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LovePrints. Bracelets for the staff and students of Stoneman Douglas High School

 

We all know the story. What I would like to do is send a LovePrints bracelet to the staff and students of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. There are approximately 3000 students and 200 teachers and staff.  I would like to do this immediately so that the bracelets are there as they head back to school.

LovePrints has the motto Cover the world in love. We can do with Love in Action, and by action in love. This small gesture is an act of love, out loud. A small statement that someone cares about them. A reminder on those tough coming days that when they look down at their wrist, they know that they are not alone.

Let the bracelets be a statement and a symbol that love lives here, wherever the bracelets are.

It takes so very little to do so much. We cannot do everything, but we can do something.

Every single penny of your donation will go to bracelets. I will be sure to let you know how many we sent, and when.

Feel free to share this. No donation is too large or small.
Thank you.

https://www.gofundme.com/LovePrintsStonemanDouglas

Derrick Pearson
LovePrints
www.loveprints.us

Posted in Giving Back
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LovePrints Education is love in action. Teaching is an action in love.

A great Ted Talks on public education, but also the value of actual love in a classroom. Students know when an adult cares, and that is a LovePrint in action. Young people can not resist love. They run to it. And they tell you when they are not getting love. They can not help it.

Great teachers, great coaches, and great parents can make all of the difference in the world. They care. The love. They do so, out loud.

This is a great Ted Talks on education and love.

Posted in Edcuators
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LovePrints. T’is the season, for the reason.

The reason for the season.

The season of giving.

The season of love in action.

The season to action in love.

No matter what words you use to acknowledge this time of year, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyeux Noel, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanzaa, or other, it is an act of love when said. It is an acknowledgement of someone else, their presence, their well-being, their life. It is an act of love out loud, and it is beautiful.

What makes this time year special is the constant reminder and reason to be better towards each other. It’s the acts of giving, the appreciative receiving of love and consideration, and the consistent thinking of others as we go along. Every gift is an act of love, and with each gift, two people exchange a piece of the other to take with them into their day. They are both better for it. That is the blessing. That is the gift.

I hope that you give and receive love in these days, and the next. I hope that your gifts are given and received with a smile, requires no receipt, and is appreciated. It is my wish that no one goes without something being put into their hands, or given from their hands. It would be wonderful if we all gave more, got more, and have enough.

Please do not forget smiles and hugs in these gifts. They are important and needed. Give and receive them freely in these days. They make us better. They make us stronger. They make us more loving. That is the purpose behind LovePrints. To cover one another in love, one act at a time. To cover ourselves so much in love that nothing else can stick. To act in love. To be love in action. To love out loud. To be love. To be loved.

No matter how you say it, or hear it, it is the season of love, and LovePrints.

I hope that you are sharing your LovePrints. I hope that you are being covered in them. That is why we are here. To love, and be loved.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and an amazing 2018 to you and yours. To us all, LOVE.

Posted in Weekly LovePrints
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LovePrints. Bullying, and how love can beat it.

Love in action. Action in love. Love out loud.

The trending activity for our young people is not a good one. It is a fear and anger based action. It requires silence, inactivity, ignorance, and an obvious disconnect. It requires constantly choosing to not be present. It is an empty vacuum. It is a lack of light. It is a lack of vision. It is a lack of purpose. It is bullying.

I know that this is not new. I know that bullying is as old has nature itself. I do not care if you call it, the thinning of the herd, the thickening of skin, the toughening of the clan, or any of the other thing, it happened before this generation, and will sadly happen in the next. Some of it is code speak for conquer now, consider later. Some of it is based on the idea that the weaker need to move out of the way of the stronger, faster, richer, smarter, and often, meaner. It is mental laziness.

Here’s where I stand on this. As a parent, my forehead wrinkles up at any kid being bullied. If I was not present and my child is bullied, I would hope and pray that the young people involved have been covered in enough love to know that this is not love. It is my hope that at least one of them have some love to spare, some love to give, and some clue that whatever is going on is not a good thing. I hope that at least one other person present recognizes pain, seeks to end it, avoid it, or make it better. I hope. I pray.

As an adult, I stand up, stand in, and am heard. I simply do not have it in me to stand silently and watch pain happen. I also refuse to put another thing in with the pain. It does not matter if it is an animal in pain, a child in pain, a woman in pain, or a brother in pain. If I can do something to make the situation better, I should do so. I would do so. In the age of grabbing a camera and hitting record as the pain happens, I am still in the family of standing up, speaking out, and ending the pain. That is what I hope. I pray.

