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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.


STAY READY: A weekend mindset shift…

STAY READY: A weekend mindset shift…

On Friday I decided that I was going to spend my Saturday organizing.  That was the message last week, right?  I was attempting to get my life in order.  My closet, finances, and my dad’s archives was on the list.  Any items that I could not use would go out with the trash on Monday, or donated to a local shelter.  That was the plan.

Saturday morning I woke up at four.  Yes, 4:00 AM!  Instead of sleeping in; I was awake.  I jumped on my social media sites, and went to work.  I began networking with some brands, and landed on a 12 days of Christmas list.  That would’ve not happened if I wasn’t awake, and ready for action.  After launching the first book in my children’s book series, I’ve been looking for ways to get my book in the hands of every child this season.  (If you haven’t purchased it yet, you can purchase the book here.)  After that happened I was off and running from there.  I had friends tagging me in post on Facebook for  other networking opportunities.   All I could think was this is what I prayed for, keep going!

Sunday morning, I was at church and the message was about staying ready.  Ohhhhhhh!  I clearly needed to hear that message.  I could not waste anymore time getting ready, I had to switch to “STAY READY!”    There was something I wasn’t doing to keep myself from going to the next level.  I was in the corner getting ready.  As my dad would say, that was the “WRONG ANSWER.”  How will I be able to change the world if I am in the corner getting ready?  If the wealth is already within me, does that mean I AM THE ONE keeping myself from greatness?  Well, the answer is Yes!  This is the time to step it up a notch, and continuously stay on task to be ready at all times.

When opportunity knocks will you be ready?

Day 26 – “Foundation” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 26 – “Foundation” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

No Days Off! Dad didn’t believe in turning down overtime, and Mom never calls out sick. I guess it’s the “baby boomers” work ethic that’s in them. 

I would say that my foundation was solid.  It was displayed that hard work produces results. As I stated before my dad never denied overtime, and even after he retired at the ripe age of 49 he still kept busy. 

After my dad retired he owned rental properties, and wrote out a to-do list every evening for his activities the next day. He would write them down in a memo book, and place it in his shirt pocket. I told my mom to look through the purple one that my sister had and landed on this page. He would always say, “oh you’re bored, there’s always something to do.” He ALWAYS had something to do. 

My parents laid the foundation for hardwork. I’m #SteeleThankful for my parents work ethic. They sacrificed early on to secure a solid future for us. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Day 21 – “Seasons” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 21 – “Seasons” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

First day of snow fall in Michigan!  No matter what state I’m residing in, I can always be reminded of the pleasures of home.

Seasons change and that’s truly something to be in awe about.  People can be like seasons too.  You know about the whole, “People come into your life for a reason, season or lesson.”  Did I get that quote right?  It’s been remixed so many times. Lol.  People can honestly come into your life and impart all three.

You know what I love most about seasons is that things have an opportunity to grow, but you must be careful because they can also be dormant, and die.  The great thing is that they can sometimes grow again!  I was reminded of a Facebook memory today.  I became friends with someone three years ago, and we instantly became like sisters.  I had no idea at the time why I was residing in Houston, and just coasting along until I could get things resolved with my graduate program in North Carolina.  Kendra had come into my life at the perfect time.  Her purpose was to help me cope with the loss of a father.  The best advice she has ever given me was, “it’s okay to be selfish.”

Watch how this cycle happened in one year though.  I was dissolving a relationship that was dormant (Summer), I met Kendra and a friendship/sisterhood was planted (Autumn), The passing of my father (Winter), and then I resolved my school issue (Spring).  My mind is blown just thinking about it. She was the missing piece, and because of her I formed “Next Generation Besties!”

These ladies (Karen, Shanita, and Kendra) came into my life as an adult and we share unbelievable, heartbreaking, and hilarious moments together. They entered my life four years apart! The three ladies have never met in person but we giggle, cry, throw shade, and celebrate our WINS like we’ve all been friends for years. It goes down in our group chat!

