Climbing Your Mountain

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”

-Laozi (Chinese Philosopher)

 

​As the father of two children, I have the wonderful task of getting the kids up in the morning, dressed and out the door.  My lovely wife is up and out of the house well before we wake up, which gives me this monumental responsibility.  I cherish this time with my daughter, especially, because she is the epitome of “mommy’s little girl”, and I often gaze in amazement at how she emulates her mother at such a young age.  One morning, not too long ago, I was perusing my Facebook timeline when I saw a friend talking about how he observed his daughter, of similar age, attempting to complete a task.  His brief story reminded me of a recent interaction with my daughter that spoke volumes about human nature and the characteristics that are innately in us from a young age.  So here goes a brief synopsis of what I witnessed the apple of my eye trying to accomplish. 

Now I already established that my daughter absolutely adores her mother, so needless to say, whatever mama says, she says; whatever mama does, she does; and whatever mama wears, she wants to wear. On this particular morning, my daughter became fixated on getting into her mother’s jewelry box so that she could wear her mother’s “amulet”.  Now if you don’t know what an amulet is, don’t feel bad. It wasn’t until after watching an episode of Disney’s Sophia the First that I recently learned that an amulet is a fancy word for “a piece of jewelry thought to give protection against evil.”  

Now, In order for my 23 month old to reach the ultimate prize and achieve her goal, she would need to scale “Mount Olympus” (the dresser) and fend off the “evil monster” (daddy).  For about ten minutes I watched her out of the corner of my eye as she made multiple attempts to scale the mountain.  She first tried to climb the dresser by pulling herself up, but was met with resistance as she is not quite strong enough yet.  She then utilized her resources and climbed on the bed and tried to reach over to the dresser but was snatched out of the air by the evil monster and told “no”.  Now here comes the moment that opened my eyes. After two failed attempts and many prompts from me to “stop, and watch Mickey Mouse Club House” and threats of being in timeout, she wiped the tears from her eyes and scanned the room.  She left my bedroom and re-entered with the key to her success, her potty.  She silently walked past me with the potty in her arms, stumbling along the way and breathing quite heavily.  She placed the potty directly in front of the dresser and slowly stepped onto it while using her hands to grab the top of the dresser and secure herself.  As a father, I had two options.  I could either play the role of the villain and knock her from the top of Mount Olympus or concede defeat.  I smiled as she proudly grabbed the “amulet” and looked at me asking for me to “help put it on please”.

“However, what I do believe to be true is that the appearance of the mountains in our lives does not constitute the end of our journeys, but rather, the beginning of an opportunity.”

​Now some of you are reading this story and wondering what this has to do with Seizing Opulence?  This story illustrates that from a very young age, human beings are born with the innate ability to persevere, be resilient, and strive for greatness.  Unfortunately for many people, somewhere along the way, we lose the desire to face the mountains that are placed before us. I will not spout rhetoric such as “if you believe it, you can achieve it” or “anything is possible if you put your mind to it”. However, what I do believe to be true is that the appearance of the mountains in our lives does not constitute the end of our journeys, but rather, the beginning of an opportunity. 

Embrace the journey that you have set out on, and do not allow yourself to be consumed by the fear of failure. Whether it is within the work force, education, or your personal life, it is paramount that you keep pushing. There will be instances in which life happens and things that are beyond your control may put your dreams on hold; but just like my baby girl, you have it within you to conquer the mountains in your life. Far too often, we focus more on how daunting a task is, rather than breaking it down piece by piece. When facing the mountain to success, you must be able to figure out the best way to navigate the terrain. Study that mountain and the many obstacles that it may present, but don’t stop there. Once you have an understanding of what achieving your goal entails, devise a workable and measurable plan to make it happen. Just like my daughter utilized the resources afforded to her in order to scale “Mount Olympus”, you too have resources at your disposal.  Identify the individuals, institutions and natural supports that may be helpful on your journey and be strategic in how you utilize them.  

Most importantly, understand that your dreams cannot come to fruition if you are not bold enough to set out on the path to accomplishing it.  So whether it is going back to school to finish up a degree, starting a new business, jumping into a new line of work or simply getting off of the couch and into the gym, YOU have the ability to be as great as you allow yourself to be.  

Sometimes the greatest lessons that we learn are taught by those that we are placed on earth to teach, guide and protect. Hopefully as you think about your life and the greatness that is within you, you will remember the story of the little girl and her quest for an amulet. Seize opulence, my people, and be blessed!

 

By Tai Richardson

#AreYouVSOP

You Fit The Description

 

It was a sunny day during Memorial Day weekend on the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Now anyone that can relate to that time of year will instantly connect to the annual Black Bike Weekend that takes place down there. Thousands of people in one tourist area gather to show off their wheels, motorcycles and for other things to make your head turn.” I was with a group of my friends  taking a moment to unwind from our professional careers, congregated on a corner enjoying the view of beautiful women and perfect weather. It was all perfect, did not have to worry about writing reports or code switching, just a carefree atmosphere to allow my imagination to run. All was well until, I was approached by two police officers. Dressed in a long t-shirt, fitted hat, basketball shorts, Jordan sneakers and a gaudy chain I know I did not look like I was a college educated man (but what does that matter).

