Week 1: My Journey to 40

Week one of My Journey to 40 has certainly been a special one for me. It was my first week back in the classroom after our two week Christmas Break. It was not a good week. It was extremely busy and frustrating with many ups and downs, and it almost seemed as if it would overshadow my week 1 goals, but nope, nope, nope. I wouldn’t let any of it get in my way. (See my post about that here.) Here’s a recap of what I managed to accomplish this week.

  1. Fitness Goal – I increased my water intake (although I didn’t reach my goal every day). Next week I will work on meeting that goal each day. Although it might not seem like much to others, I am aiming for the recommended 8 glasses of water a day (64 ounces). Once I hit that goal consistently, I will increase my goal. I also exercised 3 days this week and joined a FitBit challenge with some friends. I’m determined to increase my steps (daily goal of 10,000) so I can move up a few spots in the challenge. On top of all of that,  I’m proud of myself for prepping my lunch for the week which I had gotten pretty lazy about doing.
    Hit those 10,000 steps
    Crushed my Herbalife shake
    My lunch for the week

     

  2. New Adventure or Trying Something New – While this may not be an exciting adventure to some, this was important for me because it is something that I have been meaning to do for quite some time, and it proved to be quite fruitful. I am a graduate of the awesome, phenomenal, one and only, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, the best HBCU around (I may be a little bias). For the longest, I have been meaning to go to our local chapter meeting for our FAMU Alumni Association. I finally said enough is enough; it was time for me to support my alma mater, not just brag about it. I’m so glad that I did. When you ask for opportunities to get more involved, God will certainly answer. At the meeting, one committee was looking for someone who could take pictures for their annual calendar fundraiser (hey, that’s me), and they needed someone to help with editing the profiles of people featured in the calendar (hey, that’s me again). So I stepped out of my comfort zone and signed up. I even made sure to speak to the woman in charge of the committee and give her my name and number (something that is out of character for me to do). The other great thing that came from attending this meeting flows into #3 on this list: my Random Act of Kindness.

    Rocking my FAMU gear
  3. RAK – I’ve been looking for more ways to serve the community. I’ve also been looking for ways to serve with my children, to teach them about selflessly serving others, giving back to their community, giving without expecting to receive. At the meeting, there was a guest speaker from a local organization, and why was she attending the meeting? Not only was she a FAMU alumni, she was there representing the organization that was looking for more volunteers to help in their shelter. Our chapter gives regularly to the organization, but the organization also really needed people to come in and volunteer as well. And yes, children are welcomed. With  Dr. Martin Luther King Day in just a couple of days, the organization was having a special day of service on Monday, the FAMU Alumni Association was looking for more people to volunteer to help, so I signed my boys and me up to volunteer. We’ll be there bright and early Monday morning ready to serve. (Next week’s post will give details about how this went).   4. Last but not least, I finally settled on a preliminary draft of my logo for my photography business, Natural Soul Photography. The best part of it is the fact that it was drawn by my 14-year-old son! What do you think? I can’t wait to get it on products (business cards, shirts, hats)  and move forward with increasing my business. This has been a long journey with getting my business off the ground, but I see a promising future.
    My son created my logo for my photography company!

    Stick around! The next eight weeks will bring bigger and better things! I’m making great plans for some fun adventures, random acts of kindness, and business moves!

 

 

Fight the Good Fight

Photo by NeONBRAND on UnsplashDear Reader,

Dear readers,

I must admit that this was an off week for me. I was on an emotional roller coaster, frustrated with problems at the job and at home. Some moments I was mad, some sad, some indifferent. The second week into the new year was definitely not what I envisioned it to be.

But that’s just what is was: one week.

Not my entire life. Just ONE…aggravatingly…frustrating…week.

But I will not allow it to shape how I view my life because even in the midst of this less than stellar week, I had many moments of laughter and joy woven into those not so happy moments.

