As We Look Ahead

February 29 - extra day

As we look ahead, let’s remember to stay on track

This is leap year and though February 29th isn’t my birthday, I think it is the perfect day for us to do some reflection and planning. Yes, I know you made resolutions in January and you’re either way ahead or they’ve have fallen by the wayside—either way, February 29 is the perfect day to get back on track.

First, as I watched clips from the Kobe and Gianna Bryant tribute earlier this week, I was moved by many of the tributes. To see basketball icon Michael Jordan with tears streaming down his face but making jokes about how the social media memes will forever keep these images, lightened the mood but I loved that most of the tributes were about Kobe Bryant, the person.

Sometimes we forget that how we treat all the people around us every day is the sum total of who we are. Whether we take time to help, see a need and fill it, or simply “do you,” at the end of the day, what you have gotten done will be the measuring stick the world will use.

William Shakespeare is credited with “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones,” and he’s partially right. If you are kind and generous, trust me, we will remember. I read account after account of the ways that Kobe remembered names and made people feel important, or by doing his charity work without the lights and cameras so many celebrities seek. That’s what I remember.

Secondly, remember the simple things that bring you joy. Whether it’s relaxing and admiring the morning or evening sunset, make time to do it. Take a minute and count your blessings—when you run out of fingers and toes, just clap for joy and understand that grace and mercy have once again intervened on your behalf.

Scatter joy and inspire others to greatness. My father’s sister and my great aunts were my favorites and according to them, I was the smartest and most beautiful niece ever.  I loved visiting them because they could improve even the most rotten days. Whenever I saw them, they gave me the confidence to face the world and conquer it. Be that mentor, friend, fan club president for some young person who is headed in the right direction. Better yet, be the ladder for one who is headed down the wrong road and could use an encouraging word.

As I have grown older, I clearly understand that the quiet reflective moments I didn’t understand or appreciate then, I trusted my grandmother’s advice to “keep living” and now see them for the treasures they are.

Thirdly, as March roars in, see more than what your eyes can show you. Celebrate your life and Women’s History Month by honoring the phenomenal women in your life and in your community. Remember to graciously accept the praise and accolades that come your way and be proud that your life has had meaning.

Practice asking for help and understand this is an exciting and troublesome time to be alive. Technology makes life easier but easy probably shouldn’t be our ultimate goal if we lose ourselves and our children to addiction and neglect. Our eyes tell us that this is progress but it will be critical to remember the lessons of respect, adventure, courtesy, courage, and sacrifice that brought us to here. This extra day in February is a gift—let’s treat it as such and create new possibilities.

Share your thoughts on planning for the extra day at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook!

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.

Here’s What We Need to Know and Do

Boy Scouts of America

As an official optimist, it broke my heart to hear that the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy this week after a barrage of sex-abuse cases were filed. I have only positive images of the Scouts through buying popcorn, watching young men grow and go the extra mile to become Eagle Scouts, and being prepared for all sorts of things. Like I said, positive images. They’re as much a part of our culture as Big Mac sandwiches and apple pie so my mind immediately went to all the youngsters who might not get a chance to be transformed and nurtured through this ministry.

Nevertheless, we’re living in a time of great change but things that matter gently remind us that how we love and care for our boys and girls will always be important.  Here’s what I mean:

First, we must see all the people, especially the children. This slogan popped up a couple of years ago from a religious entity to remind us to see all the people around us. The mentoring and adventures offered by the Scouts opened a new world for boys and girls—if the Scouts aren’t around in all the places they’ve been before, we must pick up the slack and move our youngsters forward.

The lessons we must teach include how to win, lose, succeed, and fail. Soul singer William Bell performed at the White House during the Obama Administration and sang his hit “Everybody Loves a Winner,” but the song goes on to say “…but when you lose, you lose alone.” It’s true. We all like to win but we have to know why we lose so that we can learn to win, according to basketball great Michael Jordan.

I believe the Scouts taught youngsters how to brush themselves off when they failed and it’s a lesson we need to learn, too. When everything comes easy for us, we may never have to move from our comfort zone and what we know and trust, thus we may never reach the pinnacle of greatness God intends for us. We all need someone to push, to inspire, to believe in us so we can soar. We are all persons of great worth and to be acknowledged and invested in simply says “I see you and you matter.” We must embrace this scout lesson.

