The Subtleties of Racism in the Workplace

Have you ever been sexually harassed and too scared to speak up? Or been the subject of dirty talk, whistling or a long-lasting stare at your chest or derriere? If so, it likely made you feel angry and objectified. You probably wanted to tell HR and file a complaint, but you didn’t, because you were afraid.  Not afraid that the offender would harm you for exposing them, but afraid that you would lose your job. Afraid because the perpetrator was your boss, or your boss’s friend or perhaps you were the only woman working in an all-male business. And they’d certainly replace you, before him.  You felt like you had nowhere to go.

If so, I’ve been where you’ve been. It’s awful. It’s wrong, and I’m sorry for your pain.

But have you ever experienced being afraid to speak up, because you were black? Have you ever experienced racism in your workplace and quietly kept it to yourself because speaking up would make you a target or put your job on the line? I sure have.  Let me tell you about a few instances.

I once worked for a company that was new, but growing, and as it expanded, so did the job opportunities. After successfully serving in my role for a year, I decided to apply for a position as a manager. There were multiple manager openings available. A black co-worker, who had become my friend, decided to apply as well. She, in fact, was more qualified than me. She was a very confident, outspoken person. After our interviews, we were both informed, by notes left on our chairs, that neither of us were being promoted. We were crushed, without so much as an in-person rejection.

A few days later, my supervisor pulled me aside to inform me that, though they did want to give me the promotion, they decided they couldn’t, because they didn’t want to promote my co-worker, whom they didn’t like as well, and considered “unapproachable”.

Yes, “unapproachable”.   The term that is cast upon black women who are not afraid to speak their minds or voice their opinions.

So, I was denied a promotion because they didn’t wish to promote my outspoken black friend. And they were afraid to tell her so to her face.

In another instance, I interviewed for a job at a company that had only one other female employee (let’s call her Vicki). I was given the job and Vicki and I quickly became friends. After a few months, Vicki revealed to me that she wasn’t sure they were going to hire me when I first interviewed. When I asked her why, she informed me that, after my interview, the male Vice President asked her how she liked me. Vicki replied “I think she’s great.” He then asked her if she was sure she could work with me, to which Vicki replied, “Yes. I think you should hire her.” The VP then asked Vicki again, “Are you sure you don’t mind working with someone who is TALL?”

Now, to be perfectly honest, I AM tall. Always have been, always will be. And when Vicki told me this, I wondered why my height should matter to anyone. It took me a second to realize what she was telling me and then I replied, “Oh. He meant TALL as in BLACK!” And Vicki shook her head in agreement that TALL was the VP’s way of asking her if she was okay working with a black person. Little did he know, that Vicki was not only okay with it, but she would eventually file a complaint, on my behalf, when some of the male staff were sexually harassing me and I was too afraid to speak up.

At two other jobs, I have had my personal information, including salary, shown to other black female co-workers by managers who repeatedly handed us each other’s pay stubs, or other personal papers, as if they could not tell us apart. At each of these employers, I was one of only two black female employees, and I’m nearly six feet tall. My black co-workers were 5′ 5″ and under.  How could they not tell us apart? Giving us the wrong pay stubs one time could be considered a mistake, but multiple times is a travesty, especially when you are placing it in my hand and looking me in my face and there’s only one other black female employee. It was a clear indication of our worth as black female employees, to those managers.

And hairstyles? When switching from curly hairstyles to braids, I’ve been asked, “What’s wrong with you today,” or told “you look upset today,” or “Is this a new attitude you’re trying to show? Are you trying to look militant?” One week when I wore an afro, hardly anyone spoke to me until I went back to curls. People literally looked around me as if my natural hair made me invisible.

Most of these instances have involved managers, from the supervisory level to VP, and it’s scary to tell on your manager.  And just like sexual harassment, they were hurtful and wrong. But I tolerated them. I needed to keep my job. I didn’t go off on people, I wasn’t unapproachable.  I chalked them up to ignorance and the norm, because all too often, for black people in a white corporate world, this is the norm.

But guess what? It’s time for a new norm.

