Browsed by
Tag: lessons learned

What happens when you decide NOT to be the Angry Black Woman?

What happens when you decide NOT to be the Angry Black Woman?

This one is for my sistahs!

If you are working at a 9-5, think about your office dynamic.  When something pops off everyone looks at you to react.  Especially if you are the only brown face in the office.  Let’s see how the “black girl” is going to respond…

I can remember when I was the only black in the office, and I can also remember situations when the brown faces were the majority.  It doesn’t take away from the fact that EVERYONE expects for us to lose our cool when placed in certain situations.

When I know I am on the brink of no return with my attitude I hear my father’s voice very clearly.  As if he’s sitting on my shoulder with wings wearing his work uniform (displaying his name) and glasses.  “Hey, now what did I tell you, never…let…em…see…you…sweat!”

Ah yes dad, you did tell me that.

I was cleaning up my office area over the weekend and came across this folder.


I read the contents of the folder.


Simple.  I wanted to keep the letter that jump started this amazing journey of being transparent.  I completed a children’s book two weeks after receiving the letter.  No lie…

That letter is the reason my story is published in HuffPost, Business Insider, CNBC to name a few.

When I received this letter I was excited.  It spooked my former boss out.  How could I be so calm when my life seemed to be heading for “Shambles Street?”

Honestly, I was planning my exit strategy to submit a letter by August 31, 2015.  My God said Nope…that’s not MY PLAN.  I’m going to release you in July, and you will receive unemployment.

What would flipping out in that office do for me?  Besides being escorted from the premises in hand cuffs.  I wouldn’t have achieved anything that day by acting ugly.  I knew in the end that I was winning.  I was miserable, and they were doing me a huge favor.

Ladies.  I’m convinced that some things are done intentionally to get a rise out of us.  It’s our choice of how we respond to the nonsense.  I am quite proud of my performance that day.  It taught me so much about myself, and how God uses people/situations to get you to where you are supposed to be.  I’m #SteeleThankful for that entire experience.  I have so much material for a One-Woman show, and who knows I may headline at the same venue that laid me off one day.  Anything is possible.


That quote from my dad still works.




Termination/Layoff Letter received July 2015 Manicure – Mojito Madness by Essie Adventures of Alleykats: The Missing President by R.J. Williams (Yours Truly)
DOUBLE BOOKED: But Giving Back Feels So Darn Good

DOUBLE BOOKED: But Giving Back Feels So Darn Good

Have you ever double booked?

Sure you have.  You’re so focused on pleasing everyone that you’re running around saying, “YES I CAN DO IT!”  Until the day arrives; you realized the times overlapped, and you’ve promised to be in two places at the same time.

I woke up Sunday morning thinking how am I going to pull this off? I’m scheduled to serve for the first time at church, andddddd volunteer for a local art fair.  Both venues were counting on me what shall I do? :-/

Was there a loophole?  Don’t know, didn’t look for one.  I had to woMAN up and attend both.  Even if that meant leaving one location early in order to make it to the next.  It didn’t hurt to ask right?  It was my fault, and I didn’t catch the mistake until two days prior.

How did I overbook?

  1.  I didn’t pay attention to the dates.
  2. I didn’t read the emails in their entirety.

All the time I preach about reading things thoroughly, and I FAILED AT THAT THIS WEEK.

So, what was the outcome?

I went to church prepared to serve at 8:45 am, explained that I had to be somewhere else by 11:30 am.  Meaning I needed to be relieved from my duties by 11 am.  The response, “that’s perfect, we can break everything down, we conclude serving at 11:01.”

Whew! **wipes brow**

All it took was a little communication to resolve my pressing issue.  I spent the rest of the afternoon on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan greeting patrons of the 56th Annual Krasl Art Fair.

I’ll tell you one thing though…

Ise Tide!

Six hours on your feet in the sun is no joke.  I didn’t think about my feet hurting until 30 minutes before the end of my shift.  I guess I was a having a lil bit of fun.

