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Wednesday Wind Down: Birthday Behavior

Hello, Sweethearts!

As promised, I’m sharing this year’s birthday behavior with you. I altered my original plans a bit as my knee recouped, but I definitely did something I wanted to do every week. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with my annual ritual, let me catch you up.

Each week in August, I do something that fills me with joy or I’ve been postponing, then I continue the celebration once per month until the end of the year. Catch last year’s behavior by reading Birthday & Beast: Part I and Part II. This year, I am full of gratefulness and blessed to be here again to share with you.

Week 1: Rest. Much needed rest.

white bed linen
Photo by Kristin Vogt on Pexels.com

Week 2: Fun Rehearsal with my Troupe. Self-care Nails Day. Fun performance with my African dance company teammates. Rest again. Much needed rest.

Week 3: Great conversation with an old friend and a new friend. Online dinner date with my long-distance sister eating one of my favorite meals at Olive Garden. Recorded a back-to-school video clip with my Troupe. Attended the birthday party of my friends’ twins (that game of musical chairs was something serious) and ran into another member of our old Crew. Enjoyed my favorite milkshake – the limited time peach goodness from Chick-fil-A.



Week 4: Great food and conversation with my mother. A beautiful conversation over prime rib with my sister. Self-care Pedicure Day. High Tea at the lovely Smith-Byrd House with my favorite tea-drinking sister. Girls’ Night Out with lots of dancing and laughs.

Week 5: Facilitated an absolutely fun step dance class that almost didn’t happen but I’m so glad it did. Self-Care Massage Day. Shared an uncomfortable, yet necessary detail of my personal growth with my Troupe. Had a complete blast at my alma mater’s first football game of the season with my friend and sorors. Searched for new Bluetooth wireless earphones so when it’s in the budget next month, I’ll be ready.

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So, why do I share this list with you? Because I want to show you that it can be done. That joy can be visible when you’re willing to look. That you can and should live a life that is fulfilling from the inside out. Today, I encourage you to create your own personal law.  If you’re caught in the hamster wheel of work-sleep-repeat, you’re missing out on beautiful moments that won’t break the bank. Furthermore, when you’ve had near-death experiences (as many of us have), you should definitely invest in those moments on the regular. I engage in things I love all year, but during my birthday month and for the remainder of the year, I kick it up a notch to celebrate that I’m still here, reward myself for being on the grind, and refuel my spirit for what awaits me in the next year.

Lastly, I share this list with you because if my stretch marks make you feel more confident about yours, I’m for it. The older I get, the more I am compelled to peel back the layers of my soul. I’m OK with that. I’m at peace with the woman that continues to evolve inside of me. I love her and she appreciates the opportunity to stretch, learn, and breathe. Maybe your inner self has a message for you too. I hope that this post helps you to hear her/him and oblige accordingly.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts. Here’s to your week!

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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

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.

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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: Thank You

Good Evening, Sweethearts! How are you? I hope you’re doing well. Here’s a thought for your week just in case.

I find myself saying “thank you” for the oddest things. Just this week, the wind wrapped Himself around me and it felt like a supernatural hug. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness, so I looked up and smiled at the sky. To someone else, that doesn’t make sense, but to me, it’s how I choose to live.

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. – Psalm 28:7

It’s easy to thank God for the good stuff. The stuff that feels warm and fuzzy. The good stuff that you don’t see coming. It takes skill to be grateful for the stuff that feels awful and unexpectedly hits you. You read correctly — I said skill, as in something you learn and hone over time and experience. Now, I don’t believe that God plays chess with our lives; some things we bring upon ourselves. It’s called volition and it can be a help and a hindrance.

