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It’s a “Mines” Thing: Loss vs. Gain and Aha Moments

It’s a “Mines” Thing: Loss vs. Gain and Aha Moments

I wrestled with writing the post for today. I guess I didn’t want to lose myself. It’s funny because that’s where I’m heading. Letting go of some things that I once said was “mines” in order to gain something greater.

After the weekend I had getting my #FaveArchivist on I feel it’s a must that I talk about some emotions that I have been experiencing.

#FaveArchivist - Lost in the papers and boxes. Estate style.
#FaveArchivist – Lost in the papers and boxes. Estate style.

You can remember growing up and possibly saying to your siblings, “nuh uh that’s mines!” Meaning that item belongs to me, and you can’t have it.

Now think about the older we get we still have that mentality in a way. It could be a breakup. The argument is over who bought what for the house, and everything is “mines” but it can be deeper than that.

I was in my storage space yesterday, and I wondered if I was too attached to some things that were in it. I realized it wasn’t the things I was attached to. It was the thought of what it meant to get rid of some of the items.

STABILITY.

I was overwhelmed with the idea of calling one place my own permanently, and slowly relaxed when I realized what my problem was.

For the last year my prayer has been for stability. In my former life (honestly still apart of my business) I was known as Carmen Sandiego. Even though I enjoy popping up places for travel or work I was longing for one thing. A place to call home.

As I approach the day of calling a place my own I had to reflect on the message from church yesterday. What am I willing to lose in order to gain?

You know you can ask yourself that question too.

I need to relinquish my pride in order to keep moving to the next level. I have personal goals set in place and the only way they will get accomplished is if I give up my pride and time.

I know some things don’t happen overnight even though we wish it did. I’m willing to sacrifice more than I ever had in order to gain the abundance that God has for me.

What are you willing to lose?

You can share in the comments or connect with me on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) @Steelelens

Xoxo,

R.J.

The girl behind the lens…

How Long? Frustration…Confusion…Intimidation…Distraction…

How Long? Frustration…Confusion…Intimidation…Distraction…

How long Lord?

How long do I have to wait for the right opportunity?
How long do I have to wait for “the one?”
How long before you bless my kids to do better or want better?
How long before you deliver my family member from their addiction?
How long do I have to wait before I can pay off this debt?
How long before this flight leaves? (Lol my life in 2015 😩)
How long do I have to pray before I see a breakthrough?

Well…

I think the answer to all of these questions is in God’s timing. We have to be aligned within His will, or there’s really no way this thing called life will work.

At times I can become distracted.  That feeling usually leads me down a path that is hard to recover from.  We can become distracted by window shopping, and enter a store front that we had no business entering.  The intimidation of investing in that new shirt or skirt.  Receiving the credit card statement, or looking at your bank account the next day/month is a level of confusion.  A month later when you’re unable to make a payment on a bill, you become FRUSTRATED.  Do you get my drift?

It leads me back to the first question.  How long?

How long do you want this cycle to continue?  How long before I am delivered from the terrible decision making in my life?

Do you want to be delivered from the situation that you’re currently in.

YES, R.J. YES!

Shoot, I do too. Lol.  I can go through all of the above emotions within one day, and I find myself saying, How long, Lord?  When will that windfall that I really need happen?

Are you ready?
Are you ready? Where are you going?

 

You aren’t ready!

Ouch.

What changes do you (we) need to make in order to choose the path that is right, and stop expecting God to do EVERYTHING.  We have to roll up our sleeves, and get dirty.

So, How long before the breakthrough?

No one knows the answer to that.  You have to keep believing, keep plugging away, and don’t get defeated.  It is TOUGH, but I know it will be worth it.

XOXO,

R.J.

 

Why did I go to GRAD SCHOOL? **REAL TALK ALERT**

Why did I go to GRAD SCHOOL? **REAL TALK ALERT**

Looking at debt accrued after undergrad and the amount I racked up in grad school I can’t help but ask myself one question. “Why did I take out so much in loans?”  To live? Well, I had a full-time job, but shoot I wasn’t making NO MONEY!

