Sunday, July 29, 2007

The APOLOGY....A Lost Art?

It occurs to me that much of what we are taught in school is useless and the things that would really be helpful to us are never taught. Things such as managing our finances which could make life as adults so much more stress-free and enjoyable are overlooked in favor of Calculus which unless you are on your way to rocket scientist land will provide no advantage to you in the real world. One of the things that should be taught to every individual on the planet is the art of being a participant in an apology. Note that I said the art of being a participant in an apology and NOT the art of apologizing. In my opinion, most folks do not excel at this activity and from my observations, it does not seem to matter if one is the individual making the apology or the one to whom the apology is being made; typically, they both suck at the job. So I thought I would take some time to share some thoughts on the art of participating in an apology in the hope that I might be able to help others in some small way.

To start, here are a couple examples where participants in apologies have lost their way:

  1. "I'm sorry for whatever it is that you think I did to you?"
  2. "I know I was wrong but you did the same thing two weeks ago and I didn't say anything about it, but whatever, I apologize if it will make you shut-up."
  3. "Just because I accepted your apology doesn't mean you are off the hook; you owe me."
  4. "I accept your apology but I don't forgive you yet."
Apology: a justification or defense of an act or idea, from the Greek apologia (απολογία). An apology can also be an expression of contrition and remorse for something done wrong. An example would be: "I apologize for stealing your carrots, please forgive me!"

One of the fallacies of most of the world's thinking about apologies is that the individual making the apology is not sincere if they in any way attempt to offer an explanation of how they ended up in the predicament requiring an apology [i.e. What do you think when you hear the following, "See, what had happened was..."]. As is evident by the Wikipedia's definition of the word apology shown above, "justification and defense of one's actions or ideas" can be an integral part of an apology. It is important to remember this when receiving an apology as it is always the right of the "alleged offender" to offer his/her perspective on how what transpired occurred. Allowing the offender to share their perspective or rationale in some cases can make it possible for the receiver to be able to accept the offered apology when he/she might not otherwise have been able to understand the why of what happened.
Another fallacy is the thought that an apology MUST be about regret. Though sorrow may be involved in most apologies, it is NOT a required ingredient. It is possible for an individual to feel no remorse for their actions that led to an injury requiring an apology even though they might feel remorse about having caused the injury. The offender's intent should play some role in determining whether or not to accept an apology particularly when the injury occurred without malice aforethought. Even so, the individual making the apology must be cognizant of the fact that though he/she might not feel remorse for the circumstances that led to them needing to make an apology, they ABSOLUTELY must admit that they were responsible for some level of wrong otherwise, no apology would be necessary. These are the minimal responsibilities of the individual making the apology.

If an individual finds his/herself in the unfortunate position of being owed an apology, even though they are the injured party there are minimal expectations placed upon them as well. This person should take the time to examine his/her true feelings about what the apologizing individual did that necessitated the apology. During this examination of the situation the person receiving the apology should honestly assess the amount of injury that was inflicted, the true intent of the offender, and whether or not they themselves have over-reacted. The individual receiving the apology should be honest with him/herself about whether or not anything the offender might offer to do could truly make things alright again. If the feeling is that reparations can be made to "even the score", the receiver of the apology should decide for him/herself prior to the apology being offered what exactly those reparations should be in order for the offer of apology to be accepted and the injury forgiven.

Finally and most importantly, the receiver of the apology MUST then be ready to forgive the offender effective immediately following acceptance of the apology.

My own experiences and objective observations have shown me time and time again that few view the process of apologizing and accepting apologies in the same way that I do. Society at large seems to view the process of apologies as anything but a serious matter as is evidenced in pop culture [i.e. Ruben Studdard's attempt to apologize in advance for all of 2004]. Personal experiences that I have had demonstrate that most people not only expect apologies to be filled with a level of grief and remorse that few of us truly feel outside of funerals, but also, that offering any semblance of an explanation of one's own rationale or reasoning invalidates the entire apology. Additionally, in most cases it is a virtual impossibility to offer an acceptable apology because the individual to whom the apology is being offered has absolutely no idea of what they require to deem the apology acceptable. I definitely understand the notion of "different strokes for different folks", however I find it very hard to comprehend this idea of grudge holding. If an apology is accepted, that in essence means that all is forgiven and bygones will be allowed to BE GONE!

So, in an attempt to improve the appreciation of the art of the apology from both perspectives, I have developed a list of dos and don'ts.

