ONCE UPON A TIME is usually not how our stories begin. I can remember vividly as a child hearing my father tell my brother never go to these places after dark. You never want to be DRIVING WHILE BLACK across the bridge. I thought that I would never be faced with the same situation until 25 years later when I was pulled over by a police officer for having out of state plates. My offense: driving while black in Michigan. I can only wonder will my black people ever have a happily ever after. It is my choice to wear a pop of color on my nails because the world around me can be so dark. Sadly, I have many stories like the one above that I could tell but this time we hope to see justice at the end of this continuous nightmare.
I spent the last two days visiting with my great aunt and we giggled the entire time. Listening to her tell stories about my grandmother and their siblings was priceless. I’ve been missing my granny a lot lately so this visit was needed. As I wind down and reflect about the conversations from this weekend I am so elated that God allowed me to take this trip (the snowstorm the night before had us spooked). It was by far one of the best birthdays ever. I’m putting my camera up and preparing for the journey home because there’s NO MORE FILM. Well not really but I can say I will be smiling all the way to Michigan.
The first story of the year. Make it good right?Okay. After my dad died my soul was empty. I was numb and it took me a few months to gather myself. I went on this journey of self-discovery that very few knew about. I was in class one day and my classmates challenged me to tell my story. There I was in the front of the class; frozen. I didn’t have a clue of who I was or where I came from. I didn’t receive the answers to the questions as a young person because of those grieving around me. The following week I began going through my father’s things and found an address book. I was told many moons ago that there was a name change and that was about it. I did some digging. Piecing things together and found my cousin Kelvin. Our first time talking on the phone was in 2016. And then we met for the first time in March 2017 at his father’s funeral. We recreated the moment of me tapping him on his shoulder outside after the service. The original moment of us meeting was captured by my sister and a memory we reflected upon all weekend. This has been one of the most fulfilling trips of my life. From looking at him, pictures of family members, to visiting the family home. There is no doubt that I am a Steele, and this is just the beginning of our story. My SOUL is full and HAPPY!
“She may be quiet but she’s a warrior and her prayers can move mountains.” – Unknown
I flew into San Diego, California this past weekend to be with three of my closest friends and the newest addition to our family. This trip was well overdue, and after the few weeks I’ve had…I DESERVED IT!
As our flight began to descend Into the San Diego airport I raised the shade on my window (because Erykah Badu told me to get a window seat, Get it?).
My in-flight neighbor leaned over and said “is that snow on the mountains?” Even though it’s possible I wasn’t sure. Simply because I was focused on something else. How God continuously moves mountains.
I thought about my mom, and how much I admire her strength. She constantly reminds me that if you want your situation to be different you are the one to make it happen. That it’s a choice to live the way that you choose to live. She did an awesome job of raising us, and would always say that she wanted more for us than she had for herself.
More than anything she’s taught me that moving mountains are possible. God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we can ask or think.
I work with young people all the time reassuring them that what they’re facing is temporary, and great things require hard work.
I’m inspired by the prayer warriors and individuals that constantly remind me that what you’re going through is only temporary. Release your power to God, and let Him move that mountain.
Real Love and Debt Free by 2018.
What mountain do you need to be moved? Write it down on a sheet of paper with the date that you want it gone. Tape it to your mirror, and watch God move.
P.S.S. The Annual #SteeleThankful Challenge is coming. Are you ready. November 1st!
I’m Dope…Successful…Educated…FULL OF MELANIN…BUT TOO HUMBLE! HELP!
Have you ever thought, “I don’t want to seem brag-uh-do-shus, but I’ve accomplished a lot in my life.”
Yeah…Me Neither… Lol.
Seriously, do you find yourself being too humble because you are trying to accommodate others?
I was on a social network this week talking about this very thing. I found that I don’t always “BIG UP” myself. I never talk about my accomplishments! The fear of offending my superiors, or coming off as Ms. Narcissist or Ms. Brag-Different. There’s ways around it you know?
There is one thing I learned from this conversation. I am not alone. My Dean in Grad School told me on numerous occasions that I am too humble when it comes to my strengths. For goodness sake she was trusting me with editing a grant for our school. This is someone with a Ph.D from UNC Chapel Hill, and worked for the Library of Congress. A SISTA! She was trusting me (a grad assistant at the time) with editing a grant! I still failed at the lesson that I was supposed to learn at that moment.
