It was a great day! The sun played peek-a-boo with the scattered clouds whisping by, and there was a breeze blowing through the trees. It wasn’t hot yet, but everyone knew that the heat was on the way. Sounds of lawn mowers, kids playing at the park, and people chatting on front porches and cell phones came to my ears as the wind whistled by. I watched a small chip bag bounce here and there as the wind rippled through the grass and I eagerly picked it up and put it in my large black trash bag. I looked across the street and my daughters, dressed in “Road Worker Orange” vests, were quickly picking up every piece of garbage they could find. They were lost in conversations that only two pre-teen sisters would understand, and every so often I could hear them exclaim “really?” or “no she didn’t”, and then move on with their task at hand. We had been picking up trash for about an hour, and everyone was starting to feel that this “cool idea” was becoming like real work.
I lugged my black trash bag that was getting heavier and heavier behind me as I slowly moved down the road picking up more and more trash. I arrived at a small house and noticed their newspaper was sitting on the edge of the road. Now, when I was a kid I had a newspaper route. I strapped my bags on the front of my bike, loaded up the newspapers that I had rolled and banded, and rode through my neighborhood throwing papers. There was a catch to this job though: people wanted their papers on their front porch. As a kid, this was just nonsense and hindered my play time and business greatly. One day, as I zinged a paper at a garden statue missing the porch by a good 10 feet, a man walked out of his house and yelled at me. He demanded I come back, and because I knew he knew my mother, I quickly turned around. He explained to me that the paper being put on the porch had nothing to do with a tip, a preference, or a job; the paper being put on the porch was a show of respect. When you put a paper on a front porch you have told that person: I understand that you have the ability to walk down your driveway to get the paper, but I respect you as a person and as part of my human family; therefore, I want to help make your life easier. That lesson has stuck with me my entire life. So, when I arrived at the newspaper sitting in the gutter of the road, I picked up the newspaper and walked it up to the front of the house and gently placed it on the porch.
About 2 months before, all the neighborhood kids were playing tag in the street when the man across the street came out and begin yelling at his son for throwing up. The kids stood there and watched as the child was berated for making a puddle of digested fruit loops on the ground in front of my house. The guy at the end of the street poured out motor oil tainted water as he washed out his bucket from changing his truck’s oil. His toddler aged son touched the oily water, and the man smacked him in the head and told him not to touch it. A few guys from a couple houses down came over and laughed at the whole scene and jabbed the boys who were standing around waiting for the tag game to resume, presumably so that they would see the humor in this scene as well. After the yelling was over, the young man’s father and the group of guys, walked back to his house amongst laughter and explanations as to why the boy needed to be yelled at. In fact, many of the men were very vocal about how most of the kids in the street needed to be smacked for various incidents that had happened that day. When I walked down my driveway, the group of kids walked up to me and explained what happened, but there was so much more that happened at that moment in front of my house.
Gandhi’s famous quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world,” is not just merely a great saying. It states that we must BE the change; the example. We are the examples to all people of how we want to see the world. We are the examples of the positive change we are looking to create in this world. As dad’s, we are the examples of how adults are supposed to act, and how our children will pattern their lives after. Our sons look up to us to see how they are supposed to act and how men are supposed to act. But it’s not just our sons, something that is too often forgotten, it is our daughters who look up to us as well. They look up to us as examples of how men are supposed to act, how their boyfriends should act and treat others, but also how they themselves can be the woman that would make their dad proud. Dads are also, even in this day and age, still seen as an example of the family in which he is part of. He is the “man” of the house, and how that house is perceived is dependent on how he acts and what he says in the outside world and his community.
When all of the men did the things that they did in front of my house, they put on a multi-act play for all the kids who were present, that explained and depicted exactly how men of our neighborhood should act. With this thought in mind, I became a motivational speaker who motivates and inspires people to change the world. I created a company called Motivating for Positive Change, to show all people that are around me, especially my children, that we are the examples of how the world can be. This is why my daughters and I were walking down the road on that beautiful day wearing “Road Worker Orange” cleaning up the mile of Pinellas county road that we adopted to take a vested interest in our neighborhood, our community, and at the same time help clean up our planet. When I looked across the street to my girls, they were walking someone’s newspaper up to their porch.