Captured Memories & Missed Moments

Captured Memories & Missed Moments

4E37FCD4-AC3D-42AB-A4C0-06840559D13DI had such a vivid dream last night. I was in an auditorium with a bunch of people I’ve met throughout my life: childhood friends, college friends, sorority sisters, co-workers from different jobs, etc. and we were all waiting on something. Something big. It was President Obama and he was coming to speak to apparently a bunch of students at an elementary school, but we were all there. As soon as he entered the auditorium, applause, screams, and cheers erupted. Everyone rushed to him for handshakes, hugs and selfies. I was one of those people, but when it was my turn, I couldn’t get my camera to work properly. The battery had died on me. So I pulled out my camera phone, but the memory was too full and no matter how much I deleted pictures and created memory space, it was still too full. Getting frustrated and feeling rushed, I pulled out another camera phone and whenever I pressed the camera app, it wouldn’t open. It kept crashing. So at this point, I’m getting anxious, the line is moving, my time is almost up so I’m begging people to use their cameras, camera phones, iPads, whatever so that I can take a picture with the President to post on social media. It was an epic fail. I did not get that picture with President Obama. I didn’t have a conversation with him. Nothing because I was too busy trying to literally capture the moment rather than create a lasting memory, gain some wisdom and make a connection. When I woke up this morning that epiphany dawned on me like cracking open a fortune cookie. I thought about how many times in my life I had done this.

How many times have I missed the marked? How many times have I missed out on a good connection, a teachable moment, and a lesson learned because I was too busy trying to capture the moment without making any memories? Think about it, we go to a fancy restaurant with an awesome person (maybe a date or a really good friend) and our plate comes and it’s this beautifully plated meal that we just have to capture. While we’re trying to set the table up to capture the beautiful set  up, our food is getting cold and our date is disinterested. We spend the rest of the date checking our notifications, seeing who’s liking what we’re eating and although we are paying attention to our date, they don’t have our undivided attention.

How many times have you gone to a networking event and didn’t network as much as you could have because you were taking selfies with others and speakers rather than creating conversation?

It’s like hey, I’m here and I want you to know that I’m here, but am I reeeaaaally here? Am I fully present in the moment?

The point is, be present in everything that you do. Put the phone down and make a real connection beyond finding people on social media. If you do meet someone on social media, reach out the them to meet in person if you’re in the same area. Make some new memories.

Are You Living or Are You Existing?

Are You Living or Are You Existing?

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I woke up this morning with a heart full of gratitude. I thought about all of the doors that are opening for me. I thought about my purpose and the passion that I’ve been chasing. Truth is, everything that I’ve been doing is coming full circle from my desire to work with teens and teen girls and my desire to be a writer…the webs are connecting. Finally. So I took an opportunity recently as a full-time high school teacher with KIPP NJ. I figured it would definitely help my writing and speaking skills, it would most certainly help me to understand a huge portion of my audience when it comes to the books I have prepared: teens, and it wouldn’t hurt to be able to fund those published author dreams in the process. Yes, I am still writing for Madame Noire, Upscale Magazine and editing for Black Girl Magik, so imagine the stretching that’s about to take place come September. Yikes!

I see often on social media “I know I wasn’t born to just pay bills and die.” My question is…what are you doing in your life so that you aren’t JUST paying bills and aging? Ask yourself are you really living or just existing and what can you do so that you can fully start to appreciate your life in it’s entirety? For me, it lied in financial security and freedom. I am literally a starving artist. My plate is always full, but my bank accounts are also always near empty and I knew that in order to fully embrace my life again as I had when I was in Newark…I had to change my perspective on things. I quit my job in October 2015 because I hated it there. I was at a place that only allowed me to exist and trying to live often left me broke and hungry. So I figured, hey I’m going to pursue this writing thing full time…in the meantime until I finally figure out my place. Well, I found it…let the living commence!!

