Personal Development


Photo by Damaris Isenschmid on Unsplash

CHAPTER XXVI – Ready for Adventure! 

I am Jude. My wife and I are planning our first trip outside of Canada since the Covid pandemic and its subsequent global lockdown. When considering destinations there was really only one choice for me – the American South. 

I developed a bit of an obsession with the civil rights movement in my early 20’s and drew strength from the faith and courage demonstrated during the struggle. I was inspired by the sacrifices and spirit of  ‘everyday’ people, who had finally enough.

Despite the overwhelming odds, the powerless confronted tyranny and injustice with grace and forbearance. At great personal cost, they committed, persevered and overcame. In doing so, they literally changed the world.

Whenever I travel to the United States, my priorities include visiting local points of interest and cultural landmarks. I love touring HBCU campuses, eating in ‘old school’ community diners and attending traditional, African-American churches.

And museums. I love museums. Art, History or Cultural, it doesn’t matter. I’m naturally curious and love learning new things. I have been especially preoccupied with the collective experiences of Afrikan people. 

Undeterred by my wife’s irritation and eye-rolling, I invariably seek out a staff member who can answer my questions and provide relevant context and insight. 

While we were in Jackson Mississippi in 2019, we travelled to the Mississippi Museum of History and the Civil Right Museum at 222 North St.

Both of the collections chronicle Mississippi’s infamous and shameful resistance to integration and inclusion. 

Hezekiah Watkins – Mississippi’s Youngest Freedom Rider

While we were viewing exhibits in the Civil Rights Museum we met Hezekiah Watkins, an unassuming and affable employee – and amazingly, the state’s youngest Freedom Rider.

The Freedom Riders were a diverse collection of black and white activists who volunteered  to take bus trips to the Deep South to test a Supreme Court Decision that declared segregation of interstate transportation facilities, including bus terminals, unconstitutional. 

They also brought attention to the lack of enforcement of the law and worked to fight against the institution of segregation. They were often met with hatred and violence.

The 74-year old civil rights icon was raised in Jackson, Mississippi during segregation and the deeply entrenched Jim Crow laws of the South. He remembers being vaguely aware of the Freedom Riders while he was growing up and sensing the unrest. 

However, in 1961, the Freedom Riders came to Jackson, Mississippi. Mr. Watkins, who was just 13-years old at the time, disobeyed his mother and went to see the peaceful protest, only to be arrested and sent to prison. 

This arrest landed him in the Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman Farm and placed in a cell on death row with two inmates charged with murder. Yes you heard me correctly, DEATH ROW. 

He was tormented, molested and physically abused for five days before he was transferred back to a jail in Jackson, Mississippi. However, he was only released from custody after Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett intervened.

That incident occurred over 60 years ago and he has probably shared his experience a million times already. Yet Mr. Watkins became emotional retelling the story of his imprisonment there. He had to stop and wipe his eyes and he still refuses to disclose what happened in the cell, not that I asked. 

Despite his mother’s early objections, she eventually supported his active involvement in the civil rights movement and he was ultimately arrested more than 100 times for protesting, marching, boycotting, and demanding change in Mississippi.

He participated in protests with luminaries from the civil rights era. He was arrested with John Lewis, Medgar Evers and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and actually shared a cell with Dr. King. 

A mugshot from one of his many arrests proudly hangs among some of the other venerable artifacts in the museum. It is a testament to Mr. Watkins’ heroism and the relentless struggle for racial justice and equality. 

A copy of his memoir, Pushing Forward: The Story of Mississippi’s Youngest Freedom Rider is available exclusively at the Mississippi Civil Rights museum gift shop and online at

“Keep moving, keep doing something positive in your community and in your school and in yourself, just do something that is meaningful, and it can happen. Do not take your eyes off the prize.”

Hezekiah Watkins

It’s looking like we will be travelling to Florida during the weeks around the Juneteenth national holiday. This year I get the added opportunity of visiting family and potentially an old friend. I can’t wait to begin our next adventure and create some new unique memories…..

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Add-a-little-bit-of-body-text-2-1024x585.jpg

Side Hustle – Unshackled Solutions Life Coaching and Consulting

I truly believe in the power of life coaching but there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about what it is and isn’t.

On April 21st at 8:00pm I will be collaborating with Shauna Thomas from Self-Love Transformation Professional Life Coaching to provide an interactive virtual engagement session with the African Nova Scotian community about the transformational benefits of life coaching. 

Shauna is an African Nova Scotian, ICF certified Life Coach with an active practice, while I am currently enrolled in a life coaching program and am developing my anticipated coaching business. 

Our purpose is to share our experiences and provide some basic information about this emerging wellness profession from our unique perspectives.  

Come find out the benefits of coaching, what to expect from a typical life coaching session and how to access a certified professional life coach.

We want to demonstrate how partnering with a qualified coach can help you find greater joy and fulfillment.

