Hall Monitors

Some of you may recall the school hall monitor. This person was assigned to sit in the school hallways and ensure that students were not roaming the halls unauthorized. Or, to ensure that visitors did not lose their way trying to locate a class, etc.

Some people or even situations in our lives serve a similar function as a hall monitor. Let’s go through some examples, begining with your career or job.

One day you wake up and you realize that you have outgrown your job or career. Perhaps there are no meaningful opportunities for career advancement, or there are no positions that you are genuinely interested in. Or, it could be that you need to make more money however your pay structure is fixed, so there’s no negotiating a larger raise, higher commission, or bonus. Aside from these issues, you convince yourself that you can go along with the flow. You persuade yourself each day to “just push through,” or, “just get through the shift.” You’ve learned to grow complacent and even low-key fearful of making the changes that you know you need because it seems like a foreign concept. More than likely you were raised by parents who passed on their “golden watch” mentality on to you. You know, the obligatory mindset of working for the same employer, or in the same job for 20 or 30+ years, only to retire with a commemorative gold watch.

No shade against them for sharing life lessons that kept them and us safe, fed, clothed, with a roof over our heads. However, times have changed, and your needs may be different today. You continue to ignore the signs for whatever your reasons until you meet the one coworker or boss who changes everything. The one who is unlike the others. The one who seems to challenge your very existence and who seems to be intent on making your work-life miserable. Maybe they are overly critical, volatile, difficult to communicate with, disrespectful…or just toxic with a capital ‘T.’ This person is your hall monitor.

Unlike your previous bosses or coworkers, the ones who made your work life tolerable, this person (or people) have come to disrupt the pattern. Truthfully speaking, they have no idea that they are serving you in this capacity. They are legitimately doing them. This is how they show up in the world, and the odds are their unacceptable behavior are not intended to singularly target you. However, you may feel this way because as I pointed out in the beginning, you always knew that it was time for a change. But you became comfortable and you were supported in this complacency until you weren’t. You could make this about them, and figure out ways to deal with them, or avoid them. Or, you could recognize their subconscious role in your life and make the changes that were evident a long time ago.

Next example…relationships. You have convinced yourself that you have a “type.” You are resolute in your convictions about dating this specific kind of person exclusively, whether it be based on their physical attributes, financial or social criteria, etc. Despite having dated this type unsuccessfully in the past, we continue to demand these common traits until we meet the one who is not actually “the one.” It’s the hall monitor. This is the one relationship when everything clicks. You sell yourself on this individual based on their potential. For example, you may convince yourself that this person is successful and has great credentials, despite the fact that they also have the personality of a tick. Or, because they are aware of their ‘high-profile’ status, they flagrantly ignore your value of monogamy by sleeping with everyone possible. You value communication and honesty in a relationship; they consider your desire to talk things out, or perceive your tendency of becoming emotional as intolerable or weak. The time has come that you must accept the fact that the two of you are incompatible, or that your attraction to this person is superficial at best.

This relationship forces you to acknowledge that you need more. Coupled with the fact that you have a room full of reasons and examples which prove this type of person is unavailable, and cannot give you what you need. There is no therapist or preacher that can change the reality that the two of you simply want different things from a relationship or life. Everyone is entitled to the relationship or arrangement that suits them. And because you are the person who is unhappy with how things are going, you may have to be the one to walk away. Or, stop chasing after the other person (e.g., hall monitor), when they attempt to walk away.

The hall monitor shows up to remind us of our intended purpose or path. They alert us when we’re heading in the wrong direction. As illustrated in the previous examples, hall monitors don’t always show up in the form that we recognize because they often bring with them some kind of pain point, or “issue” that we must resolve. We can distract ourselves by focusing on the “personality” of the hall monitor or we can acknowledge their underlying purpose for showing up in our lives. Hall monitor situations often highlight specific areas of opportunities, or circumstances that we can no longer tolerate. The hall monitor or situation may not offer the solution, but they definitely unveil the possibility of finding one. So instead of cursing the situation or person, see them literally as a blessing in disguise, doing a tremendous service to you in the long run.


