FIVE IN THE STREET: HOW TO PLAY LIFE WITH HAND YOU’RE DEALT

cards, chance, deck

“Just because you were born at the bottom, doesn’t mean you have to stay at the bottom.”


For myself, as with many like myself, I am starting my life from humble beginnings. And when I say humble beginnings, I mean growing up poor. My mother is what you would call the working poor. Where one missed day of work, one sick day could have placed her, my two sisters, and myself in a homeless shelter, or worse in the street. But does that mean our lives have to stay that way? No, it does not. Because living in America, we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. My two siblings are currently steadfast in their careers, and am actively pursuing my own path in life. So if you’ve been dealt a bad hand, how do you win with that hand?

Well, for starters, it comes by way of education. At a young age, my mother started to invest in our education. And when I say invest, she didn’t have money set aside for us as children. But she did make sure that the schools we went to were good enough and safe enough. She waited in lines to enroll us in school. She didn’t sleep in the bed and not make an effort to get us into a good school. She made it her mission, at times sacrificing her own well-being. Even though we were in public school, with my oldest sister attending private in high school, the schools were decent. The school wasn’t a place where all the kids were focused on being cool kids. You were encouraged to expand your mind past how you were being perceived by your peers. So you were able to focus on your education.

So now that education was taken care of, my mother cultivated a household where our minds could grow. At a young age she would take us to the library where we took part in various activities: reading, writing, and putting together puzzles (which was an activity I loved). We even had times on Friday nights when she would have long conversations with us about life. Little did I know those conversations and those weekend trips to the library were getting us prepared to deal in life. It taught me patients, hard work, persistence, and dedication. In addition, I also have to not forget those trips to the zoo and museums, where we were encouraged to have an open mind to many different cultures and experiences.

So now that my sisters and myself are adults we can pursue our own endeavors with the confidence needed up to this point to succeed. So what does all this have to do with winning with a bad hand; well, a lot. Everything that I was taught growing up, in combination with my own cultivated intellect, we have always been able to prosper. Now, everyone did not grow up in a household where their talents were nurtured. Some people have some very tough lives that are far beyond my life. But understand, that your story and my story is not unique. There is always someone that looks like you, and have come from where you have come from to succeed. So in the end, there is always going to be people dealt a bad hand. Some will overcome their struggle and others won’t. Sadly enough, that’s just some of the outcomes of life.


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FAMOUS QUOTES: WHAT ARE MY FAVORITE AND WHAT THEY MEAN TO ME

Abraham Lincolcn Statue

“We hold these truths to be self-evident.” “That all men are created equal.” 

-DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE


We all have some favorite quotes and what they mean to each of us. They might be quotes that we just love to hear, or even quotes that motivate us to keep persevering. Some of those quotes could be a bible versus, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Or it can be from a literary, “I would have rather been born blind, than to have been given sight and lack vision” (Helen Keller). And with that said, I would like to present my own quotes that I love, which resonate with me. One comes from Thomas Edison, the other Marianne Williamson, and the third is Martin Luther King Jr.

Now, the first is Thomas Edison, who had many many quotes. But the quote that I recently found that Thomas Edison made was, “Many of life’s failures are people who didn’t realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” This statement is Image result for edisonalways coming into my mind every time I think about giving up in life on my writing. Writing is such a daunting task of working to succeed. You are going to have success, and you’re going to have failure along the way. But to me, I have yet to see those successes. And then I think about how long I have been writing. 2013 is the year I officially decided to become a writer. I gave myself on a ten year window to break into the industry as a screenwriter and playwright. Meanwhile I am writing my blog everyday and my books as well.

So, what does any of this have to do with Thomas Edison? Well, giving up, and not realizing how close you might have been when you gave up. I have written five full length screenplays, self-published two books, written 400 blog posts in the past two and a half years, and two short film scripts; one script turned into a short film. And still, I have been working to create other projects to keep myself in that creative mode. So if I give in now, it will have been for nothing. Not just my past four to five years, but the time put into my work. Don’t give up when you are so close. So close, if you knew how close, you might even put more time into your work. And that is why Edison’s quote screams so loud to me.

