Book Summary: No Matter What by Lisa Nichols

Lisa Nichols, the author takes the reader on her journey to self-betterment. She illustrates the details of building each emotional muscle: confidence, taking action, fear, faith, and forgiveness. The use and strengthening of these muscles improved both her personal and professional situations, including overcoming unemployment and healing broken relationships. She provides a complete program which describes how to build your own nine emotional muscles. Nichols details the challenges and triumphs she faced through each of the nine steps.

Nichols shares her victories over her challenges in a no-nonsense, in your face writing style. If you are encountering any adversities in your l life, I strongly urge you to read No Matter What. She strategically maps sure-fire nine steps to sharpen your emotional muscles and fulfill the desires in your heart.

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Book Review: Evicted: Poverty and Profits in America  by Matthew Desmond

A home provides refuge and serves as a fortress. Every individual deserves to have that basic need, a place to call “home.” In Evicted, author, professor, and sociologist Matthew Desmond argues that at home, we can “be ourselves” while everywhere else, we are someone else. At home, we remove our masks and home provides the wellspring of personhood. Desmond argues that at home identity takes root and blossoms.  For children, home is a place to imagine, play, and question. For adolescents, the home provides a safe space to retreat and try new things. As we age, we hope to settle into a comfortable home to raise a family or pursue work. When we try to understand ourselves, we often begin by considering the kind of home in which we were raised.”

Desmond proposes the government fund a Universal Housing Voucher which would satisfy housing for the poor and provide profits for the rich. Housing is a basic human need, yet many Americans are living in poverty and experiencing “material hardship,” a sociological term for eviction. In 2008, Desmond began his dissertation research on poverty where he focused on both impoverished individuals and the wealthy. In order to understand the complex relationships, he was observing in the data he identified eviction as a process that bound poverty and profits together in mutual dependence and struggle.

Desmond relocated to Milwaukee’s poorest areas and studied the relationship between the rich and the poor. In his study, he examined eight families and two landlords for one year. His project, the Milwaukee Area Renters Study (MARS) was funded by the MacArthur Foundation. Roughly 1,100 tenants were interviewed in their homes between 2009 and 2011. Desmond found that the government implemented several programs to alleviate eviction but the voucher program appears to be the most effective.

Strategies for developing and implementing solutions for the material hardship of eviction changed trajectories as the years progressed. During the Great Depression, a landlord would provide a notice of eviction and your belongings would then be placed on the curb if you did not remove them. In later years, after a notice of eviction, a landlord would provide two options: leave the tenants’ possessions on the curb or place tenants’ possessions in storage.

In an attempt to meet housing needs for low-income families the government began building housing projects. Not long after came to a voucher system allowing low-income families to live in more diverse neighborhoods and buildings. The tenant paid 30% of the rent and the government paid the landlord the remaining 70%. This voucher program was more beneficial than other housing programs and while it did not eliminate evictions, they were reduced. The voucher program has stipulations and strenuous guidelines landlords must follow including inspections and strict deadlines for repairs. Landlords have protested against the program’s strict guidelines.

The government claims the voucher program is unaffordable and will cost trillions of dollars. However, the government spends much more on homeowner tax benefits for affluent families than on housing assistance to poor families. Perhaps funds can be redirected and with a few modifications, like improving the inspection process, incentivizing repairs, and reducing discrimination against families with multiple children, the program can flourish.

Desmond stresses that in order to address evictions the government must step in and solve the housing problem. In order to get the government’s attention, individual must help themselves. Citizens must vote to change the fair housing regulations. It has been reported that individuals of a lower Social Economic Status do not vote. Americans marched and mobilized to have the right to vote. Voting is the method society offers to its citizens to communicate with the government. Voting is powerful and it is a privilege for all Americans. To vote is to change the conditions in society. Politicians listen to those who vote for them, choose to elect the representative to reflect your values, elect officials who care about you and choose policies to invest in one’s needs, such as housing.