And I know that I will move on past this. That it’s not enough to derail me from the hopes and dreams I have for my future.

Plus every morning this week that I woke up feeling discouraged or overwhelmed, my devotionals always seemed to be tailored to exactly what I was going through, and I was renewed with enough strength to get through the day, to dust myself off and get back into the fight.

Actually, the frustrations of this week have lit a fire in me to keep pushing on! It has made me even more determined to stay focused on my goals, to stay on my hustle and grind and keep in mind the future I’ve envisioned for myself. I can’t let this bad week throw me off course.

So I’m writing this letter to encourage you, my readers, to do the same. Don’t let a bad moment, experience, day, week, or even month to turn you sour to this blessing called life.

Instead let these interruptions be character builders. Look for the lesson within them and figure out how to use them to your advantage and how to deal with them if the same situation rises again.

But don’t give up.

Never give up.

Find something or someone that you can go to that will help renew your spirit. Focus on all the good in your life. Take a walk and enjoy the beauty of nature surrounding you. Do whatever works for you. For me, it’s my morning prayer journal time and devotionals as well as the support of and the time spent with good family and friends.

Your story of adversity may be just what another person may need some day in the future, the story they need to hear as they are going through a similar trial or tribulation, the story that may help them to get back on their feet.

So don’t let a bad moment steal your joy. Don’t let it get you off track from pursuing your goals. Get back up and declare that you may have been knocked down but you will get back up again and again and again!

Photo by Artur Rutkowski on Unsplash

 

Yours truly,

Michelle D. Robinson

Words of a Butterfly

My Journey to Becoming Forty and Fabulous!

In 60 days, I will be turning the big 4-0. It’s hard for me to believe, but at the same time I am excited. I’m not sure if excited is even a strong enough word. You could not have told my 20 year old self that turning 40 would be a source of excitement. Back then, 40 just seemed, what’s the word…OLD. No one could have convinced me that I would feel young, energetic, be taking on brand new endeavors, and looking forward to creating brand new experiences and going on new adventures. But here I am, about to turn 40 and feeling blessed and expectant. Here are a few reasons why.

  1. I’m still alive!!! If you’re my age or older, I know you completely relate to this. By this time in life, you have become more than aware of your own mortality. You’ve seen friends and loved ones pass away suddenly or tragically or you’ve heard numerous stories of regret form older folks, and you begin to realize just how fragile life is and just how important each new day is. God still has me here for a purpose, and I want to fulfill it. No time to waste!                                                                                                                             
  2. I’ve accomplished quite a few things that I set out to do or pictured for my life. I have a college degree, I’m happily married with some pretty awesome kids, own a very nice, well-decorated home (thanks to hubby), I’ve almost finished paying off my car (just 6 months to go), I teach children every day and feel like I am doing a pretty good job with not only teaching but also inspiring, I’ve started my own photography business, and now I have my blog (I’ve always dreamed of being a writer). I’ve gotten closer to Christ over this past year which has completely changed the direction of my life, and I have a host of family and friends that I can spend quality time with or lean on in times of trouble. These accomplishments and so many others make me proud of the woman I have become and all that I’ve gotten done all before the age of 40.                                      
  3. Last, but not least, I have big dreams for my future, and some of them have only come to be because of the wisdom that I’ve acquired over the past 40 years. Twenty years ago… ten years ago…okay, five years ago, I would not have been able to envision the plans that I now have for my life. I was in a different place with different concerns. Just five years ago I was a divorced, single mom who had just started dating my current husband, I was renting a house with my brother and his family, and struggling to make ends meet. But look at my life now. It has been nothing but the grace of God and the wisdom and experience that come with age that have gotten me to this place and has me inspired to do even more. Also, much of what held me back was fear, but not any more. I’m kicking fear to the side and working hard to uncover the woman I have yet to become!

(more…)

Natural Soul

Natural Soul

I’ve decided to love myself

starting with the inside

‘cause then I know

loving the outside will come easily.

