Searching For Blame

Resentment: the unsettling, gut wrenching, choke hold that kept me captive for so much of my young life. I remember sitting in the passenger seat of my 2002 Toyota Camry smoking away my sorrows. Why did life have to be so unfair? Why did I have to live in a world that saw me as less than? A young black man with a chip on his shoulder.

I spent a majority of my latter teen years verbalizing my frustrations with the so called “system” I blamed for my woes. I soaked in the paranoia filled doctrine of conspiracies like a helpless junkie searching for a quick fix, yet nothing could give me the high I was in search of. I was a victim in the truest sense.

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For hours a day, I would saturate my mind with the “mad world” beliefs that were plentiful on the web. I resonated with every new piece of information I found online as they were confirmations for my already skeptical mind. I surrounded myself with those whose beliefs aligned with mine and what we all had in common, more than our love for conspiracies, was the need to point blame outwardly.

Looking back, I could have blamed my insatiable need for conspiracy theories as a drug induced inclination, but, in reality I would have fallen into the same trappings without the drugs. I realized I was always an individual who sought to point blame in the most subtle ways. I wouldn’t tell you something was your fault but would convict the system that created you as the problem.

Not once did it dawn on me that my position in life was my own choosing. I truly felt that I had to take a backseat in life because the greater system was against those of my hue. Nothing held me back as much as that belief.

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It amazes me how we have the ability to create a false reality and live our entire lives on those falsehoods, for the simple reason of not accepting that our lives are in our control. Sure, we may not be capable of predicting or controlling circumstances outside of ourselves, but we do have control of our own actions and reactions to any given situation.

If I had known this in my earlier years, I would have spent much more time changing my circumstances instead of living in a constant state of anger and resentment, which was only a cover for my inherent fear of taking responsibility for my own life.

Tinashe Hwande

Edited by. Tayla Hasselbach

Living on the Edge of Time

What a crazy, wonderful blessing it is… the camera. We literally have the ability to capture the ever fleeting moment. One second in time that has never happened before, that will never happen again; the camera allows us to capture it, preserve it for the future. We can look back, remember experiences, monitor growth and changes. It’s truly mind boggling.

Millions upon millions of moments we get to experience in this life… we literally live on the edge of time! We can’t possibly remember every single one. The camera helps with this. There’s a balance to find here, however. We’ve come to take the camera for granted! We take photos of every moment as if we would never be able to remember without it. Dependency?

Tell me though… how often do we really go back and review these? I do this from time to time and always have realizations, feel emotions, make connections, etc. I am so thankful I took the photos. Again, there is a balance to find here… living in the moment and capturing the crazy, amazing, beautiful ones to be able to look back on later. It it a gift to our future selves. I cry. Seeing how far I’ve come. Remembering things that aren’t at the forefront of my memory on the daily basis. We live on the edge of time.

-Tayla M. Hasselbach

 

Keys to the Heart

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “communication”? A 12th grader nervously standing in front of her peers, giving a speech on a subject she just read up on last night? Or maybe you envision a college student typing up a persuasive essay the night before class at a pace fast enough to tear the keyboard in half.

School taught us how to talk and be persuasive both orally and textually, but often neglected the most important part of communication: Listening.

Since I was a youngin’, I’ve heard the phrase “communication is key” thrown around. This cliche made sense in my young mind; if you want to get your point across, you have to speak up. I was never shy of such an act. What took me two decades to learn, however, was the pivotal part of communication.

It was Stephen Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that opened up an entirely new world for me. He spoke of the importance of listening not for response, but for understanding. Right after I read this, I had an experience which solidified this notion. I felt as if I had been freed from a self-induced, ego-controlled cage and opened up to an entirely new paradigm. Until that day, I was a product of my conditioning, a conditioning that said “communication is key and getting your point across is communication… therefore, DON’T STOP TALKING.” That very day, I found the true key, the essence of communication; listening.

It wasn’t long until I fell back into my default habits of listening to reply. What changed, however, was my new found conscious intention to seek understanding within each conversation. From that point forward, I was able to diligently practice listening to others in order to truly hear what they were saying. The hardest form of this was when disagreements arose. Listening to understand literally meant that I had to sit there and take the verbal abuse of another as they uttered all the things that I had “done to them.” When an argument flared up, something very interesting happened. Instead of being defensive and striking back, I began to see where the other persons pain points were. There were no personal attacks or threats actually made towards me but more so cries for help that had taken the form of angry words.

It was not during a normal conversation that I saw how true communication was key but during a disagreement with a very close family member. As she began to project her fears, insecurities and pain onto me, I sat there and listened instead of responding with even more angst. That day, I learned more about her than I had in my entire life. I was so moved by the experience that I was brought to tears of joy; even though she might not have realized it, we experienced a breakthrough.

