Category: Living Your Best Life

My Theme Song for the Year (and why you should have one, too)

If you’re like me (and most people), there are certain songs that will get you out on the dance floor and make you jump around until you’re exhausted. Or you have songs that completely put you at ease, soothing your mind, bringing you some peace. Or you have songs that evoke certain memories, taking you back to a certain time in your life, good or bad, the memories forever ingrained in your mind. Some people have that one special song that just speaks to them whenever and wherever they hear it.

Either way, we can all agree that music is important to us in some way, shape, or form. We may use it to lift our spirits, take our mind off things, or just to get our energy up, making us dance until we can’t dance any more.

I love music because it can do all of these things. It can connect people who have nothing else in common, not even the same language. It can change the entire mood of your day; it can keep you company when no one else is around. It can make a mundane task seem interesting and the time fly by.

That’s why this year I have adopted a “Theme Song of the Year.” It’s my own personal motivational song to keep me going and relates directly to my goals and the way I am approaching this year in my life. If you didn’t know, I just turned 40 a few days ago, and I have big goals for my life. What better way to stay motivated than to have a song playing in the background (or in my mind) as I tackle each one of my goals?

My song for this year is Andra Day’s “Cheers to the Fall.” I already loved this song, but I loved it even more after I used it for a lesson in my class. Each Monday in my class is Mindset Monday where the students have to focus on ways to have a Growth Mindset. I thought this song was a perfect fit since my students often want to fit in with others and do what’s “popular.” They also have a tendency to give up on tasks that seem too hard and are afraid of failing or looking dumb for trying.

As we analyzed this song, I grew to love it more and more. It spoke to me on a deeper level because I could relate to it so well. The past couple of years I have been stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things. I had already started my own photography business, Natural Soul Photography, a few years back, but I recently decided to really jump back in and work hard on making it successful.

In addition, I became a consultant with Thirty-One. I loved the products, so why not try to sell them? I also, after losing 13 pounds, decided to sell Herbalife products. Now, am I a top seller with either one of these businesses? Nope, but I am proud of the fact that I have tried, have worked hard on ways to learn more about direct sales, and have constantly looked at how to improve my marketing strategies and customer relationships. I NEVER would have thought that I would be the type to sell anything to anyone. I would have thought someone was crazy for even suggesting it.

 

 

Another major change was leaving one school that I had taught at for eleven years to go teach at a brand new school. I needed the change in pace, a shake up and a wake up. I had gotten comfortable (although I was miserable at times) because I had been there so long. Actually, complacent was a better word for it. I wasn’t stretching or challenging myself any more. I’m so happy that I made the move.

But the thing that I am most proud of myself for is this right here: my blog! It’s always been my dream to write and to get my messages out to the world, and my blog is the perfect outlet. I have grown so much over this past year since I started this blog. For too long, I only talked about doing this, putting off for tomorrow what I could have done today. Making excuses, waiting for the right time, not wanting to step out of my zone, be different, try something new.  Now, I am living my dream, and I see myself getting better and better every day. Each day brings a new challenge that I eagerly accept. Even after a long day at work, I still can find the energy to work on my blog whether it’s typing a post or learning something about the blogging industry.

While many people have cheered me on and told me how proud they are of all that I’ve been doing, many people think that I am downright crazy.They wonder why I do what I’m doing. Why are you trying to do so much? How many jobs are you going to try to have? What do you know about blogging? Do you have time to do all of that? Who do you think you are?

 

That’s where my theme song comes into play. Have you heard it before? I mean, have you really truly listened to the lyrics and understood what she is saying? Whenever I am having a frustrating day or when someone has made me upset, I know that I can turn on this song. When I am in the midst of some hard work, something challenging, something new, I know that if I turn to this song for encouragment, I will be pumped up and ready to work, ready to take on the world.

Once you check it out, you may just want to adopt it as your theme song, too.

Here are some of my favorite lines from the song.

They say the higher that you climb
The further when you take the dive
But it’s comatose
And I can’t live that closed
‘Cause I don’t know how to never try at all
So cheers to the fall, hey

When you’ve been wrapped in your cocoon for so long and finally break free (as I did), you can’t help but want to live life to the fullest (see my poem about it here). Anything less than that is a waste. Who wants to spend their entire life looking back, thinking about all of the things that they should’ve done, should’ve try? So what if I fall down? At least I can say, “Hey, I did that before!” I can still cheer myself on because of the fact that I at least gave it my best. I will have no regrets because I would have stepped out and given myself a chance even if I fail.

And who says you can’t win them all
If you try

Again, if I fail then at least I gave it a chance. But what, oh just what, if I do succeed? What if I do win? Living in fear (something I’m determined not to do any more) will only keep me stagnant missing out on all of the potential that I have within me to achieve greatness. Imagine how great my life would be if I could add up all of the wins knowing that I had put in the hard work and that I had made it happen! But I could never get to that place if I didn’t at least give it a try. And I have to believe in myself in spite of what others may have to say which takes us to the bridge of the song.