The only time I get upset about my student loan balance is when I receive that dreaded letter that states that my debt to income ratio is too high.  I get it! I should have been more responsible in grad school.  Thanks for the constant reminder!

My advice to you when it comes to graduate school, be sure it’s really what you want to do.  Don’t waste time or money.  Research scholarships, paid internships, fellowships, and you don’t have to accept all of the loan money that is offered.  In grad school there is no option of Pell grants, so don’t bank on that money!

Do I regret anything?  I don’t regret the education. I will admit that I definitely mismanaged that money.   Whew! I can say I learned so much in my 20s!  Lessons…Learned!

One of the best decisions I made with that money was investing in my education, and neighborhood.  When I was laid off from my full-time job while in grad school, I had to use the remainder of my refund check to live.  It was important that I lived in a safe neighborhood, because every single woman should invest more in their living situation vs clothes!

Even though I paid the price for grad school there is one thing I must remember.  No one, I mean no one can take the education, experience, and relationships that were formed during that journey.

White House of the Confederacy.  Without grad school I would have never experienced this amazing internship.
White House of the Confederacy. Without grad school I would have never experienced this amazing internship.

I may complain or joke about what in the world did I do with all of that money, but at the end of the day it was one of the best decisionsI could have ever made.  Graduate school taught me the meaning of perseverance (to learn more about the journey check out my first post).  Do I have to work a little harder to pay those loans off?  Absolutely.  Do I stress about them anymore?  Nope.  As my dad would say, “hey you pay them somethin’ and don’t worry about it.”  The money will come, and they will be paid off soon enough!

Are you thinking about college?  Grad school?  As I stated before be sure to do your research, and have a plan in place.  The plan may change so write everything in pencil instead of pen! 😉

Until next time!

 

Don’t forget, I’m just an email away (info@steelelens.com)!  To connect with me or share your feedback you can tweet me @Steelelens

 

 

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 3 – “Faith” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 days of Thanks)

Day 3 – “Faith” #SteeleThankful Challenge (30 days of Thanks)

Okay, so I’m starting to have fun with this challenge.  Then a part of me thought, “Can you commit to 30 days of this?”

The answer is Yes!  I have a lot to be thankful for.  When I graduated college there were no opportunities in my field, well at least on the local level.  I had experience as a Certified Nurse Assistant, so if I wanted to move home and make money that’s what I had to do.  I was at work one day and thought, “what am I doing?”  My former professor had a conversation with me about Grad School, and I thought the idea was so far fetched cause the only thing I cared about in college was my History courses.  No, other class mattered.

My brother was living in North Carolina at the time, and I was able to visit the school that professor spoke so highly of.  I decided that day, that I was going to move.  I had less than 90 days to make it happen.

I cashed in my PTO and began to plan my escape.  Just one problem, I didn’t have any money saved.  None, whatsoever, and purchased a new car a few months prior, and I was planning to move July 26, 2008.

Here it was, day of departure, and I had $100 to my name.  Rent would be due within 2 weeks of me arriving, and I had no job.  My sister took the ride with me from Michigan to North Carolina.  She had my back! Once, I got settled with my clothes, and an air mattress until I could purchase some furniture, I went to the temp agencies.  Boom! Offered a position that started the following Monday.

Tunnel Vision - Leaving Ohio, Entering West Virginia.  Destination North Carolina
Tunnel Vision – Leaving Ohio, Entering West Virginia. Destination North Carolina

Unfortunately, Grad school had to wait until the next year, because I refused to pay out of state costs.  I decided to work for a year, establish in state residency, and go from there.  So, you see, I had to exercise my faith, remember that I had a mustard seed, and put in some work.  I’m not saying the journey was smooth or easy, but it was definitely worth it.  Having a little faith can take you a long way!

Vacation Over…Back to Work!

Vacation Over…Back to Work!

