My First Love….

Love is action and a life time commitment. My Godmother made sure I understood that passion,  patience, willingness to go the extra mile, and perseverance were necessary to demonstrate love.  Being a part of my life since birth, she was confident that when she made her introduction I would  fall in love.

bucsIn the 10th grade, the introduction was made. Immediately, I did fall in love. I fell in love with the opportunity of helping make life better for others, regardless of their age, and being able to make a difference in a variety of places. You see my Godmother introduced me to the speech-language pathology profession. It was one that I had never heard of before but it seemed just right for me. I loved to speak and jumped at the opportunity whenever it presented itself! The idea of helping those who could not speak really resonated with me.

Most of us take our ability to communicate for granted, and do not realize how extremely difficult it is to live a productive life when communication is impaired.  Other than the absolute essentials of air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, and shelter from the elements. nothing is more vital to humans than the ability to communicate.  In my quest to learn as much as I could about this profession, I wrote off to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The packet of information I received helped me to understand all the opportunities that awaited me as I worked to help others. drscreenOff to Hampton Institute (University) I went to learn all that I needed to get started. There I met my first Mentor, Dr. Robert M. Screen. He was all about excellence and his core value became mine. He had earned his doctorate at Michigan State University and supported me in receiving a scholarship there to earn my master’s degree. The more I learned about this profession the more I fell in love.

Once armed with my degree and credentials, I began to pursue my love with others. patchildMy love intensified as I saw the smile of a child who could now be understood by a parent, teacher, or friend.

adult

The tears of a person who was now able to return to work after recovering from a stroke.  A kiss between a husband and wife because love could verbally be expressed again in that simple phrase, “I love you.”

My love grew as I taught students about my love and watched them light up when they learned a new concept, made a new discovery from their research, and celebrate with family and friends when they obtained their doctoral degree.

jessica

My love reached new heights when I was able to meet with other professionals around the country and facilitate the development of policies, best practices, and new systems.

asha

You see I learned from my first love that what brought me joy was not just evaluating, providing interventions, teaching, conducting research; but rather it was the results or outcomes of those activities. My love for speech-language pathology led me to my true love, a love for outcomes.

As I pursue my love for outcomes, I can never forget my first love!

If you know a student who you think might benefit from my first love, check out my very first book, which is in its third edition, Opportunities in Speech-Language Pathology Careers (McGraw Hill).  May is “Better Hearing & Speech Month.”communication

 

Environment Matters

Fortunately for me, my mother, Herlean, knew how important environment was to becoming your best. As an only child, living with older parents in a neighborhood with very few children my age, my mother recognized that without the right environment, I could become spoiled, self-centered, and dependent upon others to do for me things that I should do for myself. Those were not the outcomes she wanted for me; in fact, she wanted just the opposite. To that end, she and my dad decided to enroll me at 2 years of age in Southside Kindergarten. My hours were 9:00 am – 2:00 pm, Monday – Friday.  Would you believe the cost was $1.55 per day?

When it came time for my first day at Kindergarten, it was my Dad who took me to school. kclass He loved taking pictures, so before leaving, my Dad would always take a picture of my classmates. It’s hard to find me on the picture because I am near the back, “crying”.  For the first three days, I cried when he left. Magically, on the fourth day, when my Dad had decided if I cried he was going to take me back home, I didn’t cry. Instead, I waved good bye like a big girl. You see I had a caring, and nurturing teacher, Mrs. Susie Curinton. She knew just what to do to make me feel that I was in a safe, welcoming, and fun place. It didn’t take long for me to start mixing and mingling with my classmates and begin developing friendships, many of which I still maintain today.

Mrs. Curinton kept us busy with lots of activities. We played outside, learned to sing, and dance. Then she would invite our parents and community to witness our performance.kprogram (2) Because our school was too small for such an event, the auditorium of our local college, Bethune Cookman, became the venue. So at four, I made my first visit to a college campus and sang a duet. I don’t know how that went since today I can barely carry a tune.

