"Happiness is not a precondition of our daily life, in fact it is not a rite of passage that one somehow acquires and the world ends when that is somewhat altered by life challenges. As a society we are taught to be resilient, keep our heads up and push through the difficult times. But very seldom are we taught that it is ok to be sad, to cry, to be vulnerable and stand in the authentic moment of what we're feeling. There is no shame in being vulnerable; the weakness lies in not having the confidence to say I'm not ok.
How do we embrace sadness?
Here are three ways:
1. Become one with the existence of your truth that your feelings of sadness means that you are human. 2. Find peace with gratitude and appreciation, and embrace the gift of insight and connectedness that is the very discovery of our inner feelings of honesty and awareness. 3. "Sadness is not the end of our existence but can be the death of our soul." Rashida Costa
Now that you are in a place of awareness and honesty, the key is to face it head on. Doing so in your own time, terms and within the comfort of mental space that is safe for you. With that being said, sadness is an emotion not a broken piece of object that necessitates repair. Thus it is not always an interminable experience, sometimes it is short-lived, and it is perfectly ok to give yourself permission to feel without the pressure of feeling that you need fixing.
It is important to remember that we are all humans with a wealth of emotions, it is not sunny every day, and like the world is faced with seasonal changes all year round, we are faced with the very thing that makes us human, our feelings and emotions. Embrace your feelings, don't reject them. Even sad feelings are worthy of appreciation and nurturing, not just the happy ones. If you are feeling like things are just outside of your control, talk to someone. There is strength in sharing and togetherness.
Intrinsically a leader leads with others beside them, not behind. It is not possible to catch others when they fall if they are behind you, and that is part of what a leader does. Where do you find leaders? They are in our schools, the workplace, churches, government, and organizations of all sorts and even in our homes. As a parent, when your child begins to walk, you do not walk ahead of them, do you? When they are taking their first step, you are right there guiding them along. Yes, at some point you take a step back and allow room for their growth and autonomy, but you are right there to catch them if they begin to fall. As you lead others, notwithstanding your role or the area of leadership you find yourself in, consider the aforementioned analogy. Insofar as the broadness of this subject, I am going to tailor this to leaders in the workplace. An unsurpassable degree of frequency is observed in leaders leading achingly with no sense of direction for the very people they are leading. Throwing their employees to the wolves to fend for themselves, unnervingly expecting them to bring them back something as well. As a leader, it would be reasonable to expect that if you are asking others to jump head first into the deep end of the ocean, that you are adept at navigating those waters yourself. Ergo, prior to giving the command to jump, do you have a life jacket? Are there sharks in the water? Do you have a compass for me? Oh great wow! You do have a compass, thank you! Should I be considered well equipped for sea, boss? There is only one little problem, while I am enrapt by your kindness, I was not provided on the job training to use a compass, nor was I told I would be required to utilize one as part of my job demands and or description. You get the point! I am a firm believer in the fact that problem identification is the key, but you have to use that key to unlock the door to solutions. So what do I suggest? Here are a few tips to consider when leading others in the workplace:
Are my expectations realistic and in alignment with what the job entails?
Is the deadline imposed upon my employees reasonable?
Have I set them up for success?
Do they have the necessary tools, training and resources to execute the task that is being asked of them?
Is this really a priority right now or have I gotten lost in a power thrust?
Are the job duties being assigned equitable across the board for all employees?
Am I requiring more work of my employees than their respective agreed upon schedule allows them to complete? If not, was it understood that they may be required to take work home or work hours outside of their normal work hours?
Am I an exemplar or a dictator?
These tips are instrumental, as a leader it is highly obligatory to lead by example. The do what I say not as I do mentally is not only disrespectful but it is counterproductive. A great leader knows that having a team of loyal, happy, dedicated and well-informed employees is the best recipe for success. It also never hurt to say thank you for all you do. “A leader leads with open arms, they are not afraid to catch you if you fall.” Rashida Costa
So often in life we develop a fixation on what we don’t have, and we forget to say thank you. This special day is not only a day to feast, but it is a day of prayers and gratitude. As you munch on your tasty pumpkin pie, take a moment to weigh in your mind what it is you are grateful for. Appreciate the people you love, and the people that love you. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
“Gratitude does not have a season, instead it has a reason you must cherish.” Rashida Costa
“Child rearing and career pursuit is the perfect timing.” It has often been said that having children will change your lives forever. That is very fitting with my reality. The joy is that it changes for the better. That is really the time when you can have it all. So why do so many women fall short of continuing to pursue their dreams once they have hit motherhood? Motherhood and homeschooling my sons has provided me with these top 8 rewards:
I Get To Be My Children’s Biggest Role Model.
