Category Archives: Mentoring

Shaken and stirred, but not destroyed…

My husband curled into my back recently as he awakened, and let out a long, deep sigh. I knew what was on his mind and gave him the space to talk while being careful to listen without judgment or forming an opinion.

It was helpful to him and he went to work in a much better place. As wonderful a person as he is, like everyone else, he sometimes questions decisions he made that he wishes he could do over, and watching his consciousness shift into realizing even the mistakes serve a purpose, has been immensely helpful to his own personal growth and well being.

I immediately began thinking of another person who reached out  and contacted me a little over a year ago and was in such crisis, it physically hurt my  heart  to sit in her space and listen as she bravely bared her soul to an almost perfect stranger she knew very little about, but was led in her heart to contact me anyway  knowing I could have said anything but yes to meeting with her.
Her bravery was just the spark I needed as I began to challenge the stories she told herself and asked her  to create a vision board or statement of the things she loved and what was it that made her sparkle at the very thought of doing it.

I could see in her eyes that she wasn’t sure but at that juncture, what else did she have to lose? So she went about the business of putting one tiny step in front of the other even as the winds of life hurled her like a rag doll and “friends”felt like cold rain drops on her tattered soul.

She dug deeply and I encouraged her by supporting her dreams. She makes creative and  excellent fare in a way that has my husband groaning for more which was great sign indeed!! So she made our meals as we needed them and we were never disappointed. She was definitely on to something! I seriously love her meals and everything is made with fresh herbs and spices to perfection.

Today I called her for advice on some rolls and the person who answered the phone was full of life and ideas and had big catering jobs in front of her to do!!

I am not even sure if she realizes  that she chose to find the piece of her soul that would redeem and continue to validate her very existence on earth and that led to the place where she is currently.

We are NOT  defined by our mistakes when we can see them as lessons  that are shaping us to go on the next parts of our journey on earth.  No one said our pots wouldn’t be shaken and stirred from time to time as there is no ying without a yang.

We must give ourselves permission to breathe beyond our mistakes and allow them to define our next moves.

Take the time this holiday season to give the gift of compassion. We could all use a little.
Dueces and mad love,

DivA

Cutco oh oh..

There a few things that I love and aside from hubby and family, chief among them are cooking and young people striving to earn money honestly to pay for tutition etcetera.

But honey, someone at Cutco did a profile on what would make people buy their products and I swear, one of those avatars has my face on it.

Stay with me here.

I got a call recently  from one of the young people I love who wanted to see if she could come to seee me and do a Cutco demonstration on my home.

I already knew the deal because I have Cutco products in my kitchen that I use daily so I was prepared that my pockets would squeal a tiny bit so that I could support this “baby.”

Well Damn.

We are flipping through the pages and I saw a set of silverware that interested me and asked for a quote. The 5 place setting was $1,400 and plenty coins!! Did I say I was looking at the 12 place setting though? I told her never mind, collected myself and kept flipping those pages.

Whew!!

We decided on a few pieces in the end but I continue to be struck by how expensive those pieces are!  They are more costly than pieces of jewelry and probably brings more joy if you love to cook like I do. That cleaver slices through bone like butter but it requires mortgaging your kidney to buy itšŸ˜‚

Chile listen. At the end of the day, if you don’t like being in the kitchen much, save those coins but if you want an experience with cooking tools that makes creating meals a joy and your pockets can support it, go for it as they are worth every penny. 

For the rest of you who buys cutco simply as a status symbol in your house while they gather dust because you couldn’t find the stove knobs if you tried, cutco has an avatar with your face too. It’s called the label/status symbol junkiešŸ˜‚šŸ˜‚

For the record- while that child left my house with a sale firmly in hand, don’t yall send no more children to my door because it’s easier to just write a check to support their college fund. Ya dig? They are hard to resist but my pockets will force me to say no by hiding behind my door quietly when they come

Knocking šŸ˜‚šŸ˜‚

Dueces and mad love.

Diva 

A Purpose worth the costĀ 

As a grown woman who has known my purpose since I was about 9 years of age, I have faced incredible odds riddled with everything in between and while I was not deterred, the cost was almost too steep at times.

Almost.

But you see  when one understands their life is not about them, One can ill afford to stop when they know too many other lives are held in the balance.

