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Mo Money! Mo Money! Mo Money!

If you are like so many of us on social media, you see hashtags of various travel groups and posts of so many cool items. We are literally inundated with more and more opportunities to travel more, buy more and eat out at concept restaurants than ever before.

The enticing images that we see are great, but then reality hits I am going to afford spending a lot of money to experience these things. How do we add to our budgets and increase our streams of income?

There are two points to consider when pondering the issue. The first point is it will take a little extra (or a lot depending on your goals) to generate new income. The second point is social media, the web and apps making generating revenue easier than ever.

Here are some opportunities for generating income around the holidays and after, separated by commitment level.

Low Commitment Level –

THE FACTS:

Opportunities like Postmates, Door Dash,  and Lyft require a few hours of your time and can yield $15-$25/ hour in return. The good news is you do not even need a car to participate in many of the digital part time jobs. DoorDash and Postmates allow for you to walk depending on the city you are in or ride your bike. If you participate in uber or lyft you have to have a vehicle that fits their guidelines and carry  special rideshare insurance, be sure to calculate costs associated with participating based on your area of residence.

Door Dash and Postmates differ in two areas, payment and scheduling. Door Dash utilized analytics in a way that allows you to see how much you will make prior to accepting the run. You can also schedule yourself for availability in particular areas. This ensures if you do drive you are not just idle.

Postmates essentially lets you see a heat map, but does not tell you how much you make and does not let you schedule.

EXTRA INFORMATION:

You have to pass a background check. I would assume any violent felonies or driving felonies could result in you not being bale to drive for uber or lyft to be aware of that.

If you sign up with Postmates you can get even more EXTRA by using the following referral code “josephcwilliams@att.net

Complete 10 deliveries IN 21 DAYS and you earn $50 extra or dive right in completing 60 deliveries IN 28 DAYS and you earn $250 EXTRA!

Mild Commitment Level –

THE FACTS:

Companies like BDS Marketing provide weekend opportunities for professionals. You can make anywhere from $15-$20/ hour working in your local Best Buy and big box retailers. You simply answer questions and demonstrate products to shoppers like yourself. There is remote online training that takes place. The employers will ship you all the materials you need like shirts, display items to test out and you are off to work. You will need access to your own computer and smartphone to complete reports, be sure to factor that in if you do not have those items already. These roles are great for experienced sales and marketing professionals.

EXTRA INFORMATION:

There is a lot of talk, standing and walking required in these roles. The good news is there are additional incentives if your demonstrations and discussions lead to additional sales in your stores you work in Be sure you are ready!

High Commitment Level –

THE FACTS:

The truth is there are a ton of opportunities to freelance depending on your expertise and your location. The freelance opportunities may require a little more effort depending on your niche. There are tons of freelance websites (craigslist; don’t laugh it works!)  where you can submit an Ad for your services.

Are you a teacher? Freelance as a tutor in our area outside of work and YOU can develop curriculum as opposed to teaching a curriculum that may not fit every student.

Are you an accountant? Help a business or individual manage their books and earn substantial income outside of your 9-5 job/ career.

EXTRA INFORMATION:

Cushion your pricing to account for taxes you will be charged on your additional income on freelance gigs. Be sure to prepare invoice templates, download free customizable contracts and be prepared to provide status updates and benchmarking depending on what you do.

Hopefully this helps someone reading it. We all wish we could be paid more at our respective jobs. Though you may not directly control your pay you can control the additional income you earn and with the holidays gearing up there are some great opportunities to add to your savings or to your budget.

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Love and Happiness

Love and Happiness

 

That song was made popular by Al Green. In the first line he say’s, “Love will make you do right/ make you do wrong.” This post is about how we could all stand to share some love and happiness.

I really want to latch on to the thought of LOVE for this blog and I hope the conversation around it is shared and continues.

I have been very fortunate to be surrounded and dare I say overwhelmed with LOVE my entire life. By many accounts I am/was both of my grandmother’s favorite and if I was my sister was definitely the favorite for my grandpa.

That said the LOVE we received from our immediate family and extended family (blood and sometimes not) set the tone really early. Our family was fiercely protective of one another. If discipline was going to occur it started at home. Encouragement started at home and most importantly affirmation started at home.

I lost count on how many times I was told I was smart. I lost count on how many times I heard I Love You and to this day whether by voice or text I will have those 3 words shared with me from members of my family.

