Forecast for 2015 – Slow & Steady Wins The Race

Confirmation is all around you!

That is the sentiment that came to mind when I opened my Christmas gift from my cousin/sister-friend. Her purchase was a silver charm bracelet that included 4 charms: a green gemstone, a 1st place ribbon, a star, and a tortoise.

I immediately loved the present because it was simple and classy, but upon further reflection I realized the weight attached to this dainty surprise. It wasn’t a simple bracelet with trinkets. No this wrist ornament was confirmation of the journey I have been on. It was proof that I was on the right track and just needed to keep trudging along. As if to place an exclamation to this point, the card that the bracelet was attached to reads:

Determined ~ Slow and steady wins the race

How timely of a message, as I get ready to close out 2014, in anticipation of 2015 and all of its expected blessings. I forecast that 2015 is going to be a great year, one of abundance. However, I don’t intend for the bounty to just fall into my lap. On the contrary, I am determined to be steadfast and persistently consistent in manifesting all of my dreams!

Although I was already on the course, it’s nice to receive a surprise reminder that the race is not won by strength or speed, but by endurance and an unwavering faith – that the impossibilities are all possible, in due time.

So I shall continue to run my race knowing that I have found my stride and I am in my season, so I shall reap my due harvest!

As we approach the New Year, it is commonplace for people to choose New Year’s Resolutions. I, however, tend not to set resolutions. I figure, why wait for the New Year.

  • Why not choose to live a life where you become determined to go after all that you desire and aspire to do and be?
  • Why not wake up every day being firm in your convictions to make your fantasies, a reality?

Have you ever wondered, to yourself, what is stopping you from living out your dreams?

I hope you decide to name the obstacle and then jump over it, get around it, or go through it – but whatever you do – keep going! Remember, slow and steady wins the race!

And when we look back at this post, at some later date in the future, we can be glad that we decided to get started AND that we kept moving!

To you and yours… I wish you a happy holiday season and a DREAM Changing NEW YEAR!

Happy 2015!

“Persist with a heart full of gratefulness for what you’ve overcome (past) and what you have yet to accomplish (future)!” From Dr. Donna 🙂

Life Purpose: Tips from Besties Oprah & Gayle King

Recently, business had me needing to increase my airplane travels. During one of those flights, I decided to peruse the newspaper that my mother gave me earlier that day. As I glanced through the issue, I came across an article about Gayle King. The interview focused on her discussing her professional career. Although the entire conversation was interesting, what grabbed my attention most was her statement that “we all have to figure out what works best for us”. Ms. Gayle offered that comment when describing that in order to find happiness in life, we each needed to define that for ourselves. This one single line resonated with me because earlier that morning, prior to heading into the airport, I had taken an online quiz provided from the Oprah’s Life You Want Weekend resource library.

I have previously blogged about the Oprah Weekend, you can read about it here: https://donnadoctora.com/2014/09/08/oprah-life-you-want-weekend-entry-3-highlights-from-the-weekend/

Now, back to the online quiz that I took. The results of the quiz suggested that I scored highly in the areas of Self-control, Life purpose, and Self-awareness. I was able to rate well in these areas because at this stage of life, I am living with a very clear purpose. I must admit that it feels absolutely awesome that I rated my life purpose so highly and that I wake up each day invigorated because my life has meaning. I guess this is the fruit that comes from loving what you do!

But, isn’t it ironic that besties Oprah and Gayle King are so in-sync that within the same 24 hours – I was taking a quiz about my life’s purpose from one and reading an article about defining life from the other. I don’t believe in mere coincidence/happenstance, so I thought it was pretty cool that these two seemingly isolated events occurred on the same day!

And what was even more mind blowing was the fact that this was all taking place on the tail end of my participation in the NYC Pitch Conference.

I have previously blogged about the NYC Pitch Conference, you can read about it here: https://donnadoctora.com/2014/12/17/the-difference-of-a-day-your-american-idol-moment/

There I was completing a conference that validated the notion of me “the writer”, and then I received indirect confirmation from Oprah and Gayle that life is indeed about how we define it for ourselves!

In January 2014, I created a vision board and saved it as my laptop screen saver. Within that vision board, one image simply states “social-emotional leader”. Slowly, but surely I am working my way towards manifesting that statement. I feel blessed that I have discovered my life purpose and I am working within it!

It is what I wish for each of you – to be given the vision of why you are here on Earth… to discover what is your bigger mission… to figure out what you can do to leave this place, our world, a little bit better than you found it. Go OUT and define your purpose!