As a husband, I simply believe that my first task each day, and last task each day, is love. It is my mission and goal to keep the home pain free, especially by me. It is a daily choice to love out loud, action in love, and be love in action. That keeps it simple for me. A home should be pain free. It should be covered in love. When my wife leaves the house, she has enough love to carry her through her day until she returns home. She has enough love to add to any situation. When the day has drained her of love, LOVE LIVES HERE. That is what I hope. I pray.

As a coach, I am tasked with covering other people’s young ones in love. How awesome is that? Pretty amazing, right? That is why I coach. I get to love more, and if I do it right, loved more. When I see a player in pain, I cover them in love. When there is an act out in pain, I cover them in love. Every player that I have ever coach knows that I love them, and I hope that they love themselves as well. I make a point to have my players action in love away from the game. Away from the team. Away from their family. They should be covered in love, from within, and from those they share themselves with. I pray that they get so much love at home, at school, at practice and games, and in the neighborhood, they should have plenty to share with others. They should have enough to ease the pain of anyone around them. They should recognize love, and with that, are able to recognize the other when they see it, hear it, feel it. They should know that the right thing is to ease the other persons pain with an act of love. They should know that action can be a smile, a hug, and kind word, or just listening. I hope. I pray.

I mention home, school, and neighborhood because if a love vacuum exists in any of those places, it needs to be filled by love from somewhere. Whether it’s a teacher, a faith leader, a mentor, a neighbor, or a coach, that vacuum can be filled with love so that nothing else can occupy it. This is how bullying can be defeated.  Bullying can not live where love is. Love wins. Bullying is defeated.

Did I say defeated? That’s the coach in me. When confronted with an opponent, I plan to defeat it. I find its weakness, and capitalize. I try to understand its strength, and find a way to make that a weakness. I try to know why the opponent is being successful and strip them of it. That’s how my brain and heart works.

I know where bullying starts. It can be at home, where pain can be louder than love. It can be in the words and actions of the adults that live there. It can be on the school bus, at the school. In the hallways, in the classrooms, in the locker rooms, or in hallways where no one is watching. No one is there who can act in love. It can be on social media. It can be the words that they read by adults who say that its ok to berate, its ok to be mean, its ok to gang up by power in numbers. It can be in the private text messages, group chats, or face to face when no one else is around. It requires a disconnect. It requires darkness. It requires forgetting that love is why. Love has to be why.

What I know is that love and fear cannot occupy the same space. Where love is, fear can not be. Where love is, hate can not be. Fear is a lie, and a prison. The strength required to love is experiencing it, knowing what it looks like, feels like, and sounds like. We know what love is, and what it is not. Given a choice of love and the other, most, most, would choose to be love. If they are aware of it, how great it feels, how powerful it is, and how it multiplies, it will be the constant and consistent choice.

Coach Barry Thompson with quarterbacks

Mind your words, your actions, and your heart. Make sure that the message that you are handing to your young people is one of love. Allow young people to stay connected to you. If connected, when a young person goes off course, the connection pulls at you and says “I am going left, help me.” If connected, we know natural movements, good movements, and the other.

Be the place where love lives. Be constantly in action of love. Be constantly love in action. Cover your young people so much in love that nothing else can stick. That’s how we will make fewer bullies, young and old. Love. Out loud. I hope that we do. I pray.

 

Love out loud people.

Go.

Posted in Edcuators
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Sometimes, the ball field is a classroom. Who are we?

As coaches, we get these young people for hours a day, 6 days a week. We should know them. We have to know them. More importantly, we have to get them to know themselves. And their teammates. So, on some days, we should put the basketballs, baseballs, footballs, and equipment away to learn. On some days, the classroom is where you get better. On some days, the locker room is where you get better. On those days, we learn.

Today’s subject? History. They are all a part of our history. 15 young people.  20 young people. 50 young people. Their families are tied together in this American thing, this melting pot of travelers, wanderers, outcasts, survivors and winners. This pool of survivors, strangers, families, and royalty.

