*Quick commentary from Olaolu: I created Parent-Child-Connect to provide resources for parents, teachers, and mentors to connect with their children. I believe a large part of that mission is to use my platform to encourage and spread hope! With that in mind, I am excited to share the virtual stage with a great friend who has been like family to us since we started active duty service in 2013! Meet, Aubrie Owens aka my wife’s bestie. She is excited to speak out and share small portion of her story to encourage, educate, and empower you! Like, share, comment, enjoy!*
I have been contemplating writing this, and I have finally decided to speak out. Social media tends to highlight happy moments, but in truth, it’s not all happiness. I have been struggling with endometriosis for many years now. For those who don’t know, endometriosis (en-doe-me-tree-O-sis) is “a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus” (source: mayoclinic.org). They say one in every ten women struggle with this condition. It has caused me infertility and pain for many years, and I have had countless miscarriages and heartbreak because of it. It hasn’t all been heartbreak though. My husband Kyle and I have also had many joys giving birth to a beautiful daughter named Yuri and watching Ava be a wonderful big sister. I have also been fortunate to have amazing doctors and family/friend support.
How it started:
Around 2013, I went to the ER with abdominal pain. The doctors discovered a cyst the size of a softball near my ovary, and they determined surgery was the best option. During the surgery, they identified that I had severe endometriosis. They advised me to immediately start consulting a fertility doctor if I would like to have children in the future. This led us to visit multiple doctors which, in turn, led them to prescribe me multiple medications. Numerous Intrauterine insemination (IUI) and In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments resulted in many miscarriages. Finally, in 2016 (our last IVF attempt), I became pregnant with Yuri.
After months of heartbreak and disappointment, we finally conceived a child! However, I wasn’t out of the woods yet. In 2017 I almost lost my life, and we almost lost Yuri. I had appendicitis that resulted in sepsis, and Yuri and I would spend months in the hospital trying to recover.
The journey continues:
I have accepted the hard truth; it is time for a full hysterectomy. Though I am extremely grateful that I was able to conceive my two children, I do not want to continue to live with the pain. I do not write this for sympathy but in hopes I can reach another woman who is going through a struggling time. Whether you have had to endure a chronic illness or disorder, a miscarriage, or pain that led to infertility, I am here. We as women must choose what is best for us and never let others dictate how we feel.
Today, I ask for good vibes and prayers as I go in for surgery. I’m going to be straight with all of you, I am scared. The last time I went in for surgery I almost lost my life and my child. But I am thankful for the support of my family, friends, and wonderful doctors. I am appreciative of my husband who has supported me throughout many trying times. He held me as I cried over the children we lost. He spent countless hours with me in the hospital when I was ill, and stayed most nights with Yuri in the NICU.
As silly as it sounds, part of me feels like I am losing my ability to be a woman. I will never be able to carry another child. It is especially painful because people often ask, “are you going to try again for a boy?” I’ve decided my health and my body means more to me than bringing another life into this world. Getting to spend time with my family pain free will be the most rewarding joy.
I write this today as an encouragement to you all. Speak out! Do what you feel is best for YOU. In a world of uncertainty, your happiness and your health is the number one priority.
19 “Mile Markers” to develop your financial management skills and set you on a journey towards financial success.
The road to financial success is always a hot topic, but around this time of year, we tend to throw out any trace of actually managing our finances. I mean really, it is such a thrill to find a good sale, right?!
Yep, it is all fun until we blow a proverbial tire (i.e. we run out of money before we run out of bills). That’s usually when reality sets in.
Some of us have no problem avoiding sales because we hate large crowds, standing in line, keeping up with the latest trends, or spending money in general… But then here comes this old crazy lady named “Sallie Mae” who just wants to rob us blind for trying to better ourselves. Trust me–been there, done that, paid enough for thousands of t-shirts but ol’ Sallie never sent me one.
I’ve got news for you: there is hope! My brother–Dr. Clement Ogunyemi aka “The Finance Doctor”– and I are going to give you some tips that will put you well on your way towards achieving financial success. Just think of us as your friendly roadside assistance technicians. We are going to help you change that blown tire and navigate towards a bright financial future! And get this, none of this is a secret. Many people (myself included) have embarked on this challenging but exciting journey and have come out better. Share this article with everyone you know, and let’s journey towards financial success together!