When making an apology:
  • DO be sincere. Sincerity is essential to a good apology.
  • DON'T offer an insincere apology as the lack of sincerity makes any attempt at apologizing a waste of time for everyone involved.
  • DO be specific about EXACTLY what it is you are apologizing for. If indeed you believe you were justified in taking whatever the actions were that led to the need for the apology to be made, feel free to offer a brief explanation. Focus on the fact that even though you felt your actions were justified, you regret the outcome of the situation and are willing to do whatever is agreed upon by both parties to repair the situation.
  • DON'T place too much emphasis on trying to explain yourself as it may in actuality read like a lack of accountability on your part.
  • DO understand that the person to whom you are apologizing feels that he/she has been injured and because of this may need some time to decide if he/she can accept your apology.
  • DON'T rush the person to whom you are apologizing to accept your apology.
  • DO allow yourself to forgive yourself regardless of whether or not your apology is ever accepted as you are really not a bad person even if you were in the wrong in this situation.
  • DON'T assume that your apology will be accepted. Extending an apology is NOT a guarantee of acceptance of said apology and it most certainly doesn't guarantee forgiveness.
  • DO move on regardless of the outcome once you have made your best attempt to repair the injury.

When receiving an apology:

  • DO proactively set expectations relative to the elements the apology must contain in order to be accepted.
  • DON'T wait until the apology is taking place before you set your expectations as this will cloud your thinking and you should determine for yourself what is necessary to make things right as you are the injured party.
  • DO allow the person extending the apology to explain him/herself.
  • DON'T allow said explanation to become a "Jedi Mind Trick" that leaves you feeling everything was your own fault.
  • DO decide if the offered apology is sufficient to repair the injury you experienced or not and use that as the basis for accepting or refusing to accept the apology.
  • DON'T accept the apology if it is deficient in any way that is important to you as you will be resentful and feel taken advantage of in the long run.
  • DO expect that if the apology is accepted you MUST forgive the injury and NEVER bring it up again.

These are the minimum responsibilities of each individual participant involved in the process of offering and receiving an apology as I see it. I would love to hear your thoughts whether they differ from or are aligned with my own. Please drop a comment as I am interested in the perspectives of others regarding this issue.

In closing, properly extending and receiving an apology in my opinion is fast becoming a lost art. In an attempt to build greater interest, appreciation, and participation in this art, I offered this post. If however my perspective doesn't offer as much insight as you might need regarding making a good apology, there is always this website which you can utilize as a last ditch effort. Unfortunately, the website one can utilize to properly accept an apology and move on is yet to be developed; so until further notice you're on your own in this department!

I am sorry that good apology etiquette has become a lost art and I hope that I have played at least a small role in bringing it back to its former glory.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Just Exhaling....525600 Minutes Later

Under normal circumstances, the PO does not routinely read this blog. Occasionally I send him the link when I have written something I want him to see. I will not be sending a link today because though these are probably the things I should be saying to him, I don't think I can without my intent being misconstrued. If by chance you do ever read this my love I hope you will absorb it in the spirit that it was written; not as an accusation or condemnation but as a way of relieving my mind of some weighty issues that I did not know what else to do with.

I need to talk. I need to clear my head. That is not what this blog is usually used for, but right now I need to talk but I don't want to talk to anyone directly. I just need to say some things that are on my mind that I can't or don't want to actually say out loud to anyone. I just want to say them.

I am in love. I know it without a doubt. It is not something I question because every single cell in my body is over-stimulated with the force of the feelings I have for my PO. At 42, this relationship has me feeling like a teenager. The sheer intensity of it scares the hell out of me, and that doesn't even begin to touch the surface of the emotional roller coaster I am riding right now. If one could graph a curve representing the emotional highs and lows I have experienced over the last year, neither the peaks nor the valleys could possibly be charted. It makes me dizzy. I am constantly trying to get my equilibrium in check.

On one hand, this is a great thing. It is so passionate and I get to feel everything I feel to the maximum level; so when things are good, it is exhilerating. On the other hand, when things are not good, it is exhausting. Right now, things are not good. I keep thinking of the phrase "trying to sleep in the bed you made", and I wonder if that is what I am doing, trying. Please don't get me wrong, I don't have any hesitation about sleeping in this bed as I didn't make it by mistake, I intended to make it; however, I just find myself wondering if this is "the bed" I am supposed to be sleeping in. I wonder if a couple that is "right" for each other would have to try to sleep in the bed they made. The problem is that I know what I want, and he is it; nevertheless, I wonder often if I am really what he wants?

