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Day 25: Outlook (Freestyle) #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 25: Outlook (Freestyle) #SteeleThankful Challenge

On this day I received a delay that lead to a No. I was attempting to tell my story for the photography campaign portion of my documentary, “Final 48 Project.” It was a must that I document the place that my father and I patronized every day the last summer that we spent together.

The day I received a No was the day that my outlook changed.

When working towards something that you truly want there will be instances when people don’t understand your vision, and when that happens you are presented with a No.

I didn’t let that No stop me. I chose another route, and still got my story done. You can check out my story for the campaign here.

I’m #SteeleThankful for a new outlook not only for that situation, but life as a whole.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Steele Thankful 2016


Walk By Faith…Easier said than done.

Walk By Faith…Easier said than done.

We are almost at the halfway point for the #SteeleThankful challenge.  Time flies when you’re having fun, inspiring, and reflecting on the last year.  The challenge is taking place digitally on all social media networks.  It’s not too late to start, and every time you use the #SteeleThankful hashtag on a public post I respond.  Yes I respond to all of them 😉

I know it’s motivational Monday, but I’ll keep it short this week.

The church I’ve been attending is doing a series on Faith.  We all know that’s not an easy walk.  There are moments when you want to give up, and call it quits.  Sometimes it seems as if that’s the easiest thing to do.

After church I had to seriously reflect upon where I am in this journey of walking by faith.  Am I at the level of “offering” like Abel, “overcoming” like Enoch, or practicing “obedience” like Noah.

Different Makes a Difference Pastor Brian Bennett Overflow Church
Different Makes a Difference
Pastor Brian Bennett
Overflow Church

I honestly think some days I feel like I’m experiencing all three.  I’m going to spend this week focusing more on my faith walk, and finding clarity for my next level.

It ain’t easy, but it will be worth it.



Don’t forget the challenge.  All month long!

Steele Thankful 2016

Day 10: Change (Freestyle) #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 10: Change (Freestyle) #SteeleThankful Challenge

As much as we try to avoid it.  Take our seasons for example, change is inevitable.

We may not approve of some changes, but the strength of a person comes when you are able to adapt to change.

I had to learn this in my 20s.  Whenever I had to relocate for a job or school I had to adapt to my new surroundings.

Even though our country is currently in a state of shock over the recent Presidential election results, we have to remember that we are responsible for our own future.  This could be a lesson for all of us, and we must make changes in our own lives to deal with the outcome.

I’m #SteeleThankful for change, and the ability to turn any bad situation into something great.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Steele Thankful 2016


Day 4: Peace #SteeleThankful Challenge

Day 4: Peace #SteeleThankful Challenge

I’m #SteeleThankful for Peace…

There’s some things we can take for granted.  When I moved away from my hometown I longed for a beach.  Somewhere to go, and think by a large body of water.  I didn’t take many trips to the beach when I was a child for fear of drowning because I didn’t know how to swim.

I didn’t appreciate the calming waves until it wasn’t in my reach.

Whenever I came home to visit this place it provided a sense of peace.

I think we all deserve a place that we retreat to that creates peace for us.  It could be the beach, a museum, bookstore, or even your home.

Never forget that NOTHING, and I do mean NOTHING compares to a peace of mind.

What are you #SteeleThankful for?

Steele Thankful 2016



Dear Benton Harbor, You will always be my secret place…

Dear Benton Harbor, You will always be my secret place…

Population of over 10,000.  Predominately black in population.  Some would say that most are living at the poverty level.  It’s home to the Whirlpool world headquarters.  Right on the shores of Lake Michigan.  I’ve taken you for granted before.  I must admit.  I love you.

I’ve lived and worked in many cities across the country.  I’ve traveled.    At the end of the day, there’s no place like home.

We all need a secret place.  A place to regroup.  It’s always been my secret place.

I can remember living in Raleigh, NC, and I would be itching to go home when things became absolutely unbearable at work, or in my personal life.  My friends would joke about my retreat back home would leave me recharged.

But sometimes home changes.

After my father died I knew that home would change.  I just didn’t know how it would change.

I often ride by the old family home, and think about what could have been.  What should have been? What was?

Home isn’t the same, but it’s up to me to make new memories.

This week I will embark on a journey that will absolutely blow my mind.  I will be traveling to the World Burns Congress.

Being a burn survivor has become a part of my life now, and so I’m traveling to a secret place to regroup.  I didn’t intend to make this a long post today, but thought that I should prepare you for the what is to come.