No longer will I be spending

long periods of time in front of the mirror

trying in vain to morph my real image

into some virtual image that has been

implanted in my head.

Contemplating crazy ways to change myself

into what I’m “supposed” to look like

what the world has told me it takes

to be considered a “beautiful” woman.

I’m going to love myself

from the inside, out

starting with what I like to call

my natural soul.

My soul that hasn’t been bleached or plucked or waxed or permed or arched or shaved or clipped or dyed or painted or lipoed or Botoxed…

that part of me that hasn’t been

“fixed” or made to fit the image of an ideal woman.

I’m going to love myself

from the inside, out

that part of me that reflects

the real me

that part of me that can never be changed

that part of me that hasn’t been touched

by stereotypes and unrealistic expectations.

 

I’m going to love myself

from the inside out

starting with

me and my natural soul.

Hustlin’ Ain’t Easy: 5 Ways to Support Your Friends’ Dreams

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Growing up, I learned (as I’m sure many others did) that once you’ve chosen or found a job or a career you basically stick with it until it is time to retire. As long as your job paid the bills and you were saving up for retirement, you were good to go especially if you were working for a “good” company that offered “good” benefits and had a “good” pension. Life was as it should be and that’s all that you needed. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with finding a solid job/career (especially if it makes you happy) and retiring from it. It’s just that I wasn’t aware that there was a different way, that there was anything else out there. Don’t ask me how I thought these good companies had gotten started. It never occurred to me that someone had to create that business from an idea or passion that they had. I just knew that you worked for a company and they paid you.

When I went to college, I wholeheartedly majored in English Education, absolutely certain that I wanted to be a teacher for the rest of my life (don’t get me started on that). When I landed my first teaching job, I was elated, ready to take on the world, educating our youth and setting them on a path to success. All was right with the world. Fast forward to a few years later. I was frustrated with my chosen career, the pay I was receiving, and how teachers were being treated. I was ready to try something new. Unfortunately, I felt trapped. It was a stable job, my degree in English Education didn’t really give me very many career options, and the schedule was perfect for a mom. I didn’t know what to do.

But then one day my friend who was also an English Education major (it’s how we met), quit her teaching job (right after winning Teacher of the Year in her school district) in order to pursue her dream of dancing professionally. It was like my eyes were finally opened to all of the possibilities that had been right in front of me the whole time. You could create your own job and income doing something fulfilling. You didn’t have to clock in to a 9 to 5 every day and work for someone else (or you could do that but still have your side hustle like I do now). Since that realization, I have started my own photography company (Natural Soul Photography), tried my hand at being a direct sales consultant with Thirty-One Gifts, as well as become a wellness coach with Herbalife (a hustle I’m still working on making a success). Oh, yeah. I now have this blog, too (and yes, this can be considered a business as well). (more…)

How Creating a Vision Book Can Help You Set and Meet Your Goals

Most people are familiar with a vision board. Basically, you make goals for your life (usually for that upcoming year) and create a collage that represents those goals. It’s a way to bring to life your hopes and dreams and to have them somewhere you can see them every day, a visual reminder of all that you hope to manifest in your life.

I’ve done vision boards in the past, but last year I tried something different. I wanted something that I could carry around with me so that I could see it even when I wasn’t home. In order to do this, my friend, cousin, and I decided to create vision books. Okay, we didn’t really decide but rather stumbled upon the idea. We had no idea what we were doing; we were just playing it by ear. Since we  made them out of spiral-bound notebooks that we already had, clippings from old magazines, and old scrapbooking materials, this proved to be an affordable and convenient project.

Our vision books turned out to be much like vision boards. Obviously, they were inspired by the concept. However, the books gave us a lot more flexibility. I’m a visual person, but I am very much a writer (hence, the blog). I love being able to write down my ideas, work through plans on paper, and write reflections about what I’ve done or I’m currently doing, what I’ve learned, and what I still want to accomplish. Our vision books gave me the freedom to do all of this.

