Friday, May 31, 2013

0 Life is Bigger than You!

If the era of social media has showed be anything, it's that some people LOVE to complain. Better yet, it's not so much that they love to complain, it's that they love the attention they get from it.

Now I can see if you're at least funny when talking about your problem, then it can be seen as comedy. Or if you're just explaining stressful issues to a close friend, significant other.

But in many cases, I see people who CONSTANTLY make these, self-centered, small-minded, useless complaints like:

"OMG, the ice cube dispenser in my refrigerator is broken... WTF why is life so hard?" 


"My parents bought me a 16GB Ipad 3 instead of an 20GB Ipad 4... FML."

Ponder on this for a second: Did you ever just think about the miracle of your existence?

Like how you went from being just a "gleam in you daddy's eye" to a growing, fully-functioning human being? Or did you think about how your body is a like a machine in which each organ works in conjunction with all of the others, or just thing about this...

We live on a BIG, FLOATING ROCK in space, revolving around a huge ball of gas, fire and hotness. (That's the most scientific description of the sun that I could come up with). 

If that doesn't make you see that the world is much bigger than you then I don't know what will.

So be grateful and positive toward life and stopping putting so much negative energy out into the world, and the best course of action for when you have a problem that you can control is: 

What makes you think that other people want to hear about your problems? 

We've all problems of our own!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

0 Y.O.L.O... For real

"Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows." -Pope Pius VI

“Don't you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you're not taking advantage of it? Do you realize you've lived nearly half the time you have to live already?” -Ernest Hemingway

"Now she got a photo, you already know though, you only live once, that's the motto... Y.O.L.O./ And we bout it every day... like we're sittin' on the bench... We don't really play." -Drake

... OK, despite how unoriginal, overused and lame that Drake line seems nowadays, it is still a very powerful statement.

The problem is that although we know that we only have one life to live, many of us claim to value life, yet we lack one very important quality: A sense of urgency.

Urgency is what makes us to things now rather than holding them off until later. It is rooted in a deep understanding of the value of time.

Now, I know that those reading this who know me personally probably find it ironic that I, of all people, would be the one to talk about urgency.

I haven't always been the most urgent guy... Long story short, I'm that friend that if we're going to a party at 8pm, you'd better tell me it starts at 7:45.

Yet, as I grow older, I increasingly see the importance of time and having a sense of urgency because I realize that we really don't have as much time as we think.

I realized this a few days ago when I was alone and I asked myself, "When the heck did I grow up so fast?"

These days I'm applying to jobs, trying to understand personal branding, marketing, finance, and countless other things.

Yet, it seems like just yesterday that I was 7 years old, and the toughest problem in my life that I was trying to figure out was how to beat the "Boulder Dash" level of the PlayStation game, Crash Bandicoot.

Remember this?

What I'm realizing more and more is that time flies by and we have to live our lives accordingly.

One of my favorite examples of a person with a productive sense of urgency, is none other than this guy... 

Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur was one of the the most talented, passionate, profound hip-hop artists of his generation. Yet, for most of his career, Tupac felt that he wouldn't live very long.

This was because he was outspoken, had unconventional views, and made some powerful enemies in his rise to fame.

So what did Tupac do? Tupac would record multiple songs a day, he'd write raps whenever he got free time, when he'd go to the studio and everyone would be partying and drinking be the one to get everyone back on task.

Although Tupac died at the young age of 25, he did more in his life than some people who live to be 50.

He's had seven solo albums come out since his death, and subsequently cemented his legacy in not only hip-hop, but music in general.

"The only thing that can kill me is death, that's the only thing that can ever stop me... and even then my music will live forever." -Tupac Shakur

Now I'm not saying we all should plan for it to all be over and get ready to head to that "upper room" that Eddie Murphy hilariously referred to in the movie Life... 

Warning: Explicit, yet hilarious language.

But we have to keep in mind is that if there's anything that it certain in life, it's that it doesn't last forever. Therefore we have to honor the time that we have here by using it efficiently and being urgent about the things that are important.

As the leader of the Rat Pack, "Chairman of the Board", and late, great vocalist Frank Sinatra once said, 
"You only live once, and the way I live, once is enough."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

0 Stay Hungry!!!

"The key to staying on top of things
is treat everything like it's your first project...
Like it's your first day... as an intern... just stay hungry"
-Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace

Last year, when I watched the acclaimed film, The Dark Knight Rises, I heard one of the characters say something that struck me. 

