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Moving Stories: Human Migration - Causes, Consequences & Community Responses

by Wendy Gladney on 09/17/18

The International Visitors Council of Los Angeles’ (IVCLA) mission is to create international understanding and cooperation between the Los Angeles region and the rest of the world.  Starting on Thursday, September 27th, they will be kicking off Global Awareness Days right here in our own backyard at the historic Watts Labor Community Action Committee Center (WLCAC).  Janet Elliott, President of IVCLA joined with IVCLA board member Tim Watkins, President WLCAC to bring together this amazing day. The theme is “MOVING STORIES: Human Migration - Causes, Consequences & Community Responses.” The community forum will offer a comprehensive, interactive look at the critical global issue of human migration. By sharing the stories and lived experiences of the people and communities impacted by this issue, they hope to build awareness and foster a more compassionate approach to addressing the fundamental human experience of migration. 

The International Visitors Council, WLCAC, and the West Coast Turkish American Chamber of Commerce are partnering organizations whose hope is that the day will bring more understanding around the issues of migration.  MOVING STORIES will explore:

The reasons people around the world are forced to flee their homes

  • The challenges people face when they leave home
  • The response of communities around the world to forced migration
  • The impact of forced migration on host countries and communities
  • The actions Los Angeles is taking to welcome new families and help them resettle
  • The economic and cultural contributions immigrants and refugees bring to the L.A. area

The moderated morning discussion will include Martin Zogg, Director of the International Rescue Committee L.A.; Eliane Fersan, Director of the Initiative on Immigrants & Global Migration, USC Gould School of Law; Patricia Ortiz, Project Director at Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project; and Rigoberto Reyes, Acting Director for the L.A. County Office of Immigrant Affairs. 

The luncheon will be provided by TIYYA Foundation.  They will showcase the culinary talents of chefs from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Syria. The luncheon will include a discussion with TIYYA Foundation Co-Founder Meymuna Hussein-Cattan and interviews with refugees who have resettled in the L.A. area.  The afternoon will also feature an interactive exhibit hall with videos, displays and desserts from around the world. 

The world has become increasingly smaller and smaller due to technology. The Internet has allowed us to connect with people across the globe, but if we don’t know how to stop and connect with people face to face, right where we live, what good is it?  People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.  Let’s start in our own communities.  To learn more visit  www.ivcla.org.

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

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

Suicide Should Not Be The Answer

by Wendy Gladney on 09/10/18

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, close to 1 million adults report attempting to commit suicide and 800,000 people die due to suicide every year worldwide. It has also been reported that calls to suicide prevention hotlines have doubled since 2014.  Why is this?  The answer to this question is complex.  There is no one answer. People who commit suicide oftentimes struggle with some form of mental illness.  Today, even in 2018, there’s still a stigma surrounding mental illness and mental health issues. Oftentimes those in need of help don’t reach out or even know how to reach out. Sadly, according to several health professionals, children as young as 8 years old are beginning to commit suicide as well.

My first personal encounter with suicide was that of a dear friend in our family named Mike.  Mike was well loved and liked by so many people.  He appeared to have life by the tail and he was flying his kite high.  I had no idea he was struggling and when I talked to others that knew him everybody was shocked.  Were there signs and we just missed them?  He appeared successful and was considered a “go-to” guy for many.  He always seemed to wear a smile and now I wonder, was it just a façade?  What was happening on the inside that even those closest to him could not see? We must try and see beyond the masks many people wear and really listen to what they say -- and when possible, read between the lines.  People that are considering suicide often drop clues if we are really paying attention. 

The names of those who have taken their lives are endless.  It is apparent that suicide has no respect of person.  People of all ages, ethnicities, socio-economic status and genders fall to this disease.  Yes, disease.  Recently we’ve heard about Tina Turner’s son Craig Raymond Turner, or designer Kate Spade and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, just to name a few.  More recently I learned of four youth (elementary and middle school students) that committed suicide, just since the beginning of this academic year. 