“Sherrena Tarver, landlord, inner-city entrepreneur, states, “The ’hood is good. There’s a lot of money there.” Meanwhile, programs for the poor are being cut, and evictions prevail and the landlord’s profits increase.

Evicted, by Matthew Desmond is raw. The unveiling of the lives of these eight families is heartbreaking. These stories are painful to read but necessary to know.  I recommend you read this book as the insight gained may change your perspective and help you to develop a greater understanding of poverty in America, and join, Desmond’s quest for a government Universal Voucher program is not only possible but necessary. Vote!

Matthew Desmond is a sociology professor at Princeton University and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Non-Fiction.

***This book is on President Barack Obama’s reading list.

 

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Book Review: Black Privilege by  Charlamagne Tha God

Charlamagne Tha God, the voice of Hip Hop, co-host of Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, social media, and TV personality. He currently debuts his NY Times bestseller, Black Privilege his outspoken and powerful memoir and self-help book. He outlines eight principles one can use to activate one’s God-given privilege.

Charlamagne chronicles his life and struggles growing up in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, he reflects on his childhood memories. He credits his mother for his prolific thirst for reading; she constantly introduced him to books of diverse genres. His father, on the other hand, doled out street knowledge, instilling in him that there are three essential principles: procrastination, passion, or poison that a man chooses for his direction in life.

As a teen and young adult Charlamagne delved into “poisonous” life-shattering choices that eventually led him to jail, alcohol, and drugs.  After years of pain and suffering on a precipitate path, he chose to turn away from the cataclysmic struggles and sought to empower himself using his eight principles.

Charlamagne is a self-proclaimed, “guy that tells the unadulterated truth.” At times his “truth” is expressed without compassion; it sounds just plain brutal, and it stings to one’s core. He takes a hard look at his relationships, encounters, and the self-realization that turned him to change the trajectory of his journey. Instead, he finds redemption through “passion” and purpose. Author, Christian D. Larson quote, “Believe in yourself and all that you are and know that there is something inside of you that is greater than any obstacle.” Charlamagne activated this belief and transformed himself and now he professes, “Whomever, you are you have the power within to create your own opportunity.”

To recognize, accept and activate this God-given power is a privilege; everyone has, and Charlamagne just happens to be Black. Hence the book’s title Black Privilege,  “Huh?” what ‘s a black privilege and what does it look like?  Triumph over adversity, as he reveals in his 321-page saga. As Les Brown, the motivational speaker says, “not to impress you but to impress upon you,” that you too can be the master of your victory.

Charlamagne shares eight principles he values that allow him to evolve, grow, and prosper in Black Privilege. For example, his principle,  “Put The Weed in the Bag” Huh? Simply says, work before profits.

He expresses his message ” create your own opportunity”  to the hip-hop population in the urban community. in a strong passionate fiery tone. His vernacular, profanity, slang and dialect is well suited for this target population.

The title Black Privilege is bound to evoke one’s curiosity. Charlamagne cleverly defines His message: “opportunity comes to those who create it.” One must recognize and access his privilege. He cleverly illustrates his message: “create your opportunity by sharing his own personal saga.

Charlamagne drives the point like an uncle on one’s shoulder whispering the principles to activate triumph over adversity, activating one’s God-given privilege to live a victorious life.

 

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Book Review: Life Is But Wide by J. California Cooper

J. California Cooper’s novel, “Life Is Short But Wide,” is a 2009 bestseller about “love.” Cooper cleverly engages readers by showcasing the characters’ searches in their quest for love.  Cooper quotes, “Sometimes it’s a struggle to get over self-love first. Sometimes in this struggle for love, we give up or lose everything, and we still don’t achieve love. Some people don’t even recognize real love when it comes without being called or sought.”

Cooper strategically holds the reader spellbound as she intertwines the influences of the family, the friends, and the community in the lives of Herman and Myrine in their search for authentic love. Growing up, true love was displayed and given to them throughout their childhood. As adults, however, they veered into unknown territories.