It’s time for me and every black woman who’s been afraid to speak out to stand up, not just for our rights, but for WHAT’S right.  It’s time we demand to be acknowledged and respected, and look out for others who need to be protected.  Fear be damned.  Let’s call it out! Let’s count!

I have forgiven the things of the past, but I will not be silent in the future.  My voice will be heard! Starting today, you will recognize me as an individual, acknowledge my worth and you will know my name. Because my name is April, and MY LIFE MATTERS!

Follow me at:

aprilrandolph.com

lovingmiddleagedlife.com

Facebook: April Randolph Author

Twitter & Instagram: @aprilwrites1

 

 

 

 

When Telemedicine Just Won’t Do

Two weeks ago, my daughter took a pill that was prescribed to her by a neurologist, for headaches. After taking just one pill, she began to feel sick. A half hour passed and her hands began to shake.  An hour after that, her entire body went into full-blown, violent tremors, arms and legs flailing, with stuttered speech and unable to walk.

We rushed her to the emergency room where she was immediately whisked inside, in a wheelchair that could barely contain the force of her seizing.  And then…we waited.  We sat outside in the car while our baby, in full distress, was taken into a hospital that we couldn’t enter, because of COVID-19.

And in those moments, I thought about all of the others who felt that same anguish.  The millions of people across the globe who rushed their loved one to the hospital, only to be told “We’re sorry. You can’t go with them.” And my heart wept.

My daughter was treated with various medications and later released, with lighter tremors. The emergency room doctor had never seen such a reaction to the medication she took. Since being released, she has suffered residual effects from the trauma of the drug reaction.  She has physical issues that are painful for her to endure and painful for us to watch. Tremors, stuttering, eye dysfunction and an unsteady gait, to name a few. The doctor’s office that prescribed the medication was very unsympathetic to our requests for an in-person visit, to assess her injuries.  They even recommended that she not take any more of the medicine that caused the reaction, for just one day, but start taking it again the following day, as if we would EVER let our daughter take that medicine, again. After numerous attempts to obtain a visit, they offered a telemedicine visit with a physician’s assistant (PA).

Now I know there are tons of physician’s assistants who are capable, talented individuals that I would see in a heartbeat for an issue, but when my healthy, athletic child has been debilitated as a result of a medication prescribed by your office, I WANT TO SEE A DOCTOR!  And not only that, I WANT TO SEE A DOCTOR, IN PERSON!

We attended the telemedicine call, a week later, as that was all we were offered, and were astonished at the demeanor of the PA, who behaved as though our concerns were unimportant, and ended the call by telling us to have my daughter drink more water.  (And this was a full week after the reaction, so the medicine was already out of her system). We demanded that our daughter have an in-person visit, with a physician, immediately!

Following the telemedicine call, I filed an official complaint with the hospital system about the neglect of this physician’s office. And, it’s amazing what the words “official complaint,” will do.

Suddenly, the doctor’s office was contacting us to find out what our concerns were. Instantly, the doctor was available to see my daughter, in person.  All of a sudden, the pharmacy called to ensure that they’d given my daughter the right medication!  The words, “official complaint” had caused a movement!

Not only that, but during the in-person appointment, the doctor went to get a movement disorder specialist from another clinic, to help assess my daughter.  And it ended with a diagnosis, medication and a treatment plan including cognitive, behavioral and physical therapy, all of which are so much more than drinking water.

The points of this post are three-fold. The first is, despite COVID-19, that you should demand an in-person appointment with your doctor if a telemedicine visit won’t show the depth of your injury or illness.  You deserve it, you are entitled to it and you are paying for it! And though telemedicine is the way of the future for doctor’s visits, sometimes looking at someone through a monitor, just doesn’t equal taking their temperature, pulse or listening to their heartbeat.

The second point is that, even after COVID-19, if you want to see a doctor when you visit the doctor’s office, you should request to see a doctor.  And I know that may mean a longer wait. But, if it won’t adversely affect your condition to wait, then ask for a doctor, if that’s your preference.