“Let me see your hands, and line up against the wall,” the officer shouted. In my militant but educated tone of voice, I responded to the officer asking him what the problem was. The officer began to explain that a call came in reporting that a group of black males that fit our description were soliciting narcotics in front of their store and demanded that we be removed. Now my first inclination was that there was no way I could allow this officer to search me, I did nothing and I had nothing on me that would compromise my future. However; I  still complied due to the possibilities of what could happen if I resisted. Visibly taken aback  by the accusations, the officer stated stoically “this is routine don’t make a fuss”. I immediately felt violated, infuriated and powerless all in the same moment. How can these two officers identify us accurately when everyone out there dressed very similar and fit that stereotypical description? I thought I said this in my head but somehow I blurted it out to the officers. The group of friends I was with began to argue with the police officers in my defense from a distance and refused  to keep quiet about the situation. By the grace of God, we were not shot, killed or arrested.

Let’s examine this issue more in depth. Social media has created more of a public outcry to address how police officers are conducting themselves when countless acts of injustice continue to arise. How many more black males will be gunned down in these streets by officers of the law before these issues receive the national justice that it deserves? Interesting question, however, I am not here to shed light on that question.

 

Stop Being Naïve

It’s no secret that there are still racist white males walking around with badges. Ignorance, hatred, and prejudice are everywhere and will forever be an issue in this world. There are wolves out there hunting in packs and they are looking for the perfect target. Who is the perfect target?

 

Who Fits the Description

We tend to flirt with the line of freedom of choice. How a person dresses, whether that individual wants to admit it or not, influences a person’s perception. Some people will even say “who am I to judge?” but subconsciously we all judge. Our common sense tells us when going to an interview to wear interview attire (one would hope most of us do). People at church always say, “come as you are,” but the majority of its attendees wear their Sunday’s best. When playing sports you put on certain clothing, equipment, and accessories to go along with your uniform. The same holds true when we are out in public. Police officers are targeting individuals that fit a certain description. Now whether or not media and other outlets provide that description for them is a post that will come at a later date. The way one dresses does not give a police officer the right to racially profile anyone, HOWEVER a shirt and tie rarely results in a police officer accusing a person of a crime. Again, to suggest that black males “dressed appropriately” are not profiled would be naive along of irresponsible of us to say. However; there is a quote that suggests that if you argue with a fool because from a distance you cannot identify who’s who. So do not perpetuate the stereotype.  Be intentional in your identity leave no room for mistaken identity or perceived intentions; don’t appear to be a threat.

 

Create Value for our Own Life

How do we expect authorities to value the human life when African American males are killing each other in record setting numbers? People will argue that the police should be held to a different accountability, because they are sworn to protect and serve. Well I don’t fully agree with that because as human beings it’s never okay to murder anyone whether you are a police officer or a civilian. As a black man in America it’s difficult to wage war against the police when there is war in my own community and most victims are not written in the obituary section of the newspaper because of the actions of police officers. There is value in the belief that police officers should be taught more preventative measures  instead of reactionary.

 

Comply With the Officer

We need to educate our children and adolescents how to interact with the police. We need to understand their boundaries as police officers by understanding the law. In addition, the way we communicate, whether verbally or physically can dictate the actions of the officer.  It is never ok to sass, resist, assault or threaten a police officer because you will lose that battle 100% of the time. Yes, you need to know your rights and what can/cannot be done; however all of that goes out the “window” if your are resisting.

 

Social Media

Learn the facts of a case, instead of believing  everything you see on social media. We all see a lot of videos of occurrences, shootings and other negative perceptions of what we think happened. Before we draw a conclusion of said occurrences, ask yourself if you were a police officer how do you think you would handle situations and circumstances that arise in your community. Would you trust every person that you pull over? Would you be comfortable observing someone reaching for something in a dark alley when you are only trying to question them?
Now I know there is someone that is reading this that is saying that “this sounds compromising” and that’s fine. However, I am simply a man that has a family and I believe love conquers all. I will never advocate for hate of any kind and profiling. In the same thought, all cops cannot be made out to be the bad person; it is just as wrong as being profiled for simply being a black male. Being a police officer is a job that many of us do not understand. People put their lives on the line daily. Just like everything that is meant for good in this world, the devil has infiltrated many police organizations.

V.S.OP Guide To Business Casual

So your boss emails you an invite to a special event and at the bottom of the email in bold letters calls for business casual attire. The first thing that comes to mind is what is “business casual”? There are many interpretations on the business casual dress code, making it hard to pinpoint exactly what it is. Honestly, there is no definite answer as to what it really is. Ito keep things simple it’s what you already wear on a typical day at the office.  Here are a few tips to picking out a stylish, professional, and comfortable business casual outfit brought to you by CHADRAN STYLES!

 

 

The Suit

This look is perfect for the “after business hours social gathering” you want your presence to speak volumes about who you are at all times. The reputation that comes along with wearing a nice tailored suit is “all business” no “play”. Wearing the suit without the tie says  “I’m a professional who knows how to be comfortable while having fun”. So relax and do not let your long work day take over your appearance (oh and the half done tie is a bad idea; it just looks like stress).

Wear: A coordinating suit & button down.

Tip: Look professional, but not too corporate. Wearing a suit and losing the tie (a really nice shirt always helps the cause). Whatever you do make sure the jacket and pants match. Please do not mix match suit jackets and pants. It’s just silly looking 😉

 

Lose The Jacket

Take the jacket off; especially if you have a “patterned” styled shirt. Let your sense of style show. Do not be confined by your jacket; loosen up, let some air in. Oh yeah, please don’t forget to match your belt with your shoes.

Wear: Button down & dress pants.

 

 

The Office Polo

This is a simple look you can do on casual Fridays or to a company cookout/social gathering. The message you want to relay is that your “comfortable but still professional”.

Wear: Polo shirt & dress pants.