Second, scouts are taught to be the best version of themselves. They’re taught teamwork, friendship, and leadership traits that will keep them focused for life. Imagine what would happen if we all put forth a genuine team effort every time. There would be less crime, fewer homeless veterans, and equity would rule the day. Equity for me means everybody has what they need, when they need it, and they get to keep their dignity.

In scouting, life skills like communication, conflict resolution and perseverance are taught and learned through practice. I’ve never been a scout but I suspect we are all better because someone we know and love was a part of this great organization. I don’t know what will become of it if they survive bankruptcy but I know this: the good they do/have done will linger like a sweet fragrance.

Our hearts go out to the scouts who were harmed by abuse and I pray that those who abused will receive appropriate punishment for the betrayal of this sacred trust.

I’m on my way home Saturday to the W.G. Rhea Public Library, Paris, Tennessee, home of the World’s Biggest Fish Fry—hope to see you there.

Having thoughts on ways to love and care more for our boys and girls? Share with me at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook!

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.

Share Your Heart This Valentine’s Day

share your heart

Friday, February 14, Valentine’s Day, is about love and all things heart related. As I listened to the radio today the hosts reminded listeners to remember this important day. They discussed expectations and traditions—chocolates, flowers, and diamonds—that should keep your significant others happy and contented.

I guess this presumes you have someone special to do sweet things for but like the Christmas holiday, this day can be a sad reminder of loss, and unfulfilled hopes and dreams. This year, let’s make this Valentine’s Day a real day of love.

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Pay closer attention to your desk, Martin, this week

clean your desk

Almost every week I put “handle desk” on my daily “to do” list; and every week it needs to be there because I ignore it until I can’t find a thing. Monday, January 13, “Clean off your desk day,” rattled me because I didn’t know it existed.

I crave order and my desk is sometimes reflective of that, other times not. Closets, drawers, and shelves don’t stand a chance when Cynthia Ann, the organizer, is around; however, my beautiful rolltop desk at home and my nice oak one at work offer a different challenge. What I have, what I need, and where to find it are almost always at war, so today I’m on a mission to become an official clean-desk person.

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We Need an Ambitious Plan for 2020

plan for 2020

Whoever said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” knew this moment would come when we’d have to have a serious discussion about 2020. It’s a new decade, and I have an urgency to again offer wise words so 11 months from now, we’re not still in this same place. Indulge me please because the purpose of having wisdom is to share it:

  • Go the extra mile and be the best–the additional effort is worth it. Even if nobody notices, do it for the pride you’ll feel and as a testament to what excellence looks like. There will always be somebody cuter, smarter, richer, savvier than you but when you give your best, you are unbeatable and absolutely unstoppable. As poet Robert Frost did ages ago, “take the road less traveled and it will make all the difference.”
  • Be more discerning. It’s no secret that I love to shop and I’m good at it. Nevertheless, I’d come to the place where I loved everything I touched. Every pair of earrings was cute, the sandals were to kill for, the purse was perfect, the skirt would look great with the top I already had—you get the picture.

I finally had to have a long talk with Cynthia Ann and let her know, yes, all these things are cute, but you can’t love them all. I have a one-in/one-out policy– for everything I bring in, something must go, and if it won’t fit in one bag, I can’t have it. Now my conversations go like this: “You can have it only if you really love it.”

Most folks don’t like to shop so discernment about shopping isn’t the concern. It may be whether to leave a job you hate or stop seeing someone who’s always negative. If you’re in a dangerous relationship, it may be planning the safest time to leave. It is critical that you not act hastily but take a minute to pray, listen, and then decide what you can live with and what’s best.

  • Recognize your power. We each have some– whether we choose to use it or not is the color of another horse. Unfortunately, being powerful is like being a lady—if you have to tell someone you are, you probably aren’t!

Imagine what could happen if we used our power for good. British philosopher Edmund Burke reminds us, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good *people to do nothing.” Good people, please know that with the state of our national and international affairs, doing nothing in 2020 is not an option.