I had a good chuckle today, watching this particular woman do everything in her power NOT to speak or look in my direction.  Want to know why? She took the power she had and tried to stop a thriving program because SHE didn’t believe in it and when I heard, I sent word to her that not only would she fail at doing such, I would personally make it my mission to see those children DID well despite her back door tactics.

Well, those children did and continues to thrive based on the endless hugs and college degrees and successes I keep seeing almost daily. I knew it was a huge risk on my part because she is respected but if all she can do years later, is continue to hold the grudge by not speaking, I think  it was more than worth it. 

We have to be mindful as leaders that we don’t get above ourselves and forget the very  purposes we began with. Ego and greed dictates way too many of us and that never leads to a good place long term.

Each time I swished by her, she sunk a little Lower in her chair because the guilt of what she tried to do is probably eating her alive especially in light of the fact that she didn’t succeed.

She keeps drinking the poison of the grudge thinking it would harm me when she is killing herself. 

We need to get over ourselves already.
Don’t be like this person: lead with grace. Humility and kindness because at the end of the day,  we all have to answer for what we do to others.

Dueces and mad love,

Diva 

It’s the little things…don’t overlook them

I had to attend a funeral of a dear friend today who died suddenly last week from an asthma attack of all things, and as I sat in the church numb from disbelief, I learned through the lens that was her life, to make our days count. She made every day count by being a tireless volunteer and example for people across all genres and did it with humility, grace and hellified style.

We are not on this earth to be about ourselves but rather, the impact we leave on others.  Judging from that full church, she did just that.

So when I got home, I took some time to reflect on my porch about a few things while listening to my Husband moving about the house.

And then, an angel stopped by to visit and what she thought was solace for her, became so many lessons for me when she walked in the house, took off her shoes and literally curled up on my shoulders and exhaled..

I almost cried.

What she did said she completely trusted me with her heart and we sat in silence until I asked her how was her day.. she began to share and we spoke like mother and daughter for the next couple of hours while she had a bowl of soup and I drank a cup of ginger tea.

I looked at that precious face and saw the daughter I never had. I impressed upon her to come visit any time she wanted to because I became clear, her love and trust were not easily given and never to be taken for granted.

That for me, was a part of our service here on earth. How are we choosing to show empathy, listen and be vulnerable?

People watch us all the time. It is never our words but more our actions that makes all the difference.

So while I was saddened by One friend passing away, I was rejuvenated by the love of another who reminded me life continues and we are to make the best of every moment.
Dueces and mad love,

Diva

Purpose in a sea of discomfortĀ 

The annual Pennsylvania women’s convention  was held recently in Philadelphia and 9 thousand women from all walks of life converged on the PA Convention center like hungry butterflies seeking connections, validation, love and confirmation among other things.

This is my  5th year attending and aside from the awesome keynotes which are always huge draws for the attendees, I was on a personal mission of my own as I was standing on a precipice of achievement, getting ready to leap and sought confirmation in either word or deed that I wasn’t crazy.

And I got it in spades.

After making my way through the throngs of women in search of my DISter friends (a group of ladies I will write about very soon,)  I found the first workshop on “Personal Branding” that had none other than Luvvie Ajaay as one of four panelists. If you don’t know awesomely Luvvie, I need you to get your life and google her because it’s worth the cackles for your entire soul.

As I listened to these women discuss how they took their fears in hand and followed their dreams to fruition,  I felt my soul lift and my body tingled  at the possibilities! I have long said to people that being your authentic self, is way more rewarding than a facade no one can identify with. The nuggets that came from That workshop ranged from using your social media spaces properly, finding your niche that others identify with and not allowing the imposter of self doubt to keep you from moving towards your goals.

I was front and center in the room and was able to get the first selfie with Luvvie before the sisters converged on her and that book of hers sold out!


I left that session feeling pumped and hauled my assets across the convention center to find the next one which featured motivational speaker and author, Lisa Nichols. If you don’t know WHO she is, I again suggest you google her then beg for forgiveness from the ancestors for such egregiousness that would allow the folly in you for missing out on this phenom!

She stepped in the stage, opened her mouth and I was immediately transported to the possibilities in front of me. Her speech? She was there to DISRUPT to norm in our lives, push us off the ledge of comfort so we can be uncomfortable in the challenges that would elevate us to our true paths in life.

Yes YES!!! I vacillated between being on the edge of my seat and taking copious notes that confirmed Much of what I had been hearing in recent days.. seated with me in this session, were 3 women who turned to me and said ” you better be ready because we are taking over your life and this is how we are going to help you get where we see you going.”

