Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

Dream BIG! Always!

 

For someone to say, “never give up on your dreams”, for many, is easier said than done.  As a young adult, I can remember thinking that one day I’d like to own my own business.  At the time I considered opening a home for young, single mothers.  A place where they could not only have shelter but a place to find the resources they needed to take care of their children and become self-sufficient.

As a teen mom, all I could do was dream because I had a child of my own to care for.  Even back then I understood the importance of having an education.  I knew that it would be the key I needed to change my circumstances and no matter what dreams I had, current or in the future, it would help me reach those dreams.  Although my dreams, at the time, came second to raising my son, I refused to give them up.  Somehow, I always knew that there was something better out in the world for me.

Our life experiences can often detour us for longer periods of time than we’d like.  Life’s more pressing priorities can sometimes take over and dreams can change but no matter where life takes you, don’t stop dreaming.  Find that one thing you are passionate about, that one thing you’d do even if no one paid you to do it, find it and let it drive you toward your success.

Over a year ago, I started out on an entrepreneurial journey.  Many said that I wouldn’t be able to do it.  That I was too old and should stick to teaching since it was a good, stable job.  When I shared my idea with friends and family I initially got some support.  However, when things weren’t progressing fast enough for them to see my dream come alive, their support began to fade.  To them, it was just a pipe dream I should give up but for me this is everything I am.  I am a dreamer and a fighter.  Challenges are what I overcome.

I struggle a little sometimes too.  All I want is for the little vision in my head to be out for the world to see.  I knew nothing about a business plans, investors, site locations, engineers, budgets or bank loans.  But I’m learning.  With each step, I’m learning and with each new challenge, I’m growing.  I’m certain that had I had a good amount of money sitting in the bank, I probably could have had this thing up and running by now but on a teacher’s salary, I’m coming to understand that things like this take time.

And although I would love to quit my job to take on this project full time because I know without a doubt that I can do this, I also know that without proper planning I’ll be homeless inside of two months!  Now, we definitely can’t have that.

So, stay focused and don’t give up.  Do something each day, no matter how big or how small, toward your dream.

Replace any and all negative self-talk with something positive.  I find myself thinking that at my age, I am too old to even consider starting a business.  By the time I get it going good I won’t have long to enjoy it or it won’t work at all and I will spend my latter years working at Walmart.  I wrote down the names and ages of people who started their journey toward success at or after the age of 40.   I made a few copies and put one in my lesson plan book, inside the book I’m currently reading, on my dream board and my bathroom mirror.  I read through this list whenever negativity creeps into my thoughts.  Seeing it every day helps to remind me that I am strong.  I truly believe the universe is conspiring to make my dreams come true.

To quit is not an option…🙂

Reading Goals

Being an avid reader I always tend to set very lofty reading goals each year.  This year, my goal is to read twenty-four books.  While reading is a passion, I am very busy working two jobs and starting an entrepreneurial journey.  So, I know that in order to reach my reading goal I will have to utilize each and every free moment I can find.

So far, I am off to a good start!  I just finished reading, I Am Malala.  One down, twenty-three to go!  This book was simply amazing.  I find inspiration for choosing books to read from various places.  This one, I found through my son.  He needed to complete a book report and his teacher had given him a list of books to choose from.  He chose, I Am Malala.  I decided to purchase two books so that I could read along with him and support his learning.

From the moment I began reading this book, I knew, no matter how long it took, I was reading it to the end.  I truly enjoyed how much she spoke of the importance of her education and the importance of an education for all girls and boys.

Growing up,  I knew that my education was the one thing that would take me where I wanted to go.  I wasn’t the best student but I worked hard, listened to my teachers and tried to absorb as much as I could.  I get a little frustrated when I read articles or posts that talk about education being a waste of time or that going to school is not going to give you every thing you need.  Granted, school isn’t going to teach you everything. It may teach your things you are not interested in or things you may never use again but how will we know what interests us, what we may or may not like if we are not exposed to various things?  I would definitely have to disagree that it is a waste of time.  To me, education is a gateway to options.

I am always telling my own children that we must honor those who paved the way for us.  Our education was not free.  Many people sacrificed their time and their lives so that I, we, could enjoy the education freedoms we have today.  In reading, I Am Malala, I was truly reminded of the importance of my own education.  I was struck by Malala’s passion and desire to see that all young girls and boys have an education that will allow them to reach their full potential.  What struck me most was that even when she was literally faced with the threat of death, she continued to go to school and to speak out about the importance of young girls having the opportunity to get an education.

This is definitely a book I would recommend.

