Month: January 2018

Week 3 of My Journey to 40

Time is flying. I feel like I just wrote the first post in this series explaining what I would be doing on My Journey to 40  by documenting my progress week by week, and here I am now at the end of Week 3. Is everything going exactly according to plan? Of course not. But that’s life!  Nothing ever goes as planned, but, sometimes, things can turn out better than ever imagined. Here’s how things went down.

  1. Fitness Goals: Unfortunately this week was not a good one for me. Last week after Hubby and I celebrated our wedding anniversary, I decided to do some deep cleaning around the house because there was dust everywhere after Hubby installed a doggy door in our wall (see pic below). My lower back had been giving me some problems here and there already, but I had been trying to ignore it and just exercise through it. Well, with all of the moving of furniture, sweeping, and mopping, I guess I just made it worse ,so much so that I have to schedule an appointment with my doctor. I think I have a pinched nerve, and I have to give the exercising a break. I’m still trying to get my steps in, but it’s been hard. On the upside, I did well with meal planning for my lunch for last week. At least I felt good about this.
    This was in my lunchbox every day.
    The doggy door from inside the house

    The doggy door from the back patio area
  2. New Adventures: My adventure this week related directly to my business moves. Thanks to my artist friend,Constance Ivana, I completely stepped out of my comfort zone this past weekend. My friend offered me space to display my photography at the Mass District Art Walk. It’s a monthly event where people get to come in and see the artists in the space where they work, talk to them, ask questions, make connections, and purchase artwork. Being the introvert that I am, this was completely out of my comfort zone. However, I will admit that I had a blast! I got to talk to other people in the community who are doing great things, got to give out a few business cards, and even got to take a trolley over to another art walk and see a professional photo shoot in person. Imagine if I had allowed fear to keep me at home. I would have missed out on a great experience. And my boys joined me and had a blast as well!
    At the Mass District Art Walk
    Found my dream library at the art walk! 
    Picture in front of my setup at the art walk. My photos and my friend’s art work.

    Enjoying ourselves at the other art walk
  3. Business Moves:  I also did a favor for my friend who just started her t-shirt line. We did an impromptu photo shoot with some of our students and a few of her shirts. The results were phenomenal and I really enjoyed the creative process. I wish I could show you the results, but since we don’t have permission from their parents to post here, I can’t… yet.If that changes in the near future, I will definitely show them off! I’m looking forward to doing more things like this in the near future. I had so many ideas for what we could do, and I am sure as my friend produces more we will do more photo shoots. I’m so excited about this!

    Rocking my friend’s shirt
  4. Random Acts of Kindness: Unfortunately, I didn’t work hard on my Random Acts of Kindness this week. Not that I was intentionally mean to anyone, but I didn’t put forth extra effort to make sure that I could make someone else’s day. I will be better with this next week. I have to be INTENTIONAL about this and not let other things distract me.

Cheers to another great week!!!! Feeling extremely optimistic and grateful for all that this big 4-0 is going to bring to me! Are you preparing to celebrate a birthday soon? What are you doing to get ready for your celebration?

Natural Soul Photography

I know I’ve discussed my love of photography before and the fact that I have my own photography business, Natural Soul Photography. I’m working on expanding my business on My Journey to 40. I figured I should share my work with you as well. Check it out below. I’ll update as I continue to do photo shoots. Hope you like! (You can also see pictures on my Facebook page by clicking here.)

 

Merry Christmas!

5 Things That Make You a Great Mom

I can’t lie about it. While it is extremely rewarding, motherhood is hard!  No one could have told me that it would be this like this. No one could have told me about the emotional ups and downs that I would experience as a mother, one minute wanting your love bug cuddled up next to you and the next minute needing to hide in the bathroom just to have a moment alone. You have your moments of Mommy Pride where you stand a little taller as you watch your child’s performance or when they bring home a good report card or even as you watch them sleeping at night.

But then you also have those moments of guilt where you feel like you’re not doing enough, you’re not good enough, or you’ll never get “it” all done. We even feel guilty about wanting alone time and just wanting to get away from it all. We begin to compare ourselves to the picture perfect moms we see in magazine ads or we see on TV or that people post on their social media pages. We start feeling as if we’re the world’s worst mom, that everyone else has it all together, and that our children are being deprived of a great parent.

Mommy Guilt is so real, so sad, and so hurtful to us.

We judge ourselves so harshly as if we are never allowed to have an off moment. Being a mom is the one job that comes with no manual, no set of instructions, no training in preparation for it. We are all doing the best that we can, and we deserve a pat on the back (or a nice trip to the spa) for all that we do.

Here are 5 things that make YOU a great mom:

Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash

  1. You provide for your kids’ needs, and you try to give them most of what they want. I know people are thinking, “That’s not a big deal. That’s what you’re supposed to do.” However, if you think about it, this is a pretty BIG deal. Making sure to provide for your children probably takes precedent over your taking care of yourself. Most of us will go without something we need or want just to make sure our children have what they need. That type of selflessness is commendable and although it just comes naturally to moms, it is worthy of honor. In a time where people are driven by their own selfish desires, being a mom who gives her last and her best for her child is amazing.     Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash
  2. You discipline them and teach them right from wrong. While it’s easy to be distracted by how cute your child is, there comes times when you have to correct them for what they’ve done wrong. You know what’s best for them even if they don’t believe it. So while those tears may be hard for you to see, the fact that you must instill in them the values and morals that they will need in order to be successful in life is more important than trying to avoid seeing a few tears. You know that in the long run having children who will go on to become well-disciplined and self-sufficient adults is so much more important than trying to make them happy all of the time.         Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash
  3. You hurt when they hurt. I know nothing breaks a mom’s heart more than seeing her child hurting and not being able to do something about it. That’s part of the reason that disciplining can be so hard. We feel their pain; we have a deep connection with them and that mama bear in us wants to jump in and protect. That instinct to protect our children makes us special because that level of love is unmatched. We’d give our lives to make sure our children are protected and do whatever it takes to make sure they are comforted in their time of need.                                                                                                                           
  4. You dream about their future and the adults they will become one day. Prom. Graduation. College. Wedding. Family. As a mom, you don’t just worry about your child during their childhood, you hope and dream about the bright future that you see for them. That’s why you work so hard, why you discipline and talk to them, and why you try your best to set them on the right path. All you want is the best for your child, so although you still have dreams for yourself, your child’s future success is always at the front of your mind. It’s why you will sit with them for hours assisting with homework or why you will sign them up for activities that will help them pursue their passions.  If you could, you would create the future that you wanted for them, free from all hurt, harm, or danger, and give them the best life you possibly could ensuring success in everything they do.                                                                                                                     Photo by Marco Ceschi on Unsplash
  5. You spend quality time with them. All of the toys, money, and gifts in the world can’t equate to the time that you spend with your child. Don’t get down if you can’t provide them with the “best of the best” of everything. So what if you can’t take them on a Disney vacation every year? In the end, that’s not what’s going to matter or what they’re going to remember. They will remember the bedtime stories, the trips to the local park, the encouraging words you gave as they tried something new or struggled with something difficult, the way you comforted them when they were sick or were crying, laughs you shared around the dinner table, and the nights snuggled up on the couch watching a good movie.  What matters is the time you spend with them. And as the saying goes, it’s about the quality, not the quantity.

I promise you that what you’re doing right now IS enough.

All of the other things that we feel like we should be doing are just fluff, the extra icing on the cake. I’m not saying that being the team mom for your son’s football team, or making homemade costumes that will rival anything found on Pinterest, or being able to feed your kids organic, homemade food every day is not important; however, if that is how you measure your worth as a mom, you’re wrong. Who cares if this time you picked up the store-bought costume before you swung by McDonald’s on the way home from a long and exhausting day at work? Give yourself a break. Yes, our jobs are to provide the best life that we can for our children, but the problem comes when we begin to compare ourselves to other moms or when we set impossibly high standards for ourselves based on unrealistic expectations or when we don’t give ourselves credit for all that we do.

You’re a mom, not Superwoman (although I think we should earn that title for all that we do).

Cut yourself some slack. When you look back, what are the things that really stand out to you when you think about your mother or the woman who helped to raise you? Are you being judgmental about her parenting skills or are the first things that come to mind only about how much you know she loved you, the little things she did for you, and overall how she made you feel? I know what I think of when I think of my own mother and all that she did and provided for me. Knowing what I know now about parenting, I admire her strength, love, and tenacity even more.

You’re doing a great job. Don’t let anyone (not even yourself) tell you differently. Instead of trying to find new ways to be a “better” mom, take time out for yourself. Have that glass of wine. Spend some time with friends. Go on a mini-vacay alone. Believe me, you’ll come back refreshed and ready to take on motherhood even more. Taking care of you is the best way to make sure you’re always ready to take care of your kids. You deserve it.

And your kids will thank you for it.

Week 2: My Journey to 40

What a busy week it has been! If you’re an educator in a public school in Florida, you know what the time after Christmas Break is all about: testing! We’ve officially entered into what is referred to as Crunch Time or what I refer to as the Most Stressful Time of the Year, the time that we put all of our energy into prepping our students for state testing (more about my feelings on this in a future post). This week was filled with practice testing every morning for our students which of course threw off the rest of each day. Needless to say, this week was an interesting one.

However, I was still able to work on some of my goals in week 2 of My Journey to 40. (To read about Week One click here.) Here’s how this week went.

  1. Fitness Goal – Although I didn’t meal prep for lunch this week, I believe I did a good job with eating. However, I’m still struggling with the water intake. As a teacher, it’s hard for me to drink so much water during the day since I don’t have the freedom to just run to the bathroom like I need to do. However, I did hit my step goal (10,000) EVERY DAY this week! Whoop whoop! Yay for me!  I even went walking and did some strength training. I’m bringing sexy back!!!!!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  2. New Adventure: This week Hubby and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. One of my ideas for having an adventure or new experience was for us to try a new restaurant (you know, break away from the routine), but since I wasn’t allowed to help with planning anything for our anniversary, I wasn’t sure if this goal would be met. Hubby had done the planning, and he just told me that we needed to be where we were going by 7:30 that Friday night. Well, my goal was met! We went to a new restaurant (new for us) and had a great time. Hubby had gotten a recommendation from a friend about where to take me. I was happily surprised by the food, ambiance, and location. I even tried oysters and clams for the first time. Hubby always eats them so I decided to try for the first time. Was I impressed? Not really, but at least I can say that I tried them (shrugs). The next morning Hubby arranged for us to have our first ever couple’s massage. I enjoyed every minute of it and left feeling like I was floating! We followed our massages by eating breakfast at a new restaurant as well. Weren’t we the adventurous pair?  This was a great anniversary, and I look forward to celebrating many more with this crazy, yet loving, man of mine.
Our wedding day!

 

Our appetizer!
My dinner
Us in front of the beautiful view from our table

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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!

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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.

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