That love and affirmation has propelled me through life. It made my experiences, missteps and dare I say failures that much easier. I knew I would be OK, because of the Love I received at home.

I know how fortunate I truly am and recently on Easter I was stopped in my tracks. While putting together an umbrella for my grandma’s patio and barbecuing my grandmother, who knows I am gay said something that made me stop in my tracks.

I don’t even really know what we were discussing, but maybe something about music or dancing and she said she couldn’t wait to celebrate and dance at my wedding. WOW! I haven’t thought much about my wedding or how it’s going to happen since I am not in any sort of relationship! It just got me to thinking how fortunate I am to have a family who loves me through and through.

For some reason I was extremely nervous to share my sexuality with my family. For some reason I just knew they would disown me, maybe kick me out of the family and Lord knows what else.

Maybe it was the stories of many other LGBT people of color that I knew and read about. Maybe it was what I saw in movies and televisions shows. I just knew that it was supposed to be that way. After all any guy that I had dated had been disregarded or even told that his “lifestyle” would not fly with their respective family.

I figured certainly my path would one day align with theirs. It was hard for me to imagine not being able to come to family dinners, reunions or spend holidays and birthdays with my own blood. To not feel the hugs and kisses my parents showered me with. To not get one of the hugs I look forward to from my grandmother, my brother and sister. Nonetheless as I shared it with the immediate family (many were shocked at nearly 28) nothing changed. Their love didn’t change, their hugs didn’t change, the kisses, the birthday gifts and calls, NOTHING changed.

I think the stories I have heard over the years of the young men and women who have been all but homeless or barred from attending their family functions, essentially striping them of their family privileges scared me.

I have heard the stories of young men and women who hear nothing from their parents except when they receive a text, email, phone call or voicemail to quote convenient scripture about their love they share for the same gender. I can’t imagine never hearing I love you or not receiving some of those hugs and kisses. As strong as I am and as much of a man as I am, that means something to me, it is a powerful source of strength.

That is the reality for so many LGBT people of color. They can’t come home for holidays or even to say hello. They do not have someone to call to share the good news about the love of their life and most certainly they don’t have a shoulder to lean on if and when that Love is cut short or disappears.

It got me to thinking, what if my straight friends spouse was not acknowledged or allowed to visit? How would that make them feel? Could you imagine never being able to take family portraits, enjoying Easter, Birthday’s, Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanza with the first Love you ever knew?

So many of us take for granted what family means and is. We take for granted how far we have come with the Love and support of family. No matter your religion, you are called to LOVE your family. Love them.

Sometimes it’s overwhelming walking into the world knowing you have so much support. I do not know how to handle some people who have been all, but abandoned. The world has made them hard and cold. I would imagine if more people embraced them with LOVE and kind words we might be a little better off.

So I encourage my friends who are straight to reach out to your family members who may be LGBT and let them know you LOVE them. Let them know that all you want for them is LOVE and Happiness. Maybe your view on their sexuality hasn’t changed, but the good thing is you don’t have to be involved in their sexuality. You just have to be involved with LOVING and supporting that family member.

Let’s spread the love and encourage one another. Life is hard enough just dealing with strangers, the people we work with and life’s random occurrences. Let’s share the load and spread a little LOVE and Happiness.

 

 

 

Ringing of the Bell

Last night my Uncle Carnell lost his battle with cancer. About a year ago he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. 

Despite an ominous diagnosis he was optimistic. His first few treatments of radiation and chemo were extremely harsh. 

My mother being a resourceful and determined person she is found new doctors for my uncle. Thanks to her he was able to receive great care from the doctors from Methodist Hospital. 

At the time my Uncle was receiving treatment I was able to take him to and from treatment. We were able to bond like we hadn’t before and I’m extremely fortunate for that. I also was able to see what determination looked like. Whether it was raining or cold my uncle got up and went to treatment. When he didn’t feel so good and maybe he felt a little down he got up and he went to treatment. As a result, my uncle responded to the treatment a lot better.

I learned something so valuable about support systems during his first round of treatment. Our family took turns taking him to treatment. We visited with him. The kind staff at Methodist were supportive and very Friday therapy dogs came to visit. We were also able to fellowship with the therapy dogs care takers and they prayed for my uncle. 

