Category Archives: Life Reflections

Pushing Past Frustrations

When I started my business, I knew that there was going to be a lot of long nights, early mornings, and valuable lessons. Although I knew that there was a lot that I had to do, I was not prepared. I jumped in head first after I lost my job. I did minimal research and made a lot of mistakes. Nevertheless, I keep going. I am still learning what it takes to start and maintain a successful business. I am also still making mistakes.

For example, I started my business with raw passion. However, passion is not enough to maintain a business. I had all of the intangible stuff, like a vision and a dream. I even had goals written eloquently in my head. Unfortunately, none of that was helping my business. I was spending so much time focused on the non-beneficial things that I was suffocating my business. I had no direction. I had so many ideas and things that I wanted to bring to life, but no mode of transportation. I was just moving aimlessly.

I had to learn how important it is to have goals written on paper and a plan to achieve them. With that, I also learned how important planning and balancing my time is. I am even learning how to make those non-beneficial things beneficial. I am learning how to work harder at working smarter. The secret to all of this is research.

There is so much research that goes into starting a business. You have to research EVERYTHING! There are plenty of times that I got stuck on something and just moved on to something else instead of asking for help from someone who I know has already been through this. This makes a lot of sense because one of my biggest challenges was asking for help. I say was like I am no longer doing it but asking for help is still a bit of a struggle for me. Asking for help only reveals that you are interested in growing and getting better. I am actually learning how to trust this idea but changing my thoughts is where it starts.

Resetting my mind and learning all that I need to learn about running a business is my goal. This is how I am getting over the frustrations that come with getting started. The learning curves, the bumps and bruises, the setbacks, and the poor decisions are all a part of my journey. Of course, success, accomplishments, transitions, and growth are along for the ride. I am not the first person who feels this way and I am sure that I will not be the last. As I learn I share so that others may be able to avoid some of my mistakes. I have switched gears from being passion driven to goal driven. I do not neglect my passion, nor do I ignore it. I have, however, learned its place.

My business is only one year old and I am certain that I will have many more years of growth and lessons. I am confident in this because I want more than what I have now. With that, I am determined to make sure that I accomplish my goals. I have learned and still learning so much about being an entrepreneur. I have been exposed to a wealth of knowledge, some amazing connections, and some dope opportunities.

My unorthodox journey concerns my loved ones and even myself at times. The concern does not arise from the lack of faith but from the state of society. I have always been out-of-order and my colors have often gone outside of the lines. It has been a struggle and it will turn into a memory. I have been one to defy odds and change opinions because I am the change that I want to see. I cannot allow the struggles of being an entrepreneur deter me from living the life that I want and feel I deserve.

As I stated, I had to change my mind in order to change my outcome. What I mean is, I cannot believe that I will be successful if I am too afraid to do what it takes and make it happen. My circumstances cannot change if I don’t believe that I can change them and work towards making the change. This journey will continue to reveal adjustments that need to be made in order to accomplish my goals. I have to be willing to push past the frustrations in order to take the next step.

Fear Didn’t Win

Last night I went to an event at Barnes and Noble for local authors. I was so nervous and almost pulled out of going to the event.

I am not sure how many of you know this but, I am extremely shy when it comes to meeting new people. I understand that some of you are reading this and giving me the “whatever” or “yeah right” face but it’s true. I have been in positions that forced me to come out of that comfort zone, like direct sales. I have sold cars, candles, and even food for other companies but when it comes to me talking about me for me, it gets so hard.

When I first received the email for the event, I was so excited! I started sharing the information with my circle of people and I started promoting. I had a plan as to how I wanted things to look. I knew that I wanted things to be a certain way. I wanted my version of perfection. As time moved closer to the date of the event, my plan crumbled. This is the point where I almost pulled out.

My books were delayed and would not arrive in time for me to be able to have them at the event to sell. The bookmarks that I wanted to give as a gift were not ready. People that contacted me saying that they would come to support started contacting me to tell me that they could not make it. I was concerned with how I would be received by not having inventory for patrons to view. I even emailed the facilitator and looked for a way to get out of going to the event because I didn’t have books available. The way that I wanted things to go, was not how things were going.

The fact that I am reserved made this a perfect opportunity for me to retreat! I was ready to step in my own way and avoid overcoming this hurdle.

Then I thought about what I would be walking away from. I thought about what I would not be showing up to. I thought about the message that I would send to my children. When I stepped back and looked at it, I noticed that I was only feeding into whatever negativity that caused me to feel this way in the first place. It was in that moment that I committed.

I searched for copies of my books that I could use for the purpose of this event. I found a copy of my first book that was faded and appeared less beautiful than what is being shipped currently. I also found a copy of my second book that had fewer cosmetic discrepancies but still was not up to par for my standards. I grabbed them both and said to myself that I would make these work.

The bookmarks that I wanted to make were not ready and I did not want to go without anything for patrons to take away from me. So, I made a few bars of shea butter and peppermint soap and put my website on the back of the bag. I created a shirt with my slogan on it so that when I took pictures it would be visible. I did my hair, put on some makeup and decided that I was going to walk forward, buckling knees and all.

