Badge of Honor

Thursday, May 14, 2015, the youngest sibling in my family graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree of Science from Kennesaw State University. This momentous occasion was an amazing celebration of the tenacity of the human spirit. It was my young sister Ashley who was on stage that day and we, the King family, bowed and curtseyed as she strolled across that victory line for all to see. But, what most human eyes did not see was the glory of the Lord radiating from my Mother’s smile.

It was Mother who was on the receiving in of painful calls of failures, rejection, frustration, and even heartaches in the wee hours of morning or during the bustling work hours of day. It was Mother who borrowed from Aunts to ensure her first-born did not have to quit studies at the University of West Georgia, Junior year during Summer 2000. It was Mother who took out student loans for her middle children to meet their book and scholar needs at Fort Valley State University and Columbus State University. Yes, it was Mother that paved a way for her youngest to signal the call of excellence as four King Women stood tall beside each other with Bachelor’s degrees side by side in their scholastic family tree.

My Mother and Grandmother placed a premium on scholarship and civic engagement. You carry your community for it carried you when you knew no better. We never thought much in my family about giving our free time or resources to others because this is how my family through the ages survived. Others made sure we were equipped and in turn we sow generously everywhere we stroll. The same generosity we invested in others was required of ourselves. My Mother taught her King women to read and travel far away through reading at tender ages. She adorned us in the girliest of dresses but ensured a book was in our hands. From Book-mobiles to Book fairs, the King girls always adventured to lands far away. My Mother knew then she was equipping us with a key to success, our minds. My Mother knew life would be harsh, some would not believe, but if we invested in our minds/hearts early, our paths could not be deterred.

So, it is with great pleasure that the King Women of Columbus, GA stand tall. My Mother invested in a legacy of determination, strength, and agility by simply exposing her children to reading. As my Sisters and I, journey through Business, Student Affairs, Teaching, Counseling, Marketing & Public Relations, we now set the stage for a generation of Kings growing today (my niece and nephew).

My Father played a significant role in supporting us through college as well and stands tall as he sees the reward for the sacrifices made on behalf of his family’s educational endeavors. But, the Badge of Honor goes to Sherry Lynn. Beyond the money, the hugs, and the pep talks she created the vision, nurtured the development, and supported a shift in our generational legacy. Four King Women stood tall on Thursday, May 14, 2015. What an honor for these Four King Women to represent the tenacity of a Mother who believed.

Time

One of my favorite Rolling Stones numbers is entitled “Time is on my side.”

That song comes to mind as I make it home from seeing my nephew, Isaiah, graduate from Pre-Kindergarten tonight. I nostalgically ponder upon the path that both of his parents journeyed to arrive at today’s celebration.

My sister had a rocky transition as she put aside her studies at a four-year college to prepare a way for my nephew to enter the world. Things were hectic and tense among the expectant families and the early years saw two families who were worlds apart collide.

However, as years have gone by, maturity and wisdom would win the hearts of all. Each family member  was forced to release their grip of fear and embrace chance. My nephew’s bright smile allowed for groups of people to learn from one another and discover life without being right. My nephew’s parents had a tough course in front of them, but today marked a celebration of what endurance and time can overcome.

Time is indeed on all of our sides as we learn to release our best laid plans and embrace the gift of uncertainty, second chances, and opportunity.

Small Reminders

Last Thursday, I was working on a project regarding development.

Out of nowhere, my spirit told me to retrieve my old MBTI and Strong Inventory results from West Ga.

Lo and behold. I sat in the middle of my floor grinning from ear to ear.

How I love career and personality inventories. It is the self-discovery and reflection that steal my heart every time.

As I prepared to use the last four pages of a summary, I discovered my truth. I saw in my Strong Inventory what it has taken me years to see.

  1. I am truly on a path that is fit for me, a Queen.
  2. My likes and values may seem random but they are not.
  3. My career path is right on schedule

Under the label “enterprising” I read college professor or instructor (check), corporate training (check-check), and career development (i do this in my sleep).

Sometimes life’s journey will leave you feeling insecure but five years later it is nice to know…i’m still on track. Guess that’s why they call it a journey.

Power of Thoughts

Your heart and mind truly control your destiny.

They also determine the quality of life and relationships you entertain.

If you choose to allow negativity into your heart and mind, it will shape what you choose to see.

If you allow negative moments to harden your heart, callous thoughts will follow.

I have noticed that when I deal with others, If I am holding on to past moments, my current decisions are colored regardless of what transpires.

Often, we lament for others to give us a blank slate or an unbiased shot.

However, sometimes we have to erase our own chalkboard of past misgivings in order to do the same for others.

Just a little something that was on my mind…

Flight School

Moons ago, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

I was heavy with the “ride or die” movement and carrying a team thicker than any late 1990s rap entourage.

Loyalty was the name of the game and I was in.

Deep through my heritage and culture, it is understood that you leave no one behind.

So, as I traversed my journey, I took every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sally, and Sue Ellen with me.