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Anyway, lately I’ve been connecting with some pretty awesome and inspiring people who dream beyond their 9-5’s, but who also know that they need their 9-5’s in order to live their dreams. One guy, in particular, named Stephen talked to me about his daily checklist and how he holds himself accountable in all aspects of his life. As he was talking, I found myself writing down what he was saying. I wrote down every question on his daily checklist and I thought for someone who realizes they are existing and wish to start living, this is a great place to start.

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Now, these questions might do absolutely nothing for you, but the most important thing is that you’re asking questions about your life because when you ask questions it means that you’re curious and when you’re curious it means that there is still room for growth and when you’re growing, you’ll never find yourself in the same spot every single day existing.

Are you living or are you existing? Are you dancing or are you holding up the wall?

 

 

Manifesting an Abundance Mentality

Manifesting an Abundance Mentality

Some days I wonder if what I’m doing is really impacting others. Some days I wonder what am I even doing? When I started blogging and working on my book two years ago I was excited about the possibilities. I just knew that I would someday gain a wide audience and become this inspirational person to the masses. Two years later it seems like everyone’s a blogger now and everyone’s writing self-published books now and there are times when I want to just stop because I feel like what I’m doing is no more significant than what everyone else is doing. Has anybody else found themselves feeling this way?

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So last week, I had the opportunity to interview trichologist and natural hair educator Dr. Kari Williams for Upscale Magazine. We talked a lot about the black hair industry and how it’s an extremely lucrative business to go into for someone who’s interested in entrepreneurship. We discussed how so many women and men are turning to the industry as side hustles to make a few extra dollars a month. We discussed the word “oversaturated” and how it’s often used to describe certain work fields that are producing the most jobs and competition. I asked her for a bit of advice she’d give someone building a brand or looking to be an entrepreneur when they feel like they just can’t get their foot in the door of an “oversaturated” industry.

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She talked about how the first thing everyone needs to do is have an abundance mentality. She said if you walk into something feeling defeated or you allow defeat to creep in you’ve already lost before you’ve even allowed yourself to win. I keep replaying that comment over and over again in my head whenever I feel like just dropping everything. I had never heard of “abundance mentality” before. She explained to me that it’s the logic that there is enough for everyone and what you have is different because it’s coming from you. It’s original and that’s what makes it different.

What is “Abundance Mentality”

The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.

So how do I manifest an abundant mentality?

There are a lot of ways you can shift your mindset. The first is by having gratitude. Rather than focusing on what you don’t have, think about everything that you do have. Water your own grass and stop looking at how green someone else’s is. Stop comparing yourself to others, their harvesting process is different from yours.

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As a kid you’re parents should have taught you that sharing is caring. Well that’s another way to manifest an abundance mentality. By sharing with others it creates a healthy habit that we can all share a piece of the pie. We can all pull up a chair to the feast. There is enough for all of us so don’t be stingy. Share.

Resources are not scarce and believing things are ushers in greed, closes off connections and is draining. You’ll constantly feel like you have to be keeping up with someone or something. You’ll feel this jealous often. You’ll have this rushed process because if someone take a bigger piece of the pie then that leaves hardly anything for you so now it’s about getting the bigger piece.

She spoke it to me in terms of hair care and as if someone was aspiring to be a hair stylist. She said, “there is enough hair in this world for every stylist to have a seat. People can do but so much hair in one day before it’s time to let someone else in so that you can rest.” Apply that same logic to what you’re doing. Perspective is everything.

Accessing My Struggles & Why I’m Okay With Giving Up

Accessing My Struggles & Why I’m Okay With Giving Up

I recently came across a quote that read “Self-talk is the channel to change behavior” and it got me to thinking about some of the struggles I deal with on a spiritual level that affect my entire lifestyle from work to relationships to my overall well-being. I’ve been trying to come to terms and really figure out what I want to do with my life and at 26, I feel like I should be well on my way, but I’m not. I’ve found myself working at so many jobs that’s left me feeling unfulfilled. I’ve found myself in so many unhappy and dead end dating situations. So I had a moment where I thought about it all. I spoke them out loud. I had a conversation with myself and I decided that if I was going to struggle, it would be because I’m taking risks and working towards something that I love rather than struggling to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. I had to access my struggles and ask myself am I struggling because I’m being stretched? Is it because I’m put in a vulnerable position to learn and grow from or is it because I’m trying to force a lifestyle that I have no business in? For any that fit the category of the latter, I realized it’s okay to wave the white flag or throw in the towel.

