Who Am I – to believe I was called to be a Dance Minister? I have repeatedly asked myself this question, prior to and even during the 2014 Gathering of Eagles in Dallas Texas. I came to this conference as a 2014 TEN graduate; however, unbeknownst to me, I was coming to the conference to gain so much more. During the day of the Yom Kippur (atonement service), Rabbi Yisrael Ben Avraham said that instead of asking ourselves “Who Am I,” we should ask ourselves “Where Am I”. So there I sat, considering WHERE AM I? During that particular service, I came to realize that where I needed to be was laid prostrate before the ‘face’ of the Lord… So when Rabbi sent out the call for the person “fighting for their life.” I hesitated and stood there conflicted, until I finally gave in and walked that very lonely walk to the front. It was there, after my act of walking to meet God, that Rabbi served as the vessel to give me the personal message that on that day I was “renamed beloved” by God. I finally accepted that I was called to be a Dance Minister. However, my journey to this place has been a long one. I believe I came out of the womb as a dancer. However, my dance training began by attending my first dance school, Dance Explosion, at the age of 9. I remained there for 2 years and then began dancing at Gloria Jackson, a dance studio that was under the direction of Kathleen Turner. Ms. Kathy was eventually called to bring dance into the church at the Greater Allen AME Cathedral. However, I felt too emotionally constricted to dance for the Lord, as was evident when I attempted to audition to join the newly formed ministry. However, I continued dancing with Gloria Jackson until I left to begin my undergraduate studies at Binghamton University. Dance would continue to be a significant part of my life through the Black Dance Repertoire at Binghamton University, and the various dance groups I’ve formed myself, such as the Hommocks Middle School Multicultural Dance Group. As time evolved, I eventually returned to the church. After completing my graduate studies, at Pennsylvania State University, I joined Union Baptist Church (in New Rochelle, NY) and ministered in the Dance Ministry. Two years later, I moved to Mount Vernon, NY and joined the dance ministry at Grace Baptist Church. In 2010, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia and joined Turner Chapel AME. It was through Turner Chapel, via Eagle Danese Turner, that I was introduced to the TEN Network. I began TEN in January 2011, but moved to Orlando and therefore did not finish. While living in Orlando I attended and ministered with the dance ministry of St Mark AME Church. It was here, in a place of financial, emotional, and spiritual desolation, that I finally found myself able to dance more freely. All of these years of dance, yet I still felt confined. I returned to Atlanta in November of 2011. However, I was now in a different county than previously, and though I visited various churches in my new area, I never felt led to join. So for three years I have remained un-churched until I felt pulled to St James United Methodist Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. I joined St James UMC on September 28, 2014, one week before I would attend the 2014 Gathering of the Eagles. Which brings me back to where I started… so where am I? I am sitting here typing a letter to receive admittance into the 2014-2015 Eagles International Training Institute Dance Ministers Year One. I finally accept that, long ago, God had called me to be a Dance Minister.
Have you ever found yourself in a place wondering: “what am I doing here?”
Well, that was me, this past week… I was going through a mini existential crisis, wondering why certain desired things had not yet entered my life. It took everything in me just to be able to go to and from work. I was out of energy, as a car whose fuel tank was on empty. It wasn’t that anything new had occurred; yet somehow the dark cloud of depression had found a way to blot out my sunshine. I guess I was experiencing scripture firsthand because Proverbs 13:12 says that a deferred dream will make one sick… and sick I was feeling indeed.
From this place of feeling like an emotional train wreck, I showed up to volunteer for the Catalyst Conference. For those of you not familiar with the Catalyst Conference, it is a national conference intended to provide education, resources, and tools to leaders who love the Church. From this place of emotional brokenness I had to dig from within to keep a smile on my face as I greeted the arriving guests.
After the second day, all of that smiling on the outside (but not the inside) depleted me. When my duties were done, I fled the conference to sequester myself in my bedroom. But something miraculous happened on the third day of the conference. My duties were done strangely early that morning and I was free to sit in on the conference activities. As I sat there in an arena filled with 8,000+ Christians, I initially watched but then joined in as we sang about the awesome power of God to free us from past hurts, from disappointments, from broken hearts. I realized that I had found the answer to my initial question of “what I was doing there”. It struck me that I was in the right place, at the right time. And it felt good, awesome in fact!
So much so that I see it as a pivotal point in my faith walk with God because two days after the conference ended I decided to give my body back to God. I am now choosing to abstain from sex until marriage. Go figure, me? Seems ludicrous yet as I was reminded, during the conference, we serve a God of the IMPOSSIBLE… not the difficult… the Impossible!
