Create the news, Create your horoscope – Here’s why

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Don’t watch the news, make the news. Don’t read your horoscope, create your horoscope. If you are the type of person who will believe a general platitude for a horoscope like “you’re going to meet someone interesting when you go outside. Be weary of someone from your past you’ve been trying to get away from.” Then, it’s probably best you go about creating your own spin on you life that you can live by because it’s just as easy to believe a prescription for the day written by some enthusiastic writer in his cubicle trying to meet a deadline- as it is to believe in your own prescription for your life. Have you ever met someone who wanted to confine you to the limits of a horoscope? You are not an accumulation of traits determined by what constellation you were born under.
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The next time someone asks you your sign or if you know what it entails, I dare you to run off a list of desirable traits in excess- non of which should be negative. Just make sure to add humility at the end, because you won’t sound humble, but why should you identify with any negative attributes about yourself. Let the world worry about your flaws. Many of the flaws you will have- you will not be aware of. Yet, still you must navigate through the world and attempt to operate at peak condition day in and day out. Refuse to let a summary of platitudes determine if you’re going to have a bad day or a good day- a good year or a year of suffering. It’s entirely up to you to decide if you are going to be productive or not. The universe is indifferent.

Watching the news is passive and while their will be the occasional story that is perfectly relevant to your day to day life- there is far more likely to be a barrage of stories thrown at you that are meant to scare the Ebola in to you. You can go about receiving your news this way, most people do- then again, most people do not go about creating anything significant. Fear, as it is spewed through the television, in the form of “relevant topics” paralyzes people and keeps them in the house, attached to their positions which are going nowhere, and afraid to venture out or attempt to do anything they would otherwise freely dream of doing.

You could instead make it a focus to create your news. Truly, you can submit articles, write a blog, create a video of the things you want to see in the world. Creating content is preferable to consuming it blindly. Yes, some stories will be relevant and they might not make you happy. But it’s far more important to control the things you put in front of you, filter the information you take in because it has a large effect on how you go about the day and how much you get done. When you focus on negativity around you, it becomes your reality. Too much of this focus on negative energy will have you believing that it’s the only thing out there in abundance. There’s a choice to believe that the world is positive or negative, or even indifferent.

Create the news, create your horoscope, live by the best set of rules that you can come up with. This is how you take greater control of your life. Because if you want to be successful, you have to do what unsuccessful don’t do. That is complain, believe everything they hear, focus on negativity, think their life is out of their control, and agree with the masses- often without questioning. Take control of your mind, your actions and your life. Do more creating than consuming, and when you create something, whether it’s the news or your own horoscope- make it great.

Enthusiasm : It’s hard to stop a train full of “fuck yeah”

Have you ever clearly gotten your point across to someone even though you may have been wrong?
Do you know why it’s hard to stop youthful, directed energy?

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Enthusiasm is momentum, if you put it behind nearly any goal you have a catalyst driven, run-a-way train that hopefully you have aimed towards something positive. Enthusiasm is being mentally, emotionally engaged in an activity or cause. And I mean fully engaged – excited – ready to bring something into existence even if it hasn’t been made manifest yet. Your enthusiasm is also contagious, you can spread it to other people around you to rally them towards your cause or fight. It’s quite easy to get people to do what you want them to do when you’re completely psyched on seeing it happen yourself. It’s kind of how people will believe in you because you strongly believe in yourself. They could be assuming you have evidence to be so enthusiastic that some coming event is going to happen. It doesn’t matter. Enthusiasm can be backed by accurate data, and it can be back by nothing at all- just a feeling. There in lies the rub.
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You can be just as enthusiastic about something you have evidence to support. Say, the Sun is going to come up and your quarterly reports reflect an increase in revenue for your company or department. That’s great, you should be enthusiastic about that. You can also be hell bent on seeing something happen when there’s no reason to justify it will. But enthusiasm will help to carry you through to see it happen. It’s a soft skill and a highly valued quality in people that is not taught in schools.

