We have less than two months left in 2017, so I decided to write about the past few months. In July, I had individuals from all various chapters of my life come together for one weekend to celebrate me passing my Oral Defense and closing the chapter of my Ph.D. journey. It meant a lot to have my support system fly in town from all over and locally to share in our success. Each and everyone who attended played an intricate part in my journey to the finish line.
In August, we traveled to Miami to celebrate the beginning of chapter 35. Chapter 33 & 34 had a lot of highs & lows, and I wasn’t sure at times, but I made it through the years. Miami was very relaxing and just what I needed after the year I had. I just needed time to reflect. The beautiful thing about reflecting is you have time to evaluate yourself and relationships. When I get stuck in thought, a feeling, or a relationship, and I am confused about getting unstuck, I start to evaluate myself. I take the time to observe myself without judgment or reproach can be a powerful tool for change. I pay attention to what I say, what I think, how I’m feeling, how I act, or how I’m reacting. It is important not to judge but observe. Self-Evaluation is essential because we need to evaluate ourselves and see what are you bringing to the relationship and if you can make some improvements.
I traveled home to spend some time with family. While at home I realized as I get older somethings change and at the same time somethings remain the same. Going home is always a reminder of why I decided that I would get my education and not return home to live for several reasons. One of the reasons being that once you have been exposed to different cultures, experiences, and traditions your mindset are entirely different and it is hard to return to comfort zones where things do not grow. Another reason is when I went to pick up my keys to my office space I was reminded that I was back in Louisiana. It was the entire experience that made me feel like I was a little boy back in middle school dealing with racism from my middle school teacher Mrs. Alford 4th grade class and I am an adult with a Ph.D. Just being in the bank it reminded me of when I was attending undergrad at Northwestern majoring in Finance, and I returned home during the summer seeking an internship at one of the banks, and nobody wanted to give me an opportunity because I was an African American Male. On the bright side, I was able to spend some quality time with my family and purchase items for my office. I had the opportunity to sit down and have a one on one talk with my sister, and it was a great conversation.
At the end of September, I had the opportunity to spend the weekend in Orlando with individuals who have been there for me since day 1. I have never questioned their friendship, love or loyalty for me. This past weekend I spent time with some genuine and authentic people. I also had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my best friend on her one year anniversary weekend. These past few months I am thankful I was able to surround myself with family and friends who I can look at and I see reflected back is my power. I have been in the DMV area for about four years, and I have met a lot of people. I have met some people that I cherish the relationships and plan to keep for a lifetime and others were seasonal people who will not make it to the next chapter. The DMV is the first place I have lived where I have met so many pretentious people who are not authentic, humble, and genuine. I have met individuals who try to convince you that they have all your answers, which you need them to be able to see clearly, that without them you won’t be able to find the way. They don’t believe in you; they only believe in themselves. That’s not empowerment. That’s an approach destined to create dependency, often unhealthy dependency.
Moving forward in Chapter 35 I’ve made a decision that I am not going to continue to carry the weight of relationships that are not balanced or unhealthy in my life. I am going to stop holding onto people that have me on hold. I’ve agreed to make an effort to mend the relationships that are worth restoring, and I have reached out to those individuals who I need in my life. I’ve been reflecting on my life and focusing more on living for today and enjoying life while I can.
As adults, we are supposed to be evolving and growing on this journey we call life. This past weekend I admitted I enjoy helping and caring for others it is a part of my nature and making sure I reach out by visiting, texting, calling, and hosting events to foster relationships, and I am learning that some people only want to receive. I am also learning that people who have a thousand excuses why they are not providing anything in the connection. Meanwhile, I’m thinking to myself, I have several jobs, personal life, and yet I still make time to cultivate relationships. Relationships are supposed to be balanced. This point forward I am going to focus on the people who appreciate what I bring to the table. As I continue to grow, I am learning that it is perfectly fine to know when it’s time to stop or when my giving has become destructive. I care more about my relationship with my inner being than anything else. If I am not in alignment with myself, I have nothing to offer anyone.
Therapist Advice: Most of us need people around us who empower and help us feel able, on track, in balance, hopeful. We need people who tell us we can. Even if they don’t use words, they believe in us, and that belief shines through. Cultivate relationships with people who make you feel like you can, who help you know that you’re on track, right where you need to be. Spend time with people who support you know that you can trust yourself.
I’m working on the balanced relationships in my life. Three types of people to surround yourself with: the inspired, the excited, and the grateful. Who you surround yourself with is vital to your progression. Seek out people who empower you. Learn to empower those you love. And during those times when no one’s around, know that you can enable yourself.