I will be looking forward to sharing all of the upcoming events that will come out of this week excursion.

I’m leaving my secret place in order to bring more love and inspiration to you.

We shall chat soon.

Benton Harbor, I love you.  That will never change.  It’s time for change, and a remix to my secret place.




Are you here to WIN OR WHAT? The 4th Quarter of 2016 is HERE…ARE YOU READY?

Are you here to WIN OR WHAT? The 4th Quarter of 2016 is HERE…ARE YOU READY?

Okay. Let’s get to it!

October 1st was Saturday, and that means the official start of the last quarter of the year.  If you are a sports fan you can definitely appreciate this quarter, and growing up in a household with sports fanatics I totally understand the importance of this season.


Imagine it’s the championship game, I’ll let you choose the sport 😉

You are down by seven points after the half, and now entering the fourth quarter.  During halftime you received the pep talk from your coach on how to bring this win home, but in the 3rd quarter you still didn’t see any results.  I mean you were definitely getting closer to the goal, but not quite there.

Do you know that feeling?

Okay maybe I’m talking to myself over here.

I will admit that I had some life changing events occur in the 3rd quarter, but my goodness I knew that I had to pick up the pace in the 4th quarter. Especially if I want to win in 2016.

Here it is the end of the 3rd quarter, and I’m on the phone with one of my closest friends discussing what I want to crush in the 4th quarter.  He encourages me, and understands my faith driven ideas so he was definitely hype about the plan.

So, you ready to hear about what’s coming up next?

The first event in the Midwest will kick off the #SteeleThankful challenge.

#SteeleThankful Challenge 2016
#SteeleThankful Challenge 2016

This will be open to a select number of people, (first dibs to the subscribers of the email list, so I suggest you don’t miss out).  Last year I had an amazing time launching the challenge, so it’s coming back this year.  The challenge highlights our genuine thankfulness in the month of November.  Even though we are thankful all year long, it’s our time to celebrate with family and friends.  I’m #SteeleThankful for this platform to share with you the ups and downs of my journey of entrepreneurship through storytelling for Adventures of Alleykats book series, and the documentary/photo campaign for the Final 48 Project.

I’m excited to share what I’m #SteeleThankful for this year, and looking forward to hearing about what you’re going to share during the #SteeleThankful Challenge.

Are you ready to crush the 4th quarter with me?  What is one thing you would like to accomplish before December 31st?  Write it on a piece of paper, attach a scripture to it, and tape it to your wall.  Recite it every day, and see what happens!

There will be more information about location, and date after this week.  Let’s get ready to fill the atmosphere with thankfulness!


R.J. – girl behind the lens


When the seasons change…

When the seasons change…

I’ve been walking almost 5 miles at least twice a week, and chile I can see a difference.  The perfect weather to clear your mind, and reflect on what’s going on in the present.  I’ve decided no matter what city I’m in I must dedicate at least one day to getting my miles in and taking in all that God wants to show me.

I was taking a stroll along Lake Michigan at Tiscornia Park when I looked across the water to see a row of sailboats.  I stood there on the pier as I observed the choppy water on one side and calm on the other.  I watched the ducks sway with the flow of the water as the sun began to set.  I guess, they too were taking it all in.

I thought about one of my favorite songs by Jaheim.  Because you do know that I can find a song to match every situation, right?

“Two ships just passing in the night now,
Offshore, looking for a light house.”

I’m just trying to find my way back…

View from the Pier with the ducks in the background.
View from the Pier with the ducks in the background.

It will probably be the last time I will witness a night like this on the pier, because the season is changing.

Even though the seasons change four times a calendar year, does that mean that the seasons in our lives are on the same schedule?

Answer: Heck No!

I could be experiencing a “sunshiny” (new word!) day, and the next is full of storm clouds to remind me that every day won’t be sunny.  Similar to Summer not lasting all year long (especially in Michigan) the season eventually has to change.

I’ve had relationships that have lasted one month, and some that lasted ten years.  It never fails when that season needs to change trust me it will change.

I know that I’ve been in some people’s lives for a reason or a season.  I had no idea what the reason was until the season changed.  We could have been living in the same city at the same time.  Going through the same storm, but when the storm passed we went our separate ways, and I didn’t understand why.  Never any love lost, it was just time for both of us to move on.

