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What is Your Life Teaching You?

You don’t have to feel happy to move forward. Feeling happy is not a prerequisite to moving forward.

Growing up, I often heard my childhood pastor say you are either going through something, coming out of something, or getting ready to go through something.  These words resonated with me; although, I didn’t quite understand what he meant.  I knew enough to examine his words and think about what that meant in my life, but what I did not know was just how true these words would be the more experiences I had in life.  

As a child, I wondered what he meant by “going through something”. It was a little unsettling to think about. At the time, it almost seemed to me that he was implying that my entire life would be consumed by struggle or coming out of some form of hardship. That didn’t seem appealing in the least bit. However, the point I think he may have been trying to make is that our life is not absent of hardship. This is hard to grasp in today’s context when so many of us feel entitled to a life absent of struggle based on the constant imaging of perfection on social media.  There are so many smiling faces, perfect bodies, and lavish trips  portrayed but very rarely is this balanced with the grief we carry as we encounter obstacles in life. 

What is your life teaching you?

I recently read a quote that reminds me that life is a series of lessons.  It reads “ instead of asking yourself ‘why is this happening to me’?, ask yourself ‘what is this teaching me’?” It is hard to find a lesson when what you are going through seems like it is trying to destroy you.  This could come in the form of the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or even a relationship (romantic or not).  It’s hard to be “deep” and get past the initial feelings associated with loss or hardship in order to begin to see the “silver lining”. I am not saying ignore your feelings. Instead, I am asking you to allow yourself to feel those emotions and then think about what they reveal to you. What is coming up for you when you stop trying to ignore the discomfort caused by hardships in life?

I have come to realize that I am not exempt from hardship and grief.  However, I hold the power to choose how I go through it. It doesn’t make it easier but it is empowering to know that I have the God given strength inside of me to push through the most challenging of times and for that I AM GRATEFUL.

Because I tend to believe that life is a series of lessons that teach me new ways of being, it gives me hope knowing that the perspective I hold in hardship has the potential to empower me or disempower me.  I have power in what could easily be perceived as a powerless situation. Only I can assign meaning to the experience.  I can allow the experience to grant me the opportunity to learn and grow or I can give it the power to overcome me.

    What perspective are you holding in trying times?
    What is your life teaching you?

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The Hole: A Place of Clarity

Finding Balance Within

Have you ever just felt all over the place? I am sure you are reading this question and asking yourself, what kind of question is that?  Because the answer for a lot of people is a resounding HELL YES!  I think the question that I really want to know the answer to is how can I live in a place of peace or self-assuredness? How can I truly live a life of focus, a life of clarity and a life that has a clear sense of purpose?  Truth be told, I don’t fully know how to live in this space all of the time without wavering. However, I am going to go out on a limb and speculate based on my own experience what is required to have clarity in life.  From my own experience, I am learning to seek clarity over and over in order to reside in a place of peace. I feel confident in saying that peace lies within us and if we don’t take the time to interface with God’s divine nature within us we allow external factors to define  us versus seeing God’s divine in us.

Soul Searching

When I think back to the few times in my life and I literally mean FEW times in my life when I have felt the most clarity, it was the times when I literally carved out time to spend with myself.   Every night, I could not close my eyes without writing in my journal, praying, and paying attention to my thoughts.  Not only did I take time every day to listen to my own thoughts, I also set aside time each week in which I hung out with myself.  I craved this time. During this time I did what some may consider to be “deep” soul searching.  I learned that sometimes looking into the depths of your own shadows is the place where you find your deepest sense of purpose.  For me, there were times when a desire or longing for something greater than where I currently found myself came to mind and I began to create an inner vision for what was possible for me.  In these moments of solitude, I allowed my mind to envision whatever it desired. I could see myself living out my deepest desires without fear of judgment or doubts that I would ever see any of these visions come to pass.  In these moments of solitude I also saw the shadows that were cast over my dreams, the fears, the doubts, and the perceived limitations.  I learned to navigate through the dark place, the shadows, and the doubts in order to meditate on possibilities.  I learned that my growth and development was not the absence of lack, pain or suffering; however, I had the potential to determine how I perceived every unpleasant moment in my life.  I get to decide if the dark times would be a catalyst for success or would it be a hindrance and an excuse for why I act and behave in a way that is counter intuitive to my Highest Self.

