When Sh*t don’t Pop, you Better not Quit!

January has proven to be purposed for pushing me. But not the kind of push that passively says “you got it” or “just keep swimming.” It’s the kind of push that’s like, “aye, listen, you’re missing the point focusing on the path instead of basking in the process.”

I’ve never been an over sharer….or a sharer, really. I’m not going to start now but I will say this much, my professional aspirations, far exceed the space I’m in now. I see it way too much to not believe it’s mine. The problem is, I get caught in that. I get caught in seeing it and thinking to myself, “ok bet so four months.” Nooooo silly. You can’t control the timing. 😂😂 All you can control is what you can control. Being fully transparent, we thrive, not in what we control, but failing from trying to control everything.

The business plan, the research, the organic development of the dream or idea, those are controllable. Perfect pricing, location, smooth transitions, etc. those are all things that are either, in motion, or in position waiting for us to do what we need to, to get there. But again, we get caught in the “there.” Once we know what it is, we want it to just all unfold immediately and perfectly.

{insert Mutombo finger}

It don’t work like that. Super cliché but, “pressure bursts pipes,” right? The fails, the redirection or misdirection, the delayed responses, the wrenches, the cloudy and crowed paths, the losses, that’s where the wins lie. The ultimate win is patience.

Planning strategically for anything requires grit. It requires patience. It requires changes made by you. Planning requires more than just writing some notes down. So don’t quit when you stare at the paper longer than you intended. Don’t quit when you fail. Don’t quit when someone says something negative or condescending. Don’t quit when they don’t support. Don’t quit because of a moment or a bad day.

When you feel like you want to quit, give it a minute. The sh*t will pop!

This is a reminder for me: Let go of the Outcomes

No lie, the more I move about this year, the less I sit and write. I have had sooooo much to write about but it has felt like time is getting away and the days are half of what they’re supposed to be. Hell of an intro, right!?

Anyway, so, real quick: been going to yoga consistently lately. Every single time, I come out with a clearer vision of something. Something about relationships, friendships, money, business, family dynamics, David’s future. In short, I think about all the heavy things in yoga because that’s where I’m most still. Brazy, right!? 75 minutes, 1-2 times a week, is when I can truly shut down and drown the noise. Some may see that as a trauma response, I, wholeheartedly claim it as freedom and self care. If I sit still in any other space in my life, IM GOING TO SLEEP!!! So yeah, as for me and my existence, we find stillness in 75 minutes. Then, we get back to it.

Outcomes (insert sigh, deep breathing, or expletives)

Like, for real, we have the innate ability to create outcomes before we even do said action. Just the thought of doing that thing sends us into quite the rabbit hole and we come up with outcomes that are never going to happen. That’s where worry comes from. Worry is nothing but negative outcomes that can’t even be aligned to an action 🗣BECAUSE IT HASN’T EVEN HAPPENED!

Focusing on outcomes steals soo much from us. It robs us of joy. It increases anxiety. It removes all (some) confidence that we have to accomplish that thing or be successful in that space. Remember, this is all because we’re focusing on outcomes. Yeah, sure, depending on the thing you’re doing or plan to do, there can be a “negative” outcome. But, (insert shout) nothing that is part of God’s plan is negative. It feels negative because it didn’t go our way. I guarantee you, the outcome includes a lesson, a connection, a missing link, something that you needed instead of what you wanted. (I promise I wasn’t, at all and never am, trying to preach but….) Perception and perspective are key!!

out·come

/ˈoutˌkəm/

noun

plural noun: outcomes

1. the way a thing turns out; a consequence.

Outcomes exist in all that we do. Friendships we have. Relationships we pursue. Family expectations we desire. While outcomes are part of the process, they aren’t intended to make the process challenging or emotional. Areas I have decided to just wait on the outcome for, instead belaboring the ridiculous thoughts I come up with:

Personal choices: because if I want to do it, unless it’s something that could harm me or someone else, immma just do it.

Friendships: energy is right and it legit feels good with minimal force, I’m going that route. No need going down a trail of wondering if they will be like a former person in your life.

Relationships: moments are missed when outcomes come first.

