Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to School, Not Quite

Happy Friday. It's back-to-school time and most kids in Connecticut wrap up their first official week of school today. As I see the school buses pick up and drop off kids it brings back memories of when I used to stand and wait for the yellow banana boat I called a bus. 

Although I'm no longer in school I believe in being a lifelong learner. Regardless of your class, ethnicity, race or religion, education lays the foundation for upward mobility and has the power to level the playing field. Unlike money, which comes and goes, once you learn something that knowledge stays with you. 

There are many ways for us to learn. It can happen in a formal educational setting, through our parents, peers, or in the form of mentoring. Merriam Webster defines a mentor as someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person. While the definition gives an understanding of the role it doesn't underscore the importance of mentoring as a powerful tool to enhance one's professional and personal life. 
Attributes of Mentoring.

Having benefited from mentoring relationships, I firmly believe its a relationship that all professionals should embrace, regardless of where they are at in their careers. Even when you have a strong manager or director, it may not be enough to help you achieve your professional goals or address concerns regarding your professional development throughout your career. In my experience mentoring has provided support, guidance, and tough love in helping me set-up and achieve short-term and long-term goals.

Recently, I've embrace the opportunity to "pay it forward" by mentoring a young women named Elizabeth. I used to work with Elizabeth's mom and reconnected with her. At the event I met her daughters, two of which are interested in careers in communications. I received a message from Elizabeth's mom on LinkedIn, she wanted to know if I would be interested in mentoring her daughter. I was honored by the request. 

Elizabeth is entering her senior year of high school and is looking at universities and colleges. My own college search doesn't seem that long ago. How time flies. 

Elizabeth and I had our first meeting a few weeks back. We met at a Starbucks to talk and got to know each other. I felt like it was a good meeting and I'm looking forward to our monthly check in next month. It means a great to deal to me to be helping a fellow African American female strive for her dreams. Although I'm the mentor, I expect to also learn and grow from this process. 

If you're interested in mentoring, learn more at

Friday, July 18, 2014

12 Weeks and Counting Since Billy Joined My Family

Billy takes in the view at a lake.
It's hard to believe that today marks 12 weeks since Karim and I adopted our beloved Billy. For the longest time I pushed back on getting a dog. Karim was ready two years ago. I on the other hand thought about the cost of food, having to clean up after a dog or waking up bright and early to walk the dog. How things have changed. I do all of the above and while the cleaning up after him is a daily occurrence, I don't mind it as much as I thought I would or the a.m. walks. Walking him in the morning helps to wake me up and get myself acclimated to what's ahead in my day. I'm no fan of winter and realize my attitude may slightly shift when the cold temperatures arrive. However, whether its rain, sleet or snow, Billy is a joy to be around.

Chilling on Grandma's deck.
This is going to sound a bit cheeky, but it was love at first sniff. I didn't anticipate falling for him so quickly. Karim and I met him at Our Companions Animal Rescue open house event. Our Companions is a Connecticut based organization that promises to always do the right thing for animals, regardless of the challenge or cost. The staff and volunteers that work here truly eat, breath, and sleep their mission statement. The services they offer include pet adoption, pet sanctuary, dog training classes, spay/neuter services, special events, and volunteering opportunities. 

Karim and I were thinking about getting a dog for a few months before we made the decision to adopt in May. We learned about Our Companions from his sister, Jamila, who volunteers with them. After we arranged a play date with Billy, I knew I wanted him to be a part of our family. Karim agreed. It was a perfect match.

In recent weeks Billy has adjusted to living with us and vice versa. He loves high quality treats like Polly-O string cheese, Purina's Rollhide, salmon treats, and chicken jerky. Personally, I think he'll devour any type of jerky. He loves people food like curry goat, shrimp lo mein, fried chicken wings, chicken fried rice, and a turkey sub, hold the veggies. He's not as big of fan of your typical doggy biscuits and cookies. They need a little something extra. He also loves driving shot gun or in the back with head out the window.

Our friends and family that have met Billy love him. Like his adopted mama, he's a people person and loves to engage others. He's friendly when he meets strangers and most other dogs, but if you bark at him, he'll bark back. Some folks have questioned me about having him wear a pink harness and leash. I have no problem explaining that I don't conform to gender associations that stereotype what society has come to define as female and male. My Billy proudly rocks pink and looks handsome doing so.

To jump or not to jump, that is the question.

Billy has changed my life for the better. Do I clean more? Yes. Do I get frustrated when I'm watching something on T.V., and he starts crying if I don't walk him. Yes. But in the end, its all worth it. I'm a proud and happy dog-lover, probably always was, just needed Billy to bring it out in me.