I am Finally in the Place

I am finally in the place where everything is working together for my good not because I deserve it, or because I earned it, but because I endured it. 

My boss told me to listen to a T.D. Jakes message (Do It) and spoke about how it motivated him to move forward on some major things in his life. I listened to it last week and for the most part it was just a good message. But when the message hit the 57 minute mark, I knew why I needed to listen until the end. It was Jakes’ last point on triumph that spoke to my current situation. The message was so powerful that I had to listen to that message again and again it spoke to my spirit in a special way. 

I can walk through this phase of my life fearless, because even if someone attempts to take my spot they cannot take my place. Although I am careful of who I share my ideas  and future projects with, I know that this is my time and my success does not hinge on someone else’s failure. There is enough room in the kingdom for everyone to prosper, so others may replicate but it will simply be a copy of something that is not going to get you to your place. It is not my battle to worry about others and to simply focus on the task at hand. 

I can look back and appreciate all that I went through was not mere punishment, but God moving me closer to this place.  Those situations were not even blessings, but place markers that show me how far I have come.  I speak often of growing up without my mother, having no relationship with my father, struggling to pay for college every semester and feeling alone even when I was surrounded by people. Every time I asked why, I never received an answer, but I would always receive encouragement that it was all going to work out for my good. So here I am basking in the glory of His promises. 

I never focused too long on what was going on and could not even fathom why these things were going on, but this trip has made me see that Gods plans were greater than my imagination. I told my husband yesterday that no one could have told me this is where I would be at 28, and I know in a few weeks, months, and years I will be in a house that I did not build, in vineyards that I did not grow, and harvesting crops I did not plant. 

It is not always about the specific acts, but the manner in how you carry yourself through the valleys and over the mountains. Sometimes we wonder why our actions don’t lead to results, big we never question our attitude. Your attitude can be your glass ceiling. Fix it and watch how the glass begins to break before you even reach the top. 

I no longer look to be a copy of anyone else’s dream, but an original of my own. I no longer expect anything in return for what I put out, because my expectation can limit my blessing simply because my mind is thinking too small. I no longer worry if it is going to work out, I understand that it is already done, I just need to get to that place. 

Live your truth. Walk into your blessing. Get to your place. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms. 

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Follow Through to the End

I have started so many amazing projects and allowed my focus on them to fizzle out. I picked up new projects and explored new ideas before I completed my other ones. I know that I don’t have the time or money to finish all of them, so I am going to sit back down, map out my projects, and decide what I can devote my time to. This is such a hard task for me because a new idea pops up and I am behind it until I start to hit roadblocks. Such is life. But that is no longer going to be my story.

I learn through my mistakes and I try to avoid those pitfalls the next time I encounter the same or a similar situation. Yesterday I could not sleep because I was energized to work on a project. I have been piddling around with this project for years, and I know that once I get the structure in place, it will all make sense. As I started working I realized that I was doing it again. I was picking up one project when I have so many other pertinent ones that need to be focused on today.

So, I am going to prioritize all of my projects and the steps that I can work on for each. I am going to follow through. I have completed many things, but I keep reaching a limit that is self-imposed. I am going to start my days by saying, “There is nothing that I can do. Stay focused. Follow through to the end.” Sometimes you simply have to motivate yourself and keep yourself focused. I hope that everyone can see the greatness within themselves and will take the limits off of their dreams and desires.

Be blessed. Be excellent. Follow through. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own story. On your own terms.

Successful People Dream and Never Stop Dreaming

Before I moved, my husband and I spent the last few days prior to my departure looking at beautiful homes all over Houston.  Many of them were over $400,000, but they had everything that we ever wanted in a home.  My husband started to name the things that he wanted in a house and I just listened and smiled.  He would text me random listings or toys that he wanted when we finally moved into this futuristic new house.  Although I was equally excited about the move, I was apprehensive about drooling over new homes that we may not be able to afford.  These past few months had turn me into a practicalist and very rigid.  I had stopped dreaming and because I was not dreaming, I did not want him to dream either.

After a few days of this excited exchanges, I stopped him and said, “We aren’t going to be able to afford this anytime soon.”  The look on his face and sadness in my voice made me wish that I had never said those words.  I realized in that moment that I had stopped dreaming of the impossible and began existing only in my current reality.  That was why I was so depressed and stressed out.  I allowed my life to be driven by the right now instead of the what if.  I decided from that day forward that I would dream again and my entire atmosphere shifted.

Success is not living in today but working towards tomorrow. Dreaming keeps you from being so hard, callous, and stagnant.  From my own experience dreams do come true.  I am much happier now that I am dreaming again.  Our list of DREAMS are already turning into a reality.

Keep dreaming.  Dream about the impossible.  Write it down and watch you check it off your list.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Set Your Own Expectations

If we became only what other people thought we would become, many of us would have never achieved half of our accomplishments.  Somewhere through the negative noise and circumstances, I told myself that I was going to make something out of nothing.  Some of this came from positive television shows that depicted the awesomeness of college and success, along with great movies that showed the underdog coming out triumphant every time.  Looking back now, that was a window out of my dark world and into an opportunity that helped create my ambitious spirit.  We become what we see around us.  I was influenced by more than just the images I saw on TV, but by amazing people who used their gifts to love and lead me.