Family: they aren’t chosen but they, too, can be removed or put in a place that works best for you. Worrying about what it looks like or who will feel a way is none of your concern. Not knowing what this will look like or if fences will be mended will send you in a spiral and distance you from people who love and value you and your life.

Business: risk and reward never had outcomes first in the equation. In fact, measurable outcomes in business are first acknowledged doing research. Scientific outcomes are way different than emotional ones and knowing the difference will make all the difference.

This joy I have (insert church) overthinking outcomes are not going to take away from me. It’s a practice and a process but thinking about what hasn’t even happened will no longer have a place in this life for me.

Give yourself the gift of grace and in your still moments, let go of the outcomes!

The Kids are not Alright

‘Round these parts, the primary question to determine who and how you are and quite possibly some of your teen years experience is, “where did you go to high school?” I understand, outside of Kentucky, really Louisville, no one cares about that. In fact, it’s so engrained in us that when someone outside of “here” asks what school we went to, we stutter because they aren’t talking about high school. Naturally, who cares, right!? WRONG. Big WRONG.

My friends and I have a, semi, running joke that there are five (debate-able, six) quality high schools that if you attended, you probably turned out at the upper end of decent; statistically, there’s always outliers.

21 years later, “what high school do they go to” is still a relative thing. The relativity, though, is saddening. In 2021, where your kid goes to elementary school let’s you know where they will be in high school and the quality and efficiency of the curriculum and resources they will be exposed to and be afforded to access.

Pardon me while I switch to an educator real quick.

Private schools are in business because public schools can’t get their shit together. Public school was created to be an equitable and FREE source of enriching, sustainable, rigorous education that prepared students, not particularly for college, but to be contributing and sufficient citizens of their community. PUBLIC SCHOOL IS FAILING!!!! We can debate parenting in there too, which I think should be primary to the success of students, but that’s not a common perception. But that’s a larger topic for another blog.

Achievement Gaps

Gaps exist in any data set. EVERY DATA SET. The gaps in this district are saddening. No reason a student should not be able to go to any school (aside from magnet programs) and be on the same pace as their classmates. There is absolutely zero reason that the same schools stay in the bottom percentile for the whole state consecutively. Absolutely no reason elementary schools should have gaps so wide that kindergarten isn’t the same in each building (excluding Montessori.) It is a crying shame that resources aren’t present at each school at the same measure. We can blame bussing. We can blame the need for neighborhood schools. We can blame parenting. But what is never, ever considered for the smoke it should get, is the upper tier of the hierarchy. The people placed in roles to lead district wide but strategically plan together to make sure gaps are closed and spaces that need improvement, at least, improve in two categories the following year. Here, we allow the same schools to fail repeatedly and are very aware of their issues and needs. So, if I’m a student and I don’t feel like I belong and I’m aware of what happens and is provided at other schools, AND I have to return to my home environment EVERYDAY, yeah, immmma tap out.

Safety

Dear baby Jesus, THIS is why the kids are not alright! No reason schools should not have equal measures of security and safety. And definitely, a complete travesty for safety to be a line item in a building budget. It is insane that there can be guns showing up in multiple schools in one week and no one immediately jump to action. Metal detectors and resource officers, coupled with some conflict resolution and therapy. I don’t know what happens in the hallways of schools today. I do know there is a systemic problem if guns are showing up in each school level by CHILDREN! I would absolutely love to see to funding is divvied out to schools and how which school is allotted what amount money. Not a chance in hell equity and equality are at the forefront.

Quick sidebar: my child graduated from a top five school in the state; top 200 in the country. The resources, the opportunities, the intentional instruction and school planning, along with money, afforded him safety and quality. THAT IS TRASH! Where a student goes to school shouldn’t determine the quality of their experience. They should be able to go to school. Enjoy school. Have pride and spirit for their school. Not happening in 2021 unless you go to one of the six.

Plato said, “education should be a cure.”

The Bottom line/Federal Dollars

This section will be short. This is why the kids are not alright. They are a head count. They are a data set. They are a case load and longitudinal study. They are all of these things in an effort to maintain federal funding for the budget.