And lastly, to all of those who have survived the horror of dropping off your loved one at the hospital, only to wait hours for word on their condition, God bless you! I know that some are enduring this trauma for weeks at a time, and I pray for peace, comfort and healing for you and your loved ones.

Without Hydroxychloroquine, What Do Us Lupus Sufferers Do?

I’ve been taking hydroxychloroquine for Lupus every day, for nearly 20 years.

Yes. That’s the medicine that is all over the news as a hopeful remedy for patients battling the Coronavirus. Many of whom are now receiving it.

It’s a strong medicine. It helps with my pain. And I hope it cures every single person who needs it. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. I am also aware that Lupus is a strong, autoimmune disease in which your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs.  And it can be deadly.

I’m praying that it is a cure for the Coronavirus. I’m praying that it will be a giant step in healing our world. And I’m not just saying “I pray it’s a cure,” I am actually PRAYING that it’s a cure.

I have enough hydroxychloroquine (also known as Plaquenil) to last for the time being, but like many lupus sufferers, I am painfully aware that the pharmacies are out of it. In fact, I took half my dose this week to conserve it, but was in pain, within days. So, I’m back to the full dose again, and trusting God.

When Dr. Fauci was answering questions on CNN this week, a viewer with Lupus who takes hydroxychloroquine, and was soon to run out, asked what he should do.

Dr. Fauci replied that this was an “unintentional consequence” of this epidemic and he made no promises or suggestions that there will be any available, any time soon.  And he’s right. There are thousands of unintentional, horrible consequences of this virus. No one intended to hurt us Lupus sufferers by taking away the medicine that allows us to have pain-free days and avoid hospital stays. It was unintentional, but it still exists and someone needs to do something about it!

If the Defense Production Act can be used to compel manufacturers to produce supplies, this should be one at the top of the list.  And the production amounts requested should consider both Coronavirus and the unintentional consequences of this outbreak.

I am the only Lupus patient I know that has never been hospitalized. And I know many who have died.

So, I’m asking for everyone to pray that hydroxychloroquine is a cure for COVID-19 and also pray for those who will be forced to go without it. Because our hospitals are already overwhelmed, and do not need a surge of Lupus sufferers, whose conditions have worsened. Stress is a major factor in Lupus flares. Imagine what that stress is doing to those who can’t access their medicine.

This virus does not discriminate. Lots of people are dying, many who are middle-aged.  This blog may be called lovingmiddleagedlife, but I am a lover of every age of life and I want us ALL to survive.  So please stay home and stay healthy.  Pray for a cure.  And please be intentional about it!

God bless our healthcare workers!

Click the link below to read about a Lupus patient who was “thanked for her sacrifice,” when her hydroxychloroquine refill was denied.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/tanyachen/kaiser-permanente-lupus-chloroquine

 

 

 

Teaching Kids about Racial Diversity

Today I’m honored to share a post written by my friend, author and speaker, Nicole Doyley, about the importance of teaching our children that “different” doesn’t have to be scary. Share these pearls with your family.

 

Teaching Kids about Racial Diversity

This is a slight variation of a talk I gave at a moms’ group, composed primarily of white women.- Nicole Doyley – nicoledoyley.com

Our dog, Jazzy, barks at snowmen. She’s a ninety pound yellow Lab and each winter there’s a standoff between her and some snow person created by a cute little kid. Every day I take her on the same route, and if there’s a snowman on someone’s yard, she spots it before I do, tugs the leash and barks the most ferocious bark she can muster. One day when she was off-leash, she found the courage to attack the snowman, toppling all its parts, and then she proceeded to eat its carrot nose.

She also tries to intimidate garbage. She’s accustom to dumpsters on garbage day, but if someone throws out an old sofa or chair or anything else big, she sees it as a potential threat and wakes up the neighborhood with her tirade.

Our dog attacks anything different and our cat avoids anything different.

When we put a new area rug in our living room, Oreo the cat avoided the room for days. Then she finally realized she could skirt the rug and stealthily make it to the couch. After about four days, she finally deemed the rug safe and walked across it.

