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The Struggle is Still Real!

by Wendy Gladney on 01/14/19

When I first started my event planning business over a quarter of a century ago, one of my favorite clients was working for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  I was originally hired by Genethia Hudley Hayes who was the Executive Director at the time.  She wanted me to come in and help with what was known as “King Week.”  Over the course of a week we had different activities ranging from the Rosa Parks Gospel Concert, to an Art & Essay Contest sponsored by the DWP, an inter-faith breakfast co-sponsored with the National Conference of Christians & Jews (NCCJ) and culminating with a big dinner with hundreds of attendees.  At one time this was the biggest non-profit dinner in the African American Community in Los Angeles.

SCLC was one of my longest clients.  I had the privilege of working with several executive directors over the span of ten plus years.  Over the years I met many people across the Southland and many are still in my life today.  We had a commitment to keep Dr. King’s dream alive and to better our community.  We also wanted to make sure that future generations would not forget what previous generations had fought and died for to ensure their freedom and equality.  I believe I come from the generation (I was born in 1961) that sits between those who sacrificed on the front lines and those who are recipients of those struggles, but may not fully understand the struggle.

Back in the day, King Week was an exciting time when the community, celebrities and the corporate world all came together to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and to reflect on how far we had come. Although the celebration spanned just a little over a week, it would take months to plan and prepare for it to be meaningful and successful.  I really enjoyed seeing how people came alive as they rolled up their sleeves to be involved and to make sure the community did not forget the purpose of what this celebration meant and how important it was for us to keep his memory and work alive for the generations to come.

Dr. King was assassinated in 1968; over fifty years ago.  Former Congressman John Conyers, an African-American Democrat from Michigan, spearheaded the movement to establish MLK Day shortly after Dr. King’s death. It would take over fifteen years with much fighting on the front lines, including Coretta Scott King and Stevie Wonder petitioning and working hard to not give up on creating the holiday.  It became law in 1983 under President Ronald Reagan, but was not observed until 1986 and it was not until the year 2000 that all fifty states recognized King’s birthday as a government holiday. This is a perfect example of the importance of not giving up.  As my grandmother would remind me, we can’t get weary in well doing.

Many of our Civil Rights and Social Justice Organizations are falling by the wayside and although it may appear that we’ve come a long way regarding equal rights, sadly we still have a long way to go. It almost feels like we’ve taken a few steps back with the current political climate.  It is going to be up to each one of us to do our part to keep Dr. King’s dream alive for our children and our children’s children to have the hope of a better future.  Now is not the time to sit down or take a back seat.  We must be like Ms. Rosa Parks who took a seat up front where she belonged to make a statement that made history.

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. 

Reset, Recalibrate & Shift Your Mindset About Making Resolutions

by Wendy Gladney on 01/07/19

Recently a friend asked me if I had made my New Year’s resolutions. As I thought about his question and what it means to make resolutions; the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter or a firm decision to do or not to do something; my opinion on making resolutions changed.  In the past I really didn’t like making resolutions because I wasn’t always good at keeping them. I consider myself a disciplined and goal-oriented person, but what I realized is usually the things I made “resolutions” about were not high on my priority list and they felt more like obligations than choices. I wasn’t serious about them from the jump. I realize now I must make a shift in my thinking.

 As I dissect the meaning of a resolution, especially the part referring to an action of solving a problem, I realized that I do have a problem because historically I always viewed resolutions in a negative light.  I now understand that I must reset, re-calibrate and be mindful of the resolutions that I make and how they are good for me.  Perhaps, in the past, I have been in denial because I felt defeated before I even got started. As I’ve gotten older, the main area where I feel the most challenged is with my discipline around health and exercise.  But I know that eating a steady healthy diet (allowing opportunities to treat yourself from time to time), along with some level of consistent exercise is critical to an overall healthy life.

 January is a good time to stop, reset and re-calibrate. We must be willing to calibrate something again or differently when necessary.  As I walk into my Season of Greatness, I’ve realized that means all aspects of my life.  I feel like I’ve done a good job in various areas and I work hard to do a good job and accomplish my goals and live out my purpose; however, to really be my best, I must be willing to go deep into the areas in which I fear or feel challenged. Therefore, once again, I will make a promise (resolution) to myself to make my health and well being a priority in 2019. Will you join me?

