The Vision 

I have had all of the materials I needed to complete my vision board since early January.  I was so enthusiastic about getting it done in the first few weeks, and had all intentions of showing mine off alongside all of the excellent examples on my timeline but I got sidetracked.  I cannot tell you exactly what I got sidetracked with because the list could go on forever.  It is now March 22 and I have finally completed my goal!

I read a few articles on Vision Boards, but I mostly just went with my heart and cut out things that meant something to me.  The areas I decided to cover are ones that are important to me.  Last year was the beginning of a transition to being fearless and intentional.  I stopped wishing and started doing.  I left all of the wishing behind and decided to take the necessary steps needed to achieve my goals.

This year has brought me to another level in my spirituality and faith.  I believe that I am where I am supposed to be, and I am going to do everything I said I was going to do.  So my vision board encompasses not just things I want, but people who I aspire to be like, things I want to give to others, and my true desire to travel more.

PEOPLE WHO INSPIRE ME 

This section covers 4 women who are doing exceptional things in the world and I am so inspired by their message and their truth.  I look forward to sitting across from Ellen, telling her how I started #BlackExcellenceSaturdays and how I am using social media as a tool to change the lives of many.

ESSENCE FESTIVAL 2015

I have been trying to get to Essence for years.  It is a very tough weekend to get out of town sometimes, so my plans have fallen through time and time again.  This year I am going to make a strong effort to get there.  I honestly want to be involved in the efforts to spread the word about healthcare prevention and the resources available across the nation. I have already put forth some efforts to make this happen!

MATERIAL WANTS

I am trying not to be focused on material wants, but there are a few things that I am going to enjoy when I obtain them. My husband gave me his car when I moved to Houston and has been driving my big Buick.  He is selling it since he will be traveling for the next year, but when he settles back home I am going to buy him his dream car, an Audi A8 (A4 in the picture, but you get the point).  I also will eventually need an upgrade, so I threw a new Lexus on there for myself.

As I expand my network, opportunities are presenting themselves that require a decent camera.  I have a lot to learn about the world of film, production, and editing, but the right tools are necessary to start the process.  My husband bought me the fragrance Flower Bomb a few years back and it is the best thing I have ever smelled. A new bottle would be greatly appreciated. (wink wink)

My husband and I did not have a wedding or a honeymoon.  We have never really had the money around our anniversaries to do anything special, but this year I want to change that.  We will make 3 years this July and we are planning something meaningful for ourselves, stay tuned.

STYLE

I have not focused much of my time or money on fashion, but I need to focus more on being a tad big stylish when I am out on the scene.  This is a work in progress and will be ongoing, because I struggle with spending money on clothes.  I have always been very practical and only purchased items that were very basic and plain.  It is time to live! Live in COLOR!

OUR NEXT HOME

After being in Houston for the past few months, I realized that I want to live in the city.  The ‘burbs are nice, but the things I enjoy the most are in the city of Houston.  Plus, the specialty schools are amazing in the city and I do believe my child will benefit from these experiences.

TRAVEL

Everyone says that they want to travel, but I am no longer wishing.  I want to be financially prepared for the next glitch fare.  We are actively making efforts to plan trips that will create memories.  My husband will be seeing the nation through his new position, but we plan to see more of the world together.  Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, Italy, and Germany are all on the lists of places to go.  Just waiting for the door to open and we will be flying through.

HEALTH/WELLNESS

I want clear skin.  Who doesn’t?

I am so unhappy with my current weight and I am struggling to find balance between work and caring for my son to get to the gym.  There are no excuses, but I am actively seeking out the time to get to the gym I want to join and to practice Bikram.  My biggest issue is childcare.  My family and friends don’t live close to either the gym or my house.  I will not stop trying to figure it out, until I have figured it out.

GIFTS/CELEBRATION

I want to use my gifts to help others and I want to be able to give wonderful gifts to those in need and whom I love.

My friends are doing big things here and across the world.  I hope to be able to celebrate with them soon.