Strange Conversations… Words of Encouragement.

I sit here with tears streaming down my face…

Have you ever been touched by the kindness of a stranger?

Below is an email conversation that I was having with a stranger. I was so touched by his kindness I had to blog about it…

  • Stranger: It’s God’s will in control .xo
  • Me: Yes. God has the ultimate plan. I desire to be a mom, and God promised me at least 1 biological child – so I’m holding him to that promise.
  • Stranger: You’re a warm and friendly woman. Absolutely beautiful too. I will pray for God to show favor. Love them babies. You go girl! God bless!
  • Me: You’re going to make me cry! Amen, I receive that blessing and confirmation! We serve a mighty and awesome God 🙂 I thank you for your kindness. I wish you love and happiness 🙂
  • Stranger: Oh don’t cry sweetheart. If you’re alone don’t be afraid because God certainly has a plan for you. We are to find joy in our suffering. A sure thing He knows what you want. He is by your side alive in you now.
  • Stranger: His will, surely will – bring a beautiful baby into your life and that special man too. Xo.
  • Stranger: With the love I feel from your heart, you’re going to be an amazing mother. I’m praying for you. I won’t stop. God bless you. As for that lucky man somewhere out there, he will realize that he hit lotto with you. Lol

So what was so amazing about this above conversation??? Because, here was a stranger willing to intercede upon my behalf, and why, because he believes in the power of God! I think that’s awesome!

Especially, because recently I have been worrying about the blessings I am waiting on God for! And in the midst of my doubts and wondering, God sends a messenger to remind me that God is ALWAYS in control of all things, has not forgotten me, and intends to make good on all of the things I am still waiting for…

This conversation moved me to listen to Andrae Crouch’s contemporary gospel song “Let the Church Say Amen”. Here are a few lyrics from the song:

When we receive a word from the Lord, our answer should be Amen!

Verse 1: Make this your response, Amen – No matter how you’re feeling (Amen) or how your world is reeling (Amen). Battle on through the night (Amen), because you’re going to win the fight (Amen).

  • Even in the valley (Amen), or standing at your Red Sea (Amen) – continue to say (Amen), because your help is on the way! 
  • All we needed was a word from the Lord, and we got it! (Amen)

Verse 2: When your dreams about to die (Amen), Knowing that God’s not a man (Amen), he just can’t lie (Amen)

  • In spite of what (Amen), what the devil does (Amen), Know you got a word (Amen); that comes from above (Amen)
  • Faith must be (Amen), must be what you say (Amen), so open your mouth (Amen), say Amen today!

I pray that you find encouragement, in whatever you are struggling with and through. Remember that God hears you, sees you, and loves you! In the complete plan, you are blessed and shown favor – you just have to hold on to that promise and keep doing your part!

Go out and be a blessing to someone! You just never know how you might touch them! They may be waiting on that message, as I was. Good thing my stranger decided to share the message God had given him, as it was intended just for me!

Desperation: when all hope seems lost – Do the Impossible

Have you ever faced a moment when all hope seems lost, gone, and dashed? When the weight of your burden seems to get heavier and you start to see any and all solutions as impossible?

I’ve had moments like that – where the desires of my heart seem so far off from the reality of what currently is…

You see – one day I started contemplating that I’m almost 40 and still haven’t met my soul mate, which gets further complicated because I desire to have at least one biological child. Yes to many my situation would seem bleak – and to be honest on that day, in that moment I started to think so too!

I started thinking there are so many other single women that desire to meet their soul mate and desire to have children, so why should my fate be any different than theirs? As the dark clouds of despair started to encroach on me, I could feel the misery starting to set in… I started to resign myself to accepting a future that is missing the husband and baby.

Because there was NO WAY any of what I wanted could happen within such a short space of time. It just didn’t seem humanly possible. And that’s why the realization came, this issue wouldn’t and couldn’t be fixed by man, I would need divine intervention.

Then another thought popped into my head – as if it fell from heaven, I had a desire to hear an inspirational song. Because, music helps to refuel my soul when I am feeling down and out. The song that dropped into my spirit and my heart is Fred Hammond’s “They That Wait”. It is a contemporary gospel song based upon the biblical verse of Isaiah 40:31, which states:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they should mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (King James Version).

I so needed this reminder because when you are going after the desires of your heart, you can become very weary when those desires do not manifest right away.