Roads are a record of those who have gone before.
The 19 Mile Markers
1. Set your goals!
Make a plan, stick to the plan, always deliver!
We must begin by writing down clear individual and family (as required) financial goals. Use this 4-point inspection to set your goals. Each of your goals should be:
Focused on specific events (e.g. retirement), activities (e.g. travel), and opportunities (e.g. lump sum debt repayment).
Aligned to your values, beliefs, and overall strategy.
Quantifiable–associated with a realistic timeline and your financial situation.
Simple, clear, and concise. Don’t overthink it.
For example: A lot of people say, “I want to be a millionaire!” Sounds great! Us too! But does this pass the 4-point inspection? Not quite. Let’s see if we can fix it.
I will achieve a net worth of at least $1 million by the time I retire in twenty years (focused). I will cut expenses by reducing my restaurant allotment by $100/month, cable subscription (save $125/month), and carpool to work (save ~$60/month on gas) (quantifiable). I will work with my financial planner to add this to my other monthly investments (real estate, brokerage account, etc.) (aligned) to take advantage of compound interest. (Simple, clear, and concise)
Last tip on this point, post your goals in common places. That way everyone in your house can see and believe in the goals. The refrigerator is a great place to post!
2. Develop and maintain a “can do” mentality!
Are you a doer or a don’ter?
Johnny Wu, Pain & Gain
Ok, ok. Enough quotes for today. But seriously, let’s develop “doer” mindsets. Repetition is everything. You are what you tell yourself. So we challenge you to adjust your vocabulary. Stop telling yourself what you cannot do! Instead, tell yourself what you will do. Look in the mirror and affirm you can, you will, and success looks GREAT on you! Eventually, your body language, habits, and work ethic will exude confidence and excellence.
3. You get the first piece of the cake!
Imagine this: you get a freshly baked cake every pay period. As soon as this delicious, savory, warm, sweet-smelling cake comes out of the oven, the entire community shows up at your doorstep to take a piece of the cake that you earned. Being the kind person you are, you let everyone have a piece–often leaving yourself with the crumbs (like the little crumbs that get stuck under your fingernails). Not anymore!
We are applying our favorite birthday rule: you always get the first piece of your cake! So we advise that you pay yourself 10% first. Make this automatic. It’s your money! Let it build your emergency fund. Build that fund to at least $1,000 (goal is 3-6 months of expenses). Then, continue to work this muscle to build your long-term savings/investing.
4. Write down every last one of your expenses!
Divide your expenses into two baskets: essential and non-essential. Within the essential basket, break them down even further into variable and fixed expenses. You are conducting a Sherlock Holmes investigation into [Insert your name here]’s personal finances. We want you to be the best forensic detective ever! Identify where you spend literally every penny (even the ones that fell out of your pocket into the couch). Here are a few more things to think about:
Find out where your money is going.
Learn to what/whom you are dedicating your time and resources (priorities) and what you can potentially cut.
Study your spending habits to understand how all your expenses tie together. You may reveal an ugly truth. (e.g. a $5 value meal may not seem like a lot, but it adds up when you spend that amount three times/day.)
5. Prioritize your expenses and pay them on time. (This is where writing down your expenses comes in handy.)
We are going to state the obvious, essential expenses take priority over non-essential. Every. Single. Time. (e.g. XBox Game Pass does not come before food for the kids.) So make your bill payments automatic. Here are a couple of things to think about:
Check out these four essential “expense tires” that your financial vehicle cannot run without: Food, clothing, shelter, and transportation. Prioritize these above all other expenses.
Live below your means. You cannot live a Boardwalk lifestyle on a Baltic Avenue income. (Yes, that is a monopoly reference.)
6. Develop a budget aka a “monthly spending plan.”
Ok, new assignment. You are now the Chief Financial Officer of [Insert your name here] Inc. Congratulations on the new assignment! 🎉 Your new job is to create a spending plan. Here’s what you must include:
How much money did you bring home? (post tax aka “net income”)
You have already written down expenses. So now, let’s create a “zero-based” budget.
