Black Lives Matter

Black. Lives. Matter!

These aren’t isolated incidents. These aren’t “accidents.” These bodies aren’t piling up due “bad upbringings,” failed field training or poor judgment from “bad apples.” These are educated individuals who know the difference between right and wrong, making careless decisions and blatantly and unapologetically killing people. Period.

These are people with real lives – moms and dads, brothers and sisters, cousins, with kids of their own – lost to police brutality and blatant (and I mean blatant!) systematic racism. One more time for the cheap seats: These are real human lives… lost… bloodshed in broad daylight, at the hands of those sworn to protect the communities they serve, the whole community.

These gut-wrenching stories and political responses that reverberate the 24-hour news cycle have become just as unavoidable, saturated, and nauseating as they are palpably unacceptable and inexcusable in the hearts and minds of the awakened.

There is simply no time left for “extensive, internal investigations.” We cannot wait for change, anymore. We, as a society of people, all of us, cannot continue to accept the embarrassing and shameful lack of support, restitution, and real change promised to the families and communities that live their lives – their WHOLE FUCKING LIVES! – in a constant state of fear, mourning, and increased risk. “Thoughts and prayers” are not enough!

It’s understandable (and fair) to think (or want to ignore) that you (hello, white people!) – on the individual level – cannot do anything to rewrite the national landscape in the immediate sense. I hear you. It’s daunting. I get it. But, I don’t agree. It’s reckless and it makes you a terrorist to turn a blind eye and call it “not your problem.” It is our problem. This is just as much our mess as it is anyone else’s. And, frankly, we’re the only ones with the power and leverage to clean it up.

We cannot change the channel every time we don’t understand what is being said. We cannot reach for our rose-colored glasses when what is happening in the communities and lives of those around us darken the fantasy of what we’ve been raised to believe this world to be.

There are two kinds of bad people in the world: those that do bad things and those that stand by and do nothing to stop it. Every day people of a certain color are targeted and/or killed for simply being. Black. Brown. Alive. Their fear is discounted. Their rights are removed. Their screams go ignored. They can’t breathe! And, for far too long, and under far too casual reasons, their lives come to an abrupt end. So, what are we going to do about it?

If you think what is happening now – the voices carrying the conversations and bodies that represent the movements – will one day fall silent or disappear, you are dead wrong. They’re going to get louder. WE ARE GOING TO GET LOUDER. The numbers will rise. WE WILL RISE. And change is most definitely going to come.

This post first appeared on Facebook.

photo of person holding lighted sparkler

What're You Worth?

That’s a loaded question if ever there is one. Right? But, that’s the first question that I ask when I meet with business development clients. I’ve asked it thousands of times and I’ve gotten millions of answers. If the math doesn’t add up, it’s because most of the time responses are ramblings, chock-full of flashbacks to childhood memories; rivers that lead to an ocean of truth. We all discount our value.

More often than not we confuse the correlation between self-worth and deservingness and self-worth and entitlement. It’s not the latter. Entitlement is the conviction that you have a right to something. Self-worthiness is the belief in your own worth.

Doubt in self-worth is a sign of uncertainty that you’ll measure up against everyone else. If you’re ever wondering if you’re good enough, the answer is always yes. If you’re afraid you’ve made a very healthy number of mistakes, you have; if you feel those mistakes make you a bad person, they do not. And, fundamentally, you’re enough — you’re a good person and you deserve good things.

Doubt is dangerous. How many times has someone on the outside telling you that you’re not good enough; that something is wrong with you; and too fast, too soon we begin to believe them. Now, imagine when that doubt and negativity originate on the inside.

Take care of yourself.

At face value, this advice would be obvious and seemingly unwarranted. “I know,” you’ll say to yourself, “I try, but life is busy and I get lost in the day-to-day.” Most problematic in this truth is that most of us are conditioned to believe that prioritizing our own needs means we’re selfish. It is not.

Inversely, when our energies come in contact with someone who prioritizes their own flourishing and balance we would never consider the thought of rejecting or even discounting their commitment to self. There are four things, areas of self-care, that “these people” prioritize regularly:

  • SLEEP: Our bodies need regular, adequate sleep. Every single night.
  • DRINK: Our bodies are 70%+ water, and that water needs replenishment. Hourly. Up your water intake and watch your body flourish.
  • NUTRITION: Nourishment comes in the form of whatever enters our bodies, right? We need to make sure the fuel is clean and reliable.
  • STRESS: Stress is a killer, right? Relieve it. Meditate. Journal. Start your garden. Pray. Whatever it is that brings you closer to the ebb and flow of the Universe.

Be the person you can count on.

Ok, maybe you can’t think your way into believing you’re worth it overnight. But, you can act your way there; by that, I mean, walk the talk. Keeping the commitments we make to ourselves can increase the feelings of our own worthiness. (Plus, it increases your confidence too.)

Think about it, for a second: Of the hundreds of commitments we make a day – to eat, to drink, to keep in contact with people, to contribute to the universal shift – most of them are for other people. When we don’t have a strong sense of self-worth, we agree to almost all incoming requests. That, always (and forever), leads to overcommitted. When our calendars are totally committed, something has to give – and 90% of the time it’s us.

Stand up for yourself.

Depletion in self-worth makes you an “earner.” Earners spend their time, money, and energy earning love. This shows up in a multitude of ways:

You can become a please — saying yes when you really mean no. You can become a performer — the life of every party and a chronic overachiever. You can become a doormat — allowing others to treat you poorly, convinced that being the release for them leads to some sort of appreciation or respect.

It gets worse. Our lives, when lived as earners, lead to an increased attraction of users. Users are people that live at our expense without giving it a second thought. If you’re willing to hand it over, they’re going to be willing to take and keep it. They, in their own parallel universe, believe they’re entirely deserving in the taking; these people like to keep you scared, small, and doubting in your deservingness.

Study the types of earner personality traits and learn to catch yourself in the act. Learn the who and the what of your triggers of the earner response. What are you most afraid of? What are you ultimately trying to prove in the earner role? If you feel bad – or drained – about your actions after you’re with a specific person or in a place, you need to reconsider the value that person (or place) brings to your life.

Every time we speak up for ourselves we remove another pin from the heart. Speaking up for ourselves and keeping our boundaries raise our sense of self-worthiness. We also show others what it looks like to know our own worth and live as we know it. That is true power.