It's from the scene where Bane, the villain of the movie, first fights Batman, and realizes how ineffective Batman's attack on him is. He says:

"Peace has cost you your strength! Victory has defeated you."

We all know that there's no feeling quite like the one that we get when we are victorious at something. Whether it's getting a good grade on a test, winning a game, earning a lot of money, or any small moment of triumph throughout our lives.

The emotional high which we receive from success can be a good thing. But for some people it can be a bad thing.

For some, success gives feelings of complacency, and in some cases, entitlement. The problem with this is that, without even noticing it, many people let their success lead to their downfall.

Think of how many people let success go to their head, then think of all of the people were once big names because of their success and are now nearly forgotten. In many cases, it is because of this feeling of being comfortable with what they've done. 

What we all have to realize is that our talent, skill and hard work may get us to the top, but our consistency is what will keep us at the top.

Also, we cannot get caught up in excessively looking back at our past successes because with both positive and negative events in our lives, we have to move on in order to grow.

It's ok to be proud of your work and happy about your accomplishments, but after a while you have to move on to something bigger and better. No one wants to be a one-hit wonder.

Not even him.

Getting comfortable in success is also something which I have be careful about myself. 

In the past few years, I've been blessed to achieve success in numerous things, and just couple weeks ago, I graduated with my Masters Degree at the age of 23, becoming one of the few people in my family to earn that degree, as well as being the youngest one to do so.

(I also reached 2,000 pageviews on this blog today... just saying) 

When I graduated, I was happy, proud... and I even was a little emotional at the graduation ceremony. However, the main thing in my mind was the question of, "OK, what's next?"

I know that I still have to work hard to do bigger and better things, and I admit, sometimes I slip up and get too comfortable in my success too, but every day is a chance to improve and to grow.

As the legendary musician Jon Bon Jovi once said, "Don't get too comfortable with who you are at any given time - you may miss the opportunity to become who you want to be."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

0 You're not bored, you're boring

"I'm bored, where's the party?"

"It's so boring here!"

Sound familiar?

When I think of the word "Boredom" I think back to when I was 5 years-old, during that seemingly eternal half hour between me finishing my homework and before my favorite show at the time, "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" came on.

Since my high school years, my mind has usually been occupied with something. My curiosity and fascination with various aspects of life didn't allow to be bored. So, today as an adult, it really bothers me when I hear other adults complain about being bored.

I think to myself, "Where are all of these grown people getting all this time to be bored?"

Then, it hit me; a person's idea of boredom has a lot to do with a person's perception of what is "fun" or exciting.

The truth is that many people have severely limited themselves on what they find exciting and fun. They don't try a lot of new things and they fear taking risks. Therefore, the problem may not always be boring circumstances. The problem may be boring people.

As the writer, Eric Hoffer once said, "When people are bored, it is primarily with themselves."

For small children, boredom can be seen as a part of the development of the imagination. But for adults, boredom is just a symptom of small-mindedness.

There is so much to do in the world, so many things to see, and so many new things to try. To say "I'm bored" is just a way of mentally forfeiting many of the great things that life has to offer, and one of those things is the process improving ourselves.

As human beings, we are works in progress, so we could always learn more, do more, grow more and become more.

When one looks at life in that perspective, which is one of constant improvement of not only oneself, but of one's surrounding environment, it becomes clear that to being bored is irrational.

Here are three productive habits a person could pick up to easily avoid boredom:

1. Reading- Reading is a crucial to a person's intellectual growth. If a person gains an interest in reading and learning more, it becomes sort of an addiction, except its a healthy addiction. As Malcolm X once said, "You will not catch me with a free 15 minutes, in which I’m not studying something...I could spend the rest of my life reading... I didn’t go to college, my alma mater was books."

2. Work out- A person's physical health is just as important as their intellectual health. By working out and living a healthy lifestyle, we help to ensure that we get the most out of life while avoiding many ailments and diseases. 

3. Spend time with your family- Do we really spend enough time with our family these days? Another day isn't promised to anybody, spend time interacting with family members as well... especially older people, they usually have great deal of wisdom and knowledge to pass on.

