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🎂🍸34…………………the year of NO & growth!

Each year our birthday comes around & we began reminiscing about the past, the ups & down, and relationships that ended and began. This year has been about change, growth, heartbreak, closing and starting new chapters, and discovering what I truly deserve but not knowing or fearful of what the future holds. I will admit it can be scary when you come face to face with our reality that we are in a place; we don’t want to be in anymore. That can be a feeling, a situation but don’t fear them because it is a good space to be in because we are about to make some changes. So, often the next step in our growth is letting go so we can continue to evolve and expand. Friends and family are included in this.

The year has been a transition, but I am thankful for the growth in my career and personal life. Sometimes, you are the one who has to leave situations, feelings, and people behind. When it comes to friends, family, and significant others, sometimes we need to allow them to work on themselves because they won’t do it while you are providing everything for them in their life. It is a weird place praying for someone to change and reach their full potential and grow up, and year after year it’s no change. Maybe it is because they don’t want to make any changes, or they are not ready to admit they are not good at some things, and maybe us leaving is exactly what is needed for them to be in space to grow. When we consistently stay and neglect our happiness, we are enabling their behaviors. They will tell you I will see a therapist and start missing or canceling appointments. The excuses start to become more frequent and no movement from them.

We can’t change people. They have to want to make some change. They have to demonstrate that they are taking the actions that indicate a change. Words do not have value if they are not supported behind actions. Trust me, if people want something or someone bad enough they will make the necessary changes. I know so many individuals who are in love with people and dating them based purely on their potential and not who they are being. They see endless possibilities in the person, and yet, that person has never shown a glimpse or desire to change and grow in that direction. You cannot motivate, and convince anyone to become anything that they are not moving towards. They can talk all about it, but our choices reflect our priorities, so look at what they’re choosing.

Just make sure you are not asking them to be someone else to be with you because that type of request has a short shelf life and eventually the real person will show their face or some people spend their entire life mirroring each other fakeness and becomes very exhausting over time. If we let people sit in the gap of ambivalence, we give our amazingness away to people who will never know our value.

It can be tough to become AWARE when we are in a relationship. We can never limit our growth for someone else. We can invite our family, friends, and significant others to join us on our journey of growth, but it is impossible to sustain a dead space for another in the long term. It will lead to resentment and pain, and we began to shrink ourselves to meet them rather than inviting them to grow into us.

As I continue on my journey to empower and encourage others, I am learning the true meaning of the favor of God. The more you give and strive to help others improve their life, the more your life improves. My life has been enriched with a new love, endless opportunities, adventures, and experiences. Today I am celebrating another year of life and starting a new chapter in my personal memoir but excited about what God has in store for me on my journey and the feeling of accomplishment.

Thank you for all the birthday cards, wishes, gifts, calls, text, emails, and social media post.

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HAPPY SOCIAL WORK MONTH

This week I celebrated my 7th anniversary from when I submitted my first research proposal and presented at NASW-LA in Baton Rouge, LA. This week I presented at the NASW-MD Conference on Suicide Among Active Military Personnel and War Veterans. My first time I was introducing the information from my article I published with NASW, and I was very comfortable and not feeling nervous at all. I had an altercation to happen between two of the participants. I feel that I handled the situation very well. During my presentation, I provided a group assignment. One of the participants would play the therapist, and the other member would be the patient. While they were working on their task, I met a lovely retired neuropsychologist who greeted and congratulated me on passing my oral defense. We had a pleasant exchange of the work I have been doing with the VA and in the community.

After the group assignment was over, I had everyone provide their feedback. One of the participants was a newly licensed social worker and MSW graduate who expressed being nervous and not confident in the role of a therapist. I provided her with a little feedback. I explained it is important to speak with authority and conviction when you are speaking to people. As a therapist, it is important to know when to be silent. There is a great wisdom and illumination in both. When you are confused and nervous, ask your heart which is the best approach for that moment and proceeds with confidence. Practice being present with others. Listen, rather than just thinking about what you’re going to say next. People can sense when someone is listening to them. Being grounded and present is a gift to yourself and others.

I finished presenting and met with a few people afterward and exchanged information. The newly licensed social worker came up to me later and had several questions about my journey as a social worker. I explained to her that I have a strong support system and great mentors. She wanted to know how to gain confidence and getting her career started as a social worker. I explained to be generous in the giving of yourself. Even if it’s just for a moment. You could be the person who makes all the difference.

Trust the process of your life. On the journey, there will be some bad things happen along the way but having faith that something good will always come out of the situation. It may take a while to see the blessing, but eventually, you will. If I appear to be strong, it is because I have been weak before. If it seems as I am fearless when I am answering questions from participants it’s because I have been afraid in the past. When I am in front of other medical professionals, colleagues, or students, I always take the time to recite “for in him we live, move, and have our being.” I shake out all the fear and nerves that I am currently experiencing, and take a few deep breaths, and remember who is in control, and I began to feel myself returning to my center.

