Featured

Embrace your falls & be RESILIENT…

“Every challenge we take on has the power to knock us on our knees.What’s even more disconcerting than the jolt is our fear that we won’t withstand it.” -Oprah

image2
New Orleans, LA (August 2017)

Can you believe that the year is wrapping up? I am seriously trying to figure out how the time started slipping away! It doesn’t seem like it’s been an entire 365 days since I started planning out my vision for 2017, but whether I choose to believe it or not… it definitely has been. As I begin preparing for my annual vision board brunch, I’m also reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned throughout the year.

Greatest lesson learned in 2017: Embrace the falls… and be resilient. 

On day one of 2017, I declared that it was going to be my year of growth– the year I was waiting to BLOW MY MIND. Believe me when I say it has been exactly what I claimed it would be and so much more than I imagined. At this stage in life I’m sure we all can agree that growth comes with new opportunities–each bringing a new challenge. The starting quote speaks volumes to my year. I had an amazing year mixed with weeks where I was knocked down on my knees, but somehow found the strength to jump back up again. For those of you wondering if I’ve never had crazy things thrown my way–guess again. At 27, I’m no stranger to failure, a little struggle or obstacles that call for resilience— but none of those situations are ever easy to accept.  2017 presented changes in my career and relationships, along with tests of my faith–all which introduced me to new types of obstacles. The good news– I survived, still believing that His plan is greater than my own–even when it doesn’t make sense to me.

If you find yourself facing new challenges, here’s a few tips to help you make it through:

  1. Surround yourself with friends who can reassure you when you need it most. We all need reassurance–not just in our relationships, but also in our daily fight to accomplish our goals. If you don’t have people in your circle who remind you of your power–you’re losing. This year my circle let me vent over bottomless mimosas, told me to suck up my tears and cheered for me when I was performing well. Make sure you have team that will not only be there when you’re soaring, but also as you face your darkest fears. You can’t win your battles alone.
  2. Protect your peace. There is nothing like your peace of mind– I don’t care what anyone tells you. This year I really had to learn the importance of finding time to protect my peace! I found myself complaining more than usual, honestly at times it was for the things I prayed for the most. When I found myself in a rut, I made time to escape. In my field of work, it’s not always easy to leave the stresses of Monday-Friday at the office…news never stops. However, the greatest advice my boss could’ve given me was to find a way to manage my stress to avoid burning out quickly. By October, I finally found myself balancing better. My to-do list doesn’t stress me out as much. I never seem to complete everything on the list–but it doesn’t stress me out. I now make sure I carve out my ME TIME, even if that means doing nothing but watching the sun come up and go back down while sipping wine on my balcony protect your peace!
  3. Don’t lose the fight in you. You can’t avoid the feeling of defeat–it’s inevitable when you’re taking on a new venture and failure is at stake.  I’ll admit that this might go down as my crybaby year, but I’ll take it. I cried on the shoulders of those who knew me best and found solace in their encouraging words, Auntie O’s advice (Oprah for those who are unaware), and held tight to my faith. When things get tough, don’t let adversity define you. Take a moment to breath, find encouragement from somewhere and BOUNCE BACK! Always remind yourself what you’re striving to achieve and why you wanted it so bad. It’s okay to REST… but don’t STOP.

It’s okay to accept the falls– but fall gracefully. Be resilient and jump back in the ring to fight—EVERY SINGLE TIME. There’s still time left in 2017 to knock out your doubts and push through. You got this!

Featured

Bloom where you are planted…

“Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future, stop figuring out precisely how we feel, stop deciding exactly what we want and just see what happens.”

– Carrie Bradshaw

7 months ago, I laid out the vision for my year with friends, a little fun and several mimosas. Of course we all knew there could be a few bumps along the road, yet we still planned and aimed for the best.  I’ll be the first to say NOTHING on my vision board has come to fruition this year, and as a planner, the feeling that you’re not accomplishing anything– can be the SCARIEST feeling! I usually do my first vision board assessment three months into the year–that’s when I realized my career goals weren’t where I intended for them to be.

So what to do you do when your moves don’t match your vision board? Be honest with yourself! Two years ago, I stepped out on faith and moved to the Mac-town (just know I laughed when I typed that)…I’m not a pessimist, but I will admit I had my alarm set to ring off as soon as the second year came to an end.  It’s imperative that you understand that I moved to Macon with the mindset to treat this like a boot camp–learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can and BOUNCE! When I arrived in Macon, I already felt like I was behind my peers who were already succeeding in the news world. Here I was at 25, just figuring it all out and beginning to embark on my career full-time–while many others had been in the field straight out of college. If my journey hasn’t taught me anything–it constantly reminds me that no two people run the same race and the rewards at the finish line will always have a different meaning. For me, I needed time to work through some things personally and learn to trust the process. Sounds so simple– but believe me when I tell you trusting was always the hardest part. My honesty: Macon hasn’t been all bad– In fact, it’s offered me the chance to grow in ways I could never imagine.

“Everything happens for a reason… even if you don’t know what that reason is yet.”  -Charlotte York

While the plans on my vision board were going astray– I learned to celebrate my right now. Year two has clearly wrapped up–and I’m gearing up for year three– which was honestly nowhere on my vision board. My vision board had me headed in a much different direction, but that’s neither here nor there. Today, July 15th, starts year three and I’m actually more excited about my third year than I was for the first! In April, I was offered a promotion with WMAZ and I said YESSS to another two years of growing and witnessing others as they grow. Since I walked through the station’s doors–I’ve made mistakes, I’ve learned from those mistakes, but the wins make it all worth it. *I’m blooming baby!*

“Bloom where you are planted”– said someone once upon a time…

So what do you do when nothing on your vision board is adding up? Or better yet, what do you do when God decides to flip your plans upside down and show you He’s really the boss? *Let me insert that I already knew that… but I’ll admit I still had my own plans lined up without consulting with Him first! We’re all guilty of doing it, so no judgement please.*

  1. Be honest with yourself. Have you really been doing the work to accomplish your goals?
  2. Celebrate your RIGHT NOW! Don’t drown in personal pity–celebrate the small wins and wait on God to show you HE can do the impossible! Your vision board is just a nice reminder to be ambitious!
  3. Bloom where you are planted. Take advantage of the opportunities presented to you. Just because YOUR vision isn’t shaping up, doesn’t mean it’s all bad. Sometimes you have to reevaluate your current situation and just be grateful for where you are in this very moment.
  4. Keep laying those visions out each year! Make your dreams make sense to you–and if they don’t come true on your timing, don’t be discouraged– pray about it, trust the process and know that it’s all working for your good.

My vision board didn’t fall in place this year, but 2017 is still blowing my mind beyond expectations! I’m celebrating my RIGHT NOW–and you should consider doing so too. Thus far, my journey has taught me that your gifts will truly make room for you–all in God’s timing.

Here’s to another year of growth, pushing through the tough days and most importantly celebrating wins– all in the heart of Georgia! Third year’s the charm— right?

image1

Featured

Cheers to taking your time…

img_0283

We are only 3 months in to 2017… and I’ll admit…I have been struggling to make time to write! What have I been doing with my time? Nothing really, just trying to stay afloat with everything on my plate, make a few decisions and find my way all at the same time.

“And be sure when you step…step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s a great balancing act.” -Dr. Seuss

In February, I took a road trip with my boss to UGA for a little job recruiting and impromptu interview session with several students. During the trip we talked about my vision board…which she got a kick out of because we live life differently…I like to think of myself as a bit of a life planner–while she likes to go with however life’s wind blows. Despite our different views on maneuvering through life the one constant: We both believe in working hard throughout life whether you take the planned or unplanned path.

When we finally arrived to the school and started talking to future graduates… I instantly became nervous and excited for them! So many of them have no idea what’s waiting for them when they cross that stage and walk away from school. Some will leave with jobs, while others will be left to figure it out, face discouragement and struggle while trying to find an open door. As I had lunch with a few who couldn’t even fathom the idea of moving back home to a smaller market to start in television…it made me giggle as I thought of my journey after college! Oh how plans change and somehow you end up moving to a town smaller than your hometown, falling in love with the people there and taking joy in what you do every day!

“Everybody has a story…and there’s something to be learned from every experience.” -Oprah Winfrey

About two years ago, when I was struggling to find my way…I read this series of columns on linkedin’s website where professionals shared their thoughts based on the theme,”If I were 22.” So many good notes stuck with me and the quotes live on the mirror in my bedroom. After that trip, I made the decision to go back and read some of those articles as I felt myself reaching a crossroad in my career. Yes, I’m a few years older than 22…but Lord knows I will still take the advice at 26.