Here is my vision book from last year. Like I said, it’s a simple notebook that I already had in stock (taken from my boys’ school supply stash), but you can easily purchase one for about $1 from any store. We had NO idea what we were doing when we created these; we just knew that we were ready to take charge of our futures and knew that we needed to put in writing our goals and dreams in order for them to manifest. As you can see, I named this my Dream Book back then. The cover and first few pages were just ones that spoke to my overall vision for the year.

Inside, I created separate layouts for each one of my goals. Here are a couple of them. I liked that I could further explain and break down my goals on each page.

(more…)

5 Steps to Creating a Vision for the New Year

3…2…1…Happy New Year! For some people this may be a fearful, uncertain time, but for most people this time of year symbolizes hope and a fresh start. People look forward to what the new year will bring and start making plans for all that they will accomplish which is usually done by making resolutions. We all know how this goes. January 1 rolls around and everyone is getting fit, saving money, eating less, kicking bad habits, starting good ones, blah, blah, blah. By February 1 most of these resolutions have been forgotten and old habits have kicked back in. Now I’m not being judgmental or facetioius because I, too, have been guilty of making lofty goals year after year, only to declare that the next year will be different, that I will reach all of my goals, and nothing’s going to get in my way. I am eager, enthusiastic, fearless, and hopeful. I can do anything!

We all know how this ends.

I’m not saying that it’s a bad idea to make goals or resolutions for the new year; actually, I think it’s a brilliant idea. But just like the luster of any new thing can wear off after a while, so does the appeal of your goals once you have to put the work in to maintaining them. Just think of the excitement you felt when you got your first job and all you had to do was use your paycheck on whatever you wanted to buy at the mall or some junk food you could grab on the way home from school. Do you still feel the same way about your job now? Probably not.

What I’ve discovered this past year is that in order to stick with your resolutions you need to have a bit of a mind shift with how you approach the entire task. This year (2017) has been the best for me with sticking to and achieving the goals that I set out for myself, and I plan to duplicate this for the new year. I thought I’d share with you what worked for me in hopes that it can inspire you to make and achieve your own goals. Here are the steps that I took. (more…)

Education in America is a Freaking Joke (poem)

Education in America is a freaking joke
I need you to sit down and take note
As a teacher I can explain to you firsthand
The foolishness on which I must expand
About the career I’ve chosen
About what’s got me groanin’
Questioning the choices I’ve made
That’s brought me to this day
Where I have to explain
The craziness in which I am daily forced to partake

And I say again,
education in America is a freaking joke
I don’t mean to rain on or take away your hope
I just wanted to give you some insight
To explain to you this plight
About a system that no longer works
About a system plagued with anger, frustration, and hurt

In order to so-called “compete” with other nations
We’ve sacrificed the very essence of education
Because it’s all a sick, twisted game
Where teachers are always the ones left to blame
Teachers are rated on test scores
So now their lesson content has become a bore
Testing is seen as the only way to understand
The brilliance inside of a boy or girl’s head
The kids don’t respond because they know it’s no longer about them
The system’s not set up for them to win                                                                                                                                                     It serves to just further divide
A nation that seems set to commit suicide
No child left behind
Has left most of them struggling to find
A place where they belong, to fit in
A place where they, too, can feel like they can win

And what about the parents
Why isn’t this problem apparent
That their lack of participation
Only adds to the devastation
Why do they get to sit back with fingers pointed
And not realize how much they contribute to this disjointed
And broken system that makes no sense
How long will this insanity persist?