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Most times we hear you have to stay strong and see things through which in turn implicates that giving up and quitting aren’t admirable traits, but in my opinion, it takes a special kind of courage to walk away from situations that no longer serve you well especially if you’ve gotten into a routine or a complacent place in your life. Sometimes it’s even hard to recognize those safety nets for what they are because they feel right in that moment but in the long run they aren’t.

Giving up isn’t always a bad thing. When your heart is no longer in something, walking away is okay. When your situation becomes unhealthy, it’s okay to give it up. When it’s changing you for the worst and pulling you away from the things that you love, it’s okay to say “no more.” When better doors are opening up and your intuition is leading you down a different path, it’s okay to want the finer things in store for you. We have such a twisted perception of what it means to give up that we often times don’t see giving up as a mean to also gain so we find ourselves stuck. We become stuck in dull relationships, accumulating years without substance. We find ourselves stuck at dead end jobs without promotions, growth or raises. We find ourselves taking up pew space at churches that no longer feed us spiritually. We become just another woodwork to society and that’s no way to live. I’ve learned to wave my white flag when necessary and be okay that I did it. I’ve learned to walk away from situations without regret because I know that I did the right thing. I realized that everyone isn’t going to like every decision I make, but the life that I live is mine alone therefore, doing what’s best for me is always a good decision.

Trying to Build Rome in a Day

Trying to Build Rome in a Day

One of the most cliche sayings is “Rome wasn’t built in a day…” and I swear to you guys, patience has become a daily struggle for me. I often wonder when am I gonna finally stop trying to make it and just make it already?! I realize why I haven’t made it yet though, my life has been full of so many detours some that life has caused and others I’ve caused myself. I hate struggling…I mean who does right? But, I’ve noticed that I tend to jump at the first thing that comes along that seems like an outing from my struggles, but that thing usually turns out to be worst than what I left and full circle, I always find myself back where it all began.

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Struggle is good. Being uncomfortable is good. They both create the motivation to keep going towards what you should. I was having a conversation with a friend and I told her I feel like giving up sometimes and she asked me why. I said because it seems like the things that I want are so far out of reach. She told me to remember my mission, she said remember why you quit your job and went back home. In doing so, I had to ask myself are the things that I really want for me or are they just someone else’s things for me? It was a tough question to grapple with, but it’s been on my mind all week. I quit a job in youth development and education and moved back home to focus on my writing which included two fiction manuscripts (still writing), this blog and the other media sites I write for in the hopes of building a portfolio dope enough for a magazine company to actually hire me full-time. So why was I pulling all-nighters, spending money on study guides and sitting through a three hour exam, twice to get back into the same field I had left, the same field that made me unhappy eventually? Because I got tired of struggling, but I wasn’t even enthused about it. I wasn’t even excited about the whole process.

Joyce Meyer once said patience is not the ability to wait, but how you act while you’re waiting…for me it’s panic, stress, anxiety and overwhelming anticipation, but in retrospect all the times I have faced extreme struggle they have also simultaneously been associated with some of the happiest times as well. I’m learning to see each new opportunity that I land, each blogging, speaking or writing gig that I get as a brick contributing to the building of my Rome…because after all it wasn’t built in a day.

So I challenge you all to look at the bricks that’s laying your foundation.

 

 

Today’s Message is Brought to You by “Why”

Today’s Message is Brought to You by “Why”

FullSizeRender (19)If I had to sum my week up in a few words it would be stressful, anxious, exhausting, and exciting. On Wednesday, I accepted a job offer that required me to go back to school to get a second Master’s degree through a residency program. I immediately got excited because I’m one of those weird people who loves school and what’s even better is I don’t have to pay for it. BUT everything came at me so fast. So this week was filled with phone calls, signing contracts, filling out forms, requesting transcripts, tying up loose ends and preparing for my first day of classes on Monday. This week presented so many hurdles. The icing on the cake was damaging the screen on my phone to where it was unusable. Things were piling up. I was getting overwhelmed. I felt myself drowning, so I had to shut everything down and take a walk….multiple times this week. As I took those walks, two options wrestled in my mind. I can cut the stress, say bump this job and grad school or I could just stay exactly where I am now: juggling a million deadlines, losing sleep, working hard and still being broke, living at home with my parents. “Touching” thirty, that last option didn’t seem to appealing.

