Special Feature: “Meet Cornell”

cornell thomasI recently connected with Cornell Thomas through Twitter and not only does he have a really inspiring story, but he speaks to the fact that you do not have to let your past situations affect your present moments.  More so, how to use those “negative” experiences to your advantage, creating a positive perspective in life!

Check out his story…

“Environmental Issues” by Cornell Thomas

When I was four years old my father passed away from cancer.  I was too young at the time to fully recognize the impact that event would have on my family.  When my father died he left behind a wife and five kids.  On top of the stress that came with his passing, money immediately became an issue in our family.  My mom, who I believe is the strongest person (man or woman) who has ever walked this earth, somehow just figured it out.  If our lights were cut off because we didn’t pay the bill we would use candles and flashlights.  When the heat was turned off during the winter we would wear our winter coats to bed.  No food?  Check the refrigerator again and make something up out of thin air that’s edible.  We were raised on the saying “everything happens for a reason”.

When you’re eight years old and can’t figure out why you have to wear pro-keds while all the other kids are wearing Puma’s, you don’t see the reason for growing up “without”.  As I got older, I not only learned to accept my upbringing, I began to appreciate it.  I appreciate the struggle because it makes me OVER appreciate every little thing that comes into my life.  I appreciate the fact that I can type these words on a computer that is located under the roof over my head, and adjacent to a different refrigerator that actually has food inside it.

You become a product of your environment when you allow your environment to define who you are.  It didn’t matter what we did have or did not have – my mom made sure that we all grew up with a good head on our shoulders.  I hear men say all the time, “I didn’t grow up without a father and this is why I am how I am” (in a negative way).  I can’t accept that.  Was I angry when I was younger?  Yes.  Did I envy my friends that had active fathers in their lives?  Yes.  Would it have been great to see him at my little league game?  Sure.  But the reality is this, there are people with both parents that didn’t have the love we had in our household from just our mother.  I wouldn’t change that for anything.

We live in a “Why, Me?” society.  Imagine if instead of “Why, me?” we said “What, now?”  OK, so you grew up rough, now what are you going to do about it?  You just lost your job, your wife/husband left you, you have more bills than you can handle, etc…Well, here are your options:  You can waste time stressing about how bad you have it or use that same time to change your fortune.  It’s not going to be easy, but life isn’t easy.  My environment made me tough, and that’s why I wouldn’t change anything about my childhood besides my father’s passing.

An old expression is, “It’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.”  And, where you’re at is determined by you.  Don’t allow your past to negatively affect your present.


Cornell is now a youth mentor, as well as the Assistant Basketball Coach at Blair Academy where he coaches, trains, and motivates kids to be the best that they can be!   Learn more about Cornell at http://powerofpositivity.net/

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