An aunt that I grew up around always expected excellence from me.  My aunt spoke to me in a way that helped me to see the greatness in myself.  I always felt like she was my personal guardian angel, but she used her gifts to support and encourage her friends, family, and students .  Being around her always made me strive for more, despite anything that I was going through at the time.  The seeds of success had been planted by family and teachers throughout my life, but while I was in high school my aunt tilled and cultivated my intellectual, emotional, and social garden.  She did not allow me to make excuses or pity myself.  She helped me to see the lessons in my negatives and taught me how to use them as positives in my future.  She allowed me to speak freely, but did not allow me to retain that bitterness and anger that permeated my soul at times.

These important moments in my life taught me that no matter what others said I would or would not be, what others assumed I could or could not achieve, or whatever things I did not have were not determinative of my success.  When I went off to college, I did not have anyone pushing me to be the best.  The first semester I coasted through and ended up with mediocre grades.  I had to refocus myself, decide if college was where I wanted to be, and step up to the plate to prove to MYSELF that I belonged at Howard.  There were so many times when I wanted to give up, but I had to remind myself that I was built to win and the end result would be worth the sacrifice.

Many times we allow others to set expectations for us.  We live up to the standards that are set by those around us.  If the expectations are high and we do not achieve it or if the expectations are low and we exceed them, our success or failures could become a stumbling block to getting to our true purpose.  If you want the most out of life, YOU have to expect more out of yourself and follow your heart, not just simply achieving what others want for you.  People may see you working hard and admire you, but you know if you need to put in more work to get to the next level.  Outsiders may exalt you for what you have done, but you have to remain focused on where it is that you want to end up.  People may laugh at your failures and remind you of where you said you would be, but only bitter people measure your failures against their standard of success. Remain driven, passionate, and ambitious to not lose sight of your dreams.

Expect greatness from yourself.  Walk in excellence.  Speak positively.  Teach willingly.  Live in humility.  Give your all to everything that matters to you most.

Set your own expectations.  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.

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.

Roses and Fairy Tales

I don’t wear a lot of make-up, or a lot of jewelry or invest in too many material things because I have never seen my life as a story of roses and fairy tales.  I have grown up on the defense, prepared to fight many battles, many times alone with no one by my side to help me fight or to protect me.  I have tried to keep my life simple, because I was not sure what would happen next, good or bad.  I have lived, even in my happiest moments, cautiously, awaiting an imaginary gavel to fall and for the things I love to be taken away at any moment.  I am always ready and prepared to stand against any enemy because I have always felt under attack.

Throughout college I worked hard to maintain financially and emotionally.  I look back and regret never taking the time to experience and embrace the beauty of my present because I was so focused on the past and the unknown future.  I missed out on many opportunities because I did not feel that I was worthy.  I second guessed myself many times and lost out because I was afraid of succeeding.  I ran from things that I really wanted.  The only person that short-changed my experience was me, myself and I.

When I look back at all of the pictures that I took over the years, I captured many great moments.  Our first celebration of a group birthday, our first homecoming, my roommate walking in the fashion show, seeing my idols on stage and meeting celebrities in the cafeteria on random days of the week.  It appeared that I had finally received my roses and was living in a fairytale and that I had accepted that role wholeheartedly.  These pictures failed to capture the moment I found out that my grandfather had passed away and how my friends were there for me as I walked across campus to turn in my papers and get my business in order.  The images failed to capture my emotional instability, my anger and my lashing out at others because I was hurting so much inside.  There were no pictures of me in the counseling center knowing I needed help but unsure of the exact reason.  The pictures showed roses and fairy tales but that was not my truth.

My life has never been roses and fairy tales but I had to learn to let go.  Let go of my past and stop allowing it to control my present and incorrectly predict my future.  I had to learn to enjoy the moment, to stop beating myself up for taking a trip or enjoying a concert with some friends.  I had to learn to cry even when everyone else was smiling.  I did not have to fake the funk for the sake of others comfort.  I had to learn to never put on a mask but to always be myself at all times, whether the world liked, loved or hated it.  I had to learn to stop and smell the roses and dream about fairy tales because it was fun and worth it.  I had to learn that no one’s life is roses or fairy tales but that does not stop them from living out their wildest dreams.

Now my life is full of roses and fairy tales not because it is perfect but because I declared it.  I surrounded myself with beautiful people and love myself for my outer and inner beauty.  I have my King, a prince and a dog.  We live in a kingdom that is full of light and love.  My life is far from perfect.  I cry, I get frustrated, upset, I disappoint myself and others.  I aim for an unattainable level of perfection as a mother and wife and push myself too far at times.  Despite the ugly, my life is full of roses and fairy tales and I would not trade it for the world.  Live the life that you want, not the one that you think you deserve.  Be you.  Do you.  Live in your truth.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.