Sadly the cancer spread and the treatment coupled with the cancer overtook him.

As I write this I can’t say that I’m not sad, because I don’t think I’ve stopped crying since I started writing this entry. The tears aren’t all of sadness, but tears of good memories. I remember growing up and even as an adult my uncle was never afraid to tel me he loved me or that he was proud of me. However I hope he heard my words that I was proud of him and that I loved him for sticking with his treatment. For continuing to be a brother to my mother despite his struggle. For continuing to be a uncle to my sister and for always honoring my grandmother, his actual step mother, as his mother.

I wrote about flowers before this, but I reiterate to anyone able to or who took the time to read this, give the ones you love their flowers while they are still here.

I acknowledge that cancer may have won the physical battle, but it never won the spiritual battle with my uncle. My lasting memory won’t be of a hospital bed he lay in, but of him ringing the bell when he finished his first round of treatments. 

RIP to my Uncle Carnell

  

Flowers

Earlier this year my brother and I lost our father.  It was one of those experiences in life where it happened all of a sudden.

I had gone out of town for a cabin trip for a good friends birthday. While driving I received a call about 9:30pm that night. I missed the original call and received the voicemail left. It was the Harris County Coroners office.

I was confused as to why I would be receiving the call from the Harris County Coroners office. So I returned the call. The news didn’t really resonate in that moment. I learned a while back how to keep it moving. I’ve perfected a poker face, it started when I was attending college and my mother had two strokes. I was worried about her health, her recovery, and I was nervous I would have to drop out to help take care of things and then my sister was diagnosed with kidney disease. There hasn’t been much that could rattle me since.

I received the news, but thankfully I was heading to a place with very little signal and I probably needed that. Before arriving to the cabin, I sent a text to my mom to share the news and asked her to reach out to my uncle and brother. I remained on that trip for the weekend despite the internal conflict. This is poignant, because I was not forced to stay, but I did not want to ruin the trip for my friend and the other attendees.

What would transpire over the next few weeks and months changed me for the better. It hit me when I spoke at my dad’s
Memorial service. I had never told him thank you for being a role model in regards to his work ethic. I had never given him his flowers while he was here.

Talk about jarring! That realization literally almost made me choke. I’m far from perfect, but I pride myself on being fair. I wasn’t fair to him. The toughest thing is realizing I wouldn’t get a second chance to say thank you.

Over the next few months I felt abandoned by a few of the individuals I had grown close to, people who were like brothers. I hadn’t heard much from them since my dads death. I’m not sure what I expected. I know it wasn’t money, I knew it wasn’t much though. Maybe a call or a text. After speaking to a long time friend, Tiffany, a cancer survivor, I decided to refocus my energy on those who had stepped up and some who never stepped back.

I made a decision to start giving those people around me who prayed for me, called to check on me, offered to have lunch or dinner, their flowers.

I’ve made it a mission and a purpose to give those who set good examples, are selfless, and those who I know I can rely on their flowers.

Losing my father was tough, because I always figured I would have more time to keep shaping our bond and keep growing. I realized death is surely something we all will encounter and that once God calls an angel home each time we have to make a decision. Do we stay resentful of their loss or do we share the flowers we are left carrying that we never shared before.

As a result for me I hope that I’ve been a better grandson, son, brother, and friend to those around me. Don’t hold on to those flowers! Someone could use them!

*This blog isn’t one meant to target any of the friends or former friends who didn’t have the capacity to be there or chose not to be there, it’s simply a piece of the story that brings it home.*

You Never Know!

I struggled with whether or not to talk about certain things, but this is a poignant topic. Hopefully this helps someone.

One of the topics that has saturated the media as of late is the accusations that Bill Cosby, actor, comedian, producer, and philanthropist, had raped and or sexually by drugging them.

Upon hearing the initial accusations I didn’t flinch. Nothing surprises me anymore. I was definitely disheartened and I was curious to know why the accusations came out now. 

Then I heard several more women come out with similar stories and even infamous celebrities. I then raised an eye brow. Those individuals didn’t stand to gain anything surely they had “made it”. It took me back to my own experience as a victim.

I was about 10 and I was touched inappropriately. It wasn’t a family member or anyone either of my parents dated (they were no longer together). I didn’t understand at that moment what had happened, but I knew that it wasn’t supposed to at leas not with someone my age and someone older. However I would struggle for many years afterwards with the effects. Realizing that I had been violated made me more defensive, almost angry, and more than anything else quiet. 