The article that stood out to me was Suze Orman’s advice to pace yourself. Although she’s quite successful in her career now, she shared the story of her 8 year period of just trying to figure things out! Be mindful this is no pass to be lazy or throw your ambitions to the side… it’s just a reminder that being hasty isn’t always the answer! Reflect on your goals and rearrange that life map if you need to! Trust me–even though I mapped my life out on a vision board… I’ve also needed to take a few moments this year for reflection…NOTHING MAJOR…just a few tweeks here and there lol.

“Give yourself the time &space to figure things out.”  -Suze Orman

Throughout the years…I’ve learned to trust that He has a plan. Honestly, I feel like every year I have to learn the same hard lesson: “Things don’t happen in my time and they don’t necessarily go as I plan.”  The good news:I’ve  found comfort in talking it out with others and giving myself the space and time to figure it all out. I beg you to do the same!

Cheers to taking your time!

Featured

17 goals for 2017

“The most important journey of our lives doesn’t necessarily involve climbing the highest peak or trekking around the world. The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.” -Oprah, What Oprah know’s For Sure

Welcoming a NEW year, but definitely not a NEW me… honestly, I like the Ciara I’ve grown to be! I can say that this year I plan to grow through new and different experiences, take on new opportunities and continue to become a better me! When I created my vision board, I also wrote down my top 17 goals for 2017… now be mindful that these are not my career goals, nor ideas about how I’ll really make moves this year. I was serious when I said I truly believe you can’t share your visions with everyone! Nonetheless, the 17 goals I have no problem sharing with the world are things I’m positive no one can take from me! Enjoy and maybe you can add a few to your list of 2017 goals.

  1. img_0137Sip Joyfully! No…I’m not talking about drinks here! However, when you sip a drink you have the opportunity to enjoy the flavor and you’re at least given the illusion that it will last a tiny bit longer. My plan this year is to enjoy the special moments as they happen… no rush, I’ll just sip!
  2. Sow the seeds I want to see grow. This year is all about seeing more growth–personally, professionally and in my faith. Will it be easy? I seriously doubt it, but my goal is to take my time sowing, believing that there is a plan for each seed and trusting that He’ll see it through.
  3. Seek direction: I have a billion plans jumping around in my head and clearly I won’t be able to sort them all out alone. This year one of my daily prayers is for guidance. You can’t be great alone and you definitely can’t do it without direction.
  4.  Take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. Opportunities come and they go, but if you let them all pass you by you’ll never know live up to your true potential. This year I’m taking every opportunity no matter how scary they may seem!
  5. I will not waste words on people who deserve my silence. Simple, but petty enough… I just can’t continue to let people consume my energy. Some will end up on the block list, others just won’t receive an answer and then you have those I will have to kill with kindness. Either way I will not give way to negative energy!
  6. “Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before”-Dalai Lama… this goes on my list every year and so far, it’s worked for me. I never know where I’m going, but trust me when I say my bags will be packed, passport is on standby and if I have to get behind the wheel for a road trip–I’m down! This girl is going somewhere!
  7. Speaking positive thoughts. This year I will continue to speak positivity over my life.
  8. Dare to Shine: This year even if get’s a little dark… I plan to shine in all aspects of my life!
  9. Conquer the field: Life is like a game… I mean pick any game you like and just think about how it ends. You will win some games and others you may lose, but there’s always chance to play the game again. I saw this question in a magazine, “Do you think I’m going to crack under pressure or conquer the field?” Well this year I plan to conquer the field–no pressure!
  10. “Listen to your heart…it knows everything.” -Paulo Coelho: My heart is tricky! She is always confused, but I do feel that deep down she has an idea of what my greatest desires are… my heart knows my passions and passion always leads to happiness. This year I plan to listen to my heart a little more.
  11. I will not let the fear of failure consume me. This year I’m daring to dream (I honestly always do…), but this year the thought of failure will not consume me. I always say failure is not an option, but I would be a liar if I said I didn’t think about what would happen if I did fail or if MY plans didn’t work out…and sometimes those thoughts can control how I move. This year…I’m not having it!
  12. Be somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody. My goal is to stay true to myself…continue to make others smile and always treat everyone how they deserve to be treated.
  13. Push myself: This year I plan to push myself to go harder and be a little more disciplined in several areas including the smallest area like drinking more water! Anywhoooo with so much on my vision board if I don’t push myself who will?
  14. Make time to do the things I love. Last year, I spent little time blogging, I didn’t go to the beach as often as I would have liked and a few other things that I enjoy doing didn’t happen. This year I plan to enjoy the little things and make time to do the things that make me happy!
  15. Accept the unexpected: A few experiences taught me this in 2016, but this year I am definitely welcoming this frame of mind. Everything doesn’t have to be planned and sometimes the unexpected things will knock you off of your feet. This year I’m ready for the unexpected.
  16. Finish Strong: I put this quote on my vision board for several reasons. I can’t explain all the details…just know I’m expecting nothing but GREAT things this year. I’m ready for 2017 to BLOW MY MIND!
  17. If I don’t do anything else this year… I will definitely be spending all 365 days CHASING THESE DREAMS! I hope you’ll do the same!

Live the life of your dreams… and remember you have 365 new days to make it happen. Happy New Year! #TheYearofGROWTH #TheYearofWINS

Featured

Lesson #1: Remember your WHY

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” -Mark Twain

ef344904-3de3-4c6b-915d-f3bb322faa90-2I first heard the quote from Mark Twain when I was editing a video for Gulfstream’s Student Leadership Program. Savannah-Chatham School Board’s president at the time, Joe Buck III., was explaining why he’s so passionate about educating students and helping them discover their WHY. It was during a time when I was actually searching to figure out my WHY and struggling to understand why things weren’t moving at the pace I desired. Since then, which was about 4 years ago, I think I’ve discovered my WHY and even more important I know that things don’t work on my time… and you will never understand how much it takes for a planner to accept that! Throughout this year I’ve had the joy of living my WHY, exploring numerous opportunities and enjoying the adventure as it happens… but I’ve also faced frustration and disappointment when things didn’t go my way. The latter part can sometimes make you forget WHY you do what you.

Last month at work we had the pleasure of having a guest speaker come in for something that was like an “pep rally at work.” Trust me when I say we needed a little pick me up! Willie Raines stopped by to crush things, break bats, bend pots…all types of destructive things while motivating us at the same time. Usually he talks to school students, it’s all a part of his anti-bullying campaign, but for us it was to remind us why our job is so important…and why we all need each other to function. To know me…is to know I love a good quote, a good motivational speech… I like to be inspired, so I can inspire others!

 

img_0135Today, I opened mail and received a letter from Joyce Meyer Ministries… it was my favorite bible verse typed out on a cue card (Jeremiah 29:11)… No lie–I almost cried! I just feel like it came at the right time on the right day. It served as a reminder that life isn’t a coincidence and although your circumstance may not be what you imagined always remember that He has a plan for your life.You win some battles and you will surely lose some battles… but when life knocks you down always Remember your purpose in life.

Be encouraged and make room for all the WINS headed your way in 2017! I’m so excited to welcome another year of growth!

#TheYearofWins #TheYearofGrowth

Just in case you were looking for my other lessons… here’s a peak… (#6: Take Control, #5:Let it Go, #4: Accept the Unexpected, #3: Stand Your Ground, and #2: Trust Yourself) I promise to elaborate later! 

Featured

Lesson #7: Guard your heart girl

“Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.” -Carrie Bradshaw… Season 2, episode 18-

42143089-e07f-4a95-ac81-c4a0a9289113I don’t usually share the details about my personal life let alone my love life…because simply put everyone doesn’t deserve to know. However, in an attempt to wrap up my 2016 lessons I have to paint a tiny picture that just happens to include my love life (if I can even call it that)… so just enjoy the snippet I provide :).

As I told you earlier this month, I’m enjoying a blast through the past as I binge watch Sex and the City in order. I’d like you all to know I have finally reached the year 2000! Of course my favorite character is Carrie Bradshaw, but that’s probably because she’s a writer, a hopeless romantic, and a girl who knows what she wants and chases after her goals. I’m convinced she’s my spirit animal.

2016 has been my year of dating… well at least that’s what my linesister Kala seems to believe. I have enjoyed movie and dinner dates, homemade dinners, beach dates, wine tastings, pizza and junk on a rainy day, racing go karts…I’ve returned some calls while I declined others,  added a few people to my block list. What can I say—I know what I like and what I don’t like…and sometimes I just want to get out the house and have good conversation. 2016 has been my year of being open-minded when it comes to dating! Now did anything spectacular come from exploring? Not really… but, I did learn that just because I go on a few dates with a guy, doesn’t mean I owe him a bit of loyalty nor does he deserve my heart. I like to describe myself as a single girl that has enjoyed dating.

