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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

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Wednesday Wind Down: Let ‘Em Talk

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

As you wind down for the day, I pray this message reaches you with good health in mind, body, and spirit. I can’t wait to share what I heard this week.

One of my favorite athletes is Manny Pacquiao. No, I am not a boxer, but I admire the profession and Manny has earned my respect over the years.

On FOX Sports PBC FACE TO FACE, I watched undefeated Welterweight Keith “One Time” Thurman talk about how excited he will be when he defeats Filipino Senator and Legendary Champion Manny “Pac-man” Pacquiao. Frankly, he was talking a lot of trash with shots of cockiness. Thurman spoke jovially of Pacquiao’s age and career statistics. He said that he studied Manny’s fighting style and described ways he could penetrate his speed. I shook my head at the television while my athlete remained unphased on the screen.

The reason why Pacquiao is on my respect list is that he keeps his priorities straight — no matter what. I love how cool he is under pressure. I love how he keeps the main thing, the main thing – faith, family, then the fight. I appreciate his ability to train hard and serve his country equally hard. I admire his work-life balance. So, as I continued to watch the dialogue, I couldn’t help but notice the dichotomy in demeanor. In the midst of this observation, I heard 3 things that can help us prepare for battles in our lives.

pacquiao-thurman (1)
Courtesy of BoxingScene.com

1. There’s a difference between training to obtain and training to maintain.

Looking at sizzle reels of their training sessions revealed how different they trained.  Thurman’s clip was grizzly. His workouts were aggressive. He explained his rise to fame and his teenage decision to choose boxing over academics. I loved it actually. So much passion at such a young age and still tenacious as ever. Pacquiao’s clip was seasoned and strategic. He looked like wisdom in motion, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my favorite. Their attitudes during exercises were visibly different as well. Thurman kept repeating his goal of being a history maker for bringing down his opponent. Pacquiao never mentioned him. It was like watching a car in the acceleration lane versus on the open road.

2. Let your fight talk for you.

The moderator asked for pre-, during, and post-fight predictions. Pacquiao had little say. His words were light, short, and clear. “I respect every opponent,” he said. When asked how the fight would end, he said that both fighters worked hard and made the fans happy. Thurman? In his best announcer voice, he claimed himself as the champion. Pacquiao smiled.

3. Let your enemy keep talking.

Throughout the entire session, there were opportunities for Pacquiao to retaliate with a fiery response. He let Thurman talk as much as he wanted and only spoke when asked a question by the moderator. His face didn’t flinch. He didn’t smirk. He didn’t grimace. His eyebrows didn’t furrow. He was calm. Even his instinctive blinks were undisturbed. I study communication like coaches study plays. I can’t deny my sentiments — I loved it. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but he definitely wasn’t moved.

So, on July 20, 2019, we’ll see words and training in action. Of course, I am #TeamPacquiao all day and regardless of the prediction, his character is a winner in my book. My prayer for us is that we take his lead when faced with situations underneath our royalty. Enemies always have a lot to say. Let your character be just as loud. Now, I’m not saying Thurman doesn’t have good character; I do not know him. What I am saying is stop engaging in every conversation as if you have something to prove. You don’t. Let your work speak for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: You Better

Hi, Sweethearts!

It’s graduation season for various age groups. Watching people reach this milestone is such a blessing!

Recently, I witnessed a high school class of approximately 80 students with the following awesomeness (see photo):

  • 100% graduation rate
  • 100% college acceptance
  • Over $30 million in scholarship offers

I was in awe, but I shouldn’t have been. I should have been looking at the norm, but instead, I welled with pride at the thought of these unique powerhouses entering their next stage of life. Apparently, they had a determination that could fuel 1,000 ships and it made me wonder…

What happens when the milestones go away? When there’s no diploma, no scholarship, no pomp-and-circumstance to indicate that you’ve accomplished a goal, how can we create that grit? I had to pleasure of speaking to a group of 8th-grade graduates during their promotion ceremony this week and I wanted them to realize there were many more memories to create after they relished in this one.