Animals instinctually notice when there’s something unusual. It helps them to survive. What’s different about the landscape? Am I in danger?

Humans are no different. If you walk into your house and see the kitchen window wide open, and you’re sure you closed it, you tense and wonder if you’re in danger. If you see someone in your neighborhood whom you haven’t seen before, you instantly try to size him up: is he friend or foe?

We are programmed to notice the different and to be leery of it, and we see this in its most primitive form in kids.

When my youngest son was three, we took him to a birthday party. Since we live in the suburbs, it is not uncommon for our sons to be the only black kids at gatherings and this was no exception. When it was time to play duck-duck-goose, all the kids but one sat in a circle and the kid who was “it” went around tapping heads: “Duck-duck- duck.” When she came to my son, she passed over his head, refusing to touch it, and then tapped the next kid’s head continuing around the circle.

This child was like my cat; she avoided different.

Last year on the school bus, a white child rushed up to this same son, got into his face, nose to nose, and said, “Your skin looks like POOP!”

This child was like my dog; he attacked different.

This is the tragedy of the suburbs. White children who grow up here may never have a black friend. And then they go to college and gravitate towards the familiar, and then they get a job and move back into the suburbs, where they may live the rest of their days never having known a black person on a deep level. Stereotypes and fears just get passed down from generation to generation. Black people remain other, different and negative assumptions persist.

Of course, this is not just a problem in the suburbs. You can live in a major city and never have a black person in your social circle. America is still largely socially segregated.

Let’s go back to Jazzy and Oreo.

One attacks. One avoids, but there is a third option which we can teach our children, and that is respect. We can teach them to respect other people, simply because they are human beings, and we can teach them to notice and appreciate difference, rather than being afraid of it.

So here are five steps towards teaching your children about racial diversity.

Step 1 Examine your own assumptions. Do you think black people are inherently dangerous or less intelligent? Do you think white culture is superior? Do you think black culture is all rap music, gangs and crime? How limited is your view of black people? Do you believe that “all men [and women] are created equal”? Certainly one individual may be smarter than another, but is there such a thing as racial superiority? Do you know that scientifically (and Biblically if you are a Christian), there is no such thing as race, except the human race, and genetically, we are more alike than different?

If we believe this then we know that the problems we see in any given community are caused by a complex array of issues converging to create a perfect storm. The crime rate in inner city black neighborhoods cannot be explained away by stigmatizing black people as dangerous any more than the opioid crisis in the white community can be explained away by stigmatizing white people as addicts. We can’t write off poor, white farmers as a bunch of drunks, even though these communities are rife with alcoholism. All of these problems stem from many complicated factors, including, but not limited to, poor choices.

We have to realize that our children will be shaped not only by what we say but also by the contents of our hearts. What we believe will come out and it will help form their worldview.

Step 2 We teach our children to respect all people whether they have the same skin color or not.

Step 3. We teach our children to acknowledge difference and to appreciate difference, rather than being afraid of it or attacking it.

Step 4 We read books and articles about different people, and then we read age appropriate ones to our children. We watch racially themed movies and then watch age appropriate ones with our children. We go to African American museums and Native American museums and any other museum we can get to. We go to cultural musical performances and other events, all the while teaching our kids to appreciate the beauty of the different.

Step 5. We intentionally seek out friendships with different people. We invite that family from India over for dinner. We include the black family down the block in our backyard barbecue. We join the YMCA in the area which is less homogeneous and we even drive a little farther and join the church which has a more diverse membership.

As we build these friendships, we discipline ourselves to listen more than we speak: to hear to their stories and viewpoints and opinions. We reserve judgement and we allow our assumptions to crumble. We observe different ways of raising children and dealing with age. We notice different values and we perceive different beliefs — and we allow these differences to expand our hearts and increase our understanding. We change in small and great ways as we learn from others. We become better people and we raise better children.

Here are three lists of children’s books about black people to get you started:

Books on slavery.

Books on the Civil Rights Movement.

Books about black culture and famous black people.

