My greatest task these past several months has been the act of letting go. Its one of the hardest things to do when you’re so used to being a bit of a control freak. Okay… Let’s admit, we ALL do this with certain aspects of our lives. We all want to feel as if we have a sense of control over the things that are going on around us. And to a certain degree, we do. But what I’m coming to know, is that the greatest thing that we should aspire to have control ovber has nothing to do with anything outside of oneself. It has EVERYTHING to do with checking in with the thoughts and feelings that are behind every action or decision that one may make.
Most recently, I had to deal with relationship disappointment. For me, it was that feeling and supporting thoughts of being deprived or cheated of certain treatment. This is a very typical thing for humans, especially women to endure as we are given so many images and ideas from the outside world about how things are supposed to be. And its amazing how it never fails that the core of all relational conflicts comes from those very ideas about how things are “supposed to be.” And as the saying goes, our ideas about how things are supposed to be are what screws us up most. In fact, I find it funny how no matter what your thoughts and feelings are about something, negative or positive, you can almost always count on some kind of outside validation to support it. It can be in the form of a friend or family member’s advice, a billboard you may see while driving, a song on the radio, a fortune cookie… No matter what frequency you are on, it will somehow be validated and ultimately encouraged to continue… This is something to consider!
But now consider this: What if it was revealed to mankind that every idea that we’ve ever held about life and how things are supposed to go are false? What if none of it is true, and its all just one great big illusion (almost like a movie), and we are playing the roles that we choose to play with every decision that we make? And what if, as a result of accepting this scenario as true, we are told that our only power in navigating through life is to develop discipline in the mind; that is, be mindful of the thoughts and emotions that pass through your being, and understand that everything that you say and do are the result of what you are thinking and feeling in any given moment. Now, if everything that you say and do will render an opposite or equal reaction, thus creating the events of your life, would it not be a top priority to constantly work at improving one’s thoughts and emotions before or during the decision making process?…
This task for me has been one of great difficulty, as it challenges me to dismiss many ideas that I have about relationships and love, and life in general. Its amazing how many different thoughts and ideas we have about specific subjects that are not our own. They are merely thoughts and ideas that we have learned from the world around us. When we learn to master what controls our actions, we can begin to be more deliberate about just what it is we are trying to accomplish with every given thought and feeling. From there, we can surrender and allow life to unfold profoundly in our favor, rather than against us through negative validation and real-life physical confirmation. This has been one of my greatest revelations!
It’s not too often that I write a “Featured Dream Chaser” piece, but this one is loooong overdue. Let’s just say it probably should have been one of the first features I ever posted here, especially since I know this Dream Chaser all too well. Yup, she’s my bestie! And her journey is everything short of a Cinderella tale. As gorgeous as she is, Danni Washington is a BEAST! And anything else that’s resilient, unshakeable, unstoppable, and UN-breakable. And she’s been that way long before I met her when I was just a 17-year-old soon-to be senior in high school, who’d been following her hairstylist mother around backstage as she whipped the manes of some of South Florida’s most beautiful models for a beach-side fashion show.
Danni, the same age as me, was a model in the show. And although I don’t remember most of the details of that day, I do remember having a very brief conversation about our goals for the future. She had plans to attend the University of Miami to study Marine Biology, something that I had no clue about. When she said it had something to do with swimming a whole lot, and being alongside ocean creatures, I knew right away just why I knew NOTHING about marine life. With a mother as a hairstylist, I had probably been getting relaxers (permanent hair straighteners) for most of my life. And if you know what that is, then you know that water and perms DO NOT MIX! Therefore, I had no interest whatsoever in what she was talking about. But, I was magnetically drawn to her undeniable passion as she spoke of this goal of hers to attend a university that had one of the best Marine Biology programs in the country. I shared with her that I too had plans to attend the University of Miami, but not because I had actually researched any of its programs. My wish to attend UM was mostly because it was always a spoken of with such high regards in my family and surrounding community. I mean, everyone in Miami knew and loved “The U! And if I was going to continue my education, I wanted to be associated with the “The Best.” Sounds crazy, I know. Especially given how expensive UM is (I’ll be paying for it for a while). But college was always an after thought for me. If it weren’t for my desire to set an example for my family as the first to graduate college, I probably would have never gone…
Any who, the next time I saw Danni was about 3 years later. We were both juniors in college and I had just transferred to the University of Miami after completing two years in junior college (I had to figure out a way to save some money somehow if I was gonna pick the most expensive school in Florida). I must have recognized her instantly as we were both leaving the bookstore and heading towards the University Center. I remember tapping her shoulder and belting out a “HEY! How are you?!” with my arms open and ready to embrace a long-lost friend. We hugged and reminded each other of how and when we first met, and we both shared an implicit “WE MADE IT” moment, as we acknowledged that we both did EXACTLY what we said we would, in spite of. That moment solidified the foundation of our friendship, and we’ve been sisters ever since. We shared some of our most embarrassing, hurtful, happy and joyous moments throughout those years at UM. Our deepest connection, however, was our passion for understanding life’s mysteries… Yes, our curiosity of GOD and Spirituality, and our love for mankind is the glue that kept us connected and focused on the tasks at hand. We might not have quite understood our paths and why they crossed, but we had an understanding that our journeys were much bigger than we could have ever imagined, and that we could NOT travel alone.