It wasn’t all fun. There were educational activities too.  I started imitating my classmates- coloring, counting, and copying letters.  It was the beginning of my learning to enjoy the basics- reading, writing, and math. One day, my mom was writing a letter to my dad who was away. I told her I wanted to write him too. She pulled out some of paper and pencil and I began writing. For the words I didn’t know how to spell, I would ask her for help. You can see my writing wasn’t the neatest but you can make out most words. Not bad for 4!

dadsletter

I could hardly believe that it was time for me to leave a place and teacher that had become dear to me. kgraduationBut the time had come and at five years of age, I was the Valedictorian of my class. Sitting next to me on the stage was the speaker, Mrs. Turie T. Small, the Principal of my soon to be elementary school. While sad to be leaving, I was excited to be going to the “bigger school” and couldn’t wait to get to know the Principal.

The people and your physical surroundings influence what you think and do. They bring out your best.

Environment matters! 

Do you have dreams and goals that you want to achieve?  Learn more about how important your environment is in my book, “Be Your B.E.S.T.”

Outside or Inside?

Do you let outside circumstances, situations, labels, people’s perceptions define your destiny? OR  Do you look inside and choose to rely on the power within to guide you to your destiny?

NOAA few years ago, I attended the National Optometric  Association’s Awards Banquet with my husband and thought it was going to be a typical banquet experience. The featured speaker was Tom Sullivan. I had not heard of him but was intrigued by the description provided in the program- “Being blind has never kept Tom Sullivan from competing in a world where he realized that to be equal, for him, meant that he must be better. He has proven that one need not be limited by a handicap.”

Tom was escorted on to the stage, introduced, and immediately he kicked off the presentation displaying his melodious voice.tomsullivan Not surprising that he had been invited to render The Star Spangled Banner at the 1976 Super Bowl Game Bicentennial Celebration and that his regular appearances on the Tonight Show had garnered him a national reputation. Then Tom began sharing his personal stories, chocked full of humor to motivate us to recognize that “ordinary people can indeed do the extraordinary.” As a young boy he found himself fenced in his backyard, but refused to be fenced in by his blindness. Together, he and his father, created “Sullivan Rules” so that he could play baseball with the neighborhood boys without the benefit of seeing the ball. One of the Sullivan’s first rules is that any negative can be turned into a positive.

Time and time again, Tom’s capacity to look inside and rely on the power within resulted in him defying what the outside world would say was impossible. I was in awe… Tom graduated first in his class at Harvard University. His best-selling book, “If You Could See What I Hear” became a motion picture in 1982. Tom composed and performed much of the music for the film. Tom became a regular morning fixture in the homes of millions of Americans as a special correspondent for ABC’s Good Morning America. He was nominated for two Emmy Awards and has acted on TV series, such as Designing Women, Highway to Heaven, Fame. Tom fell in love, married Patty and they have two children.

Tom challenged us to take PRIDE- our personal responsibility for individual daily effort, connect it with our purpose and passion to achieve extraordinary results.

As Tom exited to a standing ovation, he had demonstrated in just 30 minutes the power of our internal spirit. He had chosen not to let labels, boundaries, naysayers prevent him from his destiny. He had chosen to experience love, travel, serve and teach others.  That night I was inspired by an ordinary man who chose to be extraordinary. Whenever, I find myself permitting the outer world to tell me “no,” “not you,” “it can’t be done,” I  remember Tom and reach down within and choose to be extraordinary.

lookwithin

Don’t Ignore Who’s Next to You!

It was early in the morning, and I was traveling on a business trip. I had been up late the night before and was hoping that the plane would not be full. All I wanted to do was find my seat and go to sleep so that I would be energized when the plane landed. As I boarded the plane, the side of the plane where my seat was located was comprised of only 2 seats. 2seatsI sighed to myself and hoped that the seat next to me would be vacant. Looking around, it was apparent that the plane wasn’t going to be full. So I thought to myself, if someone is next to me, I would just move to an empty row. With a plan in mind, it now didn’t matter if there was someone next to me.

