Life

Lesson Learned

Quote by Tony Gaskins, 2019

Found this quote in today’s Facebook memories from 2019. In the memory, I had written a long caption about how I had been reading journal entries from the 90s and discovered I hadn’t changed much. I noted that I had grown spiritually and professionally, and was also making better decisions. However, my personality, heart, and spirit hadn’t really changed. I questioned why I had not grown stronger in those areas, meaning, why hadn’t I changed? You see, those were the areas that made me feel inadequate around others. That made me feel vulnerable in certain situations. That made me love harder than I should have. You would think 30 years would’ve made a difference, but it hadn’t.

That was two years ago. Here I am today, same personality, heart, and spirit. At first I asked myself why these characteristics hadn’t changed. You see, over the years I have tried to change them. Tried not to be so sentimental or emotional. Tried not to wear my heart on my sleeve. Tried to fit in by being less silly and more poised. Yeah.. I tried to be everything I wasn’t, everything I’m not. Then it hit me, those aren’t weaknesses. Those are my strengths. They don’t need to be changed. They need to be embraced. The only reason I continue to feel vulnerable while embracing them is because I’m trying to get others to embrace them as well. I guess you can say I’m having an “AHA” moment. Maybe that’s the lesson Tony Gaskins was referring to. I will never be able to move to the next level as long as continue to remain in the presence of those who do not fully accept Shaun. Umm… I believe it’s time to re-evaluate my circle. What’s that old saying– “If it don’t fit, don’t force it.” I will no longer try to force myself to fit where I’m not embraced. Period!

Thanks for reading!

Shaun

Life

Happy New Year’s Eve – 2017

If you have already read the blog I posted earlier, then you’ll know I had decided not to reblog last year’s blog. It was too depressing. Then, while scrolling through my Facebook memories, I came across this gem. It feels so good to be back!! Enjoy!

Happy New Year’s Eve! As always, I start one blog with the intention of posting it. Then on the day I decide to post it, I come up with something …

Happy New Year’s Eve – 2017
Life

2020 – What A Year!

Yes… What a year! Listen, I have to confess, I had the idea of reblogging last year’s end of the year blog and adding an overcomer’s intro– “This is where I was but God brought me out!” Sorry to disappoint or save you– it’s not going to happen. This time last year, I was really down and depressed. Had good reasons to be, but WOW! I had no idea I was that far gone. With that said, I will acknowledge that was where I was; however, I am so grateful I am no longer there. This year I am going to end things on a high note, you know, just in case I decide to reblog it next year. Gotta be intentional. Lol! Here we go:

First, and utmost importantly, I would like to thank God for all of His wonderful blessings. I cannot lie, He has been so good to me! Instead of giving a detailed review about everything He’s done, I will only highlight some of the key moments-

March 2020 – Purchased my home.
May 2020 – Decided to make my blogs public.
June 2020 – Turned 47 and decided to be my true, authentic self.
August 2020 – Invited to be a contributing author in a book anthology.
September 2020 – Became the Principal Investigator on one of my research projects.
October 2020 – Did my first live interview promoting myself. It was for the book, but it was all about me.
November 2020 – Did another presentation for the same company that left me feeling inadequate for two years. (That was major! Had to face that bull head on.)
December 2020 – Decided to live my life to its fullest! No regret!!

Needless to say, I don’t know what 2021 holds. None of us do. However, I will say I’m entering 2021 with open arms, an open mind, and an open heart, expecting to receive more blessings than hurts. Yeah, I’m entering 2021 knowing that whatever comes and whatever goes, God’s got me. That he will NEVER leave me.

Before I end, I wanted to share this with you. It’s a little off topic, but, for me, it is so timely. Wanted to write it here in case I don’t get around to adding it to A Research Diva’s Journey. Again, being intentional. So, I’m reading this book about the United Nations, “The Case for Humanity: An Extraordinary Session” by Yasmine Sherif. It’s about the underlying founding principles of the United Nations – vision, hope, peace, love, and humanity – everything I’m passionate about. Y’all, it is so important that we do not allow negativity to obscure our vision for the future. Listen, no matter how dismal things may appear, please embrace the positive and hold on to hope. In the words of the great Reverend Jesse Jackson, “Keep hope alive!”

That’s all I have for you today. Going to end with a quote from the book.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done. There is no passion found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela

My word for 2021 is “Live!” Can’t you hear Tim McGraw singing, “Live like you were dying.” I can.

Happy New Year’s Eve!!

Be blessed!

Shaun

Life

Hello Sunday!