I give it five stars…:)

 

Holiday Spirit

By a very generous stroke of luck, I had the house all to myself today.  As I sat on the couch watching television, I listened to this guy share that one of the reasons he loved his wife was because the way she viewed the world was unlike anything he’d ever seen or experienced.  He described how his wife simply loved people, saw the best in everyone and always wanted to help whoever and wherever she could.  He stated that he often wished he could see the world from her eyes.  The wife explained that she was a glass half full type person and made a conscience effort to be positive because she enjoys seeing people be their best selves.

Their conversation reminded me of the many conversations I have with my love.  He and the kids often tell me how different I am and that most people don’t think or view the world the way I do.  Whenever we have family discussions, I am usually the odd woman out.  I’ve always known that my way of thinking, speaking and being is rather different from what is considered the norm in my culture but there is just something in me that wants the best for every person I meet.  I feel that no matter the situation, there is a win-win solution for everyone involved.  Although it can be a tough job most days,  I often feel it is my purpose to love others, to find and make peace, to simply be kind.  I don’t seek attention or acknowledgement, I simply hope that by loving or being kind to someone, they will in turn love or be kind to someone else.

Today is Christmas and I spent the day basking in the quiet of an empty house.  My love and the kids are visiting their family.  I spent time with my family yesterday.  So today was about relaxing and counting my many blessings.  Earlier this afternoon I decided to open some of the cards I received from coworkers and I came across one that made me pause.   You never know how showing kindness or sharing a positive word will impact someone.  There is more than enough negativity and tragedy happening in this world, I don’t need to add to it.  I will be sharing this card with my kids when they get back so that they will know that it is very true that what you put out you will get back.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Mimi

When Saleem was about four or five years old I can remember, people always asking, “do you want any more kids” or “when are you having another one?”  My response was always the same, “if God wants me to have some, he better send me a man with some because I’m not having anymore!”  It was a joke to me until Saleem was about ten or eleven and I decided that I really wanted to have another child.  Around that time I’d met my love.  Although he already had five, we thought we’d try for one more or maybe two since he was a twin and twins were known to run in his family.  Either way, we would be happy with what ever God decided to bless us with.

Unfortunately, we were not prepared for the news we’d receive a few months later.  Turns out, I had uterine fibroids and my doctors doubted that I’d ever be able to have another child.  Under my doctors’ care, I decided to put off having surgery in order to try to get pregnant one more time.  After about eight months, I had not gotten pregnant but my fibroids had grown so large they were pressing on other vital organs.  My doctor was afraid my kidneys would be dangerously affected.  When tests revealed just how much damage my fibroids were doing to my body, my doctor gave me two weeks to get things in order so that he could perform my hysterectomy.

The day I left my doctor’s office was one of the saddest days.  Not only was I faced with not being able to have another child but I struggled with having to have such a major surgery at thirty-two years old.  Needless to say, the days leading up to the surgery were some of the most difficult.  I didn’t want my parents or Saleem to worry about me so I put on a brave face, said the most positive things when anyone asked how I was doing and tried not to cry.

The surgery went well.  I recovered with good friends, family and my love taking care of me.  I returned to work and life moved on.  At the time, only three of my love’s children lived in the area and we were able to see them regularly.  So between his three and Saleem, we were often pretty busy having family movie nights, vacationing in some small town in Florida none of us had ever heard of and hanging out with the kids at one of their extracurricular events.

Time seems to have flown by.  The picture above is of me and who I refer to as “The Last of the Mohicans.”  These are my love’s youngest two…the twins and the last two at home.  They were three years old when their dad and I met.  I was blessed to be Saleem’s mom and to be apart of his everyday life and upbringing.  Even though God decided that having another child was not in the cards for me, I have been truly blessed to be Mimi to my love’s kids, especially these two.  I have been blessed to share in many firsts with the twins…their first day of kindergarten, their first day of middle school, their first day learning to drive, their first “unofficial” date and today, their first day at their first job.  In a few years, we will be dropping them off at their first day of college.

Prior to gaining full custody of the twins and their older sister almost four years ago, my love and I were weekend parents along with giving as much support during the week as needed.  Granted our lives have changed quite a bit now that the kids are with us full time and I must admit, I was not at all prepared as Saleem was out on his own by then.  I was enjoying being a semi-empty nester.  I understand now that even though all those years ago I joked about God sending me a man with kids, He has actually answered my prayers.  I am so grateful to have had this time with them.