We left that session a few minutes early to get in line and meet these two women who would sign our books. As I stood there playing around with a few things, I bought new domain names online and just as I pressed “purchased” Lisa Nichols stretched out her hands to sign my book. I told her what I just did and she grabbed my hands in glee and screeched!! This is her below on stage and after signing my book.

I was so pumped after all of that, I barely touched my lunch or spent the usual time with my friends because I was on a mission. I went back to the exhibit hall, found a space to sit and began investing in myself  after learning about some tools I would need.

Amazon became my friend because I searched and bought as I was instructed to.  Talk about psyched!!

My last stop in the convention? Walking around to meet a few of the vendors as supporting women means the world to me. I floated until I saw something that grabbed my attention- a young mom who was so concerned about new mommys losing their identity after childbirth, she created a line of inspirational and hot looking Tshirts that would boost their spirits. I was so intrigued, I bought 4 and as I was signing for my purchases, I noticed she had years in her eyes as she thanked me. When she disclosed this was her LAUNCH day and that I bought the most amount of merchandise thus far and

It encouraged her that she was truly on to something, I hugged and wished her success beyond her wildest dreams!! Meet Ashley, the owner and creator of “Haute Moms..” did I say 10% of her proceeds go to support surgery for babies with cleft palates? I love her vision!!


Chile…. what was a diva left to do but bottle up ALL that inspiration and take it home in an Uber??

My hope is that your reading this will inspire YOU to leap off the ledge of comfort and face the challenges on your road to your purpose in life. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!
Dueces and mad love,

Diva

Dangerous meanness..Ā 

Allow me to preface this piece by stating the obvious- I don’t know everything, cannot solve everything and am still learning, sometimes moment by moment.

What I do instinctively know? When you spend your very existence choosing to do major shifts that ultimately becomes all about yourself, the price for that is incalculable.
Let me stop speaking in a parables and tell you what’s brewing on my mind.

There is a phenomenal person who  took it upon themself to bring a solid vision they had to life and has had some successes with said vision. Almost immediately though, despite being supported by large swaths of people and organizations so this vision could continue to grow and bear fruit, this person alienated many by dismissing their efforts and making it all about themselves and that they did all the work etcetera.
Just mean, cold and nasty in a way that left a distaste for said person and folks began walking away.

What is even scarier though, are the “yes” foot soldiers who sees all of this happening but say nothing and continues to support the mission despite the abuse because it’s one that supports and empowers impressionable minds.

The problem with that? When you leave that kind of behavior unchecked, it becomes a monster and now even the impressionable young minds are complaining about being marginalized and emotionally abused at the hands of said person, and parents are questioning the meaning of it all.

So, I am speaking now not just to self serving leaders but those who follow them even to their own peril- woe unto YOU because nothing you put into the universe comes back to you void. You will find no peace until you make right, the behaviors that continues to destroy from the inside what looks glorious on the outside.

Find your center-do your work with intention and speak up followers when you see your leadership going down a path that isn’t healing. Your silence is not golden and you should never fear anyone to the point where you cower and continue to allow the dismantling of fragile children to keep the peace.

Because at the end of the day? The stifling of what is right to be likable or not rocking the boat because you don’t want that level of meaness  aimed your way, means you too will be held accountable for those lives. One way or another.

So what’s it gonna be?  The price is to pay is too steep and there will come a day when you will have to balance that account.
Mad love and peace

Diva.

The millennial minimalists in our midst

I have often been a harsh critic of the my generation for not taking millennials under their wings to mentor so that they can have a solid foundation to stand on as we eventually stand down.

It was in that spirit, that I decided along with some accomplished people in my network, to begin fully mentoring young people in their mid to late twenties, with the hope of staving some of which they have been craving from us.

I have been in this process for a few years now and something has become glaringly evident; a few of these new leaders are becoming the very system they spoke out against by looking out for their own interests and not helping to lift each other up. It leads to lying and pointing fingers at others in an effort to detract from the real issues at hand.

Added to the madness, is the minimalism. Some are so busy trying to promote their names and organizations in headlines, they forgot there is actual work to be done. When asked to produce some work, I get minimal to no effort with a bunch of excuses attached.

Quality work, when done consistently, is the backbone of real success so when I watch those who aren’t producing what is written on paper, while looking for the next place to have their names recognized, it gives me serious pause and speaks volumes about what hidden deals may be done, in an effort to keep giving shoddy results.

