Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Oprah’s Interview with Bobbi Kristina and Family

July 27, 2015

Bobbi Kristina Brown has passed away at the tender age of 22. She died Sunday evening, July 26, 2015. Today I am re-posting a review of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Bobbi Kristina in 2012. It was Bobbi Kris’ first public interview after losing her mother, Whitney Houston. In the light of the devastating news about Bobbi Kris, I wanted to share again the interview that showed that Bobbie Kris, despite still grieving her mom, was hopeful and seemed to have a future. Oh how we were all pulling for her that night.

Oprah  Winfrey  interviews Bobbi Kristina for first time after Whitney Houston's Death. (Photo Credit: OWN/Ophrah Winfrey Network)

Oprah Winfrey interviews Bobbi Kristina for first time after Whitney Houston’s Death. (Photo Credit: OWN/Oprah Winfrey Network)

I just watched Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Bobbi Kristina Brown (Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s daughter), Gary Houston (Whitney’s brother), and Pat Houston (Whitney’s sister-in-law). It was a very emotional program. I went into it with a sense of apprehension mixed with “I can’t miss this”. I must say that I was very relieved with the outcome. Here’s why.

I remember seeing Diane Sawyer’s interview with Whitney a number of years ago, and although Diane asked the pertinent questions, it got a little combative. With Bobbi Kristina having just lost her mother, I wanted to hear from her, but I also felt a bit protective at the thought of this teenager being thrown to the wolves with pointed questions raining down upon her like jabs in a boxing ring. I needn’t have worried.Oprah to the rescue.

I can’t think of a better person than Oprah to have conducted this interview. Oprah welcomed Bobbi Kristina with arms outstretched, and simply held her for several moments. You could see that she put Bobbi Kristina at ease. Oprah led Bobbi through favorite memories of her mom. She asked touching questions such as “what will you miss most about your mom?”, and “what was your last day like with your mother?”.

I was so happy to hear Bobbi say that, though it was difficult, looking back she sees that her mother was preparing her for the day Bobbi would be thrust into the spotlight. And she felt that Whitney’s spirit was still with her saying “keep moving on. I’ve got you”. Bobbi said she has her up times and times when it hits her hard, but that she’s taking it one day at a time. Overall Bobbi came across as a very composed young lady, dealing admirably with the loss of a mother she so clearly loved and cherished. I believe Whitney would have been very proud of her.

Pat Houston struck me as someone who loved Whitney very much, enough to dare to stand up to her in a world of yes men. She spoke honestly of Whitney’s problems, but said that Whitney was dealing with her issues and, towards the end of her life, was turning things around for the better. She shared that Whitney was last at their home on New Year’s Day. She said she’d never seen Whitney so happy as she was when they played a rousing game of bingo down in the basement. She described Whitney as laughing the whole time and thoroughly enjoying her time with the family.

Pat went on to poignantly describe her last moments seeing Whitney when, despite the authorities trying to force her out of the hotel room, she was unable to leave her friend Whitney alone. She stayed until the EMTs had exhausted all rescue efforts and covered Whitney’s face before they carried her body out. Pat said that in the end she feels that Whitney’s downfall was looking for love in all the wrong places. Whitney was human just like the rest of us. I must add that very few of us have not been in that same predicament at one time or the other.

Gary Houston was clearly a big brother in tremendous grief. When Oprah asked him about Bobby and Whitney, it was very interesting to hear Gary say that he loved Bobby and thought he was a great guy. He said, in effect, that Bobby and Whitney were very much in love, and were both great people. It’s just that apparently they weren’t good together. He couldn’t place the blame on either party. I thought this was an incredibly fair and objective statement considering how Bobby is routinely maligned by much of the press.

Gary said that the only people who really know what goes on in a marriage are the two people in that marriage. He did touch on the fact that he felt very violated by the fact that someone among the close family and friends invited to the viewing at the funeral home would have taken a picture of Whitney in her casket and leaked it to the media. He called the act “wicked” and I totally agree.

Oprah said that she’d spoken to Whitney’s mother Cissy Houston the day before the interview and offered her the chance to speak if she wished. Cissy said that she just wasn’t ready to speak yet, and understandably so. Gary said that his mother had told him several times that Whitney’s voice was a vessel for her gift from God and that they wouldn’t have Whitney with them for long. He said that though Cissy had mentioned this several times, Whitney’s death still devastated her. Oprah said that when she asked Cissy how she was doing, Cissy said “some days I’m not doing”. My prayers go out to Cissy and the family.

