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When to say No to others, and YES to SELF…

When to say No to others, and YES to SELF…

“Reclaiming My Time!”

The statement by “Auntie” Rep. Maxine Waters is probably the quote of the year…or shoot the decade if you ask someone else.

Even though the quote was used during a heated political session it can pertain to so many areas of our lives.

If you were around for previous posts I talk about how much I learned from working in Dallas.  The work schedule was rigorous, and let’s be honest it’s hard to find good help.  There were a lot of sacrifices that were made, but some truly beautiful moments came out of it.  I dedicated that year to crushing personal goals (publishing the first book in the Adventures of Alleykats series, and traveling for theFinal 48 Project) that probably wouldn’t have been achieved unless I was placed in such a low and emotional state of mind.

I finally reached the point of saying No to others in that position for the sake of my sanity, and decided to say Yes to everything that I…yes…that I wanted.

I knew going forward in my next career/position that I would start practicing saying Yes to self.  Now, I’m able to identify the signs of being close to being BURNT OUT!

Living in your purpose has the greatest rewards, but sometimes it gets tough.  When we are out of the will of God we can become distracted with others looking for validation in the wrong places.  When I left Dallas, I vowed to NEVER let any employer or anyone rob me of my joy, and require so much of my time. If it doesnʼt aid in the growth of self I ainʼt participating.

If you donʼt enjoy doing it, it will show. Trust me.

I dedicated the last Saturday of September to spending quality time with my mom (in the morning), and one of my best friend’s (evening).


Bestie (Heartbeat) D.B.


I closed out my Saturday night with a wine festival located in St. Joseph, Michigan.  It was just what the doctor ordered.

Tank: BAE (Best Author Ever) IG – @browngirlswhowrite

I’m making more time for the things and people that I truly love and care about.

Reclaiming my time.  Reclaiming my TIME!




Manicure Color: #Flowerista by Essie Polish


Setbacks…Comebacks…What do they mean to a 30 something year old?

Setbacks…Comebacks…What do they mean to a 30 something year old?

My mom gave me this book called, “It’s Time For Your Comeback…” by Tim Storey the last year of my 20s.  I was re-enrolling in Grad School after dealing with LIFE (burn accident, surgeries, father’s death).  Let’s just say a sistah was going through some thangs.

This book allowed me to not let my past define where I was going for the future, and necessary steps to keep pushing forward.  After finishing the book I thought to myself man my 30s should be a breeze, right?


  1. I completed grad school at 30, and landed my dream job in Dallas, Texas. (Comeback, Move Forward 2 steps)
  2. Wrote a children’s book while working over 40 hours a week (Comeback, Move Forward 10 steps)
  3. Laid Off from Job (Setback, Move Back 15 steps)
  4. Try Entrepreneurship (Comeback, Move Forward 3 steps)
  5. Revenue from Entrepreneurship (Setback, Move Back 10 steps)
  6. Return to Workforce to pay off debt accrued during the no guidance period of Entrepreneurship (Comeback, Move Forward 5 steps)
  7. Complete classes through Duke, and invest in professional growth (Comeback, 2 steps)

So, let’s just say I’m still crawling out of the Setback stage.

Seven is also my go to number this year; 7 = completion. (Get it, August 7, 7 bullet points, 2017 🙂


I was quite bummed last week when I had to cancel a trip at the last minute.  My sister reassured me that everything would be okay, and that we still had a conference to attend on Saturday, “Act Like a Success Experience” with Doreen Rainey, Patrice Washington, and Paul Carrick Brunson.

My sister and I arrived early and sat in the front row to soak in all of the goodness that these dynamic speakers had to offer.  Their stories of setbacks, comebacks, and planting seeds.

I sat in the front row thinking that my introvert ways keeps me from moving to the next level at times.  You know the feeling of hearing, “No Thanks” can crush a person.  How would I get to a “Yes” if I stopped trying.  During the break I texted one of my closest friends to ask her about time working with Patrice and what question should I ask her during the Q/A session.

Sadly, I couldn’t think of one. :-/  Everything that I wanted to know was answered during the sessions, and quite frankly there was no answer they could give me to deal with self.  I knew my problem and how to correct it.

So, the conference concludes, I walk in the lobby to stand in the line to take a picture with Patrice.  Again, I didn’t have a question, instead I had something to give her.

During her session she touched on the topic of grief.  I decided to share with her the project I’m currently working on, and gave her two wristbands.

I promised to stay in contact to keep her updated on everything that is Final 48 Project.

My sister and I left empowered and learned so much about ourselves.  We met some amazing people that I know we will have a bond with forever because of this one experience.

Setbacks must happen in order for you to appreciate the COMEBACK.  Traveling the journey of being a 30 something success story is challenging, but I have to remember to be committed to the vision and not attached to the way I get there. (Favorite quote from the conference).

Until next time…




Rites of Passage: What I learned 15 years after my high school graduation…

Rites of Passage: What I learned 15 years after my high school graduation…

Early morning calls and late night text messages would sum up my last week.