When a person really understands what life is really worth, and wants to gain the most of it, the concept of boredom becomes nearly incomprehensible.

So get up, get out, learn something, do something new, meet new people, learn a new skill, lend a helping hand, because life is far too short to waste it on being bored. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

0 The Case of the "Crazy" Celebrity

It's a scenario we've become all too familiar with. A celebrity has their stint in the limelight, and before we know it they become the center of attention, not for their talent, but for their misfortune.

This misfortune can be trouble with the law, erratic behavior, controversial comments/actions, drug problems, sometimes it can all of them combined.

After a while, the general consensus becomes: "Well, I guess (insert celebrity's name here) has gone crazy." 

Yet, for many people, that's when the real show begins.

We laugh at them, comedians make jokes about them, tabloids exaggerate stories about them and TMZ has a field day with them. But no one stops and thinks, "What if that was me?"

What if it were you that the media was talking about 24/7? What if you were constantly being publicly criticized for nearly everything you did?

What if you had your privacy invaded and had people asking you questions about your personal life every time you went out in public?

Don't get me wrong, this isn't meant to be me speaking on pedestal or to say that some celebrities aren't directly responsible for the controversies they face.

What I'm saying is that celebrities are people too. They make mistakes, they go through things emotionally and psychologically. But the difference between us and them is that they have money and millions of people watching them.

A prime example of this can be seen in the recent controversy surrounding actress Amanda Bynes. Bynes was once a promising young actress and in her younger years, she was a stand-out talent on Nickeloden.

But in the past year, she's fallen on some hard times, she's been in the news for alleged drug issues and other legal issues, as well as various episodes of erratic behavior.

Now it's quite obvious that Amanda Bynes is someone who is going through a lot mentally, yet the world simply sits back and enjoys the show.

Her story isn't that different from that of Kat Williams, Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, and many others.

What these people really need is help, not news coverage.

Yet, whats really wrong with this is that some of the same people who laugh and make a spectacle out of celebrities' misfortune are the same ones who idolize them when they die as a result of their stress.

Need an example?

Look no further than the "King of Pop" himself, Michael Jackson. 

He was another person who was demonized, and portrayed as "crazy" in the media, and even accused of false crimes, and what did many of us do? We fed into it.

We couldn't understand why he seemed so different from us. We didn't know why he chose to dress, talk and act the way he did, we just let the media write him off as being "crazy", as being a "rapist" and a child molester. Those controversies are believed to have intensified many of Jackson's drug problems, which is directly related to his untimely death.

Yet, after he died, everyone became Michael Jackson fans again. After we recognized how talented he really was since he was no longer with us, many of us started to say, "Hey, maybe Michael wasn't as bad as they made him out to be." 

Does anyone see a big problem with this?

Why does it take for a person to die for us to have some type of empathy for them? 

Why don't we question the reasons behind people's controversy while they are alive?

Why do we let the media control our opinion of public figures and why is the media so quick to tear these people down?  

Lauryn Hill, another troubled star whom many people have deemed "crazy", said it best in her song Superstar: 

"Just as Christ was a superstar... They'll hail you, then they'll nail you, no matter who you are."  

Maybe these celebrities that the media are always talking about aren't the main ones who are "crazy", maybe something else is "crazy", like society.

Maybe the entertainment industry itself is a bit twisted and maybe America's obsession with the personal lives of celebrities is strange. 

How about we try to focus on handling our own personal issues?  

Or what if we stop paying so much attention to celebrities and start paying more attention to the people in our lives that matter, like our families?

Or maybe I'm just talking crazy.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

0 Edinboro University: My journey for excellence

On the morning of August 25, 2007, at the age of 17 years old, my life changed forever.

I remember the day vividly; I gave a hug to my parents and little brother as they got in the car to leave the parking lot of Lawrence Towers. My then-nine year-old brother, usually the family jokester, uncharacteristically had tears’ swelling up in his eyes.

The sad look on his usually laughing face, showed that it was finally sinking in that it was time for the person closest to him, whom he’d been around every day of his life, to go away to college.
As they drove away down Perry Lane and disappeared in the distance, I stood in the parking lot and for the first time in my life, I felt like I was an adult.