How do I know this? They told me. They told me and others about their ancestor’s journeys. They were all journeys. All from somewhere else. Actually, several somewhere else’s. They talked of The Mayflower, Ellis Island, Korea, Cuba, Italy, Germany, Ireland, England, Argentina, Gullah Island, France, Columbia, Mexico, Scotland, Africa, China, Vietnam, and more. We talked about Castro, Sickle Cell, every great war, every great migration, and several trips by boat. We talked about love stories and sad stories, success stories and failures.

We talked about geography and geology. We talked about each other and ourselves. And we talked about heroes. And warriors. And politics. And again, love. Being loved enough to have ancestors dream of a better life, fight for a better life, create a better life, and survive. Being loved by family enough to change countries, continents, and even names. And being loved by a country that was flawed and changed for the better.  A country that welcomed the unwanted, and hugged the unlovable. A country that is supposed to be about the circle of mutts, mongrels and regal. A country that gave them a chance to build a home for these young people of all colors, creeds and religions to sit in a circle, laughing, sharing, and loving each other.

They will make that same country better. Today, they learned why they are here, how they got here, and why it is important. They will now pay more attention to the history being taught. It’s their story. It’s their history. And their future. What a great day of learning.

The easiest way to connect is sharing.  A team that will study together, ask questions together, learn answers together, will win together. Shared IQ and Intelligence. Each one is smarter with another. Quite often, the ball court is a classroom. Connections don’t just happen. They happen by choice. They happen by planning. They happen when people care. Care enough to ask, care enough to listen, care enough to tell, and care enough to share.

When this is done, we know more. Knowing more means caring more. Caring more means sharing more. When we know who we are, who we all are, we are better for it.

That is true, on the field of play and off. That’s what learning and loving through sports is all about.

LovePrints.

Posted in Weekly LovePrints
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LovePrints. Dear Parents, Can we talk?

LovePrints is covering those around us in love. It is making sure that our loved ones can identify love in action, and actions of love. It is the process in which the other thing is identifiable as NOT love.

It is time to have a talk parents. It is time to action in love!

When the young people are sent off to high school, and then college, and then life, they should be sent with a covering of love. They should have a clear example of what love looks like, sounds like, and feels like. They should have experienced love at its simplest, and at its deepest. They should have been around love, about love, and for love.

What happens is, some parents get lost in the business of acting in like. They get caught up in attempting to be a best friend, a bro, a girlfriend, instead of the love standard. The standard is often the ability to say what needs to be said, rather than what the young person wants to be said. Sometimes, there is a need for cold hard facts, stone cold truths, and absolute boundary. Sometimes, the young people need to know what is important rather than what is easy. That is love. Caring enough to say what needs to be said. Sometimes, no is the best thing that you can say,

What happens is, a hole in the relationship between parent and young person leads to a vacuum that requires filling. When the vacuum exists, it is natural for a young person to try and fill it. Sometimes, they have been conditioned to fill it with love. In some cases, they are familiar with filling the vacuum with the first thing willing and able to fill it. This is when the LovePrint is needed. It should good friendly. It should make the other thing not stick. If love is not present, the young person will search for something, anything, to fill it. Give them something good. Give them love.

What happens is, a change in the environment is inevitable. It is going to happen. The moment the young person becomes accountable for their time, their energy, their well-being, and their spirit, the sharks in the water surround prepared to attack. To feast on the young one if possible. If the young person is taught to recognize danger, they know how to defend, how to analyze, and how to make a decision that honors the mission rather than the impulse.

What happens is, the young person needs access to you. They need the freedom to tell the truth. They need the freedom to ask questions, and the freedom to not have all of the answers. They need to be able to be wrong, but not limited to it. They need the ability to stand up for good, run away from bad, and the wisdom to know the difference.

What happens is, a price tag has mistakenly been stuck on their self-esteem.  The price tag is wrong. The ability to understand and have access to folks like the good that they seek to see and be, different from them, and those in question and with doubt. And, if done properly, the young people will know their value, live within their own boundary, and stand strong in their beliefs.

What I hope is that parents sit down and have some honest discussions with your young people. You need to know what apps are on their phone, what emails and profiles exist, what is being said, and at what level. What I hope is that conversations begin with I love you, and end with I love you. If parents remember the mission, the result is clear, and the path is straighter.

