“If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” ― Junot Díaz

Below is a link to a video of a young girl who receives a doll with a prosthetic leg. This is significant because the young lady has a prosthetic leg as well.
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGhAcBwwpo0)
The young girl’s reaction is priceless. She opens the box and immediately begins crying because she has a doll that looks like her.
The crux of this statement emphasizes how important representation for all people is, specifically minorities.
We live in a society where the majority of people are white straight cisgender people and dominate pop culture. This is natural and makes sense that a majority is well represented in the society they live.
However, collectively we should always be working towards a more inclusive society. One way to do that is by representing all people in that society. This may mean through media, politics, educations, and other outlets.
It is imperative that children see people like them excelling in a happy and healthy way. This is one of the building blocks for developing positive self image and identity.
The little girl from the video doesn’t have many role models that represent her. I don’t know many celebrities or influential people in our society that have a prosthetic leg. So for her to receive a doll with one was a major deal for her. The same is true for People of Color, the LGBTQ community, women, and others.
By representing minorities in popular culture we are providing our youth an accurate depiction of all peoples that live in our society. Our media representing those communities should illustrate them as authentic three dimensional beings. We tend to think of people in only one way; usually the label we place on them. If our TV shows, books, and music provide depth to these minority characters it expands our youth’s ability to develop a positive self image.
The LGBTQ community, People of Color, women, immigrants, and other minorities don’t have much representation in government, academia, pop culture, and other aspects of life. By providing youth that is more inclusive and more like them we are cultivating a generation that feels more free to live genuine and more authentically than ever before.
If you this concept is new to you or you don’t understand it, count yourself lucky. You have had impactful person in your life that you could identify with. Not many of our youth get that opportunity. Working to be more inclusive of all others is a goal we should all work toward.
For the sake of the young lady in the video or others like her, we owe it to them. For the next generation.

“If this planet is to be transformed for the better, then we as individuals must first transform ourselves.” ― Auliq Ice

Lately, I’ve been in my head a lot. Those that know me understand this is typical for but it’s been a good “inside your head”. Recently, I’ve noticed I have felt very grateful for life and my people, places, and things, especially my career. I have never been more fulfilled in what I do. I got to thinking why this is.

I have this firm belief in people, goodness, and easing other folk’s burden. As a kid, I had a youth leader at church that impressed upon my cohorts and me the belief that we should “leave things better than we found them”. I have realized that this sentiment impacted me more than I knew. This thought has driven many of my decisions in life. I want to know I am leaving my people, places, and things better off that when they came to me.

Social Work is how I have fulfilled this. What we do matters. Who we work with matters and I love to do it. I work with all different types of people. I work to solve many different types of problems. We should be meeting people where they are at and not where we expect them to be.

When working with folks, it is important to remember not everyone is like you and that is okay. We should not expect everyone to fall in line with our beliefs, customs, and way of doing things. If you do, you’re in for a sad life.

Social Work seeks to improve the lives of others and the communities in which they live. Everyone truly is interconnected on a level that none of us can see. We share problems and should be empathetic to folks.

Social Work seeks to “leave things better than we found them”. Social Workers advocate for those who do not have the ability to advocate for themselves. This looks like different things. Sometimes we intervene with a landlord, teacher, doctor, or family member. Other times we intervene with folks who you wouldn’t expect. An example would be another person who is in the field that should be working for the same goal, bettering the client’s life. If you want to piss me of the fastest, its being a stumbling block for someone else when your job is to be a support for that person.

Unfortunately, I see it all too often. “Do No Harm” is something doctors live by but my coworkers and I have adopted that motto as well in response to seeing people not living up to what they should be.

That vow is a serious one. If you aren’t working to better your client’s life you aren’t doing your job.

It is very important to leave the world a better place. This is done in very complex ways and also very simple ways. You do not have to be the President to make the world a better place.

We can make the world a better place by simply being there for folks. Sometimes a strong silence will do more for a person than a bunch of hot air. We can volunteer and work for different social agencies.

It even can happen on a smaller scale, hold a door open for someone, make a phone call, smile at someone. Small gestures make a big impact.

Remember that you can make an impact on people and leave things better that when you found them. Look for a need and fulfill it, no matter how small.

“America is the story of everyday people who did extraordinary things. A story woven deep into the fabric of our society. ” Marco Rubio

I attended my first political rally today. Marco Rubio came to Franklin, Tennessee, which is about 1 hour and ten minutes from my home. It is a total of 78 miles from my drive way to the Embassy Suites where the rally was held.