“Communication is key” is not some cute Pinterest quote or overused cliche, but a deep truth that we often times overlook. Think about it, what exactly is a keys purpose? And knowing the purpose of a key, why would communication be the key?

In my eyes, communication is a key to the heart. When we can listen to another with the intention to understand, we open ourselves to the possibility of seeing what is truly in their heart. With that very same key, we can open up the doors to our own hearts as well the hearts of others.

Tinashe Hwande

(edited by Tayla M. Hasselbach)

https://photos.icons8.com

A Culture of Complaining

My fitness mentor, Coach Bobby Bluford, one of the most brutally honest men that I know, once said “nobody cares if you win or lose.” Though I am a fan of truth served with no sugar, this statement caused me to cringe. Not because of its “harshness,” but due to its unrelenting truth. We all see the crowd cheer for the winner and cry for the second place in a two person competition, but in day-to-day reality nobody cares if you follow your dreams or not. The irony of this idea runs deep because it is almost necessary for some to live out their visions in order to inspire the other potential dream chasers, however whether or not you have the faith necessary to take actions towards your goals is something that nobody cares about until you do.

Those who dream but do not do, seldom have an impact on those around them, let alone the world as a whole. Einstein, Joan of Arc, Picasso, Oprah, these individuals changed the course of history profoundly, however if they chose to live in their doubt and ego-driven fear, they would have had no impact on our society. As much as it now seems like the world would have never been the same if these people had not existed, if they had not pursued the unseen, the world would still go on. Nobody cares until you do.

If you are somebody who now leads a team of employees or is working towards growth then you understand the former statement. The fact that you cared enough to bring your vision into reality is the reason why people not only care, but have become invested in you and your vision for a better world; some because they rely on you for a paycheck and others because they have fallen in love with your offerings.

Whether you’re a one person business or have a fully staffed company, nobody cares whether you grow or not so long as you don’t. Your employees would love promotions and to say they work for an organization that is doing big things, but then again they could just move on to the next company who’s not afraid to scale themselves and provide their services to the world abroad.

I did not create this chapter as a way to hurt your feelings or even as a form of tough love, I wrote this to inspire you to care whether or not your company grows. Until this point you might not have cared, because if you did you would have been taking those actions that you wrote out in your business plan five years ago.

There is no secret recipe for giving a damn about growth, but there is a way in which you can practice seeing the bigger picture of what the growth of your organization will do. As I mentioned in the opening statement of this chapter, growth does not just affect you, but all those around you. As you probably know the more companies of value that open up within a certain region, the more the value of the region goes up.  Granted the question of value is subjective, however the reality is that development spawns development.

When you make a decision to care more about people and look to serve them before all else, it is not just you who feels better but every single human being that you come into contact with thereafter. Your decision to be a better person or as one of my earliest clients stated “just not be an asshole,” has ripple effects throughout your community. Your kids, parents, friends, customers, employees, and all others who are in your circle of influence will be affected by your character growth and in turn those they come in contact with will have the same happen for them. Exponential growth.

So just image what can happen if you’re able to supply a thousand more customers with the freshest produce within the marketplace or create a law firm with a thousand lawyers that are dedicated to true justice for the innocent. It does not matter what industry you are in, caring is caring and it is felt when it is shown. Caring is contagious and everybody benefits from it. We’ve become a culture obsessed with “IDGAF.” If you do not know what this abbreviation means, I dare you to look it up. The phrase “I don’t care” has become more popular than it should be, though its use is in vain; humans by default were crafted to care, if not about one thing then at least another.

Put the same care that you put into the less important things in life into your business and you will see it grow into something that serves many and not just your own day-to-day needs.

Tinashe Hwande

(edited by Tayla M. Hasselbach)

https://photos.icons8.com (Original Picture Source)

Are You a Creator or a Consumer

Whether you are a business owner, an employee, a free-spirited artist, a baby, a person of advanced age, or a moose, this ideology affects you.

In this world we have two types of people; the creators and the consumers. There is somebody who makes the thing and another who digests it. From a piece of art to a piece of cake, there is somebody who makes it and somebody who takes it. This is not a piece to demean either side but to point out a very important concept that will help you live a more fulfilled life.

I do not buy into the limiting belief that some people are creators and others are made to simply consumer, Every single person was born with some inclination to create, it is a literal part of our genetic makeup. Sure, not everybody can write a song or paint a Basquiat style painting, but everybody has the capacity to create within their own gifts and talents.

