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Day 25 – “Legacy” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 25 – “Legacy” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Legacy – a gift of property, especially personal property, as money by will; a bequest

Let’s think about it this way.  Every time you leave home you are representing your family.  That’s the way I was raised.  My dad was constantly asking someone, “who are your people?”  My dad even began asking my friends when he came to North Carolina.  I thought it was odd because we’re from Michigan.  No matter where I lived I had to remember that I represent my family, and I did it with pride.

My grandfather moved to Michigan from Mississippi.   He was apart of the Great Migration movement, when blacks were moving from the rural south to different parts of the country.  In this case, Grandpa John resided in a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan; Benton Harbor.  He became involved in local politics, purchasing land, and working to provide a solid foundation for his family.

I can remember the stories growing up about my grandfather being involved in the funeral business in some capacity, and he was quite a handy man.  Several years ago my dad was cleaning out my grandfather’s office, and came across this ticket.  As an Archivist, I felt I had struck gold.  It was another piece of our family legacy that I could add to the timeline of our history.  It also made me think that he had the faith to run for such a position over fifty years ago.  This handsome man was looking to represent the county as the Coroner, and I must not forget he was the first black Justice of the Peace in Berrien County.

He was simply Grandpa to me, and that was a title that he admired.  He truly wanted to make a difference in his community, and provide for his family.  What will your legacy say about you?  You can make a difference in your community and the world, but it all starts at home!  How will you make a difference today?  I’ve started with writing the vision, and making sure I live this one life that I do have with no regrets.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Day 24 – “Prayers” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 24 – “Prayers” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

“Someone was praying for me.”  I would hear that quote often when I was growing up.  I believe it.  My first blog post was about being a rebellious nerd, and I know stored prayers put me back on the right path.  My mom said that she began praying for all her children while in the womb.  She said that her strength came from stored prayers from her grandmothers.  So, I come from generations of prayer warriors!

Mary M. was my granny.  I was her birthday gift one year, coming just one day after her birthday (January 17).  We stuck together like glue.  She was a nurturer, homemaker, and a quiet spirit that loved to cheat when we played board games, but she would play with me.  The only one that would play Memory, Sorry, Game of Life, and Hungry Hippos.  She would lock down the big house to walk me to the corner store, and let me sing in the fan on the porch.

All that changed when I was about eleven years old.  She was in and out of the hospital.  The cancer returned, and it was far more aggressive than before.  I can remember being in the big house on Main Street.  It would be a house full, at this time I had no idea how sick she really was.  She would walk from her room to the living room where everyone was gathered, and sit in the chair by the window.  She would hold her head down with her hands resting on her head.  I would ask her if she was okay, and she would look up, give me a smile and nod.  She was praying.

She was praying for her children, her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  The nucleus of the family knew that it was only a matter of time, and she wanted her family to be protected.

I’m #SteeleThankful for those prayers that have kept me, and for those prayers that cover me.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

 

Day 23 – “Relationships” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 23 – “Relationships” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Stop!  This post is not about romantic relationships.  We can have work relationships, right?  I’m not sure about those, “situationships” that the rapper Fabolous was talking about.  Or, maybe I do.  I’ve honestly experienced that too.  Those moments when you aren’t able to identify what you truly are but you can say that there’s something there.

Every relationship serves a purpose.  You may not agree with the outcome, but they did serve a purpose.  I believe you are to learn something from every relationship that forms.  I learned so much from the relationships that I formed in Richmond, Virginia (featured image).  The summers that I spent working with Ms. Teresa Roane, Mr. Eric Richardson, Sgt. Major Haynes, and Mr. Ed Lee were some of the best times of my life.  Those summers made me a scholar in my field of study.  I can never thank them enough!

The relationships that blossomed from being cubicle buddies, classmates, and neighbors.  Some of those people are like family now.  Relationships that first began with:

“Good Morning!”

“How’s it going?”

“Girl did you finish your paper?”

“Hey did you figure out your research topic?”

 

Our paths still cross and I’m happy to say that they are doing some pretty incredible work in their fields.  From working in Dubai, Cornell University, recently married with job promotions, and Ph.D programs.  I’m #SteeleThankful for genuine relationships.  The relationships that can truly last a lifetime.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

 

 

 

Day 22 – “Connections” #SteeleThankful (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 22 – “Connections” #SteeleThankful (30 Days of Thanks)

