Tip Tuesday: Gratitude and Fulfillment

I recently finished reading “How to be a Bawse” by Lilly Singh (which was ah-making, seriously check it out if you haven’t already!). I listened to the Audiobook on Audible, which was read by ||Superwoman|| herself! I don’t care if you are absolutely in love with her YouTube channel or if you have never heard of her before, this book inspired the sh*t out of me, and without it this post wouldn’t be here.

First off, I listened to this book while struggling to decide upon a topic for NaNoWriMo. I do not definitively know what in the book helped me pick my topic, but I do know that it inspired me to try harder and write more. Hearing her talk about her dedication and love for her work inspired me to find something I was passionate about. It still took some effort, and some ideas that were thrown out, but I never gave up. Now, I have ideas for not one but two books.

I also found somewhat of a second wind at work. I was absolutely dead a couple of weeks ago. Last week I worked extra hours every single day so that I could take Friday off and travel home and spend the weekend with my family without worrying about a thing. Although I did still worry some, I was able to really relax and be present with those that I don’t get to see every day. On top of that, I felt really great about everything I had gotten done, and that was in part because of how hard I tried.

In addition to all of this, the one thing from the book that has stuck with me the most is how often we take things for granted. I’m sitting here typing this with a Bluetooth keyboard onto my 2018 iPad while watching the Green Bay Packers game on TV and the Milwaukee Brewers game on my phone. My house has a roof and heat, light and internet. I had a great dinner and bought foods that we eat just because we want to at the grocery store today. I have a husband that loves me and made sure the house was spotless before I got home. Even in my darkest times, they really aren’t that dark in comparison. It’s really hard to remember this, but taking the time to think about all the good and practice gratitude goes a long way.

You can have it all, just not all at once -Oprah

Another thing that has really stuck with me, was her discussion of discipline. I still feel like I don’t have enough time for everything that I want to do, but I also feel like I am fulfilled in the things that I have to do. I know that I could rearrange my day; I could try to figure out how to get by on less sleep. I also know that it’s not that big of a deal to me. If it really and truly mattered that I fit everything in every single day, then I would find a way. The important thing now is that I learn not to complain about not being able to fit everything in, when it would be nothing more than a different sacrifice if I decided to try. I need to be grateful.

Sensing a theme here? Gratitude and Fulfillment. I’ve written about gratitude in the past, but I haven’t really written about fulfillment much. At the end of the day, all of the little suggestions about finding gratitude in every day, ties into feeling fulfilled in your life. You cannot control every situation, but you can control your reaction. You can take the baby steps to work towards your goals. You can create a vision board with the things that will truly fulfill you. And, you can find happiness at each step. Understand that your journey is (1) yours and (2) a journey. Take pride in the fact that you are on a journey and keep going.

Have you read anything truly inspiring lately? Do you have a way to practice gratitude? Do you feel fulfilled most or every day?

No Dream Too Big

Clearly this is a break from your regularly scheduled WIP Wednesday to lay down a very important message: Nike isn’t racist and everybody claiming Nike is racist clearly doesn’t understand racism. Although I will try to be as diplomatic as possible, I do have strong personal feelings on this issue. Therefore, if the next sentence offends you, you may want to just stop reading and respect that our opinions differ. You cannot claim both that Nike is racist and that Kaepernick’s protests were anti-American.

The flag stands for freedom. We need to just agree on that; that is what I was taught and I truly believe that is what is true. This means that regardless of if I agree with the platform or the timing get, I have to look at the freedom that the NFL protests stand for. To me, that is painfully obvious. I am still unsure if it is so obvious because I am a black person living in America, or if it’s because I am a decent human being. I hate to say it like that, but if you see a protest, do you look at it and say “oh these idiots” or do you try to understand the reasoning?

I have had to learn, that even if I disagree with the way in which people choose to protest, it is to my benefit to try to understand what the protest is about. Most people don’t protest to hop on a bandwagon, or just for fun. For most people there is a deep rooted meaning behind their protest, and for many people the platform that they choose is what they truly believe is best. Which means, regardless of your feelings, you have to look at the causes. You can criticize all you want, but if you criticize without trying to understand them, are you growing as a person?

I was absolutely moved by the new Nike commercial and it has nothing to do with Colin Kaepernick. (It did have a little to do with Serena Williams, TBH.) The message that Nike is sending is that you need to try to do what other people tell you is impossible. If you want it, you should go after it. No dream is too big, wild, crazy, etc. You can achieve anything you set your mind to. Just because Nike chose Kaepernick to promote this agenda, does that make it less strong of a message? I hope not.

