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parenting

This Mom Knew She Wouldn’t Survive Until Her Children’s Big Life Events So She Planned An Elaborate Surprise

By | family, Food for thought, grief, heartwarming, mothers, parenting, stories, uplifting news

A tear-jerker of a Humans of New York post has gone viral, sharing the story of a dying mother’s last words of wisdom.

She walked gracefully toward death

When doctors checked on Karen, they “found nothing but cancer,” begins a post from the highly popular social media account Humans of New York. “But even then she didn’t give up.”

Karen was dying of cancer, but she maintained her spirits and walked “beautifully toward death.”

“I never once saw her depressed,” explains her daughter, Kailey, who was in high school when her mother died. “There were sad moments, but even those were peaceful. And sometimes she’d laugh so hard it would physically hurt.”

“Every day she told me I was beautiful,” Kailey continued. “She’d said it before, but not like this. It was so intentional.”

Videos for every milestone

Karen regretted not being able to see her children’s biggest milestones, so, she did something extraordinary.

“She recorded videos for the big moments in our lives: graduation, our 21st birthday, our wedding, our first child,” Kailey explains. “Over the years those videos became so precious to me.”

The videos are just a few minutes each and start with what the milestone is and how she regrets not being there. Then, she’ll give personalized advice.

“She’ll say: ‘I know you struggle with X, Y, and Z, so always remember this.’”

Kailey

One final video

After getting married two years ago, Kailey knew just one video remained. “And it’s always given me comfort– knowing it was there,” Kailey said. “So it was bittersweet when my daughter was born on June 27th.”

After the birth of their first child, Kailey and her husband watched Karen’s final video together, and it was harder to watch than expected.

“She was sicker than the other videos,” Kailed said. “She spoke really slowly. She talked about how I’d always loved babies, even as a child. And she said that she wished she could be there to cuddle my baby.”

Karen talked about Kailey’s childhood, her struggles and her bright spots. Then, “she ended by saying: ‘Love and encourage your babies. They will grow up quickly. So hug them. And pray for them.’ And that was it.”

For the last time, Karen told her daughter that she loved her and said one final goodbye. “For years I’d been dreading that moment,” Kailey says. “But it felt strangely peaceful. Like I was ready. Ready to take up this role.”

Karen passed the torch to Kailey, who now has the responsibility to share love — and wisdom — with her own daughter.

“It’s my turn to have a daughter now. To love her. And to be purposeful with her, just like my mom was purposeful with me.”

Kailey

Tell your loved ones how much you care

Life doesn’t always work out as we planned. We lose moments and people we wish we could have back. That’s why it’s so important to take advantage of every second and tell the people that we love how much we appreciate and cherish them. You never know how many more times you’ll be able to tell them you love them.

More uplifting stories:

https://www.goalcast.com/2021/01/22/humans-of-ny-post-dying-mom-records-videos-children/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=humans-of-ny-post-dying-mom-records-videos-children

Single Man Finds New Lease On Life By Adopting Neglected Six-Year-Old

By | adoption, fathers, Food for thought, heartwarming, parenting, stories, uplifting news

Sometimes our best-laid plans are not meant to be. John had been in a long-term relationship. He had even bought a house with his partner for 15 years.

When the relationship suddenly ended, he found himself starting over at 40.

John did his best to maintain life as he was accustomed, from his job at an insurance company to spending time with loved ones, but still, he couldn’t help feeling like something was missing.

The missing piece of the puzzle

Six years later, he realized what that something was when watching TV and seeing a program about adopting children.

It sparked his interest. John reflected on the fact he had always wanted to be a dad. But when it didn’t happen naturally, he just continued on with his single lifestyle.

But then he realized the time was now.

“I’m 46 now. If I want to be a dad it’s now or never.”

But, as a single father, it wouldn’t be an easy journey. It was one he was ready to get started on though.

A long and arduous process

He started an intensive training course in preparation for being an adoptive father, and decided to get some experience as a volunteer mentor for a teenager.

“Every fortnight or three weeks I had a meeting with my social worker who went through lots of scenarios with me: ‘What would you do if this happened? What would you do if that happened?’,” John recalled.

And that included his whole extended family getting involved. “He met my ex-partner and my other family members to find out more about me and see if it was a solid environment I could provide.”

Finally, after a three-year process, John was approved to be an adoptive father. He was then able to start looking for his future child.

He met with his social worker, who laid out photos of boys on the table and asked if any sparked interest.

“Immediately one stood out to me — he is now my son.”

Finding his son

John says the feeling was instant, almost like “when you’re looking for a house and you walk into a house, and you get the feeling that this is the house you want.”

“It’s not a great comparison but that’s the nearest I can get to it,” he said.

The photo was of a six-year-old boy named Chris (names have been changed), who had been in foster care for 18 months because of concerns he was not taken care of in his

“Ten days later he had moved in with me. And that was it,” John said.

While it was a bit of an adjustment to go from only caring for himself to being responsible for another person, it was a process well worth it.

But there were some growing pains, like on the second night, when Chris said he wasn’t happy and wanted to go back.

“My heart sank, I was like ‘what do I do, what do I do?’”

He called the social worker, but by the next morning, the social worker said it was a normal reaction, and that things would be fine.