For more of Nicole’s wisdom and Conversations On Race, visit nicoledoyley.com

So you want to write a book?

I often meet people who tell me that they’ve always wanted to write a book, or they’ve written one that they’ve always wanted to publish.

I used to be one of them.

I was one of the people that said “If only I had some spare time,” or “Maybe when the kids are grown,” or “If only I knew where to begin.”

I used to languish about, wishing the right time would come or something extraordinary would happen to push me along. Until one day…something did.

While lying in bed watching television with my kids, my daughter said to me, “Mommy. You should write a book about kids like us and call it The Cul de Sac Kids,” to which I replied, “People would be bored reading about spoiled kids like you. If I ever wrote a book, it would be about kids whose lives are really hard.” And that little thought stayed in my head.

Then one day, after watching re-runs of The Golden Girls and Everybody Loves Raymond for the 5,000th time, it occurred to me that I had just spent hours watching television, that I could’ve spent writing that book.

And the next day, after my fourth time scrolling through Facebook, I realized that I could’ve better spent that time researching how to write a book.

Each day that followed contained a moment when I wondered “Why did I waste my time doing that when I could’ve been writing a book?” And with no good answers, at the end of a week, I finally sat down to write. And l kept writing.

And writing was hard.

It was hard to miss out on things that everyone else was talking about.

I’ve never seen the episode of This is Us where the dad died, never watched Housewives of anywhere and I only know Cookie and Lucius from commercials. I don’t even know what game they played on Game of Thrones.

When I decided it was time to be a writer, I had to make sacrifices. And I had to sit down and be still.

I had to put down the remote and pick up the laptop, cease to procrastinate and start to create. I had stories to tell and I had to be intentional about it. And if you want to write a book, you must too.

Start weening yourself from your favorite shows and minimize your scrolling time. Recognize distractions for just what they are…things designed to keep you from reaching your goals.  Be disciplined, be determined and be still.

If that sounds hard, it’s because IT IS HARD!  But if I can do it, you can too.

Stop telling yourself “It was a long day. I deserve to just sit here on the couch all night.” Take time for self-care, but make those lazy days the exception and not the rule.  Your book is not going to write itself.

Why spend time watching shows made from other people’s writing, when they could be watching shows made from yours?

Yes, there will be things that go undone some days…sometimes for many days in a row. But if everyone in your family is full, healthy and content, then those things can wait for a while.

Yes, life is busy for all of us. Today is February 25th. My third book, Forgiveness is Free, was released on January 30th, and I just took down my Christmas tree last weekend because the dog was beginning to think it was real, and peed on it.  But my book is out!!!

You have a story to bring to life. Give birth to it. Stop streaming and start dreaming.

I can’t wait to read it!

2020- The Year of Forgiveness

Happy New Year!!!

2020 is here!  A time of new hope, new habits, new goals and, best of all, a time for new healing.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready! It’s time to do more than pump it up at the gym. It’s time to start a real movement. Something groundbreaking and earth shaking.  It’s time to release something long overdue.  It’s time for a forgiveness revolution!

Let unforgiveness out of your heart. Give yourself freedom from the weight of that hate.

So many things are broken in this world, isn’t it time we start fixing them? Make the Forgiveness Revolution your New Year’s Resolution and forgive someone today, before another decade slips away.

April’s new book Forgiveness Is Free, Why Are You Saving It, is available January 30th.

 

When Mothers Unite

As my daughter and I were leaving the mall last weekend, we came upon a woman who was shaking, crying, and yelling out someone’s name.  Not far away was a man, yelling the same name, with a look of sheer panic on his face.

As a mother I knew that look, I recognized those cries. I knew that in a mall full of Black Friday shoppers, their child was missing.

We approached the man and discovered that he did not speak English.  I asked him if he was looking for a girl or a boy. He scrolled through his cell phone and showed me a picture of a beautiful brown-haired girl with two pigtails, about 4 or 5 years-old. Her name was Nala.