I'll say it again so that there is no confusion: I love my PO. I have no questions about his rightness for me; I just wonder if I am the right woman for him.

As I think back over my relationship history, I recognize the fact that I have not often if ever considered whether or not I was right for the person with whom I was involved; I have only taken into consideration whether or not he was what I believed I wanted/needed. For the most part, that has been my perspective in this relationship as well. Now, I find myself trying to understand what it is he needs? What does he want? Am I the woman who can provide those things? I can't answer these questions because I am not sure I know what he wants or needs; I'm not sure he knows for sure right now. The thing is that as my PO and I try to navigate the process of combining our individual lives into a joint one, I am beginning to see things in myself that I know I can't change and that he doesn't necessarily embrace. The reverse holds true as well, and subsequently, issues arise due to miscommunication, unspoken expectations, and baggage from previous relationships. Though we work hard at finding the middle ground on these issues, I feel that for some of these issues there really is no middle ground. I'm alright with this because I CHOSE to commit myself to my PO understanding and EXPECTING him to come with "imperfections" some of which would never go away or even improve. I am not sure that my PO operates from the same perspective, as he seems to be willing to throw in the towel a lot more easily than I am comfortable with.

I find myself wondering why that is and what it means. Does it imply that I love him more than he does me? Am I more committed to the relationship? Am I more invested and consequently do I have more to lose? OR, am I living in a fantasy land of "trying to sleep in the bed I made" while he is living in the reality of "life without rose-colored glasses"? Is what I deem "commitment" really just an excuse not to deal with a situation that may have run its course? What can I discern from his "call it quits" attitude if anything? AND, am I over-analyzing everything or is this just another of the basic differences between us?

I talk a lot. I know this; those of you who know me and those of you who don't actually know me personally know this. This is not something that is likely to change and I know better than to even consider trying to curb the impulse. I am a person who has very definite ideas and opinions about every thing and I make decisions relatively quickly. I know what I want, and don't hesitate letting others know what I want. I don't often find myself second-guessing myself and am typically ready to move to the next thing pretty quickly. I don't get angry easily or often, and when my anger flares, it passes quickly. I don't prolong anger. I don't wallow in it. I don't hold grudges. I have been accused of being confrontational, and I don't deny that I am. However, my tendency is to confront the issue whatever it is and move on. I am very open about myself, my feelings, and my life. I love hard. I CHOOSE to love those I love. When I CHOOSE to love someone, everything I am and have is invested into that love. When love doesn't work out the way I hoped it would I am annihilated. This is who I am.

I know my PO loves me. I know he cares about me. I just am not sure he can love some of the many parts of me that make me the me that I am. Thus, it is not my characteristics that make me question my suitability as a mate for my PO; it is his response to these parts of me that are not very likely to undergo significant change that cause me to wonder if I am the right woman for him. I know that I am ALL IN as far as this relationship goes. I am totally committed to my PO and us having a life together. I have CHOSEN this man with all of his imperfections. I am content to let some disagreements and/or dissatisfactions go unresolved indefinitely because my need to just be with this man is stronger than my need to resolve every issue that we have. I hope he feels the same, but sometimes I think people stick because of a self-imposed obligation they feel. Sometimes I think people move too fast for themselves and then try to stay the course out of fear of hurting someone they care about. I hope this is not the case, but I wonder. If he were to tell me that this is the case, I would love him and myself enough to let him go. I would be annihilated, but I would do it.

I know he loves me, he tells me all the time. I wonder though if he loves me enough. I wonder if he loves me enough to accept that I love him and with him is the only place I really want to be. I wonder if he loves me enough to hang on to me through whatever shows up on our horizon and to never let go. I wonder if he loves me enough to try to comfort or support me during my times of need even when those times occur on the same day that I have made him so angry he feels like he wants to explode. I wonder if he wants me and wants to be with me in the all-consuming, can't think, can't breathe way I want to be with him. I wonder if what he feels for me is strong enough to allow him to override his cynicism about women and relationships in general and accept that I am only interested in what is best for the both of us. I wonder if [in spite of whatever his pessimistic nature might be telling him] he can love me enough to accept that I have only one agenda and it is not hidden: to be with him.