They were.

A new lease on life

Nine years later, Chris is now a teenager and he and John have a wonderful relationship.

John is happy because he’s finally a dad, and Chris has a better life with more opportunity than he would have had staying in the foster care system.

“It’s given me a purpose really, I suppose,” said John, who said as a dad, he just wants his ’son to “be the best he can be,” and that means raising him to be a good person.

“He’d probably say I’m a good dad, apart from banning him from his Xbox and making him do his school work!” said John.

Sometimes all the hardships and hurdles we have in life are worth it — to get us to that right person and right moment in time.

For John and Chris, the timing was perfect for them to find each other and change each other’s life forever.

More uplifting news:

https://www.goalcast.com/2020/12/29/single-man-finds-new-lease-life-adopt-six-year-old-boy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=single-man-finds-new-lease-life-adopt-six-year-old-boy

Mom Fights To Adopt Abused Special Needs Teen Who Lived With 28 Other Orphans

By | adoption, family, Food for thought, heartwarming, parenting, relationships, stories, uplifting news

Most aspiring adoptive parents dream of bringing a bright-eyed baby home, someone they can nurture from infancy.

Unfortunately, older kids like Sony, a teenager from India – who also had physical and emotional scars – get overlooked. One family dared to look past that and met an incredible girl. Their story reminds us of the gift of ignoring appearances.

Indian families usually only want to adopt newborn children who are completely ‘perfect’ according to them

CARA CE0 Deepak Kumar

A difficult upbringing

Life was rough in India for 14-year-old Sony. Abandoned by her family, born with a birth defect and having suffered through years of physical abuse, she had facial differences and brain damage.

At school, teachers would force her to cover her face, saying that it scared the other children. “It made me feel sad”, she told KHOU.

Her older age made finding a family difficult. Couples dream of taking home a bright-eyed baby who they can nurture. Older kids are seen as undesirable, having too much “baggage.”

According to India’s Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), the majority of “returned” adoptive kids are older (6 years +).

Isolated and packed in a home with 28 other foster children, Sony seemed to have nothing to look forward to as her 15th birthday neared.

Hope across the globe

While Sony was praying for a family, thousands of miles away, Shannon Regan and fiancé Jay Marsh of Anne Arundel County, Maryland were growing theirs.

They had recently adopted 11-year-old Chelsea from China. During Chelsea’s adoption process, Shannon came across Sony and wanted to adopt her too.

Working closely with Reece’s Rainbow, a group that provides support for families adopting children with special needs, they fought to bring her over.

Race against a pandemic

The couple was fully prepared for the red tape and delays. What they couldn’t anticipate was a global pandemic. With the coronavirus spreading, Shannon needed to hurry to India to complete the process.

There has been a lot of trust on her part that there is a world out there here, we just need to get out there safely

Shannon Regan to ABC

Thankfully, she made it in time. They brought Sony over before the COVID-19 lockdowns started, just days before her 15th birthday on June 3rd. Shannon counts her blessings.

“If I hadn’t gone over there and got the final approval to bring her home, she definitely would still not be home”, she told ABC.

The gift of a home

Shannon truly realized her fortune when Sony returned to Maryland. In fact, she says both of her adoptive daughters have completely enriched her life and changed her for the better.

Having parents has helped me know that I’m important, loved, I have a new life. I can be my best and I am safe.

Sony Regan to ABC

No longer having to cover up, Sony is happy to finally be part of a family. She is now on a mission to help other children receive the gift of adoption. In a two-page letter she wrote encouraging adoption, Sony explains why a child is never too old.

“I know people are scared to adopt older children because they think that child might hurt the parents or family or child or won’t love them and won’t fit in. Actually, I know the adopted child can make your family life better. Adopted children do love their family even when it feels hard at first.”

I think adoption is love. I prayed for a family for a long time.

Sony Regan

Perfectly imperfect

Many saw in Sony someone too disfigured to look at, too old to change, too hurt to love.

The Regans instead saw a beautiful girl with a big heart who only needed a chance. Finally given an opportunity, she can show the world the amazing person she is.

Shannon Regan encourages parents to pursue adoption with both their “head and heart.” Wouldn’t it be nice if we brought that approach to all of our pursuits?

More uplifting news:

https://www.goalcast.com/2020/12/17/shannon-regan-adoption-teenage-sony-india/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=shannon-regan-adoption-teenage-sony-india

Dad Suffers Through 30-Hour Tattoo To Help Son Feel More Comfortable In His Skin

By | fathers, Food for thought, Motivation, parenting, self-confidence, stories, uplifting, uplifting news

Eight-year-old Derek Prue was self-conscious about the birthmark on his stomach and chest. So much so that he wouldn’t go swimming without a shirt on.

So Derek’s dad, Derek Sr., did something drastic — and the story will put a smile on your face.

A big surprise from dad

Derek was swimming in a hotel swimming pool with his sisters when his dad called out. Derek looked over at his father and dipped back into the pool with a smile on his face when he saw what happened. Derek Sr. had gotten a huge tattoo to replicate the birthmark on his son’s torso.

“I was happy and I was a little confused,” the young Derek told CBC Edmonton. “I didn’t know he was going to do that.”

