Summer Solstice, Stillness, Father’s Day

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash
Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

Summer in Minnesota is finally here, in temperature at least!  Astronomically, summer officially arrives on June 21st – the Summer Solstice.  As you may recall from high school science class, solstices are the longest and the shortest days of the year.  After June 21st, the days will get shorter until we reach December 21st and the process reverses itself.

Solstice, from the Latin sol (the sun) and sistere (to stand still), is the name given by our ancestors to times in the year when the sun appears to hover, unmoving, in its yearly pilgrimage. Many rituals and landscapes became associated with the stilling of the sun’s movement.  Places like Stonehenge, the Sioux Tribe’s elaborate Sun Dance, Maypoles, and more – all focus on the sacred time, place, and providential benefits of the sun’s warmth and light.

As I get older, and as the father of a newly-minted first grader, I have begun to relish opportunities for standing still, quieting my inner voice, and reflecting on the world around me.  Since this month of June also contains Father’s Day, it is the perfect way to wrap ritual and reflection together and celebrate the power of fatherhood, of nature, and how our cities bring these together.

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Opportunity: A Vignette

Young Scholar
J. Jioni Palmer 1992, recipient of the 100 Black Men Young Scholar Award

It was July 4th, 1992. Independence Day has always sort of been a big deal in my family. Almost two decades later I would become a father on that day.

I’d been accepted to a Summer School program at Georgetown University but was short about $2,500 – essentially the tuition and airfare. I didn’t know how I’d get the money, that wasn’t my problem that was for my mom to figure out.

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The Path We Walk Together

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The Beauty of the Butterfly

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty,” #mayaangelou I’m in the middle of a writing project which is forcing me to think 🤔 deeply of the many bends of the river of my life, the high-water and low-water marks. No matter what, if I’ve experienced #success or suffered #failure having the willingness and ability to #change has been fundamental. I took this photo on a trip with @ashlib1 and #ThemPalmerBoys to visit with family. @thinkinggood4u was barely a notion at the time. Getting it to where is now has been a lot of #hardwork #patience #mental and #emotional fortitude. Even more will be required as we continue to grow. #fatherhood #father #parenting #fitfam #butterfly #entrepreneur #smallbusiness #motivation #inspiration #BeYourBetterSelf

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Spanking Children: What do we really learn from Corporal Punishment

To read the full article Click Here to download Thinking Good’s Toolkit for this and other exclusive content.
sad mad little girl
Sad Little Girl

In some of our communities, beating children is a cultural thing, as common and natural as sweet potato pie. We brag about it. We joke about it.  We gather at family events telling war stories about past whuppings – one-upping each other with tales of more brutal and inventive episodes of corporal punishment.

Invariably an older adult in the neighboring room — clearly not minding their own business — will interject: “Well, you all turned out alright, didn’t you?”

This generally spurs the most awkward three seconds of any family gathering, as jocular young’uns ask themselves a simple question: Did I?

Having engaged in several versions of this conversation, I am fascinated by the idea that this question requires examination. Did we turn out okay because we were spanked? And will the generation of children we are raising?

To read the full article Click Here to download Thinking Good’s Toolkit for this and other exclusive content.

I love to cook – What Mom taught, I share with my boys

I love to cook! It’s a skill I learned early in life, thanks to Mom. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t her sous chef, unless one of my aunts was in the kitchen, too.

When I was about 10, old enough to stay home by myself during the summer, Mom would have me defrost the meat, usually chicken, when she left for work in the morning. Throughout the day, she’d call with instructions to season the meat, preheat the oven, start the rice or pasta and begin steaming the vegetables.

By the time she arrived home in the evening, dinner was served.

I didn’t know it then, but Mom’s daily instructions got me hooked on cooking, a passion I want to pass on to my own two boys.

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I am my father’s wildest dreams

“I am my father’s wildest dreams” onesies, toddler and youth t-shirts and other cool gear are now available in the Thinking Good Store.

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Worrying Never Ends, But Have Faith in Who Your Child Will Become

Have faith in your child

Worrying about your kid never ends, but eventually you begin to have faith in your child, their abilities and the person they become.

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Listening to Music Through New Ears

Riding in the car with the family when Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” comes on and my oldest says, “Why does this sound like Slick Rick?” When the rapped verse comes on my oldest shouts, “he even sounds like Slick Rick.” For the first time in more than 25 years listening to this song, I heard it for the first time. In under five minutes #myson gave me a deeper appreciation for a #song that has played in the background for most of my #adultlife. #thatsmyboy #ThanksSon #TeachMe #ImReadyToLearn #ProudDad #MyKidKnowsHipHop #HipHopHead #RaiseThemRight #ThemPalmerBoys #hiphop #rapmusic #slickrick #montelljordan #thisishowwedoit #childrensstory #classichiphop #90srnb #ThinkingGood #Fatherhood #musicwithkids #BeYourBetterSelf #harrypottershirt #nextgen #hiphopkids

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Growing Up Alone – How To Raise Independent and Responsible Children

At the Corner of 3rd and Douglas

Intersection of Life photo by Frantzou Fleurine on Unsplash
Photo by Frantzou Fleurine on Unsplash

I live in the Edgewood neighborhood of Washington, D.C. across the street from a school. When my wife and I bought our house, it was a public school serving a low to moderate-income population that was 95 percent African American, reflecting the neighborhood demographics.

Each morning when I headed to work I’d find a trail of discarded Little Hug juice bottles, honey bun wrappers and empty potato chip bags leading to the school. Weeds sprouted through the cracks in the asphalt on the school grounds and the play structure was tattered and rusty. The schoolyard looked more like a laboratory for tetanus rather than a playground for children. Inside, portable walls, not classrooms, separated the kids who were group two grades at a time (1st & 2nd, 3rd & 4th). When I visited the school to inquire about volunteering one morning, I heard several teachers instructing their students at the same time, and a disruption in one classroom affected the others.

The school closed a few years after we moved in and briefly became a hangout for older teens and young adults who smoked weed, drank and played dice.

Eventually, gentrification took over, the school was reopened as a charter school and the building was overhauled.  The playground was upgraded. Sunflowers and a community garden replaced the weeds. Woodchips covered the fissured asphalt. A section of the sidewalk was replaced and white children soon made up about 40 percent of the new student body—although the neighborhood demographics barely changed. Former First Lady and President Obama even came to christen the new facility. Even the litter got an upgrade, with Honest Juice boxes and string-cheese wrappers in the gutter instead of the cheap, corner-store junk-food trash.

Parking is a little harder to find, hey, that’s life in the big city.

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