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Satisfied, successful, or significant?

“You can live a satisfied life, a successful life, or a significant life.”

Many live a satisfied life where they are ‘okay’ with how things are moving and realize that things could be better, but have become accustomed to life as they know it. They’re married or single, may or may not have children, most of the bills are paid on time, their heads are above water for the most part, can treat themselves from time to time, may be educated, etc. If they didn’t attend or finish college, they wrestle with that; if they have a degree but not in their current field of work or in a field of interest, they’re dealing with that… And more likely than not, they feel like they’re behind the curve and something is always missing.

There are others who’ve achieved great levels of success, are able to take care of their needs as well as the needs of others financially, travel the world, and do all the other ‘things’ successful people do according to societies silly standards. Married or single, with or without children, they likely have multiple degrees or successful businesses, probably both. They’ve accumulated a lot of ‘things’ that must be maintained through their society defined ‘successes’.  But with each new home, high-end pair of shoes, latest model car, elaborate vacation, increased stock options, etc. they grow deeper into a funk, feeling unfilled, undervalued, and stuck. And again, something is always missing.

And then there are those who lead a life of significance. Satisfaction isn’t the goal in this case; it is fulfillment. And success takes on a whole new meaning because it’s measured by the impact made on others. The fulfillment that comes with a life of significance can never be achieved from mere success. The serotonin popping goodness comes from that feeling of influencing others in a way that has a lasting effect. Married or single, with or without children, educated or not, traveling the world, managing multiple stock portfolios – or not,  the significant life is very personal-meaning the significance isn’t defined by or tied to ‘things’ or others; it’s found internally and is realized by gifting your gifts (not to be confused with talents) to others.

The difficultly in this is recognizing gifts and unfortunately for many, this is a huge struggle. In September & October I held two group coaching sessions for women who are tired of feeling stuck. Women from various walks of life attended; some married (happily or otherwise), some were single (happily or otherwise), a few were mothers, and while there were different levels of success and satisfaction, they were all there, however, because something was missing. Satisfaction and success weren’t cutting it and they all wanted more from life, they wanted a life of significance.

As I mentioned, significance is closely tied to our gifts and how we use them to bless others. The women in both sessions struggled to identify their gifts, not because they didn’t have any; that wasn’t the case at all. It was because they were doing what many of us are guilty of—which is taking our gifts for granted. This happens when you realize that you do something well but because it comes so naturally to you, you refuse to consider it a gift or you deny it because you’re comparing your gift to others. As such, you neglect to account for the way God speaks to you while operating in this gift or the way others are impacted as benefactors of your gift. I am by no means saying that everything we do well is a gift. But your gift, your calling, your purpose is what you were made for and what I am saying is that we miss the opportunity to live a life of significance when we don’t recognize our gifts, call them as they are, and use them to positively impact others in Jesus’ name.

The other issue for some of us is that we value success over significance. Longing for things or people to fulfill us and insisting that our God-given gifts won’t be fruitful. I beg to differ, mainly because the bible told me so… “A gift opens doors for the one who gives it and brings him into the presence of great people.” (Proverbs 18:16)

Until we accept our gifts and operate in them, we will never be fulfilled, something will always be missing. The accumulation of things will only provide momentary gratification so a change is required, a paradigm shift if you will, as our motivation should be to seek and operate in our gifts not for financial gains and the accumulation of things (people included) but so that God gets the glory from our life of significance!

“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10)




Ayden, North Carolina, in the projects, on Belvedere Ct. to be exact...

Last weekend I went back to my hometown of Ayden, NC for my cousin’s wedding. Once again, I had an amazing time with my family and of course we had a great time dancing at the reception and even took it back to the old days with a breakout performance to New Edition’s “If it isn’t love”. I didn’t get to hit the ‘Quan’ but it was a wonderful time and my cousin and his new bride were very happy.

Prior to moving to DC with my mom, I was raised in Ayden by my grandmother (Queenie Esther) and her two best friends/neighbors- Ms. Lillian and Ms. Julia Mae, in the projects, on Belvedere Ct. to be exact. What’s odd is that I had no idea we lived in the projects. If I heard the term, I certainly didn’t know what it meant. I don’t remember lacking anything, I had ample space to play, great friends, the most amazing home cooked meals, and I was surrounded by positive women that loved me. I felt loved and heard the words “I love you” multiple times a day.

The core of who I am today is as a result of what I saw and experienced while living in Ayden, in the projects, on Belvedere Ct. to be exact.

I learned to serve in Ayden. My grandmother served everyone! She fed other kids in the neighborhood, served on multiple boards and committees at the church, and she also served other families in a role quite similar to that of Viola Davis in ‘The Help’. I watched her serve. I knew her heart for serving others and the value of service was instilled in me at a very young age. I actually committed to my first service project when I was in the 2nd grade. My friend Taylor and I made friendship bracelets, sold them to students and teachers, and donated the money raised to the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville, NC.  Over the years I have received several awards like the Women of Color in Technology (WOC)-All Star award which is an award reserved for accomplished women of color at an advanced stage of their careers that have demonstrated excellence in the workplace and in their communities but it all started in Ayden, in the projects, on Belvedere Ct. to be exact.