Then again, I wonder if he cares enough about both of us to get out of this relationship if it is not what he truly wants.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

525600 Minutes.....Part Two

This is the graduation photo of a young lady named LaVena Johnson. Though she and I are both natives of St. Louis, Missouri (the "show me" state), and might even have been neighbors at some point as she and I both have lived in Florissant, one of St. Louis' largest suburbs, we are not acquainted. As it stands, I was only introduced to Ms. Johnson two days ago by way of this post on my pal DP's blog, "Parrish, The Thoughts".

You may be wondering, why I am writing a post in my 525600 minutes series about a young woman I didn't even know existed a year ago. The answer to that question is simple, it is because a year in the life of this young woman made such a profound difference to her and her family that it has compelled me to want to spread her story.
Ms. Johnson, an "A" student at a local high school here in St. Louis graduated as expected, but instead of going off to college, she chose a different road. She decided to join the United States Army in order to earn the money to help pay for her own college education. Ms. Johnson was inducted into the army, successfully completed basic training, and inside of that year, found herself at the inconceivably young age of 19 years old off to serve her country in Iraq.

On July 19, 2005, PFC LaVena Johnson died near Balad, Iraq; she would have been 20 years old just eight days later. Ms. Johnson did not die in combat. Her death has not been deemed accidental. Her parents were told by Army representatives that PFC Johnson "died of self-inflicted, noncombat injuries," and initially they were also told "it was not a suicide." This cause of death is not supported by the findings of the autopsy performed on PFC Johnson nor does it jive with the forensic evidence found at the scene of her death. In the link to the full story on DP's blog you can read all of the particulars of this case and view a well-done local newscast that details this family's struggle to find answers. I truly hope you will click the link as this beautiful young woman and her family have not received the courtesy and respect that her sacrifice deserves.

Contrary to what some might be thinking, this is not a post about whether or not America should be sending our soldiers to Iraq. Of course I have opinions about that issue, but this is a different issue entirely. This post is simply about what our soldiers and their families are owed when 525600 minutes impacts their lives in ways as unimagineable as a year in the life of this particular family has. PFC LaVena Johnson deserves justice and the Army owes her the courtesy and respect of doing everything in its power to help her to receive it by discovering what actually did happen to her. Her family has been irrevocably altered and for what they have been forced to give up, they deserve a full investigation into their daughter's death, an explanation of how and why it happened, and a full apology for having to go to such extreme measures to get what the Army owes to each and every family of a soldier killed while on active duty.

Perhaps the problem here is that Ms. Johnson was just a private and not a high ranking officer. Maybe if she had been a celebrity things would have been handled differently; maybe not. Recall the situation involving Cpl. Pat Tillman, the NFL player who joined the Army and was killed by friendly fire which was at first deemed a combat death. Referring to the difficulties encountered when trying to learn the truth of the circumstances surrounding her son's death, the mother of Pat Tillman was once quoted as having said:
"This is how they treat a family of a high-profile individual,". "How
are they treating others?"

After reading this, if you do nothing else, please click this link which will take you to the website where you can sign the petition to impress upon the powers that be to re-open the case of PFC LaVena Johnson's death. You will also be able to forward the petition to those individuals in your email address book if you are so inclined which will help to spread the word further and faster. The petition has been being circulated since February 21, 2007 and though it had great momentum in its early days, that momentum has slowed significantly so please pass the word to others as well. Together we can bring justice to LaVena and closure to her family.

GOD's blessings, love, and comfort to the Johnson family.

A year in a life can change everything.....

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

525600 Minutes...A Year in the Life (Part One)

By nature I am an upbeat, happy-go-lucky, optimistic kinda person. Even so, sometimes bad things happen to me. More often though, GREAT things happen to me. I believe that we get what we expect out of life, so I guess according to that view one could say that great things happen to me because that is exactly what I anticipate having happen to me. I don't know, maybe it is a "which came first chicken or the egg" type of phenomena; in either event, I don't really believe it is important to know why or even how it happens this way as long as it does happen.

Anyway, this approach to life serves me well and makes it easily possible for me to get through the rough patches in my life. At the risk of sounding like a Pollyanna, I have been known to live and give the following advice when I or someone I love is dealing with the lowest points in life:

"I know this is hard. I wish I could change that but I can't. However, try this....Think back to one year ago today and try to remember what you were doing, how you felt, and what the major focus in your life was. Now, imagine this date one year from now and try to imagine what you will be doing, how you will feel, and what the major focus in your life will be. Nine times out of ten, a year ago you were not caught up in whatever it is that has you down today; and more than likely a year from now, what you are going through today will be a distant memory. In a mere 525600 minutes, you might have new problems to replace this one, you may have found your way through the cloud that is this problem and be basking in the silver lining inside of it, or you may even have discovered a completely new and unrelated joy. Either way, you won't ALWAYS be caught up in this or feel the way you do right now, and that in and of itself is THE BLESSING."