There comes a time when a name is just not going to be enough to keep one afloat and if it is thought you can be ” bought and sold” for ego, then you will be.

Are you willing to work while others yet sleep? Are you willing to learn the key ingredients for presenting oneself- that is, grooming, speech and preparedness?
At you willing hold fast to the ideology around your work without cutting corners? Are you willing to listen to sound advice from those who were there before you?

Then you are ready to do what it takes to succeed. Everything else is just window dressing clothed in laziness and a recipe for disaster.

Stand for something. Be about something other than yourself. Have some integrity and be your brothers keeper because you can’t rise alone. Treasure the time and efforts of your mentors and work hard not to burn bridges.

Most of all, leave the minimalism at the door so you don’t become a younger version of more-of-the-same.

You better believe, people are watching and nothing destroys a reputation faster than word-of-mouth by key powerful individuals who know real success when it’s presented to them.

Who are YOU calling a B&?!@???

Today told me for certain that I have indeed found my calling in life..

I was asked to speak to a group of young people at a local high school
(That will remain nameless for now) who were suspended and a part of their plan for getting reinstated was to sit and listen to people who looked like them about what it took to be successful in life.

Oh yeah, their parents had to accompany them.

I knew I was in Oz when I got to the school and as the young people were leaving, all I heard were words not worthy of printing. I cringed inwardly with sadness but kept going and eventually found the room I was to be in.

The folks started coming in and the attitude was downright hostile. Parents arguing they don’t have time for this and some of the girls were saying things like

we in here to listen to this Bitch? My momma going to cuss her out and we will get to leave.”

Clearly, they were in for a treat.

I waited until they settled down, pulled up a chair in the center of them, opened my mouth and laid them all out so flat, not only could you hear a pin drop, the parents were asking to be mentored along with the kids.

The Principal walked in an hour later thinking he was going to have to keep order and his mouth fell to the floor.

He said one of the toughest judges in the city walked into that school and gave up and walked out. He was shocked at what he found.

I’m going back there. Every Tuesday that I’m in town for the entire school year. Those young people needed support and they needed to know I was not the Sista to run game on..

We have got to expect more of ourselves no matter how low we may feel in life.. Everyone left respectful and said thank you after the girls asked for these sessions to keep going…

Say what now? šŸ˜œ

That was by FAR, the toughest experience I ever had with young people and parents but what I know for sure is this, no matter how crazy a situation seems, if you command the respect with your presence, miracles can and will indeed happen.

I bet you not one of them will call me a bitch anymore AND they will think twice before they use it carelessly among themselves too..

Enough said.

The debt you cannot ever repay your children

I attended a funeral service recently and what I witnessed, was a strong reminder that we only get a few years to raise and spend quality time with our children. Once we let those years slip by, we may, depending on the adult child, spend the rest of our lives and even into death, paying for it.

About nine years ago, I met this wonderful elderly lady who walked over and told me that I had something within that would turn the world on it’s ear. She did some digging and learned that I had two boys and was told, that they were good children who were loved.
This sweet lady, told me that the world would be ready when they finally discovered my gifts but she had one request; that I finished raising my sons first before allowing the world
To sweep me away into a vortex.

I stared at her strangely because back then, I was a mommy working hard to raise decent children and had no aspirations of any kind other than to teach English at the secondary level.
I told her as much and she smiled, nodded her head and said with a twinkle in her eye ” your presence is powerful in a way that I have yet to see in too many people but because I know you will be sought after sooner rather than later, heed my words about your children.”

She went on to describe how she and her husband dined with President Jimmy Carter, were heavily involved In Politics at the local, county, state and Federal levels, got invited to many functions and she carved out a strong political name for her family while he ran the family business. By all accounts, they were extremely successful and by the time they both realized the children they loved were on the back burner, it was too late.

The resentment was incredibly high and one child who is now in her fifties, despised them to the bitter end. My friend says in retrospect, she believed buying very nice things, living in a very nice house with a nanny and traveling to wonderful places, made up for the lack of time and attention.

The sadness in my friend’s eyes, made me vow to never put career and wants above my children. The results have been nothing short of wonderful and before my dear friend slipped fully into dementia, she could hug me with tears to say ” well
Done mommy.”