In the end the reality was still that I was nearing 40, single, and waiting to bear a child. However, that was the outward current reality. The encouragement of the song reminded me to not fixate on what is and instead focus and move towards what will be.

So the lesson learned in all of this:

  • The impossible is possible – but not when you are so focused on your current situation that it keeps you stuck there
  • The impossible is possible – when you turn to a higher source, God, to keep you energized, motivated, and positive; so that attaining your dreams remains possible
  • The impossible is possible – when you stop comparing your life path to others, and focus instead on making your life the way you envision it

Path to Happiness = Shake IT Off (Taylor Swift style)…

Today I wanted to talk about living a life that is fulfilled and that feels chocked with purpose, promise, and happiness. However, I wanted to discuss these ideas within the content of Taylor Swift’s song, Shake It Off.

Initially, I enjoyed Taylor Swift’s song Shake It Off just because of the musicality. As an eternal dancer, I thrive on grooving to an awesome beat! However, for some reason that song dropped into my spirit, this morning. So I Google’d the video and found it on You Tube. As I twisted around to the beat, I stopped for a moment and took a pause. For the first time I listened to the lyrics. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that not only was the beat awesome but there was actual substance to the lines of the song.

In the second verse, Taylor sings:

I never miss a beat,

I’m lightening on my feet,

I’m dancing on my own,

Make the moves up as I go…

I shake it off!

I LOVED that! These words resonated with me because they emphasized resiliency, hope, encouragement, and confidence; all ideas that I focus on.

Let’s look at a few lessons we can learn from what presents on the surface as a lighthearted song.

I never miss a beat – This line made me think about the importance of continual progression. Keep moving, keep striving, and keep going. We all have dreams, but sometimes it’s really easy to lose momentum because we start to doubt, we lose hope, or we become impatient.

I’m lightening on my feet – Think about lightening. It’s a quick flash and burst of energy! The pursuit of anything will require energy, but sometimes we all feel burnout. We’re stressed, overworked, and sometimes questioning our purpose. If you find yourself in that space, you need to get reenergized! What helps you burn stress and feel like your running on all cylinders? For me, it’s dance and Bikram yoga. You should take some time to figure out what helps you feel recharged.

I’m dancing on my own – Happiness is truly an individual pursuit, meaning only you can define what makes your heart sing. So stop trying to keep up with Sally and Tom Jones. Seek to discover what your personal passions are. It may require you to be a trendsetter. Setting trends can feel lonely and a little nerve wracking, because you’re putting yourself out there! However, to do anything less means to cheat your self from living a full life.

Make the moves up as I go – Too often so many of us want a step-by-step delineated plan. However, life is usually unpredictable! So we need to just go with the flow, of life, trusting our instincts and faith in God to help us navigate the twists and turns of life.

Taylor ends the stanza with the words Shake It Off! So although we need to: 1) keep making progress, 2) learn how to recharge, 3) be unafraid to set trends, and 4) be flexible – in all things it’s important to forgive ourselves! If we miss the mark, we make a mistake, we hit a dead end, just remind your self it’s all a part of life! And THEN — Just Shake It OFF!

The Difference of a Day: Your American Idol Moment

There is the old adage that states: “What a difference a day makes!” Indeed these words ring true, because so much can happen in the space of 24 hours.

Five days ago, I left my home in Atlanta to travel to New York City. A place that was once home to me is now a place that I enjoy visiting. As a native of the Big Apple, I will always have an affinity for it’s fashion, passion, and grit. However, this particular trip was not purposed to take in the sights. Though I must admit that I did make time to see the 34th street Macy’s window displays, to grab a slice of authentic NY pizza, to eat dinner with close friends from college, and to buy a pretty top at a sample sale in the fashion district. But enough of my digression, this trip’s mission was to determine if I had what it took to be a commercial author. I was scheduled to attend the prestigious Algonkian 2014 New York City Pitch Conference.

A few days prior to the conference, I came across a statement that I jotted down:

“Some moments I wonder if I am being presumptuous attending the pitch conference and if I’m ready… Just going to trust God’s order of things – we shall see what happens when I go in two weeks”

It is quite clear that I was being reflective, and felt confused, unsure, and even fearful. Would I “cut the mustard”, and be deemed as an equal amongst my peers. However, despite any and all reservations, I boarded a plane and traveled the 747 miles from Atlanta to the city of Dreams, to see if I could make it there.

