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I’m Dope…Successful…Educated…FULL OF MELANIN…BUT TOO HUMBLE! HELP!

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?

WHY??????

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.

Earnest Guide for Decision Making. Yours truly is featured.

Oh yeah…The #SteeleThankful Challenge Countdown begins are you ready?

XOXO,

RJ

How do you face your FEARS after the age of 30?

How do you face your FEARS after the age of 30?

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!

XOXO,

RJ

 

When to say No to others, and YES to SELF…

When to say No to others, and YES to SELF…

“Reclaiming My Time!”

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).

 

Bestie (Heartbeat) D.B.

 

I closed out my Saturday night with a wine festival located in St. Joseph, Michigan.  It was just what the doctor ordered.

Tank: BAE (Best Author Ever) IG – @browngirlswhowrite

I’m making more time for the things and people that I truly love and care about.

Reclaiming my time.  Reclaiming my TIME!

xoxo,

RJ

#FaveArchivist

Manicure Color: #Flowerista by Essie Polish

 

DOUBLE BOOKED: But Giving Back Feels So Darn Good

DOUBLE BOOKED: But Giving Back Feels So Darn Good

Have you ever double booked?

Sure you have.  You’re so focused on pleasing everyone that you’re running around saying, “YES I CAN DO IT!”  Until the day arrives; you realized the times overlapped, and you’ve promised to be in two places at the same time.

I woke up Sunday morning thinking how am I going to pull this off? I’m scheduled to serve for the first time at church, andddddd volunteer for a local art fair.  Both venues were counting on me what shall I do? :-/

Was there a loophole?  Don’t know, didn’t look for one.  I had to woMAN up and attend both.  Even if that meant leaving one location early in order to make it to the next.  It didn’t hurt to ask right?  It was my fault, and I didn’t catch the mistake until two days prior.

How did I overbook?

  1.  I didn’t pay attention to the dates.
  2. I didn’t read the emails in their entirety.

All the time I preach about reading things thoroughly, and I FAILED AT THAT THIS WEEK.

So, what was the outcome?

I went to church prepared to serve at 8:45 am, explained that I had to be somewhere else by 11:30 am.  Meaning I needed to be relieved from my duties by 11 am.  The response, “that’s perfect, we can break everything down, we conclude serving at 11:01.”

Whew! **wipes brow**

All it took was a little communication to resolve my pressing issue.  I spent the rest of the afternoon on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan greeting patrons of the 56th Annual Krasl Art Fair.

I’ll tell you one thing though…

Ise Tide!

Six hours on your feet in the sun is no joke.  I didn’t think about my feet hurting until 30 minutes before the end of my shift.  I guess I was a having a lil bit of fun.

My lesson is to slow down, and read everything before committing.  Even though everything worked out perfectly, I may not run into a situation like this next time.  It always feels great to give back and not look for recognition for doing so, but take it from me be sure to check your calendar for times and dates before saying, YES!

How will you give back this summer?  Any ideas, or looking for ways to give back?  I can help! Respond to this email or on social media @SteeleLens and let’s get ready to PAY IT FORWARD!

Until next time! Stay Motivated.

XOXO,

RJ

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

 

 

What it meant to be Black and Creative in Miami, Florida

What it meant to be Black and Creative in Miami, Florida

The 21st annual American Black Film Festival was held last week in Miami, Florida, and I was immediately immersed in the culture of being a black creative during one of the largest festivals in the country.

It was a surreal experience because I was not a participant.

Opening Day 06/14/2017

Instead, I was working behind the scenes learning how the festival was operated, produced, and sponsored.  Assigned to the Sponsorship and Client Services team I was able to interact with you guessed it, SPONSORS and TALENT.  Executives for the world’s top companies, and media stations were in attendance, and I had to quickly process the flow of everything.  It was challenging, overwhelming, enlightening, and inspiring to be in an environment that was not the norm for me.

The first day of orientation I was in a room full of black creatives & Executive staff that have worked with the festival since inception, and those that were newbies (ME!).  As if the feeling of meeting the three people that I was going to live with for the week just two hours prior to orientation was not enough of a high.  I was now surrounded by others that were on a quest of learning more about the festival, and also on the journey of learning more about self.

The week provided me with the platform to speak to others with similar interest, and converse about my own projects.  There was one thing in particular that I know that I struggled with upon arriving to the festival: Promoting Self.

I had to find the avenue of articulating my ministries without sounding pushy, but simply having a conversation.  I had a case of being far too humble.  Eventually realizing that girl you need to SPEAK UP!  No one will know about your brilliance if you aren’t advocating for yourself.  It’s okay to promote for others, but you also have to spread the good news of your own GREATNESS!

So, I would say that one of the most important takeaways for me that I discovered during the Roland Martin session with John Singleton is to be able to clearly articulate your idea.  It’s not enough to have the idea, be black, and creative. Why is your idea different?  What are you doing that’s revolutionary?  How are you articulating your idea?  Are you active, and consistent?

“You should be presenting your short film at ABFF next year.”  ~ Nicholas

You are right Nicholas, I should, and I will.

I was able to meet Spike Lee, and didn’t completely FAN OUT! Lol.

To those that I met over the last week, thank you.

Thank you for your encouragement, and laughter I couldn’t have made it through the week without you.

Sponsorship and Client Services (5 of 12) <3

 

XOXO,

RJ

Rites of Passage: What I learned 15 years after my high school graduation…

Rites of Passage: What I learned 15 years after my high school graduation…

Early morning calls and late night text messages would sum up my last week.

It’s been fifteen years since I walked across the football field at Benton Harbor High School.  I was honored to witness the class of 2017 enter the ramp to participate in the graduation festivities.  Embarking upon an unforgettable experience.