Pinched Fingers

When I was a little girl (maybe around 5 or 6-years-old), I had a stroller for my baby dolls. I called it a baby buggy. It was an “inherited” item from some other little girl. The buggy was made of metal and was a cheerful pastel yellow or some other appealing color to a child and her dolls. I used to love pushing my dolls in the buggy just like my mom did when my little brother was a baby. I took a lot of pride in having my own “baby” to push down the street too. The buggy was foldable so once I was done playing with it, it could be collapsed and stored away until the next time. In my early efforts to assert my independence, I learned how to collapse the mechanism without Mom’s help. On the few occasions that I did, I would get hurt. As I was closing the buggy, my little fingers and hands would get pinched between the collapsible parts, breaking my skin, causing me to cry. My mom warned me that because I was getting hurt by the buggy (apparently there was a piece that was broken), it was going to need to be thrown away. She reassured me that she would get me something better. But I wanted that one. It was mine.

One morning, as my mom, little brother and I took a shortcut through the alley on route to my school, I saw a familiar sight.  There were three kids who looked like they were a few years older than me, having way more fun than I was on the way to school.  They were ahead of us so I could see them and what they were doing clearly.  They were running and laughing pushing what looked like…

It really looked like they had my…


Was that my…?

Was that my BUGGY?!

I did not want to believe my eyes. The kids WERE IN FACT playing with MY BUGGY! How did they get into our house to take my baby buggy?

My mom clearly made good on her promise to throw it out.  My cherished treasure was thrown away with the trash.  How could she do this to me? Who does this to a little kid?  

What I couldn’t understand and what made me instantly cry was clearly the buggy was not garbage. If it were garbage, then these other kids wouldn’t be able to play with it…to enjoy it as I had done. They couldn’t possibly love the buggy as much as I did. Look at how they were rough-housing with it and pushing it like a toy race car from one child to another. This was no race car or go-cart! This was the transportation vehicle for my dolls. It was MINE, and now they have it. And there was nothing that I could do about it. That buggy had been around as long as my young mind could remember. It was there before many of my baby dolls arrived.

For some odd reason to this day I slightly feel some kind of way about losing something that I loved and wanted to keep. It didn’t make sense then and maybe it doesn’t make sense now, why I had to lose something that I thought that I needed. I definitely wanted to keep it. At the time it seemed unreasonable and unfair that I was forbidden to play with a toy because it was broken and could hurt me. If it was indeed broken, why were those other kids running, playing and having fun with something that belonged to me? If the toy was so dangerous for me, why wasn’t it too dangerous for them to play with? My young mind could not reconcile the injustice of something being taken away from me involuntarily, only to be forced to watch another person have the very thing that I wanted.

I was clearly too young to comprehend that no matter how much you think you want something, if it is broken and it hurts you, you may have to let it go. In hindsight, that would be the first of many valuable lessons about giving up something (or the idea of something, that I thought that I needed and would die without), in exchange for the promise of something better ahead. And to give it up before a suitable replacement was identified.

This lesson would serve me well in numerous facets in my life. Whether it be in the past relationships that I thought I could never live without (not literally, but you probably get my point.) Or, the jobs I was certain I was qualified for only to receive a response informing me that, ‘we have decided to pursue another candidate whose experience is more in line with the position.’ Or, that it took me four attempts before I was able to buy a house. In each one of those scenarios, I was confident that I had found “the one” and there was no suitable alternative or option. This was it.

Until it wasn’t. Each time destiny proved me “wrong”, I revisited the feelings of the little girl whose childhood toy was taken away for someone else to enjoy.

What I have learned is that when something is right for you, the process or overall experience is effortless in comparison to the other situations. If it is a relationship, you no longer need to embark on a solo treasure hunt to locate the other person’s feelings or intentions. You are clear about where you stand; you know your place in the other person’s life and vice versa. There is a level of transparency and honesty that was basically non-existent and essentially off limits in the other relationships. When you find the right house, you’re not immediately thinking of all the ways you will need to settle in order to live there. You know that you have found the right job when your contributions are valued, supported, and recognized.