To know me is to know I am naturally a nurturer and loyalty is important to me. To give you another view–my bestfriend Toya loves to tell people I’m the nicest person she knows…even on my bad days. However, no matter how nice you are…or how loyal you choose to be… there’s the common knowledge that along with dating comes the possibility of being hurt if you allow others to control your emotions. Unfortunately, sometimes hurt is inevitable…especially if you naturally believe people are more than what they really are. This year I’ve dated people who had an issue with my work schedule (quick negative)…then there were those who thought my job was extremely exciting and that’s all they wanted to talk about (another negative) I don’t want to only talk about news…and then there were those who appreciated the fact that I was goal oriented, but just weren’t a match for me! It’s almost like you never know what you’re going to get. Either way, I’ve learned that when I was dealing with someone I thought was my match and they walked away…that’s it always best to let them GOOOO… they honestly didn’t deserve me after all. Which isn’t really hard for me, because once I write you off– there’s not much left for us to discuss.

“Don’t chase anything, but drinks and dreams”

-the new quote that hangs in my house sums up my 2016 PERFECTLY!

Moral of the story: Take your time, live a little and remember that everyone you date doesn’t deserve the privlege of being your knight in shining armor.

  • Be confident in who you are..
  • Love yourself.
  • Always be good to others even when they treat you otherwise…Let karma handle the rest.
  • Don’t settle for potential alone.

You honestly have to think of yourself as a prize and everyone can’t win the trophy.Lesson #7 is simple: Guard your heart girl…everyone doesn’t deserve it.

“The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.” -Carrie Bradshaw

 

Featured

Lesson #8: Speak positivity in the air

“It takes a great deal of courage to see the world in all it’s tained glory and still to love it..”  -Oscar Wilde-

Day 9, Lesson #8:
15590_10155476092910324_4643082776098399744_nI always tell those considering a career in news that it truly takes special people to work in news, especially local news. There’s not much glitz and glam. If you’re a reporter don’t get excited thinking someone will do your hair and makeup. You are not guaranteed to have a photographer following you around… and chasing breaking news is your job even when it turns out to be nothing. If you’re a producer time will slip away, your show will probably change from what you planned…RIGHT BEFORE YOU GO ON AIR… and if you work any job in production just be prepared for someone’s mic to suddenly stop working and those camera shots along with so much more to change as soon as the show starts. Then there are those moments when everything goes as planned or at least looks clean…and then there are those moments when your co-workers make the chaos worth it and you can get a good laugh in! It’s all apart of the joy and pain of working in live TV.

Aside from those minor details (or what I’ve learned to consider minor), the hardest part of the job can be waking up knowing that the day will be filled with bad news topped off with a little good news. It’s seriously not a job for the weak at heart or for those who let the problems of the world sit on their shoulders. I know those who know me well are giggling inside because this is coming from someone who can be quite emotional in my personal life and also someone who loves breaking news. It can make work an inner battle at times, but for the most part I’ve learned to separate my emotions from work. The goal isn’t to turn cold hearted… I just have to master the art of separation. However, when stories bring a tear to my eye or upset me…it’s just a reminder that I’m still human.

Luckily for me, each Friday there is always a 1 minute video at the end of each show at my station that recaps the positive things happening in Central Georgia. This is Home always reminds me that there is good in the tainted world even when I have to squint to see it. It’s the moment in the week that restores my faith in humanity and encourages our viewers to do the same.

This year one of the biggest lessons my career taught me was that sometimes you have to take a mental break away from the negativity in the world, the cruel intentions of others and find the good in humanity. No matter what your career is or what situations are surrounding you at this moment, speak positivity in the air… it could always be worse.

Featured

Lesson 9: Dare to DREAM

Day 8, Lesson #9:

“Anything is possible if you’ve got enough nerve…” -J. K. Rowling-

Earlier this year during brunch with a few co-workers who have grown to be close friends, I posed the question: “Have you accomplished at least half of the goals you created for 2016?” For the most part they all saw progress in 2016, but admitted they didn’t really write their goals out before the 2016 got underway. With that in mind I immediately knew brunch at my apartment would be focused on setting our goals for 2017.

For me–December is the perfect month to start your vision board. It’s the month we prepare to close out one year and usher in a new one with a little Christmas cheer. December 2014 was my first year creating a vision board and I have been committed to creating one ever since! My linesister Candace sent me a picture of hers and really encouraged me to try it out. My sister and I sat down at the dining room table (or what we call the table of dreams) and immediately got to planning! 2015 was my first year watching all the things I planned come to fruition. It was astonishing! Let me just say–I’ve always been a dreamer and a go-getter… but there is just something about having a vision board hanging in plain sight and seeing my goals each morning that inspires me. I’m a firm believer that when you set goals for yourself and write them out… your chances of accomplishing them are much higher! You strive for what’s in front of you and when you watch it all unfold you want to go harder!

“Any time that you think you’ve hit the top of the mountain, the truth of the matter is you’ve just reached another mountain. And it’s there to climb over again.” -Jon Bon Jovi, Oprah’s Master Class-

I was very selective with my guest list for my Vision Board Brunch. You can’t share your visions with everyone and I couldn’t have picked a better group of ladies–co-workers who have grown to be close friends and Leslie who I’ve known for years! I sent out the evites and waited for responses!

Saturday morning we had a great time! Kicked the morning off with a heart brunch and bottomless mimosas…and laid out several magazines (in English and in Spanish).. started clipping and everybody ended up with a board of quotes! We went through the magazines several times to start grabbing pictures that matched our goals or in some way told our stories. By the end of the morning we had 4 clear visions and enough quotes to keep us inspired all year long! I was pleased and I believe everyone else was as well.

As 2016 wraps up–prepare for all that 2017 will bring Your way. Take time to write your visions out, plan the steps to make them happen, and share them with the people who will hold you accountable when you get discouraged.

If you’re thinking about hosting a vision board brunch or just making a board by yourself… here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Make a selective guest list… guard your heart and guard your dreams. Everyone won’t appreciate your ambition and honestly, you can’t expect them to.
  2. Find some magazines with pictures, random ads, inspiring words…you’ll need it all!
  3. Write out your vision… plan before you start clipping! It will make life a bit easier.
  4. Throw a little booze in there just because–A strong mimosa always lightens the mood!
  5. Enjoy the company of ambitious friends and let the dreaming begin!
  6. DARE TO DREAM… Be bold with the planning of your vision and most of all be FEARLESS!

“Here’s to chasing nothing but drinks and DREAMS! Cheers to the year of WINS!” #2017

visions

Featured

Lesson 10: Invest in your friendships

toya-and-kids“Friendships don’t magically last forty years …you have to invest in them.”

-Carrie Bradshaw

Day 7, Lesson #10: 

So right now I’m binge watching Sex and the City… yes all the way back to the season 1 episodes from 1998! I just felt like I needed to catch up after randomly watching the reruns that come on E! from time to time. Is the show extremely relevant to my life? Not really, but I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t amused! Carrie’s 30-something-years-old friends are my friends.  Plus, you know I love a good quote…and Carrie never fails! The more important take-away from each episode is Carrie’s desire to maintain her friendships while trying to figure out love and life.

For the past 8 years, my best friend and I have either lived in different places or been in different spaces of our lives. But through it all we still managed to be just as close as we were in high school. Toya was there to watch me graduate from college, helped me pack for my move and she has always been supportive as I was trying to find my way! When I don’t have the answer–she knows which way I should move. Do we disagree? Of course! I can even remember a phase where we didn’t talk to each other, but still spoke through our mothers (childish)…but that was still my best friend! I’ve watched her kids grow and managed to be apart of their lives even from afar (those are secretly my kids…she just gave birth to them).My family is her family and vice versa. Before my friends in college ever had the chance to meet Toya… you would’ve thought they knew her.  The moral of the story is that we’ve always made time to make our friendship last!

This year, I watched my best friend of 12 years prepare for graduation, celebrate her success as she walked across the stage and then celebrate again when she started her new job. PROUD is an understatement! I was ecstatic! My only thought was that I’m so glad we invested in our friendship and have always shared our most memorable moments!

Good friends are hard to come across…it’s no secret. As your finding your way with yor friends trust that you won’t always see eye to eye and your lives won’t always mirror one another, but that’s apart of the investment! This year I gained a greater appreciation for my friendships. There is something special about knowing that the people you call your friends will always be there to watch you fall and then ride shotgun when you’re chasing after your wildest dreams!

Take a page from Carrie’s book and always remember to invest in your friendships.

Featured

Lesson 11: Do what you love


image1Day 6, Lesson 11:

“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them.” -Paulo Coelho

It’s my Blogaversary! 2 years ago today I made the decision to channel my inner Oprah and launch my blog! I honestly didn’t have a clue what I wanted to write about, but I knew I loved writing and needed to get back to it. I haven’t written a poem in who knows when, I definitely can’t remember the last time I performed on somebody’s stage… so for me, sharing my thoughts was  a new outlet.

For the past 2 years my followers, along with those who read from time to time have been so supportive! When I realize I’ve fallen off, I’m reminded why I need to hop back on the horse.