It was a beautiful day, and the bleachers were packed with loved ones waiting to celebrate the annual event.  I stood on the bridge looking over greeting the seniors and some that I had the privilege of working with over the last six months.  They were entering the ramp for the last time as seniors, and would return to the ramp after commencement as alumni.  What a feeling, right?

I watched the students march down the ramp, and thought to myself they will never experience this moment again.  I hope they embrace everything that this moment has to offer.  For many of them they didn’t believe that this moment would ever come, or if they would live to see this day.  They will now make the decisions of pursuing a collegiate experience, military, or entering the workforce.

I had many takeaways, but I’ll list a few:

  1. Embrace every special moment.  Some times it takes years to prepare for one day.  A day that you will never forget.
  2. Take risks.  Pray about it first,  because sometimes the risk is worth the reward.
  3. Don’t apologize for your journey.  It’s yours, and no one else’s.

To my 2k17 babies and all the graduates of 2017, YOU GOT THIS! Greatness is ahead, go and get it!

XOXO,

RJ

Why do we Fear being SUCCESSFUL?

Why do we Fear being SUCCESSFUL?

It seems as though we only focus on the fear of failing.  The fear of venturing into the area of unknown, everything that comes along with it, but I don’t want to talk about failing today.

Focal point: Success

In order to be successful we have to take risks, right?  I’ll be the first to admit that a spirit of perfectionism can creep in and cause a lack of confidence when I’m in the editing process for work.  I’ve taken my fair share of risks from moving out of state for the first time with $100 for graduate school to relocating to a place for employment.  Not once did I think about the fear of being successful until last month.

We can celebrate everyone else’s wins but afraid of having our own.  Trust me, it’s a thing.  We can share, tag, like, and even put in a good word for others, but frightened by what would happen if that same blessing happened to us.

A mundane mindset will eventually occur because we were too scared of what comes with the level of success that will follow.

I had to think about the feeling I had completing my final paper for graduate school, or the final edit for the first book in the Adventures of Alleykats series was frustrating but I KNEW what was on the other side.  Completion.

Reach out to that person that you believe could honestly answer the question: Is the feeling of success overwhelming, and how did you handle the “level up” phase?

I challenge you to find new outlets for your road to success this week.  Stop complaining about your current situation if you aren’t willing to do anything to change the outcome of your future.

We got this! All faith, no fear.

XOXO,

RJ

 

Why are “Motivational Monday” posts important?

Why are “Motivational Monday” posts important?

I’m sure that we can agree that Monday is probably one of the toughest days of the week.  If you are person that works 9-5, (or 1-9, 11-7, 3-11, you still feel me) your Monday mood normally starts around 6:00 pm local time on a Sunday.

Well, I used to feel like that, and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

You find reasons to get out of bed. You know the reasons: rent/mortgage, lights, food, car note, and weekend trips to the mall.

This new journey has challenged me in so many ways.  Every day I find myself asking the question, “what motivates you, RJ?”

@Steelelens

This question is especially important on a Monday morning.  When you don’t feel like getting up, and you need a few words of encouragement.  I’m awake at 5 am every morning reading over my post before they are blasted in the atmosphere for you to receive it before the sun goes down.

I’m not doing these post for me.  I’m doing them for you.  I have learned that someone can learn from your mistakes, and celebrate your triumph.  It’s okay to admit when you’re wrong, and stand up when you’re right.

Your strength is your own knowledge.

I celebrated a birthday on Wednesday, and I know that God has me in this position to be a light for others.  I struggle with promoting myself.   I struggle with budgeting at times.  I struggle with letting go of hurt.  I’m human.

Within the last two weeks I decided to let those three things motivate me.  I’ve been present (daily) on all of my social media platforms, the Alleykats book has been added to the inventory of two more book stores, and I’m at peace with not allowing some people back into my life.

If I want this journey to go to the next level I have to be proactive in my purpose while enjoying my passion.  Some days it’s not easy to find that motivation.  If you need some motivation in the morning, remember that you are breathing and in your right mind.  No one can do you better than YOU!

What’s motivating you in this season?

XOXO,

R.J.

The girl behind the lens and the #FaveArchivist <3
The Negros Can Now Vote in Virginia: The Power and Freedom of Voting

The Negros Can Now Vote in Virginia: The Power and Freedom of Voting

I am still attempting to wrap my mind around the #SuperTuesday results that’s occurred in 2016.  The country is divided, and I’m baffled that people are not exercising their right to vote.

I know it’s a choice for you to vote. I guess because I know my history I look at my right to vote as a privilege to do so.  The right to vote was not always accessible to my community, and the road was quite tumultuous getting there.  So, I’m sorry when you tell me that you decided not to vote I’m quickly throwing you the infamous **side eye.**

I’ve probably told you the story before about my grandfather, and how important it was that everyone connected to him exercised their voting rights.

I can remember being a little girl and my grandfather providing each grandchild that turned 18 with the paperwork so they could register to vote. My grandfather was very active in politics and a strong advocate for equal rights.

I would like to dedicate this post to those that strongly believe in exercising that right, and respect the legacy of those individuals that died for our right to vote.

Below you will find photos of the 7 page document of “Colored Negro Men” of Midlothian, Virginia and their Voter Registration Signatures in 1870.

Even though decades later there would be many obstacles to overcome in order for all of us to vote in this country.  I wanted to provide a snapshot of how it began for the Negro Men in Virginia shortly after emancipation.

Please be advised that the voting rights were for men of color, not women.  Women’s right to vote was not until 1920.  That’s right, fifty years after these signed documents were submitted in 1870.

That’s another lesson, for another day!

Negro Voter 1870 Negro Voter VA 1870