This has been an amazing and eye opening experience.  I look forward to sharing my accomplishments that come from this post.  I love my life and cannot wait to do this again, with a new vision in place.

Until then. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.

Here lies my first vision board: 

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My Life Your Entertainment

Who I was when I began this blog is not who I am today.  Over the past year I have transformed into someone I never knew existed or would have believed existed.  The transformation that has taken over my life is indescribable.  I thank God daily for my struggles and my triumphs, because all of it has created this cosmic energy of compassion and love. I do not do any of this for others, but for a greater purpose that I am only beginning to understand.

I have been through some very high highs and some very low lows.  I have been blessed to be able to process and absorb so many lessons, because I am not ashamed of my circumstances or hiding behind who people think I am or who they want me to be.  I convey my shortcomings and downfalls with very little to buffer the reality. I am a constant work in progress and I hope that people are bold enough to love me for me and foster my growth through this process.  I love me so much that no external dislike towards me or my journey can fill any space in my life.  There is no room for negativity.

I am not where I want to be, but I have a vision.  I move with a purpose, for a purpose, and on purpose.  I have spent this Lenten season focused on my energy and understanding the process of attracting what I want and need in life.  I am careful about who I allow in my presence, because it is important to maintain a certain level of energy in the work I do daily.  Keep watching because I will not stop until I have completed my assignments.

Be Excellent.Be you. Do you. Tell you own story. On your own terms.

Shifted Energy

I started off 2015 with a very sound routine.  I would wake up early, use my prayer beads to meditate and pray, listen to NPR or a podcast and absorb some new information.  Then I would do a quick social media scan and start my day.  When I started my mornings this way, my life and day seemed to go a lot better.  I was balanced and focused on the task ahead.  I found a morning ritual that would work for me and I loved it.

When I started this routine, I did not have my son here at the time.  It was very easy to do when I was alone, but once I brought him home I slept less, woke up later, and could never find a rhythm.  I did not try hard enough to get back focused and disciplined, so my ritual fell to the wayside.  I allowed myself to be swept away from the very thing I knew that I needed, a morning ritual. Discipline.  Structure.  Consistency.   As I started to get off kilter, things at work began to also veer far from where I wanted it to be and I could barely handle it.  My patient care never suffered, but my professional interpersonal relationships did.

I usually voice my opinion face to face and allow the other person an opportunity to reconcile at that moment, but this particular time I decided to send an email in the heat of my fury and waged war on a few people.  This very direct discussion spread quickly to those who were not directly involved, and a phone call was made to me that solidified my desires to part ways with this company.  Although I made the decision to find employment elsewhere, I did not let go of how that person made me feel.  I carried that weight around with me, and that on top of recurring issues in the workplace shifted my energy negatively.

I have not been centered since receiving that phone call.  The unbalanced way in which I operated meant that I was easily thrown off even when I thought I was prepared for battle.  Small issues became major issues because my vision was skewed towards this negative energy that I allowed into my life.  I never released that moment to then reflect, grow, or correct the other party involved.  I received the negativity and held on to it for too long.

I was so focused on that moment that I could not see the bigger picture.  I had to be forced by God to take a step back and understand that our ways are not His ways and our thoughts are not His thoughts.  Although I thought I was going to be in a place for a longer season, He has a plan that is greater than the eye can see.  I am able to be so open and reflective, because God is not allowing me to wallow in my mess but forcing me to go through it and step out of it without any traces of residue or damage to who I am and where I am going.

This was simply a pit stop to a higher place, but I almost missed out on my blessing because my energy was jacked up.  I was walking along the balance beam and faltering, but I never got off.  When life has hit me time and again, I have stumbled, fallen, and been hurt in the process, but I never got off.  The road to success is not wide, it is not straight, and it is not easy.  You have to believe that everything will work together for your good.

I know that everything is working together because in a matter of days I have been blessed beyond anything I could have ever asked for or imagined.  You have to walk along your own path, centered and balanced as you move towards your goal.  Your energy is what attracts your blessing.  Never allow a moment or man to shift your energy so far that you are off balanced and distracted from your path ahead.

