G.O. For Change

Changing people, places, and things one blog at a time…

Posts Tagged ‘support

I Want to Be: A Barber

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There are many occupations that people would love to be involved with –bloggers, hairstylists, trainers, coaches, as well as a host of other dream jobs/careers/hobbies.

Here is the thing-the occupation that you may have daydreamed about CAN BE A REALITY! There are people (some you may know), that are in the fields that they have stopped dreamed about, and started making it happen. To bring home this fact, this series, “I Want To Be” will be highlighting people already IN these positions, so that 1- you see that it IS doable, and 2-learn from the tips that they have generously offered. The bottom line is, there are MILLIONS of people living the lives they have envisioned. Why can’t YOU?

Mr. Rauf Smith has been cutting hair since the age of 9. Now, Rauf is now the owner of The International, a barbershop located in the Waverly area of Northeast Baltimore. Have you desired to be a barber, or to just  the art of cutting hair? Rauf has offered the following tips:

  1. Be an apprentice/Enroll in a barber school: By being an apprentice (learning under the tutelage of a Master Barber), or by attending classes at a barber school, they will equip you with the knowledge to equip you to be a barber.
  1. Know your tools: Knowing how to effectively use guards, clippers, shears, combs, and other equipment, as well the proper way to sanitize your tools, is critical in keeping you and your clients safe.
  1. Study & Practice: Although Rauf has been cutting since he was a kid, he says his STILL studies new styles, and different techniques.

If you have ever desired to become a barber, here you go!

As always, thank you for reading.


Rauf Smith is the owner and of The International, where they believe that “EVERY MAN NEEDS A HOBBY. EVERY GENTLEMAN STAYS WELL GROOMED.” 


3122 Greenmount Ave 

Baltimore, MD 21218


 Hours of Operation

10am to 10pm Monday through Friday

8:30am to 5pm Saturday

10am to 4pm Sunday



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Recently, there was a hashtag, #endfathersday that showed up days before Father’s Day, which caused a lot of controversy. Although #EndFathersDay was found to be just  a hoax, people still used it to spew a lot of hatred. My dear brothers and sisters, allow me to share my thoughts on the subject:If you are in favor of this “ideology”, I will pray for you. I can’t imagine the person who is so full of hatred and anger that they would even consider engaging an ounce of effort into this….madness. I assume you may have had unsuccessful male interactions (either from a father, or boyfriends), and for that, I can see where your suppressed anger and disappointment may manifest itself into childlike behavior, such as a hashtag, a rant, or passive aggressive behavior in your life towards males.

At the end of the day, if there were some external factors (i.e. father who was absentee, or abusive etc.)that were out of your control, I pray that you release yourself from the past. I cannot imagine the pain that you have experienced, and for that, I pray you get the help and support you need . Do NOT allow the past to hold you hostage from your present and future.

If your anger stems from poor male relationships, (i.e. boyfriends, father of your child(rens), I hope that you look at the situations, and learn from them. While it is easy to point the finger (and you may be completely valid in your judgement), I also challenge you to accept 100% responsibility for your role in the situation.Were there things that you accepted,despite your better judgement? If you saw those red flags, and choose to ignore them, then you are just as much to blame.

Bottom line, if you decided to “SHIFT” you can now rejoice in the fact that you now know what you DON’T want in relationship. I hope that you take time out, release yourself from the past, and keep optimism and joy in your heart. Allow the men who have done what they are supposed to do,to be honored and praised. You are better than that……right?


As always, thanks for reading
Signed,A Proud Dad (Garry)

Stone Soup: A Letter of Thanks

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Months ago, I was online, and saw a great idea that would help out the community. They were called “blessing bags”, and they provided essential items (soap, snacks, toiletries etc.) to our homeless brothers and sisters.  So as I did previously, I put the word out, and again, the response was awesome! We were able to not only meet our expectations of the amount of “blessing bags”, but we exceeded it! We even had other various items to donate.  Again, here I am, simply saying thank you.

When I received the donations from some of you,  I often heard, “I wish I could donate more”. This reminds me of an awesome story, titled “Stone Soup”:

There once was a traveler who came to a small village, tired and weary from his long journey. The traveler did not have anything to eat and hoped that a friendly villager would be able to feed him. He came to the first house and knocked on the door. He asked the woman who answered if she could spare just a small bit of food as he had traveled a long journey and was very hungry. The woman replied, “I’m sorry I have nothing to give you. I can barely feed my own family.”

So the traveler went to another door and asked again. The answer was the same: “I have nothing to give you.” He went from door to door and each time was turned away. Undaunted, the traveler went to the village square, took a small tin cooking pot from his bag, filled it with water, started a fire and dropped a stone in the pot.

As he boiled the water, a passing villager stopped and asked him what he was doing. The traveler replied, “I’m making stone soup. Would you like to join me?” The villager said yes, and he asked if carrots were good in stone soup. “Sure,” said the traveler. The villager went home and returned with carrots from his garden to add to the boiling water.

