Sit Down!


gabbydouglascover-696x392Photo Credit: NBC Olympics

Despite Gabby Douglas’s phenomenal history making performance at the London 2012 Olympic Games, her accomplishments since then, and now with the Final Five US Women Gymnastics’ team  in Rio, trolls still managed to find ways to bully her. First they attacked her hair (in this case, her edges), then vilified her, for not placing hand over heart, during the medal ceremony.

I find it incredibly troubling to note, the vicious and demeaning “nappy hair” comments started within the black community. One that Gabby and I belong to. As a side note, the majority of black women, are known for being overly concerned, intensely preoccupied, and incredibly vain, when it comes to their hair. Upkeep is expensive, but sometimes other responsibilities take a back seat to the beauty shop. Hair must always slay! By any means necessary. It is not uncommon for some women to sacrifice health (cut exercise), to keep up a certain look.

I also think it’s incredibly distressing, that the same people who have been marginalized, oppressed, and discriminated against, would take it upon themselves to initiate the attacks. I expected only the loudest cheers of support and praise. Nothing  less. The Olympics is a sporting event, NOT a hair show.  I was, however, encouraged by celebrities who used their star power, to publicly offer encouragement and support, at a time when she desperately needed it.

Next, other groups started attacking Gabby for her supposed lack of patriotism. The ignorance was loud and deafening. Not every athlete at Rio (or any other Olympics) placed hand over heart during the American anthem. Some did, others laughed, cried, smiled, stared into the unknown. It’s common for hands to be either in front, or at the sides. As a litmus test example, one American soldier, Sam Kendricks, stopped in the middle of his Pole Vault performance, and stood at attention, when the anthem started playing. No hand was placed over heart. He didn’t have to.

I’m inclined to think medaling in any event as big as the Olympics, often elicits a paramount of emotions. No one should be judged, by how they respond while the anthem is being played. Now, total disrespect, is a horse of a different color. There is NO law or practice to dictate what to do during this time. My heart went out to her, as she fought back tears during an interview, where she was asked to address the trolling.

I’m also at a loss as to why everyone cannot simply enjoy THIS moment in history. The Final Five is now the most successful, and decorated female gymnastics team ever. A truly amazing feat. One that deserves the highest levels of respect, appreciation, and admiration. Sadly, there is always the “special attention seeking few” who choose to cloud an accomplishment.

To the ones who participated in this inexcusable behavior, I hope you’re all proud of yourselves! No one will remember you, BUT, they will remember the achievements of these fabulous young women, Gabby included! I am sure Gabby doesn’t need me to defend her. No. I think she is quite capable of standing up for herself. One doesn’t get to where she is, and not have a few life affirming experiences, with which to battle the storms.

For all the haters, detractors, trolls, negative Nancy’s; have a seat! As a matter of fact, have several. Stay in your own lane. The fact that you would publicly attack someone you’ve never met,  who worked so hard to help her country win, became a role model to millions of girls in the process, and focus on something so trivial like her hair style, says more about you, than it could ever do about her. You are a troll. Plain and simple. So, how many medals have you won for your country? My guess is NONE.

Let’s say for argument’s sake, Gabby, or anyone else, decides to wear their hair curly, straight, kinky, braided etc. What exactly did she do wrong? Her hair didn’t get in the way of winning. Consider for a moment, if that was your daughter on the world’s biggest sporting stage. The pressure to do well is not for the fainthearted. She won. However, people who don’t know her personally, have begun attacking her for no reason. Doesn’t feel good with the shoe on the other foot, now does it? Society is constantly telling us, we’re not good enough. On the contrary, we are. Always have been. Always will.

Furthermore, the next time you decide to write negative and offensive statements, whether it’s about Gabby or someone else, PLEASE, have a long look in the mirror, and figure out how you got to this point. The rest of us, don’t want any part of what you’re selling. You might get attention for fifteen minutes, but very soon, you’ll be seen for what you are.  Remember, you’ll catch a lot more flies with honey, than vinegar.

Gabby has accomplished MORE than half of you put together, in your lifetimes. Besides being a three-time gold medal Olympic champion, she has released a memoir.  Landed a reality show. Created her own leotard clothing line. This year, Barbie launched The Gabby Douglas doll.  On a side note, when this post was published, news broke that Gabby has been tapped as a judge, on the Miss America 2017 pageant. I’m willing to bet the accolades and accomplishments doesn’t end there.

Gabby is a role model for every young girl, sat at home, watched the Olympics, and dreamt of representing her country (not necessarily in gymnastics). Millions of us are immensely proud of her efforts. In 2012, she was th BEST in the world! This time around she still managed to help Team USA win gold, again. Little girls who most likely turned to their mothers, with sparkling, wide-eyed innocence, and asked “Mom, can I do that?”, to which came the response “Of course you can baby. And one day you will!”

Gabby, I hope you’re too busy writing the next phase of your life, to bother giving a spearing thought to any of these detractors. Continue to show the world just how great you are.  And long after you’ve retired from gymnastics, you’ll still be blazing trails. I know being in the public eye, and having your every move scrutinized, can’t be easy. Sadly, people think its open season to hide behind their keyboards, and become instant experts on every and anything.

You’re a BADASS. Entrepreneur. Author. Role Model. Olympic Champion. You will ALWAYS have these things to look back on. No one can take them away from you. Happily, it’s not the only label that defines you. We think you’re strong, capable, gracious, and resilient.

