On turning 30.

Now that you are three decades in.

You have come to understand that plans are mere well wishes. It is always better to make one, but it is likely that it will not come to past. You wish anyway. You map out your path knowing His scheme is grander. You have experienced disappointments, and you’ve been shocked by your blessings. You know His time is perfect, even if it does not feel perfect at the time. You must fight to remember when things don’t go to plan, they go to purpose.  

Purpose.

Purpose is a word that you must frequently learn the meaning of. Its definition looks different daily. Sometimes it is found in mundane routines, other times it is found in the thing that sets your heart on fire. By now, you would have realized that operating from a place of passion, and operating from a place of purpose are not always synonymous. Difficult seasons are as meaningful as delightful ones. Keep searching for the lessons in each, and keep believing that you were made for more.

You were made for more.

Your purpose and your career are two very different things, and you are blessed when they intertwine with one another. What you do for a living does not define who you are. So, surround yourself with people who love you more than what you can do. When you show up for work, show up with your whole authentic self as much as humanly possible. Consistency is valued more than excellence. The aim is to be consistently excellent, but you'll find that it's more important that you show up than you show off. Quite often, the only way you can make a real difference, is if you bring every part of you to the table.

Write more. Write every day if you can. Even if it is just for you. The heart, mind and spirit have so much to give, and you’ll never know who will be the one to receive it. Read more and read everything. Read from the ones you strongly disagree with. Read about cultures that are unlike your own. Read for pleasure. Read for knowledge. Read for wisdom. It is one of the few things you can’t do enough of, and one of the few treasures that cannot be taken away.

Now that you have matured.

You will realize the journey is more significant than the destination. The degree, the job, the house, even the relationship has more meaning because of the "how". You cannot predict how your year will go, but you can be sure that your life will change. Let that serve as both an encouragement and a warning; Within the next year – within the next decade, your life will be unrecognizable.  

The most powerful moments in your life will happen because you did things "despite". Despite fear, barriers, naysayers, insecurity, circumstances – things you accomplished despite. You must often risk it all to gain it all. Many of your fears are realities based on fiction. You are more capable, more lovable, and more powerful than your fears allow you to think.

Now that you have left home.

Understand that your parents had no idea what they were doing and your upbringing was a product of grace. When you have children, you will fully appreciate who your mother and father were to you. Thank God for everything they did right, forgive them for everything they did wrong. Enjoy them. Find the best in them. Do everything you can to not live in regret.

Spend less time on social media and find more mediums to socialize face-to-face. Take more pictures than you post. Indulge in more fancy dinners than you boast about. Have more achievements than you care to share. Keep some spaces sacred to just you and your loved ones.

Friendships are mostly seasonal, but make the most of each season. Laugh hard, love hard, and be in the moment. Someday the moment will be a memory, and you'll want it to be as sweet as possible. Seek transformational relationships over transactional ones. Focus more on what you have, than what is missing. Focus more on those in your life, than on those who have disappeared. Only then will your heart remain full, and your mind will be at peace.

Now that you have gone through.

Survival is simple. You need faith and hope to push through. Your reason for being must exist outside of your being. People may disagree with you, but make sure you know your truth. Study your truth. Have a personal relationship with your truth. It is the only thing that will set you free. It will set you free indeed.

There's always more to the story. There's always more to a person. Don't assume you know everything about someone, if you're certain they don't know everything about you. You can choose to be offended, or you can choose to forgive. You can choose to be thankful, or you can choose to be discontent. You can choose to put up walls, or you can choose to extend grace. A lot of how you experience the world and people is determined by what you choose.

Choose to give back. 

You have been looking for a mentor your whole adult life, but now you must be what you have never had. Thank the podcasts, sermons and TED talks that taught you – and pour into at least one other. Select her, share with her, and be available.

Now that your body has changed.

Eat and drink as if you’re living forever. Fill it with goodness and occasional treats. You have been fearfully and wonderfully made, but you must maintain it fearfully and wonderfully. Make sure your soul is more beautiful than your body. Dress yourself with kindness. Put on patience. Wear forgiveness. Allow your light to shine through your skin.

You are worthy. Remind yourself daily. No one on this earth has the power to define your value, they can only assess it. Your job is not to change their mind, but to grow deeper into who you are. You don't have to operate in the box they put you in. You can break out of the box that you put yourself in. You are stronger than you think. Your voice matters. Your dreams are valid.

Now that you are three decades in.

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Becoming

To become. To fully embrace oneself. To change or to grow to be.

Whether we appreciate the shifts or not, we are constantly evolving into something new. Our experiences, our interactions and our personal revelations color the way we view and engage with the world. Daily, we become updated versions of ourselves, and the happenings that we experience now serve as our reference point for tomorrow.

When situations seem stagnant, it is hard to believe that we are becoming something new. Yet at the most elementary level, we are at least a little older, perhaps a little wiser and often a little less nimble.

Wherever you stand on the idea of destiny, it is clearly the simplest explanation for the unexplainable. Often, believing that we are somewhat part of a greater plan can help us swallow our life experiences easier. It takes the cruelty away from our casualties and gives meaning to the insignificant.

Until recently, I have never been so desperate to believe that everything happens on purpose. Tragedy has a habit of doing that to you. It is hard to find reasoning in your loss, so you have to hope that it is part of your “becoming”.