Tip: Keep in mind the way the fabric looks and feels when wearing polos. Jersey knit polos are the type that you want to wear for business casual, they are very soft and smooth to the touch.

 

The Vest

This look allows you to be trendy and semi-professional at the same time. With every style, confidence is required. Remember, the way you present yourself is the way you will be treated. So straighten out that posture and greet everyone with a smile and firm grip.

Wear: Vest, button down & khakis/dress pants.

Tip: Get a pair of khakis that are flat-front for a clean, fitted look.

 

The Sweater

As the weather gets cooler, this look allows you to be versatile in business casual settings. You have the choice of putting a tie on underneath the sweater or wearing it as is.

Wear: v-neck sweater, button down & khakis/dress pants

Tip: The collar should be deep enough to expose some shirt, but not too much. When paired with a firm-collar dress shirt, it flatters every face

 

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Basic Rules For The Business Casual Dress Code

 

  • Iron your clothes I can not stress this enough, nothing says unprofessional/ I couldn’t care less about my appearance more than wrinkled clothing. Fellas if you don’t know how to iron, your mother, girlfriend or local dry cleaners would love to do it for you. There are even tutorials on YouTube, learn it, master it, apply it.

 

  • Your shoes should be conservative and clean, This means no sneakers or those run over church shoes in the back of your closets. Ladies aren’t the only ones who check your shoe game, in fact it’s one of the first things people look at. So keep it classy with a pair of modern polished loafers, they are sure to anchor any outfit with easy sophistication.

 

  • Your hair should be neat & presentable. Make sure you are clean shaven Go out and get an edge up or fresh a cut and if you have dreads make sure they are re-twisted & pulled back from your face.

 

  • Keep your accessories to a minimum. Lose the earring(s), keep the watch.

 

Trending Topics: #Marriage

In an age when time and space are conquered by technology, we have become so digitally intimate and involved with the lives of those both near and far. The dissemination of personal information no longer requires the archaic phone-call. Word of mouth is mastered under the140 character format. No more dialing to update the family on the good news. Instead, those fingers will type your happiness and send it out for the world to see in less than a minute! How could you possibly deny it? Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) has taken our private lives and made them 24/7 accessible and assessable. No longer are the days when our lives and experiences were shared one to one. Rather, we “post” our lives for all of our friends’ review, in hopes that we’ll win the unspoken, but extremely intense, “like” war. It’s actually rather ironic, when you consider how close we’ve become as a people while driving the actual intimacy out of our real lives.

Anyway. To the point! While discussing life and love, a friend and I stumbled upon the not-so new phenomenon of young marriage. Why are “everybody and their mammas” getting married and having kids, while we, more career driven and goal-oriented folk, instead chase personal growth and success? What makes marriage and children so appealing in their 20’s? I know that I barely know myself well enough to bring another person into my life for the rest my life, let alone to bring another human into the world that will depend on me while I’m still searching for me. We went on to talk (actually text, ironically) about how social media plays a part in all of it.  Are our friends following a trend? Maybe they’re being subconsciously triggered by images of Bey and Jay on the run with little Blue. Surely the glamour of Kim and Kris Hum– I mean Kanye’s marriage, combined with the arrival of beautiful baby North West has some influence. Yes of course that’s part of it, but the bigger picture is not so farfetched as it may seem. They may actually be following (pun intended) their biggest influences…each other!

There’s a science to it, I swear. See, our digital selves are vastly different from our real selves. With social media, one has the ability to create a façade around a coal of a life with every selective post, eventually making diamonds for others to admire.  Quite literally, DIAMONDS! (Assuming you’re in your 20’s) How do you feel when your friend posts that engagement rock selfie that says her boyfriend of 3 years “liked it so he put a ring on it”? Genuinely happy of course, but I’m sure that some self-searching is soon to ensue. Some, if not most, will wonder why they haven’t attained that level of happiness. In fact, I’ve seen the jealousy with my own eyes! It looks and sounds like “I’m so sick of seeing ______’s post about her wedding! Like, do we all need to know that you’re getting married every minute of every day? Some of us just want to live our boring unromantic lives and eat pizza.” (not an actual quote but #ijs) I imagine this person is either out there somewhere filling that gaping hole with a slice or making efforts toward finding “something real”. I personally am a sucker for children and always find myself thinking, “I would do that right now if I just had the money.” …Who the hell am I kidding?! I’m 25 and don’t have a pot to piss in!

What I’m saying is social media has downgraded and uploaded the social experience. We are no longer following tradition, but rather images… on instagram. Back in the day (don’t know when) people married young for economic reasons or out of arrangement, sometimes even for love. Today it almost seems as though we’re getting married young because everyone will “like” it. Now, I’m not knocking anyone’s happiness. Whatever’s real is beautiful, and if yours is a real love then I salute you. I just worry that it all makes a sacred ritual and “the miracle” extremely trivial. Couldn’t those wedding funds be used to build financial stability? One honeymoon vs one hundred vacations? Are we evolving or dissolving? Any thoughts?… Tweet em.

 

by: Jared Dixon
@itsjdixon
http://www.jaredixon.net

 

I Don’t Need A Mentor

The most common mistake that young professionals make upon entering a workforce is assuming that the knowledge that they acquire in school both (both in and out of the classroom) is enough to deem them successful in their first job. From the growing number of degree holding professionals seeking employment and the limited number of jobs, we know that this is not true. There are many factors outside of the dichotomous experience of college (academic & practical) that determine your success as a young professional, some that you might have control of and some you may not even be aware of.