The first thought that popped into my head was, “Well, you’re here, now what are you going to do?”
At that moment I felt numerous emotions at once, I felt fear, anxiety, excitement (once I realized there were beautiful women nearly everywhere), yet most of all, I felt like I had something to prove.

Many of my high school classmates were going to the bigger schools like Temple and Penn State. I knew that I wasn’t going to a “big school”, but I had “big school” mentality.To me, it didn’t matter that Edinboro University wasn’t a big name school because in Edinboro University, I saw opportunity, I saw a unique experience waiting to happen, and I chance to grow into the person whom I was destined to become.

I didn’t come here not looking to live off of the legacy of EUP, I came here to help build a legacy for EUP.
Hopefully, I was successful in achieving that goal. But if I was, it wasn’t just because of me, it was because of the people who help us every day.

So, I’d like to thank all of the professors, staff and administrators who work hard to give us the best educational experience possible.Thanks to all of the housekeeping staff, the facilities staff, the food services workers, who keep this place running smoothly.

Also, I’d like to thank all of the people who work within our campus organizations to make this campus better, including those within Residence Life, Greek Life, SGA, many others, and last but certainly not least, our campus media.

Thanks to the students who may not be involved with any particular organization but work hard to improve this University.

And thank you to all of the wonderful people from different walks of life that I’ve been blessed to meet here.

At the age of 17, when my journey first began at Edinboro, I asked myself, “What are going to do?”

Now, at the age of 23, approaching the “real world” and getting closer to end of my Edinboro journey as a grad student, I have to admit, I sometimes ask myself the same question.

Yet, the answer to the second question is the same as the answer to the first, that is: Make the most of it.

I’ve learned many things at Edinboro University, but one of the best lessons that I learned was to make the most of what you have. That means making the most of your resources, your environment, your opportunity to learn, your friends, and most importantly, your time, because eventually, all things must come to an end.

Yet, the end of one journey is just the start of a new one.

I’ve been honored to have taken part in such a remarkable journey here and no matter where I go throughout my life, I will always cherish the moments I’ve had here, and  I don’t care how corny or clichéd it might sound now, but great things do happen here.

Thank you, Edinboro.

Friday, May 10, 2013

2 Health is a journey, not a destination

Life is going to throw many things at us which we are unable control. Yet, in many cases, our health and fitness isn't one of them.

Yes, family history, environmental factors play a role, but in most cases, no one plays a bigger role on our health than ourselves. One of the most prevalent, yet avoidable health problems in the US related to the standard American lifestyle is obesity.

According to the medical journal, PLoS Medicine, obesity is a leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., causing an estimated 200,000 deaths annually. It contributes to countless diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers.

Many of us have seen family members and even some friends be plagued by these health problems. In recent years, this has made me become more health-conscious than ever. 

I've read countless health books, I had a gym membership back at home in Philly, I even went vegetarian a few times in the past few years, yet, I face a problem which many people face when it comes to getting healthier.

But do you know what my number one problems is?: INCONSISTENCY

... And that word is in bold for a reason, because when it comes to health and fitness, I can be one of the most inconsistent people in the world.

For example: One day, I drank a blended kale smoothie at 5pm, and ate chocolate chip cookies at 6pm...

Yeah, chocolate chip cookies can be a problem.

This guy know what I'm talking about...

On top of that, I'd allow myself to become lax in my diet, I'd skip workouts, and just begin to succumb to generally laziness... and I believe that when you allow yourself to be lazy with one aspect of your life, such as health and wellness, it starts to play a role on other aspects of your life as well.

So, I'd like to invite you all to join me on a journey of creating the habit of living a healthy lifestyle. 

In addition to all of the other stuff that I write about society, entertainment, (or whatever topic is on my mind that week) I also I'll share recipes, nutrition tips, workouts, discuss some of my role models as it pertains to fitness, etc.

But as I share my progress I'd like for you all share yours as well, so, just shoot me an email at sharing steps which you are taking to live a healthier, more active lifestyle, and I'll share them on my posts

Or, you can share in the comments section of my posts.

... and let me make it clear that this isn't a race, nor is it a competition, because when we take steps towards a healthier, more active lifestyle we all win.

