Tag Archives: Mentorship

Brotherhood: Blog 2 of 3

When I decided to blog about brotherhood, I immediately thought of my Girard College brothers. I didn’t think about my relatives. I actually have three blood brothers. When I was about 12 years old, I found out I had two brothers on my fathers’ side. Previous to that day, I only knew my one brother from my mother. One of them, Russell is like my twin, we share the same taste in women, and wear similar style clothes, it’s crazy. I wasn’t close with him growing up, I never knew him but I realized how similar we were the more we talked and hung out. I love him, I love all my brothers equally but again, when I hear the word brotherhood I don’t think of them immediately.

Let me explain, around the same time or a little after I was introduced to my father’s side of the family, my mother enrolled me in Girard College. Girard or GC is not a fraternity or club, it’s a parochial boarding school for “orphaned” boys or “broken families”. The school takes in children from 1st to 12th grade. My father was deceased so that classified me in the ‘broken family’ category. I enrolled in GC about 1982, it was an all male school then.

 

Derrick and Damon

Derrick and Damon

I’ve laughed and cried with these guys. The bond to our class  is nothing like anything else in my life. As kids we grew to be very protective of each other. We had our own little niches with nerdy, cool, jocks, artsy types but they were OUR brothers and nobody breach that bond. Yes we had some odd types, but they were our odd types and if you mess with one of us you had to deal with all of us. That was and still is the way we are, protective of each other and unified. It’s like a frat but it’s deeper, I know their mothers, secrets, flaws, and without question or hesitation, would come in a minute if anyone of them called.

Chuck and A

Chuck and A

I’m so happy for the success of my brothers. I’m happy with the women they chose to be their wives. Yes, we now have a few sisters(wives) that have become family…Alicia, Jennaye, Jen, Jenn S., Lori, Khaleen, and Christina. Another “sister” of ours, Jill Scott gave us a shout out on her first album. Check it out if you don’t believe me.

 

Lydell, Terry, Chuck and Doug

Lydell, Doug, Terry and Chuck

When I attended Girard College, I didn’t know that this brotherhood would transcend into my adult life. On Fridays, I drive to Rockville and hang with one of my brothers Derrick and his lady Nile. We play Uno with her sisters Elan and Reigna and their husbands, Adrian and Troy and it’s like family.  I had no idea that at 13 years old I would have these same friends into my 40’s.

Doug, Mike, Terry

Doug, Mike, Terry

Looking back I can remember instances where my brothers would just show up for me. I had a cookout in Annandale, Va, and these brothers drove from NY and Philly to attend. I drove to Philly to run a 5K to support Doug and his wife, Jennaye. He called me a week before and he told me why, I was already checking my calendar because I knew I was going, and I’ll be there next year. It’s just not even a thought. Looking back over the decades I witnessed my happiest times with all these brothers.

Lydell and Casey

Lydell and Casey

These brothers of mine are trend setters, we don’t follow anyone. You won’t find the typical stereotypes among our ranks.  Paul is running a successful restaurant and bar, National Mechanics. Gavin, previously a district attorney, living large in NY. Joe B. became a psychologist, Adrian living in Amsterdam working for Nike, Devon and Lydell are both doctors, who previously owned their own practice. Casey a successful barber, promoter and husband. Chuck is doing his thing as a personal trainer, Tracey is the ONLY rapper that earned a law degree, how sick is that?! Joe became an attorney and President of the Girard College alumni association.

Mike and Alicia...best wedding reception. Our first sister.

Mike and Alicia…best wedding reception. Our first sister.

When Mike posted his picture of his classroom on his Facebook page I was so proud of him. Andre is publishing his 4th book, how crazy is that? Just to see it from the beginning, from 1982 until now, witnessing the evolution of men, pushing each other and sharing all of our success. All my brothers from the class of 1988. Are you kidding me?! In our class alone there are 3 lawyers, a psychologist, 2 doctors, a published writer, an engineer, all from one class. Twenty or thirty brothers and not one of us in jail, what are the odds of that?! What positive stereotype can you find in this group of men?

Terry, Casey and JoeThere are other brothers that are not in my class that may not have even gone to Girard but still cut from that same cloth that I hold dear, Bernard, Joe R., Tony S., Estes, Terry, Kenny, Mark and especially Paul B. I can’t name them all but make no mistake, we are brothers.