  • Seek meaning and purpose in your dailiness. It’s easy to drift from day to day and before you know it, you’re a zero with a line through it as my friend Cheryl loves to say, but there are a million ways you can find meaning and purpose–Meals on Wheels, rocking babies in the neonatal unit, reading to and having lunch with second graders, etc.

We got a request Sunday from Kairos Prison Ministry to help bake cookies for prisoners. The sweet treats are to gently remind our oft-forgotten brothers and sisters during March that they have worth, forgiveness, and they’re not forgotten.

This request is right up my alley since Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster and I loooove cookies, especially chocolate chip ones. While I wasn’t looking for meaning and purpose in chocolate chip cookies, I know it’s there and I don’t intend to stop until I find it. For more info or to join the chipmobile, http://www.kairosprisonministry.org/blog/tag/cookies/

*Pronoun changed

I am all ears for your wonderful 2020 plans at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook!

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.

Hold on 2020, Not so Fast…

2020

My, how time flies when you’re having fun! It took a minute, but I finally realized time flies even if you’re not having fun! Every decade, every year, and every day brings its own set of challenges as old years become new ones and time marches on.

As 2019 fades into history there’s so much happening—school-public massacres, religious and migrant persecution, the highly anticipated presidential election, equity squabbles, severe weather, wildfires, flooding, teen/veteran suicides, domestic violence, impeachment, —it’s difficult not to be anxious. Nevertheless, the future moves ahead and though we’re in a firestorm of upheaval and change, we get to choose whether/how we fight — with water or accelerants.

There is much we can’t and don’t control, like where or when the sun rises and sets, but what we can control, we must. We can make 2020 better and I pray we will. Start with these five suggestions:

Adjust your attitude. Your attitude determines your altitude according to author Zig Ziglar. If you think you can, you can, and nothing great can be achieved without enthusiasm. Avoid negativity and cynicism because they rot from the inside out.

Get politically active and involved. You don’t have to be passionate about every topic but please fight for those that matter— affordable housing, education, and healthcare, fairness, justice, care for veterans and their families, safe neighborhoods, public places, and schools. My new bumper sticker will be a gentle reminder: “Voting makes the difference—whining doesn’t.”

Pay attention. A man on his phone almost walked into me last week. I wondered what was so important it couldn’t wait. I thank God for the new Tennessee Hands-free phone law because it will save lives.

It’s much better to focus on driving and talk when you get to point B instead of juggling both. Pay attention to your surroundings, your health—all facets of it –financial, mental, physical, your personal information—everything! An ounce of prevention is priceless.

Get ready to live and die. Nobody’s getting up a load to eternity today, but you need to be ready, just in case. Make known your preferences so we won’t have to guess if/where you want to be cremated/buried/etc. At every funeral I’ve attended lately, I’ve made notes about what I want and don’t want at mine, just in case.

I’m also planning for an official living will to replace the make-do one I fashioned 15 years ago. Make a regular will, too. Somebody somewhere said even if you only have a dime, make a will. After the fights that come when famous and not so famous people die without handling their business, do it for you and your family.

Cousin to the one immediately above, invest in people, places and things that you love. In 1982, Roger preached at two small United Methodist churches in rural western Kentucky. The children and I tagged along, and we were the only African Americans for miles around, but the parishioners decided that they would invest in us and our big new adventure—seminary for Roger and undergraduate studies for me. For three years, every month like clockwork, we received a small check from them and over the years we have been paying it forward.

Invest in your public library, arts community, or other great causes—let your heart decide. It’s not how much you give, it’s the consistency and intent.

Finally, let’s imagine what’s next and enjoy every moment of this new year. It will be filled with innovation and upheaval, but let’s be brave as we conquer our fears, keep calm, and carry on.

How do you plan for 2020 to go? Drop your comments to me at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook.

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.

Texting May Be Fun But I’d Rather Talk

talk more

I’m trying not to be judgmental, but I am concerned about our obsessive texting, excessive phone and social media usage. Perhaps if I were a more proficient texter (still at the one-finger-thinking-too-much-no-abbreviations-shortcuts-stage) I would enjoy it more.  Further, if I had lots to talk about all day, I probably wouldn’t try to control what other folks do with their devices, but hear me out:

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