“On Labor Day, we labor.”
My iconic high school football coach, Andy Borland, bellowed these words the days prior to Labor Day every single year I played football.
Without fail, before the last syllable hit my dry, dust-covered ears, thousands of feelings began rushing into my brain and settling uneasily into my stomach. This was always followed by, “We are going to get started early and then get you home to your families for some tater salad, hot dogs and hamburgers. This way you can get to bed on time and be ready for the new school year.”
The worry, nervousness and fear of all the things that seemed inevitable following Labor Day always brought about an overwhelming feeling of uneasiness in my gut. The possibility of failing in school, on the field, or embarrassing myself in front of old or new classmates could easily occupy every aspect of my mind if I did not learn to push them back.
The feelings of excitement and wonder were also evident and could be felt, but they took more effort to push to the front of my mind to overtake the fear. Who would be in my classes? Could the future love of my life be in those halls? Would the public school system finally come to its senses and declare steak subs and sugar-free Rice Krispies Treats should be offered every day? Would they also banish those fish sticks and grilled cheese sandwiches? They were more like a street hockey puck then dietary fare.
I mention sugar-free Rice Krispies Treats because as a juvenile-type-1 diabetic, I was eternally optimistic that some genius in the Kellogg lab could formulate this favorite treat of mine without the sugary carbs. Years earlier, they had perfected the whole snap, crackle and pop thing, so this should be easy – right?
To this day, I still experience many of these feelings whenever I realize Labor Day is approaching. Over the last 20 or 30 years, I have done a good job of successfully subduing the negative and fearful energy that is consistently accompanied by this time of change. This year, however, I was having a difficult time pushing away my worries of deficiency as I reflected on my responsibilities as your state representative, a small-business owner, a family man and a friend.
I am absolutely honored to serve this community and District 31B as a Maryland state delegate, but we are not immune to our share of challenges and complex issues.
•What do we do about the opioid and heroin problem ravaging our communities and loved ones?
•Are they really going to build a new bay bridge at the end of Mountain Road?
•How much more do I have to pay in property taxes to live in Anne Arundel County?
•When will we ever get good cell coverage in this area?
•What do we do about the rising gang problems in this area?
•How do we know our children are safe at school and getting a good education?
These are all outstanding and legitimate questions often asked of me when talking to concerned citizens, friends and family. These questions can seem overwhelming, but just like the new start we get every Labor Day, we must make take them on with encouragement for the future we wish to design. We must be confident in a bright future and not be swallowed up by the fear that can engulf us.
Fear is not real – the only place fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It’s a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that may or may not ever exist. Danger can be real, and we must be mindful and prepared for instability, but fear is a choice. I do not say this flippantly, because I do understand it is easy to fall into these naturally defeating mindsets.
My advice for anyone looking to break this environment of fear and negativity and find your true purpose, enthusiasm and positive energy is to surround yourself with like-minded, optimistic and productive people. Avoid the externally pessimistic mechanisms that emit uncertainty and despair. Purge yourself of those energy vampires that are determined to extract all the valuable energy you possess.
You have complete control over your life, so be mindful of your surroundings and with whom you invest your time. Strive to be the source of uplifting, clear and strong inspiration. You might be amazed at what other influential, solution-oriented folks begin to gather around you. Problems and challenges can be inescapable, but the more we encourage those dynamic individuals to join us, the greater our opportunity for solutions.
We all need a renewal button, and Labor Day is an incredible time to recommit ourselves to a confident mindset that provides beneficial guidance for tackling the objections that life can propel our way.
I was struggling to embrace this powerful psyche recently until I visited a good friend and his family the Sunday following Labor Day. The friend, Steve, is a uniquely optimistic, positive, high-energy guy, so the timing worked out impeccably. As I sat down, his daughter Lainey greeted me and asked if I wanted a Rice Krispies Treat that was in the color of Aquaman. As my mind catapulted back to high school with the thought of Rice Krispies, I knew in that moment that it was once again time to refocus with a spirited devotion to improve my expectations and take on the challenges ahead with abundant zeal. I furthermore wondered if Aquaman would ever receive the superhero status he so rightly deserves for his dedicated service in the Halls of Justice.
God bless. I hope we all find time to embrace the ability to change our mentality for the better. With great anticipation, I hope you too will welcome all the excitement that lies ahead now that we have put one more Labor Day in the rear-view mirror.