Your Next Best Read – The Mount of Olives: 11 Declarations to an Extraordinary Life by Micheal V. Ivanov

I am still trying to determine how I picked this book. I can’t remember if I saw it on social media, through a random Audible search or someone recommended it.

What I can say is that I didn’t read the synopsis or any reviews before I purchased it and that never, ever happens. However, I am so glad I did.

It was a very pleasant surprise and something I would recommend to anyone looking to find greater purpose and intention. It encourages the reader to Break Free and Be Better through self discovery and living with intention. 

“Michael Ivanov’s masterpiece tells the story of Felix, the Roman boy who despite all opposition, yearns to gain a worldly treasure. His journey will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined.” 

The narrative chronicles a young man’s quest to follow his heart and realize his dreams through the adoption of eleven golden principles that he learns along the way. It’s a simple, inspirational guide to living an extraordinary life.

If you enjoyed reading the Alchemist, you will also like this one.

Amazingly, it’s not a religious book although it involves elements of the traditional Bible Story and religion is a ever-present. Instead, it offers universal life lessons through a beautiful and well-crafted narrative.

The eleven declarations provide invaluable pearls of wisdom. They offer a way to fundamentally shift your perspective and how you operate in the world. 

“Words spoken set your life in motion” and “In all things be grateful” might sound like cheesy self-help slogans but the author presents them in a way that urges the reader to consider the deeper meaning of these transformational concepts.

Love, gratitude, perseverance and more. These principles truly have unlimited power when they are exemplified through our actions.

Trust me, this is your Next Best Read. 

What’s good – Positive Reflections

Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash

Have you ever been so immersed in doing something that you have become completely lost in it? Of course you have, we have all experienced ‘FLOW’. 

It happens when you are fully engrossed in something that brings you joy and fulfillment. You get completely lost in time and space, your actions become effortless and there is synergy between your body and your mind. That’s flow! 

Whether you have been engaged in a physical activity, a creative pursuit, or a day-to-day task, we all know what it feels like to be ‘in the zone’.

Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, one of the co-founders of Positive Psychology(this site is a great resource for self-care, coaching and counselling), first coined the term in 1975.  He is quoted as saying that, when you are in a state of flow:

“The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost,” 

Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi

Flow has a number of benefits. It is associated with increased happiness, higher intrinsic motivation, greater creativity and better emotional regulation.

The flow state is usually associated with creative arts and sports, but fortunately we can all create these blissful moments in our daily lives. 

It is different for everyone but doing something you love that presents a bit of a challenge and minimizing your distractions can help you achieve flow.

It is important to remember that attaining flow is a dynamic process. As your skills and mastery develop, the related challenge must increase accordingly to initiate a flow state. 

Not only does it create more enjoyment, people perform better, are more engaged and improve their skills in this regard. 

With this in mind, I have two questions for you:

When was the last time you were in a ‘flow state’? 

What activities provide you with opportunities to get ‘in the zone’? 

Flow is one of the most productive and fulfilling states that we can experience. I encourage you to seek it as often as you can through practice and deliberate action. It’s well worth the required effort and intention. I promise you. 

Public Announcement

I continue to slowly recover from my back surgery. This is my first significant invasive procedure and it has been an extremely ‘interesting’ learning experience. 

The pain is relenting but there is still discomfort when I move or am in certain positions for any length of time.  

I am literally taking tiny steps to Be Better. 

Being temporarily impaired is humbling. It’s frustrating being unable to complete normal tasks or engage in regular behaviors. 

I am generally quite active. I walk everyday, stretch regularly and complete home workouts using bands and light weights. Consequently, having to slow down during my recovery has been extremely tough. I always like to be doing something. 

To make matters worse, my wife and daughter are working out like they are preparing for the 2024 Olympics. I am super proud of them and their commitment is inspirational. 

However, their efforts also remind me that I have been inactive for the past three weeks and that I look like my eighth month old granddaughter, when I am walking. 

I am attempting to be conscientious of my self-talk and any negative thinking that limits my perspective or pollutes my mind. 

There are times when I feel like I have more mobility, movement and comfort and then there are instances when it hurts to move, stand, sit or walk and I question whether things will be any better after my recovery.

These ups and downs require patience, faith and fortitude.

In the meantime, I am keeping my mind occupied. I am trying to get back on track with my goals, action plans and intentions.

I am constantly reminding myself to demonstrate gratitude and self-compassion and to accept the things I can’t control.

My physiotherapist has given me the green light to begin reintroducing some physical activity. 

The stretching and exercises have been beneficial even though it feels like I need to learn how to walk upright again after being bowed over by pain for so long. 

I have begun using my body weight to increase my strength and flexibility and will begin increasing resistance as my condition improves. 

One of my goals is to get back in good physical shape throughout the summer which includes weight training, running, hiking and biking. 

That currently seems like a stretch, but I am aiming high and taking on the challenge. I am firmly committed to Being Better through the slow incremental process of consistent effort and compound results. I got this. I am Jude. 

Photo by Alexandra Tran on Unsplash

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *