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Wednesday Wind Down: Bricklayer

Hi, Sweethearts!

OK, I am still on a high from watching Boss: The Black Experience in Business – a documentary about African-American history in entrepreneurship and business industries. If you haven’t seen it, please do. Definitely a must-see. Here’s a play-by-play of how it all went down in my world. Special Shoutout to Carmen Mays, Founder of Elevators on 4th, and my alma mater UAB for hosting this event and reminding Birmingham of the juggernaut of Black entrepreneurship she was and will continue to be.

boss film uab

BEFORE THE FILM

20190716_175221.jpgI have a confession to make. Networking events are not at the top of my social list. It’s where my introversion leaps out to block my smile and I have to overshadow her by scanning the room for people I know and introducing myself to people I don’t. In all that I do that involves others (blogging, dancing, and massage therapy), solitude is where I am cozy.

So, what did I do? I made my introverted nemesis attend the pre-film reception. I’m also recovering from a knee injury and walking from my car to the event space was the longest distance I had accomplished without using my crutches. Needless to say, I was ready to sit down. While familiar faces wove in and out of their elements, I shared sincere laughs with another great businesswoman in my state and we decided to sit together during the film.

Me – 1
Nemesis – 0

DURING THE FILM

I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I tried to capture a few notes, but only if the visual stayed the same. As soon as it changed, I looked up fast like a little kid with a bad case of FOMO before bed. Throughout the film, I was infused with strength. It would have been easy to be angry at the injustice, but I was undoubtedly empowered. Fortified. The stories of my ancestral heroes sealed the natural cracks in my entrepreneurial foundation. Some of the stories, I knew and taught my students. Others, I learned for the first time. I sat forward with my hands clasped at times and in other moments I smiled in awe.

What a beautiful rocky road of Black determination, I thought. Seriously. We were given manure and we made it grow – over, and over, and over again. Our money was stolen and we generated more like a prosthetic limb. We pumped the life-blood into ourselves after being left for dead. Agriculture. Banking. Hair. Clothing. We are a force to be reckoned with no matter which decade you decide to slice. I recalled my first time reading Ebony, Jet, Black Enterprise, and Essence as their humble beginnings were told in front of me. To see bursts of Color in a monochromatic printed world was lifechanging. Seeds of cultural self-esteem were planted within me at an early age and watching these gladiators of vision and ingenuity reminded me of their fruits manifested through today’s industry moguls. I sighed and smiled again to see such relentless prowess right before my eyes.

AFTER THE FILM

20190716_195315.jpgI sat up straighter. My back was stronger and my neck held my chin a bit higher. My hearty handclaps might as well have been among a sea of applause at Carnegie-Hall.  I felt so proud. So tall. As an African-American Woman Entrepreneur, I am walking on the bricks of hard labor and I get the immutable opportunity to place my own brick along that historical trail.

Black business owners have proven that skin color should never override intelligence and passion. We are beyond capable of building a present and a future for ourselves and others – nationally and internationally. Regardless of the opposition of ignorance, we continue to showcase dexterity and incredible resilience. Can you imagine the escalating levels of repeated faith it takes to accomplish such feats? I can’t imagine. To create decades of legacies without an Ellis Island is an irrefutable honor that should never be undermined or forgotten. 

Lastly, I also realized that I am exactly where I should be. To be reminded that those pillars of strength began with pennies in their pockets was just the juice I needed keep my energy going. Six months ago, I plunged into full-time entrepreneurship after my school closed, and it has been an exceptional journey. I have no complaints, but people often romanticize the life of owning a business and I couldn’t help but smile to know that my grit was in good company. My scars were in the right place. My tired eyes could still see my ancestors rooting for me. My hands were still capable of facilitating my dreams just like their cotton-picking fingers repeatedly reached for hope. My heart was still able to incubate their fire for economic freedom. My spirit was still synonymous with theirs and my feet could still walk forward on the bricks of their backs — one day, allowing someone to step on mine. Let’s keep building, America.

You don’t have to lose who you are to be successful.
Cathy Hughes, Founder of Radio One –

Peace & Thanks for listening! Keep shining!

boss film pbs

Walking out of 2018 like…

My performing arts troupe has a saying “No scratch, no burn, no nothin’.” It references the Bible’s account of  3 Hebrew boys that were delivered from death by fire (Book of Daniel – Chapters 1-6). It’s our battle cry when we go through tough situations.

