Sr.’s Formula For Situational Success

As a kid my father would hold regular family meetings and each week he would emphasize what I now call, “Sr.’s Formula For Situational Success.” How many times have I heard, ‘plan your work and work your plan’? I made a post about that morsel of value-packed goodness here.

I told my sister Akilah about the formula and she started cackling, ‘he’s been telling us that FOREVER!’ So, without further ado, here is Don West, Sr.’s often delivered Formula For Situational Success:

#dream + #believe + #plan + #work + #seek = #success + #analyzedata [repeat] = #greatness

We have a cool store with great gear and swag to remind you all day long as you pursue your personal legend.

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PROCEEDS HELP SUPPORT #MENTALHEALTHAWARENESS & #FINANCIALLITERACY

Calling all dreamers & believers

Today, we got support from my cousin in Elkins Park, PA – one of The Tax Divas, Kerri Conners-Matchett. Thank you, for your role model and inspiration cousin, and also for your donation to empower our voice and our vision. Help us grow our purpose. Please make a donation today. Even a gift of $1 has the power to change the world.

A social justice Art Tribute in Honor of BrEOnNa Taylor

“A Tortured Soul: 401 Years (1619-2020) of Race Relations – Shades of Grey in American Justice” was painted by artist Don West, Jr. to highlight the Transgenerational Trauma of Institutional Racism.

Yesterday, I was inspired to create a piece of art and as we are only 10 days removed from the on camera murder of George Floyd, I was forced to contemplate the current state of justice and race relations in our country. Knowing that today would be Breonna Taylor’s (the EMT killed in her home while police served a search warrant at the wrong address in Louisville, Kentucy) 27th birthday. Breonna’s killer’s have not faced any charges to date.

The piece is intended to bring attention to the 401 years of transgenerational trauma associated with history of race relations, institutional racism, and justice in America. Transgenerational trauma refers to trauma that passes through generations. The idea is that not only can someone experience trauma, they can then pass the symptoms and behaviors of trauma survival on to their children, who then might further pass these along the family line. Our history of justice in America impacts us all.

The piece is entitled, “A Tortured Soul: 401 Years (1619-2020) of Race Relations – Shades of Grey in American Justice”

“A Tortured Soul: 401 Years (1619-2020) of Race Relations – Shades of Grey in American Justice”

Dubbs Wanders – A List of The Places I Have Visited Thus Far

In my first 45 years on Earth, I have lived in six U.S. states, visited another 34 U.S. states and territories, (40 states in total), and made it to six foreign countries. Below is the list of all my journeys and adventures to date.

IMG_6960 Branded_sm

USA – States Visited
  1. Alabama (Lived)
  2. Mississippi
  3. Georgia (Lived)
  4. N. Carolina
  5. S. Carolina
  6. Florida (Lived)
  7. Tennessee
  8. Kentucky
  9. Virginia
  10. W. Virginia
  11. Maryland
  12. New Jersey
  13. Pennsylvania (Lived)
  14. Ohio
  15. Illinois
  16. New York
  17. Massachusetts
  18. Connecticut (Lived)
  19. Arkansas
  20. Texas
  21. New Mexico
  22. Oklahoma
  23. Nebraska
  24. Colorado
  25. Utah
  26. Arizona
  27. Oregon
  28. Washington
  29. California (Lived)
  30. Hawaii
  31. Nevada
  32. Iowa
  33. Kansas
  34. Missouri
  35. Indiana
  36. Deleware
  37. Louisiana
USA – States Still Left to Visit
  1. Maine
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Vermont
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Michigan
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Minnesota
  8. N. Dakota
  9. S. Dakota
  10. Wyoming
  11. Montana
  12. Idaho
  13. Alaska
USA – Territories Visited
  1. District of Columbia (D.C.)
  2. Puerto Rico
  3. U.S. Virgin Islands
Other Countries Visited
  1. Jamaica
  2. Bahamas
  3. French Polynesia
  4. Mexico
  5. Costa Rica
  6. Dominican Republic

How many places are on your list? How many do we have in common? What is the next place you would like to add to your list? For me, I am aiming my compass toward Athens, Greece for a foreign destination and Alaska for my domestic wish list.

