Saying Good-Bye to 2016

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It’s almost time to say good-bye to 2016 so before I head out for vacation, I am posting my last blog for the year.

I started the year out in Hawaii – one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited – spending time with one of my most amazing friends. This trip created the tone for the year: intentions were set, wishes were cast, and my actions were aligned with my goals for the year. Albeit rocky, 2016 was a great year! As I scrolled through photo album on my phone, I was reminded of just how blessed I was during this year. From professional conferences and publications to an abundance of quality time spent with family and friends to so many chapters of my life ending – including finishing up my doctoral coursework 🙂 – this year was a wonderful one. I retreated more than ever and am now preparing to heard to my 3rd retreat for the year :-). I traveled; I celebrated; I cried; I laughed; I loved … real hard; I danced; I rested; I renewed and re-found me. I fell in love with my life all over again, remembering that I have the power to decide at any moment that “this is not how my story is going to end”.

As the year comes to a close, I continue to take moments to give thanks for all the ways that I received love, light, and favor.  In addition to all the memories that were created, I must say that 2016 has been my launching pad for what I anticipate to be an even better year in 2017! I look forward to sharing my world with you in the New Year and I hope that somewhere along the way, I inspire you to CREATE your best life.

Happy holidays and Happy New Year! #grateful

It’s My Birthday … and What Happened at the Party!!!

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BIRTHDAY

I met a few friends out this weekend to celebrate my birthday. When I arrived at the venue I noticed that the event was being held in two separate rooms, which I assumed were adjoining. As I walked the corridor following a slew of people, I heard one of the hosts tell a guest in front of me that a particular entrance was only for VIP guests. I kept walking until I approached another open door. Once I walked in, I saw several people dancing, could spot the DJ, and found a place to stand where I could easily move between the dance floor and a resting spot. Once my friends arrived, we began texting back and forth about where to meet. After several failed attempts to locate each other inside the room where I was, I suggested that we meet in the hallway. Once I walked into the hall, I spotted one of my friends coming from a completely different area. I asked her where she was coming from and she asked me the same! Without even taking a look in the room I’d just exited she instructed me to follow her. We walked to a completely different section – near one of the doors I’d passed before – and she opened the door! This room was about 4 times the size of the room I just left with just as many occupants. Oh. My. Gosh. What had I been doing all this time? I danced in the other room and had a good time, but it was no comparison to the room where my friends were! Clearly I was missing out. Here were all my friends in the REAL party room and I was merely experiencing the overflow … at best.

How many times do we do this in life? How many times do we pass a door that is not open to us in the immediate future, only to never return again and see what is on the other side? How often do we settle for overflow or what is good and never made it to the real deal or what is GREAT? This was a lesson for me as I celebrate the blessings of this past year and look forward to another wonderful year of life. In honor of my birthday, I am sharing my affirmations for this year.

  1. I will not be held hostage by myself or anyone else by who I used to be and what I used to do! I reserve the freedom to change gears at any time, acknowledge when my actions don’t match the highest version of myself and change course without any explanations.
  2. I will be selective of who I spend my time with and what I spend my time on, including family, friends and everyone/everything in between.
  3. I will put my health FIRST!
  4. I will live my life as my authentic self ~ no apologies.
  5. I will honor seasons in all things: places, relationships and practices.
  6. I will dance. I will laugh. I will love. I will celebrate. I will teach. I will learn. I will write. I WILL LIVE!
  7. I will practice ongoing acts of kindness and gratitude through service, prayer, giving, meditation and periods of solitude.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME 🙂

Post Hawaii Reflection: These Things I Know for Sure

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HawaiiII

It is just shy of a week since I left Hawaii and I am working hard to maintain the same sense of calm, intention and peace that I felt while I was there. As this semester nears this becomes more challenging so I am taking a few moments to share the gentle reminders I received in Hawaii and what I know for sure at the start of a New Year & season.