So carry on. Get up and own it. We are all cheering for you. Because..”Still You Rise”

Until the next post,

Best,

 

Juan

“Today Is The Yesterday You Worried About”


Worrywart. Neurotic. Anxious. OAD. Hypochondriac. Apprehensive. Uneasy. A bundle of nerves. Nebbish. Mess. Fusspot. Basket case. Chances are you and I have worn one or more of these labels. With the utmost familiarity. Helpless to ditch any, some of us still wear them. They hang like an albatross around our necks. Slowly cutting off our air supply. It’s a way of life really. We don’t know how to let things go. We have never known a life without worry. And have driven family and friends to distraction. Yes, this is a long-winded way of describing the art of worrying. Yep. An art. Because we are so good at it. What do we worry about? Everything. Whether our children will turn out alright. Money. How we appear to others. Achieving our goals. The works. Each label might not apply. At least one does.

How our kids will turn out. I don’t have kids. My limited experience with kids involves taking care of a black doll I owned as a child. And that ended badly. Well, not really. I was eight years old when my sister made her entrance. A working mother meant I was in charge of her care; changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, and babysitting. I have also dabbled in babysitting other people’s children. Does that count? I have offered a shoulder to cry on. Sat and listened as parents shared their worries and fears for their children. Will my “wayward” child attend college? Resist the cycle of drugs and violence? Hold a job? Overcome mental illness? They plead daily for miracles. And rightfully so. Any type of counsel goes unheeded. Feelings of helplessness turn into despair. And ulcers. Many interpret a child’s failure as a reflection of their parenting skills. I love this quote by Robert Fulghum, and hope parents will remember it: “Don’t worry that your children never listen to you, worry that they are always watching you”

Meeting your financial obligations. There is never enough is there? For single parents with no support, it’s a double whammy. You constantly chase one bill after another. You shudder to think of the consequences of losing your job. The nights are sleepless. Peter gets robbed monthly. Otherwise Paul would not get paid. People often say you are doing the best you can. Alas, it falls on deaf ears. Think for a moment; if circumstances dictated we live on $10,000 per year, instead of the usual $30,000, wouldn’t we find way?.  Yep, we would make sacrifices. Adjust. Do without. Find ways to cut cost. And survive. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Can anybody remember when the times were not hard and money not scarce?”

Being alone. For years we have lived life on our terms.Had our share of relationships. Broken a few hearts. Had the favor returned. One day, we look around. The golden years are slowly making their way up hill. They have you in their sights.Well maybe that is a stretch. You’ve done it all. But you are alone. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Being single has immense benefits. However, can you ignore the pink elephant in the room?.

You work hard. Play harder. At the end of the day, you arrive home  to an empty house. And it’s ever present reminders. There are no weak-in-the-knees kisses. Passionate embraces. No companion to share your hopes and dreams, and passion for living. No physical, intimate, soulful connections shared by two people in love. Carry on. It’s difficult not to think about the ones who got away. Missed chances at happiness. Time will decide the wisdom behind those decisions. It might take an act of congress/parliament for us to find the person who compliments us. Not to complete us, because we already have that covered.

I have witnessed friends and family members settle. Because they don’t want to be alone. They are afraid in the twinkling of an eye; they will be the woman with more than 2 cats. Or the reformed player/bad boy, whose dose of karma, is being married to a woman who makes his life miserable. A word of caution, don’t settle. I have settled in the past. The result was torment. And years of misery. I honestly believe this quote:“What’s meant to be will always find its way.”

What others think about you. The social disease called people pleasing. We’ve all had it. No one is immune. The diagnosis is simple. Medicine will not cure it. Prognosis can be good. Depending on the severity of the symptoms. And willingness to get better. This particular disease can be touch and go. However, if it stays for the long-term, all bets are off. Especially, if it holds us hostage. And transforms us into something or someone else. Some of us worry incessantly about pleasing others. Saying and doing the right thing. At the right time. How we appear to them. We out do ourselves trying to bring happiness. So, they will like us. They have to.

We spend squander money, time, and precious resources trying to win approval and acceptance. It took me a long time to understand I will not get along with everyone. Not everyone will like me. Regardless of what I do, someone will be unhappy. There are situations where you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. This is a worry you can be free of. People will either accept you, or they can move on. At the end of the day:”Be yourself, everyone else is taken” Oscar Wilde.

Mistakes of the past. No one can change the past. However, we have the power to influence the future. With the decisions we make. Or the ones we avoid making. I am sure you and I have repeatedly “opened mouth, and inserted foot”. Changed our behaviors to suit a spouse. Love interest. Friend. Situation. Gotten into the same pattern with relationships. Hurt someone. Intentionally or unintentionally. Looked the other way instead of helping. We’ve made mistakes. Rather than letting it go and learning from the past, we let the past continue to haunt us. We simmer and stew. We have not forgiven ourselves. Stop it. Really. Stop letting blunders ruin special moments. Experience and mistakes teach us. Molds character. And refines personalities. Provided amends have been made, attempt now to move on, because “mistakes are the portals of discovery” Unknown.

In closing, sometimes we are powerless to stop the worry. We are humans after all. Emotions signify we are alive. We care. About ourselves and others. The trick is to maintain a healthy balance. To know when worrying about something will not improve the situation. To know when to let go. We might never be completely free of every worry. However, we can choose not to worry about the things we have no control over. Death. The actions of others. Disease. Etc. We can learn to simply accept things as they are.

Worry is an incapacitating emotion. It drains our mental and emotional resources. Precious emotional capital often needed, in other areas of our lives. Some of them in disrepair. Areas which have suffered neglect, because we are busy cultivating another worry. We have to know when to draw the line. To change only the things we can. Sometimes that means our responses to people and situations. Here is a list of things to Beat Stress. If you are worried you might need more, here is another Fifty Ways to Calm Your Anxiety

Enjoy this song by a true legend. One I grew up with. Danced to. And simply loved. Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. Cheeky, but fitting.

Until the next post, ” today is the yesterday you worried about”

Best,

Juan