Friday, January 24, 2014

Comfort zone (by Kurtis Bush)

Today on this cold day, I dressed like the weather and wore the color gray. A lot of the time my color choice matches the weather. I am a very earthy and natural being. Gray is associated with a lack of emotion, conservative, drab, and boring.

Although the sun is shining, for the past month or so, we have been having drab weather. Being conservative and boring is not necessarily bad, but let’s remember, youth, that these characteristics shouldn’t interfere with our productivity! A thing Darnell and I are doing is listening for opportunities to emerge out of our comfort zone. This is the zone where we’re content with what life is giving us.

A lot of people are in that zone, but so much can be accomplished when you reach out of it. Everyone should work on reaching out of their comfort zone. You would be surprised how much you learn about yourself and accomplish. Many successful people (not just those who are successful money-wise) have taken big chances in reaching out of their comfort level. When you’re comfortable, you’re gray—boring—uninterested—content—emotionless, in regards to life and your goals. There is so much to see out there!

I know I have missed much because of stubbornly being stuck in my comfort zone. I reached out of it last year in 2013, and my first step was with YES!Atlanta! Following my decision to step outside my comfort zone and join YES!Atlanta, my opportunities skyrocketed. I have met so many wonderful people, engaged in wonderful activities, helped the community, and touched lives that I never imagined I’d touch! So get uncomfortable! Get out of the Zone! Stop being GRAY!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Wisdom teach (by Kurtis Bush)

Today I wore the color gold. An amazing and attractive color, it is associated with luxury, triumph, achievement, and success. When I wore this gold silk shirt, I felt grand and royal. I felt like I was on top of the world. I think of how much Darnell and I have achieved in our mentoring relationship this past year. We have overcome hurdles, obstacles, trials, and tribulations.

The color gold is also associated with wisdom and higher ideals. Ever since I was a child, I have been told I possess a lot of wisdom for my age. I was often called a know-it-all, but in my eyes, I knew nothing. I’ve relayed to Darnell how important wisdom is. It’s one of those possessions that’s not connected with an actual thing. Wisdom teeth don’t make you wise, for instance. (In fact, having all four of mine removed was one of the wisest things I have done.) Using wisdom in a situation allows you to see things from a different perspective. It allows you to make sound judgments and decisions. In this day and age, a lot of youth are provoked with so many outside factors that test their wisdom and intellect.

My greatest experiences have led me to be wise. I witnessed a lot as a child; therefore, I became wise. As an adult, I experience more and more each day, which contributes to the growth of my wisdom. I pointed out to Darnell a while back that wisdom is not only good for him, it’s good for those watching him. There is always someone watching you. We both talked about how many friends around his age and in his circle are leaving this earth too soon because of unsound judgments. We both agreed that wisdom is one of the virtues that the universe is telling him to start using in everything he does.

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”
—Jimi Hendrix

Friday, January 17, 2014

Down to Earth with my menTREE (by Kurtis Bush)

Today I wore the color brown. Brown is a nice fall/autumn color and pretty much goes with anything.  It is depicted as very down to earth, structured and secure, and the color of material wealth. I find this interesting because most of my personality traits match the depiction of the color brown.

In regards to mentoring, I’ve definitely shared with Darnell how important it is to establish security in your life. Establishing a firm foundation is key to success. Some of the thinnest trees can withstand powerful storms because they are anchored and grounded firmly. Same goes for us. Life is going to throw obstacles at you. It is important to keep grounded. Even if you get knocked down, it is imperative that you do not stay down. Even though a tree falls down and never gets back up, its decaying body still provides nourishment for other trees to sprout and grow. I encourage Darnell to never give up. (Except eating fast food :-(. Give up on that. As much as I love McDonald’s® fries, I have to say no to what’s not good for me.)