Despite it seeming like a cop out, hindsight is always 20/20. I often look back at the “missed” opportunities and failures, thanking God that they didn’t manifest into something more. The job you didn’t get, the relationship that failed, the school that didn’t accept you – it is all part of the process of becoming. It is challenging to appreciate this in the moment, but as time progresses, it is easier to see the reasons why.

Perhaps you’re in a position where you don’t understand why circumstances are unfolding the way they are? Or, you know there’s more to life than what you’re experiencing, but things feel so stagnant at the moment? Maybe tragedy has struck your home and you’re wondering how you’ll ever recover?

 Here lies the hope - if you are still breathing, you are still becoming, and there is still purpose in you being here.

To me, purpose is more than finding your overall calling, your groove or what you’ve been made for. Purpose is discovering what you have been called to do today, and trusting it is part of your becoming. You may be struggling with your circumstance, but how will you survive today? There may be destruction all around you, but how will you create today? You may have a burden to help the masses, but how will you help one person today? Purpose begins today.

Too often we fail to see the divine in the daily. We’re so busy looking for our “a-ha moment” we don’t appreciate the small “oohs”. The workplaces we go to, the conversations we have, the children we raise – the “oohs” – they are part of purpose too. They are part of your becoming.

The ability to reflect is an undervalued privilege. Some of us have to spend so much time being and doing, that we don’t have the opportunity to reflect on who we are becoming. Yet knowing who we are becoming helps us to be and do better. So if you have the opportunity, consider these with me:

·      Take at least five minutes to contemplate what happened in your day  – whether in the evening or the morning after. Think of the things you were grateful for, the things that were challenging, and the things you would like to change. This will allow you to appreciate how you are becoming daily.

·      Feed your soul. For me, it is through scripture, podcasts and sermons. If you don’t have something positive deposited within you, it will be difficult to give something positive back. This spills over into your work and your relationships, so be mindful on how you feed yourself.

·      Recognize what tugs on your heart. What is your burden? Whose life do you want to change today? It may be youth, women, single parents, entrepreneurs, etc. It is uncanny how focusing on people outside of yourself will show you who you are truly becoming,

·      Surround yourself with people who want to see you grow. Although every relationship shapes you in some regard, be aware of people who are trying to stifle your growth or progress.

·      Be patient with the process. This is difficult, but I’ve been reminded of the faith we must have in seeds. Seeds are buried the ground, in the hope that they will become something fruitful. It is surrounded by darkness, and often forgotten about. Yet if you are diligent. If you keep watering the ground and giving it light, a shoot will surely appear. That small seed, the seemingly insignificant, will become something beautiful. We have to trust that in the same way, we too will see the fruit of our becoming.

  

 

Combating Fear (Part 5) - Fear of the Unknown

The future never looks like how we imagined it to be.

Even when we’re convinced we’ve considered every scenario and every possibility, we still manage to miss at least one detail in our imagined futures. The unknown is the bittersweet beauty of life. No matter how much we plan today, tomorrow remains unpredictable. Many of us fear the unknown, despite not knowing exactly what it is we fear. In truth, all that we actually know is that the unknown subjects us to change. A change that shakes us more violently the more we plan for what we believe is coming. It is a change that we have no control over. It is a change that we can only begin to understand when it is here, when it has arrived, when it has been confronted.

Click here to read the remainder of this article on For Working Ladies.

Combating Fear (Part 4) - Fear of Rejection

It is human nature to want to belong. Our very existence has always involved another. We recognize that creation requires connection, and that our expected end involves separation. We crave community, we seek solidarity and we enjoy moments of connectedness that remind us we are not alone. It is therefore no surprise that one of our greatest fears can be rejection.

Rejection is the moment we anticipated an embrace, and instead was met with a denial. It can leave us disoriented, isolated and quite frankly – deeply hurt. At some point, we have all tried to avoid it, because on some level we have all experienced it.

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Combating Fear (Part 3) - Fear of Success

What if you allowed yourself to be great?

When considering our fears, we rarely deem ourselves afraid to be successful. After all, isn’t success the aim? We set goals, create visions, and map out plans to realize our dreams, yet sometimes the thought of actually achieving them scares us.

Arguably, the fear of success is much more deadly than the fear of failure. It is a silent killer that lies hidden behind reels of excuses and justifications. This form of self-sabotage is unexpected, yet more common than we’d probably like to imagine.

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Combating Fear (Part 2) - Fear of Failure

At some point, you are going to fail. It may be messy, it may be painful, and it may be one of the best things that ever happened to you.

The commonality between failure and success is that both require an attempt on our part. Failure indicates a challenge addressed, a dream chased, or an idea executed. Failure signals past hope, and although the outcome was less than desired, at some point we believed enough to try.

Many of us are so afraid of failing that we miss the key step of starting. We abandon our boldest, wildest and most extraordinary dreams for scenarios that are never guaranteed and situations that have not even happened yet. We trade courage for safety and suffer deeply for it.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Click here to read the remainder of this article on For Working Ladies.

Combating Fear (Part 1)

As the year matures and the excitement of 2016 begins to fade, how is your hope holding up?

Quite often after some time has passed, our hope is attacked by our fears. We may convince ourselves that it’s just another year of disappointments, unrealistic dreams and unachieved goals. The weight has not been lost, the job has not been found, and the relationship is still the same.

It’s hard to hope and easy to fear when you cannot see the harvest of the seeds you have sown.

Click here to read the remainder of this article on For Working Ladies.