It’s always fascinating how we tend to view those who have fully committed themselves to their craft as geniuses or some sort of superhuman. We praise Beyonce on stage and are enamored by the compelling screen performances of Hilary Swank. Yet when we look at ourselves, we see nothing more than a person who likes to listen to music and watch movies. We seldom take the time to explore ourselves and find out what it is that we have been gifted with. Our attraction and resonation to one piece of artwork or another might just be a compass in the direction of whatever it is we are called to. For example the most important woman in my life, next to the woman who birthed me, believed she was merely a lover and listener of music. This was until she challenged herself to put some rhymes to a beat. Now she’s created a plethora of self composed songs that get better by the listen. It took one defining moment for her to go from a consumer of the music to a creator.

Nothing on this planet is more liberating than the process of creation. It is the reason for our existence or at least gives a reason for it. From the creation of a business to the creation of a family; being a participant in the action is where life lives. The reason why television took off was because it allowed us to vicariously live through those who chose to live within their gifting. It is a subtle reminder of who we are within and the potential we have that has been dormant for so much of our lives.

This is no “how to guide” or call to action, but a subtle reminder that you are far more than a consumer. You are an endless vessel of creativity and it is only you who can find where that endless vessel lies.

Tinashe Hwande

(edited by Tayla M. Hasselbach)

Why I Cut Myself Off

The idea of cutting people off has become something of a cultural mantra. Everybody and their grandmother now speaks on who they cut off for being a fake, toxic and negative influence within their lives. I, too, was one of these individuals always looking outward for the toxicity in my life, heck sometimes I even catch myself in that same place now.

The mecca of all realizations came to me not too long ago; my decision to step away from certain relationships that no longer served the highest version of myself had nothing to do with cutting anybody off. At least not anybody external. The person I was truly cutting all ties with was the version of myself I was no longer happy with.

Life is a process of continual development and when we choose to be on life’s side, we are guided in the direction of growth which often comes in the form of testing times and tough sacrifices.

We usually look at the purging process of our own toxicity as this romanticized scene right out of a Ryan Gosling ROCO in which we find our true selves within a minute and a half long montage. 

The true “cutting off” process is painful, daunting and often comes in the form of pretty much losing our sh**. From those long nights crying over old memories, to the sacrifices of pizza and soda for a kale smoothie and a spinach salad, cutting off the old version of ourselves is truly a mourning process.

In most cases, our old friends and sometimes family where never truly the problem since we were the ones who let them continuously treat us the way they did. The old version of ourselves had some sort of attachment to the negativity that came from abusive and manipulative situations. I have a saying that goes “the first time it happens, you are a victim, the second time it happens, you are a participant.”

Most of the time we are participants within our own torment, but the moment we finally say enough is enough is usually when the greater version of ourselves kicks in and begins to engage in a full on purge of our past selves. The self that is to be cut off.

((Tayla’s Chapter ))

When we actually start to acknowledge and honor our deepest self, we find that we are naturally guided to exit certain relationships and stop participating in activities that never really made us feel good. We realize that all the anxiety and worry we used to have was due to the fact that we were not living authentically.

We feel like the whole world is on our shoulders, everyone is depending on our presence and participation at the party. Let me be completely frank… the world does not revolve around you. People don’t care as much as you think, if at all, whether you are in attendance. They are far too worried about their own appearance and compliance with the social pressures. Sure, they might hear that you didn’t make it and say “awh I miss Tina or what happened to Bobby?” but the thought is fleeting and they move onto “enjoy” (hopefully) the party. Even better, people may hear that you didn’t make it and think “damn, look at Stacy go, do you boo!”

Even when it comes to family members. I used to feel so horrible for missing a family function, trying to formulate the best, most reasonable excuse for why I flat out just wanted to do something else or spend time with someone else that day. Once I realized that the party didn’t stop, people didn’t mourn my absence, the world didn’t revolve around me… a huge weight was lifted. I could breathe again.

By forcing ourselves into situations because we feel obligated, we think we will hurt someone or let them down, or any other excuse we are so good at formulating, we not only hurt ourselves by way of distancing ourselves from our goals and aspirations, we unknowingly hurt others through our lack of authenticity and presence during our interactions. If you go to an event, party, gathering, etc. out of obligation, put on a facade, act like you’re having a good time, yet really wish you were somewhere else doing anything else, you are lying to yourself as well as those you love.

Fake, inauthentic interactions truly serve no one involved, especially yourself. Hate to break it to you, but at the end of the day, you are stuck by yourself, with yourself. I am a firm practitioner of loving others. However, loving yourself is the most important practice of your life. Period. In fact, you will never be able to truly love others without first loving and honoring yourself. So, LISTEN. Follow that little voice telling you that you don’t really want to go out tonight or have people over, something inside you needs some alone time… HONOR this. You are being guided every moment by your intuition. Tuning into this takes practice and discernment. Being able to tell the difference between choosing to allocate your time to things you actually care about and plain old laziness takes practice as well…. (to be continued…?)

Tayla M. Hasselbach & Tinashe Hwande

(edited by Tayla M. Hasselbach)