Prepare your young people. Give them answers. Give them skills. Do not send them unprepared into the world. Teach them to add to their community and environment. Demand that they know more than to ask for more. Demand that they are capable of basic life skills, basic adult skills so that they are not a burden to you, your family, or your community. Give them the information required to add to whatever school, team, or club they plan to join. Make them impossible for those clubs to refuse them. Do that!

Do not send your young people into the pool with dirt on them. Teach them to be clean, to be considerate, and to be kind. Teach them to handle the basic needs of a young adult away from home. That is an act in love. That is making them better, their future better, and their possibilities better.

Teach them to balance a checking account. Teach them to save money. Teach them to do laundry. Teach them to manage time. Teach them to wake themselves, bathe themselves, and medicate themselves. Make sure that they can prepare a meal, know how to shop, aware of the price of vital items, and to eat well.

Show them how to be online safely, how to date safely, and how to communicate with strangers about boundaries. Make sure that they know their value, they know their contact information when not stored in a phone, and talk about dating apps on their often not smart phones. Have a secondary contact process in play, have a regular check in day and time, and feel open about asking who they are dating and why.

Teach them to iron clothes, use the dry cleaners, use a vacuum, and clean a bathroom. Make sure that they change the sheets, can write a handwritten note, and can look people in the eye as they talk. Remind them that a phone is often used to actually make a phone call, that books are meant to be read, and that you don’t have to have that last drink. Teach them to travel safely, walk with purpose, and to know who to trust.

Let them know that it is always a good time to call home, no matter the hour, day, or reason. Its is perfectly fine to get an ok from the parents before making that big dating decision, and there is always room for the update about good grades.

Never forget to remind them of who they are, what they want to be, and why they are wherever they are. Keep their eyes on the important prize, and nothing is the end of the world. They will never be too old for a hug, even if its after cheers or tears or fears. The next thing is waiting, the last thing is past, and mom and dad can talk them through anything.

The truth is always more welcome than a lie or an omission. A failed test is just a strong lesson, and we all have the same 168 hours a week to accomplish whatever we are doing.

And finally, Cover them in love. Cheer them, correct them, redirect them, inspire them, example for them, and love them. Out loud. A lot.

Go,

Love.

Posted in Giving Back
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LovePrints. A grandmother’s love. Great women raise great people.

Great women raise great men.

A loveprint has staying power. It travels well. It has depth and value. It exists in parts of the soul that is deeper than memories, and, is able to appear and re-appear at the most perfect of times. It is the healer of pain, the remover of scars, and the new layer of skin that allows us to move on, forward and up.

I have detailed my search for facts, my want of details, and a more complete knowledge of self. As the search moves forward and up in several directions, what I am finding out is that no matter what facts are added, no matter what memories are ahead, the loveprints that cover me and walk with me are clear to me. The value of love shared with me can not really be measured, so I want to use this vehicle to tell the stories, share the stories, and maybe someone will decide to look within themselves and find some love on them and in them that might have been forgotten. Maybe, someone will read this and have it reach a loveprint of their own. It might even move them to reach out to a loved one with appreciation and thanks.

Big love can come in small packages. I have often said that I refuse to live in fear. That is because I have learned that most things feared have some power and value to you if you stand firmly and look closely at it. The fear that I once had is now respect. The one person that I feared in the world became the person that I respect the most. She was big in persona, and she was the most formidable force that I have ever witnessed on this earth. She could make miracles happen, she could make me taller, she could change any room that she walked in, and if you asked my siblings and relatives, she could walk on water. Her smile was the ultimate compliment, standard, and authority. It had the power to erase doubt, add happiness, and confirm goodness.

My grandmother, Hattie Sue Harris, shared the same birthday with me, and it was a common point of discussion for us. When I was having one of my better days, I was her 51st birthday present. When I was resisting her love, I was her aging her faster than she wanted. She was the family matriarch, and with   people in the family, she was the tip top of all things. My grandfather would not waver to many, but he had a clear understanding of who really was in charge. She was powerful, forceful, strong, and stable. She was constant and consistent. She was the pillar. And I never knew that she was short until much later in life.

She was Big Mama, the ultimate woman, the superhero, the therapist, and soother of souls, and the worlds best cook. She was everything. I think all of us kids knew this back then, even if we never said it to one another in words. We knew the sets of rules. Behavior and our grandmothers house, and our behavior anywhere else (which included the knowledge that any such behavior would get back to her, so you better watch your step at her house or anywhere else!).