Derek’s dad saw how uncomfortable his birthmark made him and didn’t like that his son wore a shirt in the pool to cover it up — so he got the tattoo.

“I knew he was self-conscious about it… I saw how he was reacting, and it made me want to do it so that he wouldn’t be the only one.”

Derek Prue Sr. told CBC.

A good deed, punished

The tattoo was a complete surprise for the eight-year-old — and the procedure was a surprise for Prue too.

When he first came into the studio for the tattoo, he thought the artist would be done after three or four hours, but by that point only the outline was finished.

“He’s been through the wringer sitting for that,” said tattoo artist Tony Gibbert, owner of the studio where Prue had the work done. “It’s pretty painful.”

In all, the tattoo took 30 hours of work over six to eight weeks.

“I’m kind of glad I didn’t know how long it was going to take,” Prue said.

The artist was happy to contribute

“I think it’s amazing to be able to comfort your son like that,” Gibbert said.

“It’s more than just your kid seeing your name, or something, you get to actually, like, really change the way he feels about himself.

Tattoo artist Tony Gibbert told CBC.

“Just being able to go swimming with his dad and take off his shirt and be happy and comfortable. I’m happy I get to be part of it, in a small way I get to help with what he’s trying to do.”

No regrets

Did the tattoo work? It seems so.

When asked by his mother if he’ll now swim without a shirt, little Derek said: “Whenever Daddy’s there I can take the shirt off.”

As for Prue, despite the painful tattoo he has no regrets.

“Now we have the same marks for life.”

It’s hard being a kid. It’s also hard being a parent when you know your child is lacking confidence.

If you’re a parent, you can’t always shield your children from the unexpected things in life, but you can make them feel special.

More uplifting news:

https://www.goalcast.com/2020/12/16/dad-matching-birthmark-tattoo-son-comfortable-skin/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dad-matching-birthmark-tattoo-son-comfortable-skin

The Truth Behind Janet Jackson’s Pregnancy At The Age of 50

By | challenging, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, mindset, parenting, purpose, stories

Though Janet Jackson isn’t a hot topic of discussion these days, no one can deny that she’s one of the most famous pop singers of all time. People forget that she’s still a thriving artist who’s continuing to release singles, produce albums, and perform for her fans whenever she has the chance. Instead of cherishing her artistry and dynamic stage presence, the media and the public continue to put her through the wringer. 

Janet’s public reputation is mostly dominated by her controversial performance at the Superbowl 2004 half-time show — an incident that spoke to the double standards prevalent in society and the entertainment industry. Yet the singer also grabbed headlines in 2017 when it was announced that she’d become a mother to her son Eissa. 

Celebrities having babies is hardly a newsworthy item, but Janet’s age made her pregnancy a subject of intense discussion and speculation. Instead of celebrating a woman’s journey through pregnancy and motherhood, the media chose to sensationalize the story, which, in turn, had adverse effects of its own. 

This is why it’s crucial to examine Janet Jackson’s evolution over the last few years and take notes on how the media portrayed a massive chapter in her life. 

Janet thinks it was a “gift” to give birth at age 50

Janet did what many think it’s impossible — conceive at nearly fifty years old. At the time, she was married to businessman Wissam Al Mana and, by all public accounts, was able to get pregnant naturally. She never divulged to the media whether she had been on any kind of fertility treatment but as far as one can tell, the pregnancy was smooth. Janet’s representatives also confirmed shortly after Eissa’s birth that the delivery was “stress-free.” 

Though the whole situation was as simple as it could, it didn’t stop the tabloids from jumping into conclusions and cooking up crazy theories about her pregnancy. But Janet herself has never concerned herself with revealing the truth or dismissing the information. To her, it’s God’s greatest gift that she was able to get pregnant at such an age. 

When asked about when she feels the most beautiful, Janet said:

I feel most beautiful when I’m with my son, because of the gift that God has given me and that he allowed me to do so at that age.

Janet Jackson to InStyle

Janet also credited her trainer for helping her body adapt to a pregnancy at her age. Janet is someone who achieved fame as a teenager, and therefore had to spend the majority of her life in the public eye. It’s not a surprise that she got caught up in body image issues and began to feel self-conscious about most of her features. But welcoming a baby into the world reiterated what truly mattered and that she couldn’t afford to waste even a second on these trivial details. 

Shortly after Eissa’s birth, Janet separated from her husband. Being a working single mother meant that she had to find time for her child no matter what. Janet said the hectic showbiz life can become overwhelming for any artist but being able to hold her son at the end of the day makes everything just a little better. She added:

love is limitless […] day after day and night after night, holding my baby in my arms, i am at peace. i am blessed. i feel bliss. in those moments, all is right with the world.

Janet Jackson to Billboard

Yet the media made a mess of the whole pregnancy

Janet’s pregnancy may have brought a world of joy into her life but the media’s approach to covering this news story has been riddled with missteps. From the onset, they’ve been treating the pregnancy as some sort of a massive mystery that needs to be dissected to no end. Articles were written about the various scenarios that could’ve been made the pregnancy possible. Doctors were called, fertility experts weighed in, and women were told that anything was possible as long as they believed. 

