This Little Light of Mine

When I was going through a huge moment of spiritual growth, I began to learn about the inner light.  The inner light is the glow of your spirit that shines even when you do not speak, illuminates a dark situation, and radiates and attracts people to you in ways you cannot understand.  That light can be so powerful that it attracts great things, but at times it can attract people or situations that want to steal or dim your light.  Your light is your power.

I always loved people and being around people, but learning about my inner light allowed me to permeate into the lives of strangers without them even realizing that they let me in so quickly and so deeply.  As a healthcare provider, it puts families and patients at ease when they are in your care, your colleagues trust you, and you leave an impression no matter how long or how short you are in a place.  Your light is your power.

It is hard to put in words how I discovered my light, but once I understood it, embraced it, and used it naturally, I had to learn quickly that I had to protect my light.  Light does not only attack good things, but it also attracts negative things and people.  I went through a rough period where it seemed that life was trying to dim my light.  It was one bad situation after another bad situation, and yet even if it dimmed for a minute, I centered myself and allowed my light to shine through my situation. Your light is your power.

I have interacted with people who have tried to dim or turn out my light, but I learned how to detach from those who sought to snuff out my light and recognize those characteristics early.  Many times it is hard to detach, because the light thieves are the ones who should be protecting your light or teaching you how to protect your light.  Relationships, jobs, and financial situations can all come as darkness and overshadow your light, but when you know your power, purpose, and position you remove those things or you remove yourself from those situations to ensure that your light is always illuminating at its full capacity.  Your light is your power.

I have met some of the most amazing people in the past 3 months.  I have reconnected with many amazing people I met growing up and all that remains between us all is that they don’t overshadow or attempt to steal my light, and their light is shining just as brightly as mine.  The power of presence is within your light.  Everyone has a light.  How brightly you allow it to shine is up to you.  What you put out in life will always return.  Light will produce light.  Darkness will produce darkness.  Enhance your light by putting out light.  Protect your light by disengaging with darkness.  Your light is your power.

This little light of mine.  I am letting it shine.  My light is my power.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

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Jealousy and Envy

Daddy issues. Mommy issues. Color issues. Self-Image issues. Body image issues.  Inferiority complexes.  All of these things spew out of our hearts with disdain for others, when in reality we are jealous and envious of what they may have.  I used to see people with their parents and hate the way they took them for granted.  I would think, “If that was my mom, I would…” or “If that was my dad, I would…”  I hated myself for not having those relationships, and I disliked others who did not understand how great they had it.  There are many people who have Daddy Issues, a lot of people who have Mommy Issues, and then the smaller group of us who have both.  The concept of being parentless is so painful and exclusionary at times.  You feel that you do not have an anchor or a home base, because you are not connected to at least one of the people who brought you into this world.

I pitied myself and self-loathed for being a sort of orphan and wore my wounds externally.  I constantly poured salt into my own wounds and made sure that my pain was visible.  I carried myself as a victim of circumstance and clung to the concept of being different for all of the wrong reasons.  All of this boiled down to being jealous and envious of people for reasons they could not control.

Rehashing this sounds so silly, but as a child that longed for connection, it was my reality.  Although I did not battle long with my color issues because I went to a HBCU where I was surrounded by multicultural and multicolored beauty, I did look in the mirror and tear myself apart.  I longed for a sense of perfection that made me say, “You are not pretty enough,” “You are not tall enough,” “You are not short enough,” “You are not skinny enough,” “You are not thick enough,” “Your hair is too short,” “Your face is too round,” and it played out in times of failure as if any of those things were connected to my outcomes.  I look back now and long for my college physique, but at that time I felt that certain aspects of me kept me from achieving my goals.

I am not sure where my epiphany came, but I remember getting into a friend’s car my Sophomore year and she said that I looked different, prettier, happier even.  My inner self had changed and I had accepted me for who I was and that allowed my inner beauty to enhance my outer beauty.  Prior to this moment, I had failed to realize that my self-doubt and criticism of irrelevant things were the only thing keeping me from achieving my goals.  I had nothing to lose, but my personal, self-imposed chains.  The freedom that came with acceptance allowed me to change my energy and attract light with light.  I no longer yearned for what I did not have, but I highlighted my strengths and let them overshadow my weaknesses.

Life is a learning process and it takes time to become the best us.  There is always a better version of us waiting to be tapped into.  The depth and complexity of who I longed to be was tied to many things, but released by the power of love.  I had to love myself enough to know that I was more than enough today, and will be more than enough tomorrow.  I appreciate my experiences more, because I am able to connect with those who may be going through a similar situation.  I can now give hope to those who may feel that the lack of something is a stumbling block, when in reality it can be used as a stepping stone.

