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The Season of Shift: Change is GOOD!

The Season of Shift: Change is GOOD!

One would say that all good things come to an end.

Don’t worry, I ain’t going nowhere. Lol.  I’m just observing some things that’s going on around me.  My boss deciding to resign, and the CEO of one of the largest corporations in the world stepped down in the same week, same city. Organizations impacted, and the only thing we can focus on is how will their departure affect us?

When I heard the news about both of them I instantly thought that their time had come to an end, and God is still in control.  Another chapter for them is another chapter for us as well, right?

The older I get the more I realize that change isn’t always good.  Then I thought, change is not good only if we choose to not embrace the shift.

There are two changes that we can expect every year:

  1. Birthdays
  2. Seasons

Do you find yourself upset or resisting the shift of the above events?

I didn’t think so.  When people decide to move on, we should look at the opportunity to embrace change within our lives too.

I was on the highway last week thinking about how the first six months of 2017 has flown by, and July begins on Saturday.  For the last 9 years there has always been a shift in my life during the month of July: beginning and ending a job, relocating, school, or completing the first book in my children’s book series.

Change is inevitable.

Let’s remember that it’s all good.  Seasons change, and a shift in our life is an opportunity to embrace something amazing on the horizon.

XOXO,

RJ

 

 

BYE 2016! Bumps, Bruises, Heartaches, and Lessons Learned! ;-)

BYE 2016! Bumps, Bruises, Heartaches, and Lessons Learned! ;-)

What have I learned in 2016?

You can’t do it all by yourself.  As much as we think we can, we can’t. We need a team or a tribe to hold us accountable and essentially help with bringing the bigger picture to life. 

I have items on my vision board that didn’t come to fruition this year, and you know what. That’s okay.  

Vision Board 2016 vs Dream Catching in 2017
Vision Board 2016 vs Dream Catching in 2017

Add on to them or change them.  New Goals, New Year!

I took some trips this year that allowed me to connect more with my purpose. I connected with family members that I never knew existed, and reconnected with some people during unlikely circumstances. 

I overexerted myself in some areas, and simply loss the grip on some in my personal and professional life. 

But. Hey. That’s life. 

I started a new career path, in order to give back to my community, and find peace within my current journey.

I learned that you can be unqualified for a powerful position and still secure the job. It takes guts, and you have to be willing to put yourself out there. You will have naysayers, or as the millennials say “haters” but you can’t worry about them. Do what’s best for you. 

I had to get back to me this year. I’m going to focus more on what works best for my sanity. People won’t always understand what you’re doing, but for those that trust you they will support.

2017 will be a huge year of branding for Steele Lens and what falls under the umbrella of the company. 

The first book in the Adventures of Alleykats series was released, and the support has been EVERYTHING.  Looking forward to releasing book 2 in 2017.

Alleykats Club 2016
Alleykats Club 2016

The Final 48 Project continues to prove to me that the documentary and photography campaign is necessary.  Honestly, take a look at your timeline.  A lot of your friends have suffered a significant loss this year.  We need love and support from each other more than ever.

The annual #SteeleThankful Challenge will be bigger and better and that’s thanks to you all. You trusted me, participated, and we all learned so much about ourselves.

I will continue to keep the faith, and believe that God has some amazing things in store in order to make this world a better place. 

Throwing Glitter and Lots of Love going into 2017!

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Xoxo,

RJ

Day 30: COMPLETION (Freestyle) #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 30: COMPLETION (Freestyle) #SteeleThankful Challenge

We MADE IT!!!

You all have inspired, encouraged, and pushed me to complete this challenge with you.  I didn’t give up because of your love!  You held me accountable to post for 30 days about what I am #SteeleThankful for.

So much happened this month.  I started a new career.  I moved out of the storage place, and settling in my new crib.  This whole month has been preparing me for this moment.

COMPLETION.

My first book is now a year old.  I released it on Cyber Monday last year and I haven’t looked back.  I completed an interview that will be published on a well known blog in February, and some amazing things such as this feature that I came across yesterday:

Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University
Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University

I was blown away.  That program has supported me in ways unimaginable.  I’m #SteeleThankful for my CDS at Duke family.

The main takeaway from this experience is that when you commit to something it’s important to follow through.  I was committed to bringing you content, and allowing you to think about what you’re truly thankful for.  I’m excited about completing this month of #SteeleThankful and preparing for the next chapter that begins tomorrow.  For the last time in November 2016, I will ask.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Steele Thankful 2016

Be prepared the challenge for next year will be EPIC!

Day 28: Motivation #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 28: Motivation #SteeleThankful Challenge

What motivates me?

Pictures like this! This is one of the first photos I received after the book was released.

When I hear parents, or more little readers ask, “when can I read the next book?”

“I want to be an Alleykat.”

“I want to write my own children’s book.”

ALL of the above motivates me.  My heart melts whenever I receive feedback about the book, or receive a review on the Amazon page.