Her house was the center of the family universe. It was always full of life and love, and was the usual meeting place for family branches from all over. Any given weekend, there would be relatives from DC< Maryland, New Jersey, Philly, etc.  gathered there. I know I am describing many G-Ma’s, Mimi’s, Nana’s, etc. , and that is my point. I did not recognize then that I was included in the blessing. I did not realize that this was why she was there. This was a greater good. Not everyone had a version of this. Many did not have her excellence as a standard.

The house smelled like love. It sounded like love. I knew what love was. THIS WAS IT. I knew that I would be love, and loved there. I had a big family and extended family. It was joyful. There were young people playing outside (we would NEVER play inside) the grown ups were inside or at the picnic table out back. There was my great uncle spinning the hits from in my mind, the greatest collection of music in the entire world. We kids knew the day was turning up when he began doing his little dance in the basement. (A collection that was hands off!)

When I said the house smelled like love, love smells like hours of preparation, care, and joy. It came from a kitchen where cakes, pies, the worlds best fried chicken, greens, ham, fish, and more were always ready for anyone who dared announce their hunger. There was a grill outside just in case my uncle decided to fire it up and crush some burgers and hot dogs in between hands of cards. And let me tell you, these card games were epic. Marathons of talking smack, laughing at one another, and reestablishing a pecking order just beneath Hattie Sue. She was always the tops.

The house was always immaculate. From the yard to the steps and everywhere inside. Even as she cooked, it was in order. Each room had its own energy, and each one demanded respect. Sundays were filled with gospel on the stereo, and words of wisdom and love from Hattie Sue. She could put words together, let me tell you. I do not remember her ever cursing, but she did not have to. To this day, I can see the look in her eyes, the curling of the lips, and a stare that said PLEASE CONSIDER YOUR NEXT WORDS AND ACTION YOUNG MAN! It was the moment that I feared. I did not ever want to return to it. I did not want to be around it. So, I tasked myself to never repeat whatever behavior would bring it.

I got to live with her for a bit in my teens. My school bus stop was right across from her house, and it worked. As one of eight kids, any time I could get one on one attention and lover, I took it. She settled me down, lifted me up, built up my spirit and my soul, and made me better. Every day. Every single day. She gave me chores, she gave me smiles, and she gave me goals. She gave me a way. She gave me an example. She gave me a North Star. She was the way.

She gave us a home. We all had houses, but she was HOME. I pay attention to what people run to and away from. She was the magnetic force for good. She was the lead dancer, even when she was sitting down. Her ability to demand that you show her your best still walks with me. Her decision to smile at you was epic. Her desire for goodness for us all was her force each day. She gave of herself because she knew that she had much to give. More importantly, she gave herself. She gave you time. She gave you wisdom. She gave you nutrition. She gave you Hattie.

I never feared again. Not anyone. She taught me that love is often tough, it is often loud, it is often challenging. I learned that love is not determined by the size of the person, but the depth of their intent. She gave me rules to love by, steps to take, and a way to be better at all of it. She taught me that faith is the voice of love, and that it is the voice in your head that guides you to do right. She taught me that anyone that cooks for you, cares. That you should focus on doing good, often. She taught me that short in size didn’t matter nearly as much as the size of heart. She loved me enough to tell me what I needed to know instead of what I wanted to hear. She told me the truth.

She walks and talks with me daily. I hear her voice. I hear her laughter. I see her smile. I remember that look. I will never forget her love.

Thank you for being the example of love in action, and action in love.

I thought of you today, I love you out loud. I need to write this now so that it is in the air forever.

You deserve that.

Thank you.

Posted in Weekly LovePrints
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LovePrints. There can only be one “Pops”. A Thanksgiving thank you.

There can only be one “Pop”.

Some of you know that I am in the process of finding out who my DNA family is, and it has been such an emotionally exhausting task that I decided to journal as progress happens. Along the way, certain parts of my history are brought to the front of my memories, to the front of my heart. I will soon know for a fact who my father is, what my name should have been, where my forefathers came from, and what names do they possess. In no way is this journey meant to disrespect anyone, as it is a fact-finding journey, and facts matter.

To say that I do not know who this person is may be confusing. There are people who loved me then and now who earned their place in my heart and memories. There are those who came and went, and those who stayed. The is but one “Pops”. No one will ever take his place or fill his shoes. In the season and spirit of thanks, I am choosing to simple pay tribute properly.

