I’ve worked hard at being imperfect, self-deprecating, low self-esteem, excuses, asking permission to do something for myself, taking care of everyone except me, working hard on the job to a point of fainting instead of asking for help. When you grow up broken, you begin to self-destruct and the unfortunate damage from that is cataclysmic personally, emotionally, spiritually, and professionally.
It’s not easy to break the cycle and at 46, with a biological parent back in my life after years of separation since childhood, one can easily slip back into an old mindset. So, in my Christian journey, I’ve embarked on transformational living and surrendering my being to all of The Lord. Poetry and Hip-Hop have saved and encouraged me in ways unimaginable. Writing transformed from anger to peace, soothing to therapeutic, stagnate to transformative. Counseling, professional and personal development seminars and an incredible wife have increased my desire to do more and to do well. My soul has been restored and repristinated so I present you with my first single release, Soul Restoration available on CD Baby.
With that being said, I am happy to release my first single to the known universe (people on Mars, get your copy). I had the pleasure of inviting the incredible Alicia “Restore” Spikes of Solace Souls Coalition to lace the background vocals and she far exceeded my expectations.
Thank you Restore for blessings us with your voice and thank you to my POET family for accepting me as I am. PNoble TV for working on the soon coming video. Dan @ Studio 11 for the engineering work and Tone Jonez of JeeJuh for track production.
Grace & peace unto you all.
I interviewed 5 times at the Noble Network of Charter Schools 7 years ago. I remember going from cracking jokes at a friends house when my phone rang to instantly transforming into business mode. It was my first call back from a job I applied for two weeks prior. It was a 30 minute phone interview and the rest is history.
Fear kicked in. I didn’t feel qualified for the job and was ready to turn down an opportunity that The Lord answered after all this time. Strange how we so quickly revert back to that dark comfortable place. Was I ready to rejoin the work force? Yes. Was I ready to work for this organization? Based on the job description, no! Yet, a sermon from my pastor on Sunday morning stated, “Who are you to close a door that God opened? Don’t put him in your box, He’s way larger than it can hold.”
I started as a technology manager (not the listed title when I applied) in 2010. I run hard. Earned the name Hulk Smash. Won our first ever MVP award named the Hulk Smash Award. I almost didn’t win. My boss said I came close to losing because I didn’t develop a good work life balance. I didn’t for the first five years but I am not hear to talk about all of that.
7 years later, I am the Director of Information Technology for the number one charter school in America. I am faced with that same fear everyday. I really don’t know how long this will last but I love where I am. I have an uncanny devotion to people I work for and an uncanny devotion to my team members. I am working to rebrand myself. The Hulk Smash has to go. I have to become a master of so many corporate deals, policies, financials, terminology, and people management.
A new challenge is upon me and it is unfamiliar, it is uncomfortable, it is uncertain. Yet, I will do what I grow to do daily, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. I am not sure what’s next for me but I know it’s beyond being a director of technology. I am in a place where I get to impact African American and Latino American lives. I am in a place where I get to work and see a very incredible organization do very incredible things. I work with teachers I love, students I serve, principals I support, co-workers I would die for, chiefs I answer to, and a very special person who shall remain nameless. He’s a man I have grown to admire, be unnerved by, challenged by, be supported by and ultimately to serve with. Who would have thought a meeting at Starbucks would yield an opportunity to be Super.
A part of me is hesitant in this new role. Yet, I have incredible people who support me, a former boss, a right and left arm at work, and an incredible team member who I hope to call friend one day with her critical feedback, insight, and precision.
7 years is said to be the year of completion, a time to move forward. For Tony Briscoe, it is a time to grow and I am just getting warm.
Our marriage is strong. It has always been. Even strong marriages face challenges. During my time of unemployment it surely brought tension into my home. I was frustrated on all levels. Mind you, we were not going hungry, we still had enough saving to carry us through at least mortgage and life insurance payments for five more months.
