Lessons of a Necktie

There is a song entitled “The Way We Were” released in 1973 and sung by the incomparable Barbara Streisand.  The chart-topping song itself was part of a romantic drama movie of a couple who met briefly at the end of World War II and years later found themselves entangled in a relationship. In the movie, they kept going back in time trying to figure out what happened to their beliefs and values since the first breakup. An experience we all have had when looking at people we see today and what they “were” in the past. Family memories to me are like a bag full of M&M chocolate candies – each candy representing a colorful story, and each candy craving for your appetite to revisit again.  There is one memory of my Dad when I knew him in my adolescent years. I label this memory – “Lessons of a Necktie.”

My siblings and I prepared for church every Sunday, and I remember once wearing a ‘clip-on’ tie.  A stylish accessory easy to snap on below the collar of my dress shirt.  I graduated to a long length fabric tie when I grew older, but didn’t know how to perform a Windsor shaped knot!  Imaging having four older brothers living in the same house…someone would come to my rescue you think!  They didn’t for me.  But my Dad signed on to volunteer. So one day, I went into my parent’s bedroom to ask for help.

Standing face forward to him as he sat at the edge of bed, my Dad would carefully bring the fabric tie around my neck to perform the Windsor tie look; and in proceeding Sundays, he sometimes demonstrated it on his neck.  Our faces were evenly locked in height – I could look straight into his eyes and he in mine.

Now you’re saying to yourself…this is a nice memory.  But there’s more…

During the construction of perfecting a Windsor tie, my father would raise certain questions.

“Jerry Jr. – what do you think is more important, pursing the chance to win the lottery, or seeking a professional work career?”

“Jerry Jr. – would you rather have a friend to often cry on their shoulder or a friend who didn’t care?”

There were no right or wrong answer…he wanted to hear my response.

All the while each Sunday, I’m studying the steps of tying a knot and responding to questions raised by my Dad – isn’t it interesting how a young brain could do multiple things.  It would take several efforts – the urging to run into my parent’s bedroom every Sunday morning and stand tall and straight in front of him.  It was like going to Sunday School with Him.

Over a period of time there came ONE Sunday where I was able to complete a Windsor tie without his volunteering.  That was the short-term lesson.  However, the long-term lesson reverberates in my head.  Those memorable questions helped shape me to become the person that I am today – an absolutist.  Another profound question I’ll never forget:

“Jerry Jr. – what is more important; Family or Money?”

My Dad passed away last December at the well-seasoned age of 88 – just shy of his 89th birthday one day later.

On the day of his funeral service, I wore a beautiful “Windsor knotted” fabric tie.  Because I’m his ‘name-sake’ (a junior) – I wanted to ensure he wore the same exact tie while laying inside the casket.


Enlisted for Service

During the Segregation Era of the 1950’s and 60’s, Atlanta was deemed “The City Too Busy to Hate.” Deeper into my own hunger for learning more regarding the slogan, it was originally coined by the late Mayor William B. Hartsfield in 1959. The mention of it thereafter became a responsive motto within the Civil Rights Movement.

The core notion behind “The City Too Busy to Hate” was meant to find intersectional approaches between the black and white business communities – where both could discover economic growth and individual prosperity. This initiative caused civic leaders of that time, business owners, and regular “folk” to spend time with each other and explore the many ways to improve race relations.

The lending of our time and service can bring about a greater good. A midwestern educator Paul Solarz wrote a book entitled: “Learn Like a PIRATE – Empower Your Students to Collaborate, Lead, and Succeed.” Within the book, he said this:

Collaboration allows us to know more than

we are capable of knowing by ourselves.

To lend oneself to participate and share with others can result into doing ‘acts of service’. Acts of service doesn’t keep you idle; it keeps you doing. We know that in the vestiges of time, the image and mention of a Segregated Atlanta came to a final end. But our collaborative work can be achievable to find common ground.

