Category Archives: Life Skills

The Life Skills category establishes an understanding about the “sandbox of life”. Everyone is in the box, young men of color have to understand how to conduct themselves in it.

2018 Annual New Years Resolution: Living free

Every year we all commit to resolutions to make our lives better, eliminate bad habits, to be successful, etc. Every year we either fail or succeed and every year, without fail, we make the attempt.

My previous New Years blogs…

https://middlepassagementor.com/2017/01/02/new-years-resolution-step-out-of-my-self-and-be-better/

https://middlepassagementor.com/2015/01/08/my-only-annual-blog-new-years-resolutions/

https://middlepassagementor.com/2014/01/14/new-years-resolution-self-improvement/

…have always been about incrementally getting better.

For me this year is different, the same in nature, but different. I’ve been thinking this way ever since I completed one of my last resolutions…something about paying off credit cards. I paid off about 5 of my 7 credit cards and I feel freedom for the first time in a long while. I mean I could maintain the debt but now that it’s gone, I feel free….yes 5…don’t judge.

Resolution: The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.

So before you accumulate a mountain debt, enjoy your freedom, protect it, live free. It starts with changing your priorities and how you live your life. Yes we have to spend money to live, college books, tires for your car, suit for interviews, laptop, etc. There are necessities, there are, but PLEASE don’t get caught up with buying “things” that don’t give your life value. A weekend trip to the Caribbean costs more than a set of rims but at least you’re living, you’re just not in the hood looking good but “ain’t never been nowhere“.

 Living free takes discipline not to buy things that have no value. 

The blog about about slavery and money I wrote a couple weeks ago, yeah I’m still feeling that. I don’t know exactly what it is but it starts with just basic decisions to be free. That need to be free has shaped my spending and allowed me to value my decisions. Decisions about my habits, what I eat, what I watch, what I respond to, my energy, my stress….everything.

I’m getting preachy but I just want you young males have the freedom to engage the world, to live free.

Happy New Year!

MPM
Email: middlepassagementor@gmail.com
or comment below.
“Money buys you the freedom to live your life the way you want.”
Keanu Reeves

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Buying your slavery.

We all like nice things, everyone likes nice things but what does it cost?

No…I don’t mean cost as in the price, I mean the cost of keeping it; the maintenance, interest payments, stress, freedom…yes, freedom.

For example, let’s say after your rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, food, gas, and entertainment expenses per month you have $1000.00 left. That’s kinda high but whatever.

You have roughly 12,000.00(12k) a year in fun money, that’s assuming you save 10% have retirement and are doing all the things we’re supposed to do. You can go out on a few dates, go to Martha’s Vineyard, travel to Africa, a couple of black ski events, etc. Then you see it, that Z07 Corvette, for a easy $350.00 a month. Why not?!…you have the money and good credit for no down payment. Bang, it’s yours…it’s fun to drive, you increase your gas costs for 93 octane premium gas but you can swing it. Insurance goes up and depending on how you drive, those ultra performance tires at $400.00…EACH are nothing to forget. Yes $400.00 look it up, http://www.tirerack.com.  Yeah you buy tires once over 2 years but it still a expense. So $350.00 car payment, increased gas and insurance cost, before you know it, your fun money has dwindled to about $550.00 a month. Yes, you can still pick up some airline tickets, and hang out but with a little less money, no problem. Then you see it…the Rolex watch, better yet the Breitling watch. How much? $4k, that’s $4,000.00 for something you DON’T need, you want it but you don’t need it. Yes, it’s a nice performance luxury watch but your cell phone can tell the damn time?! Next thing you know, it’s on your wrist with what…No Money Down, for 18 months then it’s 24% interest if you don’t pay it off.

INTERESTn. money paid regularly at a particular rate for the use of money lent, or for delaying the repayment of a debt

So your payment is $222.00 a month, that’s not to bad but just think, we started with $1000.00 a month spending money

– $350.00 Corvette payment

– $222.00 Breitling watch

= $428.00 a month

$400.00 is still not bad but that’s just two purchases for things you DON’T need. You want a $4000.00 watch and your furniture isn’t even paid for yet. You can’t even take your mom on a cruise, take time off from work, you got bills to pay! Now you’re starting the cycle of debt, you can’t even drive the Vette cause you gotta eat and make a living….there’s no traveling, no playing, get your a$$ to work SLAVE!

And that’s my point, be discipline enough to NOT buy things you don’t need. It can wait, your freedom is more important.

