself, family, and friends. If you like animals, consider having a pet or at least playing with friends’ pets.

 

Dress in clothes that make you feel good about yourself. If you have little money to spend on new clothes, check out thrift stores in your area.

Give yourself rewards—you are a great person. Listen to a CD or tape.

Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself—people who treat you well. Avoid people who treat you badly.

Make your living space a place that honors the person you are. Whether you live in a single room, a small apartment, or a large home, make that space comfortable and attractive for you. If you share your living space with others, have some space that is just for you–a place where you can keep your things and know that they will not be disturbed and that you can decorate any way you choose.

Display items that you find attractive or that remind you of your achievements or of special times or people in your life. If cost is a factor, use your creativity to think of inexpensive or free ways that you can add to the comfort and enjoyment of your space.

Make your meals a special time. Turn off the television, radio, and stereo. Set the table, even if you are eating alone. Light a candle or put some flowers or an attractive object in the center of the table. Arrange your food in an attractive way on your plate. If you eat with others, encourage discussion of pleasant topics. Avoid discussing difficult issues at meals.

Take advantage of opportunities to learn something new or improve your skills. Take a class or go to a seminar. Many adult education programs are free or very inexpensive. For those that are more costly, ask about a possible scholarship or fee reduction.

Begin doing those things that you know will make you feel better about yourself— like going on a diet, beginning an exercise program or keeping your living space clean.

Do something nice for another person. Smile at someone who looks sad. Say a few kind words to the check-out cashier. Help your spouse with an unpleasant chore. Take a meal to a friend who is sick. Send a card to an acquaintance. Volunteer for a worthy organization.

Make it a point to treat yourself well every day. Before you go to bed each night, write about how you treated yourself well during the day.

You may be doing some of these things now. There will be others you need to work on. You will find that you will continue to learn new and better ways to take care of yourself. As you incorporate these changes into your life, your self-esteem will continue to improve.

 

How Can We Forget ‘Summer Slide’ and Promote ‘Summer Stride’?

It’s officially summertime, and children are out of school. Yay! But, now how do we help students retain the knowledge and skills they learned during the academic year that just ended?  More than that, how do we help children remain on the forward path to achievement without making them feel as though they are actually still in school? Learning happens everywhere and it takes place when school is in session and over the summer break, too.

Kids want to enjoy their time away from the classroom, go to the beach, the pool, the park, and anywhere but school. It’s their vacation, after all! But, if no targeted reading, writing or math-related work is done, the brain atrophies. Teachers dread seeing their students return to school in September and instead of moving forward, they have ‘un-learned’ an entire year’s work.

To help combat this, parents can engage children in targeted learning activities such as these:

Send the Kids Outside: Studies have proven that physical activity helps grow not only strong muscles but also strong brains. From old favorites like tag, leapfrog, and handball, to more organized games like basketball and baseball, outdoor activity stimulates both the mind and the body. So send your kids outside to play. They learn important team-building, cooperation, and other ‘soft’ people skills, and they don’t even realize it. They are just having fun!

Time For Cooking in the Kitchen: Have your child assist in planning and  preparing a meal for the family. They learn to follow instructions, measure food portions and ingredients, and reading happens in the process. Quality parent-child time, and with your help, the result is delicious home-cooked  food, too! Besides the skills involved when using a recipe from a cookbook or family favorite, you are proactively teaching children what you do to prepare meals each day. Don’t be surprised when you come home from a long hard day at work and dinner’s already on the table. Your child may turn out to be a future Julia Child, and a great help for you.

Scrapbooking: Have your child go through some old magazines, newspapers, or they can try sketching or drawing pictures that relate to different topics or themes, and collate  them in such manners that they constitute a pictorial journal about their summer activities.

Play ‘School’: We have all played this game, and with friends or family, your child gets to take turns being the teacher. That is both fun and educational, and kids read, do math, practice science, or conduct simple experiments[with supervision, of course]. Encourage the ‘teacher’ to develop lesson plans and create simple assignments for the students as they decide who will be the teacher first. They choose subjects, topics, and an activity related to the topic. Also, engage children in discussions on  current events, neighborhood news, and age-appropriate ‘global’ topics. Let them design mock or real projects for solutions to problems or needs in their community. Plan to help them consider the steps they would need to take for making it a reality. Include any organizational help needed, as well. Fun and civic minded!

Road Trips: ‘I Spy’ is another game that children can play in the car, on the bus, a subway train, or neighborhood walk. Spotting things seen along the way, spelling the words, as well alphabetizing each item. There are so many variations of this activity that are all about fun and learning.

Family Reading Time: Set aside a time each day, or at least two times each week, for family reading time. Try playing Knock, Knock”  when your younger children read. The child reads but knocks on the table when he or she comes across a difficult word for you to help with. Sometimes you find that your child remembers the word the next time it comes up in the story.

Everyday activities that we, as adults, take for granted can be transformed into learning and teachable moments for the children. Remember, ‘Mother May I’? Put a new twist on it! A little more mindfulness, creativity and less idle, unsupervised  time online, becomes more person-to-person real ‘face time’, and keeps kids developing interpersonal and socialization skills for real life. Monitor all play activities to ensure safety and let the summer stride begin!

