#ThursdayReads: Walter Dean Myers

“I was born on a Thursday, the 12th of August, 1937, in Martinsburg, West Virginia. My name at birth was Walter Milton Myers. I was about two years old when my mother died and then I was inexplicably given to Florence and Herbert Dean. I was raised in Harlem by Herbert, who was African-American and Florence, who was German and Native American and wonderful. They loved me very much and I grew to love Harlem.

As a child, my life revolved around my neighborhood and church. The neighborhood protected me and the church guided me. I resisted as much as I could. I was smart (all kids are smart) but didn’t do that well in school. I had a speech impediment and often found myself leading with my fists when teased.

I found solace in books. My mother read to me from a very young age. From my comfortable perch on her lap, I would watch as she moved her finger slowly across the page and I’d imagine the characters. Reading pushed me to discover worlds beyond my landscape, especially during dark times when my uncle was murdered and my family became dysfunctional with alcohol and grief.

I wrote well in high school and an English teacher (bless her!) recognized this and advised me to keep on writing no matter what happened to me. “It’s what you do,” she said. I ended up dropping out of high school (although now Stuyvesant High claims me as a graduate) and joined the army on my 17th birthday.

After the army, I was struggling through life—holding on just enough to survive. Remembering my high school teacher’s words, I began writing at night. I wrote short columns for a local tabloid and stories for men’s magazines.

A turning point for me was the discovery of a short story by James Baldwin about the black urban experience. It gave me permission to write about my own experiences. Somehow I always go back to the most turbulent periods of my own life. I write books for the troubled boy I once was, and for the boy who lives within me still. It’s what I do.”

alter Dean Myers won the Council on Interracial Books for Children contest in 1969, which resulted in the publication of his first book, Where Does the Day Go? Since then, he has won more awards than any author for young adults, and is one of the most prolific writers, with more than 110 books to his credit.

He is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. He has won the Coretta Scott King Award five times and received two Newbery Honors. His book, Monster, was the first winner of the Michael L. Printz Award, a National Book Award Finalist, and a New York Times Bestseller. He delivered the 2009 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture, a distinction reserved for an individual who has made significant contributions to the field of children’s literature. Most recently, he served as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a post appointed by the Library of Congress.

Walter Dean  Myers passed away in 2014.



Someone Is Going To Like THE HECK Out Of You!

It’s tough being single. They say marriage is hard work, but it’s almost like those married people forgot what it’s like to be single (and I’m sure they wouldn’t want to trade places in a million years). As a single woman who wants to be married, it’s easy to get discouraged when time continues to pass & you still haven’t met the man of your dreams.  Waiting for “Mr. Right” can be difficult and even though dating can be fun, it can get old really fast.

“Why doesn’t anyone like me?”

“When am I gonna meet someone special?”

“Is there something wrong with me?”

These are all typical thoughts of a single woman who can’t figure out why she’s not married yet. It can cause you to spiral out of control mentally & really question yourself and what you have to offer.

Fortunately, I try not to let this get me down. I know that when the time is right I will meet the right person. The same goes for anyone who is looking for that “special someone”. There is nothing wrong with you (everyone has issues – EVERYONE), it just may not be your time yet. Some people meet the love of their life younger, some older. Some people have tons of dates, some hit it off right away with one of the first people they go out with. I say all of this to say that THERE IS SOMEONE WHO WILL APPRECIATE YOU!

Continue to be yourself. Continue to do you. There are taller people, shorter people, less attractive, very attractive, smart, not-so-smart, educated, not educated, successful, not-so-successful women who get men every day. You don’t have to be anyone *special* to attract a good man. You just have to be you. Single men say they have a difficult time finding good women (although I’m sure it’s not nearly as hard as it is for us single women) so when they meet a good woman, they can be just as excited as we are to have found someone great. So don’t be discouraged….someone is looking for YOU!!

So ladies, it’s important to remember that even if you don’t have that special someone in your life right now, that doesn’t mean they’re not ON THEIR WAY.

#MondayMotivation: Responding To Your Haters

Maybe it’s just the change in season, but many people seem to be down in the dumps. With so much negativity in our work environments, this week I’d like to talk about Internalizing Rejection and Negativity.