Though many of us are still reeling from the unexpected loss of Whitney Houston, I have to commend Oprah for the compassionate manner in which she conducted this interview, even shedding tears when witnessing the family’s grief in telling their story. Oprah Winfrey handled this interview in a classy, dignified and respectful manner. And in this sometimes sordid, cut-throat tabloid world, it was, quite frankly, a refreshing and hopeful change. Well done Oprah. Rest in peace Whitney Houston. Thank you for sharing yourself and your incredible voice with the world. Yours was truly “The Voice”.

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May We Please Speak with the Lady of the House: How is Camille Cosby?

July 20, 2015
What lies behind the smile? Let's hope it is not fear. (Photo Credit: pubsub.com)

What lies behind the smile? Let’s hope it is not fear. (Photo Credit: pubsub.com)

You can’t help but feel sorry for Camille Cosby. She is the beautiful, and apparently long-suffering wife of comedic legend Bill Cosby. For awhile it seemed as if she had it all. She wasn’t one of those people who jump on the bandwagon of an already shining star.  She married Cosby long before his career reached the stellar heights of “The Cosby Show”. She was there from the beginning. They had five wonderful children together and seemed, to the casual observer, to be a loving and close-knit family. It’s wonderful to be lavished with gifts such as new bracelets, necklaces or rings; But Cosby flew to the top of gift-giving husbands when he brought his wife an honest-to-goodness jet. Many of my girlfriends and I wanted to be her. But oh we had no idea what we were wishing for.

Cosby has been embroiled for the last few years in tales of his questionable sexual conduct. The problem is that these encounters were not with his wife, but allegedly, with a host of other women. Everyone loves the song “Stand by your Man”, and no one has the right to tell someone how to handle their marriage, but Camille seems to be handling this situation, and Cosby, with exceptionally gentle kid gloves. We don’t know how she has been responding to the situation behind closed doors, but her interviews bespeak a woman who is cool, calm and accepting.

Whatever is going on at home, not everyone is built to handle disappointment well. People and organizations left and right are fighting to have Cosby’s accolades rescinded. There have been talks of removing his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Disney is even considering removing a bronze bust of him from their theme park. A man can become moody is he loses a regular 9-to-5 job, so it has to be  much worse to see your public image bursting like the bubbles in the plastic that you wrap valuables in. And who is usually home to bear the brunt of a disgraced husband’s frustrations? Yes, the wife. Let’s pray Camille will be okay.

 

Don’t get married until you read this; it could change your life

June 9, 2015
This is the easy part. Your life growing together in Christ is where the work really begins. (Photo Credit:  en.wikipedia.org)

This is the easy part. Your life growing together in Christ is where the work really begins. (Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org)

Hi friends. Catch your breath and pull up a chair. Believe me when I tell you I just read one of the best articles on marriage I have ever read. I told my friend that first shared it on Facebook, that I feel it should be required reading for everyone before they walk down the aisle. A lot of it should be common sense, but I guess it’s just so easy to get caught up in the blissful feelings of love and forget about mundane things like common sense. So I am sharing the entire article with the disclaimer that full credit for the authorship and ownership (and all rights included therein)  of this article that appeared on boundless.org belongs to author Felicia Alvarez. And now without further ado, I bring to you this game changer in the litanies on marriage.

Your Future Marriage is Bigger Than You

When you first meet Ryan and Cyndi Livingston, you are immediately drawn in by their smiles and genuineness. They truly care about everyone. At church picnics, while everyone else is comfortably sitting with their group of friends, they spot the not-so-popular or new people who are by themselves and go chat with them. They are a young couple with three beautiful little girls, but you can tell that while they love each other and their children deeply, their main passion is Jesus. Their passion for Christ overflows into a sincere love for others.

I had the privilege of interacting with them multiple times each week at church functions, and every time I was blown away by how they served the Lord together. One evening in particular, as I watched this couple pray together with an elderly lady from our church, it dawned on me: This is how marriage should be.

Marriage should be about serving the Lord — about reaching people with the Gospel and impacting the world for Christ.