And it is in that God I place my faith, all of my future hopes and dreams.
I am in a new season and it is one that is hope filled. May my story of courage and bravery, in the face of doubt, fear, and tears give you the strength to take your own leap of faith!
Life According to Me,
What a season this has been!
In the midst of my own struggles, several family members have attempted to slander my name… I didn’t think it could happen in my family, thought we would be immune to the human condition of jealousy and envy. But alas, we are not.
For a few days it left me confused, hurt, and distraught – as my mind attempted to rationalize why would someone related to me desire to hurt me? What could they gain from my demise?
And then I ran across this quote from German composer Johannes Brahms:
“Those who enjoy their own emotionally bad health and who habitually fill their own minds with the rank poisons of suspicion, jealousy and hatred, as a rule take umbrage at those who refuse to do likewise, and they find a perverted relief in trying to denigrate them.”
It made perfect sense… because I always strive to seek the positive, surround myself with positive, and exude positivity – so those who have not found that balance within themselves will attempt to degrade and malign me, in hopes that I would lose my focus on what is right, and good, and beautiful about life.
I am happy to report – that plan was foiled! I will admit that I shed a tear. I cried for the pain and malice that was inflicted. But then I dried my eyes I reminded myself that the only one who gets to decide how I feel – IS ME!
I choose to surround myself with positive people
I choose to pursue the things that make my heart sing
I choose to have family and friends that support and encourage me.
Everyone and everything else [that is negative] can “kick rocks!”
In your life, if you ever run into jealousy – here are a few quotes to encourage you:
“Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius”. Fulton Sheen, Catholic Bishop
“Don’t waste time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind.” Mary Schmich, American journalist
“As iron is eaten away by rust, so the envious are consumed by their own passion.” Antisthenes, Greek philosopher
Life According to Me,
- What’s makes me SPECIAL?
- How I am I different?
- Why will I SUCCEED when so many want to and haven’t?
These are the questions that float through my mind as I DREAM about and VISUALIZE making my desires a REALITY…
During the last 7 months, I have found myself crossing paths with authors such as Ron Clark, Elizabeth Gilbert, Steve Beecham, and Susan Breen, politicians such as David Belle Isle, sports announcer Ernie Johnson, and educators such as Dr. Susan Crim McClendon. They each had a dream that they visualized and made reality.
I was able to make contact with them because of the various new ventures I’ve engaged in, all for the purpose of getting out and meeting new people. Why am I doing this? Well, because I am preparing for my children’s book that will be released this upcoming fall.
The fall seems far off, yet I know it shall be here soon enough, so I am planting seeds that I believe will germinate into something awesome for me. And though I continue to take the steps and risks necessary for success, that doesn’t address the questions I started off posing at the beginning: what makes me special?
Well it’s been estimated that less than 10% choose to live out their dreams!!
So I guess I’m special because I am intentional in wanting to be in the group of the 10%!
And if that statistic isn’t enough to bolster my confidence, I remind myself that only I can be the best me there is… so that means there will never be anyone else who can leave the unique imprint that I was specifically designed to leave! And the same goes for YOU. ONLY you can be YOU!
I leave you with this quote by Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson:
“I have a personal philosophy in life: If somebody else can do something that I’m doing, they should do it. And what I want to do is find things that would represent a unique contribution to the world – the contribution that only I, and my portfolio of talents, can make happen. Those are my priorities in life”
Life According to Me,
I was feeling a bit melancholy this day, as I have been diligently working but still waiting to see the manifestation of my labor.
It is a hard thing to till the land but see no fruit. I began to falter and question and wonder: should I give up? Are my efforts in vain?
In the midst of my doubts I turned to a trusted loved one who reminded me that each and every action matters and is positioning me for my desired outcome. Then he reminded me that he believed in me. His convincing argument helped to bolster my flailing confidence, and it caused me to reflect on another time in life where I doubted my ability to keep going. At the time I was at the tail end of my doctoral program. I was navigating the murky waters of completing my doctoral research and wondering if I would have the energy to make it through! But I persevered and guess what? It’s been ten years since I completed that degree… and I am thankful that I didn’t quit then – so there was no way I could quit now!
I shed a few tears of frustration and reminded myself that if my loved one believed in me, then I should too. I gathered up my courage, dug down deep to unearth some resolve, and sent a prayer up to heaven –
God I just need a sign… please let me know that I’m on the right track.
