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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. Dr. John Butler.

Posted in Good Sports
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LovePrints. The 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Loving and Learning through sports.

Sports can be the great bridge.

As the 2018 Winter Olympics opens, the LovePrints motto “Loving and Learning through sports” comes to mind. Sports has always been a bridge for the rest of society. It allows for opponents to get to know one another, share similarities, and grow together after competition. They get to go outside of their comfort zones, meet a diverse group of people, learn about different cultures, and become more socially aware of people from other places. Sports has always had that power. The power to connect.

Sports is a bridge, a teacher, a healer, and a leader. It connects people who normally rival one another. It uncovers the common bond of preparation, ambition, and desire. Of all of the things that athletes respect, it is the work required to excel. It is the knowledge that their rival has done as much as they have, or more. They know what their rivals have sacrificed, and they know what they gave up to have success.

Sports brings to light the simple idea that aside from all other things, it can be fair. It can be the thing that helps us talk more and hate less. It can be the reason we work, the reason we excel, and the reason we improve. Sports can also be the light. It shines on the good and bad, the happy and sad, the great and the greatest. It can be the mirror to society, and the way to pull us all together.

The Olympic motto is the hendriatis “Citius, Altius, Fortius.” Faster, Stronger, Higher. It calls for us to understand that the most important thing is not to win, but to participate. Some speak ill of participation as a goal. Participation is the line of steps required to win or lose. I am a fan of participation. It requires one more step forward into greater that others may not take. From there, faster, stronger, and higher can be constant fuel for us all.

The Olympic spirit and its five rings symbolizes the five continents and all its people. It holds its six colors of inclusion, considering each of the flags of all countries, and the populations that play under and for them. It crosses borders, boundaries, and stereotypes. It allows the simple concept that the best athlete on that day, at that moment, is celebrated. It allows that we all see the best in them, and ourselves. They become the standard. They become what we aspire to, dream of, and applaud.

As I watched rival countries sit near one another, and fiercely competitive athletes eye those athletes who stand in the way of their own individual moments of greatness, it becomes clear that sports has pulled opposites together. Sports got them to the games. And hopefully, the games will provide a bridge for familiarity and consideration. If we can sit together, maybe we can talk to one another. If we can play together, we share something worth talking about.

Here’s to the 2018 Winter Olympics. May it show us our best reflection. May the games bring us closer together, like the Miracle on Ice. May the strangers become friends. May the lessons of humanity be taught and learned, while we gain the ability to care about the people playing the game.

At the open of the ceremony, the broadcast led with this quote. “..always start with dreams, the best stories always begin there.” Sports is the bridge from dream to reality. It connects them. It waits patiently for the crossing. Loving and learning. Thank you, sports.

 

Posted in Good Sports
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Why do student athletes fail? The question may be the problem.

Why do Student Athletes fail? The question may be the problem.

They don’t. The adults fail.

Student Athletes are products of the adults that love them (or don’t). Student Athletes live in a vacuum of adult created and crafted vacuums, each one filled with mixed messages, confusing priorities, and adult angst. Let’s get to the gut of it all. Adults identify (or don’t) the priority. Adults finance the space (or don’t). Adults are hired to achieve said priority (or don’t). Adults create and raise the student athletes, giving them love, purpose, love, goals, love, belief, love, and support (love).

Now that we have identified the new focus of academic failures, we can work to fix the problems. (Adults). Here is the plan: Keep the first thing first. These are student athletes, not athlete students. When done extremely well, they are SCHOLAR ATHLETES (Yes, I dare to set higher standards). Once the adults agree that the student comes before the athlete, then the path to succeeding at the first thing clears. There are fewer obstacles. There are fewer questions.

Adults, please remember moving forward (and up) that ACADEMICS is the thing. Academics is the key to love of self and others. It is the gift to one’s self that keeps on giving. It opens doors, it finds solutions, and it is a statement that the student is love, and loved enough to improve and add to society, community, and the planet. Practice this statement with your students “Learning is love”.

Adults build the communities, schools, and fields. If the academic focus and priority is clear, decisions about them become simple. What is the first thing? How do we make it better? Is it working? Is it love? Yes, love will be a constant in this. Love of self, family, community, school, others and planet. “Learning is love”. Teaching is also love. The giving of knowledge and information may be one of the great blessings known to mankind. The accepting of that love is the sign of intelligence that is carried throughout life. The openness and willingness to be taught, to accept information, to be questioned, heard, considered, and pondered is how invention and creation are born. And, reborn. Feed love. Love feeds.

When those schools are built, “This is where love lives” should be on every building and in every classroom. These words should be in every teacher contract and on every desk. Adults in place should be asked if they love themselves before being given the responsibility of loving our young futures. They should be asked if they love their students. They should be asked if they love what they are teaching and sharing. This ensures the reinforcing of the positive and loving environment that learning needs, and deserves.