What do you say to a person who came into your life and changed it for the better?

Thank you.

A LovePrint is love in action. An action in love. It is the covering of those your care about in so much love that nothing else can stick. It is the canvasing of people in your circle of so much adoration that they take it into their world and do the same thing. One act at a time, in love.

Roland Thomas Morgan came into my life around the age of 11 or so for me. I remember not being overly impressed initially, but I had no reason to not give him a chance. I asked my favorite question:

” Who are you?”

He told me that I should introduce myself first before asking such a thing, and that led to a conversation of two bullheads, one age 11, and the other, a grown man. What happened was a mutual respect club of two, as he promised to be decent, and I promised to do the same, We would agree on was that we both wanted my mother happy, and after was agreed upon, we would be able to reach agreement on most other things.

My mother raised me and taught me how to be a good person. Pops taught me how to be a man. I can only speak for myself on this, and recognize that he had his flaws and imperfections. What I can say is this, he lifted me up in ways that still stick with me to this day. He challenged me, he inspired me, he gave me directions, a helping hand, and love.

He was my personal driver, from school, from practice, from games, and from work. In those minutes and hours, he showed me the world. He fed my dreams, he plotted my successes, he gave me the soundtrack to my youth, and he gave me a reason to believe in the good in people. He changed my taste in food, he introduced me to style, embraced our differences, and told me stories about the war. He explained life before integration, set boundaries for life after, and prepared me for whatever was coming next.

He took my curiosity of sports and fed it like I needed it to survive. My love for boxing was passed from his lips to my soul with stories of Jack Johnson, Cassius Clay, Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston, Rocky Marciano, Jake LaMotta, and his favorite, Joe Louis. If you ever wanted to see a smile that could light up the sky, ask Pop about Joe Louis. The pitch of his voice would raise from the deep bass as he described meeting Louis after he fought Schmeling the second fight. He would laugh in this disco club style bass speaker pound when talking about the differences between Ted Williams and Willie Mays. The Splendid Splinter was his guy. He would chuckle whenever he asked me to lock Williams swing and run to first base.

He is responsible for my love of music. He would drive us around DC, Maryland, and Virginia with a car full of 8 tracks that included Barry White, Eddie Kendricks, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and Sam Cooke. But his guy was Teddy Pendergrass. My goodness! He would let me choose the artist, and then spent time telling me where they were from, why that mattered, why it sounded the way that it did, and I can’t hear those artists today without smiling and hearing him sing above their music. He drove me to the Cater Barron Theatre to listen to the Dells, Impressions, and the Staples sing during a sound check before their show that night.

He thought he could dance. He really did. He was the prototype of the old black guy trying to dance to this new fangled hippity hoppity music in the early 80’s. but finally came around when he could recite the chorus to Rappers Delight. He also introduced me to Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and this new cat named Richard Pryor, who had albums that I could only listen to when no one else was home.

He used to take me shopping for clothes because THE LADIES LOVE A MAN IN TIGHT CLOTHES! I knew that not all men were created equally whenever he rocked his open chest shirts. Everything looked good on the man.

He taught me to know my way around the kitchen and laundry room. NO WOMAN WANTS A MAN WHO WEARS DIRTY CLOTHES. And, making his bed should be a mans first task in his day. He handled clothes inspections each morning before school, that line from the iron should make the crease sharp on the jeans. Anything else is unacceptable.

He would give my team uniforms the once over as well. Making sure that I had the right black polish or spray paint for the Black Knights Football helmet painting on the back porch the Friday nights before Saturday games. Clean those cleats as well! Make sure that the converse leather was clean. And straight into the laundry post game. He made sure they were set out the night before school. No last-minute chaos, young man.

He would ask me to breakdance. He wanted to understand. He wanted to understand the need for a beer bong. He would sneak to watch me play, masking fear that I somehow wasn’t proud of him, or that he wouldn’t fit in with the majority of white parents at games. But he was ALWAYS there. He knew about injuries before I could tell him. He would always look for my homework. I WAS WIRED TO USE MY BRAIN AND NOT LABOR.

He could build anything by hand. I was horribly disappointing at it. He still patiently worked with me. He got me a paper route that turned into three. He got me a summer job clearing rooftops and houses, which to this day is the hardest thing I have ever done. I couldn’t wait for two a day practices to start so that I wouldn’t have to kill myself with him on these roofs.

