Monday, September 29, 2008

Fridays with CEO Fellowship








Every Friday morning, I am out the door to my 6:45 appointment with CEO Fellowship. CEO Fellowhip is a networking group that is focused on your daily walk and not your daily deposits. It is an appointment that I have only missed once in eight months. It is my power hour for me, my family, and my business. I got to get there! Sunny or thundering and lightning, the forty five minute drive to Brentwood is the only drive that I do not complain about the mileage or gas. I come with my note book and pen ready to get my fill of the Word that not only motivates me to be the best I can be, but cuts through the garbage in my head and heart that can not be detective with a smile and hand shake.

Some memorable moments for me in the last few weeks have been Ruby Kalis, Steve Robinson and Nancy Reece. Mr. Kalis made such an impact on my Hurricane Alexis and Baby Boy Corn, that I am still trying to make sense of the effect his presentation had on them. Rudy Kalis is sports director with WSMV. With a house full of athletes, his words from that week have been repeated over and over by kids. "Mom, did you hear him say" is how many conversations with my son and daughter start since they heard him speak in September. I had them as my guests that week hoping something would be said that would make an impact on them. Boy, did I underestimate that one. They have talked about Rudy every week and I find the tv on WSMV instead of ESPN more and more.

Steve Robinson, a director of FCA, made an impact on the kids at several athletic camps over the summer. I realized why the kids respect him so highly after hearing him share his story last week. Steve gave insight about the challenges a CEO faces at home. The room was silent and reflective as Steve shared his life story. His vulnerability before a room full of men and women was courageous and gut wrenching.

Nancy Reece, a sought after speaker, gave me pages and pages of notes from her lesson on leadership. The power of her message left me thinking deeply long after the I left the building. Nancy is with The Human Capital Group and I can see why the company is successful. Nancy's emphasis on integrity was the foundation of her message. There is no way she could have spoken with such authority if that was not her life.

CEO Fellowship has that affect on me since my joining the group. The hugs and smiles are genuine and the honest dialogue is refreshing and renews your spirit after a week of being beat down by the day to day business of doing business. The room is diverse in backgrounds each week but is be unified on the mission of equipping business owners to be better leaders at home and in the marketplace.

We start each meeting with song and praise with Alex Harvey. Lenoard Isaccs turn up the volume making sure each visitor get a dose of laughter and a warm welcome. Carla Ritz keeps us organized and greets everyone with a smile. Jerry Moll brings order and reminds us of the purpose of the group. Joe Green, Chairman, teaches with many examples from his life. Speakers from all spectrum of God's kingdom walk through the doors leaving a piece of themselves behind. There are a host of other volunteers that give of themselves to make sure the meetings are well planned. All done with love and admiration for God's word and to help business owners, executives, and those in career transitions to be better and to do better.

If you are in the Nashville area, we meet every Friday morning at 6:45 rain or shine.
For more information about the group: www.ceofellowship.com

Photos by: Stephen Kiern

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Palin Interview...Painful Viewing

Watching Governor Palin's interview was painful to put it lightly. The pundits have repeated the two interviews with Katie Couric as often as possible. Each time I viewed the segments; I cried out,"stop, please, stop!" We get it.

PF (Pray First)Warning: Take two Tylenols before clicking.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Let 's here it for the girls!





Thursday night, several business owners got together to help promote breast cancer awareness and to support a fellow business woman, Veronica Gliatti (Ronni). Nearly a thousand dollars were raised in Veronica's name. Ronni and I are networking maniacs and share the same views about the importance of relationships as you grow your business. I fell in love with her zest and zeal for life. She defies her circumstances and is still undergoing chemo. Ronni is determined to live life to the fullest. She shares her story, victories and struggles, with as many as she can as often as she can. Her ten month old granddaughter, Ava, is one of her greatest motivators to keep fighting the good fight. The bond between Ronni and Ava was obvious to everyone as Ronni spoke to the group about her passion for life and determination to inform others how important it is to raise money for research for new drugs to help cure this dreadful disease.

Because of my dad's mom battle with breast cancer many, many years ago, this is my second year being engaged in the cause.