Children live what they learn. They tend to do what they see you do, not what you tell them to do. I found this out the hard way this summer when I reminded my ten year old to finish working on his science project. In a true ten year old fashion, he looked at me and said, “It’s on my to do list. I will get to it.” and went on with his life. I sat there not knowing whether to laugh or cry, in an undertone that only could be heard by my lips. Making every effort to refrain from speaking out loud, the conversation with myself began. Where on earth did he get this attitude from? He appeared so serene. O.K. Rashida, the conversation needs to happen, not a lecture, but a talk. As I mustered up the courage for what Mr. Smart Alec might declare next. I made my son’s favorite, hot chocolate, and joined him on the couch for a chat. What happened next literally rocked my world. This mirrors precisely the way it went: “So Antares, why do you think it is O.K. to add your science project to your to do list?” He gave me one of those “You have got to be kidding me” looks. His response sent shocking waves of astonishment through my black top hat. I don’t think that I was prepared, or could have been prepared, for what my ears would hear next. My ten year old looked me dead in my eyes and said, “What is the big deal about me adding my science project to my list, didn’t you add your research paper to your to do list during your last class, and didn’t complete it until your teacher sent you a reminder? Well, Mommy Tree Frog, thanks for the hot chocolate, and now that you have reminded me, I guess I will complete my project now.“ This was an aha moment that really hit home. There I was holding my son accountable when all along I myself had not been accountable, and not only did he call me out on it, the profound message I got from that was, “watching you, Mom.” And with that message came the lesson of, “Mom, I am not going to do what you tell me to do, but what I see you do.” At this juncture in my life, I am happy and fulfilled. Raising my sons’ while I pursue my career has never been better. My oldest son had a horrible kindergarten teacher; that, amongst other unpleasant experiences with the school system, was the key factor in my husband and I deciding that homeschool was best. There is always that one bad apple in the bunch, although in this case it was a few! It has been quite a riveting experience to take this path together as my son is on his journey of academic pursuit, and I too continue to pursue my career as a writer and actress, as well as my Master’s degree. What better time to be on a journey as mother and son, than this precious time that will be treasured for years to come. I love to dote on my boys, but being afforded the opportunity and honor to work side by side with my ten year old while chasing my 9 month old around, and to be able to demonstrate a strong work ethic and be a present role model, leaves nothing more to desire.
So it is always nice to work and succeed as a team. In college I was not the biggest fan of group projects as there is always that one person that is late turning in their portion, but the end result of a good grade was rewarding for the team’s hard work. It is no different raising your child and pursuing your career. Together we are able to work really hard and commit to the challenges that present themselves; but what is even better is that a celebratory night at the restaurant is not only about dad getting a promotion, or me getting another piece of work accepted for publication, but our son also celebrating his honor roll. And our youngest achieving yet another milestone. These precious gifts makes for a fun playdate that involves the entire family.
We Fail and Succeed Together.
It is a great opportunity to fail together. Yes, I embrace failure. When we fail at something, and we do all the time, it is a happy moment because I have taught my son that behind that failure is a lesson. My consciousness is still trying to keep up with the reality that I have 2 children’s books that was accepted for publication. One scheduled for publication and the other in production. My husband said, “You are one determined cookie.” The thing is that I did not allow the rejection letters to discourage me; in fact I found them rather motivating. The belief in myself and my manuscript was only the start, but the energy and joy of sharing this journey with my sons is really what kept me submitting those manuscripts until someone said yes. I know my oldest is watching me, and I don’t recall the last time I saw him crumble when a math problem was too difficult. Even during his recreation time, he keeps pursuing that next level on his game or his Legos, no matter how many times he gets smacked down. Not to mention how progressive it is to observe my son during the end of the academic quarter, as he no longer panics. Adequate preparation and past shortcomings have prepared us for that eventuality. Similarly, he said recently, “Mom, you no longer get nervous about meeting your deadlines, or opening a response from a publisher.” And it was funny, because together we yelled, “Why? TIME MANAGEMENT, HARD WORK AND DETERMINATION ROCKS!” The neighbor probably thought we were going crazy!
Raising my children is one of the most immeasurable blessings on this earth, and the opportunity to develop our skills and abilities in order to be of service doing what we love only adds to an already wonderful experience. It often breaks my heart when I hear women say “I wanted to have a career in this field but I was unable to because I had kids and so that took care of that.” This is a subjective experience, with that being said, if it is a desire to have a career, then go for it! My experience is that children are not a hindrance, but a great addition to your journey and experience. It is certainly a fuzzy feeling when we all get together for our nightly family huddle. Everyone at the table has something valuable to share. In addition to the wonderful job of being a mom and a wife, I get to sit there and share in the joy of my husband’s day at work, my son talks about his day, my nine month old squeals in delight and I am thrilled when the floor is mine. There is something other than the laundry and dishes to talk about. Slow down a second, I know you are saying, “She did not just say that! I did!” Being a stay at home mom and wife is a highly rewarding job. We stay at home moms do not get enough credit, period! But let’s face it, whether you stay at home or you work outside of the home, the dishes could not care less, they must be done. So yeah, it is nice to have something else to talk about than the stinking dishes. Of course, this is a personal choice. What is right for me may not be what is right for you, and vice-versa. The important thing is to be honest and happy in your choice, and your kids will be too.