My experience was very good. My group and I arrived early and were able to position ourselves in a good spot. I’d say I was fifteen to twenty feet from Rubio. As we arrived it was immediately apparent that the number of people who were showing up was huge. As we checked in we learned the number of folks coming was more than the venue could hold so they moved the event to the parking lot right outside the hotel. One of the speakers advised they had 4000 register but thought the crowd looked more like five to six thousand folks.

As I said, we arrived early. As I was waiting with my sister I observed the crowd, listened to some conversation, and met a lady who emigrated from Japan thirty five years ago. Her and her husband had driven from Jackson, Tennessee, which is easily a two and a half hour drive west. I must confess we spoke for an hour on many subjects but I never got her name. She spoke of the differences between the United States and Japan and how she wanted to raise her children in America. What struck me was she truly appreciated the fact she lives in the greatest country in the world. I found her interesting.

Then the event started and the three speakers warmed the crowd up for Marco Rubio. Rubio came out and gave a fifty minute speech detailing his agenda if he were president. However, he kept true to his theme of unity and connectedness. He spoke about being a president for all people, including the ones that don’t like him. He even joked about lowering their taxes too. At times when candidates speak about unity it may fall on deaf ears. Each candidates hopes to bridge different communities but never has the ability. Marco Rubio is different.

I observed many different types of people at today’s event. I saw old people and young people. I saw White people, Black people, and Hispanic people. I saw women and men. I saw veterans and disabled people. I saw folks with what looked like Indian background. I saw what America is founded on, people of different backgrounds coming together for a common goal. Everyone in the crowd was there to support their candidate and hear his vision and plan for America. The crowd was enthusiastic and in turn made Rubio comfortable. As he spoke about inclusion and the new face of the Republican Party I saw what he sees, the evidence for this new party. It is clear he sees a turning tide and has the ability to harness it in his favor. As I listened to him speaking passionately about his vision of America, I thought of the lady standing next to me and the story she told me about her life in Japan and her immigrating to this country. It parallels Rubio’s parent’s story and their efforts to attain the American Dream. In a few words that is what Marco Rubio wants to do for the American People. He wants to make available the same American Dream that his parent obtained for themselves. It was quite a moment.

My first political rally will be a good memory to reflect on. An intense feeling washes over a person when they say the Pledge of Allegiance with five thousand people or cheering on the impassioned words of someone whom you share your beliefs and vision for the country.

Marco Rubio is optimistic, inclusive, and passionate. All of which is what we need for a New American Century. If you are interested in his policies, I’d visit his website: www.marcorubio.com

rubio

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” -S. G. Tallentyre

This past weekend a protest was held outside of a Phoenix mosque. The protesters were composed of motor cycle gangs and anti-Muslim demonstrators. The protesters were encouraged by the organizers to bring military style weapons and wear military gear. From reports on the ground this occurred.

No one is questioning there right to protest peacefully. Not a single person. Often in situations like this I refer to the following quote:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

Voltaire is credited with saying it but upon further investigation it was actually a female author writing under a pseudonym.

So S. G. Tallentyre should truly receive the credit. Now to the point.

I find the protest disgusting, despicable, and disrespectful. I think it is attention seeking and sad the lengths people will go to be cruel. The Muslims that attend that Mosque are not terrorists.  They are not responsible for the carnage of ISIS. Yet, a group of people felt the need to be ugly with these folks.

If you do not like/believe in Islam fine. Don’t become Islamic.

I’m Christian. I believe Jesus is the one and only way to go to God. -John 14:6

Yet, in no way do I feel the need to be hateful to others. So I do condemn the protest.

I find them vile. However, as much as I am repulsed by the hatefulness of the protests, I do recognize that thankfully in this country we have freedom of speech.

That is about as far as I will go in condoning the protests actions. They simply have a right to do it.

Furthermore, I’ve read several articles about media bias towards the mosque protesters and the Black Lives Matter Protests.

I’m not prepared yet to say there is bias just yet. I do believe there is misunderstanding in the terms and which groups are being discussed.

The media as a whole has not condemned the peaceful protesters in Ferguson, Baltimore, or anywhere else.  The media has rightfully condemned the violent “protesters”. Which really are not “protesters”.

Those individuals are known as rioters. The rioters are thugs, antagonizes, and opportunistic thieves. There should be a bias towards those criminals. They are the ones who have killed, looted, and destroyed property in the cities they have occupied.