Life is FULL of Rejection, Negativity, and Haters

One of the greatest difficulties of life is that there is a seemingly endless stream of negativity and devaluation, while positive feedback is few & far between. In any given week, you have probably received a wide range of negativity from colleagues, family members, so-called friends and maybe even some random haters. This is perfectly normal and, quite frankly, some of it is completely natural and even needed sometimes.  But that doesn’t mean it feels good! While most of us can handle a certain amount of frustration, rejection, and disappointment, it’s the cumulative effect of this negativity that can lead to exhaustion, paralysis, and/or depression. The problem occurs when we internalize the negativity and allow rejection to impact our sense of our own intellectual capacity, self-worth, and enjoyment of our work.

Responding To Rejection And Negativity

There will always be some negativity in your environment, rejection of your resume, negative gossip from friends, bad breakups and/or haters on the scene trying to steal your joy. Given these factors, the real question is how you can objectively evaluate negativity while keeping it from disturbing your internal peace?

Ask Yourself: Does This Matter?

Many times the negativity in your environment doesn’t matter one bit to your professional success and happiness. I have developed a habit of constantly asking myself: Does this matter? Things that don’t matter include gossiping colleagues, eye-rolling acquaintances, small bureaucratic annoyances or irritating family members. Things that DO matter include rejection letters from those jobs you really wanted, getting dumped by that special someone, as well as substantive conflicts with close friends. For the things that don’t matter, you can consciously recognize them as trifling silliness that you have no control over and LET THEM GO.

If It Matters, Identify The Heart Of The Problem

If you must engage the negativity, then figure out where the problem is located. Is it your work, your behavior, or you as a person? Differentiating between these 3 things is critical to moving forward. For example, if you have a resume rejected, then the problem is located somewhere on that piece of paper, not (necessarily) in your experience. If you receive criticism from your supervisor for repeatedly coming in to work late, then the problem is your behavior and not you as a person. Clearly identifying the heart of the problem will help you keep the negativity externalized and pointed in the direction of the problem instead of internalizing it and allowing the negativity to attack your sense of self-worth.

Consider The Negative Input As Data

Once you have cut through the negativity (to deal only with what matters) and identified the core problem, just consider the negative information as data. I know it’s hard to receive rejection but pull out the relevant pieces of information of why you were rejected, plan your course to do better and move forward. And while none of us enjoy being confronted about our behavior, it’s better to know than to not know. That honest feedback provides an opportunity for a quick and easy behavioral adjustment and for everyone to move forward.

When Overwhelmed By Negativity, Reach Out For Support

If you are sensitive to criticism, consider reaching out for support. There are many ways to do so. If you are extraordinarily sensitive to criticism, consider giving your rejection letters to a friend for “translation.” They can read the letter for you and tell you what’s needed to be done going forward. That may help it seem more constructive, but helpful and exciting, especially coming from someone who knows you.

Pity The Haters

It’s hard enough to deal with the constant stream of negative information, but it’s even more difficult when you do succeed and colleagues try to diminish, dismiss, or devalue your accomplishments. There are some people in our professional lives who simply cannot bear to hear positive information about other people (because they interpret it as negative information about themselves). That means they will do their very best to subtly but persistently bring you down. You know who they are and the pitiful reasons they can’t be happy for you, so don’t allow yourself to be vulnerable to them. Try to imagine putting on an invisible protective shield before heading to meetings so that all of the petty and mean-spirited put-downs would bounce right off of you. On the occasions when the haters penetrated my armor, a loud blast of Jill Scott’s “Hate On Me could always put things back into perspective quickly.

When You Receive Positive Feedback, Celebrate!

Let’s be honest: positive affirmations of our hard work or volunteer service are rare. Never refuse a compliment, or positive feedback. If you do nothing else, let yourself enjoy positive feedback when it happens. Savor it and celebrate it!

Develop An Internal System Of Affirmation & Value

Most importantly, we must develop our own internal system of value, measures of quality, and definition of success. Unless you have a clear sense of your value, your criteria for “good work,” and your definition of success, you will gradually find yourself influenced by the inevitable negativity and one-upmanship in your environment.

I hope that this week brings you the energy to cut through the negativity in your environment, the compassion and clarity you need to deal with your haters, the wisdom to keep negative information externalized and focused on the problem at hand, and the absolute confidence that emerges from an internally-generated definition of success.