Fast forward to the funeral; one of her children got up and said she despised her parent even as he laid in repose. She felt he was hard and uncompromising and loved their mother more than he loved them. She shed not a single tear and seemed almost gleeful. Even in death, she defied his last wishes.

Broke my heart.

Parents please; listen to your children. Spend quality time with them while you can. You don’t get a second chance in those formative years between birth and sixteen. Your money means nothing when they feel alone with no adult support.

You can always be famous, successful etcetera but don’t find yourself spending your golden years trying to buy the love of children that you had free of charge.

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Fly diva fly!! My day with USAF Thunderbirds

I have often said, that what we put into the universe, will manifest itself and that we are to be therefore careful what we think and say- I gotta tell you, this has been a summer for the record books and an excellent reminder of what is possible.

I am an educator so when June rolls around, all I can think of is doing something mindless, daring and free! I started with a trip to Puerto Rico where I climbed two waterfalls and as if that wasn’t daring enough, I got back home and promptly cut off all my hair. For a black woman, that is worse than giving birth to triplets. Another story for another time but the best part of this summer, was something that even I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams!
In early July, I received a call
From a gentlemen claiming to be from the United States Air Force and the purpose of his call was to inform me, that someone nominated me as a hometown hero for transforming lives and because they were aware of something insane on my bucket list, they thought I would be an excellent candidate to fly with the US Air Force Thunderbirds!

It took me a minute to find my voice and pick my jaw up from
The floor but once I got myself together, I realized this was indeed very real and I was about to embark on a journey I would not soon forget.

After several weeks of filling out appropriate forms, signing away my right to sue the government if I died and having a physical from
A doctor who would clear me medically, I was ready to go.

On August 12, 2014, bright and early in the morning, my family and I drove to the 177th fighter wing of the NJ AirNational Guard in Egg Harbor and reported to Sergeant Andrew Mosley.

I was then introduced to three crew members of the Thunderbirds and could barely contain myself when I was taken outside to see the F-16 Fighter jet I would be flying in with my pilot Major Michael Fisher who I would meet later.

The intensive crash course began. I had to be fitted into a flight suit, put on a G-suit over that and taught in a couple of hours everything I needed to know about ejection & what all the apparatus was for. The next person I saw was the Team doctor who was hilarious and scary at once because he had to tell me all that could go wrong in the air and taught me how to take G-sips once the plane went into G-force.

It was the closest I came
To saying nevermind. But I was resolved to do this.

The last person I spoke with was Major Fisher, who alleviated all my fears, gave me instructions about the cockpit and showed me some of the maneuvers we would be doing if I felt up to it. My excitement began to build over the nerves because I realized I was really going to do this!

I had to hydrate by drinking more liquids than usual
So after one last potty break, I was told to meet the pilot out on the Tarmac.

Imagine walking out and seeing cameras everywhere and some of the most handsome men I have ever seen in my life who shook my hands and said their job was to make sure the plane was secure for our safety.

They did just that. I strapped my vest on and anchored it to my body, then climbed into the cockpit and had my mask and helmet secured while my oxygen was hooked in and tested.

When the cockpit closed and the engine fired up, I knew this was it and I would experience something I would never do again, so I resolved to enjoy it while patting my barf bags just in case I needed them.

We took off and went vertically 17 thousand feet in under 5 seconds!! I could NOT believe what I was experiencing and utilized all the things I learned so that I could breathe once we went into G-force which felt like my entire insides flew up to my brain.

Major Fisher flew to restricted airspace and performed some of the stunts you would see in an air show. He talked me through each one and didn’t do them until I was ready. It felt like I was in heaven!!

We made it through most of the stunts but that last one, a 360 degree roll twice was more than enough for my tummy and I got sick. I was able to drop my mask and do it neatly without making a mess too. Bravo to me. My entire flight was recorded in the cockpit.

After an hour of experiencing the thrill of my lifetime, we flew back.
Once we landed and I got out of that cockpit, I was incredibly happy to have been chosen as one of a few civilians who will ever be able to say this was something they experienced!!

I was given some pretty neat memorabilia signed by the entire crew, my name was put on the cockpit and I was interviewed by NBC.

The pride and awe on my sons faces was priceless and they learned from my bravery that nothing is off limits and if you can dream it, you can achieve it!

Thank you so much to the Crew of the US Air Force Thunderbirds for the thrill of a lifetime and thank you Allison Mine-Phillips for nominating me as a hometown hero!

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