Lay That Thang Down: Not So Random Thoughts Before Bed

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I have a Bible app on my phone. Each day I get a scripture to meditate on. Now let me just be honest. I try to pray before I let my feet hit the floor, but reading the Word is not always my first go-to when looking at my phone. Yes, I need to do better. Yes, I am going to do better. No, you should not judge me. Yes, God gave me the ability to read minds so if you are judging me I will know. Just kidding!

I did however look at today’s scripture first thing this morning. It reads:

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires. Gal 5:22 

Now, most of my friends are Christians. I have a lot of close friends who are ministers, pastors or just flat out servants for the Lord. The main thing that connects us is our love of Christ; however the one thing that keeps us together and accountable is our understanding of our humanity. This scripture speaks directly to our understanding that as much as we LOVE JESUS, adore praise and worship and our ability to slap the devil to sleep on sight we still must deal with the issue of our flesh daily.

The understanding of flesh in this text is not just skin to skin, Marvin Gaye let’s get it on flesh (although that’s a real issue..especially for us single folks). But that’s another blog for another day. The flesh in this scripture is also speaking to our issues with weight or wait (as in I cannot wait to eat..I’m guilty of it), anger, standing in judgement of others or any passion or desire that is not connected to God’s TRUE LIVING WORD. Our flesh will make us cuss somebody out if it is not checked. It will make us envious or even depressed. We will lust more and work less. We will ask for more forgiveness than permission.

Oh yes, that flesh can get us out of pocket if it is not chin-checked daily. And that’s why I must start reading my Word of the Day before my feet hit the floor. What good is an on-time word if you get it after the fact?  How much damage could have been prevented if I had started my day with a scripture?

The reading and hearing of God’s Word does not make you straighten up and fly right. It is the daily application of His truths that make your flesh die so that He can live in you!

Double Dutching Thru Life: Not So Random Thoughts Before Bed

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I have many nicknames: Nita, Bonita Applebum, Shaniqua, Vee, V-Diddy and Mama Vee. If you can think of any variation of the name Vanita I probably have been called it. I have recently been given a nickname that is starting to grow on me: “The General”.  In addition to working a 9 to 5 where I help middle and high school students prepare for college, writing this blog and being the 2015 Top Retailer for So Yummy Products; I am the founder of Gifted Visions Unlimited. My job as a Vision Strategist is to help dreamers put legs on their visions so that they can walk them into their reality. A client that I am working with has crowned me “The General” and I proudly where that name. I give marching orders and expect execution. Otherwise, what good is a Vision Strategist. Right?

However, in our last session my client had an aha! moment. She finally said out loud what I was thinking, “why do I keep double dutching when it comes to getting stuff done?”. These were my exact thoughts. When God gives us a vision, a dream or a gift we tend to want to rock back and forth waiting for the right time to execute. Now, don’t get me wrong, timing is very important in double dutch. Jump too fast, too slow, too high or too low and the rope comes to a complete halt. But in order to figure that out you need to JUST JUMP! Double dutch is just like anything else in life. Practice makes perfect. You play the way your practice. It takes patience, resilience, commitment and stamina to keep going until you find that perfect rhythm. Delivering on the God-given dream requires the same process. The same ingredients for success apply.

When birthing any dream or vision it’s the same concept. You just have to JUMP IN! Head held high, face against the wind with a smile on your face. Have you ever gazed at little black girls playing double dutch? Their sense of freedom, fearlessness and boldness with each step is what black girl magic is made of. What’s even more amazing to me is when more than one girl jumps into the rope. The vision can be shared with your best girlfriends just like the jump rope. In the words of mama “The Warden”: It don’t take all day to do nothing.

So today I triple double dog dare you to jump in the rope. Even if you are scared. Even if you cannot catch the rhythm. Even if your timing may be off. Jump! Head up, chest out and smile spread wide. Jump! Your inner child needs to see the grown woman win in a major way.

 

Hey, Queen V: Not So Random Thoughts Before Bed

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I received an email this afternoon with the following greeting: Hey Queen V! This greeting made me smile so hard. It was just what I needed at the right moment. Isn’t it amazing how God knows when to send a phone call, text, or social media post that speaks directly to your situation. Let me put on my Transparent Trudy dress. I have been in a semi-funk for the last two days. Some of it is because Auntie Florida Evans paid me a visit. Let that marinate. I’ll wait. Did you catch it? Ok, so yeah the other part is that I feel stuck. Utterly, completely, indecisively STUCK! It doesn’t feel good (my body is aching), it doesn’t look good (I am wearing two french braids, an old sweatshirt, and a ripped pair of leggings) or sound good (a friend told me I don’t sound like myself).

But guess what? I am allowed to have a few days of stuck. I am allowed to slow down, to overthink, to have bouts of creative genius and then bouts of self doubt. I am allowed. I cannot smile this away. I cannot pray this away. I cannot inspirational quote it away. I must feel the uncomfortability of being in a strange, but familiar place. Why? Because this place is taking me to the next level. There is growth in feeling this uncomfortable place. This place is teaching me to get quiet and seek God’s face and space. It’s telling me to get my finances in order so that I am not moved by the amount of commas or zeros in my back account. This place is telling me to go lay down. Get some rest. Drink some green tea and plot my next move.