Pay yourself first–How much are you able to set aside each month for your personal savings, emergency savings, kid’s college fund, etc.?
Don’t forget to prioritize those four expense tires (food, shelter, clothing, transportation)
Obliterate debt! (We will talk more about this on Number 14)
It’s ok to put your fun activities into your budget! A budget is not stressful, it is fun.
We will continue to “drive” this point home: You are telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.
Give! Give! Give! Be charitable. The more you give, the more you receive!
7. Start learning more about your paycheck, benefits, tax status, etc.
This is where a good financial consultant and/or tax accountant comes in handy. A good finance professional will teach you how these things work so you won’t unintentionally give free loans to Uncle Sam (i.e. wait all year for a gigantic tax refund) or owe Uncle Sam a ridiculous amount of money when tax season arrives.
8. Plan ahead for large known expenses!
We’ll give you an example: Christmas is the same time every year. Why does it still come as a surprise to us?? Plan ahead. Save. (maybe catch some items on sale throughout the year). Whatever you do, be ready for known large expenses.
Emergencies happen, but failing to plan for known large expenses is often one of the biggest disruptions on our journey towards financial success.
9. Reconcile your checking account monthly.
You don’t want expenses sneaking out of your account. Reconcile what you spent and when you spent it. For example, I (Olaolu) noticed a $0.99/month payment going to Apple from my account. I did not know what it was for and neither did Apple. This is a small amount, but again, every penny matters when you are doing “zero based” budgeting.
If you are single, have a monthly board meeting with yourself. If not, have a monthly board meeting with your family.
It is ok to talk through what went well and what can be improved.
Here are some [nonconfrontation] questions you can ask: What went well this month? What are areas of opportunity?
10. Learn more about investing.
Again, having a good financial professional is key. Let them teach you the ropes. DIY investing doesn’t often end well.
Do not jump in the deep end of the pool! If you do not understand it, do not invest in it.
Stay away from get-rich-quick investments. It seems like there is a new one every week. Do not fall for it!
Educate yourself so you won’t end up in a situation you cannot easily escape (*cough* Bernie Madoff *cough*).
11. Develop a retirement plan as early as you can.
Time is on your side. The earlier the better. Take advantage of compound interest (aka interest on interest).
Make sure the risks align with your goals. For example, if you plan to retire in five years, you probably should avoid extremely risky investments. Conversely, if you have thirty years until retirement, you may feel more comfortable assuming more risks.
12. Develop a college plan for your children as early as you can.
Despite what we think, not all of our children will get an athletic scholarship. Some [most] of us will have to pay for our children’s education. It would suck if your kids are unable to pursue higher education because you did not prepare. It’s all about planning ahead.
Begin saving as early as possible (preferably 16-18 years but a late start is better than no start)
Plan as if your child will not receive a single scholarship. If they do, you created a substantial nest egg for your child to begin investing. Win-win!
13. Start saving for a down payment towards a home.
Owning your own home is a huge step towards financial success.
Despite what people may tell you, your home can be an asset if done correctly.
Make sure the asset side of the home outweighs the liability side (i.e. it’s worth more than what you owe on it).
A home can be passed down (generational wealth)
You are setting your kids up for success while starting a generational wealth cycle.
14. Become debt free.
Again, we cannot allow the lenders to eat all of our cake! The “Debt snowball” method worked for us, so that is what we recommend! Here is how https://www.ramseysolutions.com/ explains it, “The debt snowball method is a debt-reduction strategy where you pay off debt in order of smallest to largest, gaining momentum as you knock out each remaining balance. When the smallest debt is paid in full, you roll the minimum payment you were making on that debt into the next-smallest debt payment.”
15. Learn all about insurance.
Insurance is a must have. Life, health, home/renters, disability, long-term care, identity theft, and auto insurance are seven of the top must haves! Do your research to find the best price for the best product. Review and update your coverages regularly.
Insurance exists to transfer risk of financial loss from you to the insurance company.
Insurance is like an umbrella–if you don’t have it, you risk getting rained on when the storm comes!
Remember, you are the CFO. You’re in charge of ensuring your company’s financial success.