He would check in at work. Always. And he never offered advice openly. He managed to weave the conversation to lesson points without ever letting on that he was teaching me. And, he was happy to help.

He was the voice in my ear on dates, and he was undefeated in picking out keepers. He spotted Beckie early, and even gave her the nickname Bex. I still use it today, some 35 years later. If I dated you more than once, he cosigned you. If not, well, he didn’t. He was protective in the best way possible. He wanted the best for me.

He is also the reason I do not like guns. I never felt threatened, but he had one in the house for work, and I hated it. He was loved Johnny Walker Black, and Johnny Walker Red for the holidays. He never got me to meet him halfway with pig’s feet, chitterlings, or pickled eggs. He took me to Baltimore to see the Orioles after the Senators left town, and to see the Colts and Always Hurt Burt Jones! He did all of this because he wanted to, not because he had to. He did all of this when the person who could have, didn’t.

He did all of this until the day he died. He never wavered in his love for me, or those I loved. He never once said that I couldn’t. I never forget the day that he threw down the gauntlet and challenged me to a fight since I had been spending those hours in the basement lifting those weights. He said I was ready. I was. I remember coming home from doing my first television show. The big 6’3, 240lb man cried. He said I impressed him. He said I was ready for the world.

He also cried the day I came home from Charlotte. He had gotten satellite tv so that he could watch his boy talk football in Carolina. He said that he knew that I talked funny for a reason! He had taped the shows and given them all to his friends to watch. And we celebrated in a way that many of you have shared with us. A shot of Johnny Walker Black.

It is with tears on my face that I type this. He deserves these tears. No matter what I find out from DNA, there will only be one and only POPS.

What do you say to someone who came into your life and made it better?

What do you say to someone who covered you in LovePrints?

Thanks, Pop.

Thanks.

 

 

 

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LovePrints. Thank you. YOU!

Great sports are great people. Great people are great sports.

Thank you makes it all better.

The idea of LovePrints is the covering of the planet in love. One person at a time. One act at a time. Love in action. Action in love. Love out loud. A constant message is loving and learning through sports. The games we play are a mirror to life away from the field, away from the court, away from the water, away from the net, away from the sticks, and away from the whistle. If we get this right, we can make them all better. We must.

It all starts at home. The parents and the family. The nuts and bolts to it all. The games do not matter without the core values of family. Love should start at home, be carried into the community, into the schools, into the places of faith, into the events, and into relationships. Teams are an accumulation of parents and families united, connected, and missioned. They mirror the people who work to get them in place, and if actioned in love, make a proud statement of who they all are. The parents and family should be the standard for love so that the athletes know what love is, know how to identify it and seek it out. It also gives them protection from the other thing. To the parents who work, cheer, show up, support, rally, lift, and love, THANK YOU.

It is passed on in love to the schools, communities, and teams. If done properly, there is a coach there in place who respects the love mission, and adds more love. The coach is there to cosign the family’s love, and enhance it, shine a light on it, and help it shine more brightly. The coach is there to cover the team in so much love that the players lift the family, lift up the school, lift up the team, and lift up the players themselves. The players should be so covered in love that nothing else can stick. The coach can do that, should do that, and must do that. As the love is shared, victories are won. Losses are learning experiences, and accomplishments are given value. Purpose is recognized. To all the coaches who put in the work, lift, elevate, effort, achieve, and love, THANK YOU.

The athletes must love what they do, why they do it, and how they do it. If love is the why, the how and what become irrelevant. Love of self, love of others, and love of the game can move the family and community forward and up. That should be the basis for all actions in the game. Does it take you forward, and up. That is where love is. Forward and up. If the athlete is loved at home, loved in the community, loved as a teammate, it is much easier for them to love themselves. Again, if they are so covered in love, nothing else can stick. Nothing else will stick. Nothing else will matter. To all of the athletes out there who love, and are loved, THANK YOU.

Community has the ability to make the athlete, the family, the team, and the planet a more loving place. It can make love the why, it can make love the how, it can make love the what, and it can make love the who. If the community is a place of love, love occupies the vacuum, and nothing else can. Community is the vacuum, and if we spend each day, each opportunity, loving, nothing else will stick. We may not be able to make the other thing exist, but we can make love the louder thing, the prouder thing, the more constant thing. We can make love the objective, and in that, we can direct love to and for everyone, including ourselves. To each of us in the community who love, purposefully, constantly, loudly, and continually, THANK YOU.