I thought about all the things the first option would afford me. For starters, it would give me the financial freedom that I need at 26 years old. It would help me comfortably pay my bills, enjoy my life and fund my dreams, but most of all make a direct impact on the next generation who’d be filling our shoes. I mean that’s all I talk about anyway right? I thought about why I had decided to do this and the stress started to fall away little by little. I just needed to remember why.

So today’s message is brought to you by the question “why” because the question why is the beginning of your soul searching journey, your curiosity, and your need for answers. It is one of the most important purpose driven questions you can ask yourself at any stage of your life.

German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche once said, ‘He who has a why can endure any how.’ Knowing your why is an important first step in figuring out how to achieve the goals that excite you and create a life you enjoy living (are you living or are you existing). Indeed, only when you know your ‘why’ will you find the courage to take the risks needed to get ahead, stay motivated when the chips are down, and move your life onto an entirely new, more challenging, and more rewarding trajectory.

But what happens when you ask “why,” but haven’t received an answer? You start to feel like your life has no purpose. You start to feel like maybe you’re just here to exist because at this point, there is nothing extraordinary about what you’re doing and you have no idea what you even want to do beyond that. Well, I am here to tell you that you are wrong and that finding your “why” requires more than just one question, but it’s not has hard as you think…in fact it’s probably been right in front of you all along. So let’s clear up that vision shall we? 

In life we have the things that we want and the things that we need and there are times when they just don’t overlap. Sometimes they are completely on different wave lengths and you find yourself being stretched in two different directions, but they are BOTH contributing to your growth in positive ways. So naturally you’ll try to find some middle ground in all of it, but you still haven’t been able to figure out your “why.” I was in that same place a few months ago and there are times even when I’ve moved on, I’ll find myself back at that place.

Through all of that searching and questioning and thinking, I came across an article by author and leadership guru John Addison on “How to Find Your Why in Life” in Success Magazine. I wrote down all of the questions he ensured would help (you guys know I love questions) and decided to answer them for myself, but now I want you to answer them for yourself.

What is your definition of success?

Notice I said “your,” meaning what do you need to do and achieve in order for you to say that you have a successful life. I don’t want to hear what other people have or do that makes them successful because you’re not them. So if you’re about to tell me your definition of success is to have a Lambo, huge mansion, loaded bank account, I’m going to assume you’ve been watching MTV Cribs (does that still come on?). So think about that.

What are you passionate about?

I often come across articles and interviews with successful people who share advice and tips on how to turn the things they’re passionate about into their careers and the one thing that they all have in common is they never grow up…or at least on the inside…I mean dream wise. You get it. Remember when we were kids, we literally wanted to be everything even if it didn’t make sense at the time. We were innocent and naive and that’s what made our dreams so pure and vivid. As you get older, you realize you need that type of dreaming in your life again even if it doesn’t make sense to others.

You might be passionate about collecting a certain type of toy (like Treasure Trolls)…or you might consider yourself an candy connoisseur…they sound childish, but are they really? Anyway, the things that you are passionate about are literally compasses to finding your “why.” They’re pointing you in the right direction so pay attention.

If money were no object, what would you do?

In my last post, I talked about needing financial freedom in order for me to stop existing and to really start living. Money isn’t everything, but as a dreamer and someone with a load of passion projects cooking, having financial freedom would do a great deal for me. So if money weren’t an object, I’d be able to focus more on building my brand. What would you do if money weren’t an object for you?

Finding your “why” doesn’t have to be like climbing Mount Everest. It just requires you to pay attention to the things that you respond positively to and the things that make you happy. Trust me, everything ALWAYS comes full circle.

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