Tonight, I’m telling you the same thing. It’s easy to fall into the rut of a daily grind because there is no graduation ceremony on the horizon. After the big hurdles, there seems to be pending doom of monotony. I’m here to encourage you to smash that farce. You can create your own milestones. Play your own theme music before walking into work. Pick a date on your calendar to celebrate that you’ve lived through hell for the last 6 months. Choose a date in the future to reach a goal you’ve let sit on the backburner.

Don’t allow yourself to be stagnant. Create reminders that you’re a survivor. Celebrate your humanity and your superpowers. You were designed by a supernatural God that has planted greatness inside of you. It’s about time to wake that up with everything you touch.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts!

Wednesday Wind Down: There’s More of You

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

I was reminded of something recently that may help you out this week. When you think you have nothing left, there is more of you to give. I know it doesn’t seem like it (trust me, I feel you), but there truly is. Here’s how –

Every fruit has a seed and that seed has potential fruit in it. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I experience a situation that is a total energy zapper. In real life, I shake my head sometimes like a cartoon character that just hit a brick wall. It’s a quick punch to the face and if you’re not careful, it will buzz-kill your natural high on life. What do I do when this happens? The following 3 things help me cope:

  1. I tell myself “OK” as many times as it takes. Sounds simple, but it’s my way to accepting the reality without overwhelming myself. It’s also my verbal confirmation to God that we’re in it together.
  2. I ask myself “What can I do now?” I immediately prioritize to what I can control at that moment. The truth is that I can’t change the situation, but I usually can do something to relieve the pressure and lower my stress level… even if it doesn’t relate to the situation at hand.
  3. I tell myself “It’s just temporary.” For me, there’s peace in the Truth. Jesus is my Peace and He stands in the chaos with me. When I tell myself the Truth, it reminds me that the situation won’t last forever.

So, when you feel like you’re squeezed out in a matter of seconds, minutes, or months, I pray that these three things can help you deal with the reality. It truly helps me to manage every day. You’re not squeezed out because you have an Everlasting Source. Trust me… He will give you more to handle what is thrown at you. You are the fruit with potential seeds inside and we have a Master Gardener that knows His field.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Keep rocking your January!

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.

20181212_124110.jpg
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

20181212_133352.jpg
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

#bloglikecrazy: Day 25 – There Is An End

The Good

#25 – I watched my students and my cousin graduate!

There are two things I bring to every graduation – water and cough drops. Why? Because I’m going to scream for my students! The joy that overwhelms my soul every time I see them step into the graduation day is the stuff that could make rockets fly. Their smiles light up every backstage corridor and when they walk across the stage, I yell like I birthed them myself. I teach adults, but at that moment, they’re my kids. I embarrass them with cheers, hugs, and words that express how proud I am of them.

The cherry on top of the day was cheering for my cousin. She had gone through hell and high water, but she kept a spirit of determination while balancing family, work, and school. I was so proud of her and all of my students that day. I was simply blessed to be present… and they knew I was coming for them with my camera. lol

The Lesson

The best feeling in the world for an educator is knowing that you’ve given them something that will grow with them forever. The homework, the discipline, the life skills, and the motivation all work together to create a beautiful moment of transition from the classroom to their respective professions. My former students are now business owners, healthcare professionals, administrators, managers, and students once again as they advance in their careers. All of those titles came to fruition because their class time with me came to an end. That’s not a sad thing… it’s a Good thing! That’s why I cheer for my students so hard and knock back those cough drops – because it’s the end of that part of the struggle. Single parenthood, unemployment, inconsistent childcare, undependable transportation, and non-supportive family members were not enough to stop them. And those smiles on that day… that’s the Good no negativity can take away.

So, maybe you think I was joking about the cheering part. Who cares if I was on stage as faculty? Not me. Just check out this clip of my cousin walking across the stage.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Cheer for someone this week! It may encourage them more than you know!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 22 – Courageous

The Good

#22 – I judged a high school talent show!

