Do you struggle with expressing your strengths? **slowly raises hand**
I know that I can do a better job with my elevator pitch. In the past, I didn’t want to come across as being boastful, or arrogant. Then it hit me; a reminder.
My Dean in graduate school told me that I was too modest when it comes to celebrating my strengths. I thought that was her way of calling me humble, but no she was saying that I don’t use my gifts enough. There are some things that you would have no idea that I could do unless I told you, or had the courage to show you.
For example, I was at work and I began speaking with a community partner about the Final 48 Project. She was blown away by the stories that were being told on the site. We began talking about another community leader, and I kid you not 15 minutes later he walked through the door. I couldn’t make this up. This was the first time outside of our business hours that I knew about this leader stopping by.
The snowball effect continued. I was on a roll that afternoon. I spoke to the community leader about my project, and just like that I have a radio interview scheduled for next week.
I challenge everyone this week to express to someone new the importance of your gift. I started on social media, and received some of the best feedback ever. Here’s my caption for the featured photo:
Don’t be too humble that you allow an opportunity to pass you by. I’m getting back to me, and letting the world know the gifts that God has blessed me with.
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
Happy Halloween! I was feeling quite nostalgic, and this is probably the last time I wore a Halloween costume that I loved. Queening since 1989-1990 Lol!
The second annual #SteeleThankful Challenge kicks off tomorrow, and I’ve had people asking me well what is it really about?
In a world where there is so much chaos, unhappiness, fixation on material things, I feel there is a need to really look inside of ourselves, and find what we are truly thankful for. The best time is to do so in the month of November. The month that we observe Thanksgiving.
It’s also the perfect opportunity to not only encourage yourself, but encourage others as well.
So, how does that work?
Have you looked in the mirror today?
Seriously. If not the mirror, clip the camera icon of your cell phone, and have it face you.
Let’s start with being thankful for being able to receive this message today.
I’ll help you out.
Example: I’m #SteeleThankful that I’m here to celebrate another day with my family, because last year I didn’t know how I would make it to the next day, let alone another month or year. Everyday is a new opportunity to strive for greatness, and continue to make myself happy.
As I stated before this challenge is only in the 2nd year. I can see this challenge gaining momentum, and I have to truly let the process flow. There will be changes along the way, so let’s enjoy this ride of transparency, and thankfulness.
I know that it sounds easy. But, I’m here to tell you that it’s not. I can tell you how empowering it feels to share your struggle with others on the road to absolute gratitude.
When I was in Rhode Island for the World Burn Congress a couple of weeks ago I realized how hard it was to tell my own story.
YES. You read that right. Hi, My name is R.J. I’m a storyteller, and I’m sensitive about my SH*T! No one can tell my story like me, but that’s difficult. When telling our own story we sometimes tend to ramble, or leave out the portion of the story that we don’t want to own. I feel the same way it comes to sharing my journey during the #SteeleThankful challenge.
Can I be honest?
When I have to edit, and post a story for the Final 48 Project I will read it NUMEROUS times before I decide to schedule the post to go live. I’m super protective of the stories that are shared on that platform, and I try my best to uphold the integrity of every person’s story. I mean they chose to share their stories with me, in order to share with the world. Encouraging others along the journey of grief is never easy. Especially when you are still dealing with your own.
When I unlock another level of transparency I feel empowered. Often times I can be reluctant to dangle my foot from the ledge of fear in order to show the world that I’m not apologizing for my past experiences, because they have shaped me into the person I am today. And for that I am #SteeleThankful
I can’t wait to share this experience with all of you this year. So much has happened from November 2015 to Now. I’m sure the same for you.
Let’s embark on this journey together, and tell the world what we are all #SteeleThankful for?
P.S. On this Halloween of 2016, I am #SteeleThankful for the little girl that learned at a young age that she is a Queen, and you must always address me as such. **Featured Photo** THROWBACK! 😉
P.S. S. I share the true meaning of the #SteeleThankful name during the challenge this year. Are you ready? It’s going to blow your mind!
Dear Benton Harbor, You will always be my secret place…
Population of over 10,000. Predominately black in population. Some would say that most are living at the poverty level. It’s home to the Whirlpool world headquarters. Right on the shores of Lake Michigan. I’ve taken you for granted before. I must admit. I love you.
I’ve lived and worked in many cities across the country. I’ve traveled. At the end of the day, there’s no place like home.
We all need a secret place. A place to regroup. It’s always been my secret place.
I can remember living in Raleigh, NC, and I would be itching to go home when things became absolutely unbearable at work, or in my personal life. My friends would joke about my retreat back home would leave me recharged.
But sometimes home changes.
After my father died I knew that home would change. I just didn’t know how it would change.
I often ride by the old family home, and think about what could have been. What should have been? What was?
Home isn’t the same, but it’s up to me to make new memories.
This week I will embark on a journey that will absolutely blow my mind. I will be traveling to the World Burns Congress.
Being a burn survivor has become a part of my life now, and so I’m traveling to a secret place to regroup. I didn’t intend to make this a long post today, but thought that I should prepare you for the what is to come.
I will be looking forward to sharing all of the upcoming events that will come out of this week excursion.
I’m leaving my secret place in order to bring more love and inspiration to you.
We shall chat soon.
Benton Harbor, I love you. That will never change. It’s time for change, and a remix to my secret place.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Aaliyah lately. The anniversary of her passing was a couple of weeks ago, so I noticed a lot of her music has been on my mind lately. I told you about the Bad Boys Reunion Concert that I attended in Chicago on September 1st right? The seats were the bomb, and I was on my feet the entire time singing along to all the great songs from the 90s.
