I told myself earlier this month that I would write a new post about my journey to landing an opportunity of a lifetime. Weeks passed and though it never left my mind, I didn’t allow myself to slow down enough to get my thoughts together to be able to share the magnitude of what happened; especially in a year that has been nothing less than tragic. I promise that I’ll get to that story but today I had to stop everything to share the most simplest moment that happened to me just this morning.
Like many of you, I have been hit hard this week. The news of Jacob Blake… followed by the teen vigilante shooting… while watching the repeated history displayed at the March on Washington… and the looming frustration of have no arrests in the case of Breonna Taylor… and then news that Chadwick Boseman dies at age 42. THE Black Panther. Wakanda Forever. Gone. It was too much. So this morning I purposed myself to take control of the mood that I wanted to set for the day. I decided to set aside hours of no television and no social media. Instead, I would light candles, have breakfast, fold clothes and maybe I would break out one of the books I’ve been trying to read for over a year.
I love when things just unfold without any real effort. The story begins with an Instagram Story with several quotes that had me not only respond with several “Yaaaass’s” but also led to quite a few screenshots for me to revisit when I need that extra motivation or positivity push. Not long after, I get a message from the person who posted the story encouraging me to check out a Netflix special featuring a woman named Brene’ Brown. Now at this point, I’ve never heard of her but some of you may have seen her TedX Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability” which garnered millions of views and ultimately spring boarded her into a well-renknowned motivational speaker. It wasn’t anything she sought up but it was definitely her calling. Over the holiday weekend, I decided to check out her Netflix special titled “Brene’ Brown: the Call to Courage.” What started out as a simple, relaxed afternoon to stack up on more motivational quotes eventually led to me to reevaluate my entire outlook on life but more importantly how I react to it! I wasn’t ready…
The first big moment was her definition of “vulnerability.” A word that I’m completely uncomfortable with and quite frankly would rather not acknowledge as an actual thing that I need to address or implement. Clearly this message has my name all over it!
“Vulnerability”: having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome.
Never have I ever related vulnerability to courage. Vulnerability has always been unnecessary in my eyes. I likened it to my dad’s famous saying “Don’t be no sitting duck” which basically means to not let your guard down. Be on alert. Now I’m sure that was meant for walking the streets of DC but I guess I took it as gospel across the board. It also didn’t help that, like everyone, I’ve been burned a few times when trusting and loving the wrong people. Whatever ounce of vulnerability I allowed to seep in was quickly sobered up with that heavy dose of reality. But Brene’ had a lesson on that and it was simple like most profound statements tend to be.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows the end of triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
This is the quote that changed her life after suffering extreme criticism from viewers of her TedX Talk on YouTube titled “The Power of Vulnerability.” And because of her one decision to “live in the arena” and “dare greatly” she’s able to impact an even wider audience by even bigger doors being opened to her. That door led her into my living room and essentially opening up a way of thinking that has stifled my growth in so many areas! She also confirmed that this little blog written by this super introverted girl is not by happenstance. It’s my own way of living in the arena. It’s my way of daring greatly and my vehicle to push my own boundaries despite every insecurity, self doubt, and imperfection that haunts me daily. And it’s bigger than just the blog, this level of growth carries over into my relationships and my career path. Bree’ puts it best “Vulnerability allows you to be seen for who you truly are and not who you want people to believe you to be.”
“How can you let yourself be loved if you can’t be seen?” – Brene’ Brown
Loving yourself is allowing yourself to be seen. Allow people to get to know the real you. Code switching is a term that many people of color use when working in predominately white places of employment. How much of that is preconceived? What if you truly showed up as yourself… you’re professional self… and allowed them to get comfortable and exposed to the real you? What would happen if you didn’t try to fit into the box that you expect will satisfy the woman or man of your dreams? Why would someone you’re meant to be with require your true self to live in a prison while they live in a fairytale?
There were many poignant and quotable remarks in her special but what stood out the most was the story of her daughter who was chosen to compete in a swim meet that both she and her daughter knew she had no chance of winning. Her daughter tried everything to get out of it, even asking the coach to reconsider. It didn’t work. Her final escape option came from a friend who told her she could “scratch her heat”– intentionally miss her getting on the starting block. At the start of the race, it looked as if she wouldn’t show up but she did. The race was ugly. She got lapped and was so far behind that the next race was lined up on the block to start while she was still swimming her lap. Naturally, she was crushed, embarrassed, and exhausted but when she reunited with her parents she said in the midst of tears “That sucked but I was brave and I won.”