Yet we forget that simple truth so easily. We think life and relationships are about us and our happiness. But in reality, our future marriage is part of a bigger picture. Not only does it affect us as individuals, it affects our children, our family, our church, our community, our world, and it even affects eternity.

Start With the Right Outlook

I had always known that marriage was about Christ and His kingdom, but I had lost sight of it in my search for a spouse. I had forgotten that I wasn’t just looking for a roommate, a financial partner, a lover, or a father for my future children; I was looking for someone with whom I could build a godly legacy.

It saddened me that I had failed to apply this concept. In the past, I would date someone who was cute, had a good job, and went to church on Sunday — but his influence didn’t make me more like Jesus. Even though I knew he was pulling me away from Christ, I was so desperate for a boyfriend I would stay in the relationship.

Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, I’ve met many Christian girls who have also done this. Let’s face it: The pickings are slim, so we are happy to accept anyone who goes to church (even if it’s just once a month) and treats us semi-decently. It’s so easy to excuse the truth — that he isn’t the person God intended for you — because we want companionship, we want marriage. But a poor marriage could actually hinder you from doing all God has for you to do.

The Bible doesn’t say, “It is God’s will that you should be married.” Instead, 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified.” Therefore, God’s will for all His children, whether married or unmarried, is sanctification.

Your future spouse will be the primary influence of your spiritual life, so choose carefully. We must remember that marriage will not only affect our children and community spiritually, but it will also significantly impact our own spiritual growth for better or for worse.

How to Find a Legacy Man, and Does He Even Exist?

At this point, you’re probably thinking that the odds of finding a godly legacy man are as likely as finding a leprechaun. Let me assure you: Godly men do exist. However, sometimes we don’t see them because we’re not focused on the right things.

Timothy Keller in his book The Meaning of Marriage shares some wisdom from his wife, Kathy:

Most people, when they are looking for a spouse, are looking for a finished statue when they should be looking for a wonderful block of marble. Not so that you can create the kind of person you want, but rather because you see what kind of person Jesus is making…. When looking for a marriage partner, each must be able to look inside the other and see what God is doing and be excited about being part of the process of liberating the emerging ‘new you.’

Bottom line: Don’t look for perfection, but do look for evidence of godly growth.

I’ve listed below some questions that, when answered humbly and honestly, may help guide you as you seek who the Lord has for you.

1. Does he love Christ the most?

If he loves Christ the most, you can be sure that love will extend into how he treats you and others around him. You will see godly fruit of “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” in his everyday life (Galatians 5:22-23).

Fruit is the evidence of God working in a person’s life. If a man is growing in Christ, you can rest assured that he will lead with love, and you can confidently trust him with your life and future.

2. Does he encourage you to become more like Jesus?

In Sacred Marriage, author Gary Thomas writes, “We must not enter marriage predominately to be fulfilled, emotionally satisfied, or romantically charged, but rather to become more like Jesus Christ.”

Our goal should be to be with someone who spurs us on in our Christian walk and whom we can likewise encourage. This encouragement comes from his living out his faith by talking to you about what the Lord is doing in his life and praying and studying God’s Word with you.

3. Does he love you as Christ loved the church?

Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” If he loves you as Christ loves the church, he will love you sacrificially and strive to put you first in his life before hobbies, friends and work.

4. Can you serve the Lord with him?

Our purpose in marriage is to multiply the kingdom of God, and that doesn’t just mean by having lots of kids. It also means by reaching the world for Christ. If you and your boyfriend are currently serving the Lord together, that is exactly how it should be.

My Story

I did not ignore these questions when I first met my husband, Tim. I took a different approach than I had in previous relationships by centering the relationship on the Lord rather than my own needs or wants. I asked myself, “Does this relationship have the potential for godly growth?” and “Based off what I know about this man, could I see myself serving the Lord with him for years to come?” The answer was “yes,” so we continued to seek the Lord together as a couple.

In previous relationships, guys had told me all the right things, but they never lived out their words. I then realized that it’s not so much about hearing the right answers as it is seeing the right answers.

The reason I trusted Tim to be my husband was because I had not just heard, but experienced each one of the answers. I had witnessed his leadership and servant heart on a daily basis. Tim led me to the Lord and made me a better, godlier person. Because I had seen the fruit of godly leadership, I had a peace that I had never before experienced in a relationship. The Lord affirmed in my heart that Tim was the one with whom I would build, by the grace of God, a Christ-centered legacy.