But, when the Lord knew I had been in this place too long He put it on someone’s heart to email me with the opening line, Hey Queen V! And sometimes that’s all that’s needed to get the ball rolling. To get the creative juices flowing. To get back in the race. To pick up where I left off. To be more, do more and require more of myself. Or, maybe just to be okay with saying “I cannot stay here too long but thanks for the place”.

Let me put this crown back on and get to work. In the words of the infamous Little Kim, “wanna rumble wit the bee, huh?”  I’m not throwing any hexes, but I am slapping fear and doubt to sleep with the hand of righteousness. Oh my slap the devil to sleep game is strong. Check my record.

Catch me at the next crowning!

Where My Girls At? Not So Random Thoughts Before Bed

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L to R: Andrea, Quian, Anjanette, Me, Markeisha, Karma and Courtney aka “My Girls”! 

Love was in the air this past weekend. Cupid was probably on high alert and didn’t even have time to shuffle this weekend. For the last 6 years that I’ve been single I’ve spent Valentine’s Day with my children. We usually go feed our faces and hangout. Well, now that my almost 20 year old has had a boo-thang for the last 3 years it’s normally just me and the youngest kiddo partaking in food and fun.

However this year, my work BFF (Courtney) and I decided to hold our first annual girls retreat for our 9 t0 5 job during Valentine’s Day Weekend. We are both Assistant Directors for a pre-college program that has worked with the same group of students from 7th to 11th grade. The young ladies in the program have asked for a girls retreat since the young men attended the Black Male Summit at the University of Akron last year.

They asked. We listened. They came. We rocked it!

We had a great time laughing, bonding, playing spades, meditating, and relaxing. This weekend was so fun, rich in experiences and boundless opportunities. I would like to share the Top 5 Things I Learned from the “Where My Girls At?” Retreat:

  1. Teach Early. Teach Often. Our facilitators for the workshops were at one time program participants or student leaders for the program. These facilitators are now college graduates or on their way to graduation. We allowed them the opportunity to provide workshops based on tools, resources, and techniques that they acquired in college to help manage stress, the demands of school and walking the slippery slope of having one foot in childhood and one foot almost in adulthood. We need to teach our young people how to manage emotions and stress in healthy ways and environments EARLY and OFTEN. In the words of the great Frederick Douglass: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
  2.  Never Sleep on Forgotten Dreams. At the end of the retreat, I told the girls a story about me going to one of the best high schools in Detroit and graduating with just a 2.143 GPA (literally by the skin of my teeth). I told them how if they gave out grades for being the most creative skipper I would be a straight “A” student. But I also told them about a conversation that one of my best friend’s (Quian) and I had one day while riding the iron pimp (the bus) on our way to skip once again. We said that one day we were going back to our high school and tell all of the young girls what not to do. See our lives were full of stories that could make the pages of a New York Times bestseller. If Sista Souljah, Zane and ReShonda Tate Billingsley got together and made a book gumbo it would be about our high school and young adult shenanigans. This retreat was a partial manifestation of my forgotten dream.
  3. Servant Leadership Is My Cup of Tea. I am a follower of Christ. Point Blank. Period. Make no apologies about it. I serve from the heart and then the head. At times it gets me in trouble, but it never leads me in the wrong direction. I can say there are times that I ask for forgiveness rather than ask for permission because my first thought is what is in the best interest of the people I am called to serve. I am a social worker by degree and in the words of my first black male social work professor, “Jesus was the first social worker on record, so what’s the issue?” This retreat pulled on my servant leadership skills to think of the needs of the students outside of just solely academic. What good is an academically skilled student who cannot manage relationships, make connections and master their fears.
  4. It Takes Two To Make A Thing Go Right. Have you ever encountered someone in your life and wondered why God put them in your life? Well, when it comes to my work BFF, Courtney, I have never had to wonder, question or ponder God’s plan for our divine connection. She is the peanut butter to my apple. The tootsie to my roll. The seafood to my jumbo. The kettle to my corn. The green to my smoothie. Ok let me stop. Now most folks reading this won’t understand these metaphors but SHE will because she knows me so well. For most people who work outside the home the majority of our day is spent with people who are not blood related. However, Courtney has always felt like family to me. And what better opportunity to have than to work with your family. We tag teamed the hell out of this retreat as we do most events and projects. The process was seamless, filled with passion and easy like Sunday morning. We know what we are thinking without saying it. Our eyes speak volumes and we laugh at ourselves throughout the process. Our skill set compliments one another and we are oh so sure of our lanes and we stay in them.
  5. Utilize Your Investor as a Training Ground. This entire weekend was a revelation to me. I was once told by a coach that we should reach for the ripest fruit. The ripest fruit is normally at the top of the tree. Well, this retreat was low-hanging fruit for me. It was something easy, accessible and it came second nature to me. My challenge now is how to make the next retreat for my students bigger and better by reaching for riper fruit that pushes both of us in a way that stretches my imagination and stretches their capacity to receive the tools they need prior to starting college. My ultimate goal is to work full time for myself helping others live out their wildest dreams and visions. Because I have worked for youth for over a decade I thought maybe it was time to hangup my hat and work with a different population. But, this retreat has shown me that young people need what Courtney and I bring to the table. So, while I am stretching myself to reach the ripest fruit, this low hanging fruit needs to be nurtured, developed and cultivated.