Imagine you were also the CEO of your company. Would you give your CFO a bonus or would your CFO be collecting unemployment?
18. Develop an estate plan and will!
Another must have. We will all die someday. It is a fact of life. Do not make your family guess your wishes. We must normalize developing and discussing our wishes before we die. Do your best to avoid leaving behind a grieving family that is fighting over assets, money, or your wishes.
19. Have fun on your journey towards financial success!
We know this seems like a lot, but it is not a terrible journey. Is it challenging? Of course! But we were always told that all things in life worth having are challenging. Accept the challenge! Turn on your best perseverance jams! Let’s enjoy this journey to financial success!
Want to learn more about personal finance and/or need a little help on your journey towards financial success? Purchase Dr. Clement Ogunyemi’s book Nine Tenth! Regardless of your religious beliefs, the sound financial principles taught in this book are proven to work! Click here to find out more! Also, you can reach Dr. Clement Ogunyemi on his website: https://www.4qfinancial.com/about/
Meet the Authors (Yep, we are brothers!)
A loving husband, Father, teen mentor, and U.S. Marine Officer, Olaolu Ogunyemi has a deep passion for working with children fueled by an unending supply of energy and imagination! Since he was young, Olaolu has been nicknamed the “life of the party” because he pours his exuberant personality into everything he does. As the fifth of six children, he is intimately familiar with the bond that is forged during quality story time; thus, Olaolu was inspired to start writing children’s stories to help create loving and memorable family moments.
Olaolu writes and speaks in a simple, easily understandable language, and an entertaining style that keeps families hooked while learning vital lessons about virtues and sparking a continuing conversation.
Olaolu is a frequent traveler and in his free time, he enjoys playing music, exercising, and spending time with his family.
Dr. Clement Ogunyemi aka “The Finance Doctor” is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of 4Q Financial Management LLC. The company assists clients in maximizing their wealth and reducing taxes. Some of its most popular services include Financial Management, Financial Education, and Tax Planning. Clients of all kinds are accepted. 4Q Financial’s offices are located in Northwest Arkansas where they have developed a remarkably positive reputation working with the local community.
Dr. Ogunyemi has been a finance professional for nearly a decade, with the scope of his work ranging from investmentbanking with Morgan Stanley to managing funds of the world’s largest and most profitable retailer, Walmart.
Dr. Ogunyemi holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management, Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Corporate Finance, and a Doctor of Business Administration with a concentration in Finance.
More about The Finance Doctor
Through his experience, he has learned the importance of sound budgeting and spending. He is currently a Chief Financial Officer Consultant for several organizations and serves as a finance chair for several non-profit organizations.
His doctoral study centers around the importance and impact of financial literacy programs on an individual’s financial decision making.
A frequent traveler and entrepreneur, he enjoys working out and spending time with his beautiful fiancé, two sons, and his dog.
Happy Saturday my friends! I hope you had an amazing week thus far and your weekend is even greater! My weekend? Let’s just say it has had a unique start. I underwent an appendectomy!
No matter how big or small, I always try to find a lesson in each of life’s circumstances. So what could I have possibly learned from an appendectomy? Well, the first thing I learned is that seeing a medical professional early on can make a huge difference. This was the first time in my life that I did not attempt to “tough it out.” The medical professionals were able to fix the issue in the early stages (before the infection in my appendix worsened and rupturing became a threat). But there was a larger life lesson.
The life lesson: We must quickly address life’s hurts and pains.
Let’s backtrack for a second: I woke up this past Thursday feeling normal. I went through my morning routine and showed up at the gym at 6 am for my one hour Yoga session. Such a relaxing start to the day ☺️. As the morning progressed, I began to feel a small pain/discomfort in my stomach. I initially thought it was nothing more than gas (sorry if that is TMI 😬), but I wasn’t so sure anymore by the time I arrived at work. It was getting worse throughout the day, but I was reluctant to express this feeling to my peers. After all, they probably already assumed it was COVID, so I did not want to cause alarm. There was no hiding it, because I am always jovial; striving to be the one to bring brightness to the room. Contrarily, I was quiet, withdrawn, and exhausted. One of my colleagues even said, “Are you ok?…You look like you are really hurting.”