A little late with writing today, but all is well. I actually slept a good 6-7 hours. Which has not happened in ages. Guess I wore myself out cleaning out storage bins. Y’all, I am an organized mess. Lol! The bins look nice and neat until you lift the lids. They are filled with items from my military career, undergrad and grad school, bills, letters, pictures, magazines, books, movies, etc. When I say I keep everything, I keep EVERYTHING! Ugh!! I rarely throw anything away. Which is funny because I found a letter from one of my sisters that was written in 2001. She sent me a picture of my nephew and wrote, “I’m sending this to you because you keep everything.” Wow! That’s what I do.

I guess I should attempt to explain why I hold on to so many things. First of all, I shouldn’t refer to all of the items as “things,” but memorabilia. The majority of the items I don’t believe I’ll ever throw away. I have letters from friends and family dating back to 1980s. Last night I found cards my granddaddy sent me for holidays and birthdays. Something I will always cherish. These came from someone who spent his entire life trying to live up to his reputation of being this hard, cold individual. But later in life he would call just to say hello and tell me he loved me, and he would send cards. Then there’s my military memorabilia. I have uniforms, orders from different assignments, awards, evaluations. You name it, I probably have it. Will I part with them? Probably not. As I mentioned, I have work from undergraduate and graduate school. I worked too hard on some of those projects, I just can’t throw them away. My magazines! My magazines date back to the 90s. I have Jet, Essence, Ebony, Sister-2-Sister, Time, Legacy, Sports Illustrated, Beckett Sports, and a few others. I have local magazines. Newspaper articles of events or people I know. Honestly, I do not know what I’m going to do with all of these things. I told my kids that when I buy my forever home, I am going to have a room where I can display everything. I can see myself walking through the room with my grands (children, nieces, and nephews) telling them stories about all of the items. To me, that’s heaven.

Okay, as usual, I got a little off track. I also have pictures.. tons of pictures! I took pictures of everything!! I have pictures from high school. Pictures from basic training. Y’all, I was in there just snapping away. Lol. I have soooo many pictures. Right now I have over 17,000 images stored between my phone and cloud. I just can’t seem to bring myself to delete many of them. They are so much more than pictures. They’re memories! They represent times, places, and feelings. As a child, whenever I would visit family, all I wanted to do was look at old pictures and ask questions- “Who’s this?” “Where was this taken?” Those questions usually led to great stories. Now I have my own stories.

Anyhoo.. as you can see this Hello Sunday is very random. Just felt like sharing. I’m going to glance over it to make sure it somewhat makes sense, but I’m not going to do much editing. This is how I typed out my thoughts so I’m going to leave this as is. Authentically me.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Shaun

Life

Enjoying the Ride

Since I’m awake I might as well write. December 2020 is finally here. Y’all, we made to the end of the year!

A year ago I shared the attached quote on Facebook. The last sentence says, “And even if you lose, you just can’t lose.” Hmm…

Yesterday I was in a mood. A friend and I were texting about how we remember things versus how they actually happened. I told her that my journal entries always set me straight. I recall things one way, then go back and read journal entries from that period. Almost half of the time my recollections are not quite the way I remembered. Sometimes I was hurt far worse than I remembered, or loved much harder than I remembered. After texting her a few examples of what I thought happened versus what really happened, she said, “Don’t you wish you could go back with the knowledge you have now.” Well, that one statement put me in a mood. For hours all I could think about was why didn’t I do this or that. Why did things not happen for me? Y’all, I wasted hours thinking about things that happened over the last 20+ years. Talk about crazy! Unfortunately, I fell asleep feeling a little down. However, I woke up to several encouraging messages to include this memory.

Even though I looked back and thought about how I could have done things differently, it wasn’t meant to be. What was meant to be, is. I wanted more. My vision was higher and still is. I refused to settle. So yes, I suffered heartbreaks and what seemed like failures, but my story is not over. I only have one life and I refuse to settle for less than God’s absolute best. So am I losing? Nah.. I’m winning!

God is good. Enjoying the ride!

Shaun

Life

Hello Sunday!

Reminiscing

Have you ever felt as if part of your life was missing? Not a person, but your actual life. Yesterday this feeling of loss and sadness overcame me. I couldn’t pinpoint it at first. Then it came to me. I missed being in the military.

I retired almost a decade ago, and yesterday was the first time the feeling hit me so hard. You see, I grew up around soldiers. My first exposure to military life was through my Uncle June. He was in the Army and he made it seem like fun. Probably because he goofed off most of the time. Lol. At the time, he was stationed in Fort Riley, KS and we were living in Topeka. When he visited, he never came alone. He would always bring a few of his Army buddies and the women in our Deer Creek apartment complex would go crazy! Uncle June, Tillery, and another friend would come up on the weekends, drink, play cards, and tell all kinds of wild Army stories. Little did I know, a few years later our family would move to Ft. Riley with my stepdad.

