Happy New Year 2014

No matter how you choose to celebrate, have fun and be safe!

November 2013: Life Hardens You…

As “the scene changes”, life hardens us in stages, in ways that only our friends can appreciate. As babies we are sensitive to touch, to light, to being held by strangers. We are taught at an early age to beware of strangers, not to talk to them. As we grow, we begin to discern whether a stranger is a new friend to be made, or eye contact to avoid.

Fortunately for many of us, as children, we faced few direct personal hardships that forced us to develop a coarse outer shell. I often find myself faced with children whose eyes tell of despair. No, I am not talking of the wailing for luxury or supplemental goods not garnered. I tell of hurt that seemed to have been handed down over the centuries, like a timeline of travels that will not reach a destination; and this is known even at the fragile age of (say) seven.

As such children grow, they slowly learn, through trial and error, the beauty within life, particularly if they encounter strangers who become friends and try to guide them on a different path. Unfortunately growing in this way, in reverse, so to speak, to learn beauty so late in life, to having missed giggling over soap bubbles under sun showers, can set an adult on a course where each of life’s future obstacles easily pierces through the outer shell.

So, instead of being hardened, this person is being knocked down, easily defeated by obstacles easily overcome by those who grew up protected with the illusion that parents and family create for children. The unnatural progression from hard child forward produces pain in whatever milieu this adult lands.

Our goal as adults is to help children enjoy and learn beauty at a very young age, so they too can slowly harden as they age.

Are you up for the task?

Hardening Guichard
In life we meet people who pass wisdom to you in such a way that you eagerly digest it. Even though you were unsure how to immediately apply it, you knew to hold the words and deeds. 

Earl John Powell. I met Earl my second semester in college. He was a well-respected visiting brother who showed great compassion while expecting results. His words, mantra if I may, was, “Either you pay now, or you pay later.” Over the years when faced with swallowing the bitter pills that life offers, I always choose to pay now. Check out the work he is doing on behalf of his father’s musical legacy

Charmaine Bennett-Cadet. Yes, my wife hardened me in ways that I never expected. Love is one of those “things” like friendship that cannot truly be defined. You simply know it when you experience it. In marriage, we get a greater good and within it, we face various obstacles. We get a responsibility that manifests itself in many ways, in that you take the hurt so that the other person doesn’t. If you aren’t HARD, you are not cut out for marriage.

A season of giving, not just thanks but of yourself, your compassion, your wisdom. Help each other grow and life will return the favor. As usual, connect you and yours to me fora Real Estate need.

October 2013: Are You Worthy?

When I first started watching basketball, “Big Game” James Worthy was one of my favorite players. I appreciated Worthy for many reasons, with the primary ones being: His game had style but without unnecessary flash. He played within a team concept even though he had a superstar’s game.

 In life we are often proving ourselves worthy of something- friendship, pay raise, love, etc…But what happens when you indirectly are told you are not worthy? The two most common instances where this happens are job interviews and courtship. When faced with this we have many choices. The two most common ones are avoidance, as in denial by stating the other party is clearly mistaken.

Or, we prove ourselves worthy as shown in this clip from Seinfeld:

In proving yourself, keep in mind your performance in big game situations matters as much as the value you assign to yourself. Most people have an inflated value of their own worth and assign a lesser value to others. This, in itself, is not a bad thing because life is a market economy. You set your value and see who is willing to pay that price, and confirm you are indeed worthy.

Two worthy ones
I now introduce you to two of my favorite people in the world, who also happen to be the best of friends. We met in college and I don’t know how, but I proved myself to be worthy of their friendship from day one. For this, I am happy.

andrea taylor. The best starting point is to say that she works with and for the youth both in her professional life as well as her personal life, through ministry at her church, Antioch Baptist Church of Corona.

Shaun Merritt-Scott. Always there to bring laughter, particularly through her brand of straight-shooting talk, she is an educator who has recently joined the entrepreneurial ranks with "The Pamapered Chef".

September 2013: You Ain’t About That Life!

[Third in a series, to show my appreciation for New Day Slang]

Do you know the meaning of flawless? It is hard to know the meaning of something which you have never experienced, particularly if it does not exist. I felt this way until about four years ago, up until the day I learned this phrase: You Ain’t About That Life!

As with most things in life, we learn of them through a negative lens or interaction. Someone was claiming moxie that was a bit extra and one of his confronters told him, “You know you ain’t about that life”. Two things make this phrase flawless, at least for me: (1) its meaning is clear; you do not need a dictionary, a thesaurus or your neighborhood hood dude to decipher; and (2) it covers both spectrums: the positive and the negative, hence the phrase does not need to be reframed.

For a clear exposition, check out this filmmaker (Carl H. Seaton) whose work I recently enjoyed:

I will now use the phrase to make a sweeping generalization: none of us are about that life, any life we are claiming. Most of our life is just pure hogwash, fiction. Seriously, what was your last original thought? Tell it to me and I will google it and show you it was created centuries – or more – ago.

Of course we should not set out to recreate the wheel on a daily basis. We should model ourselves, our careers after someone, some category. But, imagine that every thought you ever have had, you read or heard somewhere! Slowly each day you chose the script you are acting: comedy, travelogue, Dilbert, the number 752, or being one of the great ones.

See, I can follow and be about that life, “the great ones”. It comes down to your own truth, your passion. If we can acknowledge that - at minimum - 90% of the life we lead is fiction, then we can jettison the false bravado and just focus and be about that true life: Being a great one!