Image result for marianne williamson a return to love
MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, 1992

But my second quote is from Marianne Williamson from her book, “A Return to Love.” The famous quote from the book is, “Our Deepest Fears.” “Not that we inadequate; our deepest fear is that we powerful beyond measure.” “It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.” “We look in the mirror and ask ourselves, who am I to be talented, gorgeous, fabulous; who are you not to be.” “There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that others won’t feel insecure when they’re around you.” “We were all meant to shine as children do.” “You were made to manifest the glory of God that is within you.” “It’s not in some of us, it’s in everyone.” “And as you let your own light shine, you will unconsciously give others permission to do the same.” “When you are liberated from your own fears.” “Your presence will automatically liberate others.”

I could not pick just one aspect of that quote, but I had to choose the entire passage. Because the first part speaks of being inadequate yet you really are afraid of your own powers. We have this fear because once you succeed, people are going to expect more, and what happens if you can’t give them more. So we fear the attempt because of the expectations that come with it. Then the passage details us questioning why us. But why not us? We as the passage says don’t want people to feel insecure around us. But you should never dumb yourself down for the sake of fitting in, or this notion your brilliance makes others uncomfortable.  You might just have a golden nugget of advice that the people need. And the quote further goes on to let people know we all have the powers to succeed. But once you let that inner you shine, it gives courage to others to step up. Why, because your willingness to not give up and fight makes them exuberate a little less fear as well. Because if you can do it, it makes them feel the same way.

Great quote, giving me an even greater sense of purpose. But there is still one more quote I love. And it was from civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. He didn’t make this a public speech, yet stated this quote among a small group of friends. He said, “I feel as if I am integrating my people into a burning building.” AsImage result for mlk a child I couldn’t understand what that meant. But as an adult, I see old footage of the time period. People wanted him dead, why. Just because he wanted people to vote, have a fair chance at jobs, eliminate Jim Crow laws (which were an extension of slavery), and send children to schools of their choice. But the backlash was often so brutal you think to yourself. “Is this worth it?” “Do I really want my family to integrate.” “Maybe segregation is best.”

Because if you want to vote and someone is willing to kill. Or willing to kill for you drinking from the same water fountain or eating in the same restaurant, should I assimilate. Because when you assimilate, you’re introducing that element into your life, to your children, and your community. It’s not everyone, yet it’s enough to make you think twice. Meaning, you might think you’re shutting me out, but you might actually be doing me a favor. Coming from a man who knew he could die for going against the grain, it was intriguing to hear a statement where even he questioned the movement. In the end, we all live by quotes, or have a love for some type of quote. But whatever the case, famous quotes have and will always be an aspect of our lives.


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I OWE IT TO YOU: WHY NEVER FORGETTING THOSE WHO FOUGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS IS IMPORTANT

Image result for civil rights

“For those who died, I thank you.”


As a young man born in the year 1987, I did not experience those turbulent years of the Civil Rights Movement. Now my parents on the other hand saw the tail end, and there’s of course the generations prior. So as a child, I grew up going to school, eating where I wanted, and using public restrooms. Not once did I understand how I got to that point. All I knew is that when someone needed to go to the bathroom, you went. But what I didn’t know until my mother sat down and talked with me, is that it was not always like that in America. And that I should never forget why I am able to do what I do.

And she reminded of this because for the longest there were not only demographics of citizens, but an entire systematic push to keep me from having the basics of necessities. So as I went to school, I always performed well academically because she reminded me at one time how illegal it was for me to go Image result for white onlyto the schools I went to in America. Whenever I used a restroom, she not only told me, but we watched the video footage of Black men and women being attacked just for trying to consume a meal or urinate at public rest stops. So my reason for not getting into trouble is not mainly because of the enforcement of the judicial system, but more so by way of these men and women who died. There are unmarked graves of countless Black people who gave their lives, a lot of which you will never know their names.