Since graduating college Danni has gone on to start her own non-profit organization, The Big Blue & You, which is dedicated to educating youth about the ocean through media and an annual Art By The Sea event. Every bit of her dream has required courage, hard work, and huge leaps of faith. In 2012, she packed her bags and took her talents to Los Angeles, California to solidify her dream of being an Ocean Advocate and On-Air personality. So far so good as she’s been invited to The White House at least twice, has worked on phenomenal marine life projects alongside some of the best in her field (including Life After Earth Science with Jayden Smith), has her very own TED Talks speech, and was recently featured in SEVENTEEN Magazine’s “Score Your Dream Life.” My girl has been WERKIN’! And in my eyes, she will forever be THE ULTIMATE Dream Chaser.
Meet Danni Washington: 2014 Reel
Check out Danni’s TED Talks as she explains her journey:
Be sure to pick of the latest copy of Seventeen’s August 2014 to see how Danni exercises her GIRL POWER!
Everyday that we awaken, we have the power to create our reality. Every reality that we experience once began as a mere thought, perception, idea about what is and what we hope will be. No matter what energy space each idea originates from, if persistently held as a truth within the believer, it will manifest itself as a physical reality. This concept is what I have accepted as a truth for me. Therefore, I am constantly in the process of unlearning and rejecting any and every thought form that no longer serves me and my grandest vision for my life, as well as the lives of those that I love. In learning the power of the words “I AM” which is the name of GOD, I now understand my true power on Earth and in spirit.
We are creators. We are constantly creating, in every moment, hour, minute, second of everyday… and in every way. Our creations are either formed out of love or out of fear. As part of our spiritual contracts with the Divine, we were each sent here to teach life and those that we encounter the truth of what we always have and always will know in spirit. We each were sent here to embody the truth from every aspect of TRUTH in and of itself. Truth is that which reigns as solid and constant for the believer and his vision of his highest self. When we declare that which “I AM…” as the beginning statement of our truths, we are beginning to manifest all that comes along with that truth so long as we persistently hold it as a core belief. Whether it is a statement that we truly desire or not is never a factor. The only determining factor of its manifestation is whether we consciously hold on to it as a core belief, good or bad as it may be. We create our realities, we create our lives, we create our world… Yes, one individual at a time, beginning with self.
As I continue to evolve, I challenge myself constantly to release anything whose origin is not love. We all have experienced the differences between the two worlds. We all know how drastically differing in results each source can be. Why not actively participate in our experience here on Earth rather than inactively observing all that goes on? As I challenge myself to live life from a space of “believing it in” first, I openly challenge you whose eyes have graced these words to do the same. While I do this, I envision for you a more peaceful, abundant, loving, healthy, and wealthy experience while here on earth. Those things which I believe within for myself, I extend to you. I know that these things will come to pass for you because of the space from which they come from within me. The space of LOVE.
Its been a while since I’ve blogged… at least the way that I was used to blogging when I started this thing. The truth is, life got in the way. A lot of new things have happened since I last poured my guts out on BCSTARKS, and with lots of experiences come lots of lessons. And my readers know how passionate I am about learning from life’s lessons and sharing them.