If anyone knew me growing up I would speak to you if I knew you, but I definitely enjoyed my solace and quiet time. I was always afraid that someone could see or knew what had happened and that I would be judged. As if I had asked for those experiences or encouraged them at 10. I was ashamed. 

So it took me back to that mindset when I saw the accusers of Bill Cosby come out. Everyone from media, to social media journalists, to some of my social media friends and real friends asked, “Why wait so long?”

I can’t imagine what the accusers felt like. Being women, assaulted by a notable entertainment powerhouse, with access power clout and the ability to sway opinions without saying a word. Surely they felt the same guilt, the same shame, and the same fears I shared x 10. 

It also took me back to an experience later on in life that caused me to seek counseling. I had just moved back to Houston after spending about a year and a half at Hampton University. I was working at Best Buy. I met a young girl who worked in the same department as me. Were roughly the same age. I believe 19 at the time. We became close while working together. We shared similarities and talked about our dating life and school. One day I caught her in the break room crying. I asked her what was going on. She shared that her uncle had sexually assaulted her and several of her other female family members. She had been the only one to speak up and it caused a rif in the family. Some of her family didn’t believe her and said she waited too long. Some said she enticed him and brought it on herself. Some of the other victims were upset she brought it up and denied any involvement. All for fear of shame. I often wonder what happened to her. I stopped working there after about 9 months, but i know during our time there she was always sad about the way she was treated by her parents, her siblings, and other family members.

I share this not as an indictment on Bill Cosby, but m hopefully to humanize what many of the women could have experienced at his hands. Too many stories from too many women with similar outcomes from the same individual. I hope this softens someone’s heart and opens their mind that no matter who the celebrity is, be it the family celebrity (that popular uncle or even someone’s dad) should be questioned. 

People do lie, but the consequences of not questioning and taking accusations of sexual assault are serious. The young girl I worked with at Best Buy had contemplated suicide. Though she had passed that stage of wanting to take her life the judgement from those around and lack of empathy made every day a struggle!

Listen to hear what people say. Their intent will show through. 
  

The Similarities

As a black man I wish I knew as a child what I know now. As a child I grew up with great friends of all ethnicities and cultures. I had friends from many different countries that spoke English as a second language, and had hard working parents just like mine.

As an adult racial biases would smack me in the face the world didn’t care how educated I was, what suit I wore, how many countries I had visited, how many people I had helped. I was still just a black man. I can recall the year I was pulled over 9 times in a 12-month span, illegally stopped, and falsely arrested. At that time I was a full time college student, I worked full time, and helped support my family. At the time my sister was undergoing dialysis due to kidney disease. My mother had recently recovered from two strokes and was then unemployed.

You see the majority of “us” (black men) no matter how well dressed, no matter how educated, no matter how well traveled, no matter what you have overcome, have had some sort of run-in with the law warranted or unwarranted and in most cases faced an experience like mine. Bias, Bias, Bias!

I’ve been at work where I’ve been treated significantly different than my peers of a different race. I’ve seen the treatment of others be significantly different thank there non-white peers or made out to be more aggressive (a biased and unwarranted stereotype).

So I shift that dehumanizing experience to another set that I have experienced. Being black and gay, interestingly enough I did not face many questions about my sexuality over the years. In the process I overheard countless homophobic jokes and disrespectful commentary about gay men, from people who did not know I happened to be gay (I have been told I don’t fit the stereotype). As my grandmother would said, “You don’t act like the rest of them…”

Over the years I have heard straight men and women refer to gay men as everything from “faggot”, to “queen”, to “sissy”. Imagine being a black person and hearing your white or Indian family, friend or associate say the word “nigger” in your presence. That’s what I felt. I could see then the bias that existed throughout society. It seemed like no matter how good of a friend, family member, volunteer, or even coworker I would still be viewed as (insert homophobic epithet). That bias existed. Though nobody directed those words directly at me I felt a certain sense of anxiety about it.

I have even seen ignorant posts and commentary about marriage equality opening the doors for bestiality or marriage to animals. Over the years I have seen family, friends, and associates hop in and out of relationships and then get married complete with white dresses a blessing from a preacher. I have seen countless straight friends get drunk, gamble, and party such that it led to pre-marital sex. Many of which would soon go on to get married. Yet we now see here that the sanctity of marriage is in question.