Recently, Ronni started blogging to chronicle her journey to become employed again. She is courageous to stand strong and proud and shout to the world that I am a survivor. She is a survivor not damaged. Ronni is walking this year in the American Cancer Society's 'Making Strides Walk'. Her team is fittingly called "Make some Noise". Ronni is making much noise about life and living.

Check her blog out at http://www.ronnirants.blogspot.com
Photos and Poster by Scott Thomas

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Who are they are polling?


Have you ever gotten a call and been asked who are you voting for? In this day and age of caller-id, who is actually answering their phone if they see a number they do not recognized or, God forbid, "unknown" show up on their caller-id box? Are polltakers real people? I have asked everyone I know and no one has ever gotten a call about their opinion on this election or anything else!

I checked out the Gallup Poll website and the list of "trends" they have polled. When I saw the list, I decided I would help out by calling and giving the names and numbers of several hundred individuals who need to be polled. Demos, Repubs, and Indies alike. All, who would love to tell the world what they are thinking about this never-ending election.

After getting a real live "poller" on the phone, I found it ironic that the very questions they claim to ask others, she seemed to not want to answer them for me. I offered her the numbers of my friends to call. And to be fair and balanced, I included a few customers' (who have not paid their bills) work, home, and cell numbers as well. The Gallup Poll office called me back and said "Thanks but no thanks". I told them that I am not in Alaska but I live in Tennessee, a red state with influential people who need to be included in their polling data.

Since I had the Gallup Poll people on the phone, I asked them a few burning polling questions that Americans are dying to know. What Walmart store allowed them on site to interview their customers? As elusive and media shy as the folks at Bentonville can be, I can not believe they are giving the media as much access to the Walmart moms as being claimed. Another burning question that seems to pop up at my dinner table nightly, what rural areas of the country are the Gallup folks traveling to get the answers from the blue-collar workers? I live in Tennessee and I was born and raised in Mississippi in a two-red-light town and I think I am an expert on rural communities. As a matter of fact, we called it living in the country. "My friends", I know country.

No one in Tennessee or Mississippi have seen a media truck or Gallup poll worker standing outside their home or business waiting to ask a question about this election. As matter of fact, we call those people lost Northerners asking to be shot!

Needless to say, the poller for the Gallup Poll did not want to be polled. But if you are curious about the questions that are supposedly asking Americans who do not answer their phones, I have provided a list for you.

Election Trends by Group:
Overall Candidate Support
Candidate Support by Gender
Candidate Support by Gender Among Whites
Candidate Support by Age
Candidate Support by Region
Candidate Support by Education
Candidate Support by Education Among Whites
Candidate Support by Political Party
Candidate Support by Political Party Among Whites
Candidate Support by Political Party and Ideology
Candidate Support by Political Party and Ideology Among Whites
Candidate Support by Church Attendance Among Whites
Candidate Support by Marital Status
Candidate Support by Marital Status and Gender
Candidate Support by "Red," "Purple," and "Blue" States


No one wants to know my opinion on anything. So if you get a call from the people up North who works for the Gallup Poll office, please record the call. In the meantime, I am headed to Target.

www.gallup.com

Hillsboro vs. Maplewood, Thursday Night Lights Football Mom Style




Baby Boy, Corn to the world, had a much better week this week. He is still riding the bus and making it home in once piece. Hillsboro played in their second televised game of the season. As I sat in the bleachers watching the game, I noticed that our high school games can garner as much media as the Titans. This game was a rematch of last year's season ender for Hillsboro, so much was at stake.

Hillsboro came on the field with a determination to win and it showed. Corn was in on several plays and I was not as concerned about him as I was last week. I was glad on a few plays he was not in the game because the guys in the heap in green and yellow came off the field looking as if they had tackled bricks instead of muscles. Maplewood boys are not missing any meals.