New Understandings

Recently as I was listening to Michelle Obama’s top selling book Becoming, she shared about a time in which Barack took a sabbatical of sorts and his mother rented a little cottage for him in Indonesia so that he could set aside time to finish his book Dreams From My Father.  Michelle also shared how she wasn’t really happy about it.   As I heard this story a light bulb went off and I thought to myself, that’s it! That’s the missing peace (piece).   Sometimes we have to go into the hole to find clarity.  The hole is a metaphor for a place of solitude, free from distraction, to get clear and hear our own thoughts. Sometimes we have to go onto the mountain top to experience an uncommon encounter with God and in essence commune with our Highest Selves and other times we are in the cave our hearts and minds looking at all the places we have shielded ourselves from because we are afraid of what we might find and how it will reveal that we aren’t living in our greatest possibilities.  It’s the moment when we separate ourselves from our everyday activities that we find peace.  It is vital to our existence, yet sometime even the people we love and the ones that love us won’t understand it.

Lifestyle, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Living Your Lukewarm Life

Are You Living A Lukewarm Life or Your Best Life?Joy

In the age of social media hashtags, photos of alluring vacations, business promotions, and pics of smiling faces, I feel now more than ever an intense pressure to “Live My Best Life.”  Anyone who truly knows me knows that I am a very reflective person who thinks a lot.  I spend 80-90% of my life trying to figure out the next right move so much so that I don’t actually make the next right move or I have to think things through in such detail before I actually make a decision to take action.  (Please tell me I am not alone.)  You may have heard of the term “analysis paralysis” which means you can think about something so much that you don’t actually do anything related to what you are thinking about.  Analysis paralysis prevents you from doing something differently to achieve a better result.

Last weekend I went to Barnes and Nobles to check out a few new books. My intention was to buy one book that would help me in my professional development, one targeting financial development, and of course, some book that would tell me how I can be healthy and get the body that I want by the summer of 2019.  This trip to B&N was inspired by my intention to “gather my whole life” or in layman’s terms a desire to focus on my mindset and/or knowledge gaps regarding my career development, finances, and health.

Authentic Power

Writing the hashtag “living my best life” is a growing trend these days; however, when I talk to my close friends and reflect on my own life, I am learning that many of us are underwhelmed by our current situations.  Not because life is bad, but because many of us are living under our potential or because we are not living life on our own terms. Living life on your own terms doesn’t mean doing whatever the hell you want, although that would be nice.  I define living life on my own terms as living a life that is congruent with my authentic self or living my truth.  When I am living my truth,  I am expressing my authentic power. Gary Zukav, author of Seat of the Soul states that we experience authentic empowerment when we “align our thoughts, emotions, and actions with the highest parts of ourselves” and when your  “personality comes to fully serve the energy of its soul.”  This means not choosing money over mission.  I truly believe that  if money is attached to a job or career that is not aligned with your purpose it is going to be extremely hard to live your best life because you will be miserable.  We have all worked with someone who hates what they do and they weren’t fooling anyone because it showed up in everything they said or did.  I am learning to choose mission over money. This is easier said than done.  The truth is many of us are consciously striving to get paid to do what we love.  The question then becomes, what is your purpose?”  No seriously, I am asking you what is your purpose?  Have you thought about that? Are you thinking about it now? What are you doing about it?  You deserve to do what you love.

We experience authentic empowerment when we “align our thoughts, emotions, and actions with the highest parts of ourselves” and when your  “personality comes to fully serve the energy of its soul.”

Are you really living your best life or are you living a Lukewarm life?