Summing It Up

A godly legacy is not built on shared hobbies, but on a shared pursuit of Christ. Marriage is bigger than us — it’s about more than satisfying our wants and needs.

From experience, I know it’s easy to get caught up in a consumer or holier-than-thou mentality when looking for a legacy, so be careful. Remember, you are not just looking out for your best interest, but also for his. You should want him to find someone with whom he can also serve the Lord. In fact, if it’s a wrong relationship, acting in his best interest might mean breaking up with him in a loving and gracious way.

You will never find perfection, but with the Lord’s guidance, you can find someone with whom to build a godly legacy. So date with that heavenly mind, and know that your marriage today will influence the generations of tomorrow.

Hats off to Ma and Pa West; family values winning out

June 4, 2015
So far, so good. The Wests seem to be winning. (Photo Credit: www.flickr.com)

So far, so good. The Wests seem to be winning. (Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com)

It seems that several sources, including the NY Daily News, are reporting that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are expecting another baby. Unconfirmed rumor has it that the couple may even be expecting twins. And honestly, if it is true, most of us have to admit to a bit of surprise at this growing family.

 
They always seemed like an unlikely pair even when they were just dating. He just seemed so hyper and manic, given to outbursts at the most inappropriate times. And she appeared to be a groupie whose fame was predicated on homemade videos of the impolite kind. But lo and behold, they met and fell in love, and by all accounts seem to be loving and wonderful parents to their baby girl named after compass points. Well her daddy’s last name is West, so an argument could be made for giving her the first name North.

 
So though I may have been a little skeptical at the beginning, I must say I am really starting to enjoy watching this family expand. And I’ll tell you why, although I’m sure it won’t be popular in this age of everything goes. The fact is I love that Kim is having all these kids with her…wait for it…husband. What a novel concept right?

 
I actually stopped watching “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” because it seemed like almost every nine months we were force fed a pregnant Kourtney happily counting up reasons not to get married, but, instead, to keep procreating. Not the best message to be sending out to the impressionable young ladies watching the show. But now with the Wests doing their own thing, I think they might have a viable chance at a spinoff. I would definitely watch. Life is so funny, huh? What with the Daddy Jenner news, who would have thought Kanye and Kim would be some of the more traditional members of the family? You just never know.

Ice cold; social media and Bobbi Kristina’s daddy

April 24, 2015

By now many of us have heard the tragic story of how Bobbi Kristina Brown was found facedown in a tub of water and now, months later is still fighting for her life. Lately I’ve been reading some comments by what I call Cyber Hope Stealers that are very disturbing.

Bobbi Kristina and her parents   (Photo credit: globalgrind.com)

Bobbi Kristina and her parents (Photo credit: globalgrind.com)

Bobbi Kristina has always been in the spotlight. Her parents Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown were so famous that it seemed the world, at least music lovers, waited with bated breath for the birth of their precious baby girl. Probably a major reason that the news of Bobbi Kristina’s tragedy hit the public so hard, is that we’d watched her parents grow up and become major successes in the entertainment field. We followed their whirlwind courtship and vicariously enjoyed their fairytale wedding in a New Jersey palace.

Family fun at that magical place.  ( photo credit: theurbandaily.com)

Family fun at that magical place. ( photo credit: theurbandaily.com)

Despite the maddening pace and pressures her parents faced in the music industry, there seemed to have been moments of pure family fun and laughter. After all, Micky and Minnie Mouse can make all of our troubles disappear, even if only for a day. To the very end of 15 years of marriage, Brown and Houston pledged their love to each other. But I’ll never forget asking a divorced friend years ago why she and her husband split when to onlookers they appeared so much in love. She said that it was sad to admit, but the truth is you can love someone with all of your heart, but just can’t live with them. And that appears to have been the case with the Browns. I believe they genuinely fell in love, but either outside forces, inner demons, or perhaps a combination of things, made them decide to end their marriage.

Joyful Father/Daughter reunion.  (photo credit:  celebrity.yahoo.com)

Joyful Father/Daughter reunion. (photo credit: celebrity.yahoo.com)

As is the unfortunate case with many divorces, young children, if parents are not careful, can suffer collateral damage. They are not quite mature enough to make sense of it all, and may feel torn between the two sides in a strange adult-like game of tug of war. In this case Bobbi Kristina and her father were estranged a number of years before the heartbreaking death of her beloved mother.