When adult coaches are hired, ask them if they know what is THE focus is. (Academics) Ask them what should they focus on when the first thing and ANY other thing conflicts with it. (Academics) Ask what they are being paid for. (Academics) Ask again, what comes first? (Academics). Then celebrate them when they succeed at it. Celebrate them when the thing that comes first is KEPT first. Celebrate them when the love that they have is shared, repeated, and multiplied. Celebrate them!

When adult teachers are hired, ask them the same questions what comes first? (Academics) Then, ask again. Remind them that they are there to love someone’s, everyone’s young people, and to teach them. They are there to love them, even when they do not feel like loving them, or self. Does their love show in their lessons, in their planning, and in their daily connections? Does love appear on the faces of the students, and do the students leave their classrooms in more love than when they got there? Do the students ask questions, do they smile, and do they say thank you? The adults own the room, they are the keepers of time, and the directors of the lives they touch daily.

When the adults send the students to school, is there love on them already? Love comes in all sizes and colors. Love can be a few hugs before and after school. Love can be authentic questions about the day before, the day of, and what the next day holds. Love can be a kiss on the head during study time, it can be a text during the day to remind them of love of themselves and from home. Love can be an email to the teacher or coach saying thank you, one to the student confirming pride and support, or a text to yourself reminding you to send love later. Love can be ten minutes each week with no cell phones and just two smiles, yours and theirs. Love can be acknowledgment that you understand what they are going through because you were them, once.

When the schools, teachers, coaches, parents, and community all state constantly and consistently what they focus is, that is what it will be. When each of them remember that the system is simply the fence posts in place, each one needing the other to help boundary great young people into greater old people, the fence keeps the priority in place. When one post loosens, the others should feel a tug when resistance happens. When a student strays from the path, the posts are pulled with them, signaling to them all that reposting is needed. When the adults remember what the focus is, focus becomes clearer. It is up to the adults to not fail. As coaches are prone to say, “Win or learn. Never lose.”. Once the adults learn that it is STUDENT ATHLETE, winning happens. Some would say that learning leads to winning.

I cannot wait until the adults learn. The student athletes are trying to win. They need our help. And, our love.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Parents
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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 voice in the stands is a good one. Don Dunlap & LovePrints

Great people make great communities.

Great communities make great people.

The communities that we are raised in leave deep impressions on us. We carry those forward, and share them with the world. It is important to realize that those impressions can give us an advantage. Those impressions can give us direction, motivation, goals, purpose, and identity. Those impressions can provide support, affirmations, and a mirror to who we are, and can be. These impressions, when done well, are LovePrints.

As any community would want, our wish is that our young people learn from the elders. In perfect cases, the young people learn values, work ethic, the importance of the truth, and to love themselves and others. These LovePrints become the vehicle that moves the young people forward and up. These impressions are the voices in the ear of young people who leave the community. These impressions are the things that separate one young person from another. These LovePrints can provide boundary, focus, and the answer to many of life outside of the community’s questions.

The impressions can come in whispers, shouts, hugs, smiles, pats on the back, and looks from across the field. They can be the quiet, proud mom who simply nods, or the mom at the top of the bleachers, screaming at the top of her lungs to make sure that above the noise, above the action, the young person knows that she is there for them. They can come in notes from teachers who want to make sure that you get it, or from adults in the hallway who see you wavering from the forward and up, but nudge you back onto the line towards something good.

LovePrints can come in the from of the dad who sprints home after work to change from his Clark Kent clothes to his Coach and Superman Cape. They can come from the uncle or older brother who makes time to make sure that the young people understand that these are games, and that the game is not nearly as important as the person who plays them. These impressions can come from Pastors, Mentors, neighbors, and friends. No matter where they come from, if done well, they will travel well after they are shared.

One such LovePrint for me was the giant of a man with a thunderous laugh and a booming voice. His words were strong, and they always had purpose. He could smile and make you comfortable and uneasy at the same time. He was always processing information, and constantly sharing it. He had many gifts, including his amazing kids, and he had one that sticks with me to this very day.

As a young man, I played in the Arlington County Little Leagues, and among the hundreds of parents and families that stood out to me, this one has a special place. I managed to get transferred from my neighborhood clubs in South Arlington to some schools and teams from North Arlington. At age 9, I was bused from a predominantly black neighborhood to a predominantly white one. I lost some friendships, and gained some. The people that filled those holes may or may not know that they did so. Loveprints allows me to tell them.

At the new elementary school that I was sent to, there are certain people who became dear and lifelong friends. A few were made during gym class or at recess, with sports as the common thread that brought people together. We played the games, talked about our favorite players, and tried to emulate them as best as we could. In some cases, we became teammates. In others, we became rivals. In a few cases, we became both.