A colleague of mine recommended a book to me called You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero.  Based on the conversation we were having, I felt that my Spirit was leading me to check out what it had to offer and I thought to myself, “what could it hurt?”  While reading I could relate to the author’s feelings of going through the motions of living a lukewarm life “with the occasional flare-ups of awesomeness here and there.”  While I have  so many things to be grateful for, I know that I have so much to offer the world in terms of my gifts and talents and so do you.   Are you sharing your talents with others? If so, when do you feel like you are doing what you love?  How can you create more opportunities to do what you love? If not, what needs to change for you to live a life that you love?  Living your best life is creating moments for you to live a life that is authentic to who you are and only you can define that.

What do you consider to be your best life?

I once heard that the first step to getting what you want is deciding what you want. If you already know what you want, then you are on track to living your best life. If you don’t know, how can you create space in your life to get still and listen to your intuition, the Spirit, your inner voice, or whatever you call it?  The goal is to get clear on what you consider to be your best life without the influence of outside forces.  For those of you who are currently living your truth, pay attention to how you are evolving. What feels like the next right move?

What is holding you back?

I tend to believe that what we are seeking in life is seeking us.  This means that when we put my mental effort and physical energy into pursing something we are creating the opportunity for what we want to manifest in our lives.  Make a decision. Do it! What is holding you back?

It’s time to truly Live Your BEST Life!

“What you seek is seeking you.” -Rumi

Something to consider:

What do you have to BE, DO, and Have to live the life of your dreams?

BEing: the traits do you get to embody to get what you want (i.e. loving, giving, intentional, hardworking, consistent, etc.)

DO: the actions that you get to take to get where you want to be

HAVE: the tangible result of being and doing or what you want to manifest or produce in your life

If you journal, answer the question: Who am I? Without judgement write down  I am….. And then rattle off a list of all the things you are.  Do not over think it. Just let it flow.

Or ask yourself:

What is my purpose?

advocacy, education, equality, Uncategorized

Activists and Advocates in the Face of Privilege

Activists and Advocates in the Face of Privilege

Current Events

I look at all that is going on in the world, particularly in politics, and I have never seen more chaos than now.  Previous generations have experienced similar moments in history and at one point or another shared the same sentiment; however, for the sake of my own call to action in this moment, I would like to think that I am living in the midst of the political and societal crisis of my lifetime.  The gender divide is growing increasingly wider as allegations of sexual violence against women are coming to light more frequently and men are being held accountable for what was previously seen as typical “male behavior”.   On the other hand, while race relations are continuing to shift since the civil rights era, there appears to be just as many schisms among races, classes, and political parties as there were fifty to sixty years ago.  Everyone has an agenda, but not every agenda is heard.  Why are some voices louder than others? Why do some voices matter, yet others belong behind a wall?  These are the questions that I raise as I think about my own voice in the world.  Until we live in a world where privilege doesn’t exist, it is the job of those who find themselves at the center of injustice to stand up and bring the dysfunction to light.

Challenging the Power of Privilege

As accusations and criticisms surrounding the Admissions Scandal continue to make headlines, I can’t help but think about why my voice matters in the world.  I think about my role as an educator. I think about the significance of the work I am called to do in order to  educate and empower black and brown children to be critical thinkers who know that their voices matter because THEY MATTER.

I find myself experiencing so many emotions regarding the new allegations against wealthy families buying their children’s way into elite schools and then I think about the black and brown children I taught in Harlem over a decade ago and the lack of resources I had to give them a quality elementary school education that would establish a strong foundation for learning and put them on the pathway to academic achievement.  I think about the many urban children who attend school as early as 7am and leave school late in the afternoon all in the name of high-quality,  rigorous  instruction that will put them on the path to college. I think of the countless teachers working in “controversially” progressive charter schools. I think of those same teachers who are rising early, staying late, analyzing data, promoting character development, and committing to children and families who want to see their children succeed and believe that education is the pathway to success.  I think of all the people who ask “does it really take all of this” for black and brown children to have access to college? I think of the sacrifices my families make to ensure that their kids are set up for success. Yes, SACRIFICES!!!  Then, I think about privilege and its ability to take someone who hasn’t earned something and make them a recipient of a reward that they did not earn. 