That’s where my mindset has been since December 5, 2018, when all of my employer’s campuses received word that we were permanently closing before the year’s end. Unless you were teaching a class or part of the skeleton crew designated to carry out closing duties, your last day on the job was the same day you got the news. It was horrible.

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Motivation visuals of my “why.”

Sprouts of fiery frustration, confusion, and anguish spread like wildfire among employees and students alike. It was an ugly, messy, inconsiderate break-up and there weren’t enough gauze in the world to cover the wounds. My heart bled for my work family and numerous students affected by the mud of bureaucracy. I was emotionally full and saddened that our academic and professional journey had to end in such a way.

20181212_131540.jpg

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My office bulletin board above my desk. Before & After.

December also hosted multiple milestones that reminded me of my late former husband. So, I took the time to digest it all. To let healing have her perfect work. To let the process continue instead of stifling what I didn’t want to feel. And like my #bloglikecrazy posts expressed, all of 2018 was not bad. There were some exceptional moments in there that I will never forget.

 

So, going back to December 5th aftermath – the million dollar questions floating in the hallways were “So, what are you going to do?” “Do you have another job lined up?”

woman in peach color and red floral sweatshirt holding gray jacket
Photo by Godisable Jacob on Pexels.com

I had planned to proceed full-time in my entrepreneurial lanes in March, but upon receipt of the closing news, I heard in my spirit “It’s time.” Time to trust and do exactly what I was called to do, but was too afraid to do in the past. To everything, there is a season, and apparently, this was mine. I was so sad that the ending was so abrupt and widespread, but honestly, I was at peace and filled with unparalleled determination. This wasn’t my first rodeo in dealing with layoffs, but it was my first experience of this kind. I said to myself, “I’m done. I won’t lay me off.”

I’m launching out into the deep. Full emersion into the fullness of my workmanship. I don’t have all of the answers, but I have the orders and I’m not afraid to keep building on my dreams.

What are you willing to end in order to begin? Are you walking tall into your God-given gifts or slumping over in defeat? To all of my students, use the blunt news as the jolt you need to assess your passions, write down your dream steps, and catapult you into the very thing you’ve been talking about doing all these years. I know the way it happened sucked rotten eggs, but I’m looking forward to celebrating your new reality. I’m definitely moving into mine. All I needed was a YES from God and I got it.

Peace & Happy New Year, Sweethearts! I love you!

20181121_155920.jpg

Wednesday Wind Down: Yes and No

Hey Sweethearts!

Tonight’s wind down is pretty simple because that’s how it hit me.

I was reading an article last night from Entrepreneur.com – 3 Rules I Use to Stay Productive and Not Overwhelmed. I read productivity articles often to find practices that best suit my purpose and vision. This one was particularly interesting because the guest writer Ted Serbinski engaged personal examples that created a comprehensive model of how he uses life-changing principles.

Over the last couple of years, I have adopted some of these rules and they have enriched me personally, academically, and professionally. I am a full-time student, educator, writer, and executive director of a performing arts troupe. On any given day, I have homework to grade, rehearsal to attend, and content to write. So, needless to say, I was eager to read Serbinski’s wisdom as a father of three under age three that has a portfolio of 40-plus startups that he has invested in and actively support – plus, he receives 1,000 emails and takes 15-30 meetings. WHAT THE WHAT?!

One section especially grabbed my attention – “Consider this: Each time you say yes to something, you are inadvertently saying no to something else. That “yes” takes up time in your life and when that next opportunity comes up, you don’t have the time to say yes.”

I incorporated this principle into my life some time ago and put it in overdrive 2 years ago, and I appreciated his wording of it.

So tonight, I’m asking you the same question I asked myself – Where are your yes’s going? Are you saying no enough to make room for the yes’s you’re supposed to say? 

Let that churn a bit and make it settle in your spirit. Have a great week and wind down safely, my Loves.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of Forfend.

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 5 – Grit

I have the best creative team in the world. Give us space and time and we do extraordinary things, like create moving water, tumultuous trees, and a visual Bible story in seconds.