It was extremely encouraging when Bobbi Kristina posted the above pictures via Instagram on June 15, 2014. Last year on Father’s Day they rekindled their relationship and were determined to become close again. Bobbi Kristina, in addition to the pictures, posted the following words:

“I got a running start! 😋 love you daddy! #familyfirst! Xxo”

“(: my face says it all.. 🙂 love you daddy!” and “#HappyHappyFathersDay,”

I am just so thankful they reconciled when they did, because they had no way of knowing what would happen only seven months later. Unbelievably, just when things seemed to be looking up for this family that had suffered so much misfortune, things once again took a turn for the worst, and Bobbi Kristina is now in a rehabilitation facility.

Most people are posting words of encouragement to her family. But the disturbing comments I referenced earlier have been targeted at Brown for wanting to be at his daughter’s side now, when she is seemingly unconscious, when he missed a lot of her teen years. What an outrage. Many parents want to be in their children’s lives after the dissolution of a marriage, and try their best, but sometimes the situation is less than desirable depending upon schedules, bitterness between the parents, or other logistics. Let them that have executed perfect child visitation, absolutely 100% of the time, cast the first stone.

Even more outrageous are the comments dismissing Brown as an opportunist because he didn’t pull the plug on Bobby Kristina after the first few weeks of unresponsiveness. Are you kidding me?  This is his child. Less than a seven months ago they just got their relationship back on track. I think these cyber bullies should just leave Brown alone, concentrate on having the best relationship they can with their own children, and pray nobody ever compounds their grief with criticisms should they find themselves faced with a similar decision as a parent. I thank you.

As the old Gospel song says, “the only time you should look down on a man is when you’re picking him up.”  I join the many others who have posted lifting Bobbi Kristina, Bobby Brown, Cissy Houston (Bobbi’s Grandmother) and the rest of the family in prayer for strength during this trying time.

Keeping Easter Real

April 4, 2015
Hallelujah, Christ is risen!  (photo credit:  selaluonline.com)

Hallelujah, Christ is risen! (photo credit: selaluonline.com)

Easter brings different feelings for different people.  For some it means a time of great festivities as the whole family gathers around to break bread together. For others, isolated or even newly grieving, it may be a time of bittersweet memories of holidays past spent with loved ones no longer here with us on earth. The key to getting through the holiday sane and whole is to remember that there are no one-size-fits all ways to celebrate Easter.

Easter is a day when Christians recognize the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, three days after He was crucified on a cross to pay for the sins committed by mankind. Here’s a nice detailed guide about Easter and its history. It is actually a very spiritual holiday. But sometimes it is easy to get carried away by the trappings of what we think Easter is supposed to look like. Not every Easter dinner has to be reminiscent of a Normal Rockwell painting to be considered successful.

Do what makes you happy and makes you feel grounded. If you’re tired of going to gatherings where well-meaning aunties gently ask are you still single, don’t go.  If you are tired of being asked why your spouse once again couldn’t make the family soiree, tell them to call and ask him/her. If you’re hosting and can’t afford the high-priced honey hams, put on a huge pot of spaghetti and call it a day. Beautiful memories are created by the quality of the time spent laughing and conversing with family and friends, not by the expense of the food.  Above all celebrate Christ and each other, and let go of the negativity. You will fill much better having alleviated the pressure of living up to superfluous expectations.

Happy Easter and God Bless.  🙂

 

 

You called me a what? Veronica goes to pieces.

March 19, 2015
Drama in the House!!!  (photo credit:  atlantablackstar.com)

Drama in the House!!! (photo credit: atlantablackstar.com)

How many of you watch Tyler Perry’s “The Have and the Have Nots”? I watch the show, and just about always enjoy it. There are two things I’d like to discuss right now and they are: Mommy/Son Issues and Don’t Call Me That.

Mommy/Son Issues

What in tarnation is wrong with Veronica? Every mother has wishes of how she’d like her child(ren) to turn out. There is nothing wrong with having those images in our minds, but what is dead wrong is trying to forcefully impose those views on them like they are our property. It seems the better thing to do is teach them values and morals to the best of our ability when they are very young and yielding. Once they are adults and can make their own decisions, we can choose to accept them or not, but we have no right to try to have our preferences beaten in or out of them. To turn a dangerous felon loose on your own child is crossing the line.