Don’t dim your light for ANYONE!
As I continue on this journey of working within my community, and rocking with my side hustles I will sometimes put my accomplishments on the back burner. WHY? I’ve asked myself that question a time or two.
All of my experiences have made me who I am. The wins and the lessons learned (I’m not trying to refer to my lessons as losses) have landed me in Huffington Post, U.S. News & World Report, The New York Post, and many others. Sharing my story has empowered others, so why should I care if I am offending anyone else.
Their weakness or insecurities are NONE of my business. I’ve dealt with it all my life. You know what I’m talking about? “Stay humble, don’t get the big head.” That statement means do not become arrogant, not to keep it to yourself and don’t inform anyone of the dope, black, natural, educated sista that you are!
Stop worrying about what others have to say about what God has blessed you with, or blessed you to come out of. Keep shining, and sharing your story. Trust me…someone is listening.
Oh yeah…The #SteeleThankful Challenge Countdown begins are you ready?
In our teens we had all the right answers. You know, when we turned 18, we were smelling ourselves. Everything that our peers, and parents wanted us to believe or say we rebelled. Some of us…
The twenties are the time when you’re finding yourself, or the period of risk taking. Right?
Well, what do you do after you turn 30?
You can either decide to play it safe, or GO FOR IT! Risk it all, or nah?
Traveling with my sister who’s now apart of the 40/40 club, I couldn’t help but glance over to what she was reading on the plane ride. It was a book challenging self to set and complete bucket list tasks. I began to think while on our trip how could we put this book to use.
When we spotted a zip line at a local art & wine festival, my sister had the perfect idea.
“Let’s do it, it’s on my bucket list.”
We joked before about zip lining at the zoo but it was over the bears, and we had seen the Katt Williams skit with the lions. This route seemed a lot safer.
She said it was something about turning 40. She reached the point of being unapologetic, and understanding that “No” is a complete statement. I can’t wait until I get to that point. What I did realize in that moment is that the only time that things shifted for me was when I stepped outside of my comfort zone.
Growing up my sister and I used to love a good rollercoaster at a theme park, but the older we got we found ourselves playing it safe. I was surprised when she suggested that we take on the task of flying over festival patrons. Why did I do it? I trust my sister, and I know that we are stronger together than going solo. Even with all of my projects she is either the EP or Editor. She has challenged me in ways that she may never know.
It’s so important to have a tribe to reassure you when you’re right, and CHECK YOU when you’re wrong.
Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, and overcome those fears. If there is something that you’ve been waiting to do; put a plan in motion and do it. Don’t waste anymore time. You got this!
PUT ME IN COACH! What to do once you’re in the 4th Quarter of the “Game (of Life)?”
Seriously, I spend my time putting together the events of my life or those around me in order to encourage you every week. But…
This fourth quarter has snuck up on your girl. :-/
I spent the 3rd quarter of 2017 preparing for the most crucial time of the year, and I can’t believe that it’s here. And the coach of all coaches is saying, “RJ, I need you. Get off the bench, and win this game for us!”
HUH? Excuse me, Lord. Are you talking about this RJ?
Within the last three months I’ve been asked to speak for a Women’s Empowerment Conference, PechaKucha, and I am scheduled to present the Final 48 Project at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University’s graduation.
Well, if I wasn’t ready, I better get ready right?
Even when we think we are not ready for the blessing(s) that God has for us; we are. He has equipped us with more than enough to get the task done. All we have to do is walk in it.
Don’t be afraid. Easier said than done I know. I was a bit frightened by all of the opportunities that were before me, but I realize this is what I asked God to do for me. Continue to use me in the way that is within His will.
My story will continue to impact the lives of others, and don’t forget that your story can/will too!
The statement by “Auntie” Rep. Maxine Waters is probably the quote of the year…or shoot the decade if you ask someone else.
Even though the quote was used during a heated political session it can pertain to so many areas of our lives.
If you were around for previous posts I talk about how much I learned from working in Dallas. The work schedule was rigorous, and let’s be honest it’s hard to find good help. There were a lot of sacrifices that were made, but some truly beautiful moments came out of it. I dedicated that year to crushing personal goals (publishing the first book in the Adventures of Alleykats series, and traveling for theFinal 48 Project) that probably wouldn’t have been achieved unless I was placed in such a low and emotional state of mind.