Stay focused. Be grateful.  Positive energy.  Balanced.  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.

Top 5 Things I Will Miss About DC/East Coast

5. Jumbo Slice/Duccinis/Pizza
I clearly love pizza so much that I post about it often. I know that nothing will compare to the pizza I love in DC and no one here will have halal beef pepperoni, so I will be forced to eat chicken pizza again. Nothing like a late night and hot, cheesy pizza to make you feel complete.  But there are great food options here and I am praying my soul is strong enough to stay away from all of the bad things I don’t need.

4. Riding by Howard
Howard was my home for 8 out of the last 11 years. I learned so much and received some of the greatest additions to my life there.  Educational institutions bring optimism, hope, and great memories.  I love Howard and am blessed to say that I was a Bison.

3. Being in 3 different States in a Matter of Minutes
I lived in MD but could be in VA or DC in a matter of minutes, to NY in 4 hours, Philly in 3, and SC or CT in 7/8.  The ability to change your surroundings quickly is a major plus of the east coast. It allows you to be very spontaneous and enjoy experiences on a budget when you need to.  No more megabus, quick turn around trips, or weekend trips up the road. Keep your money stacked cause we are flying in and out of here.

2. Our First Home
My husband said yesterday, “You are leaving the first home I bought you.”  That made me feel really special because he did buy that house for my son and I.  He wanted to make sure we had a safe place to stay and an asset for future use.  We had amazing neighbors and slowly made improvements that will benefit it’s future use as a rental property. Moving back into an apartment will be interesting but it’s all apart of the process.

1.  My Friends and Family
Being so far from my friends and family is going to be rough. Although we have all become so busy and immersed in our own lives, we still could get together and laugh when we wanted or needed to.  Thank God for technology and being able to eventually plan more family trips to fill that gap. I don’t easily disconnect from people and will always cherish and touch base with my team. 

DC has been an experience.  So much great sprinkled with some bad and ugly. I came, I conquered, I survived, I thrived, and I came home with everything I set off to accomplish 11 years ago in tow.

I am so full and so grateful to everyone who has made my life experience that much more special by just being who they are. By loving me, encouraging me, and building me up when I fell down.

The best is yet to come. Be you. Do you. Tell your own story. On your own terms.

Bring Back Sunday Dinner

Our generation has steered away from traditional anything but one tradition that must remain is Sunday dinner.  Today we celebrated my husbands godson’s christening today and had dinner at another friend’s home.  Some of their family was present, as well as a few friends.  We spent time watching football, discussing rivalries and laughing at my child sing the Philadelphia Eagles fight song, much to my dismay.  Our friends family got on the road home and the men sat down to doze off to late afternoon football games.  Us women went outside to light the fire pit, make smores, and talk about life.

The few hours we spent talking passed by so quickly, and we got a chance to candidly discuss religion, spirituality, relationships, friendships, finances, futures, dreams, growth and found so many common threads in our success and many of our struggles.  Taking a moment away from it all to simply connect and be vulnerable was rejuvenating and empowering.  We all felt connected and less alone, despite feeling as if we were the only ones experiencing socks left on the floor or clothes randomly placed throughout the house! We affirmed that we are normal and many husbands do the same things.

I have been longing to connect with many of my friends again because so much time has passed since we just sat down to talk and laugh face to face.  Just a few years ago, we had no problem getting together just to catch up and create memories.  Now we have gotten so busy being homeowners, wives, mothers, fathers, husbands, students or just busy trying to get somewhere soon that we rarely stop to connect and recharge.  We keep saying tomorrow instead of making a plan today.  I am challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone and spend my weekends spending time with people, doing nothing but laughing and talking.

Money does not always have to spent to have a good time.  Pick up a few sandwiches, a bottle of wine and a few snacks (if the kids are coming) and enjoy each others company.  Don’t get too busy that you miss the chance to see your friends and hear about their accomplishments and be a sound board for their dreams.  The only way we can survive, is by being there for each other and extending that love that is needed to continue on.

