Posted in Just a Thought

Challenge Accepted

Well hello, friends,

I have been out of commission for a little over a week now, and it made me think about at-risk youth.  Many people shy away from the children and young adults labeled “troubled” or unreachable.  Now, I will say this, some kids really know how to test anyone’s patience.  At the same time, if you have only learned one way of doing something, and you have not had the opportunity to be exposed to something else, you tend to stick to what works.  How many ways and times can you be told you’re not good enough, something is wrong with you, you’re ugly, or you’re just not?  It takes a special type of person to peel back each layer of pain, trauma, hurt, low self-esteem, and anger.  Even after getting to the root of the problem, there is still the need to, not only cultivate a positive relationship but now, you must get to work on helping them recognize their talents. Yep, even “those kids” have talents.  I recently took a step back in time and visited one of the Youth Challenge Academies.  It was an amazing experience, and my heart swelled with pride.  There is something to be said about the children who find you years later to tell you what an impact you had on their lives.  It made me consider becoming a mentor for children in the program.  The location of the program may be a tad too far of a drive for me to return to full-time work, but I love volunteering.  What better way to give back and prepare for the future? 

The National Guard Youth ChalleNGe programs provide many students with amazing second-chance.  For some Cadets, it is a first chance to realize that they are capable of amazing things.  While the program is quasi-military, no one is pushing joining the military.  Now, some cadets graduate and join a branch of military service, others also continue to study trades, pursue advanced education, or join the workforce.  It would be great for every student enrolled to reach their potential.  Unfortunately, all students do not go on to graduate.  The good thing is cadets are exposed to 8 core components that they can carry with them for life.  If you know students, at-risk youth, or a 16-18-year-old teen needing an extra push.  Check out the websites below.  Every child is reachable, you may need to modify your methods.

https://www.jointservicessupport.org/ngycp/virginia/virginia-commonwealth-challenge-youth-academy

Keep on pushing,

Visionary Trailblazin’

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Posted in Story Time

Keep Smiling

Apparently, this week it is about laughs.  I am working on infecting everyone with a little more smiling.  So, today I had another interesting encounter.  I must be putting off some type of weird pheromone.  I will have to keep an eye on that.  So, today, I was walking out of my building, and as I passed a few people we did a little dance trying to navigate around each other.  It was funny, and wouldn’t you know it, I was tickled.  I laughed and we gave our goodbyes.  Someone else happened to witness this innocent dance, and my show of teeth seemed to promote his need to comment on my grin.

He said, “You sure do smile a lot.”

I replied, “Glad you noticed, I think it might be contagious.”

He seemed to frown at that thought.  Then he looked at me thoughtfully.

“You look a little familiar,” he said, with his head slightly tilted to the side, “Were you in the service in this area?”

“I was about two hours away,” I replied.

We seemed to get in step with each other, me heading for my short morning break, and him for adventures unknown.  He stopped and looked at me as if he were attempting to birth something profound.  He began rattling off a list of names.  I admit some sounded familiar, but I just wanted to know where this was going.

With him, tucked under his arm was a blue book.  He held it like a prized possession. 

Finally, he said, “You know, I think your smile is contagious, and you should continue to spread it,” he said.

“Well, thank you for that.  If we smile a little more, life seems a little brighter.  Might not be the best at every moment, but we have to start somewhere,” I commented.

“That’s exactly what this book I am reading says,” he responded, holding up the book as if it would corroborate his statement.

“I may have to get me a copy.  If you speak what you wish for into existence, in a matter of time, with the right amount of effort, you will get what you seek.”

“I like that.  Well, you have a good day miss.”