The past few weeks after SCOTUS’s ruling I saw so many bigoted and bias posts, reposts and pieces of commentary, I was shocked. I have seen more support for jailed murderers, drug dealers, and unwed pregnant women. It is crazy that our society and our black community would critique, criticize, and ultimately reject a group who can relate to the treatment blacks receive daily.

It is amazing that black people who were once not allowed to have civil liberties would advocate for the denial of another human being having them. While many would argue my religious beliefs or God doesn’t like “that” I would caution you to be sure you interpret your readings for your self and not just regurgitate information. I won’t go too deep but at one time the bible was used and twisted to unfairly treat black people. Don’t let abomination (which means culturally something is disliked) be thrown around when God called us to love one another.
Imagine if our black people joined together to support initiatives in our communities the way the LGBT community did. I won’t go into too much depth, but I know I don’t get nearly the response to volunteer opportunities that I do to anything related to a community service event and my colleagues I volunteer with gay and straight have long said the same thing.

Imagine if we eliminated racial biases or biases based on sexuality. Your friend that you love to death may not feel the need to be afraid to share with you that they are just a little different. I am so incredibly thankful that years ago when I shared my sexuality with my grandmother, mother, sister, and brother, and close friends they never loved me any less they simply asked, “Are you happy?” There only wish has been that no matter what I be happy. You see there is not much different between the LGBT community and the black community. Imagine no bias for race or sexuality. We could learn something from one another and move the chains so that equality wasn’t just based on sexuality, but even on race! The Similarities we overlook are glaring!
I’ve witnessed members of the LGBT community advocate for equality on their behalf. I’ve seen the LGBT community boycott businesses that openly made derogatory or discriminatory remarks against the community. Imagine if people of color did the same. Most recently the Hispanic community joined together to flex their power on Donald Trump. Again the similarities. Imagine what would happen if black people flexed their economic and political influence until equality was reached. This isn’t to say some aren’t working! I know great groups of thought leaders, organizers, and individuals who constantly work on the greater populations behalf, but it’s surely not the number we could see.

Domino! 

Last weekend I stopped by my grandma’s house and it was an eye opener. I always love seeing my grandmother. She has an infectious energy. She always greets you with a smile, a hug, and a kiss. It’s in the way she has and continues to live her life and the way she carries herself.

I’ve never seen her intimidated by or shaken by another woman. Her quiet confidence and welcoming spirit always inspires me to treat other men and women in the same vicinity as a brother/ sister and not a competitor.
Last night I observed something that really just stopped me in my tracks. I was sitting there talking to her and her partner.

My grandmother and her partner, we will call him “Mr. J” (the thought of me posting her business on the Internet, would start World War 3 with her lol), were playing their usual game of dominoes on a Sunday evening.

If you’re familiar with dominoes you know you get points by calling out what you have as you lay down your domino. My grandma called out points that didn’t add up. Mr. J confidently and with sarcasm asked her what she was counting. She had miscounted. If you know my grandmother she’s rarely wrong (insert sarcasm) and she debated him for about 30 seconds before she decided he was right. They laughed and kept playing. It wasn’t the literal action or activity but the Symbolism that made me perk up and take notice. They have a friendship and a bond I admire.

 
Though he may not agree with her on everything and vice versa they challenge each other respectfully. They aren’t afraid to tell the truth or to tell the other one you’re wrong. They don’t do it to be vindictive, to prove a point, or to be malicious. It’s simple they do it because it’s right. If there is a better option or a better way of doing it they just speak up.
As of late I felt the need for genuine companionship. Not another sexual conquest, not a crush, but someone to eat dinner with, have meaningful conversation with, to talk about music, to talk about life, to play dominos (YES DOMINOS).

 
It made me hopeful that one day I’ll find that individual who won’t be afraid to challenge me. Someone who won’t be intimidated by me, but will support me for my own good as I plan to do for them. As we challenge each other our egos will not be so large that we can’t laugh when we see the error of our ways.

 
The hope is that anyone reading this seeking or currently in a relationship will find love that challenges them, keeps them smiling, isn’t intimidated by them, and ultimately allows them to just be friends when it comes down to it!