The last calendar year has been so incredibly pivotal in my life, that I thought I would spend some time reflecting on it and the wondrous impact it has had on my life as well as the lives of those with whom I come in contact. This may take a few posts, but I'll start with the thing for which I am most grateful to have been a part of in the last year.

A year or so ago I wrote the post you will find here. I was deeply caught up in my concern for the health of my oldest brother, and in an effort to make light of the situation, I created the "Top 10 List". . . I remember receiving so many compliments because I was giving my brother a kidney and thinking, "Who wouldn't give their brother a kidney if they could? What's the big deal?" Today, 525600 minutes (give or take a few hundred minutes or so) later, so many thoughts are racing through my head as I reflect back to that time. My brother and I checked into the hospital for his kidney transplant a year ago yesterday. I remember the week before because I was frantically trying to make sure my son, house, and life were in order just in case things did not go as I knew they would. I was NOT afraid; I just wanted to be careful and make sure my bizness was handled just in case. I EXPECTED things to go well and they did. Scratch that, they went phenomenally! And now, 525600 minutes later, my brother's health is no longer my major focus as it was a year ago; yet, I believe it does warrant an update on this blog because so many of you were an integral part of the journey right along with us last year.

My brother had his last dialysis exactly a year ago today, the morning of our surgeries. Typically, it can be anywhere from 6 months to a year before a transplanted kidney begins to function; thus, many transplant patients continue to require dialysis for some time even after transplantation. This was NOT what we expected to have happen in my brother's case; we prayed that his kidney would work as soon as possible. That was what we expected and it was the outcome following my brother's transplant. His new kidney worked immediately upon being transplanted into his body as if it had been there all along. Like I said, you get what you expect.

Last week, my brother called me with great news, his kidney is still functioning wonderfully. So well in fact that the trips to the doctor he has been required to make every 3 months since our surgeries, have now been decreased to twice yearly appointments. Additionally, the weekly blood tests that have been necessary every Saturday since the week following the surgery (to certify that his body was not rejecting the kidney) have now been reduced to once a month. My brother is living the normal, happy life he deserves and planning to go for the first time on our next family vacation cruise in 2008.

From the moment my brother first became ill, I knew intuitively I would help him. I expected my kidney to be a good match; it was. I expected to be able to undergo the surgery and come through it with no residual complications; I did. I expected my brother to be able to go back to living a normal life again after the surgery; he has exceeded every expectation I ever had relative to this. I'll say it again, you get what you expect.

Great expectations are a wonderful thing. I have great expectations. I can have great expectations because of one thing: prayer and faith. I know some of you sticklers are saying "That's two things", and that is where you would be WRONG. They are one thing because neither works without the other. I have faith in my prayers and I pray faithfully; because of this,

I have GOD's permission not only to have Great Expectations,

but also to expect them to come true!

Sunday, July 15, 2007



You can check out the movie trailer here.

Monday, July 09, 2007

What Makes You Feel Like Doing Stuff Like That?

You Are Periwinkle

You're very intuitive and sensitive. You often know other people better than they know themselves.
You're also quite optimistic, and you think well of yourself and others. You know your dreams will come true.

Today, was one of those days that was a mix of all things. It was good AND it was bad. It was relaxing AND it was hectic. It was carefree AND complicated all at the same time. As is so often the case when I am frustrated, confused, or just plain confounded in my personal life as I am today, I tiptoed into the lives of others by way of the internet and blogland. Happily, I found a comment from a young lady called Sissy who you can find here. Her comment in a nutshell kinda brought things together again for me. Call it ego if you will, but there was just something so nice about seeing in writing, "I like your style and enjoyed my time here, I'll be back for sure!".

Anyway, I ventured on over to "oh-spare-me", Sissy's blog and found the blue quiz I posted at the top of this post. Now once or fifty-eleven times over the years, I've been told that I'm pretty damned gullible when it comes to things like these quizzes. I am always amazed because they are typically spot on when they describe me based on the answers I give to their questions. I have been told time and time again that these things work by giving broad-stroke, generic descriptors that would apply to the majority of any population being analyzed. Now for all you new friends I am making, let me just say that I am actually one of the sharper knives in the drawer so don't take what I'm saying here the wrong way....I' am not a candidate for the swamp land your great Uncle Dumbass left you; is that clear? Okay with that said, here goes ego alert number two....I BEG TO DIFFER....most of y'all are no periwinkles :b!!!. I know I am periwinkle (and proud of it too dammit!); but I would also have to say that very few if any of the people I run across casually or get to know in-depthly are made of much of the same great stuff described in this analysis of the periwinkles of the world.