I am so blessed to be around such amazing women and watch how God is moving in all of our lives.  I pray you pick up a tradition that reconnects you with your loved ones. Sunday Dinner.  Get togethers.  Laugh.  Cry.  Create memories.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Believing I Am Beautiful

I remember being teased a lot for many different reasons.  I was teased for being a church girl, not having a perm, my hair being short, being dark, being chubby, not wearing the flyest clothes or having a boyfriend all the time.  Do not feel bad for me.  I did my fair share of teasing and it was not just in defense of myself, but as a way to mark my territory.  I was very good at hitting you where it hurt and laughing about it loudly in your face.  Despite being teased all through primary school, I think the words that always hurt the most were those that came from my father.

My father would say things like, “I hope you don’t think you are cute, because you are not?” or “You are so fat.” or “No one will ever want you.  You are going to turn out just like your crackhead mother.”  or  harsher words that cut much deeper and left internal scars that took years to heal.  Looking back at my pictures, I was actually pretty thin.  I was in ROTC and the marching band, which forced me to workout a lot and we never had a lot of food to eat, so it wasn’t like I over ate.  He said those things to hurt me and to control my perception of myself.  His words always stuck with me.  When I looked in the mirror I saw someone who was ugly, fat, and never good enough.

I was the late bloomer.  I was shaped like Taylor Swift my freshman year of high school but the following summer the Lord saw fit to allow me to blossom.  As I started to become more shapely, my father’s words became harsher and cut deeper.  By this time, my stepmother had moved back to Connecticut and I only had my girlfriends to help me get through these fragile years.  Thankfully, many of them had older sisters and their words of wisdom helped me to appreciate the young woman I was becoming ,but that only helped on a superficial level.  I understood that I was physically changing for the better but my self-esteem remained the same.  Low.  The foundation of your self-esteem is built at home and my home was filled with destructive words instead of words of love and power.

I never realized how hard I was on myself until my sophomore year of college.  I cannot pinpoint the moment or the exact set of events that led up to my epiphany, but I remember being in the car with my friend and she turned to me and said, “You look different.  You look very pretty.  I don’t know what it is but you look good.”  I remember that moment so vividly and I looked in the mirror and there wasn’t anything different about me except the fact that I had decided to just be happy.  I made the conscious decision to stop being so critical of myself and pointing out all of my flaws because I wasn’t going to change.  I learned to accept myself and find the beauty in my being.

My journey towards a happier me was slow and riddled with pitfalls, mistakes and setbacks.  I reached a pinnacle of happiness the year I prepared for my friend’s wedding.  I set a weight loss goal and focused on cleaner eating.  I worked hard at my job but I was also having the time of my life.  That year was amazing from start to finish and I vowed to only go higher from there.

When I look in the mirror I still notice my flaws but I don’t use them to deconstruct myself down to the studs.  I see an issue with my skin, I go and find a treatment regimen that will clear it up.  I don’t like how I look in my clothes, I prepare a workout regimen or set a running goal and stick with it.  If I am ever unhappy, I try to get to the root of the problem and deal with it accordingly.  This is the new me.  The me that arrived in 2005 and believed that I was beautiful because I am.

Our words changes lives.  Our words empowers.  Our words destroys.  Use your words wisely.  Build up yourself and those around you.  Be proud of who you are and work hard to be better each day.  Believe that you are beautiful.

Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

My Transformation: Self-Love

When you hear Jill Scott’s song When I Wake Up, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7XyBz1FFQg, it does something to your soul.  This song speaks to apart of my transformation that deals with self-love and believing in me despite others opinion of me and my life.  I dealt with a series of insignificant relationships for a number of years with a false belief that they would eventually go somewhere notwithstanding the obvious signs of staleness that lead to a dead-end time and again.  I thought that my light would eventually shine bright enough and they would see me and appreciate all of me.

