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The Key That Unlocks & Opens All Possibilities

by Wendy Gladney on 04/15/19

I was recently contacted by the organization “The Giving Keys.”  They are a company that makes necklaces out of old keys whose mission is to inspire the world to pay it forward.  They don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk.  They have a social impact employment model and every product they sell supports job creation for people transitioning out of homelessness. They’re not a nonprofit, but rather a social enterprise. They believe that job creation helps to break generational cycles of poverty and homelessness.  Their mission is what made me interested in participating in their campaign when they reached out. Their campaigns are centered on different words they’ve pre-selected and one of those words, which resonated with me, was FORGIVENESS.

We are in the season where Christians all over the world are commemorating and celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, also known as Resurrection Sunday (Easter). The timing of “The Giving Keys” reaching out was not lost on me. They asked me to talk about the importance of forgiveness by wearing the necklace they sent, and then pay it forward by sharing a second necklace with someone else. I couldn’t help but think about how the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ represents the “key” to helping people forgive and, more importantly, the key that unlocks and opens up all possibilities. 

We live in a world that can feel hopeless and lonely.  People are hurting everywhere we look, but this isn’t new.  Mankind has struggled since the beginning of time.  The news can be depressing.  Every time we turn on the television or our computers, we learn about another person being killed, the uncertainty of how our political leaders are handling world affairs, the rise in people living on the street and increased homelessness, hunger, sex trafficking, the lack of compassion and caring about humanity and the list goes on. But I say don’t despair, don’t give up or give in, there’s hope in the One who is the key and can unlock every hindrance in our lives. The choice is up to us if we are willing to accept what He has to offer.  A life filled with hope and possibilities.

The world sees Easter as a time when everything comes alive again.  Colors seem to be more vibrant and a freshness seems to blanket the earth. Trees begin to replenish their leaves, flowers begin to bloom, the sun seems to shine just a little brighter and people appear to smile after a gloomy winter.  This is true for me as well, but not because of bunny rabbits and colorful eggs, but because I have the key that gives me hope and life.  His name is Jesus.  People who know my life story have often asked me how can you be happy and smile when you’ve experienced things that would make others angry and bitter?  First of all when I look at what some have experienced and endured, my life doesn’t seem so tragic, things could have been much worse, but no matter what any of us may have gone through or may even be experiencing right now, we are not alone and He is the key. Although I may not know what tomorrow holds, I do know who holds tomorrow.   

So this Easter, or should I say Resurrection Sunday, I wish for you a world of possibilities and the key that unlocks any lock that may be holding you back from living the life that is meant for you.  His name is Jesus.

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com. 

The Hussle is Real

by Wendy Gladney on 04/09/19

We’ve all heard the saying, “The Struggle is Real,” but what does it really mean? We all experience difficulties in life; some will face more than others. The saying has slipped into our everyday culture and is often used humorously, even when it is not funny. Just as the struggle is real, so is the hustle. We recently were made aware of the tragic and untimely loss of rapper, Ermias Joseph Asghedom aka Nipsey Hussle. His hustle was very real and he used his influence, finances and resources to help those whose “struggle is real.” His violent death, at the hands of another black man, is a shame.  Hussle had the first “smart” clothing store in history. Customers were able to purchase a shirt or piece of clothing with a QR Code attached to it. Once purchased and scanned, the code was activated and customers could listen to Hussle’s unreleased music on their smart phones. Although he may be gone, his message lives on.

Hussle, the “Double Up” rapper, was shot in the parking lot outside one of his businesses, Marathon Clothing. A business where he employed local people and gave them a hand up and not just a hand out. He died from gunshot wounds to the head and torso after being shot by a man named Eric Holder. A 33-year-old black man was killed by a 29-year-old black man. There’s a lot of conversation about police brutality against black people, but what about black on black crime?  This is a conversation we can’t ignore. 

The money from Nipsey Hussle’s clothing store was used to fund other businesses such as restaurants surrounding his own store, to renovate them and to offer healthier eating choices for the community. He was determined to make a difference. He also worked on launching a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program. He was determined to make a difference where he came from, right in the middle of Crenshaw. His program is called “Too Big To Fail.”  He wanted to make sure inner-city kids had the same opportunity as Silicon Valley kids.