No…I’m not saying don’t buy nice things. Just think, if you wait one year, you could have at lease 10k in the bank. With 10k in the bank your stress level is different, you travel more, you can buy the watch straight out and get a decent car until you can afford the Vette. If something goes wrong at work, hours get cut, laid off, you have a few months to fall back…this is what you call saving money for a “rainy day”.

Most of us can buy anything we want, but we can’t afford the lifestyle that comes with it.

I forgot the reason why I wrote this blog…

I saw a Range Rover, I love Range Rovers, I purchased one a couple years ago. My friend Terry told me not to buy it…I didn’t listen…warned me about that maintenance…I didn’t listen…told me it was a piece of s#!&…I didn’t listen. I bought it for about 10k, it was used and old but I loved it…classic. I spent about 7k on repairs in that year. It is a horrible car…loved the ride, nothing like it but that air suspension cost money to repair. It was a 20k lesson in about 15 months. I should have listened. This was all before God blessed me with rain on my commute and someone rear-ended me and totaled it…wooo hooo! Got a pickup truck and left it at that. So take it from me.

Homework: Look up the terms; depreciation, interest rate, credit score, net worth

MPM

“Money buys many things…the Best of which is Freedom” Mary Renault

“The only thing money is good for is to buy your Freedom” Humphrey Bogart

“Money equals Freedom” Kevin O’Leary (Shark Tank: Shark)

“I have a fantastic relationship with money, I use it to buy my freedom”

Gianni Versace

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Go off the grid, disconnect, get a little lost to find yourself.

I’m in the Bahamas.

Wait, I’m skipping ahead.

Last year I was told that there was a “Liveaboard” trip…meaning you go on a yacht, (mine is the Aqua Cat), for a while you live, eat, play and most importantly… DIVE. So, last year I committed to do this for my birthweek. During the trip I would not really have access to wifi and the internet so I also decided to disconnect and go off the grid for this trip. I booked an AirBnB off Collins Ave in Nassau for two days before the trip. I flew down yesterday and had a layover in Miami for about 7 hours.

During that time checking in my flight, I found out that my cousin Kim just moved down there from Norristown, PA, one day ago. She just planned and moved. I am so proud of her. I asked her, “How you going to just roll out?!” She said, “I have to make a change and this is it. I have to do what’s best for me and my son.” She starts her job on Tuesday.  I was like, “Kim…do it” Yesterday she picked me up from the airport and went to get a cheap breakfast and talk. I always felt Kim was a positive person and I felt she was bigger than her shell. To find out she had just moved to Miami 2 days prior, I had to make sure she was cool. She is and will be amazing…if she focuses!!!  (That’s to her..sorry.) Well I landed in Bahamas and “Evie” picked me up with the lighted sign out of baggage claim with my name on it, “Welcome Robert S.” WHAT?!?!  I ALWAYS WANTED THAT!  It’s the little things. Anyway, I planned to go to see the movie, “Alien Covenant” with her and her boyfriend but I found my “Second Wife” Janis and hung with her and her sister Jennifer for my special day. I’m not married but a story behind that. I’ll get pictures later.

I feel handicapped, I can’t Uber, Google, WhatsApp, Facebook, Amazon…nothing. How am I blogging?!? Well for $1.00 a minute at Bahamas Business Solutions on Collins, I logged in with the help of Yolanda, “no relations to Adams” she said. I wanted to reach out, my apologies for the grammatical errors but it’s $1.00 a minute and I’m rushing. LOL.

I think it’s important to travel, I’ve always say that. I think it’s good for people to push their boundaries. Being without my phone has been hard, but to go out and meet people is nothing new. For some of you, this may be a huge challenge. To disconnect and actually ask for directions, find places to eat, being polite or nice to a stranger for no gain…just be nice. It’s humbling, maybe allows you to focus on more important things.

With the aid of technology, being independent is something we find easy, but to actually talk to people, engage and initiate conversations is a lost art, to begin new friendships and relationships is a necessity of life. There’s some things you may find pleasing; making a stranger laugh, accompanying new friends to a movie, being welcomed into someone’s home for a few days. I don’t know maybe that’s just me but I know if feels better to engage people than to stare at a four inch screen in the palm of my hand. The interpersonal skills transfer in the workplace and other relationships. Gives you something to talk about, maybe makes you a little more interesting…maybe makes other people or places more interesting.

It’s crazy but this is what pushing your boundaries is about. I always thing of that quote, “Leaders put themselves situations, followers won’t.”