Shortly after the first MLK Federal holiday, a Princeton University Sociology Professor, Marion J. Levy, Jr., wrote and published a call-to-action article in The New York Times. He said “I proposed we declare the holiday a ‘day-on,’ rather than a ‘day-off.’ The intention was to provoke all who made it above the poverty line to sacrifice their talent and time to those under the poverty line. That stuck with me…

This Saturday I volunteered at Hosea Helps, a local organization founded in 1971 by the late Hosea Williams, a well-known Lieutenant within the Civil Rights Movement. The family-run organization serve families who are on the brink of homelessness by providing emergency food, utility financial aid, other human services. On Saturday, we boxed a host of donated food items for 100 families in need.

I’m proud to live in a city that cares about its people, and I’m honored to work along side by side with people who love on the least, less, and lost. In observing MLK Holiday, let us re-commit ourselves by sacrificing our talent and time so that others we serve can live in a world of dignity and respect.

Breaking Through Your Current Situation

            It’s so amazing to see another season of renewal and rebirth – each spring season invites us to come out of our winter hibernation.  And with longer days ahead, we’ll be dancing daily underneath the glowing bright solar star.  Yes, we’ll have yet another chance to see flowers bursting with vivid colors, trees making their grand entrance to showcase their summer shade, and chirping birds criss-crossing through our yards.  As a child, I couldn’t wait to go outside and play all-day – only with quick intermissions to hustle back indoors for a hydratable drink.

            We have a unique situation this year as we mark the anniversary of the first detected COVID19 case here in the United States.  So many people were affected and so many people departed because of the lethal virus.  For the rest of us we feared and hoped for the better.  Though not fully out of the woods of this pandemic, we “March” forward.  Our life goals may have shifted a bit, but the basic goal I believe we agree upon is to wake up again and continue with our lives.

            The year 2020 has definitely given us so much to think about.  Here are some reflective questions I’m sure you asked yourself:

  • Am I happy with my current professional career?
  • Am I doing enough to spend quality time with my immediate family/children?
  • Am I missing out on friendships and sharing time with them?
  • Am I ignoring the “real” thing I was design to do in life?
  • Am I honest with myself – hiding who I truly want to be?
  • Am I willing to forgive myself and others?
  • Am I taking good care of myself (my physical body)?

These questions for you may be in different stage levels to break-through your

current situation.  This deep reflective stance could be the possible way to better yourself.  And it may beneficial not only for you, but also for those around you as well.  Tim Duncan quoted “Good, better, best.  Never let is Rest.  Until you good is better and your better is best.”

            Have I created a personal ‘vision’ board before for myself?  Yes – and I may need to review it again and make modest changes to it.   Have I though about where I’d like to be in one year from now?  Yes – and I may need to review that again and make modest changes to it.

So strive to make inroads to blossom differently this year.  And as we welcome the official day of “Spring,” be ready to make that grand entrance to the outside world.

Let’s go people and do some good!

A Life of Selflessness

Life takes us to unexpected places sometimes.  The

future is never set in stone, remember that.

Erin Morgenstern

            While observing Black History Month in the United States, I feel inspired of the many people of color pursing greatness in their own right.  We often see the familiar faces of Dr. Martin Luther King, Harriett Tubman, our favorite talented African American musicians, poets, sports leaders and the likes.  But what about those who aren’t remembered by a simple photo image or name recognition?  What about those who aren’t written in most history books or rarely given exhibit space in a museum?  The unsung Heroes and Sheroes of the past with selfless qualities are people I feel drawn to understand.   I’m sure no one who reads this writing can identify the human image below:

Betsey Stockton

Betsey Stockton was born into slavery in Princeton, New Jersey in 1798.  She belonged to Robert Stockton, a local attorney.  Presented to Stockton’s daughter and son-in-law, the Rev. Ashbel Green, then President of Princeton College, as a gift, Betsy Stockton was in a household that encouraged her ambitious and intelligent attitude.  She was given books and was allowed to attend evening classes at Princeton Theological Seminary.