We Keep Each Other Honest.
Far too many times we are dishonest in our feelings. A big one for me is saying I am fine when I’m not. Kids do it too. I take pleasure in this journey with my son because it keeps our communication and relationship honest. My memories take into consideration that entire year, when I would pick up my son from kindergarten, and I would say, “How was your day?“ He would say, “Fine.” I knew he was not fine. In turn, I was also guilty of the crime of hiding my feelings when he asked me, “How was your day, Mommy?” I would say, “Fine.”, when in fact I had a miserable day, cried my way home after having lunch with him, and watching him walk off in the line on the way back to hell’s pit. Or those moments when I really should be crunching to meet a deadline but I say yes to the idea of a night out courtesy of my husband. I love it, because my ten-year-old is the first to yell out, “We can’t tonight Daddy, Mommy still has to finish her project.” And in case you are wondering if there is there a down side to being on this journey with my little grown man… YES, YOU CANNOT GET AWAY WITH WHITE LIES! He has ears like antennae, and my husband will walk through the door and say, “How was your day?” And my favorite response, “Fine….” The walls’ ears will bleed from my son screaming, “NO SHE’S NOT!” Is that really a bad thing? I think not; it is wonderful that I too am blessed to share in his day and his experience. Too many children have bad days at school and sometimes their response to “How are you?” is simply-“Fine!” Hence, this is one of my most treasured rewards as a mom on this journey with my sons yet.
The Weekends Are Awesome, Monday Morning is Even Better.
I never thought the day would come when I would say this, but I love Monday mornings! As a kid growing up, all the way to adulthood, I have always detested Mondays. I have stayed at home with my oldest since he was born. Once he became of school age, my hate of what I like to call “The Big M” got even worse. Seriously what’s to love? Watching my little prince whisk off to school and my husband off to work. This is still the case today, with one key difference; on Monday mornings the entire family is happy. Why? Well why not? We are all starting the week off doing what we love. There is no greater joy that I have found in life than to be able to do what I love with transparency, authenticity, and passion. To be able to share in that with my kids is an experience I relish. As humans we are all vulnerable. The biggest thing for me is to share my vulnerabilities with my children through strength. If we have a bad day on a Monday, we might cry for one minute, but we laugh for an hour. It is without variation I continue to develop myself and explore new territories, and being able to homeschool my son while I pursue a career is a fun ride with endless possibilities. I always joke with him that he will one day have to attend career day, and in the unlikely event I stop loving what I’m doing, we will attend as prospective candidates. The beautiful ending is yet to be written, but we are taking notes along the way, and in the end we get to say we made it, and we did it together!
It is not enough to simply want success. That is too broad of a concept, what is success? What is it you want? Speak it out loud, words are powerful. Have you ever gone grocery shopping when you are starving and worst forgot your shopping list? Guilty as charge, everything on the aisle looks good. Only to get home and realized that half of the crap I brought home served as an immediate gratification, now what? Your dreams and goals are no different. When you lack direction and a sense of purpose, your life will remain in constant limbo. Is procrastination the reason you have not taken that initial step towards your goal? No need to worry, help is on the way!
I sat in the meeting with the parents and members of the school board, my sole interest and concern was the student’s best interest, and that is they belong in school getting their education. These students were not afforded equality. Everyone is deserving of an education regardless of their skin color. I see us as a group of crayons. There is no rank or degree of importance with one crayon over another. They are all colors with a purpose to express.
The same way regardless of our skin color, we are all humans created in different ways, locations, and at different times, but underneath it all, we all breathe life. The nation is torn apart and divided by race. Everything seems to be about race these days. The agendas of Political figures, agendas of criminal justice officials, agendas of education officers, agendas of religious leaders, agendas of children playing on the playground, agendas of distributors and where they place certain products in the stores. You get the point I could go on and on. I am not here to dispel these perceptions as myths, they are unfortunately our reality. At the end of the day, we just need to live in unity and get along, People are like crayons, they both come in many different shapes, forms, and colors, but they all have one thing in common and that is expression. While people express themselves, they all do it differently. A pink crayon does not give the same expression as that of a white crayon. However, a box of crayon has many different colors, regardless of what color one may choose, they will all either write or draw. It is disappointing that race plays such an important factor in this world. Have you ever watched a group of children doing a coloring activity? They all enjoy using different colors, at the end of it all they create a work of art that they love, and one that is meaningful to them. Is it ok for little jack to tell little Sarah that her work of art is inferior because she choose to create it using a red crayon, and he choose a green crayon? I once worked with a group of children and their attorney; these children were expelled from the Sierra High school in Colorado Springs, following a brawl. e end of it all, we are all equal. We are all a group of colorful crayons, beautiful inside and out.