Have I been away that long?  Between vacation, car problems, and just simply trying to fight the POWER; I have felt a bit discouraged.  I’ll have to elaborate about the week I have had on Monday’s post but today I wish to reflect on my ocean view from last week and what I need to do to bring history to the classroom and beyond.

“I stood on the rocks, looked across the Atlantic, and couldn’t begin to imagine what my ancestors endured for my freedom. My work is not done!”

 

There is so much that needs to be done and the time is now!

BarbadosBeach

“I don’t have it!”

“I don’t have it!”

This term is generally used when it comes to the topic of money.  In my younger days I rarely used this term.  I believed I could do everything.  I was walking around singing, “money ain’t a thang.”  UNTIL I CHECKED MY BANK ACCOUNT!

I can remember the time my account was overdraft and I was determined to leave my hometown.  I purchased a plane ticket and knew I didn’t have enough money in there.  My account was in overdraft for so long that they closed my account.  I had that account since high school.

It inconvenienced me!  When it came to direct deposit at my new job I was no longer able to use my debit card.  It was gone.  I was forced to say, “I don’t have it!”

I had to turn that discomfort into power.  It’s okay to say, “I don’t have it.”  Right now, I don’t have the money to blow on a night out with the girls.  How about having your girls come over and hang at your house.  Hey, it’s cheaper!  Sometimes you have to use that phrase to get to where you really want to be.  I know I want to purchase a loft and I have to remember do I really need to waste my money on this new purse.  Will it help me to get that new place?  I just tell myself, “I don’t have it,” because it won’t help me on this journey to a carefree lifestyle.

When is it okay to say, “I don’t have it?” Tell me in the comments section!

Dear TimeHop…

Dear TimeHop…

Dear TimeHop,

 

Where did you come from? Who sent you? I am constantly reminded of my crazy college days, and immature behavior! You have the nerve to even go back 10 years ago. Who remembers what they did last month at the bar, and decided to tweet about it? Well, next year, best believe TimeHop will remind you!

 

Fortunately, I don’t feel that way. On yesterday I was feeling quite blah. You know the feeling of being a professional and all of a sudden wanting to warp back to the days of no responsibility. What did I sign up for? I prayed for this! I prayed for independence, I prayed for the spirit of individuality, and the spirit of endurance. The spirit to endure everything that was before me and to believe that everything was going to work itself out on this journey, that’s what I believed.

 

TimeHop reminded me of the shift I experienced 5 years ago. I was never the type to become emotionally moved by anything. I viewed it as a sign of weakness. On September 21, 2010, I declared to the world on Facebook that I would try my best to become more empathic, and to own my emotional dysfunction. I knew that the young lady that was in a traumatic accident 6 months prior was not going to change overnight so I declared to the world that I was truly going to trust the process. TimeHop is viewed as my capsule of thoughts that I once forgot about but never erased from the digital world.

 

Do I look back on some of my actions or thoughts and get upset? Nope, I had to realize it was all apart of the process. I chose this journey! I choose to decide how to live my life! So, on this Monday, September 21, 2015, I choose life and to live it more abundantly, with no regrets, what ifs, or doubt.

 

 

Loner and a Rebel – A story about a rebellious teenage nerd…

Loner and a Rebel – A story about a rebellious teenage nerd…

I was a recent high school graduate. I believed I had done everything correctly in life. Graduated high school with honors, involved in numerous extracurricular activities, and what I thought ready for the next phase, COLLEGE! My plan was to always graduate and enroll at four-year HBCU (Historically Black College/University). Well, that plan didn’t work. “She’s not ready yet.” I wasn’t ready for a four-year school? Despite knowing that my grades could pretty much guarantee an acceptance letter from the schools of my choosing. “A two-year community college would work best for her right now.” What did I do when I learned that my closest friends were going away to school and I was staying local in my small town that began to feel like a terrible episode of “Cheers,” because of the company I was keeping everybody was starting to know my name?  I REBELLED!