When Stockton expressed her interest in becoming a Christian missionary she was granted her freedom and accepted into membership by the American Board of Commissions for Foreign Missionaries.  On November 20, 1822, Stockton and 20 other missionaries set sail from New Haven, Connecticut for the Hawaiian Islands.  Upon her arrival Stockton became the first known African American and ‘single’ woman missionary in Hawaii.

                During her time in Hawaii, Stockton started a school there for the maka’ ainana (common people) where she taught English, Latin, History and Algebra.  Stockton left Hawaii in 1825, returning to the mainland where she was assigned to teach Native American children in Canada.  She spent the final years of her life teaching African American children in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Betsy Stockton died in her hometown of Princeton, New Jersey in October 1865.

            From early on being labeled “property” to later being recognized as a “person,” Betsey Stockton gave of herself to educate others.  She ventured beyond her hometown to make a positive change in other hometowns.  She journeyed into unexpected places….yet managed and found delight in what she was determined to do. To be selfless is to discover your most hidden passion(s). Selflessness becomes a growing appetite! The well known Indian political ethicist Mahatma Ghandi said “Selfless action is a Source of Strength

            The charge for you is to become selfless and determine what to do in unexpected places. People let’s go out and do some good!

Change the Battery

Happy New Year Everyone!

Inline image

Many of you have heard the phrase “Ring out the old, Ring in the new” – a meaning in which one celebrate the end of a year and usher in the start of a new one.  After a nice holiday weekend in 2021, it’s now time to go back to work and resume to your busy virtual Zoom schedules! 

Change the Battery

I’m a follower of a US based TV program that deals with family issues and the person of the show attempts to get willing participants to work ‘different’ in order to achieve a renewed/healthy relationship.  The person of the show will often express to those by saying ‘change the battery’ – a verbal command in which she informs the dysfunctional family something didn’t work in the past; now use a different (or better) method.

The statement ‘change the battery’ stuck with me over the past week.  I’m blessed to know that I don’t have any serious issues with my immediate family or friends, but I thought about myself and what could I do different – or if fitted with a new battery [of thinking], what new method could I achieve for a healthy well-being me?  I listed a few personal things of myself to ‘change the battery’:


·         Build-up my immune system by consuming turmeric, elderberry and zinc supplements.  COVID19 virus is still here – it hasn’t disappeared!

·         Morning body stretches…I’m getting old guys (smile)!

Social Virtual Engagements

·         Start a new “Sip and Travel Tour” series via Zoom.  Though many of us haven’t traveled in a good while, I thought that I spend a few hours each month and share my international experiences to those seeking to do global ventures in the future.

·         Start a virtual series of Short-Term Mission Trip opportunities.  I’m a ministry leader of my church and lead small teams to do harvest work in five areas of the world each year.  Since my church isn’t open to conduct classroom orientations, I need to move this open session to a virtual platform for my church members and those beyond the ministry.


·         Plan to remodel certain rooms within my house.  Most people that I know did much of this during the height of the pandemic….I’m slow.

I could share more but don’t want to bore you…

2020 was a challenging year for all of you, yet we can orchestrate greatness within ourselves to ‘change the battery!”

It’s a new year…enjoy every moment moving forward and let’s grow to speak to the world together!

Let’s get out there people and do some good!

Are You a Positive Advocate or Monomaniac during COVID-19?

Are You a Positive Advocate or Monomaniac during COVID-19?

Disclaimer: This information may not be well received or embraced by some…yet I welcome all comments.  I am not fully versed in scientific terms or advanced in the research of virology.  I am just a wonderfully created human being; a positive advocate for life.


On this 3rd planet of our solar system, we are born into a world full of human, animal and plant viruses that I couldn’t begin to name them all.  Yet it is amazing that I’m still here to enjoy a half century of my life.


