Getting to Your Destiny

This week has shown me that I am where I am supposed to be.  I started my new job and met some amazing people, cared for some resilient patients, and sat across from remarkable families.  I am happy because there is so much room for growth and many opportunities to learn from my co-workers, patients, and the organization.  Despite me desperately wanting a job, I prayed and was very specific about what I wanted in my next position.  As I drove up to my job on the first day, I realized that all of my prayers had been answered.

Over the past few months I started to discuss how much I missed being involved in patient care.  I have so many great memories from my experiences with my patients and co-workers.  The camaraderie that comes with  trying to save a life every day is indescribable and life altering.  I loved the spontaneity of my day and being able to meet so many different people.  I do admit that the hospital environment was not perfect, and lacked much of the autonomy and respect that experienced nurses deserved.  So stepping into a position in which I have extreme amounts of autonomy, a self-set pace, and the flexibility that most desire is a direct gift from God.

There is no perfect place, position or person to work for or with.  All life gives are opportunities that you have to make the best of, learn from, and grow beyond.  As a true millennial, I desire to create my own parameters, my own lane, and make things better for the next generation.  I have accepted that I am here because I am supposed to be here, but I have not accepted this place as my final destination.  On the road to your destiny are growth points and tunnels that you have to go through to see the broader picture of things that have always been working together.  You have to believe that every lesson that you are learning is necessary for your future success.

Many times we become frustrated because we are not where we want to be, but if we reflect on our choices it is only because we were not ready.  The path to our destiny is not straight or free of any detours, bumps, or bridges.  We have to go through it all to appreciate our destination.

Be confident in your journey.  Stay the course.  Stay focused.  Stay encouraged.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

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Self-Reflect or Suffocate

People used to have to tell me that I acted inappropriately or ugly when I used to blow up and go off on people. Many times with reason, but wrong nonetheless. Even though I still cut up, not as often of course, I immediately know that I lost control. The ability to self-reflect has come with age, experience, and accepting that one of my flaws is my temper.

Much of my anger came from many of the issues I dealt with growing up and feeling so out of control. Once I got professional help to process those issues, I was able to grow as a person and learn how to control my emotions. I would react negatively in a situation and immediately reflect on how I could have handled the situation better.

This process has made me understand my triggers and be honest with myself about myself. Many of us live in a state of denial of who we are and how our habits, attitudes, and outlook control our progress. We want to lose weight, but refuse to admit that we eat too much. We want to be prosperous even though we brunch too much and save less. We want to be in healthy relationships, but haven’t dealt with pass issues that are barriers to being a whole person.  I have or am guilty of many of these things myself.

You have to see the worst in you just as much as you see the best in you. Your ability to self-reflect accelerates your progress. Everything is a learning process, but you shouldn’t have to learn the same lessons over and over. Life is so much like school. You learn the lesson, you take a test, you pass or fail.  If you pass, you move on to the next level.  If you fail, you go through the lesson again until you get it.

Self-reflect.  Be introspective.  Look at yourself in the mirror.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Learning How to Love

I thought I knew what love was.  I do not even know what I thought, but I thought I knew something at every point of my life when I proclaimed to love someone.  As the years go by and I evolve each day, I realize that I know nothing about love and I have so much yet to learn.  Learning what love is and how to love is key to maintaining long-lasting relationships that surpass distance and time.

I have friends that I have known for years who are all very different, yet our relationships have withstood distance and time because we love each other.  Many of them were my first friends in college and we never let go of each others hands as we walked along our separate journeys.  Because we have been friends for so long, we eventually learned AND accepted how each person wanted or needed to be loved.

Some people need to be told that they are loved often, some people need that intimate connection, while others know the genuineness of your bond, and the only thing that matters is that you are present when needed.  Although we enter into intimate relationships with this knowledge, we make the road difficult by expecting love to be present and automatic.  Love is not a feeling, but the bond that is built between two people.

Looking back on my long-term friendships, I see that we did not love each other in the beginning like we love each other now.  We learned how each person wanted to be loved and learned to respect that persons love language over time.  As a wife I am learning that how I loved my husband year 1 may not be how my husband needs to be loved in year 4.  The most important thing is to allow your love to be fluid and encompass your partners current needs, instead of simply loving the same way because that is all you know.