There were times I simply didn’t feel strong enough and that kind of pressure, mixed with a wife who is an eternal optimist and faith-walker was equally frustrated with my self-loathing. “You going to mope about it and keep your head down!!??” Oh snap, she has lost her marbles coming at me like that. I know my temper so it was best to remain quiet until I was able to address her approach to my state of self-deprecation and depression. I had been here before when we were engaged. I was previously unemployeed but I was single, a different place mentally and spiritually. I could conquer the world. I knew her relation to the man she married and that’s the man she wanted to see rise up. She was my cheerleader then and she was my cheerleader after marriage when joblessness hit us.
Life was indeed worth living. I knew it and I had to fight for it daily. One particular night In June I had on a good face. My daughter came home and asked how I was doing. It was one of my worse days. I had already decided I am done looking for a job after today. “Lord, I am done.” My daughter touched my hand and said. “You’re not ok. Daniel 12:12 says, “Blessed is he who waits.” Good night, love you.” She kissed me in the cheek and went to bed and I cried like a baby. Talk about child like faith. I repented for my lack of trust. There is a scripture in the Holy Bible that says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”. My heart was sick and that same night I pressed on my search. It was 12:30 AM. Indeed.com – IT Support Specialist, Noble Network of Charter Schools. I applied for the position. I studied the company on YouTube and their website until 2:30 AM. It was the first week in June of 2010.
The Journey Continues…
7 years ago I was unemployeed. It was a dark place. Being the sole provider for a family is no small task. To provide for our families we make the sacrifice (choice) for our spouses to stay home and focus on child-rearing, and, as my friend TeeNat calls, domestic engineering.
I knew the layoff was coming months in advance so I prepared. I had my resume professionally revamped. I went to job fairs, employment agencies, temp agencies, I did it all. One thing I learned was that companies generally do not hire between Mid-October – February. Yet, I pressed to no avail. There is something in a man that sends shivers through him when he feels he is an inadequate provider. It’s a place of reflection and we internalize it to a detriment. Spiritually I held fast to scripture “if a man don’t work a man don’t eat”. I excluded, “the Lord will provide all my needs…”My full-time job was looking for a job.
To keep abreast of technology I offered to work for free at my place of worship and several emails went with zero response. Face to face went with, no, we are good. Hmm, I serve here, I tithe here, I minister here, and now I am rejected here. My story and my truth. It pushed me further to a place of darkness in my thoughts.
For the first time in my life I went to the public aid office and they would only provide medical coverage for my daughter. I was told I made too much money from unemployment to receive federal assistance. A system that I had been paying into from age 13 to 39 rejected me. My wife, working since age 14 also paid into this system and it rejected us. Two people that voted, paid taxes, paid into SSN, etc were being shunned by the system built on the back of the lower and middle class. A country that I fought for and served rejected me.
I saw many women and men with children who left with smiles. Not me, not us. My wife is always optimistic but not me, eternal pessimist allowing past experience to live in my present and project my future. As we left with our daughter in carry I was scared, broken, alone, bewildered, perplexed, and confused. My faith was being tested by fire and my flesh was submitting to the burn. Was life worth living…
Today is Father’s Day. It doesn’t garner the attention of Mother’s Day. Restaurants don’t sell out, theaters are not packed, and Facebook post say “Happy Father’s Day” to those single mothers that had to raise the males in the family. It can be said that many fathers have failed in their responsibility and people would often be justified. Yet, it’s always easier to celebrate negativity rather than champion excellent fathers. I thought I’d share part of the story about my biological father and what he meant to my life before his transition into eternity.
I buried my dad in 2015. I eulogized his funeral. I paid the expenses until my sister covered the cost with insurance money. He had a stroke a few before his death and that was what crushed me. He had no memory of me. It reminded me of the time I ran into him in 1996 in a Burger King and he didn’t even recognize who I was. We’d spent the last few years building a relationship. In a heated argument one day he told me he didn’t owe me an explanation for why he left. He chose to live his life the way he wanted to and that he didn’t owe anyone an apology. It hurt but those words were true. Outside of giving me life, he had nothing to do with the man I’d become, or did he? When my wife took ill it was the first time he called me almost every day, short on words, “How’s my daughter doing?” When she was well, his calls stopped. I wasn’t mad, it was his way of saying, “I care”.