My church is currently undergoing a 21 day fast.  During this fast we are being asked not only to pray, but also to pay attention to the food we eat, increase our focus, let go of fear and return to the fundamentals.   I believe this is the perfect time for me to jump start watching what I put into my mouth and how I move my body. After all, if I can accomplish all the other things I set out to do, but don’t take care of myself, what good is it?  We are living longer lives and it is important for us to get a handle on our health sooner than later, especially if there are health issues that exist in our families. 

You don’t have to be a Christian or even follow any particular faith to practice the art of fasting. There are different types of fasting, but basically fasting is where we consciously give up something for a period of time. As we give ourselves over to the fast, oftentimes the things we give up (and it doesn’t even have to be just food), we come to realize we probably didn’t need it anyway, especially if it gets in the way of us becoming our best selves.  I am not advocating for total denial, but I am saying that we can all probably do a little better job of living our lives in moderation when we focus on what is really important.  As they say, you will either pay now or pay later. I think I want to pay while I have the health and energy to put in the work.

 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

Nia: Our Purpose Through Family

by Wendy Gladney on 12/30/18

As we bring closure to the holiday season, Kwanzaa is a celebration that was founded in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga to ensure a way that African Americans could honor their culture and heritage.  There are seven core principles that are highlighted during the last week of December where families (and communities) can participate in restoring African American people to their traditional greatness.  The seven principles are:

      ·         Umoja – Unity

·         Kujichagulia – Self Determination

·         Ujima – Collective work and responsibility

·         Ujamaa – Cooperative Economics

·         Nia – Purpose

·         Kuumba – Creativity

·         Imani – Faith

The fifth principle of Kwanzaa, Nia, speaks to me because of my commitment to family and legacy. It focuses on the necessity for us to be responsible to those who came before us (our ancestors) and to those who will follow (our descendants).  Nia highlights our purpose (individually and collectively) with a strong focus around family. Family and community serve as a conduit for human development and the ability for all of us to thrive. When the family fails, society fails. Family serves as a safety net and the place where we can always return when the world pushes us away. Family helps us get back to our center, which reminds us of our greatness and helps guide us to our purpose.

Growing up my primary caregiver was my paternal grandmother.  Time has a way of revealing the magnitude of someone long after they are gone.  My grandmother was the glue in our family and her home was the central focus that brought us all together.  Since her passing my home has become the place where my family gathers for holidays and special occasions.  Her example taught me to always make a little extra food in case someone stops by unannounced; to make sure I offer a bed to someone who may need a place to lay their head; to not be in such a rush where I don’t make time to pause and listen to someone that has a heavy heart; and finally, to always have a little cash stashed in case someone needs a few dollars before they leave my home.

African Americans are a great people with a rich heritage.  I am proud of my complete heritage.  Over the holidays my daughter and I were sitting discussing our family heritage. We’ve discovered I am 50% German; 13% Benin/Togo; 12% Cameroon/Congo; 8% Ivory Coast/Ghana; 7% Mali; 4% Great Britain; 3% Nigeria; 2% Ireland and Scotland; and finally, 1% Sweden. Although the majority of my ethnic breakdown is more white than black, we know the one drop rule (if you have one drop of black blood you are considered black) and the fact that I was raised by my paternal African American grandmother, I feel it is my purpose to make sure my descendants understand their history and are proud of where they come from.  It is important that history is not lost on the next generation. What role do you play in bringing your family legacy to life?  This just may be your purpose.

 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 Next?

by Wendy Gladney on 12/24/18

The holidays are always so festive as friends and families gather to celebrate the various traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation.  It is easy to get caught up in the majesty of winter wonderland and all the lights that shine bright, but as quickly as the twinkling lights begin to fade, we start to wonder what’s next for us as we close out one year and begin another anew. For most people during this time of year, they begin to think about the people they didn’t see, the places they didn’t go and the things they didn’t accomplish or complete and decisions are made on what they will keep or discard for the New Year. 

As I think of what’s next for my life, I see a beautiful horizon filled with lots of opportunities, surprises and blessings.  This time last year was a bit challenging as I saw the end of a marriage and a trajectory change in my career.  Although I saw all of it coming, and it was not a surprise, it was still difficult and I had to figure my way through. Especially when I wasn’t most confident, I learned that, more than ever, I had to lean not on my own understanding, but rather trust that God had me and that He would take care of me no matter what was ahead.