Live in the Moment – An Alabama High School Track & Field Championship Tale

Mindfulness is the underlying moral of this tale.

Huntsville High School (HHS) State Track Champions.jpg
Photos of the boards that hang in the gymnasium at Huntsville High School in Huntsville, Alabama to memorialize and celebrate the school’s state champions.

I cannot recall exactly when it occurred but at some point back in 1988 while a freshman at Huntsville High School I set three goals for myself: 1) graduate from the place; 2) get a date with this beautiful girl in my homeroom who was named Tracy Yarbrough; and, 3) while it seemed an unreasonable long shot for a tiny freshman who literally was only 102 pounds soaking wet with football pads on holding a 10 lb dumbbell, the first time I set eyes on the big red boards hanging in our school’s gym that I wanted to be in that club. I wanted to be a state champion high hurdler.

Obviously, I had to have this on my resume, not for any other reason then that my father was one of the most heralded high hurdlers to ever run for Abington High School in the suburbs outside of northern Philadelphia. This third goal made the list because I live the life of a junior, as a child not only did I have to look up to this godlike figure and role model, but I had the glorious joy of also carrying the great man’s name. This formula can possibly create a marvelous environment for a healthy competition where the younger seeks to overtake the elder and the elder seeks to maintain as much of their advantage for as long as they can.

We are only going to focus on the third goal here, in case the pictures were not a spoiler. But I will share that although both took what seemed like years, I was able to accomplish both goals one and two. Fast forward to May 1992 and the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) Class 6A Boys Outdoor Track & Field Championships held somewhere in central or southern Alabama. Over the course of the previous four years I had committed myself to the goal of being the best high hurdler I could possible be.

Persistence, hard work, and dedication definitely pay off and while I now only stood at 5’7″ tall and weighed a slight 147 pounds I had the fastest qualifying time as we were set to run the finals of the 110m high hurdles. I was in the middle of the track positioned in lane four as a result of having the fastest qualifying time in the preliminary heats.

The table was set for me to win the Alabama state title. The entire universe had organized the events so my dream could come true. I would be a state champion and my name would go up on those big red boards in the school gymnasium. It is probably important to interject a regular mantra offered to me by my mother, “stay focused.” It is important that she was always telling me that I had to stay focused because decades later I would receive a diagnosis of adult ADHD and most likely had a touch of good ole childhood ADHD as well. When discussing this point with my mother years later, she chimed, “Baby, they didn’t have any names for what you had when you were a child, so we just did the best we could.” Little did I know, my mother’s admonitions would come into play in the finals of the Alabama high hurdle championship race that very day.

Crouched in the starting blocks I cleared my mind of all thoughts coiled every muscle in my body and awaited the signal of the starting gun to burst into action. Bang! I exploded out of the blocks due to the combination of my explosive start and abnormally quick reaction time to the sound of the starter’s pistol.

From the first step out of the blocks I was in full command of the race and firmly shot forward into first place as we cleared hurdle number one. One, two, three, step. One, two, three, step. I raced over hurdles one thru eight running a smooth clean race, victory was close at hand. At this point there was literally nothing and no one that could interrupt my triumph, no one that is, except me.

prelims of 110m HH at the Huntsville City Track & Field Championships
A photo published by the Huntsville Times in 1992 showing Don leading over hurdle number one in the prelims of 110m HH at the ’92 Huntsville City Track & Field Championships

As I cleared hurdle eight and approached hurdle number nine I couldn’t see anyone in my peripheral vision and I couldn’t feel the presence of any other competitors. I felt victory was mine. And here in this critical moment of high stakes competition I opted to commence a vivid daydream montage featuring post event festivities.

