Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Golden Moment in the Sun

“We tell our kids it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but let’s be honest. Winning feels pretty great. There’s nothing like that golden moment in the sun."

- Jay Pritchett, Modern Family

Seasons 1-3 of Modern Family helped get me through the last semester of my MBA program. I have a digital converter instead of cable, so on many midnight-oil-burning nights when I got tired of fighting with the antenna, I popped in a Modern Family DVD.

In the episode quoted here, Jay was proud of Manny for winning first place in fencing. Meanwhile, Manny's success conjured up resentment for Mitchell from when he was a kid and he and his sister Claire had a chance at winning the ice skating regionals, but Claire dropped out.

The episode is about achievement  -- that "golden moment in the sun" -- that moment when you -- by the grace of God and your own blood, sweat, and tears -- came out on top. And everyone is there, smiling, clapping for you, praising you...

Proud of you.

That was the sheer and utter perfection of my graduation weekend. I rented the flyest crib I could find in the area -- a two-story Key West style party house with a boat dock and full-sized gameroom/sports bar/ultimate man cave,  complete with sound system, projector, pool table, air hockey, etc. "The Fight of the Century" - Mayweather vs Pacquiao - was in full effect for Saturday night. That was the infrastructure.

Then, as the lady of the hour, I needed to bring the razzle dazzle. After the ceremony, I did my costume change for the party. All white, summer chic. And for a splash of glamour -- a waist-length string of pearls. Oh, and big hair.

The mini-MTV crib was in place. The hostess with the mostess was together. But the most important element was the one I could not control or arrange.  It was the most meaningful aspect, the one that fills up my spirit whenever I think about it.

The people.

Early Saturday evening as the house began to buzz, but before things got too turned up, we gathered in the kitchen to say grace. My homegirl prayed over the food and over me. And then folks took turns making me cry. This continued off and on all weekend.

The people. They carpooled, trailed each other, and Google Mapped their way to my funky oasis in the boondocks -- "The Jefe House" -- with food, drinks, cards, gifts, and well wishes in tow. Some woke up early Saturday morning to attend the ceremony and hug me in my cap and gown and bless me with flowers and balloons. Some came through for the party, while others could only stay for a couple hours. One took the scenic route and made it in on Sunday.  A lovely few stayed the whole weekend. And still more, many of whom only knew me through somebody, rolled in for the fight…which was all good.

The thing is, there were times during the planning when I questioned whether my dream celebration was too much. People have graduated with higher degrees from more prestigious programs than I have. And as much as I struggled with working full time and going to school full time, many of my classmates did it with families. Did I really need to go all out? Was I being pretentious? Did I really deserve it?  

The questions eventually melted away, and I cannot find my own words to explain why. But in her poem, “Our Greatest Fear,” Marianne Williamson speaks my heart.

“We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not be?
You are a child of God…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

What made my weekend special was not that my achievement was particularly unique. It was special because the fullness and blessings I felt, and the love and positivity that were showered on me -- got all over everybody.

And on an even more personal level, it was my golden moment in the sun.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lock Screen Motivation: Smile and Nod

The need for my current lock screen came as a result of my tolerance for listening to yet another empty declaration or excuse reaching a dangerously low level.

Yes, it’s a work thing. I find workplace dynamics -- primarily in a dysfunctional workplace – to be the object of fascination. There are few situations like it.  Everything else you do in life, you have the ability to offer ideas, opinions, insight. Yes, there are leaders, but you can vote them out. Or you can leave that church or organization with little impact to your bank account. 

In a relationship, sure, you have to sit and listen to venting and griping and complaining at times, but you have the right, indeed the duty, to pull your significant other to the carpet when he or she is out of line or being a hypocrite.

But what about when it’s your boss that’s being a hypocrite or out of line? 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lock Screen Motivation: Keep Calm and DO YOU

This graphic has been on my phone’s lock screen for a couple months now. The crazy thing is, I added the photo with “Keep Calm and Do You,” but forgot to remove the personal message, “Stay focused,” that was already in there. What occurred was what Bob Ross might call a happy accident:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

We Are Different to Different People

I used to work for a guy who was a horrendous manager. He yelled at people. He was unappreciative. He was petty. A question that sometimes came up in our ongoing happy hour rants about the guy was how in the world he could be married -- and to a beautiful woman at that.

That was some years ago. I would not question that now.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Is It Ungrateful to Want New Jordans?

I consider myself a pretty grateful person. I'm the type that walks outside in the morning on my way to work and looks up at the sky to admire its blue. I bow my head in grace over virtually every meal, no matter how small. And I tend to live in a constant state of awareness of my good fortune.

But, I am hardly the eternal optimist -- you know, those folks who rummage through a crappy situation and announce to the rest of us the existence of a sliver of a silver lining. I prefer to analyze the scene before I take a position on how one might or should feel about it. That doesn't mean I look for the negative or that I am a negative person. It means I try not to avoid the negative. It's a part of the story. Context is everything.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

If Only School Was Like the Real World

In more ways than one, being in school is unlike anything you will ever do in life. But one thing I’ve come to appreciate is the orderliness of it. All year long, classes are scheduled to begin and are scheduled to end. You come in, you grind, then it’s on to the next. You can continue the relationships you want to keep and you can leave the rest. You can keep the book or you can sell it back.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Lock Screen Motivation: Talk Less, Grind More

aka "Don't just talk about it, be about it."

aka "Talk the talk, now walk the walk."

aka "Actions speak louder than words."

aka "Faith without works is dead."

There are so many notable quotables around this idea because it's a problem. It's good to talk about what you want to do. In fact, it's necessary. But too often, that's the end of the story -- talking about it.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

News Flash: It’s Uncomfortable Outside the Comfort Zone

I toyed with word choice, searching for the smallest, most watered down way to tell a boss whose insecurities kept us all on eggshells that I’m pursuing an MBA.

I settled on “I’m in school, this is where I attend.” Basic. No flair. Humble. And most importantly -- non-threatening. After all, with my networking activities ramped up (because I do, eventually, plan on taking my skills elsewhere) and our mutual contacts, it was going to come out and it needed to come from me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What Bathing and Motivation Have in Common

“People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.”- Zig Ziglar

For years, probably since I was a teenager, I’ve jotted down inspiring quotes -- in my notebook, on Post-it notes, on colorful construction paper I tacked to the wall. These words moved me to action, soothed my spirit, built my confidence, and encouraged my endeavors.

However, it never failed that, over time, the same quote that used to make me give pause in the morning and reflect, the same song that used to brighten my longer had the same effect. In some cases, there was no effect at all. This bothered me. If it did it for me then, why doesn’t it do it for me now?

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Way We Were: It Matters How You Treat Your Ex

So who’s going to date V. Stiviano now?

Unless you’ve been on a media fast the last two months, you’re well aware of L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s ex-girlfriend who recording him making some seriously appalling comments. And you’ve probably participated in, read or watched discussions about Sterling’s bigotry and illogical rants.

That’s not what I’m here to talk about.