Whose Fault Is It Really?

Is it thier fault, or yours? Or both?

Is it their fault, or yours? Or both?

I used to spend a great deal of time taking a look at my decisions and trying to understand them and the results that come from what I have chosen. If I choose incorrectly I think about what if I had chosen this instead…however, it occurred to me that usually I was blaming someone else; not just with what was wrong in my life, but with the world too. If there is chaos in my community and I am not lifting a hand to help am I not also to blame? If my child does not understand the world, is that not my fault? If I do not succeed or get promoted to that new job, am I not also to blame for this? There is so much that we could blame on other’s for what goes wrong in our world and in our own lives, but the truth of the matter is, is that no one is up there in your head making the decisions but you. We are not forced in most cases to make decisions — the problem is, is that we have a hard time dealing with the fact that once they are made, we cannot undo them; we can only learn from them.

We live in a world where people are unwilling to accept accountability for their mistakes and wrong-doings. Compassion and kindness have all but vanished and we are constantly looking for someone to make it easy for us and make the choice for us. I dare say that if our communities are suffering and are youth are suffering, that we all need to accept accountability for it. What are we doing collectively in our community to pull together to guide our youth an each other? Nothing…and as a result the lost seek guidance from wherever they can find it. They go astray and become unstable and irresponsible…they become ignorant and narrow minded and their life, and the lives of others ultimately end up having no value. I remember hearing a kid say, “It doesn’t matter if I die…no one cares anyway.” I could not imagine his life…living in a world where you are convinced that no one cares whether or not you live or die. This type of existence is not living at all…

The first step of taking a hold of our communities is starting with ourselves. We must come to terms with the fact that we have been lost for a long time and now it’s time to find ourselves. Second, our youth. Being uneducated is more of a crime in this country than anything, and will get you killed. We do not take enough interest in what is going on in the lives of our children, in our world, and in our own homes. We remain silent when we should be screaming! We are shifting the blame when we should be stepping up and holding ourselves accountable…we are moving only ourselves when we should be reaching down to pull up as many as we can. We rely on the school system and social media now to educate our children about the world and what goes on in it. Discussion in the home has become absent and socially unacceptable or “uncool”, and we are no longer eating dinner at the table as one.

We have gotten away from solid traditions that once made our communities strong and sure. We have let go of discipline…our Father’s and Mother’s have become invisible in the homes and have forgotten their duties towards their children. It is common conversation for my husband and I to say when we see kids out being unruly, “My Father or Mother would have never let me get away with that!” This is true! We were too afraid to misbehave with our parents in public! We have got to stop and realize that we are losing our hold on our children…we lose them everyday to gun violence, gangs, drugs, poor decision making, and no education. We all must recenter our focus on them — become the role models that they need to see and hear…we must maintain our households, get ahold of our finances so that we can show them the world; we must educate ourselves so that we in turn can educate them, and we must take back up some of those old traditions that help keep our families strong.

Father’s need to start being Father’s and Mother’s need to start being Mother’s. We are raising a generation of statistics that will never be able to lead our world because most of them will never see it. So, who’s fault is it anyway? Do I blame my 11 year old daughter when she makes a mistake…yes, but I also blame myself for not teaching her better. I blame myself because I am her role model…and I am who she looks to when she wants or needs to know how to think and act. Our children are a direct reflection of what they know and see — are they not? If your child curses like a sailor, why are you punishing at them? Have they not heard you using that same language? If they treat others meanly and with no respect, why are you getting angry with them? Are they not only following in your footsteps or in the footsteps of those you’ve had in their company? We need to turn the tables and realize that we have the power to change this.

It has always been my hope with this blog to increase awareness…not just in the African American community, but in all communities. It is my hope and true wish that God will see fit for all of his people to work together for the common good…that we will learn to use the power of our words to fight the battles of injustice, inequality, separate and never equal, ignorance, and violence so that our children can begin to prosper and grow to be leaders in the world. I pray that benevolence, compassion and mercy enter into the home and that God once again can become the true foundation upon which we stand and build…

S.

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Voting Rights Amended: The Edmund Pettus Bridge at 73

This was an awesome post…Thank you!

arobertsonh

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At the beginning of last month, I helped my good friend move from Atlanta to Dallas. Instead of Interstate 20, we took US80, one of the original federal highways and one of the most storied roads in the country. Keep an eye out for an article on the full trip, which will be forthcoming.