One day while Herman sat in the classroom staring at Myrine as she passed out pencils and paper to the students, he silently confessed to himself that he loved Myrine and would marry her. The thought lingered in his spirit and began to grow. Herman tried to push the feeling away; he believed their age difference was too wide – more than ten years – and she would never consider him for her husband. Inevitably Herman sought to find his everlasting love elsewhere.

Cooper keeps the reader curious and eagerly turning pages on Herman’s and Myrine’s adventures with prospective partners. The many loops, hoops, and curves the author travels on their love journey explore what it is like to find diversity in love at all ages, stages, and conditions. Readers cannot help but wonder, “Are these two ever going to find real love?”

Herman encounters a twenty-year abusive and loveless relationship which dissolved in divorce. Living alone he ached for love; thus he was easily bamboozled into a relationship with a noncommittal woman. On the other hand, Myrine gave in to her fear of intimacy; she had male friendships and tried to convince herself that was enough to feel authentic love with a man. Herman would always stop in for brief visits between his dates.

Myrine wants “authentic love,” yet she is afraid. Through her parents were an excellent example, they both died too soon; she was a young girl. Their demise devastated her; the pain of heartache and loneliness made her cling to Tante, her only sister, whom she loved dearly. Consequently, the girls accepted their personality differences and agreed on a lifestyle of being true to themselves. Tante relocated and built her life in Europe, and Myrine remained in Wideland. Following Tante’s departure, fear permeated Myrine’s soul; she feared loving brought loss, yet she continued to yearn for “true love.”

From the sidelines, she watched for a decade as her best friend’s relationship blossomed with a man who loved her unconditionally. Needless to say her desire for love increased. Cooper does an amazing job of showcasing the influences of characters and their relationships — the healthy ones (like Juliet and Cloud) – Myrine’s best friend, and the various not-so-healthy ones.

Will these two individuals find a relationship that exhibits a true love and commitment that resembles a river’s everlasting flow?

Love is the essential theme throughout the entire book; however, near the end of the book Cooper inserts a religious conversation about Jehovah’s Witnesses. I paused to understand where and how this contributed to the book’s theme.

“Life Is Short But Not Wide” brings the reader into the livelihood of country folks. Its tale is delightful and will not disappoint readers.

Cooper was the author of seven short story collections and five novels, including “Homemade Love,” which won an American Book Award in 1989.

 

 

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Book Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston

This classic novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, was set in Eatonville, Florida in the ’30s. It chronicles African-American Janie Crawford’s quest for love, freedom and her voice. On her journey, she overcomes dependence, gender issues, and tragedies at the hand of three husbands. Janie is feisty, full of opinions and deeply desires the love of a man, which she equates with being independent.

Janie was raised by her slave-born grandmother, who wanted a prosperous life for her only grandchild, whom she loved more than she loved her own daughter. Grandma too believes that a man is Janie’s answer, but not just any man. It must be a man with means to a prosperous-filled life.

Her grandmother arranges for her to marry Logan Killicks. Janie has clear guidelines on the responsibilities of men and women in marriage: The man’s role is outside working the land, while the woman’s job is in the home. Logan, on the other hand, has very different ideas. He believes the woman’s role is to serve her husband in any task and whenever he requests.

As time passes, Janie claims she is repulsed by Logan, who acts as if he is her Master and she the slave. She is certain her dream of romance and love is not happening with Logan; she divorces him.

Soon after Janie leaps into the arms of charming, ambitious Joe Stalks. Quickly she becomes Mrs. Stalks, the wife of the mayor, owner of the town’s only general store, and the most successful and respected African-American man in Eatonville.

Unfortunately, Stalks the charmer quickly transforms into a controlling overbearing tyrant, denying Janie her independence. He demands that Janie covers her head and be submissive to him at all times. At a town event, Stalks has just given a speech, and someone from the audience requested Janie to speak. Without a flinch, Stalks unveils his true feelings: “She’s uh woman and her place is in de home.”’ Consequently, her love fades and she closes herself up like the petals on a flower, until his demise.

