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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 27: Purpose #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 27: Purpose #SteeleThankful Challenge

Current Time: 3:57 AM EST

Your purpose keeps you awake at night.

Your purpose requires sacrifice.

Your purpose is not about money.

Your purpose is larger than you.

Your purpose is your gift to the world.

The Final 48 Project documentary and photography campaign has completely changed my life.  I documented the most stories this year.  The support and willingness to share the stories of African Americans dealing with grief is something I never saw myself doing.  It has absolutely changed my life, and the life of those around me.

The documentary has evolved in a way that continues to bring awareness to the dynamic of the black family, and its affect on the world as a whole.

My purpose.  Lord knows I’ve tried to run from it.  I can write, publish, and even travel my life away, but I know that this project is apart of the bigger purpose for my life.

I’m #SteeleThankful for the sweet voice of my purpose in the midnight hour reminding me to keep going.  The world is waiting on my gift!

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Steele Thankful 2016

Dear Foolish Pride…

Dear Foolish Pride…

Pride. Yes I have a lot of that. The first step is admitting it right?

I had a few friends over the last week tell me that I was stubborn, and living with pride. It took me having a conversation with my mom in the kitchen one evening to realize that all of this was true.

I absolutely hate asking for help. Why? Rejection could be right around the corner, and sometimes I think I am SUPERWOMAN. I mean it’s okay to feel as though you have the super powers all the time, but hey it’s also okay to admit when you don’t.

And this past week, I was fresh out.

I mean it was the end of the month. About to start the 4th quarter of 2016, and I was losing steam.

I had that feeling of no way of coming back from the last week that I had experienced.

And then that night, I turned some music on, danced and sang in the mirror until I got sleepy.

I woke up on September 1st with a new outlook on life. I made a few phone calls, and then BOOM. Doors began to happen.

All I had to do was ask. It was possible that rejection could have been on the end of that call, but it wasn’t. I had to believe that everything was going to work out and it did. I had to have a Plan A and be prepared to turn a Plan B into plan A if I needed to. Did you understand the last line? If not, read it again.

The plan that I’m always referencing can not work if I’m not willing to work the plan, and ask for what I want.

Here’s a great example:

I was struggling with the whole raising money for my documentary project. I was thinking well you know maybe crowd funding will work. I didn’t reach my goal, and I began to feel bummed. Then it hit me. I have to be transparent, and then ask. Oh that’s how this thing works.

So, I added a “Donate” button to the website for the project, and I received my first donation on Friday! It was such a surprise and a blessing. The message that the donor left me was so inspiring. It was just the pick me up that I needed.

It’s important to ask for what you want. I’m working on my pride, and I know it’s a one-day at a time process.

I hope you’re encouraged on this Labor Day. See ya in the same place next week!

To check out the current documentary project please click here.  If you would like to donate please do, and thennnnnnn you’ll hear from me!

Thanks again for all of your love and support.

Xoxo,

R.J.

Be Prepared for immediate CHANGES! 😱

Be Prepared for immediate CHANGES! 😱

Imagine this…

Headed to the airport shuttle stop on a sunny evening. Your waiting at a red light, and someone slams into the back of your car. You’re in shock, disbelief, and realize the person behind you is clearly inebriated. All of this happens in front of the plaza by the shuttle stop. Thank God there was no serious damage, but I made sure I got that license plate because buddy kept rolling. ✌🏾️🚗💨💨

So, now I’m waiting on the shuttle for the airport. 20 mins, 40 mins, an hour rolls by and after calling numerous times for an update on this late shuttle I realized even if the shuttle arrived by the last time I called for an update I would miss my flight.  So, what do you do?

Well, my concern was having my mom drive back in the dark so late from the airport. That’s a two hour drive by herself that we didn’t prepare for. There were two other strangers waiting for that shuttle but going in two different directions. There was 1 person that was going to the same airport as myself. I decided to ask her if she wanted to ride. She agreed, and we were riding into the sunset. I’ve never been the person to pick up a stranger, but she was no stranger. We were two ladies in distress trying to make our flights. We laughed and exchanged contact information to stay in touch after all this. We parted ways at the terminal, but took this photo before with my book that is now hers for life!


I arrived to North Carolina around 12:30 am on Thursday, and laid down.

Later on that afternoon I wanted to prepare for the interview that I had coming up for the Project. Meanwhile I received an email stating that the class that I was in town for was cancelled. 😳

The class didn’t reach it’s minimum enrollment requirement so as of Thursday it was cancelled. I was bummed for about 30 minutes, but then I thought maybe this is apart of the plan. What’s my next step?