80, you see, stretches right across the heart of the South. It passes through Tuscaloosa and Vicksburg, and Arcadia (near where Bonnie and Clyde were killed). And it happens to be the main road from Selma to Montgomery. And the road on which the KKK shot and killed Viola Liuzzo. And the road the Freedom Riders followed from Montgomery to Jackson. And it famously crosses the Alabama River into Selma at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

I’d never been to Selma, so I had no idea what to expect as we neared the…

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Inspired to Hear the Call — Please watch!

http://youtu.be/GoGtaXt5f1w

Please watch and Hear the Call —

Yes, it’s happening…what are you going to do about it? Yes, you just saw that…what are you going to do about it…Yes, he got voted in..what are you going to do about it? Yes, there are 3000 homeless children in your city…what are you going to do about it?

There is so much complaint…so much back and forth and so much anger and desperation for answers when we ourselves have them. The problem in this country is “separate but equal”. That simple line IS our country. It is how we live everyday in this nation. I read the blogs everday…the Facebook comments, the Twitter posts, the commentaries on CNN and Fox News and yet there is still the wall. We are not making strives to do ANYTHING to unify this nation. Even in the African American community we seek justice…we seek restitution and reward…we seek to be honored and glorified for who WE are, yet we do not honor and glorify ourselves…Does this not confuse you?? My husband and I were watching a video on youtube — a White kid made a video about trending — and he said there are lots of USELESS trends out here right now like Twerking, and planking — and that he was starting a new trend called…”Make the Homeless Smile.” It was a video of do-gooders are over the world going out to their communities and helping those who were less fortunate. These individuals were giving out food, bottled water, clothes, shoes, to homeless children and families. This is the direction that we need to move in. It was enough to inspire me — I heard the call — I heard the call with the Trayvon Martin case. I have a new and awakened sense of purpose in my life and I want my Black Community to gain that — to understand that in order for us to be better, we must start with action….we must start with our youth — we must build up our communities by becoming more involved in the lives of our children. I have said this before in several blogs — but in most cases we are our own destroyers — we want equality, yet we want what we deem as equality– we want justice and we deserve it — TRUE! But we must learn to know what that looks like and to not just fight when something horrible happens in our community…we must stand up for all racial injustice that affects us — we must take a hold of ourselves and unify so that we CAN be stronger and better than our circumstances — -we must teach our children about their past and their heritage and help them to understand the path of our people — and how special they are — we must learn to break down the walls of ignorance and racial inequality by taking the first steps to end it — we can only do this by being honest about what our shortcomings are — by educating ourselves and working together as a nation to try and understand each other — to try and discuss openly our fears and frustrations and for helping everyone else understand our pain so that they can relate. People fear what they don’t understand — this has been true since the Jesus walked and performed miracles — “Fear is the mindkiller” — a line from one of my favorite films — we must take steps above this and become greater — God has no favorites — and we should not either — we live and die everyday under the same sky — heaven has no care for race or creed — Jesus did not have a preference on who would be saved — We are lost forever if we cannot move beyond these boundaries into a world of grey where there is no color and where all can be equal in the eyes of God and not man…Who will hear the call?

S.

Paying Bills – Can’t Live with Them…And Can’t Live Without Paying Them. (Brought to you by the How to Save and Survive Series)

As prices go up, it becomes harder to stay above water...but we must!

As prices go up, it becomes harder to stay above water…but we must!

My fellow Americans — many of us are suffering from an unhealthy economy and high unemployment in this country and find it virtually impossible to get ahead. Working to pay bills seems to be what we are really living for. We are drowning in student loans, credit card bills, and just keeping gas in the car to make it to work. With all of this creating a mountain of stress for American’s all across this country, we see more people struggling with depression and the general “I hate my JOB” syndrome. You are not suffering alone in this, but I feel that as a nation there is much we can do to help promote a healthy financial lifestyle. Now, take it from me when I am no expert on money matters — I am quite the novice — It took me many years to get a hold of how to manager my personal finances and I still struggle from time to time with my wants and needs always battling like a conscience on each shoulder, but it’s time we started listening to the needs.

I have come to see that this is our problem — people who struggle with saving money I believe (and again from my personal experience), have a problem with identifying their wants from the needs — and not even that — having the discipline to put their needs before their wants. We want to feel satisfied and that normally means that we are not willing to sacrifice and go without so that our goals can be met. I want to travel the world…how important is it really that I have my hair done every two weeks when I can do it myself at home, or buying a new pair of shoes every payday when I could be setting that money aside in a vacation fund?

