career · life curation

Minor Disappointments and Setups for Greatness

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all are enjoying a great day wherever you are, and I hope your weekend was fantastic!

Recently, I applied for a part-time position with an online tutoring company. I liked that the position was flexible (that is crucial, given my current schedule) and I figured that it would help me transition into more freelance work. After completing the second round of the interview process, I was informed that I did not get the position. As you can imagine, I was disappointed. I thought I was the perfect candidate, and I felt like I should have made it to the “short list”. However, the company felt otherwise, and they advised me that they would like to keep my application on file, in case they expand and have more openings.

This experience reminded me of something that my mother told me years ago. She said, “If it’s meant for you, nothing and no one will be able to get in the way of you having it”. This little disappointment was just a clear sign that this position was not meant for me. And, upon further consideration, I realized that I actually didn’t want the position.

Yes, you read that right: I didn’t even want that job, if I’m being perfectly honest. I intended that I earn money in a more passive way this year, and this job was quite the opposite of “passive”. It would require a certain number of hours every week, and I wouldn’t be able to delegate these tasks to someone else. Also, this job would involve me occupying a role that doesn’t enhance my future career prospects. In fact, it’s a bit regressive, in a way: I would have to downplay my knowledge and participate in some mind-numbing tasks in that role.

Yes, the role would have brought in more income, but it goes against the intentions that I set. Any action that goes against your intentions is bound to become uncomfortable and unsustainable at some point. Also, perhaps it’s because I’m older, or maybe because I’ve had enough disappointments that turned out to be blessings in disguise, I’m not taking this rejection personally. I’m not right for the job, but that is no reflection on my value as a person. I’ve experienced disappointment as well as incredible successes, and I have seen enough to know that everything works out in my favor in the end.

So, I’m taking this minor disappointment and counting it as a setup for future success. I believe that this position was denied to me because it is not right for me and what I’m creating for my future. It doesn’t fit in my grand scheme, and that’s okay. Additionally, by not clamoring to find some other position to validate my worth as an employee, I’m leaving space for the opportunities that are worthy of my time and attention.

Those are my Monday musings. I’ll have another Writer’s Wednesday post in a couple of days, as well as some other chat during this week. Talk to you all tomorrow!

Uncategorized

Why The Level Up Movement Is Full of Failures

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you had a great weekend. My weekend was busy, and my typical tiredness was compounded by a small bout with allergy symptoms (headache and sinus stuff). Aside from that, it was a good weekend overall.

Today’s topic is probably a bit surprising to you all, since this is not a subject that I speak on frequently. After all, my blog has been about my own journey, and I’ve only casually observed others who may be on the same path. I believe in keeping my figurative eyes on my own paper, so being invested in the activities of others always seems futile and distracting.

That being said, this topic has come up several times when chatting with some of my ambitious friends, especially since they and I are often part of online/virtual groups aimed at providing education, resources and advice to women that want to improve their lives. One thing that my friends and I have observed is how many ladies that claim to aspire to “leveled up” lifestyles are failing miserably at achieving their goal.

This is a topic that has been on my mind for a while, mainly because it always takes me a while to clarify, within myself, what patterns I’m seeing and what those patterns mean. When I see certain behaviors repeating themselves, I like to take a look at WHY this is happening, and how can I avoid falling victim to the same thing.

Here’s the pattern I’ve noticed: a woman decides that she wants to improve her life in multiple areas. So, she joins groups that claim to support these lifestyle changes. She makes a lot of surface changes quickly (new hair, new makeup, new clothes, and learns the “lingo” used within these groups). She posts her “before and after” pictures, and is quickly praised for the changes she’s made, then she goes out into the world, ready to get whatever she wants.

Except . . . The world does not hand her what she wants. In fact, most of what she experiences is only a fraction better than what her life was before. She is perplexed because she’s done all of the things that she was told would lead to her ideal life. But all of her efforts lead to miniscule rewards, and she sometimes gets a lot of criticism and coldness from people that were once her good friends and beloved family members. She doesn’t understand why her new life is still elusive, even after all of the changes she’s made. She ends up feeling discouraged, and before you know it, she’s stop maintaining her “new look” and settled back into the mediocre lifestyle that she was living before.