Take me back…
This past week I’ve had that feeling of “take me back.” Take me back to an event, or even a time with a person when it was all GOOD. When there was not a care in the world, or you simply enjoyed being in their presence.
Then it hits you. Maybe I shouldn’t hold on to what was, and focus on what can be.
Memories get me through some of my toughest moments. This week I found myself laughing with my mom and sister about the hilarious stuff my father would do or say.
I laughed with old friends about the adventures in our late teens, and early twenties.
I even attended a college football game match-up between my two alma maters. Western Michigan University vs. North Carolina Central University. Oh the memories…
Again I said take me back…
What was I going back to?
Again I say memories are great, but sometimes we hold on to the wrong memories and they can cause us more heartache and pain. I know sometimes I find myself holding on to a memory that is quite toxic for my future. How will I grow if I don’t let go right?
I can never forget how some events or people made me feel in the past, but it’s also important that we have to let some balloons of hope go.
I will be the first to admit that sometimes it’s hard for me to let go of how a person treated me; good and bad. Take me back to our first date, take me back to the Juvenile and Trina concert, take me back to my senior year of high school, take me back to the night before my house fire accident, take me back…take me back…take me back.
The thing is time doesn’t move backwards, it only goes forward. I can’t continue to focus on what could have been or what should have been. I can focus on the now, and how I can plan a better future for myself. I’ve made some foolish mistakes, and some that I am still learning from.
I realized this week there are some things I can never get back. Chile, at the top of my list is time and money, I can never get those two back. I can’t dwell on wasted time with people, or money that magically drifted from my bank account.
Even though it’s painful, the best thing you can do for your growth and sanity is to let go of the notion of traveling in a time machine to get what was…back. The truth is…it’s gone.
Give it some time, and if the opportunity presents itself again, then try again, but definitely don’t build the foundation on quicksand. You feel me?
So, stop focusing on the “take me back,” and focus on the “what’s next, or what about a fresh start.”
P.S. I spent my Saturday morning with 2 amazing people. Please be sure to check out their story tomorrow for #GriefTalkTuesday Photography Love Letter Campaign for the Final 48 Project
“Please bring your gently used items to the church’s yard sale. We want to bless others within our community.”
Can you identify with a statement similar to that? It may not even be for the church. It could be for an employer, a friend, or a nearby thrift store.
You look over at the pile of clothes that you don’t wear, and you think about dropping them off, but then you decide otherwise.
You would rather take the items that you painted your house in, or the clothes that could honestly walk themselves to the trash can.
Are you selfish? Are you constantly negative? Are you always in a glass case of emotions? Sweetheart, are you damaged goods?
I was in church on Sunday, and the message was titled, “Damaged People.” It’s the second installment in our series, “Soul Food.” I was compelled to break down some of the things I could identify with even within myself. You know the things that keep me from moving to the next level:
Past Relationships (Friendship, Work, and Love): I had a very hard time with forgiving people. I used to write them off as if they never existed to me. I would write them off without forgiving them. As if I didn’t learn some very valuable lessons from the encounter. I had to let go. I was CLEARLY DAMAGED, and didn’t want to admit it.
Changing Others Around You: Guess what. You don’t have the secret power or potion to do that. They have to want it for themselves. Our fitness coach is a constant reminder of that. If I don’t want to lose the weight that’s on me. I have to want it for myself. The same goes for the people that you are keeping around you that are stagnant when you are trying to move forward. Say it with me…real slow if you have to…DAM-A-GED. Release yourself from the negativity, and keep it moving.
Stubbornness: Uh oh! **turns mirror on self** “I got this, I can only rely on me.” <— how many times have you said that? Be honest. Well, it’s not necessarily true. Often times I find myself thinking like that, too. People won’t know that you need anything unless you say something. <—- Last line courtesy of my mother! 😉 There is something that happened to you in your past that when you feel your back is against the wall you feel that all you have is YOU. Not true. I’m sure God placed some amazing people in your path to assist along the journey in life. Don’t abuse those people now. Admit to them your shortcoming, basically that you’re DAMAGED, and you need help.
Whew chile. Preaching to myself, but do you feel me?
I refuse to be in the throw away pile. There’s someone counting on me, and it would be selfish of me not to deliver. I have plenty of content to bring to the world, and I’m not about to stop now.
Don’t walk around carrying the baggage from your past. Unless you prefer to continue clicking “Accept” for damaged goods, and if that’s the case, you are on the wrong page.
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. 😋
I can be an introvert at times. I know you’re probably thinking, “I don’t believe that R.J. isnt a social butterfly.” Now, I didn’t say all that. What I’m saying is that I’ve never been one to spark up a conversation with strangers, until recently.
The only way that people will know me is if I put myself out there. Over the weekend I was invited to an “Invitation Only” event. First of all, I had no idea that these events even occurred in my own backyard. It was so refreshing to be around people networking, and having a good time.
I learned one valuable lesson over the weekend. It’s very important to stay connected. Stay connected with both new contacts and old. You never know who can lead you to the right person to bless you, and others.
Being active in your community is important. Do what you love, and forget about the rest. I’m going to spend this Memorial Day reconnecting with old friends, and making new connections.
Check out the Cartoon R.J. (Featured photo). One of the new connections I made this week.