Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Pathology of Parenting…

I saw commercials recently for an episode of Iyanla Vanzant’s  “Fix My Life” that caught my attention.  It seems Mr Terrell Owens, ex- super star of the NFL, was the subject of the moment and in my head, all I heard and saw was this;

Release the Kraken!!

cracken 2

I have watched T.O. for years and each time would shake my head and ask where IS his momma? While arguably one of the best players the NFL has seen, his antics on AND off the field made me cringe. What was worse, were the people who watched him destroy himself and took full advantage of his “fame” knowing all too well it was fleeting because let’s face it; one cannot survive on an ego that large for too long.

Sure enough, things started spiralling out of control and the once celebrated athlete/ diva went  down the drain in the vortex he created.  I also knew most assuredly, there was some seriously bad pathology behind that, shall we say, less than stellar behaviour.  I was soon to find out it was worse than I thought.

If you watched the show, you learned that Terrell’s mom was a teen who slept with the married father of two across the street from her momma’s house, got preggers, somehow left her child with his grandmother and he had NO idea his dad lived across said street from him until he was eleven and liked a girl who turned out to be his sister.. Sweet mother of God… That, sweet pea, is how he found out who is daddy was.

whomp whomp

Say what now?  Oh but it got better.  Daddy lived across that street from his son for all those years AFTER his kid found out and never fully acknowledged him.  Terrell watched the family across that street and wondered why was he not special enough to have that kind of acceptance and the thirsty desire for attention was born. The NFL became his family and the fans his arena for gaining the “love” he sought.

Lawd, did he EVER take advantage too.. It was almost painful to watch and see what he was going to do next. I will spare you the gory details of said drama because one would have to be in a cave, Under a boulder to not have experienced the beast he was. As the story unfolded and the pieces came together, one could visibly see a new T.O. being born. The Terrell that was robbed of a childhood where he felt loved and wanted.  The Terrell who  was treated ( in his head and heart) like he was an “issue” that his grandmother took on. The Terrell who never saw his parents together in a room being decent to each other until he was darn near forty years old. That Terrell was being replaced with one who began to fully recognize his “stuff” and saw his  responsibility in his downfall. Not the media, not the NFL, not his baby mamas but HIM.

That could ONLY happen once his own father acknowledged he failed him and that paying child support was not enough to raise a child. I believe T.O. has turned the hard corner into becoming who he really is and pray that he will be a better man to his son than his father was to him.  That took work and humility but kudos to the brother, he did it. I wish him the best moving forward.

Which leads to my next point.

One of my biggest passions beside writing of course, is parenting and as a direct result, I travel and am contracted by School Districts to work with families on how to navigate schools while being a collaborative partner.  What I have found is that in order to discuss  being a parent, schools, how they operate, the chain of command, how to navigate their child’s formative years and work with educators etcetera, we had to go all the way back.

To their childhood.

What has happened as a result of doing this crucial exercise, has been powerful beyond words and opened doors to their collective hearts in minds in ways that still leaves them and the School districts astonished ten plus  years later. it never ceases to amaze me just how powerful this work is and until more Districts fully authenticate the need for solid parent work and development as partners with them, we will continue to struggle with the charges we both love dearly; the children. No matter how educated/ uneducated a parent is when they walk through a school door, navigating school systems continues to befuddle them. Heck to be truthful, the continual changes befuddle many educators too.  Parents need help, not ridicule.

But I digress.

Parents, raising children is never an easy task. It is understood that your own childhood may not have been  perfect and trust me, in my years of doing this work, I think  I have heard it all and then some.  What I am going to implore of you is this; do the work to heal and forgive as much as you possibly can, so that your off – spring can have a fighting chance in hell not to repeat the pathology that was given to you. It is the only way to start breaking the vicious cycle  that abounds.  Try to find someone who you can trust to speak with, to release the anxieties you may be experiencing.  It requires WORK on your end but the rewards are plentiful. You only have to look in the eyes of your children to see that it is worth the effort.