What do I tell my students and their families who sacrifice so much for a quality education that doesn’t come from privilege but the fight for equitable schools and access to school choice?

How do I empower more parents to be advocates and activists for their children and their communities?

It is important for students to grow up and be advocates and activists for themselves and all the communities they are a part of. I need them to know there is a seat at the table for them too.

Distinguishing Between an Advocate and an Activists

An advocate is someone who speaks on behalf of another person or group.  There are times in which advocates are necessary.  For example, someone who advocates for others may have access to knowledge, resources, or experiences that will benefit those that they are advocating for who may not currently have access to the same knowledge, resources, and experience.  However, in my opinion a true advocate not only speaks on behalf of another but speaks on behalf of another until those they are advocating for have the knowledge, resources and experiences needed to advocate for themselves.  This empowers others to speak for themselves in a way that is more authentic to their own unique experience in ways that a third party can never do even with the greatest intent.

On the other hand, an activists is someone who makes an intentional action to bring about social and political change.  These are the folks who look for tangible ways to change the current realities of marginalized or disadvantaged communities.  I believe activism should be owned by people within their own community in partnership with others to create a better outcome.

When I became a teacher 12 years ago, I never realized that I would be engaging in a social justice movement.  A movement that would put me in the forefront of what it means to teach in schools that are culturally responsive, academically rigorous, and raise the bar for children who some people believe will not achieve success because they don’t want it bad enough.  I am blessed to change that narrative. I am blessed to have new perspectives. I am fortunate to endure the blessings and the burdens that come from being a teacher, particularly a teacher in urban communities.

Behind The Scenes

Recently, while listening to the audio version of Michelle Obama’s top selling book Becoming, she shared an anecdote about a time in which her mother advocated for her to be removed from an unruly, low performing 2nd grade classroom to a class that was more befitting of her academic needs.  At the time, she didn’t realize what her mother had done for her.  She was unaware of what was being done behind the scenes on her behalf until she later thought about how after coming home to tell her mother about this crazy classroom she found herself in, she had been removed from that class and placed into another class.   Her mother’s decision and ability to advocate for her was only one of the events that would change the trajectory of her educational journey. That’s the advantage of an advocate.

This short anecdote about her life impacted me in several ways.  I thought about how one small action had a large impact on her life. The choice to speak up and take action had a long lasting ripple effect in Michelle’s life.  Not only did she learn that in her household her voice matters, but she also witnessed how powerful it was for her to have someone speaking on her behalf and it ultimately showed her the power to speak up for herself.  Michelle didn’t come from a place of privilege but she knew that she deserved better.  I can’t even imagine the amount of time that would have been wasted or the setbacks Michelle may have faced had her mother left her in a classroom that was not befitting of her needs.  I also thought about what happens to students or any person for that matter when they don’t have anyone advocating for them.  What happens to folks who don’t know that they can advocate for themselves?

Something to Consider:

Who has advocated for you in your life? What was the impact?

In what ways can you advocate for yourself and/or your community?

What would true advocacy look, feel, and sound like in your own social context?

Just because our situation doesn’t mirror what we deserve doesn’t mean we don’t matter. – Tye

It is important to me that whatever space I find myself in that I remember that my voice matters and that I have the potential to shift an environment through the willingness to advocate for myself and for others who most closely resonate with my experiences and background.  There is an advantage of an advocate, to change the trajectory of lives. We are called to be advocates and activists in the face of privilege.

