What Chains Are You Breaking

There is always something keeping you from taking that big leap of faith. Is it fear, lack of faith, bills, or not remembering why you even started this work in the first place? We sing songs that say that we want to break free from our chains or that we just want to be free, but we have not identified what we want to be free from. You have to be direct about your intentions and free yourself of the bondage that may be holding you back.

I know that I can start my own successful business right now. My apprehension comes in when I start thinking about all of the money I have invested in past projects that have not reciprocated financially. Additionally, I have a large amount of student loan debt looming over my head, heart, and handwork. So when I get energized to move forward in my personal projects I forget about those things, but when I see how much I put out every month to pay my students loans, I lose that fire and start thinking of ways to work harder and not smarter.

We have to recognize situations that drain us and not allow those things to control our thoughts and actions. At the end of the day, no matter how hard I work,  I will never pay off my student loans. The only way that I can ever rid myself of the debt I incurred to get two degrees is to work smarter and not harder. I cannot let the idea of defeat resonate in my mind and drain me of all of my energy every month. I have to pay it and let go of the idea that I could use that money to build an empire. Without my education, I would not be where I am today. I may not see the full return on this investment right now, but eventually I will.

Identify the chains that need to be broken. Name them. Decide that you will no longer be controlled by the thought of these invisible strongholds. Move forward in being excellent. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.

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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.

Processing the Pain Properly

For the past year I have been looking for the right opportunity that would combine both of my degrees and experience.  I started the search and application process for positions as a 3L, and I just knew that I would be starting a new job soon after taking the bar.  After not hearing back from many of the opportunities I applied for and receiving many rejections, I began to increase my search, get creative, and network like crazy.  Although I felt that I had a lot of support and even a few potential opportunities, nothing seemed to pan out.  At various points through this process I was close to having an interview that would lead to one of my dream positions, and suddenly everything would suddenly fall through.  I could not understand why these things were happening to me, despite all of the work I had put in over my lifetime.  Arrogance.  Here is where I made my biggest mistake.

I wrongfully assumed that just because I sowed in many ways that I would reap my harvest when I was ready for it.  I wrongfully assumed that I did not deserve to go through this lull because I had been doing the work.  I wrongfully assumed that I had the credentials to get me into every door and I should be being recruited, instead of applying for jobs that I probably was over qualified for.  We all know that assumptions are wrong, especially those made about a life that you cannot completely control.

Instead of believing that something greater was coming, I was bitter that it was not here right now.  Instead of focusing on being able to sustain and still keeping things together, I focused on the things that I could have been doing if I was working.  But then I was reminded of why I left my job back in 2011.  I was extremely unhappy, my previous positions lacked autonomy, and I did not feel that I was appreciated or encouraged to grow.  After I realized that I never wanted to go back to being into that type of situation, I sat back and became patient again.

With my renewed patience I began to process my pain.  I realized that I needed to be humbled.  I had to begin to understand that I was not above growth.  I felt that I was doing so much that I did not need to grow in any area of my life because I was DOING things.  I did not have to pray more, focus more, read more, balance more, love more or think more.  I did not feel that I had to be fixed because I had made it this far being who I was.  Once I started to process my pain, I realized the agony came from me pushing against the process instead of learning as I endured.

It is hard to tell someone to enjoy the pain.  It is not easy to convince yourself that these feelings of depression are only temporary.  I acknowledged that these feelings are normal but I allowed them to consume me.  I allowed my situation to take over my outlook.  Even when I was able to come up for air, something would happen that would make me feel that I needed to stay under in order to survive.

When I began to take control of the things I had power over, I started to feel better.  Updating my financial spreadsheet and creating a debt elimination plan helped me see that I was not too far under or behind to catch back up.  Reconnecting with my friends and having very frank conversations about my personal struggles helped us all to see that we are all going through and growing continuously.  Finally, not being so hard on myself for being upset that I am unemployed was an okay feeling to have and there should only be an issue if I ever lost the desire to work despite my dreams and aspirations.  This feeling of uneasiness pushed me to continue applying, to continue asking for help from others, to continue exposing my vulnerability and need for others to survive.

For all of these things I am grateful.  I am still processing my current pain and hope to go through my next valley with a better mindset.  I am growing and growth is a beautiful thing.  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.

If I Listened to Society, I Would Have Never Succeeded

Children like me are not supposed to graduate from high school early.  They are not supposed to go to a great college or university.  They are not supposed to finish and get their dream job.  They are not supposed to get dissatisfied with their career and go back to a great college or university for a second degree.  They are supposed to have a baby out-of-wedlock but they are not supposed to marry their child’s father.  Children like me are not supposed to own a home, complete a second degree and have opportunities to choose from.

If I listened to society’s message about being black, motherless, fatherless, poor or a mother before I planned, I would have never succeeded.  If I listened to society’s message about the value of an education at HBCUs, I would have never fought to stay at Howard every semester and would not have went back to Howard, declining scholarship opportunities at other law schools.  If I listened to society’s message about balancing a family and your dreams, I would not be investing all of my free time into making my dreams turn into a reality.

Society has a way of shaming, demeaning and humiliating women, mothers, poor people, minorities, working parents, those who are not sexual conformists or sexual purists, and anyone who attempts to advocate or speak up for these groups.  The messages that are highlighted in mainstream media, backed by “policies” and shown through biased images oppress, silence and discredit these groups. The instant and ease of access to social media, video recording and outlets that connect millions of people together have only begun to shed light on the truth of who we really are and who we can become.

YouTube videos, blogs, Instagram and Twitter hashtags have connected people from different walks of life who have endured similar experiences.  These mediums have allowed us to see that many of us are more alike than we are different, that we are powerful and we are beautifully complex and interesting. We have been exposed to amazing people with unique backgrounds, survivors of horrendous crimes and minorities who are making a difference in their communities locally, nationally and internationally.   We are beginning to accept that poor people are not the enemy and breastfeeding in public should be supported and not shamed.  We are applauding working parents, stay-at-home moms and dads and those who chose to do what makes sense for their own families at that time.  We are beginning to accept that civil rights should be equally applied to everyone despite who they love.  We are respecting the talent and value of a person despite their sexual identity.

The exposure to the possibilities of life and the truth of our existence has transpired because we have stopped listening to society.  We have taken control of our stories, the images we consume and strengthened our power by rejecting the limited scenarios that we have been offered to choose from.  Our power is to be feared.  An open and aware mind cannot be controlled.

They said I would never make it.  They said I should not go to college.  They said I would not finish college.  They assumed I would never find a job.  They thought I would become like my mother.  They wished that I would give up.  They hoped I would stop believing. Their words, thoughts and wishes did not work against me because I did not listen to them. I have succeeded because I did not allow them to define my success.

Stop listening. Succeed.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

How to Achieve Your Goals: #12goals and I AM Statements

I made and shared this video 3 weeks ago but it is something I remind myself of monthly. Another month is coming to an end so it is important that you assess what you have done, what you could have done and what you need to get done. On top of being organized and prepared, write down statements proclaiming who you are. I AM powerful. I AM loving. I AM debt free. These types of statements force things in the universe to move and make provisions for you so that you can be who you are proclaiming to be. Everyday won’t be perfect but you will appreciate your good days and see how much they outweigh your bad days and you will make the most of the good and the bad. Be you. Do you. Tell your story. On your own terms.