Later that evening the sign came. I participated in a webinar and the facilitator stated that people should “Stop looking at the ending and celebrate where you are right now!” That was a great reminder for me, because that perspective helped me to see that I was defining the fruit of my labor as the finish line or completion of the goal. But I needed to take a step back and appreciate all of the little things – all of the baby steps that I’ve been taking.
This quote from David A. Bednar also served as a helpful reminder to me about the importance of stepping back and appreciating what we have been given in each moment, instead of waiting for a future moment to come:
“Sometimes we may ask God for success, and He gives us physical and mental stamina. We might plead for prosperity, and we receive enlarged perspective and increased patience, or we petition for growth and are blessed with the gift of grace. He may bestow upon us conviction and confidence as we strive to achieve worthy goals” Former president of Brigham Young University
So I realized that I needed to take stock of the strides I had already made! And I also realized what’s the sense in worrying when I know that I serve a God who keeps his promise. As Gospel artist Tye Tribbett sings: God is the SAME GOD! So the God who saw we me through my journey to finish my doctoral program is the same God who will see me through to my next level.
I hope whenever you face moments of doubt and despair, you too will take the time to reflect on how far you’ve come and be reminded that the SAME GOD will see you through each and every time.
Life According to Me,
Purpose is the reason for one’s life. It’s often said that our purpose on earth is to help one another. There are an infinite number of ways to help. But we are all different. Therefore, our unique purpose is identified when we find our individual way of helping others.
Purpose is such a central piece of who we are that most of us spend life trying to identify our purpose.
Do you know your purpose?
Do you know what special contribution you were created to do in order to help others?
If you’re wondering how to identify your purpose, the first place to start is to consider your gifts. For when we find a way to use our talents to help others, we have discovered our purpose.
Here are a few quotes on the idea of purpose:
- The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others – Philosopher Albert Schweitzer
- I believe that God has put gifts and talents and ability on the inside of every one of us. When you develop that and you believe in yourself and you believe that you’re a person of influence and a person of purpose, I believe you can rise up out of any situation – Pastor Joel Osteen
- I believe that if you don’t derive a deep sense of purpose from what you do, if you don’t come radiantly alive several times a day, if you don’t feel deeply grateful at the tremendous good fortune that has been bestowed on you then you are wasting your life. And life is too short to waste – Author Srikumar S. Rao
I mentioned earlier that identifying one’s purpose is an important part of life. Not only because it allows us to help others, but also because with purpose we experience an increased sense of fulfillment, joy, and peace – in day to day life.
So are you willing to discover your purpose? If you’re needing a resource to help you figure it out, take a look at this quiz from Oprah’s website: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Who-Are-You-Meant-to-Be-Self-Assessment-Quiz
This year, may you endeavor to find more fulfillment, joy, and peace in your life!
Life According to Me,
I was in the midst of writing a new blog post and ran across these three quotes. Although the quotes were off the topic of the post I was crafting at that time, I had to save them and decided to share them now:
Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties – Erich Fromm, Psychologist
When you have a dream, you’ve got to grab it and never let go – Carol Burnett, Actress
When you have a dream that you can’t let go of, trust your instincts and pursue it. But remember: Real dreams take work, they take patience, and sometimes they require you to dig down very deep. Be sure you’re willing to do that – Harvey MacKay, Entrepreneur
All three quotes resonated with encouragement to continue pursuing my dreams! However they also provided the reminder that my dream chasing would require courage, determination to never let go, and patience. Ah patience… definitely not my strongest character trait. But at this stage of my life I am so certain about my purpose and so adamant that I am destined to make an important contribution, that I will patiently and persistently keep knocking on doors until my dreams come true.
Some may say I’m hardheaded…
Some see me as defiant…
And both are probably spot-on, but I see it as I was made for a purpose and it’s my job to bring that purpose to life.
Back at the start of 2014 I created an online vision board. There were many images that I included but one in particular I wanted to share. The picture says: “I am a social emotional leader”. Which is kind of funny, because at the time of creating the vision board, I didn’t consciously think of myself as a leader in my profession, nor did I have any idea how I was going to manifest that outcome. However, they say that there is power in the tongue! So because I not only spoke but also acted in ways to support what I was speaking, doors of opportunity started to open. And now that picture doesn’t seem so far-fetched. In fact, it seems to be a foreshadowing of what’s to come. Go figure!
So that somewhat explains why the 3 quotes at the start of this post grabbed my attention!
But a question remains… will YOU be courageous, trusting, persistent, and patient enough to follow your heart’s desires? The choice is yours…
Life According to Me,
Am I making any difference?