The sounds of helmets hitting each other and seeing a few being knocked off of players do not make this mom feel good. I love the game and I love watching my kid play but I have my limitations. The highlight of the game, for me, was not Hillsboro winning 28 to Maplewood 12 but the awesome spectacle of Maplewood's band and dancing majorettes. I was reminded of the my years growing up near Alcorn State University in Mississppi. My mom and several relatives were professors there and I have a few cousins that attended the college. Steve McNair, a former Titan, is an alumnus of Alcorn. The half time show was an important part of the game as winning. The majorettes were called Golden Girls and they were known for their dance routines and those fancy gold and purple sequins were known around the SWAC conference. They were the south's Rockettes with soul!

Maplewood majorettes were of that style without being hoochie. Precision and flair were all over the place. It got us up-tight folks our of our seats and the Green Hills crowd shook their tail feathers. Imagine that. The entire band joined in on several numbers and showed us how they do it on the other side of town. I was proud of them and clapped through out every number as if my children were entertaining everyone.

As soon as they finished on the field, I brazenly ran over to the other side with all my Hillsboro football mom attire and asked the moms in the crowd how many of their kids have not registered to vote? I conveniently had a few applications on hand. As I stroked the opposing team mothers and complimented the principle and the band director for such a lively half time show, I was shamelessly promoting getting their kids registered to vote. "It is what we football moms do," I told the crowd that was eying me as if I was smoking something. It worked because several moms took applications, twelve to be exact.

What a night, a win for Corn, a great halftime show, and twelve moms vowed to registered their football players to vote. Not bad for a Thursday night at the game.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Genma Holmes talks to Roland Martin about the Young People Vote



Genma Stringer Holmes speaks with Chicago's WVON host and CNN special correspondent, Roland Martin about the importance of getting young people out to the polls. "We normally ask young people to be poll watchers but poll officials are needed as well. Registering our young people to vote is good but teaching them to be poll officials is even better, " Holmes stated to WVON listening audience. She further stated than many voters do not know that poll officials are compensated for their time.

Holmes believes that the office of the Presidency will be decided by 18-34 year olds voters. This age group is never included in polling data and is rarely mentioned by the pundits. Their vote will be crucible to this election stated Holmes. Holmes is also urging football moms to get their sons (and daughters) to the polls early. Early voting will relieve stress and long lines that usually comes with national elections. In a separate interview, Holmes asked what is the difference between a "football mom" and a rottweiler? With a smile, she said "A weave!".

Martin and Holmes are both speakers for the Essence's 5th Annual Leadership Summit.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Baby Boy had a BAAAAD Week!



My second child, known as Corn to the world, had a week that can only be described as hellish. After warning my son for weeks that he would ride the bus if he did not appreciate me picking him up from school, I pulled the plug on my chauffeuring duties and had him to ride MTA on Monday. Not bad by any means, but if you have gone your entire 17 years of life and never been on the bus, you are in for a rude awakening. Living in Tennessee, the MTA is not that of New York and Chicago. It is cruel by those standards. Since the nearest bus stop is several miles away, I dropped him off at a satellite stop with NO ONE but the wind waiting. He and I looked at each other at 5:21AM and I suddenly regretted my decision to go hard on him and teach him a life lesson. I tried to sound stern when I said, "get out, this is it" but inside I was dying. I waited a few minutes because I was too fearful to leave him.

He nor I knew what I was doing. For the next several days, he got off at the wrong stop, he left school work twice, and there was calls from me to the school to make sure he made it. He got home from football practice and the long bus ride looking as if his mom was a monster from his bad dreams. I had to accept that I had stopped nursing him some years ago and this was needed I told my reflection in the mirror. This was hard for both us because he was my kid without attitudes and a mouth. He was rewarded by being allowed to play sports, any and all the time. Those rewards turned into torture for me because as he got older, he took advantage of his 'practice schedule'. His practice time was also his way of socializing and flirting with the cheerleaders that called out his name on and off the field. He was always late when I came to pick him up. With traffic and other stops along the way, it was starting to look like I was in a prison called 'Waiting on Corn'. I had said over and over that I was going to make him ride the bus but each time I was at the school sitting and waiting. After a month into this new school year, I said enough is a enough.