There’s a simple explanation for why so many women in the level up community end up failing. They are doing the steps backward! Changing the exterior and trying to pass yourself off as “leveled up” is only good if you’re trying to impress in a one-dimensional world (like virtual/online groups). But when it comes to the 3-D world, your facade will crumble if you think that you can skip doing the inner work. If the change doesn’t start with the inside, then you can be certain that whatever progress you’ve made will be difficult (pretty much impossible) to maintain.

One of my mentors from years ago said, “Life is a mental game”. I knew this to be true, but the older I get, the more I see it play out in real life. A lot of people really want to bypass the “hard” work of changing their mindset because, let’s face it, doing the superficial stuff is a lot more fun and easier. But the lives we want are right on the other side of our limiting beliefs, bad habits, unsatisfying lifestyles, and shoddy networks. Our wildest dreams can’t come true until our inner worlds are up to snuff.

I have more thoughts, but I think I’ll save those for another day. I hope you all are doing well! I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Things I’ve Learned About Writing, Editing and Publishing

I’m finally back with a Writers Wednesday post! It’s been a while, mainly because there were other things that were more important for me (namely, getting into a new routine that accommodates my increased offline activity). But, seeing as how I quickly churned out two books (I mention them in my goal update post for March), it’s safe to say that I have some insights on what I’ve learned through the writing, editing, and publishing experience.

About writing . . .

When it comes to writing, it’s far easier to get into my “zone” than it used to be. The more I write, the easier it is for me to write. And since I’m not as critical about my rough drafts as I used to be, I am able to actually complete a book (instead of wasting time agonizing about the right things to say). Also, setting a fixed time to complete a certain number of words daily is pretty useless for me. I know that having a routine is important, but micromanaging every detail of my daily writing routine (such as the number of words to type) is too stressful for me. I give myself a lot of flexibility, and I don’t criticize myself for writing outside of my scheduled time. I do my best writing at 2-3 AM, and I’m okay with that.

About editing . . .

For me, editing is best done in small chunks. I focus on a few pages at a time, and read it aloud, making the changes as I go. And I get through the entire manuscript, then I start all over again. And then I share with friends, to see if it makes sense. Most of my friends are too busy to read my books nowadays, but if they spend a few minutes looking through my work, I’m appreciative. I stop worrying about editing after 2-3 rounds of edits. Anything more than that is obsessive, and it prevents me from publishing my book in a timely fashion.

About publishing . . .

Amazon used to quickly approve manuscripts, then, at some point, they got overwhelmed and the publishing queue became far too long. Now, they are back to quickly approving books again, and I’m thankful. For me, publishing is the easiest part of the process: I’ve done this enough to get through the process easily. Also, it’s a good idea for me to pre-write my book description before I start going through the publishing process.

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Those are just a few of my observations from working on my latest books. If you’ve published a book before, what are some crucial things that you’ve learned? I’d love to hear all about it!

life curation · Uncategorized

Now is a Good Time . . .

Happy Thursday, friends! I have found it difficult to come up with a topic that is interesting enough to follow up the incredible interview I had with Tia Aya. I hesitated to write anything this week, because her story is so profound and I don’t want to follow that post with inane conversation.

However, I’ve taken a long enough break from posting on the blog, so I’m returning with (what I hope will be) useful information. Recently, Goldman Sachs announced a $10 billion initiative to close the wealth gap with Black women. I was thrilled to see this, as I am confident that this initiative will help many women, and perhaps it will even help some women that I know personally.

This initiative brings to mind the fact that many opportunities surround us, some big (like $10 billion) or small (a handy ebook that gives you a blueprint for financial freedom). Sometimes, we only recognize big opportunities, and neglect the small ones that may be seem insignificant but are actually sufficient for whatever phase of life you are in. Opportunities surround us constantly, if we just take the time to open our minds to what’s possible.

f you haven’t been steadily working toward your goals and carving out the time to do your work, then you may find that, when opportunities come along, you aren’t ready for them. Now is a good time to assess what’s working for you, whether you’ve been resting on your laurels, or in what areas you need to improve. If you find that you have to overhaul your entire life, so be it. The reward for doing your work is LIVING WELL. The work is well worth it.