My lesson is to slow down, and read everything before committing.  Even though everything worked out perfectly, I may not run into a situation like this next time.  It always feels great to give back and not look for recognition for doing so, but take it from me be sure to check your calendar for times and dates before saying, YES!

How will you give back this summer?  Any ideas, or looking for ways to give back?  I can help! Respond to this email or on social media @SteeleLens and let’s get ready to PAY IT FORWARD!

Until next time! Stay Motivated.



The Season of Shift: Change is GOOD!

The Season of Shift: Change is GOOD!

One would say that all good things come to an end.

Don’t worry, I ain’t going nowhere. Lol.  I’m just observing some things that’s going on around me.  My boss deciding to resign, and the CEO of one of the largest corporations in the world stepped down in the same week, same city. Organizations impacted, and the only thing we can focus on is how will their departure affect us?

When I heard the news about both of them I instantly thought that their time had come to an end, and God is still in control.  Another chapter for them is another chapter for us as well, right?

The older I get the more I realize that change isn’t always good.  Then I thought, change is not good only if we choose to not embrace the shift.

There are two changes that we can expect every year:

  1. Birthdays
  2. Seasons

Do you find yourself upset or resisting the shift of the above events?

I didn’t think so.  When people decide to move on, we should look at the opportunity to embrace change within our lives too.

I was on the highway last week thinking about how the first six months of 2017 has flown by, and July begins on Saturday.  For the last 9 years there has always been a shift in my life during the month of July: beginning and ending a job, relocating, school, or completing the first book in my children’s book series.

Change is inevitable.

Let’s remember that it’s all good.  Seasons change, and a shift in our life is an opportunity to embrace something amazing on the horizon.





Be Careful, Be Conscious, Be Consistent…

Be Careful, Be Conscious, Be Consistent…

That has got to be some of the most succinct advice I’ve heard in a long time.  Thank you Pastor Clark!

Be Careful.

Be Conscious.

Be Consistent.

I can apply this everything that I have going on with the brand’s that I manage across multiple social media sites.  People are looking for consistency, and something (someone) they can trust.  With that being said…

Be careful of what you post. We are living in a day and age where people are constantly on social media. They are connected, and when you think no one is watching they are. 

At times we see that the negative behavior gets more attention than the positive. Sad but true. When we’re upset the first thing we do is run to our social media to air out our dirty laundry. Makes no sense right. Why would you put anything on the close line that isn’t clean?

Do you get my drift?

Working with young people I am very aware of what I post on social media.  They are watching EVERYTHING that Ms. RJ does.  Children will often times adapt to consistency, and if I constantly produce positive behavior/content they will eventually attach themselves to that characteristic.

Don’t get me wrong we have those moments of transparency when we are able to share our shortcomings with others in order to assist them with not repeating that mistake. But, let’s be real, people are laughing because it’s entertaining. You’re depressed and angry, but they are amused at your situation for all of 48 hours and then it’s on to the next. 

Don’t constantly show your hand. Protect your personal life like it’s your hand in UNO or Spades. You are a brand. Whether you’re in business or not, you are a representative of everything you stand for.  When the urge hits you to act out on social media, pick up your journal and declare that you are over the petty stuff. 

Another reason why I enjoy going through my TimeHop memories are the reminders of how far I’ve come.  Dedicated to consistent growth, and you will begin to see the results.




P.S. Check out my feature in the U.S. News & World Report article —-> #FaveArchivist

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
Trust Your Gut…Act Quickly!

Trust Your Gut…Act Quickly!

It has been one crazy week.  I don’t even know where to begin.

I can sum it up like this.

The importance of trusting your gut.

I took the feature photo hours before catching an early morning flight to Houston, Texas.  Even though I paid close to nothing for the ticket, I wanted to cancel the trip.  I felt the timing was wrong, and found many reasons why I shouldn’t go.  Not to mention my friend informed me that the forecast was RAIN the entire time I would be there.  I was discouraged, and really had no reason to be.