Soon, another curious villager came by and was invited to join them. She went home and returned with some potatoes. A young boy passed by and soon joined the group, bringing his mother and dinner plates from their home.

In time, a crowd gathered with everyone offering their own favorite ingredient: mushrooms, onions, salt, black pepper, acorn, and squash. Everyone wanted to be part of the creation. Finally, the traveler removed the stone and declared, “The stone soup is ready!” And the whole community joined in a feast where there was none before.

While it may prove difficult for one person to take on a task, when the entire community gets involved, anything is possible. Any donation, whether big or small, is a blessing. I sincerely thank you for your donations, and adding to the pot.


Garry O’Neal


P.S Here is the picture of the completed bags! We donated the female blessing bags to the House of Ruth, and the men blessing bags to the Helping Up Mission, both here in Baltimore, Maryland. You can also check out my Facebook page, CommUnity Action of Baltimore for upcoming community projects!

Written by Garry O'Neal Jr.

December 13, 2013 at 10:38 am

They Lovin’ the Crew: Your Support System

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Most people did not want the Miami Heat to win…I mean some people really disliked the Heat (I wrote about who fans should really be mad with). I was on Facebook, and one of my friends said “Juwan Howard just won a ring, REALLY??” I thought, “he deserves it too.” If you look at his stats, they weren’t All-Star material, only averaging over 1 point, and 1 rebound a game, but he deserves it. Sure, LeBron James went to WORK, and Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh did their parts, but If you look at the playoffs, and what the role players have done, from Norris Cole and his high-top fade, Mario Chalmers getting yelled at every 24 seconds, to Mike Miller going crazy with hitting 3’s, they all can say that they deserved to touch that championship trophy. There were many times I would see the superstars defer to one of the role players, and would be baffled! But why should I have been? The role players are still PLAYERS, and they have an obligation to their team just like any one of the major players. Look at the joy and happiness of the faces of the players for Juwan when he was interviewed during the Heat celebration. If you can’t smile after seeing that, I don’t know what can.

The fact is, the superstars needed a great supporting cast to help them. Look at any film, any song, any sporting event, and I am pretty sure there were some great supporting actors, supporting producers, or role players that played like stars. Were the Oklahoma Thunder writing defensive strategies for Mike Miller? Probably not. Unfortunately, we saw what happened when the Thunder’s supporting staff didn’t show up.

As people, we all need a great support system. I recently wrote about my adventure zip lining. I needed my support system to get me to my goal-even when I told them to “shut up”, they still kept cheering me on. I really appreciated them for that. Often, the support system that you surround yourself with, often defines YOU. If you are hanging around with people that aren’t motivated, aren’t on the right path, chances are, you aren’t either.

Here are a couple things to reflect on in reference to your support system:

  1. Are they supporting you? This is a very critical question. There is a difference between offering advice or suggestions that may not be in agreement with what you are doing, and being critical. Are they saying it from a place of love, or negativity?
  2. Are they like minded as you? When you look at the Heat, did they seem to run on one accord? While I really liked the Oklahoma Thunder, I couldn’t help but cringe when I saw Russell Westbrook shoot more than Kevin Durant (OKC supporters will probably hit me with some stats that show that when Westbrook shoots more than Durant, they win more games. My reaction? I.DON’T .CARE.). The fact remains, if you and your support system aren’t on the same page, how can anything be accomplished?
  3. Are YOU helping THEM? When I saw the playoffs, I saw role players helping superstars, and superstars helping role players. The relationship you should have should be an equally beneficial relationship- not just “yes men”, or additional guests to your pity parties, but rather, people that can support you, motivate you, and be honest when you aren’t. If you have a great support system, thank them, if you feel like they aren’t, then I challenge you to shift, and surround yourself with one.

As always, thanks for reading,


Ps. I hope Steve Nash can get with a great support system. I really want him to win a championship before he retires. I asked him was he considering returning to the Phoenix Suns. Here is his reply.

F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real)*

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Yesterday, a leadership group that I am a part of set out to tackle a team building compound, that made us work together as a team, think outside the box, and be able to use our leadership skills to achieve our goals. One of the events was a ropes course, which was suspended HIIIIIIIGH in the air in the middle of a forest! It looked impressive and intimidating at the same damn time (bonus points if you said the previous 5 words in your best “Future” voice). While I was ready for the challenge, I had a problem; I AM AFRAID OF HEIGHTS!

As I said earlier, this ropes challenge was intimidating; it was broken into 4 parts, which I call “initial set-up”, “eagle walk”, “heeby jebbies” and “zip”: during the initial set-up, you had to climb a ladder, and attach yourself to the actual lines. I had just assisted my other teammates in completing the challenge and it was my turn. Since I already just watched the team individually go through the course, I was confident approaching the “initial set-up”- which lasted about the 8 steps on the ladder. Getting up to the actual rope line was very difficult for me, and once I started, it would have been great to tell you that I just breezed through the challenge, zip lined through the forest, and  conquered my fear of heights… it did NOT happen that way.