I find trees to be fascinating figures of life. They are the color brown (physically and symbolically). Hyperion is name of the tallest tree in the world—a coast redwood measuring 379 feet! To think this gigantic vegetative organism started from a tiny seed. It secured its position by growing roots deeeeeeep deeeeeeeeeeep below the soil. It could not grow as tall as it does without a secure foundation. The structure of the tree allows it to rise and aim for the stars, then branch out and produce wealth (leaves, animal habitat, etc).

That’s how we should look at life. I often nag Darnell about building something great now, so that it will blossom in due time. His future is very much linked to his past and present, much like the tree’s. He will go through storms, sway back and forth, experience frigid winters and blazing summers, but if he continues to anchor himself deeeeeeeeeeeep in the ground, then he will sprout UP and OUT!

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Red alert! (by Kurtis Bush)

Today, I am wearing my favorite color, red. Red is such an awesome color. Red is often depicted as a warm, powerful, loving, demanding, and flirtatious color. (We will come back to the flirtatious thing later, LOL!) It is also the color of passion, aggression, and anger. Red has always been my color of choice since I was a child. My room is painted red, my laptop is red, I love strawberries…just anything red!

I have always been a passionate person. My passion can sometimes cause me to be overly aggressive. I am working on that. I am very passionate about working with my mentee, Darnell. I have this natural calling to want to help people, especially children and youth. I often like to think that my life is shaping me to be a person who loves to help. It can be bittersweet at times, but it is my destiny.

I tell Darnell that around his age (he’s 17 years old) it is time to start thinking about your passion if you have not already. To exist is one thing, but to live with passion and power is a whole ‘nother feeling! I actually want to spend this year helping Darnell find his passion. Not only help him find it, but I also want to help him manifest it so that it will benefit him and others. I think he has an idea of what he’s passionate about, but he is not yet certain of it.

It is common nowadays for youth to be focused on ideas that will bring them riches and fame. While that may work for some, I ask Darnell, “What if your passion does not bring those things? Will you still pursue it?” Many teens today have this “get famous and rich” mentality, but forget that all that glitters isn’t gold. I need to consistently remind Darnell, myself, and my friends that if you are doing something you love, it is not work—it is your passion.  

Now a quick word on the flirting thing. I’ve noticed how Darnell interacts with girls his age. I sometimes forget he is a teenager! Since he is not far from leaving the teenage years and becoming a young adult, I began to talk with him about how to appropriately talk to and compliment a young lady. Of course I kept the conversation very healthy and professional. Again, we will work together as a team to further manifest our passions in positive ways.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Positive inner-G (by Kurtis Bush)

Blog #2. January 15, 2014.  I am still relating the color of my shirts to my mentoring for this week. On Tuesday, my first day back at GA State, I wore a white button-down shirt with thin blue stripes.  White is often depicted as a color of purity, new beginnings, and encouragement. Blue is the color of trust and peace, and even frigidity.

I have to keep a fresh and clear mind while spending time with my mentee, Darnell. Whatever problems I have, I need to leave those problems and negative energies behind. I literally have to have a new mindset and clarity each time we meet, no matter what obstacles I faced the day or even the hours before.

I do talk to Darnell about my problems, but I talk about them in a triumphant and encouraging tone. I want to let him know that YES! I am experiencing a whole heap of problems, but everything will be all right and I will not be defeated.  It’s highly important to cleanse your mind of any negativity. The cells in your body react to your thoughts, and negativity gives off negative energy that another person can feel.

I always try to keep a positive attitude and a smile on my face because things could be worse. I tell Darnell that a smile can go such a long way. Cleanse your mind of any debris and constantly encourage yourself. The man in the mirror is your biggest competition. Your reflection is the I AM. Darnell always tells me he is a G, which is slang for “The MAN”—kids these days (LOL)!

I will be graduating this year. HIP HIP HOORAY! A new beginning will take place in our lives (mine and Darnell’s) on May 11th, 2014. Every obstacle that presented itself during my collegiate career will have been conquered. It is extremely refreshing to know that my mentee will get to experience this with me.