Mental health issues often go undiagnosed (especially) in the Black community at a higher rate than other racial groups. We are subjected, not only to mainstream society’s mental health stigmas, but to our own community’s expectations of strength, which often keeps those in need from reaching out for help when they really need it. Add to this disproportionate stress from institutional and racial violence, and minimal access to health care, and the results can be devastating, leading some of our best leaders and role models to take their own lives.

Karyn Washington was a motivational speaker, founder of “The #DarkSkinRedLipProject,” and creator of the blog “ForBrownGirls.” She committed suicide on April 8. It was reported that she had been struggling with depression since the death of her mother a year earlier. Though she was only 22 at the time of her death, Washington had already made major contributions to the African-American community by promoting self-love and challenging Eurocentric beauty standards. As we can see, those that are suffering can look normal, but it is up to all of us to read between the lines. If you think someone is hurting please make sure they call the National Suicide Hotline Number 1-800-273-8255.

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

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

Why Do We Continue to Go Through Life Without a Will?

by Wendy Gladney on 08/27/18

I was sad when I learned of the passing of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. But what saddened me even more was when I learned she passed without a will.  What is it with people who continue to pass on and don’t take the time to handle their business and secure the legacy of their family by obtaining a will or Living Trust?  What baffles me even more is when people work very hard during their lifetime to amass fortunes or establish entities that will provide financial security for their loved ones long after they are gone, and yet they don’t make the necessary arrangements while they are alive. This is true whether it is someone as famous as Aretha Franklin, Prince, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or Howard Hughes or as simple as the young family who recently had children and purchased their first home. We all need to put in place a will or Living Trust.

According to a Gallup Poll, less than half of Americans have a will and the ones that do tend to be over the age of 65.  When someone dies without a will, it goes into what is known as “intestate” which means a family (or others) becomes susceptible to the mercy of the State.  Although I tend to write more about other issues pertaining to the subject of forgiveness or around the welfare of helping girls, another part of my message is around understanding the importance of legacy.  Legacy can be positive or negative and it all depends on what we do while we are alive. It is time for us to stop making excuses as well as stop procrastinating.  I am a firm believer that we should leave the next generation a little better off than how we started. Today can be the day you start a positive legacy for your family and future generations.

Because of the way I was raised by my grandmother, and the fact that she was a stickler for taking care of business and making sure her affairs were in order, when I first got married, one of the first things I did was make sure I scheduled an appointment to discuss our will and final arrangements.  My husband at the time didn’t share my enthusiasm. In hindsight, maybe that was moving a little too fast being a twenty-something newlywed, but the point is still the same.  We need to make sure we handle the business of making sure our affairs are in order sooner than later.  None of us know the day or hour when we will be called home. If you don’t, there’s no guarantee that all of the hard work you’ve done all your life will really benefit the ones you love; no matter your age.

When I’ve talked to people about it, they say they don’t know how or where to begin.  If you really feel you don’t have much to insure or can’t pay an attorney, you can do what is called the “poor man’s will” and write your affairs in a document, have it notarized and then seal it and mail it to yourself.  Don’t open it. Put it away in a safe place with any of your important documents.  If you are able to go a step further then contact either a lawyer or a company that specializes in helping people set up a will or Living Trust.  Although you will be gone and not even know how people will react, at least while you are alive you can feel at peace knowing you’ve taken care of your family. Even after you are gone, your legacy will live on – hopefully for generations to come. 

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

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

What Does Your Season of Greatness Look Like?

by Wendy Gladney on 08/20/18

Most people in life long to achieve their highest good without even understanding what that means.  Over the years, having worked with and spoken to hundreds (if not thousands) of people, the same topic often comes up: “How do I grow and go to the next level?” Another way of asking this question is: “What does greatness actually look like?” My answer is this: “Once you know your meaning, you will be able to develop your message, and then ultimately carry out your mission (which is your purpose).”  When we live out our purpose – that is greatness.