As I’ve continued to learn about the life of Nipsey Hussle and what he stood for, I’m just sorry that I didn’t get a chance to meet him in person.  Hussle, along with Steph Curry, started a conversation around the importance of respecting mothers and grandmothers and the significance on how they will treat the women in their lives.  This is so importance because if men don’t have the conversation around how to treat the women in their lives, it is difficult for women to teach girls how much they matter and how they should be valued.  That’s what we teach the girls in our Forgiving For Living, Inc., Ambassador Program.  They are beautiful and should be cherished, but they must believe in themselves first.  I once heard someone say we teach people how to treat us.  I believe it starts by loving ourselves and showing respect towards one another.

I recently read that God has intention for our pain, a cause for our struggle and a compensation for our faithfulness and that we can’t give up.  Many who follow my articles know that I was close to my grandmother and that she taught me to honor my community and I will until my final breath. But we must come together and be our brother (sister’s) keeper. Starting now. Let’s honor Hussle’s legacy with a hustle of our own.

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com. 

What is the PLUS in the PLUS Awards?

by Wendy Gladney on 04/01/19

I’ve always been grateful for people who go above and beyond and have a heart for helping others.  As a child I experienced abandonment by my biological mother and sexual abuse by my father.  I was raised primarily by my paternal grandmother who instilled certain core values into me that have guided my life.  My grandmother encouraged my activities in school, church and community and because of the various activities I was involved with, I became a “product of the community.”  As I worked in the community, the community sowed back into my life. Many people went above and beyond to help me, and they became the PLUS in my life.

As I grew and overcame many of the challenges of my childhood, I was often asked how did I do it? I didn’t really understand what people meant or why they were even asking me the question, but as I continued my path it became apparent to me the role forgiveness played in my life. This was the motivation for me starting the organization called, Forgiving For Living, Inc., in 1999.  Although we’ve been around for close to twenty years, the PLUS Awards has only been around for twelve years.  It is our desire to bring attention and highlight the work of people in the community that are committed to making our community a better place. They represent the PLUS. We also give out scholarships to deserving young ladies who desire to advance their education after high school.  Over the past twelve years we’ve honored close to seventy-five individuals and have given out close to $100,000.00 in scholarships!

This year Forgiving For Living, Inc., has six individuals we are honoring that have exhibited the plus in their lives by helping others and making a positive impact. The Honorable Diane Watson will receive the President’s Award.  Ms. Watson is a pioneer in opening doors for women and girls across Los Angeles and across the world in the area of politics.  She has been the first and broke barriers that women continue to walk through to this day.  Lisa Collins, Publisher of LA Focus Newspaper has been committed to making sure the community is enlightened and informed on what is happening in the faith-based community for close to a quarter of a century and she gives women and girls the opportunity to be exposed to the world of publishing.  Chief Richard Fields has been serving as a Los Angeles Firefighter and Paramedic for close to 25 years and was one of 25 firefighters from his department that immediately responded to “Ground Zero.”  Kat Connolly, is a political consultant that has been helping politicians and community leaders make thoughtful decisions for over 20 years. Tera Hilliard, President of Forgotten Children, Inc., has been on the battlefield making sure our children are not forgotten and are given the resources and help they need and deserve for a better life.  Finally, Kandee Lewis, Executive Director, The Positive Results Corporation aims to prevent and ultimately end domestic violence.

This year we will continue in our tradition of giving scholarships. Six deserving young ladies graduating from high school will receive money to help them on their journey.  Anika Rahotep from Hamilton, Kortni Washington from Eleanor Roosevelt, Milani Noel White from Crenshaw, Nia Williams from Richard Gahr, Raeje Bryant from Lawndale and Victoria Simplis from South High School.  A mind is a terrible thing to waste and Forgiving For Living, Inc., is committed to doing our part in the vineyard where we are planted. I encourage you to think about who you can sow into and be the PLUS in their life? Together we can make a lasting difference. Thank you to our sponsors:  Comerica Bank, US Bank, Torrey Pines Bank. CiT Bank, SoCalGas, Iris Smith and the Ken Brooks Family Foundation. 

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com. 

What is the Cost of Higher Education?

by Wendy Gladney on 03/25/19

Growing up, my grandmother taught me to be mindful of four things: to love God, take care of your family, give back to your community and to get an education.  She lived each of these out in her everyday life. She made sure we went to church and read the bible, checked on family members, were involved in civic and social organizations that aimed to make the community a better place and to do our best in school and strive to constantly learn.  When it came to our education she sacrificed and worked overtime to make sure she could do what was necessary to help us qualify and succeed in the pursuit of our higher education.