If you had a wonderful childhood, my ask of YOU is simply this; try not to stand in a place of judgement for those who are doing the best they can.  You can even go one step further and be a helpful presence through kindness and deed.  Be careful not to make people feel like you are “wonderful” for doing such a thing. Come from a place of authenticity or it most certainly will back- fire.

Above all, remember that children are innocent in  the idiosyncrasies of life and need us to shield and raise them with the very BEST we have within.

Enough said.

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The “Sheroine” that stole our hearts.. all 7 Thousand of them…

November 1st,  was the tenth anniversary of the Pennsylvania Women’s conference  and when I walked into the  PA Convention Center, I was blown away to see this:

PA Conference 2013 attendees

SEVEN THOUSAND WOMEN…… and it was a powerful sight  indeed…

The air was charged with anticipation and it warmed my heart to see so many women of so many backgrounds in one place. One could hear squeals of delight when an old friend or respected colleague was spotted among the throng and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, it would be day where all of us got along beautifully united in our passions.

I was super thrilled because this is the place where our Damsels In Success , other wise known as  the  DIS women, congregate in one venue and at least one of us had something exciting that we wanted to celebrate.  This year, it was LuAnn Cahn, who is a  reporter extraordinaire for NBC 10 news and she had a book called ” I Dare Me”.  Simply put, LuAnn, tried something new everyday for a year and chronicled it for us all to see.   We are all behind her in full support but  in the meantime, we were looking forward to the fabulous Speakers which included Judge Hatchet, and Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright who was such a lesson in working your way to the top. Ms. Albright reminded us that as women we need to support each other and spoke of the lessons she learned while in her position and breaking barriers everywhere.

PA conference 2013 LuAnn

We sat in sessions where we were reminded that life truly is a journey, we must go through the process, there is NO short cut to success, embrace mistakes and the list went on.  Oh what joy we had meeting all these women but let me tell you, as we ate our lunch in anticipation of hearing our Keynote Hillary Rodham Clinton, we had no idea that our collective minds were going to be blown by another woman, a virtual “unknown” unless you lived in Philadelphia.

                                                                                             Linda Cliatt- Wayman

What is so special about this beautiful soul you ask?PA Conferenc 2013 Linda  She is the brave warrior who is the Principal of Strawberry Mansion High School, famously known as one of the most dangerous places to learn  in Philadelphia. We all saw Strawberry Mansion on a Diane Sawyer special a few months ago, where Linda was seen roaming the halls, breaking up horrible fights, bringing a level of calm to really tense situations  and ending every day with these words to her students; ” If no one told you they loved you today, remember I DO.”

Linda was able to create a sense of family for her charges and she often had to do it with tough love.  Watching her on the many screens scattered throughout the Convention Center, moved us  but nothing compared to what happened when Linda walked on that stage and saw every single person  standing and saluting her for what that she had done for a community that was all but left to die in darkness.

She stood there with utter shock on her face and we could see her whispering ” thank you Jesus” over and over again as the tears fell.  She was not the only one crying. I looked around and so many of us were wiping away tears but feeling something else;  a surge of energy to step way outside our comfort zones without judgement, to help those that are in need of our guidance and power.

Linda reminded me that I had become complacent and it was truly time to focus on what was right instead of what was comfortable.  Movement does not happen in our “safe” spaces. It propels us forward when we challenge the very things that our souls scream are not right around us.  Too many of us can move mountains but are content to sit atop our molehills.  Linda set the ants free from that perch we loved and reminded us what was truly important as we moved forward to changing the world around us one cause, one child, one sick person at a time.

As she was finishing her trail blazing speech, she confessed to being astounded that she was asked to speak to 7 thousand women and to share a stage with none other that Hillary Rodham Clinton.  All she was trying to do was help the children.  She is an excellent reminder that when things are done without expecting a spotlight of gratitude, the Universe will find unfathomable ways to reward your efforts.

When that proud lioness walked off the stage, she left behind a room that was forever changed and one could feel the buzz around what could be done to support her and the school.

Even better?  She left 7 thousand women with the double dose of power they needed to keep moving, one step at a time into creating a better world.

Enough said.