I began reaching out to people to see if they wanted to participate in the project, and I could do as many interviews as I could over the weekend. I received a few yes, and a couple let me think about it. So, all was not lost. Sometimes you have to be prepared for the unexpected, right?!

I laughed, cried, stayed up late with old friends and it felt good to be away. I even gained some new friends too. I had a mentor tell me a long time ago that you have to stay ready in this entrepreneur world. Things change constantly and you have to be prepared. This weekend was a valuable lesson on how to turn lemons 🍋into tasty lemonade. 😋

Xoxo,

R.J.

Surrounded by Dream Chasers: Trust the process…

Surrounded by Dream Chasers: Trust the process…

I almost said, No.  I almost missed the opportunity.  I almost decided to play it safe.  I almost missed the chance to leap.  Oh, but my faith wouldn’t let me do it.

When I heard one of my childhood friends was hosting the annual event for the International Natural Hair Meet-up Day in my hometown I couldn’t wait until tickets went on sale.

I wrestled with the idea of being a vendor before purchasing my ticket, but didn’t think I was ready.  I waited until it was too late to inquire about the opportunity, and missed out.  So, I thought.

I was contacted a couple of weeks later about being a vendor for the event.  Was I ready?  I was scheduled for a separate event at the local library for authors and illustrators.  The library event was in the morning, and her event was in the evening.  I could do both, right? Again, I asked myself.  Was I ready?

Next thing I know, I said, “Girl lemme do it.”

**Exhale**

Vista Print was having a sale, and I thought oh my goodness this is PERFECT!  I can get a banner made, and look into getting a personalized t-shirt.

Promo Alleykats T-Shirt
Promo Alleykats T-Shirt

Alleykats Banner

Highlights from Saturday:

Library Professionals unite, and a cool member of the Alleykat Club!

Benton Harbor Public Library - Local Authors & Illustrators Reception
Benton Harbor Public Library – Local Authors & Illustrators Reception

I was able to connect with one of my favorite elementary teachers, Mrs. Elwell at the event Saturday evening.  She was so moved that I had written a book, she began crying.  We shared the emotional moment together, and parted with this picture.

Mrs. Elwell and I - INHMD

 

What if I would have said, No, I don’t think I’m ready to be a vendor.  This was my first event being a vendor, and connecting with so many cool people was truly a priceless experience.  I’m so proud of my childhood friend Dashuna, and the success of her event along with her Serenity’s Hair LLC staff/volunteers.

I’m #SteeleThankful for my strong support system.  My mom and sister do whatever they can to make sure that my dreams come true.  They are definitely my cheerleaders.

I scheduled an interview between both events on Saturday for the Final 48 Project. I was sitting in the car playing around with SnapChat reflecting on my morning, and preparing for my interview.  My morning went to a whole new level after a phone call from my mom.  Here’s a snippet of the video I recorded.

Squad Goals - R.J., My Sister, and My Mom
Squad Goals – R.J., My Sister, and My Mom

 

Amazing weekend! Thank God for the lesson and testimony.  Trust the process, keep the faith, and JUMP! It’s worth it.

Don’t forget to grab your copy of the hit book, Adventures of Alleykats – The Missing President!

Xoxo,

R.J.

Life is the Dash…

Life is the Dash…

“Here today, gone tomorrow…”

I remember hearing that a lot growing up.  Now, I’m looking around and realizing, gosh my elders were right.

Last week was quite an emotional week.  I talked about “Blue Monday,” got through Monday, went to the gym on Tuesday morning, hopped online as usual and began reading a story about a possible homicide-suicide that occurred in the next town over from my hometown.  When I initially read the story the names had not been released.  Later on in the afternoon I received a text from a friend, and I politely told him, “Yeah, I read the story, but no names, yet.”  I guess he thought R.J. CLICK THE LINK.  Well, I didn’t click the link, so he decided to do a screenshot (screen grab, whatever) to show me that the names had been released.  It was someone I knew.  In fact, I spoke with this person about a month ago, and some of you were able to witness it.

It was Denise.

98.3 The Coast

I sat in silence for 30 minutes after reading her name in that text message.  She was tragically killed by her husband, and leaves behind three young children.  Even though we never met in person, she had a huge impact on my life.  It’s amazing the effect that people can have on you in such a short amount of time.  During our interview last month on the air I promised I would include her and Jonny as characters in an upcoming book in the series.  I promise not to disappoint.