My husband and I had a very real conversation about saving money not long ago and what it is going to take in order for us to meet our goals of wanting to live prosperously. Again, when you are living from paycheck to paycheck like most households are, it can be difficult to save – but it is possible. If you take a very real and honest look at how you spend your money, you will see that the majority of the time, that money you spent at McDonald’s or at the movies, could have gone towards a need. And now, when that need becomes and a “can’t live without” you are SOL because you don’t have it…this is what we can being “behind the eightball”. I guarantee that if you track your expenses for a week, meaning keep absolutely every receipt from all of your purchases for a whole week, you will see that a lot of your spending was unnecessary.

If you know that you struggle with saving money, be honest with yourself first. Admit that it is an issue and stop praying to God to get you out of situations that you have yourself created! Take a hold of your financial matters and you can start by following these simple steps:

1. Take a close look at your finances — take a look at your bank statements for the last couple of months and look at how you have been spending your money and what you’ve been spending it on. Make a list of things that honestly you could NOT purchased — basically a list of wants and needs from those statements. I know that you will be amazed at how much was unnecessary!

2. Once you have a clear idea of how frivilous your spending has been or not been — get a little technical — my suggestion would be to go online to Microsoft Office Templates and find a “Household Bill/Expense” spreadsheet. I have started using one of these to help me keep my bills in order and to help me track when they have been paid and when they are due. It also helps me stay disciplined and keep paying my bills as a priority.

3. Get a copy of your credit report! Afterall…CREDIT IS EVERYTHING!! If your finances will allow it, go to www.freecreditreport.com and take a look at your credit statement. I would even spring for viewing all 3 credit scores with each credit score company, i.e. Equifax, Transunion etc. It costs around $35 (a one time fee). The Free Credit Report site does require a membership fee of around $20 per month to view and monitor your credit on an on going basis, but it is definitely worth the investment. You will get credit score alerts when your score goes up or down, great tips on how to boost your credit, a monthly credit report so that you can track and monitor what hits your credit, and an awesome Dispute Center where you can dispute items that do not belong! If you cannot afford memberships, then you are entitled by law to receive one FREE credit report a year. You can go www.annualcreditreport.com for more information on that. Make sure to monitor your credit, and dispute anything that does not belong. Remember that revolving credit is your friend!! Car payments, department store accounts, etc. HOT TIP: Late payments stay on your credit for up to 5 years and can really hurt your credit score!! So, make sure to pay your bills ON TIME!!

4. Once you have your spreadsheet all set up and customized to fit your household budget, set reminders to pay your bills! Use Microsoft Outlook on your PC, or set reminders on your phone. Use a calender and always set the reminder for a few days out and then again on the day of to give you some time to prepare and make sure that you are paying your bills on time. Get in a routine of checking these avenues each day! If you are forgetful like me, it comes in handy to keep a planner with you! Paying your bills on time helps not only boost your credit score, but will allow for your bills to stay current. It’s always harder when you get behind and the next thing you know you are spending your entire next check on getting caught back up, and you’re robbing Peter to Pay Paul! Let’s break that cycle!

5. Set goals! It is important when you are saving money that you set goals, but most importantly, you set realistic ones. We all would love to save $10,000 in 6 months, but is that really feasible for you. What you have to come to terms with is that every dollar counts, so if you can only save $20 out of each paycheck then make that your goal. You’ve got to start somewhere. Take a close look at your finances and what you have remaining after you’ve paid all of your bills and save what makes sense. Don’ get overly eager to save a mountain of money when most of us don’t bring in enough to make that happen. If you are married, take a look at what you have left after maintaining your household and discuss an amount to save that is not only comfortable for you both, but helps reach your goals too! Work together and you’ll see faster results! Speak honestly about your bills and debt and come up with a plan together how you will tackle it. Remember, don’t leave anything out…anything that cost you money is a BILL! The worst thing that can happen is LETTING your bills and debt sneak up on you!

6. Auto Save! Most financial institutions offer great savings accounts that will automatically draft a certain amount from your checking and deposit it into your savings account! This is easy and hassle free and you wont even have to worry about saving it — let the bank do the work for you! Just make sure that you continue to factor in that amount that you are saving into your budget, so that it doesn’t get included with the money that you need to pay bills! There are even pre-paid card companies for those who cannot get a checking account, like Netspend, or through American Express. Both of these pre-paid card services are excellent, and if you have direct deposit your paycheck with them, allow you access to your paycheck 1 to 2 days sooner. They also won’t charge ridiculous fees on every transaction as long as you direct deposit with them. You may pay one low monthly fee of aound $8 or $9, but it’s worth it! Netspend, for example, gives y ou a budget calculator, an auto-save feature taking a specified amount of your choice from the checking and moving it savings for you, and a Spend Tracker where it divides what you spend into a PIE graph and gives you a compete breakdown on how your money is being spent! AWESOME!!