Change is uncomfortable, but it is necessary for growth.  I am learning so much and accepting that I have so much to learn.  I won’t be the same person tomorrow as I was yesterday, because I am progressing in every area of my life, including learning how to love.

Love is our superpower.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Inspire Through Your Actions

There is a difference between those who are teaching the people as a leader and those who are teaching people to lead.  There are many people who can tell you from the pulpit that you can be successful, but few are willing to teach you how to be successful.  People are using their words to inspire instead of their actions.  Your words should be used engage and encourage, but your actions should inspire.

There is so much work to do and a shallow analysis of the current state of America will not change our tomorrow.  I am trying to balance my engagement and my action.  It is easy to sit behind a computer and say words that sound good, but it takes so much more effort to do the work that supports those words.  I am challenging myself to do less talking and more action.  I am working with grassroots organizations and personal initiatives to change the world, but I can do more. We all can do more.

I cannot tell you what your more is, because it is personal.  You have to tap into your passion and work hard at creating that change.  Life is going to be what we make of it.  We cannot leave it up to the next generation to make things better.  We have the power and we can change the world today.

Less talk.  More action.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

I AM Where I AM Supposed to BE

It is easy to say that you are in the right place at the right time when you are in a positive position.  We can easily declare that we fought our way to be right here or sacrificed enough to achieve a certain status when things feel great, but what about the times when we find ourselves in a valley.  Many of us pat ourselves on the back for our successes and beat ourselves up for our failures.  We should not do either.  Our success is not always triggered simply by the things we have done recently, but usually manifestations of seeds we planted long ago.  Our failures are not always a result of recent missteps, but a bump along this road called life.

We can easily look at ourselves and say we deserve to be where we are, except if we are in a bad place.  Although we may not deserve it, many of us need to go through that valley to be prepared for the next level. The glory of our greatness is balanced by the reality of our limitations.  We can only be great as the weaknesses we recognize and work through.  It is easy to highlight our strengths, but it takes courage to expose our weaknesses and transform them into foundational characteristics that lead to a better us.  We excel naturally through our strengths, but we build character by  converting our weaknesses into lessons of power.

Accept that you are in the right place at all stages of life.  Learn all of the lessons the first time around so that you are always moving forward, even when you are going through growing pains.  I am where I am supposed to be right now and I was where I was supposed to be weeks ago when I was in a dark place.  I had to go through that tunnel to get to the light.  The tunnel taught me how to focus, how to fight, how to listen, and how to learn even when it feels like I am stuck.  I never want to go back there, but my next tunnel will be full of new lessons and help me to be better than I was before I entered it!

I am enjoying the light and preparing my mind for my next valley or tunnel.  I want to grow and reach greater heights and I know this will take me through many valleys, over many mountains, and through many tunnels.  Basking in the glory of His goodness and accepting that the days behind me helped me be where I am today.  I am blessed.  I am grateful.  I am where I am supposed to be.

Your steps are ordered.  Live Excellently.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Balancing Being Selfish and Selfless

I spent my entire summer absorbed in my own mess and conflicted dilemmas.  I stopped working on all of my projects to focus on studying for the Maryland Bar and barely took a moment to even think about anyone else and their feelings.  I shut myself off from the rest of the world, because the only important thing to me at that moment was passing the Bar exam.  Looking back on that time, I cannot decide if that was a right or wrong decision.  I thought I was making the right decision at that time, but in hindsight I became someone who I never wanted to be; completely self-absorbed in myself.

From the end of May to the last week in July, I only had enough space in my head to think about myself.  Honestly for the past 11 years, some of my family members feel as if I have only thought about myself.  I went off to college and rarely came home.  I spent more holidays and summers with friends instead of planning activities with my family.  Coming home was always a chore and being there wasn’t always an enjoyable experience, so I kept it short and sweet.  Although I did not think I was being selfish, some feel that way and today I can start to see why.

