ONCE UPON A TIME is usually not how our stories begin. I can remember vividly as a child hearing my father tell my brother never go to these places after dark. You never want to be DRIVING WHILE BLACK across the bridge. I thought that I would never be faced with the same situation until 25 years later when I was pulled over by a police officer for having out of state plates. My offense: driving while black in Michigan. I can only wonder will my black people ever have a happily ever after. It is my choice to wear a pop of color on my nails because the world around me can be so dark. Sadly, I have many stories like the one above that I could tell but this time we hope to see justice at the end of this continuous nightmare.
Seriously, I spend my time putting together the events of my life or those around me in order to encourage you every week. But…
This fourth quarter has snuck up on your girl. :-/
I spent the 3rd quarter of 2017 preparing for the most crucial time of the year, and I can’t believe that it’s here. And the coach of all coaches is saying, “RJ, I need you. Get off the bench, and win this game for us!”
HUH? Excuse me, Lord. Are you talking about this RJ?
Within the last three months I’ve been asked to speak for a Women’s Empowerment Conference, PechaKucha, and I am scheduled to present the Final 48 Project at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University’s graduation.
Well, if I wasn’t ready, I better get ready right?
Even when we think we are not ready for the blessing(s) that God has for us; we are. He has equipped us with more than enough to get the task done. All we have to do is walk in it.
Don’t be afraid. Easier said than done I know. I was a bit frightened by all of the opportunities that were before me, but I realize this is what I asked God to do for me. Continue to use me in the way that is within His will.
My story will continue to impact the lives of others, and don’t forget that your story can/will too!
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 thought to myself, “WHY DO I STILL HAVE MY TERMINATION LETTER FROM 2015?”
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.
When you realize that your GIFT can take you places…
Well, it’s not exactly “blinding” but I can say I have been exposed to some pretty dope opportunities.
I believe I told you before from time to time I “Google” myself. I need to know what’s out there, and the narrative that is being shared about yo girl.
I’m going through the images and even though I don’t have a common first name I share it with fellow dope brown girls like myself. One of them has the same first and last name (Impeccable Faces by Ronnika) and she’s KILLING it. Check her out!
I’m going through the images, and I come across a picture that I didn’t recognized at first glance. Has that ever happened to you? You run across a picture that you don’t remember taking. The picture was taken three years ago during a research competition. The platform allowed me to discuss my time as an Archives intern at the Museum of Confederacy, and improve public speaking skills. I placed 2nd in the competition, and that experience was mind-blowing. Who knew that learning to transcribe 19th century manuscript, process an archival collection, and speak in front an audience about my findings would lead to a career in archives, or even a children’s book!
I’m continuously amazed by the blessings that can come from following the calling that is on your life. Even typing the post for today I was reminded that the “art of storytelling” kept me out of a lot of trouble. As a little girl, to distract the individuals from bullying me I began telling stories about my family to get others around me to laugh. No, the stories weren’t always funny, but they were true. I have always loved a good story, but I had no idea that my love for archives/history, and storytelling would lead me to a place of publishing books, documentary projects, or even this platform of #MotivationalMonday on this site.
It’s unbelievable what can happen when you let go, and let God. The opportunities are endless, if you truly believe that your gift can take you places that you only imagined in your dreams.
I’m owning that my gift is storytelling, and working everyday to perfect that craft.
What gift are you sitting on? The world is waiting for you to share it. 🙂
Until next time…
The moment you visualize all your dreams coming true…
Within the last two months I’ve visited about five theaters across the country. Scoping out places to screen the documentary that I’m working on and envisioning people in the seats.
When I stood on stage at the Colony Theater in Miami, Florida during the American Black Film Festival this year I saw myself on that stage. I looked to my right and saw a fellow staff member (main photo) in deep thought. I didn’t disturb her because I was in the same mode. In my mind I had arrived. I was at the door, all I had to do was knock.
I stepped back after taking the picture and thought about this poem that my mom gave me when I was in high school, “Who’s In Your Front Row?”
There will be people that won’t understand your dream.
There will be people that won’t support you.
There will be people that say it can’t happen.
You know what. That’s okay.
How much do you believe in the vision that God has given you?