The gang

I couldn’t have a better blessing of influence. I never knew and you will never know how your life will evolve and what brothers will remain in your life. The key thing is that YOU may be that man who people depend on, seek advice from, or just be there when you need them.

Devon

Devon

Our society places value on what’s unimportant, brotherhood is important. Whether it’s fraternal or a group, find yourself some positive brothers that are better than you. It will help you grow and mature.  It helps you understand your core self. It helps you align with people who are moving upwards. All these guys are better than me in some way, and I use their abilities to get better. The people who challenge and push you are not always the people who want to see you fail. At times, I can hear these dudes in my head guiding me; Terry, Doug, Devon and Derrick, that extra conscious when I’m making decisions.

Bernard

Bernard

These are the people who see your potential and know you better than you know yourself. These brothers will be the ones that you think of when “brotherhood” comes to mind.We have a competitive spirit that continually makes us all cohesively better. I credit Girard for that. Girard staff and instructors prepared us all for life. Nothing was sugar-coated and it galvanized our class. It bonded us for the rest of our lives.

Estes and me

Estes and me

Just because you don’t know you father or he’s not a good influence doesn’t indicate that’s how you’ll be as a father. Of these men who are fathers, are great fathers…something most of us didn’t have. As I said, we share a common desire to give our children something we didn’t have a GREAT father. I’ll share my thoughts on my next blog, Fatherhood: 3 of 3.
SAMSUNG

Proverbs 27:17 “So as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpen another.”

 MPM

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Suicide is NOT the answer, option or choice!

First…

I’m not a doctor, psychologist or professional counselor of any type.

I’m just a man. Regardless of my success or failure in life I feel lucky and blessed to be able to live my life.

What I’m sharing is nothing trivial or easily dismissed. I try to speak to young boys of color but for this subject, I want to speak to anyone that is considering suicide.

I don’t care if you’re adopted, an orphan, poor, rich, on drugs, pregnant, failing in school, don’t know who your father is, don’t have any friends, smart, pretty, popular, funny looking, acne faced, disabled, deaf, blind, getting bullied, fat, overweight, lonely, or just confused, you have no reason to give up. When you give up, you give whatever was bothering you, victory. You let it win when you give up, and maybe right now, you’re feeling weak cause you’re thinking about it. Don’t think about it…take a nap, rest, and if you’re still thinking about it when you wake up, I guarantee that the problem won’t be as big as it was before you went to sleep. I’ll tell you why…because the more you suffer and overcome, the stronger you get. Whatever problem you thought was big is only going to get smaller. At the moment you get past this, you’ll feel stronger. You just have to get around, over, through this small problem. Sounds crazy I know, but stop focusing on the problem, stop focusing on the obstacles or hurdles…focus on your life and living and what you’re going to do with it.

I never talked about this, ever, to anyone, ever. It was such a brief thought I guess I want to block it out but it did happen.

At 13 years old, my imagination was limited. I came from an environment where I was the only black kid in my entire grade and now it was the opposite. I was living in Philly, I had just moved from New Jersey and wasn’t adapting well to an all black middle school.  I was nerdy and I didn’t fit in. I wasn’t cool or popular. I was funny looking, I talked proper, I didn’t have any cool tennis sneakers or clothes and was awkward around girls…and on top of that, I actually like playing tennis. Black kid, in the hood, nerdy, and could barely play basketball.

I considered giving up.

My mother’s boyfriend had a pistol and I thought about it. Not seriously thought about it but wondered what would happen. Then at that moment I realized that there was no way I would know what would happen afterwards because I wouldn’t be here…duh! I guess I was too nosey to give up, I wanted to know what would happen in this life of mine.

I had not experienced enough of life to understand how much fun life will be later. Yes there have been some challenges but those challenges make you appreciate life’s journey.

When I say I hadn’t experienced enough of life I mean I had not done the following…

Learned how to drive

Go away to college and be completely poor all through it until I graduated.

Went on a cruise with my uncles to the Caribbean

Fun cruise!

Fun cruise!

