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Category: Archives 101

How important is a Life Insurance policy? Should I get one?

How important is a Life Insurance policy? Should I get one?

NOW!  If you don’t have an insurance policy you should start shopping around for a policy today.  Trust me.  It’s worth it.  Take a look at Go Fund Me.  You will understand the need to have your own insurance policy.

Many slave masters knew the value of having a policy on their slaves (or property).  They wanted to protect their investment.

I really did not realize the importance of having Life Insurance until three years ago.  I couldn’t imagine the burden my family would have to bear of putting together arrangements for me, and I had the option of adding Life Insurance to my Car and Rental Insurance.  I re-evaluated my priorities, and realized not investing in Life Insurance would be the  “Wrong Answer!”  **Dad’s Voice**

It’s similar to having car or renter’s insurance.  We must protect what’s precious to us and on top of that driving without car insurance is against the law.  Hmm.  Car insurance is more important than life insurance.  Think about that.  It’s a choice.  Will you be reckless or not?

Below you will find a Slave Policy from April of 1858, a policy for a slave named George in the amount of $1,000.

Slave Insurance Policy blogger-image--762415460

 

I know you’re probably thinking, “Gosh, R.J. talks about insurance a lot.  Maybe she works for an insurance company.”  Well, I used to work for a large health insurance company, and I was able to witness what happens when you don’t have insurance.  You can go bankrupt without insurance, and fall into a deep depression trying to work yourself out of the hole.  I don’t want that to happen to anyone that’s attached me.

On this Friday, I just want you to remember one thing.  Invest in yourself today.  We must protect all of our serious investments, those with and without a heartbeat!

 

From Victim to Victorious: Falling in love with a burn survivor

From Victim to Victorious: Falling in love with a burn survivor

Out of all the topics that I’ve discussed this is definitely the hardest. Now, there will be some things shared here that are exclusive to my personal archives. Viewer discretion is advised.

Just got paid. It’s Friday night. I decided to go from shoulder length hair to a bob cut. I would say a good 4 inches of my hair was on the floor at the beauty shop. I was FREE! I was ready for a weekend in Charlotte, NC with my girls for the annual CIAA tournament activities. It was our first year, we were single, and ready to paint the town red.

We mingled with people in the lobby of our hotel, laughed all night with strangers, and even marched the streets of downtown Charlotte in 4-inch heels. We had the time of our life.

Back to work and school on Monday. I walked into work feeling like a new woman. I worked late on Tuesday, said my “good nights” to every one, hopped in my car and made my commute from Durham to Raleigh. I didn’t show up for work on Wednesday morning.

I got home Tuesday night exhausted. I had homework and I needed to eat. I decided to cook a quick meal and call it a night. I placed the pot on the stove, had a seat on the couch, and snapped a few selfies.

I dozed off.

I woke up to smoke, and then flames. I panicked. I grabbed the pot of hot grease, and ran to the door. Too late! The damage was done. It was raining outside so of course grease and water doesn’t mix. Next thing I know the pot falls from the second floor balcony and flames engulfed the stair well. I shielded my eyes with my left arm, and ran back inside of my apartment.

I didn’t call 9-1-1. I called my friend Shanita. I was numb. I stood in the bathroom, and ran my fingers through my singed hair. My hair was transferring from my fingertips to the floor. Shanita picked me up and took me to the hospital. In her words, “it smelled as if you cooked the whole way there.”

Shanita would have to make the phone call to my family and friends about my condition. To this day she says that’s one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do.

After hours of not being able to move I finally wobbled to the bathroom after the suggestion of not looking in the mirror. I did it anyway. I needed to see what the road looked like ahead. I thought, “eh, I’ll be okay.”

 

My features began to transform over night. I took the above photo(s) because I believe in results and of course I’m a visual person. Very visual. I needed those photos during the recovery process to prove to myself that God had this situation under control.

I was in therapy 3-4 days a week for mobility in my right hand and my leg. Changing my own bandages, and sleeping most of the day.

My support system though. My God. My mom and sister were there during my entire hospital stay. My friends were delivering food to my family while I suffered with hospital food. My brother was receiving updates from my father (who arrived the day I was discharged). Everyone had a position, and I’m still blown away by their love and support.

The therapy wasn’t the hardest part. I had to learn to love again. I was a new person. Falling in love is hard, but loving yourself after a traumatic experience is harder.

When you’re faced with insensitive questions you become very defensive. I know I did. “Well, what were you doing trying to deep fry your hand?” Or, “Well you know you could’ve put floor or sugar on it to put the fire out.” Until you’ve experienced the shock of something like that, YOU have no room to judge. Those questions crushed my pride and self-esteem. Yes, I understand I didn’t think clearly in the moment but who would? I was exhausted and delirious. Imagine trying to adjust to having NO HAIR, spots on your face, and a glove that someone asks “what happened?” every five minutes of your “new” life. You can grow even thicker skin to deal with it or you become a recluse. A lot of burn survivors prefer the latter. There were times I wanted to go in hiding, but my personal care giver (Aka my dad) wouldn’t let me do that.