Two More great ones
Above I introduced a filmmaker making the works that try to set us on the right path. Along with him, I now link you to two others who need your support as they tell your story. Visit and “LIKE” their page on Facebook.

wilkie cornelius, director of single hills

August 2013: Your Philosophy of Equality

Equality is a flawed concept. Most people think of equality as being synonymous with being equal as in 2 + 2 = 4, and 3 + 1 = 4; therefore 2 + 2 = 3 + 1 = 4. For equality to exist, your philosophy has to match that of the next person, as it relates to the transitive property.

The best way to define yours is to trek down this road, illustrated by a relationship between a man and woman. She earns $80K per year and he earns $40K per year. Their relationship is in its infancy. They are trying to go from single, to dating, to “it’s complicated” and to hopefully reach marriage.

In this situation, before any steps are taken the couple has to agree what amount they will put into the pot, to finance their union. They have to determine whether equality is measured in raw numbers or in percentages. When financing their union:

Case A:  Do they contribute an equal amount, as in $40K each. This puts them as living an $80K lifestyle. She still has $40K remaining, while he has $0 remaining. Are they equal?

Case B: Do they contribute an amount that leaves them with the same remaining balance? This means to achieve an $80K lifestyle, she contributes $60K and he puts in $20K. They will end up with $20K remaining. Are they equal?

Case C: Do they contribute all (100%) of their means to finance a $120K lifestyle, and both end up with $0 remaining? Are they equal?

So, at the end of the day, as a joined unit, you have $120K at your disposal. How much of it are you willing to put into the pot so you can move forward – together? That is your philosophy of equality.

The following people have shown through their words, deeds and works to be enlightened, in the sense that if charged with building a better society, they would get it done to everyone’s content.

We met through mutual friends when I first moved to Maryland. One of the first things I noted about her was how she reminded me of the "thorough" sisters I met in undergrad. Her vibe was family and community, and she extended an invitation to Thanksgiving that first year in town. Please check out her site featuring Ethnic Vegan Recipes and show support.

One of the greatest joys of work is the people you meet. That is why I always treasure my years in publishing. I met Ian when he submitted his book on Yoga and Travel for consideration. What I read and the correspondence we shared during this period opened my world view more than I anticipated or noticed until afterward. Please journey over to this site to learn more about his teachings in Yoga and reach out to him.

July 2013: Dead End Street

Life is a dead end street. What is your next move? I often hear people use “dead end” as the reason to stop doing something. It ranges from jobs, first dates, marriage, etc… Oh wait, marriage is the second longest dead end street, only to life; at least, that is how U.S.-style traditional marriage was structured.

You were supposed to meet someone, love him, have children with her, and then die. Isn’t that romantic? I think it is. 
Copyright by flatbushgardener

I’ve been intrigued with dead end streets ever since living off one, near Avenue H and Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn. One block away was a street we rarely ventured but every once in a while, we’d play “army tag” or touch football there. Beyond the “dead end” sign were train tracks.

Yes, I’m from the other side of the tracks. #humor…Later in life, I found these types of streets to be romantic – rainy night, full moon, a street lamp thirty yards away, casting a light shadow as whispers turn into…a point that, the dead end sign you see might take you a decade or more to get there. What lies on the road are treasures to be picked up. Once the sign gets closer into view, drive a little slower, park your car, plant your flag – Claim it! as your own.

Starting over and U-turns are part of life but understand that all roads circle back to your destiny; and all roads end even before you die.

Life’s Treasures
Continuing with the theme of people I’ve met over the years and who are fulfilling their life’s mission, I bring you three friends I don’t see as much anymore.

College days, a few years and dorms separated us but I always knew Elliott to be one of those people you never overhear a cross word about. Our paths intersected during our Howard University graduate school days. He was in the Law School, and is now doing life coaching and other inspirational work, that can shine a light in your life. 

Those years I lived in the DC-Metro Area helped me mature in leaps and bounds, particularly being open to new friendships. Before then I had a popular saying that I’d already met all my friends by college. Ron and I share the same passion and conviction but through different lenses, yet our endings (decisions, conclusions) align. He is the President of REB Sports League. Give him a shout or pass his link to a friend residing in the DMV.

Gigi James
We met through books and have remained friends through humor. I’m slowly working on getting her to lean left a bit more. What I most admire about Gigi is her wit, which is not for the sensitive, but the sheer brilliance that it cuts to the matter at hand. Read her book: I Didn't Sign Up For This!

May 2013: The BIG PAYDAY!

Copyright by MarkyBon

Do you play the lottery (Lotto, Powerball) or any of its variations? Late last month I wondered why I do not play the lottery. In the early 1990s, I committed to playing after hearing Nas’s flawless lyrical line, “That buck that bought the bottle could’ve struck the Lotto”. So profound yet filled with irony that I purchased my first lottery tickets at the corner liquor store, but I digress to what has circled my mind these past few weeks.

I am a person who believes in incremental gains yet I shun hierarchy. The very thought of somehow spending one to thirty or more dollars per week to hopefully make millions is a foreign concept. I don’t see the lottery as gambling because with most gambling games, one develops a strategy linked to outcomes.

I do not consider “756” three ways a strategy, nor do I playing the same six numbers for decades. Yet it is a path I have decided to walk, either starting as a New Year’s resolution in 2014 or as early as next week.

My goal is not to implement this new strategy as some sort of self-analysis, but simply live the motto: You’ve got to be in it to win it!


Life has many lotteries and when it comes to brotherhood and friendship, I have won many times over, starting with my biological, to friendships formed and fraternity.

Responsible and present for many of my life’s shining moments, a decade ago, he told me to start my sales career in real estate. Of course I did not listen, as he remained steady on this path where the knowledge he has gained and imparted is being rewarded. please show appreciation for his real estate business.

This is one of the many men I know whom I have never heard any other person state a cross word against. A true brother by the score, former roommate and overall supporter, please show appreciation for his endeavors at Two Shot Productions.