So now as an adult, I do so much because they really didn’t have to pave that way. Still today, some of those individuals from that time period are here with us. People who were either teenagers or adults in the fight. And even at times when I see things differently than they do, I can never hate. I can never hate those who Image result for civil rights movementsacrificed so much for me. And no, these men were not the reason I got into my college of choice or landed a job I wanted. But it was because the pressure they placed that made companies even look in my direction. America didn’t want me to have those rights, and had it not been for these men and women, how long would Jim Crow have really lasted. 90 years,  100 years, 200 years; when was the appropriate time to end segregation.

We all would like to think that those types of events had to end, but why? If not for fighting for rights, whose to say? You have of course the critics, yet their voices are to a great degree irrelevant to me. A country tells you to go fight and defend your country, but when you return don’t sit at this table counter. Then you can’t Image result for al and jessesay my country, because in my country you eat where you choose. Otherwise it’s your country, and if I am the lesser, then why are you depending on a lesser to fight for what is yours. So thanks to the men and women who challenged the ideologies of what I am and what was expected of me. For it was you who reminded me before you’re Black, you’re a man, and before that you’re human. You weren’t fighting for my freedom of speech, but my freedom to exist. You did in the past, and still in the present. So despite what the critics think and feel you have my love and respect.

In the end, I dedicate this life of mine to you. Those who fought who are still alive and to those who died in the struggle: Al Sharpton, Alex Haley, Andrew Young, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Barack H. Obama, Bobby Seale, Booker T. Washington, Cornel West, Denmark Vesey, Dick Gregory, Dred Scott, Eldridge Cleaver, Elijah Muhammad, Fred Hampton, Frederick Douglass, Gabriel Prosser, George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, Harry Belafonte, Huey P.Image result for black historyNewton, Ida B. Wells, Jackie Robinson, James Baldwin, James Meredith, James Weldon Johnson, Jesse Jackson, Jim Brown, John Lewis, Kathleen Cleaver, Louis Farrakhan, Madam C. J. Walker, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Mary McLeod Bethune, Maya Angelou, Maxine Waters, Medgar Evers, Muhammad Ali, Nat Turner, Ralph Abernathy, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Stokely Carmichael, Thurgood Marshall, W. E. B. Du Bois, and many others who were lesser known or even unknown, yet gave their lives for me. I love you, “WE” love you.


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THE WORLD OWES YOU NOTHING: WHY YOUR LIFE IS UP TO YOU

Image result for your life

“Your life: whatever comes of it is up to you.”


You want  something in life, you go for it. No one is going to give it to you and won’t care if you ever have it. So it’s your job to go into the world and make your own luck. Now, I could sit here and go through all the stories of how some people have it hard. Yet when it’s all said and done, everyone has something on their plate. And the world is just not interested in caring about whatever it is you’re going through in life. So where does that leave people who don’t have direction? It leaves them with their hands in the air. Because as an adult, you have to figure your life out.

Hey, easier said than done right? Well, in so many cases it’s actually wrong. I am in my late 20’s; actually I should just say thirty years of age by now. And I watch people my age go to the clubs and enjoy their lives. Yet I sit inside of a computer lab, typing away. Trying to come up with my next blog topic, my next screenplay idea, my next book, or my next anything that will make me a better writer. Meanwhile, so many guys my age do nothing. I don’t understand it, I just don’t. To me, my life is not moving as fast as I thought it would. So, in the moment, I feel like I am being just as unproductive as them. My life could turn out to be a dud just like the guy who sits around and does nothing.

And what’s scary, is that I could never achieve anything remotely close to the success I want in life. But that’s just life; there is no guarantee of making a living in society. I could put my life into my work and fail. But so many can’t stomach the idea of putting their all into something and it not pan out. They expect something to happen. They might ask, “How much time should I dedicate to doing this or that?” Or they’ll say, “So if I do everything you just said will it make me successful?” And real answer is, who knows. You have no clue what might transpire, but that’s actually what’s good about this roller coaster ride we call life. You might not even try that hard and win, or work your ass off and lose. There is no guarantee and no one owes you anything.