As young professionals we come into our new industries believing that we have been equipped with all the tools that it takes to become an effective professional because of what we learned in school. What we do not realize is that we have been taught to use so many different tools to make us successful in the field that we may not necessarily know how to appropriately use or master any one becoming as the saying goes a “jack of all trades but a master of none”. The tools that we have acquired through the education process are usually surface level and in a hypothetical setting so the experience has some value but not as rich as a professional who is immersed into the work. Over the span of  four to seven years of higher education (undergraduate and graduate) learning we are introduced to concepts and theories but there are many experiences that are outside the world of academia that can only be taught through experience. Although, internships, co-ops, practicums and fieldwork serve as great additions to the classroom experience there is still something to be said about a full-time professional who has experienced the full gamut of the position and field that you are in.

So how does one fully gain advantage in such a tough economic climate? Simple, mentorship! Well maybe not simple but it is definitely easier than struggling or being stuck in your entry level  or current position. It is said that young professionals who have mentors are more likely to succeed in their industry as opposed to those who do not. Realistically, that kind of makes sense, right? Think of mentorship as professional parenting. The role of most parents is to make sure that their children have a guided but not restricted experience throughout life. The parent serves as a resource for the child to tap into when they face dilemmas or difficult decision making situations. The ideal parent allows their child to make mistakes but still advises and shields them from the dangers of the world. In event that the child’s parents does not have the answers or advice that the child needs the parent may tap into a larger resource which is the familiar structure (grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins) to find the appropriate answers. Think of mentorship the same way! Having a mentor allows you to not only get one on one advice and guidance but it grants you the opportunity to tap into your mentors professional network so that you can have your questions answered or be advised in the right direction.

Even though its ideal to have a mentor, the whole process of acquiring one can be very intimidating. We’ve made a “how-to” list which, will serve as a guide as you begin to seek a suitable mentor:

1. Identifying a desirable mentor
2. Approaching your possible mentor
3. Create a plan with your mentor
4. Scheduling frequent meetings
5. Asking for new challenges/ways to grow

Be on the look out as we begin to break down each component of our list to fully equip you in your quest for mentorship. Share your thoughts on the benefits of having a mentor or your personal stories highlighting your personal journey in receiving mentorship in your professional lives.

Now there’s only one question #AreYouVSOP?

 

ADAM WHERE ARE THOU

[So He looked down from high as He waited for Adam to appear, so they could continue with their daily fellowship, praise and worship. But Adam never showed up. He sat waiting patiently, marveling at all of His creations, thinking to Himself and saying, “I can’t wait to show him my latest creation for him to rule and have dominion over.” However, Adam never showed up. The wind blew across the ocean and the sun smiled at the earth. As He laid on a pillow of clouds, whistling at the blue sky, He rested patiently waiting for Adam. But Adam never showed up. After basking in His heavenly ambiance for a spell, He arose and stepped down from on high and went foresting through the garden, looking for Adam as He called out, “Adam oh Adam, where art thou??” The crickets responded, the birds continued chirping, the bees flew around pollinating, and the waterfalls continued to trickle down, landing in the pond, completing the harmonic symphony of the garden. Yet still, Adam was nowhere to be found. An uneasy emptiness in the midst of His spirit began to churn as treason flowed through the core of His love for Adam’s presence and adornment. He could feel the disturbance of betrayal, heartbreak and fear as Adam suddenly appeared. Naked and terribly afraid, he spoke, “Here I am. I know that I’m not where I’m supposed to be. But I only took my eyes off of you for a few seconds Lord and…well, now I’m confused and lost. Father, where am I?”]

A man is born, he is raised, he is called, he reaps what he sows and then he dies. Each stage of a male’s life cannot be escaped; it is just how life is meant to be. Somehow, one would think that these killings of black men are not meant to be; but yet, they are happening. So what about the process are we missing? Let’s examine the supposed process:

1. A MANCHILD is born ready to learn and absorb every aspect his culture has to offer him. His sponge like mind forces him take in information, whether it is deemed good or bad. From the moment his eyes are opened, to his first steps, the child is looking to be lead and emulate what he sees. When you came into the house drunk and swearing, he processed that. While nodding your head as you listened to that song with the explicit lyrics, he watched and nodded too. When you thought he wasn’t watching, he took mental notes, waiting for one day to do what he saw, making daddy proud. What happens when daddy is not there and the environment raises a child? Growing up in inner city communities, a lot of our children fail to understand the consequences of their decisions. All they know is what they see. Most young black males marvel at the luxuries money can provide while being driven by the need to obtain fast cash by any means. They sit back in admiration while studying the males that have the money to obtain fresh “kicks”, nice clothes, jewelry, nice “whips”, and of course, attract the opposite sex. Drug dealers, pimps, criminals and their surrounding peers are making money as their adolescent hunger increases, which ultimately lead them to feast in the devil’s kitchen. These are the men that are directly influencing and raising our children from a distance. Our children need men of honor raising and leading them so that when they grow old they will not stray. Adam where art thou?