Luckily, I was responsible for picking my son up from school that day, so I had an excuse to leave early. When I made it home, I laid on the couch and slept. I tossed. I turned. I tried lying upside down. I took Tums… Anything to relieve what I thought was simply “trapped gas.” That evening, I told my wife the words that let her know I was actually in pain, “I am going to the doctor in the morning to see what is wrong.” She knows I HATE hospitals, so she knew it must have been serious.
I arrived at the hospital Friday morning, still playing the tough guy role. I imagined they would hand me something to quickly relieve the pressure in my stomach and allow me to go home. At this point, I just wanted to “rule out appendicitis.” I mean seriously, my phone was on 40%, and I left my charger in my vehicle; I just knew this visit would be short! I was wrong.
After reviewing the Computed tomography (CT) scan, the surgical team came into the room to confirm I had appendicitis (a condition in which the appendix becomes inflamed and filled with pus, causing pain. Source: Mayo Clinic). Thankfully, I sought help early enough to avoid a rupture. The surgical team presented me with two options:
1. Take antibiotics to “hopefully” reduce the inflammation.
2. Remove the appendix to eliminate the chance of reinfection.
I chose the latter, and the rest is history.
Why did I share that entire story?
I was able to identify several parallels between my life and my recent experience.
1. Pain is an indication of something more serious. Sometimes we become so accustomed to emotional hurt and pain that we ignore it. We consider ourselves “lone wolves.” We “tough it out” because we do not want to look weak. We mask our pain. We pretend we are ok. We attempt to become numb to the pain. We ignore it in hopes that it will go away. The downside is it does not go away; it just intensifies. Then, we find ourselves attempting to treat the symptoms with things that may cause the pain to temporarily subside only to find that the pain only increases–requiring more temporary treatment measures. We focus more on covering/treating the pain than identifying the root cause.
2. Though they can see straight through our ruse, we attempt to hide our pain from others. I knew I needed to bounce back after the first time my colleague asked, “are you ok?” So I ran to the store and grabbed tums and ginger ale. After about 30 minutes I said, “I feel much better after my Tums, ginger ale, and [lightly salted] veggie chips!” I said it in such a way that I even started to believe it. I told an occasional joke or two to throw him off. Meanwhile, the pain was worsening, and he wasn’t fooled. How often do we do this? Instead of admitting we are in pain and seeking help (or allowing others to help), we attempt to hide it. “I’ll be ok.” “I was built for this!” “Pain is weakness leaving the body, right?” Those are just a few of my go-to quotes. What are yours? Regardless, no one is falling for it anyway, so why not just get the help we need?
Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.
3. I got the help I needed. I like to think of myself as a pretty tough guy, but I challenged myself to do something different this time. I decided I would get help instead of self-medicating. I am so glad I did. The surgical team informed me that my case was worse than they originally assessed via CT scan. Meaning, had I not gotten it taken care of, I risked rupturing my appendix (potentially fatal). We should normalize seeking professional help. Attempting to self-medicate our problems tend to make things worse. I learned this from previous injuries, and I am encouraging you to do the same. Do not try to do this on your own. Stop trying to hide or mask the pain and get the help you need to remove the root cause. Which moves to my last point:
4. You must address the root cause. When the surgical team presented me with options, I felt the answer was obvious. To me, Option A was: The surgical team would immediately treat the symptoms in hopes that the problem would not resurface. Option B was: The surgical team would remove the root cause which will immediately hurt more but has a greater chance of preventing future pain (reinfection). I chose the latter because that option addressed the root cause–my infected appendix. Simply reducing inflammation would have led to temporary relief. Chances are I would have returned to the hospital with the same pain in the future. So yes, I exposed myself to risks and pain associated with surgical removal, but in the long term, I do not have to worry about my appendix becoming reinfected… Because it is gone. Addressing the root of the pain was the right answer for me, and I believe it is the right answer for all of us. Healing and recovery may hurt and take time, but I will confidently endure knowing I made the best long-term decision for my health.