Sometimes I experience frustration, as I wonder if my small voice is making any contribution. Just like it would be difficult to see the ripples if you threw a pebble into the ocean, so too at times it is hard to see if I’m making a difference. Leadership expert John C Maxwell has been quoted as stating:
“Every person has a longing to be significant; to make a contribution; to be a part of something noble and purposeful.”
So it would seem that my longings to know that my actions are valued, is just a part of the human experience. We all want to matter.
But there are days when I wonder how could I, little ole me, truly make a difference that will impact the masses? How could I impart something that would reach the people that I touch?
And then I stumbled across a quote that serves as a good reminder, that each and every one of us has the power to make a difference. The quote states: “Rosa Parks was the queen mother of a movement whose single act of heroism sparked the movement for freedom, justice and equality. Her greatest contribution is that she told us a regular person can make a difference” (Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League).
After reflecting on both of the quotes I understand that we all want to matter, to make a difference. And I see that even us regular people have an important role to play in our world.
However, I still had no answer for the uneasiness that I felt within… Is my contribution enough? And if it is, why can’t I see the difference that it’s making? I continued to struggle with this unrest until I came across this quote from Mahatma Ghandi:
“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result”
The moral of the story – sometimes we have to keep doing the right thing, keep doing what feels in concert with our soul’s purpose, keep doing it – even if we don’t see the immediate fruits from our labor.
Life According to Me,
How specific are YOUR requests?
In life we are each on a journey, and along the way there are various things we desire, dream, and want. However, when I look around I see that there are those who attain what they want, and those who seem to fall shy of crossing the finish line. I wonder, what is the difference between the people that make it and the others that don’t? Is it based on luck or chance? Or is it based on the idea that some people are just more fortunate than others?
Hmmm…. Well it can’t be luck or the idea that “some people are just more fortunate” because there are many who have been elevated to success but they started out from humble, meager beginnings. So what is it?
I wonder if the missing piece is that the successful are very specific in their requests. Let me explain…
The bible suggests that we should “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). I have often heard this verse, as it is commonly cited. So much so that even secular references have been made to this idea in books on the Law of Attraction. But I found something even more interesting when I went to re-read this verse. I discovered another translation of the Matthew 7:7 verse, it states:
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you – Matthew 7:7, New Living Translation
Wow… now this is really powerful because the key word in that verse is KEEP! Keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking…
So it would seem that the successful have attained that status because they kept on asking, seeking, and knocking on various doors until they found the very specific requests of their heart.
I am seeking from God: a book deal for my memoir, a job that is not toxic/constantly stressful, a supportive husband, a biological baby, and financial freedom.
What things are you seeking for your life?
In the Untethered Soul Michael Singer states:
“Does anything in God’s creation, other than the human mind, actually pass judgment? Nature just gives and gives to whoever will receive. Should you choose not to receive, it doesn’t punish you. You punish yourself because you choose not to receive”
My hope for you is that you find the courage to keep asking for, seeking, and knocking on the doors of your dreams. And may you be ready to receive the overflow when it comes!
Life According to Me,
This morning before rolling out of bed, to begin the day, I laid in bed and started speaking to God. My morning ritual typically begins with a word of thanks to God, but this morning the word of thanks included just a little bit more. You see I ran across a tweet by Sandi Krakowski, which stated “Ask God to put you in the right place at the right time with the right people and the right open doors! ASK ASK ASK that is the key friends!” I had no prior knowledge of Sandi Krakowski, but there she was telling me exactly what I needed when I needed it!
So back to this morning…
I thanked God for: 1) health, 2) life, 3) peace, 4) purpose… You see I no longer take any of these things for granted. I wake up each morning feeling that I am on solid footing because I am alive, I am well, I feel whole & happy (ON THE INSIDE) despite my external circumstances, and I know my life’s purpose!
After expressing thankfulness, I decided to take Sandi Krakowski’s advice; advice that I have heard previously while reading books about the Law of Attraction (e.g., Ask And It Is Given)…
So, I asked God for, 1) open doors, where they don’t yet exist, 2) open windows when doors are not there, 3) the ability to fully live out my purpose (i.e., Social Emotional Leader) to a level that even I don’t yet realize, and 4) to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people so that my desires and my purpose can be fully borne out… Now That’s a TALL ORDER!
But, I believe in a God who does the impossible… so why not shoot for the stars! And because I truly believe this – why not take the action steps to make the impossible – possible…
Initially I said to myself: I intend to live the dreams that seem impossible 🙂 After some reflection I reframed that initial thought into: I am living the dreams that seem impossible! Now that’s a kick azz mantra!