Historically, in many areas of society, the playing field was not level and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stated that all people within the jurisdiction of the United States should have the same rights.  As it related to higher education, it made it illegal to discriminate against students and college applicants based on their race or gender. To further establish this legislation, Affirmative Action was established.  Over the years, there have been critics who have claimed Affirmative Action was just a form of reverse discrimination; however, it was meant to be a tool to provide access where it had been previously denied.  For the sake of our children and our children’s children, we must make sure this right is not derailed or denied based on someone’s economic status. 

Most of us have heard the saying, “it is not what you know, but who you know.” Although this may be true in some cases, when it comes to a student being granted access or accepted into a college or university based on who they know, and how much they are willing to pay, this is simply unacceptable. I am not saying that every student who gets into college based on who they (or their parents) knew is not worthy, but what about the student who works hard and is denied in favor of the student who got in solely because of their parents’ money? 

We’ve all heard in the news about the case where several prominent and wealthy individuals have been charged in college admissions bribery.  Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman have become the poster parents in this case. Federal authorities are calling it the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department. This is a slap in the face and an insult to those that legitimately work hard everyday to help students obtain the education and skills to compete fairly in the process.  I know of organizations such as Concerned African American Parents (CAAP) run by Ingrid Johnson or the National College Resources Foundation run by Dr. Theresa Price that sacrifice and work tirelessly to make sure students will be able to fairly compete. What are we going to do about this? What is the cost of getting a higher education?  Is it equitable?

Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” If all students are not given equal access (based on merit) to the same education how will we ever establish an equitable society? I come from a line of college graduates.  My grandparents graduated from Marshall College in Texas.  I graduated from the University of California Los Angeles. My daughter is a graduate of Spelman College and my son graduated from the University of California Irvine, but we all worked hard and paid our dues.  When is enough, enough? Let’s give others the same opportunity.

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com. 

King is Queen

by Wendy Gladney on 03/18/19

Many of us are familiar with Gayle King, but we usually think of her as Oprah’s bestie.  A few years ago, while attending the California Women’s Conference when Maria Shriver was California’s First Lady and the leader of the conference, I was given a chance to go back stage and meet Ms. King.  I found her very approachable and friendly.  It was a short encounter, but enough time to leave a positive impression on me.  Although Gayle has a strong personality and she has accomplished many things during her career, I think some people can under estimate her because of her relationship with Oprah, but don’t sleep on her because she is a queen.

Most of us have either seen or at least heard about the Gayle King interview with R. Kelly that happened a few weeks ago.  Many have applauded her for her ability to keep her cool in what could have been a serious storm.  I think the interview showed her strength in an industry that can cause many people to lose control.  This made me think about how “queenly” she carried herself which made me then think about what are some of the qualities a queen possesses?  When I did a little research, here are a few of the points that continued to come up: 

·         Kind

·         Prepared

·         Confident

·         Courageous

·         Honest

·         Elegant

·         Composed

·         Deliberate or on purpose about what they do

Reflecting on not only the interview that Ms. King had with R. Kelly, but also how she carries herself on a regular basis, I would say she handles herself like a queen. The bigger point is that each of us can have a little queen in us.  When I think of the women, I would call queen (which aren’t many) they all possess most, if not all of these qualities.  Although I believe these are qualities that anyone could strive to obtain, they are not always easily practiced.  We hear about people practicing random acts of kindness, but the question is can we continue being kind or is it something we do temporarily or only when we have something to gain? 

As we look at the other points mentioned, being prepared, confident, courageous, honest, elegant, composed or even deliberate, they have to become things we think about and practice daily. They have to become part of our DNA.  It is a choice and a decision that we must weave into the very fabric of our everyday lives. Like anything good it takes commitment and discipline. Oprah Winfrey said, “Think like a queen.  A queen is not afraid to fail.  Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.”  I guess it is true, birds of a feather do flock together.  Gayle King hangs with bestie Queen Oprah.  Who do you hang out with?  #WomenHistoryMonth #WomenEmpowerment #Queen #SeasonofGreatness

Healing Without Hate:  It's a choice. It's a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyEnterprises.com and www.forgivingforliving.org.  Wendy is an international coach, consultant and speaker. You may email her at wendy.gladney@gmail.com.