Why he does not drive you are thinking? Because of his 'practice schedule', most things were done for him. He is not the most responsible one that I raised. He had less chores than the other children but then again he was never in trouble. This slight form of favoritism had a downside. He would lose any and every thing; cell phones, keys, book bags, money, cleats, you name it. The thought of him driving a vehicle that was insured through my business was a no,no. He plays sports, study his school work and works part time. Mom feed him and take care the details of life. He is not creative and independent like Hurricane Alexis nor is he focused on deep psychological conversations about the molecular structure of matter like Dr. Franz. He is consumed with football and any other sports that had a ball, as well as statistical analysis of the preseason predictions. From infancy, I noticed he was interested in feeding time and needing a ball for comfort. I provided both readily.

Once he became a teen, things did not change except girls came with his love of sports and the need to feed. The girls are all friends I am told often. I nod my head as if I am from Mars, of course. He now plays football at Hillsboro. He wants to be a sports journalist.

Last night, the game against MBA was one for the record books. I stood in the stands the entire last quarter. I could see the frustration the team was feeling. Miscues, fumbles and interceptions galore dogged Hillsboro throughout the night. My eyes were focused on jersey number 28. His pacing was killing me. When he got in the game, it was not for long because MBA would get the ball back within a play or two. Corn plays offense and defense. With 4:26 on the clock, the ball was turned over to Hillsboro and there was a cry from the stands that maybe we had a chance. The Boros got to the ten yard line but MBA's 'wall of steel' would not let them in the end zone. An interception, in the last minute of the game, sealed the deal. MBA 19, Hillsboro 14.

I walked out on the field like I have done hundreds of times in the past and gave him a pat on the butt. (I was forbidden to hug him many seasons ago.) I gave him an encouraging spill about the game was hard fought. He told me he felt he could have done better. We walked silently to the truck and I can feel his thoughts. My baby boy had a baaaad week! I wondered quietly if I had helped contribute to Hillsboro's lost by deciding he had to ride the bus.

This morning, he came into my home office at 6:00AM and asked for a ride to the school. He wanted to review the film of the previous night's game and practice for an hour. The bus does not have a Saturday schedule he informed me. He told me that he wanted to do better and he needed to get in some extra practice time. Because he usually works most Saturdays, this was the first week he was able to review film. His normal 8 hour Saturday has now been stretched to 12 and he seemed eager to get started. Baby boy is growing up. I got up right away to feed him!

What? I am his mom and some things are hard to change in one week.

http://preps.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=PREPSFACTORY
Photos by Dipti Vaidya

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Free and the Brave


As we pause to remember those who lost their lives seven years ago, let us also remember the living. Our families and friends who are still alive. Reach out to your love ones and give them a "hello, how are you?" I can remember where I was on the morning of 9/11. And my first thoughts were of my children and my extended family. I was on the phone with Carolyn Waller and we were planning an art show at her gallery.

We were shocked and dismayed and started frantically calling everyone we knew. Carolyn made a decision later on that evening that still amazes me seven years later. She decided to the do the show as scheduled for later that month. Folks, no one was buying art after 9/11. Yet, Carolyn decided to do the show and had several prints on hand of photos of New York City before 9/11. She said we need to get together and celebrate life. The show was a huge success. I learned something from her that month. The living must keep living and we must find time to celebrate each other lives.

My thoughts of my granddad naturally comes to mind today. As much as I miss one of the most influential people in my life who helped shaped and mold me into the person I am, I know he would want me to continue to live the best life possible. Memories of him will always be close to my heart. So hug a love one today, as we honor those who sacrificed their lives to save others. And despite our differences,we are still in the land of the free and the brave.

Monday, September 8, 2008

From Good to Great: Taking it a Step Further than Registering Voters!


In Nashville, voter registration drives are in full swing. That is good. But this election, we need to strive for greatness. As citizens, we have to go a few steps further than registering voters. We have to make sure they come back to the polls to vote in November and train our young people to not only be registered voters but to work the polls as well.

How often have we encouraged individuals to work for the county, state, or federal elections? How many of us ever wondered who are the people who work the polls and how did they get the job? I had a friend tell me she thought poll workers were volunteers. Many of us do not know the process or that it is a paid position.