Without saying a word to one another, my daughter and I began walking in different directions, calling out the girl’s name.  We entered each store, questioned the staff and asked them to look out for her. And the further we went from the mother of that child, the louder her weeping became.  My heart was beating out of my chest, quickening with each of her cries.

After several minutes, I walked back to the mother, but the girl had not been found. The mom was hyperventilating now and other shoppers were holding her hand. So I walked off again, stopping other shoppers, asking them to help in the search.

Each mother I stopped sprang into action. Their eyes recognized that fear. Their hearts knew that horror. And our common bond said “It’s no longer time to look for a bargain, it’s time to look for that girl!”

After what seemed like an eternity, with a swarm of people looking for little Nala, she was located by a shopper who led her to her mom.

Dozens of searchers gathered around and cried tears of joy as Nala’s mother embraced her . I didn’t understand a word the Mom said, but my heart felt each and every one.  I wiped my eyes and whispered out loud “There’s just nothing like a mother’s heart.”

Minutes later, when we found each other, my daughter was annoyed with me. She’d been dialing my cell for a while, but I hadn’t noticed, as my mind was focused on the search.

I apologized and tried to explain the unexplainable.  To tell her that mothers share a bond that only we understand.  A bond that transcends language and race, religion and time. And a missing child unites us in a way few others will.

She forgave me, smiled and we headed for the exit. And as we walked together, I thought, “She’ll be a great mom one day.” Because without one word from me, her future-Mama heart had sent her searching for Nala too.

To all of the mothers out there, God bless your Mama hearts. The world is a better place when we look out for each other’s children.  And caring for others should never grow old, because everyone was once somebody’s baby.

Follow April at lovingmiddleagedlife for your chance to win a pre-release copy of her new book Forgiveness is Free…Why are You Saving It

This Holiday, Give Forgiveness

The season of giving has begun!

It’s the time of year that brings out the best in us and prompts us to become the bearers of great hugs, great food and great presents.

And as you continue your giving, I challenge you to add a unique gift to your list….one that will bless both you and the receiver, far past the holiday season.  I challenge you to add the gift of “forgiveness.”

It wasn’t for sale on Black Friday because forgiveness is free. It can never be discounted or oversold.  It is one of life’s few treasures that are both free and priceless, at the same time.

And it’s one of the best kept gift secrets ever. You won’t find it on your loved ones’ shopping list because it’s a quiet longing, seldom expressed out loud. But the gift of forgiveness speaks volumes to the heart of the receiver.

And no shopping or shipping is required!

Forgiveness sits on the shelves of our hearts, always in stock, ready and waiting to be given to those we’ve withheld it from. It needs no gift wrap, no card and no special occasion. It just needs its holder to choose freedom from bitterness, open their heart and release it. And when they do, they’ll find that they benefited, as much as their beneficiary, because their heart will be lighter and their life will be brighter.

So, why not add forgiveness to your holiday list?

Spread some around to your family, your co-workers and the neighbor who put up their Christmas lights in August.

Give it to someone, drop the mic and walk away like you just started world peace. Because, in a great way, you just did.

April’s new book Forgiveness is Free. Why Are You Saving It? will be released in January 2020. Follow her blog for upcoming giveaways!

Bulletproof Backpacks

So, it’s back to school time.

Time for laptops and lunch money, haircuts and hairdos, binders and books, bedtimes and buses…but is it time for a bulletproof backpack?

Nearly every day, there are news stories of people arrested with arsenals of weapons, many of whom are youth with plans to harm students at their school or university.  It’s terrifying, it’s sad, but it’s a fact.

So as the parent of students in both high school and college, what’s a mom to do?

I see bulletproof backpacks on sale and I wonder if I should buy two. I wonder if they actually work. I wonder what the odds are that if, God forbid, a mass murderer were in their midst, they would actually be shot in the back at the precise time they were wearing their backpack. And I know that during a typical high school day, that’s hardly ever.

But I love my babies!

And I wonder if having a chance to stop a bullet is better than no chance at all.  And I think maybe, if they needed it, they could just whip it off their back and put it in front of whatever body part they needed to protect.