Janie meets Tea Cake, an attractive, seductive young man (about 12 years her junior. Tea Cake worked odd jobs and had an addiction to gambling. Though Tea Cake sparked her interest, she was a bit hesitant because of her past marriages and his status. One day on the porch with the townspeople, Tea Cake invited her to play checkers. When she told him she didn’t know how to play he offered to teach her. Janie, totally surprised, dashed to the table:  “Somebody wanted her to play. Somebody thought it natural for her to play. That was even nice. She looked him over and got little thrills from every one of his good points.” Tea Cake taught her how to fish and how to shoot a gun and she began to express her opinions and make decisions. She felt worthy, independent and valued as a woman.

The title, Their Eyes Were Watching God, explains the book totally by metaphorically describing the way people tend to look to others for answers. Janie’s journey shows that when she listens to her grandmother about marrying her first husband and when she turns to her second husband to help her reach the horizon, she isn’t being true to herself. Janie explains, “Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh themselves . . . They got tuh go tuh God and they got tuh find out about livin’ fuh theyselves.” Consequently, after 24 years, three husbands and life’s tragedies, Janie finds her voice in the patriotic society, and she gives all the credit to Tea Cake.

Zora Neale Hurston was an acclaimed author folklorist, activist, and anthropologist during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. Of Hurston’s four novels and more than 50 published articles, short stories, plays, and essays, she is best known for Their Eyes Were Watching God. In 1937 she won a Guggenheim fellowship. Hurston attended Barnard College and Howard University.

I highly recommend reading this book., It is written in rhythm, which is no surprise since Hurston was a folklorist. The author’s style is deceptively simple, and the book is predominantly written in dialogue. Hurston narrates her story in a vernacular speech, and she successfully uses southern dialect to capture the uniqueness of the vale of tears in which her characters reside. She allows her characters to use humor and storytelling to showcase their individuality. Hurston strongly depicts the language and culture; in the deep south. it almost feels as if one has been there.

 

 

 

 

 

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Summary: The Invisible Child

 At age 43, Diane Williams had fallen and didn’t want to get up. She wanted out of a life that placed so many limitations on her. After receiving a diagnosis of chronic crippling rheumatoid arthritis; the demise of her mother, her anchor; and her husband’s departure to do life without her and their two young daughters.

Williams soon realized that “giving up” was not an option. She forged ahead, with the assistance and support of her two daughters, who stepped into the role of her caregivers. In her memoir, The Invisible Child, she chronicles the first 10 years of “parenting on her back.”

This new reality disrupted the lives of her minor daughters, as they had to adjust to living with new demands, chaos, restraints, adult responsibilities, as well as the unimaginable life experiences of their mother’s special needs, and their absentee father.

Williams tells the story of her physical disabilities and the emotional avalanche she endured while learning to “parent on her back.” Williams learned to face her situation and accept what she could not control and focus instead on what she could. She captures the powerful uninvited restraints and pleasures that caregiving placed on her daughters. With a fierce determination to raise her daughters to be flourishing young ladies,. Williams turned inwards to develop an undeniable faith that moves mountains.

The Invisible Child is a story of triumph against all odds, and also a warm heartfelt, moving saga of unconditional love in a family that got past the turmoil to garner unfathomable strength, in the process carving out a life focused on solutions that leads to individual accomplishment, success, and peace.

In The Invisible Child, along with Williams’ debut book, Angels in Action, her speeches, and articles deliver the same message: ”Giving up is not an option…instead. “live life fearlessly, never giving up.”

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Positive Thinking Secrets by AAron Kennard

The Positive Thinking Secret by Aaron Kennard. Author Kennard begins the first chapter telling us his secret: “We are truly amazing and every day is a good day, and every event in our lives is good. All things work together for good.” Kennard repeats those words throughout his book so often I am led to believe that this is not only this his secret, but his daily mantra.

His life is everything he ever wanted. He is a hardworking, loving devoted husband, father, worker and community leader who is happy and never encountered any personal hardships; life was good, his faith unshakable, his spirits high. He loved life and living.