Uncles

Uncles

Met the bestest friends a man could have

MyBrothers

MyBrothers

Marched in the Million Man March

Golfed in Cancun, Mexico

I think I put in right in the gulf of Mexico

I think I put in right in the gulf of Mexico

Touched the Will Smith walk of fame, “Change the World”

Will Smith walk of fame

Will Smith walk of fame

Visited the Giddy House in Kingston Jamaica

The giddy house in Kingston Jamaica

The giddy house in Kingston Jamaica

Visited Rio!

Rio

Rio

Bought a house, then bought another house

1stHouse

Drove my mother to an outlet mall and said, “Happy Birthday ma, get what you want.”

Witnessed the happiest times with my favorite family members

BermudasBestTimes

BermudasBestTimes

Became President of the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc. and then the Vice Chairman of the National Organization.

Vice Chairman

Vice Chairman

Skied down a black diamond course on a mountain.

Crazy but fun

Crazy but fun

Stayed in Bermuda at the Premiers house and partied with him and his wife on New Years

Wow!

Wow!

Learned how to sign language…well

Witnessed the election of the first black President…

POTUS

POTUS

Who happens to be cool

Cool POTUS

Cool POTUS

Probably the craziest activity I’ve ever completed…

Zip lined over a rain forest from mountain top to mountain top in Puerto Rico(Horizontal Superman style), I looked really busted in this video…it was a crazy night salsa dancing in Old San Juan, think my teeth look bad too, who cares, that much wind in your face can’t allow you to look presentable.

 

Went to a baseball game

Go Phillies :o)

Go Phillies :o)

Rescued a dog …see picture!—>

Bought my favorite sports car

Feeling good

Feeling good

Treated my friend to a trip to Amsterdam

Amsterdam with Adrian and Doug

Amsterdam with Adrian and Doug

Yeehaaa!

Yeehaaa!

Raced a motorcycle 155 miles an hour

Bought a Range Rover…it’s old, but it still a Range Rover

RangeRover

RangeRover

Met, instructed and certified by one of the most experienced black scuba divers alive, Dr. A. Jose Jones.

Scuba dived to 95 feet, and pet a shark at a depth of 60 ft

Fun

Fun

Went to Vegas

Learned how to fence…sword fight!

Wrestled the 5 time sumo wrestling champion BYAMBA…kinda. He was seriously just playing with me.

TooMuchSake

TooMuchSake

Picked him UP!!

Picked him UP!!

He's still mad at me for picking him up...OWW!

He’s still mad at me for picking him up…OWW!

Held my newborn sister or my friends first-born son.

If it sounds like I’m bragging, I AM!

I could talk about myself all day and you would not be bored…my life is fun! I could not say this at 13 years old. I didn’t even know who I was, and you probably don’t know who or what you could become. You have your whole life to define who you are…get it wrong or right, you have time. Give yourself some time. This is my point, give yourself something to brag about, your life is just beginning why put an end to it because you are having a small problem. No matter WHAT your problems is…it’s small….tiny…itty bitty compared to what’s going to happen in your life. Let it happen, give it a chance.

I was able to experience so much happiness and see different parts of the world because I didn’t give up. It’s not about money, fame or wealth, those things are nice to have but it’s the experience of life. If you ask anyone just after a trip or an experience how much something cost, I bet you they may not be able to tell you, but I promise you that they will remember how they felt about it. I’m a product of North Philly and proud of it. That’s where I started but that’s not where I’ll finish. I didn’t look for the easy way out. I’m not saying that life is easy, but it gets easier. The harder you work the easier it becomes…trust me on that fact. I can’t even remember why I thought about killing myself, I was about 13 years old and whatever the reason was so meaningless to the massiveness of my life now, it’s like comparing a mountain of a life to a grain of sand of a problem. I honestly don’t remember who that person was or what was the issue…I don’t seriously.

Remember I started stating I’m just a man. That’s all I am…nothing perfect about me, I have debt, worries, anxiety and problems but I’m still living my life. Even with all my problems, I wouldn’t trade MY life for anything or anyone else’s life. I wouldn’t trade it for a bullet, a celebrity or any amount of money. I plan on making it better every step of the way. My best days are still ahead of me, marriage, and children are still to come. Your days are just beginning, you can do some many great things. I want you all to be BETTER than me and fill your life with so much more.