  1. I am a late comer to Mike Dooley, but am now a fan of his work and the daily #tut emails. I now know that taking a few moments each day to be inspired is invaluable. A simple email, an affirmation, a meditation or a prayer all go a long way in sustaining my sense of purpose.
  1. For the last few days I have been binging on podcasts by Myleik Teele of #Curlbox. I am usually reading, watching or listening to folks much older than me and attempting to apply their wisdom and insight to my current situations. It has been incredibly inspiring to hear someone my exact age talk about success, goal setting, overcoming challenges and continuing to grow. I now know that I need more of this. Thanks Myleik!
  2. Related to numbers two and three, I now know that I have to indulge in finding new sources of inspiration and encouragement on a regular basis, not just during a break or vacation. I now know that three months is too long for me to carve out time to simply be inspired!
  3. I have to exercise! This is a no-brainer to most, but when my schedule gets hectic my exercise regimen is usually the first to go. Like many of you, I feel so much better and less stressed when I am active. I now know (more than ever) that exercise is a necessity not a luxury.
  4. Alongside regular exercise, I now know that there is absolutely no excuse that is ever sufficient enough to justify eating poorly on a continuous basis. I know better – it is time for me to do better … consistently.
  5. After such a hectic semester last fall, I toyed with the idea of not renewing my license for Crazy Sexy Wellness (CSW). I now know that this is absolutely foolish! CSW is not where I thought it would be when I worked with a marketing professional 7 months ago; I haven’t done nearly what I imagined I would considering my schedule last fall, but it is still my venture. Slow and steady is where we are right now and I am okay with that.
  6. I now know more than ever that my life is purposed and intentional in every way and this is how my time must be spent. I now know that it is okay to honor my feelings about my aspirations in life; there is no need to try to fit in – in places I don’t belong. I now know that honoring me is critical for my mental health and well-being.
  7. In the midst of all this “soul searching” I also have some very tangible and relevant deadlines – finishing my dissertation being one of them :-). I’ve read countless articles and even a few books on the necessity of creating a daily writing practice. I now know that this is: 1) much harder than it sounds and 2) necessary for my success. I’ve created my schedule and am on day six of writing (or reading) for a minimum of 15 minutes each day on something related to my dissertation.
  8. While all of this (#’s 1-8) can be a bit much to stomach on a daily basis, I also now know that I have to remain flexible. Goals change, schedules bend and aspirations are re-imagined. I will be working to remind myself of this.
  9. And finally, I now know for sure – without a shadow of a doubt – that there is no one on this Earth like my friends and I am grateful for this! I was in Hawaii vacationing and visiting a very good friend of mine who I met while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. We have grown and experienced so much through the years, but she has remained a constant reminder of the beauty of life, how important our decisions are and that dreams do come true. It was a complete honor to be in Hawaii with her for such an extended time and during a new season in my life. I know for sure that I must honor these friendships … nurture them with care.

Monday is the big day! I am back to both teaching and taking class. While I am a little anxious, this last week of vacation has given me time to resettle, create a semblance of a schedule and realign myself in preparation for the semester. I also downloaded Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes to listen to during the commute. I am excited about this moment, tomorrow, next week, next month, next quarter … this year! This I know for sure.

It’s That Time Again

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Blog Post

It’s no secret that today is New Year’s Eve! It many ways, it feels like 2015 has flown by … it has been a great year and definitely one for the books. As I prepare to close the chapter of 2015 and begin writing the pages for 2016, I pause for a moment to reflect.

Hands down, 2015 has definitely been my year of the hustle. I worked my a*(! off in every way imaginable, from making sure that I remained financially free of unnecessary debt to saving for special events and activities to stretching myself to new heights with school and professional development. I excelled in ways that I did not know possible and achieved things even I did not see in my immediate future. It has been a great year!

BUT this has all left me extremely exhausted. I’ve written more than a few posts about being utterly drained, seeking ways to create and maintain balance in my life and needing a little time for me. This is where 2016 opens up. One of my major to-do’s for 2016 is to continue with much of the same zest that I approached 2015 with, while also working just as hard to have quiet time, rewind and recharge and make time to care for me. Getting back to the physical fitness and eating regimen I worked so hard to create two years ago is also on my list. I MUST DO BETTER. My eating has been beyond unacceptable and my workout routine is pretty much nonexistent. I CAN AND I WILL.