The ability to make decisions is what saved my mouth from going into overdrive while I was paying a bill over the phone. I could have invoked the Earth-given privilege of speaking my mind, but in actuality, it would have been speaking my emotions. It would have been sharp, egregious, and unapologetic. In the mix of the moment, I chose to be grateful instead of spiteful. I thanked God that the payment amount was at the level I needed it to be and that my account was current. I also thanked the Lord that I had the money in which to pay it this month. It was a split-second decision (with a dash of reluctant maturity) to be grateful for the Truth and not distracted by the disrespect. It made me think of how quickly things can escalate at the drop of a word and how gratefulness saved the future chain of events.

person holding cactus on a stick
Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

This week, my prayer is that you find gratefulness in the little things that are truly big things to someone else. I pray that you say thank you to all of the “sandpaper” people in your office because they are making you smoother for your future. Find the moment. Dig for it if you have to. You don’t have to like it, but you may need to hold that “thank you item” in your hand to keep from crying or doing something destructive.

Have an awesome week out there. No stoking the fires, OK?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Visibility

Hello, Sweetheart.

Show Jesus everywhere.

That’s what I heard for you this week. It is such a loaded and misunderstood directive.

Showing Jesus means toting my bible everywhere, quoting scriptures when someone says “Good Morning,” and barely be tolerable at social functions because of all the judgment seething through my pores, right? Quite the contrary.

Jesus has many faces (just look at all of the colorful faces in the world) and there are opportunities to show these faces in various situations. One of them could appear as a person in need of assistance while walking across the street. Another opportunity could be a co-worker in need of a kind word. We find these moments easily because the needs are relatively visible, but what happens when the need is underneath a layer of pride or anger? I agree– it’s a bit challenging to succumb to a higher level when the low blows are trying to knock you out. Truthfully speaking, this is the perfect opportunity to show His face to someone who may have never seen it or even believe it exists. You may not see the need because his/her words are too loud or they are absent from your life, but believe me, it’s there.

Here are a couple of examples of how I try to show Jesus

  • I met an atheist this week and we had an intellectual and humorous conversation (Sidebar: Christians, stop arguing with everybody).
  • Someone raised her voice at me and I did not return the behavior.
  • I pick up fallen clothing at the department store on a regular basis.
  • I’m truthful with my feelings even when I don’t want to be.
  • I smile at strangers.
  • I don’t return road rage.
  • I listen.
  • I say thank you to police and military officers.
  • I pray for people when they ask me to, sometimes at that moment.
  • I encourage as many people as I can.

Now, I am not a saint. I just try to live my faith in real life and not just at church. It’s not easy, by any means. There are plenty of times when I want to use profanity to prove that I am not a punk, but the truth of the matter is that doesn’t prove anything except a poor vocabulary to express my emotions. There are times when I want to reciprocate negative behavior so the other person can understand that I am very much capable of doing so, but that would only show me contradicting my belief system. I choose daily to show Jesus when I don’t want to do so. Sometimes, it’s a firm stance of Truth and sometimes it’s a warm hug. I make mistakes like other humans, yet I do my best to rectify it as soon as possible. That’s showing Jesus, too.

This week, I challenge you to show Jesus to the person that gets on your nerves. Notice that I didn’t say you had to agree with them or be their best friend. Just think of ways your actions can resemble His so that His Love is recognizable through you. It may seem like a small gesture or it may be a great sacrifice on your part, but at least you have made Him visible. At least you’ve provided the proof they’ve been waiting to see.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week!

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: Full Circle

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

So, a beautiful thing happened this month and there were 3 messages that were so clear to me. I chewed on them a bit before sharing them with you and now I’m ready. But first, the context.

On Saturday, February 16th, the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation hosted A Conversation with Dr. Angela Davis at the historic Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama. I had the honor of performing Glory (from the Selma movie soundtrack) with my childhood friend G.I. Magus in front of Dr. Davis and a potpourri of historical and political pillars. I was appreciative just be a piece of the puzzle and I couldn’t have written a better chapter in my life story. Besides the obvious prestige, let me tell you why this was a jewel of a moment.