I don’t like bridges. Well, let me take that back. If they have water under them I’m trying to get over them immediately. Even though they are used as a connection. That bridge is connecting me to something. Without them I’m not sure how I would get to the other side. Unless we decide to burn them. So, I guess they are rather important. 
On my many road trips I always get excited when I cross over into a new state. For example heading from Illinois to Tennessee, there’s a huge bridge. I remember the first time I thought oh shoot here we go a large bridge with a body of water under it. I look up and there’s a huge, “Welcome to Tennessee” sign at the top of the bridge. That was my motivation to get over it. I knew the bridge was my connection. I had to keep going. 
Relationships or Partnerships can be similar to a bridge as well. A connection to another person, place, or thing. You’ve probably heard me say this before but I’ve connected with some amazing people. Well, I’ve been connected with some “bad signal/no wifi available” people too. Oh, that just means the connection wasn’t strong enough. No hard feelings!
One person in particular stands out to me. She is the master of connection, in my opinion anyways. When I moved to Houston, TX I knew a couple of people from my hometown, but I connected with a young lady during my short stay in Dallas. I found her through a Google search when I was looking for a place to get my eyebrows done. I saw this place called, “Eyebrow Energy,” the reviews were great and I decided to give it a try. 
I reconnected with Kim when I arrived in Houston, because she too had relocated from Dallas to Houston. This Houston excursion was risky especially being a single woman at the time. My living conditions were not favorable. She offered that I move into her place since she had a spare bedroom. I had cashed out my CD, and truly depended on faith. God reconnected me with her. Being a budding business owner she was connected with some of the elite in Houston. She introduced me to some pretty cool people that I’m still in contact with today. One of them being her sister (Kendra from yesterday’s post).
You see when I arrived to Houston I was pursuing a connection, a bridge that eventually had to be burned. God built a new bridge that connected me with Kim, and I must say the rest is history. 
Are we connected to things that exude positive or negative energy? Why are we connected to it? Is it time to burn the bridge? Even though sometimes it is uncomfortable to cross a bridge over water, just think about what could be on the other side. 
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 18 – “Emotions” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 18 – “Emotions” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Emotions? Oh my goodness what are those? I only knew laughter and frustration for a long time. It took a lot to get me angry, and crying was not an option. Until I realized it was okay. It was okay to cry.

I always thought that crying was a sign of weakness. I don’t know if I’m supposed to blame that thought process on my upbringing or community, well I’m not blaming anyone. The more you know, the more you grow. Crying would eventually become my release.

I cried, (UGLY CRY) when I dropped my dad off at the airport after spending time with me in North Carolina after my accident. I mean he took great care of me.  That was my first time seeing my dad overcome with sadness since my granny passed.  I can honestly count on one hand how many times I’ve seen my dad emotional.

I weeped when I got to my father’s side 48 hours before he died. It had hit me. There was no turning back. This was my final goodbye.
Have you ever experienced multiple emotions at one time?  If you’ve seen Steel Magnolias, I’m referring to the scene when Shelby’s mom (Sally Field) was at the cemetery and she went through a series of emotions at one time.  Well, I know that feeling.

I went from anger, sadness, numb to peace.  I remember being in the room with my dad when he passed. A sense of peace came over me. He was tired.  He had done a damn good job raising his children, and providing for my mom. It was a job well done. You know the job well done that we all wish to hear at the very end of this earthly life.

This month I would have to say that my emotions are set at overjoyed.  This challenge has given me great joy and to witness some of you reflect on your moments of being #SteeleThankful has been amazing.  When you think no one is watching.  Oh trust and believe that someone is. The moment when you think no one is paying attention but you run into a family friend at a local restaurant and she says, “I’ve been watching your progress, I’m so proud of you, keep going.”

I’ve definitely unlocked another level of my emotions lately,  transparency. I’m thankful for owning my true emotions on this rollercoaster ride of life. I’m able to own them, and allow myself to be me. Live, Love, and Laugh. Laugh a lot!

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Day 17 – “Promises” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

Day 17 – “Promises” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 Days of Thanks)

-Promises aren’t meant to be broken

-Don’t make promises you can’t keep

-2 Corinthians 1:20, Yes and Amen

Have you ever heard, “I promise I won’t break your heart.” Or, “I promise I got your back, don’t worry.”
Well, I’m not here to focus on the negative, because Lord knows I’ve experienced broken promises. I mean I’ve broken some promises too. At the end of the day all you have is your word, so I encourage us all to do better.

What promises have you made to yourself in the last 5 years? Even better, what promises have you made since January 2015. I promised myself I was going to get out of credit card debt and lose 30 pounds. Chile, can I receive partial credit? I did the Green Smoothie Challenge in October, dropped 12 pounds and that’s it. I promise I’ll do better in 2016. 😏

Promises are similar to goals. They require action and it’s okay to altar them, and be realistic. Yes, I said realistic. I’ve told you about my three promises back in 2013? Actually it was February 13, 2013 to be exact. I promised to graduate with a master’s degree, begin a children’s book series, and start a documentary studies program. Done. Done. And Done. I had to consult the above scripture, Yes and Amen!

So, what’s next? What promises do I have going forward? I promise to travel more, love more, and write more.
I had to think what will it take for me to keep my word to myself and not break these promises? I have to do more, want more, and grind. I promised to live the life that I wanted two years ago. I put in the work! Even though the person that I shared these promises with is no longer with us, I still felt accountable to not going back on my word.

Try it today. Not only are we in the month of thanksgiving it’s also a great time to re-evaluate your promises to yourself. Examples: I promised to buy a house for my kids, I promised myself I would go back to school, I promised I would work towards being a business owner, a better wife, husband, or person. Write them down and tape them to the wall, so you will have a reminder and put a date on it! It works. Trust me! I’m #SteeleThankful because of it.

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