First, that evening when we returned to Huntsville, (we would be rushing back to attend our senior prom), I saw myself surrounded by my fellow Crimson Panthers mutually adulating in my win. The scene morphed to those big red boards and the new 1992 entries, including Don West 110m High Hurdles. It was glorious. It was worth all the sweat and the pain. The days when I pushed myself so hard that I was compelled to throw up the high quality vittles that were served up to us in the HHS cafe. Did I mention this was all happening as I was in the process of finishing a race that takes less that 15 seconds total from start to finish.

Needless to say, this was a major violation of my mother’s edicts throughout my childhood to stay focused. As I reached the mid-point of crossing the tenth hurdle my victory montage was rudely interrupted by something in my peripheral vision to my left. The kid in lane five was closing fast. I snapped to it in a flash and commenced to finishing the business at hand as I touched down from clearing the tenth and final hurdle now with a kid pulling up fast right next to me. We raced to the finish line both bending as far forward as we could without tumbling over as we reached the tape. A photo finish.

After the race it took a long time for them to announce the winner. A council of officials was concerned and these men poured over the photograph of our finish. Finally, our team’s head coach, Coach Fletcher and I walked up to the official’s booth. There the officials allowed Coach and I to look at the photograph and we both swore that it could be called either way from our viewpoints, to us the photo looked to be a tie. Well, if you looked closely at the photos at the beginning of this post you already may have noticed my name does not appear anywhere on those big red boards. The powers that be ultimately did not see a tie, rather they awarded the race to the other guy, saying, that he defeated me by one one-hundredth of a second. His winning time was declared to be 14.62 and my disappointing 14.63 was awarded second place and unsatisfying all-state honors. All that hard work, all that dedication, spoiled because I failed to stay focused. It was a hard and painful lesson to learn.

Stay focused my friends.

Christmas Musings 2019 – from Da ‘ville

Don’t let them change ya, oh
Or even rearrange ya
Oh, no

~ Bob Marley, “Could You Be Loved”

 

This has been one AMAZING year for the Dubbs! I am grateful and thankful for my family and all the individuals who have contributed to this year’s journey. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!  I write you this missive from the kitchen table of my parents in Huntsville, Alabama on a lovely Christmas Day. (It is unusually warm for Christmas in Alabama – the windows are open… etc.)  I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it home to my parents’ place for Christmas this year, but I stuck to the plan… and things worked out.  Like the leader Hannibal from the 80’s tv show The A Team, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

Yesterday, was my first day back in Huntsville after a year-long absence and I was greeted by several family members visiting from Philadelphia including my Dad’s older brother, my Uncle Gary.  Gary, and his partner John, enthusiastically inquired where we could screen a home video from 1992 that was made during the graduation party held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after I completed my time at Huntsville High School.  As a legacy specialist the video recorded by my Uncle John is a priceless treasure trove of family history, images, and most impactful of all, the voices of loved-ones who have long transitioned from our earthly plane.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I listened to my Dad’s mother wish me congratulations, offer me a blessing, and proffer up a reminder that I am to always remember the sacrifices necessary to build the man, as well as an edict to share the knowledge and learning acquired in my future endeavors.  Well, 1992 was 27 years ago, and the journey has been vast and deep, starting ten days after the party that I mention here, I found myself laying in a top bunk at the United States Navy’s Naval Training Center in San Diego, California for a nine week edition of U. S. Navy Boot Camp.

My father has always taught us, “Plan your work and work your plan.”  I did just that Dad, and as a result I am able to share Christmas in person with you this year.  A blessing wrapped up in a child being obedient to the wise instructions gifted by the parents.

May the Universe Bless you and yours.  May the Ancestors smile on your endeavors along the journey.  May the world know the wonders of your character by the works you leave behind.