Once I got through the initial set up, I had to walk to the first “checkpoint” which was about 30 feet away. It felt like 3000 feet away! I focused on a tree, and inched my way to the destination. My other teammates were encouraging me (which we all did for each other), but I didn’t want to hear it-fear caused me to not want to receive it. Once I reached the first checkpoint, I then asked for encouragement*. The next checkpoint was the “eagle walk” which used 3 lines, 1 line to walk across, and 2 lines that you used for assistance-similar to using railings as you walk down a flight of stairs. The instructor showed me what to do, and just breezed through the “eagle walk”; me? Not so much. In this situation, I had already seen 2 of my teammates fall*, and while we were attached securely, I was terrified of falling, and it was evident as it took me a while to go across this portion. Checkpoint reached (after about 10-15 minutes). Now, it was “heeby jeebies” time (appropriate name). This section was a walk across; with a distraction- another rope was connected, which you had to step over to get to the checkpoint. This was really difficult for me, because while it was the really the same set up as before, only the line was not as tight, which caused a PROBLEM for me.* I psyched myself up, and took one step, and took one step back, which made me have THIS reaction in my mind. I heard my team giving me support, challenging me, pushing me (even threatening to throw rocks at me).  Hesitantly, I took one step, and another, and another- what seemed to be 45,000 steps later; I was at the last step, “zip”.

“I had already zip lined before, so, leaping off of the platform that was the easiest thing to do.”* I closed my eyes, and just let go- and yelled “PINEAPPLES” as I descended back down to the ground. It felt empowering to be able to do that, and was a great lesson that I learned about myself, and what it takes to be in control.

So, as you noticed throughout the story, there were “*” that popped up. Here is the relevancy of them as it related to this experience:

* “Once I reached the first checkpoint, I then asked for encouragement”: The purpose of a great support system is to encourage WHILE you are going through your “event, “and after. I didn’t want to hear encouragement while I was walking, because I was engulfed in that fear, and hearing encouragement would have (and did) force me to confront that fear. When you are going through something, be willing to receive encouragement. Too many of us use the “I can do it myself without help” speech, to shield us from being confronted about getting out of that comfort zone (i.e. fear). Make sure that you surround yourself with people that can encourage you, even when you aren’t encouraging yourself.

* “I had already seen 2 of my teammates fall*, and while we were attached securely, I was terrified of falling, and it was evident as it took me a while to go across this portion.” Fear will allow you to only see the worst in a situation. Instead of saying to myself “just be careful”, only thing I could think about was what I saw, and how I DIDN’T want that to happen to me. If I would have shifted, and acknowledged my anxiety, created a plan of action, and focused on that, the fear would have subsided.

* “This was really difficult for me, because while it was the really the same set up as before, only the line was not as tight, which caused a PROBLEM for me.”  Often, we are placed in similar situations, but instead of using successful action steps that we took the last time, we allow the fear to resurface, and cloud our judgment. When you are involved in a situation, remember what worked, and if something needs to be tweaked, then by all means tweak!

* “I had already zip lined before, so, leaping off the platform that was the easiest thing to do.” The zip lining part was the EASIEST part! I really appreciated this course, as compared to the one I experienced before, which just involved climbing up a tree, and zip lining. Don’t get me wrong, that was a great experience as well, but the work that went into THIS course really made the last step very easy and rewarding. Once we went through the steps needed to get to the goal, accomplishing the goal (in this case, zip lining), was easy. Remember that when you are faced with difficulties when accomplishing a goal.

*F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real): While I was up there frozen from moving, one of my teammates asked:” What are you afraid of?” At the time, I was only scared about falling- I didn’t want the embarrassment of falling, even though I stated earlier that we were securely harnessed (which, unless you would have weighed 4,500 pounds would have been a problem). When my teammates fell, it wasn’t a big deal-they just picked themselves up, and kept going. I also felt as though the ropes were in control, not me. So when  I realized that I wasn’t going to fall to my death, or have my support group heckle me, and I realized that I WAS in control, and that those lines were to HELP me, it was easier to accomplish my goal. Too often we talk ourselves out of being successful; “I’ll never be in love”, “I’ll never be happy”, I’ll never be___________. If we took a moment to have courage, envision the positive, increase positive self-talk, having a great support system, and reduce negative talk, anything is possible. Ask that entire forest, my peeps and I walked across yesterday.

As always, I thank you for reading.


Ps.  F.E.A.R now stands for “Feeling Excited and Ready!

P.p.s Apparently, a Batman or Catwoman costume is NOT appropriate zip lining apparel. Just an FYI.

Written by Garry O'Neal Jr.

June 23, 2012 at 6:09 pm

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