 

Be careful what you ask for…:)

Up Next

When I decided to become an educator some fifteen or sixteen years ago, I was well aware that I would not be in it to make money.  As long as I could support myself and my son, I figured I would be okay.  It’s not like I took a vow of poverty but on a teacher’s salary, I might as well have.  I make what most would say is a “livable” wage and truth be told, I do okay.  I am able to pay my bills, feed myself and put gas in my car.  Unfortunately, after all that, there is not much left over to do many of the things I truly enjoy like taking yoga classes, having my hair professionally done or visiting my grandson as often as I’d like.  Don’t get me wrong, I can do those things but not without a plan and putting a little money aside each pay period until I have enough.

This summer, while I do save for summer break, I decided to find a part time job as well to add a little extra cushion to my financial bucket to reduce some of the stress of always being close to the end of my money each month during the school year.  At the end of the summer I made the decision to keep my part time job.  The extra money is great but I must say that I am definitely tired.  Many of my friends and family argue that as a professional with a master’s degree, there is no way I should have to work two jobs.  Well, I totally agree.  My love and I definitely live below our means.  We make every effort to save more than we spend.  My love does the grocery shopping and recently he came home and said, “did you know the price of bananas has gone from forty-nine cent a pound to seventy-nine cent a pound?  Our paychecks stay the same but prices all around us are going up.”  This is so true.  While we are doing our best to simply maintain our household, we are spending more on things like gas and food.

When I was in my twenties and working to finish my first degree, I dreamed of owning a home.  I kind of pushed that dream to the back of my mind once I became a teacher.  Being a teacher didn’t really allow me to save the kind of money I’d need to purchase a house.  All I wanted to do was make sure my child was fed, that he had a roof over his head and that the power stayed on.  About five years ago when I decided that I wanted to bring that dream to light, I asked questions, did research and found that I could actually make my dream a reality.  I became a home owner in June of 2016.

Last year, while out of town visiting my love’s family for the Christmas holidays I had the opportunity to chat with my father-in-law at one of his stores.  I joked that he should open a store in my area so that I could quit teaching and come work for him as I was certain to make more money.  We laughed and then he said, “why don’t you open your own business? What is it you like to do?”  My response, “Teach! That’s what I know and that’s what I’m good at.”  Besides owning a home, I also dreamed of owning my own business.  Again, that idea was pushed to the back of my mind as I thought there is no way I could do that on a teacher’s salary.  I went through all the reason’s I couldn’t do it.  I shared my conversation with my father-in-law with one of my best friend’s who happens to be a very successful event planner.  She started her business from scratch and as she patiently listened to me list all of the reasons why there was no way I could start my own business she simply said to me, “why not?”

I have spent the better part of the last ten months doing the very thing I did when I decided to buy a home, I asked questions, researched all I could and found that I might actually be able to turn this dream into a reality.  In my research I came across the Women’s Business Centre of Tampa Bay.  The women there were more than happy to answer any and all of my questions.  They helped me to make connections with the women at the non-profit, Enterprising Latins.  The bridge to owing my own business is being build with each and every connection I make.  Along the way, my love and my best friends have been encouraging me with each step.  While conducting research, I came across a business conference being held in Dallas, TX.  From the website information and reviews, it looked like a great opportunity for business owners and I said to myself, “if I get my business up and running, this would be a great way for me to learn more.”  Once again, sharing what I’d found with my friend, she asked, “why not go and get all of the information now so that you are a little bit ahead of the game.”  When I told her the cost and that there was no way I’d be able to afford it, her response was, “see of they have a payment plan.”  Of course, she was right…they had a payment plan.

As I am writing this post I am sitting at the Dallas Love Field airport on my way home from the conference.  I arrived here on Wednesday to attend the Thursday through Saturday sessions.  This was probably the best thing I could have let her talk me into doing.  I was able to network and hear from some of the best in the business.  When I shared my business idea with attendees and told them that I hadn’t yet opened the doors on my business, they jumped at the opportunity to share all that they knew, things I needed to do, the order I needed to do them in and what to look out for. They were so encouraging and positive that I want to go home, apply for a business loan Monday morning and open doors on Tuesday.  Although I am very aware that there are still a few steps left to complete in my plan, I think this conference gave me even more courage to step out of my comfort zone one more time to make this dream happen.  If God did it before, I am most certain He can do it again.  I am the one who has to let go of the fear and simply rely on the faith I keep saying I have.

Never let go of your dreams…:>

 

Forty-Five

Recently, I had a birthday and I turned forty-five.  Seems kind of crazy that that much time has passed in my life.  This years’ birthday was a little hard for me.  Not because of my age since I knew it was coming, but for some reason I haven’t figured out yet, I spent A LOT of time reflecting.  I thought about all that I have accomplished in these forty-five years.  I spent time thinking about the decisions and choices I’ve made that have not produced the fruit I’d hoped for.  My parents came to mind a lot.  I miss them everyday.  Even though I know they were proud of me and that we were solid when they left this earth, there is still so much I’ve done since their passing that I wish they could have been able to witness and be a part of.