Operating with a lot of passion or “spirit” is the basic definition of having enthusiasm. It provides momentum for difficult tasks to be completed. All great goals you will set in your life will require you to be consistently enthusiastic about them until you have reached them. Sometimes people won’t believe in your goals, even if you’re enthusiastic about it. It could be too big for them to see, or too much for their puny little minds. Keeping yourself enthusiastic about your goals is where the magic lies. Once you show people that you simply will not give up or go away, they will yield to you.
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The whole time you were trying to corral people around your idea or service, or goal, they were waiting for you to believe in it with the utmost certainty before they could jump on the bandwagon and say they knew you were going to make it all along. There’s no reason to be upset about the band-wagon jumpers; their purpose is to reward you for never giving up. Convincing people to do something or that you are worth what you say you are takes believing in it yourself. For if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else. Enthusiasm is momentum and it’s hard to stop a train full of Fuck Yeah!!

Venturing out

Among the many success guru’s I’ve reached out to and have had the privilege of learning from. I was surprised to have the words of wisdom about success delivered by Steve Harvey. After all, when I think of him, I think of a comedian. Even as a comedian I don’t think of him as a representative of my demographic, being young, hip, and new school….you know, a millennial. but I was taken by surprise at the way his advice hit so close to home for me. This must mean that it’s a universal principle and can be applied to all demographics, all backgrounds, and all peoples who are looking for success. When you are studying success, it doesn’t matter where the advice comes from, so long as it remains true in all circumstances.  
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Harvey says that in order to be successful, you must take a leap of faith. You must jump as if off a cliff in the hopes that your parachute will open and you can soar. He stresses the notion of leaping out on faith but also gives a guarantee that when you jump, your parachute will not open right away. Not the most comforting part of his advice but is surely realistic. You probably will not hit a home run your very first time at the plate in the major leagues. You probably will not return a kick off for a touchdown in the very first game of your rookie season in the NFL. So it is not likely that when you take your leap of faith (as you must) that your ability to soar will become innate. It is not likely that you have an instinct to be successful. Success is a learned behavior.
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As many people want to live their dreams, both small and large, they must put up with the fact that turning them into a reality may not happen right away. There are plenty of failures, let downs and set backs that would make your experience difficult in the beginning. What separates the successful few from the herd is the ability to press on. To move from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. To continue to venture out, to try harder, upping the bet, creating even larger goals and taking even more action than what was originally planned. When you’re tugging on that rip cord as you descend, and you bump into the sides of the cliff, then you rip and scrape your sides, as everything and everyone around you is telling you to give up, you must know that giving up is not an option. You must equate giving up and failure as a death, for you to save your own life, you must not give up, you must pull and tug and do whatever it takes to get that damn chute open.

Venturing out not only requires a leap of faith, but it also means resiliency. The ability to put up with temporary failure, and when you are success driven, it is always a temporary set back you will experience. As if you are running to a finish line and you trip and fall, you get back up, brushing off your temporary set back and continue the road as planned. Staying on the ground is not apart of the process. It is not where you will remain. Bumping into obstacles can be expected, though remaining stagnate is not an option.
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You can be afraid to launch your product, to write your book, to ask for that girls hand in marriage, to stake your claim in this world. Then, you must know that it will not be easy to be successful in these endeavors, however when you simply do not give up, in the end you will get it right. By virtue of trying nearly everything possible, you will get the right methodology, the right formula, and the right people to bring your dreams you covet so dearly in life. It takes just as much energy to have a mediocre existence as it does to have an extraordinary life. You must simply focus your attentions on the things that will bring you success, make you extraordinary, and provide you the quality of life you deserve and that you’ve risked everything else to attain. Continue to venture out and place no limits on what your success should and can look like.
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On Mending a torn Community