Blogging is my happy place…my place where I find the heart of what really matters! Most people don’t even know that the actual blogging component of my site is titled, The heart of the matter… when I first started writing I did what I thought was really cute and closed out every post the same way. I got bored really quickly and realized it was just easier to tell people to visit ciaracampbell.com! Did I figure it out right away—of course not!I say all that to say, what may be clear to you maybe confusing for others… just remember you don’t live for others! Do what makes you happy and if that includes a little confusion on your path just know clarity will one day come. Success is a process.

“Failure is not an option… success is just a process”- Wale

Lesson #11 is simple, do what you love! For me… that’s bringing people the news and then sharing my thoughts here with the hope of encouraging someone somewhere.

So for old times sake… The heart of the matter here is to ALWAYS chase your dreams and remember to do what you love…no matter how tough it seems.

Click here for a look at Lesson 12, “You are not your mistake…”

Featured

Lesson 12: You are not your mistake

Day 5, Lesson 12:image2

Every year I find a way or make one to attend CAU’s homecoming. It just has to happen for me… and this year I found myself explaining WHY it’s important for me to attend to more people than usual. All I could tell people was that for me homecoming is more than just the parties… its about linking up with the people who saw your struggle,  who supported your dreams and then celebrating our success! Even if you’re not where you want to be… homecoming is still the place for you to be… sometimes you just need to be surrounded by successful people to give you that push.

“You are not your mistake, but now you have a choice to go hard or really go home.” – P.Rob

6 years ago this month, I had a lapse of judgement at age 20 during my junior year in college. And for that–I suffered a list of consequences and spent a large amount of time beating myself up and questioning what would become of my future. Looking back on it now… I probably spent more time beating myself up than needed, but when you expect more from yourself you don’t need others to punish you because you’ll handle it first. As my senior year arrived it was still bothering me. When I  was sitting in my professor’s office going over my portfolio, I explained my situation to him. I had been taking classes from him since I first entered the department… joked with him often and took his critiques very seriously, so I felt comfortable to discuss everything with him.When I was done, he asked me if I was through feeling sorry for myself and then said,  “You are not your mistake, but now you have a choice to go hard or really go home. You have gained another strike against you and now you know what you need to do to succeed. It’s simple… either you’re hungry or you’re not.”

P. Rob’s comments stuck with me…after the conversation his whole suck your tears up and keep it pushing attitude made me strive a little harder. Even though it took me a little longer to put myself in a position where I wanted to be… our conversation was important. 6 years later–I still have an extra strike against me, but I’ve accepted that I just have to grind a little harder than others, strive to be about 10 times better than the competition and remember the importance of humility.

Every year I return to CAU for homecoming as a reminder that “I am not my mistake…” We don’t all return for the same reasons…and we definitely don’t all share the same journey, but the one thing we have in common is that Clark Atlanta taught us some of our most important lessons. Homecoming is always a way to celebrate our success with some of the people who watched us deal with our greatest struggles.

Lesson #12 isn’t one I learned this year, but it’s one that I constantly remind myself about. In order to grow, I truly believe that sometimes you have to remember the mistakes you made and encourage yourself to keep moving forward. On the other hand… if you’re not where you want to be in life sometimes you need to be around your friends who are thriving to gain some inspiration and prepare to celebrate your wins.

If you’re struggling with something today–Be encouraged, continue to strive for greater, let your support team do just that–support you…and remember that you are not your mistake.

Here’s a recap from my homecoming experience…I also made my way to Fort Valley’s homecoming to celebrate with friends there too (I was a bit of a homecoming hopper this year).

Featured

Lesson 13: Work hard…stay humble

blog1Day 4, Lesson #13:

As 2016 is coming to an end… I’m planning for my vision board brunch! A small group of friends will join me this year, for a serving of goals and inspiration topped off with some booze and lots of laughter. I’m excited about it! Each year I lay out my visions and plan for the year in hopes that it all comes to pass. Now does everything on the board really happen–Of course not! But planning definitely helps the year flow.

“We have to let go of the life we have planned… to accept the one that is waiting for us…” -Joseph Campbell

When your plans look to be tumbling… dust yourself off and keep it moving! Honestly, your plans can limit you…and hold you back from what you’re destined to be. I watch Oprah’s Master Class quite frequently and often times the person sharing his or her success story points out that their life didn’t go as planned… instead it’s where destiny lead them.

“Be flexible with your goals.” – Robin Roberts, Oprah’s Master Class

Looking at my 2016 vision board…I see my struggle, my plan that changed about 16 times this year and my moments of success. The message that stands out the most is “Work hard… stay humble…” ( which is also a sign I now have hanging over my desk)! I took Robin Robert’s advice and ran with it in 2015…and continued to do so in 2016. I must say being flexible is working in my favor!

“God can dream a bigger dream for me, for you, than you could ever dream for yourself. When you’ve worked as hard and done as much and strived and tried and given and pled and bargained and hoped…surrender.” -Oprah’s Master Class 

As I prepare to create my 2017 vision board, I’m planning out the year with the understanding that things won’t always go as planned, but it’s all a part of growth. I hope you’ll do the same… Dream BIG, be flexible and above all WORK HARD!

Featured

Lesson 14: Be thankful

img_0523
My sisters and I are all living in three different places and experiencing three different phases of life, but they are still a main component of my support system. For that I’m truly grateful.

Day 3, Lesson #14:

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough…” -Oprah Winfrey

During the holidays we tend to be more thankful for our lives, family members and friends. It’s ok… it’s all apart of the holiday spirit! But sometimes you have to take time out of your day to evaluate your life and write out the things you’re thankful for.

I came to this conclusion almost 3 years ago when my daddy was in a horrible car accident. During his 3 months in the hospital followed by several more months of recovery, I watched him regain his strength and maintain a positive attitude. That experience made me step back and realize all I had to be grateful for. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes an upside experience to shake us! Since then I made a vow to write down at least 5 things each month that I appreciate.

Here’s a look at my gratitude list filled with the top things I was most thankful for this year:

  • My family and friends– I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who keep me motivated! If you don’t have a good circle…make the needed adjustments!
  • A career that I love– I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… everyday I get the chance to do exactly what I dreamed of (even on the stressful days)! To top it off my job allows room for growth.
  • Personal growth– There’s so much to say about the self-fulfillment you gain when you you’re happy with where you are in life and who you are.

*To keep up with your gratitude list, grab a journal and strive to write out your list once a month. You can also download several apps to keep track of your gratitude list on your phone.

My mentor has always said, “Anyday above ground is a good day…” with that being said enjoy each moment and always remember to be thankful.

Featured

Lesson #15: Wake up and live!

ciara-blogDay 2, Lesson 15:

2016 was the year I spent in the operating room doing surgeries after midnight, figuratively speaking! This year I finished binge watching Grey’s Anatomy (yes all 12 seasons and finally caught up just in time for season 13)…and LOVED it! So if you’re a Grey’s Anatomy fan you know that Meredith overthinks the simplest things…from the start of her love life with Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd (May he rest in peace) to her friendships and down to her surgeries in the operating room. If it requires a thought…Meredith is going to overthink it! Luckily while she’s thinking the writers always drop a relateable quote for viewers to absorb.

At the end of episode 22 of season 2 Meredith leaves us with this thought:

“Life is not a spectator sport. Win, lose or draw, the game is in progress, whether we want it to be, or not. So, go ahead, argue with the refs, change the rules… cheat a little, take a break… and tend to your wounds. But play. Play. Play hard. Play fast. Play loose and free. Play as if there’s no tomorrow…” -Meredith Grey (Grey’s Anatomy, Season 2 Episode 22)

Do you ever wake up moving in slow motion and still pondering on the things that didn’t go right? Be honest–because I know I do. I’m naturally an overthinker even when I try not to be. According to my friends I overthink relationships, conversations, work and several other things that come my way. Which is why I love Meredith…we’re like soul sisters.

Throughout this year I had to remind myself  that every situation doesn’t require a second thought…sometimes you just have to make a move and trust in the process.

A few notes I wrote in my journal to remind myself to quit overthinking:

  • Every moment doesn’t need a definition…
  • Every relationship/friendship isn’t meant to last… (Which is my favorite lesson that slaps me in the face every year…)
  • Making moves based on anxiety…will leave you stuck forever!

Simply put–when life knocks you down…get back up and play as if there’s no tomorrow. Wake up striving to live your best life…without the extra thought!

Featured

Lesson #16: Never accept defeat

This year I’m switching things up a bit! Instead of only spending one day reflecting on the things I’ve learned in 2016…I’ll reflect for the first 16 days in December. I hope you enjoy my reflections and take time to soak in the lessons I’ve learned throughout the year.

Day 1, Lesson #16:

2016 was a year for the books–as always the good outweighed the bad. As I celebrated my wins–they also came with losses I won’t forget… but with each loss there was always a lesson waiting.