Come on America
When will we get it right?
When we will we stand up and fight?
We need to make the classroom a place
Where children have the chance to be great
To see what makes them special and unique
Without constant fear of a harsh and judgmental critique
Let’s teach them the lessons and values that they really need
Now just how to pick between answer choices A ,B ,C, and D
Help them to discover the talents they possess
Show them how to turn that into success
Help them to compete with themselves
Not just constantly compare them to someone else
Give the teachers creative freedom
And trust that they have enough wisdom
To guide their students to the next level
Without the stupid tools you use to measure
How “effective” they are when do what they do
And by the way,
Why don’t you let them do what you hired them to do? (more…)

Defining Moments

This past Friday I had the honor and the pleasure of attending an induction ceremony and tea for a girls organization that I had the privilege to help start as well as advise when I was a teacher at my previous school. The organization, P.I.N.K. (Positive Influence Nurtures Knowledge), was originally created by a wise and beautiful woman at a local elementary school, and one of her old members begged my friend to start a chapter at our middle school a few years ago. I heard about the idea and jumped right on board, and the rest is history. Being an adviser for P.I.N.K. was one of the most rewarding things that I have done in my adult life (kind of like parenting but to 30-40 young ladies at one time).

This year we were inducting 20 new members, and I was so excited to be on the other side of the table, not the one putting everything together, but as a speaker on a panel coming to encourage and impart wisdom to the new and old members.  I didn’t plan a speech or anything of that sort because I knew that once the conversations at these events start, they just keep rolling seamlessly.

We had gotten to our Q&A session of the tea when one of the young ladies, after hearing stories of the challenges and hard times that we had all overcome, asked a very thought provoking question. She asked  “In order to grow in life will there have to be more bad times than good?”  Apparently in conveying our stories, we had given her the impression that in order to it make to where we were as guest panelists and successful women, that life would have to be more hard than easy, more bad than good. Two other presenters spoke up before I could, and because we were running short on time, I didn’t have the chance to respond. But here is what I wanted her to know. Maybe she’ll get the chance to read this some day.

No, there will not be more hard times than easy and more bad than good. It’s really all about your perspective of and approach to life each and every day. When I look back over my life, I can definitely point out more happy than sad days, more laughter and smiles than tears, more peaceful moments than those spent in pain.

The bad days or hard times cannot be avoided and yes, they do help us to grow. It’s all in our responses to these moments that can make all the difference in our lives. 

We can grow from “good” moments as well. For example, if something that you’ve tried to do turns out positively, you’ll repeat the process to continue to get good results. You will learn through that process. You will grow.

However, the moments that seem to have the biggest impacts are those hard times or what I will call the defining moments of our lives. I believe that the reason most of us point these moments out when giving wisdom to others, the reason why they stick out in our minds the most, is because they are the moments that change us the most, the moments that truly make us who God created us to be.

These defining moments stick out because we are usually in a make or break situation where the decision we make or the lesson we learn will have a lasting impact on our lives. 

They can be the beginning of a chapter of our lives that will lead us to success or even the ending to one that will take us away from negative things such as a toxic relationship.

The reason we are so eager to share these stories is because we don’t want you to be blindsided by them. If we came in and told you that life would be all unicorns and rainbows, you’d be mad at us when it didn’t turn out that way.

Defining moments often come as a surprise. They interrupt your normal life. They may even knock you off your feet. But I dare you to do this. I dare you to welcome these moments and use them for the learning experiences that they are meant to be. Let them be temporary interruptions and not how your story ends. That way you can add words such as courageous, strong, bold, wise, indomitable to your list of words you use to describe yourself.

We want you to be prepared and understand and remember that this too shall pass. That you will come out on the other side of this stronger than you’d ever thought you would be and that one day, you will be standing in front of a room of young ladies, or on the phone with one, or holding your own daughter’s hand as you tell your story of overcoming adversity, so that she will understand that the strong, beautiful, positive, successful woman that she knows wasn’t created overnight.

But she also wasn’t defeated by the storms of life. If anything, she always found a way to come out on top. That is our humble prayer for you and why we are here today. So that you may always come out on top.