My goal when I started writing the book was that children from all walks of life would fall in love with reading after reading just one of my books.  Children/Parents that didn’t enjoy reading before would now love the series.  That was my motivation.

This entire year has been inspiring, and motivated me to expand the brand in ways I would have never imagined.  This is only the beginning for the Adventures of Alleykats series, and I owe it all to you.

I’m #SteeleThankful for the motivation of my tribe, especially the Alleykats Club

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Steele Thankful 2016

Day 26: Passion #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 26: Passion #SteeleThankful Challenge

This year I had a 3rd grade class participate in a book review contest.

The students reviewed the first book in my series, Adventures of Alleykats – The Missing President.

I was able to read all the reviews submitted, and choose the top three.  The students were awarded with a goodie bag, that included an autographed book from yours truly.

I can say that was one of my highlights of 2016.  I will tell you if you want honest feedback ask a child.  They were able to tell me what they liked, and would improve for the next book.

I’ve always been passionate about the future of our young people, simply because I had some amazing teachers in my life growing up.  It’s never been about the money when I decided to start this series.  Don’t get me wrong I’m excited when I’m able to sell books, but to know that your passion for history is changing lives makes this whole journey worth it.

I’m #SteeleThankful for the passion to learn, and share my gift with others.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Steele Thankful 2016

Day 18: Dreams #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 18: Dreams #SteeleThankful Challenge

If you would have told me a year ago that I would be sitting in this library that birthed me; signing a copy of my first children’s book to go in their library for circulation amongst the library and the universities system. I would have probably looked over my glasses in true Librarian fashion, and chuckled.

From a graduate student in the Library Science program, to a published author.

Don’t you ever let someone tell you that your dreams are too big. If you are willing to work for them, they are attainable. Dreams may change, but the main thing is that you keep pursuing them.

I’m #SteeleThankful for dreams that have come true, and the ability to keep dreaming.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Adventures of Alleykats

Steele Thankful 2016

Day 3: Joy – #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 3: Joy – #SteeleThankful Challenge

Pure Joy
Pure Joy 

Joy.

When I look at this photo I can’t help but get misty eyed.

I attended a Montessori elementary school, so I had the same teacher for three years.  This lady was one of them.  When I was being bullied she protected me.  She welcomed me into her home as a little girl along with some of my closest friends in order to soak up more knowledge after school.

It’s been years since I ran into Mrs. Elwell.  I was a vendor at a natural hair event.  It was my first time showcasing my new book to the public.  Mrs. Elwell walked into the room, and this moment happened.  She had no idea that I had written, and published a children’s book.  She was overcome with joy that she began to cry.  Tears of joy.  We laughed, reminisced, and celebrated life in this moment.

I’m #SteeleThankful for the same joy that I experienced as the little girl learning in her safe space, and the joy of sharing this special moment with one of my favorite teachers.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

 

Ride the wave 🏄🏾, with a flashlight! 🔦

Ride the wave 🏄🏾, with a flashlight! 🔦

Last week was jam packed with goodies, so let me get straight to it!

Tuesday:

I attended my weekly “Discipleship Class” at One Church Empowerment Center in Grand Rapids, MI.  The four week class has enlightened and encouraged me through this journey of my life.  Learning to embrace abandoning MY PRIDE in order to do the work of the Kingdom.  I arrived home to complete the story for The Final 48 Project #GriefTalkTuesday photo campaign.  Be sure to check it out on Facebook and join the conversation.  AH-MAY-ZING testimony that you don’t want to miss.

Wednesday:

Answering Emails, and ironically I went to sleep feeling quite blah.  I was overwhelmed with the supplies I need to purchase, and truly holding on to faith.

Thursday Morning:

Early morning I began gathering my things for a freelance assignment that I was doing in the evening.  I received a text message from one of my friends.  I’m not sure if I was still sleep because I misunderstood what he was saying in the first two texts.  Until I checked my email.

North Carolina Central University, SLIS Alumni Newsletter
North Carolina Central University, SLIS Alumni Newsletter

My book was highlighted in our ALUMNI NEWSLETTER!!! **tootsie roll, running man, and mc hammer typewriter dances**

What an honor, and I honestly have to give all the glory to God.  Only He could turn my morning around, and produce that type of joy in my heart.  My new hashtag is the #ReviewsDontLie see for yourself on Amazon and our social media sites under @alleykatsbooks

Thursday Evening:

I was working with the Boys and Girls Club Teen Center in Benton Harbor, MI for their annual summer b-ball program.  It was their Night Court – Draft Day.  It was really cool to see so many young men in the community off the streets, and engaging in activities that encourages teamwork and discipline.  The special guest this year was NBA Star from the Denver Nuggets, Wilson Chandler.  Chandler is also a native of Benton Harbor, MI, and was in the area to give back and to remind us all that dreams really do come true.  You have to believe and keep working towards every goal that you have set for yourself.  We were able to take this photo,

Wilson and I
Wilson and I

along with a copy of my book for his children.  Welcome to the Alleykats Club!!! I told you everyone is apart of the Club.  Are you rocking with us, yet?  Grab your copy here!