Last year I read the alchemist and loved it! I enjoyed it so much that I read it several times and referred it to all of my friends. I only came across ONE person who disliked the book and went against my recommendation (my co-worker Jeff… who thinks the book moved to slow and it took to long to get to the lesson at the end…) Anywhoooo after reading the Alchemist I started searching for more works from Paulo Coelho in hopes of being inspired and landed at Barnes and Noble purchasing The Fifth Mountain. Sadly, I have seriously been reading The Fifth Mountain all year. I just haven’t made time to read…let alone write for my blog. But as I did read… I easily picked up a valuable life lesson.

“All life battles teach us something, even those we lose”― Paulo Coelho, The Fifth Mountain

Throughout the book you follow a prophet named Elijah as he faces trials and in the end finds victory.  I felt like the book was summing up the story of my 2016! One of the biggest problems I faced this year was focusing on my upsets longer than I should… to the point that I was letting it frustrate me and ruin my inner Oprah! (If you know me well–you know I love Oprah’s spirit!) Sometimes I felt like I just couldn’t win and at times it was quite discouraging.

Thankfully, I’m surrounded by an inspiring group of people to always remind me why I have to keep going. Whenever they say something worth remembering…I write it down and place it in clear view to remind me when I’m discouraged. Here’s a look at some of the quotes that encouraged me to keep going. Hopefully, it will help you if needed.

“Get it together Fav”– Kala

“Refuse to have a bad day!” -K.O.

“CiCi… You don’t get to give up!” -Marv

“Life is about making temporary sacrifices to acquire a wealthier future…Make it happen” –Jocelyn

This year I learned to NEVER accept defeat. Instead, move forward knowing that everything that happens is truly working for your good–even when it hurts.Smile through the pain.

Featured

Face your fears and laugh at your anxiety

“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” -Paulo Coelho

IMG_0311
July marked one year since I packed everything in my Nissan Versa and cried half way down I-16 while headed to Macon. Dramatic…I know, but it’s the truth. Earlier that year I made a vow to “pick a horse and ride it” instead of waiting on things to happen… and throughout the year I did just that. I interviewed in Nashville had several phone interviews…door after door was closed in my face and in the end I took an offer in Macon. Honestly, at the moment Macon just felt like the right move. My interview was right after my birthday, it wasn’t far from home, at the time–the station was drenched in my favorite color (purple) and I would have the opportunity to start as a producer.

The two weeks after I accepted the job flew by and when it was time for me to hit the road, I realized how much I dread change and fear the unknown. Macon was a risk for me…and although I would have the opportunity to grow and learn…I was starting to realize how much life would change. Once I got to work and in the swing of things it all started to make sense. My questions of why I was in Central Georgia started to fade as I was becoming comfortable in my environment.

At this point… I get to wake up every morning and prepare for my day knowing that I get to do the very thing I love to do. Even on the days I am annoyed and easily irritated–I end the day with a smile on my face knowing that somebody’s life is better because of information we gave them…down to the stories about pet adoptions!

Throughout the year, I’ve learned so much on both a professional and personal level. I’ve made mistakes, but for every time I fell–the fight to get back up was so much stronger. I know I say this often: “He always knows the plans…” but for me it is just a reminder that you can’t even dream up half the things he already has in store for your life.

Looking back–it was so necessary for me to pick up and move…sometimes you honestly have to face your fears and laugh at your anxiety. Change is uncomfortable, it’s frightening, it’s everything that you don’t want. However, sometimes discomfort is just what you need in order to become the person you were designed to be.I truly believe that I am where I’m supposed to be at this moment and it’s all because I took the leap of faith, fought my fears and trusted that His plan was greater than mine.

I’m in the heart of Georgia for a reason…and I’m so grateful to be here.

Face your fears, laugh at your anxiety… and if you fall just know that nothing beats experience! Trust His plan.

 

Featured

You win some and you lose some: 15 lessons I learned in 2015…

image

2015 is finally coming to a close and to celebrate the year, I decided to reflect on the top 15 lessons I learned.

15. Plan your goals…and speak them into existence… At the start of this year, I sat down to create my vision board and looking back, I definitely see how I’ve grown since January. When you set a clear plan, you have an idea of where you want to go…

14. Be thankful. There is always a reason to be grateful, even if it’s only for the breath in your body. Never take the simple things for granted.

13. Oprah said it best, “When you do well, when you do your best, people notice…” Humility is always a great asset in life… I’ve truly learned to Let my work speak for itself! The more I focus on working and not speaking about the work…I notice personal growth…I encourage you to keep working and pushing toward your goals! Trust that someone somewhere is watching as you move.

12. Seize the moment! Time does not stand still…and this year I learned from one of my mentors that you should always live like you know this is true!  Lesson learned…take control of your life in every aspect and stop waiting on things to happen.

11. Embrace the fact that seasons change and people grow apart. This was one of the hardest lessons I learned. Everyone won’t be happy when you succeed, including those you consider to be your friends. Everybody isn’t willing to grow with you and once this is revealed to you… accept the fact that it is time to let them go and grow without them.

10. When you see a metal stud…stop drilling! Random…but this was a huge lesson for me now that I live on my own! I was determined to get my curtains up…even if it meant drilling through metal! I later learned that was a NO-NO…and thankfully my building didn’t collapse. I am pleased to share that I have curtains and several pictures hanging now! The BIGGER picture here, is that when you hit a brick wall in life…don’t keep running blindly in the same direction. STOP…THINK ON IT…AND CREATE A PLAN…There’s always a way, it just may not be the one you started with!

9. You win some, you lose some…but when you take a chance… You never really fail. Try, try, and try again. As a child, I always heard “if at first you don’t succeed… Try, try and try again!” Never did I think that I would have to repeat this to myself several times as an adult…but this year this quote kept me going! I learned to encourage myself in the face of adversity, even if that means reciting quotes from my childhood. No matter how old you get, you will always be faced with a challenge and you will always reach a point when you are discouraged… I encourage you to keep trying until you succeed… Remember, it is working for your good.

8. Not everything you think you want deserves you… One of the hardest lessons for me this year, was to stop being so disappointed every time something I wanted didn’t work out. Remember that some jobs aren’t for you, some people aren’t for you, and some situations just aren’t meant for your life. End of story..

7. No two breakthroughs look alike… When life looks a mess, sometimes you’re being prepared for your breakthrough. Eventually you have to trust that it is all working for your good! This year I watched a lot of people succeed in different areas of life..I’ve witnessed friends getting married, graduating from grad school and moving in their careers…and sometimes paying to much attention to the lives of others will have you looking at yours crazy! “No two breakthroughs look alike” was big and bold on my vision board and I had to repeat it several times until I started believing it! Your struggle doesn’t look like everyone else’s so your breakthrough isn’t supposed to look like their’s either!

6. Eat when it’s time to eat. And move along when it’s time to move along. In other words…know when it’s time to move on from one venture and take on a new one…change is always good!

5. Pick a horse and ride it… If you know me, you know this was my favorite line for 2015! What’s funny is that it was on my sister’s vision board and not mine! This year I’ve learned that in order to expand my happiness, I must be open to the many possibilities available…and decide which one I’m going to focus on! I encourage you to figure out what it is that you want for your life and go for it!

4. Smile with the rising sun… Each day is a new blessing and a new chance to make things right. This year I learned to stop complaining about things and rejoice in the small victories!

3. To NEVER stop dreaming… I read The Alchemist earlier this year and the central theme was to never give up on your heart’s greatest desire. I loved it and I’ve read the book twice this year and recommended it to several people. Your heart knows what you really want…and if you don’t chase your dreams…they will always tug on your  heart!

2. Live in the moment…If you always focus on what you think should be, you’ll miss the chance to enjoy the moment you’re living in. When I wrote the post titled I hope you dance, I was accepting that to enjoy life’s greatest blessings you have to live in that moment. When you focus too far ahead, you’re sometimes faced with fear or worry. If you ever struggle with– this Listen to LeAnn Womack’s song, the words will serve as some guidance.

1. He always has a plan…ALWAYS…even when you can’t see it clearly. I was introduced to my favorite bible verse years ago by Dr. Sanders ( my mentor’s dad)… Once I finished performing, he recited Jeremiah 29:11 to me and told me to always remember there is a plan for my life. I’ve carried that verse with me since and it has never led me astray. My personal plans may have not panned out exactly how I thought they were supposed to this year, but they worked according to His will. Sometimes God has a bigger plan in store than what we can ever imagine…and this year he has definitely brought a few surprises my way. The top lesson wasn’t learned in 2015, but it was reinforced. This year I needed to be reminded that God always has a plan even when you can’t see it…sometimes you have to surrender and watch the plan unfold.

The end of 2015 is near, but 2016 is surely on the way…ready or not! Reflect on what you have learned throughout the year, share and prepare for the year that is on the way!