Here’s signing off from 2015 and looking forward to another kick a&^! Year in 2016!!! Happy New Year!!! #2015bestnine

[Repost] Are You “Ghana” Follow Me

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PeaceCorps

My lovely friend who I affectionately call my little sister leaves for Peace Corps in just a few days. Here is the text from her very first newsletter: 

How it all started …

While attending Emory University, I met many individuals who are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. I looked up the organization, reviewed the application and moved on no longer thinking about ever applying! One day at my West African dance class I met my classmate, Sabrina. I asked her why she decided to take the dance class and she said it reminded her of when she lived in West Africa. Sabrina is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and my “cousin.” I gave her the title “cousin.” My friend DeeDe moved to Atlanta, GA, and joined a cultural Meetup group. The organizer of the group, Leslie, is a recruiter for Peace Corps. My Atlanta Grandpa (my classmate Kristie’s father) is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer! I applied November 2013; interviewed Feb. 2014; invited October 2014 & Jan 2014, I received the official acceptance letter!

The beginning …

On February 1, 2015, I will arrive in Philadelphia, PA.  (There are currently blizzard warnings)! Yikes! On this day I will meet the others in my cohort who will also take the journey to Ghana. On Feb. 2, we will drive to JFK and fly on a direct flight (10 hours) from New York City to Ghana, West Africa.  I have packed 2 suitcases to the max (50lbs), one carry-on and my personal item will be a book bag that I will negotiate as being my purse. (I hope that works)! I’ve packed my favorite spices and a 2lb bag of grits. Oh, how I wanted that 5lb bag to go with me! I’ve reduced my clothes down to about 5 skirts, 3 dresses, 2 pair of pants and 8 shirts. Whenever I weighed my suitcase and something had to go, I would take out clothes! I also have my electronics with a solar charger for my phone. I’m not sure of my living conditions yet, volunteers can be placed in areas with no electricity or water to housing with water and electricity when there isn’t a power cut happening! Yes, electricity is not guaranteed even if you have access to it! However, I’m excited and will adapt to whatever circumstance I will encounter.

Birthday Thoughts

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SpecialBirthdayEach year I take a pause before, on or shortly after my birthday to reflect on the blessings of celebrating another year, as well as where I’ve been, where I am and where I hope I am headed. This year was no different. After quite a bit of travel over the last few years and a little too much movement during what is supposed to be a “summer vacation,” I opted for a road trip to the Midwest. Yes, to the Midwest – through the beautiful rolling hills of Tennessee and Kentucky – and I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing and peaceful drive. Our final destination was a weekend with family and friends, once again the perfect getaway.

During the drive and a few stolen moments while away, I continued to take mini breaks to journal and reflect on my life up until this point: what lessons have I learned? Am I actively using those lessons? Am I pleased with the choices I’ve made? What will I attempt to do differently in the coming years? Are there people I need to reconnect with? Forgive?

These and other questions such as these are what occupied many of my quiet moments. During most years, I am either actively living my dreams or preparing to make a shift to get closer to them. This year was such a pleasant affirmation of this trend. Although a few things have shifted around in the last couple of years, I can’t say that I am displeased – or perplexed – by the positioning that I find myself in. Mid-year I am on target with my goals for the year and my vision board reflects much of this. I am not only excited about where I am – personally and professionally – but I have made decisions that shape both my immediate and distant future as they relate to me fully using my gifts and talents, embracing and nurturing sacred time with loved ones, and creating spaces to listen and grow closer to the divine forces in my life. I am pleased!

So this year as I share just a snippet of my birthday reflections, I close by asking you if your life reflects the same. Are you currently living or working on living a life that is indicative of your authentic self? Are you making strides to ensure that you’re operating fully in and with the gifts you’ve been granted? When your next birthday rolls around will you indeed be pleased?

Community Spotlight with Julius E. Coles

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Community Spotlight with Julius E. Coles.

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