Then life began to test Kennard’s faith. He triumphed over adversities: first, the unexpected painful breech birth of his fourth child, who took twenty-one seconds to release a resounding wail. After that victory, his faith continued to be tested. Kennard contracted a sudden traumatic illness: ulcerative colitis. Through it all, this author candidly narrates his inspiring story.

At the onset of Kennard’s illness, he remained steadfast in his faith. He believed he would be healed and he believed the illness was for a good reason, embracing the moment and seeking for the best possible message.  As the scripture says: God works all things for good.

Kennard sets up each chapter taking his readers on his journey to recovery. He uses sensory words, vivid descriptions, and raw details to describe his battle with tragic illness. At times I was on the verge of puking. Yet I continued to read. To my amazement I was so invested in his story I almost forgot he was literally writing about his untamed waste. He sparks curiosity with his intriguing cliffhangers at the end of the chapters.

However, I understand why the author so graphically described his experiences. He did it to demonstrate that he could have chosen to see his situation as doomed and himself as a victim, or he could choose to see the circumstances as Napoleon Hill states, “Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache, carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” And he chose the latter.

Kennard’s use of sensory words takes you to the edge of his experience and he pulls you back in with biblical scriptures and words of hope. The reaction to your adverse circumstances is yours. Kennard reminds the readers of this on almost every page and it appears so frequently it plays like a mantra, “You are truly amazing. It’s your choice to believe and receive it or not.” Kennard also supports his mantra in Romans 8:28 that all things work for goods to them that love the lord.

As the days passed, the gravity of his situation worsened. Then life handed him another situation over which he had very little or no control. His illness affected his son. The child displayed horrific emotional outbursts. Kennard confessed to feeling powerless and at one point he gave in. Kennard’s faith coupled with his confidence began to wane, and he even prayed for death. Instead, he received life…A full recovery.

Kennard believed that experiencing the devastating tragic disease provided him with passion, empathy, and understanding for others enduring a traumatic hardship in their lives.

Reading Kennard’s inspiring story, I don‘t doubt that readers will connect to his life: praying and rooting for his family and, in the end, rejoicing about his transformation. This book provides hope, faith, and motivation for people seeking a transformation.

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Book Review: Positive Thinking Secret by Aaron Kennard

Author Kennard begins the first chapter telling us his secret: “We are truly amazing and every day is a good day, and every event in our lives is good. All things work together for good.” Kennard repeats those words throughout his book so often I am led to believe that this is not only this his secret, but his daily mantra.

His life is everything he ever wanted. He is a hardworking, loving devoted husband, father, worker and community leader who is happy and never encountered any personal hardships; life was good, his faith unshakable, his spirits high. He loved life and living.

Then life began to test Kennard’s faith. He triumphed over adversities: first, the unexpected painful breech birth of his fourth child, who took twenty-one seconds to release a resounding wail. After that victory, his faith continued to be tested. Kennard contracted a sudden traumatic illness: ulcerative colitis. Through it all, this author candidly narrates his inspiring story.

At the onset of Kennard’s illness, he remained steadfast in his faith. He believed he would be healed and he believed the illness was for a good reason, embracing the moment and seeking for the best possible message.  As the scripture says: God works all things for good.

Kennard sets up each chapter taking his readers on his journey to recovery. He uses sensory words, vivid descriptions, and raw details to describe his battle with  tragic illness. At times I was on the verge of puking. Yet I continued to read. To my amazement I was so invested in his story I almost forgot he was literally writing about his untamed waste. He sparks curiosity with his intriguing cliffhangers at the end of the chapters.

However, I understand why the author so graphically described his experiences. He did it to demonstrate that he could have chosen to see his situation as doomed and himself as a victim, or he could choose to see the circumstances as Napoleon Hill states, “Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache, carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” And he chose the latter.