The problem with such immense and fruitless speculation is that, ultimately, that’s all it is. Speculation doesn’t lead to any concrete evidence or answers. Janet herself has chosen not to share how she was able to get pregnant at 49, and she’s entitled to maintaining her privacy. Given that the media didn’t have any hard proof over how this pregnancy took place, they should’ve dropped it and let Janet be. 

Instead, they pushed hard at the story, coming up with theories, drawing up hypotheticals, and offering false hope to other women desperately hoping to get pregnant. Women struggling with fertility would read the story and begin to wonder a range of things. Starting from “Is there something wrong with my body that Janet could get pregnant and I couldn’t?” to “It’s going to happen to me as well.” 

The first thought reflects shame, something that exacerbates the stigma around older moms, whereas the second feeling of confidence might be setting you up for failure. Both shame and confidence can have a negative affect here, so it’s key to offer no certainties when covering such sensitive stories. 

At the end of the day, it’s about having realistic expectations when looking at celebrities. Janet very well may have frozen her eggs or gone through IVF but it’s not for the public or the media to speculate. If she’s not choosing to share it, then there must be a reason behind that.  We can’t dictate our own lives based on what celebrities may or may not have done. 

Be practical about life’s biggest decisions

Janet’s lucky enough to be experiencing young motherhood in her fifties; most women are not going to be as fortunate as her. Some might strike lightning but many are going to fail and will have to look through alternative options. Such is this thing we call life. 

But what’s important to remember is that we cannot sensationalize celebrities and their life stories. We can try to emulate their courage, their determination, and passion, but when it comes to life’s biggest decisions, you’re going to have to be cautious and practical. Just because something’s worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you, and vice versa: just because something hasn’t worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’s not going work for you. You’re your own person, and your most significant moments cannot be boiled down to a tabloid article. So the next time you hear opinions about Janet’s pregnancy, just be happy for the woman and carry on. 

More inspiring celebrities:

https://www.goalcast.com/2020/12/09/janet-jackson-pregnancy-50-eissa-al-mana/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=janet-jackson-pregnancy-50-eissa-al-mana

Why Dolly Parton Had To Fight For Her 54-Year Marriage With Carl Thomas Dean

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, marriage, parenting, purpose, stories

When we think of Dolly Parton, we think of big blonde hair, a buxom figure, and for the initiated, her 1973 hit, “Jolene,” in which she pleads timelessly with another woman, “please don’t steal my man.”

In reality, however, Dolly is a whole lot more than hair and an ample bosom, and her husband happens to be among the devoted few. Not to mention, she’s a living legend with a voice like none other. Born in 1946 to a poor, working class family in a one-room shack in Tennessee, Dolly was the fourth of 12 children. Today, she’s pushing 75 and her life’s been anything but a straight, smooth line. But that’s why we love her.

For instance, Parton never had kids, but few people know it was because of health issues. And then you have her elusive husband, Carl Dean. They got married in 1966, and have been together 54 years now—that’s over half a century.

Dean, retired from running an asphalt business, has chosen to remain totally out of the public eye, leading some to question whether Dolly has ever been unfaithful, or if Dean is even a real person! Yet Dolly has has often shared how she feels his avoidance of the limelight is actually key to their long lasting relationship. They’ve had their own little private paradise all these years. Of course, nothing is perfect.

In sickness and in health: trouble in paradise

Although Dolly and Carl have been happily married for far longer than most, the pair have seen really tough times–as is the case in most longterm relationships. Dolly opened up to Closer Weekly about a truly harrowing time in her life that put significant strain on her marriage.

It began with Dolly going through several years of severe and painful gynecological problems in the early 80s. She suffered from endometriosis, a condition which eventually required her to undergo a partial hysterectomy, which meant the couple could never have their own children.

Upon learning this news, Parton was plunged into deep depression. She even went through a period when she contemplated suicide.

It was an awful time for me. Every day I thought, ‘I wish I had the nerve to kill myself.’

“Sometimes God just has to smack you down,” Dolly has said of that time in her life. “He was almost saying, ‘Sit your pretty little ass down because we have to deal with some stuff!’”

It’s exactly this unique mix of faith, resilience, good humour and self-love that makes Dolly Parton who she is as an artist, but as also as a human being. But alas, being human, she did make a few mistakes along the way–just like the rest of us.

Dolly’s emotional affair led to guilt

Dolly went through hell trying to cope with her infertility and all the feelings it brought up in her marriage. It was already hard enough to maintain a healthy connection with Dean during this period, but to make matters even worse, Dolly admits she had an ‘emotional affair.’ While the affair never got physical, she still experienced overwhelming guilt. In fact, she regretted it so deeply that the whole thing only contributed to her struggle with suicidal thinking.

“I looked at [the gun] a long time,” she said. Then, just as I
picked it up, just to hold it, and look at it for a moment, our little dog,
Popeye, came running up the stairs. The tap-tap of his paws jolted me back to
reality, I suddenly froze and I put the gun down…Now that I’ve gone through
that terrible moment, I can certainly understand the possibilities, even for
someone solid like me, if the pain gets bad enough.”

How Dolly turned her life around (hint: children)

Above all else, Dolly believes it was faith that ultimately saved her marriage. The country legend has relied on her faith to get her through every hardship she’s ever faced. Speaking of her family and her upbringing, she later shared, “Our faith is the most important thing to all of us. It was the key to our survival.”