Your life’s journey is just beginning. PLEASE don’t consider stopping it before it gets started. Please comment or email if you’re having any problems…I will help you out of the space you’re in, you’re bigger than that space, get out of it.

MPM

“Faith is not about everything turning out OK… Faith is about being ‘OK’ no matter how things turn out.”

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What is a mentor?

men·tor
  [men-ter]
Noun a wise and trusted counselor or teacher, an influential senior sponsor or supporter
First, I shared the dictionary definition.
Now let me share my personal definition of the word mentor. There are various forms of mentoring and mentors but I want to give all of you a full end to end definition of the word. This is my version of the word mentor and how it’s helped me, so when I mention “my youth audience”, I’m talking about my young positive males that need mentoring the most and could possibly be the best mentors themselves. The definition above is the generic term, the more universally accepted term by all. When you see the template embodied…that’s the definition that you see.
A mentor could be anyone…it could be an uncle, a older cousin, a neighbor, corner store employee, the local bum on the street, the alcoholic, the weed-head…wait before you get crazy about the last three I mentioned…let’s go back to the definition. A “wise”, “trusted”, “teacher”, “influential” “senior” …the bum, alcoholic, and weed-head all have something you don’t have…experience. When I was coming up, the local alcoholic, Rodney, would make the neighborhood kids laugh but continuously deter us from any activity that led to his plight. He was the older harmless dude…but when “Bottle Rod”as we called him, would get his daily salve, he would dispense wisdom…sometimes in nuggets…sometimes in bolders.  There was a wisdom about alcohol that he had and I didn’t, but it wasn’t pretty and he didn’t make it pretty but those pebbles help me slide far enough away from the temptation to try a sip prematurely.  Similar to the weed-heads that befriended me because my mothers boyfriend sold nickel bags of weed, back when they were $5.00 in the yellow envelopes.  Yeah I was the younger wide-eyed naïve kid that was always peeping and watching, but these individuals were influential in decisions I would make later in my life. Decisions that would make or break my future…and yes…they came from the “trusted” alcoholics and weed-heads around the way. I had a close family member that was a “functioning alcoholic”. I’m just now coming to terms with that. She always had wisdom, plenty of it, just that when the alcoholic wisdom was in your face and “figuratively” made your nose bleed from the brutal honesty it was something you didn’t forget in short time. Her lessons hit deep and hard, but those lessons applied in my life, allowed me to avoid some of her own pitfalls.  So anyone that has an experience that can share with you without wanting something or having an agenda…SHUT YOUR MOUTH and LISTEN.  When that wisdom is free unfiltered, unabridged….take it!  Don’t look down your nose at someone because they made a bad decision, they could possibly help you avoid making that same bad decision. Let’s be clear…these characters don’t always have the best intentions…so don’t go looking to have sit downs with the unsavory characters in the hood.  Similar to the man that’s dressed in a suit will always be trustworthy, that’s not true! Your new mentor may be just trying to align himself with you to get close to your mother. It’s not always the case, but be careful with any man that’s in a hurry to help you when your mother is around watching. I’m just saying be appreciative and open to receiving wisdom in every vessel.

Now, a mentor should be a person that guides, makes you better. He or she should be someone you look up to that your parent(s) also endorse. Any mentor can come along at any point in your life. He or she doesn’t have to be present or available just when you see them or when you’re under the age of 21.

I’m older but I still have social mentors that are in my community. For example, in 1996 when I started volunteering as a mentor with Concerned Black Men, Inc. (DC Chapter), I looked at Kelvin G. and Edward F. and David J. These three men were the examples that I needed to be the best mentor I could be. They all embodied a collective “perfect mentor” to me. So while I was mentoring youth, I was being mentored by these gentlemen. They were and still are the best examples of men that anyone could want.

I have professional mentors that are influential in my career. I have family mentors that I align with regarding family issues. For example, my uncle, Voshell R. Smith, “Rusty”, has always been my rock, my anchor but career wise, he’s admitted that I’ve surpassed him in a corporate career sense. He’s passed on so much wisdom about people that I still use his examples in every realm of my life. He is and always will be my go to person. Don’t assume a mentor has a place in only one aspect of your life. Use other peoples experiences as your guide, you don’t have to make the mistake again…or the same mistake someone else made.

This is your blog, your forum, ask any questions that may help us both grow as black successful men.

MPM

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