Stay tuned. Courtney and I have some big things up our sleeves. #TagTeamBkAgain. 

 

Come Out of the Shadows: Not So Random Thoughts Before Bed

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The picture above is so profound. The woman proudly displaces “I’m A Winner” in the forefront. However, in the background her eyes are covered by the Aaliyah bang and it’s very blurry. I have to also note that she is smiling. Or is she? Can we really tell if it’s real or fake like Patty’s hair that Alexander O’Neal sang about? And that good people is how a lot of us (myself included) live out life on some occasions.

In the forefront is our outward appearance of hey, I’m doing me! I’m winning on all cylinders and levels. It’s all good. I got it going on. But really in the background there are times that this is furthest from the truth. And in those times, just like the eyes that are hidden from us by the Aaliyah bang we tend to hide.

As I become more and more passionate, knowledgeable, and informed about my gift of helping women put legs on their visions so that they can walk into their new reality (yes, that was a not so shameless plug for Gifted Visions Unlimited) I have experienced this contradiction on so many levels. I took many of the necessary steps to position myself to answer the call on my life. But there are times that feel like I have put the fullness of my dream on hold and the elevator music is playing in the BACKGROUND. Was I scared? Sort of. Did I believe in myself? Not all the time. Would I promote other people, places and things to prevent me from fulling committing to myself? Bingo!

You, me, her, she, WE have to stop hiding behind the bang. It only serves the enemy’s agenda when we play small. When we doubt our gifts and talents. When we say “I’m A Winner” in the forefront of your mind, but in the recesses of your mind you doubt if there is a winner in you the enemy wins. Plain and simple. Straight, no chaser (for all of my none drinkers that’s code for no juice or pop with this drink).

We must stop ordering a side of self sabotage with the filet mignon dream. Get off of the menu of doubt. You don’t need another person to confirmation what you already know. You are enough. Get the bang out of your face and start really winning!

Get Over It, Not Under It: Not So Random Thoughts Before Bed

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When life throws you bricks learn how to build a bridge and get over it. Never get consumed by the burdens that weigh on your shoulders.~Mama V

Hey! It’s been a minute since I have committed my thoughts to this blog. I am in the midst of a lot of exciting, new, and mind-faith-thought stretching activities. So instead of doing what comes second nature to me–multitask; I decided to focus on one task. In the words of my director,”master, then move”.

Tonight I want to briefly discuss bridges. Yes, bear with me I do have a destination for this post. I want to relate our lives to two types of bridges. One in song. The other in structure..

The meaning of a bridge within a song is typically used to pause and reflect on the earlier portions of the song or to prepare the listener for the climax. Just to let you know when you see bolded portions of my blog, just know that I am about to go ALL the WAY IN!

The definition of a bridge as it relates to a structure is: a structure carrying a road, path, railroad, or canal across a river, ravine, road, railroad, or other obstacle.

Now what I see with my spidey eyes is that a bridge has two uses. First, it is a place for us to pause, reflect and prepare. Secondly, it carries us down a road, path or obstacle. Somebody cue the shoutin’ music because I am about to go ALL the WAY in up in here, up in here. You mean to tell me a bridge allows me to stop and go?

Think about the last time you walked or drove on a bridge. Ten times out of ten you took your sweet time making your way across because there was tranquility or a feeling of awe as you crossed over from one side to the next. Now for folks who are scared of heights, you may have mustered up the speed of the Tazmania Devil to quail your fears, but you you still took the path.

Everyone comes to a “bridge moment” in their lives. A moment where you need to pause, reflect on an earlier time in life and then prepare for what’s to come. Execution is the key to manifesting what is in you. Reflection is important. It is what separates the human beings from the human doings. Like my mama says “it don’t take all day to do nothing”.

You may be at a “bridge moment” that includes a winding path, traveling down the road and you encounter obstacles. That doesn’t mean you stop. It means that you must now figure out how to continue. This will take pulling on brain capacity, strength and emotions that you have not tapped into. Because once you get on the other side of the bridge the feeling of relief and accomplishment will remind you of why pushed so hard.

“Build a bridge and get over it or play the victim and stay under it.”~Mama V

The wonderful thing about waking up everyday with air in our lungs is that we are allowed the opportunity to make a conscious decision at every turn to either get over it or stay under it. It’s really that simple. There is no magic formula. No genie in a bottle. No oil in a container. CHOOSE! And the blessed thing is that when you know different, you allow yourself to CHOOSE different. We need bridges in our lives and in our songs. It’s the only path to take that let’s us hit the high notes in life!