Thursday, November 22, 2012

A news story to brighten your day

Saundra Adams and Chancellor

Amid all of the recent bad news, it was refreshing and unexpected to find some good news. This was especially touching for me because I remember exactly when this happened.

Thirteen years ago, the Carolina Panthers was a brand new team. I’m not a football fan, but it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of our town’s first NFL team. Jerry Richardson, the owner of the team, frequented the coffee shop where I worked at the time.

I remember when the day I learned of Rae Carruth. He was all over the news because he had his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Cherika Adams, shot and killed. This was a top news story that captured the attention of everyone. I was particularly interested because the murders took place on the road I took home on every night from my boyfriend at the time’s apartment; right about the same time.

We had broken up the day before. It was a bit chilling to hear the news of that night, to say the least. Relief cut through my sadness; I was so glad I hadn’t been there.

Thirteen years passed, and I have given little thought to it, until today when I saw the headline, Inside story: What happened to the unborn son Rae Carruth tried to kill.

I had forgotten she had given birth to the baby, despite the 4 gunshot wounds. Curious, I read the article, not expecting what I found.

The bullets just missed the baby, but Chancellor Lee Adams was born with cerebral palsy. The doctors originally thought he would never walk or talk, but he is proving them wrong.

Sports Illustrated writer, Thomas Lake said,

On the surface, it's hard to imagine a set of life circumstances much worse than this. Which is why I was so astonished when I saw the boy. It's my job to put things into words, but I still can't find the right words to describe him. None of them say it strongly enough. He is the happiest person I've ever met. There's a light inside him that I've never seen anywhere else. I've talked to several other people about his effect on me, and they say it happened to them too. Wherever he goes -- to church, to physical therapy, to the Special Olympics -- he makes people feel better by his mere presence. When he looks into your eyes and says hello, the whole thing feels almost spiritual. And then, of course, you have to ask yourself: If a kid like this can be so happy, what right do I have to complain?

Read more:

I read how Saundra Adams, Chancellor’s grandmother, quit her job and raised him, taking the extra care needed to meet his special needs, including hand feeding him and taking him to his weekly therapy sessions. He learned to speak and is learning to walk. [At 10, the wheelchair bound, Chancellor could take 100 steps on his own.]

"I try to instill lots of positive affirmations, number one," said Saundra Adams, Cherica's mother. "I want Chancellor to know above everything else that he is loved. No matter who is in his life, who may not be in his life, but he is loved unconditionally."

"I believe he is going to overcome every challenge before him. It just takes time."
Adams said.

Pulling my heart a little more, she told News36’s Sonja Gantt that the only one she believes is truly remorseful is hired hit man, Van Brett Watkins. He pulled the trigger. and is serving 40 to 50 years. He's sent her several letters from prison, some even including $5 or $10 to try and help out with the care of Chancellor.

I just love stories like this of how beauty can come from just the depths of stress and ugliness.

c. 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Meeting hate with humor

c. Yash Mori
I remember a few weeks ago when I heard that a Neo Nazi hate group was having some sort of shindig in my town.

Do these people really still exist? I thought. I had a passing thought to actually go, just to see what sorts of ridiculousness they talked about. But I was too scared. The convention came and went, and I didn’t think anything more about it.

That is until I saw this headline

The event was protested by about 100 clowns!

How perfect! How ingenious, I thought. Juxtaposition at its' finest. I was so proud of the people from my city. [I don't actually know that the protesters are from my city].

Many of the clown protesters were immigrants; the target of the neo nazi group. Though probably the last thing they felt like doing was laughing about their opponents’ hate, they crashed the rally in a lighthearted mood with horns, balloons and funny signs like “White Flour.”

It takes higher thinking to be able to upshift from hate to love. This group flexed  their creative muscles rather than clenching their fists. As a result, they made so much more of a statement!

The protest was organized by the Latin American Coalición, who are a group of Latin Americans, immigrants and allies.

c. Yash Mori
Their unique protest made more of an impact than any sort of violent or ‘disapproving” one would have. As Lacey Williams, the youth coordinator for Charlotte’s Latin American Coalición, told WCNC.

 “We’re dressed like clowns and you’re the ones that look funny."

When you meet hate with kindness things have a hope of working out. [or at least you expose the  jerks for who they are]. When you return hate for hate, everyone goes into defense mode and any hope of communication shuts down.

 All I can say is, “Thanks for showing us how it’s done."

I went to the neo nazi site to see a reaction from them. They actually THANKED the clowns for drawing attention to their rally. 

The clowns could not be reached for comment.

c. 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Indifference is as important as passion
 In college, I wanted to be a graphic designer. I thought I was good at it. I had planned for it to be my life’s work. I loved the combination of art, psychology and marketing.

What I did not like was the sales, the business end of things. I preferred to be reclusive in my studio and have people come to me and tell me my stuff was awesome and pay me for it.

Of course that's not how it works. I had to go out and find clients; they rarely came to me. Many times we were on different wavelengths with different visions and they didn’t like the end product.

I was passionate about graphic design, I had my whole career pretty much mapped out, because that’s just how I am, fully vested in my passion. It was hard to separate myself from my work. It was hard to not feel like a complete and utter failure when I didn’t succeed like I thought I should.

For my own sanity, I had to learn a new skill to make my next move…INDIFFERENCE. 

To Opinions
People are always going to give their opinions; they don’t mean any harm by it, they usually are trying to help. They will err on the safe side. Often those opinions are wrong and will dissuade us from pure awesomeness. Sometimes it’s wise to heed those opinions, but there are other times when it’s best to show indifference to them.

To Failures
Same thing with failures; Failures will happen. When you are passionate about everything, you can be almost incapacitated when you fail. That is a really brutal blow. And you will not succeed at everything, But you expect the best, while preparing for the worst and MOVE ON with your new knowledge.

To Bad Moods
People who are passionate are often hardest to work with. They get especially annoyed when they can’t define what they want. Try not to take it personally. It’s not usually about you.

Passion is important for sure. There is no successful businessperson without it; Think Steve Jobs or Howard Schultz. The thing that’s not preached in business classes is that indifference is just as important.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying be indifferent to the after-effects of recklessness. By all means, if you have done damage, clean up your messes. That is not something you want to be indifferent to.

“Nature, after all, is neither kind nor brutal: it just is.  There is such intense drama — the large cat taking down a gazelle, hungry polar bears bearing the burden of an infinite winter, flora fighting for survival. And yet nature is absolutely, mercilessly, indifferent.  We can hear this in the voice of the great nature documentaries we know so well thanks to PBS.”

I could have moped around about how unfair it was that I was an awesome designer that people just couldn’t appreciate, or that it was hard to find clients who would pay what my price. Actually I would have been happy to find a client who paid at all. Many charities and churches paid me in “valuable experiences,” which did help me change course.

So I transferred my focus to what had actually been my passion all along and invested time and energy in that. 

But I still have to show indifference.

No job pays enough if you’re not passionate about it. Passion will get you through all of the frustrations and hitches on the path to your dreams. Indifference will guard you from second best.

Life’s too short for second best.