Every night I’m dedicated to finishing the logline, and finalizing a traveling schedule for filming the rest of the documentary. Allowing myself realistic timelines to not overdo it. I know that this documentary project will be amazing, and I’m excited that you are able to take this journey along with me. If you aren’t updated with the project or totally lost about it. Here’s the website —> Final 48 Project
We are currently accepting donations to keep the ball rolling, and looking to launch a crowdfunding page as our way to keep you involved in the process too. To make a donation to the project please click here —-> Final 48 Project Donations!
What vision has God given you that you are afraid of the outcome? Embrace it! We can take this ride together.
Being VULNERABLE is one of the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do…
Every time I go on a trip I learn something new about myself.
This time: Vulnerability.
I know so many of us will not admit our struggles with becoming vulnerable whether it’s for a love interest or even our career.
Especially when blogging you have to be vulnerable, and at times you feel as though I’m not ready to take it to that point of being transparent. Listen, I’ve been there. I’m constantly faced with the issue of over sharing, or not sharing enough. Finding that middle ground can be the hardest journey because you will come to a point in your life again that says, “I’m not ready to share that, or I never will.”
I spent the weekend in North Carolina wrapping up my last class for the Center for Documentary Studies program. I spent hours upon hours of writing with a New York Times bestselling author and I enjoyed every minute of it. We had the option of sharing our pieces with the group after each exercise was over, and allowed time to provide positive feedback after each sample writing assignment. It was liberating, challenging, and enlightening to know where and how my manuscript can go in a different direction.
Can I be honest for a second?
Sitting on the aircraft for my return flight I’m feeling empty. North Carolina was my second home for almost five years and it definitely has a special place in my heart.
I didn’t get a chance to spend as much time with people that I absolutely adore, and after a long weekend of writing I didn’t have time for anything else besides rest.
The feedback that I received in the class allowed me to be open to the possibilities of where my storytelling can actually take me.
I had one thought while in the airport waiting to board.
If I can be vulnerable with my writing, why am I struggling with vulnerability in the love department? I’ve never been one to let it flow in that area. I would rather you tell me what it is up front instead of assuming about the future plans when it comes to “us.” At the end of the day I realized I was guarded, and that’s no way to let love in.
After this trip I learned to be vulnerable in my delivery of MY STORY both on the blog and love. It’s the Year of Completion, and I don’t want the lack of vulnerability to keep me from what I truly deserve.
I honestly can’t believe how fast this summer is flying by. I have many home improvement activities that I would like to complete, and last Thursday a lot was accomplished.
Trees trimmed, large items removed from the home for donation or trash, prepping for a new coat of paint on the house, and then we see something in the bush.
A baby bird sitting on the bush, and another baby bird about five feet away in the grass. The kids that were working in the yard looked around, and noticed the nest in the tree.
THE BIRDS WERE LEARNING HOW TO FLY!
One of the kids grabbed a ladder to place both birds back in the nest. I checked on the babies about a minute later, and one of them had already hopped back on the nearest branch. I heard a few **chirp chirps** then mama bird arrived. I came back before leaving for work, and the bird on the branch was gone. That baby bird kept inching to the edge of the branch, almost as leverage or a PUSH to use those wings. Now, there was only one bird left in the nest. I knew when I returned that evening that everyone would be gone.
The empty nest symbolized that every bird was equipped with what they needed in order to venture out on their own. It’s funny because my dad would always say that it was so hard to get his girls out of the nest. We were comfortable and we knew that daddy was always there to protect us. One thing for sure though we were prepared for the real world, and knew the importance of trying to fly on our own even before his passing.
What do you feel is keeping you in the “nesting” stage? I would say that I’m the bird that’s literally scooting to the end of the branch, and every week I’m reminded that my WINGS DO WORK! GONE AND FLY GIRL!
It’s amazing how God will send reminders such as the birds to show us that he has equipped us with everything we need. Don’t be afraid to FLY.
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?
I didn’t pay attention to the dates.
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…
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!
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:
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.
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:
Embrace every special moment. Some times it takes years to prepare for one day. A day that you will never forget.
Take risks. Pray about it first, because sometimes the risk is worth the reward.
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!