I was what some would call a late bloomer.  A few incidences beyond my control detoured my path.  While many of my friends were in college, I was a working single mom taking classes when I could.  When they finished four years later I was still plugging along, one class at a time and raising my son. There are times when I feel that I should be further along in my life than I am currently then I remember that my plans aren’t always God’s plan for me.  For the most part, I’ve had a good life.  But you don’t get to be this age without a few regrets.  If I could go back, there are a few things I would do differently.  At some of those forks in the road, I  definitely would have chosen a different path.  However, hindsight is always twenty-twenty.  At my age now, I only have one choice to make:  I can dwell on the past and my coulda, shoulda, woulda’s or focus all of my attention and effort on making the second half of my life my best one.  I think I will go with the latter.

My friends think I am much too busy.  For me, there is still so much I want to do and goals I plan to achieve.  I love living my life and I want to get in as many adventures as I possible can.  I know obstacles will come and I have learned that while they slow us down they aren’t stop signs.  Life will sometimes be uncomfortable, frustrating, complicated and often confusing but that’s what makes it worth living.

I am working to change the things about my life that I am not happy with.  Change can be difficult and for me its extremely hard because I don’t like hurting people.  I have this very strange habit of wanting to see the best in others even when they are not so kind to me.  Overall, this has been a very good year and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

Seeing what the future holds…:)

 

 

 

 

 

Just Me

I was born a fighter.  I’m sure God must have known what I’d endure over my lifetime and He just decided to build me to last.  I can remember the exact day life as I’d known it had changed.  I was in seventh grade and I just knew.  That morning, I woke up a confused, withdrawn, sad and very angry child.  That was all I could think to be at that time.  I had lots of questions but no one I trusted to answer them so I learned to be silent.  I let my attitude and anger speak for me.  I often heard people say, “what’s wrong with her”, yet no one asked me directly.

Adults are funny that way.  Instead of facing issues directly, they make excuses for why children behave a certain way or they choose to ignore it altogether.  Getting to the heart of the matter may shine light on their own insecurities so they teach children to be quiet and what children learn to do is suffer in silence. What we all end up with are generational curses that span decades.  Children who learn to be silent become adults who often suffer through abusive relationships, allow anger to fuel promiscuity, develop mental heath issues or other toxic, unhealthy problems.  The cycle continues until one brave soul decides to break the curse.

 

Very few people know my story.  For me, there has to be a need to share it.  I have to know that the person who hears it will benefit from it in some way.  Other than that, they are mere words spoken with no direction or path.  As I’ve gotten older and have had the opportunity to share my story, I usually hear one of two things, “how have you not lost your mind” and “you should write a book.”  I always laugh because there was a time when I thought I had “lost my mind.”  In order to cope with all that I had endured up to that point in my life, I simply became someone else.  Due to the fact that I’d lost my identity at such a young age, through my anger and frustration, I learned to be the person everyone expected me to be.  Yet, I never felt quite right.  I didn’t have balance.

I lived my life in this crazy limbo until I was twenty-eight years old.  I had the privilege to meet this great lady, whom I affectionately refer to as Shug, at a point when my anger and false persona was causing more grief than help.  She literally spoke life into me.  Over the course of about a year, she changed my life and opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that I’m still riding today.  She gave me direction which is something I hadn’t had since I was about twelve years old.  She asked the hard questions, expected truthful answers, pressed and pushed until I was ready cut her out of my life forever.  I am thankful and grateful that she never quit.  Prior to Shug, I thought my anger made me a fighter.  She helped me to see that my true resilience, perseverance and innate ability to believe that there is more to me and my life than what people see or may perceive is what makes me a fighter.

It’s just in me to keep pushing.  I don’t quit.  When I look back over my life and reflect on all that I have lived through, the fires I’ve walked through and all those who told me I’d never amount to anything I think, “wow, look at that! If that didn’t stop me…nothing will.”  And I don’t quit!  Everyday is not my best day and I’m not always as positive as I should be.  I have my moments.  I cry, scream and if you catch me on a good day, I might even throw something.  However, I’ve learned not to stay in that place of anger because no one can get a level head when they are fueled with anger.  When my anger begins to subside, I pray, listen and plan.  (I’m learning to pray in my anger.  Not all the way there yet.)  I encourage myself and remind this girl that she is a fighter.

Through it all, I’ve always come out better than I went in.  Tension, challenges and struggles will produce growth if you don’t quit.

Planted but not buried…😊