It’s been fifteen years since I walked across the football field at Benton Harbor High School.  I was honored to witness the class of 2017 enter the ramp to participate in the graduation festivities.  Embarking upon an unforgettable experience.

It was a beautiful day, and the bleachers were packed with loved ones waiting to celebrate the annual event.  I stood on the bridge looking over greeting the seniors and some that I had the privilege of working with over the last six months.  They were entering the ramp for the last time as seniors, and would return to the ramp after commencement as alumni.  What a feeling, right?

I watched the students march down the ramp, and thought to myself they will never experience this moment again.  I hope they embrace everything that this moment has to offer.  For many of them they didn’t believe that this moment would ever come, or if they would live to see this day.  They will now make the decisions of pursuing a collegiate experience, military, or entering the workforce.

I had many takeaways, but I’ll list a few:

  1. Embrace every special moment.  Some times it takes years to prepare for one day.  A day that you will never forget.
  2. Take risks.  Pray about it first,  because sometimes the risk is worth the reward.
  3. Don’t apologize for your journey.  It’s yours, and no one else’s.

To my 2k17 babies and all the graduates of 2017, YOU GOT THIS! Greatness is ahead, go and get it!



What #MOOD are you displaying on a daily?

What #MOOD are you displaying on a daily?

Nothing turns my world upside like hearing a student say to me, “Ms. RJ, why are you always happy?”

It’s seems like a no brainer right?  My first thought is what are my students observing on a regular basis for them to even ask me that?  This is not my first time receiving this question, and I’m sure this will not be the last. I will tell you this was my first time hearing that question from a young lady, and it disturbed me.

I was always taught that you never bring your personal life to the work place.  Even though it’s hard to do sometimes, you have to revert back to your original teachings.  Your problems are your problems, don’t try to burden everyone else with your issues.

I told the young lady that I begin every day with listing what I am thankful for, and if she didn’t have a journal to state the three reasons she should start  on social media, and see how the movement grows from there.  More of a reason to be #SteeleThankful 😉

In that moment, I was reminded again that people pay close attention to your aura.  We must always be mindful of the environment that we decide to reside in.

It was a rough week with all the controversy in the community, but I knew I had to keep a positive attitude.  The children in our community are watching everything that we do.  My peace this week was knowing that I had a busy weekend ahead with the Author’s Spotlight at the local library, and the Stock Da Bar fundraiser on Saturday night.

Don’t allow your personal life to affect those around you.  They didn’t ask for your drama, and aren’t allowed to pay the tax on your misguided emotions.

Spread <3



It’s Your Time – The Right Place at the Right TIME!

It’s Your Time – The Right Place at the Right TIME!

I am less than fifty (50) minutes away from this Monday being over.  I decided to wait until this Monday was almost over in order to find the motivation to push me through the rest of this week.

I planned to have a long post about visiting Michigan State University over the weekend with a close friend, and one of my student’s but that didn’t happen. My friend became ill on Friday, and the plans from my end were then cancelled.  I had high hopes for celebrating a student visiting an institution that was soon to be their home in the fall.  Things happen, and sometimes you must rock with it.

I didn’t have enough sleep last night, and I woke up with a million things on my mind.  I had no intentions of writing a Motivation Monday post until I was on my lunch break.  That didn’t happen either.  I spent my lunch break running errands for work, and the day was slipping away from me.

And then….

It was 5:45 pm.  I was in the lab at work, and a student comes running in, “Ms. RJ, Ms. RJ! Look! Look! I got in! I got in!”

A student that I’ve been working with, and anticipating an answer about his college admissions FINALLY received the response that he desired.  I screamed, and he yelled.  After the celebration I see him put his head down on the counter, and looks up to say, “I’m out of here.”  In that moment that student had the world in his hands.  He knew that the possibility of leaving the hood that raised him to embark on another journey was within reach.  His eyes bloodshot red, and myself trying to fight back tears.

Not in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined that I would be in this place.  Assisting our future with college applications, scholarships, FAFSA, military, technical school, and shoot let’s be honest…LIFE.

I am inspired, and motivated daily by the young people I service everyday.  I’ve had people question why I decided to take on the position of working with local teens.  My answer is someone gave a damn about me, I must pay it forward. They invested in me, encouraged me, and motivated me to be the best person that I could be.  I see so much potential in our young people.  You remember the saying, “…it takes a village.”

I learned one thing about my encounter with this student today, when you want something bad enough don’t give up until you get it.



Where are “WE” going? (BHM 2017)

Where are “WE” going? (BHM 2017)

I am exhausted!


It’s been quite a few sleepless nights this month.  I’m not complaining though.  This year’s black history month has been LIT.  I can go on and on about the accomplishments of celebrities this month with the Oscars and Grammys but I want to focus on where we’re going.

How can we incorporate black history within the schools, and outside of the school systems.  It’s evident especially with the movies such as Hidden Figures, there is so much we still need to accomplish.  Our children are suffering with a lack of knowledge in a culture/history that is being wiped away.