There was much that occurred during the four days of the Pitch. However, the conclusion was that my work was well received by the two editors: one from the second largest independent publishing house and the other from the respected Harper Collins publishing house. I must say that I am still somewhat dumbfounded by the whole thing and the closest that I can come to expressing what I felt is to share my instant reaction. I wanted to run outside and yell in American Idol Fashion “whoo-hoo I’m going to Hollywood”. However, I did not. I maintained the cool and neutral, poker face that I am well known for.

Who knows what happens next? Maybe manuscript gets picked up for a book deal or maybe it doesn’t. No matter the outcome, two messages resonated loudly with me this weekend:

  • I am who I SAY I AM! A small voice inside of me believed with all of its soul that I was a writer. It’s what brought me the conference. Two reputable publishers validated that small voice, this weekend. But this doesn’t just work for me – this works for YOU too! You are who you say you are! Think it, believe it, and then go out and make it happen!
  • You just never know what the new day brings. So cherish each day – be appreciative! But also, fight through discouragement because your breakthrough might just be right around the corner!

YOU are you everywhere you go!

I once fell in love with a man that shifted my whole entire world… those are the words spoken by almost every typical love struck woman. And I am no different. There was a time that I was spellbound by this man. At the time, I honestly believed that I would have done anything, for him.

I was so enamored that I sacrificed my profession, my own personal interests, and even my sanity. His interests became my interests, his needs became my priority, and keeping him happy became my focus. I was so hyper-focused that I truly believed that life would be well “once I got everything right within the relationship”.

I continued on this path of self-sacrifice until I arose one day and no longer recognized myself. I had become a shell of the woman that I once was; confused, disappointed, and no longer confident in my own judgments, beliefs, and desires. Eventually I rediscovered by spine and decided to leave that relationship. However, what I didn’t count on was the fact that although the marriage was no longer, I was still the same woman who had morphed herself to fit the man.

There is a quote by author Neil Gaiman that states: “wherever you go, you take yourself with you”. I always found that quote interesting and somewhat curious. Yet I now found it very applicable to my journey of self-growth because I never took the time to examine why was I changing myself to fit another.

So there I sat, finally ready to examine the part of me, that would give her self away for the sake of “love”.

A few years back, I recall reading an interview with Jessica Simpson where she offered the advice that women shouldn’t change who they are for a relationship. She came to that conclusion, after her own experiences of attempting to change to please a man. Although her advice is logical and important, how often do we find ourselves doing the opposite? Wanting to hold true to “keeping the peace” and “making the relationship work”, or needing to be a nurturer and tending to everyone else’s concerns and desires, at the sacrifice of our own feelings, wants, and needs.

Through self-discovery I have come to understand a few things:

  • We must first love and know ourselves because it establishes boundaries of how we will engage with others
  • To know oneself is a lifelong journey – a process of self-exploration that is eternal
  • Love does not require us to diminish who we are for another. In fact, love allows us to expand and be all of who we are with another

Life Isn’t Fair! Learning to battle inner fears & doubts…

Have you ever been obedient and felt that God was still somehow punishing you? Or let me phrase it another way – have you ever felt like you’re doing all of the right things, yet life doesn’t seem to play fair?

I bet you have had moments where it seems no matter how you play this game called life – other people were dealt a better hand!

I wanted to share with you, that even the moments of upset, discord, and setback are useful to God. How can that be, you wonder? In Romans 8:28, the bible states that “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose”. This verse in Romans helps us to understand that even when we think we’re taking “two steps backwards”, God will use that deterrence or rejection to elevate us, for his glory.

I recently experienced a situation where I was granted a wonderful blessing and then it was taken away. God had given me the vision that I was to become a dance minister, and I was hesitant but eventually excited to be “called” (i.e., chosen). However, a few months later I was to learn that I would need to choose between going through the dance ministry program and going through the author school to publish my books. I was astounded!

If God had called me, how could I be placed in this position of having to choose? And, if I was moving in God’s purpose, why was I being delayed? You see – it didn’t make sense to me that this is what God intended – for me to have to choose between writing and dance, yet there I was and a decision had to be made. I was perplexed, unsure of the path to take. When I took an honest stock of my feelings, I realized at the heart of it was a fear and a doubt. Am I good enough to put my dancing on hold in order to pursue this journey of getting my books published?

When I did that honest assessment of my hesitancy, and realized that fear was at the root – I then challenged myself to remember that God gave me the vision, so God will send the provision! And maybe, just maybe, he moved dance aside so that there would be enough room for Donna, the writer.