Jealousy and envy is more than just wanting someones lifestyle or material items, it can go deeper than that.  The desire to have what someone else has or had will not bring those things to you, but accepting your circumstance will allow those voids to be filled with the things that you need.

You will not get what you want, but you will get what you give.  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.

Every Year Aint Your Year

In 2012 I got engaged, bought a house, got married and had a baby. It was my year.  Everything that could go right, did go right and I was so excited. I got hundreds of likes on my Facebook page (that’s how success is defined amongst the millenniums) and despite the minor bumps along the way, I had very little to complain about.  I have always been blessed, but I have been through some tough times along the road, but 2012 was different. The year 2012 gave me things I never dreamed of and brought me so much joy and happiness.  It was MY year.

I did not start off 2012 feeling particularly blessed.  I had just found out I was pregnant a few weeks earlier, halfway through my first year of law school.  I had not planned this, but I did not resent the idea of having a child.  I felt that I was not ready at that moment and that I had not done everything I wanted to do prior to settling down.  I was also super sick and extremely tired.  The beginning of my pregnancy took a toll on my body that was not conducive to being in law school.  But through it all I had a great support system, great friends, and a great partner.

I did not know what 2012 was going to bring, but I knew that I had to prepare myself for what was to come.  After we planned to stay in our apartment another year, our landlord suddenly decided that he wanted to reclaim his apartment for his personal use.  This surprise left us scrambling trying to find an affordable and safe space in DC.  Anyone who has ever looked for an apartment in a rush, in an expensive city knows that is no easy task.  We weighed many options and decided to test the housing market.

We had a great realtor and everything seemed to fall perfectly in place.  We found a home, had a settlement date, and moved in  within 2 months of beginning our search.  We decided to get married before we had the baby and then awaited his arrival in our new home as newly weds.  No one could have predicted how my year would turn out and I basked in its glory.  I did not claim 2012 as my year but everything I had worked for up until that day seemed to perfectly work together for my good.

I went into the following year and went back to work, building on my foundation and preparing for my future.  I came into 2014 with a plan and goals.  I had a vision and it did not involve anything but being in a better place at the end of 2014 than I was in the beginning of 2014.  I expected that this year would be tough.  I did not expect to still be searching for a job this late into the year, but here I am.  Despite my minimal expectations, I am still content with knowing that I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing.  My next full-time position will hopefully be the position that I want or one that will lead to greater opportunities.

Many churches and pastors proclaim that “This is your year!”  They say this every year and people are let down many times because every year aint your year.  Some years you have to go through some things to grow.  Some years you have to learn patience.  Some years you have to prepare for what is to come.  After another few seasons, after you have gone through some things, you finally hit your geyser moment and everything you have endured, prepared for and prayed through finally culminates and your season of harvest arrives.  The window of heaven opens up and floods you with blessings.  This season may last a week, a month or even years.  Through all of this you still may go through some tough moments and the next year may bring tragedy or heartache because that is life.  You just have to believe that greater is coming.

Our expectations of only great things does not help us prepare for those moments when things are not so great.  We are here praising instead of preparing.  Sometimes we have to learn to listen, to meditate or to just keep pushing.  We have to learn that pain and pressure will come and we have to have appropriate coping mechanisms to work through those moments.  I believe in dreaming the unimaginable but I also believe in being firmly being grounded in your truth.  You know how hard you have worked, how much you have prepared and how much you have endured.  The road to success is not a straight line of nothing but great moments, but one riddled with failure, loss of support and dreams deferred.  The payoff is worth sticking with the process.

Dream big dreams.  Live life out loud.  Be great in everything you do.  Know that today may not be your day, this month may not be your month, or this year may not be your year but YOUR moment is coming.  Until that moment comes, you have to do everything that you can to be prepared.  You can miss out on your blessing by not being where you are supposed to be.

Every year aint your year.  But when it is, know that we will celebrate with you as you have celebrated with others.  Proclaim it.  But more importantly prepare for it.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Those Who Deserve Credit Don’t Have to Ask For It

I always post about how appreciative I am of my amazing family, friends and others who have helped me along the way.  I have been blessed to be in the presence of Gods many angels He has planted on this earth.  Despite many of the things that I went through growing up, God allowed me to see his grace and mercy through the actions of those around me.  I have personally shared with each person in my life who has been my rock at some point, their importance in my life through conversation, emails, text or cards.  None of these people have ever asked to be credited for my success or accomplishments.  When I achieve something, it is as if they achieved something because they were apart of the process.  These amazing people never say that I owe them anything, even though I feel that I am indebted to them. These amazing people never attempt to discredit me or tear me down in any way, even if they could.  These amazing people continue to push me through my next dream because they have never left my side.