The trust and peace I have with myself has grown tremendously. Sure, I doubt myself sometimes—it is normal to do so—but I must reassure myself I AM a warrior. Darnell is a warrior. When you trust yourself, you will have peace. I trusted myself when I started as a freshman in college. More recently, I had to really learn how to trust Darnell.

I have a tendency to be very aggressive and hard on people because I see the profound amount of potential in them. As I started to trust Darnell with some (not all) things, I began to realize he is LEARNING. Now, some things I trusted him with came back tenfold on me, but it is all good!  I trusted him and he trusted me. This trust wasn’t built in a day; neither was Rome. Trust-building and peace-building take time, trials, errors, encouragement, cleansing, and more. This is just the beginning….

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

From woes to warriors (by Kurtis Bush)

For the next 7 days, I will be writing a blog for YES!Atlanta about my mentoring experience. However, I want to add a little twist. Since I am a psych major, I tend to analyze everything that is going on. I am going to take the color of the shirt I am wearing and match it up to my blog post each day. Our subconscious mind controls 90-95% of what we do, including how we dress!

Today, I am wearing the color burgundy. Burgundy is often depicted as the color associated with being a warrior. Oh Yes! When my mentoring started to kick into high gear, I had to be strong in the midst of adversity. The year prior to my becoming a mentor, I lost my oldest brother in a car accident. It was definitely hard to take on such a huge and influential task of mentoring when catastrophe was still in my peripheral. Honestly, there were times when I wanted to give up, but I knew I made a commitment. I had to be a warrior for myself, but more importantly for my mentee, Darnell. My mother always tells me, “Be strong and do right, it may seem like no one is watching, but someone is.” Mothers always know what to say.

As time progressed and I started to find effective ways of becoming stronger to deal with life, I noticed that my mentee did also. Darnell and his brother, Devin, my brother Keith, and I all climbed Stone Mountain, GA not too long ago. Climbing that mountain is a metaphor itself. We needed physical strength (we pushed our bodies to the limit), we needed emotional strength (we encouraged each other), we needed mental strength (we set our minds to it and did not give up), and lastly, we needed spiritual strength (we listened to Mother Nature and appreciated what she offered—including 90 degree weather :-/). It was there that all four of us realized just how strong we really are.

Darnell and I continue to be warriors each and every day. I am the man of my own house, and he is 11 months away from turning 18 and becoming a “MAN” himself. This year, we will continue to focus on staying a warrior.

“To be a warrior is not a simple matter of wishing to be one. It is rather an endless struggle that will go on to the very last moment of our lives. Nobody is born a warrior, in exactly the same way that nobody is born an average man. We make ourselves into one or the other.” –Carlos Castaneda

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why I chose to become a mentor (by Rashad Stallings)

I never had a mentor growing up but I did have people in my life that influenced me to do better. I came from a single parent home where all the odds were against me but I rose against them. I was the first of my family to attend and graduate from college. I chose to become a mentor for at-risk youth not to be a role model for them but to tell them my story in hopes of being an inspiration. I want the youth to know that it is possible to succeed when statistics have labeled you as a failure. Based upon experience and the research that has already been compiled, we know that when done well, youth mentoring holds great promise in helping young people succeed in life.

Rashad (center) poses with Coaching for Success teens Corey
and Jerrod at a teens-vs.-mentors kickball game he organized
One of my main goals in mentoring is to help. To let the triumph of my experiences and life struggles be an example for the youth. I became a listening ear, someone that they can trust and be able to communicate with. We all want someone who will listen to us without judging and that's what I want to be for them. I’ve chosen to help the mentees by showing them that there is more to life than what they see every day. I challenge them to dream, and not only to dream but to follow those dreams, to not settle and to be the best they can be.

Mentoring has been one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.  I believe that I am making a difference in someone else's life, as well as my own. Since I’ve been a mentor I have played a role in enhancing academic success, reducing juvenile crime, increasing self-esteem, revealing new opportunities and career paths for my mentee. I decided to be someone who matters to someone who matters.