Even the shortest conversations present meaningful encounters.  By lunchtime, I was ready to stretch my legs and grab some grub.  I went out to a food truck (which shall remain nameless… for now).  I will say that it was some good ole’ Carolina pulled-pork, brisket, and more.  Well, I was so excited about that sandwich.  There was a table set up with condiments, napkins, and, of course, barbeque sauce and Carolina pulled pork seasoning.  I was so excited for that vinegar-based goodness that I strong-armed the bottle.  Yes, it exploded everywhere.  And wouldn’t you know it, I laughed.  The owner was so embarrassed.  I thought it was on me (which, let’s be realistic, it was).  Apparently, the tops for the sauces were switched, but he wasn’t laughing.  His female co-worker laughed with me.  I smelled like vinegar for the rest of the day.  I will tell you this, as I walked back towards my work area, I got them a few customers.  As is the custom, a guy walked by saying, “Man, I might need to get over there.  Everyone coming from over there is laughing or smiling.  I want in on that.”  So, don’t get so wrapped around the wheel about the insignificant things.  No one was hurt due to my vinegar-based explosion.  If nothing else, it inspired this.  My theme for this week has been bringing out the smiles.

Keep on pushing,

Visionary Trailblazin’

Posted in Just a Thought, Story Time

Mundane to Magnificent

Some days you have to find enjoyment in the small things.  This week started out a little rough, complete with a little Monday morning blues and a mountain climb to hump day.  In the midst of my mucky Monday, I met an awesome U. S. Marine Corps veteran.  We happened to be heading in the same direction. 

It all started when I asked, “How are you?” That’s when the fun began. We’ll call him Harry. 

Harry started by saying, “Well, I’m a little slowful. I wanted to spread my wings, and I left my cane at home.  Don’t you see how I’m walking?  Well, now you know why.” 

Even though he talked about his slow shuffle, he was still cheerful.  I knew I was in for a treat. 

I asked him where he was headed, and to this, he replied, “Are you being nice to me ‘cause you want me to add you in my will?”

All I could do was laugh, and replied, “No. I don’t want to be in your will, but I am concerned about you falling down on this hard ground.”

“You know, I got two eyes, but both of them half work.  These glasses just sit on my face for decoration,” he said.

“Do you think you need new glasses,” I asked

“I don’t rightly know. I ain’t no eye doctor. You forgot that quick? That’s where we going,” Harry said.

“You are a mess,” I said with a giggle.

“Well, how about this?  I should fall right down, right here on this slippery floor.  Guess what?” Harry asked.

“What’s that?” I asked him.

“Once I fall, I can call the big-time injury lawyer, and I’ll split the money with you,” Harry said, in a whisper.

I laughed, I mean laughed myself to tears, “I am not going to let you fall, but you are too funny,” I said.

We continued to walk down the hall, and Harry stopped and turned to me.

“Say, you are a good woman,” he said.

“Well, thank you,” I replied.

“Are you married?” Harry asked.

“Yes sir, 18-years,” I replied.

“Me, too!” he said with a smile, “I’ve done it three times, and I’ve been married thirty-three years to this one.  I’ll tell you what, let’s call your husband collect to see if he realizes how good he’s got it,” Harry said, “If he don’t know what he got then I’ll go to the store and get you a little wedding band, and we can go to the hospital chapel and get married.”

I was so tickled, it made him laugh.

“Come on now, call your mister collect,” he said, wiping his eyes in between laughs.

“I am not calling him, and we are almost at your clinic,” I smiled.

“Now, you are starting to get on my nerves,” he chuckled.  If I didn’t know he was joking, I would have been sad.

“Who am I going to talk to in here?  I enjoyed this, it was nice talking to you.  You a good woman, and you tell your Mister I said so,” Harry said.

“Well, thank you, sir.  Be careful when you get ready to leave,” I said.

“I’m an old Marine!  I’ll be just fine.  I still got one good eye,” he said, offering me a salute.

I had never encountered Harry before, and he made my day.  I smiled thinking about how he made little jokes and made light of his predicament.  This man (I found out as we talked) is 84-years-old and other than his blurred vision, and slow walk, he was still light as a feather and happy about life.  His energy was awesome, and It worked to turn a mundane Monday into magnificent Monday.  So, for today, I hope this story reminds you to guard your energy.  Some people can make you feel drained, and it may be difficult to completely avoid them.  Just be aware.

Keep on pushing,

Visionary Trailblazin’