I know facing hurt and pain is a challenge for all of us. It can be scary and make feel vulnerable and weak. However, we must address the root cause of our pains if we want to live a healthy physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual life. Today is your day. This is your sign. Allow me to be your friend today who is pointing you towards seeking help. We can do this together. I believe in you!
Did you enjoy this post? Check out my blog for more!
Also, check out my FREE RESOURCES to help you along your personal journey!
Now for the bonus Quick Parent Tip: How to teach children to give.
Throughout the year, my wife and I do our best to teach our children the importance of giving. However, we really emphasize giving this time of year simply because a lot of people are in “receive” mode. In other words, our children are expecting to get, get, get. So we figured we should challenge the norm and emphasize giving; embracing the old phrase, “’tis the season of giving!” Here’s a few things we learned along the way (acronym- G.I.F.T.):
Give. This one seems pretty obvious, but it is a challenge nonetheless. Why? Because we all have great intentions on teaching our children how to give, but sometimes we forget to be transparent with our giving… Or we forget to give at all. I encourage you to be transparent when you generously give your time, talent, and money. Of course we are not doing this to brag but to show our children what generosity looks like.
Invite. Invite your children to join you when you give. For example this year my family and I are working with our church (Mount Ararat Church in Stafford, Virginia) to pack shoeboxes of gifts in support of Operation Christmas Child! My children are packing gifts they would enjoy and writing a letter to a child they do not know in hopes that they will bring joy to that child’s life.
Forgive. This is an odd one to mention when discussing generous giving. Yet, here I am mentioning it. By openly forgiving others, our children can see that we have a heart for people. At its core, forgiveness is the ultimate act of giving someone something whether we believe they deserve it or not. So let your children see your kindness as you forgive others.
Teach. This is arguably the most important step. Teach your children why giving is important. Make the topic relatable so it becomes less of just an annual tradition and more of a character trait. Ultimately, we want our children to be considered givers; thus, we must encourage them to give often, willingly, and without prompt.
I will leave you with this quote by Kathy Calvin:
Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.
I saw this article, and I HAD TO share! This is exactly what my platform is all about; parents, teachers, and mentors coming together to guide and inspire our children. The concerned dads saw a need, and they took action!
“Dads on Duty” is an exceptional concept, and I pray we replicate these kind of initiatives throughout the entire world. Well done gentlemen!
We are going to talk about “impact” soon, but first… it’s story time! Last Friday, I hopped in my car to go grab my son from school. This is always an exciting surprise for him; namely because my wife typically picks him up from school due to my work schedule.
Instinctively, I started the car, adjusted my seat, buckled my seatbelt, and began checking/adjusting my mirrors… rearview first, then side view, then one last check in the rearview. That’s my routine. On my latter rearview check, my eyes widened–there was something exciting heading in my direction… The FedEx truck!
Note: This is not a paid advertisement for FedEx… Although I would gladly collaborate with them lol.
As the FedEx truck approached, my anticipation and excitement continued to grow! It was finally time!!
What’s the point??
I’m sure by now you are just waiting for me to reveal what I got in the mail right? What heartfelt gift (or hilarious prop for my silly antics) had I ordered this time??
Welp, I hate to disappoint you, but I was neither expecting nor receiving a package that day.
So why was I so excited? What was I anxiously waiting for? What is the point of this blog??
Ok, I’ll tell you! I was waiting for the FedEx driver to say, “hello!” Seems weird huh? Let me explain. There is this one FedEx driver who delivers in our neighborhood that ALWAYS greets us with a warm smile and wave. It’s like I have known him for years! He even tacks on a “see you tomorrow!”
He used his platform to leave an impact!
As the excitement grew, I realized how impactful his simple “hello” is on my day… My life. I realized how his smile, wave, and “see you tomorrow” actually makes me look forward to greeting him and having a brief yet impactful conversation the next day.
I neither know his name, where he’s from, nor his background. However, I do know he is using his platform (FedEx driver) to positively impact others’ lives–with a simple smile and wave!
So I encourage you; you do not have to be the strongest, the smartest, the wealthiest, or the most famous to impact others’ lives. YOU [we] have the power to positively impact others regardless of how big or small our platform is.
Remember this: The size of the audience doesn’t matter. The size of the impact does!