Kennard’s use of sensory words takes you to the edge of his experience and he pulls you back in with biblical scriptures and words of hope. The reaction to your adverse circumstances are yours. Kennard reminds the readers of this on almost every page and  it appears so frequently it plays like a mantra, “You are truly amazing. It’s your choice to believe and receive it or not.” Kennard also supports his mantra in Romans 8:28 that all things work for goods to them that love the lord.

As the days passed, the gravity of his situation worsened. Then life handed him another situation over which he had very little or no control. His illness affected his son. The child displayed horrific emotional outbursts. Kennard confessed to feeling powerless and at one point he gave in. Kennard’s faith coupled with his confidence began to wane, and he even prayed for death. Instead he received life…A full recovery.

Kennard believed that experiencing the devastating tragic disease provided him with passion, empathy, and understanding for others enduring a traumatic hardship in their lives.

Reading Kennard’s inspiring story, I don‘t doubt that readers will connect to his life: praying and rooting for his family and, in the end, rejoicing about his transformation. This book provides hope, faith and motivation for people seeking a transformation.

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Book Review: Take the Leap of Faith to Achieve your Life of Abundance, by Steve Harvey.

Steve Harvey’s message of happiness flows onto each of the 272 pages. Harvey stresses that we can achieve happiness, reach our dreams and become fulfilled, but we first must be willing to “jump.”

Harvey candidly tells the reader that life is about setbacks. At times, we may find ourselves in the dark where we cannot seem to find an exit. At that point, he encourages us to seek the silver lining in the situation, because every setback leads to a comeback.

His hope and his faith in his Divine power allow him to take risks, work beyond fatigue and endure rejections without resentment. The negativity he has encountered allowed him to turn in a positive direction and keep moving past his immediate situation toward his hopes and dreams.

The author’s message of happiness resonates through his life’s trials and struggles. No matter what his adversity –not his homelessness, his two divorces, his IRS financial struggles, his Miss Universe embarrassment — he confesses that through it all he believes that there is always a helping hand to guide you through your challenges.

Harvey puts his morality and Christian upbringing on display, frequently quoting his parents and the Bible. He also shares lessons learned from his parents and strangers and his own mistakes. The author tells us we can dream and have a vision, but we must put some muscle into our desires. If you want a job, turn off the video games, write a resume or a post on LinkedIn, ask a friend for help. We must “WORK” to achieve. The scripture says, “Faith without works is dead James 2:14.”

In this poignant, practical and inspirational book, the author uses his own personal anecdotes to demonstrate his results when he “jumps” to reach his desire. Inevitably there are times when we fail and want to give up. You can almost hear an echo of Harvey’s voice, telling you not to give up, but instead to “Jump,” as he advises.

Harvey lives a victorious life: financially sound, happy relationships, empowered career, inspired love, family fulfillment. Yet adversity still finds him. When those adverse circumstances arise, Harvey uses his faith to help him move in the direction of right decision to continue his life’s joyous fulfillment.

Through most of Harvey’s books, he gives the advice to change your circumstances. In Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man he gives relationship advice; In Act like a Success, Think Like a Success, he gives career advice; and in Jump, he gives advice in both these categories, along with advice to transform our individual selves.

Harvey’s books are written with vigor and passion. He speaks candidly to his readers. It feels as though he’s your uncle or your buddy offering the compelling advice to “Jump” and take a leap of faith. He writes with conviction, motivating you to turn your dreams into realities. Please beware, though:  Jump is targeted to a population of people wanting to change either their circumstances, themselves or both. If that sounds like what you are looking for, you will not be disappointed when you complete the last page. Go ahead…Take action…Read Jump.

In addition to being an author, Steve Harvey is also a standup comedian, TV personality, and philanthropist as a co-founder of the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation.

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Profiles of Victories People: Kevin Garnett

kevin garnett championship

“Nothing’s Impossible!” — Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett wanted to be an NBA champion. People around him told him he would never make it to the NBA because of the boulders in his path. This included his mother, who believed he would be better suited for social work. But Garnett had a dream, and unstoppable determination, and kept his eye on the prize: an NBA championship. Continue reading

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