On last Sunday afternoon and into late that evening, my performing arts troupe, Workmanship Incorporated, rehearsed for our upcoming performance at the UAB Gospel Choir Reunion Concert to be held at the Alys Stephens Center on Monday, November 13, 2017. I was torn between physical pain and supernatural will, but I made it. One of my teammates lives in another state and she drove into town to join us. Other teammates came from church, work, and family duties to give their sacrifice of dance as well. To check out a short clip of the rehearsal, click here.

At one point in the rehearsal, I stepped back and just marveled at how fantastic they were. Willing and diligent to get it right so God could have complete control on performance day. No one complained. No one was belittled. No one was anxious to leave. We were on one accord. Everyone was pressing toward the mark and it was beautiful. I loved beholding the glory of God working in them behind-the-scenes. 


In a bigger perspective, many will never see what we go through at home in order to produce the fruit on our limbs in life. We have structured areas and danger zones where we get our lives together before heading out into the world. In the performing arts arena, the audience may see 10 minutes of creativity for 10 hours of preparation. It’s a labor of love and a gritty process, but well worth it in the end. That’s the essence of your life, your relationships, your dreams, your responsibilities. If you do it right, grit becomes part of your daily diet. It’s good for you and for those around you. It doesn’t let you quit or whine. It pulls you over the humps and having others with you that chew on the same stuff makes all the difference.

So, there I was… with a front row seat looking at a dream realized from my 14-year-old self. Rehearsing with all of the energy we could muster. Laughing through trials and sharing our victories. And I realized then,the aftertaste of grit tastes good.

Peace & Thanks for listening! 

And to my Troupe, Workmanship Incorporated, thank you for being my muse. I love y’all. Xoxo

50 Shades of Fight

Businessman with boxing gloves
Businessman with boxing gloves. Courtesy of California Ticket Masters

There are boxing gloves that can fit every hand for the fight against injustice.

Without the tempered pen of Phillis Wheatley and Ida B. Wells-Barnett… the beautiful creative prowess of Katherine Dunham and Debbie Allen… the cat eyeglasses and church shoes worn by civil rights activists, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do each day. So, I started thinking… if everyone fought the same way, something would go untouched. A collection of varied punches is the only human force that can defeat an enemy of this magnitude. The slobbering rabid dog that it is.

With the crimes that have transpired in the last 2 years (shootings and bombings and murders, oh my…), I decided to challenge myself by compiling a kaleidoscope of ways that people are fighting injustice on a regular basis.  Could I do it? Could I come up with 50 persons that swing in the ring as differently as their fingerprints? Whew! What a challenge!

Though their gloves look different to the naked eye, their fight against what’s wrong in the world sends ripples through history. I made a point to also include people that you may not know, and some I didn’t know until this post.  Their work isn’t always glamourous and may be overshadowed by their fame or “Clark Kent” 9-to-5 identity, but this list is comprised of some heavyweight champions… some, I am honored to know personally. They came to the forefront of my mind and I’ve included their method of fighting as a link within their name. If someone that you admire isn’t on the list, respectfully add it in the comment section below along with a link to provide details about their fighting strategy as it wasn’t meant to be exclusive. Just a segway for conversation and inspiration.

Wouldn’t it be cool if these names were in the history books

so the future can inhale their greatness?