A local high school hosted a talent show for students to perform their hearts out. I heard musicians play instruments exceptionally well, poets who had substance to say, and singers who sang with passion. It was great, but their courage is what blew me away. It’s not easy to stand in front of your peers and teachers at that age with fortitude and stage fright sloshing in your chest. I was so proud to witness their raw talent in real time.

The Lesson

At some point in our lives, we did things afraid. We were scared out of our wits, but we did it anyway. We played that note, we said that speech, we asked her out… we made our courage override our fear. I couldn’t imagine performing in front of my friends and spectators in such a vulnerable form as a talent show. Being the band is one thing, but to stand alone with just you and your voice or instrument is another. At some point, we need to do things afraid again. Trust in our talent and our preparation and go for it. That’s what those teenagers did and I was so encouraged.

So, write the grant, take that class, publish that cookbook… do it afraid and you’ll do it with courage.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Happy Thanksgiving!

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 21 – ThanksFORgiving

The Good

#21 – My colleagues became my teachers!

This is for every teacher out there that gives of their time, talent, and treasure in order to see their students “get it.” My co-workers gave me the gift of their professional passion and I couldn’t be more grateful. While I was in therapeutic massage school, they volunteered their wisdom in various ways and enjoyed pouring into all of us. From 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM every day, I was a student and I received all of their awesomeness. Truthfully, I became their fan. They were not colleagues during that timeframe; they were my instructors and their goal was to see me succeed in my new journey. They helped me study and practice after school when I needed it and cheered when I passed my boards and landed my first independent contract. They also hugged me as I cried. I couldn’t have asked for better gurus for uncharted waters.

20180822_092028
Kate the Great is what we call her because she does whatever it takes to help you learn.

The Lesson

You truly do give what you get.

I can’t count how many times I stayed after class, drove to campus on my days off, and counseled students to pursue their passions in the midst of adversity. It didn’t matter that I was exhausted or that my bank account was coughing dust… I wanted to give the gift of care to people that were transitioning into their next levels. I didn’t think I would receive all of that back from people that I admired as my friends. The best gift was to be an open vessel in their classrooms. It is truly possible to receive what you pour into others and I appreciate every drop.

Peace & Thanks FOR giving. I love you all.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 12 – Here Comes The Judge

The Good

#12 – I judged the Camille Armstrong Memorial Scholarship Stepshow again!

For the UAB community, the Camille Armstrong Memorial Scholarship Stepshow is a Black Greek family reunion. The step routines, the strolls, and the passionate chants created memories that NPHC organizations will remember for years to come. But what really makes the alumni come outside on a cold February night is the chance to laugh and chat with old friends. Being a former participant in the step show and a former executive board member of the Black Student Awareness Committee (the hosts of the show), I am always honored and appreciative to serve as a judge for this beautiful event. Regardless of the banter shared across the organizational color line, we’re threads of a historical tapestry of academic and community excellence and nothing can tear that apart.

The Lesson

Legacy is everything. The relationships that formed as a result of being Greek in Birmingham, Alabama still vibrate with love and respect to this day. Being a judge means that I have the opportunity to keep the art form of stepping alive with integrity and excitement. As a choreographer, that means everything to me. As an alumna, it makes me proud. I went from attending the step show to assisting with it -> to being on the executive board -> to judging it. When I sat for a minute and thought about it, I appreciated the blessing to be involved in those ways.

For my collegiate Sweethearts, take note of your relationships. You don’t have to be a member of a sorority or fraternity to have meaningful interactions. When you’re in college, you have the opportunity to make friends that last a lifetime and the chance to leave a legacy. Serve where you can. Meet people you have nothing in common with. Attend events that you have no clue about. Be safe and explore where your legacy begins.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Happy Founders’ Day, my SoRHOrs! EEE-YIP! #SigmaGammaRho #LastCreatedBestDesigned

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