What does winning look like to you? Was it that the coach set her up to fail or was it that he set her up to win in the future? Half the battle is showing up. What if part of the process of winning is coming off the block and getting wet? Can you think of any times in your life where you scratched your own heat where you decided not to come off the block and essentially disqualify yourself before it even began? I know for sure I have. I didn’t apply for that job because I didn’t meet all the qualifications. I didn’t participate in a discussion because I didn’t want to let on what I didn’t know or understand. I didn’t take an opportunity because there was too much of an unknown that I couldn’t control.
Self reflection is never easy. No one enjoys putting a magnifying glass on themselves especially when it’s not a guaranteed win. Though I didn’t enjoy what this all revealed and the amount of work I have to do to reprogram myself, I’m comforted in knowing that I’m headed in the right direction and that this blog is a baby step into what I’m sure is going to be a terrifying dive into one vulnerable moment after another. There’s only one question left to ask… who’s ready to take a dip?!
Three words I absolutely hate to say and definitely never like to hear. But I uttered those words last night. I actually said them a few weeks ago and both times I couldn’t believe I actually said them out loud. I don’t ever claim to know it ALL but what I do believe in is finding out. If ever someone asked me a question related to work and I didn’t have an answer, it was never just “I don’t know.” It would be either “I’m not certain that I have all the information so let me review and get to back to you close of business” … or “Give me a moment and I’ll find out.” Both insinuate that I don’t have the answer but it’s never a blanket statement of “I don’t know.”
The biggest no-no for me is to always, and I mean always have a plan and what bigger plan can you have than the one you have for your life. I mean it’s your life! If you don’t know then who else is going to be able to tell you?? That has been my thinking forever and in many ways it still is so when I said “I Don’t Know” when asked about my life plans last night I felt like a complete loser. But I had to be honest and I truly had and still have no idea what’s next. Scariest feeling ever for someone who has always known her next move. I had to slow my mind down enough to get back on course and I can say now that I have a new and refreshed understanding of what all this planning is about. Continue reading “I Don’t Know”→
Writing this blog has been more about accountability and discipline than anything else. I write as though I have thousands of followers waiting to read what I have to say. Or as if I have an editor waiting for me to meet a deadline that could potentially put me at risk of losing my job if I don’t get it in on time. It’s a fight to keep this type of mind set because the other part of me wants to revert back to the reason I quit the last time. Who’s checking for it really? I have a laundry list of things that I need to prioritize that actually do have repercussions… bill paying, grocery orders, appointment scheduling… the list goes on. But writing makes me happy. It brings me closer to God and quite frankly it’s the one thing that I do just because I want to. The beauty of being under the radar is that you have no outside influence on what you should write. It’s only what you want to say and how God leads you to say it.
Before I can fully engage you with my thoughts from the premiere episode of “The Same Room,” I must first layout how much of a full circle moment this is for me. Six years ago I attended an event called “The Merge Summit” in Los Angeles where I was first introduced to a man name Toure’ Roberts. He was a guest speaker at one of our opening morning sessions and with every word he spoke it was like he was speaking directly into my life. From that day on I’ve been a follower of his ministry called One Church LA (now known as The Potter’s House at One LA and Denver).
