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3 Things I learned about myself in the first week of May

3 Things I learned about myself in the first week of May

After the week I had no one can tell me that you don’t have time to work on your own business, work a 9-5, and have a social life as a millennial with no children.

I was very mindful of what I fed my mind this week.  Matter of fact this past week was one of the most productive weeks that I’ve had in a LONGGGGGGGG time.  It started with an email that I received from Monique Malcolm on Monday morning. I was introduced to Monique via social media, and invested in her Visionary Journal a year ago.  The subject line read, “Start journaling in as little as 5-minutes a day.”  The subject immediately caught my attention, but I became engaged in the content once she broke down what I needed to do every single day.

I found a reason to journal everyday since Monday, and then I began to pick up momentum.  That’s right, I began CRUSHING MY GOALS all because of one email on Monday that allowed myself to be held accountable for my daily actions.

So, here’s what I learned:

  1.  I have to journal at least five times a week (weekdays; morning and evening) with actionable tasks for the day.
  2. I must delegate tasks to others.  I am a one woman show but the quickest way to be burnt out is doing everything by myself.
  3. Be social.  This goes for my personal and professional life.  Step outside of your comfort zone to broadcast who you are from time to time.  Meet new people, and engage your audience.

I went LIVE on my personal Facebook page on Friday during a radio interview, and I had so much fun.  Why?  I have a larger audience on my personal Facebook page, and I don’t always show them the love that they deserve.

This week I’m going to continue to journal with my new pens, and dream in color (using my new pens).

Write the vision down.  I can never say that enough.  Make it plain!  Acknowledge those that continuously support you. They believe in you, and want you to be great.  I’m listening, and I’m still pushing for more great content in the future.

XOXO,

RJ

Day 2: Strength – #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 2: Strength – #SteeleThankful Challenge

World Burn Congress Phoenix Burn Society Providence, Rhode Island
World Burn Congress
Phoenix Burn Society
Providence, Rhode Island

This photo reminds me of the level of strength that I discovered just two weeks ago. 

I experienced 2 firsts. 1. Visiting Providence, Rhode Island. 2. My first World Burns Congress. 

Let me tell you. I ventured to this unknown place with anxiety. I was weak, vulnerable, and overwhelmed. 

Then I heard something in my spirit say there is strength in numbers. There I was surrounded by individuals that had similar stories such as myself, and were owning who they are. 

I had to own who I was. My scars will never define who I am, but instead displays the strength of a person that can conquer anything. And I do mean ANYTHING. 

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING ALONE; NOW PUT THAT ON REPEAT!

YOU CAN’T DO EVERYTHING ALONE; NOW PUT THAT ON REPEAT!

I used to think that I wasn’t worthy.  I’ve been burned.

No Literally.

On paper I would be classified as a burn survivor.  I spent last week feeling anxious and nervous because I had no idea what I was going to experience at the World Burn Congress in Providence, Rhode Island.  This was my first time at the annual event for the Phoenix Society for burn survivors.  It’s been six years since my accident, and I finally made it.

I was overwhelmed to say the least when I arrived in Providence.  A place I had never been and quite frankly never had the desire to visit.  Let me first say that even with my background in History I was not prepared for what Providence had in store for me.

Greeted by the City of Providence firefighters who were our gracious chauffeurs to and from the airport was definitely a great way to start and conclude the week.

Providence, Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island

It took me awhile to be able to think that I was even worthy to even be in the company of so many amazing people.  Now, take a look at the photo that I selected for this post.  Do you see anything?  Maybe my hand.  Do you notice my “birthmarks” (jazzy name for my skin graft)?

I can remember after my accident I want to wear nail polish again.  For years I had people tell me that my hands were beautiful, and I needed to be doing hand modeling of some sort.  I will say that I have always loved a good manicure.  I was painting my own nails for class photos at an early age.  After my accident I honestly didn’t feel as though I was worthy of even a manicure.  I had neglected the fact that God had blessed me with restoration.  Restored my face, hair, and my mind.  Here I am worried about a few scars that I had on my hand, arm, and leg.  I’m not worthy.  Again, I’m not worthy.

This week taught me of how selfish I have been during this journey of accepting my past hurt, and knowing that I am a burn survivor.  No matter the severity of my accident, I am still a person that went through the traumatic experience of being faced with extreme pain caused by a fire, and literally knowing what it felt like to harmed by flames.  I was in a room with people that shared the love and support of friends, family, and caregivers. I on the other hand was alone.  By choice.  I chose to not have any friends, family, or a support group around me because I felt as though I needed to experience this journey by myself.

Omni Hotel Providence, Rhode Island
Omni Hotel
Providence, Rhode Island

I WAS WRONG!

I needed them more than ever.  I needed my mom, sister, family, friends, and caregivers, around me in that moment that I realized that I am beyond grateful to be here.  It was overwhelming, and I would not have made it through that leg of the journey without them.  I am here to say.  I can’t do this journey by myself.  I’m tired of being super strong.  Super independent.  Superwoman.  This conference was my kryptonite.  Why would I think that I could do this by myself, if I couldn’t make it through that experience without them?  I still need them, and I need you!