I did say that it was an emotional week right?

I wanted the passing of Prince to be a hoax.  I remember waking up Friday morning thinking it was still a dream.  Can we agree that Prince was amazing?  He was musical genius, but what really stands out to me is that Prince was an UNAPOLOGETIC BLACK MAN.  He didn’t mind telling you what he thought, and never apologized for it.  He worked tirelessly behind the scenes for the rights of his people.  He was a cheerful giver of his time, knowledge, and resources.

You never know what someone is dealing with, or how much time they have on this earth.  Life is the dash.  We are gifted this life on this earth, and we must determine how we choose to live it.  The outpour of love for both Denise and Prince last week was mind blowing.  There was no need to question how much they were loved.

My takeaway from last week was that we all need to start giving people their flowers while they are living.  I can only hope that they were shown the love that was displayed last week while they were living in the dash.

I decided to go over my grammy’s house on Saturday morning since I was in town filming for The Final 48 Project.  I spent two hours with her, and it was honestly one of the best visits we’ve EVER had.  She told me that what I was doing with the “Final 48 Project” is what God birthed in me, and I have to keep pressing forward.

I went over there to check on her, and received a mighty Word.  That visit with her is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

What are you doing with the dash?  It’s Monday.  Another opportunity to push towards the purpose that God has birthed in you.

“We are gathered here today.  To get through this thing called, life.”  ~ Prince

Xoxo,

R.J.

My labor of love, “Final 48 Project.” The will to keep going!

My labor of love, “Final 48 Project.” The will to keep going!

I know this post is supposed to be about still floating on a cloud because of Valentine’s Day but quite frankly it’s nothing like that.
My Valentine’s Day will never be the same, and this year I declared that I’m okay with that. I knew when my dad passed away the day before V-Day 3 years ago that my life would be completely different this time of the year.
I’m not bitter or against the holiday. I choose to display or talk about love in a different way. I use this holiday to restructure my life’s goals, because that’s something that started three years ago. I should probably keep the tradition going, right? Instead of being depressed due to the reminder of my father being absent I had to think of another way to honor him.
This year I decided that I would own that my life has officially changed, and I’m unapologetic because it’s my life! The relaunch of my labor of love is under way and I’m excited to share it with you. I know that this project would not be possible without knowing my story, and my connection to this amazing grief platform. When you get a chance be sure to follow/like @Final48Project on all social media to follow the journey. Hopefully it will impact your life and give you an extra boost to keep going! I appreciate your love and support. Stay tuned…

Grief: It’s a hard topic, but let’s talk about it!

Grief: It’s a hard topic, but let’s talk about it!

I’m preparing for a busy week working on the Final 48 project documentary with my fellow classmates from the Doc Studies program at Duke University.  I plan to keep you updated on all social media sites.  So, be sure to follow/like @Steelelens on Periscope, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Every Tuesday on Periscope, I host “Let’s Talk About Grief!” #GriefTalkTuesday 

One of the most popular questions I receive is, “why did you decide to talk about grief; how did it start?”

Well, similar to many of you that will read this I resisted the idea of talking about my journey with grief. I thought this is my road and I must venture alone. No one wants to hear me complain, or listen to my sob story about how I wish things were different. That feeling of what could I have done to save my dad. 

I had to come to the realization there was nothing I could do. The forty-eight hours before he passed was a rollercoaster of emotions. The person that I admired my entire life as a pillar of strength was physically weak, and there was nothing I could do besides love on him. Then it hit me. Maybe that’s all I was supposed to do. Love him into his transition. 

I grieved internally. The grief that I experienced began to spill to my external appearance. My hair fell out, and I gained a lot of weight. The heaviest I had ever been. I was depressed and finally determined the only way I was going to bounce back was to keep the promises that I made to my dad a couple of hours before he passed away. 

My strength encouraged others. The times that I felt the weakest I had people around me that were inspired. I felt broken but I “appeared” to be so strong to my peers. Who knew that my story would encourage or inspire others. 

If my story had an impact on others just think what would happen if I had others that wanted to share their journeys with grief. I became mind blown at the possible outcome. 

I began with my IPad, a few questions, and went to work! As of today I have over 25 hours of footage for the project, and I still feel like it’s only the beginning.  My purpose is to not only provide a comfortable platform to talk about grief, but to inspire and encourage others that the journey is far from over. Keep going!