You rarely if ever have to question whether something is right. Because it will feel right. You will have evidence and facts to support those feelings.

Sometimes you have to let go of things so that you are available for your better. You have to avail yourself to realize your destiny. Destiny needs a receptive vessel to attach to. One that is free of distractions as well as the tradition of holding onto circumstances (or even people) that we have outgrown.

My mom kept her promise and eventually bought me something else that was better than the broken buggy that used to pinch my little fingers. She knew that I deserved better.

Life would eventually prove to me that she was right.

Deep Inside (All We Need is Love)

Earlier this year (pre-COVID or so we think), I took a creative writing class. The following is a short story that I wrote for this class. Let me know if you’d like me to share more of this type of content. Enjoy!

“I’ll have a rum and Coke”, says The Girl to the stranger who just offered to buy her a drink. The place was called Roxie’s, a pub-like club with a lounge area in the front and dance floor in the back. Roxie’s was one of the few night clubs in the city that hosted “college night”, blessing college students (albeit underaged), aspiring club-goers, with the opportunity to party among the young and hippest adults in the city.

Truth be told, The Girl was actually in the club legitimately. She had a valid college I.D., that belonged to her, thus certifying her eligibility to be in the club. The list of club rules did not specifically state that said college student should refrain from voluntary underaged drinking. No harm, no foul; she could pass for 21 (or some thought.) Besides, The Guy was being polite and most likely was not trying to get into her pants. The two of them danced to a series of Crystal Waters, C&C Music Factory, and Deee-Lite songs, which were being churned out by a hyped DJ who was dancing, fist-pumping, and gyrating to the music along with the crowd.

And then it happened. “Deep Inside” by Hardrive came on.

The song pulsates throughout the club from the substantial speakers that were strategically staged around the dance floor. The Guy continues dancing as he slides and shimmies to the bar to secure refills of The Girl’s rum and Coke, and whatever he was drinking. The Girl continues dancing by herself, rocking her hips upward left, and then to the right, “Deep inside, deep inside,” she sings as she twirls around. As she continues to dance to the beat and musical movements of the song, she proclaims this as her “club song.” Meaning that anytime this song comes on, it is mandatory that she dance to it. It is settled.

The Guy returns with The Girl’s drink. The Girl doesn’t particularly like rum, although she enjoys Coca-Cola. She takes a sip and starts to wonder how this combination became a thing in the first place. The Girl had been coming to Roxie’s for a few weeks and actually began detesting the taste of rum and Coke together. However, because she was an underaged-you-have-no-business-drinking-in-the-first-place minor, this was the only alcoholic drink she knew to ask for. The Girl was an amateur who was afraid of getting exposed and thrown out of the club for being…well, a kid. Think about it. If a guy asked her what she wanted to drink, and all she said was “Coke”, or “Sprite”, he might detect her teenaged status, blowing her cover.

The Girl finally sits down to relax and cool off when she glances at her colorful, Picssso-esque Swatch watch. It’s 9PM on a Thursday (also known as a school night.) The Girl jumps up, grabs her jacket and scurries out of the club. The Girl is panicked by the hour-long train ride that awaits her. Her Mom would be home from work at 11PM. The Girl knew better to show up home after her mom and smelling of alcohol. The Girl makes a frantic stop at a McDonald’s across the street from the club before boarding the train. It was a refuge for club goers, commuters, locals, and underage minors who need to sober up before making their way back home.

Back in the High Life (Again)

I don’t know about you but I’ve had to do some serious filtering these past several weeks. Everywhere you turn, we’re talking about sickness and death…literally.

2020 nearly kicked off with a global pandemic that would invariably shut the world down for weeks, or months actually. There was this invisible enemy among us that was making our family, friends, and communities sick. In some cases, this virus claimed the lives of countless people who were just like us, or reminded us of someone we knew. We were in uncharted territory.