I learned the value of the village as a family in Ayden. When I went outside to play, there was someone from the village looking out for me. If I was on Sunset Dr., it was Trevoya’s Grandma, Von’s mom, or Ms. Winnie. If I even looked like, I thought about, crossing the street to enter “Woodcrest”, the forbidden area, Ms. Viola would yell out her window to let me know that she had my grandmother on the phone. Woodcrest was off limits because apparently there was ‘too much going on down there’ according to my grandmother. I learned later in life that she was referring to drug activities. My Aunt Ann picked grandma and I up for church, Cousin Vivian took us to the grocery store, and Aunt Gracie took us shopping. Ms. Lois Ann had four or five kids of her own but my friends Crystal, Ashley, Erika, and I were a part of her crew. She would take us all on bike rides across town to the 3rd St. Park, she organized baseball and kickball games in the neighborhood, and was always down to jump rope with us, although she was a little double-handled. If you don’t know what double-handed means, shame on you. In my adult life, I am blessed to be a part of many villages- helping to raise children just like those that were a part of my village, in Ayden, in the projects, on Belvedere Ct. to be exact.

I learned to appreciate math in Ayden. Mrs. Morgan and Mrs. White were my favorite teachers at Ayden Elementary School. They made learning fun and always pushed me to try harder, especially at math. It was in their classroom that I began to appreciate the subject which became the catalyst for my career as a software engineer. And later on when I spent hours in the evening teaching math to GED students, I remembered to make math relatable and to keep it fun. I was recognized by Women In Technology (WIT) for my work as a software engineer and biometrics subject matter expert but it all started in Ayden, in the projects, on Belvedere Ct. to be exact.

I also learned the value of friendship in Ayden. I have friendships that have spanned 30+ years that started in Ayden. What I’ve learned from those friendships is that to be a friend to someone doesn’t necessarily mean that you speak to them all the time but what it does mean is you are there when it counts and matters most. When my grandmother died, the first face I saw when I walked out of the church was Crystal W., my longtime friend from kindergarten. I hadn’t seen her in at least five or six years but she was there and I am eternally grateful. And although my dear friend Trevoya and I were separated for many years, when we connected again it was like we hadn’t skipped a beat. I was there with her when she took her last breath and I now carry her heart in my heart.  

I’m not ashamed of any part of my life and a lot of what some would perceive as a disadvantage has propelled me to succeed.

I consider it a blessing that I was raised in Ayden, North Carolina, in the projects, on Belvedere Ct. to be exact. 


1 Comment up to encourage and leave inspired!

Last month, I had the pleasure of partnering with Tokeitha Wilson of Empowerment Station to provide a vision board and purpose coaching workshop for the DC Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs (ORCA). ORCA’s mission is to provide zealous advocacy and high-quality services and products for the empowerment of previously incarcerated persons to ensure that they thrive, prosper, and contribute to the social, political, and economic development of self, family, and community.

It was truly an honor to serve the women as they work to ‘re-enter’ society. Initially, the vibes were a little mixed in the room. Some of the women had never heard of a vision board while others were extremely excited about creating one for the first time. Mixed reviews initially, but after a few remarks from Tokeitha on the purpose of creating a vision board, we were all in sync. Well, kind of. Although I had prayed and thoroughly prepared for the workshop, I kept wondering how I would make my advice relatable. I mean, I’ve never been incarcerated so I was concerned about whether my words would be well received considering I hadn’t ‘walked in their shoes.’  It’s one thing to understand a person’s situation but that’s completely different from relating.

As we went around the room introducing ourselves, one of the ladies commented that if she had known about the vision board part of the workshop, she probably wouldn’t have attended. She continued to explain that she would have skipped the workshop altogether because she lost her vision along with her self-confidence while being incarcerated. Wow! I thought to myself, “Oh, ok God, I see what you did there, thank you.” I was reminded in that moment that although our stories are different, our internal struggles are often quite similar and unite us when we share. I can certainly relate to feelings of self-doubt and we’ve all dealt with a lack of self-confidence for one reason or another at some time in our life. Ok, maybe you're reading this and thinking, “Ummm, but I’ve never been incarcerated.” Fine, these women are returning from incarceration, but we’ve all ‘returned’ from something at some point in our lives that has left us feeling defeated, inadequate, or even ashamed. Whether divorce, rehabilitation, an abusive relationship, substance abuse, depression, an extended period of unemployment, etc., we have ‘returned’ from something that required us to pick up the pieces, regain our self-confidence, and move forward.

As the women shared their visions, I began to see and feel so much hope in the room! It was transcending to say the least and I was inspired by their goals! I love when that show up to encourage and leave inspired! During my purpose coaching segment of the workshop, I couldn’t stress enough the importance of accountability, connection, and the identification and removal of obstacles. We should all be accountable to someone but we should be most accountable to ourselves and God. Connections are key so we have to be thoughtful and purposeful about with whom we spend our time. Obstacles are inevitable, but some are often avoidable so we have to willing to quickly identify and remove those obstacles even if they are people we’ve let in our lives.

It was indeed a Saturday morning/afternoon well spent and I can’t wait to see how God moves in the lives of the women ORCA serves.

Empowerment Station & Life Abundantly - Vision and Purpose Workshop for the DC Mayor's Office on Returning Citizen Affairs.

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