I can not emphasize this enough. Often, I was the only person of color in my class at school. I usually did not get the comfort of being comfortable. I became protective. I felt like it was me against them. And then, these friendships happened. They turned on the light and made everything bright. They allowed me to have some home base to come to. I had sounding boards, mirrors, and reflections.

Dave was one of the many who I connected with, in the classroom, and on the court/field. He had this awesome way of smiling as he played. It was competitive, but not angry. We both enjoyed playing the games. We tried to understand them. We never had a discussion that was about race. We just talked. We played. We were friends. We played together on a basketball team, we played against each other during baseball season, and we joked in between basketball plays and kickball victories.

On those days where games were played, everyone in Arlington watched everyone else play. It was a marathon of sports, all in one place, and all about each other. Among those watching Dave’s games, my games, was Dave’s dad. I found out that his first name was Don because Mrs. (Joanne) Dunlap often used his first name in addressing his ability to be louder at these games than everyone else combined. He had the ability to be heard from 200 feet away, this I knew. I could hear him as I stood in centerfield, at the free throw line, and at the concession stand.  DERRICK! Get your head up! (Wait, is that someone else’s dad yelling at me?) (Wait, that’s MR. DUNLAP!) Wait! (He doesn’t even coach me!) WAIT! HE’S COACHING ME! Joanne was always whispering “Don, give him a break, he doesn’t want to hear all of that! (They were both perfect. I didn’t WANT to. I NEEDED to.) She was an angel in my eyes. Another loving voice.

A reminder, this voice did not need a microphone or a speaker. It came with its own sound system and booster. It traveled above the normal voice levels of mere mortals, and it reached its selected ears with clarity and vibration. DERRICK! Settle down! Your feet are too busy! DERRICK! Finish the play! DERRICK! Great catch! Wait! Did he say great catch? He saw that! Awesome! I guess I better make more great catches. I like that a ton more than SETTLE DOWN!

I became curious as to what he said to David during his games. Get this…it was LOUDER! But, there he was, cranking out instructions, encouragement, reminders, cheers, and support. And the rest of the parents heard him, and followed. DAVID! Take the shot! DAVID! Great throw! DAVID! Meet me at the concession stand! (Yes, I am using exclamation marks to capture his spirit. He earned them!

After David’s games, or my games, Mr. Dunlap would always manage to catch me off to the side and speak to me., I pretty much could guess what he was going to say because he had said all of it ten times during the game. I always paid attention. I always had something to learn from him. It was always good. DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE YOURSELF! PLAY THE GAME! RELAX! YOU PLAYED WELL TODAY! Those things were constantly said to me. I always thought how lucky and afraid Dave must be. This towering giant would stand over me and rain down wisdom and guidance. He would stand next to Dave and coach us both. Here’s the thing. He did not have to, but he did it anyway. He may not have had the time, but he made time anyway. He always did.

As I grew older, I would hear Mr. Dunlap at high school games, and the voice never wavered, it never lessened. It always showed up. At a high school baseball game my senior year, I was having a horrible night at the plate. My final at bat of the night, THE VOICE hit me with STAY BACK AND GO AWAY! STAY BACK! Well, I stayed back and lined a triple down the right field line, and as I stood on third base, THE VOICE said SETTLE DOWN! I really never had to search for the source of the voice. It was like looking for the sun. Its just there. And there he stood, smiling. It was perfect.

Years later, I have run into the Dunlap family, and its always a homecoming to me. I am pretty sure that they don’t realize that they are deeply in my blessings corner, but they are. I see their dad in them, and I recall them in him. It hits me that he is a part of the coach that I am today. His words ring out, his presence is copied, and I remember to smile when I get their attention when I call out to them.

It was not until later in life that I found out that he played basketball for Maryland. It may or may not have made a difference since he was already larger than life anyway. But it did help make sense of his aura, he energy, and his person. It only made the whole persona thing make sense. He played for Maryland. It made sense.

What I hope is that some of you reading this are the Don Dunlap’s of your young peoples lived. I hope that you are the voice, the presence, the time giver, and the parent. I hope that you are loudly loving those who are near you, and that they some day tell people about you. I hope that David and Diane understand that I am thankful that their amazing dad shared himself with me, and me with them. I appreciate that I should be to others what he was to me. I hope that anyone reading this takes the time to be Donald Dunlap to someone.

Thank you, Dave & Diane. Thank you, Joanne Dunlap, for your constant gentle hands and heart. Thank you, Don Dunlap. Your voice is carried forward with me in your LovePrints. We all know that you are still with us. When we hear your voice, and think of your face, we look forward and up. That’s where you are.

You know your mission forward. Be someone’s voice. They are out there waiting.

Go. Love Out Loud.

Posted in Parents
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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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