Are you paying attention to the signs?  The signs that seasons are changing.  It’s okay to really let some things go, or let some things just naturally bloom.  I have met some amazing people in my journey but nothing compares to my friendships that have bloomed in the right season.  There’s a lesson in the seasons of growth, the moments to be dormant, harvest, and departure (permanent or temporary).  There truly is a reason, season, and lesson for everything.  I have learned to embrace them all.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Day 20 – “Forgiveness” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 20 – “Forgiveness” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

I will admit. I attempted to type this post over five times. I kept thinking okay how do I want to tackle this one.

Do you know about the what ifs? You know the what ifs?
On this episode of the “what ifs” I’m not talking about what if I would’ve done more. It’s about what if I decided to forgive myself for my past. Think about it. What if in this present moment you just chose to forgive.

I reflect on one moment in particular. I was so upset with one person that I disappeared. I left the state! I went back to a place I called home. The best six weeks of my life. I mended a friendship and spent some unforgettable moments with family and friends. How could I be mad? I chose to forgive him. I didn’t know the purpose then but I definitely know it now and I’m grateful. Whew chile, so thankful. I had to realize when something isn’t for you, It’s not for you. That goes for a relationship and a job.

What about that grudge you’ve been holding on to since high school. Yes, high school. I know people that are still holding on to grudges from years ago. Let…It…Go! Do you realize the power in forgiveness? I do now.

God wants us to forgive. Just think about the ounce of power we would possess if we just forgive. Try it. I’ll go first.

Today, I choose to forgive myself for my past. I realize I can not go back and change previous events. I can only choose to learn from them and move on. Those choices have shaped my character, and made me stronger.

Oh and I must say forgiveness looks good on me too. **smirks**

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Day 19 – “Siblings” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 19 – “Siblings” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Who’s the baby of their family? Anyone the baby out there? You know the baby gets away with everything. So, they say. Well, I would say that we had some friendly competition growing up. Oh no, not with sports. More like academics. Grades were important, dad didn’t play about those grades. He would come to your classroom and embarrass you, NO LIE! I’m a witness.

It’s throwback Thursday right? That’s me in the middle, my sister on the right and my brother is on the left. I’m the baby or “kid” sister and they will never let you or me forget it. Let me tell you about these two. They are the reason I even graduated. No, seriously. I mean my parents were examples of hard working, tax paying citizens. Oh but these two. I had to grind to keep up.
My brother received a bachelor’s degree in less than 4 years. I said umm yeah I’m not doing that. My sister wanted to get a master’s degree. I said how about I just celebrate your moment, and I did. Then my brother got his Juris Doctor degree. I said oh they showing out.

So, I was in limbo about finishing my masters degree and my brother asks, “what do you want to do with your life?” At that point I wanted to survive. I’m glad I had that question to reflect on cause I was lost, honestly I felt defeated. That question honestly helped me pursue my dreams. I realized I wanted to be happy, and doing what others wanted me to do wasn’t going to cut it. My sister has been my biggest cheerleader during this journey. I appreciate her more than she knows. She gave me the final push to go back to North Carolina and finish my degree.

You know what’s really amazing though, we all had our own paths and no one can take that from us. Not once do I remember either of them complaining about it. Not once. They just knew it had to be done. That inspired me, honestly it still does. I’m #SteeleThankful for their model leadership in my life. They inspired me to not apologize for taking a different path in life, because that path has lead to my purpose and passion. Being the baby/kid sister of these two isn’t so bad after all.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Day 16 – “Love” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 16 – “Love” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

When you look at your calendar and notice that you are on Day 16,  and decided that the topic would be “Love.”  **Begins singing Love by Musiq Soulchild**  Am I ready to talk about the four letter word?

I’ve experienced love before, a time or two.  I even thought I was close to marriage, and then I realized it wasn’t love.  Someone once told me that you can be in love with the thought of a person, and not the person.  That statement changed the way I looked at love.  I opened up about how I witnessed true love as an adult in one of my first interviews.  You can listen to that podcast here.