So how do we get to a place of understanding our meaning?  Most of us get caught up in the journey of life, end up going through the motions, and we don’t stop to take the time to figure out why we are here and what we are supposed to do. Oftentimes, it is through our mistakes that we discover where we really need to be. And once we do gain more clarity, it is amazing how the pieces come together and we realize that the path we’ve been on has played a role in helping us get to where we needed to be all along. As Steve Jobs once said, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

I believe that greatness comes in various forms and in different seasons. And what we consider greatness may not be the same from one season to the next.  But greatness can come in different packages along our journey.  My goals and aspirations as a college student changed when I got married and had children. As we mature and grow older, we tend to see life through a different lens.  But I encourage you to appreciate the greatness that comes with every season, versus haphazardly rushing to the next.

There are 10 steps I believe we must work through to step into our Season of Greatness:

  Be Aware of Your Seasons

2.       Learn How to Accept the End of a Season

3.       Explore New Ideas and Opportunities

4.       Always Maintain an Attitude of Gratitude (No Matter What)

5.       Learn How to Receive with Grace

6.       Celebrate Freedom

7.       Become Globally Minded

8.       Speak Your Truth

9.       Know Your Purpose

10.    Embrace the Season of Mentorship (time for you to help others)

Remember as you explore your season of greatness, just know you can have multiple seasons where you achieve what is great at that time.  Ultimately, if you walk in your truth you will live the life you were meant to live and it will be great.  The true sign of greatness is when what you do helps others and where you leave the world in a better place than it was before you came.  Stay tuned more to come.

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

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

Hail to the Chief!

by Wendy Gladney on 08/16/18

Upland, California was officially established on May 15, 1906 and I have called it home for close to 30 years now. With over a century’s worth of history, the city now has its first African American Police Chief. The phrase, “Hail to the Chief” is the official Presidential Anthem of the United States of America, but I had to use it here to pay honor to this pioneer’s achievement as another “first.” In a time where there is so much in the news about police brutality, the lack of civility and pure frustration towards police, it brings me hope to learn there’s someone in charge that plans to change the conversation and hopefully improve the relationship between police officers and the community. 

The dynamics and demographics of Upland (like most small towns) has changed quite a bit since its founding.  It started primarily as a majority all white community.  Over time different cultures began to migrate to the area for different reasons and today, according to the census, it has close to a population of 78,000 people.  The ethnic breakdown is approximately 42% white, 38% Hispanic, 8% Asian, 6% African American and 6% other.  Although the ethnicity demographics of the city have changed, the leadership has still been predominately white male – until recently.  Today, we have a woman mayor (Debbie Stone) and women have a heavy presence on the city council.  The lack of representation has long been a concern for me. So much so, that it caused me to run for city council close to 15 years ago.

Our new Chief of Police, Darren Goodman is truly a “good man.”  He is a 27-year veteran of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and served as the Captain of the Chino Hills Police Department.  He has proven to be a strong advocate around community policing and incorporating technology and community partnerships to help address issues around crime and quality of life issues.  I recently attended a gathering with local African American community leaders who were given the opportunity to meet the new Chief and learn about his commitment to helping make our community better and improving relations between the residents and police force.  He plans to do this by talking to residents and leaders to learn about their concerns and how, together, we can solve them. 

Chief Goodman comes to the table with both practical and theoretical training.  He holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California (I won’t hold that against him…go Bruins!), and he completed his doctoral studies at USC’s Rossier School of Education.  He also graduated from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Senior Executives in State and Local Government.  With all of his acquired knowledge, education and training, he also exhibits a level of compassion for humanity that ties the two worlds together. Under his leadership, I believe he plans to bring about cultural understanding, awareness and sensitivity training to his police force while also encouraging the community to take personal responsibility for helping to bring about change.  Together we can do it!

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

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