Prior to this “now” declared pandemic, I’ve always chosen to wake up each day to be positive.  First, thankful to see another day and two, live my life in a way that keeps me in a healthy and positive mood.  Each day is a new experience…you can prepare for it.  For example, if I study the weather forecast each morning and the meteorologist predicts rain, I simply prepare for rain and go about my day.  If my phone alerts me of approaching severe weather, no matter where I’m located I prepare for the unexpected.


Leading medical professionals (like meteorologists) provide their best approach in handling wide-spread viruses.  From this medical industry and as it relates to COVID-19, it’s simple:


  • Wash your hands for about 20 seconds / use hand sanitizer if you aren’t able to properly wash your hands
  • Practice “Social Distancing” / especially from someone who constantly coughs or infected individuals
  • Keep your hands away from your face
  • Stay away from farm animals


I’m encouraged that many will begin adhering to this practice…and I’m proactively sharing (and advocating) this important news with you!  I’m also encouraged by local US governments to implement “temporary” health guidelines for the general public to avoid large gatherings.  Sorry basketball March Madness enthuses!  This attempt and many new strategies may slow down the spread of this virus.


Celebrity Medical Evangelist Dr. Oz has a great survival protocol document that will help you get through this temporary concern (watch his advice here).  From his document itself, he explains that most viruses dislike humid air.  In our country, we are now moving into spring and then warmer summers.  Perhaps this current concern will vanish when the humidity climbs?  As we know, the regular Influenza Flu usually peaks in colder climate months.


I use disinfectants constantly in my home.  When I picked up my container of wipes, I was curious to read ‘what’ the wipes can kill.  Hhmm…I actually saw the word “Coronavirus!”  (see picture below)  This tells me that we are simply attacking a “19th” strain of this virus.  According to the World Health Organization, Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe disease.


Allow me to extend some of my own positive ways to thrive during this concern:


  • For those who are elderly, pick up the phone and encourage them. It’s been said that COVID-19 is hardest on those who are age 80+ and with pre-medical conditions.  If you are healthy and their concerned about going out to get provisions, why not go to the grocery store for them.
  • Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your car.
  • Eat Healthy…avoid fast foods
  • Take daily supplements…or drink a full glass of fresh Orange Juice
  • When greeting, “Fist Bump” instead of shaking their hands (this is difficult for me)
  • Don’t live in fear! We’ve experience viral outbreaks in the past…we’ll get through this too!
  • Smile more, encourage others, stay clear from stressful-deadly musical intro themed 24 hour Cable News TV…these tips will be good for you and your physical body will thank you for it.
  • The New Living Translation scriptures of Psalm 91:9-10 says “If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come to your home!”


Living on the Edge of Faith

woman sitting on mountain

Photo by Lukas Hartmann on Pexels.com

“I was right on the cliff-edge, ready to fall, when God grabbed and held me.”

Psalm 118:13


For most, there are times when you just simply don’t know the ‘next-steps’ – especially those who have found their passion and purpose in life.


We often pronounce or enchant others with our declared visions; yet deep down inside …our soul feels uncertain.  How is it possible to have this competing “bi-polar type” issue?


Our adult life is confronted daily with worldly issues, family issues, workplace issues, financial issues, and other palatable issues.  We are faced with everyday decisions as soon as we wake up in the morning and later before going to bed.  Some decisions require input from others while major decisions are yours and only yours to ponder.  Those major decisions find you on the “edge.”  It is those major decisions that keep you up at night.  It is those major decisions that other people don’t seem to understand.  It is those major decisions that contain no playbook manual.  It is those major decisions that has no pleasing sight or romantic sound.


To address these decisions require a strict regiment!