Don’t Call Me That

That last scene in the posh hotel bar can be taken so many ways. It was a very deep scene encompassing many story lines, i.e. David and Veronica’s relationship, David and Maggie’s relationship, and the dynamic between Veronica and Maggie. But one of the biggest takeaways to me was Veronica’s reaction to being called a “B” by David. She has done crazy things before behind closed doors, but has always had a public-ready facade in place when the doors opened and cameras started rolling.

 
This Veronica did not give two fig newtons that they were in an open hotel lobby. When David called her that name, she dove headfirst over the cliff of fed-up-ness. And I submit to you that her outward expression of rage is what any of us really feel, would feel, or have ever felt when called that name. If it’s a first date and a man calls you that, thank God you dodged a bullet, and run for the hills. But can you imagine having been married all that time, having invested your time and energy in promoting the joint success of you both, having squeezed out a child for this man, and then he calls you that? Explode would be the most like reaction for many.

 
Far too many women have become desensitized to being called that word because it is so prevalent in music, movies, and now even on television shows. We’ve gotten so used to hearing it that some of us call ourselves and our friends that to try to make it have a positive connotation, as in “I’m a bad B”. Well no matter how it is prettied-up and presented, it is still an ugly hurtful word. And Veronica played out the rage that we would feel inside; even should we decide to stay in the relationship. The word has got to go! Well done Veronica and more of us should insist “Don’t Call Me that”. I thank you.

Sodom, Gomorrah and American TV

January 9, 2015
What happened to the days when the whole family could watch TV together? (Photo Credit:  en.wikipedia.org)

What happened to the days when the whole family could watch TV together? (Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org)

This is one of those posts that I didn’t necessarily want to write, but felt compelled, almost duty bound, to compose. Some would probably call me a TV fanatic, because I love the talking box. I enjoy watching almost any and every kind of program. Regardless of the critics’ reviews, I normally give it a chance and make up my own mind. However, it seems that a lot of programs, in their efforts to be politically correct, are going overboard and showing too much.

Soap Operas

These types of shows have always been a guilty pleasure. The fantastical situations and years-long story lines keep us enthralled on a daily basis. Kudos to the writers, because as hard as it likely is for writers of weekly shows to keep things interesting, it must be quite a daunting task for serial writers to dream up back-to-back plot twists every day.

That being said, I don’t know if some of them are running out of ideas, or just trying to be inclusive, but something is a little off. For instance, there is one soap that features an hourglass in the opening credits. For the last few months, they have had a big buildup to a wedding between two men. Yes a fanfare-filled, Prince Charming wedding on daytime TV. Now these types of relationships have often been implied, but they showed the whole ceremony, right up to the kiss. But it didn’t stop there. Where I think they crossed the line is in repeatedly showing the couple in bed caressing each other and kissing all over. Once upon a time, sponsors would have balked, pulled their ads, and the scenes would have been deleted, but apparently this is a new day.

Reality Shows

There is one show that featured a former Olympic champion, his wife and the escapades of their three daughters. Then the story branched out as the grown kids began to take over one city after the other. I confess that I used to watch this show, but one day a light bulb went off. The oldest daughter, and the one who should have been setting the example for her kid sisters, is nonchalantly spilling out baby after baby, without so much as a howdy do, despite the fact that their children’s father still has not made an honest woman out of her. Like this is the norm. It was so aggravating to see this type of behavior celebrated, when it is so hypocritical. Let that happen in certain neighborhoods and economic classes, and it immediately brings out stereotypical comments of how “those” poor kids never have a two-parent stable home. But when you’re rich, it’s glorified? No ma’am, it doesn’t work that way. So I stopped watching.

Primetime Drama

It seems as if all of my favorite nighttime melodramas are being shot, live on location, in the polished-up burnt ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah recently. There is one which features a female lead who has the president wrapped around her little finger. And she specializes in handling things that could turn the nation’s capital upside down, if they were to become public. But lately all of the president’s men have been getting an abundance of screen time.