After the various challenges I experienced in 2017, I decided to make 2018 a year that I invested and sowed into my own life.  It has been a year of traveling around the world, investing in educational opportunities that would increase my skillset and spending time with friends and loved ones (especially the love of my life, my grandson Grayson).  I don’t share this to brag, but rather to express how I realized the need to pause and recalibrate; to really look at my life, my core and my values.  I had to make sure they were all solid and that I wouldn’t let anyone, or anything, knock me off or away from what I believe or what I know is my true purpose. 

I also realized that I had to let some things die in my life for new life to sprout.  Death is a difficult thing, but death is part of life.  Just as the seasons change from Autumn to Winter, I can see the leaves falling from the trees in my backyard and the trees look bare, but I know that when Spring comes, there will be new life and new leaves that will fill the trees and make them full again.  I know that I will be full again and that all I must do is be faithful and consistent. 

What broken dreams are you still holding onto that may be holding you back from reaching your true potential or living your true purpose in life? We all have dreams that seem to have fizzled just like the twinkling lights of Christmas, but it doesn’t mean we should give up or throw in the towel.  What we need to ask ourselves is what’s next and then begin to prepare for the next season or phase of our lives.  When I coach or just help people with their various problems or disappointments, I always say, “let’s have a pity party for a moment and then let’s get up and get back to living the lives we were meant to live.”

I want to encourage everyone as you contemplate what’s next to first just give thanks for all the beautiful blessings you do have in your life.  Secondly, take a good hard look at what you want in your life and then take the time to work on putting together a plan to make it happen.  Thirdly, just trust your gut and put your best foot forward.  What’s next?  Who knows?  Life may throw us a curve ball, but I think we will be alright.

 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. 

This CHRISTmas

by Wendy Gladney on 12/17/18

I have a dear lifelong friend by the name of JC who I recently reconnected with and during one of our conversations we were talking about how different religions are bold in sharing their faith, while others may be a little more reserved.  Recently, on a day when he happened to be home, some Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped by and knocked on his door.  JC is a Christian and we met many years ago through the California Baptist Young People’s Convention, and in our youth we were all on fire for Christ.  I gave my life to Christ as a young girl and although I have loved Him for as long as I can remember, sometimes, I’ve not been as bold as I should be in sharing my faith.

I try to live my life in such a way where I walk the walk and I’ve not necessarily leaned on talking the talk, which is quite ironic since I talk for a living. Let me be clear, I’m not ashamed of my faith and I am committed, but as I write this piece, I realize that I have not been as on fire as I should be in sharing my faith with others, especially during this time of year. Christmas is when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus.  We believe He came to earth in the form of a baby over two thousand years ago wrapped in swaddling clothing and laid in a manager.  He came to bring hope, love, peace and salvation to the world.  We are in times where it is important to share our faith and spread a little cheer. We need to give hope and help people to not despair.

We live in times when we don’t want to offend others.  We are often told to be careful with what we say or do (especially as it relates to politics and religion) so as not to offend others.  Speaking up for what we believe should not be censored, but what is important is making sure that we show respect when sharing with others. Growing up I always told my children it is not so much what you say verses how you say it.

This Christmas I want to do a better job of not only showing my faith but sharing my faith in what I say and do. I would like to encourage each of you as you go about participating in various celebrations and traditions with your friends and family to not be afraid to share what this season means to you.  For my family and me, we believe Christmas is Jesus’ birthday and so we should give Him gifts.  The way we give Him gifts is by helping the least of these and giving to those in need.  Will you give a gift to someone that is in need?  Someone that can’t give you anything in return?

This Christmas my family and I will gather together at my home on Christmas Eve, as we usually do, but our door will also be open to those that may be alone or may be experiencing hard times or just need a friend.   My grandmother used to say, you never know when you may be entertaining angels unaware that are watching everything you do. Matthew 5:16 tells us to let our lights shine before others so that they will see our good deeds in order to glorify the Lord.  I will continue to let my light shine, but I will also begin to be a little more vocal about my faith!  Thank you, JC, for reminding me to be bold about JC  (Jesus Christ). Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

 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.