Of course, Dolly has hardly surrendered passively to the faith that’s helped her survive and thrive. For starters, in spite of never having had any children of her own, there has been no shortage of children in her life.

She and Carl started by helping raise several of Parton’s younger siblings, which led her nieces and nephews to dub her “Aunt Granny.” Later, her great-nieces and great-nephews added “GeeGee” to the mix. “I’ve loved their kids just like they’re my grandkids, and now I’ve got great-grand-kids!” Parton has said. “I often think, it just wasn’t meant for me to have kids, so everybody’s kids can be mine.”

Fun fact: she’s also Miley Cyrus’s godmother!

Dolly has also gone one further, and dedicated her life to helping children outside of her family—a fact only diehard fans know much about. She acts as a ‘BenevolAunt‘ to many children through her non-profit, the Imagination Library, an organization that promotes the joys of literacy to young children.

Each month, the Library mails a free book to children who are registered. Enrolment can start at birth and last until a child turns five. In this context, she is pleased to say that children know her as “The Book Lady,” and think of her as a Mother Goose or Fairy Godmother figure. “I’m like a cartoon character – my voice is little and I’m an excitable little person like them! I’m very childlike in that way, in my nature.”

The Imagination Library encourages a love of reading, an awareness of human diversity, and a promotion of self-esteem. Dolly has recalled how her father never had a chance to learn to read and write, so the importance of literacy is near and dear to her heart. All proceeds from her first children’s album, I Believe in You (2017), went to her passion project, and she even wrote a children’s book, I Am a Rainbow, which has also been included in the program. One might say that Dolly Parton, AKA “The Book Lady,” is mother to many. Hers is truly a labour of love.

And there you have it. Dolly Parton’s life may not be cookie cutter perfect, yet she is surrounded with love: love of family, love of children, and love of her long time husband and best friend. “We’re really proud of our marriage. It’s the first for both of us. And the last,” Parton said, in 2011.

In 2016, she announced that she and her husband would renew their vows in honour of their 50th wedding anniversary. In a later statement she affirmed, “If I had it to do all over, I’d do it all over again, and we did. I’m dragging him kicking and screaming into the next 50 years.”

More inspiring celebrities:

https://www.goalcast.com/2020/11/20/dolly-parton-carl-thomas-dean-marriage-children-emotional-affair/

Denzel Washington’s Broken Childhood Taught Him Not To Make The Same Mistakes Again

By | family, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, parenting, stories

He’s one of the biggest movie stars the world has known, yet he stops, jokes and takes pictures with fans. He’s Denzel Washington, 65, beloved by all as humble, a man of substance who doesn’t sell out and is committed to quality, morality, and, in short, doing both his life and his acting career right.

But how did he start out? What many people don’t know is that Denzel had some early struggles, though he tends to keep his personal life largely out of the limelight. The reality is, if it wasn’t for his hard-ass mother looking out for his best interests (something he continually acknowledges to this day), he might not have become the Denzel Washington we know and love today.

Washington has been married to his wife Pauletta since 1983, and they have four children. But although he has painstakingly created a life for himself that puts family and good parenting before all else, his own upbringing was far from idyllic, particularly when it came to his dynamic with his father, which many would call troubled.

His parents’ divorce shaped him

Who among us is not deeply and forever impacted by our relationships with our parents? One way or another, we are all affected, whether we choose to focus on it or not.

Washington’s father, Denzel Hayes Washington Sr., was a pentecostal preacher who ran two churches, worked another job on top of that, and was rarely around. His mother owned a beauty parlour.

“My parents were like night and day,” he has observed. “She’s urban, raised in Harlem. My father was just this spirit-filled man until the day he died, a country boy raised on a farm in Virginia.”

They say opposites attract, but my parents only grew apart. I was 14 when they divorced.

Around the time his parents split, his mother sent him away to private school in upstate NY to keep him out of trouble. “That decision changed my life, because I wouldn’t have survived in the direction I was going,” said Washington. In an interview on Popcorn with Peter Travers, when asked if he was a good kid, he laughs and says,  “I was mischievous,” more solemnly adding, “My three closest friends did quite a bit of time [in jail] … decades.”

Watch this Goalcast video on Denzel’s inspirational life:

A lost connection

At the age of 18, Denzel moved out of his mother’s place and into his father’s. “And he kicked me out,” Washington told GQ. “He said, ‘You’re just bad.’” But in spite of the long and sordid history between Denzel and his dad, he acknowledges his father’s goodness.

“Everyone I grew up with didn’t have a father. I had a father. My father was a decent man. He was a very spiritual man and a gentleman.”

Yet, perhaps most tellingly, he goes on to describe how, when his father died in 1991, he didn’t cry:

He died in August. We started shooting around the time that he died. [pauses] I never shed a tear for my father. That sounds like a book or a song. I never did all through the funeral and all that. There was no connection.

Denzel Washington in GQ

When asked, “What do you see of your father in you?” Denzel responds, “I’m more like my mother. She is the toughest woman.”