Then my show about the gubernatorial candidate’s family’s love-hate relationship with the housekeeper’s family is spinning out of control. Now to be fair, so far the plots have centered on the patriarch’s son, who is not into men, allowing little peeks and touches, to basically just toy with the judge’s son, who is struggling with coming out. Got all of that? But the show has thus far avoided the gratuitous mat-wrestling tussles that pass for love scenes.

Alas, one of my new favs has also taken the plunge. This fast-moving suspense piece takes the usually boring law classes and has the teacher do what thousands of real life professors long to do. This educator, who is also an attorney, has found a way to keep her students totally engaged by having them apply what they learn in class to the cases they help her solve. The show has some killer, literally, plot turns that keep the viewers on the edge of their seats in anticipation. Be that as it may, this show might be one of the worst yet, as far as aggressive, thrust-it-in-your-face, male-on-male groping.

I guess part of the problem is that these images are not just alluded to, but they are lingered on in overly-long close-up camera shots and angles. I feel that this constant and increasing exposure will desensitize us to the point where we feel any and everything is acceptable, because we see it all the time. Of course, if something offends us, we can always turn our heads. But when it gets to the point where you have to avert your eyes during the majority of the show, then Houston, we have a problem.

There are no immediate fixes or solutions. We don’t want to go back to the days of strict artistic censorship, but we do want to maintain a standard of dignity and decency. While we work on this, I’m thankful that some of the channels are now running some of the past gems in syndication. Those old “Andy Griffith”, “Sanford and Son” and “Perry Mason” reruns are looking pretty good right about now.

 

 

Three ways to beat the ding dong guilt.

January 6, 2015
Now you won't have to slink back to your car at the sound of these.  (Photo Credit:  en.wikipedia.org)

Now you won’t have to slink back to your car at the sound of these. (Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org)

Now that the holidays are over and we’ve enjoyed the warm fuzzy feelings, let’s explore another feeling that we often sweep under the rug. For want of a better term, I call it ding dong guilt. Why you ask?  Well because it refers to the feeling you sometimes get in the pit of your stomach when you’re all caught up in the merriment on the city sidewalks, and run smack dab into a cheery, or in some cases not so cheery, person ringing their chimes.  I won’t name any organizations, but suffice it to say that the representatives normally have on an apron and loudly clang clarions over a black kettle.  And they are usually blanketed over the entryways of EVERY store in town before and during the holiday season.

Don’t get me wrong. The first couple of days that we hear the winsome peals, our faces light up with joyous smiles because it’s like a symbol that Christmas is coming. It brings sentimental remembrances of earlier times when to grandmother’s house we went, as well as joyous anticipation of creating new memories as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But there is something a little embarrassing about rolling your buggy full of food out of the grocery store to feed your family, and having no change left to put in the pot to feed the hungry. And you can’t help but feel a tad remorseful when a clerk has to help you lug all of the toys you’ve brought for your little ones out to the car, and there’s nothing left to donate to kiddies who won’t wake up to any toys, save what is given through the kindness of others.

Well, that was 2014.  Starting this year and every year forward we can put those doldrums behind us. Here are the top three ways to beat ding dong guilt:

3.  Plan Ahead

It is the beginning of the year, so we have 10 full months before the November takeover.  So make it a family project and set aside a love jar. Whenever you come in from work, or the kids come in from school, put all of the change in this jar. By the end of the year, you should have multiple jars, or one huge jar.  Why not make it fun and instead of a piggy bank, buy or make a huge bell-shaped jar.  Some time in October you can have a fun night with some popcorn and hot chocolate, and spend a few hours as a family counting out and rolling the coins in wrappers. Then take the coins to your bank, exchange them for bills and happily be prepared to drop a gift at every store.

2.  Explore the Meaning

This is a great catalyst for family discussion and growth. You won’t be so tempted to grimace when you delve into the reasons behind these calls for aid. Honestly, in this day and age, when the majority of states still have their minimum wages at $7.25 per hour, a simple turn of misfortune could have any of us in dire straits indeed. So even though we may not be able to be our brother’s keeper 24 hours a day, we may learn to welcome the opportunity to do what we can when we can.

1.  Imagine

There’s a song by the late great John Lennon that expresses it beautifully.  The lyrics read:

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one.

