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A Full Plate of Weird with a Side of Crazy

March 26, 2013 Uncategorized Comments Off



Toler_01-Slides_041This is me at around 4, I believe.  At that age I was indeed:


You can’t fight a problem you don’t face.  My mother saw it coming and wasn’t afraid to call it what it was.  What she did was help me become emotionally intelligent.  This article talks about that.  I think what she did for me can help a lot of people.  That’s the concept behind my book:


Here’s a quick peek at what I mean.  I call it Cockpit Cool:


Most of us see how we feel as something that just happens. Happy, sad, frightened, angry, it all comes naturally.  It’s not something we cultivate; it is something that simply is.


I contend however that emotions are raw material that can be molded, refined and directed. We can feel one thing, decide it’s not helpful, then elect to feel otherwise. We can decide whether or not we’ll get angry.  We can learn to wrangle, then conquer fear.   I even believe that we can alter our base emotional personality – not completely – but significantly.  This last one I deem possible because it is something I’ve done myself.


My mother often tells the story of the night she lay in bed with my dad.  Wordless they stared at the ceiling until my father broke the silence, “What,” he asked in quiet concern, “are we going to do about Lynn?”


Convinced the world was an incendiary place that picked people out at random and burned them up alive I couldn’t leave the house.  Full of cascading fears and obsessive thoughts, I’d get so wrapped up in some small, remote, irrational worry I’d become paralyzed. I was once escorted home from school hysterical because Mrs. Dudash said get out your pencils and I couldn’t find mine.  Later, I took up residence in a closet and refused to leave because it wasn’t safe.


While that is who I was born to be it is not who I am. Once unable to rationalize my way out of a closet, I now regularly chase storms.  I am, in fact, a woman to whom others now go for good advice and calm.  I became a judge at 33, and now I host my own television show.


How did I do it? you ask.  What wisdom got me out of the closet and eventually placed me on the bench?


Neither medication nor meditation authored my new found calm. Pop psychology was not involved nor were years of getting the real thing.  The answer is simply this I have an extraordinary mother who is a master of an art most people don’t even see as a skill.  Duchess (my mother) approaches her emotional life as if it is a separate field of study.  She’s learned to step away from what’s happening around her and decide how she will feel.  She can identify any budding emotion before it can over take her. Then she makes an objective decision whether she’ll entertain it.  Unfettered by her own emotional static she has a clear vision of those around her. She sees not only what they do but understands how they feel.  This knowledge combined with her ability to make others feel as she would like allows her to manage those around her almost as well as she manages herself.


I call my mother’s innate ability Cockpit Cool.  It is that airline pilot personality, you know, the one you can’t fully appreciate until you hear pilots talking in situations in which only the black box survives.  These guys are working, thinking, yet never raising their voices, until . . . well, you know.  My mother maintains this kind of emotional control right here on terra firma.  And I contend that if we practice what she knows we can do it too. I know it helped me turn who I was into someone I’d rather be. And while I admit I have yet to attain Cockpit Cool I am Cruising Altitude Even which  – given my tumultuous emotional make up – is quite the accomplishment.


Here’s the thing: In a society where acts of unfettered rage are common place and people routinely call 911 because their fast food order was wrong, I believe that becoming emotionally educated is as important as learning to read.  Besides wouldn’t you like to develop a greater immunity to the ups and downs of life? Wouldn’t you like to remain a little more steady when the world takes an unexpected tilt?  Join me here and together we can learn to think our way through how we feel and become Cockpit Cool, like mom.






Losing 19

February 21, 2013 Uncategorized Comments Off

I wrote this while I was a judge in Cleveland Heights:  One of my Fans on Facebook asked to see it.  So here it is:





I lost Nineteen again today.  Abandoning himself to that wasteland we offhandedly call ‘the system’, he just walked away – casually  – like it was no big deal.  Some claim I shouldn’t say I lost him, though, considering what I do.  While I am a Black woman, I am also the person appointed to balance the books, which means, that, on this particular day, I am the one sending Nineteen to jail.


I am a judge in an inner-ring suburb, a place where middle-class stability stands in the shadow of urban distractions.  Here, Black, male and Nineteen is required to face the same dilemma every day; “Do I work and wait like momma said, or join the party down the street?”  Forced to choose before the calm sets in, Nineteen picks the wrong one.  Next thing you know, he’s standing before me, wondering what all the fuss is about.