Finally, I do want to touch on the boycott of Nike. Nike is speaking to their money with this one. Have you watched that commercial? How many white people did you see? Nike knows what Nike is doing. So, if you truly believe that what Nike has chosen to do here is wrong, by all means, boycott Nike. Say your piece, let your voice be heard. You don’t have to agree with everything that happens in the public eye nor do you have to disagree with everything. Just stay in touch with your values and do what you feel you need to.

Are you feeling strongly about anything right now? Do you hope that you can make a difference in your community? Let me know in the comments- I would love to hear what your “impossible dreams” are!

Remember Me

I have been reading a lot of non-fiction lately, like memoirs rather than my usual educational stuff. And let me tell you, I am loving it. I wish I could talk about myself the way these women (and yes, they are all women of late) talk about themselves. Currently I am reading through Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I love Shonda, in fact this is not the first post attributed to her this year. I have watched every single season of Grey’s Anatomy and I promise I will cry when it comes to an end (and I didn’t even cry when Denny died… much). Here’s what has made me fall more in love with Shonda while reading this book: her honesty.

I feel like we struggle so much with honesty in every part of our lives. I feel like I cower when someone my superior questions me rather than standing my ground. I feel like I sugar coat things with my equals because I am afraid of ruining relationships. In my head, I want to be the woman who burns down bridges. I want to be the woman everybody remembers when she has moved on. I want to be a total and complete badass, but only in my mind.

If you go back and look through my posts from black history month you will notice that everyone, especially the women, was chosen because of some badass quality that I feel is achievable in my head. But that’s it it stays in my head. Shonda Rhimes has some great quotes in her book about dreamers and doers. I know how dumb being a dreamer is. But that does not stop me from letting my dreams be dreams. I suck. I know I suck. But do I really suck? Or am I awesome? I’m awesome.

I am awesome. I am still awesome. I am so freaking awesome I cannot even tell you how awesome I am.

I can say it over and over, but until I do something about it, I am not going to be the woman everybody remembers. I did a vlog about being your own advocate. The entire time I was recording that, and every recording until I stopped forgetting to include things, I had to fight the urge to scream the whole thing. That’s great and all but until I start actually DOing, who cares? Until I stop crumbling and sugar coating and hiding and dreaming, nobody will care.

What do I have to do to be remembered here? I don’t know. I don’t know if anybody can tell me. I don’t know if anybody can tell me the secret to being remembered. I do know that I can start making changes in my life, I can start choosing new yeses and seizing different opportunities and satisfy myself, fulfill my dreams, and I could go on with this sentence forever…

I want to be remembered. I could really careless if I’m remembered for two weeks or twenty years. I just want to make an impact on enough people to be remembered until somebody else comes and does better. And I truly do hope someone comes to upstage me, but not until after I’m gone. The future needs to be better than the present. So if you come after me, please do exceed my accomplishments. But until then, stand back. I have a takeover coming.

This is my time.

A Call for Rebuilding Ourselves

This post will serve mainly as a book review, with some thoughts and feelings I have that I think are universal.

Title: REACH- 40 Black Men Speaking on Living, Leading, and Succeeding

Edited by: Ben Jealous and Trabian Shorters

Let me start by saying there were moments while I was reading this book that in my head I was screaming and clapping in agreement. There were other times when I was like, “man I cannot believe that’s how our nation was then.” And there were times I was like, “I flat out don’t believe I’m reading this.” In short: This book was eye opening.

Collecting 40 successful black men isn’t a challenge. However, when you think about it, how many can you name without help? How many successful black men do you know– personally or famous– that you would say, “man I bet he has a great story.” This was the first thing that made me stop and think and read more slowly as I was going through this book. We all have a story. Every day I read more than one Humans of New York description, I often don’t even care what the picture is, I just take in what others are sharing. Again, we all have a story.

The second thing that made me slow down and read more slowly was how many people I consider family, close friends, a mentor in my life, what have you I could hear coming to life from the pages of that book. Now, let me tell  you, of the men in this book I was familiar with, the information they shared, overall, I probably knew 5% of it at most. Yet, I could still here all these people I know well speaking to me. That told me something. That told me that you don’t need to be successful enough for someone planning to write a book to approach you to share your message. You just need to be commanding enough to get people close to you to listen and you can make a difference.

That being said, I don’t feel like this book made any difference in my life per se. I believe reading this book brought me more in tune with my story, my roots, my upbringing, the goals I already had, to get me to realize “yes you can.” Which brings me to the title I chose for this post. We cannot simply wait for someone else to fix us or someone else to fix our communities. If we care, we must take action. So many people criticize without offering support. So many people make snap judgments and assumptions without trying to learn the circumstances. So many people think they know everything.