Recidivism

What is recidivism? : a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior especially

This, is why our alternative schools are a joke. There are students who get sent to an alternative school and back to their school and literally do the same thing all over again. (This is where parenting is heavy for me. But, again, another day.) We have no restorative justice. We have a jail like program that babysits and a lot of times, they go there and repeat the same thing. Here, I’ll circle back to therapy. Behavioral counseling (and not just, “what’s wrong” “you can’t do that”) would be a game changer!! Let me rephrase that: behavioral counseling would be a game changer is properly implemented in this system.

We see over and over what is wrong. We see how many homicides happen weekly. We know that unhealthy environments breed unhealthy people. We know these things but still don’t make the main thing the main thing. At some point, a change HAS to happen before charter schools take over for real, and justifiably.

21 years later, there will always be faith in the five. Hope for the other schools, simply don’t exist and there is a growing distrust in district leadership. The kids are not alright and the tax payers are growing more annoyed daily. This system hasn’t failed so much that it is beyond repair, but if something isn’t done, quick, irreparable damage will happen.

“Education is the one possession that no one can take from you. If quality education isn’t provided, and the one thing that can’t be taken isn’t given, one’s life becomes devalued and thus, their peers.”

Dr. Erica Gray

Dear Love, Chill…it’s just my Love Letter to Love

I don’t know what it is about my personal life that some just really need to be aware of, or even measure my relationship with them based on how much of it they know.

News flash: IM NOT A WOMAN OF EXCLUSIVITY. I am, rather, a woman of you can create whatever narrative about me you want to…the rumors are true 😂

I barely even believe in monogamy. I think that seed was planted during my childhood but didn’t become a thing until I was much older. I think people are, often, held captive by monogamy and ultimately settle or suffer because of it. 🤷🏽‍♀️ judge me…you won’t be the first.

Here we go:

Love,

Often, you make absolutely no sense and show up in ways that I never intend. You have a unique way of revealing your presence and sometimes, arbitrarily, show up when no one sent for you. You’re complicated. You’re selfish. You’re active. But you never find purpose in alignment; you just are. You aren’t to be questioned because when you’re real, there are no questions. When you’re real you’re comforting. When you’re real there doesn’t have to be a conversation or reminder of your purpose or presence. You hurt. You make it hard to walk away from. You show up in ways that present doubt and fairy tale feels at the same damn time.

One thing I’ve learned from you is that you will never be enough. You have to be coupled with something to be accepted or desired. You, alone, can’t be the primary focus of any kind of relationship. You’re sneaky too. You have the power to overshadow narcissistic traits, distance, and circumstances that are not advantageous to relationships.

Love, you are absolutely something else! You are aggressive. You are sensitive. You are stoic sometimes too. You confuse the shit out of me at times because you truly make me wonder why I receive so much of you but in so many different ways. You make me wonder if you can be found in multiple vessels that can be accessed simultaneously.

Love, I love you. I love your warmth. I love your consideration. I love your support. I love your time. I love your open accessibility to me but also me to you. I love your vulnerability. I love your peace. I love the calmness you give me and the sleep I am able to get because of it. I love your growth. I love your dedication to me. I love your confusion. I love your talks. I love your space in my heart and the past spaces you encompassed for me.

Love, you are toxic in your own warm way. You are inclined to make your presence known even in your mistakes; whether received or not. You are a gentle giant; a sour patch kid of sorts. I value your balance. I crave your affection.

Love, I love that when you’re real, I can acknowledge that I don’t need you, but I desire you with me.

Love, I love you ❤️

Serendipity, Destiny, & Purpose

So, here we are post (but not really) pandemic and in some ways, whatever “normal” is now, is really just normal being sought. While I don’t believe there will be a single “normal” thing ever again, at minimum, there’s a need to restart or create a routine. That’s all normal really is; things we made routine. Things we made routine and aligned them with our lives to foster normalcy.

What have you realigned to find some normalcy? What did you discover didn’t really serve you how you thought it did? Did you leave some things behind? Did you let go of what let go of you?

All of the above questions, for me, revealed things that are destined and serendipitous. Things that were overshadowed or clouded by what I thought was just my “normal.”