Thanks for all your sound advice
That I didn’t ask for
I’ll take all of it in stride

The bridge is equally awesome. When I sing along with the song, this part really hits close to home. Instead of listening to the naysayers and doubters who tell me that it will never work, I can push on and try. There are so many people who want to tell you how you should live your life because they have lived their life inside of a box, afraid to do anything that may make them uncomfortable. Therefore, they feel the need to advise you on why this won’t work for you or exactly how you should be playing it safe. But tell me: is that really living? Nope, so thanks, but no thanks for all of your wonderful advice, but I think I’ll stick with my plan. You know the one I’m talking about, right? The one where I take a big leap of faith and see where it will take me? Yes, that one.

I’ve said all this to say that I think that everyone should have a theme song for the year or the month or the decade or for their life, whatever works best for them. Have that song that you can blast really loud whenever you need some inspiration to get through the day. Find that song that speaks to you and that you’ll never get tired of listening to over and over again. Find that song that speaks the words that may be hard for you to say. Find that song that forces you to sing along at the top of your lungs because it expresses the very words of your soul.

Then hit play and repeat as many times as it takes to get you in the right mindset for the task ahead of you.

And rock on!

What would be your “Theme Song of the Year” and why? Comment below!

Weeks 6 -8 of My Journey to 40

  

Ha! Ha! Ha! The joke’s on me. The best laid intentions often don’t go as planned. I wanted to be able to stop each week and give you guys the rundown, a play by play, of what I had been doing, how I was progressing on this journey, what great things I had done. The first few weeks went as planned. Unfortunately, as it often goes, life got in the way of my plans, and there weren’t enough hours at the end of my days for all that I was hoping to accomplish.

But it’s okay! I have NO regrets about how everything went down because I did make progress; I did work towards my goals; I did laugh and smile and grow during these last few weeks, and that is what counts.

When all is said and done, I can’t believe it’s almost here. I am only 4,(Count it: 1, 2, 3, 4) days away from turning the big 4-0!!!

 

 

While things did not go exactly according to plan, I am happy with what I’ve accomplished over the past few weeks. This week’s post, however, will be a bit different than the last ones because these past three weeks have certainly been different! But, hey, that’s life! So here’s what took place in the last three weeks (or at least the condensed version).

  • Week 6

This week was disrupted by the horrific tragedy that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. A week that should have been focused on love for one another was overshadowed by a senseless, horrible, unforgettable, despicable act of violence. As a teacher who works only 15 miles from this school and a parent of a high school student, this event shook me to my core. It compelled me to write this post because I needed to get some things off my chest as well as process how I was feeling. (Please take some time to read it if you can.)

Out of all that happened, I have been overwhelmed by all of the love and compassion that has come about as a result of this tragedy. The outpouring of love from the community and the country has been amazing! I just wish that it didn’t take a tragedy for us to pull together like this (just got an idea for a future blog post).

I did end the week by working with my coworker, once again, on trying to get our side hustles off the ground. On Saturday, we gathered the kids and went out to the beach to advertise for an event she had planned the next day. That Sunday was the event (a painting party to benefit her and a couple of other nonprofits with my acting as the photographer) which did not turn out as well as we would like it to have. However, we learned valuable lessons along the way and are sure that we will do better next time.

Not to mention that all of us had a great time together and I got to try some new food! We took the kids to a quaint restaurant called, “What the Pho” where I got to try pho for the first time. It was the bomb, the service was the bomb, and we all had a great time! 

  • Week 7

It became official this week that I am going to be celebrating my birthday in a BIG way! Thanks to Hubby gifting me the money, I was able to pay to go to a Sanctuary Girl Retreat, and this week I bought the plane ticket to the retreat’s location: LOS ANGELES!!!! I cannot believe that in just two days, I will be going to L.A. to not only take part in a wonderful, life-changing retreat with my friend, Sabrina Hayes, but I will be spending my birthday there! All of it is overwhelming and exciting!!

I knew I wanted to celebrate my birthday in a big way, but this is even beyond what I thought I would be able to do. Over a little more than a year ago, I had the opportunity to attend a retreat with this beautiful lady, and my life was forever changed. Also, I met some amazing women with whom I still speak to on a regular basis.There is no doubt in my mind that this retreat will be even better! Look for a post all about the retreat, Sanctuary Girl, and my birthday weekend very soon!

My retreat from last year! So much fun! Love  these ladies!

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Hubby and I also took the boys to see Black Panther. The plot mesmerized me as well as all of the beautiful actors and outfits! I beamed with pride as I watched the movie and fantasized about what it would be like to be a part of that country, to be a part of Wakanda. The knowledge and pride they possessed and their genuine love for one another and their culture made me wish that I lived there, too. I found everything about it fascinating especially the lesson that we need to take care of one another and spread the knowledge and love to all of our people so that we all can rise together. Wakanda forever, baby!!!! Wakanda forever!!!!

  • Week 8

This week of my journey to 40 was all about reigning in the chaos that was quickly becoming my life and taking a deep breath, focusing a bit more on God, my family, my job, my house. I was so caught up with everything else, that I began to neglect some other areas. (Future blog post?) Well, not really neglect, but not give as much time as I normally do or being too busy to do what I really wanted to do in each of those areas.