  • Daily prayer/meditation with the higher source! A constant and continual practice of this will find you closer in getting the “edge-answers.”  This important regiment doesn’t compound or add to the daily woes; it begins to weed out the distractions often met in your day-to-day life.
  • Writing down the vision for your purpose (or major decisions to support your vision) can help with foreseeable clarity beyond the “edge.” Your purpose could be much larger than you think!  And as you stretch forward beyond the “edge,” you may see a much broader acclaim for your life.  Caution…you must ingest item #1 first!
  • Begin to “WORK” out your purpose and evaluate those confirmed decisions! How you are wired to perform on this Earth ‘requires’ sacrifice – this means put your gift(s) and/or talent(s) to work!  If you love music or are gifted to be a musician, then spend time in this environment.  It is often said that you work 9 to 5 to earn a living.  Yet if you invest the later hours from 5 to 9, you have an opportunity to live out your purpose!  Caution…you must ingest item #1 first!


Be resolved in your decisions…stay focused…close out the noise from the world and be about living on the edge of faith!


United and Ignited!

United and Ignited!

Toastmaster International is truly a respected world-wide institution helping people in many countries to become inspiring communicators and leaders.  In any city, town, or village near you, there are organized clubs offering the chance for individuals to use their voice.  I often tell people “Toastmasters is like going to a local fitness center to train and perfect your voice.”


Active club members stay united by demonstrating their willingness to attend each scheduled meeting and participate in various roles offered to them.  At South Cobb Toastmasters in Mableton, Georgia, we recently celebrated our club’s 15th year and as a group, we wanted to band together and take an excursion to Kenya, Africa.  To ensure everyone had time to save money, receive time off from work and prepare our families for this experience, we spent two years planning for the journey.


Over the past 15 years, I’ve traveled to the “Motherland” many times escorting others in doing humanitarian work in remote and less traveled places.  It was an honor to invite my fellow Toastmasters into the professional work that I love most.  A quote from a travel journalist, book author and photographer named Jeff Greenwald reminds me of this special travel invitation: “Sharing a bit of yourself, opening a window into your own world, is a Good Place to Begin.”


In the two years of planning, there were new lessons for all:


  • This adventure drew us closer – some had the fear of flying for long periods of time; some had never been to another continent; some didn’t know much about the culture of where we were going. As we intimately and openly shared these concerns, others would edify or support one another – chiseling off the stress of international travel.


  • This adventure opened our senses of the world – too often we can easily open up our computers/laptops and thoroughly read details of a country, its people and culture. That may be a great thing to do, BUT it doesn’t give real justice.  An adventurer need to feel and embrace the untimely breeze of a different place; an adventurer need to unexpectedly slip into the distinct aromas of new surroundings; an adventurer will need to become a food connoisseur and appreciate unexplainable tastes of a place; and an adventurer opens kindship conversations in new places.


  • This adventure improves our global understandings – the world becomes much smaller when you explore other cultures and places. A person who often visits and spends time in other places will see the world in multiple perspectives.  A person will also reflect upon their position in a global society.  Our group experienced a great deal of engaging with the beautiful people of Kenya.


Of our leisure travel experience in Kenya, we took time to attend a Toastmaster club meeting!  The Nairobi Toastmaster Club held its bi-weekly meeting the same week we were enjoying the downtown sites of Nairobi.  Under the leadership of Margaret Njoroge, Club President, she and her members graciously welcomed us.  Prior to the start of the club meeting, we and their members happily united in true fashion to serve in various meeting roles!


The club meeting experience in Kenya ignited our ability to share and learn ways to build comraderies and new friendships.  As we were impressed with the professional meeting culture, they were impressed with our enthusiasm to be there!  This made long-lasting memories that everyone will never forget.


From delightful hotel staff members, people we met throughout the city, tour drivers, to young walking tour guides and friendly street vendors, the created synergy of global connectedness stirred our hearts and minds.  Every minute on the ground, each person within our group beautifully blossomed in their own way; discovering a new sense of themselves and who they are – a new sparkle of life emerged.


