Love Your Community

Love Your Community

In this day in age, our communities function as a gateway to our quality of life. We all have a passion for something. One of the great things about cities and small towns is that all have a different quality of life. Each community has history they are proud of and not so proud of. One thing is for sure, we are diverse.

John F. Kennedy in Grand Prairie
John F. Kennedy in Grand Prairie, TX (GP Historical Society photo credit)

Thanks to my amazing community of Grand Prairie Texas, population of almost 194,000 and the 15th largest city in Texas, I have seen only the beginning of what truly will become a destination to remember. See I bring a unique perspective when it comes to seeing what Grand Prairie was and what it is becoming. By no means did I actually grow up here, although probably would have been cool, but I am approaching 14 years working full time for the City of Grand Prairie. I honestly don’t think there is a more diverse community than Grand Prairie. Yes, I am a little biased.

GP Main Street Fest
GP Main Street Fest

Grand Prairie’s Main Street Fest is coming up soon at the end of April on Friday through Sunday, April 26-28th. The Grand Prairie Parks, Arts & Recreation Department that I am a staff member of puts on over 50 special events throughout the year for the community. We have many cultural events, memorial events and much more.

I share this because not many cities and communities do the volume of what Grand Prairie does. I mentioned before that communities are all different and each have a special program they are proud of. That is why I believe we have the great profession around. Every community puts on programs that fit their community demographics and culture. What works in one community does not necessarily work in another. Parks and Recreation is a field of trials and errors. That is what we are about. Building community, connecting families with their park system, and most importantly, finding activities for all ages to enjoy.

Many of you out there many have never heard of Grand Prairie. I am proud to work, recreate and change lives there. According to About.com, Grand Prairie is actually located in 3 separate counties. We are a suburb of the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex.

Grand Prairie is also a proud two time winner (2008 and 2017) of the National Recreation and Park Association’s Gold Medal Award for the population of 150,001-400,000. You can read more about this incredible achievement here.

Have you taken a moment to explore your community that you live in? Do you know the amenities that you community offers? I think you will be surprised the resources it may have. You don’t know until you explore. I challenge you to take a weekend and explore your community. Each community has it’s own significant landmark or place in history that helps people identify what it is.

Prairie Lights
Prairie Lights, courtesy of Grand Prairie Parks, Arts & Recreation Dept.

Grand Prairie is exploding with recreational activities. We also have special holiday events like Prairie Lights, the Main Street Fest event I mentioned earlier, our Veterans Memorial honoring all of our branches of military service.

Love your community for the amenities it has. Love your community and go make a difference there. Volunteering in different areas of the community is also a favorite of many.

Now as you get to know me, you will realize that I celebrate milestones and achievements. I am probably one of the few that absolutely loves my profession. If you read my bio, you know that I went to school at Texas A&M University and majored in Recreation Administration. I am proudly doing what I set out to do and still love it to this day. My goodness though, the time sure goes fast. Take a moment and enjoy your community wherever that may be. The potential may be right at your doorstep and you just didn’t know it. Things may be bigger in Texas (so the saying goes), however, there are so many communities making a difference in their citizens. Reach out and learn about yours. You may be surprised what might be in store for you.

Don’t Tell Me You Can’t Do It

Don’t Tell Me You Can’t Do It

This past week I did a speech on practicing perseverance to achieve our dreams. In this world, many have to work hard to achieve this “dream” that they envision.* I am one of those who has worked for everything on my life’s journey.* Has it been hard?* You bet it has at times.* What you have to put into consideration is that dreams are benchmarks.* You have something you want so bad that you will do what it takes to get to that destination where you want to be.

The word “ can’t “ sets a limitation to hinder our dreams. Why do we do that to ourselves? I really started learning this year that you have the ability yourself to turn can’t into cans. Your mindset is your foundation and what you set your mindset to in life will help lead you to so many fruits on your journey. Now I am going to preface that not all fruits are positive, however, you need to take a step back from the situation when that comes and know that you can approach that situation to figure out what it will take to maneuver what is hindering your path.