Thank God for alphabetical order. *smile*

  1. Al Elliott – Educator, Rapper
  2. Alicia Keys – Musician, Songwriter
  3. All Military Branches & Law Enforcement – Service
  4. Arise Citizens Policy Project – Non-Profit, Advocacy
  5. Bertram Young – Non-Profit Unit Director
  6. Bill & Melinda Gates – Philanthropists
  7. Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program – Legal Counsel
  8. Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins – Entrepreneur, Poet, Activist
  9. Calvin Littlejohn – Non-Profit Regional Manager
  10. Carmelo Anthony – Olympic Athlete, Basketball
  11. Clint Smith – Educator, Researcher, Writer
  12. Clinton Green – Educator, Musician, Producer, Songwriter
  13. Debbie Allen – Actor, Author, Choreographer, Dancer, Director
  14. Denzel Washington – Actor, Director
  15. Gabby Douglas – Olympic Athlete, Gymnast
  16. Gateway Family Church Leaders – Pastors
  17. G. I. Magus – Rapper, Songwriter
  18. Griena H. K. Davis, Ph.D. – Counselor, Educator, Non-Profit, Advocate
  19. Hadiyah-Nicole Green – Educator, Physicist
  20. Hedwige “Didi” Saint-Louis, M.D., MPH – Educator, OB/GYN, Advocate
  21. Javacia H. Bowser – Educator, Writer
  22. Jay-Z – Rapper, Producer, Entrepreneur
  23. Jarvis Escott – Entrepreneur, Marketing Professional
  24. Jim & Rose McChesney – Birmingham Homeless Ministry Leaders
  25. John Hall – Restaurateur
  26. Kevin P. Turner – Educator, Pastor, Producer, Songwriter
  27. Kimberly Bryant – Technology Education Advocate
  28. Lisa Price – Entrepreneur, Hair & Body Care
  29. Magic Johnson – Athlete, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
  30. Malala Yousafzai – Non Profit, Activist
  31. Mark Bustos – Hairstylist
  32. Maya Penn – Entrepreneur
  33. Mellody Hobson – Investments Firm President
  34. Minority Owned Banks – Financial Service Providers
  35. Nadia Richardson, Ph.D. – Educator, Mental Health Advocate
  36. Patrick Packer – Advocate, Consultant, Entrepreneur
  37. Rosemary Amposah – Welder
  38. Ruby Wax – Comedian, Mental Health Advocate
  39. Serena Williams – Olympic Athlete, Tennis
  40. Shawn Wade, Ph.D. – Educator, Consultant
  41. Sherman L. Young – Author, Pastor
  42. Sherry Shine – Entrepreneur, Hair Care
  43. Shonda Rhimes – Director, Producer, Writer
  44. Steven K. Webb, Ph.D. – Educator, Investment Broker
  45. Tarra Wilson – Law Enforcement
  46. T. D. Jakes – Author, Movie Producer, Pastor
  47. T. Marie King – Community & Youth Advocate
  48. Tyler Perry – Actor, Director, Playwright, Producer
  49. Uawanna J. Day – Administrative Assistant, Sunday School Teacher
  50. Warren Buffett – Entrepreneur, Investor
  51. Will & Jada Smith – Actors, Directors, Producers, Musicians
  52. WNBA  – Athletes, Administrators

So, I thought of 52… who knew?!

10 Ways You Can Fight Too

  1. Be a youth/young adult mentor. Don’t freak them out by smothering them. Just love on them. Speak life into them. Mention their interests every now and then. Show up. Support goes a long way.
  2. Go outside and be cordial to your neighbors. You can’t criticize who you don’t know. Also, if all eyes are watching for crime, the community creates a line of defense.
  3. Learn the names of the officers that police your community. They’re people. Humans live behind that badge. All law enforcement are not bad, just like all vegetables don’t taste gross. Don’t let anything shade your perspective.
  4. Read a book. Besides reading God’s Word, I love reading various materials. It helps to maintain healthy conversation when you know what you’re talking about.
  5. Discuss a book with others. See #4. Can you imagine what this would do for us all?
  6. Be excellent in your craft. Don’t be mediocre because of a paycheck. Be the best. You being your best will make someone else’s life so much better.
  7. Excel at the small things. Little things count. Smile. Offer help. Call instead of text. Even if you’re sweeping the floor, remember the corners.
  8. Give a compliment to a stranger. Lighten up someone’s load by giving them a smile.
  9. Love the unlovable. I know they can be weird and mean. Love them anyway.
  10. Bathe yourself in goodness before you go to work. It’s a jungle out there. Be prepared before you walk in. Clothe yourself in righteousness and be ready for whatever. That’s how you don’t flip out.

I hope those names inspire you as much as they did me. Some of them do not receive nearly enough accolades and appreciation, but they fight anyway. Everyday.  Driving their best race in the passionate lane of their career path.

Click on every name. Explore them. If you can, reach out to them… honk your virtual horn and say “Hey. Thanks for fighting.” You may be just the boxer’s corner they need to keep regroup, clean up, and keep going.

Peace & Thanks for listening. *runs to ice fingers from typing*

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