So for anyone who feels that they deserve to be credited for my success but not my failures; for that person who may feel that they deserve to be credited for my accomplishments but not my missteps; he who wants to be applauded for being the battery to my drive or determination; the one who may feel the need to yell to the heavens that they are the only reason that I am where I am, I am who I am, or I have what I have but forgot that I never forget, here is my message to you:

I will never forget the decisions I had to make my senior year of high school in order to graduate and go to college.  I will never forget the attempts that were made to destroy my life or reputation. I will never forget the times when I reached out in distress and was dismissed and degraded.  I will never forget the disrespectful lies that continues to be shared with others about things that you don’t know about and aren’t even remotely true or accurate.

So, when you are making a scene about the credit you deserve, make sure that you are taking credit for everything.  Not just the good but the volcano of a mess that your words and actions have created.  Be careful when you speak because the same words you use to hurt will return to you and your life will reek of all of the negativity you put into the atmosphere.

This is my story.  I will tell it my way.  I will give credit to whom its due and ignore all others.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

When I Want to Give Up, I Remember the Why

Over the past 9 1/2 weeks, I have gone through a roller coaster of emotions.  It all started with the excitement of beginning the first steps to completing the final hurdle to complete freedom.  This soon glided into the endless feeling of being overwhelmed with the amount of information that I needed to consume daily, which then lead to mental exhaustion that made me fly back to feeling overwhelmed.  Then a sudden breath-taking drop came with the death of my grandfather, followed by the slow progression back to a level of focus that I needed to be productive and progressing towards being polished.

During many of the unproductive, completely overwhelmed and paralyzed due to exhaustion days, I wanted to throw in the towel, close the books, stop writing essays and stop practicing multiple choice questions, because I clearly was not going to make it to the end of this process better prepared than when I started.  I did not see the progress.  I felt that I was getting the same types of questions wrong and missing the same issues on the essays.  I decided that I would just go back to my old life, my old career, because I was never going to be ready for this daunting exam.  I kept telling myself everyday, “You are behind. You will never catch up.”  When I needed to rest all I could think was, “I am behind. I can sleep when I pass!”  I was angry at myself, at my lack of progress and at the idea of having to tell people that I quit.

Then after going months without seeing my son and days where he wouldn’t talk to me on the phone, we were able to connect with him on the iPad and I saw his precious face.  “Hi mommy. Hi daddy. Mommy. Daddy. Daddy. Mommy.”  In that moment, all of my stress, anxiety and fear melted away.  The only thing that was important was our special gift.  His smile, his laugh, his kisses…all of the things that I missed and the exact thing I needed to see to get my mind back in order.  After speaking with him and seeing his face, I realized that I cannot quit because I have someone watching my every step; basking in my successes and pushing me through my failures.

My son is my WHY.  For some people it is a car, a job or a vacation spot. For others it may be their mother telling them that she is so proud of them or standing next to their father who was sworn in as an attorney at the same place 30 years ago.  What your WHY is does not matter, knowing what your WHY is does.  If you do not have a WHY, you will give up during a breakdown MOMENT, instead of waiting a MOMENT longer and reaching your breakthrough.

After refocusing on my WHY.  I stopped telling myself that I was behind, and instead I told myself that I was where I needed to be.  Suddenly a burden lifted from my shoulders and I had renewed energy to make my WHY proud and complete the mission I set off to accomplish.  When you reach that moment where you cannot go on anymore, stop focusing on the negative, pessimistic or potentially disastrous outcomes and focus your energy on the positive, optimistic, and successful outcomes that you have worked hard to reach.  Focus on your WHY.  Keep pushing for your WHY.  Never give up because your WHY is waiting for you on the other side.

Your WHY won’t ever let you give up, so don’t give up on your WHY.  Why you do this.  Why this matters.  Why failure is not an option.  Why you can.  Why.  Stay the course.  Persevere.  Push through the pain.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

We Made It

Giving my grandparents something to be proud of means the world to me.  Life can be filled with so much disappointment but moments as glorious as graduation are celebrated by friends, family and everyone who my grandmother comes in contact with.  When I graduated from undergrad, she told me that she was just so happy to be standing there watching me walk across the stage.  She told me how she believed in me but she couldn’t conceive how it would work out because we didn’t have the tuition every single semester.   Seeing the end result was a pure miracle to her.

As I prepare for this second moment of glory, I thank her for her prayers, encouragement and for believing and conceiving it.  This JD isn’t just for me but for all of us.  WE MADE IT.