Until we weren’t.

As weather temperatures warmed up, and people started venturing outside of their homes socially, there was a swell in racial tensions. We were now dealing with a familiar enemy that has plagued America ever since these lands were “discovered.” It seemed as if you couldn’t escape the news reports, social media stories, and Tweets that highlighted the crimes that seemingly belonged to another era. Certainly we weren’t living in a civilized society-present day, in which regular citizens were intentionally weaponizing law enforcement. And there is no way that in the 21st Century, that any law or elected public official would dare engage in malfeasance that was common place decades ago.

But it was and is happening. And it’s disgraceful. It seems like everyone needs to take or retake some criminal justice, civics, and humanities classes…STAT!

If you judged our society based upon how we were showing up on social media, you have likely decided it is time to ring the alarm. Or as a character in Spike Lee’s movie, “School Daze” yelled towards the end of the film, “WAAAAAKE UUUPPP!”

We all have to decide how we should show up in support of equality and justice for all. However, we must take care of ourselves and our families, loved ones, and communities first. The world will always need helpers, activists, community leaders, etc. If you’re alive right now, you are also needed to fulfill a distinct and unique purpose. And you can’t do it-you won’t do it if you don’t protect your heart, as well as your own best interests.

You may need to take an adult timeout.

Turn off social media or the news for as long as you need to. Read something that invigorates and inspires you. Curate content for its mental and spiritual nutritional value. If the information doesn’t serve you or encourage you in becoming your best self, or help you feel good about your station in life…let it go. Seriously. Drop it. Close the screen, video, book, or whatever in preservation of your health and overall well-being. Limit interactions with “the sky is always falling” people or rhetoric. And if you happen to be the one who has found yourself in a negative headspace, perhaps consider adopting a form of social distancing, by limiting contact with others until you’re able to better process your feelings.

If you’ve been on a quest to find yourself. To reconnect with your purpose and values, I think now is a perfect time to start or continue this journey. If you desire peace or peace of mind, it is yours for the taking. Or, you can allow others or external forces to disturb your zeal. Happiness is literally a solo project. Others can lend a helping hand by making positive deposits into our lives, but the discovery of actual joy-is an inside job.

Be well and be careful out there.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Arthur Ashe, Tennis legend

Living in America

Just maybe when racism no longer takes on a living and breathing form, there will be minimal, if any need to protest or march “on behalf of” anyone.

We don’t need anymore examples of racial disparities. No family is willing to sacrifice a family member or loved one in the name of a movement. In exchange for a street renamed in “memory of”; for candlelight vigils, colorful murals, and “in memoriam” T-shirts.

After someone dies (e.g. murdered) so tragically and inhumanely as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Armaud Arbery, Sean Bell, and Emmett Till to name a few, the spotlight is on. Their names become slogans as communities lift them and their families out of obscurity. These victims no longer belong to their families, as their legacies quickly become co-opted, revered, and even scrutinized.

Who would want this?

We don’t want anymore of our family members, friends, neighbors, or coworkers to Rest In Peace before their time. We would much rather LIVE in peace.

Anger takes on many forms, most of which are unhealthy, unproductive, and destructive. Yet and still anger is a response. It is a bellowing distress call or a plea for help. When past attempts have been ignored. I support peaceful protest and lawful civil disobedience as necessary. I shouldn’t have to state the obvious but because some of us are acting “brand new”, there will always be those among us who capitalize on the opportunity to engage in lawless behavior. Who exploit the misfortune of others, who take advantage of vulnerable situations and people, those who are devoid of any human decency and lack a moral compass.

We can focus on them…those who represent a small percentage of the population because they give those who refuse to believe that water is wet, causation to deflect from the real issue(s) at hand. It’s a “yeah, but.” Or, “see! Told you!”

When someone breaks the law, you arrest and charge them if required. What you don’t do is kill them in cold blood on the street, or in their home, or in their car.

Patriotism is simply defined as the love of one’s country.

This extends to her laws.

This extends to her People.