Why he is his mother’s son

Denzel’s mother, Lennis Washington, was the single greatest influence in his life, and to this day he remains thankful for her strength. Lennis was a single mother after her divorce, but while her ex-husband mostly stayed away, she brought up her son with discipline and hard work. Wanting the very best for him, she saved money for private school “even when she could not afford it.” 

While some of his friends were going down a very negative path, Denzel’s mother “had enough sense to get me out of that situation before it was going to be my turn,” says Washington. “I had that Pentecostal foundation and a mother who used to say, ‘Son, you never know who’s praying for you.’ So maybe it wasn’t my fate to fall into those traps,” he told Parade back in 1999.

“I was what they call ‘throwing rocks at the penitentiary,’” Denzel told ABC years later, “but I never hit it. I never got caught … I also knew right from wrong, so I never wanted to go too far. I’d dip my toe in the water.”

So in 9th grade, his mother put Denzel in Oakland Academy, a private prep school in New Windsor, N.Y. where he excelled at sports and became interested in the arts. After graduating, he began at Fordham University where he started acting in his junior year.

As for his friends, “One did 28 years [behind bars], one did 20 and the other did 12,” he says, adding, “One is dead … the other two are out.” When asked what advice he’d give his 15-year-old self, he laughs loudly and exclaims, “Listen to your mother!” 

His own approach to fatherhood

While Denzel’s relationship with his dad was far from perfect, he has gleaned lessons from both of his parents which have ultimately influenced him as a parent.

“It wasn’t like it’s been for our children,” he says, “where you take them to all their events. It was a different time. Once they were separated, I was in school. So 70 percent of the year, I was away. In the summer, I wasn’t looking to track him [my father] down. I was ready to hit the streets. So you just kind of fade…. Not to say that I didn’t love him like a dad. But we didn’t play ball, those types of things. Next thing you know, you’re at college.”

As for his own approach to fatherhood, “Life is family,” he says.

You know, rushing to get home because my son’s got a football game, and I’m going to be there. We drive to the game and watch him and discuss it afterward. That’s life. Acting is not life to me. It’s making a living.

Denzel Washington

Although he loves making movies, Washington says he doesn’t watch or analyze his films. “Once you make a movie, it belongs to the people,” he says. “So, I don’t look back. I might see a scene if it’s on TV or something.”

Unsurprisingly, he has tried to instil the same brand of humility in those of his children who chose to act, John David and Olivia Washington, who both saw success early on in popular TV shows.

And as far as black fatherhood goes, Denzel tells GQ, “One of the things that saddens me the most about my people is fathers that don’t take care of their sons and daughters. And you can’t blame that on The Man or getting frisked. Take responsibility.

“Look in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do better?’ There is opportunity; you can make it…I’m not telling you what religion to be, but work on your spirit…Imagine—work the brain muscle.

Keep the body in tune—it’s your temple. All things in moderation. Continue to search. That’s the best part of life for me—continue to try to be the best man.

More inspiring celebrities:

https://www.goalcast.com/2020/09/10/denzel-washington-father-broken-relationship-mother-lessons/

How I Took The Imposter Out of Motherhood And Overcame My Doubts

By | Food for thought, goalcast originals, inspiring, parenting, stories

On a Monday afternoon, I sat on a small blue classroom chair, listening to how my eleven-year-old son couldn’t keep up with his peers; his curriculum was being modified back to the basics.

In fact, his teachers’ voices sounded like the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon, but rather than being Charlie, I was a mother hoping the system would find a different way to help my son without tagging him as a boy with severe learning challenges. In retrospect, I was experiencing a case of the Motherhood Imposter Syndrome, and yes, it’s a real thing.

Imposter syndrome happens to all of us. Students get it all the time, when they feel like they are not as intelligent or capable as their peers. Or you might have felt it when you joined a new workplace and doubts about your actual skills and competence started creeping in.

The thing is, these feelings always arise when we are faced with a situation or people that makes us reconsider our methods, approaches or decisions. As a mother, this can arise often when we are faced with other mothers or, as my experience suggest, with criticism from other figures of expertise.

Perplexed at their comments about his lack of reading and writing skills at a grade five level, I took a deep breath, looked at all three teachers, and asked, “Can someone please tell me how is it that my son cannot read or write, but he can create and launch an ecommerce store, design merchandise, sell it, make a profit, and donate a portion of it to charity?”

I got crickets.

Then one of them explained that ecommerce was an easy skill to acquire because all he had to do was “click here and there”. They all nodded in unison. I was stunned by their response.

All my years as a mother failed to prepare me for this

I have been a mother for 11 years, a step-mother for 23. After spending most of my adult life in a motherly role, one would think I had diapers, homework, and temper tantrum management down to a science. In fact, it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

You see, the more experience I have as a mother, the more I learn from my children. I’ve adopted the term “Conscious Parenting” as one where I follow the “flow” of motherhood, learn and listen to my children more, as they, too, are human beings. I listen and watch others, and make intuitive decisions.

As a mother, we have a 7th sense about our children, their safety, and their needs. Motherhood Imposter Syndrome need not be adopted because as mothers, when we tune in and listen, we know our child’s needs.