Because in the end, your life is whatever you make it. No one has to make things happen for you, that’s your job. Yes, there may be people who give you an opportunity along the way, but it’s not owed to you. You take it for what it’s worth and keep going. Because win or lose, your success in life will ultimately come down to how much you have prepared. And for those that haven’t prepared, it will show in their lives.


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FROM SUCCESS COMES GUILT: WHY DO PEOPLE FEEL DOWN ABOUT THEIR SUCCESS

Image result for guilt

“I’m winning, but do I deserve it?”


You’re young, successful, and life couldn’t be any better. As a matter of fact, life is so good, you often feel like why are you coasting so easily. Now what’s interesting about that statement is that you built yourself to where you are in life. Yet when you look at your life, you have given so much to be where you’re at. Why are you feeling this weird sense of guilt, or undeserving feeling of you getting what you have today? It’s because when you see how the dynamics of how the world actually is built, you think to yourself, “How the hell did I get here?” But most of all, you’re seeing people around you work so hard, yet go nowhere.

Now, I also look at where you have come from as it pertains to your socioeconomic situation. If you grew up poor, and now you’re upper middle class, then you go back home and see poor people. People you know very well are hard working people. They’re not lazy, they’re not bulking the system, so why are they struggling and I am not? Why does it seem like money is coming to me so easily and they struggle to survive? You sit on the lakefront overlooking the landscape with your 5,000; 6,000; or 7,000 square foot house in the background. You look around and say to yourself, “Why me?”

But then you have to snap back to your senses and say, “Why not me?” Especially if you came from humble beginnings, you deserve to have what’s coming to you. But it’s sometimes more than just that in life. Sometimes, some of us are blessed with the ability to retain more knowledge, or just born with more knowledge. And that would mean you hit the genetic lottery. You are of the few that are able to use your mind to move yourself to another level. The things to some people that make no sense, flow through your mind perfectly. Now most would say, “Why don’t you share that knowledge?” And you do, hence, why you have so many people who struggle. Not because you shared your knowledge of success, but because how some of them receive the information.

You might share how you made it, and they ignore, or discredit what you’re saying. So it becomes tough to share with people sometimes because they have this disconnect that causing them to not want to accept the truth. Yet, you are of rational mind. So when two people of rational mind talk, yet only one can accept the rationale, then you have a disconnect. And in the end, that is why you shouldn’t feel hurt by where you are in life. Life is all about choices. Choices to listen, to work, to enjoy your life, and to part take in activities you shouldn’t do. And you should never feel like where you have come is some kind of mistake. Because there is always someone feeling and living worse off than you; so live life and enjoy.


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CONSOLIDATION: SHOULD THE U.S. JOIN TOWNS AND MAKE BIGGER CITIES

Image result for small town america

“Too small to stabilize.”


New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle, Las Vegas, and Washington D.C. These are just a few of our more well-known major U.S. cities across the country. But for the most part, America is comprised of a lot of small cities and towns. Places you have never heard of, yet Tree in Front of Establishmentthey sustain themselves. But is it time we start to consolidate some of these really small places. I am not talking about a city of 100,000 plus citizens. I’m more so referring to towns and cities with 5,000; 15,000; and 20,000 citizens. We should now make the leap and start bringing these place together. Instead of five towns around each other that have populations of 15,000; 10,000; 20,000; 12,000; and 25,000; we build one city of  82,000.

Why might even add a few more towns around these other 5 places and create another major city. Since coming into office, President Trump has been slow to really get into the employment situation in America. He made a pledge to bring back American jobs. But the reason why that would be a difficult feat is because we have too many of these small cities and towns. Trying to build infrastructure around a city of 25,000 is impossible. To be honest, anything below 100,000 becomes a difficult task. Now, if you’re from one of these places, you might take this as an insult. But you have to understand how an infrastructure where jobs are created manages to sustain. New York City where I live, for example, is a perfect place to build.