Being selfish is always looked at as a negative thing.  It is viewed as a character flaw instead of a strength.  After having a 2 hour-long conversation with one of my favorite cousins, she said to me, “I finally understand why you left here and never looked back.  You have to be selfish sometimes to get where you want to be in life.”  She gets it.  Although she is my favorite cousin, we have not had the best relationship over the past few years.  We always seemed to be on the same side of things until recently.  Suddenly I was enemy number one and she became the voice that was going to bring me back to reality.  She learned that I don’t allow those type of relationships to burden me and I silence voices that aren’t here to help or encourage.

During our last conversation she finally began to understand that being selfish is not a character flaw, but a calculated decision to be focused enough to get to the next level instead of being stagnated by the opinions of others.  There are times in your life where being selfish is a form of survival.  Many people give until they are empty and have nothing left for themselves.  Being self-less can be a greater character flaw than being selfish.  Your emptiness can be more detrimental than being fully focused on your goals and dreams.

I can finally admit that I am selfish.  I can finally admit that I can be self-less at times, but I am mostly selfish.  I am learning to accept that as an asset and not a flaw.  I am doing what I think is best to be balanced, but you cannot always stop and explain to people why you do what you do, but most importantly you just have to know that what you are doing is in your best interest.

Right now I am in a self-less mode.  I am trying to change the world.  Literally.  I am still working on my own personal ventures, but most of my energy is going to initiatives that are greater than just me and mines.

Being balanced is hard.  It is truly a constant process.  I am a work in progress.  Pray for me on this journey. Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

#BlackExcellenceSaturdays: A Lifestyle Movement

We can never go back to where we were before the death of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Mike Brown.  We knew that we were in trouble.  It was evident by the economic stress of many within our communities; the changes in Federal regulations that disqualified many minorities and low-income families for Parent Plus loans, the amount of debt that students are graduating with, along with the leveling of pay for professional careers despite inflation increasing the cost of everything.  The lack of trade schools or opportunities to learn trades in high school.  The cost of early learning programs for our children have skyrocketed.  Our mental health and substance abuse resources continue to be defunded, closing programs that are vitally needed in many communities.  The writing was on the wall and it was only a matter of time before the pot boiled over.  So here we are, in the middle of an uprising with a heart for change with the need for sustainable plans to continue the path to progression.  Hence the birth of #BlackExcellenceSaturdays.

My goal is for us collectively to take control of our narrative and stop waiting on someone outside of our communities to tell us how to rebuild our communities.  We know how and we can do the work together.  Here is a way in which we are going to work together to support and connect with Black businesses:

  1. The 50 people that I have ultimately connected with will help me find 3 Black owned businesses in their city.
    1. An eating establishment/bar/lounge
    2. A business that provides a good or service
    3. A cultural/health focused activity
  2. We are going to use our social media connections to promote these 3 businesses/activities and encourage participation on that designated Saturday of the month.
  3. We are going to do this for 12 months.
  4. We are going to show up on that designated Saturday and support that businesses with our dollars.
  5. We are each going to bring our family and friends and ask them to bring their family and friends.
  6. We are going to network with each other and share our personal business ventures.
  7. We are going to rebuild our community connections in person and have knowledge of the businesses in our community and those who may be able to help us in our own ventures.
  8. We are going to build the movement by posting pictures on our social media outlets using #BlackExcellenceSaturdays

The goal of this initiative is to eventually subconsciously patronize Black owned businesses and local businesses in our community that support our community.  We hope to inspire and encourage other entrepreneurs to open and establish businesses in our communities because they know that they will have our support.  This is not an organization but a lifestyle.

Suggested Attire:

Whenever possible, we encourage those attending to be dressed to the 9s, including our children.

Purpose:

  1. To bring positive attention to the movement
  2. You are more likely to compliment and easily connect with someone who is dressed up
  3. To honor our ancestors who used every opportunity to celebrate our beauty

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Here are some suggested looks but we encourage you to celebrate with us however you feel comfortable:

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#NoMore: When Mothers Unite, Change Will Come

When I went to protest in the streets of Houston, I did not know what to expect.  I got to the park late and had to drive to find the march that was weaving through the neighborhoods and heading towards the highway.  The police were attempting to contain and manipulate the movements of the peaceful protest in order to keep us from shutting down the highway.  We reached two pivotal points at the march that really had me emotional.  The first was when they stopped us in the middle of a neighborhood and surrounded us.  They attempted to stay stone faced but a few chatty ones commented as we stated our disgust with the system and our plans to continue protesting until our existence is acknowledged.  Seeing a large group of people herded into the middle of a street and surrounded by armed officers inspired to me to keep pushing because they were not taking us seriously.