This year, young people ages 18-34 will be a deciding factor in the this election. No matter what party they vote for, I am advocating that they vote. I have voted since I was 18 and it is one of my greatest joys in life to participate in electing local, state, and national leaders. I am convinced more and more that young people are truly our future and they need to see our government at work at the ground level. My grandfather believed strongly in the power of the vote and he never let an election go by without being involved in voter registration drives. The ground level has always been at the polls with me. Voting is one of the foundations of our democracy.

We need to have young people employed at the polls to help not only bridge the technology gap but the widening age spasm with the number of new voters voting in this election. I am going full court in making sure that as many young people as possible know that they can be trained and employed to work the polls. (Our young people today are our next generation of leaders). Imagine how fast the lines will go if we had younger, more agile people working!!! I am hitting the streets and airwaves to let others know that in Davidson County alone, they need 500 new poll workers for the Nov. 4 election. The training classes and more information will be forth coming. It would be wonderful to have others to partner with as well in getting this info in the hands of the 18-34 year old voters.

Demos and Repubs alike are racking up huge numbers in new voter registrations. With that type of growth, and the constant reminders of the long lines at polling booths on election day; we must have poll workers who represent the diversity in our communities, who are technology savvy and can bridge culture gaps between old and young.

When my oldest son voted for the first time, it was a learning experience for all of us. I taught him to not only vote but to take others with you and boy did he! After voting early, he went back to campus and rounded up his track teammates to cast their first votes. As exciting as it sounded initially to the young 18-20 year olds voting in their first presidential election, they were hit with reality when they met a staff of middle age women who felt a bit intimidated by the group. Young, strong, sweaty from practice and talking above the whisper guide lines, the guys piled into the office wanting to received their paperwork to fill out the forms for their voter cards. What transpired, after the initial ask for the papers, was a clash of cultures and a view of life from different lenses.

My son said it was "okay" until they were questioned about why they were voting and if the information on their driver license were their actual addresses. "They questioned us as if we were doing something wrong", my man child stated to me on the phone. The more the young men were questioned, the more they got upset and felt 'disrespected'. Many wanted to leave and say forget it. I stayed on the phone and talked to them until everyone had voted.

Out of concern and curiosity , I paid the election office a visit the next day. The women versions of events were the exactly opposite of the team. They noted their attire and I was told the boys, you are actually a man at 18, were loud, rude and 'disrespectful'. I saw both sides of the story. I wanted them to know that my son voted for the first time and I was proud of him for bringing his friends in to vote also. I thanked them for their service and apologized for any misunderstanding.

I believe that both groups saw what they saw. Our perception is our reality.

My son's story does not have to be repeated. If we employ young and old alike at the polls, we will have less confusion and less misinterpretation of words and actions. This election will have millions of young people voting for the first time. I want them to leave the polls believing they contributed to making this country great. By seeing others like them working the polls can be a start and we can also put a dent in the time we spend complaining in the lines on election day. Voting early takes the guess work and stress out of any hiccups or surprises that may occur at the polls when we wait to the day of.

My youngest son will be voting for the first time this year. I am excited as I was when he began school twelve years ago. His older brother will be a poll worker. My sons and I are making sure that we keep my grandfather's legacy alive by registering voters, encouraging early voting and working the polls. Will you join us?

For info about becoming a poll worker in Metro Nashville go to:
http://www.nashville.gov/vote/poll_official.htm

Sunday, September 7, 2008

El Llamado de Dios, Spanish Out Reach attended by Hundreds






My dear friends, Leoncio and Amy Dominguez, sent out an SOS several weeks ago asking for volunteers to help with their Spanish Outreach Ministry. For many years, Leoncio and Amy have been dragon slayers in the Nashville's Spanish speaking community. Working where ever God pulls them. Helping those that hurt silently with love, kindness, and gentleness. Whether it is a family in crisis, immigration issues, help with a husband's job hunt, a wife in need , or child gone astray; they seem to always be there for others to lend a hand, a shoulder to cry on or give wise counsel. It was an honor to volunteer for this event that they have been working on for sometime.