Caveat: I am aware that experiences vary and so does reactions and responses to abrupt change.

Think about what we just went through….people dying. People losing jobs. People struggling for livelihood to be sustained. Being forced to stay home. Being forced to stay home when normally you’re on the “go.” Being home in an unhealthy environment. Being home while teaching kids and simultaneously working. SHIT WENT AWRY AND QUICK! There was no adjustment or warning. There was no guidance to remain sane. Everything we thought was normal was threatened to be closed, removed, or inaccessible.

After reading the above, THERE IS NO WAY THINGS REMAINED THE SAME. It is impossible to assume that anyone is the same or has the same norms they had prior. And I vehemently want to go on record and say THAT IS FINE!!!!

For me, life in general is a series of choices. Who am I to dictate someone else’s choices or say what should or should not have happened when “do the best you can” is THE ONLY RESOLVE!?

Immmma wrap this up.

Very cliché but, there is purpose in pain, right?! Or at least that’s been asserted before. There’s purpose in change. There’s purpose in repositioning and coming out different or a better version of yourself. Don’t mishear or make up what isn’t written. I’m not saying people dying and the decline in mental stability are just a necessary casualty of THIS war. I am saying destiny is revealed when things change. Instead of fearing change, we should embrace it and find the serendipity in the unknown and the new normal.

Even though shit went way way left doesn’t mean nothing good happened. Those things. Those changes. Those newnesses, BASK IN THOSE MOMENTS. You were anxious about being home with kids and spouses everyday all day, but what other time have you ever had the opportunity to spend intentional time and bond with your family, in your home?! When did you ever get to sit and read a book cover to cover, build a business or do personal projects around the house without being belabored with getting people shuffled around the city to practices etc.?

“Purposes are individual and vast. Reflection and acceptance reveals purposes that have shaped what is normal to you now!” – Dr. Erica Gray

There are soo Many Crumbs in my Bed

I am tickled with myself and this title. Most who know me, know that eating in my bed is not uncommon. Yes, I’m aware that it’s not ok. But once I go upstairs, I don’t want to go allll the way back down just to get a snack. And I don’t always want to watch tv downstairs, so if I’m watching it upstairs and my snacks are there too, yeah, we got action. 😂

One morning, I was getting the crumbs out of my bed from the previous snack and I said, aloud, “there are way too many crumbs in my bed.” So I just took the sheets and comforter off and washed it.

Naturally, I had an ah ha (lightbulb) moment.

Crumbs are alllllll the many things we have on our, proverbial plate (giggling again, I’m a cornball.)

Between work, family, potential side jobs, potential entrepreneurship goals, hobbies and maintaining friendships, the crumbs be stacking…or they are scattered. One thing we never ever consider when we stress ourselves out about not failing, is that no one person can give 100% to multiple things. Something is always going to get less of you. Something is always going to possibly be forgotten. It just gets interesting when we make choices of what gets how much of our attention.

Let me get even cornier; sometimes, we just brush crumbs off and they land on the floor or in other places. That’s an active interpretation of having too much on your plate and getting distracted by other things being added to your plate. Then, guess what, when you notice you just brushed them somewhere, trying to clean it up, is essentially acknowledging that you hadn’t given something the amount of attention it needed and now it’s displaced.

Contrary to that, sometimes you need to brush the crumbs off and let them land where they may. Sometimes, clearing the plate is the only way to find balance. The crumbs are annoying. They make you itch. They get stuck to you.

Challenge: get rid of the crumbs actively and often. Brush them off. Pick them up. Whatever you have to do. The things that were supposed to be consumed, were. The rest is just annoying and irritating and need to be brushed off, thrown away or vacuumed.

Leadership: Imposter Syndrome While Leading Millennials in the Workplace

The title alone is a culmination of theory and evidence based research. But this version is solely that of experience.

I’ll start with, I’m a millennial. In fact, according to research, I’m a geriatric millennial. I’m a geriatric millennial in a leadership position leading millennials. 🤯 While I’m not too far removed from where they are and their age, the ends of the spectrum are very different; convoluted even. It is a struggle!