2. Look outside your window and these Young Men represent something greater than their harsh reality. They are so proud and organized. They are future successful businessmen working their way up the ranks. Structure is in place; leaders emerge, managers building teams, accountants that handle the banking administration, and workers processing their day-to-day assignments. These individuals have political influence, international connections and respect for the rules and regulations of operations. Instilled with military value and tactics they are prepared to serve and protect their territory. The only problem is, they are gang affiliated and participating in illegal activities, laundering money, distributing drugs, guns and narcotics to their own communities. Creating genocide in the streets that they call home, they have great and powerful minds with the wrong business plan. Possessing excellent sales and marketing strategies, but servicing the wrong product. Proactively increasing their network and connections, but with the wrong leaders and administrations. Traveling from city to city around the world, you would think they were studying abroad. Most importantly, the brotherhood, bond and pride for their organization supersede the love and loyalty they have for their own children, parents and family. So, Adam I ask you again, Adam where art thou? (I don’t get this)

3. Wherever a lustful, deceitful, ratchet and sexually explicit woman is, so will follow the Growing Man of our generation. A man who is in the process of experiencing what it means to be a GROWN MAN, but is not quite there yet. His mind is hazy and filled with uncertainty. It’s so easy to be distracted as a man in life when there are so many avenues; from fulfillment in our career, to the media, female exploitation causes man to fall further away from his true destination. Heavily influenced by provocative photos of video vixens that aspire to make a come up these days, we continue to be deceived by her sexiness. While you are making it rain in the strip club, or surrounding yourself with attention seeking vixens in music videos, you’re empowering the rise of the lust goddess. You pimp her, you throw your shallow animalistic perceptions, disguised as dollar bills at her. You mentally and physically abuse her, enabling and enslaving her as if this lifestyle is acceptable. So she continues to adapt and she raises the next generation of men. She was our gift and you failed at your chance to educate and teach her who she is and why she is so valuable to our existence. She’s lonely and lost without you. Adam where art thou?

4. You replaced the shackles and chains with prison bars, stripes and a number. You are a GROWN MAN that is now considered state property. Your hand is pressed on a glass window as you look at your son or daughter in the eye with your ear pressed to the receiver, to tell them you love them and you are sorry you missed his or her 5th birthday. You promised them that you would be a better person when you returned, but how? Your growth has been stunted; you only know how to be the man you were before you went in. So an overworked, physically tired, heartbroken mother walks in holding her babies, leaves and goes home only to lay with an abusive poor representation of a positive male role model. So you return to your child whom is now growing not knowing how to effectively be a GROWN MAN. Rather than accept the challenge, you return to sit in your cell with your hands on your face, dying in the years with quality father time as it continues to pass by. Why is it that prisons are overpopulated with African American males? They all had the opportunity to make a conscious choice to achieve something that their ancestors sacrificed their lives to have. Instead of hosting graduation parties for college graduates, the whole neighborhood gets together for a cookout and after party when Dope Boy gets out of prison? We always seem to have bail money, but seldom have money for college tuition. GROWN MAN, when will you realize you turned your back on your ordained destination? To be a KING. This was the life you chose; instead, an 8X12 box is your throne. Adam, where art thou?

5. Finally and most importantly, take me to my leader. Where are the ELDERS that we were always told to respect? Who’s ready to stand up in our community to lead a fallen generation to the mountaintop? What happened to the church community and power that was led by men to address issues that impact our communities? The churches have fallen to corruption, greed, political influence and false prophets whose lifestyle contradicts one of a shepherd. All behaviors that have driven away new souls for God. The heart of the community lies within the church, but somehow the church doesn’t exist; just a business with a cross as its logo. Who’s ready to return back to their father and restore our rightful place in the Garden of Eden? We were made to worship Him and bask in the fluorescent breeze of peace and prosperity. But when the church doors open you’re still at home in a drunken state of mind. Adam where art thou?

[Your child is looking out the window waiting for you to come home from work. Your daughter is waiting to feel the true unconditional love from her first male example. Your son is waiting to make you proud and is aspiring to be just like you. Your woman needs her king to lead her into a flourishing prosperous life filled with love, honor, and protection. Your community needs a leader to combat the evil that floods our streets with lies, corruption, and false representation of our true existence. Everything that was promised to us awaits in the distance, while the clouds pass through the sky and the ocean continues to roar. Tears continue to fall from heart broken faces waiting in a distance while God opens his arms gazing into the valley sitting patiently for you to return. But you never showed up. ADAM where are you?]

 

V.S.OP Guide to Suits Pt.1

In this competitive job market the slightest detail may be the difference between landing or losing a job. First impressions leave a lasting impression with that said; presentation is everything! Before you are even allowed to say a word you are being analyzed from the color of your suit to the way it fits. In every setting it is the #OpulentWay to make your presence felt. Whether you’re in the board room or enjoying your time at the local happy hour it is important to always exude class and confidence. Here’s Our official guide on mastering the suit: the styles you need, the fit you want and some tips & tricks on how to put it all together by CHADRAN STYLES. So, Its Just One Question #AreYouVSOP

 

1. Your socks should be long enough that there’s no exposed leg when sitting down.

Socks do way more than just keep your feet warm, they’re a great way to pull your overall look together. Match your socks with your button up or tie, or go fun and funky for a casual look. Go with bold patterns, unique color combinations or festive socks to highlight your personality. Step out of your comfort zone and let your style shine through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Double vents located in the back are both modern & fashionable.

This look is practical and flattering on larger figures, yes big boys are stylish too. So cut those threads and be free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Sleeve cuffs should be exposed about half an inch.

Think of that inch as your measure of attaining success; you’re that close from being where you want to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Always unbutton your suit before sitting down, or you’ll risk ruining it.

The material of the jacket will pull, causing your jacket to lose shape. Plus your posture and presence will just scream #Opulence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Your tie should always be darker than your dress shirt.

A lot of men get this one wrong in attempt of being fashion forward. At the end of the day confidence is key in wearing anything; however there’s your way and the right way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Your tie should BARELY reach the waistband of your trousers, or slightly shorter.

