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January 26th, 2017!
Today is Yolanda Brown’s birthday! A.K.A my mother. Some people may wonder why I decided to feature my mother on here, let me tell you..
My mother for as long as I can remember has always been one of the strongest women I know. She is very persistent and truly one of a kind, I have watched her evolve over and over when she needed to. Being in Spain right now playing ball I realize how much of an impact my mother had on my life. She was never one of those super soft moms that always said cliché stuff. My mom wasn’t the type to say, “It’s okay son, just keep trying” after not making a team, or doing poorly in school. Instead, she would ask me if I was prepared. When I went to other households I did notice the difference. I never grew up being told what I wanted to hear, only what I needed to hear. I did have my father in my life occasionally, I spent mostly every Summer, Christmas, Spring, and Winter break with my father growing up until I started to take sports more serious around age 16. When it came to the day-to-day grind during the school year, I was with my mom. We live to this day near Marquette Park in Chicago, and my grandmother lives in what I call my hood, in the 100s in a south side area called Rosemoor. Everyday literally from 1st grade to 8th grade I had to wake up at 5am, eat, clean, put on my school clothes, and be standing by the backdoor ready to walk out the house by 545am with my mother. From there she would drop me off at my grandmothers house, there I would read books or go back to sleep to 810am or so, and be at Bennett Elementary school by 830am on 101st. Looking back to that militant way of life, it taught me a lot of self discipline, I had a lot of discipline at a very early age, I was never really good at school like my mother though. Like when it came to math and stuff, my mother is just really good with numbers; I was just really good at the basics and hustling. I’ll never forget learning times tables math in elementary school for the first time, my mother was so hard on me lol. She was valedictorian of her High School class, she was ranked number 1, she had straight A’s, then went to DePaul University and studied accounting and was a beast. My analogy I like to use is, think of Michael Jordan trying to explain his jump shot to a novice. He probably simply wouldn’t have the patience to do so. My mother didn’t have patience for being slow or incompetent in stuff she deemed I should be prepared for. So if I came home and didn’t know my math, she would ask “did you pay attention in school? What did the teacher say boy?” I wont even get into what she said to me in college when I first took accounting principles 1 & 2. OMG, she made me cry over the phone, but I learned to tap into Michael Jordan mode in college, I never saw my work-ethic become so effortless, the more time I spent alone in solitude the better I became and the more self disciplined I became. I always had it in me, genes don’t lie. School was just always boring, the subjects didn’t interest me, I was only into basketball and making money growing up. Selling candy, honey buns out my locker, working at Foot Locker, or scheming on some plan to make some money. Legally of course. I never envied my mother, I always knew if I could tap into her mindset and be diligent, as I got older, I would add it to my grind and be a beast like her.
Gerald: Mom did you always know you would just have one kid? Was it a joy raising me lol?
Yolanda: Yes, I never considered ever having another child. Being a young mother I found it challenging to raise you, but I did the best I could. I always knew I was not a ‘conventional parent’. Thankfully my parents were there to fill in the gaps and provide guidance for you and me.
Gerald: Are you into the zodiac sign thing? You’re an Aquarius, what does your sign say about you and would you consider it true?
Yolanda: Well actually I do not follow astrology at all. I consider myself to be very unique and I do not contribute any of me to the zodiac sign I was born under.
Gerald: How do you stay persistent? What’s your advice for the strong young lady out there right now?
Yolanda: I set measurable goals for myself and I methodically plan and execute my goals. I think young ladies should think about where they want to be and what it will take to get there…. then work through the “how”. Find a female mentor to tell you some of the stuff you just do not know.
Gerald: I know you’re a woman of God, what is your favorite bible verse or prayer?
Yolanda: 2 Chronicles 7:14
Gerald: As a single mother, you had to make a conscious goal to defeat everyday and any obstacle that came up to raise me, how did you get through it?
Yolanda: I never let any single event defeat me. I just kept doing what I needed to do. I always pray through every challenge.
Gerald: I noticed for the last few years you have been really dedicated to fitness, you are listening to your body more and really starting to enjoy the benefits of working out. What advice do you have for women above 40 that are just starting to workout?
Yolanda: You do not have to make a big announcement about dieting or working out. Find activities that get you moving more and do not bring food home from the grocery store that you know is bad. If a co-worker brings in birthday cake; have cake for one day.
Gerald: I witnessed you spend almost a year changing your career objectives, starting from scratch in a new age, but somehow you took your experience and skills and reinvented yourself. What advice do you have for people who are on the job hunt?
Yolanda: Network in the organizations of your discipline. Go to every event you can and tell people you are looking for a job. Have a prepared elevator pitch ready that tells people your history and what you are trying to do next and how you are prepared. Lastly arm yourself with knowledge. Treat looking for a job like it is a job; devote 5-6 hours a day to your job search Monday through Friday. Take the weekends off to refresh your mind.
Gerald: Last question, what do you really look forward to in 2017?
Yolanda: I look forward to watching my son live his dreams! I look forward to new experiences!