I learned, not quickly, that the answer to leading millennials is to provide them a space to do and learn vs. deciding for them what works and what doesn’t. Advise. Not manage. Teach. Not direct. Because here’s the thing, a lot changed over time within the gap of millennial ages/years. The economy changed. The way “work” is viewed changed. The workplace changed. Degree attainment and the need for college degrees changed. They (end of the spectrum) were being born when I was in middle school. Their access to technology, greatly, sets them apart from the geriatric end of the millennial spectrum. This alone lends itself to an expectation of instant gratification and that isn’t always a negative. They were just taught with the accessibility to information as they needed it; when they needed it.

Here’s the plot twist, and this is real personal.

Imagine leading millennials, when you, too, are a millennial, and you have imposter syndrome. It makes the challenge much greater. I value leading others, as I have had some amazing leadership on my professional journey. But, while I’m doing it, I am learning. I am learning and I am fearful of my own success. I know what I have accomplished. I know what I have contributed. I struggle with the external perception and the spaces that I am afforded the opportunity to occupy.

Feeling like an imposter is a matter of self-awareness and belief. And, yep, I occasionally struggle to believe that I “fit” in among others in leadership. I struggle to believe that I have arrived to claim a seat at the table that is responsible for decision-making and leading others. I have arrived at the table to help foster change. To innovatively contribute to spaces that have the authority to implement change in perpetuity. The things I get the opportunity to do set the stage for not only leaving a legacy but highlighting my intelligence and fortitude, giving a visual for young professionals to aspire passed.

Leadership is used loosely in a variety of professional spaces. Some believe that a title makes you a leader. I argue that leadership is how you teach. It’s how you grow. It’s how you learn. Leadership is more about being a life learner who teaches, more than it is a title and the arrival “at” a table. Leadership is what you do with your opportunity to lead. My process through removing the imposter feeling, also makes it a challenge to accept praise because my first mental response is “who did that?” Sometimes, my external response is “me?” This new role and space is allowing me to gracefully remove the “imposter” label and just be a self-aware, ever-evolving leader who aspires to teach what I have learned from others and myself.

“Obtaining a professional role means you are simultaneously accepting that you belong there. If you belong there, you are no longer an imposter; you are an asset.” Dr. Erica Gray

EXECUTION IS THE HARD PART

My pillow literally, gets all my thoughts and dreams. The notes app of my phone has some brilliant sh*t in it too, and I can absolutely write a business plan. But execution IS HARD AF. It’s hard because our brains are so consumed with day-to-day responsibilities that are required for sustainability. Also, there’s a need for sleep. So when do I roll all this sh*t out!?

Unpopular or popular opinion: NOT HAVING AN INHERITANCE IS A MAJOR DISADVANTAGE!!

Then, there’s the failure thing. By 30, you’ve failed enough to learn some things about failure, right? For me, the thought that there’s something in the outcome of the failure replays in my head. We just often overlook it because we’re stuck in the act of us failing. I align that with my entrepreneurship dreams and goals because some sh*t really don’t be stickin’. Then, out of nowhere BOOM! it’s poppin’.

Wanting something so bad you can see it is hard and hurtful sometimes. It’s hard because the distance between you and its grasp are not far but you don’t know what to do to grab it! This alone sets the stage for giving up and you fall back on executing the plan. It leaves the question of “Is this serendipity, destiny, or chance?” Regardless of what it is, bask in your moments. Moments of failure. Moments of clarity. Moments of thinking things through! An idea could really make sense if just a little more time and intentionality were being paid to the thought or dream.

I don’t know the secret. I don’t have an answer. But here’s an idea:

⁃ start to foster a vision of what “it” will look like once you execute the dream

⁃ make a plan. Read the plan consistently. Read until it becomes real and you believe what you’re reading.

⁃ take breaks from work and life to think freely about your vision.

⁃ remember you weren’t given an inheritance so you will have to work hard to get the “it” off the ground!

“You’re dreams are real, valid, and purposeful. They deserve to exist outside of your pillow.” – Dr. ENG

Other’s Expectations don’t Belong in your Decision Making

So check it: how much longer will you live to meet everyone’s expectations but your own?