I found myself fretting over my Spanish towards the end of the week until a friend reminded me that it was not my Spanish that was needed. That put an end to my worries instantly. I came with my handshakes, a ready smile, a confident "hola!" and lots of hugs and managed to greet everyone who entered Madison COC. When people know you care, what language you speak does not matter. The two day event, Friday and Saturday, was filled with Latinos and Hispanics from all walks of life and from every country imaginable. Diversity is alive and well in the great land of the USA. The stories of why they came that night was as varied as the dialects and nationalities.

From educators and college students, to cab drivers, business owners, and cooks, they all piled into Bixler Chapel to hear words of encouragement and "God's Calling". The keynote speakers for the event were Magda Basanez originally from Veracruz, Mexico and Nelson Galarragna originally from Venezuela and now leads a ministry with his wife in Atlanta, Georgia.

The children were kept busy with games and activities and MCOC basketball court was turned into an indoor soccer arena. It was amazing watching the teams dribble the soccer ball and shooting in the nets while waiting for their teams to be announced. Kids are funny and watching them transit from one game to the next without hesitation was entertaining. I rooted for my favorite new soccer team and no one seem to mind that my Spanish was not their Spanish. I found a friend in Alma right away. One of two girls on a team with sixteen boys. I was smitten at 'hola!' and seems as if she was too. She smiled all night and I shouted 'girl power' every time she got on the floor. A cheering mom can never stop cheering, even if it is not her kid!

Leoncio and Amy are heroes to so many and it is wonderful seeing the impact they are making in the lives of others.

Amy and Leoncio can be contacted at leoncio@madisoncofc.org
Photos credit www.amberbeckham.com

Saturday, September 6, 2008

RNC...Palin, God, Country and Answered Prayers


As I watched the convention on C-SPAN (of course), I could not help but notice the difference between the RNC and the DNC. The RNC lacked diversity and the rush to showcase women and give them seats up front was obvious. The highlight of the convention was Governor Sarah Palin and her youngest daughter was the scene stealer hands down. While mom delivered several one line zingers that brought the house down, Piper Palin giving her brother a comb over with a lick gave the morning talk shows the warm fuzzy news for the next day.

One thing the Repubs got this past week, for sure, was a real live walking nuclear weapon with Governor Palin. I knew God, country, and babies were going to be up front and center but this was truly a moment for the evangelical community as well as the Grand Ole Party. It was equivalent to the parting of the Red Sea. If I know nothing else, I know that McCain has been praying for a miracle and God showed up and showed out and then some. Who knew a woman would resurrect the dead and give sight to those who were losing their vision and give energy to the masses at the RNC who got off the plane feeling weak and tired? Palin, a real mom with real women issues, was a hard act to follow. McCain and the green screen could have done a 'Bush no show' and no one would have noticed. Palin was the deal breaker.

The music was patriotic and what I knew all along was confirmed, the folks at the RNC are not fans of 'Dancing with the Stars'. Music with a beat was not on display. More hand clapping and foot stomping filled the air. Even Carrie Underwood would have been a little out of touch with this crowd rhythmically.

The speakers never quite hit the mark according to the pundits who spent a week prior covering the DNC. If you follow my ramblings, you know how I feel about pundits so I will not comment on their comments. The theme "Country First" was put on the back burner the first day, and the Weather Channel seemed to be what everyone was tuned into. Thank God, Gustva spared New Orleans but other areas were hit hard and millions in damages still occurred. Governors Jindal, Perry, and Barbour skipped the festivities to tended to their flocks. You got to love Red State Governors who care more about their people than their party politics. While the convention was tempered to not appear too upbeat, balloons and confetti were the most exciting thing before or after Palin.

McCain threw a Hail Mary and by all other standards the convention was a success. The RNC rallied its base and left many wondering who will occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January. This will be a battle for the White House like none we have ever seen.