The city is roughly 12 million inhabitants, 65 – 70 million tourists, and potential for so much real estate development. So if you have enough capital, you can build a architecture, buildings, citylot in this city. But the city where I grew up is only 78,000 people. And the problem with a lot of these small places is that they were once manufacturing towns. Now, there is potential to turn the city where I am from into a distribution center. There are so many open factory spaces that are vacant. These buildings can be converted into space to house inventory. Thus turning the city into a distribution hub. But when you’re talking about building or bringing together these types of plans, you run into some problems. And no, I don’t mean actually building, I mean the people.

A lot of people from these small places are resistant to the change. They want life to stay the same, and this is just impossible. With improvements in science and technology, a lot of these small unknown towns/cities will be ghost towns. With an aging population and young people headed to metropolitan cities, these towns will eventually die. I was looking on the internet earlier this morning where you could buy a town for sale for some places as low as the price of average American home. These once booming industrialized towns are now backdrops for what could be a wild west movie. And in the end, these places that once served communities in building a life for oneself is no longer the case. Some of these towns/cities were started the same time as our major cities, But as the metropolitan cities grew, these small places failed to innovate and were left behind.


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MINDLESS MINDFRAME: HOW LEAVING YOUR SMALL TOWN MAY BE FOR THE BEST

Image result for mind

“When you think big and they think small.”


Do you come from a small city or town? Are the people where this place exist carry a certain mind frame that causes you to disconnect from them? Me myself, I come from one of these type of places. The city is a place you probably never heard of, and a population of only 78,000 people. A lot of the younger generation continues to still move away. And the population is still continuing to fall as time progress. Well, why is that? Why are the people leaving this seemingly quiet town. Well, first and foremost, the jobs have left. What was once a thriving Midwest manufacturing city has been reduced to vacant factory buildings. But another reason is because of the thought process of the people.

You probably ask, what makes it tough to live in some of these types of places. For starters, people have a hard time seeing past their current situation. To them, this is it, and there is nothing past this. And not just in a negative I am a failure way. But also in a manner where whatever is the well-known organization to work for, people flock to it like it’s working for Goldman Sachs. People walk around like this place to work for is the greatest and if you can’t get a job here, you must not be worth hiring. It’s like, “I’m a supervisor over at this place.” It’s about levels, as with anywhere else in society. Yet the level is not a real level. They are sharks in a pond, but when but in a bigger city, they become clown fish in the ocean. But what is another reason to leave your small city/town?

Another is how people look at the world as it pertains to the social landscape. I was walking down the street here in New York City, and a guy had on a baseball cap. The logo was of the Confederate Flag, and in addition he sported some sunglasses. And judging by the way he was carrying himself, he thought he was making a statement. Almost as if he wanted to say, “All these others are afraid to express themselves.” “But I’m going to be me in this overly liberal environment.” And sense the language is so sensitive, he thought people would react. Because he probably watched protest in NYC on television and figured he’d express himself. Yet no one told him on a daily basis that no one pays much attention to you. But his lack of knowledge made him look like a loser in his hat. Because he just watched TV like Fox News or CNN, and that’s how he based his perception of a liberal city.

Other reasons you have to make moves from these places is because few people have a sense of vision. People look at you and say, “No one from this small town is doing that.” And if you attempt, people will try to bring you down so you have to leave. They will be afraid of your progress surpassing them. And they think they know you because whatever family you came from as well. Kind of like, “Oh, that’s so and so’s kid.” “I been knowing his family, they up to no good, he must be as well.” So you have to go to a city where no one knows or think they know your family. This way you can start from scratch and represent yourself. And in the end, that’s the just of moving. There is a mind frame that people define as comfortable, which keeps them from growing and you as well if you stay. But lastly, don’t move elsewhere thinking your life will change. Because you have to think different yourself.


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