Yes, length matters: When standing, the tip of the tie should fall within the button of your trousers. Presentation is everything, and nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” more than a very short or overly long tie. Your presence should say I’ve been here before while your actions scream I’m hungry for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Your belt should be fairly thin & the same color as your shoes.

There is major flexibility to this rule. Have fun and play around with belts with texture, patterns and color. Just don’t wear a brown belt with black shoes, or vice versa and you should be fine. Let your creativity shine through, just remember there is a time to be creative and a time to be professional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living with a purpose

Young professionals face a number of different challenges in their journey. Whether it is trying to establish a family, career or just figuring out who you are, it is inevitable that you will be challenged. You get one chance at life, so live it to the best of your abilities and most importantly, treat each day as an opportunity to define your legacy. When you leave this earth you will not be defined by the kind of car you drove, the clothes you wore, or how much money was in your bank account; but rather, the impact that you had on those around you. Now please don’t get my wrong, I like nice clothes, I appreciate nice cars and I love money, so if you can acquire those things while living a fruitful and productive life, by all means please do so.

The first point that I want you to consider is that instant gratification only leads to temporary elation. Do not allow yourself to be tricked into taking the easy way out in your quest for success. We live in a society in which we are used to things readily available. Because of this, we can fall into the trap that success should come without struggle. This brings me to another rule to live by; things just don’t happen, people make things happen. If you want to become a doctor, a lawyer, a hair stylist, or a master electrician, you must be willing to put in the work in order to see that dream come true. You must be willing to go through some periods in life that are downright uncomfortable and lonely because you may have to give up some temporary things AND people in order to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself. You must get rid of the old way of thinking that good things come to those who wait and replace it with the notion that good things come to those who WORK. Anything worth having is worth working for, and if my talents, skills and dedication can’t get it for me, then I probably don’t need it. When you work meticulously to be a master of your craft then you position yourself to be lucky. Now I know that I may have thrown some of you for a loop, I just rambled on about not taking the easy way out, working hard to accomplish your goals and now I’m talking about luck? When I talk about luck, I am not talking about Mohegan Sun on a Friday night at the roulette table, but instead the words that were spoken by the Roman Philosopher and Politician, Seneca who stated that “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. The truth of the matter is that we are never fully aware of when an opportunity is going to come our way, so we must always be on top of our game and prepared to show that we are worthy of what is put before us. So we’ve spoken a little bit about being the best that you can be as far as goal setting is concerned, however that is only half the battle. You have gotten where you are today because you have shown a willingness to work hard to achieve whatever personal goals you want to achieve. Now comes the fun part, going out into the world and making things happen. Each person in the world has something to contribute, whether good or bad, whether big or small, we all make a contribution to society as a whole. The challenge is to identify what you are currently contributing to society and to assess if your contribution is having the impact that you want it to have. You should know what your best is and you should know what your limitations are, if you allow society to determine these things for you, you are bound to be lost, unsatisfied, angry, depressed and unproductive. Here are three things to consider as you attempt to fulfill your purpose in life

 

  1. See thing as they are but not worse than they are– simply put be real with yourself and those that are looking to you for guidance, when placed in a situation it is important to view it at face value. Over exaggeration is not necessary, never make a situation more than it needs to be. You will spend your entire life putting out fires so don’t add unnecessary drama to any circumstance that you are facing.

  2. Have a true and genuine care for the well being of others– part of your charge moving forward is to help improve the quality of life for all humans, not just for yourself. In your pursuit of the “American Dream”, carve out some time to serve your community in some way, shape or form. I have come to realize that I have gained a greater sense of my purpose in life and career interests through the work that I have done for and with others.

  3. Identify one thing that you are really good at and become great at it- We live in a world where many people are ‘Jacks of all trades and masters of nothing”. Instead, identify something that you truly want to be great at and seek out opportunities to build your skill set in that area.

These are just a few steps to consider as you establish yourself and your purpose in life. Stay tuned for our next installment of Around the Water Cooler. Be blessed!

WHAT IS YOUR MISSION

 

-In My Humble Opinion

 

Is It The Hair

Although I’m only three months into my natural hair journey, I’ve realized just how uncomfortable I am and have been with being my authentic self. It’s an awkward thing to admit, but it’s the truth. Embarking on this journey has made me increasingly aware of the fact that I, too, have yet to conquer the metaphysical dilemmas of being a colored woman. My initial decision to go natural wasn’t based on any profound reasoning; I simply wanted my hair to regain its health and grow back to its original length. Surprisingly enough, this process has led to some unsettling realizations, deep introspection and, unfortunately, some internal conflicts that I’m learning to deal with as each day passes.

To put it frankly, this transitioning process has exposed just how afraid I am of embracing myself. The very first day I decided to wear a flexi rod set to work, I stood in front of the mirror for a good 20 minutes trying to reassure myself that I looked fine and office-presentable with my curly fro. After a few, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important” pep talks to myself, I eventually managed to drag myself out of the house and to work. I wish I could honestly say that I walked into that office bold, confident and unabashedly black, but it was more of a defeatist “Oh God, please don’t let these white folk gawk at my hair” type of entrance. After receiving a bunch of compliments, I was so frustrated with myself for all the angst I experienced in my bathroom that morning, and annoyed for feeling so insecure about my hair not being bone straight. I was even more disappointed with the fact that it took getting compliments from my (white) co-workers for me to feel comfortable with my own hair.

I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I have a high level of self-esteem, but that one flexi rod set gave me a quick reality check, and helped me realize there are some things I have to work on internally in order to truly say I love myself, and to get through this natural hair journey. This process has become more than just me trying to grow long, healthy hair; it’s become a journey to learning how to love and accept myself despite other people’s expectations of how I’m supposed to look.