7. SACRIFICE! Okay, so this is probably the hardest part about saving money — and you’re going to have to do this one day at a time, but trust me, it can be done. Even if with every time you are about to spend money, you have to ask yourself, do I need this, or do I want this? That’s great way to help you. You must remember that those jeans or those shoes will be there! That you have food at home and you don’t need that burger or that extra Latte! Be strong and diligent! It pays off in the end…literally!! Save up some money so that you can get to the next step of the process which is to….

8. TREAT YOURSELF!! This is an important part about this process. Once per month it is important that we treat ourselves to a small lluxury. Now, this doesn’t mean blow your savings!!! This means that you can indulge yourself with something you like or like to do once a month, however, if you are in the baby stages of this process, I would wait until you have a couple of months under your belt before you get in the routine of treating yourself. What is important about this is that you want saving to be fun…and not DEPRESSING!! You want to still be able to live a normal life, and feel rewarded for saving, but also keeping at the front of your mind, that you are saving, and saving is virtually impossible when you are spending!

9. 401K and Retirement Savings Plan – Most of us that work for large corporations should be offered a 401k or retirement plan of some sort. I am always for this! This is a good way to help build your retirement which is really important, however, you should get to a place where you can afford to contribute. Contact your Benefits Department and see what the contribution levels are. You may not be able to contribute the max of 4 or 5%, but you may be able to do 2%. Retirement planning is vital and important as you grow older. Look at all of your options! And, don’t forget your KIDS!! Look into what type of savings plan you can open for them…there are lots of options out there to help you prepare to send your kids to college if that’s what they choose.

10. Last but not least, Emergency Fund! I know this may not be at the forefront if you are starting to save, but you are saving towards a goal. That may be vacation, retirement, or this…an Emergency fund. It is good practice for each household to have at least 6 months of living expenses saved up in case of an Emergency. So, please make this a priority! A “Rainy Day” fund as we call it can come in real handy if for example, you blow a tire, or you car needs major repairs, or you or your spouse become injured, or any number of things! The scenarios are endless, and the bottomline is, is that we need to start being MORE PROACTIVE about saving money!

I hope that these tips help! The most important thing to remember is to not let the task of saving money become mentally hard. Remember to save what you can because it adds up! Take it a day at a time and before you know it you’ll be where you want to be and on your way to financial freedom!! It’s hard out here for everyone right now, and many people are struggling to stay above water…these are the times where we must learn to sacrifice and be determined to succeed!

Good Luck!

S.

More Than Conquerors…

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Good Day Good People…I came across this quote and said to myself…well, hey now! Everyday I go out here and work hard…take care of my family and go through whatever obstacles the day has planned…most of the time not even thinking about how I just conquered one hurdle, now here comes another…it’s like Nike…I just DO IT! But I can remember a time when just “doing it” was harder than trying to determine what needed to be done. We are all looking for a purpose and more so when we are young in life. We are constantly searching for significance — for meaning — It wasn’t until just recently that I transcended that thought process and found out for myself what is important in the grand scheme of not just the world but the Universe…I now determine what has significance in my life…no one else. Your purpose is defined by what you make important in your life…your cause… your beliefs…your family…whatever those things are that make up you — the love that you have inside for God — or the love you have for your children and/or family…all these things collectively are our purpose. We live for these things so is that not our purpose? How often do you stop throughout your day and say, “Ok, is this worth fighting for?” What if we did that for all things in our life? How much we could truly accomplish if we started to take a closer look at our world and our efforts — and not just what’s going on in our community, but how all of the things that we care about are collectively affecting our world. I care about showing my children the world, about creating awareness in my community, about going green, about fighting for causes that are like the great tree and the root is God…helping those causes grow — giving them life but watering them with my efforts…seeing the world as a whole and not as just a corner of which I choose to walk because I must — We are all greater than our circumstances — Don’t just imagine your dreams — conquer them in the name of your own happiness — create a world within a world where you have perpetual purpose — It excites me to be able to blog about inspiring others — through finding purpose we find fulfillment — and that is the door to our true happiness and peace —

S.

Senseless Tragedies…At their Best…and Worst…

 

76 Year old Wisconsin man John Spooner convicted of killing 13 year old Darius Simmons in May 2012, has been found guilty.

76 Year old Wisconsin man John Spooner charged with the murder of 13 year old Darius Simmons in May 2012, has been found Guilty.