Because of my Christian Faith, I am bound by scripture to honor my mother and my father. It doesn’t say honor them based on how they treated you. Equally, they can be categorized as deadbeat parents that never did anything, except, they did, they gave me life. They couldn’t handle the journey of parents and as unfortunate as that maybe they still played a role in my existence. I loved my day and honored him until the day he died. Losing him was a normal part of life, but his stroke broke me in ways I couldn’t imagine. After years of missing him, when we finally got together he lost his memory. I’m glad I got to know him. I’m glad I got to spend time with him. I’m proud to call him my dad. I honored him in life, I honored him in death. We both wore white sweat socks with dress shoes and slacks. We had similar thoughts on religious views and it was amazing to know that after years of separation that there was a ground to mend our relationship by finding commonalities one within the other.
I miss him! I wish I had another opportunity to “Dance with my Father again”.
Men, enjoy your Father’s Day. Let’ go of the past and look forward to the future. Live life, enjoy the journey, be there for your children. Raise the bar.
Happy Father’s Day.
I was asked to share closing words from a relationship panel I was on with my Solace Soul Poetry family in Chicago:
“1. Is your communication clear enough where there is no doubt what you desire in a relationship? – Your Actions, Your Behaviors, Your consistency.”
“2. What are you willing to give up?”
“3. What are you willing to tolerate?”
“4. Is your communication clear enough where you can understand what your significant other wants?”
“5. Are you happy, settled, or joyous?”
“6. Are you a situational or circumstantial partner?”
“7. What’s a deal breaker that puts you in the category of situational or circumstantial?”
“8. What type of ear do you listen to critical feedback? Defensive – Emotional – Clear”
“9. In every relationship, there is compromise and change. The 8 inches you love could be hit with a severe case of prostate cancer and become impotent. The big breast you love could be hit and stricken with a critical case of cancer, and you may have a wife with a full radical mastectomy.”
“10. If love covers a multitude of sin, how much love do you have for the one you want to spend the rest of your life with?”
I decided to put my experience during the week of 1/1/2017 on my blog in video format. Be inspired, be transformed, choose life!
A good friend, and blogging coach extraordinaire recommended that I take my post to my blog instead of my Facebook page. So, for this post, and yearly, I’ll open up with that post:
Some of the highlights of this year.
1. I got to witness two great friends transform their marriages.
2. My mentee finished college and we are going to light it up in 2017.
3. I pulled off a community photoshoot with the help of the greatest and most humble unknown mentor in Chicago, Vondale Singleton.
4. I made statements my place of business that were strong, bold, and fully self-expressed.
5. I apologized to a business colleague for being a butthole at times and she did the same and we’re still on the same team fighting, mean-mugging and doing great work for Black and Brown children in Chicago.
6. I sent my wife to Mexico and can’t tell you how it blessed my soul to see her so relaxed and joyous. It’s just the beginning and we’re still honeymooning.
7. For the 2nd year in-a-row I got to inspire over 600 Noble graduates before they took their journey to college.
8. For the 2nd year in-a-row I got to speak to the students at Hansberry College Prep before they took the ACT
9. I was able to give over $600 dollars to support my P.O.E.T family
10. Increased the time with my family, connected with some good friends, prayed with the brokenhearted, mentored marriages, failed miserably at somethings and wasn’t ashamed (well, getting their).
11. A board member and supported the creation of the Arthur and Isabelle Brazier Veteran’s Resource Center – Patti Caire is amazing.
12. I celebrated, photographed, and captured the night my mentor Juliana Stratton was elected as a state representative.
13. I witnessed a President love his enemies, work peacefully towards diplomacy, and tactfully deal with the worst racial treatment of a single black family since Jim Crow by those that call themselves patriots, countrymen, and Christian’s.
14. I witnessed a reality TV star and business tycoon channel evil, racism, hatred, homophobia, gender bias, xenophobia, and misogyny to win the highest political office in the United States of America.
15. Most of all, I was awakened to how great I am. I am just getting warm.
Blessings to those with whom I’ve had great conversation and debates in the social media world. Whether we agreed or disagreed, we didn’t let it tear apart our history, kinship, nor friendship. Keep it moving family!