I won’t go into detail about everything, because that’s never why I share things here. But I will share with you how I’ve felt as of late, and what I’ve learned from my emotional bouts.
Fear… But I’ve learned to do things anyway just to get past it. Although I find myself afraid at times, I’m more fearful of not taking chances with my hopes and dreams than I am of actually facing my fears.
I’ve felt disappointment. But the lesson here is that one should never expect others to fit the mold of what one wants them to be. People are who they are, and have every right to evolve at their own pace… No one else is responsible for one’s personal happiness, nor should one give others the power to determine one’s happiness. If disappointment creeps up on you, say this affirmation: ” I forgive you for not being the way I wanted you to be. I forgive you and I lovingly set you free.” Forgiveness is always key to having a more peaceful life experience.
Anger and Frustration… are recipes for disaster. These two emotions get you nowhere, FAST! Or more like trouble that you never intended to be in. My lesson with these two have been to acknowledge when something doesn’t sit well with me. Sometimes my best approach has been to do this in writing. I find that when I write things out first I am able to release some of the initial shock and first impressions on paper. And once I’m past those things, I am then able to better address whatever the situation is, minus the negative emotion. No sense in making a bad situation worse.
I’ve got love. When I surround myself with those who love me unconditionally, and I love myself the same and more, everything else seems a lot less significant. I’ve come to find that being surrounded by love can get one through the toughest situations. Material things, relationships, and circumstances may come and go, but genuine love endures all… It heals all too! Especially when it’s from yourself, to yourself.
Happiness. Its something that I feel often… Especially when I blog. :-) I’ve learned to stick with the things that make me happy as often as possible. Yes, even the little things like watching The Lion King with my 5-year-old nephew. It’s a collection of doing the little things as often as possible that equal the sum of a happy life. For me, happiness is a collection of experiencing more good moments than bad. It is possible for all, but experienced mainly by those who make a conscious decision to be happy in spite of the unpleasant temporary moments.
Peace is what I feel nowadays. I’ve learned to find peace in the midst of chaos. I do this most quickly when I make time to quiet my mind from all the negative thoughts that stir up negative emotions. I tell myself a different story through affirmations and meditation. I give myself time to find relief, which calms me and allows me to reach a state of peace regardless of what’s going on around me. I haven’t quite mastered this yet, but I sure am getting better at it.
Emotions are a major part of the human experience, but it’s how you express them that determines what your life becomes.
Overall, my life is on the UP and UP. I have so much to be thankful for. And it only gets better. And I wish you the same.
This year has been full of growth opportunities for me. Particularly in the form of relationships. I’ve experienced some firsts and hopefully several lasts. Some experiences I wouldn’t have wished for my worst enemy, while others have neen pure bliss. But I still wouldn’t change a single thing because the contrast is what has lead me to this very moment. As I sit here typing away, my hope is that I am able to be light to those that have been or are going through something as it pertains to relationships. So here’s a list of a few of the most prominent take-aways on my journey to great:
1. The first lesson centers around the topic of patience. Its something that I still struggle with, but its effects within relationships are essential for peace and healthy communication. Oftentimes we want things when we want them, but when they fail to show up we end up disappointed. In many cases its ultimately no ones fault that we’re disappointed. Its only our own responsibility to check our expectations at the door. Are you expecting perfection from another perfectly imperfect human being? If so, there’s the culprit! As my favorite blogger Mastin Kipp put it, “Everything that holds us back in life is due to an unhealthy relationship with uncertainty.” That goes for lack of patience too. Many of us lack patience because we’re afraid of losing of control of a situation. What would happen if we did surrender circumstances and situations to the unknown? Well, our ultimate fear is that we would DIE or experience some form of excruciating pain. But history and many people’s lives have served as examples of how majestic accepting and embracing uncertainty can truly be. It’s what many religions refer to as Faith. It’s what I finally know to be true and I’m finally willing myself to practice more of it. I’m willing myself to be more patient with not only my own life process, but also having a sound understanding and practiced patience for the processes of others as well. This is in no way to suggest that you wait on your life to happen in order to be happy… Live how you chose, but don’t expect others to be ready to move when you are. Wait if it’s worth it, or find others who are ready in the meamtime. Life will handle the rest.