After about 20 minutes they allowed us to march forward, but the police department had already set up a physical blockade on the next major intersection that lead to the highway.  The officers were mounted on horses along with dozens standing around watching us.  As we stood there face to face with people who have been hired to protect and serve, i began to cry on the inside.  My spirit began to scream NO MORE.  I screamed, “I went through 26 hours of labor to have my son, and I will not let you take his life away!”  I screamed, “NO MORE!”  The crowd echoed, “NO MORE!”  I began to cry because I had moved from just being passionate to being protective.  Protective of my son and his future, but also protective of an entire generation of young people who are facing aggressive and poorly trained officers everyday.

Mothers are powerful people.  When they set out on an agenda to get something done, there is little that can stand in their way to stop them.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded in May of 1980 and over the past 34 years this organization, started by one mother, has made a tremendous impact on legislation and awareness.  Many of the women who share the same passion against drunk driving have also been the mothers of survivors of this circumstance.  These women have united and made a difference in the lives of millions across the country.

When you see the strength and resilience of Sabrina Fulton (Trayvon Martin’s mother), Valerie Bell (Sean Bell’s mother), and now Lesley McSpadden (Michael Brown’s mother), you see that they are fighting to keep it together for their family, the public, and themselves.  Their pain is being watched and replayed over and over by the media.  They are being asked to do interviews as they shed tears and share memories of their sons.  They want to see something change, but the solutions are a work in progress because justice did not come and set a new precedent, but continued the history of “not right now.”  Seeing these three women together made me realize that they are unfortunately connected by tragedy, but powerful tools to change their tragedy into a union of mothers who want more for their children.

Black mothers are not the only ones losing their children to police brutality, guns, violence, or drugs.  Latino mothers have to explain to their sons that interactions with cops can lead to death, so they must be careful and cautious in their words or actions.  White mothers are fighting against drugs being sold in their child’s schools or bullying online.  All mothers are fighting to protect their children from the negative aspects of this world.  We must stand together and fight against the system that is setting our children up to fail.  We have to decide that this is the end.  No more.  We will no longer allow our children’s lives to be in the hands of the government.

We are ridiculed if our child breaks a bone, plays on the playground alone at age 7, if they don’t get perfect grades in school, if they have a short attention span or they get frustrated because they are trying to understand in a pressured environment.  Our children’s education, safety, and future is in our hands.  We have to declare that we know what is best for our children and the government has to work back towards allowing us to be parents and not educational wardens, teaching for a test instead of through critical thinking.  We do not want our face thrown into the public eye because of tragedy, so we must stand together and say NO MORE!

No more.  Police Brutality.  No more.  Bringing drugs in our community.  No more.  “War on Drugs.”  No more.  Guns being dumped in our communities.  No more.  Miseducation of our children.  No more.  No more.  No more.

We as mothers cannot take this any more.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

After attending college and law school, marrying a well-educated and professional man, and being surrounded by other professionals, I could easily isolate myself from reality and live in a fantasy world of perfect equality.  I could take my story and use it as a way to brow beat others who make excuses as to why they cannot succeed.  I could tell children they do not value the free education that is being provided for them and their ungratefulness is a sin in itself.  I could look at the poor and chastise them for not making better financial choices or buying things I assume they do not need.  However, I am far enough removed from poverty to help those still tangled in its complex web and close enough to know that it could be me at the drop of a dime or slip of a circumstance.