One of the reasons I insisted on starting a children’s book series is to highlight or bring awareness to the stories that are often untold.  There is one thing that I noticed that we need to continue to do outside of social media.  We need to have more discussions about black history, and what we can do to form unity within our communities.  On Sunday, I had the privilege of hearing one of my friends speak about where we are going in our community.  Our community is 97% black with the neighboring town being the complete opposite.  How can we work together to strengthen our communities?


Benton Harbor, MI


The discussions were raw, uncut, and above all timely.  We discussed everything from the Middle Passage, Voting Rights Act of 1965, to the present with our state of education and healthcare not only in our community but the nation.

I left the discussion feeling empowered, and decided to take a stroll around downtown.

I began to reflect on the values, and even the movement of my grandparents, and great grandparents.  The sacrifices that were made in order for us to have a better life, and didn’t allow a “NO” to keep us from where we needed or wanted to be.  I realized the potential that was within me, and the importance of acting now instead of later.  The time is now to reclaim what is ours, and not allow one NO to keep us from where we are destined to be.

My wheels are in motion, and striving for nothing but greatness for the second quarter of 2017.

Above all I know that I am #SteeleThankful for the passion to serve the community that raised me.



Take care of home…don’t neglect your dreams!

Take care of home…don’t neglect your dreams!

I struggled with the post for today.  It’s not that I didn’t have anything to talk about.  I had a very busy week so I honestly have lots to share.  I won’t keep this post long though.  Highlights and lessons learned over the last 7 days.

Let’s Go!

  1.  GO HARD FOR YOU:  If you can go hard for someone else, you better believe you can go hard for yourself.  I realized that after marketing for an event that we had on Saturday.  People noticed both near and far.  It was a brilliant marketing strategy that engaged the community for FREE!  You can do the same for yourself.  Promote yourself daily because people are watching!
  2. DON’T SUBSCRIBE TO NEGATIVE ENERGY:  You don’t have to entertain those that are constantly negative.  They have their own issues.  You continue to spread the good vibes with them, but you don’t have to receive their toxic behavior.  Guard your spirit.
  3. EXPLORE YOUR COMMUNITY:  There are some amazing things going on in your own backyard.  Someone is using their skill to enrich your community that you may be unaware of.  I discovered that my local airport is housing one of the fighter planes from World War II.  We took about 25 students to view the “Red Tails” plane that is 1 of 7 left of the model used by the Tuskegee Airmen.
  4. WRITE THE VISION:  Make it plain.  Going back to the basics of writing down all of my dreams, and what I want to happen within the next six months to a year.  Post reminders around my house, so I am constantly reminded of what I want and pray that it’s aligned with God’s will for my life.
  5. TAKE ACTION:  Pretty self explanatory right? Do what you have to do to make things happen.  Take the leap of faith, and do what’s best for your future.  You owe it to yourself, your community, and the world to be the best person you can be.  Just Do It!

Don’t forget to take care of home.  Your dreams are just as important as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Oprah, Denzel Washington, or Taraji P. Henson visions.  They took risks, and didn’t neglect their dreams.  So much is in store for you and I.  Let’s get out there and make it happen!



Red Tails (P-51C Mustang) – Tuskegee Airmen
Benton Harbor, MI
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!




Day 30: COMPLETION (Freestyle) #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 30: COMPLETION (Freestyle) #SteeleThankful Challenge


You all have inspired, encouraged, and pushed me to complete this challenge with you.  I didn’t give up because of your love!  You held me accountable to post for 30 days about what I am #SteeleThankful for.

So much happened this month.  I started a new career.  I moved out of the storage place, and settling in my new crib.  This whole month has been preparing me for this moment.


My first book is now a year old.  I released it on Cyber Monday last year and I haven’t looked back.  I completed an interview that will be published on a well known blog in February, and some amazing things such as this feature that I came across yesterday:

Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University
Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University

I was blown away.  That program has supported me in ways unimaginable.  I’m #SteeleThankful for my CDS at Duke family.

The main takeaway from this experience is that when you commit to something it’s important to follow through.  I was committed to bringing you content, and allowing you to think about what you’re truly thankful for.  I’m excited about completing this month of #SteeleThankful and preparing for the next chapter that begins tomorrow.  For the last time in November 2016, I will ask.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Steele Thankful 2016

Be prepared the challenge for next year will be EPIC!

Day 29: Love #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 29: Love #SteeleThankful Challenge

Last year I was apart of two wedding parties.  It was an honor to watch people that are so special to me dedicate their lives to walking this journey in life with someone else…as one.

This year my bonus sister tied the knot.  My sister’s best friend married her soul mate.  The biggest honor was her asking if I could help her get in her bridal gown before the blessed event.  I was beaming with excitement.  My sister’s friends were always viewed as bonus big sisters so I was ready to participate in the big day.

Love can come into our lives at the most inconvenient time.  A time when we don’t think we are ready to give the love to someone else.  We aren’t emotionally available to share ourselves with someone else.  Or, we believe that it can’t happen.

This day reminded me that you must always be open to love.  Not to be naive, but be open to the possibility of the perfect love story changing your life forever.

I’m #SteeleThankful for the possibility of love.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Steele Thankful 2016