Approaching my row, right next to the window was someone already seated next to my assigned seat. I thought, “just my luck.” I put my things down, spoke politely knowing it would only be minutes before I would be able to move. I closed my eyes in preparation for hearing the magic words that we had reached the altitude that would “free” me to move. But instead, I heard the pilot say “Please, keep your seat belts buckled, the weather is going to be turbulent for a while. We need for everyone to stay in their seats.” Now I opened my eyes to assess the situation. The man next to me, seeing my eyes open, comments. I think “oh no, he’s talking to me and I really don’t want to engage.”  Hesitantly, I respond. Then he asks me if I am traveling for pleasure or business. I then explain that it is a business trip and that I am the owner of my consulting company, the Outcomes Management Group.NewLogoWCopy  Now, it’s hard for me to resist talking about my company. So now I explain what I do and my passion for outcomes. Then I ask him about his trip.

Now I learn that he has just relocated to Columbus for business and was also headed out for a business trip. I share with him that I had relocated to Columbus too and that my husband was the “Buckeye.”  osusweatshirtThen I tell him about my Ohio State Sweatshirt welcoming gift, describe how the City transforms itself on game days, suggest he gets prepared to become a part of Buckeye Nation, and remember that it is “The” Ohio State. He thanks me for the tips because this would be his first experience living in a community that was so engaged in college football. I remind him this isn’t just college football, it’s the “Big 10.” We share a laugh and then hear the pilot say “we are almost approaching our destination.”  “Well, so much for sleeping.” Since, we’re about to land, I decide to continue engaging. “So what will you be doing in Columbus?” I ask. To which he replies, that he has joined McGraw Hill and would be overseeing research associated with their products. mcgraw“I’m interested in outcomes too,” he replied and smiled. Now we can hear the pilot asking us to prepare for landing. He then gives me his business card and asks for mine. “It was great meeting you and thanks for welcoming me to Columbus. Look to hear from my office when I return. I would love to invite you to McGraw Hill and share information about an outcomes project that I am planning to undertake. Perhaps, it will be something of interest to you.” To which I respond, “ I look forward to hearing from your office and would welcome the opportunity to learn more about your project.”

mcgraw columbusTwo weeks later, I get a call from his office assistant who schedules a meeting at their corporate office. One month later as I signed the contract with McGraw Hill, I was grateful that I had chosen to “speak to my seat mate” versus keep my eyes closed and “sleep.” Staying focused on “me” would had resulted in missing the blessing that had been placed intentionally beside me.

DON'TFORGET

 Stay alert, focused on others- your blessing may be where you least expect it!

Don’t Let Age Stop You!

Have you heard these quotes about AGE?  ali

ageisnumber

 

 

 

When these quotes have been shared, a response that I often hear is: “You need to face the fact that there are some things that are going to change because you age.  You just wait and see.”  While that is true, as I age I may move slower, my visual and auditory acuity may change, my memory may not be as sharp, boundariesBUT what I never want to allow is my age to become a boundary that prohibits me from achieving my goals and dreams.  

Recently, I was reminded that age has no boundaries when I saw a picture of a fellow Hamptonian, William (Bill) Goldborough. Bill graduated in the 1949 class at Hampton University (Institute). This class fondly called themselves the “49ers.”  Bill and I met at a meeting of the National Hampton Alumni Association and later served together on its Board. Bill was the Technology Committee Chair in 1998. My initial impression of him was a man of innovation and a trail blazer. He was fearless, perhaps in part, because he bravely fought as a World War II Veteran.  I often admired that Bill was unafraid to speak what was needed to be said and likewise was unafraid of change. No wonder Bill was recognized by the President of our National Hampton Alumni Association as a “trailblazer.” I wasn’t surprised when I saw this recent picture. Bill, at 91, made history becoming the oldest initiate of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.  See the details in this article.

goldborough (2)

When I reached out to say congratulations, Bill responded:

“I live my life like “A CANDLE IN THE WIND” and look back only to direct my path FORWARD. God is my constant CO-PILOT and continues to guide me.”