While all the cameras were pointed away from Washington, Vice President Cheney managed to slip out the country to do rebuilding assessments. With all the talk of Gustva, Governor Palin, the RNC, and teen pregnancies now being blessed by God and the evangelicals, my gun shooting VP Cheney managed to take a billion dollars cash to Georgia. Not Georgia in the USA, not even New Orleans, but Georgia that I did not know was a country Georgia. Now if that does not make you pause and think, then all this talk about "Country First" was for nothing. Millions were spent to tell us that the Repubs care about the USA. Millions. But in the end, a billion was sent to another country that many of us did not know existed. Wow, the power of the Vice President!

Thanks to the RNC and it show casing how important the Vice President choice will be in this election, I am giving the VP candidates as much or more attention than I ever had before. Pit bulls wearing lipstick have a new meaning.

Monday, September 1, 2008

"Mom, I was picked for the team!"


"Mom, I was picked for the team!" My daughter, Hurricane Alexis, jumped in the truck with the biggest smile on her face. She had the look of 'I did it all by myself' of years gone by. Alexis is my youngest and has a drama streak. Putting her in basketball was a decision to help with leadership and character development. Her skills in the game were not my first priority but if she was going to be on the team and she had to learn the game. She comes from a household of great athletes and I was not letting my expectations down with her.

This summer she stepped up her training after a few stern conversations from me and attended several basketball camps. The school hired a new coach to take over the team after Coach Ronnie decided she needed to spend more time with her family. In a tutorial, parents are involved in many aspects of educating their kids including coaching the team. Last year, the Lady Royals went to the state championships and won. But it was hard fought and there were a few problems with unity on the team. Coach Ronnie said girls can be that way.

The new coach is not a parent of the school and he has no ties to the area. He is quite and does not talk much to the parents. He is an introvert and thinks analytical. He spent all summer teaching plays and drills. The team had strength and power but they needed to think strategically. He told each young lady that they would have to earn their spot on the team. This was different. In the last two years, the girls would go out for the team and everyone made it. It was not viewed as competition to see who had the best skills or potential. Their qualifications for being on the team were they had to be a girl, attend practice and be in good standing with the school.

But after winning the championships, the Lady Royals were seen in a new light and the stakes were raised. The girls became more competitive with each other and there was a spirit of being the best in the air. The new coach was the right choice. They wanted to be the best and they wanted only the best on their team. This was a different team. This was the Lady Royals.

Something else happened. Alexis started to take the game more seriously. She went to the basketball court on her own, twice a day and would practice dribbling the ball more and more. In August, she practiced daily. A week ago, one of my neighbors knocked at the door and said he wanted to help her with her drills. I eyed him like a pervert from jail but she explained that she asked him to help her. She initiated the call and ask Mr. Mike, a retired airline pilot and exercise enthusiast, to help her win her spot on the team. I was surprise. She was taking her game to the next level.

That week of practice with Mr. Mike, along with her skills and determination helped her win her spot on the team. She earned it. And she knows it. I was proud of her. I was proud that she wanted to be on the team and she wanted to be viewed as one of the best on her team. Not just a player on the girls' team. On the way home yesterday, she talked about her opponents that she will play against this season and for the first time I heard her mention visiting UT. She was talking about college and sports.

Living here in Tennessee, the Lady Vols basketball program is one of the state's treasures. The crown jewel of women's sports. Recognized nationally and internationally for their dominance in the game of basketball. My Alexis is a junior this year and something special is happening with her. I sent Pat Summit, the Lady Vols head coach, an email and told her that I have a diamond that is being buffed and polished. Pat responded and said she will be in town soon for a conference.

As I started to journal last night, my mind drifted to the current political season. I love seeing women be the best they can be. I want women to shatter as many glass ceilings as often as we can. Being a woman in the pest control industry, I know that the ceiling can be shattered. But let us be the best at what we do and be strategic in the process. Not just a woman on the team. I am not another pest control operator. I am a leader in my industry and beyond. Known nationally and internationally for my work in the industry. I am proud to be a woman, God made me that way.

My daughter is being polished for the next generation of leadership in this country. No matter what she does, she will be a leader. She comes from a long line of leaders. I will not let my expectations be any less than what I demanded from her older brothers. Hopefully, it will not be because she will be a woman but because she will one of the best at whatever she does. After all, she is a diamond and she will be polished and buffed.