But first, we have to leave some of these common excuses at the door:

1. I don't have time to workout

One of the main things which I learned in college is that people make time for what they want to do. We make time for TV, video games,  social networking, etc. That means that we can take time to dedicate ourselves to something IMPORTANT.

And for those people who are too busy being productive to take care of themselves, the same applies to you. What's the point of being busy if you aren't healthy enough to enjoy the rewards which you gain from your work? Make time, you'll thank yourself later.

2. It costs too much to eat healthy

Yes, some high-quality foods are pricey. Yet, in later blog posts, I'll talk more about inexpensive healthy foods. But we have to remember that our health is the most worthy investment in the world. 
As the rapper Stic. Man from the group Dead Prez once said, "Food is costly, but being sick is more expensive."

So join me on this journey of growth, improvement and development. I'm sure it'll be worth the time.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

0 The Injustice of Indifference

Recently, I was on Facebook, when I came across something that disgusted me...Well actually, that happens pretty often, but I digress.

I saw a status written by a young women who apparently discussing  her previous night out, she said:

"Ugh I'm definitely going to be banned from all Philly cabs or be the target of a terrorist attack at some point. I totally told this dbag cab driver to go back to his own country last night lol"

But I wasn't so much surprised that she would post something like that, after all, America hasn't come that far in terms of cultural sensitivity and acceptance.

And just because this guy is in office doesn't mean that everything's cool either.

What shocked me even more were the reactions to what she said, one of her friends commented, "USA USA USA", while another responded, "Haha, this just made my day."

I sat and thought to myself, "How should I respond to something like this?" 

Then, I began to think of how many times I've been in arguments with people via Facebook for similar things and at the end of the day, it just seemed to be a waste of time.

That made me ask myself, "Should I respond to this?"

So, I did what most people of my generation does when they face a dilemma... 

I made a Facebook post about it. 

I informed my friends of these comments and asked for their advice on what I should do. One said, "I think you need to say something... A lot of people who say stuff like that think they're in the majority... They think it's the status quo."

I responded, "Yeah, but I just hate arguing with people who don't even know why their wrong."

What he said next had a profound effect on me, here's what he told me: 

"Don't say something because it's fun [or convenient], say something because its important."

At that moment, I realized that I almost fell into the trap of apathy and indifference which many Americans fall into when it comes to issues of discrimination.

Far too often we only speak up against wrongs which only affect us or those close to us, but won't speak out for the people who don't belong to the groups to which we belong. Thinking about this, I figured I had to say something, I said:

"I know that I don't usually comment on your stuff but this is offensive. If he was a jerk, call him a jerk. But the 'terrorist' and the 'go back to your country" stuff was uncalled for."

Minutes later she responded:

"That's the whole point, I was a little tipsy, I'd never say anything like this sober. That's the joke, dude."

Yet, this dude (me) didn't see the joke. So, I then responded with the following: 

"Being tipsy isn't a free pass to be offensive (or to make light of it the next day). If anything this is something you DON'T want to share because judging from some of the responses on this post, some people think this kind of stuff is ok ... If someone told me, 'Go back to Africa' (which is a lovely place, by the way lol) I'd be offended, whether that person was sober or not... I'm not judging/criticizing you personally, I'm just against what you said."

Mysteriously, as I posted that comment, her page disappeared and I saw this:

Most likely, this meant I'd been deleted, blocked, or both. But either way I was happy that I stood up for a just cause.

Most people believe in ignoring things like that, or just writing people off as being ignorant. Yet, how does that help to stop the behavior in question?

Some people might say, well "They're not talking about me." But when I hear that I often think of some wise words that one of my mentors, a sociologist by the name of Dr. Werner Lange once taught me. They were the words of a German minister named Martin Niemoller, who commented on the indifference of German intellectuals during the rise of the Nazis, he said:

"First they came for the communists,and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me."

We all have a human responsibility to speak out against injustice and unfair treatment of other people, whether its on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, class, sexual orientation, political beliefs, etc.

Writer, and Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel once said, "The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference." When we turn a blind eye to injustice and become indifferent and apathetic to the struggles of those who are culturally different from us, we indirectly contribute to injustice.
It is OUR job be to agents for love and truth to truly stand up for the principles of "Liberty and justice for ALL", because authentic liberty and justice cannot exist without genuine love and truth.

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