As a teenage girl, getting a relaxer was more about me wanting to feel and look “mature” than it was about me hating my natural hair. As an adult, I’ve observed how that innocent desire for a mature look turned into me becoming dependent on relaxers and straight hair to feel beautiful. I have absolutely nothing against straight hair (I love me a good Dominican blow out), but I do take issue with being fearful of embracing my natural, God-given appearance. I will never be at peace not knowing how to be comfortable with who I am and how I naturally look, which is why this journey is necessary for me.

These first three months have been exciting, frightening, frustrating, and beautiful. There are days when I wake up and feel “flawless,” and there are days when I have absolutely no idea what to do with my hair and the tears start rolling. But on the good hair days and on the days when my twist out attempts are just that- an attempt, I look at myself in the mirror and see someone I love, despite how her hair looks. I can’t lie, this hair journey has me feeling naked and uncomfortable, but growth is rarely ever comfortable, and I’ve made peace with that. Long-term transitioning isn’t for the faint of heart (this is my third attempt), but I intend to embrace everything it entails, and I am determined to follow through with this commitment to loving myself and loving my natural, curly, black girl hair.

– See more at: http://www.urbancusp.com/2014/03/conquering-metaphysical-dilemmas-embracing-natural-hair/#sthash.N2w6gfjZ.dpuf
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Previously Posted by:

Ashlee Wisdom
Managing Editor
UrbanCusp.com
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I Love Him Because I Hate Myself pt.2: DRUNK IN LOVE

Photo Credit: @thablck5heep

Drunk in Love
Breathing through that last glass of wine
That travels through your veins
Escaping your present state of mind
Eloping to a conscious diluted coma
Engulfed in flames surrounding your den of lies
Burning a sweet fragrance
to disguise the aura of bullshits aroma

You be all night

Lust fills your eyes and releases
The time that flies by during the week
Where quality time is returned null and void

Incomplete
conveniently available when the moon speaks
you reply first yea I’m not sleep,
to him 1st message received out of 3
so you win and he knows what that means

You be all night

Filled with the symphony of melodies
Allowing your body to become his piano keys
He plays you
But in your world he’s making love to you
And it feels good
As long as your well is filled with 90 proof
So you feel all of him, skin to skin
You cant move swimming in his kids

You be all night

Drunk in love
You be all night
But in the Morning……

Greetings and salutations, welcome to the continuation of the “I Love Him But I Hate Myself” series. If you have not done so already, I invite you to be brought up to speed by reading the first post in this series, “LOVE…So Many People Use Your Name In Vain.” To fully understand the context and theories of my opinion, it would best serve you as the reader to digest the aforementioned. This blog is entitled, “Drunk In Love.” Do enjoy

 

Dear Ladies:

His name was Dorian. He attended a major university and had the presence of the most desired male on campus. A superstar athlete, scholastic achiever and philosophical philanthropist that had a smile that spoke to the wind. I mean ladies adored him as if he were their cold glass of iced tea on a hot Georgia day. When he spoke, women gazed into his eyes and became lost with his words and astute presence. Standing over six feet tall, his clothes complemented his masculinity, creating an uproar of competition and admiration. Blinded with tunnel vision, Dorian only had eyes for one lady. Her name was Lena. Lena played hard to get because she too was a very attractive woman that had plenty of options. Why would she ever settle for anything less than a Dorian? In her mind and in her world she deserved the best. Her desire for attaining a high profile, quality man was her primary objective before engaging in another sorry-excuse-of-a boyfriend. Her previous boyfriends were “bad boys” that fulfilled her inner lust of that lifestyle.

Needless to say, when Dorian approached Lena he wooed her into a romantic vision of perfection, with promises of admiration, love, honesty, and respect. Lena fell head over heels like she was back in grade school. This is what she always desired. She had been praying for a GOD fearing, educated, attractive man that saw her for more than just her physical attributes. As time went on, their relationship grew as well, intensifying itself from casual dates to thought- stimulating conversation. It was inevitable that their relationship would eventual evolve into sexual desires. It was a Friday night proceeding another romantic, eventful evening and Lena invited Dorian up for a night recap in her dorm suite. Dorian took her hand and looked her in the eyes saying, “Lena, I love you and before we go any further, I think you should understand that I don’t believe in premarital sex; I believe that as a Christian man, I should trust The Lord and wait to take our relationship to a sexual level. I am willing to give myself to you wholeheartedly, spiritually, and mentally, allowing our relationship to blossom into something that you have never experienced with anyone else.” Gently he asked her, “This doesn’t change things does it?” Lena gasped and turned grey, took a step back and remained speechless. She turned and looked into the hallway mirror nibbled on her bottom lip and closed her eyes. Dorian took that as her answer and with a bowed head slowly exited her dorm room. WOW. Do you know how many times I’ve heard a woman say that they want a good, God fearing, respectable, honest man? Well what happens when he shows up? Often times women say things like they want a God fearing man, but really they want someone that is something like a Christian as long as his faith doesn’t compromise or interfere with their fleshly needs.

LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX LADIES. That clearly is the elephant in the room. In the previous blog, a very artistic description regarding the ideals of LOVE was presented. Each emotion and physical activity has always had a divine purpose. Have you all given deeper thought as to why we engage in sexual activities? Sex is an important aspect in relationships (if you disagree you’re lying) however, we live in a sexually driven society that celebrates and empowers the act without fully understanding why. Society markets sex as an integral ingredient in having a healthy relationship however, there are so many single sexually liberated individuals, which forced me to reflect; personal experiences have afforded me a chance to re-educate myself on sex and the risk associated with it. Through the process of deep thought, evaluation, and reflection (months on end) I was able to form a “working” definition.