Now, I’ve always loved history. For as far back as I remember. I especially loved learning about historical figures that resembled myself. I remember sitting in a History class at the community college and the professor was jumping on the desk and everything. He was attempting to get the class excited about the subject. The one subject I had grown to love was not exciting for me. Why? I was pissed about my current situation. I was still pissed that my friends were away at school and I was wasting my life away at a community college. I felt worthless, I felt as though everything I worked so hard for in high school was irrelevant. Educators told me to be active, well rounded, that’s what schools look for when applying to universities. That day I decided to walk out and not come back. I had reached my breaking point. Even though the first year was paid for…I didn’t care…I began to rebel. I think I only passed one class that semester. A freshman orientation class was the only positive thing on my transcript after the first semester. I said you know I’ll give it try next semester. Same results. I took a full load (4 or 5 classes) and only passed one class. I still didn’t care.

The next fall semester I was no longer on scholarship and I remember my dad writing a check to the accounting office for all the fees for the semester. I thought okay, I’ll attempt to give a damn, and take this semester seriously. I made an appointment with a guidance counselor. I don’t even remember the woman’s name but I can tell you this if she’s still a counselor at the community college I would love to see her right about now. She sat behind her desk and asked me what my problem was, among other questions but here’s the kicker “WAS I ON DRUGS?” You read that correctly she asked if I was on drugs. I remember being puzzled and not knowing how to respond in a respectful manner so I chose to walk out of her office and never come back. I knew if I stayed a minute longer I would’ve crapped on my family’s good name. I decided to withdraw that semester and flip that school the bird.

Maybe they were right. I wasn’t ready for a four-year university. At the rate I was going I was going to be the nerd from high school that was now employed at the local diner begging for tips and my sanity. So, I had to think what am I going to do now? There was another community college about 20 minutes away. The same community college that my sister attended and received her Associate’s degree. I said I’ve got nothing to lose, let me give it a try. My bright idea to start at this other community college for the Winter semester was genius **insert sarcastic grin** and I didn’t think about traveling an extra 20-25 minutes for classes. I did it though. The guidance counselor I met with came up with a plan of action after looking at my previous college transcripts and my high school transcripts. With a puzzled look on his face, he took a deep breath and asked me, “Okay, please tell me what’s wrong? Why are you unhappy?” I sat in that office and poured my heart out to this man. He assured me that I could bounce back but I have to want this and no four-year school would touch me with grades like before. I told him I was determined and I would produce results. I just had to find my motivation. My motivation was getting the heck away from my hometown. At the end of the Winter semester I was finally able to show my dad a report card. Before, I never produced one, I would always change the subject but this time I hand delivered the mail with my grades in the envelope. I even remember my class schedule from that semester.

 

  1. American History 101
  2. English 101
  3. Psychology 101
  4. World Religion

 

Drum roll please! I managed to receive a 3.75 that semester. I couldn’t believe it myself. I was fighting ole man winter, pride, and others to get those grades. I switched up my circle of friends temporarily to get the job done too. I had a goal and was motivated to complete it. I knew I wanted to move away and I didn’t want anyone or anything standing in the way of me accomplishing it.

I was convinced that if I had a goal, estimated end date, and a little elbow grease that I could be unstoppable. I enrolled in the Spring and Summer semesters after that successful Winter semester and continued to be on a roll. I transferred to a four-year school for the fall semester and thanked my former guidance counselor for doing what he was sent to do in that season of my life. I rebelled earlier on and realized where it would have me, in the same place as a lot of the people I despised to be around.

What happened after you transferred? Well, I received my BA and fast forward to 2014 I finally was able to experience life on an HBCU campus, and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Master of Library Science – Archives & Records Management Degree.

I still find it in me to rebel from time to time but I’m grateful for the lessons I learned as a teenager, and I’m sure my parents are too!

18 year old - Rebellious Teenager
18 year old – Rebellious Teenager
Grad School Graduation with Award Winning Research Poster
Grad School Graduation with Award Winning Research Poster