Years later I realized that this whole experience was not about me. When I tell you it strengthened the relationship with my dad and I, I mean my God it did. He brought his clippers with him from Michigan to North Carolina and shaved my hair so it was even. He kept reassuring me that my hair would grow back.

The faith walk wasn’t just for me, it was for my dad too. He was able to witness the transformation of my face. He was BLOWN AWAY. I would hear him in the other room on the phone, “Man, when I got here she looked pretty bad leaving the hospital. She’s looking better and better everyday. Up walking around, and her color is coming back. I mean, man, it’s unbelievable.”

Weeks after the hospital discharge.

God did that. My faith was shook, but my dad’s was questionable. He witnessed a miracle happening before his very eyes.

Loving myself after becoming a burn survivor was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. If I could go back to March 2, 2010 and change what happened, would I?

Answer: Nope.

That experience blessed me with three things: Strengthened my faith, learned how to love beyond the physical, and a priceless relationship with my father.

Back to work. Months later…Glowing!

So, on the 6th anniversary (or BURNiversary) of a life changing event, I am encouraged to keep going. The hedge of protection is real, and God ain’t finished with me yet.

P.S. My hair grew back. 💁🏽

#SteeleThankful

Guess Who?! The #FaveArchivist strikes again!

Guess Who?! The #FaveArchivist strikes again!

One of my favorite board games as a child was “Guess Who?”  You know the one that you tried to guess your opponent’s character by asking questions, and you narrowed it down by process of elimination.  Don’t tell me I’m alone here? Well, I know it well because Granny would play with me, but she would CHEAT!  Good times!

In a sense “Guess Who” is similar to a mystery game.  We ask questions or find clues to solve a problem.  That’s probably why I became an Archivist.  Anyways, let me stay on task.  So, as you know (well I hope you know) for almost two months I’ve been going through my dad’s personal archives, and some of the photos I’ve been finding has me feeling like the board game.  Constantly asking my sister to “Guess Who?”  The plan to have all of his papers sorted by February 2016 is actually ahead of schedule.

As I stated before when it comes to going through a person’s belongings it is important to go through EVERY sheet of paper, pants  & jacket pockets, and address book!

**SideNote: I have something special coming up involving an address book tomorrow.  You don’t want to miss it!

I came across two envelopes with United States Army on the cover.  One of them had never been opened, but the other one had a large dark ring on it.  I was hoping that the contents on the inside of the damage envelope were okay.  I’m not sure what melted on the photo, but it was definitely an Archivist’s nightmare.  A damaged primary document, that happened to be a certificate and a photo.  I’m sure I could request another document but I don’t think I need to at the present moment.  I looked for a familiar face in the photo.

Guess Who?!

U.S. Army Photo
U.S. Army Photo (1970)

Hi Dad!  I’m pretty sure I make that same face when the sun is in my eyes, or when I’m not understanding something.

I shared this photo during my weekly Periscope show, “Let’s Talk About Grief” for #GriefTalkTuesday.  The show has been extremely therapeutic and it’s another way to unpack grief.  If you want to catch last night’s episode you can view it by clicking here. I’m excited to see the project grow, and new viewers every week on the show.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for my special announcement.

P.S.  I’ve been receiving rave reviews about the first book in the Adventures of Alleykats series.  Do you own it?  No!  What are you waiting on?  You can purchase it now.  If you own it, please be so kind to leave a review.  It truly means a lot, and I thank you for your continued support!

Archives 101: Miles is Maintenance – What my father taught me!

Archives 101: Miles is Maintenance – What my father taught me!

Yesterday I hopped on Periscope for #GriefTalkTuesday and talked about what happened on Christmas Day.

It was great to get on there to talk about my frustrations and laugh with new/old scope buddies! We had fun! You can view the original video on Periscope (@SteeleLens) or view the video (without the hearts and commentary 😔) below.


P.S. One of my fave scopers hopped on the scope to talk about my book. Way Cool!

Stitch by Stitch: Granny’s Quilts, Nostalgic Lessons & Love…

Stitch by Stitch: Granny’s Quilts, Nostalgic Lessons & Love…

My sister and I spent last weekend laughing and joking about the good ole days.  I would call her when I had a new discovery while looking through my dad’s “archives.”  The way my dad’s archives is set up, we were screaming and laughing the entire time.

One of the highlights of going through his stuff is the family history, until I came across this quilt (featured photo, bottom quilt).  There was a laundry basket that was full of my stuff that I left behind when I moved away from home in 2008.  I began to unpack the basket. There were many items that I could donate to a local shelter, until I got to the bottom.  Folded neatly was the quilt.  My sister had been looking for this quilt for almost 20 years.  It was in our possession the entire time.