Self reflection is key right now, because we are bombarded with messages that are harmful, and social media “controversies” that distract us from what really matters. There are a lot of things that can cause us to “take our eyes off of the ball”. The lack of attention to what really matters may cause us to waste time and money. We can’t afford to waste precious resources on trivial matters.

If I sound like I’m sounding an alarm, it’s because I am. I’m noticing that there are major shifts happening all around us, and most of us are too busy putting out small personal fires to notice the trends. Our best chance to thrive comes from recognizing opportunities and embracing them fully. But we can’t embrace opportunities that we cannot see, so it’s imperative that we pay attention and eliminate extraneous activities.

I’ll share more about this in future posts, but that’s all for now. I hope you all have a great day! Talk to you all tomorrow.

career · culture · international

Back in School

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you all are doing well, and I also hope that you all had a restful and restorative weekend.

I’ve been busy behind the scenes (as I noted in this previous post), but I wanted to make sure that I shared additional details about what I’ve been working on. I recently was accepted into a certificate program, so I’ll be attending Cornell University for the next several months (that was the entrepreneur training I mentioned previously). I don’t anticipate that this will interfere with my posting schedule, but that remains to be seen.

At this point, I’m adjusting my schedule so that I can (fingers crossed) have enough time to do everything that I need to do. I’m getting back to using one of my old favorites: a planner than maps out your day, hour by hour. That way, I can stay on top of all of the things I need to do daily, and if I need to shift things around, at least I’m less likely to skip a task that desperately needs to be done.

Along with these Cornell courses, I’m taking two free courses on FutureLearn. The first course is Unleash Your Potential: Global Citizenship, focusing on the different opportunities that arise from being a global citizen. The second course is What is International Development (the title is self explanatory). These courses aren’t as intense as my Cornell schedule, so I’m fitting them into 30 minute chunks every day.

Between my classes, my job, and my writing, I am BUSY! But honestly, I love it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t bother to do all of these things. I have some big goals which means I have to take some drastic action this year. There’s no time like the present to work on everything I want to do, so that’s what I’m doing.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more musings, because this recent Harry and Meghan interview has my mind churning! Talk to you all soon.

health · life curation

Fibro Friday – How I Made Peace With My Diagnosis

Welcome to this week’s Fibro Friday! For those that are curious, I enjoy discussing an aspect of my fibromyalgia experience every week. This condition is more than a diagnosis: it’s a shift in my way of life. But as I continue to learn my “new normal”, I find myself seeing the silver lining every single day. And, if my experience can offer a silver lining for someone else, then I’m delighted that I can make this path easier for another person.

One of the most difficult things about learning that I have fibromyalgia is making peace with my diagnosis. It’s so easy to rebel against the diagnosis and throw myself into a cycle of over-extension, then drastically long recovery periods. I resisted this diagnosis for over a year. I would have one good day, try to do as much as I can, then I’d spend the next week in bed because my body ached terribly and my mental faculties weren’t up to par.

Untitled design

I resisted the diagnosis because I hated feeling “less than”. I hated the fact that I had limitations. I really despised being face-to-face with my own frailty and, by extension, my mortality. I hated the fact that I wasn’t who I used to be, and there was nothing that I could do about it.

When you hit your lowest lows, that’s the point where you learn to release your death grip on your beliefs and to accept that your own resistance is what’s keeping you in your pain loop. Those lows teach you so much, but, mainly, they teach you to let this moment, and every moment you experience, be enough. When the moment is enough, you no longer obsess over why. You lean into the experience, and, just like magic, the solutions to your problems start to appear.

For me, the moment I started resisting my pain and just allowed it to be so, I felt a measure of relief. After that, the relief increased steadily. I’m not pain-free yet, but being present in the moment and observing my body – its pain, fatigue, mental fog, and inability to perform tasks like it used to – without judgment, freed me up to find solutions to my pain. My medication started feeling more effective, my mind started to clear a bit, and I started taking note of what physical activities felt like “just enough”, and which activities were overdoing it.