Life is a journey, and as we will all travel along, and we will run into several challenges along the way. When you run into those challenges along the way, it is important to have a strong support system, and mentors to help provide support, encouragement, inspiration, and insight. It will come a time you don’t have a clue of the destination, but if you trust God, follow the desires of your heart, remain humble, and believe the desires of your heart then each step will lead you. You will begin to realize that the steps you are making in the right direction on your personal journey.

No worries every heartbreak, mistake, or experience will teach you something valuable. It will be your trip that nobody else will travel, and no one can judge. Friends and family will accompany you part of the way, and you’ll walk the rest by yourself, but you will never be alone. You will learn that people will want you to do good but never better than them.

Trust the process. Act as if you already the person you dream of becoming courageous, self-expressed, and compassionate. When you get anxious, nervous, or fearful, ask yourself, “How would the ‘I’ whom I want to become an act in this situation?” Then do it. You will be amazed how much you already are the person who you desire to be. As I continue my professional journey, I am learning that real success comes in small portions day by day.

May the work I’ve done speak for me: 

  

There comes a time in every adult’s life where they must be honest and in tune with their true feelings. A couple of weekends ago I was having a pity party for me being in class on Saturday, and Sunday taking a CBT certification course. Next weekend I will be working on speaking engagements and the weather is getting warmer, and everyone is enjoying, and I will be working. I started thinking when will I get the chance to enjoy my weekends and after work, and sit down and enjoy the fruits of my labor. During this same class, I was texting with one of my friends, and he asked me the question are you happy? You are always working. I had to take a few seconds to think about his question before answering. I replied to him “are you asking me if I am happy because I have a lot of things I am currently working on at the moment.” I explained to him that my goal in life is to make sure the work I have done speaks for who I am as a person. When I leave this earth, I want to ensure I used my entire God given talents.

After really thinking about his question I realized that I am taking this course because more certifications, equals more opportunity. Growing up my parents instilled in me the importance of working and having multiple strings of income or as my dad would say “multiple hustles.” Then I also realized I am enjoying the fruits of my labor. I have a home I love, and the potential to take care of all of my needs, and the majority of my wants. The horizons are high, and I will be able to enjoy other things even more once I set myself up for the future, but fruits are currently being enjoyed. Celebrating yourself is important!!! Don’t limit your radiant self-expression. You encourage others to shine brightly through your examples. There will be haters and people telling you can’t accomplish things. My favorite one was when people told me I would never pass through army boot camp. I am going on four years in the Army as an officer. I have learned over

the years I can’t share my joy with everyone but only with people whom I know will celebrate with me. Then there are times when I am working silently and systematically on things, and I share my joy with God by being grateful for happiness!

To have success, we have to be willing to sacrifice late nights, early mornings, and weekends. As we mature and we tend to have more associates, and our circle of friends becomes smaller.

Recently my coworker encouraged me to apply to be a speaker for a company. I thought about it for a while, and then I started to doubt myself. Having thoughts, I have not been in the field long enough to compete on the same level as the other presenters. I had to remember why I started this journey. I started presenting seven years ago because I started complaining about hearing the same boring styles of presentations, and I wanted to see and hear something different. I submitted my proposal several places and presented for no charge for several years before I started receiving compensation. Then I began to think about what my support system would tell me in times like this.

• God did not give you the spirit of fear

• I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me

• Stay humble but always ask God for your wisdom

• Always remember God placed you in that position so that you can deposit seeds into others.

I know that if I’m operating at my full potential, there is no one better than me. I’m the expert on my research. When you trust your skills fully then no one will be able to intimidate you. I decided to send my information and apply for the position. A week later I received an email about setting up a phone interview to discuss my research proposal I recently submitted. The phone interview went well, and they want me to proceed with the hiring process.

  

Michael’s Advice:

Utilizing your entire God given talents is necessary. I have several projects that I am currently working on at the moment. Don’t let any of your skills, goals, or dreams go to waste. It is important to put everything that was placed inside of you back into the universe. Whatever it is you are scared to try: writing your first book, becoming a makeup artist, getting your masters, or Ph.D., the opening of your private practice, opening a boutique, starting your own business. Your greatness could be wrapped inside. Bloom where you are planted and stop waiting for the right time. There is always someone who will be watching how seeds grow into beautiful flowers. In reality, whatever skills, or goals that have been planted inside of you was not for you, but for someone else. A few people are taking notes, copying, and looking up to you but will never tell you. You have an audience! Your story is the key that unlocks someone else’s prison. Share your testimony with someone. You will never know the power you possess until you release it into the universe. How we spend our time determines if we are moving toward or away from our goals. You might have an 8-4:30 job, but you can still allocate time towards your goals, dreams, and talents.