Merry Christmas.  Happy Kwanza!  And all the most meaningful experiences and lessons for us all in the year 2020.

From James E. Faust

Originally posted on the AmazingThoughtz blog 12/20/2019

“A grateful heart is a beginning of greatness. It is an expression of humility. It is a foundation for the development of such virtues as prayer, faith, courage, contentment, happiness, love, and well-being.”

~ James E. Faust

#quote #JamesFaust #gratefulheart #greatness #gratitude #foundation #virtues #prayer #faith #courage #contentment #happiness #love #wellbeing #stone1 #humility #service #legacypyramid #amazingthoughtz #amazingpath

Photo: Keeper of Beauty © 2019 Don West, Jr.

Location: Hallway of the Iberostar Grand Bávato Resort, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
📸 Settings: 1.78mm | 1/25 sec | f/1.9 | ISO 200

#hallway #IberostarGrandBávaro #shotsbydubbs #photography #travelphotography #traveljunkie #travelenthusiast #dubbswanders #puntacana #playabavaro

From Charlotte Joko Beck

Originally posted on the AmazingThoughtz Blog 12/19/2019

“Life always gives us
exactly the teacher we need
at every moment.
This includes every mosquito,
every misfortune,
every red light,
every traffic jam,
every obnoxious supervisor (or employee),
every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath. every moment is the guru.”

– Charlotte Joko Beck

#quote #everymomentistheguru #people #humannature #humans #wellbeing #teacher #life #observations #mindfulness #mind #mentalhealth #AmazingThoughtz #AmazingPath

Photo: Pool of Tranquility © 2016 Don West, Jr.


Location: Somewhere along the Highway to Hana, Maui, Hawaii
📸 Settings: 4.13mm | 1/70 sec | f/2.2 | ISO 50

#relaxation #waterfall
#shotsbydubbs #photography #travelphotography
#highwaytohana #naturalpool #trees #plants #green #pacificocean #pacificislands #maui #hawaii #dubbswanders

Ode to Ansel – Half Dome Highlights selected to be Exhibited in Athens, Greece

Originally posted on the Shots By Dubbs Blog on 12/09/2019

Shots By Dubbs Photography is please to share that our photo, “Yosemite No. 002 – Ode to Ansel – Half Dome Highlights” was selected to be exhibited at the Blank Wall Gallery in Athens, Greece February 28 through March 1, 2020.


I have been playing the game GuruShots for a few months now and have been hesitant to enter any of the exhibition contests. When playing the game each contest is run by someone who has achieved the rank of Guru in the game. The contest I entered was called, the beauty of the earth and ended on December 5, 2019. The way the game works the Guru gets to make a limited number of “Guru Picks” and those photos that get picked are automatically selected to be included in the upcoming exhibit. There were 33,760 photographers competing in this contest. That means that there were a little over 135k photos entered into the contest since each photographer was required to enter four images.

Quite unexpectedly, on Sunday, December 1st I received several exciting yesterday saying my photo “Half Dome Highlights” was selected as a Guru Pick and as such was automatically qualified to be exhibited in Athens, Greece. ✈️

I received another email informing me that as a result of having a photo selected as a “Guru’s Pick” I also advanced in the game from the Expert Level to the Champion level. I have two more levels to achieve before I too can be a Guru and start running my own contests in the game. The next level for me is “Master” and then “Guru” level photographer.


This #photography journey was especially encouraged by scores of friends and family and I must thank Wendy Cabil💚 and Lexi KP 💚 for being extra enthusiastic 🎉 in their support and Elias Benudiz for being a great patron 💪🏽 of our #fineartcollection! A special nod to Amber Porter Telfer for being the first person to ever to make a query about the availability of one of my images, “Simon Says” over a decade ago and planting a seed of possibility, (you never forget your first time. 🤗🤭)

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step👣, this year we took that first solid step on the photography path… Be encouraged, onward and upward with an attitude of #gratitude.