It’s important to know that I am a municipal judge. Handling minor matters, I deal with assault, drug possession and carrying a concealed weapon charges.  Unfortunately, the size of the cases I see occasionally confuses Nineteen.  He views his mistake as a little thing that doesn’t warrant much concern.  I, on the other hand, see it as a small down payment on an incredible cultural cost.  “What’s with making me look for a job?” he asks.  “Why do I have to go back to school in order to stay out of jail?”  I’m fighting to keep the boy from becoming a statistic, and he doesn’t even care. So I plead, not for Nineteen to obey the law, but for him to do right by me.


“You owe every Black woman who cares for you an obligation you won’t be able to repay if you’re working off some ill-gotten debt to a society you don’t owe,’ I tell him. Some listen.  Most don’t.  My successes are few; I decide to give up at least once a week.  But I keep pressing because I don’t want to leave stranded the few I do manage to help. Those wins notwithstanding, my frustrations remain.


Just yesterday, one asked me to stop bothering him.  “You’re not my mother,” he said. “Why are you messing with me?  Just let me do my time.” Lots of them, in fact, ask me to leave them alone.  They tell me, “It ain’t no thing.”  But, more often than not, the phrase that I hear is the chilling “I can jail.”


Of course, I know I only see the problems.  Nineteen represents himself, well, in large numbers everywhere.  I have seven I claim outright, you know – not currently Nineteen – but Black and male.  One I married; four came with him, and two I produced on my own.  The older ones have already been Nineteen.  They’ve had their troubles, but they’re all okay now.  The ones I made myself, however, are still young; they have a lot to learn.


Living well in a world that does not always see your clearly is a difficult thing to do.  My boys must be able to ignore those who ridicule their efforts to do well in school while remaining strong even among those who find that strength intimidating.  Tough lessons, these, but they must learn them if they are going to do Nineteen the right way.  I don’t want them standing before some judge who may see them as a statistic.  If they mess around and get before the wrong guy, then where will they be?


Jail, of course, is the answer to that question.  The very same place that I wound up sending Nineteen today.  Frustrated because I can’t fix the world, and Nineteen won’t let me help him live better in it, I

shake my head, but must move on.  I have thirty more cases to hear.


“To jail or not to jail?” that is the question.  How hard am I supposed to try without his help? Doesn’t he see how so much of the harm he causes lands right in some sister’s lap? That is why I told Nineteen he owed me. “Consider the sisters in your life,” I say.  “It isn’t always about you”.  Then I remind him that, whether or not he understands it, when you jail, we do to.Toler_02-Pictures_082THESE ARE MY BOYS MANY YEARS AGO . . .  I PUT THIS ARTICLE ON THE WALL IN BOTH OF THEIR ROOMS WHEN THEY BECAME TEENAGERS.

Ask Judge Lynn

February 11, 2013 Uncategorized 35 Comments

Hello everybody!


I haven’t done an Ask Judge Lynn in a while; things were a little hectic – still are.  That said I have had a couple of requests so I thought I’d do it again.  Things to remember:


1.  I can’t answer legal questions.  This is more of a life-coach kind of Q&A.

2.  I can’t get to all of them but I will do as many as I can that I think I have a good answer to.  SO PLEASE DON’T GET OFFENDED IF I DON’T ANSWER YOURS!  :-O

3. The questions I do answer will be posted here with the answer.  Since I do them personally sometimes it takes me a while to get to them.

In the interim, ALL OF THE BEST TO ALL OF YOU!

Judge Lynnshot_5_office_049 lo-res copy


Thank You

November 28, 2012 Uncategorized 13 Comments

I wanted to take a moment and thank all of you who have been so supportive regarding my decision to home school my son.  I had no idea there were so many home schoolers out there!

After I got over the initial fear I feel very empowered about the whole thing.  I KNOW he’s learning (not goofing around in class) because I am right there.

He has to work.  And I think I choose more challenging work.  I am excited . . .

Anyway mad props to all of you Home schoolers and thanks for the support!



Ask Judge Lynn

November 5, 2012 Uncategorized 30 Comments


Hello all,

I get a lot of questions from people so every once in a while I like to do an


I get a lot of questions so I can’t answer them all.  Also I can’t do it privately . . . If you have a question leave it as a comment on this post.  If it one I
think I have a good answer to I’ll post the comment and my response.




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