Even though you will not be at the home of each and every recipient of your contribution on Christmas morning, allow yourself to imagine.  Picture the astonished screams of the child who never ever really thought they’d get a bicycle. Feel the joy of the mom who envelops her child in a warm coat, and knows that now that child won’t have to stand shivering from the cold at the school bus stop every morning. See in your mind the awed face of a little girl sitting cross-legged on the floor cradling her very first new Barbie doll after a short lifetime of hand-me down toys. Silent tears of happiness stream down her face because she never knew that Barbies came with two arms and legs.  Imagine…

The real reason stores are afraid to close on Thanksgiving and what it means to employees

November 19, 2014
The real winners (Photo Credit:  en.wikipedia.org)

The real winners (Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org)

Costco Statement:

“Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season, and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families.”

This notice has got to be one of the most beautiful and touching corporate statements to ever have graced the world of advertising. Many companies claim their employees are important, but do not show it in such tangible and public ways. I’d like to commend Costco and other stores who have decided to take this stance.

If you don’t like it, stop working retail

This is the cry of many in answer to employees who dare ask for holidays off to spend with their families. Well my friend, this is far easier said than done. Everyone working in retail is not there because that was their dream career. Not to diminish in any way the importance of those in customer service positions. There are stars in every field and I have been waited on in stores by some sales associates that are clearly operating in their gift. I left the store feeling like I was a valued customer and my allegiance was sealed.

However, we must admit that some of us work in retail simply because we need to. In this economy, you can see three cashiers in stalls right beside each other. They are all making the same salary, but one has a GED, one has a Masters degree, and one has a Ph.D. Some people are forced to take what they can get until they are able to find something in their field. This is not to say that we will not give it our all. We are there to do a job and determined to be the best at it that we can possibly be. It still doesn’t mean that we want to spend holidays there.

Hospitals and restaurants are open

Yes they are. But people need medical care at times that may fall outside of the parameters of normal business hours. And people require food to live. The critical difference is that as pleasurable as shopping is, it is not a necessity, and should not be treated as such. We all commend the people in essential positions such as police and fire personnel, those in the armed forces, etc. Department store employees, in my opinion, do not fall into this category.

How can this issue be resolved?

1. For one thing more companies can emulate large organizations like Costco (number two retailer in the whole nation) who seem to have their employees’ best interest at heart. Businesses like Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby extend this same care to their employees by closing their doors each and every Sunday so their employees can have a day of rest to spend with their families. This is unbelievably awesome as a business model.

2. Corporations should not let fear make them estrange their employees. Some stores are scared that the profits they would lose by being closed on a Sunday or on a holiday might cause them to go bankrupt. Not so. Again Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby are actually turning a profit, and not surprisingly, have a lot less turnover than jobs that put opening earlier on Thanksgiving over family values.
3. If a company feels that they absolutely must open on holidays, please have the decency to give workers a choice. It seems most of the tension arises from people being forced to work. In almost any schedule, there should be a little wiggle room.

  • The first thing a supervisor should do is let it be known that holiday pay is available.
  • Then canvass the team and see how many people are available and want to work. If the big boss mentality could take a back seat for just a moment, managers would be surprised at how many people might actually sign up to work for an extra time and a half per hour.
  • If this has been done and there still is not enough coverage, close the store. If a shutdown is not a feasible option, then start the manhandling in a fair way. Require the employees with the lowest seniority to work, and then two-step your way up to demanding the long time employees show up. Handle things in proper order.

I cannot stress how important it is for supervisors to be sensitive to the needs and desires, when possible, of their workers. There’s a reason old adages like “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” have lasted for centuries, and some of these sayings should become a staple in business management curriculum.

Kudos once again to business giants like Costco who are leading the way in putting the human back in human resources. Be good to you employees, and your employees will be good to you. They will be more content and more apt to bend over backwards to present the company in the best light, which will reflect in their customer service, which will keep people coming in your doors to spend money. Yes it will become a cycle, but a cycle of the best kind.

Finally, as a corporate leader the only truly ethical way to decide if your stores should be open on a holiday or a Sunday is to mirror your headquarters office. Of course employees will resent having to be away from their families on Thanksgiving knowing that if they dialed the corporate offices, they would get a recorded message that the offices are closed in observance of Thanksgiving.

***Bottom line company owners, if corporate is going to be open, keep your stores open. If you have decided that your corporate headquarters will be closed, well for the love of everything that is not hypocritical, close your stores. And please support stores that support their employees. Click here for a list of companies that have chosen to take the high road this year.