This week, let’s make a conscious effort to positively impact EVERYONE we encounter. Here are just a few examples of ways you can use your platform:
Donate to charity or someone in need.
Help a friend create a midterm exam study guide.
Help someone refine their resumé.
Visit a friend in prison or visit one of our elderly in the nursing home.
Purchase someone’s groceries or meal.
Allow someone to merge in front of you during busy traffic.
Support a small business or an indie author (I know a guy that writes children’s books… Me…. I’m the guy😁) either by spreading the word or making a purchase.
Smile, wave, and say, “have a great day!”
We have the power to positively impact others’ lives! Let’s do it!
This was an awesome review of my book “Crow From the Shadow!” Thank you for the support!
“Crow is a bird that possesses a high level of intelligence. He wants to push himself to his limits. Perhaps he will be an architect, a superstar athlete, or a military genius. Unfortunately, self-doubt in the form of the shadow is always lurking in the background telling him that he cannot succeed.
Children and adults are so often held back by nagging self-doubts. This beautifully illustrated book urges us to aspire to our best and see the possibilities for success not the fears of failure. There is a wonderful opportunity to continue the discussion with parents and teachers by using the discussion questions. In addition, the information section about crows is highly informative.
Recommended for upper elementary school and middle-school-age students.”
Mental health is a tough topic of discussion in most homes and oftentimes met with negative comments. Those who deal with mental health are often shunned and ostracized. I thought “finance” was a sensitive topic, but discussing mental health is like walking on thin ice. It is often seen as an untouchable, unspoken topic. My mental health journey started at an early age, and I have personally learned from my own journey. I felt as though I would be viewed as crazy or looney, require a lifetime medication prescription, and/or be locked in an asylum for the rest of my life. I was always afraid to face my mental health head on and be open with my parents about how I was feeling. Growing up in the church, we were always taught that negative thoughts were the devil and we should just attempt to pray them away and hope for the best. As I got older, I often felt my mind drift to darker places than the last time. I finally learned that prayer alone just wasn’t going to cut it.
What I’ve learned.
What I have learned along this journey is to be open and honest with my family and –most importantly– my children. With our world crumbling right before their eyes, who knows what could be going through those little minds? I dealt with my mental health in adolescence alone because I was too afraid to open up to my parents and older siblings, thinking they would think something was “wrong with me.”
I do not want that for my children. When they deal with their mental health, I want them to understand that IT’S OK and PERFECTLY NORMAL. I want them to understand that their biggest hero and cheerleader, Daddy, has and continues to go through those feelings while on his own mental health journey. Those little boys will know that I am here to guide them through their journey and make sure that they are able to grow along the way.
I have learned to replace words like “struggling” and “coping” with words like “learning, growing, and progressing” when discussing my mental health journey. We all have our own journey, but it is imperative that we teach our children to navigate through this tough topic. How do we teach them? Let’s walk through this guide together!
Day Two: Time to break the mold!
“Shut up crybaby!” “Suck it up!” “Stop acting like a girl!” “You must be a wimp!” “Stop crying… real men don’t cry or show emotion!” “Toughen up!” “If you want sympathy, look in the dictionary between…” You know the rest. These sound familiar? In an attempt to teach our young people how to overcome adversity, these are some of the things we say. We should be developing what I like to call the three pillars of fortitude: physical toughness, spiritual toughness, and mental toughness; however, by constantly barraging our children with anything like the aforementioned clichés, we are inadvertently teaching our children to suppress pain/feelings while emotionally disconnecting from themselves and others.
Society’s perception of masculinity and toughness has built crumbling mental toughness pillars.
🎥Watch this🎬: The Mask You Live In is a film worth watching that, “follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity… [This film] ultimately illustrates how we, as a society, can raise a healthier generation of boys and young men.” –therepresentationproject.org
Did you catch the Major Payne quote above?? That is definitely one of my favorite movies! For those that have not seen it (spoilers loading…), Major Payne is a comedy film from the ninety’s that stars Daymon Wayans acting as Major Benson Winifred Payne–a nail eating, combat tested, United States Marine (Oorah!) that was honorably discharged after being passed [twice] for promotion. He later finds a job as a JROTC instructor and faces the tall task of turning a “…gaggle of maggots into a well-disciplined cadet unit” (his words, not mine). Fast forward to the end, the newly-cohesive unit wins the Virginia Military Games!