If you officiate the games, cheer at the games, clean up after the games, set up before the games, take care of the players during the games, work during the game, secure the games, announce the games, cover the games, watch the games, financially support the games, wear the colors at the game, nurse them back to health after the game, feed them for the games, direct traffic at the games, or simply applaud the games themselves, THANK YOU.

If no one has said thank you, I just did.

If you have not said thank you, do so now.

I say this…LOVE IN ACTION. ACTION IN LOVE. LOVE OUT LOUD.

GO!

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LovePrints. If you love the game, action in love.

If you love the sport, treat it right.

Love it out loud.

Love. The bible defines it as such:

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love. Webster’s defines it as such:

Strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties.

 

Affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests. 

 

Warm. Attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion.

 

The object of attachment, devotion, or admiration.

 

Unselfish loyal and benevolent.

As coaches, players, and parents, and fans, we all speak of love for the games. Love. If in speaking of the games, we remember this, we will all speak more love into the game. If we do so together, out loud, the games will always be elevated.

As coaches, if we are patient, kind, unselfish, warm, devoted, and protective, we are truly acting in love of the game and the people in it. Coaches who understand the real reason they are in this charge can do amazing good in their position. It is a labor of love indeed, and if the love is the first thing and the last thing, good will come from it. Good will come with it. Leave the anger outside the game. Coach the evil away. Delight in the good in it. Let good persevere. Let the truth be said. Let the truth be known.

If we honor the trust put in the position, the lives that will be bettered from them, and the love that will be shared and spread can only make the game more than it was. Patience is in the teaching of skills, the improvement of person, and the lifting of spirits after a stumble. Kindness is in the understanding that trials come with battles, and there is a need for compassion and consideration when they do. Warmth is the invitation to truth, and enhances the connection between coach and community, coach and parent, coach and athlete. Devotion is the simplest idea of doing what is right before, during, and after the game itself. Preparation, planning, commitment, and path are all tied to this one thing. Love the game enough to prepare for it, even when time is short, energy is low, and the negative is loud. Be protective of the game itself, but be protective of your players more than that. Never choose the game over the young person. Protect their bodies, their spirit, their future, their hearts, and their lives. Do so loudly, constantly, and consistently. Be protective of the truth. Be protective of why we are all in this. Love. Love in action. Action in love.

As parents, the task of handing your most prized possessions over to anyone is daunting. Hold love as the mirror and measuring stick to everything in and about the game. Make sure that everyone in the game is being loving. Hold the mirror to yourselves as you watch, cheer, and enjoy. Make sure that your words and actions say one thing. Love. Make sure that the athlete is loving themselves as they play, and that everyone else is as well. Hold your athlete to standards of love, and demand that they are patient, kind, warm devoted, and protective. Keep their character and integrity in the front of all things, and make sure that they know that you are watching and loving. Help them prepare for the games, help them be devoted to the task, and keep them on the path to admirable and strength. That is your task. That is love.

Athletes like to say that Ball Is Life. I amend that. Love is Life. If you live for the game, you better love it, and you better love it properly. Love the game enough to honor it. Love the game enough to prepare for it in its greatest form, and yours. Love the game enough to make it better when you are done with it, and more importantly, it with you. The ball stops bouncing for us all one day, and we should all strive to say that when that day comes, we gave it everything, especially love. Be patient, athletes all. The game is everywhere, and everything. It can take you good places, or bad. It can make you better, or worse. It can make you stronger, or weaker. It can make you loving, or hateful. If you love it, it will love you back. The game can only love you as you love it. This statement is undefeated. Give to it what you want from it. Do so with patience as the game does not give you anything right away. It demands that you take time, grow, fall, get up, fail, succeed, and repeat. Those athletes that love it enough to patiently continue the process, reap the benefit of the process. Devotion is trusting the process. Love is in the fall. Love is in the sweat. Love is in the effort. Love is in the sacrifice. Love is in the repetition. Love is in the constant. Love is in the game, the practice, the preparation, and the victory. Love is the ultimate victory.

Love the game. The game wants to love you. Let it.

Go.

Love.

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