I ended this week feeling much more relaxed and organized and ready to take on the world. I spent more time with my boys enjoying the great outdoors, cleaned some areas of my house that really needed it, started reading a new book, watched a couple of good movies, fell asleep earlier each night, was there for Hubby and his family during their time of mourning, and just took care of me. (I think it helps that I knew a three-day workweek and a vacation and my birthday were coming up.)

So now I am in Week 9 of my journey and so excited about what this weekend will bring. I am turning 40 and I am excited! I am not fearful at all. I only see myself as getting better, wiser, stronger, kinder, more giving and forgiving. I am becoming whom God created me to be! Gracefully growing into my destiny! Watch out world! I am going to take this next decade of my life by storm!

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Weeks 4 & 5 of My Journey to 40

Wow! I have passed the half-way mark on my Journey to 40! I can’t believe it’s almost here! I guess it’s obvious that I did not post for Week 4! So much going on that I did not get a chance to do so. But I’m back and getting excited about what I’ve done and what’s to come. I am definitely not one of those people sitting around and fretting about turning 40. It has actually sparked a fire in me and gotten me excited about what my future will bring!!!

But I know that I must work for it. Nothing will just fall into my lap.

Here’s what’s I’ve been doing!

 

  1. Fitness Goal: I tell you when it rains, it pours. In my last post I told you about my back pains which caused me to pump the brakes on working out. Well, it turns out that I hurt myself pretty bad (don’t know how), and my doctor ordered me to get some rest, not do any heavy lifting, and gave me so medicine to help ease the pain. Anybody who really knows me knows that I hate to take medicine especially anything that makes me feel weird, but I was in so much pain that I had to take it. One week later I tried to wean myself off of the medicine only to take it again for one more day. I HATE the way this medicine makes me feel. I’m an on the go type of person; I have so much that I want to accomplish that I didn’t have time for the way this medicine was making me feel: groggy, confused, and tired. Needless to say, I have stopped taking it again and hope that I can just take some extra strength Tylenol if I need something and that I will eventually heal like my doctor believes I will. However, I have managed to drop a couple of pounds by changing some of my eating habits so SCORE for me!

    Back was feeling better this day so I did a quick photo shoot at the library.
  2. New Adventures: I’m so excited to say that I have booked a trip for my 40th!!!! I stopped thinking of all of the reasons that I couldn’t do it and just did it (with a little cash from Hubby)! I signed up to attend a Sanctuary Girl retreat  that just happened to fall on my birthday weekend (Check out the website.There are also fabulous shirts and accessories!) I previously attended a retreat hosted by my beautiful friend, Sabrina Hayes, before she officially launched Sanctuary Girl (a ministry that she now runs), and I absolutely LOVED it! Last time the retreat was closer to home (only a 3 hour drive); this time I am taking a plane across the country to a place I’ve never been before: Los Angeles!!!! I cannot wait! (I’ve also blogged about the Sanctuary Girl Faith Planner which has helped me to keep my life super organized while focusing on my relationship with Jesus). Of course, I will be blogging all about my retreat experience as well!
    Los Angeles

    Weekly layout in my Sanctuary Girl Faith Planner
  3. Business Moves: As if I didn’t already have enough on my plate, I am officially a Thirty-One Gifts consultant again! After two years of being a consultant, I called it quits back in October because I was frustrated with the lack of support and was too busy with a new job and other goals that I was pursuing. But after much consideration, I have decided to try it again. I love, love, love, the products as well as the sisterhood that comes with being a consultant. Did I mention that I LOVE the products. Never heard of Thirty-One? You can check out our products here. I love the ability to personalize our products as well as being able to fashionably organize my life!  I also met up with my accountability group, Sisters with a Purpose. If you don’t have an accountability group (or at least a partner), you should jump on this. Knowing you have to give an account of what you’re doing to reach your goals keeps you focused. No one wants to be the one to show up at a meeting saying that she hasn’t being doing anything. We will check in and motivate each other through text messages and calls throughout the month, but then we will have an “official” meeting to regroup, celebrate, and plan for the next month. Plus there’s a ton of laughter that happens at these meetings.
    Spring 2018 Catalog

    Working on those goals at our accountability meeting.
  4. Random Acts of Kindness: If you’ve been following along, I one of my plans for my journey to 40 is make sure I am doing more for others. This is just one more thing that I am going to do. These cards and notebooks (along with some cute pens) are going out to some beautiful ladies this week. A few weeks ago I posted on Facebook that the first five people to respond to my post would be getting a special something from me. I know I’m a little late, but I want to stand by my word. I hope they enjoy these, and I hope it brightens their day! I know I LOVE receiving unexpected gifts. How about you?
    Aren’t these cute!!

    Five weeks down; four more to go! I’m getting antsy and excited as I get closer. I have more fun things planned over the next few weeks! What do you plan to do or what have you done to celebrate a milestone birthday? I’m looking to be inspired by some of your ideas!

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?

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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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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