To Be Accepted or Respected

Early in my military career, I was advised to lean toward earning respect and acceptance would come.

That doesn’t mean it was easy! As a commander, I took flack for some unpopular stances that reflected my core values…one in particular stands out because it had to do with another leader. In this instance, the leader had not completed the required actions to be eligible for higher-level endorsement on a performance evaluation.

I believe someone who raises their hand to lead has to do it from the front, not bring up the rear with excuses as to why he or she is not up front. I believed if I didn’t hold THIS leader to the standard, I couldn’t in good conscience hold ANYONE to the standard.

So despite some pressure from outside my organization, I stuck to what I knew was right and fair…and earned some (grudging) respect, even from the leader whose feet I held to the fire.

Doing the right thing entailed holding this leader accountable.

Inhale Courage, Exhale Timidity…
Inhale Resolution, Exhale Indecision…
Inhale Respect, Exhale Doubt…
Just Breathe


Incomplete Reality

One of the most poignant moments of a recent “Iyanla, Fix My Life” episode was the discovery by siblings that their mother had not abandoned one for the other, but had abandoned them both.

They had both created narratives around their mother’s absence based on incorrect information and these competing, incomplete stories had prevented them from moving forward in healing their relationship.

Fortunately, they had the wisdom and courage to let go of their “realities” and accept the truth.

“Sometimes a change of perspective may be all that it will take to transform a painful experience into an empowering growth experience.” ~ Iyanla Vanzant

Inhale Wisdom, Exhale Status Quo…
Inhale Courage, Exhale Ignorance…
Inhale Reality, Exhale Delusion…
Just Breathe


We Woke Up Like This…Flawed

I write a lot about the grand experiment that is America. It was and is a great idea that was flawed from inception. We keep working on it, we keep trying to reach perfection, we get closer and sometimes, some of us believe we have arrived.

Then we have a 2016 election.

And those who thought we were close to realizing the ideals written in our foundational documents realized we were not. And those who knew we still had a ways to go recognized the relentlessness of the racism, sexism and violence rooted at our foundation.

Yet we persist in resisting complacency and accepting the unacceptable. And in 2017 elections, Americans who believe in what America stands for are fully engaged.

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.” ~ Edward Abbey

Inhale Challenge, Exhale Complacence…
Inhale Resistance, Exhale Silence…
Inhale Courage, Exhale Cowardice…
Just Breathe

Reflections With Renita

History Lesson

There is no celebration of Nazi Germany in Germany. In the immediate aftermath of WWII, most references to the Nazis were purged, at least in public. It took a couple of generations to look honestly at the hate that led to the horror but in the 70s and 80s, Germans took a hard look at their collective contributions to the holocaust and decided who they had been wasn’t who they wanted to be.

It has been approximately 180 years since the American government started forcing native-born Americans from their ancestral homelands in the southeastern to designated Indian Territory.

It has been 153 years since the War of Rebellion when the Americans occupying that stolen land, committed treason rather than free an enslaved people.

I wonder if the land of the free and the home of the brave will ever have the courage to look honestly at its own history of oppression?

Inhale History, Exhale Fantasy…
Inhale Reality, Exhale Revisionary…
Inhale Courage, Exhale Cowardice…
Just Breathe…

Reflection With Renita

In Memoriam

This weekend another young black male died violently, this time on a college campus, allegedly stabbed by a white male member of a hate group. This newly commissioned Army officer, on the precipice of a “limitless life” had sworn to “support and defend the Constitution” of his country…this America where he is hated and hunted because of the color of his skin.

And I grieve for what has been lost, for his family, his classmates and his fellow Americans who understand that America is great because of people like Richard W. Collins III.

As a United States Army Officer who gladly puts his life on the line everyday…there’s no greater conflict within me.
How do I feel about my country? And how does my country…feel about me?
Are we only to be Americans when the mood suits you?
Lawrence Fishborne as Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin O. Davis in the movie, Tuskegee Airman

Inhale Sadness, Exhale Despair…
Inhale Courage, Exhale Cynicism…
Inhale Reverence, Exhale Disregard …
Just Breathe

Reflections With Renita


A young adult friend of mine decided a roommate situation was not a good fit, then agreed to it anyway. She felt the pressure of trying to help a friend in a way that ended up putting strains on and almost ending the friendship.

It was a hard lesson about listening to her instincts…a tough reminder that every individual intuitively knows what is best for her and becoming who you are supposed to become takes courage.

Who you’re becoming is far more important than what you’re doing, and yet it is what you’re doing that’s determining who you’re becoming.” Hal Elrod

Inhale Intuition, Exhale Uncertainty…
Inhale Instinct, Exhale Doubt…
Inhale Courage, Exhale Cowardice…
Just Breathe


Applied Experience

Our own experience is crucial to our development. The positive experiences reinforce behavior and the negative experiences teach us what not to do, if we are able to learn from them.

But it takes awareness to recognize the patterns that lead to negative outcomes and see the possibility of something different.

It takes courage to take responsibility for the choice and choose something different.

It takes hope to understand the consequence of the choice and want something different.

Inhale Awareness, Exhale Oblivion…
Inhale Courage, Exhale Status quo
Inhale Hope, Exhale Despair…
Just Breathe…



I’m a part of a mentoring program that did a session on courage. It was a reminder that God commands us to be courageous and gives us the reason why: God! Tweet this now!

So it led me to muse…when we think we are acting courageously, are we really being courageous or obedient? Are we being courageous or faithful? Is courage, obedience and faith all the same reaction based on our confidence in who God is?

“…because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Donʼt be afraid.” Mark 6:50 NIV

Inhale Courage, Exhale Discouragement…
Inhale Obedience, Exhale Disobedience…
Inhale Confidence, Exhale Disbelief…
Just Breathe…


One Step…

“If I take,
Just one step,
He will do the rest…” Donald Vails

Every version of “The Hero’s Journey” story, features a scene when the hero takes one giant, scary step of faith into the unknown or battles his fear in the face of a tremendous, potentially life-ending threat. In “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, our hero is guided to a deep chasm with no visible way to get to the other side. He calls on his faith, steps out into the abyss… and on to the bridge, which magically appears underneath his foot. crusades1

That’s the kind of courage that can force us forward in the face of fear, the kind of confidence that can compel us to step into what we can’t see… the kind of conviction that we can trust what we know to be true despite evidence to the contrary.

It’s the kind of faith we’re asked to have in order to live the lives we’re called to live.

Inhale Courage, Exhale Hesitation…
Inhale Confidence, Exhale Doubt…
Inhale Conviction, Exhale Fear…
Just Breathe