 

 

Cosby’s Preventive Maintenance Plan

 

 

 

Just days after a deadlocked jury released Mr. Bill Cosby from criminal sexual assault charges, the news is that he plans to embark upon a national tour, a series of Town Hall events. First, who would come and would people pay, or would anyone attend at no cost at all? This man, a beloved iconic figure, with groudbreaking accomplishments under his career belt, is now rendered a ‘fallen son’. Though many of us, including myself, practically cut our teeth on this man’s comedy, movies and tv shows,  memories will forever be fond in our hearts. Unfortunately, whenever a wave of nostalgia comes over, as we contemplate Bill Cosby’s life and worldview altering impact, there will surely be an afterthought,”…BUT HE…”.

Having not be proven guilty of the sexual assault charges by a jury of his ‘peers’, the judge had no choice but to declare a mistrial….this time. What confuses me is that since so many women accusers have come forth with allegations of Cosby’s unethical sexual advances and assaults, I can’t understand what took so long to bring these women to the fore. I think that the impact would have been greater if the claims were made during the height of his career. He certainly commanded more celebrity power,  influence and his pockets were certainly fat[ter].

Most of these claims alleged that his misconduct occured at least 10 years ago. He was younger, not yet declared legally blind, and still a very viable commodity in Hollywood, in academia and probably politically, too.

Playing the devil’s advocate, if he spent so many years abusing female engenues, wouldn’t there have been rumors, gossip or some scuttlebutt around town, or among Hollywood insiders? And where were his friends at the time? His co-stars? People talk, and why weren’t there rumors that spread, or why was there never any coverage in the National Inquirer, Liz Smith or any other columnists…ever? Not a hint! No one is THAT good.

I am not doubting that this man had abused some of these women to some degree, male ego, a grab here or there??? Why not cry out afterwards or tell someone close to them, if not proceed to the nearest police station to restore their faith in justice or defend their rights as women to say ‘no’ and lucid when they do so? I understand the inner turmoil they must have felt and the wavering feelings of self-blame and self-defense. I understand that there must have been fear that people would not believe, would cast doubt and blame the victim, and the feelings of shame. A strong, intelligent woman would not allow that to happen. She must have done something to provoke the actions. There could have been responses from others that would mimic their disappointment in her, not him.

He could have forewarned them by reminding them that they were doing drugs, and who would believe them once that was discovered. He could have reminded each one that he has influence and power and it would be his word against hers. Who would believe a relative unknown, powerless female against the word of America’s favorite father and great philanthropist, too. All of these scenarios are possible, maybe even probable. Yet, that still doesn’t explain why more than 40 women didn’t come forth separately, and years ago. The laws of probability says that out of 40, at least 5 women would step forward, take to the streets and the court of popular opinion to raise ‘holy hell’. Damn the celebrity!

Now, though, Cosby is older, not bringing in the bucks and quite frankly, doesn’t have too many more years to be among us. Could it be the money card? Now that these women have found each other, are they looking for a paycheck, because at his age, what good would it do to place him in jail? He is already a prisoner within his mind, because of the loss of vitality, popularity, and his former appeal has been limited to older women. He is a grandfather, but with an awesome and rich legacy to be left behind. Would anyone really sentence him to prison, should a guilty verdict ever be delivered?

Bill Cosby’s guilt has not been proven, nor has his innocence. So, his next move for now is to travel and teach young men  to avoid being the subject of charges of sexual assault or harassment. On the surface, a good idea. Deeper – the worst idea of the century!

All in all, Bill Cosby has been America’s most famous doctor, tv dad, and now he has become the target of some personal vendetta. He may have pissed off someone who asked a favor of his ‘influence’ to help open doors, launch a project, loan money to which he refused. Feelings were hurt and here we are now.

Or, there is another theory…the historically- systematic character assassinations and the targeted destruction of charismatic,  successful and positive men of color, whose otherwise unblemished life and legacy will not be allowed to be written as such. Limit positive black male role models and limit potential  of young black men to follow suit or believe it is possible for them to live productively. Don’t change the narrative!

Listen, we all are human, and ‘he without sins…’. But this man has been an activist, a philanthropist beyond any level to which we are aware. He has been a consummate family man, in his professional life. No ‘blue’ humor! No blue movies! It is unimaginable as to the millions, maybe billions that he made for the NBC network, not to mention JELLO brand. Cartoons, based on his life with family and friends during his growing years! This man was mocked by comedians about his dislike of profanity used on stage. He was the picture of ‘family’ values. Research his giving, donations, and causes he supported…all positive!

My cousin attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut with one of his daughters, or it was his son, Ennis. I forget, but all girls, one boy and he died. One wife, and she is still there. It is just hard to believe that the way Hollywood gossips, that when he was Numero Uno salaried artist who, by the way, launched many careers, he was not ‘de-throned’ when it would have had maximum impact.

Perhaps, it is just my own prejudice for what he did to challenge narratives and debunk negative stereotypes of the black family in America. Long before ABCs ‘Black-ish, which I absolutely love for both its humor and the subtle messages they deliver each week, there was Bill Cosby. No matter the ‘questionable’ allegations, he will always be the African-American role model who instrumentally became the change many wish to see. Noteworthy, not newsworthy or notorious, but a  benevolent man who enjoyed a very private celebrity in an industry where privacy is rarely enjoyed. Thanks for the memories, Mr. Bill Cosby, our ‘Dr. Huxtable’!