Just about 4 years ago I moved to New York and became a listener of his podcast. I would listen to his sermons daily just to push me through the scariest, most uncertain time of my life. One day I selected a sermon and to my surprise it was a voice that I hadn’t heard before. It was a woman named Stephanie Ike who was a guest speaker at One Church LA. I ALMOST immediately skipped it because she wasn’t someone I had heard of and let’s face it, she was like the substitute teacher. But then I thought that if Toure’ thought so highly of her to have her fill in for him while he was away she had to be pretty dynamic. So instead I listened intently and it wasn’t that long before I was completely drawn in. She had voice, she had a presence, and she most certainly had a Word! Continue reading “The Little Teddy Bear”→
It was a morning like any other morning. Typical rise with the disgruntled “it’s too early for this” stroll across the floor to my closet. I didn’t feel any more reflective or spiritual than the day before. I stepped out the house with headphones in ear, work bag on shoulder, probably just praying that this day would be an anomaly and I’ll actually get a seat on the train. It’s the little things that make my day. I didn’t realize that a even smaller moment in time would teach me a life lesson just steps outside of my home. Continue reading “Cracked Pavement”→
“God defies the idea of any degrees of separation.” ~ DeVon Franklin
There is absolutely no way that anyone can convince me that God is not the orchestrator of my life after reading DeVon Franklin’s latest book The Hollywood Commandments: A Spiritual Guide to Secular Success. For those who may not have been following my blog since the beginning, DeVon has been a virtual mentor of mine since 2013. I’ve written many thought pieces on him and how his words have had an impact on my career and life choices dating back to his first book Produced By Faith. However, this particular entry holds a bit more weight than anything I’ve written in the past. There’s so much to glean from that I can’t simply write a few paragraphs outlining my takeaways from The Hollywood Commandments. I’d rather share just a few of the gems by telling the story of what led to this moment in hopes to create dialogue and reveal how Chapter 10, “Your World Is Smaller Than You Think,” has shown itself true in my life.
I love how God uses everyday, nominal occurrences to grab my attention. Let me paint the picture for you. I’m sitting at my writing desk wrapping up Sunday online service when that annoying pop up banner appears with the same pesky alert that reads something like “Update available. Do you want to restart your computer?” The options read: RESTART or LATER. For months, I’ve hit the LATER button continuously irritated that it just won’t go away! It’s not that I don’t think the updates are necessary. I don’t have a particular issue with updating my computer; however, what I do have an issue with is how long it usually takes to complete. When I take time out to sit at my computer to do anything I want to do it now. I don’t think about completing the updates any other time. It’s only when I get that pesky pop up that I think, “I should really do that but I don’t have time.”
I literally had the cursor hovering above the LATER button when I stopped dead in my tracks. Images flooded my mind of my computer taking forever to load, or the video buffering while I’m trying to watch them, or site freezing in the midst of me scrolling. Then the question arises, “Why do you think you have so many challenges when you’re trying to complete a task on your computer? Should you just replace the entire computer? Is it trash or could it have anything to do with those pesky little updates that you’ve continued to ignore over the past few months?”……This is where the moment of sheer stupidity and revelation mix. Continue reading “RESTART”→
The day started off abnormal. It was 71 degrees at the end of November after a fierce cold winter blast just days before. I welcomed it with open arms, even though I knew it wouldn’t last long. The day was pretty chill and the evening began with front and center seats to see one of my favorite artists in concert, Chrisette Michele. I knew what lingered ahead but for just a few hours I was able to block it all out and pretend that music was the cure to all of life’s injustices. It was approximately 9:20P when reality hit and I was brought back down to earth. The radio disc jockey announced just two words: NO INDICTMENT. Back to the norm.
Not at all surprised since we were all being primed for this very outcome. And yes, the days leading up to the announcement gave clear indication that justice would not be served but the priming started well before Mike Brown. Emmitt Till, Rodney King, Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, and many more names that never made it to the headlines. History repeating itself and the sentiments of fed up Americans sounding like broken records. I had to shut it all off. I was just so full with anger, sadness, and too many questions without any answers. Continue reading “Unhappy Tuesday”→
I’m sitting here in the wee hours of the morning of my birthday reflecting on my first 33 years of life. It’s crazy ya’ll! I’m going to try to put it into words so bare with me please. Many times, on our birthdays, we reflect only on our past year and give ourselves a “grade” on how well we did since the last one.
Did I accomplish all that I planned?
Am I happy with where I am at this age?
How many more years do I have until I reach “that” age?
Well, if I were to be completely honest I’d say if I measured my happiness on just those questions, it wouldn’t be the happiest of birthdays. Real talk! I know the saying “just be thankful to be alive” but I’ve always been the hardest on myself and I never just wanted to be alive… I wanted to live! Live to fullest! Yes, I haven’t done bad for myself and each year I get better but I still feel like I could be doing soooo much more! I have a feeling I’m not the only one.
So today, after I asked myself those three questions and began feeling a little bummed, I heard God say loud and clear “Think about all 33 years. Don’t start from the last one.” So I did and here’s what came out of my time of reflection: Continue reading “Version 3.3”→