Years would go by and never once did I question my inability to…

  • Free myself from the heroes cape, starving to save anyone who would let me
  • Recognize my insecure feelings on celebrating any good fortune that found my way
  • Discern the foul, discouraging, hurt birds that were there for the spoils but never the losses
  • Question the content and inconsistencies that I deemed worthy of acceptance

Then it happened. Somewhere in Graduate School, I no longer had the capacity to carry another.

Not another soul, opinion, direction, etc.etc.etc.

God had occupied my mind and vision with all that he had for me to the point that loyalty was directed towards Him, towards me.

If this were Flight School, attendance was slim.

The life that was once standing room only like a college club on Thursday nights…became wide open and free. For those who loved what I stood for, loved what I had, or just loved standing next to me had to flee.

There was no more room inside of me for loyalty greater than we (me and He or HIM, the GREAT I AM).

Enter those who understood my transition and had flown a very similar path.

Some, where veteran characters in my cast who stood the test of life and changes. Others were new characters that would stay for a season, a spell, or remain for the duration.

Funny thing about Eagles, they do not clutter or cling to another.

They cross paths at the right time but when their assignments are doled out, it’s understood that the mission is great.

I stand here today, thankful, blessed, and bright-eyed reflecting over the fellow Eagles I have collaborated, shared, inspired, or learned from during different levels of flight school.

You are only as good as your faith, attitude, and team.

It took time and travail, but my fellow Eagles and I are soaring even higher through the sky these days.

Blessed.

She’s Crying Out

America is crying out.

We continue to treat her symptoms with allergy meds, cough suppressant, and nausea pills.

Not working.

I remember the last time the phrase ‘crying out’ surfaced in my life.

It was during my last year of Graduate Studies at WG.

My supervisor and I were having a one on one meeting (weekly or bi-weekly professional development meeting for my non-student affairs friends).

Janine looked me in the eye, face filled with concern.

“Coretta, your students behavior is crying, if not screaming out for your attention. They are asking you for help via their behavior.”

Until that point I was numb. I was juggling interning as a Counselor, maintaining my graduate studies, balancing a part-time bank gig, keeping my staff together, and duct taping the back of my head to ensure none of my remaining marbles would slip out.

Janine was right. There had been a series of piss poor decision based incidences that occurred in my hall. The behavior reflected a lack of self-love and self-esteem in my residences (or the lack of critical thought) which threatened safety and well-being.

Like a good steward, I had previously employed every ‘reactive’ measure to restore balance/safety into our community. However, in truth, I was only bandaging an oozing wound.

Long story short, Janine’s words jolted me awake. I would go on to partner with fellow dept. colleagues and seek out collaboration from our Patient Advocates, Peer Advisors, and the Director for Alcohol Education. Prior to departure for Thanksgiving break we hosted an on-campus event at one of our largest facilities on campus which included a guest speaker used to break open conversation. After 20 minutes of presentation-we created over 25 table groups of people to have facilitated dialogue.

Yes, nearly 250 students and professionals talked through surface to deep related issues that involved truth.

See, I came to that program willing to get on their level. I created spoofs or mock videos of the behavior that was questionable with the help of my dept. friends/colleagues and showed the students a reflection of what was debilitating our living environment.

This allowed ownership and authorship to show up. Students negatively impacted by the behavior spoke their concerns and were able to look across tables and talk with culprits. Those who were responsible for the questionable behavior were able to speak up and voice their perspective.

Roses did not emerge. There would be smaller level issues. Those are typical and why I was employed.

The bigger picture was the putting a face behind hurt, distrust, and pain.

Back to today.

The latest news with the Officer shooting the unarmed man in SC is symptomatic of a systemic problem.

America is crying out for help. She’s telling us all is not well. What we’ve done in the past will not work today. We cannot look away or break out bandages for deep-seated wounds.

Our fabric has a whole in it. It’s not okay to be right and not learn how to work through fear and ignorance.

She’s crying, hurting even. So Am I.

Standing Tall

Towards the end of last week, the weather shifted and the rain entered as the sunlight took a bow.

I was driving somewhere with the windows rolled down enjoying the scent of rain.

Refreshing.

My mind drifted off slowly to this time when I was in Clemson standing under a tree chatting with one of my favorite colleagues, Jill. Suddenly, the clouds broke open, rain poured  from heaven beating the earth profusely.

In the middle of our conversation, we stood there admiring God’s design.

See the trees towered towards the sky and leaned in ever so gently protecting our beauty and natural coifs.

We both ceased talking and smiled as the rain danced around us while not a drop graced our backs.

I believe that to be one of the most beautiful and enlightening moments of my life.

Entering towards Easter weekend, I was in awe that the Lord brought that back to my remembrance.

At that moment, I grew prouder at the sacrifice that our Lord made for all humanity (those accepting and those who reject).

Wow, what a magnificent being. Jesus.

That same Lord walks with us whether we stand tall or fall. That memory will be forever my proof that nothing touches us without permission. Through it all, he protects, shields, covers.