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There is little that love and respect for yourself and others cannot mend. In a broken community that is constantly being torn, dissected and separated into race and class because of the events of a cultural and national tragedy, the one thing that can bring unity and peace back to a divided town is love for yourself, and your brother. When you first see value in yourself, regardless of what other people may see, you will begin to see it in other people who look just like you. Value in others should be assumed until proven otherwise. No one should start off with zero value and then have to prove themselves to be worthy of your attention, your courtesy, or their basic inalienable human rights. We are born with inalienable rights, given to us from the creator of life itself. You can call that God, or the Universe, or Buddah, or Mother Nature, or the Big Kahuna, or The Force, or the Zone. (I prefer the Force and The Zone) But it doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as you understand the meaning behind it. Born into this world, you have value, even if it’s all in a potential state. Say, a college student has value which is mostly stored in potential until he or she enters the work force or uses their education to bring value to society. Even the corner boy has potential value as he can change when he desires to, and chart a new path. And there are plenty of people who contribute to society and bring value to us all, every single day. Human beings have value by virtue of being human and having the ability to change. Every life born is inherently worth preserving.
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As the most recent events that are flooding the news with images of protesters, dead bodies, police in full riot gear, the call for peace rings out over a community that is experiencing the outcome of circumstances that have been in place for too long. When men fail to see the value in themselves and each other, they deteriorate mentally into a condition where they are unaware, suppressed, ignorant, and clueless to the way society perceives them. As the larger society sees little value in them, so the cycle perpetuates itself. Men who see little to no value in themselves, little to no value in each other, and a larger society who sees little to no value in them as well are more easily subjected to such tragedies. It aint right, but it happens. The cycle can be broken when the individual who is in full control of his emotions and ideas decides to change his perspective and see the value he can bring to his community and to society as a whole. Though it is not enough to just begin to think or believe you have value based on no merit in the hopes that it will change things overnight. Yes, it is a start, but for it to last, and for anything of value to last, it must be recognized and it can be done by placing this theory into action. You must then give value to yourself, to your brothers, to your community. You give yourself value by educating yourself, be teaching yourself a new skill, by actively seeking a teacher or mentor, by eating an apple a day for your health, by taking a walk around the block for the longevity of your life. You give value to your brother by seeing value in him, talking to him in the hopes that you may be able to understand him, and by earnestly wanting him to become the best version of himself possible. You bring value to your community by looking after the elderly in a respectful manner, by not littering, by guiding children who may not be your own in the way they should grow, and by identifying yourself as a respectable citizen of that community. And yes, when the time comes to peacefully protest in the face of an injustice, you surely do that to. And when the protests are over, when the news cameras have gone, when the blood in the streets have washed away, you should still hold on to your oath and your values of a strong community, a strong brotherhood, and a strong human being who has and gives value to the world.
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The Modern Benjamin is admittedly not the average of men. He always strives to be above and beyond average, but it is common sense that should be taught that no matter how dysfunctional our police force, our government, our communities, our institutions, our systems, no matter how limited our resources, or how meek our voices may be by comparison to a majority, that they are still ALL WE HAVE TO WORK WITH. And we must work wisely with what we have. Such a perspective should not be reserved to the elite. WE ALL have the SAME set up and we must navigate through it and use it to get the results we want. It starts with the individual; for all great change comes from the few minds of those determined to change the present and future.

Why Should You Value Women?