It’s simply wrong.

You cannot compare the protesters in Phoenix to the others. Or at least you cannot yet. They have been peaceful. They have not been violent. They have not looted, destroyed property or even killed anyone.

That is the difference.

I saw an argument for where they were coming to the protests dressed in military gear and bringing military style weapons and how that was thug like behavior. It was also said that these folks are being as offensive and acting much like the rioters.

Personally, I think it’s a bit much. I think it’s misguided to bring those types of weapons to the protest. Again, it’s to make statement. It’s for show.

However, as long as they are not breaking any state laws or city ordinances they have a legal right to have their firearms. The second amendment prevails.

They are not using their weapons in any harmful ways. They are not killing, looting, or destroying property.  That is the difference. It’s a big difference.

Again, I’m not supporting these folks. They are attempting to make statement. I believe it’s all for show.  But they have a legal right to do so. As long as they remain peaceful and law abiding.

That is the great thing about freedom of speech. Whether its tasteful or right we can say it. With little to no consequence. Thankfully, freedom of speech includes religious exercise.

Often while in church we offer thanks to God for the fact we can congregate together to worship God without fear or molestation. It’s our right. However, by protesting outside of that mosque those individuals are not being afforded that right.

They are not being able to practice their religion in peace. I believe that is the definition of hypocrisy.  We must extend the same respect we demand from others.

I hope that we grow to become a nation that understands this concept.  May we work to make it a reality.

This in itself is humbling.

“We must meet the challenge rather than wish it were not before us.”—William J. Brennan

Six months in and I cannot save the world and I have to be okay with that.

This has been going through my mind this week.

Yesterday (4/8) was my six month anniversary since I started working with Centerstone. I was told on my first day that “time doesn’t exist here”.  I thought this was a joke. Now, I know how true that statement was. The past six months have been a blur.

Centerstone, in the short time I have been with them, has taught me many invaluable lessons. One of which I shared at the beginning of this blog.

You are taught in college that you may have that “ I can change the world attitude” but you can’t keep it for long. Otherwise burnout can happen.

I think it’s a lesson we all learn. I also think it’s very normal to have that belief. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have gotten into the field of Social Work. We just learn to rein it in.

I am still very optimist about every client I have but also understand that I cannot make happen what they won’t allow to happen.

Some other lessons I have learned are:

You can provide all the education, support, and resources to someone. Until they decide for themselves its time. It isn’t time. I dealt with that lesson last week.  I doubt its one you ever really get used to.

The toughest lesson I have learned is sometimes your best just isn’t good enough. Sometimes you can do everything right. You do what you are supposed to do and there still isn’t a winner.  You can only do so much. There are times when all you can say is “I’ve done all I can do”.

It never feels good.

A side effect of my job was learning how to deliver bad news. It’s never comfortable. But it has to be done. Especially, when you are the person providing that sliver of hope. There have been times when I’m on resource number three and another one has fallen through. You just plow through and provide support and encouragement. You let the client know you haven’t given up and neither should they.

I’ve dealt with the death of a client. It was a suicide. I had been working with this client for many months. As always, it was a total surprise and difficult to deal with.

This wasn’t meant to sound glum. I’m afraid it teeters on depressing. I hope that’s not what is taken away from this blog.

At times, my job is emotionally draining. At times, I feel as if I am making no difference. And then a client obtains a safe place to live, or a client decides to seek treatment for addictions, or a client you have been assisting tirelessly to find funding for a medical issue is accepted into the program.

The silver linings are there my friends. They are rewarding. They reinforce that “ I can change the world attitude”. Hold tight to it. You just might!

I know I have made the right career decision. I cannot tell you where I will be in ten years or even twenty years but I know it will be striving toward making the world a better place.

I believe social work is what will do that.

This in itself is humbling.

Sorry About It Royals, Lady Gaga’s Nuptials Will Be The Wedding Of The Century

Admittedly, I originally had this type of article in mind for Buzzfeed. However, I could not figure out how to create the article. I was able to type out the body but not upload the pictures.

So the result, a wordpress blog in all of its sassy glory! Here it goes:

Recently, Lady Gaga announced her engagement to Taylor Kinney and Little Monsters’ hearts haven’t stopped swooning. They have been together for a long time and everyone knew this would happen someday. Or at least wished it would.