My iPod is full of 90s R&B music.  I believe in love, not just for myself, but for those around me.  This year, I was able to be apart of two weddings, in May and September.  Being able to see the two relationships blossom was something that I needed to witness to reassure me that love was still possible.

I learned a long time ago that you can tell whomever you want, whatever you want especially when it comes to love.  The real test comes when you apply action.  My father was never really big on uttering the four letter word.  One of his strongest attributes was being a provider.  Sometimes I felt as if he believed what’s understood doesn’t need to be explained.

I can remember standing at the bus stop in college, and I was on the phone with my dad.  He was never big on having long phone conversations.  He said what he had to say and concluded the call.  This particular day I had to hit the pause button. I had to stop him and tell him that as his daughter I needed to hear that he loved me more.  I needed to hear it from my father even though I NEVER felt as though he didn’t love me, I just wanted to hear it.  I recognized in that moment that I needed to speak up about how I wanted to be treated, and it had to start with my father.

Can I be honest with you?  It was hard for me to say I love you first, to anyone.  Rejection was probably the reason.  What if this person that I said it to, didn’t say it back?  Reality set in and I realized it was hurting me more by not letting others know that I love them, and to stop looking for someone to always return the favor.

I’ll admit I’m a hopeless romantic at times.  That Love Jones, BrownSugar, Love & Basketball kind of love story that melts your heart and reminds you about the various avenues of love. I’m #SteeleThankful for true love and the heartbreak lessons I’ve experienced along the way.  Those moments have allowed me to receive the power of the four letter word…Love.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

(L-R) Dad, Pastor McAfee, Mom 3/6/1976
(L-R) Dad, Pastor McAfee, Mom
Wedding Photo
Day 15 – “Stability” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 15 – “Stability” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

:the strength to stand or endure

I know.  I know.  What does the girl that jokes about being Carmen Sandiego know about being stable?  I honestly know about both sides.  I know what it feels like to move every year, and what it feels like to live in the same house from birth to the age of eighteen.  A place to call home.

Providing a stable household was very important to my parents.  My mom still lives in the house that she raised her children in, and I would say is pretty comfortable there.

At this point in my life I’m striving for stability.  For the past seven years I have moved at least once a year.  A different city or state, I was packing up my apartment and relocating.  Well, I’m tired.  I was moving in the name of love, education, and safety.  A part of me was running from something.  If I was moving, no one could track me, or the rent would increase to a ridiculous amount that I made the decision to vacate.  That was just a few reasons.

This last move was stressful.  I spent so much money and decided that I was over it.  The next move I wanted to plant roots and grow.  Provide a space of stability for myself, and my business.  Stability for me at this point is a different level of happiness.  I want to take my time, and know that the next move will be my BEST MOVE!  I want to provide the same stability for myself that my parents provided for me.

I’m thankful for my nomad experiences because they taught me about adventure and what makes me happy.  Those experiences have led me to a place of yearning for stability, and I’m #SteeleThankful for that.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Day 14 – “Conspiracy” #SteeleThankful (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 14 – “Conspiracy” #SteeleThankful (30 Days of Thanks)

Caution: this post is not about aliens, religion, or unicorns.

I promise.

Once upon a time I popped up some place. Okay it happens often. That’s why my friends refer to me as Carmen Sandiego. Okay, let me try this again.

Once upon a time, I received a phone call that my dad was in the hospital. I was living over 13 hours from home and it bothered me that I couldn’t be there. My father was in the hospital the previous year but I had just returned to work after my accident so I wasn’t able to go home. Well, this time it was around his birthday and I said guess what I don’t care what my family says I’m going home.