When you think you can do it all by yourself you cannot.  When you think you are doing it all by yourself, you are not.  I know it sounds good to say,”I’m independent, I got this. No one has my back.”  You are WRONG!

When I tell you it was Jesus and I in Rhode Island last week, I mean that.  Yep.  When I had no one I had Him.  I wanted to check out mentally on Wednesday night because I felt that I had made the wrong choice.  Oh but I didn’t.  I met people like Barbara and Scott from Dallas, Texas on Saturday, who embraced me and loved on me.  Excited that I decided to even take this journey by myself.  The sessions and keynote speakers that inspired me to be an advocate for myself.  Accepting the challenge of sharing my story during one of the sessions of how I believe the purpose of my burns was to show my dad how miracles do really happen.  Having Faith is real, and how it will carry you a mighty long way.  When you think all is lost, the impossible happens.

I’m glad I was able to learn some things about myself while exploring Federal Hill, and the State Capitol.

Historic Federal Hill, Rhode Island
Historic Federal Hill,
Rhode Island

I learned that it’s okay to let people love on you while you’re still in the land of the living.  Accept that love, and take a piece of it and share it with someone else.  I’m always talking about paying it forward.  Well, it feels good when you do.

Saturday night I realized I was not alone.  There were individuals in the same room that experienced the journey of triumph after the storm.  The individuals that know what it means to make it through the fire.  Now, that’s something to rejoice about.

We See…What Can BE! ~ Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors

 

XOXO,

R.J.

“Are you mixed? You sound white.” Owning who YOU are.

“Are you mixed? You sound white.” Owning who YOU are.

So, what’s up with the title RJ?  Where am I going with this?

Over the weekend I was reminded that the culture of “colorism” still exist.

Colorism: prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

I was cruising around social media, and noticed a few things that were disturbing.  It’s 2016 and in an age of #blackgirlmagic we are still making comments about light skin vs. dark skin.  Then I noticed that it’s the parents that are teaching their children this stuff.  Information that the parents received as children is being transferred to their children.

At the end of the day the race box on any application does not say, “Are you a caramel, red bone, yellow, chocolate, or cocoa black person?”

I can remember being a little girl in the neighborhood, and I found nothing wrong with the way I spoke.  I noticed a difference in viewpoints once family members, or friends of the neighborhood kids would come around.  “Are you white?” As a six year old child I would look at others as if they were talking to someone else, because I was the same hue as the person asking the question.  “Is yo mama white? You sound white.”

Where did this thinking come from?

So, not only are we fighting with the struggles of colorism, but we are also struggling with the way a person speaks?   We can’t win.

After my injury that left me severely burned, my way of thinking changed drastically.  I was surrounded by individuals who were diverse, but apart of the same society.  An event that changed the course of our lives forever.  I encountered people that had to learn to love the new person that they were, including myself.  It was no longer about skin color, or speech.  It was about coping with a new way of life.  It’s definitely not easy.

#burnsurvivor #EssiePolish “Fear or desire”

At the end of the day it’s about a person’s inner beauty, and not outer.  Right?!

How can things change?  Well, it begins with you!  Is this way of thinking valid, or right?  We must be mindful of what we are teaching the future generation.  Within the blink of an eye a life altering event can happen, and then the color of your skin, or the way that a person speaks isn’t really that important anymore.

Xoxo,

R.J.

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

Day 30 – “Life” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 30 – “Life” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

The month of November truly flew on by.  Did you enjoy the challenge?  I sure did.  Being transparent is not easy, but I hope you learned more about the girl behind the lens and yourself.

I am the Queen amongst my friends when it comes to remembering  dates.  In my mind, dates are connected to life experiences.  Life is so valuable, so there’s some things about the journey you should never forget.

Birthdays, Anniversaries, Graduations, Weddings, Engagements, First Road Trip, Moving Day, are all blissful events but sometimes we focus on the dates that hurt us the most.  Why is that?

Life…We only get one!  How are we choosing to live this life?  I have a story.  You know I have a story.  Lol!

I looked in the mirror on March 2, 2010 after my accident, and thought God has given me another chance at life.  I’ve suffered 3rd degree burns to my hand, face, arm, and my hair is gone.  What am I going to do now?

My brother asked me on February 11, 2013, “What do I want to do with the rest of my life?”  I had spent all of my life to please my dad.  What was I going to do after he took his last breath?  My dad was ending his journey, but I still had a life to live.  What’s next?

On May 9, 2014, I looked in the crowd and saw two of my biggest cheerleaders waving and smiling during my graduate school commencement.  What will I do after today?

It wasn’t easy but I am here! On November 30, 2015, I’m looking fear in the face, and saying it’s ON.  I am able to drop my featured project a day early.  At a special introductory price on Cyber Monday, I present to you the first book in the Adventures of Alleykats series, “The Missing President!”

Your love and support through this journey has been amazing.  #SteeleThankful was my way of showing myself, and the world that you can be thankful for something outside of things.  You know the stuff without a price tag!  I can look at the featured photo, and think I could have been dead.  I was smiling weeks after being discharged from the hospital.  That picture is a reminder of why I am  “Steele Here!”

What are you #SteeleThankful for?