I finally reached the point of saying No to others in that position for the sake of my sanity, and decided to say Yes to everything that I…yes…that I wanted.
I knew going forward in my next career/position that I would start practicing saying Yes to self. Now, I’m able to identify the signs of being close to being BURNT OUT!
Living in your purpose has the greatest rewards, but sometimes it gets tough. When we are out of the will of God we can become distracted with others looking for validation in the wrong places. When I left Dallas, I vowed to NEVER let any employer or anyone rob me of my joy, and require so much of my time. If it doesnʼt aid in the growth of self I ainʼt participating.
If you donʼt enjoy doing it, it will show. Trust me.
I dedicated the last Saturday of September to spending quality time with my mom (in the morning), and one of my best friend’s (evening).
I closed out my Saturday night with a wine festival located in St. Joseph, Michigan. It was just what the doctor ordered.
I’m making more time for the things and people that I truly love and care about.
Reclaiming my time. Reclaiming my TIME!
What happens when you decide NOT to be the Angry Black Woman?
If you are working at a 9-5, think about your office dynamic. When something pops off everyone looks at you to react. Especially if you are the only brown face in the office. Let’s see how the “black girl” is going to respond…
I can remember when I was the only black in the office, and I can also remember situations when the brown faces were the majority. It doesn’t take away from the fact that EVERYONE expects for us to lose our cool when placed in certain situations.
When I know I am on the brink of no return with my attitude I hear my father’s voice very clearly. As if he’s sitting on my shoulder with wings wearing his work uniform (displaying his name) and glasses. “Hey, now what did I tell you, never…let…em…see…you…sweat!”
Ah yes dad, you did tell me that.
I was cleaning up my office area over the weekend and came across this folder.
I thought to myself, “WHY DO I STILL HAVE MY TERMINATION LETTER FROM 2015?”
Simple. I wanted to keep the letter that jump started this amazing journey of being transparent. I completed a children’s book two weeks after receiving the letter. No lie…
That letter is the reason my story is published in HuffPost, Business Insider, CNBC to name a few.
When I received this letter I was excited. It spooked my former boss out. How could I be so calm when my life seemed to be heading for “Shambles Street?”
Honestly, I was planning my exit strategy to submit a letter by August 31, 2015. My God said Nope…that’s not MY PLAN. I’m going to release you in July, and you will receive unemployment.
What would flipping out in that office do for me? Besides being escorted from the premises in hand cuffs. I wouldn’t have achieved anything that day by acting ugly. I knew in the end that I was winning. I was miserable, and they were doing me a huge favor.
Ladies. I’m convinced that some things are done intentionally to get a rise out of us. It’s our choice of how we respond to the nonsense. I am quite proud of my performance that day. It taught me so much about myself, and how God uses people/situations to get you to where you are supposed to be. I’m #SteeleThankful for that entire experience. I have so much material for a One-Woman show, and who knows I may headline at the same venue that laid me off one day. Anything is possible.
On my Great-Aunt’s 90th birthday I told her that I wanted to see her before the summer was over. April 1996 was the last time I saw her, and for years I’d been begging my dad to visit her in California.
I watched plane tickets EVERY WEEK since our conversation in May. Months ago I vowed not to let any grass grow under my feet. Then at 5:00 am one morning I saw that the airline ticket price dropped. I called my sister (startled her might I add) and told her it was time to book our tickets. My sister is frickin dope, and without hesitation she purchased her ticket. Cali…Here we come!
We spent the weekend burning up the highway in the Bay Area, and taking in all of the beautiful scenery. It was one of the hottest weekends of the year, but we didn’t care. No one could take this moment away from us.
There is one thing I continuously thought about while on that road:
“I made it.”
We spent HOURS talking to my aunt, no seriously over FIVE HOURS (If you want to hear more about what we talked about check out the #GriefTalkTuesday post on the Final 48 Project site tomorrow).
I am still smiling from ear to ear listening to her stories of my beautiful grandmother, and my father. I giggle the entire time thinking, “yep I do that, yep I do that too.”
I wasn’t worried about any malls, athletic games, or even the vineyards, the memories that she shared are absolutely priceless.
After losing a cousin and great-uncle in the first and second quarter of the year I promised myself that I was devoting more time to enjoying family that I haven’t seen or never met.
I guess you can call them my bucket list items, but I’m just going to call them, “my desire moments.”
What are some things you desire to do before 2017 is over?