Instead of resisting my diagnosis and judging myself, I started approaching my diagnosis like a clinician. I analyzed my symptoms from a neutral standpoint, and, eventually, I started treating myself better than any doctor could. Much of my peace from my diagnosis is centered around the fact that I view it as neutrally as possible, which allows me to accept the symptoms without villainizing them, and to forgive myself for not treating my body as well as I could have over the years. When you know better, you do better. And I’m finally doing better by my body, which only came on the heels of accepting my diagnosis and moving forward.

That’s it for today. I hope this post encourages you and inspires you to make peace with the things that you can’t change, and to allow that peace to open the door for relief and solutions to whatever bothers you. Take care, and I’ll talk to you next week!

culture · international · life curation

Embracing The Year of the Ox

We recently saw the beginning of a brand new Lunar Year on February 12th. Somehow, I was a bit late this year, and I didn’t realize that the Lunar New Year occurred until two days after.

What can I say? It’s been a challenging year for all of us, and if I miss a couple of holidays, it’s only because this year has done a number on most of us.

Anyway, back to the Lunar New Year. I thought of the significance of this year’s animal, the ox. I reflected back on the last lunar year, the year of the rat. I think of mice and rats, and how these animals, while indicative of abundance (they are always in places with adequate food supply), can overconsume and leave desolation where abundance used to reside. I think the year of the rat, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, was a collective wake-up call. We are abundant, but, as a society, we have taken too much from nature, and balance must be restored.

Enter the year of the ox. This hardworking beast of burden only consumes what it needs to sustain itself, and it’s purpose for existing is to produce through manual efforts. Unlike rats, whose body waste is toxic and often spreads disease, oxen are useful all the way down to their fecal matter, which can fertilize and restore balance to the soil. The ox is sturdy, reliable, and work-oriented. It is the animal that’s most representative of the attitude we need in these times.

I think this year will be a year of restoration and balance. Life will get back to normal, more or less, but what is considered baseline normal has changed. We’ve had roughly one year to stay close to home, spend more time doing domestic activities, and to closely examine what matters to us. Now, we have our work to do.

It’s time for us to produce. We’ve been incubating our skills and talents during lockdowns and quarantines: now is the time to put out into the world what we’ve been creating during our downtime. And yes, I understand that many of us were too stressed and otherwise limited to “create” in the traditional sense. But, our creations need not be tangible: they can be our musings, creative nudges or even inklings of necessary change in our personal lives or in society. We have all created “something” in the past year: now it’s time to unleash it.

May the year of the ox give you great favor and lead you closer to a wonderful existence.

That’s all for today. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Phoning a Friend

Happy Writer’s Wednesday! Last week, I shared two posts about writing and editing. The last Writer’s Wednesday post discussed how I was ‘in the thick’ of editing. The next day, I wrote about summoning muses, or, in other words, how to find inspiration. This week, I want to go in a slightly different direction.

Do you all recall how I wrote about being distracted and putting off my writing a bit? Well, the same (but different) thing is happening with editing. I find myself needing a distraction because being in my head so much isn’t good for me. I tend to pick apart my words to the point where I’m ready to throw away an entire manuscript. And THAT would be foolish.

So, I did what I always do: I called a friend. It goes contrary to what I’ve advised previously, but one of the key things about the writing, editing and publishing processes is to follow inspiration, or intuition, as needed. Sometimes, your soul nudges you to take a break from your writing tasks and simply enjoy being in the moment. For me, being in the moment means enjoying a conversation with a friend.

But it didn’t have to be a phone call involved. I could have worked on my garden plans a bit further, took a walk (the weather was a bit warmer yesterday), painstakingly cook a meal from scratch, etc.,. The activity doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that doing something different from editing offers me a bit of a mental reprieve.

Flexibility has been key. After talking to one of my friends, I was able to jump back into my editing, more charged than ever. Yes, I think I’ll be able to finish my book edits by the end of this month. This is so exciting: I can’t believe that the final manuscript will be ready soon!

life curation · Uncategorized

Stepping Into My Power

Happy Monday, friends! I composed this post a few weeks ago, as I reflected on 2020 and the events that occurred that have changed all of us. I hope you enjoy!