From sixth grade until I joined the Air Force in 1992, I saw soldiers daily. Hence the reason I chose the Air Force (smile). Honestly, I never considered joining the military or being associated with the military. I did not want to go to war. This was around the end of the Gulf War. I did not want to go to the field (military training for war). I did not want a cheating husband (cause they all seemed to cheat). And I definitely didn’t want to take orders from anyone (Ha! Nothing’s changed).

Anyway, about a year before I joined the Air Force, my boyfriend asked me to help him study for the ASVAB (military placement test). He had decided to join the Navy and needed a certain score. I helped him study. He passed the ASVAB, but due to a previous knee injury he couldn’t join. About a year later, I took the ASVAB and joined the Air Force. I had no idea that while I was helping him study, I was actually studying for myself. Crazy, huh?!

I’m smiling as I write because God will give you exactly what you ask for but it is not always what you imagined. When I was in high school, I wrote how I wanted to work for a major corporation, travel the world and speak different languages. Well… I joined the Air Force (major corporation), my first duty station was in Germany (traveled the world), but I never got to speak different languages, something I have always regretted. You see, over the course of middle and high school I had taken four years of Spanish and three years of French. While in basic training I was given the opportunity to take a language test. Taking the test meant another skill set would be added to my profile. Y’all, I was so afraid of failing that I did not take the test. I backed out at the last minute. Funny thing is, I knew both languages almost as well as I knew English, probably better. You know, it amazes me how fear.. little old fear.. can change the entire trajectory of your life. Throughout my career I had other opportunities to take the test, but decided not to. Mostly because I felt as if I was not worthy of the additional opportunities. Like, if I didn’t do it the first time, why would I be given other chances. It was like I was punishing myself for my failure to act. I am so grateful for growth. I have now realized God will give us opportunity after opportunity to fulfill our dreams and purpose. However, it is up to us to recognize them as such and grasp them. They are gifts. Yes, I’m learning.

Anyhoo.. back to missing my military life. Y’all know I get sidetracked. From the moment I arrived at Lackland Air Force Base for basic training, until the time I retired, I wanted to get out. Every day I asked myself why I joined. The ONLY answer I could think of was it was better than joining the Army. Really?!

I cannot lie, I LOVED every moment. I enjoyed the camaraderie. Having a steady paycheck and all of the extra perks. Opportunities to visit different countries (some I took, some I didn’t). Interacting with so many people. Pilots in flight suits (yesss). Fighter jets. Cargo planes. Beefing with ATC (they thought they were God’s gift to the Air Force). My Weather buddies. House parties. Squadron parties. Riding on the airfield when I needed to get away. Yes, that was the life!

Of course there were things I did not enjoy, but looking back, they were minute. Y’all, I am just grateful for the experience. If I had to do it all over, I would. BUT.. I would do it bigger and better. Thinking back, God always placed people around me who encouraged me to aim high (the AF motto). To tap into my full potential. Little did they know, I was too afraid to aim high because I hated the recognition. I hated receiving awards, and I received quite a few. I only wanted to do my job and go home. But they wanted to recognize me. Why? To me, I was doing what everyone should have been doing. It was nothing special. But.. it was!

Short story-

I received my first commendation medal for my actions after a Boeing-747 cargo plane slid off the runway at Ramstein. It had been snowing heavily all night. The plane was scheduled to land as soon as quiet hours was over at 6:00 a.m. Before they even entered our airspace I had the pilots contacted so they could divert to another base because the snow wouldn’t be removed before they arrived. I even spoke with the crew. They said that they had enough fuel to divert to Frankfurt. Plus, I had already contacted Frankfurt and they had the ramp space. I asked the crew about their crew rest hours. They were good. So nothing was stopping them from diverting. They informed that they had landed in those conditions before. So I informed them that they were landing at their own risk. Tower cleared the snow removal crew from the runway. The plane landed and slid off the end of the runway. This led to the runway being closed for several hours. Which caused other aircraft to have to divert to other bases. At that time, I had only been on the job (in the Air Force) for a year, and the only one on duty. Looking back, that was pretty awesome. I stayed calm the entire time and did my job. To me it was no big deal, just another day at work. I will tell you I am thankful it was recorded because they tried to blame it on me. Bae-bé, I knew what I was doing! I had already made 100% on my 3-level course exam. Lol!

Listen, from now on I am going to seize opportunities. When God opens doors, I will walk through them. Also, I am going to humbly accept all accolades. I’m not going to shy away from them anymore because I am a display for God’s work.

Thank you for reading. I guess you could say this blog was about me coming to terms with a part of my life that I took for granted. A part of my life that I cannot get back, but I can learn from and do better.

Be Blessed,

Shaun