Listening to my instinct was my best bet

In the moment when my son’s skills as a budding online entrepreneur were completely discarded, I felt it in my core. I was overcome with a sense of inadequacy, of failure and guilt. Yes, I was hit with a wave of Motherhood Imposter Syndrome.

You see, I believed that my son should be celebrated for a business endeavor that only a minute percentage of the population would ever undertake. In this case, they were not looking at all of the life skills he was gaining, but only that he couldn’t complete a book report.

I don’t blame the teachers for that. I blame the system. You see, we’re bread to believe in the “natural order of things”: Send your kids to school so that they can get good grades, a solid education, and then a job.

When you veer away from conventional thought, you are questioned and can sometimes be ostracized by your family, peers, and professionals.

It is an integral part of motherhood

Over the years, I have learned to embrace feeling like an imposter as a mother, and have opened myself up to questioning everything my children might experience. In doing so, I feel like I am making the right decision as a parent, one that is for the highest good for my children. 

Here are several topics I’ve questioned on multiple occasions as a mom:

  • Breastmilk or formula or both.
  • Screens, screens, and more screens.
  • Babysitters, nannies, daycare.
  • Homeschool, public school, private school.
  • Is saying “no” detrimental to their psyche?
  • Allergies and did I transmit them? Is it my fault?
  • Will my kids grow up to be responsible adults even when they’re hanging off the ceiling in public?
  • Arguing in front of the kids.
  • Pet or no pet.
  • Discipline or lack there of.
  • How to deal with bullies.
  • Dealing with loss or illness of any kind.

The list goes on and on. But after a while, the feeling of being an imposter subsided. Yes, it can flare up when I am confronted to situations like my story above. Yet, it also comforts me to know that questioning myself about being a good mother is a sign that I actually care.

What does your motherhood imposter syndrome list look like?

With the overwhelm of societal dogma, cultural norms, and marketing, tuning in and listening to what we, as a mother, think is right for our children can be a challenging. It’s important to remember the unbreakable bond that you have with your child, and after having researched all of your options, go within and find your answers. You are more powerful than you think.

More inspiring stories:

https://www.goalcast.com/2020/01/31/motherhood-impostor-syndrome-experience/

What Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Groundbreaking Decision Really Means?

By | Food for thought, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, news, parenting, stories

The world was taken by a storm today when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced that “after many months of reflection and internal discussions” they had chosen to “make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within [the royal] institution.”

Simply put, they are stepping back from their role as senior members of the royal family and intend to become financially independent. In the same statement, they also revealed the desire to split their time between the United Kingdom and North America.

By sharing their time between two continents, they hope to instill royal traditions in their son while also have the time to pursue their own, personal goals, which include charitable ventures.

Meghan and Harry’s decision was a long time coming

Last fall, the couple starred in a documentary by the British broadcaster ITV, in which they spoke about the pressures they have been facing and the drama within the family.

Harry and Meghan also filed a lawsuit against the Associated Newspapers, now known as DMG Media, in October 2019 after one of the company’s publications released a private letter Meghan had written to her father. The law firm representing the couple sued on the grounds of misuse of private information, infringement of copyright and breach of the United Kingdom’s Data Protection Act 2018.

Since their wedding, Harry and Meghan’s experience in the United Kingdom has been riddled with ruthless attacks from tabloids. It is no wonder that they might seek a little respite by taking some time away from the country.

What this decision really entails

Ever since their decision was made public, there has been a lot of misinformation about its implications, as tabloids are fueling the rumor mill. Here is a quick rundown of the facts:

  1. Harry and Meghan are not giving up their titles. That has not changed. They will still be known as HRH (His and Her Royal Highness) Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
    2 – They still remain members of the royal family. Harry’s grandmother is still the queen. His dad will be king. They will still attend events on their behalf. In fact, the couple has several official royal engagements scheduled this week!
    3 – Essentially, this move means that they are stepping back from the centerstage, which is essentially what Harry has been prepared to do since birth. The whole concept of the royal family centers around an heir and a spare; Harry is the spare. He was always meant to step back as his elder brother William took on more of his royal duties.

Prince Harry’s is following a natural progression

A few decades from now, Prince William will be King and the focus will be on his line. After that, Prince George will follow him for the throne, and the focus will be on his line. The second that William started to have children, the next line had been set and Prince Harry, like the generations of siblings and cousins before him, assumed his role on the sidelines. Therefore, this surprising decision is just him acknowledging this truth and jumping ahead of the narrative.

In fact, Prince Harry foreshadowed it years ago. In an interview with the Daily Mail published in June 2017, Prince Harry admitted that he considered giving up his royal title after his time in the army.

I felt I wanted out but then decided to stay in and work out a role for myself

Prince Harry

What Harry learned from his mother’s tragic fate

Harry grew up with the knowledge of what this life, and the dangers of it, did to his own mother. It must be remembered that part of the reason the world is so attached to Harry is because of how we all got to know him. He saw his mother die, possibly due to the actions of paparazzi, when he was only 12 years old. As a little boy, he was forced to grow up really fast.

Now, he sees the same tabloids and paparazzi attacking his wife and son. It is no surprise that he would want to shield them from the same terrible fate. In a way, their move will serve to protect them and their future as a family. Furthermore, they will be able to remain true to themselves and to history, while carrying out their vision for a better world.