I took those fears and discomforts with me to the event. I even showed a few of those insecurities to the other authors. I showed up with one copy of each book from my promo inventory (these are the books that I kept in the car when I drove for Uber). I didn’t want to put my books on the table because of the slightly used condition.

My gently used book
I shared this with one of the authors at my table and she encouraged me to still place it up there and reassured me that I was focused on the wrong thing as far as the book is concerned. I listened and still placed my book on the table (well, one of them anyway).

I was approached by someone who was initially captured by my appearance and used that as an ice-breaker to segway into collaboration opportunities, speaking engagements, and more. I spoke to another person that described some of the pain that her family has endured for the past few years. She told me that she would go online and purchase both books based on my description and some of what she read in the gently used sample. I spoke to other authors and learned about new ways to market my books and how to be prepared for or organize an event such as this in the future.

When I stepped forward in spite of my fear, I broke a piece of my mold. I shattered the fear that almost stopped me from moving closer to my dream. This event made me realize how much work I have to do in order to build my confidence in me. My confidence in my gift is unwavering but my confidence in myself is where I struggle. I had to change my mind from “everything is going wrong” to “let’s enjoy this for what it is and make the best of it”. I was making a bigger deal in my mind about something that did not even require that type of attention.

I hear people say it all the time, but I realized it while I was at this event…your comfort zone can cause paralysis in your dreams. If you want more you have to reach out, speak out, and move out of your own way to get it. We keep ourselves stuck in positions and situations because we are afraid of a possibility that we create in our minds due to our fears.

I am happy to say that when I stepped into Barnes and Noble, fear didn’t win.

When was the last time you defeated fear?

When I Speak

This poem does not reflect where I am, but it does represent the space that many of us live in daily. Learn the signs of mental distress. Ask the questions and be a part of the solution. I have included a few resources below if you or someone you know is struggling and need assistance.

They say “it’s all in your head” right before they pray for me.
I respond with, “I know that” but knowing is not helping me.
I’m crying out for help while I’m facing this insanity.
I’m hoping that this feeling does not cause the death of me.

I shed tears in silence because sharing them makes me weak.
I have tried to talk about it but no one hears me when I speak.

I am living life like a robot, just going through the motions.
Everyone watches my actions but they don’t consider the notions.
I am trapped in a place where everything I do is wrong.
When I try to escape, the hurts and pain come along.

So I shed my tears in silence ’cause sharing them makes me look weak.
I have tried to talk about it but no one listens when I speak.

I am taking matters into my hands since my actions are what opens your eyes.
But I am not sure how long I can hold on for I am slowly reaching my demise.
I try to keep fighting but I still find myself in this space.
I don’t want to live here, but I am stuck in this dark place.

But I still shed my tears in silence because sharing them will make me speak.
I have tried to talk about it but you don’t see my struggle, you just see me as weak.

If you know anyone that is going through something, reach out to them. Talk to them. Help them. So many people are resorting to abuse, suicide, and homicide to deal with their internal issues. We all go through rough patches in life. Our journeys are all different. Nonetheless, we need one another to survive! We have to be active in the villages of one another.

Take care of your mind! Take care of your heart! Take care of your soul! Take care of one another!

National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-6264 www.nami.org

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 www.thehotline.org

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 www.rainn.org

What Stops You From Asking For Help?

Recently, I commented on a post and shared my thoughts regarding lessons learned and how to help one another. The main thing that spoke to me was the fact that many of us do not ask for the help that we need. I must admit, I am one of the many. I am not prideful or anything like that. I just prefer to do as much as I can on my own. If I ask for help, it usually feels like the end of my option list.

We, as human beings, all need help more than we ask for it or even realize. Although we don’t ask for help as often as need it, we offer it constantly. We actually help each other on a daily basis. We utilize services from one another, we conduct business with one another, and most of us have jobs that even require us to help others. Helping is a way that humans operate in the world.

Since helping is a natural part of life the way that it is, I cannot help but arrive at the question, Why is it so hard to ask for help?

I called my sister and asked her the question. We talked about it for quite some time. She described an incident that caused her to ask the same question. When she told me about the experience that she had, I asked her if she felt that our background had anything to do with it. Needless to say, we both do. As the conversation progressed, we reviewed our individual experiences in life as well as childhood memories. We talked about the lessons that life taught us and what those lessons mean.

One of the things that came up was the fact that we are often conditioned to feel like asking for help is a sign of weakness. We are often shunned or told to figure it out when we turn to other for help. Some people feel that if you cannot accomplish something on your own that asking for assistance is an easy way out. People may even refer to you as lazy because you asked for help but criticize you if you make a mistake because you didn’t ask for help.

We also talked about how those reactions make asking for help extremely difficult. It makes accomplishing tasks and goals that much harder as well. When someone makes you feel bad for doing something so natural, it will cause you to question your actions in the future. I can remember asking questions and being ignored or told to be quiet. My sister shared a few of her experiences with me. Her experiences did not differ greatly from mine, there were just different people involved. By the end of the conversation, we discovered a few things that keep us from asking for help.