Here’s to 2016, laying out a vision, BUT also living in the moment and accepting all the plans God has for your life…even if it’s not what you imagined. Pray, believe and lean not on your own understanding!

 

Featured

Give thanks with a grateful heart…

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘Thank you,’ it will be enough.”  -Meister Eckhart

Thanksgiving is near, so I was thinking of ways to write on being grateful and I was stomped…Crazy right? While reading the Gratitude section of Oprah’s What I know For Sure, I was introduced to the idea of a gratitude journal…for a decade Oprah journaled each day about 5 things she was grateful for. Honestly, I just can’t see committing to a journal right now and that’s how I discovered gratitude lists. For me, a gratitude list seemed like the best option! The purpose of the list is to serve as a reminder of all of your blessings.

I haven’t really had an issue being grateful this year.  Every time I glance at my vision board and measure my growth…I realize how I’ve been blessed beyond what I ever imagined. However, I still decided to take a shot at creating a gratitude list since this month is all about being thankful! And honestly, you can never have too many reminders.

Here’s my Gratitude List… 10 Reasons why I’m thankful: 

  1. I’m thankful for grace and mercy…and His plan that always prevails over mine… If you know me…you know when I get frustrated with my plans, my favorite line (which my daddy hates) is “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.” Thank God I haven’t had to cross too many bridges without plans. Sometimes, His plan requires us to just Be Still.
  2. I am thankful for my family,friends and mentors who serve as the greatest support team. I have the best support team hands down and for this–I am very grateful.
  3. I’m thankful for my car Shorty who has always been a rider. No seriously, shorty is a rider…she takes a lick and keeps on going. Everybody isn’t blessed with a car like mine.
  4. I am thankful for the opportunity to do what I love Monday through Friday. Even when my show doesn’t go as planned and a glass of wine is needed to close the night…I honestly enjoy what I’m doing and most people can’t say that about work!
  5. I am thankful for good health. I don’t take my health for granted at all.
  6. I am thankful for learning the optimist’s creed…and it’s definitely worth repeating once a week. “Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind…” (Thanks Sonny!)
  7. I’m thankful that I’ve learned to let go. Somethings just aren’t worth holding on to and it has taken me a while to grasp this concept. Life is less complicated when you learn to let go.
  8. I’m thankful for the lessons learned this year. 2015 and the thought of 25 scared the LIFE out of me! I was driving myself crazy each day my birthday creeped a little closer. I just didn’t feel like I was where I planned to be before 25. I’m only 5 months in, but 25 has been one of my best years…I’ve traveled, I’ve surpassed goals, love would be nice–but theres no rush. In fact–25 has been so good to me…I think I’ll just stay 25 forever!
  9. I’m thankful for every experience that has humbled me…because sometimes you never realize how much humility helps in life.
  10. Lastly, I’m thankful for personal and professional growth as well as opportunities that continue to present themselves. When you have an open mind about life’s possibilities, it makes living a life filled with purpose so much easier. For that–I’m so thankful.

Now that you read my list, make your own and then post it where you can see it when needed. Don’t forget to share your list with me!

The heart of the matter is that there is always a reason to give thanks. Don’t take the little things for granted!

 

Featured

Smile with the rising sun…

Jamaica2
“Once a year…go someplace you’ve never been”-Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama couldn’t have said it better and this year his advice worked hand in hand with my vision board. I now have another task to cross off my vision board and honestly…this might be one of the best thus far! At the beginning of October, I grabbed my passport and took a girlfriends’ trip to Jamaica! Trust me when I say–it was an experience to remember! Beautiful people, beautiful landscape, tasty food and fun! fun! fun! To top it off–I traveled with a great group of women and we were all committed to stepping outside of our comfort zones. We spent four amazing days being bold and fearless. We woke up soon as the sun rose,went to sleep long after it set and spent each day on an adventurous excursion!

Let me share the rundown:

Saturday was spent snorkeling in the Atlantic ocean– which was amazing as we learned about sea urchins, fed fish, caught fish and swam over the coral reef. After we finished snorkeling we hopped back on the yacht until we reached Dunns River Falls–where we climbed for what seemed like forever! After we finished our wet climb, we hopped back on the yacht to enjoy a party back to Ochos Rios!

Sunday we went on a horseback ride and swim…horseback riding was different. We had an experience with a wild horse (poor Bianca), left with a few scrapes and bruises, but overall it was exciting! Plus–how many people can say they swam with a horse…in the ocean?

Monday we had a few short hours to enjoy breakfast in Jamaica, walk the strip of Montego Bay one last time and then randomly jump off a trampoline (in the middle of the ocean) before returning home.

Each day was also spent enjoying the resort, learning the culture and trying new foods! The resort staff was so pleasant–I didn’t want to leave them nor the several others we met! Everyone I came across had a smiling face and stories worth sharing.

Aside from the fun, my experience in Jamaica served as a reminder of some key focus points for me this year:

1) To live life with no regrets and always be thankful.

2) To always enjoy the people around you.

3) To smile–even when life is knocking you down…you never know the impact your smile has on someone else.

Throughout this 10th month, remember that you created your vision board for a reason. Set aside time to look back at your vision board and evaluate your progress. Are you accomplishing your goals? Are you encouraging yourself? And above all, are you living the life you wanted to live?

I can happily say that I’m doing all three of those things and learning along the way! My time spent in Jamaica truly taught me to wake up each day and smile with the rising sun… #TheYearof25 #LiveWithNoRegrets

“Smile with the rising sun…” -Bob Marley

Featured

I hope you dance…

“When you get the choice to sit it out or dance…I hope you dance…”

  image
I’ve heard the song I Hope You Dance, by Lee Ann Womack several times. Most recently while watching a movie, then again while sitting in Applebees, and a few days later it was referenced while I was reading Oprah’s What I Know For Sure. So, finally I decided to listen to the song carefully and read the lyrics as well (since the chorus was all I knew).

           I instantly fell in love with the song, along with the message I walked away with each time I listen. What’s crazy–is that it reminded me of a conversation I had with my coworker Sophia. Often times as journalist, we immediately start watching the clock and planning our next move. Again, there is never anything wrong with plans! However, while doing this we often forget to simply enjoy the moment. Make no mistake–this post is not only for journalists…but that’s the perspective that made me open my eyes and reconsider how I was starting to look at things.

         With that being said…it’s so easy for your peace of mind to be disturbed in the midst of frustration… So here are a few things to consider with helpful reminders from the song…

“May you never take one single breath for granted…”

          I don’t know where you are in life or what situation you grapple with on a daily basis…but each day is another chance for you to write your own destiny. Be thankful for that chance.
“I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance…”
        Don’t let fear determine your moves…It’s as simple as that! Life is all about taking chances, even when you don’t understand the risk of the chance. And for all the people who makes logical moves…plan out your moves, but when a tiny bit of doubt exists–promise me you won’t let it stop your moves. Every chance is worth taking and your heart wouldn’t whisper its desires if you weren’t capable of accomplishing them.
“More doors will probably close for you, than the number of doors that open…”

             So much truth lies within that statement…but don’t give up while knocking on doors or as you wait! Honestly, you’re probably so focused on the doors that close…you miss the one that opens. Although doors won’t always open on your time, be thankful for each one you’re allowed to enter. Even when they aren’t what you expected– give it all you’ve got.

“And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…I hope you dance…”

             The message here is simple: Be grateful, enjoy the moment you’re in, and dance as hard as you can! Even when you’re frustrated and have the option to sit it out… I hope you make the choice to dance.

              I challenge you to put your tiny frustrations aside, listen to the song and reflect on how you’ll dance to enjoy the moment…

Featured

The Bloom…

IMG_0183“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

-Paulo Coelho-

As always, Paulo randomly knows best…

At the start of this year, I sat down with my sister to create our vision boards and sort out our goals for 2015.  After a week of plotting, planning and with a little help from my favorite–Oprah, a few old magazines and music…our goals were finally laid out. My vision in a nutshell was to live healthy and happy, love freely, travel and then there were countless reminders that I control my fate. My career goal was to be a producer by 25 and my affirmation reminded me to be fiery and passionate about my ambitions, but most of all be patient.
             So let me tell you now–patience was by far the hardest thing for me and still is today.However, with a little prayer and faith when discouraged…patience became a tad bit easier. January left me with 5 months to accomplish my career goal and an entire year to figure out everything else on the board…or at least strive to figure it out. As time started to pass, I applied for different jobs, had doors shut in my face, met discouragement more than 3 times, lost faith in myself and managed to feel like I was running into a quarter-life crisis! Seriously! Nothing was going as I had planned and my time was running out!
              I have this conversation with several people and every time I enjoy it even more…the thought that life runs on this clock that we can’t seem to keep up with, but feel like we should. Often times, I need the conversation to remind myself that instead of being caught up on time, we should focus on accomplishing the goal and trust if we’re on the right path…all will fall in place when the time is right.
             June 1st, I turned 25…and I was not a producer… I didn’t accomplish my goal on time and honestly it wasn’t as devastating as I thought it would be. Five days later I had a phone interview and 2 weeks later had a face-to-face interview that would later land me the position as a producer. I was ecstatic! The biggest lesson for me was learning to have faith and understand that my time isn’t what really matters.
              The heart of the matter is that dreaming is never an issue if you create a plan of action for those dreams and if you are willing to understand that timing is everything… Above all when in doubt–be sure to ask yourself: Are you working to follow through?
               So here’s to watching my big goal of the year bloom…not on my own time, but right on time…and believing that yours will too…
“Dream big and follow through even bigger…” (The Bloom, Wale).
Featured

Seize the moment…

IMG_9356

Almost a year ago, I had the opportunity to work in studio and the first anchor I told to “Stand-by” was Sonny Dixon. Did he listen? Not at all…In fact he told me I wasn’t loud enough and continued to talk up until the very last second before popping up on air. As time went by, I grew to love his personality, learned to yell at him and he learned to listen to me (for the most part). Our studio time together and several discussions gave me the opportunity to truly learn from him and gain another mentor.