During the past year, I’ve come face-to-face with many challenges. As a result, I’ve been called to speak up more, be less afraid, and honor the space that I occupy. Some of these challenges have been interpersonal, while others have been systemic.

In any case, these challenges have required me to step into my power in a way that I have never done before. I’m embracing this new stance and I’m open to wherever this empowered path will take me. Oddly enough, I suspect other people are having similar experiences. Something about being at home has really pushed me toward deeper introspection, and has caused me to grow highly uncomfortable with anything that has minimized my joy. I figure that I can’t be the only person having these sorts of revelations.

Stepping into my power looks like:

  • Taking naps without feeling guilty
  • Voicing my opinion more
  • Refraining from “explaining” myself
  • Refusing to spend my energy in any way that doesn’t help me or my family
  • Stand firm with my decisions, instead of wavering and being doubtful

I realize that I was beginning to experience feelings of insecurity and anxiety because I hadn’t been stepping fully into my power. Not speaking up and owning my truth unapologetically was making my physically ill.

But I changed all of that. I’m taking small but definite steps to ensure that my needs and concerns are considered. I’m changing what I can, and opting out of anything that causes extreme discomfort. These changes have made a huge different in my life.

Have you felt compelled to assert yourself in new ways recently? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!

words of wisdom · writing

Summoning Muses – How to Find Inspiration

After discussing the problems that I’ve had during the editing process, I decided to reflect on some of the other “problems” that authors usually experience. Lucky us: two writing posts in one week!

One that I’ve heard other authors encounter frequently is lack of inspiration. I’ve written about this before, but I want to revisit the topic. I’ve written about how I like to let inspiration lead, and I stand by that. I don’t normally have this issue, mainly because I have multiple works-in-progress at my disposal at any time. If I feel “stuck” on one manuscript, I just pick up another one. It may not be as linear as I’d prefer, but it certainly keeps me from getting bored.

That, of course, is not the optimal plan for most authors. So I took some time to consider what I used to do when I needed inspiration. I went back to when I wrote my first book (which still hasn’t been fully edited!) and what I did to bust through those blocks that came up while writing. At that time, that was the only manuscript I was working on, so all of my energy and focus was directed onto it.

I recall going outside, taking a walk near my office, visiting museums, or sitting in parks, to help summon a muse or two. During a pandemic, some of these are not consistently available (museums may not be the most accessible places currently). Also, in the Northern Hemisphere, winter makes outdoor walks or times in public parks quite uncomfortable. So none of my usual options are optimal.


That being considered, what should a writer do when trying to summon the muses during the winter season during a pandemic?

Actually, I recommend everything that I have used to distract myself when I should be editing. Clean up your house, watch YouTube videos that have nothing to do with what you’re writing (I have a YouTube channel if you want to check it out), phone your friends, scroll through social media: basically, do anything you can to give your brain a break. Give yourself a firm time frame for indulging in non-writing activities, then relax a bit.

If self control is difficult for you, then go ahead outside and take a quick walk, even if that means trudging through the snow. It’s better to be temporarily chilled than perpetually distracted.

In all seriousness, the muses/inspiration you need is probably just waiting for you to take a break from feeling the pressure to be “inspired”. You ever notice how inspiration always strikes at the most random times? Yeah, it’s a thing. And it only happens when you aren’t “searching” for it.

If nothing else works, take a shower. Something about the water always makes me feel a little more brilliant (Dr. Henriette Anne Klauser discusses this in her book [and one of my favorites!] Write It Down, Make It Happen). The Archimedes Principle, a physical law that has proven consistent over time, legendarily happened when Archimedes was taking a public bath. Now, if he can get strokes of genius while being naked in front of his countrymen, imagine what you could do in the privacy of your own shower!

And if you need a serious kick in the pants, read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (I wrote about the book here). This book always makes me realize how much of Octavia Butler’s thoughts were true, as regards inspiration. She famously said, “First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.” Pressfield concurs with Butler, and while I always feel a little ashamed after thinking what I could have done differently as regards my writing, I always feel a little comforted when reading Pressfield’s work, as it reveals that, as far as authors go, I’m not the only slacker.

Do you all have any recommendations for getting inspired? I’d love to hear all about it!

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