I called two of my closest friends and told them my plans. One of them agreed that she would pick me up from the shuttle stop and take me directly to the hospital. Well, I missed my flight. The first time that’s ever happened! My direct flight had turned into a long layover. I was crushed. I just wanted to get home. Oh, you’re wondering where “conspiracy” comes in. The definition of conspiracy is to form a secret plan that’s typically to the detriment of someone. This wasn’t the case. It was a secret plan alright!

My other friend picked me up from the shuttle stop and drove me right on to the hospital. It was getting late and I wasn’t sure if they still had the rules of visiting hours so I was speed walking to the security desk. Received my dad’s room assignment and we were off (we referring to my luggage).

I got to my dad’s room. His door was cracked but I could hear him on the phone. I gently knocked and then opened the door. It was as if he had saw a ghost. Well, that’s actually what he said. He told the person on the other end, “man I gotta let you go my daughter just surprised me from North Carolina.” My dad instructed me to come over and give him some “sugar.” Anyone that knows my dad knows that was out of character for him. So, I knew that my “secret plan” had worked. My mom was overjoyed, and my siblings couldn’t believe I pulled it off.

My friends and I helped conspire a surprise visit for my dad. I will be forever grateful for that precious moment that I will never forget.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Joking around with my sister early in the morning while in my dad's hospital room.
In my dad’s hospital room, joking around with my sister.
Day 13 – “Determination” #SteeleThankful (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 13 – “Determination” #SteeleThankful (30 Days of Thanks)

I am determined! I am determined! I-AM-DETERMINED

I remember chanting this on a couple of occasions especially over the last five years.  Let me tell you I was determined to do a lot of things.  Now, this can go both ways you know.  I was determined to graduate, and I was determined to NOT let anyone stop me from doing so.  See, what I did there?  I told you about what it took to graduate with my professional degree.  Oh, you want details.  I got you!

I was given a 2nd chance to finish.  If I haven’t told you how I had to fight my way back into my graduate program that’s another post, for another day chile.  This one is about my last year of school, well really last semester.  Here, I was my last semester, registering for classes, and missing one requirement.  I remember calling one of my friends and asking, “girl did you take a foreign language in college?”  She was an Engineering major and it wasn’t a requirement for them.

I was working in the library, teleconference production studio, a practicum, and two other classes.  YOU TELLING ME I HAVE TO THROW SOMETHING ELSE IN THE MIX?  So, I said I MUST graduate, I’m willing to do whatever.  I registered for a German class at the local community college, and a Spanish class on campus.  I was more pissed about not being able to take an American Sign Language class.  I said I was determined right?  Even if it was CRAZY.  I’m gone tell you I dropped that Spanish class and lost the money that I paid for it.  I got over it.  The German class was accelerated and met Monday – Thursday for five weeks and the second class was another five weeks.  So, basically I was attempting to learn level one and two of German in one semester.

I was constantly tired, but I was determined.  Determined to finish, and finish STRONG.  Then, I was at work one evening and someone suggested I take the foreign language exam.  I mean I knew the basics of German, but not enough to take an exam.  I put the fear aside and decided to sign up for the exam.  If I could pass the exam, I wouldn’t have to take the second level of the German class and I could sail through the rest of my final semester.  I took the exam on a Saturday morning and waited.

My sister called me on a Tuesday evening and said, “we need to call mom and we all fast tomorrow, we need those results for the exam.”  The second level of the German class had begun and I didn’t have my results.  I was nervous, paid for the class, and attended the first 3 classes.  I was more cautious instead of exercising a little faith.  Well, the Wednesday afternoon of my fast I received an email.  An email that I had PASSED THE EXAM!  I emailed my German professor that I would not be returning for the class and I appreciated all of her help, and immediately went online to drop the class so I could get 75% of the money that I paid for the class.

Again, I was determined.  I went into the Dean’s office in August and stated to her that I was determined to be done by the following May.  She said it was possible but I had to work hard.  I did whatever I had to do to finish.  I am #SteeleThankful for that determination that brought me through my last year of school, because that same determination keeps me pushing towards my dreams.