2. The second lesson deals with authenticity. For me this word implies being true to oneself. This means not selling yourself short on life, decisions, and opportunities just because others have an opinion about them. For me, this topic is also another project to grow in. I never really thought of myself as a people pleaser. In fact, I often find myself dismissing the opinions of others left and right, especially when they don’t resonate with me. However, most recently it dawned on me that the people’s whose opinions matter most to me are those who are closest to me, those who I trust enough to allow myself to be vulnerable with. And although this number is few, it hadn’t occurred to me until recently that I place a great deal of importance on their opinions. I realized, not just for myself, that sometimes we care so much about what others think of us, that we lose sight of who and what we truly are. We forget that we have our own journey to travel, our own purposes to fulfill, and their opinions of us are only a limited view of the whole of us. In fact, their opinions of us are only their thoughts and perception of us, not facts. Their opinions are none of our business because they aren’t the truth of who and what we truly are. I’m getting to the place where I’m learning to speak to my heart in stolen moments of silence (something I never thought to do before…It’s not prayer, it’s literal intimate feeling conversations with the core of your being). At first it feels weird, but as I continue to practice I can feel my way through life and situations with an inner knowing like never before. Afterall, “The kingdom of heaven lies within”. We were created to live as our true selves, not the many versions of who we are according to those who observe us in fleeting moments and temporary circumstances.
3. This next lesson is about acceptance. This is the king of all things necessary for change. In order to see real change in our lives, we must be able and willing to accept the whole of who we are, where we are, and the whole of a situation. This process in and of itself is quite complex from what I’ve come to find. Many times we find ourselves in situations that are unfavorable, and understandably hard to accept. It is from this space of resistance to life and its varying experiences and circumstances that we render ourselves to mental and emotional suffering and illness. From this space we are also sometimes lead to inflict the same pain that we feel unto others. As the saying goes: “Hurt people, hurt people.” A refusal to accept what is denies one the opportunity to experience life as fully present, whole, and complete beings. It also perpetuates a cycle of resistance from one personal interaction to the next. I’ve come to find that my personal resistance shows itself to me in the form of bodily discomfort. I may feel nervous/anxious tension in the pit of my stomach whenever I am faced with a part of myself (personality, habits, perception, expectations) that needs to evolve, but that I am subconsciously resisting. I too am learning to be more accepting of what is, with full faith that what is to come is always in service of my highest good and greatest joy… Yes, even when I can’t yet see evidence of it.
My prayer for my readers and myself is that we continue to be open to life and its many lessons. Also, my hope is that as we each continue to evolve, we are willing to share our lessons and journey with others for the purpose of being catalyst of love and understanding on Earth. Be the light that you wish to see in the world.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about matters of the heart. You know, relationships, intimacy, love… I often purposefully stay away from such matter because I’ve always deemed it too personal or too delicate of a subject to share with my readers. In the past, I preferred to stick to matters of spirit or self-help advice. Its what I know, and where I feel safest.
However, a few days ago I found myself questioning my own judgement. I questioned how my decision to limit my writings to only the subjects that I’m comfortable with expressing may indeed be limiting to my own creativity and expression of the whole of me.
That’s the very reason why I love Drake’s music. He finds himself discussing some of the most uncomfortable matters of the heart in his music. No matter how outlandish the storyline may come off, its real, its raw, and its HIS personal and perfectly imperfect self expression. And it is freely given to all who will listen and ultimately be affected because they too have experienced, or can relate to the emotion behind his experieces… But I’m no Drake, nor do I entertain (well, sometimes). I am however, a living and breathing physical being who is equally creative in so many ways. At this point of my journey, auexpression has become priority in all of my dealings. So here it goes…
Once upon a time, although not long ago, I would constantly find myself in the most uncomfortable situations. Like most who’ve lived long enough to experience relationships, I’ve experienced the entire spectrum of human emotion. I’ve also seen highs, and many lows. I’ve believed in the impossible, and have also been pessimistic. I’ve tried changing the things that no longer serve me, while simultaneously holding on to patterns and beliefs of past experiences, sometimes to my own detriment. For a long time I’ve unknowingly denied myself of what The Daily Love blogger and life coach Mastin Kipp refers to as a self-approved life. Up until most recently, I would find myself caring entirely too much about what others thought of me. So much that I would either rebel, or end up apologizing for having said the things that I truly felt, all because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be accepted or LOVED.