After experiencing a few heartbreaking realizations back-to-back I started to Wake Up.  I started to question my own state of mind instead of making excuses for theirs.  I started to appreciate my light and power instead of forcing others to see it.  I started to look in the mirror and say, “GIRL!”  I subconsciously made a decision to be the happiest me that I could possibly be.  I was in the best shape of my life and it was an eventful year full of weddings and celebrations so I was surrounded by love and joy.

When you make decisions, consciously or subconsciously, a test will come to see if you are going to stand on that decision or back down and end up right back in the same cycle of self-doubt.  Something had finally clicked in me and I decided that I was not going back no matter what.  I loved me to much to have to force others to love me.

I remember this day like it was a week ago.  A beautiful sunny fall day filled with endless possibilities and I received two phone calls.  One from a loser and one from a friend.  The first call was my test, the young brother asking me to hang with him despite canceling on me last-minute a few days earlier.  My response, a new transformed me, declined with explanation.  Enough was enough.  I let him know that I knew he would never love or care for me the way I wanted to be loved and cared for and I was merely a convenience.  Our interactions had turned me into someone I did not want for me and I refused to continue to lose me for someone else’s convenience.

Sometimes things take time but sometimes the turn around is quick.  The second call followed immediately after and asked if my friends and I wanted to come hang out with a friend and his wife at their new house.  I immediately said yes and gathered my crew for the trip out to the beltway.  What started off as a quiet get together, immediately transformed into the night that changed my life.  After being there for a few minutes, my friend’s best male friends walk in, including my now husband, and the rest becomes history.

He saw something in me that I wanted everyone else to see for so long.  I did not have to convince him or drag him along, it was just different.  When I loved myself the most is when I found the one who could love me more.  The power of self-love blooms in various ways in our lives, but mine happened to turn into meeting the love of my life.  If there is something holding you back from appreciating all of you, let it go, whether it is internal or external.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your story.  On your own terms.

If You Want It All, Go For It and Don’t Quit

Society wants to dictate to you what you can have.  They throw statistics around without any context and run anecdotal stories filled with extreme examples of people who are forced to choose or those who quit before they accomplished their goals.  I am a living witness  on how prayer, determination and hard work will guide you through and to your destiny.  When you have to weigh your options, quit now or keep pushing through the pain, you realize that you really don’t have a choice.  If you quit right now you won’t be happy and will end up further behind than you would have been if you kept pushing through.

Before I had my baby, I dreaded going back to school.  I knew that physically I was going to be challenged and I did not have everything in place as I had expected.  I am a control freak and very type A.  I needed a tangible plan with back up plans in place.  That was not happening.  I cried and cried and begged Adam to let me quit but he said the same thing every time, “You have come too far to quit.”  I knew he had my back but the unwavering support I received from my classmates, friends and local family was unforeseen.  Everyone rolled up their sleeves and sacrificed their time at various points over the past two years to help me get through.  My co-worker who had just retired watched baby Adam for the first few weeks for free.  The days she couldn’t watch him, my classmates allowed me to bring him to class or watched him for me on their breaks.  My co-worker was scheduled to watch him for six weeks but as the weeks passed by, I had no idea of who was going to watch my son permanently.

As life would have it, I ran into a classmate walking down the street and she suggested I ask another one of our classmates.  Through her I was able to find an amazing sitter who has taken care of my son since he was 3 months old.  When I leave my son with her, I never have to worry if he is being cared for.   I am always exhausted, always running, always busy and my schedule is hectic but it was all worth it.  My son survived. My marriage survived.  My personal finances are a little tattered but I am great at getting things in order, so I will fix them.  But most importantly I survived and achieved what I set out to get done.  I could not have planned for all of these things to have worked together.  They did because I was where I was supposed to be.

Bottom line.  Never stop dreaming.  Never stop believing. When it gets hard keep pushing through the pain.  Ask for help when you need it.  You are stronger than you even know.  Don’t let expected or unexpected obstacles overshadow your purpose.  Don’t ever quit. God will provide.  The universe knows what you need.  Live in your truth. Be you.  Tell your story.  On your own terms.