Bill’s message reminded me to look back as a reference point to continue moving forward and not forget that I need my co-pilot, God, to guide me.

My message to you. When you think you’re too “old” to accomplish a dream that was placed on your heart, remember the dream is a “calling” AND if you stay in tune with your co-pilot,  God, your dream will become a reality.

Achieving your dream is not about AGE; rather, it is about YOU!

you

 

Find the Truth: Examine Your Behavior

behaviorneverliesI was wrapping up a training session with leaders of an organization that focused on the importance of their behaviors in shaping the organization’s culture. One of my favorite “go to” resources about results is Gary Ryan Blair. I just love his quote “Behavior Never Lies.”

During the session, to emphasize the point, I shared a personal story that I love to use about my husband and me. You see my husband is my “B.E.S.T. Buddy,” which means he is my accountability partner. He is great at observing my behavior and quickly identifying when it doesn’t align with my words. So in the session, I shared the story about my eating chocolate ice cream at 9:30 pm, having told my husband earlier that I was focused on losing weight. chocolateicecreamWell you know what happened. He called me on it. While I didn’t want to hear it, I had to face the fact my behavior was telling the truth. I really wasn’t focused on losing weight. Enjoying my favorite dessert, was more important. Now, if I really wanted to lose weight, it was on me to adjust my behavior to accomplish my goal. That I did and I am proud to say that I lost 20 lbs!!!  I then challenged the leaders to examine their behaviors with regard to the core values and expectations we had identified. Our next session was going to focus on their discoveries. How committed were they to the core values?

Just as we were scheduling the next training session, I saw there was a phone message from my husband.

MESSAGE:  Are you there yet? You were supposed to call me.

I then shared  the message with the group.

ME: I have a message from my B.E.S.T. Buddy.

Of course they knew from my previous story who it was from. This training that I was conducting was 2 hours from Columbus. I had left early in the morning. Prior to departing, I had told my husband that I would text him so that he would know that I had arrived safely.  

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Tell him that I started talking to you as soon as you arrived.

While that was true, if it was important to me to make sure my husband knew I had arrived safely, I would have text him before I got out of the car. This made me pause and recognize that my behavior once again had told the truth.truth

What became more important upon my arrival was getting started with the training. Now, I had to face the reality. Did I want notifying my husband to be the priority?  As I reflected, it became apparent to me that I did.  I realized that I didn’t want my husband to take for granted when I travel alone that I have arrived safely, because there might come a time when something happens and his concern could play a vital role in my well-being. So I made a note to self- “make sure that when I arrive anywhere, first action- text husband.”

accountabilitypartnerIf you haven’t obtained your desired results, I repeat my message: “the truth is in your behavior.” Behavior Never Lies. My B.E.S.T. recommendation– make sure you identify a B.E.S.T. Buddy. Having an accountability partner is essential because so often we don’t recognize when our behaviors are out of alignment.   Behavior drives Results!

Her Voice

So many of the paths that I have traveled during my lifetime can be traced to Josephine Anderson Kennedy, my mother’s dear friend who became my Godmother. She grew up and was educated through the collegiate level in Daytona Beach, Florida. Early on, my Godmother’s parents recognized that she had a God given musical talent. They encouraged her to develop and use this talent. And that she did! At nine, she began sharing her gift by serving as pianist for the Sunday School at her church.  Once I was able to read, she told my mother “It’s time for Patricia to learn how to play the piano.” While music was not my gift, under her tutelage I learned how to play the piano. Like her, I faithfully played for my Sunday School and Sunbeam Choir.