I know I’ve blogged about something similar to this, but I want to add another layer to it. I’m just sitting on the phone with no agenda at all and talked this whole blog.

We have so many categories to meet the expectations for:

⁃ spouse/partner

⁃ children

⁃ family

⁃ friends

The categories never encompass us. So we walk around thinking we’re happy when we never had the opportunity to explore what we want or need to make us happy because our time is used satisfying other spaces.

The switch flips:

Live for yourself. Live for your dreams. Live to find your happy. Doing those things aren’t a detriment to those external categories. If anything, it’s an inspiration to be happy and everyone have what they need AND you’re happy.

It is incredibly saddening to know that I have friends or know people who sacrifice choosing for themselves because of what other people think. I’m not talking about children or neglecting responsibilities. I’m talking about the hold that what someone else thinks of you has on you. It does nothing but increase anxiety and prolong unhappiness. And it absolutely spills over into other aspects of your life. There is a level of low self-esteem and lack of confidence that has to exist for someone to be concerned with other people’s expectations.

And here’s where it gets tricky.

The moment you choose you, you’ll lose them. Who is them? All them people you were living for who cared more about you meeting their expectations than your happiness and your ability to choose for you. LOSE THEM! Lose them and never look back. The reconciliation will never be that if meeting you where you are and their gripes are solely going to be centered around what they need from you. At minimum, if you don’t lose them, definitely stop living for them. A friend has a sweatshirt that reads: do you, they will adjust; AND THEY WILL. If they don’t, so what!

We are all just people walking around doing the best that we can; flaws and all. There is not a single person walking on Earth ( incase someone wants to insert God) who should have authority or access over your choices and how you live.

In conclusion, are you living based solely on your expectations and being WHO you want to be or are you desperately trying to be freed and eagerly desiring the ability to choose for you with no concern for how it is received by others?

“Happiness is created, just like memories. What good are memories if the thought of them takes you back to unhappy spaces?”

– Dr. Gray

Fourth Quarter: November

Quick note: this started as a private Facebook group post and developed into a blog post.

This time of year is difficult for so many reasons:

1. Weather change

2. Missing family

3. Lack of Sun

4. Food that comforts us everywhere

All four of those trigger our psyche in uncontrollable ways. All we want is to find comfort and it usually includes a hearty meal or a warm calorie filled drink. We want gatherings to involve those things too.

Everything comes down to personal wants and needs and how much we want what we see in and for ourselves.

1. Seasonal depression is real, but your response to it is real(er)

2. Loss and grief can be overwhelming when trying to get back to what is normal but you know is no longer normal. It’s hard. This isn’t one that has a quick fix or answer, but once you identify that grief is what drives your decision making you can move to the next step of healing.

3. The sun is a source of energy. It’s a vitamin. We miss out on that when we’re at work all day and leave work and it’s dark. There has to be a supplement (perhaps vegetables) in place to provide necessary energy!

4. The moment it gets cold, chili is everywhere. Red chili, white chili, chili chili chili 😂 Warm food is often the heaviest and definitely has the most calories. Choices are to be made and the type of choice will be vital. (This one is personal.)

Step one has happened. You’ve made a change. You flipped a switch. But that’s just half of it (and really less than that.) You’ve all expressed that you are at a point of wanting to lose, tone, and tighten. What you do outside of working out will get you there.

It’s not punishment. It’s not an instant or drastic expectation of change. It’s consistent choices. The better the choice, the more your mindset changes when needing to make additional choices.

As for holidays, particularly Thanksgiving, it’s not a matter of “what can we eat.” It’s the days leading to that, that will allow you to eat whatever you want to without guilt. One day won’t change the landscape. But one day that turns into four days of leftovers, might. If you are making healthy choices consistently, enjoy Thanksgiving. Don’t feel like you have to punish yourself. Or, look at it this way, don’t think that depriving yourself of what you want on one day is going to make you lose 10 pounds.

Food relationships are as important as people relationships. Both require transparency, intentionality, and work.

“Daily decisions give purpose to the impact.” – Grayfit