It got me to thinking what would a Lady Gaga wedding look like? Sure it probably won’t be televised, have millions lining the streets, or a national holiday to commemorate the occasion; Here’s lookin’ at you Obama!

But it will be the wedding of the universe!

Here are the top five ways I know it will be the most fabulous thing on the planet to ever happen:

 

(1) Gaga is marrying the love of her life.

lady-gaga-and-taylor-kinney-at-2014-golden-globes-after-party

In an interview Gaga gushed about Taylor. She used this quote to describe their romance.

“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.”-Dr. Suess

 

 

 

(2) Her make up is always on point:

lady-gaga-2013-650-430b

 

Lady Gaga is a fashionista and  never fails to look just right for the occasion. Her wedding will be no different.

 

 

 

 

(3) She is stunning in a wedding dress:

lady-gaga-wedding-dress

Thanks to her music videos and iconic fashion we can have a general idea of what Gaga in a wedding dress looks like. I would willing to bet Gaga will wear something from Alexander McQueen. They were great friends until his suicide a few years back. Undoubtedly Gaga will want to honor her late friend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

(4) She will arrive FLAWLESSLY:

Lady-Gaga-arrives-on-horse-DM

Like it or not Gaga knows how to make an entrance. From zip lining onto the stage, to arriving in an egg, or even on this beauty, she knows how to work an entrance! She may walk down the isle of just hover to her groom. Who really knows?

 

 

(5) She is Lady freakin’ Gaga:

Lady-Gaga-

She is fabulous. She is grandeur. She is beautiful. Her wedding will be done on her terms. She may have a huge city closing celebration or a small intimate nuptial with her family and his family. They may tie the knot secretly.

 

One thing is for sure. Whatever happens will be in true Gaga fashion!

 

These are my top five reasons for why Gaga and Taylor will have the wedding of the century. What are yours? Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

As noted this blog is unlike my others. This one is meant satirically. Its fun and intended to further celebrate this pop icons’ engagement.

Congratulations Lady Gaga and Taylor Kinney.

The above pictures are not mine. I take no credit for them. They were found on Google.

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” -Andy Rooney

TV Land is introducing a new dramadey called “Younger”. It is about a forty-ish recently divorced mother who is wanting to rebuild her life.

Not an original concept right? There is a twist. Their is always a twist.

In order to rebuild her life she obtains a new job and friends. In this new life everyone believes she is a twentysomething. I get it. Its a TV show. The producers needed a hook and a reason for the audience to watch.

What will be telling is how receptive TV watchers will be.

Society has a preoccupation with youth. Its no secret. I’ve just never gotten that mentality though. I suppose its easy for a twentysomething to make comments like that.

I don’t long for youth due to the fact I’m in my prime. I’m the definition of youth and twentysomething-tude. However, I have never understood being nostalgic for the past.  I have always said I never want to wake up in twenty years and desire the old days. I had a great high school experience, college experience, and now young adult experience. But I do not wish to go back to those days.

I understand the appeal. Why would anyone not want to go back to a time when he/she had limited responsibility.

I have always affirmed I wanted to live in a way that every faction of my life is good. I want to be happy everyday of my life. I want to be so happy with where I am in life that I do not long for “glory days”. Up to this point I have been able to do that.

I believe its normal for everyone to have a few days every once in awhile to pine for a simpler time. However, there are folks who think of those simpler times and stop living for the present and focus completely on how good they used to have it.

Here are a few characteristics that can help a person to stop living for the past and enjoy the present.

1) Stop acting like a victim. Understand that things happen. You weren’t singled out. Life isn’t fair.

2) Life and no one else owes you anything. Stop thinking you deserve something for nothing. Work for what you want.

3) Appreciate the people in your life. Accept that everything in your life can change at anytime. Loved one’s aren’t with us forever.

4) Thinking on positive things will help you have a positive outlook. Your outlook dictates your ability to handle your situation.

5) The present is the only time we have. We shouldn’t waste it on the past. Good or bad.

Often what we think about a situation will determine how we react to that situation. The present time can be as good as the “glory days” one so desperately clings to if one attempts to change his attitude about it.

At times its normal for one to think about past good times. However, it becomes unhealthy for one to dwell on the past so much he/she cannot live for the present.

We must love our life in all aspects. We must want to be so in love with life that we do not dwell on better days. If you find you could use better days, you should work towards them. You have the power to change your life and make improvements as needed. Isn’t that a lovely thought?

That in itself is humbling.