So my message to you:

  • Remember that all things, even the disappointments, hurts, and tears are useful material for developing you into the you that is necessary for the future
  • Often times fear is the main culprit that robs us of chasing our wildest dreams
  • Believe that you are good enough and amazing enough to bring about all the visions that God has planted deep within your heart
  • Now go out and do something amazing to live out your God given purpose

Is it truly a Wonderful Life? Learning to Live…

I was going through a rough patch. Life seemed to not be working in my favor. However, during one of my moments of despair, I was told: “your life is wonderful. You have a better life than most”. I was perplexed. What did the speaker see that I couldn’t see? How did we both look at my life and come to vastly different conclusions. You see, he saw potential where I saw a dead-end, and he saw hope where I saw despair. We were both looking at the same Donna, yet it was through very different lenses. Although his comment did not lessen the blows that life had dealt me, it did cause me to reflect a bit.

A few things came to mind: I recalled my mother reminding us, as children, that: “things can always be worse” and my grandmother saying: “you never miss your water till your well runs dry”. So what did these two colloquialisms have in common? They both pointed to the idea of appreciation and taking things for granted.

After pondering for a bit, I realized that it’s so easy to become engrossed in the missteps of life, that we forget all the things that go well. We take for granted that the sun rises every morning. We tend to overlook that our heart remembers to beat and that our lungs choose to take in new oxygen. However, the moment that any of these daily occurrences were to stop, we would crave for the time and chance back to appreciate them. So I have decided to start living more consciously.

In the book, the Untethered Soul, author Michael Singer suggests that conscious living is possible when we have a healthy appreciation of death. He argues that the idea of death helps to remind us to live life. That if we lived life knowing that death is evitable – we’d likely use the time to truly live.

So the lessons that I shall keep in mind:

  • I can appreciate what I have now – I don’t have to wait for it to be taken away in order for me to begin appreciating it
  • There is always something to appreciate about every day, second, or moment of life
  • I should cherish each second as if it were my last, because then I would be focused on living my best life possible
  • I don’t need to wait to get to a certain circumstance, event, or situation – my life begins the moment I start living it!

I have decided to live consciously, will you? Will you make a decision, now, to start living your life and stop waiting to live your life? What will you do, even in a small way, to start making your every day existence – count?

We all struggle… Facing the “down” moments of life…

Life has so many twists and turns. Therefore, the best that you can do is to expect that the unexpected will happen.

Recently, I was in the process of moving. In the midst of the move, I knew I would need to fly out for a speaking engagement. Prior to departing for my conference, I felt pretty confident that I had secured my new home. I boarded my plane and attended my 2-day conference. It was an amazing experience and the icing on the cake was that I did my first, ever, radio interview. I was floating on a cloud, feeling invincible and untouchable. However, when I returned home I was quickly faced with a cold dose of reality.

The deal fell through and I had 7 days to find a new place, as my current lease was ending and I was scheduled to be out of town for another conference. Talk about pressure! In those first few moments after realizing the calamity I was facing, I tried to play out the worse case scenarios… Not having a home became a very scary possibility. I started to bemoan how does one go from being on top of the world to crashing and burning in ashes, in the space of a few hours! I could feel the walls start to close in, as the feelings of defeat started to overwhelm me. I cried out “God YOU HAVE GOT TO DO SOMETHING!”

Then I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that ups and downs are just a part of life. I also reflected on all of the various struggles that have come before and figured if they could pass, this one would as well.

During my dark moment, I decided to listen to Blessed & Highly Favored by the Clarke sisters. Here is the first verse from their song:

He brought me through hard trials. He brought me through tribulations.

Never let a day go by and not realize, had it not been for the Lord who was on my side.

Back was against the wall, looked out for me. He heard my cry and rescued me.

Never let a day go by and not realize, we are blessed

Don’t take it for granted that we are here today. 

Just know that you’re blessed and highly favored 

Thinking from this perspective helped me to calm down and then I could feel a wave of peace wash over me. God was going to take care of it; that one thought helped to deflate the worry that was swelling within. And, once I decided to stop worrying, I felt freed up to actually do something proactive about the situation.

So there are a couple of lessons that came from this experience:

  • Life is going to happen, that includes the good and the-not-so-good. Be ready to roll with the punches. “Take the bitter with the sweet” without personalizing the bitter. Life isn’t against you, just chalk it up to life is about the (whole) experience.
  • No matter where you are – look around and find the blessings, the things going well, as this will chase away the feelings of despair and lift your mood
  • Don’t be afraid to call out to God – the bible says ask and you shall receive and you have not because you ask not.