Josephine Kennedy was driven by the urge for excellence to earn her Master of Arts degree in Music Education and Music Supervision from Columbia University, New York.  She returned home to teach in the schools and become the County Music Supervisor. My Godmother was committed to exposing youth to music. peabodyaudiotoriumIn 1955, she under-wrote the First Youth Concert for Blacks in Volusia County, thereby enabling more than 2,500 children to witness their first symphonic presentation. I can remember when I was in elementary school, boarding the bus to hear the Florida Symphony orchestra. Every child was dressed for the occasion because she had sent a letter home with instructions about “what to wear.” On the way to the concert, we were reminded of the expected decorum-how to behave appropriately, how to recognize when the concert was about to begin, when to clap, when to exit, etc. Today when I am at a concert with my husband, he looks to me for the cues because he knows I was trained by my Godmother. I really didn’t understand the significance of her commitment to our learning to appreciate the arts until much later, when I found a tribute to her.

       “At the Peabody Auditorium I saw an audience composed of 2,500 or more Negro children, youth, and young adults sit in breathless attention listening to an hour’s program of the finest production a Symphony orchestra could offer. They participated in that cultural hour with an appreciation equaled to that of any group of music lovers… I bring my gratitude to our marvelous Florida Symphony, and to our efficient Music Supervisor in Volusia County, Mrs. Kennedy whose persistence in promoting this program, demonstrated to our entire county that little Negro boys and girls  who have so long been denied the better things, do have great appreciation for the music of the ages.”  Mary McLeod Bethune (February, 1955, Daytona Beach News-Journal)

My Godmother was an effective leader in the community as well, serving as Past President of the Daytona Beach Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Daytona Beach Chapter National Council of Negro Women, and Daytona Beach Chapter, The Links Incorporated, to name a few. She exposed me to two of these groups in hopes that I would follow in her footsteps. Upon arrival at Hampton, I knew there was only one sorority for me to join and that was Delta Sigma Theta.Deltacharm I would have been disappointed if I did not make the line and was elated to inform her when invited to pledge that I was following her footsteps. My Godmother passed before our Sorority’s Centennial Celebration. But I was able to carry her with me as she had given me the charm she purchased at the Golden Anniversary Celebration which she attended. Similarly, I was delighted when invited into The Links, Incorporated. Unfortunately, she was unable to know that milestone. On a trip, when serving on the National Executive Council, I found in our new national headquarters a plaque that bore her name. She had served as a National Officer during her tenure as a member. I smiled knowing she would be happy to know that I was following in her footsteps.

When it was time for me to think about a career, my Godmother was right their telling me about the opportunities that were available to speech-language pathologists.book Needless to say, this was not a traditional career for minorities, but the exposure to it peaked my interest, resulting in me heading to Hampton in pursuit of my degree. Of course, my Godmother was right there reminding me that I must continue on and get my master’s degree like she did. Many years later, when I authored my first book, Opportunities in Speech-Language Pathology Careers, I reflected on the path that her suggestion in the 10th grade had taken me.

 

Now there was one area in my life that she remained concerned about and that was my love life. She constantly reminded me that I needed to balance my professional career and personal life. Every time she would see me as the years passed, she wanted to know “who” the boyfriend was and “when” I was going to get married.Mrs.Kennedyatwedding At Last, in 1994, my Godmother was by my side, coordinating my wedding. She smiled and whispered to me that I had completed all of her wishes for me on that day. She reminded me that “love is the greatest gift.” As I look at the both of us on that day, I see something I hadn’t realized before- we have a similar smile. Perhaps, that too is something I emulated.

I am grateful for HER VOICE!  Today, I honor Josephine Anderson Kennedy as we celebrate Women’s History Month. Take time this month to reflect and honor those women whose voices have made a difference in your life!

“You give but little when you give of your possessions; it is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Gelbran