I used to believe that the quilts made by my grandmothers had super powers.  Seriously, I mean there was no way to explain it otherwise.  When I was in high school, my sister was home visiting and received a phone call that her apartment building was on fire, and that it was a total loss.  I can remember where we were when she received the phone call; in the living room at home.  There’s just some things you never forget.  My parents and I went with my sister to see if there was anything that could be salvaged from the blaze.  We walked into her 3rd floor apartment and I must say it was a depressing site.  My sister would have to start over from scratch, and my heart truly ached for her.  It’s never easy starting over.  It was definitely a total loss, but there were a few items that were untouched: vacuum cleaner, Aunt Jemima cookie jar, and grandma’s quilt.  Can you believe that quilt was in mint condition? (See featured photo, top patch work quilt).  There’s something about those quilts made with love from our grandmothers.  I would know.   A small quilt also made by our grandma was wrapped around my waist when I had my grease fire at my place.  Those super powers must be prayers.

I’m enjoying going through my dad’s stuff, and continuing to unlock so many memories.  I would say that’s something to be #SteeleThankful for.

 

Archives 101: Rebellious Nerd 2.0

Archives 101: Rebellious Nerd 2.0

I’m continuing to unpack my grief,  and dedicated to sharing my findings on Periscope and my other social media outlets.

My first post on this site is the story of my emotional rollercoaster with education.  If you want to read the original post, click here.

Within the post I talked about my frustration and bitterness when it came to the decisions that were made after high school.  Briefly, I mentioned a story about my dad writing a check for what happened to be my final semester at that college.  Well, I stated before that I’ve been going through my dad’s papers for the past couple of weeks.  Even though he was quite organized, his papers would always produce a surprise.

I was looking through old bills and bank statements, just in case there was another family photo accidentally wrapped in the papers.  I didn’t find any pictures in the thick stack of bank statements, I found something else; a check.

Years ago, banks would return the check to the source after the check was cleared.  I honestly don’t remember this because I didn’t write many checks, but my sister remembered this practice.

I picked up the check, and glanced at the writing for at least 10 seconds.  Every space of that check was occupied, and immediately sent me back to the place where the check was written.  The check was written at the Accounting Clerk’s window, and I was standing on the left side of my dad.  The three sheets of paper that accompanied the check was my class schedule and bill for that semester (featured photo from Periscope). The same semester, I decided months later that I was NEVER returning to that school as a student.  The check represented a shift in my relationship with my dad, and my education.

Clearly my dad believed in me.  My dad believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.  Sadly, I still didn’t care that semester.  I was so unhappy, and I took his help for granted.  It happens in life sometimes, others around you are rooting for you before you begin to cheer for yourself.  I had to realize he did that to secure a better life for me, not for him.  The next semester I decided to go to a new school, and I didn’t ask him for the help to pay the bill.  I wanted to prove to myself and him that I could do it.  My goal was to move beyond the guilt and disappointment.  I’m not here to apologize for my past, life happens and hopefully we learn a thing or two from it.

You have to want better for yourself.  That’s exactly what I had to tell myself.  The only way to move out of your current situation is to work harder.  Finding the check reminds me that I need to work harder to get to the next level.  I would have never rediscovered my passion if it wasn’t for him writing this check.  Keep Pushing!

 

Archives 101: I…Hoard

Archives 101: I…Hoard

If you have been hanging around the site and my social media accounts for the last week I have been talking about unpacking my journey with grief.  No, it’s not Tuesday, but I spent my #GriefTalkTuesday talking with others about grief, and continuing to go through my dad’s stuff that was in storage.

Okay so I realized something.  Well, I honestly saw the pattern years ago but I finally owned it this week.  I hoard.  I hoard PAPERS!  I love words on paper, on a screen, but especially on paper.  Words strategically placed can tell a story, a very POWERFUL story.  You get those words together with dates, and you can build a timeline.  That’s exactly what I’ve been doing all week.  Piecing together a timeline to show my family’s history.

So, I get it honestly.  My dad kept EVERYTHING!  Organized for his easy access.  I think, anyways.  In one box there were childhood photos, old bills, the purchase agreement for his truck, instruction manuals, and land deeds.  I’ll explain the land deeds later, because it requires its own post!

I always knew that my grandfather was a visionary, but the more I unpack my dad’s “archives” I realize how much of a leader my grandfather truly was.  Your leadership skills are proven when you are absent, and your team is still great!

I found this gem (featured photo).  I knew that my dad always tried to plan ahead.  Well, he clearly got that from my grandparents, especially my grandfather.  If you’ve been rockin’ with me for a minute you would know how I feel about life insurance.  It’s important.  Scratch that, it’s VERY IMPORTANT.  This policy is proof that my grandfather was always thinking about the future.  Twenty cents a week to insure your child!  Imagine insuring over five at that time.  It was worth it, I’m sure!

Maybe I need to retire the word “hoard.”  I need to focus on what does my personal archives say about myself and my legacy.  What story will be told after I’m gone?  I understand that life is truly the hyphen punctuation (you know life is the dash) in every journey.  I decided a couple of years to focus more on the future, but taking it one day at a time.  As we are working towards closing out 2015, let’s plan to do more for ourselves, and our legacies.  Create, Protect, and Preserve!