One day, Sonny asked a very candid question, “So what are you doing next?” I wasn’t confused, but at the moment I wasn’t certain about my answer and I didn’t answer firmly. He laughed and said, ” Well nobody said you have to rush to figure it out, but just remember time waits for no one.”

I held on to those words and quickly learned they can be viewed several different ways, be it negative or positive. For example, there’s the notion that time waits for no one and I’m getting old, so I need to make my decisions happen sooner than soon… That’s the negative view which will surely give you anxiety attacks as your birthday approaches each year or you can choose to think of time positively. The positive is accepting that time is precious and you must take advantage of each opportunity when it crosses your path–even if you have to chase the opportunity. Things may not happen on your time or in the order that you planned them out, but time wasted on what should be, could have or the why nots is all wasted time. Instead wake up each morning and ask yourself, “What purposeful move will I make today?” and “Am I taking advantage of my time?”

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…”

I chose this verse because there is truly a time for everything, including retirement. When Sonny announced his retirement, I was sad–my FAVORITE is leaving me! Now, I still get teary eyed quickly at the thought (I hate farewells by the way), but my tears are happy tears! Sonny’s retirement serves as just another reminder that time waits for no one. From observation and knowing his genuine personality, I can tell that Sonny aims to make purposeful moves on a daily basis. I will surely miss Sonny, but he took his own advice and realized it was time to move on to a new adventure and enjoy new moments. I’m sure his retirement and adventures with his wife will be priceless!

The heart of the matter here is simple…time waits for no one, so pick your horse and ride it with confidence. You have nothing to lose, but time…and if that horse doesn’t work out for you–choose another! Time spent chasing the desires of your heart is never wasted time.

Live your life with a purpose, seize the moment and savor the memories along the way.

Featured

Never Stop Dreaming…

IMG_8282Have you ever planned…and planned…got excited about the plan…and then the plan flopped? Well I have–several times and each time I do I get caught up on my age. I’m only 24, but my original plan had me in a different place at this moment. When I first realized my plans weren’t going as I intended, I started drawing up a new map–in a different direction toward a different goal. I’m not saying that’s a horrible idea, I just know that wouldn’t have been appropriate for me. I am a person who builds everything upon self-fulfillment and personally this new goal wouldn’t have been as self-fulfilling. I would have redirected my path knowing that I failed at my passion, but took a turn that would fill my wallet. With that being said I didn’t take that route if you were wondering, so right now my wallet is always on E–but I’m ok with that for now.

“Don’t be impatient,” he repeated to himself. “It’s like the camel driver said:”Eat when it’s time to eat. ..And move along when it’s time to move along.”

About a month ago I had lunch with a friend and as always our conversation was geared toward goals, social issues and a few laughs. During the conversation he asked me to explain my five-year plan in detail. I was honest and responded with my current one year plan and explained that my five-year plan was vague because when I plan that far out in detail–nothing ever goes as planned and then I get frustrated. I told him that one of my greatest downfalls is that I am impatient. I like things to happen on my time as I have planned & God has shown me constantly my timing isn’t always correct. Yet, I refuse to give up. My friend understood where I was coming from, but insisted that I read “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. He simply said, “I promise the book will change your life and if it doesn’t–I owe you.” With that being said I purchased the book the next day.

I will go ahead and admit that each page along with the little shepherd boy left a powerful impact on my thinking as well as my goals–so Tim, I owe you! The entire plot focuses on all the troubles you will face on your path toward achieving your heart’s greatest desires and inspires you to see it all the way through.

“And when you want something…all the world conspires in helping you achieve it.”

I finished reading the book while on a short flight to Atlanta. When I finished I was emotional–not because the book was sad, but because everything came full circle as I applied it to my life. My neighbor decided to inquire about the book and introduce himself. It was definitely random, but I’m used to random because people love randomly talking to me and I just entertain the conversation. As we discussed the book he started asking a billion questions about my life, career, guessed my age and lots more. When we finished discussing the book he said, “Now I understand why you were so excited to talk about the book. You’re a dreamer ready to take risks…and I’m telling you there is no greater time than now, good luck!” All I could do was smile. It was such a coincidence that this writer from California, who was on a random trip in Georgia for a writer’s conference ended up next to me on a plane, missed his connecting flight (like me) and started picking my brain about risk taking and achieving my dreams. I was inspired.

In “The Alchemist,” you’ll follow the shepherd Santiago as he meets strangers, deals with his doubt, stares his fears in the face, loves and works to achieve his dreams in spite of it all.

With that being said–read the book because if I don’t stop here I will spoil it for you. However, I will say strive to be like the little shepherd boy! Dream, defeat your doubt, look your fear in the face and keep fighting for your dreams until they come to pass.

“People are capable,at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”

Know that it is never too late to dream, never too late to redirect your path to focus on the dream and it is never too late to achieve all that you’ve been dreaming of! Take risks, be confident in your risks and watch your dreams unfold. Paulo Coelho said it best, “Never stop dreaming…”

Featured

Pray, believe and lean not on your own understanding…

image

“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive…” (Matthew 21:22)

This morning I received heartbreaking news that the pastor of my church had passed away. The news left a lump in my throat and sent unstoppable tears rolling down my face. It was just something I didn’t expect to wake up to this morning. I immediately started flipping through my church notes just trying to find comfort in words I know Pastor Tyson left with us.

I joined First Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church as a young adult during my college years. My previous church on a military base had closed due to government cutbacks and we were church shopping. As a young adult I was really just riding the wave–I knew I would only attend whatever church during summer breaks and other holidays, so “the church shopping process” was one I wasn’t concerned with. When we visited FJMBC the music was good, the preaching was good and the atmosphere was homey despite the church size. We attended for nearly a year before joining the church.

At 24 years old I can reflect on just about every sermon that was preached at me from Pastor Tyson. I used the term “at me” because I felt like his sermons were always pertaining to something that was going on in my life. I can think of every mistake I made, the tears I’ve cried and then the scripture I was directed to along with the sermon notes. As the shepherd of First Jerusalem his way of teaching the word had that much of an impact on my life as well as countless others, especially the youth and young adults. Pastor Tyson made church engaging, made it feel like pleasure instead of a necessity and made you understand why it is so important to live by the “Blueprint” that God had given us.

The scripture used in the introduction was one Pastor Tyson preached from on May 22, 2011, during his sermon titled “Believe.” He preached about the desires of your heart and then praying on them and believing. He walked down the aisles with the word Believe in his hand and kept saying, “Believe–Believe–Believe…” That sermon helped me the most throughout my senior year of college as I was waiting and watching for my dreams to unfold–and is still very relevant today. When I returned home from my internship in New York, Pastor Tyson stopped me in the foyer to ask about my trip and then asked me what were my future plans & then told me to pray & believe. As I looked through my 2015 notes from Pastor Tyson this morning, they spoke volumes. “Under New Management”– “Living By the Blueprint”–“Commitment”– “Let it Go.”

My heart is heavy because the man who kept me engaged in the word during the years I needed it the most has passed. During the months my daddy was in the hospital, he was there to comfort my family and remind us that God was in control despite all that was happening. Pastor Tyson came to the hospital to visit my Daddy on his first day in the step-down unit before my daddy was a Member of FJMBC. When I think about how Pastor Tyson helped to bring my daddy back to the church after his car accident, I truly become emotional. It just all seems unreal to me. Through his teachings I know that this is no time for our faith to waiver. More importantly this loss hurts as I think about his mother, his wife, his children and the walk they will have to take. I know that in the midst of it all… God has a plan.

Pray and Believe… as this is just another reminder why you should continue to strive for all that you’re meant to achieve. Secondly, trust in the process because the person you are meant to become may impact so many lives without you noticing.