Action

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Inner Thoughts: Reclaim Your Power

“You Attract Your Dominant Thoughts” –Rhonda Bryne

Reclaim Your Power

Periodically, I like to dust off old journals.  I find that I typically uncover these journals at times that seem to be divinely orchestrated (not by coincidence).  I find these journals in moments I need to remind myself I am on the right path. I find these journals in moments I need to remind myself that all things are working together for my good. I find these journals in moments I am seeking more of God’s presence in my life. I find these journals when I feel down and am seeking encouragement to keep pushing through. I am reminded of hope, faith, and love when I read my inner thoughts. I remind myself to never lose faith. I remind myself that I have the ability to determine how I perceive every moment of my life. I reclaim my power.

Inner Thoughts

When I go back and read my inner thoughts from previous months or years, I feel both empowered and sometimes even disappointed.  I find myself feeling empowered when I see goals that I had written down come to pass.  I feel empowered when I revisit inspirational quotes, excerpts from books, and insightful words I recalled from conversations with others.  I feel disappointed when I see a goal and think to myself “well that never happened.”

When I find myself feeling disappointment, I chose to interrupt the negative self-talk by seeing the present moment as an opportunity to reconnect with my deepest desires.  I get to decide if I still want what I thought I wanted or see how much I have changed sense the moment in which I first wrote the words (thoughts) thrown across the page. I am reminded of the words of K.T. Witten which states “your dream doesn’t have an expiration date. Take a deep breath and try again.” This is reassurance that I can and will get there if I never give up on what matters most.

Something to consider:

Do you journal?  Do you go back and read your thoughts? What do they reveal?

What inner visions do you want to reclaim?

Continue reading “Inner Thoughts: Reclaim Your Power”

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What matters most?

What matters most?

There was once a time that I told myself the story I can’t do this because……  I had made up my mind that the challenges I was presented with were greater than my ability to choose to have something work out even if it didn’t look exactly the way I envisioned.  I told myself I couldn’t save money because I needed to make more.  I told myself I couldn’t eat better because I didn’t have time to meal prep. I told myself I couldn’t work out because I work too many hours. I told myself all the things I could not do because…..

When I think about the stories I tell myself, it  is true that there are many factors that create barriers between me and my ideal life; however, I decided to write down all the goals that I want to accomplish in five areas of my life and then work towards prioritizing some aspect of each goal.  The areas of life that I focus on are:

  • Faith
  • Family
  • Finances
  • Fitness
  • Fulfillment

I chose these areas because these are the parts of my life in which I crave balance.

My faith is the foundation for how I chose to navigate in the world. My faith in God allows me to have faith in what God can do for me and through me as well as the power I have to co-create the life I’ve always wanted.

My family is important to me because I am connected to their well-being and we were born into a connection called kinship and I choose to honor that connection.

My finances are the gateway to freedom and choice. When my finances are in order I get more freedom to explore options that I might not have otherwise.

My fitness is tied to my state of health and well-being.  I want to focus on my fitness in order to honor my body and live a healthier life. Not to mention, I also want to look good in what I wear and feel good about my body.

Lastly, my fulfillment is tied to my faith, family, finances, and fitness (health), but it is also tied to my sense of purpose and what I feel like I am put on this earth to do. I am always asking myself what matters most to me in order to pursue it.

There are times in which I feel like I am living my life neglecting what matters to me the most.  When I experience this feeling I know I am not living in alignment with my values. It is in that moment when I stop to think about what is working for me and what is not. Then, I think about what I can choose to do differently to create a different result.

What are the areas in your life that you want to prioritize?

Why are these areas meaningful to you?

What can you do each week to prioritize what matters most to you?

What stories have you been telling yourself that need to be rewritten?

Something to consider:

At the end or beginning of each week plan for the week ahead and write down one goal or item you want to prioritize that is in alignment with the areas of your life that matter most to you.  For example, one goal may be to take at least one to two fitness classes per week or prep at least two meals for the week. Adding this goal to your  agenda or checklist for the week can help you see a tangible result and change the narrative around what you are able to do.  So often we live our lives doing the things we feel that we have to do without prioritizing the things we get to do that bring us fulfillment. The goal is not to reach perfection! The goal is to choose what matters most. Do what matters most!