Anyway, let me go, I get on this boat tomorrow and I have to arrange transfer.

A few helpful hints when exploring:

  • When heading somewhere new, pay attention to landmarks to recognize your way back.
  • It’s important to learn to identify when someone is inquiring to help you or take advantage of you.
  • If you’re staying in a AirBnB, be open to help of fix things around the house.
  • Bring a gift from the “states” for people you may visit.

MPM

middlepassagementor@gmail.com

 

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Movie Review: “Chasing Trane”

I can’t type fast enough.

Out of respect, there are no “spoilers” in this blog. For those of you that knew or know about John Coltrane, I apologize for my ignorance. For those of you curious about jazz or neophytes like myself, please go see this movie.

At least once a month I try to pay respect to art in some way…take myself out of the occupation of life to remember the quality of life. I’ve been challenging my definition of things lately.

I just viewed the 10:50am show of “Chasing Trane” at E Street cinema. The movies there are usually independent and not main stream. When I leave this theater, I’m usually positively provoked or transformed in some way and today was no different…today was exceptional.

“Chasing Trane” is a documentary about John Coltrane. This is what a movie, about musicians… especially jazz musicians, is supposed to be. The backdrop of racial disharmony, drugs, spirituality, love and the evolution of the artistic merits, influences and then finally perseverance.

Having seeing “Miles Ahead”, the biographical movie about Miles Davis, my expectations were low. This is not a denunciation of  Don Cheadle’s work, but the movies are just not artistically, factually or spiritually in the same category. Yes, they’re both biographical movies, but I’m so glad that I viewed “Miles Ahead” first. “Miles Ahead” can easier be compared to “Purple Rain” or  “Thriller” than it should even be mentioned in the same sentence as “Chasing Trane”.  Whether it be educational or entertainment, I love them all for what they represent, but “Chasing Trane” was a journey. I was excited about what I was seeing, like an “Unsung” episode, without the tragic ending. This movie resets a standard for me and I want to see it again.

I don’t allow influences like Rotten Tomatoe ratings or critics tell me what I’m supposed to like. Like everyone…things just taste different. Similar to jazz musicians, you probably won’t understand their walk or their challenges, but you can appreciate those adversities transformed into art.

Throughout watching this movie, if you didn’t grasp what was happening to you, the testimonies of Bill Clinton, Wynton Marsalis, Common, Sonny Rollins, Common, Benny Golson and especially Ben Ratliff and Lewis Porter tethered the viewer to the experience. Carlos Santana is not only a guide in this movie, throughout the journey, the “shaman” helps your spirit through the organic process. Director, John Scheinfeld, fashioned this musical documentary without allowing the narrative to be dominated by one component. The word “documentary” itself is not a good enough label to capture what this movie did to me personally. It was holistic, not because of the facts but the artistic, visual, and photographic montage was almost overwhelming.

There were times when you witnessed fatherhood where I was definitely emotional. His loss at the age of twelve, then to his addiction and evolution as a musician even how he loved. It was a remarkable voyage. There was a scene where you could see something emanating from the band…like an aura…it was really a spiritual thing to witness.

How this is relevant material for my audience?

This movie, hands down, speaks to young black men in every facet of life, but it doesn’t just focus on drugs or love or spirituality or music…it focuses on LIFE. Jazz, like many art forms, is birthed out of adversity and it is a conduit of creativity. Jazz is reverent to me because it’s origins are African-American or black and ancestral to me.  Dr. Cornell West’s words and testimony to the human condition, in this movie, aligns to the black man’s reality in this country. His statements reverberated in my core. The trajectory of a black man’s life can be easily altered by decisions we don’t get to make over. This movie, hands down, speaks about John Coltrane, a black man, who rose out of the ashes to make mistakes, ignite and burn new ashes for himself, and then rise out of those self-inflicted ashes. John ascends to levels of brilliance that challenged the constructs of the very genre he rose to dominate. There’s a comparison to intelligence and Albert Einstein…yes it’s in there. (Ok…one small spoiler) This forward thinking only comes from being courageous enough to embark.

I don’t even have a category for this blog.

People sometimes pose the question:

“Who would you want to meet in history?”

I honestly never had a good answer or not an answer that I felt I believed, but yeah, now I do. Not to ask him questions or converse, but just to hear him, in person, play. Like in the movie, “The Matix”, they say you don’t know a person until you fight them.

Like my singing bowl, I want to feel it travel through my body.

In this case, I just want to hear Mr. Coltrane play and feel it in my soul.

MPM

 

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