Can’t is an excuse in my opinion. Now I am nowhere an expert on this, but I was told by a good friend that sometimes forks in the road and/or obstacles are a sign to take a pragmatic approach to things. Good dreams take work to achieve. I have been so fortunate to be in a career that allows me look at so many situations people are facing. Many I have no idea what journey they have been on, but know they have had obstacles and need a person to talk to.

Do you realize what the word “ can’t “ does to your ability to grow? It has a huge impact. It sets limitations. The mindset to persevere is one that removes those limitations/obstacles and allows you to find a way to get there. I talked before about my journey with Toastmasters and where it is taking me. Let me tell you it is opening doors to where I want to go in my life. Toastmasters in a way actually helps you work through those “ can’t “ moments by looking at your own skills and sharing new ideas of how to solve the limitation you are facing in a positive outlook.

You have to remember, only you can control what you want to do with your life. Taking risks is part of the game, but you are better for it. Go after your passions. This journey I am on did not happen overnight. Sometimes you have to remember that in life, obstacles turn into opportunities and opportunities turn into dream scenarios.

Challenge yourself and go after what you want in life. Life is too short and those “cans” you go after will open doors to more new opportunities than when you say “I can’t”. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this piece as my hope that inspires one to go after the dreams they want to achieve. You have to start somewhere. Don’t tell me you can’t do it, just look for ways you “can “ work around it!

Do You Have What it Takes? Sure You Do!

Do You Have What it Takes? Sure You Do!

As we progress through our lives, we receive challenges that sometimes are risky. Back in October 2018, a couple of city employees had the vision of beginning a new Toastmasters Club in the city. Although a club had been going for many years before, it didn’t get enough attendance and fizzled out.

When that opportunity came to be a part of developing a Toastmasters Club, I had no idea what I was getting into. Was I nervous? Oh yes, I was nervous because I had no idea what this road was going to lead me down. What did I know about Toastmasters going in? Pretty much no clue.

For those who know me on a daily basis, this year has been a start to something very amazing. Many times in life you are looking for something that adds spark. You also are looking for something that you can continue to build on. Toastmasters has met both of those criteria. In four quick months, I have developed a passion for the environment that I have been getting to know as Toastmasters.

You are probably wondering why I mention that? Toastmasters, at least the club I am helping to develop, is all about opportunity. Each person is on a journey for a particular reason whether it is about getting in front of groups, building confidence, working to slow their speaking, or all of those. The journey is different for each person and that is what makes it pretty cool. What we are building in Toastmasters is community. We all have a lot to learn, although we are ambitious to go after our goals and learn from others. Toastmasters is looked at as just improving public speaking. That statement is true, however, it is very misleading. Until you experience a meeting, or two or three, you realize that just isn’t the case.

I am realizing after going to meeting after meeting that I learning something new about myself. Sometimes I go in thinking I am going to improve this trait and that trait and it comes out to be something completely different. That is what is exciting.

Building something from scratch, in this case a Toastmasters club, is fun, rewarding and outside of my comfort zone. The curriculum that Toastmasters follows recently switched programs and our club is now on the new Pathways Program. We as a club are still learning it, but I found it to be a pretty easy follow. One thing is for sure, I am on the road to becoming a Distinguished Toastmaster. I don’t know when I get to that level, but I will get to that level.

We just introduced our new website and our club continues to grow. I can’t tell you how excited I am for what is coming ahead on my journey with Toastmasters. I get excited about it every week and it is a part of me now. I wish I got involved earlier, but I am here now and not going away.

Wherever you may be on your journey to find your passion, you need to find the formula to what will help you continue learning and apply that to your daily life. It is different for every person. Make 2019 a year for you. I will continue to share my journey on this website. I am that passionate about Toastmasters. If you are still looking, it is ok. When you do find it and you love what you are doing, it is a sign that it was meant to be. Do what you love and start your own journey to greatness!