McCain's Drive by Politics, Lessons Straight from the Hood


Now that I have spent more time analyzing the VP choice for the Repubs than McCain, I can only sum it up as a gangsta move straight from the hood. This was a drive by. Yep, McCain looks like a straight laced polly (politician) but he reminds me more and more of a gangsta trying to establish his turf on the corner. He got the stuff, it may not be all that pure but he will give everyone a little bit to undercut the playa known by everyone. The more we try to get all dignified and righteous in politics the more we see it comes right down to the undignified streets. This is street fighting at its best and you have to understand the rules of street fighting. Folks, there are no rules when you are street fighting. You hit with whatever you got. And many innocent peeps have died in the cross fire of a street fight or a drive by shooting. Who are the innocent ones in this gang banger straight from the hood? Women and conservatives. They are crying for a Messiah. The holy one. One wanted the chosen one called Hillary and the other want a true red conservative loving God, country and babies.

You say this, claim that, throw your party under the bus, you do what it takes to win and 'my friend John' is saying heck with the party of conservative politics and looking like the holy one. He is trying to win. Many have said it all along he is not a conservative, 'my friend John' is a Repub. The old school kind. A cross between Al Capone, a preacher that is about to get fired from his church, and the ghetto thug who will not listen to his grandma tell him that he better stop before he get caught. What do all three have in common? They write their own rules. They are stand alone leaders and they usually do not stand for much very long.

Now who is Palin? A woman from Alaska with five kids! This is street fighting. You fill in the blanks for everything else. All this talk of experience, being ready day one, knowing who the candidate is, heck, on the street there is one question, can you fight? And you start to fight, shoot or stab, you do something other than stand there. You sling mud, you drop bombs, you pull hair, and you go get a woman. Yep, a woman...a real one with stretch marks, a beauty queen crown gathering dust, and basketball trophies in the attic. Try to find one with some political experience like the PTO or the neighborhood association. If she was the mayor of a town called 'no where land' that is good but if she is Governor of a state that we often forget about that is even better. This is as American as Baked Alaska. Vetting? Who vets when you are down and the game is in the fourth quarter and your paid cheerleaders have quit on you. You make a phone call and hope you are talking to the right person. In football, this is a Hail Mary pass or as they do in the hood, put your finger on the trigger and squeeze. Both you do with your eyes closed praying that you hit the intended person with the ball or the bullet. I am not a quarterback nor have I ever lived in the hood but I know several former pro quarterbacks and I got a few ghetto cousins who would not listen to my grandmother, they are all saying the same thing, John McCain is not trying to be any one's messiah, he is trying to win.

You might not like how the game is being played but you got to love his survival instincts here. In life, the jungle and the streets in the hood look the same. JmC (pun intended) is hardheaded and cranky as hell. He is playing by the rules that we know are there but we are too religious to admit that this is how the game is played. Get right down to it, women are never important until you are losing or in trouble and you need one by your side. And women fall for the okie doke every time. Hillary stood by Bill and still did not get her personal chair in the oval office. Conservatives got to quit looking for the Messiah of politics and accept that imperfect people will produce imperfect pollies. Pollies got to quit trying to look all righteous and caring and need to come clean and say hey folks, I am trying to win and I do not care what you think. Putting it on the table keeps everyone else from guessing about your motives.

Remember when Patterson took over in New York? He said on day one; I cheated, I smoked, I lied, (can not remember if he stole but okay), he shot the elephant in the room and no one had to guess what kind of person he was, he told you. You got to respect a crook when he tells you he is a crook upfront. Hmm...how shocking but refreshing. New York's Demos and Repubs seem to accept that he is their Governor and it is business as usual. Taxes, crime and falling skyscrapers. Now if 'my friend' would come out and say I want this bad and I am trying to win, we will stop talking about the VP choice and quit playing dumb and say, "it is what it is". Political lessons from the hood have gone mainstream.

After all, JmC is not the Messiah.