Here’s the cool part, now we celebrate how God had brought us through, and to encourage someone else along the way.

There’s also those times when you think a season is over with a person, and they seem to drift back into your life in a different way.  Maybe you’re able to bond over a new friendship or relationship that blossomed from similar interest, or even the loss of a loved one.

I swear you just never know how life will go.  You have to continue to embrace the flow.  I’m attempting to embrace this new change of developing roots.  Embarking on a journey of discovering new places, and new seasons for relationships.  I shall not get weary.  Trusting the process, and witnessing this season change.







Disconnect: Communication Breakdown, What now?!

Disconnect: Communication Breakdown, What now?!

Communication is important right?

The bridge you are currently looking at is the bridge that connects my hometown (Benton Harbor) to the neighboring town of St. Joseph both cities in Michigan.

Benton Harbor, MI
Benton Harbor, MI

I can remember being a little girl and being excited when the light would turn red, which symbolized all traffic must stop in order for the bridge to rise. Why was the bridge rising?

The view from the car all you could see is one side of the bridge. It wasn’t until the bridge was back to its original position that you were able to view the sailboat that needed to pass from one side of the bridge to the other. Sometimes the boat was big but often times the boat was small with a huge sail pole. Either way it goes, the bridge has to go up to let it pass.

Now, that I’m in my 30s I can admit that this occurrence still fascinates me. I also thought what if there was a communication breakdown and the bridge did not raise by the time the sailboat made it to the bridge. What happens then?

Will the boat turn around and try another way?

I found myself in the scenario of the sailboat that was not communicating with the operator of the bridge. Last week it felt as though I was arriving to the bridge but no entry. “Are my lights on, is the horn working, what’s going on?” Well, not literally but that’s how I was feeling. Everything I was trying was not bringing forth results, or it was leading me down a dead end.

Maybe this isn’t the path I’m supposed to take? Should I give up? I thought I was living my life on purpose.

When it comes to living this life on purpose there will be moments when you feel like the little sailboat that is denied entry. What should you do?

Keep trying until you do.

I received an email from an amazing Queen named Chakayla Taylor and I felt as though she knew exactly what I was going through. Anything is possible with God. I mean anything. When I feel no one is watching, oh best believe someone is. You must stay consistent, and pressing forward.

Don’t worry about the likes, shares, or follows. Continue to provide your audience with beneficial content to make their world a little bit better. I’m believing for great things to come for Steele Lens, Adventures of Alleykats, and Final 48 Project. I can’t give up now. This little sailboat that’s carrying “the girl behind the lens,” has a date to make it to the other side of the bridge.

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! 😘

“Are you mixed? You sound white.” Owning who YOU are.

“Are you mixed? You sound white.” Owning who YOU are.

So, what’s up with the title RJ?  Where am I going with this?

Over the weekend I was reminded that the culture of “colorism” still exist.

Colorism: prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

I was cruising around social media, and noticed a few things that were disturbing.  It’s 2016 and in an age of #blackgirlmagic we are still making comments about light skin vs. dark skin.  Then I noticed that it’s the parents that are teaching their children this stuff.  Information that the parents received as children is being transferred to their children.

At the end of the day the race box on any application does not say, “Are you a caramel, red bone, yellow, chocolate, or cocoa black person?”

I can remember being a little girl in the neighborhood, and I found nothing wrong with the way I spoke.  I noticed a difference in viewpoints once family members, or friends of the neighborhood kids would come around.  “Are you white?” As a six year old child I would look at others as if they were talking to someone else, because I was the same hue as the person asking the question.  “Is yo mama white? You sound white.”

Where did this thinking come from?

So, not only are we fighting with the struggles of colorism, but we are also struggling with the way a person speaks?   We can’t win.

After my injury that left me severely burned, my way of thinking changed drastically.  I was surrounded by individuals who were diverse, but apart of the same society.  An event that changed the course of our lives forever.  I encountered people that had to learn to love the new person that they were, including myself.  It was no longer about skin color, or speech.  It was about coping with a new way of life.  It’s definitely not easy.

#burnsurvivor #EssiePolish “Fear or desire”

At the end of the day it’s about a person’s inner beauty, and not outer.  Right?!

How can things change?  Well, it begins with you!  Is this way of thinking valid, or right?  We must be mindful of what we are teaching the future generation.  Within the blink of an eye a life altering event can happen, and then the color of your skin, or the way that a person speaks isn’t really that important anymore.