Scratch the Heat

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?!

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I Don’t Know

I-Don’t-Know.

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”

You Could Have Been An Ant

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.

This week’s entry is all about my new favorite podcast “The Same Room” featuring Charlamagne Tha God and Harmony Samuels in episode 2 titled “God’s Purpose For You.” I couldn’t summarize all the gems in this episode if I tried but I’ll do my best to speak on just a few of them that sparked a fire in me in hopes that it will encourage you to check out the full episode and potentially share it with others. Continue reading “You Could Have Been An Ant”

Zero Degrees

“God defies the idea of any degrees of separation.” ~ DeVon Franklin

DeVonThere 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.

Continue reading “Zero Degrees”

RESTART

restart 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”

PARK IT!

I don’t know why I still get so amazed at how God speaks to me. It starts with me noticing something that is so common place and seeing it through a new perspective. It’s like I have new or child-like eyes that are trying to process something that, on a normal day, I would walk by without a glance. Let me paint the picture for you…

smartcar1Everyday I go to work, I park in the same garage. I can admit, I’m not the most fond of the parking attendant and it often drives me nuts when I’m unable to find a space and then forced to leave my key with him. Well this particular day, I found a space albeit a bit further away than I’d like. As I’m walking to the door, I see what I thought was a space right outside of the doorway but as I got closer I realized that someone parked their “toy car” in the spot… okay, okay it was a smart car or something! Very miniature!!! And the first thing I’m thinking is, “they don’t even need that big ‘ole GOOD parking space!!!!” I was so annoyed for no other reason than I wanted to just push it out the way with my big ‘ole “normal” size car! I know it’s petty but that’s just how I was feeling that day.

Little did I know, God had a lesson in all of that. Here’s the picture he painted… Continue reading “PARK IT!”

My High Tower

Psalm 9:9 “The Lord also will be a refuge and a high tower for the oppressed, a refuge and a stronghold in times of trouble (high cost, destitution, and desperation).”

Imagine you think you’re about to be hit with a pillow stuffed with feathers but instead it’s one stuffed with bricks. That was me. It would have been great if I was still on my writing hiatus but as fate would have it I’m back at it and things are so out of sorts for me right now. I’m looking for the “Do Over” button like now!

There are times when I write out of joy and revelation knowledge and there are times where it is out of complete and utter desperation. That’s where I am today. Not that I’m desperate for readers or public approval but out of the need to feel closer to God so that I can make sense out of senseless situations.

writingHere’s what I know about me. When I pray I don’t usually hear anything from God right away. My prayer time is often me thanking Him, pleading to Him for instruction, asking Him for protection, etc. More often than not, I hear him at the most random moments! I can be driving in my car, listening to a song, having a conversation with someone and He’ll just interrupt me. However, what I’ve learned most recently is that my special time with God is when I write. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pen and pad or a keyboard, that’s our official quality time together.

I didn’t realize that until today. So often I’m delayed in writing because I want to know what my message is before I sit down. That’s been one of the main reasons I went on such a long hiatus earlier this year, but God revealed to me as I’m typing this that He waits for me to follow His instruction to sit down and write so that He can give me the words as I go. Sometimes I know a head of time but in times when I feel unprepared (I’m a habitual planner!)  I still need to show up. Take that as a lesson, if God leads you to do something that you don’t feel ready or able to do just show up! He’s waiting on your obedience, not your perfection. Continue reading “My High Tower”

Bruised & Bloody…. BUT

Hebrews 4:7 “Again He sets a definite day, [a new] Today, [and gives another opportunity of securing that rest] saying through David after so long a time in the words already quoted, Today, if you would hear His voice and when you hear it, do not harden your hearts.”

I got it wrong more times than I got it right these past few months. Distractions, life’s pressures, loss… you name it, I was engrossed in it. There’s really no other way to put it other than as bluntly as only I know how… I neglected my assignment. I let one “off” week turn into ten and over the course of those weeks all hell broke loose. My initial absence was simply due to the fact that I didn’t feel I had anything pertinent to share. There weren’t any new revelations or interesting stories of inspiration. As many of you know, I never write just to write. I have to have a message and it has to be signed, sealed, and delivered by God. I’ll drop my opinions in here and there but overall it will always tie back into what I heard from God or am seeking to learn from God. Continue reading “Bruised & Bloody…. BUT”

Drop Your Anchor

It’s been a minute my friends! I know some of you may have thought I had thrown in the towel. Nope! I just had to regroup. The last few weeks of 2014 were chaotic. Not so much in my personal life but in the world that I woke up to everyday. My mind just couldn’t settle on one thing. I was angry about the injustices and feeling helpless in it all. I was disappointed in the faith community that I hold in high regard and want to see as leaders beyond the pulpit. I was distracted by my disappointments of not meeting certain personal goals. On top of that I had worries about family and trying to close out the year with a bang while still planning for the new one staring me in the face. I had so much to talk about and absolutely no idea what to say. I know that sounds weird but one thing that you will always get when you read my blog is transparency. The last few Tuesdays of 2014 I felt pressure to keep up with my perfect record of never missing a week. I felt the need to just write something but when I settled myself, I realized that I needed a break. I needed to clear my head, regroup, refocus and just take a breath. This blog has never been stressful before and I was determined not to let it become that way so I stepped away for a bit BUT here I am, back at it for the first Tuesday of 2015 and it’s GO TIME!!

anchorSo many people inspired this post today. I truly could write about a multitude of topics but today it’s all about “commitment.” I’m not even talking about New Year’s Resolutions. Never been interested in those. I’m talking about those things that God placed in your heart years ago. There are dreams and visions that we have carried around for years and have either never put our all into making them our reality or have never even attempted because of fear and excuses. I imagine a lot of us look like wandering ships sailing across waters too afraid to drop our anchors. The purpose of an anchor is to hold a ship in its set place. Even when the engine is not in use, without an anchor, the ship can be moved from its set place by the motion of the water. The only real security that ship has from not getting off course while it’s not in motion is its anchor. The anchor represents commitment. Where is your anchor this year? Continue reading “Drop Your Anchor”

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