We must learn who is gold, and who is merely gold plated. Thanks for everything and for being the real gold. A friend is a word we use every day, but most of the time we use it in the wrong way.
For many, the definition of a “friend” may be used a lot, yet friendship comes in various types of friends. Some are always on your side, and others just want to take you for a ride. A real friend not only matches your spirit in excitement but also uplifts your spirits during the good and the bad times. Real friends can show you more than you can see. For me, my friends are a source of happiness and strength. I am grateful for all of you!
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.
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.
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.
Knowing we desire growth and improvement is one thing. Always driving ourselves is another. Maybe the answer isn’t that we need to do better, try harder, push more. Maybe the answer is recognizing how well things are going with our career and personal life.
Pushing ourselves can become habitual that we deny ourselves any feelings of satisfaction. No matters how well or how much we do better, do more keeps pushing us on. It doesn’t let us rest. We still feel it isn’t quite good enough.
I had been pushing myself that hard, and I needed a real break. I had to give myself permission to put that drive aside. I had to quiet that part of me that wants to do more, be more, and accomplish more. I am learning how well I do things professionally, and personally, even if no one else appreciates my efforts.
I am learning that our world abounds with quiet, free sources of revitalization. My favorite activity is spending the day at the beach. I love reading books and falling asleep on the beach. And, when I leave the beach, I feel like I’ve been touched by the sun and changed.
Cherish your favorite spaces, and open yourself to discovering new places. I am learning to be happy now. I am enjoying the process of creating my life, myself, and whatever I am currently working on with my career or personal life. I am going to continue working towards my goals, but I am not waiting for the finishing moments to enjoy the moments, but I’m learning to take pleasure in my job and life. I am finding joy in the journey.
Live, Love, & Travel
On the ride back to DC on Sunday, I decided to take out my iPad and journal about the past month. February is the shortest month of the year, but it has been full of up and downs. I have experienced a full range of emotions. We are currently in the month of March and I am sure some of you have forgotten about your New Year Resolutions. Personally I needed to reevaluate my own resolutions. This month I was faced with a few challenges, but I had to remember I am constantly giving some excellent advice to my patients, friends, and family. I need to make sure I am practicing my own advice.
Part of caring for ourselves is being able to care for others.
One of my resolutions was to start taking the time to enjoy the fruits of my labor and enjoy living on the East Coast. The best part of living on the east coast is having four major cities at your disposal Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York City.
Savor everything: Everything’s temporary.
Feb 4th -9th
At the beginning of the month I had the opportunity to attend a Washington Wizards game, and an Alvin Ailey production with my coworker. The next weekend I had a friend visiting town. Friday we went to the Philadelphia Wine Mixer. The event highlighted some of Philadelphia’s artists, and designers. On Saturday, we had dinner at OYA located near Chinatown. Oya’s menu was quite extensive, the food was quite tasty, and the decor and ambience was elegant and very warm and inviting. On Sunday, I attended University of Maryland’s Ladies Basketball Game.
Feb 14th -17th
The week leading up to Valentines I was not feeling well, so I decided to take a trip to Baton Rouge. Fancy had planned a weekend full of activities such as massages, a Boys II Men Concert, and we enjoyed seafood all weekend at Sammy’s.
Feb 21st -March 2nd
The next weekend I had two friends in town from Philadelphia and New York for a conference. This past weekend I had a great time in New York with my friend Bryce. We spent most of our time in and around Time Square. We stayed at YOTEL New York, located on the west edge of the Times Square area, is just blocks from some of New York City’s most exciting opportunities for adventure and activity. The hotel is unique placing an emphasis on simplicity. The artful, expansive fourth-floor space includes four bars, the Dojo restaurant, lounge areas and hotel terrace. Yotel has an excellent brunch on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, brunch takes over Dojo and terrace with a legendary “all you can eat, and drink” brunch. The brunch has a great DJ, live performance. Brunch Hours: Saturday & Sunday from 11:30am – 5:30pm (last seating at 3:30pm).
True happiness is about finding a balance in your life. It is important to prioritize your life and realize what is really important. The thing we stress over that will not matter in a year takes years off our lives. It is very important to identify friends who are healthy additions to your social circle. When deciding on friends your primary goal is to become close with someone who has similar standards and interest you have and positive attitudes about life. Gravitate toward fun individuals who make you feel supported and enhance your active, healthy lifestyle. Friends like these are good for your overall well-being. At the end of the day, it is important to remember this life. If you do not like something, change it. It is important to open your mind, heart, and arms to new things, and people. Life is about the people you meet on this journey of life, and the things you create with them so go out and start enjoying life and create lasting memories.