  1. Received a travel voucher for volunteering to stay over for the next flight. (Act Quickly)
  2. Discount on a rental car and airline ticket refund (Trust Your Gut)
  3. Connecting two of your closest friends (Trust Your Gut)

    Southwest meets Southeast
    Southwest meets Southeast
  4. Posting my vision board in a networking group of over 25,000 and receiving feedback from 100s. (Act Quickly)

I recently started the Steve Harvey 21 Day Jump Challenge and it’s all about acting NOW.  What can we do to draw closer to our gifts and purpose? I know that this trip was necessary, not only for myself but for the impact that my friends and I will have on this world.

If I wouldn’t have taken that JUMP and headed to Houston last week I would have been keeping someone from jumping to their next level.  You know the world is waiting on your gift right?!  Someone’s blessing could be attached to you moving forward too.  I truly believe that after all that I witnessed within the last week.

I know that it’s scary, and sometimes we don’t understand God’s plan, but He truly knows what’s best for us.

Don’t be afraid.  I’m learning to trust my gut more, and to act quickly.

Houston...After Dusk
Houston…After Dusk

Until next time…



Lemme see you go back…

Lemme see you go back…

Back…Back…Forth…and Forth…

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.

Now listen.

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





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.


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



The girl behind the lens…

Click Accept or Decline: DAMAGED GOODS

Click Accept or Decline: DAMAGED GOODS

“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.

**No Pity Party Zone**






Time Waits For No One! ⏰🏃🏾💨💨

Time Waits For No One! ⏰🏃🏾💨💨

Stop ✋🏾

This is my 100th POST! 💥🎉🎈

Whoop Whoop! Thanks for rocking with me! Currently working on some local Steele Lens events, so be sure to stay tuned for that.

Now…time for Motivational Monday…

I’m from Michigan, and I’ve never visited Mackinac Island. I’ll say that ONE…MORE…TIME!

“Hi I’m R.J, and I’ve never been to Mackinac Island.”

It’s interesting how that was never a summer trip that my family took. When I asked people around my parents age they simply stated, “I never thought we were welcomed there.”

I’ll probably expand on that statement on a later post. Keep that as a mental note! 😉

The ferry leaves Mackinaw City heading to Mackinac Island at the top of the hour. Our group planned to make the Noon shuttle. We arrived at the station at 11:40. Plenty of time right? As we started to unload our cars I noticed a huge group marching towards the line for the ferry.

I said oh we have time. No worries. Purchased tickets and stood in line.

Our large group arrived to the front of the line.

“Sorry, we can’t accept anyone else on this ferry. The next one will arrive at 12:42 and depart at 1:00 pm.”

We were scheduled for an island tour at 12:45 pm. Changes had to be made, and we had to wait. We arrived to the island, did our exploration, and my Mom was receiving all the love from the butterflies!

Can you find the butterfly?

It was a reminder; Time waits for no one.

When it comes to my current projects. Time waits for no one. Not even lil’ ole R.J. You have to be proactive when it comes to the things that you truly want. There will be people along the way that will try their best to keep you from moving forward. DON’T LET THEM! If you truly feel it in your heart that it’s the right thing to do. You must keep going! For every “No” that I’ve received, there was a HUGE “YES” right around the corner. I would’ve never received that answer if I decided to quit.

Time waits for no one.

So, think of it this way, the ferry that is scheduled to depart with no problem at the top of the hour is leaving with or without you. Think of that ferry as your goals, dreams, and relationships. That boat (dreams) is leaving the dock without you if you are too late.

Time waits for no one.

Mackinac Island Tour
Mackinac Island Tour



P.S. Have you been following my family genealogy journey? If so, we discovered some things over the weekend. I’ll have updates this week! 😘