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?!

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”

Archive: Words-Thoughts-Actions-Behaviors-Lifestyle

“Your behavior is a reflection of what you believe.” ~ Pastor Dwayne Freeman

wordsLet me start by saying this: if every Sunday you leave church without even one word to pull on for the rest of the week I’m telling you that you’re in the wrong church! I don’t care whose auntie, momma, or grandma was baptized there in 1932! If your life isn’t impacted by being connected then it’s time to GO! Every Sunday I feel recharged and it lasts well beyond the pews. I carry it with me into my week. Some lessons resonate more with me than others but it’s never a waste when I attend church. Yes, the pastor definitely has a major part on what you get while sitting in the service. However, what you do with that word after you leave is 100% completely up to YOU. Continue reading “Archive: Words-Thoughts-Actions-Behaviors-Lifestyle”

My Hand Is God’s Hand

Let me paint the picture for you. Imagine being a mother or father of a child that you tried desperately to conceive and them being held by the hands of a killer. A rifle placed at their temple and being told to denounce your faith for the sake of keeping your baby alive. Imagine the amount of confidence that a parent must have in their faith to be able to confess their faith in that situation? Can you honestly say that you could do it? Would you even give it a thought? If I’m going to remain transparent with you, I’m not sure I could. Real talk. Having that level of awareness of where I am increased my respect for those that are presently faced with that challenge and die daily based on their decision.

Continue reading “My Hand Is God’s Hand”

STOP PLANNING!

Yeah, you read the title right and no I haven’t lost my mind. This message is coming from the ULTIMATE planner. I plan EVERYTHING! I like to know what, when, how, and why for anything that I get involved in. I’m from the school of “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” So let me explain why I can still hold true to the notion of “Stop Planning” even when I have intentions of continuing to plan.

ERICTHOMASLast night I listened in to the Mentor Mondays’ Spreecast with Paul Brunson. He’s one of my favorite people to follow on social media and I’ve been fortunate enough to have met him a few times since he also lives in DC. The guest for the evening was a man named Eric Thomas who is a world renowned motivational speaker. Once a 16 year old high school drop out who later received his GED and is currently working towards his PHD! I love stories like that!

Just to be clear, prior to last night’s spreecast I’d only seen one of his YouTube videos and although I thought he was excellent at public speaking, I didn’t latch on to him. His delivery is a little abrupt and in your face and it seemed like his messaging was geared to a younger, more adolescent crowd. Indeed, his messaging is focused on urban youth to help them see the bigger picture and believe that they can be more than what their environment says they can. I honor him for that. But last night, he was speaking to grown men and women. Many of us educated, professional, and somewhat established in careers. None of that mattered. He had a solid word for us. Here’s a few nuggets that stood out: Continue reading “STOP PLANNING!”

When I Was 7… Yesterday

1 Cor. 13:11 “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

Number 7I never knew about her earlier life. I knew of her activism, her poems, and her infinite wisdom but yesterday was my first glance into young Maya Angelou. That is — 7 year old Maya Angelou. In one of her many interviews with Oprah Winfrey, she spoke of being raped at age 7. A few days after being released from jail, the man she accused was found dead. It was the end of his life and the end of her voice – for several years. Her 7 year old mind led her to believe that her voice was the cause of the man’s death and that if she continued to speak then more people would die. Where did she get that from? Who did she consult about those thoughts?… No one. Continue reading “When I Was 7… Yesterday”

“I Sell Women”

BBOG1On April 14, 2014, an Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, invaded a school dormitory in Nigeria and lured over 200 girls away by posing as military soldiers coming to rescue them. The girls were in hiding during a wrath of gun fire so they believed that the men were there to save them. It didn’t take long before they knew who they really were and it was not for their well being.

Hopefully many of you have been following the story and understand the severity of the matter. These men are against Western education, Christianity, and any Muslims that they believe are traders. After their leader Yusuf was assassinated, it was guaranteed that they would seek revenge. Though many innocent people have died at the hands of these extremist, young girls are the most recent targets. There are reports that the girls are being sold as child brides and sex slaves for as little as $12. The sad truth about the matter is that many people don’t feel at all connected to this tragedy. It’s thousands of miles away on a continent that many may never visit. The girls are without names that anyone beyond their families and friends would know. So many people will write this off as a sad state for Nigerians even after they post #BringBackOurGirls to their social media sites… I mean, it’s all about appearances right?

Continue reading ““I Sell Women””

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