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Behind every great man is a great woman so the popular phrasing goes. But that is not to mean the great woman is figuratively behind him. Although a powerful man may take the helm and be out front in the public eye he his more than likely either grounded by his spouse or life partner, or quite possibly lead to be a greater man by her, which would position her out in front. Assuming she is the more enlightened of the two, dragging him out of his caveman like behavior. A great woman does have the distinct power to do this. The position of this mysterious great woman who is unseen to the public does not likely have a static position in his life but plays a large encompassing role to such a singular focused specimen. The great woman orbits the great man as the Moon orbits the Earth. She’s not in one place, she’s not just mother, or wife, or sister, or confidant, or lover, or therapist, or friend, or caretaker. She, being a great woman, has more than one role and more than one dimension in the great drama of life.
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As this great man gives value to society in an encompassing role, so to does the woman who is able to hold on to him, give value to her man on a variety of fronts. She is perhaps even stronger than her man as she may be the catalyst that drives him, or the focus that makes him precise, or the dreamer that gives him the picture for which to paint. In however a way that a muse is applied, she may likely play more than one part in his life if he is truly a mean of great measure. In her immense and often subtle power, she may find it in her infinite wisdom not to flaunt her more powerful existence in the face of his frail ego. She may break him by doing so. That is real power, the power to spur another on and though she is the reason he can do all sorts of wonderful things, reach a multitude of people because of her influence over him, and because she civilizes him as all women do their man of choice; when she refrains from tearing him down as easily as she can unplug a lamp that gives light to a room with the swift jerk of an extension cord; she is then keeping her secret to the world that all the while, it is your masculinity being manipulated by her drive.  
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Strong women are the puppeteers and we are the puppets in the great drama of life. They are the reason we go about changing the course of history. Would there have been a Trojan war without the abduction of Helen of Troy? Is this not a man’s world that would mean little to nothing without a woman or a girl? To paraphrase the gospel of James Brown and although they are song lyrics it would not be wise discredit it. The lyrics of songs have very often tried to get us to understand and underlying meaning in life. Their merits hold just as equally as any good book depending on the author.  
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Just as you cannot thrive in society as a business man without people who aid in commerce and make business itself possible; you may not fully reach your true potential without the aide of some woman who sees you as greater than you currently are. When you can see yourself through the eyes of the woman who is enamored with you for whatever reason, it helps to provide you with an ideal to live up to. Maybe even a future that you hadn’t envisioned yourself. Or maybe you could, but it was a bit foggy. Women have a knack for details and I mean every little, tiny detail. Success is in the details and it’s no surprise that the encouragement of the right people will help to propel you to the places you need to be, to do the things you need to do, and to go about attaining the things you want and need to have.
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Women have the power to refine men, to give us something to fight for, to give us something to look forward to, and to prepare us for events that we may not have seen coming. Cherish a great woman. See the value in her, not just for what she can do for you, but for what she can bring to the world as a whole. Likely, she will see the same value in you, if not to some greater extent.

There’s a story I read recently that is hard for me to recount verbatim although the central theme is pravelant. When the POTUS, Barack Obama, was running for re-election, he visited a restaurant to do some campaigning. During his usual kissing babies and shaking hands routine, he got a chance to sit down in the restaurant and talk to the restaurant owner over a meal. He was campaigning with his wife, Michelle, and a dialogue was struck between the three as people looked on. The First Lady and the restaurant owner as it turned out lived in the same neighborhood as children and perhaps attended the same high school. Upon such news, the POTUS turned to his lovely wife and said something to the affect of “Honey, if you would’ve married him instead of me, you would’ve been the wife of a wonderful restaurant owner. His food is delicious, and I love it.” Without skipping a beat, the FLOTUS turned to her powerful husband and said, “No, If I would’ve married him, he would’ve been the President of The United States.”
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Can art bring a community together?

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Can art add to your quality of life? I suppose it matters the quality of the art, and what it means or how it speaks to you. What it reminds you of, and where it takes you once you’ve been exposed to it. Was it made in the spirit of love or joy? Was it thrown together in haste and despair? This could be the difference between aggressive graffiti, and the lovely murals and visual arts pieces we enjoy in Brewerytown and throughout Philadelphia. Good art can improve a community’s quality of life as a whole. When you are looking to have a community with a high quality of life, there need to be high-quality, low-cost, fun things for people to do. Events as simple as painting a wall, making a mural, are the types of small things that get people active and involved and unifies us as a community.
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Philly is known for a lot of beautiful and awesome things. Food? We’ve got tons of food, across cultures, all the steak and cheese, soft pretzels, and Italian ices you could ask for. Our rich history includes but is not limited to the Liberty Bell, which signifies our city as the birthplace of freedom and the US Constitution. In fact the the entire city is a place of historical reference and happenings, which most people already know. What we have that often slips under the radar, but also adds to the quality of life in Brewerytown, and beautifies our atmosphere, are murals and visual art pieces. The walls in our little part of the city are covered in painted artwork often depicting a story, or message, with an array of colors, and textures that appeal to the eye, stimulate the senses and captivate the mind. And that’s what art is supposed to do, right? Brewerytown’s rich culture, and history is found in the many murals painted by artists who lend their talents to organizations like the Mural Arts Program.

There are many different factors which, added together make living in Brewerytown special. One of which is the budding arts “scene” embraced and cultivated by the young residents who love B-town so much. With the influx of creative professionals, and the legacy of residents who have been living in Brewerytown all their lives; the landscape in which we live has become a canvas for self-expression to the benefit of our community. Brewerytown is no square plain place, with square plain people, ideas, or outlets. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that….or the burbs, but this just isn’t it.) Brewerytown is a constantly growing, evolving, colorful part of town that is alive, awake and aware of its maturation in to something increasingly beautiful. We, the residents, and the people who come to visit, are the ones who make it so. And evidence of our human spirit is in the artwork.