Words to remember during this time: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)… Believe & Lean Not on Your Own Understanding…

Thank You and I love you Pastor Tyson.

Featured

TV dreams & an elevator ride

When I was 22 years old, I was working a full-time position at Savannah Pediatric Surgery and IMG_7514Gastroenterology. While I was there I loved my coworkers and making patients smile at the front desk, but I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to be. However, it has always been my goal to be a hard worker no matter where I am and build meaningful relationships along the way. I knew I had established meaningful relationships at Ped’s Surgery after one of the surgeons approached me inquiring about my life goals.

It was a Friday afternoon when Dr. Carney asked me to walk with him since I wasn’t really busy. On our elevator ride down to the first floor he asked me how everything was going at work. Since I try not to be a complainer–I said everything was well. As we continued to walk to the parking deck he asked me what college I graduated from, what I studied, and if I could have my dream job right now–what would it be? Its crazy because although it’s been more than a year, I can still remember the conversation vividly and I still have the sticky notes with all of his quotes.

[Note to all: I write all good motivational quotes on sticky notes & post them to my mirror.]

After responding to his questions, Dr. Carney looked at me with a box full of charts in his arms and said, “Kid, you’re a hard worker–but I don’t want you working here much longer.” I was confused and it was written all over my face because he went on to explain himself. “It’s not that I don’t want you here, but if you were my kid I wouldn’t want you settling just because this was your first job after college and I’m sure your parents would agree. Let me know if I can be of any help.” I understood his explanation very well and the conversation left me in deep thought as I rode the elevator back up to the third floor.

Everything Dr. Carney said to me during that walk stuck with me while I was working at the practice. Honestly, the conversation couldn’t have happened at a better time. Clearly, I was becoming comfortable although the medical field was never a realm I intended on entering. I was becoming attached to patients, their parents and their stories. Although I was still applying to jobs in news, I was losing sight of my original goal while enjoying comfort.

That same day I kicked my job search into overdrive. I started receiving callbacks and going to countless interviews, most notably my interview in New York for the Page Program. Unfortunately, I was not selected as a candidate for the program. Rejection stings and when I realized I wasn’t going to be wearing a grey Brooks Brother’s suit in the summer–I was crushed! After receiving my rejection notice I received a tremendous amount of support from those around me–including my coworkers at Ped’s Surgery. I picked myself up and continued applying to jobs like crazy! I just kept replaying my conversation with Dr.Carney & the promise I made to leave. In due time a door finally opened for me.

Sometimes the push you need is a combination of rejection, encouragement and someone reminding you that comfort is not an option. Dr. Carney’s conversation was that reminder for me.  Whether you realize it or not, the people who care will always push you when they notice you’re not living up to your full potential. Always, ALWAYS be thankful for the push–it will make all the difference in your future.

NOTE TO ALL: Break free of your comfort zone!

Featured

It’s working for your good…

photo-4Last month, I had the pleasure of having dinner with my best friend and her colleague during their layover in Savannah. As we ate croissant rolls and Texas cheese fries we joked with each other, but also took time to lay all our goals out on the table. Honestly, we had no intentions of sparking conversation that would inspire each of us, but clearly that just comes naturally when ambitious people gather together.

As we began discussing where we are currently, it was clear that we understood the importance of small steps to chase big dreams. More importantly we appreciated the insight from one another. I mean of course the three of us go to work day in and day out and are surrounded by dreamers and doers, but very seldom do you have the opportunity to converse with your coworkers about their dreams. It truly is great to be among like-minded people who understand a struggle, but are far from defeated.

At the moment, Sean and Kieara are flight attendants traveling the world and still find time to nurture their dreams. Sean is a freelance photographer who has found that working for the airline provides him with a new platform to nurture his craft. He now has the opportunity to take photographs around the world! I must mention that the photos I’ve seen are beautiful! Kieara is a recent grad school graduate who felt that being a flight attendant would give her the opportunity to travel freely and the schedule still allows her to work occasionally in her field of juvenile psychology. Currently, I work in news production and understand why accepting my current position was a good move–but I have my eye on becoming a producer before my 25th birthday.

We understand that individually we are where we are…for whatever reason exists. This conclusion was created after less than 2 hours of enjoying appetizers, meals and sampling food from each other’s plates! Although we had very little time, the conversation still remains vivid to me because we aren’t defeated by the trials we’ve experienced or the doubters and naysayers. The heart of this matter is that you should strive to surround yourself with dreamers and doers who understand that the struggle is working for your good. It’s always nice to have friends who appreciate your opinion, encourage your dreams and push you when you forget to push yourself.

After such inspiring conversation I decided to create a vision board with my sister. So for about 2 weeks we slaved over magazines, over analyzed our layouts—but in the end we stayed focused on laying out our visions for the year. It’s been said several times before to write out your vision and make it plain—and that’s exactly what we did.

I encourage you to own where you are in life and trust that this is a part of the plan designed just for you. Know that greater is in store even when it seems so far away. It’s so crazy to think that this all was sparked while enjoying buttered croissant rolls and Texas cheese fries with friends. So here’s to another year of chasing the dreams you’ve always wanted, reaching self-fulfillment and trusting that your struggle has a purpose. Trust me when I say–it’s working for your good.

Featured

Don’t cry because it’s over…Smile because it happened.

If you were ever to ask what my theory on life is I would reply by saying, “That the greatest gift in life is the chance to plant a seed and then watch it grow.” Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to experience this gift while working with All Walks of Life Incorporated leading the organization’s video production projects, but more importantly serving as a mentor to countless youth. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the program, AWOL Inc. is a non-profit organization that uses poetry, hip-hop and life experiences to promote self awareness within at-risk youth. My passion for working with AWOL Inc. is so great because the organization has played a vital role in my life–from high school to college and now as an adult. There is no doubt about it–my experience with AWOL Inc. has been irreplaceable!

My involvement with AWOL Inc. has allowed me to watch as students build meaningful relationships, are exposed to the arts, presented with travel opportunities and grow as individuals. Believe it or not, AWOL Inc. has a special way of tapping into young people and encouraging them to live up to their true potential. There is just something about being in a hip-hop environment which is often frowned upon and then being coached to produce nothing but positive energy through the use of theater, film, sound design and a host of other tools! The environment serves as an escape from the violence that surrounds, peer pressures that exists and a way to keep youth from the trouble that is so easy to find. Programs like AWOL Inc. are at times overlooked, but are essential in the community.

Running a non-profit organization is never an easy task. As an AWOL employee I understand that much more than I did as a participant. As a teenager I never knew when issues existed, when budget cuts were being made or when the organizers or staff members were stressed. Thankfully, these individuals saw the bigger picture and were passionate about working with youth and the overall mission. Unfortunately, a business cannot run on the foundation of passion alone. As an adult, I was so optimistic that an abundance of funds would appear out of nowhere and a miracle would take place. However, they did not appear and I have accepted the reality that AWOL Inc.’s doors are closing. At this point my concern is for the youth of Savannah who rely on AWOL Inc for a sense of security.

On December 21, AWOL Inc. will hold its last event in Savannah, GA and then transition to another city. Everyone knows I’m an emotional individual…especially when it comes to AWOL Inc. So I will admit…I’m heart broken along with my students, but I understand the reasons and I respect the decisions. My current group of students will have seven days left to complete their final project and reveal to the world why AWOL has been so powerful in their lives.  They will have just seven days to say farewell to the program that has provided them with a stage to show their talent to the world and helped them to discover their purpose in life.

Plant a seed and watch it grow–its the way AWOL Inc. has operated and the beauty of the program is watching the seeds that were planted grow so quickly and still so beautifully. The opportunity to watch students learn, grow and then acknowledge their personal growth has been amazing. As my students have been working on their project, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to students discuss how much of an impact AWOL Inc. has had on their lives and what this transition will mean for each of them. It’s powerful and the crazy part is that these kids are more concerned for the youth that will never have the opportunity to experience AWOL Inc.

I promised to get to the heart of the matter each entry, so here it is: Countless youth in Savannah will now have one less organization to turn to as an escape and will never experience the environment that AWOL has offered for more than 10 years. Believe it or not, that is a serious issue. The Department of Juvenile Justice will now have one less alternative program in Savannah to use for referrals. So here’s the question I am posing: Who will create a new environment that reaches out to this group of youth? But more importantly who will assure that programs like AWOL Inc. remain in the city of Savannah and cater to at-risk youth?

I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason and life always comes full circle. So for now, I’ll dry my eyes and keep the words of Dr. Seuss close to me. “Don’t cry because its over, smile because it happened.” Although this transition is unfortunate, I can smile as I’m thankful for my experience with AWOL Inc. I am thankful for all of the people who poured into my life, but more importantly for the opportunity to pour into the lives of some of Savannah’s most talented youth.

I challenge you to enjoy life’s greatest gift–plant seeds and watch them grow…

IMG_0777