Over the last few months much has become quite clear for African American’s in this country and for many others as well. As a nation, we have had to deal with excessive poverty, (and when I say poverty, that includes those households that now are forced to live paycheck to paycheck), as well as our homeless brothers and sisters. We have had to deal with issues of war, oppression, depression, inflation, gouged gas prices and yet we still remain as a country standing. However, for me, even though we are still standing as a nation and as a people that does not mean that we do not need to speak out when injustice is afoot. America is a great country — no where on the Earth can you find a country that is freer, however we are still bound. A good friend of mine on Facebook said, “The dream is free, but the journey is not.” How true is this in your mind? Now, in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case where George Zimmerman was acquitted for the murder of a 17 year old, unarmed teenager, yet another similar event took place in our country. This tragedy’s voice, however, was not as loud as the verdict over the George Zimmerman trial, yet, I feel needs to be spoken on. John Henry Spooner, a 76 year old Wisconsin man shot at point blank range and killed 13 year old Darius Simmons in May 2012, who he stated to police he suspected had stolen his shot gun. He shot 13 year old Darius on the street in front of his Wisconsin home, right in front of Darius’s mother and brother. The Simmons family was next door neighbors to Mr. Spooner. After Spooner fired the first shot into Darius Simmons chest, when Darius attempted to run, Spooner fired yet another shot. Darius collapsed from the gunshot wound to his chest and died in his mother’s arms. John Spooner has just been convicted and found Guilty of this crime.

I put it to you fellow Americans, and especially my African American community, that we must do better. We must break through the racial profiling, the ignorance and delusions that any one of us is better than the other. We have forgotten our tag line that 95% of American’s in this country believe in and that is “In God we Trust”…we have become an immoral, prejudice, unstable, selfish, greedy and unmerciful country that continues to pave the streets with the blood of our people…especially our youth. Yes, there are African American boys and girls being killed in our streets everyday! Yes, there are also children of every race being killed every day. A life is a life no matter what the race. Yes, there is still much racial injustice in the African American community…and as an African American woman, I cannot deny myself those feelings because they are valid and the honest to God truth is, is that there are still many in THIS country that would do harm to an African American boy or man — or woman for that matter. There are still parts of this country where we as a people are still looked as inferior and unintelligent creatures…not beings…not thinking men and women — there are some parts of this country where they are still segregated proms and dances — where parents are not only practicing racial injustice, but still teaching their children that this form of social interaction is okay and correct…even in the eyes of God! It baffles me that I go home to my children and I teach the principles that no matter what your race, color, creed, gender, we are equal…and justice is equality — that we treat others how we wish to be treated and that we act with kindness, compassion and mercy. Why is this not the everyday practice in every home? And, in light of what has happened with the Trayvon Martin murder and now Darius Simmons, is it safe to continue teaching our children that there is only light ahead of them when we are being shown that this is not true? When learning about God in our churches and by reading the bible, are we also not taught about the ways of the devil? There can be no light without dark…no good without evil…Awareness is key…making sure that we have a voice in our households that teaches our children the ways of altruism and forgiveness…that we preach to them about how important it is to stand up for what you believe in and speak out, but also what it means to walk as one and unify. The price of freedom in this country has a new price tag…and that price has become your life…when you cannot even walk down the street on a Sunday in your own neighborhood at 7 pm in the evening without worrying whether or not you will make it home. When you cannot step out of your home like Darius Simmons did to bring the trashcan up 10 feet away from your front door without being gunned down…when we are afraid to speak out against racial injustice, capitalism, discrimination, and the murdering of our children…we are indeed lost.

As I reflect on these things, I urge other parents to please, please start taking an active role in the lives of your children…become involved with their education, monitor their Twitter and FB accounts if they are still very young, engage them at home so that the Television and Cell phones do not become their teachers, have open dialogue about sex and the diseases that are taking so many from the African American community like HIV/Aids and Hepatitis B…practice discipline in the household and above all RESPECT…we as parents know that we cannot force our children to do anything…but we can make things available to them..we can make ourselves more available — Put things in front of them to help them expand their minds — travel, urge them to write and to stay aware of current affairs and the news…and above all…because I am a Christian and believer that in every faith, the baseline is love, faith, compassion and kindness, that we need to immerse our children in the teachings of our faith…help them to see the difference between good and evil and when all this is done…let them go forth to be our leaders and teach their children the same…let us build a legacy in our country and in our Community that cannot be shattered…that is strong and solid on the foundation of God. My prayers go out to all who have lost loved ones tragically…and may this shine a light in your darkness showing you that we hear you…that we are listening…that we care…

I leave it to you…

S.