After our extraordinary travels of Kenya, South Cobb Toastmaster members were ignited and eager to share their journeys through prepared speeches back at home in the United States.  Will we take another global group adventure in the near future?  I do hope so!

Let get out there people and do some good!

Stretching Your View

In our daily world, most of us have become use to seeing the same ole visual images caped in different clothing:


  • The same tribal office work colleagues in dressed different apparel
  • The same neighborhood that transitions in different seasons of the year
  • The same apparel of clothing we have in our closet, but we mix and match them according to the weather
  • The same usual routes we drive around our neighborhoods, yet we may drive different streets when road construction impedes our way
  • The same summer visits with family and friends
  • The same summer vacation destinations


Yet very few of us will desire frequent changes in life.  I heard a church sermon some years ago and the topic was “Do You want to be a Pioneer or a Settler?”  Here are some key highlights I remember from this sermon:


  • Pioneers are pacesetters; they pave the way for others and find themselves often exploring new territories
  • Settlers’ mission are to reach a point and stay at the place forever


Early in my adult life, I once had the belief that I would “settle down” and: (1) earn a formal education; (2) become satisfied with a level of wealth; (3) get married and have children; (4) work a traditional 8 to 5 job with benefits and meager vacation days.  I accomplished at least three of the above four ‘settled’ objectives.


But later in my life, I always wanted something much better.  I didn’t know exactly what it was specifically, but I always attempted to stretch my view….my mental view that is.


Stretching your mental view causes you to:


  • Think harder
  • React faster/often to issues stirring in your heart
  • Question or Challenge the Status Quo
  • Pray even more
  • Question the law of humanity
  • Have a sense of understanding the world a little bit better


Traveling around the world excites me, especially when wanting to meet new people!  Having simple conversations with others allow me to become better as a listener.  The sound waves and pitch patterns of various human voices echoing through my ear canal creates a hunger for knowledge and understanding.


I believe the opposite of ‘not’ wanting to stretch your mental view can lead to:


  • Stagnation
  • An unwillingness to learn, which can close your mind to an ever changing world
  • Isolation
  • Being Argumentative


Because I have such a passion for making a different in my world, I found several ways to “Stretch My View”

Local View

Global View

  Take in a new ethnic restaurant

See an independent film

Take a foreign language class

Help at a refugee crisis center

Study world history/cultures

  Travel to a different vacation spot each year

Have dinner in a home of locals

Sign up for global affairs events

Go on a short-term mission trip!

Let’s go people and do some good!

Pressing On!

It’s not unusual to find yourself in a conversation with someone who spends much of their time talking about past issues and then concludes the talk by say “I’m just going to press on!”  When you happened to meet that same person again, they will resurface the same ole past issue.  And as they continue to mouth off their frustration with no ending in sight, your brain neutrons are scampering to form the question – “I thought you said you’re pressing on?”

In these situations, it may be hard to resolve the ‘past’ issues before you can press on.  It is those past issues that will:

  • Prevent you from truly ‘moving forward’
  • Eventually resurface into a larger problem
  • Delay any progress in fulfilling your passion in life

How can one deal with ‘past issues?’  The answer is simple: ANSWER IT!  There is usually a word that typifies the issue.  For example, let’s say you were involved in a bad relationship and you don’t know how to get past the issue.  The goal is to remove yourself from the situation and ‘press on.’  You might say, we’ll just leave the relationship – most will do that.

However, the odds at keeping a positive new relationship will falter because of dealing with similar issues that may be that of past relationships.

I discovered a way to deal with ‘past’ issues properly, first:

  • Identify the problem within the relationship
  • Come to (self) terms of the problem
  • Learn and discover why the problem persisted
  • Embrace and utilize tools to heal from the problem
  • Develop a plan to “press on”

Identifying the problem and addressing them may take some time to complete.  But the process is one that give you satisfaction and redirection to fulfill your passion.

Your passion to help others may be found in the example of your past!