In elementary school, I saw a photo of Dr. Davis and was entranced. She was a beautiful mix of political prowess, academic excellence, and natural beauty. I loved the way she wore her freedom like a long technicolor cape. Her hair, her voice, and her facial expressions screamed confidence. It was official – she was a shero. The more I read about her, the more fire I felt and I was proud to know that she was a native daughter. I was convinced that I would have an afro just like her when I found the courage to do so. For over 10 years, I did and still do.

Seeing her this month was the culmination of multiple dots connecting to create a beautiful experience, which leads me to the first message – your past can touch your future at any moment, so spend your present well. You never know how hello’s can turn into a double helix of lifetime connections. The people I met in 7th grade, high school, and college would become creative geniuses, community organizers, academic powerhouses, and prolific speakers. Any way you slice it, the fingerprints of my past were all over my future and I was in awe of the masterpiece.

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It’s a blessing to genuinely develop relationships over time, which leads to the 2nd message I heard that week –  your character will follow you wherever you go. This past weekend was a reminder that how you treat people goes far beyond the present moment. I’m not perfect, but I am so grateful that my rapport was strong enough to last a decade or two and some awesome individuals thought positive of my footsteps. That is a gift I will never take lightly… as long as I live. I hate it when people size me up based upon what I can do for them. That’s why I love learning about the spirit behind the job title and socioeconomic status.  In the end, we all appreciate being seen as a person. We appreciate a chance to disrobe our character and let it walk freely ahead of us.

The third message was just as loud – your help is waiting on you. I couldn’t have performed with confidence without the support of my tribe. The prayers from my mother, the love from my small group, the perfect track from my friends, the training from my mentors… there were familiar faces in every facet of this opportunity, each of them believing in God’s gift in me. I am forever grateful. Forever appreciative that when I asked for help, many hands opened wide. Pride keeps a lot of people in the jail cell of their souls’ contempt. I was once a prisoner of that warden and never will be again. This experience was a reiteration that some are still held captive.

Sweethearts, you are exceptional. Stop trying to be perfect. See everyone around you as an individual, not as a marketing tool. Try to be a better version of yourself than the day before. Whether you know it or not, everything will come full circle if you let it. I am so glad I did.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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!

Happy January: A 2019 Preview

Happy New Year again! I hope you had a safe, sweet, and fun New Year’s Week!

Last year’s preview went pretty well, so my no-cliché-resolution self is making another preview this year. Here’s what I did in 2019 (in other words, these are things I want to do).

  1. Paid off all of my installment accounts except my student loans. I was ecstatic to finally do this. It took a lot of work, a lot of discipline, and a lot of balance. The goal was to only have my student loan payments in 2020, and with God’s provision, I did it. Whew… what a load off.
  2. Maintained my self-care promise of two massage appointments per month.  I learned that being a choreographer, performing artist, massage therapist, public speaker, and writer meant that my muscles needed to be in their most efficient state at all times… like a good logophilic creative muscle kneader’s body should be. The massages were not designed to be a treat here and there; they were necessities to keep me going. I learned the value of maintenance versus damage control this year.
  3. Launched my 2nd book and enjoyed my book signing. Oh, what fun it was! I had an absolute blast and it was so good seeing my friends and family enjoy the moment. I didn’t just accomplish a goal, but I breathed in the life it brought to my life. It felt good to birth the dream.
  4. Grew my therapeutic massage practice. On November 19, 2019, I celebrated my practice being a 1-year-old blessing. It’s been a great ride and I’m looking forward to more of it. I felt so alive being an entrepreneur this year and to create hours flexible enough to eat lunch with my mother or read a book for leisure was priceless.
  5. Created my home office, bedroom, and bathroom sanctuaries. It was on my heart to reflect my internal spiritual balance in my home that would spark joy (thanks, Marie Kondo). Now, they look amazing to me. My home is full of peace, and now I smile and enjoy being in every room.

What’s your preview for 2019? Write 3 previews for this year that you can truly see coming true and write them down. Place them in places where you’ll see them often.. and be sure to include a personal development goal somewhere.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Blessings to your journey!

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