Many of us have become desensitized to the daily lives of the impoverished and oppressed.  We feel that we are above reproach because we have made progress in our personal lives.  We have detached from those who are not on our “level” and adopted an attitude of superiority to justify our disdain for others who have not made it out the struggle yet.  Some lack the social responsibility to help others as they were helped but instead to openly criticize and side with critics who generalize, exaggerate, and misconstrue data to continue the tradition of white supremacy.  You are comfortable and you are passive.  Your words are empty barrels of nothingness that are piling up around you and blocking your view of reality.  You comfort yourself with material things but as this generation takes on the task of changing the world, your words will soon be silenced by the movement around you.  You will benefit from the changes but you will not leave a legacy of power but one of fear and complacency.

It is not easy to wake up everyday and feel the burden of this world on your shoulders.  I feel as if I owe this world my life for all of the exposure, experiences, and opportunities that I have received over the past 28 years.  I truly believe that if God does not do anything else for me, He has done enough. So I sacrifice my time, energy, and any resources I have to fight for change for myself, my child, and those who have been marginalized and silenced for centuries.  Although as a Black woman I experience so much, I know that it is not only us who needs to fight.  Women in general have so much to gain.  The LGBT community has so much to fight for.  Americans who are disabled have so much to fight for.  Veterans have so much to fight for.  The mentally ill and their families have so much to fight for.  Those who have been sucked up into the prison system have so much to fight for.  The poor people in major cities and small towns across America have so much to fight for.

Right now our focus is on police brutality because there has been no progress in the legal system, policies, or practices.  We will fight for this until there is a change but we as a people, American people, have so much to fight for and none of us can sit back and just let things play themselves out.  We can no longer ask our Congressmen to discuss or contemplate our issues, but demand that they either deal with them and create change or get out of office.  We have given so much deference to those who sit in public office, in corporate positions, or tell us what we are doing wrong in the media and we have lost our sense of self.

We the people is still at the beginning of the Constitution.  We have to stand up as a people.  Black people.  Minorities.  Veterans.  Mentally ill.  LGBT.  Women.  Men.  Children.  Mothers.  Fathers.  Marginalized.  Oppressed.  Silenced.  We are going to fight until there is change, but if the rest of this country will stand up against the machine, our voices together will force the hands that are simply spinning the wheel.  It is time to break the machine, change how things are going, and create a system that benefits more that the wealthy top 3%.  I have Black power.  You may have a different power, but we must use all of our power to change tomorrow because today we have declared that enough is enough.

It is our duty to fight for freedom.

It is our duty to win.

We must love each other and support each other.

We have nothing to lose but our chains.

Assata Shakur has given us words to live by. Words to die by. Words to empower. Words to encourage. We have a choice. Either we fight, win, love and support each other or we leave this burden to the next generation.

We will fight. We will win. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.

MY Plan to Change the World

Over the past few years I have been trying to hone in on the direct changes that I want to see and how I am going to make them happen.  I am very passionate about so many things and I know that I cannot change everything, but I can make a major difference somewhere.  So today I decide to write down my list and work on them constantly.  This is my plan and I do not expect anyone to join me, but I know along the way I will find kindred spirits who can help me build on this foundation.

Here are my goals:

  1. Educate the community on their legal rights. 
  2. Engage and encourage the community to participate in local politics.
  3. Support Black owned businesses that invest in their local communities and eventually build an association that has the power to control the Black spending power in America. 

Writing down your goals and plans helps the universe center the resources you need to make those things happen.  I know that everything will not happen overnight, but eventually I will find opportunities that align with my goals.  When I set my focus on something, there is little that can stop me from achieving positive results.  I cannot tell you how I am going to get it all done, but I will.

I am not asking anyone to adopt my agenda but to create one of your own that empowers, educates, and encourages a generation to be DOERS! Many hands makes for light work. We need all hands on deck at this pivotal moment in our lives.  We need everyone to use their talents, gifts, and passion to change the course of the current path we have been on for a very long time.  If you are passionate about art then take a weekend to teach some children how to express themselves artistically.  If you are into fashion, volunteer at organizations that help the less fortunate to prepare for job interviews.  If you are into math or science, find an organization to tutor with and inspire children by example.  Whatever if is that you have to give, please share with the world.  You cannot take anything with you and your talents will be better used here and now.

Fight the good fight.  Fight the power.  Power to the people.  Be you. Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.