1. People don’t ask for help because they are afraid of the response.

It can be extremely difficult to ask for help if you have been shut down or chastised for it in the past. It is easy to understand why you would be reluctant to ask for help. However, everyone is not the same. Situations may repeat themselves but the people will be different and so will the response. The way to overcome this is to know who to ask. There is no reason to set yourself up for rejection by asking for help from someone who you know will speak more than they act. You will never be able to predict what someone will say, but you have the choice to choose a person that you feel will act accordingly. Usually, it is someone who has been there for you in the past and proven themselves to be reliable. You will never know what will happen if you do not ask for help.

2. People don’t ask for help because they are afraid of how they will appear to others.

Perception is everything when it comes to growth and development. Although we cannot control how others will respond to or receive us, we give them so much weight on our life scale. There are some people who are concerned with how others will look at them if they ask for help. I am sure that “others” are not considered when things are going well so they should not be as important when assistance is needed. Focusing so heavily on what others will say or do if we ask for help removes focus from actually accomplishing the goals that we set out to accomplish. Asking for help does not make you look bad, it makes you look smart. If you never speak up and ask questions or get help, you will remain where you are.You should build a support team of people who will guide you when you need guidance so that you can focus less on how others will view you and more on how you can move forward.

3. People don’t ask for help because they are afraid it admits failure.

Admitting that you are wrong is a hard thing to do. It is one of the things that most of us avoid at all cost. More times than not, when we admit our wrongs it causes us to face the facts of a situation and accept that we made a mistake. In addition to that, when it comes to asking for help, we tend to see failure as a stop sign rather than a u-turn sign. There is nothing wrong with making a mistake. Mistakes are actually how we learn. Asking for help can prevent us from making the mistakes that we try so hard to hide. When we get to a point of uncertainty, it is wise to seek guidance and assistance before we move forward. It is better to make an informed decision rather than an uninformed one.

We are hindering our growth when we don’t ask for help, regardless of the reason that keeps us from asking. It would behoove us to learn how to move past these stumbling blocks in order to be more successful in our daily activities.

So, what stops you from asking for help in your personal life, business, or both?

Pack It Up – Working on the move

Anyone that is a creative person will agree with me when I say that there is nothing like finding your groove. If you don’t know what the groove is, I’ll tell you. It’s the moments generated from uninterrupted passion and exploration. The groove is the place where the magic happens for creatives. It’s a great place to be. I enjoy my groove very much. It can be very difficult to find your groove at times. For that reason, I am extremely annoyed when my groove is interrupted. I also understand that as a single mother and a rising entrepreneur, I have to make adjustments and create new grooves whenever and wherever I can.

I have been a single parent for roughly 6 years and I can say that the struggle with that never ceases. At the same time, I can say that the response to the struggle can make all the difference. We can affect the outcome by focusing on the positive lessons that can be learned from each experience. Some of the struggles that affected our lives was my work schedule, workload, and the time I spent away from home. I knew that some things needed to change but I did not know what to do.January 2016, I lost my job and decided to start my business. August 2016, I started homeschooling two of my children.

During this process of starting a business and homeschooling, one of the major lessons I have been learning is how to create a groove on the go. I have to be able to take my notebook, or my laptop, or my phone with me so that I can work while one child dances, one runs, and one plays softball. There are also field trips and educational outings that interrupt our days. This is not to mention the regular flow of life like grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, and general errands.

I have had to learn how to be productive in my entrepreneurial endeavors all the while being a mommy. I cannot lie and say that is was not hard in the beginning. I can’t even say that it’s not hard now. I do know that I have learned a lot since I started. I was always getting frustrated with having to stop right in the middle of what I felt was greatness. I would feel like my kids were not letting me be great. Once I started to think that they were the reason that some tasks had to be postponed, I had to look closer at how I was prioritizing my time.

Of course, there are things that require devoted attention partnered with peace and quiet. I am not attempting to replace those moments. I am, however, interested in making better use of the moments when I do not have those luxuries. I had to not only look at myself, I had to include my children. I was making so many decisions around them without even taking into consideration how they may want to be involved. I had to learn to make their moments mean more just as I was attempting to make my moments matter.

I wanted to know how I could get things done and still be available to my children. I stopped guessing about what they wanted and asked them. They told me that they would like to be more involved with what I do. They want to be on my schedule for more than extracurricular activities. I listened to what they wanted and decided to devise a schedule that works for us all. It provides me with the space I need at times, allows me to accomplish my tasks, and keeps home school running smoothly as well.

In an effort to help keep me prepared for these interruptions, I started keeping “tools” all around me. There are notepads and pens in the car and in every room in the house. I have created a “to-go” back for my computer and notebooks that’s easy to grab and very functional. I have also synced my phone to my computer so that I can transition smoother. I use multiple apps to keep me organized and focused even when I have to pack it up and work on the move.