Murals help to set the scene for parks, gardens, and gatherings. They go hand in hand with block parties, barbecue’s, and fireworks. Murals are the background pieces to the story of our lives; the grand play in which we all have a role, however substantial or infinitesimal. Often, murals are as beautiful as nature herself and, when we appreciate our surroundings, it sets the stage for creating more of what we already love about this part of town.

Is Escapism Welcoming A Healthy Distraction?

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If you’re in a place that you’d rather not be, if you feel stuck and constrained by your surroundings, if this happens too often then you may be able to find solace in escapism. As a practice, Escapism is the ability to transcend your surroundings and perhaps even picture yourself somewhere you’d much rather be. Much like daydreaming. Escapism is a concept that not enough people take advantage of, especially working adults. As often as adults can forget that play is important in your daily life as well as lifelong development, so-to is daydreaming, and letting your mind soar to new heights often a practice that’s overlooked. When you seek or need distraction from events or an environment that isn’t helpful to you, one of the best ways to escape, particularly from poverty stricken ailments, is in reading. As reading allows you to venture to a time and place where you currently cannot physically occupy, your mind will be strengthened because it takes a break from having to constantly fight with the actual pressures that you have to put up with day by day. A healthy diversion can do you a lot of good, even when in small doses.

Long and drawn out fantasies during the middle of your workday could border on unproductive. You can live in the clouds, but you must come down from time to to time to handle your affairs on earth. You don’t want to be zoning out when your boss walks into your workstation, but whenever you get the opportunity to begin to dream about where you’d rather be instead of the possible hell in which you currently inhabit; do it! It can be very relaxing to think about places you could go, to imagine them in great detail if possible, and it might even allow you to reach those actual places should the opportunity present itself because you’ve thought it out. Can you foresee a bit of the circumstances or changes that are heading for your life, it’s because you had the time to at first ponder it; then of course you took some kind of action.

There can even be a bit of mental tension released in the ability to create something. Letting your mind drift in the creative process is also a great way to transcend your surroundings. Whether your medium is writing or painting, or play-dough or even if you literally are just playing with your children or your dog in the park, coming up with new games and making up new rules in the moment (as most children do). Letting yourself go and even playing imaginative games can be help you to facilitate the realm of creativity that gives your mind a break from the dullness or ailments that can plague you. One of my favorite things is asking hypothetical questions to my dog, or asking his opinion of something, as it is more an exercise of me trying to understand or get a better hold on a particular subject.
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In the creative process, you can also change the paradigm of your normal setting. You can create the circumstances where the geek gets the girl, or where the princess finds her prince charming or what have you. It matters more that you are able to create the things you wish so badly to begin with; instead of reliving and focusing on the surroundings that you wish to change or didn’t exist. Yes, you should see things as they are, a heavy dose of reality is needed for anyone who wants to be a leader and who truly desires the tools in which to change. But a grand imagination of the things that are possible, of what could-be is also necessary in order to get people to move in that direction. Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speech was titled “I have a dream”; not “I have an issue” which would’ve changed the focus from what was possible to what was presently happening. When he needed to inspire a nation, he did so through the creative process of imagining the possibilities.

Some diversions from mental angst can be detrimental in the long run if used in excess. To be a couch potato, or someone who watches sports or cat videos endlessly, or if you never actually pay attention to what’s going on; missing out constantly on the important things in life is not the aim or goal of escapism. You must be aware and surely you are if you are the Modern Benjamin, that certain attentions must be paid to the important things in life. Certain areas must not be ignored if you are to transcend them, yes you must find your way out of a dark cave from time to time, and you must find the light at the end of the tunnel when the chips are down, these require practical actions and a plan sometimes to make something out of nothing. That can’t be done by wishing on a star. Though, you may learn that it is necessary to stop, think outside of the box, and come up with a solution to your problems by disconnecting from your struggle and using a healthy diversion to trigger and facilitate the creative process that can actually bring you out.