Now before you go purchase hand grenades to “train” your children, please understand that I am not endorsing Major Payne’s [hilarious] leadership model. He had A LOT to learn about raising/mentoring young people. The good news is after reading “The ABC’s Of Being A Positive Male Role Model,” Major Payne began to comprehend the importance of teaching young people to reconnect with their emotions. He understood that he had to “be sensitive to [their] needs” to reach their hearts.
Tomorrow, we will discuss how we can make the same tweaks in our leadership abilities as the infamous Major Payne! Stay tuned.
Day Three: The Major Payne Leadership Model
Boot camp 101: “Fall in” is a command that means, “take your place in a military formation.” In the Marine Corps, we “fall in” at the position of “attention.” Meaning you are attentive and ready to hear what’s next.
Since I have not located the book that triggered Major Payne’s transition from trained killer to effective mentor, I created the below ABCs Of Being a Positive Father and Role Model! Don’t worry… I’ll stop at “D.”
Always seek to inspire: this tip is a science and an art.
The science (the what) is to be firm, be fair, teach your children how to be responsible, set the example with your own actions, and hold your children accountable.
The art (the how) is to encourage, use positive reinforcement when they do well, and fill their minds with positive thoughts when they make a mistake or disappoint you. Lather your children in positive affirmations!
Note: the definition of “patient” is, “able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.” That will definitely take some practice, but you can do it!
This is a tough one, because, like Mrs. Trunchbull from the movie Matilda said, “They’re all mistakes, children. Filthy, nasty things. Glad I never was one.” Right? WRONG! Ok so let’s start there; have a little grace. Although we were all angels growing up, children are going to be children–they are just young human beings. They will make mistakes. They will sometimes disappoint you. They will sometimes get it wrong again, and again, and again. But it is ok! Take a deep breath, and extend a little grace.
**Check this out: My youngest daughter literally jumped (fully clothed) into a kiddie pool as I was typing this section! So, I had an immediate opportunity to practice being patient. 🙃 I grabbed her hand, calmly told her, “you’re all wet; let’s go dry off,” and walked her inside. Po-si-tive *Major Payne voice **
Care and Compassion
Care is probably the simplest of the two C’s. To care is to provide the basic necessities of life (i.e. food, shelter, water, and electricity). This is where us fathers typically thrive, and sometimes, we are too quick to let everyone know (don’t brag; it’s your job 😉). Be physically present, and provide for your children.
Compassion requires you to validate and value your children’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Do not fall into the trap of saying, “it’s really not that big a deal.” Instead, allow your children to share their feelings with you, so you become empathetic enough to have a strong desire to help. Don’t try to be “Mr. Fix It,” but at least express the desire to help! For example, someone once stole a very rare unicorn from my oldest daughter in an online game that she enjoyed playing. It seemed silly at first, but I realized this really hurt her feelings. So first, I had to verbally validate her feelings and emotions. Then, I shared the moment with her until she felt better. Simple but effective!
**BONUS “C”: Celebrate!! My youngest was potty training when I wrote this. So I took a quick break to celebrate with a silly jingle and dance I made up, “Eni went poopy in the poooottty!” *Clap *Clap (repeat). Positive reinforcement goes a long way!**
Do not be afraid to cry openly!
I heard my wife tell my son, “don’t be afraid to cry if something really hurts.” My initial cringe at that statement shows that I am NOT perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Now, I am not saying lie on the floor and project a deep wail (although I think that would be hilarious) next time you stub your toe, or Hulk Smash through a wall to show that “Daddy angry!” I am simply encouraging you to show emotion. Look your children in the eyes and say, “I love you.” Rejoice with them, and allow them to see your happiness. Let them see you be angry, yet tempered and respectful. And when the opportunity presents itself, embrace them and cry with them.
That’s it! Just like that, you now have all the tools you need to be successful. Now throw on your best Major Payne voice and go lead your home to a stronger mental health.
Note for my readers: If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).