I ended the week with friends and family, celebrating upcoming weddings, open houses, a BBQ, and Sunday morning church service.

The road may seem uncertain, and you may feel like you’re drowning at times.  I encourage you to jump on that surfboard, pull out your flashlight, and be sure to ride the WAVE!

From me to you, with love.

R.J.

 

 

 

Position and Timing: Determines the outcome!

Position and Timing: Determines the outcome!

I am on cloud nine this morning.  The weekend was a time for reflection, connecting with family/friends, and of course Resurrection Sunday.

On Thursday I received a phone call from the local radio station in my hometown that wanted to do a short segment with me.  Now, let me tell you how we arrived at this moment.

A childhood friend of mines reached out to me shortly after the book was published.  He wanted to connect me with the radio station to talk about the first book in the series.  Well, that day has come.  This morning I was featured on 98.3 The Coast with Denise & Jonny!  I had a blast, and looking forward to the next convo with them.  If you missed it you can catch the replay by clicking here.

I’ve been learning a lot about position and timing over the last year.  I told you about being laid off, and it being God’s timing.  It was clearly His timing because if I would’ve done it on my own the outcome would have been a lot different.  I’m sure you have heard being in the right place at the right time, similar to wrong place, wrong time but with a positive spin on it.

This is the first time in my life that I can say I have chosen to let God lead the way.  I changed my position and location in order to walk in the will of God, and it has not been easy.  I’ve resisted.  I wanted to throw my hands up plenty of times, and say I’m sure this isn’t the route God has for me.  Maybe, I should try this again in a couple of years.

Again, I had to focus on God’s timing, and not my own.  By changing my position/location and mindset to focus on God’s timing has provided a sense of peace, and prepared me for this moment today.  I’m sure there will be more lessons ahead that will have me feeling indifferent at times, but I find comfort that I’m not alone on this journey.

So, when you are feeling discouraged I challenge you to re-evaluate your prayers, position, and timing.  A little shift in how you do things can make a huge difference for the outcome.

Xoxo,

R.J.

Alleykats Headquarters

P.S. Almost forgot!  If you are on social media be sure to follow/like Adventures of Alleykats on Facebook by clicking here.  On Twitter and Instagram @Alleykatsbooks the cutest features and updates on all things Alleykats! The first book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble now! #TheMissingPresident

From Fist Pumpin to West Philly: Fresh Princess of Books!

From Fist Pumpin to West Philly: Fresh Princess of Books!

I think it’s safe to say after the last three weeks I am exhausted!  The pack/unpack cycle has concluded for at least a month, but I’m definitely grateful for the Historical Tours w/R.J. that were completed.

You know I love a good road trip.  Can you believe of my many road trips on the east coast I’ve NEVER been to Philadelphia?  I rode through Pennsylvania heading to Virginia but never visited any historical sites in the state.  Our nation’s first capital, and I finally made it!

It was chilling cold the first day in Philly so my friends and I decided to venture out on Sunday afternoon.  Our first stop was the Art Museum, and also the scene for the famous steps from the Rocky Movie.   You know we had to go to the top right?! Lol.  RockySteps2

The view from the top of the “Rocky Steps” was amazing.  We hung out at the top because it was the perfect photo op for anyone who conquered the stairs!

Rocky Stairs
Rocky Stairs (Philly Art Museum) – View from the Top

Of course this stop wouldn’t be complete without posing with the statue!

Rocky Pose

By the mid-afternoon we worked up quite an appetite marching around Philly, so we decided to go over to the Reading Terminal Market.  There was so much to choose from but how could we come to Philly without getting a cheesesteak.  Sure, my friends from the area told me to try Jim’s or Ishkabibble but Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagie and Cheesesteak was President Obama approved!  Since my former alias is Carmen Sandiego I was definitely down to try.  Placed my order, took my Ace of Spades card, and waited patiently for my order.

Yum.  Aces of Spade card for my order wearing one of my fave nail colors, Essie - Mint Candy Apple
Yum. Aces of Spade card for my order wearing one of my fave nail colors, Essie – Mint Candy Apple

No need to snap a picture of my food.  We were thoroughly satisfied.  I’ll check the other places out to compare the next time in Philly.

I saw a story on Facebook about one of the oldest African American bookstores in the country was located in West Philly, Hakim’s Bookstore and Gift Shop.  I was excited to stop by, drop off my book, and patronize the business.  We met the late owner’s daughter, Ms. Yvonne Blake.  Her father, Mr. Dawud Hakim began selling books from the trunk in his car in 1959 before settling in it’s current location on 52nd Street.  Can you imagine the history that has been exchanged in that space for the last 40 years.You can honestly get lost in there with the collection of books that is offered in the store.  It is truly an amazing treasure to have in West Philly, and I wish more bookstores like that one existed all over the country.  When you are in Philly be sure to stop by Hakim’s and it’s possible you may see a familiar book(s) in there very soon!

Hakim's Bookstore