Much like the Royals, Harry and Meghan put their family first

This was always the road they were meant to take. And it’s better for them, too. Taking a step back means less abuse and scrutiny for them – and more freedom to dedicate themselves to the causes and activities they actually believe in and want to support, and this without having to toe the official line of the royal family.

We don’t want to be just a bunch of celebrities, but instead use our role for good.

Prince Harry

Furthermore, by splitting their time between two continents, they can ensure that their son receives the best of both world in terms of education. Harry wants his son to understand the duty and responsibility and honor and history of royal life, but also have the freedom to grow up a normal kid, in a normal life.

Harry and Meghan’s move therefore speaks to a larger truth. Their choice is about doing what is best for his new family rather than letting expectations or tradition dictate the choices they make.

What we can learn from their daring decision

Sometimes the most responsible and healthy thing we can for ourselves, or our family, is to identify a toxic situation and choose to remove ourselves from it instead of hoping that it will change from within.

This was a choice that Harry and Meghan needed to make for themselves, and their family but it is by no means shocking to anyone who has been following their history.

We can all learn from their daring decision. Sometimes, you need to turn down that job that will lead to a big move, or more hours, or a greater commute because you realize that you will be sacrificing yourself on some level.

When the negatives outweigh the benefits. It’s a parents’ responsibility to make the best choice not just for themselves, but for their family, and their family’s future. It will only lead to greater things and a better environment for children and adults to develop in.

More inspiring stories:

https://www.goalcast.com/2020/01/09/meghan-markle-prince-harry-decision-step-back/

When Luke Bryan’s Sister Died, He Adopted Her Orphaned Children

By | Food for thought, heartbreak, inspiring, Inspiring Celebrities, parenting, profile, relationships

Country star Luke Bryan looks like he has it all, but he has actually undergone unimaginable tragedy – and at a dark moment, he found room in his heart to make it even bigger.

Bryan grew up the youngest of three kids in a close family.

“I was raised in a small town with parents that — when I wasn’t acting right — they reeled me back in,” he told Robin Roberts in a 2017 ABC News special. “Everybody knew everybody and it was a magical little small-town life.”

His magical life was about to see tragedy

Bryan was just breaking out on his own, exploring his music career, when his life changed.

“Just before I moved to Nashville, my brother was killed in a car accident,” Bryan recalled. Understandably, his career plans were put to the wayside in his period of grief.

At the time, Bryan was just 19 years old. He gave up his music career plans temporarily to support his shocked family.

“My dad could tell I was one foot in the door, one foot out the door,” he said. “He was really really adamant about me chasing my dreams just based on what we had dealt with my brother. We had seen how fragile life was.”

Bryan packed his bags soon after and moved to Nashville, where he quickly got a record deal and fell in love with Caroline Boyer, whom he married in 2006.

Before he knew it, he was performing at the Grand Ole Opry and his one surviving sibling – his sister Kelly – came to see him play.

It would be the last time he ever saw her…

Kelly passed away a month later, leaving his brother-in-law, Ben Lee Cheshire, raising their three children.

Despite his grief, in the years that followed, Bryan’s star as a country singer only rose, and his family grew with the birth of his two sons, Thomas and Tatum.

Shockingly, a decade later, tragedy would strike again

In 2015, Bryan’s brother-in-law Ben died as well and then Bryan and his wife ended up adopting his sister’s three children.

“Now we have three children that have lost both their parents, so that becomes our new focus, to try to navigate and guide them through this life,” Bryan explained.  

“We never thought twice about it,” Caroline told ABC News. “We just did it.”

The siblings and cousins adapted quickly into a new form of family and it was beautiful to see how they all came together in the face of tragedy.

“Bo went from being kind of the alpha male to being the middle child, but he takes it in stride,” Bryan told People in a 2015 interview. “It’s been amazing watching them do so well with it. They treat Til like their brother, and Til does the same. And that’s what’s funny, is Til went from being the baby of his family to being the oldest. It’s definitely been a social experiment.”

It kind of just happened and I woke up one day and I’m raising a teen

Bryan told People in 2017, “It’s a challenge because my main thing with Til is just properly giving the right amount of advice and realizing you’re talking to someone who is becoming an adult. I have to be that parent role where if he does something, he needs to get in trouble, but I want to be a friend to him too.”

Now, he considers his sister’s children to be his own and rather than being bitter at all the tragedy and loss that hit one family, he’s learned to appreciate all his gifts just a little bit more.

What Luke has learned

“I’ve watched my family go through ebbs and flows where we get mad at God and we get mad at why this has happened,” he told People. “You’ll never get back to 100 percent. You’ll always be working to get back to 75 percent.”

“Obviously my nieces and nephew, they didn’t ask for this,” Bryan said. “Their life was amazing before Caroline and I took a more prominent role, even after losing their mother. Now my focus is trying to do what we can to help them.”

Luke Brian’s unusual journey to an unexpected family is a powerful lesson about powering through grief and the beautiful things that can come from opening our hearts and our homes to those who need help. He never gave up on his dreams or on his family, and was able to build a beautiful life because of that.

https://www.goalcast.com/2019/10/30/luke-bryans-sister-died-he-adopted-her-orphaned-children/