But as Mark Nepo put it:
“We are broken open, or we Willfully shed”
Being human is NO JOKE!! And all of these experiences have bought me to this part of my journey where I am learning to shed those ideas that others opinions of me should trump my own. Everyday I’m practicing what it means to me to live a self-approved life. Some days this means standing up for myself and not allowing others to take advantage of my kindness, other days this means saying “NO” to the things and people that don’t serve me well or that my inner spirit does not agree with.
In this moment, I’m thankful for being. My heart is in great health, as is my mind, body, and spirit. I feel, and no matter how tough the feelings, I persevere and it always turns out that I’m stronger than I could have ever imagined. I allow myself to make mistakes, forgive, and willingly evolve. I know that Love trumps all and will always and forever be, share, receive and believe in LOVE. I now choose to live self-approved, and I wish you the same.
How’s that for matters of the heart? …For me, it’ll do for now. #SelfApproved #MattersOfTheHeart
Yolanda Jiorn, 18, struggled to share her voice with the world because she was afraid to speak in public. But, when she joined Honey Shine, a Miami mentoring program founded by Tracy Wilson Mourning, in the 5th grade, she found her voice and confidence.
“Seeing all the opportunities it offered me, I wish I could still have that,” she said. “Now as a counselor I see it as an opportunity to show it to the other girls who are in the program now and show them to appreciate it and not take it for granted.”
When Mourning, a designer, broadcast journalist, soon to be published author, and wife of former NBA player Alonzo Mourning moved back to her hometown in South Miami, she felt that addressing these needs would be part of her life journey.
“God placed it on my heart that I was supposed to do something with Honey Shine,” Mourning said. “And I listened, but didn’t act on it for many years. And then that voice wouldn’t be quiet.”
Honey Shine was established by Mourning in 2002 to help instill values such as building community, responsibility and faith to underprivileged girls between the ages of 8 to 18. Edlyn Griffith, director of programs at Honey Shine, said that their overall goal is to “help enhance the lives of young girls; body, mind and spirit.”
“Our main focus is educational enrichment as well as making sure that they are provided with the tools that help them to make better choices in their lives,” said Griffith. “Then they can grow up to be self-sufficient young women.”
Research conducted by the American Psychological Association has shown that underprivileged children and teens are at a greater risk for poor academic achievement, dropping out of school and behavioral and emotional problems.
Honey Shine consists of bi-monthly workshops, field trips and an annual six-week day camp during the summer. All of these programs are geared towards making an impact on the new generation of girls they call “Honey Bugs.” The workshops provided to participants cover subjects from yoga, fitness, and self-defense classes, to financial literacy, robotics, music and therapy sessions.
Field trips to the beach, museums, and even colleges aim to expose the girls to the world around them.“That’s our goal of Honey Shine, to show our Honey Bugs that the world is theirs and they belong,” Mourning said. “I want our girls to know that they are worthy of learning and of quality education and opportunities.”
The journey of a Honey Bug does not end when they reach 18 years of age. Griffith said a lot of the girls will visit during their breaks from college. Former Honey Bug, Isis Graham, 18, says that the program has changed her life. “When I was younger, I had a lot of self-esteem issues,” Graham, a current camp counselor, said. “But with Honey Shine, I have grown so much. People are like ‘You are so different,’ but it’s really because of Honey Shine.”
Ashley Sturrup, 20, also a camp counselor, has been a member of Honey Shine since its founding year. “It helped me grow as a person,” Sturrup said. “It helped me to be independent. It taught me how to be a woman. It gave me confidence.”
During Honey Shine’s first year only 50 girls participated, but now approximately 400 girls have gone through the program, and more than 180 girls participate in the summer camp alone each year. Currently, there is a waiting list for the girls to get in.
With these various programs available, Griffith notes that Mourning’s vision has been personified in the girls who participate. Eleven years later, Honey Shine continues to be an environment where young girls and women are encouraged to practice sisterhood, mentoring and journaling. These practices are near and dear to Mourning’s heart, and are the reason that she is heavily involved with the program.