God being the manifestation of LOVE, manufactured man through his own image and took from man his rib. Built to stand side by side with her king, God prepackaged the most precious gift He could provide by creating woman. In doing so, God gave birth to matrimony, a sanctified union. When married men and women engage in sex, they are really celebrating a reunion. During intercourse, a man enters a woman, and the celebration of unification and spiritual wholeness begins. Woman, who was once taken from man, has been restored when the two become one body, mind, spirit, and flesh. As the man enters the woman, they have reconnected back to one flesh, becoming the image of GOD whom is love. The two literally have just made LOVE by doing so. Have you ever engaged in true LOVE making before with that focus, spiritual intentions or intensity, or do you still see nothing wrong with a little bump and grind? Let that digest before you move on.

Sex is like a beautiful rose growing in a bush of thorns. Its elegant existence and purpose is overshadowed by sexually explicit behaviors that we are taught which represents the thorns, making it painful to embrace. The world as we know it has diluted our consciousness to believe every dirty thing there is to imagine sexually. These epiphanies emancipate us from its original perfect blueprint designed by our Creator and Architect. His plan didn’t involve child support payments, sexually transmitted diseases, pornography, broken hearts nor coincidental lesbianism (oh now she’s gay right?) I mean ladies, how many times do you wake up and regret the decision that you’ve made by giving yourself to another undeserving male? The fact of the matter is, sex is more dangerous now than ever before. The penalty for making poor reckless decisions outweighs the joyous feeling of patience and anticipation for something that you have been craving . “All good things come to those that wait” (except when it entails your sex drive?) It gets to the point where you stop counting certain people simply to justify that it wasn’t a real sexual experience. Some of you will even say, “I have to sample what I am going to be stuck with for the rest of my life,” because truth is the moment your sexual numbers became number two, that’s when the confusion bean; now you have knowledge of something different. How can you grow sexually with a loved one if you have shared so many other experiences with a great deal of other unworthy individuals?

A lot of us are sexually confused to the point where we are just never satisfied and we keep sampling different strokes with different folks, still finding our spirits are left broke. Our drunken state of mind has become intoxicated with lust, tarnished by our reputation and trapped in the depths of our insecurity. As we continue to hop from bed to bed sharing each other’s DNA, we are literally leaving a piece of our subconscious with someone else while inheriting portions of their contaminated vessel, yet you continue to pull your panties back up. Have you ever randomly still felt connected to someone years later after a sexual experience with them or find yourself thinking about them sexually, later feeling disgusted by it? Part of me believes that a piece of our soul is released with every sexual climax, but that’s just a theory. So again I ask, if you came face to face with a good guy, how much baggage would he have to accept before he decides to commit to you based on your sexual actions? In addition, how much baggage would you condone from him just so that you can justify how you feel about yourself? It’s not a coincidence that you lay next to a reflection of your inner hatred and despise the fact that he had an opportunity to waste your time. You both drink from the same well of promiscuity and insecurity. Who you give yourself to is a direct reflection of how you feel about yourself.

So are you in love with you or hate who you have come to be? It is believed that “drunk sex is the best sex anyone could ever have with someone” or at least that’s what society wants us to believe. We use alcohol to bring us to a place of physical pleasure, which in most cases leads to sexual liberation just so we can temporarily escape present reality. Webster’s dictionary defines the word drunk as: “overcome by strong feelings or emotions; caused or influenced by intoxication to the point of impairment of physical and mental faculties.” Someone out there is asking, “what the hell does this have to do with loving someone because I hate myself?” Who are you sexually in a sober state of mind? Let’s take alcohol off the table for a second. How often do you find yourself in a sexual relationship with an EX boyfriend? Too uncomfortable to move on sexually because he’s what you know and what you are used to. He failed at being the man you wanted him to be in your poor insecure world and you’re too stubborn to compromise your sexuality. How many female friends do you have that are someone’s mistress or side chick? Or what about the girl that doesn’t feel pretty enough? She hates her skin tone, body weight and facial features, so she uses sex to escape her feelings of loneliness and insecurity by attaching sex to a feeling of comfort and acceptance.

Finally, what about the girls that just plain old love sex. “MEN DO IT SO WHY CAN’T WE?” You’ve heard that crock of nonsense before right? Quite frankly, it’s so sad that our men have led our women to this place of resentment, confusion and reckless acceptance. My message to her is your sexual escapades are secretly masked as enslavement. You created a sexual need that has you out of control and it digs you deeper into a cesspool of bondage. How will you ever settle for one guy comfortably and actually grow sexually with him without comparing him to what Tyrone used to do? Some of you women are drunk, literally and emotionally. Your system is polluted with lies, insecurities and in some cases drugs and alcohol. They have you trapped within your sexuality and you utilize sex as a weapon thinking a 90 day rule is providing some sort of solid foundation to fornication. Two kids later you find yourself in a situation where your sexual desires have you drunk in love and now you lack substance. Now you are ready to learn from your mistakes and are willing to think more with your heart. However, you are too intoxicated to recognize a good man in a sober state of mind and too damaged for that good man to want to deal with. What do you have to offer? So what happens next? Is there light at the end of the tunnel for you? I think it’s time to sober up.

Stay tuned for my concluding post entitled, “In The Morning.”

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