Daily it seems, I find myself wondering why he did that or why she did not do this. I am often asked how I could do such a generous thing as this or why didn't I go tee-totally off when this or that person did such and such a thing to me. It got me to wondering in the words of the old school classic, 'What Makes You Feel Like Doing Stuff Like That?'

I'm definitely no authority, but as they say, I think we are who we are and we do what we do and it is just as simple as that. That being the case, Sissy thanks for your comment this evening, I don't know what made you feel like doing stuff like that, but I sure am glad something did!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Is One Thing But Damn!

First things first, Happy Independence Day!!

Those of you who have visited me here from the start know that I love a holiday. To me, holidays are excellent excuses (though in my case none are needed) to get together with people you love. I await them eagerly and typically I am throwing some shindig or another; but not today. Today I am in Ohio and happily anticipating sharing my first summer holiday with the family of my intended. As I said, I love holidays.

Now, to the real point of this post.

I realize that today is the day on which we as a nation celebrate our collective independence, and that is a very good thing to celebrate. Each and every one of us as American citizens are entitled to celebrate the history of our country's emancipation and those who made the freedoms we enjoy possible. However, in the midst of our celebrations of our independence, I find myself wondering if just maybe we have become too independent?

This morning, even though I am in a different physical environment, I undertook my usual routine which includes a quick news run-down on the internet. I was saddened to read of an incident involving a woman who was stabbed in a convenience store full of people none of whom offered her any assistance. This poor woman was left to die on the floor as patrons of the store stepped over her; one person even stopped and used his/her cell phone to take the dying woman's picture and even then offered no assistance or so the article went.


For the horrible isolation and pain that woman must have felt as she lie on that floor and bled to death, I am so sorry. No one should feel that in the midst of others. My prayers and condolences go out to her and her family and I hope her murderers will be punished. As bad as the people who perpetrated this crime are, I personally believe that those in the store who were aware of her predicament and still offered no assistance are a very close runner-up for the "Damn! Am I A Tragic Waste Of Skin" award themselves.

What could these people (and I use the term loosely here) possibly have been thinking. Have we become so independent that we don't feel any responsibility to offer assistance in such a dire situation? Have we really become so "me oriented" that we can look ourselves in the mirror after having witnessed such an incident knowing we did not do all in our power to come to the aid of another? I don't know how those individuals were able to do what they did in that situation. Maybe there were extenuating circumstance of which I am unaware. Maybe....I think its doubtful, but I sure hope there would just make me feel better.

In any event, I for one am longing for the days of community that would never have allowed such a thing to happen. I'm remembering with a fondness that I never would have guessed I'd ever feel a past neighbor of mine, Mrs. Hopson. She was a crochety, old woman who lived next door to me when I was 12 years old. She had a beautiful home and yard and no children. She would spend her days sitting in her front window yelling out to the kids in our neighborhood to get off her "sidewalk grass" know, the grass by the curb that actually belongs to the city. Anyway, back then I believed I hated that old woman. Now, 30 years later, I realize something I did not know then, she was one of my protectors. What I know now that I didn't know then is that with the Mrs. Hopsons of the world around, we were safer than we are without them. Though she would have snitched to my Mama in a hot minute if I stepped on the line let alone over it, she also would have seen and interfered with anyone trying to bring harm to me or any other kid in my hood. I assure you, that no kid ever went missing on her watch; and if any harm ever did come to any of us, Mrs. Hopson would have been the first to offer aid and then would have offered a more complete incident report to our parents than any emergency room could have provided. Though independent, Mrs. Hopson and those like her still get that we are a community and owe allegiance not only to our flag and country, but to each other as well.

So as you celebrate our country's independence and maybe even your own, please make an effort to understand that independence and isolation are not the same thing. We are all interconnected and so as you celebrate this theme of independence today, also celebrate the Mrs. Hopsons who have crossed your path because in them, we are able to see the best example of independence.....the ability to choose to stand up.

Happy 4th of July to you Mrs. Hopson wherever you are now.... I Love You and those like you!!!!