Becoming first generation college graduates was important to my parents, especially my father. The goal was that all three children obtained a college degree. Often times I believed it was forced upon us to go to college, but now that I’m older I understand the foundation that was instilled in us.
It wasn’t about an education, it was also about the life experience. It was problem solving skills, friendships, relationships, and preparation for the real world.
My parents always wanted better for my siblings and myself. Their strong foundation is the reason why I will always strive to want better for myself. Settling for mediocre is not an option.
I’m #SteeleThankful for the ability to overcome FEAR.
I was in a place of absolute fear about this time in 2014. I completed my 90 day probation at my job, and it seemed as though all hell had literally broke loose.
I became extremely unhappy in my current position, and fear came over me.
My fear was that I was going to be stuck in a position that hindered me from pursuing my dreams.
Fear can keep you in a very comfortable position. The same position that will keep you keep you sitting on the gift that God gave you. When I recognized the power that fear had over my life I had to make a decision. If you want great things to happen in your life you have to kick fear, and step outside of your comfort zone. I had to stand firm on my faith, and believe that fear had no place in my life.
I gave fear the deuces in 2015, and I refuse to look back.
When I look at this photo I can’t help but get misty eyed.
I attended a Montessori elementary school, so I had the same teacher for three years. This lady was one of them. When I was being bullied she protected me. She welcomed me into her home as a little girl along with some of my closest friends in order to soak up more knowledge after school.
It’s been years since I ran into Mrs. Elwell. I was a vendor at a natural hair event. It was my first time showcasing my new book to the public. Mrs. Elwell walked into the room, and this moment happened. She had no idea that I had written, and published a children’s book. She was overcome with joy that she began to cry. Tears of joy. We laughed, reminisced, and celebrated life in this moment.
I’m #SteeleThankful for the same joy that I experienced as the little girl learning in her safe space, and the joy of sharing this special moment with one of my favorite teachers.
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!
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?
Day 29 – “Choices” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)
I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of the challenge (insert sad face here). I chose to post everyday, and I’m happy about the outcome.
Now, I’m ready to talk about “Choices.” You can choose your destiny. I’m sure you’ve heard that, over, and over, and over again. Our life’s journey is based upon the choices that we make. One choice can change the course of your life forever.
Spending my summers in Virginia was a choice. I either had to decide to stay in Michigan or go for what ended up being the last summer of the program that I was fortunate to be apart of for two summers in a row. Without hesitation I made the right choice to be a leader that summer, and became apart of some unbelievable moments such as the one in the photo.
My last summer in Richmond, Virginia, the interns of the Museum of the Confederacy were able to tour the Lewis F. Powell Jr. United States Courthouse. It was pouring down raining but we pressed on! The court is still being used today so cell phones were not allowed in the building and I’m ashamed to say I didn’t have my digital camera (Still kicking myself). We were able to go through the entire courthouse including the office of President Jefferson Davis, the court room that President Davis trial took place, and the door and stairs that President Davis exited after the trial.
Yes, you read that correctly, I said trial. At the end of the Civil War the President of the Confederacy was on trial in the courthouse where I am standing. He exited these doors. You know who else was tried here, Mr. Mike Vick, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I know you’re probably wondering why am I mentioning these two men. They were tried in this courthouse over 200 years apart. It boils down to a choice. A choice that they made landed them in this place, with someone else making a decision for them that would change the rest of their lives.
I’m not here to reflect on their choices, but I am here to tell you that it’s about a choice. Our choices, both good and bad effect the course of our life’s journey. We must also realize that we can be redeemed from our bad choices though. What are you going to do with that second chance? I’ve made some bad choices. I’m sure we’ve all made some bad choices, but how are you going to change the negative into a positive?
You have the opportunity to begin again. There will be people that will continue to judge you for your bad choices. SO…WHAT! Don’t allow them to decide your destiny. You are in control! You have a choice to make. As we close out the challenge I ask the same question at the end of my post, right? Take advantage of your second chance, and continue to strive to make the BEST choice.
What are you #SteeleThankful for?
Day 28 – “Fear” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)
I was afraid. Let me be honest, sometimes I’m still afraid of failing. I guess that would be fear. Anxiety can be a phase of fear too, right?
How can I eliminate fear? I honestly don’t have an answer that works for every situation. Try. Try to believe that everything is going to be okay.
I was looking for a picture that would symbolize someone that overcame fear. The picture I decided to use is myself inside of a replica box used to ship Henry “Box” Brown to freedom. I’m sure Mr. Brown was fearful when he decided to get in a box and ship himself from Virginia to Pennsylvania. Or was he? The fear of living as a slave for the rest of his life may have overpowered the feeling of not surviving in that box on his way to freedom. He had to try! No matter how long it was going to take he still had to try!
That can be encouraging in itself. If Henry “Box” Brown decided that he would die trying to get to freedom, what was my problem? Why would you let fear keep you from completing a project, writing the first page in your book, accepting a public speaking engagement, traveling, or falling in love?
I know it may be scary, but you have to try! Can I tell you something? I was afraid to write my first blog post. I was afraid to start this challenge, because I had to be transparent in some areas that I’ve never been before. If I was afraid to do all of that was I afraid to succeed? I guess I was afraid of no one reading the posts. I honestly can’t worry about any of that. I can say that I’ve tried. I’ve tried to encourage someone, and ended up encouraging myself in the process too! No what ifs left behind is the mindset going forward. Bye Fear!
What are you #SteeleThankful for?
Day 27 – “Scholarship” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)
I will challenge anyone to a mental math showdown! Seriously, I will. I’m sure my friends that were in Mrs. Gorman’s class at Boynton Montessori can too. We had no idea at the time why our teacher was keeping us inside during recess to do mental math. That information is still crucial today. The numbers don’t lie!
Amazing teachers truly touch your heart. I experienced scholarship at an early age, and it’s only because of the teachers that surrounded us with love. I can remember in the final 48 hours with my father, I was sitting outside of his room because I had a serious breakdown. I looked up and saw a familiar face coming down the hallway. It was my pre-school/kindergarten teacher. Her mom was in the room across the hall. I hadn’t seen her in over fifteen years, and in one of my lowest moments I saw her. God knows He will send you peace during the storm. My elementary teachers were simply the BEST!
Oh but Mrs. Powell, she…changed…my…life! She was such a rare jewel in high school. Mrs. Powell taught outside of the box, and made me fall in love with history all over again. U.S. History in the 10th grade was not solely about history. She taught the girls how to be ladies, and the guys learned how to be men. I can never repay her for helping me fall back in love with history. I knew then that history was not confined to a box!
Now, you know scholarship is not only for the school house, but you can begin implementing these practices from home? Build a relationship with your child’s teacher(s), and embrace teachable moments. You are your child’s first teacher!
God has truly placed some amazing educational role models in my path. Some of them were teachers, professors, administrators, staff members and classmates. I am a better person because they cared! I’m #SteeleThankful for those that modeled leadership and scholarship!
What are you #SteeleThankful for?
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.