Nobody knows everything. If we all hold learning–in any capacity– in a high regard, we will all be positive influences. I truly believe that education can be a currency. As someone with a technical degree, people often ask me what I think about non-technical majors or they assume that I look down on non-technical majors. Often times I remind them that some of the hardest working people I was raised around don’t have any degree. Some of the hardest working people I know growing up are art majors. It’s not always about how much someone is willing to put in that correlates to their chosen path. It’s about someone willing to work at something they are passionate about. Nobody chooses an art degree for many; many choose technical degrees for money. What does that tell us?

That said, bettering ourselves through education helps our society. Understanding what the buzz words on the news really mean help us make informed decisions. As we approach the next election year, there are a lot of candidates saying what they think they want people to hear. I have seen some of the polls, what people think is true and what science tells us to be true are not the same. This is detrimental to our future. We don’t have to be a detriment to our future, in fact it should be important to us to build our own futures. Many of the men that spoke in the book serve the community as mentors in some capacity. What if we all did that? Even if it was just one person, even if it is someone in our workplace or our apartment building, what can we change by being a mentor?

For me, the bottom line with this book, is that we need to find our niche, and then use our niche to help make other successful people. We won’t be around forever, and we have no idea when our time will be up. We should live each day with the idea of the future in mind. We should use the tools our 21st century world has for us. We should work to spread our beliefs (even if they are unpopular; because nobody can truly judge you for right from wrong). And finally, we should reach to be whatever our ideal self is.

Encouraging Our Youth

How soon do we start encouraging people to reach their full potential? When I look back at my life, I can’t remember a time when my mother didn’t tell me I could be doing better even though what I was doing was already great. I know this isn’t the case for everybody and with new opportunities to be a form of encouragement for younger people it got me wondering, how early does it start?

 

I’ve dabbled with some of the metrics on the success of minorities and females in school and the common agreement is that by 4th grade we can already see who’s falling behind. In my opinion, that’s far too young to count anybody out. However, it’s also far too old to start setting the groundwork for encouraging these kids to improve themselves. So then I ask you, when is the right time? Is the right time from the moment they are born? To encourage them that their height and weight is good, but it could be better? I’m being facetious, but the point stands. How early is too early and when is the right time?

 

I don’t think it matters if we start at conception, birth, or when baby starts to show signs of development. However, we absolutely must start when we integrate baby with peers. I think this is important because human beings are inherently competitive. Competitive drive varies between individuals, but there is a part of each of us that wants to be better than someone or something else to prove our worth. I’m not saying that we should encourage competition among these children, but I am saying that telling a child their finger painting was great and they should keep practicing or that they kick a ball around really well but they could kick it even farther if she/he keeps practicing. I think these are important things to teach early.

 

I also think we need to do away with gender and racial stereotypes in relation to performance. In some areas, such as sports, there are individuals that have clear advantages because of their body types. Body types have a great genetic factor which includes race. However, there’s no reason that this should carry over into the classroom. There are things different people are going to enjoy and people harbor different strengths—these are necessary for us to fill different vocational services. However, there’s no reason we should steer a female into a care position such as nursing and steer a male into a science position just because of their sex.

 

I have never felt like I’m bound by my gender identity. I can’t tell you the number of times a day that I think or say something and feel like I need to follow it with, “I’m a woman, I swear.” So I know I defy stereotypes constantly, but I also know that in realizing that I defy stereotypes means I’m all too aware of them. I didn’t choose to enter a male dominated field to defy a stereotype—I chose it because it would make me happy. Likewise, I don’t encourage younger girls to enter engineering because I want them to defy the stereotype, it’s because I want them to realize that it is something they can do. All too often I encounter girls who will admit they like math and/or science but feel like they aren’t supposed to.

 

Someone outside of the home, from the community, from the school, what have you, needs to step forward and encourage a child, or children, that aren’t their own. This is particularly true when someone can be a positive role model for success in life. In the past 3 months I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) to encourage middle school girls, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) to encourage grade school aged children, and take the beginning steps to volunteer with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. In those opportunities that have been completed, I was able to see kids who were truly excited about science and engineering and felt like they had a lot of potential in these areas. For SWE I think this was largely because these children had positive influences in their lives in the form of scientists and engineers. For NSBE I think it was largely because the people teaching these kids got them excited and brought out their potential. Whatever the reason, this is exactly what needs to happen. I’m glad that organizations like SWE and NSBE, among others, have programs out there to promote science and engineering. However, we shouldn’t need programs to promote science and engineering.