And I think of how my heart aches for every parent who has lost a child. How I can’t imagine the grief that comes from suffering the greatest pain a human will ever endure. And as I pray for their comfort and strength, the backpack idea seems like a good one.

So I search online for these bulletproof backpacks and I see there’s a huge price range.  But what’s too much to protect your kids? $49.99 or $180? Really, no cost is too great.  So my budget will just have to absorb it.

Ironically, the first ad to come up under backpacks is from Under Armour, a trusted name brand that many youth like. A further look shows that the backpack is not being advertised as bulletproof; it’s just an ad for a nice backpack on sale.

But the name Under Armour starts swirling in my head, over and over again. It disrupts my train of thought and I rise from my laptop, literally shaking my head, because I just can’t get the words to disappear. “Under Armour” is flashing across my field of vision like NASDAQ updates. And it just keeps going and going.

And suddenly it hits me that, bulletproof backpack or not, my children are always Under Armour.   Because not a day passes that my husband and I don’t pray for the safety of our children.  Not a single day.

Each morning we pray that they are equipped with the whole armour of God and that no weapon formed against them shall prosper. And we pray for their friends.  And we believe that our prayers have power.

We trust that God, who is with them always, will watch over them in ways we cannot. And we believe that no bullet, knife of bomb can pierce God’s shield, unless it is His will.

We can’t control the actions of others and we don’t know which youth or adults are mentally unstable, bullied, angry or just plain hateful. And the world is comprised of them all.

So, instead of a backpack, we’re choosing to trust in the One who does, to keep our children always under armour. And we pray that, one day, there won’t be a need for any child to wear Kevlar to school.

Follow me at lovingmiddleagedlife.com

Are you Using your Gifts?

I went to a jazz festival this week and watched in awe, the faces of the musicians as they played. They absolutely loved what they were doing. In fact, one of the group’s leaders said “It’s really unfair for us to call this work. We have so much fun doing it and love it so much, that it’s not right that we get paid to do it.”

Wouldn’t you love to feel that way?  The good news is, you can!

You are tremendously gifted.  Did you know that?

Were you aware that there is something that only you know how to do? And there’s something that you do better than anyone else.

Yes. I’m talking to you.

Your mind is a womb of unborn ideas that could change one life or many. You have solutions that no one has thought of or dared to invent.  There are things that this world needs that only you can provide.

So what are you waiting for?

Do you think your gift is useless, because it’s not tied to a monetary value?

Do you have thoughts like: “I know I’m a good singer, but there are lots of wonderful singers in the world,” or, “I know that I’m a great hairdresser, but beauty salons are a dime a dozen,” or, “I know my baked goods are delicious, but who’d want to pay money for them?”

To those doubts I say:  How will you know if you never try it?

How will the world know how great your voice is if you never sing? How will we know how well you can do hair, if we never see your work? How will we find out your molasses cookies are the best thing ever baked if we never get to taste one?

You don’t have to start out by owning a business. You can start out by giving away freebies. People love free stuff!  It gets your name out there and establishes you as a service to others.  And every great venture requires some investment.

Your great singing voice would be a hit at nursing homes, your hairdressing skills could be showcased during a back to school hair competition, and cookies melt hearts everywhere.

And often life’s greatest pleasures come not in profiting from your gift, but in using your gift to profit others.

You possess abilities that are uniquely yours and talents no one else has.  You may not even know your gift is a gift. But guess what?

Your attention to detail is needed on a Hollywood set. Your color coordination skills are needed on a runway in Paris and your chicken is better than a national favorite that’s closed on Sundays. (Who I will continue to visit until your chicken is available).

If you find yourself thinking “I could’ve designed a prettier dress than that,” or “I could’ve created a better invention than that,” or “I could’ve finished that obstacle course before he did,” then go out and take your place on that podium!

You don’t have to make it your full-time vocation, but get in what you can fit in.  Use your gift for good and you will feel great about it. And, if it makes you money, all the better.

Starving artists may have empty pockets, but they are full of passion. Find yours, breathe life into it and watch your spirit soar.